Simple Ways to Add Value to Your Home

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1. Paint- Repainting parts of your home every once in a while is a simple value adder that is fairly inexpensive. You don't have to repaint everything; focus on the parts that a potential buyer would look at, such as the kitchen, bedrooms, and bathrooms.

2. Outdoor Seating- Adding a quality seating area in the backyard adds value by giving your outdoor space a better look. Prospective buyers will like the fact that you have another area where they could host guests, or spend time with their family.

3. Bathroom Upgrades- The bathroom is most likely to be your least expensive room to upgrade, but could produce the most results. A more modern bathroom could go a long way i convincing potential buyers that your home is the one for them. 

4. Landscaping- You certainly don't need to go overboard in terms of landscaping. If you do, it will get expensive fast. However, adding to or improving upon the plant life surrounding your home will give prospective buyers a better first impression of your home and make the exterior of your home brighter and more appealing.

5. Store Effectively- No one wants to walk into a home that looks like it belongs to a hoarder. Decluttering your home will not only increase its property, but also make you feel proud of your space while you're still living there. By the way, you know what makes storage and organizing much easier? Getting rid of stuff you don't need! 

If you're preparing your home because you're thinking of selling your home, let's talk!

These tips were pulled from an article on www.trendinghomenews.com

5 Tips for a Healthy Home

Tip No. 1: Don’t ignore mold

While you might be able to turn a blind eye to windows that need washing or lawns that need mowing, you don’t want to mess with mold.

“It’s something you probably don’t want to think about, but ignoring it can lead to severe health problems,” says Peter Duncanson, home safety expert and director of systems development at ServiceMaster Restore in Memphis, TN. To keep mold at bay, the key is to reduce moisture in the home. He offers these tips:

  • Check for leaky pipes or plumbing that could result in excess moisture, especially in poorly ventilated areas like the basement, attic, garage, and bathroom.
  • Always use an exhaust fan when showering, and leave it on even after you’re done. Investing in a small dehumidifier is another way to keep humidity levels in check (ideally at 40% to 60%).
  • Service your HVAC system. Rather than let dust and debris, a prime source for mold, sit all spring and summer in the filters and vents, clean the system now so it’s ready for next season.

Tip No. 2: Rid your home of radon

A naturally occurring gas that causes lung cancer, radon can be found indoors and even in drinking water, but because it has no color, odor, or taste, you likely have no idea it’s there. It causes approximately 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, which is even more than the annual deaths caused by drunken driving (17,400). Most of it comes from the soil under your home, forming as uranium breaks down and seeping up into your house.

Good news: Testing your home for radon is both easy and inexpensive. If high levels are found, radon reduction systems can reduce them.

Tip No. 3: Catch carbon monoxide

While most people know that smoke detectors are a must in any home, too often carbon monoxide detectors are overlooked.

“Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide has no color, no taste, no smell and is poisonous,” says Kurt Wedig, president and CEO of One Event Technologies. “What makes carbon monoxide so dangerous is its ability to displace oxygen in the blood, which deprives your heart, brain, and other vital organs of the oxygen needed to function properly. Prolonged exposure or large amounts of CO can overtake a person in minutes without warning, causing them to lose consciousness and suffocate due to lack of oxygen.”

So if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, get one. If you do have one, check those batteries regularly. Got it?

Tip No. 4: Butt out

Even if you’d never consider lighting up yourself, make sure no one else does in your house either. Besides the stench (eww!), secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 substances, several of which are known to cause cancer, according the EPA. And just because the smokers take their cancer sticks out to the garage, that doesn’t necessarily help—secondhand smoke has been shown to travel between rooms of a home, and even between apartment units.

Tip No. 5: Don't clean your home sick

While dust and pests can cause problems of their own, the chemicals often used to get rid of them can be even more dangerous. For example, some pesticides can cause serious damage to a person's nervous system and kidneys and even increase the risk of cancer, while many common household cleaners can release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which can cause serious health damage as well. The EPA recommends using nonchemical methods of pest control and cleaners without VOCs.

These tips were pulled from an article on Realtor.com

11 Reasons Why Your Home Is Not Selling

 

  1. You overvalued your property. If your house is overpriced, it's simply not going to sell. Compare your property to similar properties that recently sold within your area to get a better idea of its true value. An experienced real estate agent can give you an accurate value of your home. Additionally, don't make the mistake of tacking on the cost of any renovations you made. You can't just assume that the cost of a renovation translates to added value.
  2. Your listing is poor. If the listing of your home includes a poorly written description without any images, a lot of buyers are going to skip over it. Make sure you and your REALTOR® put an effort into creating a listing that attracts the attention of buyers. Make sure to add high quality photographs of both the interior and exterior of your home. Don't forget to highlight unique features as well.
  3. You're always present at showings. Let your agent handle your showings. Buyers don't want to have the seller lurking over their shoulder during showings, especially during an open house. This puts unwanted pressure on the buyer, which will make them uncomfortable and likely chase them away.
  4. You're too attached. If you refuse to negotiate even a penny off your price, then there's a good chance that you've become too attached to your home. If a part of you doesn't want to sell it, or you think your house is the best house in the world, odds are you're going to have a lot of difficulties coming to an agreement with a potential buyer.
  5. You haven't had your home professionally cleaned. A dirty house is going to leave a bad impression on buyers. Make sure you have a professional clean your carpeting and windows before you begin showing your house.
  6. You haven't staged your home. If you've already moved out, then don't show an empty house. This makes it difficult for buyers to imagine living in it. Stage your house with furniture and decor to give buyers a better idea of how big every room is and how it can be used. You want the buyer to feel at home when they are taking the tour.
  7. You kept up all of your personal décor. Buyers are going to feel uncomfortable touring your house if you keep all of your family portraits up. Take down your personal décor so that buyers can have an easier time imagining themselves living there.
  8. Your home improvements are too personalized. You might think that the comic book mural you painted for your child's room is absolutely incredible, but that doesn't mean potential buyers will agree. If your home improvements are too personalized, it can scare off buyers who don't want to pay for features they don't want.
  9. Your home is too cluttered. Even if your home is clean, clutter can still be an issue. For example, maybe you simply have too much furniture in one of your rooms. This can make the house feel smaller than it is.
  10. Your home is in need of too many repairs. The more repairs that are needed, the less likely a buyer will want your house. Many buyers simply don't want to deal with the cost or effort of doing repair work, even if it's just a bunch of small repairs, such as tightening a handrail or replacing a broken tile.
  11. You chose the wrong real agent. In my opinion, choosing the right real estate is simply the most important decision you make in selling your home.  A good REALTOR® makes all the difference in selling your home within a reasonable time.

These tips were pulled from an article from www.rismedia.com

What It Means When a House Has "Good Bones"

1. It Has a Solid Floor Plan

"A streamlined layout has everything to do with good bones." McIntyre says. "The existing structure has to have a good floor plan for how people live today: a good flow between the public-and-private rooms and lots of usable living space."

2. Only Minor Renovations Are Necessary

"If a home is sturdy with a good, solid roof and foundation, a great deal can be done on in the inside." McIntyre explains, "Usually, when there are good bones, minor renovations and personal decorating are all that needs to be done to complete the place."

3. There's Room to Breathe

Much like a flexible layout, McIntyre believes good bones call for an open, airy ambience; with lots of natural light. "Oversized windows (especially floor-to-ceiling ones) and high ceilings are essential for good bones," she explains. "Not only to open up a place, they bring in more natural light."

4. Interesting Architectural Details Abound

"Look for elements like exposed beams, beautiful paneling, baseboards, chair railings, intricate moldings, and elaborate fireplace mantles when deciding if a space has good bones." McIntyre says, "Core architectural features like these create a great infrastructure for developing your personal style.

5. Two Words: Hardwood Floors

"'Good bones' can be very arbitrary phrase because what may be attractive to some may not appeal to someone else's personal taste," McIntyre adds. "However, it seems the one thing that's universal to all homes with good bones are authentic hardwood floors— which add a sense of contrast and depth to an open space."

These tips were pulled from an article from apartmenttherapy.com

4 Great Hiking Trails in Los Angeles That Aren't Runyon Canyon

Amir's Garden

 We'll Start off with a relatively easy trail known as Amir's Garden. Located in Griffith Park, Amir's Garden boasts a gorgeous hand-planted floral landscape and tons of shade. This trail is perfect for anybody who hasn't worked out in a while, and looking to enjoy a hike without the physical strain of some of our more rigid mountains.

We'll Start off with a relatively easy trail known as Amir's Garden. Located in Griffith Park, Amir's Garden boasts a gorgeous hand-planted floral landscape and tons of shade. This trail is perfect for anybody who hasn't worked out in a while, and looking to enjoy a hike without the physical strain of some of our more rigid mountains.

Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa

This trail is a little more challenging, but totally worth the effort. The 7.3 mile loop is host to stunning beach views and refreshing beach breezes. With views like this, its no wonder the trail gets busy, so its best to go during the week on a clear day to make sure you take full advantage of the weather and views.

Santa Anita Canyon and Sturtevant Falls

Who knew we had such beautiful waterfalls in Los Angeles?? This slightly mountainous trail is labeled by most as "moderately challenging." It is beginner friendly, but expect a bit of a challenge. The thick forests lead way to two breathtaking waterfalls. But don't get too comfortable- there's a half mile ascent back to the parking lot, so expect that to be the most difficult part of the hike.

Mount Baldy

 This one is not for the faint of heart. Mount Baldy is the highest point in Los Angeles, so this trail is perfect for anyone looking for a challenge. It's best to get started in the morning, since the trail takes about 7 hours to complete. There's no question you'll get a great workout, but consider those stellar views part of the payoff.

This one is not for the faint of heart. Mount Baldy is the highest point in Los Angeles, so this trail is perfect for anyone looking for a challenge. It's best to get started in the morning, since the trail takes about 7 hours to complete. There's no question you'll get a great workout, but consider those stellar views part of the payoff.

9 Real Estate Trends to Look Out For in 2017

Thinking about buying or selling a home next year?

No matter what your real estate goals, it's good to learn everything you can in order to make the best deal.

While predicting how the real estate market will behave is never an exact science, this year could be especially difficult to predict, the experts said.

"I think at this point it will be a very interesting year as we see what President Trump will put into place as far as housing policies," Gudell said. He cited possible changes to affordable housing regulations, vouchers and how the Federal Housing Authority works during the Trump administration.

While some presidential policies are tough to foresee at this early stage, plenty of market trends for the new year are much clearer.

1. Millennials and boomers will be big buyers

2. Home values will increase, but more slowly than last year

3. More people will move to the suburbs for affordable housing

4. New homes will be even more expensive

5. Millennials will flock to Midwestern cities

6.West coast prices will continue to rise

7.  Cities will see dense development with smaller homes near public transit

8. Rental affordability will improve

9. Mortgage rates will increase

These questions were pulled from an article on cbsnews.com, more detail on these questions can be found here.

10 Los Angeles Home Buyer Tips

So, you're ready to buy a house, but don't know where to start. These 10 tips will give you all the information you need when it comes to buying a new home. 

Step 1: Getting ready to buy/ The lender

Step 2: Finding the right agent

Step 3: Define your criteria

Step 4: Start your search

Step 5: Make your offer

Step 6: Be prepared to negotiate

Step 7: The escrow process

Step 8: Take title

Step 9: Home inspection

Step 10: Prepare your new home

These tips were found in an article on www.homejane.com 

Great Places to Camp Near L.A.

joshua

When we think of Los Angeles, chances are "The Great Outdoors" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. The truth is there are tons of places to explore a beautiful natural landscape away from the city. Whether you want to go star-gazing in the desert, relax by the ocean, or explore the natural wonders of the Los Angeles Forest, we've got you covered. The best part: you don't have to break the bank on a pricey resort to enjoy quality time with your nearest and dearest friends and family. 

  1. Leo Carillo State Park- Located in Malibu just off PCH. Leo Carillo State Park provides easy access to the beach (complete with beautiful caves and tidepools), and beautiful hiking trails with ocean views. 
  2. Lake Arrowhead- Located in the San Bernadino National Forest, Lake Arrowhead has the best of everything. During the winter, try snowboarding, skiing, or ice skating. Taking a dip in the crystal clear lake or going on a hike are great options during the summer months. If you're not much of a camper, Lake Arrowhead also has great vacation homes, restaurants, and spas.
  3. Joshua Tree National Park- Just a little over two hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Though Joshua Tree is most famous for its epic star gazing and rock climbing, the springtime wildflower blooms make for a stunning backdrop, too. 

10 Essential Questions to Ask When Buying a Home

You’ve finally found it: a home you’re swooning over and dying to own. From the exposed ceiling beams to the hardwood floors, this feels like the place. So what’s next? Don’t just stand there dumbstruck; it’s time to dig deeper and ask questions—and not just the kind that randomly pop into your head, either. You need to hit all of the necessary topics head-on, and some of them are not so obvious.

But you’re in luck: We’ve pulled together a checklist of some of the most important initial questions to ask when buying a home:

  1. What is the home's sales history?
  2. Did the sellers make any major renovations or additions?
  3. How much are the property taxes?
  4. What are the monthly maintenance and utility costs?
  5. Has there ever been a broken pipe? Sewer backup?
  6. How old is the roof?
  7. Have there ever been any pest infestations?
  8. Are there warranties on the appliances, HVAC system, garage door, etc.?
  9. What are the parking restrictions around the house?
  10. Does the house have any kind of unusual history?

These questions were pulled from an article on realtor.com, more detail on these questions can be found here.

 

Homeowner's Insurance and Home Warranty Coverage: What's the Difference?

 “What’s the difference between homeowners insurance and a home warranty plan?” 

nsurance and home warranty companies say it’s one of the most common questions they receive from both REALTORS® and the homebuyers and sellers you serve.

So what is the difference?

Simply stated, homeowner’s insurance protects homeowners by covering the cost of rebuilding or repairing structural damage caused by a fire, storm, or other natural disaster or calamity. If there is a mortgage, the lender will require that the homebuyer obtain adequate “hazard insurance” to protect the bank’s financial interest in the home. Most homebuyers also opt to purchase protection that covers damage to, or theft of, a home’s contents or the homeowner’s personal property, liability coverage in case a third party is injured while on the property, and so-called “riders” that cover damage from specific catastrophic events, such as earthquake and wildfire, or specific valuables, such as art, jewelry or collectibles. Homeowner and hazard insurance premiums often are paid along with the homebuyer’s monthly mortgage payment.

A home warranty, on the other hand, is a service contract designed to protect homeowners’ budgets from having to bear the entire cost of repairing or replacing major components of home systems and appliances that break down over time due to age and normal wear and tear. A home warranty plan is not a replacement or substitute for standard homeowner’s or hazard insurance. However, many homeowners consider a home warranty contract to be an important complement to homeowner’s insurance coverage. 

While a homeowner may never suffer a catastrophic weather or other calamity during the time they own their home, the systems and appliances covered under a home warranty contract are quite likely to require repairs, or need to be replaced – particularly as a house ages.

Home warranty coverage can help home buyers ease the worries that come with thinking about how they will pay for repairs or replacement of systems and appliances in a home they have purchased. Home sellers, on the other hand, often purchase a one- or two-year home warranty contract [or] plan on behalf of their buyers. In doing so, they also enjoy the knowledge that a covered system or appliance breakdown is the responsibility of the homeowner once a home sale is completed.

Major home systems and appliances that may be covered by a home warranty contract include: 

Furnace, central heating and air conditioning systems
Ductwork
Electrical and plumbing systems
Water heater
Clothes washer and dryer
Refrigerator
Range, oven, cooktop, built-in microwave
Instant hot/cold water dispenser
Dishwasher
Garbage disposal
Optional home warranty coverage can include a guest unit, swimming pool, spa and related equipment (including salt water pools and equipment), well or septic system pump, additional refrigerators, ceiling fans, doorbells and electric garage door openers, and telephone wiring.

It also may be helpful to think of the difference between homeowner’s insurance and a home warranty this way: Let’s say lightning strikes your home and damages your rooftop air conditioning unit and surrounding roofing materials. Because the damage was caused by a natural event beyond your control, your homeowner’s insurance would cover the cost of repairing or replacing the unit and roofing. However, if your air conditioning unit simply conked out the first day of summer and had to be repaired or replaced, your home warranty contract could help cover this breakdown.

Home Selling Tips: Home Features Buyers are Looking For

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) have asked developers to rank features in an average single-family from 1 to 5, with 1 as least likely to be included and 5 as most likely to be included, as reported by Realtor. However, the builders ranked them according to their popularity among customers, as specified in the website. Here are the five features.

Walk-in closet in master bedroom: Walk-in closets are popular, especially among luxury homeowners. Having a spacious closet is always advantageous. For couples, having a his-and-hers closet is perfect. This will help minimize the time spent for searching certain clothing. It also effectively helps minimize clutter in one's home

Laundry area: The laundry area is usually overlooked when designing a home; however, it is one of the most used parts of the house. With careful planning, it can serve as a storage room or even a grooming area for pets

Low-emissive windows: Low-E glass is a window glass that has been treated with a metallic oxide covering, empowering a surface that reflects heat, yet at the same time still allows light to enter. In the summer, Low-E windows decrease the amount of UV light that enters your home, and in winter, these windows may keep your homes warm. Depending on your needs, different types of Low-emissive glass can be used to allow high, medium, or low solar gain

Great room: A great room is an open room that has various purposes. Without dividers, it becomes a more open living space for healthy interaction among individuals

Energy Star-Rated Appliances: Energy Star is an EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency. This implies that if you want to sell your property, you can include Energy Star appliances in the deal

 

Be Prepared

After reading this post on Facebook the other night, reality set in. Unfortunately mass shootings are becoming more of a common event than we would like to admit. We too hope that you or your loved ones are NEVER EVER in a situation like this but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. The tips listed above could save your life. There is also a great article from ABC News: Run, Hide or Fight: 11 Tips to Survive Mass Shooting

Fall: The Season for Buyers

September 23rd marked the beginning of a new season. For many, fall means: sweaters, pumpkin spiced lattes and apple scented everything, but what does this mean for the Real Estate market? Well one thing's for sure, this new season is looking good you buyers.

1. Buh-bye biding wars: Looky-Loos start to disappear as the school year kicks it into full gear. Families are just not interested in big changes during this time of year so there are less people out there looking. 

2. Year-end tax breaks: Buying before the end of the year means you get to take advantage of tax breaks such as mortgage interest and property tax deductions- CHA-CHING

3. You'll be home for the holidays: New digs are just the thing to bring in the new year with extra space for your family and friends. If you wait too late in the year to submit an offer, you might be experiencing more heartache than joy this holiday season

Back to School Gridlock

 School is not the only thing that's back- cue car horns and road rage.  With all of the new commuters on the road a few tips and tricks could come in handy.  1. Use real time traffic Apps for smartphones like WAZE. Waze is a navigation app that leverages its database and a very active community of drivers to guide and even reroute your trip. It provides real-time intelligence and alerts on speed traps, traffic tie-ups, road hazards, cars stuck in the road or on the shoulder, and the snowstorm ahead. (The app is free and available on iOS and Android)  2. Do some research before you leave. Use Google maps to map out your trip. It will usually give you multiple routes and include ETAs for each route based on current traffic conditions. No one says you have to take the exact same route every morning.  3. Between the hours of 7:30 -9 am & 1:45 - 3:30 pm avoid the main streets where your local elementary, middle, and high schools are located.  4. Try alternate transportation methods: walk, bike, bus or train!  5. And if all else fails, invest in some Audio Books ;)

School is not the only thing that's back- cue car horns and road rage.

With all of the new commuters on the road a few tips and tricks could come in handy.

1. Use real time traffic Apps for smartphones like WAZE. Waze is a navigation app that leverages its database and a very active community of drivers to guide and even reroute your trip. It provides real-time intelligence and alerts on speed traps, traffic tie-ups, road hazards, cars stuck in the road or on the shoulder, and the snowstorm ahead. (The app is free and available on iOS and Android)

2. Do some research before you leave. Use Google maps to map out your trip. It will usually give you multiple routes and include ETAs for each route based on current traffic conditions. No one says you have to take the exact same route every morning.

3. Between the hours of 7:30 -9 am & 1:45 - 3:30 pm avoid the main streets where your local elementary, middle, and high schools are located.

4. Try alternate transportation methods: walk, bike, bus or train!

5. And if all else fails, invest in some Audio Books ;)

EATS- Tampa Gardens Chinese Delight

IF by chance you are a lover of dumplings, then consider this a good time to be a resident of the SFV. Tampa Gardens Chinese Delight redefines the phrase "good things come in small packages."

On the corner of Tampa and Roscoe in a small strip mall is where you will find this gem. Once inside you are usually greeted by "Grandma" who is busy making fresh dumplings right before your eyes!

The Low Down:

WHO: Tampa Gardens Chinese Delight

WHAT: Chinese Dumplings made FRESH DAILY

WHERE: 8241 Tampa Ave. Reseda

WHEN:  Wednesday - Monday 11am - 9:30pm; Tuesdays 5pm - 9:30pm

WHY: BEST DUMPLINGS IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY!!!

Our favorite dumplings: Pork + Chive &  Spicy Wontons

*Dumplings are also available for purchase in Frozen packs of 50 for only $17

The Student Loan Obstacle

Millenials are facing some major hurdles when it comes to homeownership. Student loan debts, lack of down payment, ability to afford a home in a preferred neighborhood, and lack of job security are the biggest threats. Here are some tips to help ease the pain:

1. Stay in communication with your Lenders. Make sure your payments are manageable and that you are paying them on time. Late payments can really hurt your credit score, which can really hurt your chances of securing a loan when it comes time to buying a home.

2. Start saving NOW! Although there is no set rule/percentage that fits everyone, I promise you will not be sorry that you have money in your Savings Account. Check out this great article from Forbes for more on this topic.

3. Weigh out your options. Is it more important to live in a certain neighborhood or have ownership of your home? Are the things that you find attractive in a certain neighborhood still going to be important to you when you are ready to buy? Explore different neighborhoods, they may take you by surprise. But in the end make sure you are making a decision you are going to be happy with in the long run. This is an investment after all.