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  • Have a Safe and Happy 4th - Safety Reminder - Places to see FIREWORKS this weekend.. Enjoy!!

    Fireworks are illegal in Riverside County

    All fireworks are illegal in Riverside County. The only cities in the county that allow State Fire Marshal Safe and Sane Fireworks  are Cathedral City, Indio, Blythe and Coachella. However, these fireworks must not be transported or possessed outside of the cities where they were purchased .

    ALL fireworks, including sparklers are illegal in Riverside County. All fireworks are illegal because they may cause serious injuries and very often, cause fires. Riverside County has very diverse terrain. The vegetation is very dry, where fireworks can easily start a brush fire. Individuals who cause fires by using illegal fireworks will be held responsible for all suppression costs. These costs can run into the millions of dollars.

    Those caught with illegal fireworks will be subject to fines, citation and/or arrest: including confiscation of all illegal fireworks. We urge you to leave the fireworks to the professionals.

     

    Here are some places doing firework shows this weekend.. 

     

    Beaumont4th of July Celebration

    **FREE ADMISSION**

    Wednesday July 4th @ 5:00 pm Downtown Beaumont – Plaza area between Downtown Library & Julie Rogers Theatre

    Celebration offers a rollicking salute to our nation’s past with events that include performances by local musical groups. The Symphony of Southeast Texas will also perform at the Julie Rogers Theatre. Enjoy the music and the air condition of the orchestra beginning at 8 pm. At 9 p.m. fireworks explode in the sky while the explosive and dramatic delight to eye and ear continues for about 30 minutes.

    Schedule Of Events

    5:00 pm Performance by Ashlynn Ivy 6:15 pm Performance by Folk Family Revival 7:15 pm Welcome speech from Mayor Ames 7:30 pm Performance by Hamilton Loomis 8:00 pm Performance by Symphony of Southeast Texas (Julie Rogers Theatre) 9:00 pm Fireworks For additional information, please call (409) 838-3435

    Big Bear 4th of July Fireworks-

    When: Wednesday, July 4th Time: Fireworks start at dusk Where: Big Bear Valley

    New! Discounted Fireworks Vacation Package, includes: Lodging and Admission to Big Bear’s lakeside annual 4th of July BBQ!

    Chino Hills Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Picnic -

    When: Wednesday, July 4 10:00 am to 2:00 pm

    Where: Big League Dreams Chino Hills Sports Park 16333 Fairfield Ranch Road

    Main Stage Band: Skinny Little Twits – Classic Rock

    Free activities include: Food Eating Contests, Face Painting, Fun Inflatables, Creative Crafts, BMX Stunt Show, Bungee Trampoline Rock Climbing Wall, Water Slides, Water Cannon Blowout*, Teen Extreme Zone, *As long as the water tender truck from the Chino Valley Independent Fire District is available

    For more information: (909) 364-2700

    Claremont 4th of July Celebration -

    Wednesday, July 4, 2012 2012 Theme: Claremont Celebrates America Memorial Park 840 N. Indian Hill Boulevard

    This year’s Independence Day Celebration will be another fun-filled day in the true Claremont tradition! Over 30 community volunteers comprise the Independence Day Committee that dedicates nearly 6 months in the planning and execution of this community event.

    Corona 4th of July Events -

    4pm – 10pm Santana Park 4th of July Celebration

    This years event will feature music by the  ”Rock & Soul Revue All Star Band”, a youth band performance by “Sabrina & Minor Aftershock” and a performace by the Christian Arts Theater “CAT”.

    A shuttle service will be available beginning at 5:30 p.m. with pickups and drop offs at the Centennial High School and Santiago High School student parking lots. The formal program and Military tribute will begin at approximately 8:30 p.m.

    And please remember that fireworks are prohibited in Riverside County.  For more information please visit Corona Says NO To Fireworks

    Crestline – Jamboree Days – 

    Parade to be held on July 2nd. Your Chamber is trying to bring back the FIREWORKS!!! Call the Chamber for more details! 909-338-2706

    Lake Arrowhead Fireworks –

    Enjoy the “4th of July” Fireworks Display in Lake Arrowhead!

    The Annual Lake Arrowhead Fireworks displayed hosted by the Arrowhead Lake Assoication will be on July 4th starting at 9pm For more information please call 909-337-2595

    La Verne -

    Bonita High School Stadium (3102 D Street)-6am- Pancake Breakfast, 10am-Parade, 5pm-BBQ, 6pm- FIREWORKS!

    Lake Elsinore -

    Lake Elsinore (32700 Riverside Dr.) 9PM (if you have a boat, you can watch from the water for $10!)

    Menifee Independence Day Parade and Fireworks-

    City Independence Day Event, Parade, Concert and Fireworks June 30th

    The City of Menifee and its partners, the Lake Menifee Women’s Club and Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District, invite the community to enjoy the 21st Annual Independence Day Celebration and Paradeon Saturday, June 30, 2012 at Wheatfield Park in Menifee from 5 PM to 9 PM. A 5:00 PM parade down La Piedra, from Antelope to Menifee Road, will kick off the event for the 21st year. New for this year’sevent is a large outfield main stage, which will host live music featuring American Idol Season 10 audition round finalist, Rachael Stark and The Rachael Stark Band and local Menifee rock and roll band Universal Trap. This year’s fireworks show will also be synchronized to live music arranged by Bill Gould of Full Value Entertainment.

    Moreno Valley -

    This year, Moreno Valley’s Independence Day and Family FunFest will kick off with the parade on Thursday July 4, at 9:30 a.m. The festival activities, concert and fireworks display will take place at Morrison Park/Mountain View Middle School in the afternoon. The festival concludes with a spectacular fireworks display, which is simulcast on radio station KOLA 99.9 FM beginning at 9:00 p.m.

    Family Fun Fest 2013

    Come out early to the Family Fun Fest and enjoy the bands, food, arts and crafts booths, jumpers, petting zoo and pony rides. Highlights of the Festival include:

    – 2:00 p.m. Community Stage

    – 3:00 p.m. Pacific Crest Band

    – :4:00 p.m.         Mrs. Jones’ Revenge

    – 5:45 p.m.         Ghost in the Machine

    – 7:30 p.m.        Hollywood Stones

    – 9:00 p.m. Fireworks Extravaganza with Music Simulcast by Kola 99.9 FM Morrison Park/Mountain View Middle School (corner of Dracaea Ave. & Morrison St.) Time: 2 – 9 p.m. (Gates open at 1 p.m.)

    Tickets:

    – Presale tickets are available at the Conference and Recreation Center from June 11-July 3. Cost: $2 per person or $10 for a family (up to 6 people).          –          July 4:          Free entry between 1-4 p.m. After 4 p.m. $3 per person. Military service members with valid I.D. and children under 5 are free. I

    n the interest of everyone’s safety, please be aware:

    – Barbecues are welcome! (propane only)

    – No pets, alcohol or fireworks. There will be a mandatory search of ALL bags, purses and coolers.

    – Limited entry to festival site after 6 p.m.

    Ontario July 4th Parade -

    Fireworks Spectacular starts at 9:00 PM admission is Free Location: Westwind Park 2455 East Riverside Drive Ontario, California 91761 For more information, please call Ontario Recreation & Community Services at (909) 395-2020.

    Pomona Fairplex Kaboom-

    Wednesday July 4, 2012 from 5:00pm – 10:00pm The Fairplex of Pomona 1101 W. McKinley Ave., Pomona, CA 91768, California 91768 Get Directions It’s the 26th annual fireworks spectacular at Fairplex. The nighttime programming is a crowd pleaser and has played to a sold-out audience since its inception in 2002. It puts the boom in KABOOM!

    Rancho Cucamonga Fireworks Celebration-

    Rancho Cucamonga Epicenter 8408 Rochester Avenue

    July 4, 2012 Tickets on sale NOW ALL Tickets $8.00 prior to July 4th ($10.00 day of event)

    Purchase Tickets:

    • On-Line at Here (additional fee applies for on-line sales) • By Phone – (909) 477-2752 • In Person at the Lewis Family Playhouse Box Office 12505 Cultural Center Drive

    Tickets for this event will NOT be sold at the Epicenter Box Office

    Redlands’ Community Fourth of July! 2012 Celebration -

    Ticket Sales: General Admission – $7.00 in advance, $10.00 at the gate. Children under 3 Free and will not need a ticket. Click here for pre-sale locations and Information on Reserved Seats or Map & Driving Directions.

    Each year the citizens of Redlands band together to celebrated Independence Day in grand fashion. The 4th of July Committee works tirelessly throughout the year to plan a fun filled day for the entire family. The day begins with a picnic at beautiful Sylvan Park: Food; Games; Music! Official T-Shirts: Monday June 4th official T-shirts will be on sale for $15.00 at the Redlands City Clerk’s Office. The shirt will also be sold at the committee booth in Sylvan Park on the 4th.

    Park Activities: Many local service and civic clubs are expected to participate in the daytime activities in Sylvan Park, Section A on University Street near the University of Redlands. Set up is expected to get underway at 7 a.m. and booths should be open at 9 a.m. Live entertainment will begin at 9 a.m. At 10:30 a.m. 4th of July Parade will march around the park.

    Park activities will wind down around 3 p.m. Park activities are under the direction of George Barich. For booth information please call 793-9683.

    *Parade starts at 10:30*

    Stadium: Once again the University of Redlands plays host to one of the largest 4th of July celebrations in the State of California . The gates at the U of R Stadium will open by 6 p.m. The live show and opening ceremonies will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will include a flag ceremony and a four jet flyover followed by a USAF C-17 flyover. After the flyover, skydivers from Perris Valley Skydiving will be landing in the center of the stadium. The Fireworks show under the direction of Jeff Martin, citizen of Redlands and Sales Manager for Pyro Spectaculars by Souza will begin about 9pm.

     

    Rialto’s 4th of July Celebration in the Park

    This event will be packed with fun and excitement for the entire family! Spend the evening with us at Rialto City Park and enjoy live music, family games, food-eating contests, train rides, petting zoo, Kids Fun Zone, Safe & Sane fireworks, and much more! The overall event is FREE and there are some fee-based rides and vendors, also. Please join us Thursday, July 4th, 5:00 to 9:00 pm at Rialto City Park.

     

    Free admission for all.

    Riverside 4th of July Spectacular

    Mt. Rubidoux at 2012 9:00 PM

    The City of Riverside Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department is proud to present the 4th of July Aerial Fireworks Shows on Wednesday, July 4.

    Enjoy beautiful aerial fireworks shows at La Sierra Park (5215 La Sierra Avenue) and Mt. Rubidoux (in sync with KOLA 99.9 broadcast).

    Aerial fireworks shows will begin promptly at 9 p.m.

    For more information:  951-826-2000

    La Sierra Park (5215 La Sierra Avenue- View the fireworks from Mt. Rubidoux) -9PM to 10PM

    San Bernardino -

    Inland Empire 66ers (San Manuel Stadium)-7:05pm (after the baseball game!)

    Temecula 4th of July Parade and Fireworks Show-

    All activities held  July 4, 2012 Old Town Parade at 10am Family Fun & Fireworks at the Ronald Reagan Sports Park 2pm-10pm Fireworks at 9pm sharp!

    Parade Information The 4th of July Parade will be starting at 10am Wednesday morning. The parade will be running arch to arch, South to North. Parking is available at the Old Town Parking Garage (South of the Civic Center on Mercedes St). Parade Lineup Coming Soon.

    Family Fun & Fireworks Information: Festivities start at 2pm, however the park opens at 8am. Fireworks start at 9pm sharp. Music broadcasted on KATY 101.3 Food Vendors and Kids Fun Zone. Handicap parking is limited and first come, first serve. Arrive early to secure a parking spot. ATMs located in the Food Vendor area as well as the Kids Fun Zone. Entertainment from 2pm-9pm on the main stage. Blood Drive at the CRC parking lot. CRC Pool is open from 11am-3pm.

    Park Rules: No alcohol or glass containers. No Dogs off leash. No staking or roping off areas.

    Kids Fun Zone Fun Zone opens at 2pm, wristbands required. Wristbands are $5 each, cash only, ATM available nearby. Wristbands grant unlimited use of the inflatable bounce area, rock climbing, and face painting. Fun Zone closes at 8:30pm. No refunds issued.

    Temecula – Vail Lake Resort!

    Come Celebrate Independence Day at Vail Lake Resort!

    • June 27, 2012  –  June 30, 2012
    • Address: 38000 Highway 79 South, Temecula, CA 92589
    • Times: Call for times
    • Phone: 951-303-0173

    San Jacinto Independence Day Celebration-

    SAN JACINTO 4TH OF JULY PARADE: SALUTE TO OUR MILITARY Join fam­ily, friends & neigh­bors for our annual San Jac­into Val­ley Tra­di­tion! For infor­ma­tion, call (951) 654‑4041. [flyer]

    VALLEY-WIDE 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION 9:00 am — 9:30 pm, Valley-Wide Regional Park, 901 W Esplanade Ave, San Jac­into Come join us for our annual 4th of July Cel­e­bra­tion. We will have food, and craft ven­dors along with live enter­tain­ment. Fire­works at 9:00 pm. For infor­ma­tion, call (951) 487‑9234.

    Yucaipa 4th of July Carnival and Fireworks Show-

    Independence Day Weekend Celebration Carnival & Fireworks Show at the Yucaipa High School Grounds. June 30th – July 4th. Music, Food, Non Food Vendors, and Fireworks. Sit on the grass and enjoy the music, food, and a good old fashioned fun time, bring your lawn chairs and join us for a Yucaipa 4th of July weekend blast. It is FREE to enjoy the Celebration…

    Famous events not happening this year are:

    Fontana – Red, White, and Cruise -

    The City of Fontana announces that due to unforeseen circumstances, the City will not be participating in the Auto Club Speedway’s 4th of July celebration. The Auto Club Speedway Red, White and Cruise event has been a summer tradition for the community, but unfortunately it was necessary to cancel this year’s event. The City looks forward to participating with the Auto Club Speedway in 2013 to celebrate Independence Day.

    For more information or questions regarding the Red, White and Cruise event, please contact the Fontana Community Services Department at (909) 349-6900.

    Looking for a local discount on your fireworks? Here is a local booth offering a discount just print the image.

     

     

  • Mortgage rates edge down: 30-year average at 3.84%, Freddie Mac says

    Mortgage rates were little changed this week on mixed news for housing, with Freddie Mac saying the average rate for 30-year conventional loans was 3.84%, compared with 3.85% a week ago. 

    Lenders were offering 15-year fixed loans at an average of 3.05%, down from 3.07%, according to Freddie Mac, which releases its survey results each Thursday morning.

    But a real-estate trade group said Thursday that sales of previously owned homes fell in April due to a supply shortage.

    Analysts said the effects will hit hard in Southern California's expensive markets.

    Southland home prices and sales rose in April for the second straight month, but a dwindling supply of homes for sale meant buyers face challenges in finding homes they can afford.

    Freddie Mac asks lenders early each week about the terms they are offering to solid borrowers seeking mortgages up to $417,000 that conform to guidelines set by Freddie and Fannie Mae, the other mortgage finance giant.

    The borrowers would have paid a little more than half of 1% of the loan balance in upfront lender fees and discount points to obtain the loans.

    Not included are such expenses as appraisals, title insurance and mortgage insurance, which often is required for loans with down payments under 20%.

    The survey provides a consistent gauge of mortgage trends, but actual rates may change rapidly and are influenced by many factors, including borrowers’ credit scores, debt loads and down payments. 

  • The 10-Step Guide to Buying a House

    Buying a house may be the most complicated financial process of your entire life. Luckily, we’ve broken it down into 10 straightforward steps:

    1. Are you ready to become a homeowner?
    Whether you’re becoming a homeowner for the first time or you’re a repeat buyer, buying a house is a financial and emotional decision that requires the experience and support of a team of reliable professionals.

    2. Get a Realtor®
    In the maze of forms, financing, inspections, marketing, pricing, and negotiating, it makes sense to work with professionals who know the community and much more. Those professionals are the local Realtors who serve your area.

    3. Get a mortgage pre-approval
    Most first-time buyers need to finance their home purchase, and a consultation with a mortgage lender is a crucial step in the process. Find out how much you can afford before you begin your home search.

    4. Look at homes
    A quick search on our site will bring up thousands of homes for sale.  Educating yourself on your local market and working with an experienced Realtor can help you narrow your priorities and make an informed decision about which home to choose.

    5. Choose a home
    While no one can know for sure what will happen to housing values, if you choose to buy a home that meets your needs and priorities, you’ll be happy living in it for years to come.

    6. Get funding
    The cost of financing your home purchase is usually greater than the price of the home itself (after interest, closing costs, and taxes are added). Get as much information as possible regarding your mortgage options and other costs.

    7. Make an offer
    While much attention is paid to the asking price of a home, a proposal to buy includes both the price and terms. In some cases, terms can represent thousands of dollars in additional value—or additional costs—for buyers.

    8. Get insurance
    No sensible car owner would drive without insurance, so it figures that no homeowner should be without insurance, either. Real estate insurance protects owners in the event of catastrophe. If something goes wrong, insurance can be the bargain of a lifetime.

    9. Closing
    The closing process, which in different parts of the country is also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” is increasingly computerized and automated. In practice, closings bring together a variety of parties who are part of the real estate transaction.

    10. What’s next?

    You’ve done it. You’ve looked at properties, made an offer, obtained financing, and gone to closing. The home is yours. Is there any more to the home-buying process? Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a repeat buyer, you’ll want to take several more steps. 

  • This Part of the Home-Buying Paperwork Is Everything, So Make Sure You Get It Right

    The prime home-buying season is upon us, and with it, mounds of paperwork. And, let’s be honest—a chunk of that paperwork will be devoted to the real estate purchase contract.

    Here’s how you can sign on the dotted line without losing your mind.

    What it is

    A real estate purchase contract is a legally binding document that details the sale of the property. Details range from the basics (e.g., how much the property costs) to the specifics ( e.g., what furniture or appliances stay in the house).

    How to prepare

    Before you even go near the contract, do a walk-through of the property with a professional land surveyor, engineer, or experienced landowner. Call in an inspector to search for anything that might end up costing you extra money: broken gutters or gates, inadequate electrical circuits, outdated plumbing pipes, and more. Get it all down in writing and attach all building and land inspection forms to the contract.

    Review the contract

     Once all the paperwork is gathered and reviewed, a real estate purchase contract will be drawn up. The following are common items that appear in traditional contracts:

    • Buyer’s and seller’s list
    • Legal description of the property, including zoning information
    • Purchase price and terms of the sale
    • Down payment to be held in escrow and future payment structure
    • Closing date
    • Response time frame before the contract is void
    • Any items included in the sale such as appliances, furniture, and flooring
    • Disclosure of lead paint (for buildings built before 1978) and other defects
    • Home and appliance warrantees
    • Pest and environmental inspection results
    • Home inspection results
    • Title insurance
    • Contingency clauses (for example, you can buy this house only if your other home sells, or certain repairs need to be made)
    • Commissions, if any
    • Signatures

    Signing the contract

    When you sign this contract—that’s pretty much it. If you come back to the seller and ask for anything else not in the purchase agreement, she or he doesn’t have to do it—and probably won’t. The contract states everything you’re getting and not getting in your new home, so get a real estate lawyer to go over all the details. Ask the seller for clarification on anything you don’t understand, and sign only when you’re certain you understand the agreement.

    After signing

    Store the contract in a secure area such as a safe-deposit box. Also store the deed and any other documents registered in the local registry office.

  • Brokers Might Ask You These 6 Questions at an Open House (So Be Ready to Answer Them)

    Would you go to a friend’s dinner party, nibble every course, drink a glass or two of wine, and then leave—without ever speaking to the host? I hope not. And I hope you wouldn’t treat open houses the same way. And yet home buyers often do, refusing to sign in or deflecting agents’ questions about the house they’re touring.

    Sometimes they do it because they’re leery of being given a hard sell or handing over their personal information; others decline because they’re uncomfortable being put on the spot about a potentially huge decision. Whatever the reason, this puts brokers in a tough place: Open houses might be fun for home shoppers, but to agents, they’re work. Your feedback is the market research they need to do their jobs right.

    So, perhaps all that home buyers need is a little preparation. If they know the questions brokers are going to ask, they can be ready with answers, and everyone can go home (perhaps to this very home?) happy. Here’s your cheat sheet:

    1. The question: How long have you been looking?
    Why they’re asking: The agent is trying to gauge how serious you are. If you’ve been looking for only a short time, say a few weeks, the agent will understand that you’re just getting your feet wet—that you’re still gathering your thoughts. If you’ve been looking for months, then the agent might dig in. That tells her you’ve seen a lot, but you haven’t found what you’re looking for. She’s wondering why you haven’t pulled the trigger and, hey, maybe this is the house you’ve been waiting for.
    How you should answer: Be honest and specific. This is harmless information.

    2. The question: Are you working with an agent exclusively?
    Why they’re asking: Agents are trained to respect boundaries. If you are represented by an agent, the open house agent cannot try to represent you. This question sets the tone of the conversation. Don’t be surprised if the agent asks who your agent is. Most agents who do business in a certain area know other active agents. This way the open house agent can call your agent—not you—for your feedback. You are insulated by your buyer-broker agreement.
    How you should answer: If you’re working with an agent, say so! Even better, give the open house agent your agent’s name and brokerage company. This protects you from having to give your personal information to the open house agent. Rather than sign in with your name, number, and email, you can sign in with your name and your agent’s contact information. That’s all the open house agent needs to follow up.

     3. The question: How does this house compare to others you’ve seen?

    Why they’re asking: Now that the agent knows how long you’ve been looking, she wants to get a sense of whether this house is a contender. She is also assuming that you’re touring other houses nearby (other “comps,” as they say). She wants your honest insight on whether her listing is better or worse than the others.
    How you should answer: Be honest. If the house around the corner has a remodeled master bath and this one doesn’t, point that out. If you think this house could use some work, let her know. Remember, being honest about the house won’t hurt the agent’s feelings. She’s independent. Of course she cares about her listing, but, unlike an owner, she isn’t emotionally attached. This is one reason for sale by owner is difficult.

    4. The question: Are you specifically looking at this neighborhood? 
    Why they’re asking: The agent isn’t being nosy here, she wants to know how focused you are. She wants to rule out the looky-loos and focus on the serious buyers. If you are looking in that particular neighborhood but not interested in making an offer on her listing, you’ve caught her attention. She needs to understand what other listings have that hers doesn’t. Now she’s focused on knowing your trigger: Are you focused on certain streets within the neighborhood? A certain style of house? Or is it all about price?
    How you should answer: Be specific. If you’re focused on that neighborhood, it’s OK to say so. If you’re open and still getting your bearings straight, it’s OK to say so. These answers provide depth for the agent when she’s talking to the seller (e.g., “The open house was great! I had a buyer walk through who has been looking for a while and she is only looking in this neighborhood.”). This tells the seller there are buyers out there—and that adjustments may have to be made if those buyers aren’t buying this home.

    5. The question: What do you think of the price?
    Why they’re asking: This is probably the most important question, but it may not be the first one out of the agent’s mouth, because she wants to establish rapport first. The agent knows that people are usually guarded when it comes to price. She wants you to give a thoughtful answer, not a flippant one.
    How you should answer: Now, this is tricky. If you’re not really in the market to buy, or can’t compare it to other houses on the market, don’t just throw out a number. Simply tell the agent you haven’t seen enough to give an educated answer. If you feel you cananswer, say something like “I think it’s priced competitively” or “It’s priced too high.” The point is not to give a dollar figure but to offer a general perception. If you believe it’s a good deal, say that. If you think it’s overpriced, say that. Because if the house is overpriced, maybe the agent will call you once it’s reduced.

    6. The question: Are you considering making an offer on this home?
    Why they’re asking: Please don’t take offense! The agent has a job to do, and this is a valid question.
    How you should answer: As a prospective buyer, remember: You hold the power. If you’re planning to make an offer, it’s good news to the agent and lets her know to expect something in writing. It also might help you if the house is in demand so the agent will know there are multiple offers coming in. That way, she may not start negotiating without first getting your offer in hand. To some extent, this buys you time to call your agent and get your offer submitted. If you’re not planning to make an offer, it’s fine to say that, too.

    Finally, please sign in. You don’t have to go overboard—you don’t even have to give your last name. (Unless you want the agent to check your credentials on LinkedIn.) No one is expecting to see the list, not the broker’s boss, not the seller. Signing in is, in some ways, absolutely unimportant. But it is also common courtesy, the least—the very least—that you can do to preserve the social fabric of our society.

  • Tips to Cut Your Monthly Housing Costs

    Whether you see your residence as a forever home, a financial investment or just a place to crash for the night, there’s no denying how much the cost of housing cuts into your available funds at the end of the month. According to CNN, housing expenses top the list of how Americans spend their money, regardless of income or age, and it has been this way for quite some time.

     GOBankingRates reached out to experts in both the real estate and mortgage loan fields to get a sense of simple ways to save money on this massive monthly cost, without having to downgrade accommodations.

    Here’s what the professionals had to say.

    1. Don’t Throw Money Out The Window

     

     

    “Check your windows and doors,” said Shawn Tamarro, co-owner of Entourage Elite Real Estate. “These openings have the least amount of insulation between your warm house and the blizzard conditions that we are experiencing right now.”

     

    This concept goes both ways, whether you’re caught in the wrath of the polar vortex or are fortunate enough to live in warmer West Coast temperatures. Weatherproofing your doors and windows can help save 25 percent to 40 percent off heating and cooling bills, meaning more savings in your pocket that can go toward paying down your mortgage loan or growing a nest egg.

    Tamarro recommended that homeowners look into insulated windows with a 0.35 or lower fenestration rating, where possible.

     

    2. Double Your Monthly Principal

     

    John F. Sullivan, a 20-year exclusive buyer agent and vice president of Buyer’s Edge Co., Inc., explained how to pay down a 30-year mortgage loan fast, but without the pressure of taking on a larger mortgage payment every month.

     

    “This can be accomplished by making your normal 30-year mortgage payment, plus the principal of the following month’s payment,” Sullivan said. “The result is substantial savings in interest paid and the flexibility to pay down the principal when it fits [a homeowner’s] budget.”

     

    The housing expert is exercised this strategy on his own mortgage loan, and was 53 months ahead of his lender’s payment schedule as of last year.

    Before paying off your mortgage loan early, however, identify whether your lender imposes a prepayment penalty to avoid additional fees.

     

    3. Talk to the Right People

     

     

    “Reach out to a mortgage banker (not a broker) and clearly define [your] goals so that a customized solution can be offered,” said Jorge Avila, in-house mortgage banker at Opulence International Realty.

     

    Although a mortgage broker can be helpful in the initial home-buying process, once the broker finds an adequate lender and financing terms for his client and connects the borrower to the lender, the broker’s role is looped out of the process.

    On the other hand, Avila said, mortgage bankers still play an active role in assessing your financial situation and offering viable options, should you need to adjust mortgage loan terms after the starting stages.

    “If it makes economic sense, we [mortgage bankers] restructure their current mortgage to accomplish one of three goals,” Avila said. “We lower their rate and thus their payment amount, we lower the term and thus save them on interest payments, or use existing equity in the home to accomplish another financial goal.”

     

    4. Use a Home Improvement Organizer

     “Have a personalized maintenance schedule that reminds you every month of what needs to be done to maintain your home,” said John Bodrozic, co-founder of HomeZada, a home improvement resource and tool. “Most people forget or just don’t know all the little things to do to keep the home running smoothly.”

    Aside from repaying your mortgage loan, a large housing expense that can easily send your savings account spiraling downward is routine household maintenance needs that go unattended. At times, scheduled maintenance gets overlooked by accident, but this forgetfulness can lead to costly repairs down the line.

    Not only does staying on top of home improvement projects and maintenance schedules keep your home in tip-top shape, but it also helps keep a home’s resale value intact, Bodrozic said.

    Finding ways to save money and maintain affordable housing costs can take very different approaches, all of which are viable if you’re willing to put in the effort to achieve a lower monthly payment goal.

     

  • Big Refinancing Questions Answered

    You may have heard about it on the news, your neighbors may be bragging about it or you could have even received eligibility notice in the mail — but what is the real deal behind refinancing? Before you crunch your personal numbers and weigh the costs and benefits of refinancing your mortgage, you need to be sure you understand what exactly we're talking about.

    How Does It Work?

    Basically, refinancing a mortgage means getting a new loan with new terms on your home. When you went through the homebuying process, you likely thought — or hoped — that you were done with picking mortgages, but if you can secure a lower interest rate, need lower monthly payments or want to build equity in your home sooner through a shorter-term mortgage, it may be time to revisit your situation. Refinancing also gives you the option to switch between an adjustable-rate mortgage and a fixed-rate mortgage.

    Should I Do It?

    When making the decision, it's important to consider your current mortgage size, details of the new mortgage you would be taking out, the current home value, the interest rate of your loan options and the closing costs. A refinance calculator can help determine if refinancing is right for you. You enter specific information about your personal finances and the calculator determines what makes the most sense for you. If you plan to stay in the house longer than it will take for the monthly savings on your new mortgage to recoup the upfront costs of refinancing, you may want to move forward.

    What Will It Cost?

    When you bought your home, you probably paid closing costs to complete the sale. When you refinance, you have to pay these again to replace your original mortgage with the new one. You can expect to fork over 3% to 6% of your principal in refinancing fees along with any prepayment penalties you could incur. Beware that if you are offered a "no-fee" refinance, the lender may be charging you extra interest to make up for the fees you are avoiding upfront.

    When Is It a Bad Idea?

    Refinancing may sound great, but it isn't for everyone. You need to be eligible for the new loan, which means you usually need to have a certain amount of equity in your home and decent credit score. If you don't qualify, it obviously isn't an option for you. You also should probably not refinance if you plan to move from your home soon, since this doesn't give you time to recoup the closing costs for the new loan. Being able to afford closing costs upfront is also important. Though lenders may offer the option to roll them into your new mortgage, this isn't always the best decision and can cancel out the savings you would make from the switch. Also, if the prepayment penalty on your original mortgage is too high, this can also negate the potential savings of a refinance. 

  • The City of Norco - Utility Bill Assistance Program

    The City of Norco -

    Proudly announces the Reinstatement of it's utility bill assistance program

    You May Qualify for a Discount on the Water and Sewer Fees 

    Low Income Seniors and Disabled Residents are Eligible 

    A Simple application is available to City Hall, The Norco Senior Center or by calling the City's Housing Specialist

    Keep in Mind: 

    Other Housing Programs are available for lower income homeowners, including emergency grants and 0% interest loans to fund qualified home repairs 

    For more information, contact: 

    Michael Neal, Housing Specialist City of Norco 

    909-261-2770

    or check the City website: 

    www.norco.ca.us

     

     

     

  • You're Invited!

     You're Cordially invited!

    To join us for our Wine & Cheese Networking Event on

    May 20th at 5pm -7pm at our newest location

    6205 Pats Ranch Road Unit G, Jurupa Valley, CA. 91752

    (Lowes Shopping Center)

    Please RSVP – 951-479-4581

     

  • REAL ESTATE: Builders must prove they have the water

    State lawmakers intended to prevent building beyond the water supply when they passed two “show-me-the-water” laws in 2001.

    Senate Bills 221 and 610 require that governments review water supplies before approving developments of 500 or more units and to verify there is sufficient water to meet the project’s needs for 20 years, including a multiyear drought.

    It’s hard to know how many projects across the state have been denied or redesigned because of the show-me-the-water laws, since there is no database.

    “It’s spotty, how it’s been complied with across the state,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO of the Alliance for Water Efficiency in Chicago.

    Her group issued a report in January detailing what districts have done so far with the two laws.

    Primarily, developers offset a project’s water use by retrofitting somewhere else in the community – sometimes at a ratio of two times the water used by their development – or they contribute money for the water district to use for conservation rebates, she said.

    Dickinson’s group is developing a template to help communities accurately calculate offsets, develop ways to verify implementation of efficiency measures and establish policies to ensure the reductions are permanent.

    “We just want new development to be water-neutral,” she said.

    In a review of 95 projects from 2002 to 2004, Ellen Hanak, director of the Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute, found that nine were initially deemed to have insufficient supplies. In seven of those cases, developers were asked to find additional water or scale back the projects. Two developments were rejected.

    A second survey by Hanak in 2005 found that only one project was blocked because of water supply concerns. Almost 30 percent of projects took measures to introduce conservation, use of recycled water and water transfers, she said.

    During the last drought in 2007 and 2008, Eastern Municipal Water District in Perris delayed certifying nine major industrial and residential projects because of supply doubts.

    Within months, however, the district agreed to issue “will serve” letters after determining that conservation measures and additional water resources could provide enough water, records show.

    One of those delayed projects was the 1.8 million-square-foot Skechers distribution center in Moreno Valley.

    Construction of the warehouse eventually was allowed to proceed after the developer, Highland Fairview, pledged to reduce water use at its previously approved 2,702-home Aquabella development by using water-efficient landscaping in the new homes’ backyards.

    That reduced the anticipated water demand at the tract from 1,939 acre-feet per year to 162 acre-feet per year, Eastern officials said. One acre-foot is equal to 325,851 gallons, enough to supply two families for a year.

     

  • 7 Ways to Keep Your Property Safe After Moving Out

    If you’re moving out while your home is still on the market, your vacant property could attract more than potential buyers—it could attract criminal activity.

     An unoccupied property is at risk for a break-in, and removing all your belongings doesn't mean you’re in the clear. Graffiti, damaged appliances, stolen copper wiring and broken windows can all add up to thousands of dollars in repairs.

    Remember, don’t forget to let a REALTOR® know your moving plans. Your agent will want to take extra precautions once your property is vacant, and to keep your investment as safe as possible, you’ll have to convince passerby the property is still occupied.

    Here’s how to pull it off.

    1. Ask for Backup

    When you’re moving out, tell your immediate neighbors, the head of your neighborhood watch and your local police department that your property will be vacant.

    With more eyes on the house, you’ll have a better chance of getting quick assistance if someone does break in.

    2. Maintain the Lawn

    An unkempt yard is a surefire sign a home is vacant. In the warmer months, make sure the lawn is mowed regularly, the flowerbeds are free of weeds, and there is no loose trash around the curb or driveway.

    In the cooler months, clean the rain gutters, rake leaves off the lawn and clear the driveway and walkway if it snows.

    3. Don’t Let Paper Pile Up

    As soon as you’re finished moving out, forward your mail and newspaper subscriptions to your new address.

    Ask a family member, friend or neighbor to stop by your home regularly to check for phone books, flyers and any mail that might have been accidentally delivered.

    4. Make Repairs

    A few times a month, check the outside of your property for any needed repairs. If you find any obvious problems, make repairs as soon as possible.

    A cracked window, broken porch railing or loose shutter are small problems—but problems a live-in owner would fix.

    5. Use Your Driveway

    If you have a driveway attached to your home, ask a neighbor to park a car there. Many families with more than one car will be happy for the extra space, and a car parked in the driveway is a great deterrent.

    6. Leave the Curtains Behind

    If at all possible, leave the curtains or blinds on the windows in the home when you’re moving out.

    Keep the curtains drawn and the blinds closed, even at the back of the house, in case a potential vandal hops your fence to see what’s inside.

    7. Keep the Lights On

    Purchase lighting timers, connect to inexpensive lamps and place the devices strategically throughout the house. Set the timers to go on and off in different rooms at the appropriate times of day or night.

    Some would-be thieves or vandals will watch a property for days before breaking in. If they see lights in different rooms, they’ll assume the property still is occupied. 

     

     

  • What Fannie Mae’s and Freddie Mac’s Fee Changes Mean to You

    Late Friday, mortgage-finance companies Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, unveiled changes to the fees they charge to back mortgages and disclosedfinalized capital requirements for private-mortgage insurers who want to do business with the companies.

    Both announcements might seem obscure, but they directly affect mortgage costs for thousands of borrowers. Here’s what you need to know.

    What are the fees and why should I care?

    Fannie and Freddie don’t make mortgages, but they do buy them from lenders, put them into securities and guarantee to make investors whole if the mortgages default. That guarantee is in part what enables 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to exist in the United States, while they’re not available in many other parts of the world.

    But to make that guarantee, Fannie and Freddie charge lenders fees, based in part on the perceived riskiness of the borrower. For Fannie and Freddie, the fees offset expected losses from some borrowers defaulting, pay for administrative expenses and provide income to Fannie and Freddie. They would also help Fannie and Freddie build a capital buffer in case a more serious economic event caused a wave of defaults, but an agreement with the government sends most of Fannie’s and Freddie’s profits to the U.S. Treasury right now.

    Lenders pass the fees to borrowers in the form of higher mortgage rates. So when the fees go up or down, borrowers can expect rates also to change.

    What did they change this time?

    After more than a year of review, the FHFA basically decided to hold fees constant. Although some of the internal moving parts that make up the companies’ fees changed, the fees’ overall level was meant to stay steady.

    There are some exceptions for certain kinds of borrowers. Fannie and Freddie by Sept. 1 will raise fees on certain kinds of loans, such as those for investment properties, mortgages with secondary financing (a.k.a. “piggyback loans”) and cash-out refinances.

    On the other hand, fees will go down slightly for some riskier borrowers who make smaller down payments or have lower credit scores.

    The changes are so minuscule that you probably won’t even notice. Typical borrowers won’t see a break in their mortgage rates of more than 0.05 percentage point or a hike of more than 0.07 to 0.1 percentage point. That’s less than rates move in a week.

    So why are some people mad about this?

    In taking a middle route, the FHFA has likely angered parties on each end of the political spectrum. Affordable housing advocates, and some in the real-estate industry, had wanted to see a bigger break, especially for borrowers with low down payments and low credit scores. The Federal Housing Administration—a separate agency that also backs loans to such borrowers—cut fees by half a percentage point earlier this year, creating hope among some that the FHFA might also make a big move.

    On the conservative side, many will be disappointed that Fannie and Freddie aren’t going to raise fees. Under former leadership, the FHFA had raised fees several times with the idea of enticing more private investors to expand into the mortgage market. Those efforts so far haven’t worked.

    What does private-mortgage insurance have to do with this?

    On Friday, the FHFA also announced new capital requirements for private-mortgage insurers who want to do business with Fannie and Freddie.

    Borrowers typically must buy private-mortgage insurance when they make a down payment of less than 20%. The PMI protects Fannie and Freddie from some losses if a borrower defaults.

    During the financial crisis, losses from defaults proved to be more than some insurers could bear, throwing them into peril. The new, tougher capital standards are intended to ensure that doesn’t happen again and reduce risk for Fannie and Freddie.

    The FHFA thinks that even under the new standards, MI prices should stay about the same, but some insurers might charge more to meet the new requirements, which would mean higher costs for low-down-payment borrowers.

    If mortgage insurers do decide to raise prices, “taken together, the moves that FHFA has announced on pricing and the MIs will have almost no effect on the total cost of credit for most consumers,” writes James Parrott, a former Obama White House adviser and senior fellow at the Urban Institute.


  • Inland foreclosures reach 8-year low

    Foreclosure activity in the Riverside County region in February fell to levels not seen since July 2006, according to a new report from RealtyTrac.

    That time frame is significant because homebuilding and homebuying were in a frenzy about 8 1/2 years ago.

    RealtyTrac vice president Daren Blomquist said the country and the region have reached a major milestone because the pace of foreclosure activity is fading. Across the nation, foreclosure activity is on track to return to historic norms in 2015, and possibly will fall below historic norms.

    What did the February foreclosure picture look like in Inland Southern California?

    Total foreclosure filings – notices of default, auction or bank take-back – fell to 1,144 in Riverside County and increased to 1,246 in San Bernardino County, the RealtyTrac data showed.

    The filings are down nearly 5 percent from January and 12.5 percent over February 2014 in Riverside County. In San Bernardino County, filings are up nearly 16 percent from January and up 3 percent from February 2014.

    Blomquist, over many months, has warned that foreclosure activity would rise and fall month to month as banks and mortgage service companies push through the final remnants of distressed housing stock. That is what appears to be happening here.

    Michael and Monique Cabrera, a San Bernardino couple who have lived across the street from a rambled down home, say they’re glad to see banks take an aggressive role to push properties with mortgages in default through the system.

    “Morale is up,” Michael said. “Our kids are going for bike rides and playing outside again.”

    The Cabreras, who bought their home three years ago, said they’ve seen several potential buyers check out the home in the last few weeks. “It looks like good people coming in, families,” he said. “We’re happy about that.”

    The Inland region, with 1.5 million housing units, once led the nation in foreclosure filings. In February, the two-county metro region ranked sixteenth for overall foreclosure activity in the country.

    One out of every 630 homes received a foreclosure-related filing, according to the RealtyTrac report.

    For all of California, one out of every 1,190 homes received a foreclosure filing in February.

  • Tips on Applying for a Mortgage After a Foreclosure

    Recovering from a negative credit event like a foreclosure can take years—seven years in many cases.

    growing number of Americans are reaching that juncture after going into foreclosure early in the housing crisis.

    During that seven-year period, gaining access to loans is challenging, particularly in the first two to three years. Getting approved for a car loan or credit card is possible, though the interest rates you’ll be charged will be high. But finding a lender that will give you a mortgage will be a lot harder in most cases.

    Foreclosures stay on consumers’ credit reports with the three main credit-reporting firms—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion—for up to seven years and are factored into their FICO credit scores for all of that period. The seven-year period also applies to short sales, settlements with credit-card companies or other lenders, and other negative events. Bankruptcies can stay on for 10 years.

    Millions of consumers are feeling the impact of the seven-year timeframe in the wake of foreclosures after job losses, pay cuts or other setbacks from the last downturn. To figure out when a negative mark is due to be dropped, borrowers can check their credit reports from each of the three firms, which they can do free once every 12 months atannualcreditreport.com. The reports will list the year the negative event was recorded.

    Here are some pointers on how to increase your chances with mortgage lenders if you have a black mark on your credit record.

    Be strategic about your timing

    People who have only a few months left before a foreclosure or other negative credit event gets removed from their credit reports could benefit by waiting it out before applying. When lenders check your credit reports, they won’t see that you went through a foreclosure—information that could make them second-guess approving an applicant or charge them a higher interest rate.

    However, if another year or so needs to pass until the black mark is removed from your credit reports, and you want to get a mortgage, waiting may not pay off, says John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education at CreditSesame.com, a credit-management site. Mortgage rates may be higher down the road. Even borrowers who don’t have the highest credit scores could end up getting a better interest rate now than if they wait until the foreclosure is removed from their report, he says.

    There are some caveats to be aware of. The application form that many lenders require applicants to fill out asks several questions about foreclosure, including whether they’ve ever been through one—information that could make a lender think twice about an applicant. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have their own waiting period, which is as long as seven years after the foreclosure has been completed—which could be a few years after it comes off your credit reports.

    Pay down credit-card debt

    One of the fastest ways to improve your FICO score is to pay down your credit-card debt, and, if possible, pay it off entirely. A comparison of this debt with the overall credit-card spending limits a borrower has contributes to a category that accounts for 30% of consumers’ FICO scores.

    The change can be reflected in your credit report within a month and will quickly improve your score, says Mr. Ulzheimer. FICO scores, developed by Fair Isaac Corp., are the credit scores used in most consumer-lending decisions.

    A Fair Isaac analysis of people who had foreclosure proceedings added to their credit reports between October 2007 and October 2008 found that 69% of those borrowers whose FICO scores had recovered and were at least 680 by last October had revolving debt, such as credit-card debt that equaled less than 30% of their total credit-card spending limits. None of them had maxed out credit cards

    Hold off on applying for other financing

    Signing up for car loans, furniture or appliance financing, and many other loans can hurt an applicant’s chances of getting approved for a mortgage. Lenders review borrowers’ debt compared to their income to determine whether they can get a home loan and its size.

    In addition, the FICO score factors in credit inquiries—when lenders check your credit when you apply for a loan or credit card—that are up to 12 months old. The applications you make within the year prior to applying for a mortgage could lower your score.

    Avoid other black marks

    Make sure to pay your bills on time and to not get into trouble with any loans. Otherwise, you’ll be at risk of starting the seven-year period from scratch and seeing your score drop again if a lender reports a negative credit event to the credit-reporting firms.


  • Southern California home prices and sales rise in March

    Some green shoots finally sprouted in Southern California’s housing market in March, as sales increased 11 percent from a year earlier and the median price hit its highest level in more than seven years, a market tracker said Thursday.

    Last month, sales of new and previously owned houses and condominiums in the six-county region rose from 17,638 in March 2013 to 19,603, the company said — a jump of 44 percent from February’s 13,650.

    “A surge in home sales between February and March is normal, given a lot of buyers and sellers return to the market in late winter, resulting in more deals closing in March,” CoreLogic analyst Andrew LePage said.

     

     

    “The bigger news is that sales increased year over year, which is something that’s only happened in a few months over the past year.”

    Southern California home sales have fallen year over year in 9 out of the last 12 months, CoreLogic said. March sales were 18 percent below that month’s average since 1988.

    Continued tight inventory, especially in the lower price ranges, has been putting a damper on sales, while rising prices and tough credit standards are making it tough for first-time buyers to crack the market, CoreLogic said.

     

     

    “Price gains over the past two years could trigger substantially more inventory in the months ahead, and that could support higher sales and tame home price appreciation,” LePage said, adding it will take several months to determine whether there will be an inventory response to buyers’ demand.

    “A lot of people hoped for that in 2013 and 2014 ... but that didn’t play out,” he said.

    The median price for all types of housing sold increased 6 percent — from $400,000 a year ago to $425,000 — over last month and 2 percent over February. The March median is the highest since it was $425,000 in December 2007, CoreLogic said.

     

     

    County sales overall increased 12.5 percent, from 5,915 a year ago to 6,653 last month. The median price rose 9.5 percent, from $435,000 to $476,500.

    In San Bernardino County, sales rose 12 percent, from 2,048 a year ago to 2,289. The median price increased 9 percent, from $230,000 to $250,000.

    Prices have been steadily rising as sales at the mid to high segments of the market increase, and foreclosures have retreated to pre-recession levels.

    For example, the number of homes that sold for $500,000 or more during March increased 14 percent from a year ago and accounted for 38 percent of all sales, CoreLogic said.

     

     

    Sales of properties under $500,000 rose by 2 percent, while sales below $200,000 fell 18 percent.

    Distressed properties — foreclosures and short sales — continued at a low level. Buyers who lost a home in the recession are eligible to get back in the market if their credit has been repaired.

    Foreclosure resales represented 5 percent market share in March, and short sales accounted for 6 percent. Both were just under their February and year-ago level, something Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., sees as a good sign.

     

     

    “There are things that could work in favor of the housing market in 2015, but we were disappointed the last couple of years and are approaching this season with a great bit of caution,” Kleinhenz said.

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