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Century 21 Gold

  • 8 of the biggest home-buyer turnoffs

    Sellers in hot real-estate markets — where there’s not enough for-sale inventory for the number of people who want to buy — may not feel compelled to spend money to stage their whole house. And they may not need to, given the reduced competition.

    But they still should do the minimum: Keep the house free of common issues that send prospective buyers running for the doors, said Brendon DeSimone, a real-estate agent licensed in New York and California. In his book, Next Generation Real Estate, he lists some of the most common buyer turnoffs—and how to handle them, which often takes daily discipline.

    “Bidding wars happen for perfectly-located homes that show like museums,” he said. “When your house is on the market, you have to be living on egg shells—you have a month or two of being tidy.”

    Decluttering, depersonalizing and painting rooms in neutral colors are always smart moves when prepping a house for sale. But if you do nothing else, steer clear of the following buyer turnoffs before allowing a prospective buyer to walk through your home.

    Pets and their things

    Nobody wants to see a dirty kitty litter box or a dog bone on the sofa, DeSimone said. And as best you can, get rid of lingering pet smells. (Cat urine on the carpet, DeSimone said, is one of the hardest smells to remove. Even worse, sometimes it can seep into the hardwood floors below.)

    “The most offensive odor is animals, and you can plug in, light up and spray all you want,” but it won’t completely cover up the smell, said real-estate agent Heather Lamp, based in Fort Mill, S.C. She recently wrote a blog post about issues that most annoy buyers when walking through homes.

    Pets should be out of the house during showings. If possible, it’s easier to have a friend or relative watch your dog or cat during the entire time your home is on the market, Lamp said.

    Bright walls

    You don’t have to paint the whole house, but rooms with bright or unique colors or wallpaper should be covered with something more neutral.

    In searching for a home recently, Catherine Gacad couldn’t see beyond the bright colors and outdated wallpaper in a home she saw in San Francisco’s Miraloma Park neighborhood. “If the sellers had just unpeeled the wallpaper and repainted everything white, it would have been fine,” she said. She lost patience and walked out.

    Toys and Baby supplies

    Other parents will understand how difficult it is to keep a home tidy with kids in the house. But not all potential buyers will be parents. Make sure all toys have a home in a toy chest or closet.

    If you have a newborn, dirty diapers need to be taken out and *** pumps should be out of sight. Dirty bottles and *** milk shouldn’t be left out; buyers may get the impression that the home isn’t sanitary, DeSimone said. In fact, store the clean bottles, too, and don’t leave them on a drying rack near the sink. Give yourself a good 20 minutes to pack up baby items before a showing, he said. The payoff of an always-neat home: You’re more likely to get a higher price, he said

      Cooking smells

    The second most offensive smell, in Lamp’s book: Cooking smells.

    Strong spices, bacon, onions—they all tend to linger long after the meal is over, she said. To diffuse them, leave a window slightly cracked while cooking. After you’re done with the meal, boil some cinnamon in water to freshen up the house. Plug-ins and sprays can make the problem even worse for people who are sensitive to smells—or allergic to the fresheners, she said.

    One buyer Lamp was working with didn’t get two feet in the door before she turned around, due to the smell of strong spices. Another time, the buyer left after smelling incense burning.

    Cigarette smoke

    For many, the smell of cigarette smoke throughout a home is a deal breaker, and a reason to hasten a walk through, DeSimone said. “If you’re a smoker, seriously, get the whole house painted,” he said.

     

    Dirty dishes, cluttered counters

    No buyer will want to see last night’s spaghetti stuck to plates in the sink. That’s a given. But clutter on the counters, from the coffee maker to the toaster oven, also will be a distraction, making counter space look smaller and your kitchen, in general, looking messy.

    DeSimone’s advice: Create a special drawer or cabinet for things that you use on a regular basis, but need to be stashed away. That will help you quickly find a place for them each day.

    Messy bathrooms

    Women, in particular, clutter bathrooms with makeup, perfumes and other grooming items, Lamp said. Store everything under the counter. And make sure the hair is out of the tub and the toothpaste smears are wiped out of the sink, Lamp said.

    “I don’t know how people live like this,” or “I thought I was a mess, and now I feel like I have obsessive compulsive disorder,” are a couple of comments Lamp has heard clients utter when walking through messy bathrooms. Sometimes, through body language with their significant others, such as a nod or a raise of the eyebrows, she can sense their disapproval.

    Dirty toilets

    Keep a clean (and flushed!) toilet and always keep the lid down. Enough said.

    The flip side of all of the above: If you’re a buyer and can overlook some of these seller faux pas in a home, you might get a better deal, DeSimone said. So while some buyers will be disgusted enough to cross a problematic home off their list, others will see the opportunity of a diamond in the rough.

    By Amy Hoak  

     

  • Low down payment mortgages make a comeback

    Borrowers who have steady income and good credit, but not much money in the bank, will find that it recently became easier to buy a home.

    Down payment requirements, which rose after the subprime mortgage crisis, are easing again as lenders and mortgage backers try to draw in new buyers.

    "It's one of the things that's inhibiting first-time homebuyers," said Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource. "There are a lot more people who can qualify for a home that don't realize that they can."

    FHA cuts insurance costs

    The Federal Housing Administration has long backed loans for borrowers with lower credit scores and with down payments as low as 3.5%, but until this year it also required hefty insurance payments.

    FHA monthly insurance premiums dropped dramatically at the beginning of 2015. The change, from 1.35% to only 0.85%, will make FHA loans a better choice for some borrowers after years of prohibitively high premiums, said Anthony Hsieh, chief executive officer of loanDepot, one of the largest FHA lenders in the country.

    "We're starting to get back to what's reasonable," said Hsieh. "The crisis has shaken the market so much that there is no doubt there was an overreaction."

    Fannie and Freddie

    Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee more than half the country's mortgages. At the end of 2014, the two government-backed companies announced plans to slash minimum down payments from 5% to 3%.

    The new program from Fannie Mae went into effect in December, and the one from Freddie Mac will begin in March. Both are only for first-time homebuyers, and the Freddie Mac program is restricted to low-income borrowers.

     Loans backed by the two mortgage giants still require private mortgage insurance for down payments below 20%.

    And just because Fannie and Freddie are willing to buy loans with looser requirements doesn't mean the lenders themselves will change their standards.

    "It's a phenomenon of the post-recession where lenders learned their lesson," said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "They learned that simply because the investor will allow it, the lender may still not feel comfortable doing it."

    "Rural" and VA loans

    Other types of low-down payment loans have also become far more popular since the recession.

    Despite its name, loans from the Department of Agriculture are available to borrowers in many locations that are hardly rural, and they include no-money-down financing. To be eligible for USDA loans, a borrower must have dependable income and decent credit, and can't already own a home, exceed certain area median income thresholds or live within certain urban areas.

     Department of Veteran Affairs loans are also booming, coming close to outnumbering FHA loans. Although not available to the average American homebuyer, VA mortgage backing allows veterans and surviving spouses to purchase property with no money down, no outside insurance and limited closing costs.

    Average VA interest rates are lower, and credit and income requirements are also more flexible than conventional loans.

    A return to easier credit

    The shift toward loans with lower down payments has drawn criticism from some politicians -- after all, easy loans with little money down contributed to the crisis that led to the Great Recession.

    Stevens said that new rules for qualified mortgage loans and more diligent underwriting by lenders will protect the lending market.

    "Down payment has become the single largest barrier to home ownership," said Stevens. "Quite frankly, it's going to be a lot safer and sounder this time than it was in the past."

  • Don’t Forget These 6 Things When Moving Out

    Leaving an old community can be difficult. On top of moving your possessions, selling your home, and saying goodbye to old friends, it can be hard to remember the things you need to do in order to set up the new life waiting for you in a new locale.

    To make it easier, make a checklist and follow this handy guide to make your move smoother.

    Banks

    Check your new city to see if your bank has a branch nearby. If not, you may need to switch banks; this is especially true if your bank is regional.

    Don’t forget to grab anything you have in your safety deposit box, as well.

    Medical Needs

    If you can, have your current doctor call in prescriptions to a pharmacy in your new town. This will give you time to pick out the right doctor—not just one that is available.

    Keep your old doctor’s number so you can contact them when you need paperwork forwarded to your new doctor.

    If you’re keeping your health insurance plan, look for doctors in your new area that will accept it. If you need to switch providers or update your plan, try to do so before you move.

    If not, ask your insurance agent for a recommendation, call the local chamber of commerce or research companies online.

    Things to Transfer

    Formally resign or transfer memberships from any local organizations, gyms, associations, and clubs.

    Be aware that canceling before your membership has completed can result in early termination fees. Factor it into your moving costs and move on.

    And just for safekeeping, ask the school system to make copies of all your children’s records for you to take with you.

    Raid the Kitchen

    About a month before moving, be sure to start using up any frozen goods so that you avoid waste.

    Also use up, give away, or donate any unopened food in your pantry. These items can be bulky and heavy to transport.

    Check the Car

    Tune up the car to avoid a breakdown on the way to your new home. If you have a trusted mechanic, ask if they can refer you to another near your new address.

    If it’s a long road trip, pack a first-aid kit just to be safe. This should contain bandages, bug spray, sunburn spray, tissues and medications you or your family will need along the way.

    Final Closure for Moving

    Moving can be tough on the whole family. To bring a sense of closure for everyone, try these six tips:

    • Visit local spots that hold dear memories. Take snapshots or a short video for keepsake purposes.
    • Host your own going-away party, and encourage your children to invite their friends. This is a good-bye for everyone—including friends, neighbors, former teachers, and colleagues.
    • Take one last walk through the house together, noting spots you’ll never want to forget.
    • Take a picture of the family in front of the old house.
    • Take a picture of your family in front of the new house. Display both photos side-by-side somewhere in the new place for everyone to see easily.
    • If you can, make plans to visit your old hometown within the first year after your move. Visit friends and drive past your old home, through neighborhoods, and landmarks. This post-move reconnection with dear friends and fond memories will help your family bring finality to the move—even after you’ve settled into your new digs.
  • Six Factors that determine wheter a house will sell

    As a home seller, you want to maximize the net profits from selling your home while minimizing the inconveniences that often come with moving through the process. To achieve these goals, its important to know how the selling process works and the six critical factors that determine whether a home will sell.

    1. Price. Regardless of how much you paid for your home or the renovations you've made, price will always be determined by what the market will bear, which is based on comparable homes in your area. If your goal is to sell quickly, the wisest pricing policy is always to price at or just below market value.

    2. Terms/Financing.  An affordable monthly payment encourages buyers to write offers faster. Its a great idea to enlist your Realtor's help to prepare a financial worksheet for potential buyers so they can see at a glance what the taxes will be, average heating/cooling costs, average water bill, etc.

    3. Condition. You are competing for buyers in today's market, so don't overlook repairs hoping potential buyers wont notice. Little problems make them wonder what bigger problems could be lurking. De-clutter, dress up your curb appeal, and have the home professionally cleaned from top to bottom to increase the likelihood of a successful sale.

    4. Location.  Ever hear the old saying, "What sells real estate? Location. Location. Location" That's only partly true. Pricing is really the most predominant factor. The truth is that more desirable areas sell for more than less desirable ones. In that you can't really control location, you can adjust the price accordingly.

    5. Market.  Every market goes through a series of cycles. What affects your homes price is what is happening right in our local area. Ask me for a comparative market analysis, which can help you determine the best possible price for your home.

    6.Marketing. Exposure, marketing, online tools, reputation, and connection are all vital to getting homes sold in today's market.  I will share with you the strategies I will put in place that have allowed homeowner's just like you to sell their homes with ease, without stress, and for a high return on investment.

    If you or someone you know is thinking about selling, this is a great time of year to do it. I hope you'll keep these factors in mind and call us for a complimentary, no-pressure consultation and comparative market analysis.

    For a Real Estate Professional who can help you contact Century 21 Gold Norco 951-479-4580 or Jurupa Valley 951-279-3348

  • Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest Level in Nearly 2 Years

    If you haven’t locked in the low mortgage rates everybody’s talking about, don’t despair—it’s not too late. Fixed mortgage rates dropped again this week, putting them at their lowest level since May 2013—and analysts predict they’ll continue falling.

    The 15-year fixed rate also hit a milestone this week, falling below 3% for the first time since May 2013.

    “Mortgage rates fell for the third consecutive week as oil prices plummeted and long-term Treasury yields continued to drop despite a strong employment report,” said Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist at Freddie Mac. “The economy exceeded expectations by adding 252,000 jobs in December, which followed an upward revision of 50,000 jobs to the prior two months. The unemployment rate fell to 5.6 percent, which was the lowest since June 2008.”

    The average interest rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dipped to 3.66% from 3.73% last week, according to the latest survey from Freddie Mac.

    A year ago at this time, it trended at 4.41%.

    The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage also registered a drop, to 2.98% from 3.05% last week. A year ago, it averaged 3.10%, according to Freddie Mac.

    Averages for the two most popular, hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages also fell. The five-year ARM dropped from 2.98% to 2.90%, week-over-week. The one-year ARM trended down slightly, to 2.37% from 2.39% a week ago.

    With interest rates falling, mortgage applications nearly doubled in the week ending Jan. 9, compared with the week before, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    Those gains were driven mostly by homeowners looking to refinance, the trade group said.

    Refinancing could be bolstered further by an Obama administration decision last week to cut the premiums charged by the Federal Housing Administration on its loans.

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 borrowers could refinance loans guaranteed by the program this year.

    The FHA estimates that an additional 250,000 first-time buyers will enter the market after the premium reductions.

    So, what if you haven’t taken advantage of these historically low rates? In the short term, many analysts say there’s still time to cash in.

    In the latest Mortgage Rate Trend Index by Bankrate.com, 64% of the panelists polled think rates will continue to fall, while 7% say rates will increase.

    “If you took out a mortgage in the last few years, you certainly want to pull out your mortgage statement and see if you can improve your situation,” said Jim Sahnger, mortgage planner with Schaffer Mortgage in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. “If you took out an FHA mortgage in the last few years, even last year, pick up the phone and call a lender.”

     

  • Buying Green Can Save You Some Green

    It’s time to move on. You’ve decided to sell your home and embark on a new adventure.

    Unfortunately, potential buyers don’t care about how long you obsessed over choosing the perfect bathroom tiles or the number of carpenters you interviewed to make the perfect built-in bookcase. To the buyer, those items may not matter to the value of the home, even if you think they should.

    When it’s time to sell, you have to price your home right, using tangible factors. Here are six rules to remember:

    1. Price is king

    Your asking price determines how long the home will sit on the market. Pricing the home too high may reduce the number of interested buyers, which can cause your home to sit on the market too long. If your house is on the market too long, it may create the perception that there’s something wrong with it. It can also lead a buyer to think that you’re desperate for an offer. You want to avoid these outcomes and not overvalue your home.

    On the flip side, pricing the home too low may create some skepticism and raise unwanted questions about the home’s true value. This will hit you in the bank account if multiple offers don’t drive the price up to its true market value.

    2. Use comparable sales 

    The simplest way to figure out the right price for your home is to compare similar homes that have sold in your neighborhood. Instead of skulking in the shadows and casing the neighbor’s house, use realtor.com

    to check out nearby stats.

    Compare your house with those with the same number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and square footage. If you find comparable homes with similar floor plans and outdoor space, all the better. See how many homes in your area have sold recently and what they went for. You can also work with a real estate agent to help you compare houses.

    3. Compare fairly

    Make sure your comparison is fair. If there are neighborhoods in your city that are more desirable, consider that in your comparison. Also consider your location and what buyers want. If a similarly sized new-construction townhouse sold for top dollar down the block, you may not get the same amount for your cute ’40s bungalow.

    4. Check the market history

    To get a more comprehensive picture of the real estate market in your neighborhood, check the listing history of a home. Compare the original asking price with the final sale price, and note the amount of time the house was on the market until it sold. A REALTOR can help you with this step.

    If you’re looking to speed up the process, you may want to price your house a bit lower. However, if profit is your motive, you may need to wait a few months for a sale on the high end of the spectrum.

    5. Consider special improvements

    Consider whether major improvements you’ve made warrant a higher asking price. If you’ve remodeled the kitchen and put down a new parquet floor, or if you really feel the special woodwork details will clinch the sale, make sure those enhancements are reflected in the price of the home. Be reasonable. Don’t be surprised if you don’t get as much money as you expected—improvements don’t always recoup their cost.

    6. Don’t ignore supply and demand

    In a buyer’s market, with many homes for sale and sellers competing for attention, you may want to ask a bit less for your home to make it more attractive to potential buyers. In a seller’s market, where there is little home supply and much buyer demand, you may want to ask a bit more and maximize your profit.


  • Some great programs available for Homebuyers: Teacher's, CalHFA, CHDAP

    FIRST PROGRAM:  

    California Housing = DOWN PAYMENT ASSISTANCE (CHDAP)

    Program Features:

    CHDAP offers a 3% down payment or closing costs assistance with deferred payments. 

    640 (could possibly be as low as 630)  minimum FICO

    1% minimum investment

    Available throughout the state of California

    First time homebuyers

    Available for SFR's, condo's and PUD's

    *Income and sales price limits apply.  

     

    2ND PROGRAM

    Buying Your First Home on a Teacher's Salary can be TOUGH! It just got easier!!

    CalHFA would like to say, "thank you" to staff members serving California's high priority schools with the Extra Credit Teacher Program.

    Features:

    Down Payment Assistance

    $7.500 for non-high cost areas

    $15,000 for high cost areas

    Interest forgiveness after three years

     

    THIRD PROGRAM

    California Buyers: Purchase a home with as little as $1000 in down payment

    Introducing the CalHFA Conventional loan program, with additional down payment assistance programs avaialble

    Program Highlights

    First mortgage financing to 97% loan-to-value

    Minimum borrower contributions: 

    $1500.00 for borrowers with credit scores between 640-679

    $1000.00 for borrowers with a credit score of 680 or higher

    Eligible for first time homebuyers and non-first time homebuyers

    Can be combined with down payment assistance and other programs, such as:

    California Housing Down Payment Assistance (CHDAP)

    Extra Credit Teachers Program

    Mortgage Credit Certificate

    Homebuyer education required

    Income restrictions apply

    CalHFA is also available for FHA financing

    For more information or to answer any questions please contact one of the Professional agents at Century 21 Gold 951-479-4580.   

     

     

     

  • 1031 Exchange: Questions

    It might be helpful to review some of the common questions we receive about 1031 Exchanges. Your questions are welcome; we invite you to submit them to us at donnachudzicki@yahoo.com or by phone at 951-479-4581 ask for Donna. 

    Below are just some of the questions we received;

    Q. Do I absolutely need to use a qualified intermediary? To complete a 1031 Exchange, the IRS requires that you not touch the 1031 Exchange proceeds. Instead, it requires you go through a Qualified Intermediary (Accommodator) 

      A. In Short, you would have a taxable transaction without the use of a Qualified Intermediary. You are not permitted under IRS Regulations (Section 1.1031 of the Treasury Regulations) to have "constructive receipt" or "actual receipt" of the net proceeds generated from the sale of your relinquished property. 

     

     Q. Can a Family Member 1031 Exchange Into a TIC or JV?

    A. in many cases, yes. However, you must be very careful and thorough review of the investment and transaction structure by your legal and tax advisers is very important before you proceed. The 1031 Exchange will fail if not properly structured

     

    Q. Identification Requirements for Like-Kind Replacement Properties

    A. There are very specific requirements for identifying and acquiring potential like-kind replacement properties in your 1031 Exchange transaction.   

     

    *** Answers listed above are just basic one sentence answers, please contact Donna for complete answers and help with 1031 Exchange questions. By calling you will not be obligated in anyway.We are offering help to those with questions

    951-479-4581 or email donnachudzicki@yahoo.com

     

  • Mission Inn Festival of Lights in Riverside, CA - November 28th

    By far, one of my favorite times of the year is the fall season. For us in Southern California, the fall season does not normally mean the changing of colors or dramatic temperature loss, but it does give way to the many great traditions that make me excited for this time of year. Ever since moving to Riverside four years ago, the Mission Inn Festival of Lights has been one of my main traditions during the fall season. It is an extravagant showing of Christmas lights that combines with the famous and historic California hotel for a unique night out in Riverside. It was even on the top ten destinations for holiday lights this year in the whole United States.

    Mission Inn Walkway

    Details

    • Free
    • Starts the day after Thanksgiving and can be crazy busy for opening night
    • Hard to find parking on the weekends
    • Some of the dinner places are only open during the weekends and not during the week

    History

    A little history and info on it is as follows.

    “For 19 years, the Festival of Lights has been well known for its nearly three million Christmas lights, and over 400 animated figures. Although the Festival lasts all throughout the holiday season, the day after Thanksgiving is the lighting ceremony. On this day city officials and the owner of the hotel, Duane Roberts, give speeches before fireworks light up the sky and nearly 25,000 people attend annually to view the unique hotel and its holiday decorations. During the festival of lights, decorations including musical angels, carolers on the balconies, and a Santa Claus climbing the chimney are featured.”

    Front of the mission inn

    Mission Inn

    The Mission Inn is of course the standout of the festivities. It has an insane amount of Christmas lights covering every inch of its exterior as well as snowflakes blinking on and off on the massive palm trees in the front of the hotel (A truly California addition). You can walk around the entire hotel multiples times and never see the same thing twice. Here is a short video I took with my phone that shows how awesome the entrance to the hotel is, but believe me you really need to see this in person to grasp it.

    Every year it seems like it gets more fantastic and every year it seems like more people show up. Even with all of the people it never seems too crowded though and doesn’t take away from the magic of the decorations, assuming you can find parking. Check out more pictures below.

    Mission Inn festival of lights walkway

    Entrance to Mission Inn Festival of Lights

    Backside of the mission inn

    Peace dove at mission inn

    If you get a chance to go in the Mission Inn you can also see the beautiful tree they have in the lobby which is huge and always very well decorated.

    Mission Inn Tree

    Surrounding Attractions

    While the Mission Inn is the reason to come, the surrounding activities allow you to make it into a full night. There are many restaurants around the area at which you can get a meal. I personally would recommend Simple Simons as it is one of my favorites in the area and has great sandwiches but you never know when it is open. If you are just looking for a snack there is a cupcake shop, the Gingerbread House, mini donut and even a funnel cake stands. You can also go to Salted Pig which is amazing but a little bit away from the Mission Inn area.

    Gingerbread house

    Santa Coco packages

    You can even take a carriage ride around to see the lights in style. You shouldn’t have to wait to long as there were about 6 different carriages running when I was there.

    Carrage rides at the festival of lights

    If neither of these sound fun there is also a full ice skating rink next to a statue of Ghandi and many vendors selling light up toys for children.

  • Attract Serious Buyers, Discourage Lookie-Loos

    Serious buyers want to find a home. They've been pre-qualified by a lender, chosen a real estate agent, and are ready to make an offer on the right home.

    A Lookie-Loo is a person who is not seriously in the market to buy a home. "Loo" could be a nosy neighbor, an open house junkie, or worst of all - someone who thinks they're serious, but are incapable of making a realistic offer.

    In determining your marketing strategy, your real estate professional knows what will work to get serious buyers coming to see your home, and what will discourage people who will waste your time.

    Attract Serious Buyers

    In any market, your home is competing with new construction that offers never-lived-in appeal - pristine appointments, hardwood floors, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and more. In a slow market, builders offer landscaping discounts, points on mortgage loans, and decorating allowances as incentives.

    Your home is also competing with your neighbors' homes for sale, which may be in better condition or more updated than yours. You may also be in a market that still has a large number of foreclosures that are pulling home prices down.

    The point is that buyers want the most value, no matter what the market is doing. Don't assume that because home prices are up and sales are picking up that buyers will negotiate any less. Verify market prices with your agent. Price your home for today's market reality.

    Your job is to prepare your home to attract serious buyers. Move-in ready condition is what most buyers want, and you have to provide it. Your agent's job is network, advertise, and market to make buyers aware of your home and interested in buying it. If the marketing pictures show a problem, you're not going to attract serious buyers.

    Stage your home to best advantage - declutter, depersonalize, clean thoroughly, enhance curb appeal, fresh paint, fresh landscaping. Fix every little thing that's broken or not working smoothly - no sticking drawers, no wobbly doorknobs. Don't give buyers room to make unrealistic offers.

    Do something extra for your home - some remodeling, new appliances, new countertops can work wonders for buyers. Do something extra for the buyer, like provide a history of the home.

    Discourage Lookie-Loos

    The only thing your agent can do to discourage Lookie-Loos is to encourage serious buyers to consider your home. Your agent can network with other agents and tell them all the things you've done to attract a serious, realistic offer. They will bring qualified, interested buyers to view your home.

    Make sure your agent creates a really good online presentation of your home with lots of pictures, a virtual tour, local amenities, school data, and more. The idea is to give buyers enough information to put your home on their short list.

    Your agent can also employ niche marketing and out of box marketing ideas. If your home is near a college, for example, she can advertise in college papers, alumni magazines, billboards or student housing websites.

    The more questions you can answer about your home and neighborhood online, the less interested Lookie-Loos will be in traipsing through your home, either at an open house or with their agents.

    If you do have an open house, don't make it easy for people to have the run of your home. Have your agent register visitors and view their identification. Serious buyers won't be offended but non-serious buyers will be very reluctant to provide personal information. Those are the people you don't need.

    Despite your precautions, some Lookie-Loos will slip through, making appointments that waste your agent's time and yours, but look at it this way - if your home is ready for market and priced to sell, it's a good deal for any buyer, even a Lookie-Loo. 

  • 10 ways to keep your home safe

    There is nothing more important than feeling secure in your own home. While we can only control a small bit of the world around us, we should always be sure that we are keeping our home safe. Here is some basic information to keep your home safe. The goal of securing your home is to protect your possessions, but also at the same time protecting the people who live there. According to The California Association of Realtors, these are the 10 tips you should follow in order to be well on the road to greater peace of mind.

    Be a friendly and observant neighbor: Neighborhoods with a “community watch” where each person is looking out for one another provides a sense of security. Generally people know each other and know who lives where. This type of activity makes it easier to talk about crime and helps homeowners to solve problems. Let neighbors know that you are crime conscious, and encourage them to be so, too. Provide your neighbor with contact information if you are leaving on vacation so that they can be in touch should there be any unusual activity around your home.

    Have adequate lighting: On the outside of your home, lighted entryways and flood lights with motion sensors ensure that everyone, including you and your neighbors can see who is entering your home. However, be sure to replace burned out bulbs immediately before your home becomes a target for intruders. Inside your home, ensure that there is adequate lighting so intruders are easily visible.

    Create limited entries with a perimeter and gate: Gates and fences can easily provide a feeling of stable security. Tasteful fencing can create a feeling of “place” that provides a positive look and feel to your home, while also adding a boundary for criminals.

    Be discreet: While you do want neighbors to be informed of your plans, advertising that you will be away from your home is not a wise idea. When seeking to find a house sitter or pet sitter, avoid advertising the dates of your travel. With an increase in social media, people who are outside of your immediate circles could easily gain access to your plans. Be discreet about your plans, and only inform neighbors of your travel plans that will be monitoring your home.

    Get a security system: There are currently many types of systems. Some produce loud alarms that will alert neighbors while others are silent and contact police. While it is good to have a system in your home, please beware of giving away too much information so that criminals don't know which system they are dealing with. Typically these systems monitor entries, but many also include motion sensors. Also note, these systems require power to run, so during power outages unless there is a backup power source they will not be functional and other preventative steps will be required.

    Get a safe: Using a home safe to secure valuables, guns and ammunition is an excellent idea. Also using a safe to store important paperwork, like deeds, wills, other legal documents, social security cards, passports, as well as computer backups and photos is a good idea. While safes are often quite heavy, be sure that they are bolted down so they are not easily stolen.

    Check your doors, windows and all locks: Deadbolts and steel outer doors are important, as well as secure windows that lock. A huge majority of burglaries are no-force entries, where intruders gain access to your home through an unlocked window or door, so please check them frequently. Keep trees and bushes trimmed to prevent access to windows and decks on upper floors. Simply placing a piece of wood in sliding glass doors or windows can prevent entry. Automatic garage door openers ensure that access to your garage is controlled. Studies show that the more difficult it is to enter the home, the greater the chances are that the burglar will move on.

    Put on a good show: When you are going to be away from home for any period of time, make it look like someone is home. Most often intruders are looking to steal valuable items and would rather not encounter people at all. Keep shades as they would normally be, and use timers to control lights and even music. It is a good idea to stop newspaper deliveries or even have someone stop by daily or stay in the home to pick up mail and newspapers.

    Get a dog: In addition to a dog being a great companion, a dog can also be an excellent deterrent to a burglar as barking serves as a great alarm.

    Don't leave your keys around: If a burglar sees a car in a garage or driveway and the keys are in the car, this is a easy target for burglars. Have a place for keys that is not well known or easily seen.

    Please take the time to follow these simple tips and prevent crime in your neighborhood and in your home.

  • Should You DIY or Pay The Expert?

    When you watch home improvement shows, the professionals make it look so easy to tear out a wall, replace a roof, or set new tile in the bath.

    Yes, you save a lot of money when you do-it-yourself (DIY), but in some situations, you're better off paying the expert (PTE). According to Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List, some jobs aren't as simple or as safe to do as they look.

    In a recent interview, Hicks pointed out that some DIY jobs end in disaster. More than 136,000 DIY injuries require medical attention annually. As many as 35,000 injuries were from nail guns.

    Forbes Magazine reports that workshop injuries are even higher - 400,000 annually. Most injuries are caused by pilot error -- an operator who fails to respect safety rules. Wear goggles, use clamps where needed, check electrical cords for fraying, and keep your tools clean and sharp. Be sure to always use the correct tool for the job.

    And let's not forget errors of judgment. Don't work while you're tired, or under the influence of a drug or alcohol. And definitely don't tackle a job beyond your knowledge.

    Before you begin a DIY project, Angie recommends that you ask yourself three questions:

    • Do you have the right training and experience?
    • Do you have the time to do the job right?
    • Do you have the correct tools?

    When Angie's List members were polled about DIY mistakes, 30 percent of respondents said that they saved money, but 10 percent said they were injured on the project, such as falling off a ladder.

    Sometimes, there are so many issues and costs to do a job, that you might be better off hiring a contractor.

    Let's say you want to paint a room. You're willing to give up a weekend. First you measure your room so you'll know how much paint to buy. Do you know what kind of paint to buy, and will one coat cover the color you're painting over? And what about the trim? Latex or oil-base? There's also painter's tape, plastic for the furniture, brushes and rollers, sandpaper, and other supplies.

    When you total all that, you might be better off hiring a painting contractor. You'll be paying retail, while a professional painter gets the same items wholesale.

    If you do want to DIY, Angie recommends starting with a small job, like replacing kitchen drawer knobs and stay away from jobs that require a license, such as those held by electricians or plumbers.

    Home improvement expert Don Vanderwort suggests that you should avoid doing jobs yourself that may be "dangerous, particularly difficult, or where a mistake can be quite costly. Some jobs simply are not worth the risk."

    He says to think twice before attempting roofing, removing or pouring concrete, siding work requiring scaffolding higher than two stories, or work where there may be "hidden mysteries."

    The bottom line is you want a professional-looking result. If you don't think you can do job well, it's time to hire the expert. 

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    We offer; FREE advertising of listings, FREE LEADS, NO Desk FEES as well as continued training and education. 

    Fair commission splits and so much more. Please contact Donna 909-215-5409 for a confidential interview. 

    We also offer RE School in our office on a regular basis. Call Donna for more details.
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  • The Five Biggest Turn-offs For Homebuyers

    A lot of sellers don't listen to their real estate agents, so we'll tell you what your agent wants to say, but can't say to you and this is it - your agent can't get you the price you want unless your home is in pristine move-in condition.

    That means no sticking drawers in the kitchen. No leaning fences. No rust-stained plumbing fixtures. We could go on, but maybe we need to make it clear. If you have even one of following "turn-offs," your home won't sell.

    Buyers can get instantly turned off. Here are their five biggest turn-offs:

    1. Overpriced for the market
    2. Smells
    3. Clutter
    4. Deferred maintenance
    5. Dark, dated décor

    Overpricing your home

    Overpricing your home is like trying to crash the country club without a membership. You'll be found out and escorted out.

    If you ignored your agent's advice and listed at a higher price than recommended, you're going to get some negative feedback from buyers. The worst feedback, of course, is silence. That could include no showings and no offers.

    The problem with overpricing your home is that the buyers who are qualified to buy your home won't see it because they're shopping in a lower price range. The buyers who do it will quickly realize that there are other homes in the same price range that offer more value.

    Smells

    Smells can come from a number of sources - pets, lack of cleanliness, stale air, water damage, and much more. You may not even notice it, but your real estate agent may have hinted to you that something needs to be done.

    There's not a buyer in the world that will buy a home that smells unless they're investors looking for a bargain. Even so, they'll get a forensic inspection to find out the source of the smells. If they find anything like undisclosed water damage, or pet urine under the "new" carpet, then they will either severely discount their offer or walk away.

    Clutter

    If your tables are full to the edges with photos, figurines, mail, and drinking glasses, buyers' attention is going to more focused on running the gauntlet of your living room without breaking any Hummels than in considering your home for purchase.

    Too much furniture confuses the eye - it makes it really difficult for buyers to see the proportions of rooms. If they can't see what they need to know, they move on to the next home.

    Deferred maintenance

    Deferred maintenance is a polite euphemism for letting your home fall apart. Just like people age due to the effects of the sun, wind and gravity, so do structures like your home. Things wear out, break and weather, and it's your job as a homeowner to keep your home repaired.

    Your buyers really want a home that's been well-maintained. They don't want to wonder what needs to fixed next or how much it will cost.

    Dated décor

    The reason people are looking at your home instead of buying brand new is because of cost and location. They want your neighborhood, but that doesn't mean they want a dated-looking home. Just like they want a home in good repair, they want a home that looks updated, even if it's from a different era.

    Harvest gold and avocado green from the seventies; soft blues and mauves from the eighties, jewel tones from the nineties, and onyx and pewter from the oughts are all colorways that can date your home. Textures like popcorn ceilings, shag or berber carpet, and flocked wallpaper can also date your home.

    When you're behind the times, buyers don't want to join you. They want to be perceived as savvy and cool.

    In conclusion, the market is a brutal mirror. If you're guilty of not putting money into your home because you believe it's an investment that others should pay you to profit, you're in for a rude awakening. You'll be stuck with an asset that isn't selling. 

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