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7 Reasons Not to Try to Sell Your Home on Your Own

7 Reasons Not to Try to Sell Your Home on Your OwnYou’ve decided that it’s time to sell your home. Now you must decide who should help you or if you should try to sell your home on your own. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we have been helping sell homes for many years and we strongly urge anyone in this position to carefully consider the reasons not to sell without a real estate professional on their side. Read on to learn about seven reasons selling on your own is not a good idea, then contact us at 310-373-0021 to learn more about how we can help you.

  1. It takes much more time than you may think

  2. The fact of the matter is that it takes a lot of time to sell a home. You’ll need to stage the home, take perfect pictures, write a description, and market it. Then you’ll have to be at every showing and open house. When it comes time to negotiate, expect to spends hours going back and forth the potential buyer’s agent.

  3. It costs money to sell a home

  4. The number one reason people decide to sell on their own is because they want to save money but it often doesn’t work out the way they think it would. Just considering how much it costs to stage a home, market it, and show it, you could be spending a lot more than you think.

  5. An agent knows how to price your home

  6. A person who believes it is cheaper to sell their home on their own should know that a real estate professional is best likely to know how to appropriately price a home. In fact, studies show that homes sold by agents sell for more than homes that are sold by owner. Even better, a home that’s priced right sells faster.

  7. It doesn’t cost you upfront cash to hire an agent

  8. Sometimes sellers know they shouldn’t sell their home on their own but they don’t have the money to pay an agent. The good news is that they don’t need money because the commission comes out of the sale of the home.

  9. Buyers are less likely to take you seriously

  10. There is a perception issue by homebuyers that a person selling a home on their own is not as serious as one working with an agent. They may distrust the marketing materials, the price, and the home itself.

  11. You don’t have the marketing reach

  12. Unless are a marketing expert, trust that an agent is going to be much better equipped to market your home. Just their access to the MLS listings is enough to make their commission worth it.

  13. You could be opening up yourself to liability

  14. A person who is not a specialist in the real estate field does not necessarily know what they can and cannot do or say. Not closely following applicable laws can result in making yourself financially liable.

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Do You Believe Any of these Myths about Millennials Buying Homes?

Do You Believe Any of these Myths about Millennials Buying Homes?

There is a lot of information about there about the “fact” that millennials are not buying homes. But is this true? Is it a myth? Or is it somewhere in between? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are proud to help people of all ages buy homes – including millennials. Whether you fall into that category or are just curious about how they are affecting the market, today we will cover some of the myths and facts about millennial home buying.

Millennials aren’t getting mortgages because they do not have the qualifications

On a case by case basis this may true – certainly there are people in every age bracket and every generation who do not qualify for mortgages. However, the data points to something else entirely going on: Millennials not trusting banks.

They have grown up in a time during which lending institutions have been in the news for being involved in harmful practices and housing crises. Some millennials look at this information and take it into consideration when deciding if they should continue renting or gamble by trusting a financial institution. The truth of course is that there are many trustworthy mortgage financial services out there.

Millennials have bad credit

False. Once again, this may be true on a case by case basis but overall it is not a notable factor in how many millennials buy homes. The truth is that after 2008, many creditors tightened up their requirements for giving credit. As a result, people who were just coming of the age to get a credit card found it difficult to do so. As these requirements have loosened, millennials have had a chance to build up strong credit.

Millennials cannot afford a down payment

It’s true that a 20% down payment – plus closing costs – is beyond the grasp of many people, including many millennials, but it is also true that there are many first-time homebuying programs that offer an opportunity to buy a home with just 2% down. There are even some programs that give grants to cover the cost of down payments.

Another interesting factor in this equation is the increasing cost of rental deposits. In popular markets, landlords are starting to require two or even three months in advance. This can be much more than it costs a millennial to put a down payment on a property.

Student loans prevent millennials from buying a home

It is true that today’s college graduates are coming out with much more debt than previous generations. It is also true that this debt exists whether they are buying homes or renting them. With the cost of home ownership becoming lower than the cost of renting in many markets, student debt is not necessarily holding millennials back.

If you are considering buying or selling a home we hope you will contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties for comprehensive assistance. Contact us now at 310-373-0021 to learn about your options.

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Everything You Need to Know About Home Appraisals

Everything You Need to Know About Home Appraisals

There are many essential parts of the home buying and selling process and home appraisals are one of the most important. That said, it is also a process that many people don’t understand. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are here to help our clients from start to finish through the buying and / or selling process. Today we are going to look at home appraisals, what they are, and what they aren’t. Read on to learn more and then contact us at 310-373-0021.

What does an appraisal cover?

First, note that, at its core, an appraisal is an official valuation of your property. It shows the fair value of a home to help buyers and sellers better understand a reasonable selling price. There is a long list of factors that will affect the end price of a home appraisal, including comp sales of similar properties, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the square footage, views, condition of the property, and special features such as a swimming pool.

The timeframes of appraisals

The process of actually appraising the property is generally fairly short. Generally speaking, the appraisal will include taking pictures of the interior of the home, measuring for accurate square footage, and other steps. That said, it can usually be done in around on hour, depending on the size of the house.

Getting the appraisal back can take much longer. How long it will take will depend on how busy the market is at the time of the appraisal. If a home is appraised in a slower market, the appraisal could come back in a week or two, while a busier market could take as long as six weeks. Note that the appraiser needs to not only complete the review they began in the property, they must look at local data, sales transactions, and create a significant report.

Once the appraisal is issued, it is generally good for between 60 – 90 days. If you are buying or selling a home in rapidly changing market, you may need to have it re-appraised if the property is not sold within this timeframe.

Ordering an appraisal

It is most common for the property buyer to pay for the home appraisal but it is issued to whoever ordered it. As a result, if a buyer pays for an appraisal and backs out, a new buyer could not use that same appraisal. Know that if you are selling a property and you buy an appraisal for your own purposes, it likely cannot be used by the buyer.

If you are in need of an appraisal, or more information about the available properties on the market, you should work with a real estate professional. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we can go over all the options for you to help you understand what makes the most sense and what best meets your needs. Contact us at 310-373-0021 now to get started.

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Factors That Affect How Much You Will Net When You Sell Your California Home

Factors That Affect How Much You Will Net When You Sell Your California Home

When a person is selling a property, it is normal to have many questions. One of the most common is how much of the sales price they are actually going to pocket. This is not the same amount as the total sales price of the home. It is not even the same as the sales price minus the outstanding mortgage. Read on to learn what else can lower the amount you get when you sell your home so that you have an accurate idea of what to expect. Then contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 if you need selling your home.

A partial list of deductions from the sales price

The specific items that will be deducted from your sales price will vary based on your specific transaction. However, some of the more common deductions from the amount you are paid will include:

  • Holding costs through the day of closing
  • Recording fees
  • Real estate commissions
  • Any bonuses paid to agents
  • Mortgage payoffs
  • Title searches
  • Title insurance policies
  • Prorations for property taxes
  • Prorations for homeowner’s insurance
  • Special assessments owed
  • Past due property taxes
  • HOA or condo fees
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Lien payoffs
  • Wire transfer fees
  • Closing fees
  • Prepaid rent or tenant deposits
  • Taxes and tax withholding

All of these potential fees should be taken into account when you list your home for sale.

Fees you have control over

Many of the deductions that will come out of your net profits cannot be negotiated but many can. You will need a real estate professional on your side to negotiate your real estate contract. Some of the negotiable fees include the buyer’s closing costs that they may ask you to pay, the title search and title insurance policy payments (which can be paid by the buyer, seller, or buyer and seller), repairs the buyer requires, and repair credits you are asked to pay.

Just about any property sale is going to involve the seller paying some of these fees. The point is not to reduce them to zero but rather to ensure that your asking price takes into account how much your bottom line will be affected by these additional fees.

Know how much you will net

Before you accept an offer from a buyer, you should know how much you will really net. Your real estate agent will go over a Net Sheet with you, which will lay out all the fees you are going to pay and are likely to pay. This is especially helpful if you have more than one offer because the larger offer is not always the best offer if it comes with additional – and expensive – stipulations.

The best way to get an accurate idea of what you are most likely going to be paying and receiving is to contact a professional. You can reach Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 now.

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Too Good to Be True: How to Tell if a Home Listing is a Fake

Too Good to Be True: How to Tell if a Home Listing is a FakeWith so many ways for individuals to find properties for sale, it may seem tempting to skip working with a real estate broker altogether. The bad news is that there are reasons that real estate agents must pass tests and maintain their licenses – the real estate industry is one that many people would love to exploit.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we have heard too many stories about individuals thinking they found their dream home for an unbelievable price, only to find out that it literally should not have been believed – it was fake. The easiest way to avoid this is to work with a Realtor who can provide qualified real estate listings. You can also keep reading to find out how to tell if a property listing is real or fake.

Potential issues with online real estate listings

The bottom line when it comes to internet listings is that there are few regulations about what can be posted and what can’t. There are many situations that can arise when you look at homes on the internet instead of a trusted source. For example, the home may have already been sold but not been removed. It may be that a link farm has posted a home for sale that is not for sale simply so they can get traffic to their website.

Another common issues with online property listings is that the home could be in pre-foreclosure. This means that a Notice of Default has been filed against it, which may mean that it will be up for auction but not for months – and most homes that have a NOD filed against them do not ever make it to the auction block.

Potential issues with homes printed for sale in the newspaper

If you see a home listed for sale in your local newspaper you should look to ensure it is listed as a “new listing.” If it is not then it is most likely already listed in the MLS. The agent may list it in the newspaper with no address and just their phone number. This is often a ploy to get you to call them.

It is common practice for a newspaper to prohibit a real estate agent from advertising a home if it’s not already listed in the MLS. That said, they may give the agent 48 hours to add the listing. As a result, if you do see something you like in the newspaper then you should contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties as soon as possible to get you more information on the listing.

If you are ready to find the home of your dreams then we hope you will contact us at 310-373-0021 right away. We have access to the most up to date listings in the area and can provide you with qualified leads so you don’t waste your time.

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Do You Want to Sell Your Home in the Winter? Follow These 5 Tips

Do You Want to Sell Your Home in the Winter? Follow These 5 Tips

Even in California, where most of the state does not see freezing-cold winters, it is not uncommon for a person who wants to sell their home to hear that they should not try to sell a home during the winter months. While it is true that winter months tend to be slower for moving inventory, this does not mean you shouldn’t try – and there can even be advantages to selling in winter months.

If you are considering taking the plunge this winter then we urge you to contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021. In the meantime, read on for five tips for selling property in the winter – and check out our additional tips for sellers.

  1. Make your home move-in-ready
  2. No matter what time of year you are interested in selling your home, making it move-in ready is an excellent way to get more buyers interested. Buyers who can see themselves moving into your home as-is are likely to be much more motivated buyers – which can mean a faster sale and a higher price. Making it move-in ready does not have to mean remodeling the entire kitchen. A few coats of paint, new faucets, and new flooring can be enough.

  3. Set a reasonable price
  4. Again, this is good advice any time of year but especially in winter when you are likely to have more competition and fewer buyers – set your home at a reasonable price. It is important not to be emotional when setting the price. It should be set based on comparable properties in the area – not what you paid for the property or what you’ve put into it.

  5. Leave your home on the market during the holidays
  6. The advice of the past always included taking a home off the market around Thanksgiving and re-listing it after the beginning of the year. This is not recommended. It’s true that some homeowners do not want to deal with the hassle of selling a home during the holiday season – which means you will have less competition. Many potential buyers travel during the holidays and it may be the only time they have to check out homes in an area they’re about to move to.

  7. Use the lack of inventory to your advantage
  8. Home sell throughout the year. While many sellers get nervous when there are dips in inventory, because they believe this is a sign that it’s not a good time to sell, the opposite can be true: Get your home on the market while your competition is minimal.

  9. Look for pictures of spring and summer
  10. When you’re looking for your MLS listing, look for exterior shots on bright summer or spring days. The unfortunate thing about winter is that it can look a little drab and depressing. The more light you can get shining on your home, the more appealing it is likely to be.

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7 Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved for a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

7 Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting Approved for a Mortgage When You’re Self-Employed

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 15 million people in the United States who are self-employed. There are many advantages to being your own boss but there can be downsides as well. One big downside is getting approved for loans – especially mortgage loans.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are proud to offer full services for real estate buyers. Keep reading to find out more about how a self-employed person can increase their chances of getting approved for a mortgage. Then contact us at 310-373-0021 if you are ready to start the process of buying or selling a home.

Some aspects of the process are the same for everyone

Whether you’re a W2 employee or self-employed, you will have to fill out an application and you will need to provide documentation of your income. The requirements for down payments, debt-to-income ratios, and credit scores are the same for people who are self-employed. The main difference in this part of the process is that self-employed people must provide the 1040 form from their tax returns while wage earners will need only their W2s.

Your net income is likely lower than it would be for a wage earner

One thing that can get in the way for a self-employed person is the fact that are often eligible to write off many of their expenses. This is great when it comes to lowering their tax burden but it can also lower their net income – which negatively affects their debt-to-income ratio. Some lenders consider self-employed people to be higher risk and will charge them higher interest rates.

The seven steps you can take to increase your chances of being approved

Though not all self-employed people would be eligible to complete these seven steps, each of them can have an impact on loan approval:

  1. Register and license your company.
  2. Keep separate bank accounts for business and personal needs.
  3. Pay yourself a W2 wage.
  4. Pay off debt.
  5. Lower your deductions
  6. Keep great records if income and expenses.
  7. Be ready to make a larger down payment.

Again, you may not be able to do all of these – for example, it does not make sense to pay yourself a W2 wage if you are the only employee of your company – but following just one or two of these tips can make a difference.

Remember that while there may be more hoops to jump through, it is not impossible for you to get approved for a mortgage. The number of self-employed Americans has been rising in recent years and many mortgage lenders are making adjustments to reflect these changes. To find out more about what your options are in buying a home, work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties by calling 310-373-0021.

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4 Ways to Make Money in the California Real Estate Market

4 Ways to Make Money in the California Real Estate Market

If you’re like many people, the idea of investing in the California real estate market is an exciting prospect. However, it’s also a frightening prospect. How do you get started? What are your best long-term options or short-term money makers?

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we work tirelessly to help our clients buy and sell property. Keep reading for four ideas on how you can make money in the California real estate market and then contact us at 310-373-0021 so we can help you get started.

  1. Invest in up and coming areas
  2. Real estate appreciation is one of the most popular ways to invest in real estate. It refers to buying a property and then letting it increase in value. This can be a smart way to make money but it takes some luck and a lot of research. It is often the case that by the time the public knows an area’s real estate values are skyrocketing, investors have already scooped up the cheap properties.

    Another option that falls under this category is flipping houses. For this to work, you need enough capital to buy a home and pay for significant upgrades – but the potential for profit is huge. You begin by buying a property in a great location but that is in disrepair. You purchase it as-is, make changes to improve the resale value, and then sell for a tidy profit.

  3. Rental properties
  4. Also known as cash-flow income, rental properties are a great potential option to make money on real estate. Options include buying an entire rental building, buying an office building and renting to commercial tenants, buying a home to rent to an individual, or buying a condo. In some areas, you can buy a home and immediately rent it to make more money than your mortgage payment is. Others buy duplexes, rent out half, and have their mortgage payment covered by their tenant’s rent checks.

  5. Get involved in the real estate industry
  6. You do not have to buy and sell or rent property to make money in the real estate industry. Another option is to get involved as a real estate broker and make a commission on properties that are bought and sold by your clients. This does require passing a test and maintaining a professional license and it can be a challenge to get clients. Other options include property management, staging, and other real-estate adjacent services.

  7. Ancillary real estate investment income
  8. If you already have a real estate investment then ancillary real estate investment income can be a huge bonus. It involves things like adding vending machines in a commercial building you own, or laundry facilities that you charge to use. These are essentially small businesses within the properties you own.

If you are ready to buy or sell a property then we urge you to contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 now. We can help you find just what you are looking for.

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5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Affordable Home Look Like a Luxury Home

5 Affordable Ways to Make Your Affordable Home Look Like a Luxury Home

Not everyone can afford to buy a luxury home. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are here to help you buy or sell a home no matter what your price range. However, once you get into that dream home you may want to help it look a little more luxurious. Today we are here to offer some tips to help you do just that. Read on for those fantastic tips and then call us at 310-373-0021 if you are interested in buying or selling a home.

  1. Get rid of clutter
  2. This tip is not only affordable, it can actually make you money. One of the easiest ways to make your home feel like a luxury home is to get rid of the clutter. This includes accessories, electronics, and anything that makes a room feel busy. It may even involve getting rid of furniture you don’t need, such as large foot rests or extra coffee tables. If it does not have a function and get used regularly, then it can go. Have a yard sale to make a few bucks off of the items you are getting rid of.

  3. Focus on your window treatments
  4. One of the most cost-effective ways to make a home instantly feel more glamorous is to invest in window treatments. You can switch out your current window treatments with high-end fabrics or unique textures. If you get rid of cheap blinds and add your own draperies, you may be shocked to see what a difference it makes.

  5. Light up your space
  6. Changing out your lighting does not cost much but it can make a big difference in a number of ways. First, the actual light fixtures you choose can be beautiful and add a touch of glamor. Second, adding more light can help highlight the glamorous areas of your home or that one special piece of art you have.

  7. Make your home lush
  8. Bringing in natural elements like plants and flowers is a great way to make a home feel lush – which can help make it feel more luxurious as well. Get a unique decorative vase at a local thrift store, then add flowers or greenery. Next time you walk into a luxurious home, pay attention to the plants and flowers in the space.

  9. If you can’t replace, reface
  10. If you have elements of your home that are less than luxurious, but are too expensive to replace right now, consider refacing them. For example, do you have flooring that has seen better days? Cover it up with a beautiful area rug. Do you have cheap cabinets in the kitchen? Make them look more luxurious with a coat of shiny paint.

These are just a few of the ways that you can take an affordable home and make it feel more luxurious. Of course, you have to start with the right home in the first place. You can find out more about how to find that perfect home by contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021.

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6 Potential Pitfalls to Beware of When Buying an Older Home

6 Potential Pitfalls to Beware of When Buying an Older Home

There are many things to love about moving into an older home but there are serious things to consider as well. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we can help you buy a home no matter what you are looking for. That said, we always want our clients to know exactly what to expect from their home. Today we are going to cover some potential problems that you should look for when searching for an older home.

  1. Asbestos and lead should be looked for
  2. Asbestos was banned by the EPA but not only 1989. Any home built before then could potentially have asbestos in it. It is common for older homes to have already had the asbestos replaced but if they have not, then you should know that it is a costly process to do so. The same is true of lead paint. If the home was built before 1978, then lead paint was still legal. If the home still has lead paint, and there will be a child six years or younger living in the home, then federal law requires that the lead be removed.

  3. The foundation and sills should be thoroughly inspected
  4. Older homes can have foundations that have been cracked, are leaning, are sunken, or otherwise need repair. Remember that entire house sits on the foundation and even a minor issue can be a major problem. The sill plate should be checked thoroughly as well. As time goes on, it can be susceptible insects, water, or other elements. Both the foundation and the sills should be checked by a qualified inspector.

  5. Be on the lookout for electrical issues
  6. If you’re looking at a home that was built more than 50 years ago, then you are looking at a home that was built with an electrical system that’s not designed for today’s usage. For example, an older home may have knob and tube wiring, which was prevalent from the late 1800s through the 1930s. It involves single-insulated copper conductors that do not have the capacity to handle today’s electricity needs.

  7. Look into insurance costs
  8. It can be very expensive to insure an older house, especially if there are older electrical or plumbing systems. Some policies may be affordable but not cover any damage caused by these symptoms. The cost of insurance can significantly increase your monthly costs.

  9. Pay special attention to a roof
  10. Any home you are considering buying will need to have the roof inspected but this is even more true of an older home. Why? Because on many older homes, instead of replacing the roof, previous homeowners may have simply covered the roof with new shingles. This looks fine but will not stand up for decades the way a new roof would.

  11. Consider how much you are willing to spend on utilities
  12. Unless it has been significantly updated an older home is unlikely to be very energy efficient. In fact, when you talk to people who own older homes that is likely one of their first complaints: It is so expensive to heat and cool.

Does any of this mean that you should not buy an older home? No – it just means that you should take all the relevant factors into consideration. Talk to a real estate professional today to learn more about available homes for sale in your area.

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