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5 Tips to Follow When You Are Buying an Out-of-State Home

5 Tips to Follow When You Are Buying an Out-of-State Home

In a perfect world, a person would live in the same city they were buying a home in – or at least in the same state. The truth of the matter is that many people must buy a home in a state they have little experience with. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we know how nerve-wracking this can be and we are here to help you through it. Keep reading for our best tips for buyers who are buying a home out of state, then contact us at 310-373-0021 for personalized help.

  1.  Research is your friend
  2. You should do oodles of research before buying any home but this is even more true when the home is out of state. You will have a qualified agent to help you find the right home, but you can also do your own research to find out which neighborhoods are best, what an average home costs, and more. It is true that the more information you have, the better your experience is likely to be.

  3. There is nothing as important as choosing the right real estate agent
  4. When you are moving to another state, you need a real estate agent to be your eyes and ears. You need to choose an agent who will take the time to understand what you want, what you need, and what you will not accept. If you find an agent who truly understands what you are searching for and does not waste your time trying to talk you into something above your budget or that otherwise does not work, then you will find the right home must faster.

  5. Consider working with a relocation expert
  6. You may think of relocation experts as an option for corporate moves, but they are great for individuals too. They can help with a number of aspects of the move, such as finding the right movers, helping get utilities turned on, finding out when school starts, etc. These services are often free because they make their money from vendor referrals.

  7. Remove the word “stupid” from your vocabulary
  8. You should always feel free to ask your real estate agent any question you have, even if it feels “stupid” but this is even more true in the case of a long-distance move. For example, if you have bought a home in your current state then you may be confused about normal practices in other states. Do not be afraid to ask – every state is different and it is essential to know the facts about your closing.

  9. The inspection may be more important than the closing
  10. If the state you are moving to allows you to close the transaction without being physically present, and you can only attend either the inspection or the closing, then you may want to choose the inspection. This is a good time to not only see the property in person but get an expert, unbiased opinion about the potential pitfalls of the property.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we stand ready to be the eyes and ears for you. Contact our offices at 310-373-0021 to learn more.

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Don’t Buy Your First Home Without Reading These Tips

Don’t Buy Your First Home Without Reading These Tips

If you are on the lookout for your first home then you are likely full of a lot of different emotions. Many people are excited about the idea of buying a home, but they are also nervous. They don’t know what to expect or how to prepare. The best way to ensure that you are moving forward in the best way is to work with an experienced real estate professional who can walk you through the process.

Those who are considering buying a new home should begin by contacting Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021. You can also read on to get some of the best tips to ensure you have the best experience possible.

Find out what your credit rating is

Today it’s fairly easy to get your credit report and it is important to do so before shopping for a mortgage. If you want the best possible loan rates, then your credit score should be at least 740. If it’s significantly lower than that, then it may be a good idea to wait until you have improved your credit to buy a home.

Get rid of debt

If you have significant debt and have not yet bought a home, then you may want to wait until you have paid it down (or most of it). You will find it harder to pay down this debt after buying a home and it can affect the terms of your mortgage. That said, in some markets it is much more affordable to own a home than to rent, so it may make sense to take on the debt of a mortgage even if you have existing debt.

Know the top three factors in securing loan terms

As the lender considers whether to approve a loan and how much that loan should be for, they are going to consider three main factors:

  1. Credit rating
  2. Income to debt ratio
  3. Income

Once you know what the banks are looking for, you will have a better chance of getting yourself into position for the best possible mortgage.

Have a savings account for home emergencies

If you currently rent or live with your parents, then you do not have to worry about home repairs. You do not have to worry about what would happen if your boiler stopped working. When you buy a home, you do have to worry about these issues. As a result, make sure that you have a home emergency savings account.

If you are buying an older home then this emergency savings account should be larger. If you are buying a new construction property then it should come with a home warranty that would cover most everything that is not covered by your homeowner’s insurance. When you work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we can help you assess the financial risk of any property you are considering. Contact us today at 310-373-0021 to get started.

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Photographing a Home for Sale: These Tips Will Help You Sell It

Photographing a Home for Sale: These Tips Will Help You Sell It

If there is just one tip for sellers that we want everyone to know it’s that pictures matter. In today’s digital age, it is unlikely that a potential buyer is going to come to an open house without first looking through pictures of the property. If those pictures are hard to see, poorly lit, or otherwise do not make a good impression, then they are unlikely to show up for the open house.

When you choose to work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties as your seller’s agent, then you can count on us to help you with the photography process. In the meantime, you can also read about some of the most important photo tips.

You must take pictures of what really matters

First things first, the most important tip for real estate photography is to take pictures of what really matters. Put yourself in the shoes of the buyer. What are they looking for? They do not care about your furniture, art, etc. They want to look at the home. Remove clutter and clean your home before you take pictures. You want the potential buyer to be able to imagine their own things in your home without being distracted by your own belongings.

Brightness is your friend

If you surveyed a million professional photographers about what the most important factor is in taking a good picture, you can bet that the vast majority would tell you that it is light and that there is no better light than natural sunlight. Take pictures of your home during a sunny day. Open up your curtains to let the sun in. If you take pictures on a day that is dark and gloomy, then you will end up with pictures that do not show your home in its best light – literally.

Take photos from the doorway

There is no way around it: It is hard to take a picture of a room that can accurately get across what the feel of the room is like. Too often, a homeowner will try to focus on taking shots all over a room or from the middle of the room. The best option is actually to take the photo from the doorway looking into the room. In most cases, this gives the most comprehensive look into the room.

Shoot exterior pictures from an angle

Most people who are not trained in photography will take pictures of the exterior of a home from directly in front of it. This gives the viewer nothing more than a two-dimensional view of the front that makes it appear flat. Instead, take pictures from an angle so that potential buyers can see the depth of the home. If there are exterior obstructions, such as electrical wires of phone poles, try to keep them out of the picture. At a minimum, make sure they are not the focal point of the picture.

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To Sell As-Is or Repair: What to Do When You Have a Damaged Roof

To Sell As-Is or Repair: What to Do When You Have a Damaged Roof

Selling a home comes with a lot of questions and it can feel difficult to get answers. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we know that there is no one-size-fits-all guide to selling a home. The answers to the important questions always vary based on the specifics of the situation.

Today we are going to look at a common question: What should you do if you are selling a home and it has a damaged roof? Should you replace it or sell the home as is? While there is no answer that’s always valid, there are a few questions you can ask yourself to find the right answer for your home. Read on for more information or contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 to talk to a real estate agent who can help you.

First things first: How serious is the damage?

If you have found out about issues with the roof in your inspection, bring in an outside expert to give you an estimate on how much it would cost to repair it. We recommend getting at least two but preferably three quotes from local specialists. Once you know how serious the damage is, it can be easier to decide if you should spend the money on a repair or sell it as is.

How quickly do you need to sell your home?

If you want to sell your home quickly, then you may assume that the best option is to sell it as-is because the repairs would take time. While it will vary based on your location, in most cases a home that is move-in ready is going to sell much faster than a home that needs repairs. As a result, even when you consider how much time it takes to do the repairs, it may be faster to repair the roof.

Can you afford the repairs?

One of the biggest factors is of course whether or not you can afford to make the repairs. If you can’t, then there is no decision: You should sell as is. In some markets, this can actually lead to a bidding war as buyers want to get into a home at a lower-than-average price. This bidding war could potentially raise the price in the long run.

Is the roof going to impact loan options?

If you are considering selling the home as-is without repairing the roof, then make sure that doing so is not going to affect a potential buyer’s ability to get financing. A minor issue likely would not, but if the roof is near its end and needs major repairs or replacement, the lender may make roof repair a condition of approving the loan. If this happened, then you would likely need to repair the roof before the loan could close.

If you are considering selling your home and want an expert’s opinion on how best to proceed then we strongly encourage you to contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021. We stand ready to consider your unique situation and offer you the tools you need to sell your home.

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3 Staging Tips from a California Property Staging Expert

3 Staging Tips from a California Property Staging Expert

A home that’s properly staged can make all the difference when a buyer is considering two options. If you want to sell your home for as much as possible and as quickly as possible, then staging should be part of your plan. Keep reading for three staging tips then read up on additional tips for sellers. Reach out to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 for help from a leading real estate professional.

  1. Choose colors that appeal to the largest section of buyers
  2. If you have rooms in your home that are painted in bright, bold, or otherwise unique colors, then it may be worth an investment and a few hours of work to refocus the colors in your home. While you cannot please 100% of buyers, you can appeal to as many buyers as possible. We recommend neutral colors but it is important to understand that neutral does not need to mean boring.

    You can choose a white, off-white, or even gray color for your walls. Not only will it make a great impression to have colors that can work with any décor, but the fresh coat of paint will help your home look more recently remodeled and updated. Today’s buyers want move in ready homes and freshly painted walls in a neutral tone are a great way to give them that.

  3. Look for ways to maximize the home’s square footage
  4. When you want to sell a home for as much as possible, you want to highlight not just what is there but its potential. A buyer wants to be able to imagine themselves living in the home. They want to be able to envision their belongings in each room. If you have the home crammed with your own belongings, then it will look like your home and be harder for them to imagine as their own.

    When you reduce the amount of furniture in your home during showings, you are achieving a number of goals. First, the space will help make the home look larger. Second, you will be making it much easier for a potential buyer to tour your home and imagine themselves and their lives in it.

  5. It’s not all about the inside of your home
  6. The average person thinks of staging and thinks of the interior of the home. The reality is that curb appeal can be just as important if not more important than what is inside the home. Why? Because it is the first thing buyers will see when they pull up to your home. This doesn’t mean that you need to re-side your home or re-landscape it entirely. Just be sure that your yard is trim and cared for. Consider planting a few flowers to make the home look more attractive.

If you are looking for additional staging ideas then we recommend you contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021. We are here to help you sell your home as quickly as we can for the best price possible.

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4 Things to Look for When Choosing a California Real Estate Agent

4 Things to Look for When Choosing a California Real Estate Agent

As you search for the right real estate professional, there are many factors to consider. No matter if you are looking to sell a home or buy a home, working with the right agent is the best way to ensure you find the home or the buyer you need and that the transaction works in your favor. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are standing by to help you with all your real estate needs. Contact us at 310-373-0021 to learn more, or read on for four tips on what to look for when choosing a California real estate agent.

  1. Choose an experienced real estate agent
  2. It is not rocket science to know that you want an experienced real estate agent. However, it is not enough to know that they have experience – you must consider how relevant that experience is. For example, if an agent has been absent from the market for twenty years and is just getting back into the industry, their experience is not going to be as relevant as an agent who is active.

    You should also find out if your agent works alone or for a team leader. If they are someone else’s employee then that is a good sign that they are not a leading agent. On the other hand, when you work with a person who handles their own listings from start to finish, you will be working with someone who is both experienced and motivated to provide you with the best possible result.

  3. Make sure they understand local real estate
  4. A real estate agent who is active in San Diego is not necessarily going to be the best person to choose if you want property in Los Angeles. The fact of the matter is that California has an ever-changing real estate market and it varies from city to city – and even sometimes from neighborhood to neighborhood. You want an agent who has personal experience with your specific market.

  5. Find out how they plan to proceed
  6. You want your agent to be clear with you on how they package offers, what level of documentation they include, how they will market your home, etc. You are looking for an agent who is professional, organized, and has a plan in mind. Simply sticking a “For Sale” sign in your front yard is not enough. After all, you could do that yourself.

  7. Work with an agent who will tell you the truth
  8. If you are buying a home, you want an agent who will not mislead you about how perfect a listing is, only to get there and find out that it is not as advertised. On the other hand, you do not want an agent who runs an open house and tells you it went better than it did. You want an agent who will give you the whole truth – whether good or bad.

If you are ready to get started with an experienced, local real estate professional who will be with you every step of the way, then we welcome your call to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021.

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Are You Buying a California Home? Keep Water Conservation in Mind

Are You Buying a California Home? Keep Water Conservation in Mind

Looking for the right home to buy in California has its difficulties. What is most important to you? What is a must-have and what is a want? How much can you really afford? What are your realistic financing options? These are just a few of the questions that are likely on your mind. The good news is that you have professionals to answer all your questions and walk you through the process.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, one of the things we encourage our clients to consider is the landscaping and other water conservation issues. Read on to find out more about this topic. Then contact us at 310-373-0021 to get started.

There are eco-friendly landscaping options available to you

It wasn’t long ago that artificial turf was a joke in the real estate world. It looked bad, it was hard to keep clean, and it was not a realistic option. Those days are behind us, as quality artificial turf is now available. It looks and feels just like real grass and pets can even use it to do their business. It’s a great option to significantly reduce your water bill compared to a lawn you would need to water.

Consider solar water options

If the home you are buying has a pool, consider a solar pool heater. Look for other solar options like solar hot water heaters. Most homes in California can create a ton of solar power – so much so that it can be sold back to the state. There are also rebates available to make solar power a more affordable option to install after you move in. Just keep in mind that if you choose a shaded property, solar power will be difficult or impossible to use.

Look for low-flow, eco-friendly installations, and more

There are many water conservation additions that can be included in the home. For example, a low-flow shower head gives you the water pressure you want while using much less water. Today’s toilets generally have two settings, one for a low flush and one for a larger flush. Clothing washers should be high efficiency – the list can go on and on.

You don’t need to insist on all of these issues but you would be wise to consider them

If you go into the home-buying process with the idea that you must have a home that is already out fitted with the latest in water conservation measures, then you are likely to end up with very few options. On the other hand, if you are willing to make a few changes when you move in, then your pool from which to find the perfect house will be much larger.

When you work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, just let us know that environmental factors are a priority. We can look for homes that already have these fixtures installed but we can also look for homes in which it would be easy to make the conversion. Contact us at 310-373-0021 now for more information.

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Should You Remodel Before Listing Your Home for Sale? Consider the Best Returns on Investment

Should You Remodel Before Listing Your Home for Sale? Consider the Best Returns on Investment

It is clear that if a homeowner wants to get the best possible price when selling their home then a well-timed remodel can be a great idea – but not always. We are looking at details from the National Association of Realtors and the results of their exhaustive survey. Read on to get details on which projects are the most profitable and may make sense for you. Then reach out to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 for more tips for selling your home.

Kitchen upgrades are generally a good investment

For many modern families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. In most kitchens, a major renovation is not necessary. In fact, according to the NAR, small improvements to the kitchen can have a big effect on the bottom line and a great return on investment. On average, a small kitchen remodel yields a 12% higher profit margin when compared to a major renovation. Additionally, a smaller kitchen remodel that includes countertops, cabinets, and other functional matters averages a return of investment of 79%.

As a result, just refinishing the cabinets in your home, or adding new hardware can have a big impact. If you have a bigger budget then you can actually replace the cabinets themselves or perhaps replace the countertop with a newer, more popular material like quartz or granite. If you have an even larger budget, then you may want to consider adding new appliances. The goal as the seller is to make the kitchen feel as new as possible without doing a complete overhaul.

Upgrades to entryways / foyers can make a big difference

Consider that many potential buyers are going to make a decision within seconds of walking into your home. As a result, ensuring that your front door, entry way, and foyer impress them can pay off. You may add exterior trim for your front door. You can remodel an old tile entryway with newer, more affordable flooring types. Adding new lighting and fresh paint can make a big difference as well.

Bring floors into the current decade

Many flooring types last for decades which means they are often one of the last things to be updated. If you have flooring in your home that was in style 50 years ago then it is time to upgrade to something that’s in style today. There are so many affordable options, from tile to wood planks, and the right flooring makes a big difference. Many home buyers say they are willing to make minor changes to a home but want it to be mostly move-in ready – and those buyers do not consider flooring to be a minor change.

If you are not sure what updates make the most sense for your home, or you simply need help selling your home, then you will appreciate the help of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Contact our offices at 310-373-0021 or customerservice@bhhscp.com and we will get to work for you.

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Are You Considering Buying a House? Avoid These 6 Home Buying Surprises

Are You Considering Buying a House? Avoid These 6 Home Buying Surprises

There are few things in life as exciting as buying a home for the first time. That said, without the proper help and research, you could end up making an expensive mistake. Check out these six home buying surprises you don’t want to wake up to and learn how to avoid them. Then reach out to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 to speak with an experienced real estate agent.

  1. Avoid noisy neighbors
  2. Imagine moving into your new home and finding on the first day that your neighbors have a dog that barks all day long. While there are steps you could take, such as calling in a noise complaint or animal control, you would likely have wished you knew ahead of time. This is why it can be a good idea to talk to your potential future neighbors to find out what it’s really like where you’re considering moving.

  3. Find out if a new development is going in
  4. When you buy a home, you may not be thinking years in to the future. Consider not just what it is like now, but if a new development is likely to go up. For example, if you live in an established neighborhood then it is unlikely that a significant change will occur. If you are moving into an up and coming neighborhood, consider that a new development could change the landscape of where you live.

  5. Make sure you are prepared for the traffic
  6. Of course you drove around the home and the neighborhood but what time did you do so? If you were there on a Tuesday at two in the afternoon, then you may not have gotten a good idea of what parking is like, what traffic is like, etc. Is there a school nearby? Then your morning commute could be complicated. Practice your drive to and from work before you put an offer in on the home.

  7. You do not want to discover a serious issue
  8. If you are buying a home that’s more than a decade old then you can count on there being some minor issues, such as a toilet that needs adjusting. However, you do not want to be surprised with things like cracked foundations or rusty pipes. Avoid these by working with the home inspector your agent suggests.

  9. You can’t afford your mortgage
  10. Just because the bank will loan you a certain mount doesn’t mean you need that much. Consider all the costs into consideration, such as homeowner’s insurance, utilities, HOA fees, etc.

  11. You paid more than you needed to
  12. There are many things that could lead you to believe that the home you are interested in is a hot commodity and you should put in a full-price offer. Do not do this without talking to your agent. The good news about working with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is that we have the experience and knowledge to give you the advice you need on when to put in an offer and how to do so. Call us today at 310-373-0021 to learn more.

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Consider These 5 Factors When Renovating and Staging Your Home for Sale

Consider These 5 Factors When Renovating and Staging Your Home for Sale

If you are planning to sell your home then you may be considering renovating it or staging it. Either way, it is important that you keep potential buyers in mind. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we can give you specific tips for your particular home in order to find the best possible outcome for you. In the meantime, you can read on to learn about five of the factors we suggest you consider. Then contact us at 310-373-0021 or customerservice@bhhscp.com.

  1. Pastels may work better than you think
  2. For many years, pastel colors have been considered part of a bygone era of décor. It may be difficult to believe, but studies have shown that subtly pastel colors like pale yellow, peach, and greens can actually help sell a home. They make a buyer feel softer and more emotionally bound to a property. That said, do not paint your walls and buy furniture in these colors. Instead, consider adding touches of pastels to window coverings, accessories, and the like.

  3. Use wood and natural components
  4. Natural wood has been popular for centuries and the trend does not seem to be abating. Consider staging your home with craftsman furniture or reclaimed wooden pieces. Not only is wood popular for buyers but they can help make a home feel custom. After all, if you have mass-produced furniture then your potential buyers are much more likely to consider that your entire home is full of mass produced fixtures.

  5. You cannot go wrong with eco-friendly additions
  6. As one of the leading home services companies in the area, we tell every potential seller the same thing: If you want to make any renovations, make them eco-friendly and sustainable. Not only do people want to be gentler to the environment, they want to reduce their utilities. What’s more, studies show that home buyers assume that a home that has green concepts is of higher quality than one that does not.

  7. Focus on the quality of appliances
  8. For years, stainless steel appliances have been the gold standard. This trend is starting to change but there is one problem: It is not yet clear what will be taking its place. The good news is that it really doesn’t matter. Buyers are much more concerned with the quality of an appliance than its appearance. If you’re going to upgrade appliances, choose options that are built to last.

  9. It’s all about your agent
  10. You can take on some of the work yourself but at the end of the day, remember that your agent is the one that works in this industry every day. We know what buyers are looking for and we know how and when to make your phone stand out.

If you are considering buying, or are ready to list today, then we encourage you to contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021. We provide unique opportunities for sellers to find the best value for their home.

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