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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Are You Buying a Home with Solar Panels? Ask These 5 Questions First

Are You Buying a Home with Solar Panels? Ask These 5 Questions First

There are many advantages to buying a home with solar panels already installed. You get the benefits of significantly savings on your utilities but there can be downsides too. For example, if the seller bought them outright then you will own them when you buy the home. However, if the solar panels are leased, then you will have some responsibility.

To learn more about what you need to know before putting an offer in on a home with solar panels, keep reading. Then reach out to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 for additional tips for buying a home.

  1. Are the solar panels owned or leased?
  2. If the panels are owned then you are good to go. If they are leased, then you will need additional details about the contract. You will need to find out what the monthly fees are and how long the contract is for. A lease for solar panels can last from ten to twenty years and it may be quite expensive to buy out the system or roll the lease into the purchase price.

    In some cases, the solar lease can have escalating payments, which can cost significant money as time goes on. Make sure you ask to review the contract before you finalize the sale.

  3.  Who made the solar panels?
  4. Find out who the solar panel manufacturer was and do some research into them. The best scenario is that the panels were built in the United States because this means they are covered by the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. This Act protects you from misleading warranty terms.

  5. Who installed the solar panels?
  6. Next, find out what company installed the solar panels. They can be the highest quality panels in the world, but if they were not properly installed then they are not likely to last as long as they should. Most solar panel installation companies should offer a warranty. Ideally, the warranty will be for ten years and will transfer to you when you buy the property.

  7. What’s the size of the solar system?
  8. The size of the system itself will have a big impact on how much it can save you on your monthly utility bills. When you are making a budget, you will need to know how much power it generally generates. You can ask the seller for previous energy bills to get proof of what it can do, or you can ask for more details about the system to find out the number of kilowatts it produces.

  9. Is net metering offered by the utility company?
  10. Net metering allows you to sell any excess electricity your system products back to the grid. If it is offered where you are buying a home, then it can lower your monthly bills even more. Just remember that some months may produce more excess solar power than others.

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How to Successfully Buy and Sell a Home at the Same Time

How to Successfully Buy and Sell a Home at the Same TimeIn a perfect world, you would be able to comfortably sell your home before buying another home. After all, no one wants to get stuck paying two mortgages. The unfortunate reality is that this is not often possible. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we get questions all the time from potential clients about whether they should put their home on the market first or sell their home first.

The answer is not a simple one and many things must be considered. However, we want to stress that it is possible to buy a home and sell a home at the same time – and we can help you do it. Today we are going to share a few strategies that will help you do so successfully.

Have a home in mind to buy but don’t make an offer

One option is to always have a home in mind that you are ready to buy if your home gets an offer. We recommend having a few different suitable options in mind. This allows you to quickly get into a new home when your home sells, without having to worry about your home sitting on the market for months.

List your home for a fair price and offer a fair price

The key to buying and selling a home at the same time is to ensure that your home sells as quickly as possible. The best way to do that is to hire an appraiser and to get a fair price for your previous home. If you have all the time in the world then you may want to try and get top dollar, but if you are at risk of paying two mortgages, then you can save money in the long run by selling your home quickly for less compared to paying duel mortgages or three months just to make a few thousand extra dollars.

Consider the financial and credit implications of buying first versus selling first

There are a number of factors to consider when deciding if you should buy or sell first, including your financial situation. If you have a current mortgage then you may have a hard time getting approved for an additional mortgage because your debt-to-income ratio will be skewed. Yes, it makes moving easier if you buy first but it can be difficult to qualify for a second mortgage when you are still paying your previous mortgage.

There are options that give you more time within your home

There are also options that can allow you to sell your home but remain in it for a period of time. This is known as a rent-back agreement and it allows you to negotiate with the lenders and buyers to stay in the property for up to 90 days after the sale. Depending on the agreement, you may get a lower selling price or you may pay rent to the buyers. However, it could relieve some of the pressure of finding a new home.

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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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