3 Questions to Ask Yourself to Decide if Now is the Time to Buy a Home

If you have been on the fence about whether or not to buy a home there are a few things you can carefully consider to make up your mind. Keep reading to learn about three questions you can ask yourself to decide if now is the right time. If you decide to take the next step toward buying a home, you contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 for help.

1. Why Am I Considering Buying a Home?

Think honestly about why you want to buy a home. If you think that financial matters are the top reason, make sure you are considering every aspect. We have found that while finances are always an essential aspect of the decision to buy a home, more buyers are focused on how the home will function for them. They are thinking of how it will impact their family today and for years to come.

In fact, according to one study, there are four main reasons people buy a home: To live in a good school district, to live in a safe place, to ensure they have room to grow their family, and to control the space they live in. Do any of these reasons ring true for you? If you are married or buying a home with someone else, ask them why they want to buy a home. Make sure you are on the same page. 

2. How Are Home Values Trending?

The fact of the matter is that the California housing market is strong. This has many upsides but it has potential downsides too. For example, a strong market means higher priced homes. It means more people wanting to buy the same home and potentially dealing with a bidding war. Depending on what particular part of California you are considering investing in, the market may dictate that now is the time to buy or you may decide to wait. 

3. Are You Likely to Qualify for the Best Mortgage Rates?

You cannot just consider the contract price for the home you buy – you must also consider how much it will actually cost you. This means that you must take your interest rate into consideration. They are always changing and your creditworthiness will have a big impact on the total you will eventually pay. That said, this can be a difficult balancing act.

Signs point to the fact that interest rates are likely rising. However, if you have reason to believe that your credit score is going to rise in the near future then it may be better to wait. You can always talk to a lender to find out what they recommend. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we can steer you toward a financial advisor who will give you honest opinions about whether or not it makes sense for you to buy or wait. Call us at 310-373-0021 to get stated.

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3 Qualities to Look for When Choosing a Buyer’s Agent

3 Qualities to Look for When Choosing a Buyer’s Agent

So you’ve decided to buy a house. What next? At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we have helped many people just like you find the home of their dreams. As you consider your options for a buyer’s agent, think about the following three qualities. Then reach out to us at 310-373-0021 for help with all aspects of the buying process, including securing financing.

  1. Educated

  2. Every person who has earned a real estate license must take certain classes and pass certain tests. It is the additional training and education you should consider. For example, a good buyer’s agent will keep up to date on market trends, changes to the way properties are taxed, and other topics related to real estate. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we use continuing education to ensure that our staff is up to date on the latest in the industry.

  3. Professional Experience

  4. You likely know that you want a person with professional experience but do you know what that should look like? First, you may want to avoid a person who has just passed the real estate exam and has not yet represented anyone. As motivated and excited as they may be, there is only so much that can be learned in books or a classroom. Much is learned in the field, which is why experience is so important.

    Second, we recommend choosing a buyer’s agent who has a wide range of experience. Do they only represent buyers or do they also represent sellers? If they represent both, they will better understand the other side when it’s time to negotiate. Do they have experience in your particular area? Do they have experience in both seller’s and buyer’s markets? Do not be afraid to ask about a potential buyer’s agents experience before making a final decision.

  5. Do They Have Personal Experience?

  6. Ideally, you would find a buyer’s agent who can help with both professional and personal issues. For example, if they have experience buying their own home then they can help you avoid common pitfalls that occur after you sign on the dotted line. If you are likely to get a home that needs renovation, it can be helpful to have a buyer’s agent who has renovated a home.

Call Us Now to Get the Process Started

Buying a home is an exciting time but it is also stressful, confusing, and overwhelming. The good news is that with the right buyer’s agent, it does not need to be any of those things. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we have the requisite experience to get you through this process. Call us at 310-373-0021 and we can start searching for your dream home right away.

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4 Tips for Downsizing When You’re Buying a Smaller House

4 Tips for Downsizing When You’re Buying a Smaller House

If you are buying a home that is significantly smaller than the home you are currently living in, you will need to make adjustments. Too often we find that people assume the transition will be no big deal when it fact it can be quite a challenge. Today we are going to provide four of our best tips for downsizing. Remember that if you need help finding a new home, we can provide real estate updates, helpful tips, and much more. Just contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 to get started.

  1. Plan Ahead

  2. The biggest and best tip is to have a plan and know what you are getting into. The last thing you want is to wake up on moving day to realize that you cannot possibly fit in everything you have packed. Get measurements. Know what will fit and what will not fit. Start the downsizing process well before the moving date.

  3. Think Critically About Your Lifestyle Needs

  4. As you are packing, ask yourself some critical questions. For example, do you have room to fit your current furniture? Be honest not about what can technically fit but would actually fit comfortably. If you find yourself attached to an item even though you don’t think it’s a good fit, get to the bottom of the reason why. Is it because you spent a lot of money on it? That is not a good reason to keep an item. Is it because it has sentimental value? That may be reason enough.

  5. Clutter is Your Biggest Enemy

  6. It is not uncommon for a person downsizing to make some very difficult decisions regarding heirloom furniture only to turn around and ruin their small space with excess clutter. Every little thing you can do makes a difference. For example, choose a TV that mounts to the wall so you will not need to clutter up a media center. Find storage solutions that keep the things you need out of view. Unless something is serving a purpose, it does not need to be visible.

  7. Quality and Multipurpose Use Are You Friends

  8. If clutter is your enemy, then your best friends are quality and multipurpose. For example, if you are buying nightstands, choose options with extra storage. If you are buying a kitchen table, make sure it can be used as a desk too. Because you will be buying fewer things, you can splurge on getting truly high-quality furniture and accessories.

These are just a few tips that can help you downsize successfully. If you are looking for a smaller place then you have come to the right place. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are ready to help you today! Call us at 310-373-0021 to let us know what you are looking for, where you are looking, and how we can help.

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5 Reasons to Consider Investing in California Real Estate

5 Reasons to Consider Investing in California Real Estate

If you have money to invest then you have options. You may want to invest in the stock market. You may invest in a start-up and help it get off the ground. Or you could invest by purchasing real estate. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we have helped many buyers find the right income properties. Keep reading to learn about five of the reasons that investing in real estate may be the right choice for you.

  1. California Real Estate Tends to Appreciate

  2. Appreciation, which means to increase in value, is not guaranteed with any investment, including real estate. That said, California properties have historically increase in value year after year. Even if there are one or two years in which your property’s value goes down, it is likely to rise again.

  3. Real Estate Goes Up with Inflation

  4. If you invest money into a bond and get a nice profit from it ten years from now, you will actually be losing some of that profit to inflation. Essentially, the money will not be worth as much in ten years as it is worth today. One of the advantages of investing in real estate is the fact real estate prices generally rise with inflation – in fact, they often exceed the rate of inflation.

  5. Being a Landlord Brings Cash Flow

  6. One of the reasons that people prefer to become a landlord rather than investing in the stock market is because the money they make on a property can come to them every month in the for of rent. Ideally, the rent payment would cover the costs of the property (including mortgage, insurance, maintenance, etc.) with some additional cash leftover at the end.

  7. You Can Leverage Property

  8. Leverage means to take capital from one place and use it to increase your return on investment. For example, when you buy an investment property you only need to put down a small amount and can take out a mortgage to finance the rest of it. However, you profit on the entire amount – not just the amount you put down.

  9. There Can Be Significant Tax Benefits

  10. The specific tax benefits of you owning an investment property will vary based on where the property is located, how it is used, and your unique tax situation. The best option is to talk to a tax expert to find out exactly what you should expect. However, it is often the case that the profits earned on real estate investments are not taxed or not taxed as much as other income.

Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?

Are you ready to invest in California real estate? Do you want to hear more about the options available in your area? Then contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties now at 310-373-0021 and we can help you get started. You have a partner in the search for the ideal investment property.

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Ready to Sell Your Home? Get 3 Home Staging Tips for Pet Owners

Ready to Sell Your Home? Get 3 Home Staging Tips for Pet Owners

Figuring out the best staging opportunities when selling a home can be a challenge – and this can be even more of an issue for a pet owner. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are here to help you at every step of the process – including staging your home when you have pets. Keep reading for our tips and then contact us at 310-373-0021 if you are ready for our help.

  1. Start by Repairing Any Damage That’s Been Done

  2. Too often, people think of home staging as just grabbing items and grouping them or decluttering. The truth is that the purpose is to help buyers imagine living in your home. They do not want to imagine living in a home with visible damage – especially if that damage has been done by pets. It does not matter how you arrange your art or what furniture you use, if you have damaged floors, walls, furniture, or doors, buyers will notice.

    Does this mean you have to rip up your carpet and replace it or repaint every room in your home? Absolutely not. If your pets have damaged doors by scratching them, touch up the area that’s been damaged. If there are stains on the carpet form your pets, rent a carpet-cleaning machine and use pet stain remover. You do not need to fix every issue but you should do whatever minor repairs you can do to make it appear you do not have pets.

  3. Clean Your House from Top to Bottom

  4. Anytime you are trying to sell your home you will want to ensure that it is spic and span. However, if you are cleaning up after pets then you may need an even deeper clean. Remember that there is such a thing as olfactory adaption, which means that your nose automatically adapts to any smell you smell on a regular basis so that you do not detect it. This is why even though you may not smell your pets, others smell them the moment they walk in your door.

    Your deep cleaning should include more than just cleaning the floors and wiping down the walls. You should also get rid of pet hair from your curtains. Wash any bedding your pet sleeps on. Clean out any area your pet has access to.

  5. Get Rid of Any Sign You Have a Pet

  6. In a perfect world, you would clean your home well enough that no one would detect you have a pet. Do not then ruin the effect by leaving your pet’s food and water dishes out. If possible, get your pet out of your home during showings – and take evidence with you. A potential buyer who does not know there has been an animal living in the property will not make assumptions they might make if they knew about your pets.

Do you want more tips for selling a home? Do you want the help of an experienced sellers agent? Contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 right away.

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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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