5 Tips to Make Your Home Seem Cozier for an Open House

5 Tips to Make Your Home Seem Cozier for an Open House

There are many things to plan for as you consider your upcoming open house. You have likely heard that it is wise to remove personal belongings, photos, etc. so that people who visit can imagine living there if they buy your house. However, doing so can sometimes leave a home feeling that it has no personality. Consider the following five tips that can help you make the home seem cozier for an upcoming open house.

  1. Start by Setting the Mood
  2. Simple things can make it feel cozier at the open house. Light candles to improve the lighting, the smell, and to add warmth to the area. We recommend choosing seasonal scents that remind you of celebrating. Or choose scents that bring a feeling of California love, such as coconut or beachy smells.

  3. Bake Something
  4. This may be the oldest trick in the book – but for good reason. When you bake something, think cookies, cakes, or pie, it gives the home a beautiful smell – and this can be quite cozy. Does this mean that you have to work for hours in the kitchen? No. It is fine to buy take and bake cookies or other treats. The key is that they must spend time in the oven and come out right before the open house begins.

  5. Add Texture to the Décor
  6. If you do have décor, add some texture to make it look cozier. This could include things like plush throw blankets, sheepskin blankets, and cushions. The more luxury fabrics and pillows you have, the cozier it will be and more easily potential buyers will be able to imagine snuggling in. You can choose faux products – they only need to look nice, no one will be using them. When the house is sold, give anything you don’t want to your local resale store.

  7. Set Up Evidence of Seasonal Activities
  8. People often find a home to be cozy when they associate it with specific times of the year or seasons. If it is near Christmas, set up your tree. If it is around Halloween, get out your jack-o-lantern. If it is cooler out, bring out your warm blankets and drape them over the couch. If summer is in full swing, neatly line up flip flops near the front door. The point is simply that you want the home to feel like the season that is coming.

  9. Get Help from Your Real Estate Professional
  10. The truth is that what sells a house can vary from house to house, from neighborhood to neighborhood, and from price point to price point. If you want the best advice on how to make your particular home more inviting for potential buyers, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 and let us help you.

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A Small Kitchen Doesn’t Have to be a Deal Breaker: Learn How to Make it Work

A Small Kitchen Doesn’t Have to be a Deal Breaker: Learn How to Make it Work

As potential buyers look at homes for sale, they generally have some idea of what they must have, what they want, and what they do not want. In many cases, they say they absolutely must have a big kitchen. We have found that if a house is otherwise perfect, buying a home with a small kitchen can actually be easier than you think. Check out these ideas on how to make it work and then contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 to find the right home for you.

Donate Unneeded Items

You may have cupboards and drawers full of kitchen gadgets that you spent a pretty penny on. It can seem impossible to get rid of them but think critically about them. Do you really use them? Are they actually in good shape? If you have not used something for at least a year, then you likely do not need it and can safely donate it.

Take Advantage of Vertical Options

You can truly make the most of your kitchen only if you are using the vertical space. Options include installing a magnetic knife strip to keep the knife block off your counter, hanging racks to keep your pots out of precious drawer space, mounting dish drying racks above your sink to keep the counter clean, and adding rods and hooks for hanging small tools, oven mitts, etc. This may sound cluttered but if everything is clearly in its place, it will end up looking beautiful and organized.

Include Your Cleaning Tools as Part of the Décor

Yes, your cleaning tools can be beautiful. Does this seem strange? It may – but think about it this way: Your cleaning tools are likely out for everyone to see. Why allow them to be an eyesore? Chose a wooden broom that adds character. Buy a glass soap dispenser that fits in with your décor. These small touches may cost more but they can make a big impact.

An Island Goes a Long Way

If you have room to install an island – even a partial island – it can virtually double the space you have to work in. If you do not have the space for a permanent island, consider one on wheels. You can store it in a nearby room – or even use it as a bar cart in the living room – and wheel it into the kitchen when it is needed. Not only can islands provide surface area on which to cook, but they can provide much-needed storage space too.

If you are interested in finding the perfect home – whether it has an enormous kitchen or a tiny one – we look forward to hearing from you. Contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 and let us get started on the hunt for you right away.

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Unique Tips to Move into a Smaller Home Successfully

Unique Tips to Move into a Smaller Home Successfully

No matter why you are buying a smaller home, whether because it is all you can afford, you want less space, or another reason entirely, there are steps you can take to help it be as successful as possible. Check out these unique tips and don’t forget to read the tips for buyers provided by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

Only Live with Someone Whom Will Work with You

If you are planning to share the small space with another person, make sure that you are choosing someone who will help you keep the space clean and tidy. These chores can add up in any home, but when it comes to a tiny home, they are even more important.

Find Unique Storage Options

If you’re going to move into a smaller place then you’re going to have to cozy up to unique storage choices. This requires carefully considering what needs to be stored, measuring it, finding the right containers, and finding the right way to store them. The good news is that in today’s hyper-organized society, there are entire books dedicated to teaching homeowners how to store goods.

Don’t Keep Your Space Stuck

It can be tempting once you find a way to make your home feel more organized and property decorated to want to keep it exactly that way forever. Do not do this. Let your space evolve as time goes on. If you find something you love, get rid of something else to make space for it. If you find that the color scheme doesn’t work, redecorate. Just because you are in a small space does not mean you have to stick with one style forever.

Acquire Items in Unique Ways

If you are moving from a much larger space and will not able to fit all of your belongings into it, it can be daunting to think about the costs that you may acquire trying to get everything you need. Be open to finding things at thrift stores, even if they take a little bit of work. Talk to friends and family and arrange swaps of your larger items for their smaller ones. Try to repurpose some of your belongings so that they are useful enough to make up for taking up lots of space.

Remember the Advantages

When you’re moving into a smaller space, it may seem that you are giving up an awful lot. The truth is that you had good reasons for making the decision you did. Keep that in mind. Remember what you are gaining – not just the physical goods you are getting rid of.

If you need help finding the best small space, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 and we can help you right away.

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Where Does This Go? Find the Best Spots for Hard-to-Place Items in Your Home

Where Does This Go? Find the Best Spots for Hard-to-Place Items in Your Home

No matter how organized you are, there are always items in the home that seem to have nowhere to go. Where do you put your clothing when it is not in season? What about a large shoe collection when you buy a home with a small closet? Short of selling your home and buying a larger one, consider these other options to find a place for everything in your home. If you are in the market for a new home, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 for the help you need.

Where to Put Offseason Wardrobes?

Having a bed that is a few feet off the ground can give you a ton of space. Just slip away your winter / summer / offseason clothing into bins and slide them under the bed. If it is too close to the ground, use wood blocks to lift it up. If this is not an option, then invest in cascading hangers for your closet. This can double your closet space so that everything fits.

Where to Put Extra Linens

If you have extra linens for guests, such as pillows, bedsheets, and comforters, it can be hard to find a place to put them most of the time. This is a great time to try out vacuum storage bags. Stack up all the items inside and use your own vacuum cleaner to get rid of the air. Not only does this help them take up less space but it will prevent smells from developing as well.

Where to Store Extra Shoes

The most obvious place to store a large shoe collection is in an over the door shoe organizer. Unfortunately, too many homeowners discount this because they think it is tacky or it reminds them of their dorm days. Keep in mind that the reason these organizers are the first thing that comes to mind is that they work. Not only do they hold shoes but they can store scarves, hats, belts – the list goes on. You can hang it over the back of a closet door so no one but you can see it.

Where to Store Your Bike

Bikes are very difficult to store in a place where they do not get in the way, unless you have a dedicated deck or basement. A popular solution is hanging a hook on the wall and then hanging the bike by its front tire. You can do this to get the bike off the floor, but of course it still protrudes into the room in which it is installed. You can also hang it against the wall, as though it was a piece of art. This can be done with nothing more than two wooden dowels.

Hopefully these ideas have helped you determine good places to store various items. If you are ready to find the perfect home in which to store your items, contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 at your earliest convenience.

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3 Reasons Larger Homes Are Coming Back into Fashion

3 Reasons Larger Homes Are Coming Back into Fashion

In recent years, tiny homes and smaller spaces have become very popular. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we see this trend begin to end for three main reasons. Read on to find out what they are and then contact us at 310-373-0021 if you are looking to buy a home.

  1. More People Are Working from Home
  2. Today’s generation is much more likely to work from home at least part of the time. As a result, the interest in home offices is much higher than ever before. What was once a two-bedroom home is now considered a one-bedroom home with an office. For this reason, many of today’s homeowners are not willing to consider a home with fewer than three bedrooms.

  3. Open Floor Plans are Right for Modern Lifestyles
  4. Closed off eating spaces and TV rooms are no longer all the rage – today’s home buyer wants open spaces with multi functions. The need for formal dining rooms and separate living rooms, family rooms, and dens has been replaced by the love of an open, almost loft-like home. This is due in large part to the fact that casual living styles are becoming more popular overall.

    Today’s homeowner wants to take their time cooking dinner while being able to talk to and interact with their family. They want to be able to watch TV or a movie while stirring their risotto. An open floor plan allows homeowners much more flexibility.

  5. Today’s Homeowners Want Room to Expand
  6. In years gone by, a family expanding in their home generally meant having one or more children. It can still mean that, but as today’s youth are having fewer children and having them later in life, this is no longer always a serious consideration when they are buying homes. Instead, they want the room to expand everything else: Their collections, their furniture, their kitchen gadgets – the list goes on and on.

Many who have lived in smaller quarters for many years point to the fact that larger homes allow them a full wardrobe not impeded by the small closet they have access to, or the ability to stock up at big box stores because there is room to store the excess. In short, today’s homeowner wants plenty of room to stand up, stretch out, and invest in what they love.

We Can Help You Find a Home of Any Size

When you work with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties, we do not focus on just one side of the home. Whether you want a ten-bedroom luxury home or a studio condo, we can help you. Contact us now at 310-373-0021 and let us start finding you the home you’ve been wishing wished.

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4 Strange Stats That Could Make Your Home Worth More Than You Think

4 Strange Stats That Could Make Your Home Worth More Than You ThinkEvery homeowner would like to find ways to increase the value of their home but in truth there are some very surprising factors that could affect how much your home would sell for. Read on to learn four examples and then contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 if you would like to speak to a real estate professional who can help you.

  1. How Close You Are to a Coffee Shop
  2. xNot just any coffee shop though – a house’s proximity to a Starbucks seems to affect its price. According to one report, homes within .25 miles of a Starbucks when up in value by nearly 100% between 1997 and 2014 while the national average for all homes was just 65%. Another study looked at whether other coffee shops had a similar effect. It found that homes near Dunkin’ Donuts went up an average of 80%, which is somewhere between no coffee shop and Starbucks.

  3. The Color of Your Kitchen and Bathroom
  4. Believe it or not, homes with blue kitchens or blue bathrooms may be worth more than homes with kitchens of any other color. One study that considered 32,000 pictures of recently sold homes in the United States found that kitchens that were blue sold for nearly $2,000 more than homes with white kitchens.

    The same study found that a home with a pale blue or soft blue bathroom sold for an average of more than $5,440 more than neutrally colored bathrooms. The lesson? If you’re going to paint your bathroom or kitchen, consider painting it blue!

  5. Homes with Trendy Features
  6. Many homeowners are afraid of adding trendy features because they think they will have a hard time selling their home. The truth is that a 2016 analysis looked at the descriptions of two million+ homes sold throughout the nation and found that the trendiest options – barn doors and farmhouse sinks at that time – sold faster and for more money than homes without these trendy features.

  7. Proximity to a City
  8. The fact of the matter is that if you live in or around a major metro area, homes are likely going up and up and up in price. On average, an urban home is worth about 35% more than a suburban home. Consider as well that in the last seven years, the median home value of urban homes has gone up by 54% while the median home value of suburban homes has gone up by just 38%.

While these stats are interesting and telling, they should not be used as an indication that you cannot sell your home without them. If you are looking to buy or sell, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is here to help – just call us at 310-373-0021 and we can get started.

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Are You Considering Buying a New Construction Home? Ask These Essential Questions Before Making Up Your Mind

Are You Considering Buying a New Construction Home? Ask These Essential Questions Before Making Up Your Mind

If you are looking to buy a brand-new home, you will have lots of options in California. However, not all new homes are created equal. Making this type of investment requires that you take advantage of the best tips for buyers – including these essential questions to ask before choosing a new construction home.

Are You Offering Any Financial Incentives for Using Your Lender and/or Title Company?

It is often the case that you are not able to negotiate much – if at all – on new construction. Why? Because if you pay $10,000 under the asking price, the next buyer will want to do the same. However, you may have access to significant financial incentives if you agree to use the lender and/or title company that the builder recommends. This could mean as much as a $10,000 reduction in closing costs.

Which Finishes Are Standard?

When you go through the model home, it is almost always true that every finish you will see is the highest-end version. The model home will likely come with tons of extras you’ll have to pay significantly for if you want them. As a result, when you are touring the home and find you love an appliance, finish, type of flooring, etc., be sure to ask if it is standard so you know if you should get attached to it or not.

What Are the Long-Term Plans within the Neighborhood?

One thing you cannot see with your own eyes is how a neighborhood will come together before buying a new build. For example, if only a few homes have been built and sold, you may need to consider that 50 more homes could be built – which would mean construction near your home for years to come. You may also have to deal with the builder losing funding and stopping the subdivision altogether.

Can You Tell Us About the Homeowner’s Association’s Rules?

If there is an HOA at the new home, you will want to read the CC&Rs, which give you information on what is allowed and what is not. For example, you may not be able to install a storage shed in your own backyard, or erect a fence. Some CC&Rs even have something to say about adding solar panels. Some areas are more restrictive than others so be sure you know the rules before you sign.

Consider as well what your HOA dues will be and what they cover. It may be that the builder pays these fees until at least 50% of homes are sold, which is standard. Again, there are many options that may work for you, just be sure that you know what you are getting into.

Contact Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties at 310-373-0021 if you need the help of a professional to get into the home you are looking for.

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Top Tips That Can Help You Actually Afford to Buy a Home in California

Top Tips That Can Help You Actually Afford to Buy a Home in California

Most people would love to buy a home but with prices skyrocketing throughout the country – and especially in California – it can seem impossible to meet this goal. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we are here to help you find the right home and we are here to advise on how you can begin to actually afford to buy your dream home.

Learn More About Financing Options

Before you decide you can’t afford to buy a home, take the time to find out what financing options might be available to. This step will you find out what mortgage programs you’re eligible for, how much of a down payment you would need, and who can lend to you. The best starting point is to find out what your FICO credit score is and then find out what the minimum FICO requirements are from various lenders.

Take a Look at Your Income

The truth is this: If you do not make enough money to save money then you likely do not have enough money to buy a home. Even if you are given a gift from family to make the down payment, you will need money in savings in case an emergency comes up. Consider that households that rent have a median income of $37,500 while households that own property have a median income of $75,000. If you are closer to the former than the latter, then finding ways to increase your income is probably the first step for you.

Save Up – But You May Not Need as Much as You Think

Yes, you need to save up some money – but it may not be as much as you assume it will be. The ideal is to put 20% because you then avoid having to pay for private mortgage insurance, but this can be a huge hurdle for many people. In fact, only one in five recent buyers reported putting 20% down and more than half down less than 50%.

Be Flexible – Within Reason

This is a tricky one that can be much easier with the help of the right real estate broker. You do want to be flexible – but not too flexible. For example, if you are a couple who wants a forever home and you plan to have children, you do not want to be so flexible that you buy a one-bedroom condo. On the other hand, you do not want to miss the house of your dreams just because the carpet is not the right color – you can always replace it.

If you need additional help finding the right home you will be glad to know that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties is here to help. All you need to do is contact us at 310-373-0021 with your questions and we will be glad to get you started right away.

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5 Open-Ended Questions to Ask a Potential Mortgage Lender

5 Open-Ended Questions to Ask a Potential Mortgage Lender

As you look for the best funding options, you will likely have many questions. At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we suggest that while you gather the answers you need, you are also interviewing a potential lender. Read on the following five open-ended questions to get examples of how you can gather information while also getting info about the lender.

  1. Should I Buy a Home Right Now?
  2. If the entirety of a lender’s answer about whether or not you should buy a home has to do with the real estate market then you may want to find another lender. Yes, the market is important but other personal factors are more important. What is your debt-to-income ratio? How much do you have saved up for a down payment? Can you afford a monthly mortgage payment? These are the factors a lender should consider and should discuss with you.

  3. Which of My Personal Debts Should Be Paid Down Before I Buy the Home?
  4. Ideally, you would pay down all personal debts but that is likely not realistic. If you have the money to pay some debts but not all, talk to your lender about which ones make the most sense. If their immediate response is to tell you about their loans that can help you refinance your debt, consider another lender. You want someone who will be honest. For example, if you have credit card debt then it should almost always be paid off before any other type of debt.

  5. What Credit Score Are You Looking For?
  6. Yes, lenders will consider several factors when deciding if they are going to lend to you but they very likely have a specific minimum credit score. Generally speaking, 700 is considered a good score. 800 is considered excellent. If you are between these two numbers then you will need your potential lender to give you an honest assessment of what they require.

  7. Is it Work it to Pay Points to Lower My Interest Rates?
  8. It may be possible for you to lower your interest rate by paying for mortgage discount points. In most cases, a discount point will be about 1% of the loan amount. For example, if you were borrowing $250,000 a point would be $2,500. When you ask about points, your lender should explain the process in detail as well as what your options are.

  9. What Will My Costs at Closing Be?
  10. The company that collects your payments and handles any late or missed payments is called your mortgage servicer. Your lender may service their own or they may outsource this. Talk to them about what your closing costs will be, who will service your mortgage, and other details that would otherwise not come up until the last minute.

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Are You Feeling Nervous About Your Open House? Check Out Tips That Can Help You Prepare

Are You Feeling Nervous About Your Open House? Check Out Tips That Can Help You Prepare

Whether you have sold several homes or this is your first one, it is likely that you may feel nervous. After all, people will be walking through your home and judging it. The good news is that you have a great seller’s agent in Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties. Call us now for help at 310-373-0021 or keep reading for a few tips to help you prepare.

It is All About the First Impression

It is often the case that potential buyers are looking at dozens of properties on the same day. They are going to make a snap decision on your home the moment they see it. Drive up to your home and look at the outside. Are there minor exterior paint issues you can touch up? Are there landscaping issues you can touch up? Could cleaning your pathway make a difference? It is worth looking into.

Get Your Property in the Cleanest Possible Condition

When you have an open house, it is essential that the property be in perfectly clean condition. We recommend hiring a professional house cleaner but it doesn’t stop there. It is also worth calling in the window washing experts and carpet steamers. The more you can do to get your home clean, the better it will show.

Stage Your Home

You do not want your home to be cluttered or to have so many personal artifacts that a potential buyer cannot imagine living there. On the other hand, you do not want it to be so empty that it appears boring. The answer? Staging it. This could be as much as hiring a professional company to bring in high-end furniture and accessories to decorate your home, or it could be as simple as adding fresh touches like clean towels hanging in the bathroom and vases full of beautiful flowers.

Remove All Signs of Your Pets

If you have pets that live in your home, do everything you can to get them out of the house. If this is not possible, then try to confine them to an area that is less likely to get traffic. There are a few reasons for this. First, if your animals become overwhelmed by strangers coming in and out of your home, they could cause an issue and even injure someone.

Second, buyers would prefer a home without pets. This is especially true in today’s world in which more and more people are developing allergies. If a potential home buyer can choose between one house that does not have a history of pets in it, or one in which they know several pets have lived, they are likely to choose the pet-free option.

At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties we will be there to work you through the open house process. Call us now at 310-373-0021 to find out more about how this process works.

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