Prepare Your Home for the Holidays with these Decorating Tips!

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The holidays are approaching. Today, we thought we'd do something a little different and share this festive video on holiday decorating tips from HGTV. Designer Angelo Surmelis shares several great ideas to spread holiday cheer throughout the home. Here are some of our favorites.
  1. Pay attention to the mantle. If you don't have some already, buy some kind of garland to drape over the mantle. Next, use leftover ornaments and candles to add light and texture. When choosing ornaments and candles, ensure they are in the same color-palette. This helps make your mantle a great focal point! 
  2. Use smaller Christmas trees. Every house has their main Christmas tree. In addition, you can also purchase smaller, inexpensive, eco-friendly trees to place throughout the home. Decorate these trees with strips of fabric from a T-shirt in holiday colors to save money for the main tree.
  3. Use what you have. Be resourceful. Adding a plate charge and place mat to your everyday dining set adds some jazz to your table. Fresh-cut flowers and candles will help finish the look. You don't need grand, expensive candles -- a little candlelight goes a long way!

As you can see, it doesn't take much to make your home feel more festive. If you have any questions, give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to help you!

How to Lower Your Property Taxes When You Move

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Nobody likes paying taxes, especially when you think that you're being over-taxed. Good news for you - I have some strategies that you can use to potentially lower your property taxes when you move.

Proposition 60 and Proposition 90 allow you to transfer your low tax bases on your current home to your next purchase. This is especially important because I've noticed that a lot of people are downsizing right now. People have been asking me how they can take their low property taxes with them into their newer and smaller properties.

Proposition 60 is your answer, which allows the transfer of your base year values within the same county. Proposition 90 allows transfers from one county to another in California that are reciprocating with one another. There are currently 10 counties allowing this: Alameda, Los Angeles, Ventura, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Clara, El Dorado, Orange County, San Bernadino, and San Mateo.

These are the five basic requirements for Prop 60 and Prop 90: 

  • You must be 55 years old when your property sells.
  • Replacement property must be your primary residence.
  • Replacement property must be of equal or lesser value than the previous home.
  • Replacement property must be purchased within 2 years of your last sale.
  • This is a one-time only benefit, unless you become disabled.

If you're thinking about downsizing and you have more individual questions, please don't hesitate to contact me! These issues can become complex, and I'd be more than happy to explain it to you.

Common Home Seller Questions Answered

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Today, we're going to discuss the seven most common questions from homeowners who are thinking about selling their home.
  1. What is the best time to sell my home? The best time to sell a home is when you need to move. I sell homes every month of the year. If time is not an issue, then the best time to sell is when there's very little inventory, which is usually in early spring during the months of February, March, and April.  
  2. How is the real estate market right now? The real estate market changes on a weekly basis depending on many factors. We've been in an upward market for the last four or five years, so it is a great time to sell. The market changes every four to six years, so we may see declining market after the election in 2016. 
  3. What steps should I take to prepare my home for sale? Well, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Declutter your home, paint the rooms, clean carpets, and add colorful flowers to the entryway. These are just a few of the things you can do to make your home more appealing in the eyes of buyers.
  4. What should I disclose to potential buyers? Anything and everything you're aware of that could affect the buyer's decision should absolutely be disclosed.
  5. How much is my home worth? It's only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it. We can determine that by looking at what similar homes have sold for and comparing them to your property.
  6. How long will it take for my home to sell? That depends on how aggressive your home is priced and how extensively it is marketed. My homes have been selling in about 45 days. If you are motivated to sell and your home is priced correctly, your home will sell quick!
  7. Should I price my home higher to leave room for negotiations? The answer is that well-priced homes will sell quickly and close to listing price.There is no need to leave room for negotiation. Nowadays, buyers are very well educated and know what a home is worth. If you price your home too high, you're more likely to sit on the market for awhile.
If you have any questions about today's video or about real estate in general, give me a call or send me an email. I would be happy to help you!

The Dangers of Overpricing Your Southern California Home

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Today I'd like to discuss the dangers of overpricing your home. It really is a great way to ruin your selling process before it's even started. I've been noticing a lot of overpriced homes lately, and so I wanted to speak about how you can avoid overpricing your property.

Usually in September we have the largest amount of inventory in the entire year. This is a trend that I've seen for a long time. But what does this mean for you? It means that with all of this competition, you have to price your home well if you want to sell.

If your home gets no showings or very few showings, your home is probably overpriced by 10%. If your home gets a lot of showings (2-3 per week) but no offers, then your home is probably overpriced by about 5%. If your home gets an offer within the first 30 days, then your home was priced correctly from the beginning.

Your top priority is not to sit on the market for longer than 90 days. If you sit for that long, people will believe that something is wrong with your property and they will not offer top dollar on your home.

Sometimes agents will be desperate for a listing and they will promise you an unrealistic sale price. As a real estate professional, this is highly frowned upon and it is a major disservice to the consumer. I would rather pass on a listing than promise a client something that I know I cannot give them.

If you're looking for an honest answer about what your home might sell for on the market, please don't hesitate to contact me. I would be very happy to help you!

Five Reasons Why Real Estate Investments Will Change Your Life

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Today we're going to be talking about the stock market versus the real estate market. The stock market just crashed by 1,000 points recently, and fortunately it rebounded. Today I have five reasons why you should invest in real estate instead of the stock market.

1. Cash-flow: You have a constant stream of cash when you invest in a property. This is the biggest benefit to investing in real estate.

2. Tax advantages: Real estate is unique in this aspect. You get a lot of tax benefits when you own property.

3. Hedge against inflation: Inflation makes it harder to purchase certain stocks, but real estate isn't affected by inflation. Prices will go up and down, but they won't inflate.

4. Leverage: When you purchase a property, you have the ability to do so with leverage. It's possible to buy a $750K property for 20% down or less. Stocks require that you put down all the money up front.

5. Equity: If you're borrowing money to complete a real estate transaction, you'll be required to pay it back with interest, but each payment brings you closer to paying down your principal. You gain wealth each month that you pay off your mortgage.

I know a young man that owns five properties in California and Las Vegas right now, and he plans on owning 20 properties by 2020. He estimates that this will generate him $20,000 per month in passive income. That's not too bad, is it?

Call me today if you'd like to start the journey. Real estate is a wonderful investment!

How we helped Lucretia purchase her home by going the extra mile

“What makes Steven stick out to me is that he listens to the client. I needed to make an offer on my new place and someone to draw it up, and he drew it up because I didn’t have an agent. He came to the office on his day off, and he drew up something he was not going to get paid for. I didn’t know at the time that I was his very first client. He had goals set for himself, and he has achieved every one of them. He wanted to be in the million dollar market--and he is!”

Is Now a Good Time to Sell in Westlake Village?

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Today I'd like to share a very brief market update with you. All of this data was compiled by RE/MAX and it covers the numbers from June 2014 to June 2015.

  • Year over year, home sales increased by 12%.
  • The median home price rose to $224K, which is a 7.4% increase.
  • The average days on market is sitting at 58 days, which is a decrease of 4 days from June 2014.
  • Inventory is also beginning to decline, as there are 11.8% fewer homes for sale now than there were last year.

With home sales increasing and inventory declining, this can only mean one thing: it's a good time to be selling your home.

The good news for buyers is that homes are still very affordable because interest rates are as low as they've ever been. However, they are set to rise, so now is also a smart time to buy a home.

If you have any questions, or if you'd like more information on our local market, please don't hesitate to contact me!