Home Inspections – Specialists You May Want to Check Out

While most folks settle for a home inspection, pest (termite) inspection and possibly a roof inspection, there are a myriad of specialists you can hire to investigate just about anything home-related when you are purchasing a home. The California Association of Realtors put together this short list of the most popular, but some common inspections we see  also include:

Pool & Spa – If the home has a pool and spa, its a must to get it inspected. This is often an overlooked item and failing pool pumps and heaters can be very expensive.

Arborist – Does the home have a huge tree in the front yard? Is one of the trees looking overgrown? Sometimes, it makes sense to call an arborist to make sure the trees on the property are healthy and not in danger of falling limbs or needing to be uprooted (all of which can be rather costly).

Contractors – Are you considering doing some renovating to a home after purchase? Its smart to have a contractor walk the home before you purchase to ensure you can do all the items you want. Sometimes structural modifications might not work or will be very expensive due to the placement of load-bearing walls and foundations so its something you might want to know up front if you are planning on adding on to a home or re-arranging.

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Nicole Emanuel Real Estate

Coldwell Banker

(408) 410-2060

nicole.emanuel@cbnorcal.com

http://www.realestatebynicole.com

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Burglary Prevention Tips

BurglaryOne of the crimes most frequently reported to the police during the holidays is residential burglary
It’s also the most preventable. It doesn’t take much or cost much to out-smart most burglars. They’re usually not professionals, but rather people taking advantage of an easy target. Burglars may do more than steal things. If they’re surprised by someone coming home or if they choose a home that’s occupied, someone may get hurt.

Tips on Safeguarding Your Home

  • Make sure all exterior doors have good locks-at least dead-bolt locks with a 1″ throw.
  • Always lock up when you go out, even if only for a few minutes.
  • Secure sliding glass doors with bars or locks, or put a broom handle in the door track.
  • Make sure your windows have good locks, especially those at ground level.
  • Make sure all porches, entrances, and outside areas are well lit.
  • Trim any bushes or trees that hide doors or windows.
  • Maintain your yard and keep ladders and tools inside when you’re not using them.
  • Don’t hide your keys under the doormat or in a flowerpot. That’s the first place burglars look! It’s much better to give an extra key to a trusted neighbor.
  • Mark your valuable property like TVs, VCRs, computers, cameras and stereos with your driver’s license number.
  • Keep a record of your property in a safe place.
  • Install an alarm system for summoning emergency help.
  • If you park your car outside, never leave a garage door opener in the car.
  • Install a monitoring device such as a Ring Video Doorbell or Chime Doorbell. Easy to spot cameras are also a good choice.

When you go away

  • Ask a neighbor to collect your mail and newspapers, and offer to return the favor.
  • Put an automatic timer on at least two lights and a radio. Consider photoelectric sensors to turn outside lights on and off automatically.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor when you’re leaving and when you’ll return. Include an itinerary and phone numbers where you can be reached in an emergency.

5 Tips for Establishing Credit

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If you dream of one-day owning your own home, you’ll most likely need to finance its purchase. Mortgage lenders will want to review your credit history to evaluate whether or not you’re a worthy borrower. So how do you get started establishing a credit history? Here are four ideas for you to get you started:

Open a bank account
Open a bank account and use it responsibly. This is the first step in establishing a financial history.

Get a co-signer
A good way to establish credit is to piggy-back on someone who already has good credit history established and is willing to co-sign, but be aware that any default of credit on your part affects the credit of the co-signer.

Secured Credit Card
Apply for a credit card. Shop around and only apply for a card if you can meet the lender’s requirements. Responsible use will help you build a good credit history. Pay all your bills by their respective due dates and always pay over the minimum amount due.

Use Your Credit Cards
Your credit score is highly based upon the ratio of debt to you incur to your total credit line and your ability to pay that debt on time so using your credit cards will establish examples of this. Try to keep the ratios low by paying your debt down every month. And NEVER EVER close a credit card, even if you don’t use it. It will count towards your total credit line.

Department store and gasoline credit cards
Since gasoline credit cards are not revolving (cannot carry a balance forward month-to-month), often they are easier to obtain than regular credit cards. Similarly, some department stores offer revolving credit for a specific purchase and this is easier to obtain. It is also a good way to establish credit.

If you’d like to chat more about steps you can take now that will help make your dream of homeownership a reality, I’d be happy to offer my expert advice. Just give me a call.

Does Moving Up Make Sense?

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With prime home buying and selling season upon us, it’s a good time to ask yourself if a move up is right for you. Sometimes we talk with buyers that are considering a move but faced with the reality of a larger mortgage payment, find that its best for them to wait. Or some clients need to know what their home might sell for in order to decide if moving into a new home is right for them. There are many things to consider when deciding if selling your home and buying a new home is right for you. Whatever the case, we are here to help you decide whats best for you and your family.

Whether your family size is growing, you are running out of space or simply want to seize the opportunity to “move-up” to your next home, below are a few questions to consider as you weigh your options.

  1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Home equity can be defined as the value of a home, minus the amount of outstanding debt. Although equity does not generally develop in the first few years of home ownership, five or more years of home payments may create significant unrealized gains.
  2. Has your income or financial situation improved? Homeowners should consider their overall financial situation including current and future expenses in order to make an educated decision on price range for a new home. For example, an increase in salary may allow for an increased mortgage.
  3. Has your lifestyle changed? Lifestyle changes are one of the most common reasons people choose to move. Starting or adding to a family may require an extra bedroom or additional square footage, as well as a desire to live closer to work or family may provide the impetus for a move to a larger home.
  4. Is your current residence one that could potentially be rented out? For those homeowners who are ready to make a move but are concerned about purchasing a new home before the current property is sold, renting out the current residence may be a viable option. We also work with a variety of clients who decide they want to find a home to purchase before they sell their current home.
  5. Are interest rates attractive? A low interest rate means lower mortgage payments on homes of the same price. I’d be happy to refer you to a mortgage advisor should you need to check on interest rates.

No matter what you decide, you need an expert team to help you balance a concurrent purchase and sale transaction seamlessly. Nearly two-thirds of our client base is either moving up or downsizing and we have successfully assisted them with both sides of the transaction. If you want to discuss any of the questions above or have more to ask, don’t hesitate to give us a call or email! Nicole.emanuel@cbnorcal.com, (408) 410-2060.

3 Rules to Remember When Shopping for a Mortgage

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3 Rules to Remember When Shopping for a Mortgage

Since you’re in the market for a new home, you’re probably in the market for a new mortgage. Here are 3 critical shopping tips for anyone looking for a new loan.

  • Know the Terms
    All the terms of a loan matter. Unfortunately, shopping for a mortgage is not as simple as finding out how much a lender will let you borrow and at what interest rate. You’ll want to get a complete breakdown of what any offer your receive means to you on a monthly basis as well as how much money you’ll be spending over the life of the loan.
  • Not all Mortgages are the same
    There are several mortgage types available to residential home buyers. Most people will shop for a traditional fixed rate mortgage, but other options are available including adjustable rate loans (ARMs), Federal Housing Administration loans (FHAs), and Veteran’s Administration loans. You’ll want to be sure to understand what kind of loan a lender is offering you.
  • Fees, Fees, Fees
    Most loans have fees associated with them in additional to the principal amount bowered to buy the home. You can sometimes borrow the money need to cover these fees, but that will obviously increase the overall amount of debt you undertake. Some fees are paid up front, and others are not due until closing.

If you’d like to chat with personally about how to shop for a mortgage and what other questions you can ask lenders to find the best deal, give me a call at any time. I’m happy to get you started on the right path so we can start looking for your new home!

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Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal

What would buyers see if they drove up to your home? Go ahead, take a look. Stand outside your home and try to look at it through a buyer’s eyes. First impressions are lasting impressions. If buyers see paint peeling, a crack in a window or an unkempt yard, they are apt to speculate that there are other, more substantial things wrong with the home.

That first impression, or curb appeal, can make the difference in the amount of money a buyers is willing to offer on a home listed for sale.

Here are some suggestions to enhance the curb appeal of your home to get ready for sale or even just to spruce things up a bit this summer: 

  • Mow the lawn, clean up and yard and prune shrubs and trees 
  • Scrub or paint the front porch and door. Sometimes an interesting pop of color on the door can really modernize the look of an older homea-little-front-door-love-curb-appeal-doors-painting.jpg
  • Check the porch or deck and hand railings to ensure they are secure 
  • Wash the windows, make them sparkle!! 
  • If you have time time and money, paint the exterior of the home. Try to stick to more neutral palates as some bright colors can be an immediate turn off for some buyers. Add color by painting the door a different color, instead. Exterior-before-after.jpg
  • Pick up and put away toys and bikes, outdoor bins are also great for storing these items 
  • Check that the lawn furniture is in good shape or, if not, store it away 
  • Add charm to the front and backyard by adding flower pots and planting fresh plants 

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  • Repair and paint the fence, if needed 
  • Repair the roof, gutters, and downspouts if needed 

These improvements are essential before a home sale and could mean an increase in sales price.  Feel free to call or email and let me know if I can answer any questions for you or make suggestions on how to improve your homes curb appeal!

 

How to Know if a Neighborhood is Right for You

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Before you buy a home and make what’s likely to be one of the biggest investments of your life, you owe it to yourself to receive quality information on your new neighborhood. Getting a deal on your dream home can quickly turn sour if the neighborhood doesn’t meet your expectations. Here’s how to research a neighborhood before you buy a home.

LOOK INTO THE CRIME RATES

In addition to the U.S. Census Bureau’s city profiles that list crime statistics, you can try sites like CrimeReports. com, which offers local maps where you can access crime data in near-real time (the site has partnerships with more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies). You might also visit the local police department to ask about crime statistics and what neighborhood watches or alerts are in operation.

CHECK SCHOOL REPORT CARDS

Even if you don’t have children, you should spend some time investigating the area schools (school districts are typically the largest beneficiaries of your property taxes). The reason for this is simple: good schools tend to attract a higher demand for homes, which can affect the value of surrounding properties. One way to research schools in your new neighborhood is to visit the GreatSchools website, a non-profit national organization, where you can find valuable information from local preschools to colleges.

REVIEW MUNICIPALITY AND PUBLIC SERVICES

It can be easy to focus on the condition of your prospective home, but you should also consider the general condition of the streets, sidewalks and parks in your new neighborhood. Take some time to research your new municipality (start with the official website) and the services offered. Don’t be afraid to call your local clerk’s office and ask questions if you can’t find answers on the website. Things like trash collection, street cleaning and general public maintenance can affect your property’s value over time, especially if these services suffer a sharp decline due to budget cuts.

WALK THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Visit the neighborhood at various times of day and on different days. The nature of a neighborhood changes from day to night and from weekday to weekend. Make sure the activity and noise levels are to your liking. If you see residents out doing yard work or walking their dog, ask how they like the neighborhood and tell them you’re considering buying in the area. Sometimes “insider” feedback can give you the real sense of a neighborhood.

When you’re in the market for a new home, it can be easy to get distracted by what lies within the walls. By following these home buying tips, you’ll be much better prepared to make an informed decision about your new neighborhood. That way, a sweet deal is less likely to turn sour. Please call me if you’d like help in further exploring a new neighborhood.