South Bay Fireworks Display Listings

Thinking of checking out some fireworks this 4th of July, but not sure where to go? Check out this awesome listing of local fireworks displays!
http://www.sccgov.org/sites/opa/nr/Documents/Fireworks%20Fact%20Sheet%202014%20ENGLISH%20Show%20list.pdf

Happy 4th of July!

Firworks 2014

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Steps to the Home Buying Process

Reaching For A Home

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting and important decisions. In addition to being a historically strong investment, owning a house provides comfort and security for you and your loved ones. If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, there may not be a better time in which to buy. Attractive interest rates and lower prices are helping more first-time home buyers enter the real estate market today than ever before. So if you are thinking of making a move this year, here’s how to get started:

  • Select a professional Realtor®. Choosing a Realtor is one of the most important factors in buying a home. It’s important to select a Realtor who has experience, a strong pulse on the local real estate market and the neighborhoods you are looking in, and who you feel will do the best job in communicating with you. You are going to be working with this person a lot so your comfort with and confidence in the professional are key.
  • Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved with a proven lender will allow you to understand how much home you can afford before you begin your home search. Coldwell Banker has an in-house mortgage banker, who has a reputable track record and can help you determine your purchasing power before you start looking. A qualified loan officer from the company will show you a variety of different types of financing and will determine how much you qualify for with each type, as well as what your monthly payment will be so you can make an educated decision that’s comfortable for you.
  • Determine what you are looking for in a home. Is location most important to you? Do you have to have a swimming pool in your yard? Will you only look at homes that have a formal living room? Understanding your preferences and what you are willing to compromise on will help your Realtor in their search for properties that most closely match your criteria. Remember, unless you are building your dream home from the ground up, there are often compromises involved when deciding whether or not you will be satisfied with a given property.
  • Be proactive. While your Realtor will keep you apprised of any properties that hit the market matching your criteria, it’s important for you to be proactive in your search too. By keeping tabs in the neighborhoods or cities in which you are looking, you will have a better understanding and knowledge of the local market and home prices so that when you are getting ready to make an offer, you can be educated and confident in your decision. Websites such as CaliforniaMoves.com and Realtor.com are both updated frequently and are among my favorites for home buyers.
  • Have an open mind. Remember that the first house you purchase is probably not going to be perfect. If you have been looking for a home for weeks or even months, maybe it’s time to reconsider homes that you’ve already viewed or make a few concessions. Chances are that if there are homes that have been sitting on the market for weeks, the seller may be willing to negotiate more on price and you may be able to purchase your first home for a lower price than originally thought – giving you extra money in the end for home improvement projects.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you are thinking of taking your first steps towards purchasing a home, I’d be pleased to meet with you to give you an update on the local real estate marketplace and your buying opportunities. For more information, contact me today.

 

To Buy A Home or to Rent: Questions to consider

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New House“To buy or to rent?” That seems to be the million-dollar question these days. Recent graduates, young couples, relocating professionals and even current homeowners have likely considered both scenarios recently. While each option has its benefits, the decision to purchase a home as opposed to renting is complex. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Realtors®, nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home today is a good financial decision. But the question that remains is whether or not now is the right time for you to buy.

For most people, deciding to buy a home is the largest financial decision of their lifetime. Before making the jump into homeownership, potential homebuyers should consider the “soft” lifestyle issues as well as the “hard” financial ones. That’s why it’s important to consider four key financial and lifestyle questions when determining if buying a home is the right decision for you.

Do you have a steady income? At or near the top of every potential homebuyer’s mind is whether or not they can afford to buy a home right now. Buying a home remains a sound financial decision for thhttps://realestatebynicole.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpose with documented income and a good credit history. A steady income can provide a strong backbone for the initial down payment and future mortgage payments. Buy-versus-rent calculators available on websites such as ColdwellBanker.com offer a good start, but there are numerous factors beyond straight economics that also need to be considered. Don’t hesitate to speak with a real estate professional even before you are ready to buy a home. Along with a financial planner, a real estate professional can help you answer and uncover questions about the cost of homeownership.

Do you plan to stay in a home for an extended period of time? With proper planning, a home purchase has historically proven to be one of the safest investments one can make. Along those lines, it is imperative to understand that investing in a home is much different than investing in a stock portfolio. Homes typically appreciate in value over time while the owner builds his or her equity through monthly mortgage payments. If you anticipate staying in a home for only one or two years, it doesn’t necessarily mean buying is not for you, but you are less likely to see a significant financial return on your investment.

Do you plan to sell a house in order to buy a house? A local real estate professional can help you understand current local market conditions and will help you make smart decisions when listing a home on the market. If you do not currently own a home that needs to be sold prior to purchasing a new one, now is a particularly smart time to buy. Even with lenders becoming increasingly more thorough in their approval process, mortgage financing is still widely available for those with a steady income and solid credit. High inventories and low interest rates give first-time homebuyers a tremendous amount of opportunity and flexibility in markets across the U.S.

How do your other options compare? For renters, calculating month-to-month housing expenses is as easy as inquiring about the monthly rent and average utilities. The calculation gets a bit more complicated when considering the monthly cost of owning a home. A real estate professional can help you understand a range of financial considerations from annual property taxes to the tax incentives for owning a home.

There is a lot to consider when looking at the pros and cons of buying a home and you’ll likely have a lot of questions run through your mind. The best thing you can do for yourself before making a decision is to do your homework and become better educated on your options. Remember, for every question there is an answer – you just need to find the right one for you.

If you’d like to talk about your personal real estate scenario, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As a real estate professional that specializes in your neighborhood, I can provide you with valuable insight into the benefits of today’s market.

Beautiful 3 bedroom home near Rosegarden open today from 1:30 – 4:30!

Beautiful 3 bed home near Rosegarden open today from 1:30-4:30! Stop by and check out this wonderfully upgraded home, offered at only $688,888! http://goo.gl/6IBzH

What Your Lender Needs to Know (and what not to do during the home buying process)

buy-home1When you are buying a home the first thing you need to do is get pre-approved. This is different from pre-qualifying as it is a full loan approval instead of simply an opinion letter of your creditworthiness. Its is best that you take this step before looking at homes as finding out what you qualify for will help you look in the right price range and avoid disappointment. On the flip side, you might be able to look at more expensive homes than you originally thought possible.

Here are some things your lender will need (and need you to do or not to do) during the application and escrow process):

1) All funds used for the downpayment and closing costs need to be carefully scrutinized by your lender.

  • You must provide detailed and accurate information to show which accounts the funds are in and where the funds are coming from.
  • You must document the source of any funds that have been in your accounts for less than 2 months.
  • Any changes that occur to your financial condition will need to be explained to the lender.
  • Changes to your assets, employment, income or credit scores during the escrow process could jeopardize your ability to obtain a loan.
  • Provide complete documents – all pages!
  • Provide documents with names, addresses and account numbers.

2) Things not to do during the escrow process:

  • Do not transfer funds from one bank account to another.
  • Do not make unusual large deposits into your bank account or you will need to provide documentation for the source of any deposits.
  • Do not buy a car just prior to buying a house of during the escrow process.
  • Do not spend large sums of money buying furniture or appliances.
  • Do not change jobs.
  • Do not apply for new credit cards.
  • Do not close existing credit cards.

3) The lender is going to require a letter of explanation and/or support documentation for:

  • Recent inquiries on your credit report.
  • Derogatory items on your credit report.
  • Recent deposits into your bank account.
  • Recent transfers of money from one account to another.
  • Evidence earnest money deposit has cleared your account.

4) If you are receiving gift funds the lender will require:

  • A gift letter signed by you and the gift donor.
  • Evidence of the donors ability to gift the funds – a bank statement.
  • Evidence of the receipt of the gift funds – a copy of the check or wire.
  • Evidence of the funds being received into your account.

If you have questions or are looking for a wonderful lender, give me a call today at (408) 410-2060!

Why You Should Consider Selling Your Home During the Holidays

Star Christmas Lights Hanging from an Eave

 If you are considering a move during this holiday season but you are unsure how the market will react, read on. You may be surprised to find that some of the most serious, ready-to-go buyers are waiting in the wings during the holiday season to take advantage of the market while others are out holiday shopping. At an open house a few weeks ago, I had over 125 people through both Saturday and Sunday, proof that plenty of buyers are waiting for your home to come on the market!

WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER SELLING YOUR HOME DURING THE HOLIDAY

  • Holiday buyers are particularly serious, committed and focused.
  • The corporate executive transferees have more free time to shop for a home now than at any other time of the year.
  • Over the holidays there are fewer homes available, therefore supply and demand work in your favor.
  • Homes are seasonally radiant during the decorative holiday period.
  • The holiday season is a time of heightened consumer spending.
  • Some buyers purchase homes as gifts.
  • Interest rates are still attractive.

TO PRESERVE PRIVACY OVER THE HOLIDAYS, AT YOUR REQUEST WE CAN TAKE AN EXCLUSIVE MARKETING APPROACH

  • All showings are by appointment and only available to qualified buyers.
  • Take a low key approach to advertising your home, reinforcing its exclusivity.
  • Don’t include property address in advertising.
  • Consider not placing your home on the MLS during the holiday period.
  • No lock box.
  • No open houses for either public or Realtors® (unless homeowners request otherwise)
  • No for sale sign.

If you are considering selling, give me a call today at (408) 410-2060 for a FREE home estimate. Also, remember, if you buy or sell a home through me, or refer me to someone who does, YOU get a FREE 16GB iPad4! What a deal!

Top 10 Winter Energy Saving Tips

Whether you’re able to make a big investment into cutting your energy costs or just looking for a few free and simple ways to save money, here are 10 helpful tips for keeping your energy bills down this winter.

No Cost

  1. Set your thermostat to 68 degrees. Your heating system will operate less and use less energy. By turning it down an additional five degrees at night, you could save up to $70 on energy costs each year.
  2. Set your water heater to 120 degrees. Your water heater won’t have to work as hard if it’s set to a lower temperature. In fact, each time you lower it 10 degrees, you’ll save 3-5% on water heating costs.
  3. Open window coverings on south-facing windows. This will help warm your house during the day. At night, cover all windows to help keep the heat in.
  4. Use cold water when washing clothes. Washing clothes in cold water could save you around $40 a year with an electric water heater and $30 with a gas water heater.

 

Some Cost

  1. Replace your furnace filter regularly. Dirty filters reduce air flow, making your equipment work harder. Replace your furnace filter monthly (unless it is a high efficiency filter) during the heating season to reduce heating costs by up to 5% or $35 a year.
  2. Install water-efficient showerheads and faucets. 1.8 gallon-a-minute showerheads can reduce your hot water consumption by as much as 10% and save $20 a year.
  3. Switch to compact florescent light (CFL) bulbs. They cost a little more but you’ll save about $40 over the life of just one bulb.
  4. Weatherize your home. You’ll save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs! Seal holes to the outside by weather-stripping doors and windows.

 

Larger Investment

  1. Insulate your home. By adding insulation to the attic, unfinished basement walls and crawlspaces, you could save 20% on heating and cooling costs. You may need to consult a contractor before taking on this project and I’d be happy to provide you with a referral.
  2. Purchase energy efficient appliances. Remember, items like refrigerators, washers, dryers, furnaces, TVs and computers have two price tags – purchase price and lifetime energy costs. Energy efficient appliances can save you up to $75 a year while helping save the environment.