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August 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am

historic properties

Thinking of buying that vine-covered Victorian in Ventura? The Spanish Colonial Revival in Santa Monica? The cute Craftsman cottage in Coronado?

Owning a historic home can be a labor of love, complete with admiring neighbors, official recognition, and significant tax breaks. Or it can be a constant repair job, a money pit with little or no return on investment – which often can just be sweat equity.

If you’ve found a historic home in California and are committed to living in it, or fixing it up as a rental or investment, there are two words you need to know: Mills Act. This state law, enacted in 1972 and administered by the state Office of Historic Preservation, allows cities to enter into contracts with the owners of historic structures. These “historical property contracts” require a reduction of property taxes in exchange for the continued preservation of the residence.
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August 5th, 2015 at 10:00 am

buy a home now in So Cal

Rents are up in Southern California. So are home prices. You want a place of your own, but aren’t sure if you should buy or rent. What’s your best course of action?

Good question, but finding the right answer takes some digging. First, some statistics:

Rentals

  • According to real estate data firm Reis Inc., the average rent in Los Angeles County in the first quarter of 2015 rose 2.4 percent vs. 2014, to $1,520 a month. Orange County climbed by 3.5 percent, to $1,660.
  • Both counties are among the costliest rental markets in the country, but below the $2,277 average rent in San Francisco and $3,233 in New York – and among the most competitive.
  • Seven of the 11 most competitive rental markets in the country are in California, including San Diego, Ventura County, and the Inland Empire, where rents rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter, the second-fastest pace in the country.
  • Rental prices in San Diego County have been rising at annual rates between 3 and 6 percent, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported at the end of July.

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July 13th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Escrow explained

You’ve found the home of your dreams. You have a preapproval letter from a lender. You’ve put in an offer that’s been accepted. So–pardon the expression–you’re practically home-free, right?

Not exactly. There’s still that one-word process you need to get through: escrow.

It’s easy to define escrow. But reaching close of escrow and having the keys to the front door in your hand depend on many factors.

What is an escrow?
We’ll let Tegan Powell explain. She is Escrow Officer-Branch Manager at Pickford Escrow Company, a HomeServices of America Company, in Mission Viejo.
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May 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am

Pack like a pro

Congratulations! You’ve made it through numerous open houses, both your own and others, and have managed to sell your old house and find your new perfect home. But now a task that may seem terrifyingly daunting lies ahead: moving.

Packing up and moving all your stuff doesn’t have to be stressful or scary. Just follow these simple rules and you’ll be boxed up in no time:

1. Use it or lose it
As you pack your items, yo’re sure to come across many belongings that bring back fond memories–but how old are those memories? Although it can be hard to let go of that favorite jean jacket you wore every day for a year 10 years ago, it’s probably best to move on…literally. The less you have to pack, the more time and money you’ll save.

Tip: If it hasn’t been touched or thought about in more than a year, add it to the donate or trash piles.

2. Label everything
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May 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Choosing the neighborhood for you

Finding the right home also means finding the right neighborhood. You might find the perfect house, but the surrounding area can quickly change the way you feel about it. There are many factors to think about, from school districts to public transportation to the proximity of your neighbors and grocery stores. Different homeowners have different needs when it comes to location, so here are a few things to focus on that will get you headed in the right direction for finding your ideal neighborhood.

  1. Affordability – Though it might be tempting, it is important to not shop for houses in a location outside your price range. Make sure that you and your real estate agent know what price range you’re searching for before you start looking. (more…)

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