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September 7th, 2015 at 9:30 am

home buying programs

Think you can’t become a homeowner? Think again. Did you know programs are available to help you purchase your home? Some of the biggest hurdles, such as saving for a down payment, can be supplemented through government-run programs. We’ve outlined below a few reputable programs and tools to check out if you’re in the market for a new home.

  • Mortgage assistance search through the California Association of REALTORs®. Use this search tool to identify potential down payment assistance programs in your area. The tool will review municipal and state-level websites to find a program that works for you. Begin your search here. (more…)

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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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