Archive for June, 2007

Sawdust Art Festival

Posted on June 30, 2007. Filed under: Orange County things to do |

The Sawdust Art Festival in Laguna Beach is running its Summer Show from June 29 -September 2, 2007. This is an awesome event that draws  hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to experience the work of over 200 Laguna Beach artists.

Every day there are demonstrations or classes taught on everything from glass blowing, ceramics, welding, painting and drawing…which is my personal favorite.  As a fellow artist who loves to paint and draw I really enjoy visiting the Festival and get inspired to pull out my paint and brushes again.

What a great way to spend a summer evening! The setting is absolutely gorgeous and there are live performances going on each day.

Make sure you take time this summer to visit the Sawdust Art Festival to really experience some true Orange County culture.

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Interesting Investments

Posted on June 28, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

Hey everyone,

I have to run to the South Orange County Chamber in a minute… but I figured I would upload some good – looking Southern California investment properties for you first. 

 Yes I’m including the listing agent’s information but really you shouldn’t buy property from the person who’s listing it!!!  Call Mike or myself if you have any questions or would like further information.  Investing is a whole different ball game – we would love to teach you how to play 🙂

 Investment Properties in Southern California

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Kitchens aren’t just for cooking!

Posted on June 27, 2007. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips |

Kitchen now a days are not necessarily a place to spend in solitude slaving away for your family. Today’s kitchens are like family rooms with all of the comfortable furniture and entertainment aspects.  If you’re thinking of redesigning your kitchen keep that in mind.

If you are the type who spends their weekends touring the many model homes in Orange County looking for ideas or strolling down the isles of EXPO or the Great Indoors, you know what we’re talking about.

Todays kitchens are a gathering place for friends and family. They are warm and inviting and no longer sterile or secluded. Kitchens should have warm, cozy places for your guests to relax. There might be a comfy chair or small sofa, bar stools surround the island, and textures of furniture and drapes are what you would put in your family room.

The “matchy match” cabinetry look is out! The new look is stained-wood bases and painted wood upper cabinetsw. The old-Europe-look rules, but with today’s appliances. Today’s aspiring chef’s want to cook like the stars on the Food Network. Give your kitchen top notch appliance, televisions, conveniences that will make life easier.

The investments you make in your kitchen really go a long way in the resale value of your home.

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Good Real Estate, good prices in Mission Viejo, Costa Mesa, and Laguna Niguel

Posted on June 23, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

Lately many people seem to be complaining that the Real Estate market is scary, or prices are going down.  As an agent, I see houses and get pitched on land every day.  I am seeing prices I haven’t seen in years. In cities that are DESIRED by MANY…like Mission Viejo and Costa Mesa and Laguna Niguel…which some of our first time buyers couldn’t get into in the hot market.  

For Orange County buyers, this is pretty cool. You can get a DECENT 2/2 below 400K again.  1/1 properties aren’t always above 300K anymore.  You can actually “sleep on” your decision about buying the property, and you have more than 5 to choose from.  There may literally be 45 properties to pick between in your price range.  A funny thing we are noticing though, is that many buyers are now daunted by the choice.  Maybe its like me at The Cheesecake Factory?!?  Too much on the menu?  I thought I would give you some tips to help narrow things down:

1.  Location is always key.  You may eventually be selling (hopefully leasing!) the property, and the awesome locations will always sell themselves.  What’s around?  Google earth it and find out from your computer. 

2.  Think floorplan, think flow.  No matter how cute the decor, if things aren’t laid out right, you or anyone else won’t be comfortable in the property.  A perfect example is our old house.  The kitchen was totally cut off from the living room and the space we had to entertain in was just not enough for us. 

3.  Properties that get good light are always preferred by buyers.  Remember, you can block light but you can’t really create it.  Artificial helps, but its no comparison to natural light.  Can you see the light??? 

My question is… if lots of you have read the books we give out about buying low and selling high…why aren’t you picking up some properties right now?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Too Busy for a Homemade Meal? Never!

Posted on June 22, 2007. Filed under: Making Life Easier, Orange County things to do |

Listen up friends! Want to prepare great meals, but have no time or talent? I’ve discovered the key to cooking like a gourmet chef although I can barely boil water!! Right here in Orange County, off of La Paz and the 5!

Besides the fact that I am constantly on the go. By the time I read a cooking magazine and go buy the ingredients I’ve blown the food budget for the week on one meal that might or might not turn out. It’s so frustrating.

Well, here’s the answer! Dinner Time Made Easy is a “prep” kitchen located in Laguna Hills that allows you to assemble meals that you will later cook at home at your convenience. No shopping, no chopping and NO CLEAN UP!! How it works is you go to their website http://www.dinnertimemadeeasy.com/index.php and register (for free), pick a convenient time to go in, pick the meals you want to make from their menu that changes monthly, go in and assemble the meals and that’s it! I spilled some of the ingredients on the ground (oops!) and before I could bend down to clean it up one of the assistants beat me to it. Right on.

Some ladies from the South Orange County Chamber and I went together. We had a blast! They provide the container for the meal, you walk to different stations that have the recipe and all of the ingredients you need for each meal and in a matter of minutes you have a pre-made homemade meal you can take home, freeze, or prepare right away. They also provide labels to stick on the containers that tell you how to prepare it once you get home.

The website has all of the meals for the month listed with the nutritional values posted. This couldn’t be easier!! They have special events like wine tasting, preschool storybook hour and other fun dates. You can even book a private party for your friends. What a great place for the next birthday party!!

I hope you enjoy it, but remember…shhh!! Don’t let on that you didn’t do it all by yourself.

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What to do with Small Rooms when selling your home?

Posted on June 21, 2007. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, Home Seller Tips |

The BIG dilemna. Southern California home builders go crazy when building new homes trying to capture the interest of large families and couples who will be caring for aging parents. In order to maximize the number of bedrooms they skimp on room size. If you live in Aliso Viejo, Tustin Ranch, Irvine, or Ladera Ranch you know what we’er talking about! Don’t worry!  If you have small rooms you can still get top dollar for your home if you decorate sensibly.

First, decide if you’re going to showcase the room as a bedroom or other space. Small rooms should NOT be used as an office/guestroom. Pick one or the other.

Next, if you’re making the room a bedroom put in a twin size bed. Possibly with a trundle that tucks away and can be pulled out for multiple visitors. Add a small nightstand and skip a large dresser. Floor space is key! If you’ve got it the room looks bigger. Make sure the bed is positioned to maximize the space and not cut off the room.

If you are displaying the room as an office or other work space buy smaller scale furniture. A big oversized desk will dwarf the room. There are furniture stores that specialize in small spaces and you will be able to find pieces that will work. Try IKEA or Plumbers, right here in Orange County. Take measurements of the room before you go shopping to avoid buying too large. Be realistic. Another great idea is to install closet organizers to store your work related supplies. California Closets is Great. The more the room looks like an office the better chance you have that the buyers will see the advantage of the space. With gas prices on the rise a home office is a fantastic idea!

Last, keep the decorating simple!! No large print patterns, keep the paint neutral and minimal artwork on the wall. Clean lines help the room appear larger.

With the right planning your small spaces can mean BIG dollars.

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Huntington Beach Housing Programs

Posted on June 19, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Orange County Real Estate |

Hey friends,

 Huntington Beach has a first time buyer program out there to offer one more way to be creative when trying to purchase Real Estate.  As you know, there’s not that many affordable homes in Huntington Beach, but this program gives people one more option when looking to make that first purchase.

 If you  have always wanted to live on the beach, and love the HB laid back atmosphere, don’t rule out your ability to live close to the beach and enjoy the Orange County dream. 

 Click here to download the application and check your eligibility.  We know its a little long, so feel free to call us if you would like to come into the office and we can fill it out together. 

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Good deal in Mission Viejo, CA

Posted on June 16, 2007. Filed under: Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

I went to an exclusive open house today in our La Paz neighborhood – its in Mission Viejo off of Marguerite and Aldeano.  Here’s the specs:

 Single Family Residence

Location: 26822 Carranza Drive, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
Price: $775,000
Status:
Exclusive
Bedrooms:
3
Bathrooms:
2
Approx Square Feet:
1800
Approx Lot Size:
9169
Year Built: 1972

The view off the lookout was pretty, and it was nice that the spa was raised, and fenced in for safety.  Inside, the property was clean and upgraded.  All in all, the feeling inside was very nice 🙂  The La Paz tract in Mission Viejo is very large, and currently has 20 active properties on the market.  The prices range from 650 – 988K.  Square footages between 1400 – 3000, built between 1967 and 1970.  The great thing about La Paz are the LARGE lots!  Its wonderful for dogs and kids and pools and that California lifestyle we love 🙂 Here’s some pics, this is the “Madrid” floorplan:

  Front viewFireplace and wood floors

Lookout and backyard

Spa

This property is shown by appointment only, so you would need to give us a call to see the inside.  We’re very familliar with the neighborhood and would love to help you out!

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Short Sale Properties – opportunity or obstacle?

Posted on June 15, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

Mike and I went to a short sale – foreclosure seminar yesterday hosted by Metro Realty .  Orange County is experiencing quite a few of these “Short Sale” transactions lately, and we wanted to find out more about the process so you could get the scoop.   

 What is a Short Sale?  Short Sales occur when an owner needs to sell a property, yet they cannot sell the property for what they have borrowed on it.  This means the full mortgage amount cannot be paid off after the sale, thus termed a “short sale”.  For example, a condo in Irvine sold for 400K, yet now they need to sell, and can only get 380K. 

Short sales add a new variable into the mix…the bank.  In order to have your offer on a short sale REALLY accepted, it needs to be approved not only by the seller, but by all parties whom are owed money from the house.  This includes homeowners’ associations, the IRS, tax assessor, HELOCS, and any other mortgagors.  Many times these parties are more than happy to give you a deal, if it gets them out of the debt.

Who should buy a short sale?  NOT investors.  Sorry guys, too much liability.  First time buyers are a perfect scenario for a short sale purchase.  As long as the property is owner occupied, then there is opportunity.  Buyers need to know a short sale is not a quick process.  Once making an offer, the bank has to see and accept it.  They can come back with a counter offer too!  Expect the transaction to take at least 45-90 days, so make sure to plan accordingly.  There’s lots more to know, so feel free to email us if you have any specifics. 

 What if you have to be on the selling end?  Call us right away.  We want to get you in touch with a financial advisor and credit councilor to make sure this is what you should be doing.  Short sales are complicated and should not be taken lightly!   

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Condo Conversions are great for First Time Buyers

Posted on June 13, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Orange County Real Estate |

Today I thought it would be a good idea to blog for our first time buyers about condo conversions.  There are quite a few of them around Orange County, and they offer unique incentives to buyers.  What the heck is a condo conversion?  In the most simplistic layman’s terms, its basically when an apartment building upgrades the units, and sells them off as condos. 

 Why would you want one?  Because a lot of times condo conversions offer the best deals around.  In order to “convert” from apartments, many major upgrades need to be made.  Then, in order to sell quickly, the owner/builder offers incentives like thousands of dollars off, closing costs paid, or a really attractive loan program.  

 Better yet, if you find conversions early, and like the neighborhood, you get to “cherry pick” your favorite unit.  For many first time buyers, things like upgrades, location in the complex, decor, parking, amenities are all things they WANT to factor in…. but price gets in the way.  Condo conversions are a way of getting a good price, good upgrades, good location, and good amenities.  Win win! 

 If you’re interested in touring some of the Condo Conversions out there simply give us a call at 877-230-3211 and we would be happy to take you for a tour.   I’ve uploaded pics for the Monterey Villas, which is the one I showed today:

Monterey Villa Condo Conversion

Monterey Villas Bedroom

Monterey Villa living room

Sorry for the quality but you get the point 🙂  Its nicer than most other condos less than 400K, huh?  Monterey Villas had nice tennis courts, pool, grounds and clubhouse.  The downside was size of the units, no washer and dryers in the units (this is NOT true of all CC’s), and I forsee guest parking being a problem.  Still a very good buy with all things considered!

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Help Orange County’s Homeless

Posted on June 11, 2007. Filed under: OC Charities |

This weekend Mike and I had the pleasure of attending the Homeaid “Limelight” event.  Brad Coleman, our awesome office manager and VP of Metro Realty invited us to come. 

 We had never heard of Homeaid, and we thought maybe you had not either.  Homeaid provides shelter and housing for people who are temporarily homeless.  They originated in 1989 here in Orange County, and now they are nationwide 🙂 

Currently, Homeaid is in progress of building a shelter for the homeless at the old Tustin Air Base.  The facilities are so cool, they thought of everything!!!  Its really more like a little community. 

Why are we posting this?  We feel its our job as Realtors in Orange County find people homes.  Even if they can’t afford them, or if we don’t get paid when we find them.  If you are lucky enough to be one who CAN afford, and who DOES have a roof over your head, consider contributing your time or talents to this great cause.  For more information visit www.HomeAid.org – they are labeled a 4 star charity. 

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Orange County Homebuyer Seminar

Posted on June 9, 2007. Filed under: First Time Buyer help, Orange County Real Estate |

Tired of Renting?Are you interested in buying a home?  Its time for another one of our famous 1st time buyer seminars!  We understand that purchasing your first home can be a lengthy process, and we lay out a logical action plan for you. 

 In addition, our First Time buyer kits are second to none.  You’ll go home with a full belly AND brain!  We teach how to avoid first time buyer mistakes like emotional buying, find the best deals, improve your credit, get the best tax benefits, and more.  You’ll leave with free books, CD’s, contacts, and calendars…everything you need to further educate yourself about the Orange County market and homeownership in general.  We don’t pressure, and we bring in experts from loan and tax industries so you can get “the whole picture” and decide what’s right for you. 

The seminar will be held the evening of July 11th at our Laguna Niguel Metro Realty office.  For more details and to sign up, please visit:

 http://www.askangie.com/homebuyer_seminar.htm

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Countrywide still has good loan packages!

Posted on June 8, 2007. Filed under: Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

Hey everybody!  We know that lending-land has been turned upside down lately, but there is still some calm in the storm.  Our Countrywide lender David Frank has this GREAT program, called “Fast and Easy”.  He says:

 Basically, I can offer any client with good credit, a down payment and two years in the same line of work, the ability to go stated income and stated assets at full documentation rates. I do not ask for tax returns, w’2s, pay stubs or bank statements. We streamline it for the client by only requiring an application. Since we do not require documentation and our processing, underwriting and funding is done in my branch, I can close the home loan in 10 days from start to finish.

$625,000 Sales Price with 5% Down Payment and a 680 credit score.

$1,250,000 Sales Price with 10% Down Payment and a 700 credit score.

$2,000,000 Sales Price with 25% Down Payment and a 720 credit score.

There are no points and no prepayment penalties on any of our adjustable or fixed rate products. These loan amounts and credit scores are for the purchase or refinance of a primary residence, single family or condominium. However, the Fast & Easy Program is available for Second Homes and Investment Properties.

$812,500 Sales Price with 10% Down Payment, 700 credit score on Second Homes

$556,000 Sales Price with 25% Down Payment, 700 credit score on Investments

Mike and I have both had multiple loans with Countrywide and they are one of the lenders we have NEVER EVER had a problem with.  If you want to “buy low” right now, call David and he’ll make it easy for you.  His Cell is 949-374-0421, he answers on weekends, but you didn’t hear that from us 🙂 

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Remodeling in Orange County?

Posted on June 6, 2007. Filed under: Home Improvement Ideas, OC Charities |

I got a GREAT remodeling tip yesterday, from Habitat for Humanity of all places 🙂

Did you know they have 2 REstores here in OC? Habitat REstores are actually home improvement warehouses that have new and gently used items for sale at ROCK BOTTOM prices. There’s one in Santa Ana, and another in Garden Grove. Supposedly the stores are stocked with overflow inventory from various SoCal builders, Lowes, and personal donations.

See http://www.restoreoc.org for hours and addresses.

At the volunteer meeting last evening in Orange, they mentioned that an interior designer just decided to redo their office, and dropped a ton of stuff off 🙂 The Habitat REstores sell these donated items and use the funds to finance new land or home building projects, so you are putting your money to a very good cause by buying your furniture, cabinets, or countertops there.

Another thing…Habitat does DEMO for FREE!!!!!! They have a philosophy that many of the items we “throw out” when remodeling our kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms really don’t deserve to clutter up a landfill, they deserve another go-around. (Especially for a family in need)

For example, the demo team has a Balboa Island demo to do this weekend, and they are salvaging all kinds of great items like appliances, cabinets, granite counters, & cedar ceilings. Then they have another one this month for a Corona del Mar kitchen that is way out dated (4 yrs old), the owner wants a new theme. He must be watching Top Chef or something!! I will take that Bosch dishwasher thank you very much, mine’s got to be 10 yrs old haha 🙂

If YOU are thinking of remodeling, there IS an order of operations to what will bring you back the most $$$ when you sell your home. Contact us for a free report, and then go nuts with the free demo and cheap REstores!. How fun and fantastic is that?!?! Serve others – serve yourself – save some money! Make sure to spread the good word!

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Home Value Websites – do they work?

Posted on June 2, 2007. Filed under: Informed Investor Alliance, Orange County Real Estate |

Most home value websites we find are interesting…but far from trustworthy when it comes to actually pricing your home.

I was interested to know if anyone out there has looked up the price at zillow.com or another online value website, and found it to be the same as what your Realtor suggested?

I was reading this article the other day in the OC register and it seems that other people are thinking the same way:

Orange County Register Housing Value article

Let me know the sites you do like out there for instant home values and we will link to them – right now AskAngie.com is framing zillow, but I would be happy to use what the majority prefers.

REMEMBER an experienced REALTOR is always the best bet to help you with an actual home or condo value though!

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    Orange County, CA Real Estate for hip first-time buyers and investors. Plus, fun things to know and do in OC.

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