Test Drive a Home Before an Offer

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While that newly renovated home looks great in photos, what’s really behind that real estate listing could be too good to be true. When it comes to assessing a potential new home, the savvy buyer knows to relentlessly sleuth for any hidden problems. Like you would at a car dealership, test drive your potential future home for important features that easily go unnoticed. Here, Trulia.com explains how to make like a crime-scene detective and put your potential home to the test—before you submit an offer.

1. See what the neighbors are like

Before you step foot into a potential new place, drive by a few times. What’s the foot traffic like in the neighborhood? Do the strolling neighbors look more like young professionals or married couples with children? How much noise do the neighbors make? (Sneak in a Saturday night visit to get the full taste.) If you drive to work, test your morning and evening commutes and time how long it takes you.

2. Head out on a walking tour

Once you’ve examined the place by vehicle, it’s time to repeat on foot. See how long it takes you to get to the nearest coffee shop or restaurant, and make sure you love the local cuisine or cup of joe. (A walkability score considers only quantity, not quality, of amenities.) Scope out the nearest public transportation stations while gauging the condition of sidewalks and public plantings—a well-manicured neighborhood usually suggests stronger civic engagement.

3. Test out the plumbing

Don’t get seduced by the stand-up shower with the exposed copper pipes and wraparound glass doors—try it out yourself. How hard is the pressure? How quickly does the water heat? Test the bathroom and kitchen sinks while you’re at it. Water pressure shouldn’t be a deal breaker, but low pressure could indicate a damaging leak and more water problems (and expenses) down the road.

4. Open the windows

Even if it’s chilly, open a few windows, especially in the room that may be your future master bedroom. This is a good way to check if any windows are stuck, but also an opportunity to listen. Can you hear a lot of traffic or neighborly noise? Do your windows seem to bring in a lot of cross breezes, or do neighboring buildings block the airflow? When the windows are closed, can you feel drafts around the edge of the frames? Windows are crucial for the look and feel of your home.

5. Inspect the home’s natural lighting

If the open house happens on a cloudy day, schedule a follow-up visit when the sun is shining. See how the natural light flows through each room, especially high-traffic areas. If a room seems especially dark, consider whether the paint color is causing the problem. On the same note, you’ll want to see how dark the bedrooms can get. Close all the shades in all the bedrooms and see if the light still filters through; you might want to throw room-darkening shades onto your shopping list.

6. Keep your ears open for any unwanted noise

This is a biggie—condo sounds, in particular, can drive homeowners insane. Make multiple visits to a unit to catch surrounding neighbors when they’re home and making noise. If there are multiple condos for sale in the building, bring a friend and walk around upstairs or in the adjacent unit to see how noise travels. And be sure to ask if children live in the building; the pitter-patter of little feet is far less charming to those who live below them.
Once you’ve assessed noise levels, you should determine how sound travels within the home. Turn on the dryer to hear how loud it is. March around in the guest bedroom to determine how thick the walls are. If you’ll need to invest in sound insulation and throw rugs, it’s better to know now.

7. Scope out storage space

Some sellers clear their homes of all clutter, but many don’t. Rather than turn up your nose at an overstuffed bedroom closet, take out the tape measure and record some dimensions. The space may be larger than it seems; you can also take those measurements home and plan out a closet scheme online to see how much stuff it can really handle.

8. Don’t forget your marbles

Are those newly stained hardwood floors level? Bring a marble to find out. Discreetly place the marble on the hardwood floors: Does it stay put or start rolling? If the slope is especially steep, there might be a structural problem at play, but even a slightly uneven floor can become a bargaining chip.

South Bay’s Hottest Zip Codes

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Hermosa Beach | 90254

(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Median price per square foot: $967, +28.6%

Median price: $1,693,500, + 30.9%

Sales: 123, +7%

Strong demand, tight inventory, good schools and a view of the Pacific made Hermosa Beach a real estate standout in 2015. The small South Bay town also has something else going for it: It’s not Manhattan Beach.

Wealthy families priced out of increasingly ritzy Manhattan Beach — with its median price of $2.1 million — are looking to the next town over. But that’s pushing up values in a city that’s had more of a reputation as a younger party town, agents said.

Tech workers employed in Venice and Playa Vista are also buying in Hermosa, searching for schools with better reputations than those in the L.A. Unified School District, said Nick Peters, president of Engel & Volkers LA – South Bay

“A lot of people are moving here from Silicon Beach,” he said.Life's Great At The Beach

FOREIGNERS BUY UP PROPERTY IN SURPRISING U.S. MARKETS

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It’s no secret that foreign investors target real estate in the U.S. Markets like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago seem to be the most likely recipients of funds from foreign investors, but you may be surprised to learn that this unique set of investors also targets unlikely areas like Watertown, New York and Anchorage, Alaska.
What’s the reason behind these investment decisions? That depends on the location. The popularity of Watertown relates to its proximity to Canada and its appeal to Canadian investors. Cities in the northern portion of Washington state also enjoy popularity among foreign investors for the same reason.
The appeal of locations like Anchorage is harder to identify. Investors from all over the world flock to the Alaskan city. Home prices are on the rise in Anchorage, and the relatively low unemployment rate may make the city more attractive for real estate investors who are hoping to quickly turn a profit on their purchase.
Miami is known to draw investors from Latin America, but market trends show that the entire state of Florida attracts foreign investors. Mexican real estate investors are active in Texas and California, and Indian investors tend to focus on markets in San Jose and New York.
Some investors have largely pulled out of the U.S. real estate market. Japanese investors maintain a minor presence in Hawaii and Seattle, but these investors once purchased real estate across the country. Domestic investors who target quieter markets may be surprised to learn that they have competition from abroad.
Tags: home buyers, home owners, housing market, real estate, u.s. market

GIVING THE GIFT OF REAL ESTATE? KEEP AN EYE ON TAX RULES

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Instead of wasting money on Christmas presents no one uses, you may consider giving the gift of real estate. Although it may seem overly generous, if you are in a solid financial position, gifting a home may be a smart option. However, it is essential to keep tax rules in mind.
Purchasing a Home OutrightTo fill all preferences, it is recommended to choose a home after collaborating with the recipient. Instead of giving the house, accountants explain it is better to give money.When you give cash, you must remember two tax limits. Each year, you can give up to $14,000 tax-free. However, lifetime exemptions cannot exceed $5.45 million. Most individuals will never reach this limit, which means there are no tax implications, but the gifter must file a gift tax return.
Gift a Down Payment
Gifting cash for a down payment works in the same manner. However, this may cause problems during the mortgage process. Most times, it is necessary to submit a certified letter that explains the money is a gift.
Gift an Existing Home
Although your children may be interested in your family home, gifting it may not be smart. Down the road, when your children sell, they will have to pay expensive taxes.
If you still want to gift a home, there are other options:
Revocable Trust. This helps heirs avoid probate costs and allows you to gift your current home after you die.
Sell for a Low Price. The difference between your home’s value and the sale price follows your lifetime exemption, and the sale is tax-free.
Give Seller Financing. Instead of sending your children for a mortgage, you may consider offering seller financing.
When gifting a home, it is essential to watch your allowed exemptions. Besides these issues, it is a possible tax-free solution that helps family members retain a nice place to live.
Tags: gift, home buyers, home owner, real estate
« Pending Home Sales Post First Gain in Three Months10 Tips to save energy over the Holidays »

Save Energy During the Holidays!

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You have probably dropped a load of money on Christmas gifts and do not want any extra expenses. To curb energy bills, here are 10 simple tips that will help you conserve energy.
1. Switch to LED LightsRunning LED lights costs a fraction of the money it takes to use standard bulbs. As you decorate your home, it is worth switching your old strands for new LEDs.
2. Turn Out the Lights
Although Christmas lights look beautiful, it is essential to turn them off when you go to bed at night. It is also possible to use automatic timers as well.
3. Shop Around
Electronic devices and appliances are popular gifts. However, it is important to choose “Energy Star” models.
4. Shop Smart
It is wise to finish all your shopping during one mall stop so that you save gas on multiple visits.
5. Kitchen Efficiency
To save energy in the kitchen, it is wise to heat leftovers in the microwave and to take all ingredients out of the refrigerator at once.
6. Cut the Heat
The ideal temperature setting on your thermostat is 68 degrees. With a fire going, this can be lowered.
7. Burn Wood Efficiently
When filling your fireplace, it is wise to use man-made logs, which are natural and inexpensive. They are good for the environment and your wallet.
8. Fireplace Smarts
When you extinguish the fire, make sure to close the flue. This keeps heat from escaping.
9. Junk Mail
Junk mail kills 53 million trees a year. To help the environment, buy online and avoid mailing lists.
10. Change Your Dress
To remain warm indoors, you should wear layers so that you can keep the thermostat turned low. It is important to wear slippers as well.
By following the above tips, you will enjoy lower energy bills and help preserve the environment.
Tags: holidays, home owners, real estate, tips

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IMG_7811

It’s always nice to witness first hands the healthy growth of our local real estate market. Certain pocket areas have increased considerably in list price, sales price and location desirability in a short period of time.

East Manhattan is one of those micro areas.

I was happy to see a glorious new listing while out on Broker’s Open today The sun was shining, and life seemed hopeful, serene and calm (if one wore blinders).

Fresh with that new car smell we all love, sat 1304 Lynngrove Drive. 5 beds and 6 baths are the backdrop of this bright, super natural, white light filled single family home on a 5398′ lot.

Creative finishes, glitteringly gorgeous light fixtures are icing on the spacious 3746′ home. The Nano doors open to a petite  yet generous outdoor space with fire pit.

The price tag is as high as the ceilings..so the $3 Million question is indeed that! Will it fetch $2,999,900?

In this market, who knows. It just might.

 

AMERICANS THINK HOMEOWNERSHIP IS A SOUND INVESTMENT

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If you are like a majority of Americans, you have faith in home buying and believe you can sell you home for at least the price you paid for it. Many Americans also believe now is a smart time to purchase a new home.
Over the last few years, the reasons behind these opinions have remained the same. You may want to build equity, strive for a safe living environment, and want freedom to select the neighborhood where you live.
Owning a home is a big part of the “American Dream,” which is thriving in many communities. Since 2013, the amount of renters who contemplate home buying has grown. Approximately 61 percent of renters describe home ownership as a top priority. A high number of these people would appreciate the opportunity to participate in pre-purchase counseling programs.
In recent years, attitudes toward real estate have improved. You may have noticed increased activity in the housing market and have lower concerns about foreclosed properties. However, certain obstacles remain, which may hamper your ability to buy a home. If you are like many individuals, you may lack the money for a down payment or are struggling with student loans. With improved market conditions, house prices have increased, and inventory has decreased.
On a high note, millennials under 35 years of age have an upbeat and positive opinion concerning America’s future. Their positive views may brush off onto the rest of the country and contribute to the continuing recovery of the housing market.

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