Fun Things to Do in the OC This Holiday Season

Orange County is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike who are interested in a variety of activities during the holiday season. The area is filled with fun and exciting things to do for people of all ages.

The Science of Gingerbread | Santa Ana | Nov. 23 – Jan. 6

One of the more popular events that runs through the holiday season until early January is the Science of Gingerbread at the Orange County Discovery Cube. It includes hands-on activities and cookie decorating for both children and adults. There are also a number of beautiful and impressive gingerbread houses on display.

A Christmas Carol | Costa Mesa | Nov. 24 – Dec. 24

Orange County is also home to a presentation of A Christmas Carol at the South Coast Repertory. This play is a Christmas classic that should be a big hit for the whole family. If you’re looking for another play, check out the Camino Real Playhouse on the weekends through the holiday season to see A Charlie Brown Christmas. The popular TV special comes to the stage on a double bill.

A Charlie Brown Christmas | San Juan Capistrano | Nov. 23 – Dec. 22

Charles Schulz’s beloved holiday television special comes to the stage on a double bill with “Archie Andrews Radio Preview before the show. Let your kids join Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, Linus  and the rest of the Peanuts gang as they save a tree and uncover the true meaning of Christmas.

Click here to learn how to sell your home this holiday season!

Snow Days with the Critters | Santa Ana | Dec. 15 – Dec. 16

This celebration features stations focusing on winter and snow. Your kids will enjoy watching animals receive icy treats, listening to festive tunes, looking at the winter decor, creating cool crafts and playing educational games and hearing delightful winter stories.

Winter Fest OC | Costa Mesa | Dec. 20 – Jan. 6

Families can also choose to go to the Winter Fest OC to take part in ice skating, tubing, playing in the snow, and cap off the night with a spectacular firework show. You can take your family to see Christmas lights and the tree lighting ceremony that takes place each night.

44th Annual Boat Parade of Lights | Dana Point | Dec. 7 – Dec. 15

Boat owners come out on the water to compete for a number of prizes and try to upstage each other with creative and entertaining Christmas decorations. The boats out on the water make for a spectacular photo opportunity and the entire evening is sure to be remembered.

Sherman Library and Gardens | Newport Beach | Dec. 14 – Dec. 22

Families looking for something more relaxing can head to the Sherman Library and Gardens for the Christmas light walk. Enjoy the colorful displays in the area, alongside some festive and creative Christmas decorations. The stroll is a peaceful way to take in some beautiful lights and makes for a good ending to a busy day.

Keep these in mind this holiday season if you are looking for some of the most popular and fun Christmas events in the Orange County area. With everything that is going on, there is something for anyone and everyone to enjoy.

Are you looking to buy or sell a home in the Orange County area this holiday season? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!

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5 Things to Know Before Investing in Real Estate

Real estate has become a popular investment vehicle because it usually does well, no matter how bad the economy is. At the very least, it often does better than stocks in the time of an economic downturn.

Investing is a popular way for entrepreneurs to start saving and building security for their future, since housing is always in demand. Real estate can also be a good way to offset the effects of inflation and taxes.

Real estate also usually keeps appreciating upward even if there are occasional economic slowdowns. Many think it’s the best way to create wealth since people who have become successful in the industry do not necessarily have to be exceedingly rich.

Here are a few things to know about investing in real estate before you get started.

1. Set financial goals and plans

Try and figure out what you want from your real estate investments and how that comes in line with any financial goals. Smart real estate investors make savvy purchases that get them closer to their monetary goals with every purchase. You can also spend time with a financial adviser if you need some guidance.

2. Spend time learning the basics of the industry and how to invest

Don’t spend all your time reading and actually ignore taking action. To prevent against this, write out certain questions you want to be answered and take deliberate approaches to books you read so you can keep moving forward while still getting educated.

3. Look at a lot of properties before actually investing in one

A lot of real estate investors will buy the first property that they come across and not take any time to really survey the market to find good deals. You need to view investing through the lens of economic motivations since you are not going to be personally living in an investment property yourself. Start with a wide scope and narrow down.

4. At the same time, don’t hesitate to make a deal if one comes across

Too many people try and find the perfect property before making their first investment purchase. You will never buy anything if you hold dear to this strategy. The perfect deal is not going to come across, so make a purchase if you see a good property deal to get buying experience under your belt.

Click here to learn 6 ways to sell your home fast during the holidays!

5. Run the numbers on the property before making the purchase

It would best to first see if you can get a better deal somewhere else, and be especially wary if your numbers are not adding up with what a seller might be telling you. A lot of sellers might try to overestimate a property’s value or embellish in other ways. Looking over tax returns and bills will give you a good idea about the month-to-month costs of a property.

Overall, keep in mind that real estate investing is about supporting your other ventures. Some choose to make real estate investing a full-time deal, but those who are not careful can see their financial prospects suffer if a few deals start to go bad. If you’re looking to invest, be sure to have a healthy perspective on transactions so you make smart decisions that will set you up well for the future.

Do you have a question about investing in real estate and finding the best investment property? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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6 Ways to Sell Your Home Fast Around the Holidays

A lot of people think selling a home around the holidays is a hard thing to do. It doesn’t have to be, especially since a lot of people are trying to buy a home before the holidays get in full swing. As a result, it is actually easier than you think to sell a house and get moved out before the holidays start.

Read below to learn 6 ways to sell your home around the holidays.

1. Clean Up Online Listings

A lot of buyers around this time are going to be searching online and you should have a real estate agent make digital advertisements to entice people to make appointments to check out your place in-person. Make sure photos are crisp and up to date, while ensuring all information is filled in so buyers have a good sense about what they are going to see before making  a trek in cold weather to check out a home. A lot of buyers are going to make an early decision based on online information.

2. Put a Holiday Twist on a Listing

Buyers around the holidays want to dream about settling in before the holidays start, especially if they have a family. As a result, a decorated home would draw people in at this point of the year. You put garland on your staircase or a light up your beautiful fireplace. Adding in holiday lights or other decorations before taking listing photos can help people visualize what they could be moving into if they decide to purchase.

3. Offer Flexible Showings

Buyers are going to want to see a home before they purchase it, but the holidays can get busy with scheduling. So keep your plans open so buyers will be more apt to visit your home. Flexibility is key to making quick sales, especially during the holidays.

4. Make Your Home Move-In Ready

This means keeping things neat and tidy even if there is not a showing, and it also means having a pre-inspection done beforehand. These are helpful because they help homes sell faster and could result in saved costs on your end. It will give you another good chance to highlight the good parts about your home, especially if you have a lot of nice upgrades as well.

5. Make Curb Appeal a Big Priority

Picking up leaves or trimming trees outside make a home seem more enticing to potential buyers. Don’t be afraid to decorate with lights, wreaths, and other decorations to give off a holiday spirit that is inviting to potential homeowners. People will be more inclined to buy if the exterior is looking good, clean and well-manicured.

Click here to learn tips to make your home stand out to buyers!

6. Offer Incentives

Since people are looking to buy around the holidays, making a small incentive for buyers can seal a deal. This could come in the form of new appliances, offers to pay closing costs, or more flexibility with negotiations. These can help you stand above other houses and offers and entice people to speed up the purchasing process so they can move in even faster. This means you’re out of your space with money in hand, while the buyer gets to settle in before the holidays get in full swing.

Do you have a question about selling your home before the holiday season? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole today!


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What to Know About Escrow

The escrow process plays a big role in a real estate transaction. However, people have a hard time understanding the process. Many current home buyers have paid into escrow without even knowing the why or what is behind it.

Read below for a simple guide to understanding the process of real estate escrow.

What is escrow?

Escrow is when a neutral third party holds on to funds during a real estate transaction. It is a way to protect both the home buyer and seller during the home buying process. After a home is purchased, the new homeowner will continue to put money into escrow as a means of paying the mortgage and insurance payments.

The purpose of escrow is to guarantee the seller that the buyer has the funds needed for the purchase and that these funds will be handed over when the title is transferred. This guarantees that the buyer that they won’t be scammed by a fraudulent seller who actually holds no claim to a title. At the end of the day, escrow helps ensure trust in a high-stakes transaction where neither party may be familiar with each other and where both have a lot to lose.

Escrow agents

The escrow process is arranged by an escrow agent. This is a neutral person who is entrusted with holding payments until specific conditions have been met – usually a title transfer. Because escrow agents play an important role in closing real estate transactions, they are sometimes called title agents.

You will usually not be responsible for securing your own escrow agent.Your real estate agent will facilitate the process. You will just need to supply the funds.

What if you would like to choose your own escrow agent?

You have the right to pick your own escrow agent. You might want to do this if you have a strong recommendation for a particular escrow agent, or if you would like to be as knowledgeable as you can on the several parties involved in your property sale or purchase. Typically, it is the seller who has the final say when making power on which title company is used for escrow.

Click here to learn how to prepare your new home before moving in!

What you need to do in the escrow process

You play an important role in the escrow process as the home buyer or seller in a real estate transaction. In addition to the home buyer being responsible for depositing funds into escrow in a timely manner, there are various other things that both parties could do to make the process run smoother.

Read over all escrow documents and making sure you fully understand them. If you have a question or are unclear about a few things, you should ask your real estate agent to help you. Remain available to quickly answer any questions or necessary next steps as the escrow process moves forward. Read the closing documents thoroughly so that there are no surprises or last-minute questions when the deal is ready to be finalized and closed.

Do you have a question about the escrow process? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole today!

 


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3 Ways to Build Home Equity Faster

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. A good home is an investment and a great place to raise a family. It’s also a relaxing and safe place to spend time in at the end of the day. As a result, it’s vitally important to do everything you can to increase the value of your property.

The best way to utilize your time in your home is to increase home equity. Home equity is essentially the current value of your house with any amount owed on it subtracted. Obviously, you want this to be as big as possible.

There’s a number of ways and strategies to build home equity faster. These usually revolve around increasing the value of a house and paying off a mortgage quicker.

One of the easiest ways to build home equity faster is to just pay off your mortgage sooner. Each month you’re paying the mortgage, you’re just paying more interest to the lender. Getting off mortgage payments means money is now going towards your net worth.

Some ways to pay off a mortgage faster include rounding up. Pay a little extra each month so this money will go straight to principal and boost your equity. Send any gifts and work bonuses into your mortgage and budget for extra payments to pay things off quicker. Otherwise, opt for a shorter mortgage length to pay things off quicker and boost home equity.

Another way to build home equity is to just buy a cheaper house. It’s going to take longer to build equity on a pricey home. Cheaper houses will come with smaller mortgages that can be paid off quicker, and you might even be able to place a bigger down payment on a cheaper house as well. When buying a home, consider these factors during the buying process to help you build equity faster.

Click here to learn how long you should wait to buy a second home!

A third way to build home equity faster to simply make a larger down payment. Putting down more money will help you immensely down the road and get you more home equity. Most people put down about 20% of a home’s value, but you can look at your finances and see if it’s possible to do more. Remember, every dollar counts when it comes to building equity.

Keep these three strategies in mind if you’re trying to build equity in your house. It might seem hard to put down more money now, but it will pay off in a big way down the road, especially when it comes to your financial health. Home equity can also be built through a variety of improvement projects that are targeted towards improving value, while also keeping everything in good condition.

Even if you feel like it might be too late to start building equity, rest assured that it’s not. In fact, starting later is always better than not starting at all. Sit down to figure out what’s financially feasible and keep the above three tips in mind while doing so.

Do you have a question about building home equity? Click here to contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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How Long Should You Wait to Buy Another Home?

Homes are always a good thing to have, no matter if you have a family of your own or are single. But it can be very tempting to go out and purchase another one for a number of reasons.

Maybe you are looking to move to a new area, or would just like some more space for a growing family. Overall, there is no set timeline about how long you should stay in one spot before moving to another. It will all depend on your individual circumstances.

Still, it is important to mull over a number of aspects before making the switch to a new home.

What Should I Be Thinking About Before Moving?

The biggest aspect on your mind should be finances. It is important to consider how much you could sell your current house for, and how much money you could set aside to purchase another one, or at least be able to pay a mortgage.

It can be tempting to ‘live above your means’ and buy a home that stretches your finances, but bigger houses will come with additional expenses relating to heating, cooling, and general upkeep than smaller ones will.

Some people will have the financial resources to quickly buy another house, while others will be on a much longer timeline if they are trying to work out finances.

The amount of time before buying another home will also be heavily influenced by the market in your area. If you are looking to buy in a seller’s market, you might want to wait a little bit until things change so you could get a better deal. You will have to think about how important these types of factors are and if they are going to influence when you will buy another home.

Click here to learn tips for preparing your home before moving in!

This is where a good real estate agent comes in, since they will have access to a wealth of experience and market data to give counsel about the optimal times to sell and buy.

Another important aspect when trying to decide when to buy another house is based upon the actual moving process. It can be very expensive to move a family far away, especially since you will have to find new jobs and schools for the kids. There is no set timeline on these types of decisions, as they all hinge on the individual circumstances related to you (or your family).

What Are Some Things to Watch Out For?

Even if you are looking to sell quickly and move somewhere else, there are a number of situations where you should probably wait to sell. For example, if you just moved to your current house, having to move again will probably stretch your budget. It would then be best to wait a little bit to save up some money for a move.

Additionally, do not be prompted to sell due to unfamiliarity with the area, especially if you just moved in. These types of feelings are usually temporary, and will go away once you get used to the surrounding area.

A situation where you are taking a loss or ‘breaking even’ on the sale of your current home is another factor that should encourage you to buy at a later date. These types of scenarios often make it harder to get financing on your next home, which can drastically affect your next buying experience.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home in the Orange County area? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole team today!


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How to Decide Which Offer is Best When Selling Your House

Selling a home can be a very exciting process, especially as the offers start rolling in. But just because an offer comes in first doesn’t mean it’s the best one. The highest offer also does not always equate to the best offer either.

There are a number of factors and considerations you should keep in mind when reviewing offers for your house.

Payment Type: The first thing you should do when looking at offers is check out the payment type. Most buyers will not choose to purchase in cash, but offers that are all cash are often the safest offers since sellers don’t have to worry about loan approvals by banks.

Pre-Approval Status: Pre-approval is another important element to consider when selling a house. Essentially, a letter of pre-approval means a buyer will be able to get the loan they need to purchase your house.

This makes these types of offers safer (and stronger) than from people who are not pre-approved. Do keep in mind there’s a difference between pre-qualification and pre-approval.

Repairs: Your house might need some repairs, but maybe you don’t have the time or money to do them. This makes a buyer who is willing to do the work an attractive one when it comes to selling. Some buyers will ask you to fix things in the house, while others will want to do the work themselves.

Taking this into consideration can save you a lot of time and hassle when it comes to reviewing offers.

Additionally, some buyers will want you to take all the appliances, while others will want to use them. Items like refrigerators and washers can be expensive, so keep this in mind when it comes to reviewing offers.

Contingencies: A lot of offers will come with contingencies attached, which are a list of things that have to happen at certain times in order for the deal to actually go through. For the seller, fewer contingencies are always better, so it’s important to carefully review all contingencies in each offer.

More common ones include inspection, financing, and appraisal. Some buyers will put in a clause to back out of a deal if an inspection reveals too many problems, so be sure to read the fine print of each offer and weigh options accordingly.

Types of Loan: Buyers will probably come towards you with a variety of mortgages under their belt, and this can lead to very different circumstances for the seller. Conventional loans are popular because they are pretty simple, but some government-backed ones can get a bit complicated since they require specific approvals and repairs at times. Make sure to keep the loan type in mind as you are reviewing offers, since this can add a lot of time and stress to the entire process.

Closing Timeline: When you are selling a home, you’re probably just ready to get a deal done and move on to buying your new home. Buyers who come with all cash offers will probably then be the best bet for you, even if the price is a bit below other offers.

Click here to learn the pros and cons of all-cash offers!

However, if your plans somewhere else are not yet clear, then you might need an extended closing timeline with a buyer who is willing to take

more time. This gives you more of a chance to prepare to buy a new home, and gives the buyer more of a chance to potentially find more money for their own expenses.

Overall, there are a number of things to keep in mind when reviewing offers for your home. Price does matter, and this might be the most important factor for you, but some offers come with a lot of risks that makes them more of a hassle, even if you are getting more money upfront.

Are you thinking of buying or selling a home? Click here to contact the Stacy and Nicole today!


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Tips For Making Your Home Stand Out to Buyers

There are probably already many things on your to-do list as you’re preparing to sell your home in Orange County. Here are some tips to help you make your home sell fast and stand out.

Think Objectively.

You will need to think about your home objectively and in a buyer’s perspective when preparing it for potential home buyers. This may be hard as a homeowner, but taking generic photos of your home’s interior and exterior features may help you picture your home objectively.

Start with the Exterior.

The exterior of your home is important when it comes to appealing to a buyer. The way your home looks on the outside is what brings buyers to your home as well as entice them into going inside to check out the home. Consider trimming the trees, mowing the lawn and even getting a fresh paint job for the home and the front door to freshen up the outside look of your home.

Declutter Your Home.

Potential home buyers like to see spacious homes so that they can envision how they can fill up the space and decorate the space as their own. It would be difficult for them to picture their own layout in your home if the rooms were cluttered with someone else’s’ personal belongings. So before any potential buyers goes on a tour in your home, make sure to organize and declutter all the rooms in your home as much as you can. A smart strategy for decluttering is packing up half of your household belongings before listing your home. This includes anything that you don’t use everyday as well as any personal pictures and knick knacks.

Stage Your Home Strategically.

Whether you have a small home or a big home, staging your home and utilizing the space strategically will make your home stand out to potential buyers because attention to details and a willingness to go the extra mile can make all the difference.

Think Outside the Box.

This is where you can get creative with putting out decorations, playing around with furniture placement, and overall making your home more appealing. Homes with a clean, stylish, and uncluttered look with generic modern decor is what most buyers look for. Make sure to pay attention to how your kitchen space is staged. The kitchen is typically one of the rooms in the home that potential buyers get excited over, which entices them to complete the sale. Try making your kitchen unique by adding new paints, elegant features, and sleek decor to the space.

Ask a Friend for Honest Advice.

Since it is your home, it may be hard for you to see the home for what is really is even if you are thinking in a buyer’s perspective. A smart idea would be to ask a friend for an honest opinion of your home. Ask a friend to come through your home and point out all the things that could raise red flags for potential buyers.

Selling a house can be stressful in a competitive market, but these tips will surely help make your home shine above the rest. Contact Stacy & Nicole today for any of your home selling inquiries!


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Tips For Preparing Your New Home Before Moving In

Did your dream home in Orange County look perfect and spotless during the open house? No matter how perfect or clean the home might have looked, prepare to see some dirty surprises and imperfections when you move-in. So take the initiative to avoid stressing on move-in day by by dealing with these surprises and imperfections prior to moving in. Here are some tips for preparing your new home before moving in.

Clean and Sterilize EVERYTHING.

By this, we really mean EVERYTHING. It’s easy for germs and filth to build up on any surface regardless of how clean a surface may look, so disinfecting and wiping down everything will really ensure your new home goes through a deep clean to be as close to being spotless as possible. Here are some areas to pay attention to:

  • Countertops in both the kitchen and bathroom
  • Both the inside and outside of kitchen appliances, such as the refrigerator, microwave, stove, etc.
  • Kitchen and bathroom sinks (this includes kitchen garbage disposals and drains)
  • Both the inside and outside of any cabinets and drawers in the home as well as the knobs and handles to those cabinets and drawers
  • The floors of every room, which includes both hardwood and carpet to undergo sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, or steaming

Identify Needed Repairs/Replacements.

Aside from making sure your home is spotless, look into what may need replacements or repairs in the home. Look through every area of your new home and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the fire detectors working?
  • How old are the light bulbs?
  • Do the walls or floors need any touch ups?
  • When were the air filters last changed?
  • Are all the light fixtures/fans working properly?
  • Do the water-heater closets need to be cleaned out?

After assessing your home, deal with the necessary repairs and replacements in the home as soon as you can.

Preparing your new home before moving in may seem difficult, but it is not impossible. Keep in mind that the more you get done before you move in and unpack, the easier the process can be. If you have any questions or if you need any help, contact Stacy and Nicole today!


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How to Buy a Home Faster and Smarter

Are you looking to buy your home in Orange County? The home-buying process can take up to six months, a year, or even longer. Wouldn’t it be nice to finally own your home as soon as possible?  Here are some tips to how you can buy your dream home faster and smarter.

But first, ask yourself these questions:

1. What type of home am I looking for?

2. Do I have a good enough credit score to buy a home?

3. Do I have any debt that can potentially affect my home-buying process?

4. Do I qualify for a mortgage?

5. What type of mortgage would best suit me?

Answering these questions will allow you to assess whether you are ready to begin and go through the home-buying process as well as understand what bumps might come into the road. Once you have the answers for these questions, you are ready to begin the home-buying process.

Be on Top of Tracking New Listings

Once you know what you are looking for in your home search, being tracking down new listings that meet the needs and wants you have for your dream home. You can even sign up for automated emails with your local agent to stay on top of all the listings that pop up and fit your needs. Being on top of new listings is a good strategy for having an edge over other buyers because it shows sellers that you are able to potentially make an offer before another buyer sees the listing.

Look For Down Payment Assistance

Did you know that homebuyers could qualify for over 2,200 different down payment assistance programs that are offered nationwide? These assistance programs were created to help homebuyers by providing low-interest loans, grants, and tax credits. Homebuyers who sought out down payment assistance in the past have saved an average of $17,766 between upfront savings and lower mortgage payments throughout the life of their loan. Homebuyers can become eligible for down payment assistance by meeting requirements such as income, occupation, or credit.

Make Sure Your Finances Are in Order

Closing times for the home-buying process nowadays are getting longer and longer. A recent report by Ellie Mae, a software company that processes almost a quarter of U.S. mortgage applications, revealed that it now takes 50 days on average for a buyer to reach closing while it took 40 days in 2015.

In order to close faster in the home-buying process, make sure your finances are in order by getting pre-approved for a home loan before submitting an offer on a property. This is why it is important to assess your finances and financial capabilities before starting the home-buying process. A mortgage pre-approval involves a lender running a credit check and verifying a buyer’s income and assets.

The home-buying process may seem difficult, but it is possible to get through it quickly and smoothly. If you have any questions or if you need any help, contact us today!

 


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