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!

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Ahmet Misirligul

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Richman21

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!

 


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/sabthai

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!


Photo Credit: Shuttershock/Kotchapan Phuhuailam

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Shutter_M

Courtesy of Cuselleration

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!

 


Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov

7 Staging Tips For Selling a Small Home

Are you trying to sell a small home in Orange County? One of the biggest components that contribute to a successful sale is how you stage your home, so having a small home does not mean a trickier sale. Follow these steps to see if you are being the most successful in preparing a small home for sale.

1. Say Goodbye to Clutter

The most important thing you can do to prepare a small home for sale is to get rid of any clutter. Clutter makes a home look unorganized and usually is a result of having too much furniture. This may make a small space feel even smaller! Take a hard look at the pieces of furniture you currently own and consider what you can live without. An organized layout comes a long way when you have a reasonable amount of furniture and more open space to work with.

2. Rearrange Your Furniture

Rearrange your furniture to organize the layout of your home. In the living room, symmetrical arrangements work well. A home can look more organized with furniture that is in pairs as well as pulling furniture away from the walls. Place pieces so that the traffic flow in a room is obvious. This will create a more open and walking space to make your home feel spacious yet inviting.

3. Strategize the Use of Mirrors

Mirrors can do more than allow you to see your reflection. Mirrors can brighten a dark room and make a small space look much bigger by reflecting natural light. Placing a mirror either next to or directly across from a window can also help by adding more depth to your home.

4. Let Light In

Having good lighting in your home is one of the biggest aspects that can help make a small space seem larger. Good lighting can come from how much natural sunlight can be let in as well as the type of lighting you use in your home. Here are three types of lighting to consider implementing into your home:

  • Ambient (general or overhead)
  • Task (pendant, under-cabinet or reading)
  • Accent (table and wall)

An added bonus is that this will also help make your home feel warm and welcoming!

5. Utilize Rugs

The larger an area rug, the more spacious the room will seem. Having small rugs can actually make a home seem smaller because it makes the space seem choppy. Situating rugs under groupings of furniture can help add contrast to your home to help organize the different sections of your home. This will overall allow you to have a more organized layout in your home because not using any rugs in your home can make the space look like a big maze of furniture.

6. Take Down Decorations and Artwork on the Walls

Walls with a blank space gives a room a chance to breathe. Taking down the decorations and artwork on the walls also contributes to decluttering your home to make it more organized. Having open walls can also make a small space feel bigger.

7. Take Your Doors Off Their Hinges

Removing all your interior doors besides the ones that lead to bedrooms, bathrooms, and closets can help your home feel more open. This allows a small space to feel larger as if there is more room to walk around.

Successful staging a small home may seem difficult, but it is not impossible. If you have any questions or if you need any help, contact us today!


Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Breadmaker

Old House vs. New House: Which is the better option?

It’s finally time for you to purchase a home in Orange County and you’ve probably already found the ideal price and location, but there’s something else you’re forgetting to look into.

Are you looking to buy a new home or are you looking to buy an old home?

Considering the age of the home is something that’s usually overlooked, but it is actually something important to think about because it has many factors with pros and cons that may affect you as a future homeowner.

Old Homes: Pros

Unique – Designs of old homes have been more thought out with architectural details, meaning no two homes would look the same. With this, older homes also have a story to tell that may date back to decades ago, providing more value to your home and a story to share to your friends.

Communities – Older homes are usually located in an area that has a stronger and closer-knit community. This is especially a pro if you have children because your child can play with the kid next door or the kids down the block. Something to also consider in the community is who your potential neighbors would be. Imagine living next to a home with a teenager who blasts music all night vs. living next to a home with grandparents who are quiet and like to sleep early.  

Old Homes: Cons

Expensive Utility Bill – Old homes probably don’t contain insulation, new windows and doors, and energy efficient heating and cooling systems. This may result in costly utilities that may not outweigh the benefits that do come with living in an older home.

Maintenance – Older homes mean older appliances, old pipes, and more systems that are old and not guaranteed to last for a long period of time before maintenance is needed. Costs may add up for repairs, replacements, and upgrades shortly after buying the home itself.

New Homes: Pros

Design/Space  – Newer homes are more modern with sleek designs and abstract structures as well as enlarged rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. Who doesn’t like the extra closet space or just the extra space in general? Newer homes built from the ground up include blueprints and structural designs with larger rooms and larger spaces compared to older homes. These new homes are built on areas with more square feet, giving them more flexibility with how to distribute the space around the home. So now, you may even be able to have that dream pool table right in your living room.

Stronger/Safer Structure – The structure of the home itself is also better engineered because the walls and ceilings of the home are no longer made with lathe and plaster, but now with shear walls. These shear walls provide stiffness and strength to the home, which reduces potential damage to the home in the case of large horizontal earthquake forces.

New Homes: Cons

Costly – Newer and bigger homes are more expensive than older homes. The new innovations and engineering behind the construction of your new home will allow it to last longer and defy potential natural disasters, but this also makes the construction of your home as a whole more costly. Older homes may not have as much protection and stability as the blueprints for newer homes, but they have enough to stay intact in the case of an incident.   

While looking at the pros and cons that contribute to the comparison of old homes and new homes, this decision is not a one-for-all. There may be even more factors out of your scope that are involved in weighing the pros and cons of old homes and new homes. If you have any questions or are unsure about anything, contact us today!


Courtesy of Cuselleration

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Olaf Speier

How to Make Money Flipping Homes

There is a lot of money waiting to be made in flipping homes. You can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of days. All you need to have is the power of persuasion. But it comes with a lot of other different factors that you need to consider and capitalize on in a very short time. So, your main goal is to first look for a distressed seller, then to find a desperate cash buyer who will ensure that the deal comes to a quick close and you make your profit out of it all. You only need to be persuasive and convincing enough to catch the buyer’s attention and interest in the seller’s home. So, all this starts with finding the right buyer.

1. Identify the right markets

You need to ensure that you know the right markets. Finding the hottest markets in the real estate business at all times will be your first step towards finding out where the relevant buyers are putting their cash. But at the end of the day, knowing the right market for the buyers could be what separates you from heading home with a big check to the bank or empty-handed.

2. Identify the right location

You also need to identify the right location. A home at the right place means where you are not only going to buy the home at the best possible price, but where the relevant buyer is going to be willing to buy the house from you at your stipulated price.

3. Identify the right property

Scour the internet, the MLS and everything you can, through the real estate channels and find the right property. Look for the vacant and distressed homes that are about to fall into repossession or on short sales and make your move. All you need to do is start from somewhere and keep searching until you get the right property. Ask around from your neighbors, and even the real estate agents and keep an eye out for anything that may interest you. You may catch a lucky break.

4. Identify the right buyers

This is the point where you need to line up your buyers and here is where you can even categorize them from the relevant buyers to regular buyers. The relevant buyers are the buyers who have a higher chance of making any purchase. Do your magic and see which one of your buyers pan out. Here is where you start making some crazy money.

5. Identify the right sellers

This point might be a bit tricky since finding a vacant house may sometimes not be as simple as you might think. You may end up doing a lot of searching, digging through the web, and asking a lot of questions here and there and still end up short of finding any vacant home. But even if you do, you still need to come to some sweet deal with the home seller and agree on an amount that beneficial to both parties; especially you.

Do you have a question about flipping homes? Click here to talk to the experts at Stacy and Nicole today!


Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Bruno Weltmann

Courtesy of Cuselleration