Archives for July 2011

Selling Your Home? Get a Pre-sale Inspection.

Most people think a home inspection is something that happens somewhere between making an offer and before closing on a home; but for a number of reasons, more homeowners are choosing to have their own home inspected before putting it on the market.

The reason is simple: uncovering problems early on enables you to fix them, often making it possible to add value to your sale price. An inspection is designed to reveal any potential problems a house may have—and that is true for both buyers and sellers. Sellers may benefit from gaining this kind of detailed information about their home, so that they can choose to handle problems long before the negotiation process is underway.

Many sellers also report that their buyers feel more comfortable when the information from a pre-sale inspection is shared early on, even if the buyers choose to have their own home inspection as well.

In short, a pre-sale inspection can reduce the chance of a surprise and help speed the closing process, which would otherwise have been delayed by scheduling repairs and having the buyers confirm they were completed properly. Because for buyers, making an offer contingent upon a home inspection is about saving expenses and trouble—not to mention providing confidence in what may well be the biggest investment they ever make.

Even if you are not a buyer making an offer, or a seller thinking of listing a home in the next few months, a home inspection can provide homeowners with a thorough to-do list for maintenance—or even a little peace of mind.

Common Credit Myths About Buying a Home

                Whether your annual earnings range well into six figures or they are on the more modest end of national salary average, you know you will probably need credit to buy a home. While you likely know how important credit is to your home-buying plans, you may not be aware of the truth behind some common credit myths.

Myth:   If your bills are paid and you have never defaulted on a loan, mortgage or credit card bill, you do not need to worry about your credit report or credit score.

Truth:   Many factors influence your credit score, and payment history is just one of them. When calculating your score, credit bureaus also consider length of credit history, types of credit used and ratio of credit available to credit used. Even if your payment history is good, scoring lower on one of the other factors could lower your overall credit score.

Myth:  As long as you know your credit score, you do not need to look at your credit report before applying for a mortgage.

Truth:  A lender will certainly look at your credit report, so you should know what is on it before they do. Errors may occur on a credit report, and if there are any negative marks on your credit history you will want to know about them – and address them – before a lender asks.

Myth:  Checking your credit score is a hassle, and it can not really help you manage your credit in the long run.

Truth:  Websites like make it easy to check your credit score. Keep in mind that lenders use a variety of scores when evaluating credit worthiness, and the one you obtain online will vary from what a lender might see.  Still, any score can be a valuable educational tool that helps you better understand how lenders view your credit.

Myth:   If your credit is not perfect, you will not be able to get a mortgage.

Truth:   Lenders are stricter than they have been in the past and a good credit score and report can certainly make you a more appealing prospect to them. However, a score in the lower range does not mean you can not get a mortgage at all. But a higher score is likely to net you more options – and better terms.

Myth:   When you apply for a mortgage, the lender could share your personal information (including your credit score and history) with other companies.

Truth:   The law limits how banks and other financial institutions can use your information and to whom they can disclose it. If you are not sure how a lender may use your information, ask. Depending on the situation, you may be able to limit disclosure of your information.  Home prices and interest rates are still low across the country, making it a good time to buy a house, real estate experts say. Knowing the truth behind some common credit myths – and understanding your own credit history and score – can help you take advantage of the many opportunities still available for home buyers. 

Common Home Fix-it Mistakes

Seemingly small oversights and errors in do-it-yourself projects and home maintenance can have costly consequences.  A single misstep might mean that a job must be completely redone or that hundreds, even thousands, of dollars must be spent to solve the resulting problems.  Below are some of the most common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

MISTAKE:  Failing to apply grout sealer after laying tile.  Grout stains easily and is extremely difficult to clean.  After you grout your tile, whether on a floor, wall or countertop, wait three to five days for the grout to cure, then apply a solvent-based grout sealer.  (Latex-based sealers are less effective.)  Apply with a small brush or spray bottle and wipe off the excess.  Add a new coat of grout sealer every year and if the grout is in or near the shower, do it twice a year.  Helpful:  Environmental restrictions are making solvent-based grout sealer more difficult to find.  If it is not sold at your local home center or hardware store, try a specialty tile store.  Latex-based grout sealers are better than nothing, but you will have to apply three or four coats to get effective protection.  To clean grout that is already dirty:  Use a cleaner specifically made for grout, such as ZEP Grout Cleaner & Whitener, available at tile and hardware stores.

MISTAKE:  Applying a latex paint directly on top of an oil-based paint.  Latex paint, the most popular paint these days, will not stick to a surface painted with oil-based paint, which used to dominate the market.  Within weeks, the new coat of latex will begin to peel and you will have to strip it off and start again.  To determine whether existing paint is oil of latex-based, wash a section with soap and water, let it dry, then swab it with rubbing alcohol.  If some paint lifts off, it is latex; if not, it is oil.

If you must apply latex paint on top of oil paint, first apply a coat of deglosser, also known as “liquid sandpaper”.  Check the instructions on the deglosser.  Some are effective only if you paint within hours of deglossing.

MISTAKE:  Using the wrong caulk or not preparing properly to caulk  Caulking is one of the cheapest, easiest do-it-yourself tasks, but it is still possible to make mistakes that lead to serious problems.  Some homeowners fail to thoroughly clean the surface that is about to be caulked and then the caulk bonds to the dirt and dust, not to the wood, metal or ceramic underneath, allowing moisture to get into the home’s structure.  Others use the wrong caulk.  Cheap caulks can fail in just a few years, and simple latex caulks will not take paint.  Wall trim often needs to be caulked before painted.  The best choice is a high-quality siliconized latex caulk or a letx-elastomeric caulk.  Either should last twenty years.

MISTAKE:  Painting metal without properly treating rust.  Most metal that is exposed to the elements will rust.  Painting over your home’s rusted metal doors, railings, fences, patio furniture or steel gutters only cloaks the problem.  The rust will continue to consume the metal.

Before painting any rusty surface, sand down the rusted area, then apply Ospho, a phosphoric acid product that retards rust.  Let it sit overnight.  The rusted areas should appear black by the next day, a sign that the rust has been chemically altered so it will not continue to spread.  Apply a coat of Rust-Oleum metal primer over the entire surface of the matal to prevent the spread of any rust that is not yet visible, as where there was visible rust, there is additional rust that cannot yet be seen.  Once the primer dries, you are ready to paint.

MISTAKE:  Not “exercising” water shut-off valves.   When the shut-off valves beneath sinks and toilets go untouched for years, mineral deposits can cause them to seize up and the valves cannot be opened or closed.  Often the only recourse is to hire a plumber to cut the valves out and replace them, at a cost of hundreds of dollars.  This will not happen if you shut and reopen water valves every six months.

MISTAKE:  Neglecting exterior door hinges.  The hinges on an exterior door can rust and seize up, causing significan damage to the door when it is used.  This typically happens to seldom-used doors, but it can happen to a front door while you are on vacation.  If you lubricate exterior door hinges once a year with a silicone spray, they will give you a lifetime of trouble-free sercices.  It is best to not use an oil-based lubricant as it can trap dirt in the hinge.  Open the door before applying the silicone to ensure that the lubricant gets inside the hinge barrel.

MISTAKE:  Allowing a garbage disposal to rust.  Rust can develop in a garbage disposal when it goes unused for as little as a week.  Pour a shot glass of vegetable oil into the disposal before leaving on vacation and it should stay rust-free.  When you return, pour a small amount of dishwasher detergent down the disposal to clean out the oil.     


Palos Verdes is a Great Place To Live

The Palos Verdes Peninsula is less than a 30-minute drive from downtown Los Angeles or LAX Airport and about 45 minutes away from Hollywood.

Top Ranked Schools in Safe, Beautiful Settings

The Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District continues to be one of the best school districts in the state of California and the nation. We are proud of the efforts of our learning community and invite you to share it.

Local Knowledge is Key

No one knows the South Bay and the Palos Verdes Peninsula market better than
Katie Muck. With her broad base of professional associations, business
experience, network contacts and personal history in the area, she is a
tremendous resource for their clients.