Archives for 2011

Home Warranty Policies for the Seller

When you put your home on the market, I recommend ordering home warranty coverage for the listing time and the escrow period.  It seems to never fail that when you care the most about whether all of your appliances, etc., are in working order, there will inevitably be something that fails.  One listing that I had quite awhile ago, had what was then a very expensive instant hot water heater ($950).  The owner accepted an offer and wouldn’t you know it, the water heater ceased to operate.  The agent representing the buyer told the seller, “If your agent had ordered seller’s coverage, you would not have to pay for installing a new water heater.”  Because my clients are dear to me and I want to be their “Realtor for life”, I paid to have a new water heater installed.  I haven’t forgotten that experience, as I felt that I had not given the seller the best possible service.  Now I try to always inform clients that there is such a policy and that on average for less than a dollar a day their home’s systems and appliances can be covered and their only responsibility would be to pay the service charge of about $55, regardless of the cost to repair.  In future posts, I will speak more about the value of home warranties for landlords and buyers.

Your Homeowners Insurance Policy

The purpose of homeowners insurance is to insure your home, its contents and other personal possessions cialis generique paypal.   Your policy also should include liability coverage for accidents that might happen on your property. One way to save is to make sure you have the right amount of coverage for your home. It sounds straightforward, but it in practice it can be challenging to make sure your home is not over- or under-insured.

What’s the right amount of insurance?  Remember that the market value of your home includes the value of the land, which is usually 75% or so of the total value.   Ask your insurance agent for the average cost per-square-foot to rebuild in your county and multiply that figure by the square footage of your home to arrive at a pretty good estimate of what it would cost to re-build the structure.   Be sure  you have adequate insurance so that in the event of a fire, theft and other perils, you are fully covered.  If you own a condominium, the Homeowners Association’s policy will cover the structure, but does not include your personal possessions.  For a minimal monthly fee you should be able to have the interior of your unit and your personal belongings covered. 

Once you are satisfied with your coverage, ask about discounts for security systems, deadbolt locks and other safety features such as safety glass or storm shutters. Some insurers will provide a discount if they cover both your home and your automobiles. You can also consider increasing your deductible amounts to lower premiums, if you can pay the deductibles in the event of a loss. Finally, if you’re not satisfied, be sure to shop around; you may be able to find comparable or better coverage for less money.

How to Hold an Online Garage Sale

With Spring’s arrival, you may be thinking about emptying closets and ridding yourself of unwanted items. And if you’re thinking about moving, one important step is to get rid of clutter that may have accumulated around your home.Organizing a traditional garage sale can be a hassle when you have to gather all your unwanted items, tag inventory, post neighborhood signs and online ads, and then spend your weekend haggling prices. If you don’t have that much time, consider holding your garage sale online.

Swap boards, donation directories and even online auction sites make it easy to do. Craigslist and eBay are the best known of these sites, but there are many to choose from. What’s more, eBay once estimated that the average household has $2,000 worth of unused goods waiting to be sold. You may already be thinking of a few items that should find a new home before you do.

Here’s how to hold a successful online garage sale:

Plan—or Not – The beauty of an online garage sale is that you don’t need to gather all your unwanted belongings at once. Instead you can post them online as soon as you decide to get rid of them.

Price It Right – Search online to learn prices of comparable items. Remember: if you don’t want to lug that item to your next home, it may be worth selling at any price. But if you’re still attached to it, you can set the price a little higher.

Show and Tell – Multiple photos are important—they draw attention to your item over similar ones. Also use them to answer anticipated questions. If you’re selling a piece of furniture, for example, include close-ups of unique details, dings and the upholstery pattern. Also provide detailed written descriptions.

Deliver the Goods – If you’re selling locally and have a vehicle big enough to hold your item, offer to deliver for a small fee. If you’re auctioning the item, you can add a flat shipping fee to the price, or allow buyers to compute and pay for shipping costs.

By getting rid of unwanted items through an online garage sale, you’ll have fewer items to pack when you decide to make a move.

A Few Tips for Leasing Your Property

Having owned my own rental properties and having helped many clients rent theirs, I have had some experiences and suggestions that I’d like to share.  A few years back I was screening a tenant for a client who had a lot of investment property.  When I ran the credit report, I discovered that the prospective renter had no credit at all, which surprised me because he was in his forties and was not a foreign national or anything.  I told the landlord, “Al, I don’t think you should rent to this person because having no credit is as bad as having bad credit.”  He said the tenant was in the carpet business and he was going to re-carpet the unit at no cost.  He rented the unit out to the man and his family; they did pay the rent, but guess what?  The carpet he installed was a horrible bright blue color and when they moved out, the landlord had to replace it.  The moral to this story is when a tenant tries to con you, he is probably not the right person to rent your place and also, it is unwise to rent to someone who has no credit.

Another experience was with my own property.  My husband was in charge of making repairs and interfacing with the tenant.  One day when he was over fixing something, the tenant apologized for the stains on the carpet.  My husband said, “Don’t worry about the carpet.  We’re going to replace it when you move out.”  When we went to do the inspection of the property when the tenant was moving out, the carpet was filthy.  I was furious at my husband but mostly at the tenant who said, “So I spilled a cup of tea, so sue me.”  I said to her, “Did you spill a cup of tea all over the condo?”  She said, “Your husband said it was okay because you are replacing it anyway.”  The moral of this story is don’t ever say the condition of the property does not matter; it does.  We found numerous other problems as well but luckily we had enough deposit money to cover most of the damage.  My advice is to always require a security deposit that is two times the amount of the rent or the maximum that is legal in your state.  That way, if they don’t pay the rent and damage the property as well, you might have enough to make repairs.

Speaking of rent, I used to think that putting a late fee of 6% of the rent was a good idea, but now I’m leaning toward not requiring a late fee.  That way, if the rent is not paid when due, the tenant knows they can be served with a 3- day-pay-or-quit notice the day after the rent is due.  Whether there is a late fee or not, always call the tenant if you do not receive the rent on the due date.  That way he will know you care about receiving it on time.  (Many tenants, unfortunately, think landlords are rich.)

If you say you do not allow pets and you become aware of their having a pet, immediately serve the tenant with a 3-day-notice-to-perform-covenant-or quit.  I like pets and I have two cats, but frankly, I do not know how well other people take care of theirs.  If the rental market is decent I would not accept a tenant with pets.

I recommend using caution when renting to a tenant who tries to pressure you into making a decision before you are able to investigate his credit.  I have heard things like, “I’ll pay you an extra $200 a month if I can move in tomorrow.”  It is tempting but always do the proper screening or you may be sorry.

I have shown some properties listed for lease on our Multiple Listing Service that have been left wide open with an open house sign and their is no one hosting the open house.  This could be perilous, because I have been told by my attorney that if a person squats in the property, it may take years to eject him.   My advice is to never leave access to a property when you or your agent is not present.

Another tip is do not get too chummy with tenant.  Renting your property to another is a business transaction and it should stay that way.  It is easier to not pay rent on time or damage a property if you think the landlord is such a good “friend” that he won’t do anything about it.

I want to add that I have had many, many good experiences with tenants and that most treat the property with respect and pay their rent on time.  I recommend working with a good real estate agent who has the connections to rent the property in a short period of time and who can stay at arm’s length and make decisions based on facts rather than emotions.

Real estate is the best!  What other investment can you live in?

Wait! Don’t Do That to Your Home!

Everyone should be able to make their homes an environment they will enjoy; it is one of the best things about homeownership.  Be careful, though.  When I purchase a home, remodel a home, or re-decorate a home, I always think, “Would a buyer like this?”  Here are a few of the things you probably should NOT do.   1.  Don’t convert your garage into living space; most home buyers like the ability to park their cars in a garage, even if they often do not.  If you go ahead, though, make sure it can easily be converted back.  2.  If you have a one-level home and need to add more space, try keeping it a one level instead of adding a second story.  The reason for this advice is that one-level homes appeal to a larger number of buyers, especially to senior citizens and young families.  3.  Resist the temptation of adding anything that takes up yard space; many people dream of a large, flat back yard.  4.  If you have a view, do not obstruct it with landscaping.  5.  Never create a floorplan that requires going through one bedroom to go into another bedroom.  6.  Resist using the latest styles of carpets, tiles and appliances, as chances are they will “date” your home when you go to sell it.  7.  Don’t plant too many shrubs and trees at the front of the house.  8.  Don’t panel your family room.  9.  Don’t put an ugly mailbox in front of your house; it is often the first thing someone will notice.  10.  If you have open beam ceilings, do not paint the beams a dark brown.  11.  Don’t texture the plaster of ceilings or walls.  12.  If at all possible, avoid decorating with wallpaper.  12.  Don’t put your laundry area in the kitchen; if it’s already there (as in many older homes), try to move it to the garage or some other part of the house.  13.  Don’t add on a pre-fabricated covered patio.  14.  Never, never have a chain-link fence.  15.  Never go ahead with an addition or improvement without checking with the city in which you reside and any kind of architectural review authority that you may have to assure that everything you are doing is up to code. 

I am sure I haven’t covered everything, so I will be sure to update this in future posts.

So, How’s the Palos Verdes Real Estate Market?

I am often asked about the real estate market so I thought I would write down my slant on things. Because there are so many negative articles in the newspapers these days, I am sure everyone is concerned about the value of their properties. Prices of homes in Palos Verdes will remain the same or dip only slightly in 2011. The Palos Verdes Peninsula is a “move-up” marketplace commander du cialis en france. As long as there are so many short sales and foreclosures in the areas with lower price ranges (Torrance, San Pedro, Lomita, Gardena, etc.), there will be fewer buyers for this area. Owners of those foreclosures and short sales will not be moving to a higher-priced home on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

 The good news is that homes that are priced right and are in good condition are still selling. Gone are the days when a home seller could pad his price to allow for negotiating. The asking price must be right on the money!