Spring is Here! Prepare your Home for Showing

springcleaning

Spring is here, and for some of us, that means spring cleaning as well. If you’re preparing your home for sale, it’s even more important. Depending on your habits, the job could be either big or small. Below are a few tips that will help you with your spring cleaning, or any time of year.

Did you know that the kitchen sink can contain more bacteria than a toilet seat? If you’ve ever noticed a smell coming from the disposal, it’s usually because the bacteria have taken over. Disinfecting the sink every few weeks can help keep things clean and sanitary all year-round. Store-bought disinfectants are great, but if you still notice an odd smell, try cutting up a lemon and putting it down there. Turn on the disposal and let it run until everything’s been eviscerated.

While you’re in the kitchen, why not tackle the dishwasher? Put a little baking soda on a damp sponge and wipe all around the edges to remove stuck on food. Run a cycle with your dishwasher empty using cleaner that kills E. coli, or even bleach.

Take a look inside your oven. Do you see anything on the bottom? Often times, juices and the burned remnants of meals-gone-by will find their way to the bottom of the oven and leave tough stains. Oven cleaner will usually work to get the stains off, but if you want to avoid the problem altogether, why not try a non-stick oven liner? They’re inexpensive whenever they get dirty, just run them through the dishwasher.
Cleaning the home can be a big job, but it doesn’t have to be all done at once. Take it one room at a time and keep on plugging; you’ll be done in no time!
Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

What’s That Smell?

BadRefrigerator

Have you ever been to someone’s home and noticed a strong odor every time they opened the refrigerator? Maybe you’ve noticed this in your own home. Worse yet–maybe you noticed it even when the refrigerator is closed.

This problem often begins when the power goes out, or when the refrigerator is accidentally left open for a prolonged period of time. Odors also become strong and unpleasant when liquids (such as juices from uncooked meat) leak out and get into hard-to-clean areas.

When most people notice foul odors emanating from their fridge, their first thought is to empty it out and use a disinfecting cleaner on the inside, hoping to eradicate the smell. Unfortunately, some people often stop right there.

Using a disinfectant to clean the fridge is appropriate, but you also need to make sure to get all the little hard to reach areas. If possible, try to remove the shelves and scour all the grooves. Also, thoroughly clean the rubber seal around both doors. Bacteria and debris love to hide in there, and if it isn’t properly cleaned, mold and mildew can easily grow.

Once the entire appliance has been thoroughly cleaned from top to bottom, place newspaper on the shelves and charcoal briquettes in the drawers to absorb odors. Replace the newspapers and charcoals daily until the smell is completely gone.

Food odors will turn guests off. Unfortunately we become accustomed to the smells in our own homes and won’t even know when they’re lurking around. The tips above will help ensure a sweet smelling house.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Don’t Wait till Spring to Clean!

StickingDoor

Upkeep of your home is a year-round job, and if you haven’t been as diligent with housecleaning as you’d like to have been, there’s no better time to start than NOW–especially if you’re planning to sell your home soon.

One common issue I’ve encountered among homeowners I’ve worked with has been a sticking door. A door that sticks is likely not a deal-breaker, but it can be irritating. The good news is that it’s an easy fix. You won’t need a handyman. You can do yourself.

First, if you’re not sure which part of the door is sticking to the frame when you open or close it, apply colored chalk to the inside of the door casing and close the door. When you open it again, each section of the door making contact with the frame will have colored chalk on it.

Next, using either sandpaper or a rotary tool, begin sanding the area(s) of the door where you see the colored chalk. It shouldn’t take too long to sand the problem area down, so make sure to check frequently.

The job shouldn’t take much longer than 10 minutes from start to finish. your sticking door will open wide to receive visitors on Open House Day; and you’ll have plenty of time left to give your house a good once-over.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Let’s Look at Stats…(yawn?)

Graph

I’m usually pretty bored when I have to start looking at charts & graphs, but I’ve noticed a slowing patch in the market; I’ve talked to agents in every state in the US, title reps, escrow companies, mortgage brokers, etc. While the hot hot flurry of buying a home has slowed down (is it because of the investors cooling off?) Prices have, however, risen in many of the upper end price ranges. WHUT???? And here’s the stats to prove it….

Just looking at a snap shot of Valencia homes (an area I know very well) this chart shows a One-year look with 1123 sales represented. I only used single family homes to get a more clear & concise look to see a larger range of prices. Here’s some interesting statistics:

  • 1) The actual number of sales in most categories are down 2014 vs 2013
  • 2) Sales in the $500,000 & up range INCREASED (Home prices have risen, obviously)
  • 3) There was a decent amount of sales in the $900-1.5 mil market-and its pretty much stayed level.

I keep preaching to the buyers to get up off their duffs and get to buying-more inventory, better deals, and be creative with closing costs, contingent purchases, etc.

Sellers? Price accordingly. Price accordingly. and Price accordingly……

Finally, a quote from Warren Buffet-who seems to know EVERYTHING about when to buy, sell or hold…..he says:

“Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.”

Yep……

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Things You Need to Know Before Becoming a Landlord

keys

Are you considering becoming a landlord? Here are five things you should consider before jumping into the investment-property world.

Follow the rules – Being a landlord can be a legal headache. There are numerous federal Fair Housing Laws, local and state housing laws as well as health and safety codes you must abide by. And if it ever comes to pass—and let’s hope it it never does—there are laws that apply to evicting tenants.

On call 24/7 – A landlord’s responsibilities never fits neatly between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Tenants can experience all kinds of emergencies—everything from leaky pipes to power outages to broken toilets and appliances—and they’ll call YOU to fix them. Immediately!

Who will live there? – One of the most strategic jobs a landlord must face is finding qualified tenants. Owners may advertise on Craigslist or employ a local apartment hunter or real-estate agent. Friends and family also get the word out and advertise your property for free. Depending on how far the property is from where you live and how busy you are, you might also consider a property manager or management company. The management companies do charge a fee based on their level or service-either just screening applicants to actually overseeing the full time management of the property and forwarding you the difference monthly.

Gotta tool belt? – If yes, then great! You’re one step ahead of the game. If being handy isn’t exactly your strong suit, you’ll have to hire someone to fix things when they break and those costs can add up.

The other stuff – There comes a time you just won’t be able to repair or do no matter how handy you are. Air conditioner goes out in the middle of summer? Call the A/C repair guy. Cockroaches decide your property is an excellent new home? Get that exterminator on speed dial.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

An Offer Isn’t an Insult

Offer2

Recently I saw a blog on Active Rain title ‘An Offer is Not An Insult’. I tend to agree with that.

When buyers especially submit an offer in writing, and customarily also submit their proof of funds for the down payment, and a pre-qualification letter, it’s usually very serious that they want to start negotiations on a home. Just like you I watch all the HGTV/Bravo shows (many of the agents on there I know professionally or have met, and speaking from experience what you see on TV ain’t necessarily real life here…) I see all the hullybaloo over all the people who are grossly offended by what they consider ‘low’ offers and urge their (TV) agents to go back and ‘play hard ball’ with the buyers. But let’s stop and think….and let me share with you sage advice my Dad always told me….”It’s only worth what someone will pay you for it.”
Most often its a start to negotiations-in my past I have had clients go back & forth so much to sweat out some small minituae of detail to feel like they have ‘won’ over the other side. But truly in negotiation you have to realize that both parties have to feel they won in the deal, and as I got older I learned alot of this was just plain old EGO getting in the way. I wished I had learned that lesson early on…but still grateful that I did learn it. The negotiations don’t stop there….there can be further negotiations over repairs and even appraisals. I once got a $40,000 reduction in price when a large ranch property was determined to have needed a brand new septic system-a very costly expense a buyer isn’t likely to want to spend. Carpet paint and all the things that are tangible are easier for a buyer to swallow then a subterrean problem or a system replacement.

Years ago when I worked with a REO agent (a broker who is hired by the banks to sell Bank Owned foreclosed properties) we often encouraged the buyer’s agents to submit ANY offer; we felt that if the banks (sometimes) had over priced the home in our market we could use those as collateral to get a price reduction. This was often true. Again, the buyer’s are willing to pay for something they feel is fair market value….its only worth what someone will pay you for it!

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Always get a Home Inspection!

Construction

When you buy a Santa Clarita home, you need to know exactly what you’re buying. Imagine how frustrated you’d be to find out that the hot water heater wasn’t working—in the middle of a shower! This is why you should have a home inspection before you buy your home. A home inspection is an important part of buying your home. Before you hire a home inspector, ask candidates a few questions to make sure you hire a trustworthy inspector.

Recently I heard about a buyer, during a heated real estate transaction negotiation, waive their rights to a home inspection. Sure enough soon after escrow closed the buyers noticed some issues that would have shown up had they hired a professional inspection. And they didn’t have a leg to stand on legally by waiving their rights prior to closing.

What does your inspection cover? Not all inspections are the same. Ask for copies of previous home inspections so you can see exactly what they will check inside the [city] home. If you are concerned about something specific, like a leaky faucet in the bathroom, mention that to the inspector so they can check it out.

Are you licensed or certified? If you live in a state that licenses home inspectors, ask to see their license. At the very least, choose a home inspector who belongs to American Society of Home Inspectors. This shows a level of professionalism and education that you can trust.

What kind of report will you give me? You should expect a written report detailing what the inspector found. Most inspectors will give you a typed report within a week of the inspection. Make sure the inspector will be available to explain anything on the report that doesn’t make sense to you.

Will I be able to attend the inspection? If the inspector refuses to let you be present during the home inspection, find someone else. This is your chance to know exactly what you are buying and what potential repairs you or the seller will have to make.

As your real estate agent, I will guide you through the home buying process. Let me help you find your new Santa Clarita home. Call me today at 661.733.4555 or email me at tripp@trippjones.net

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Let me tell you about…Mello Roos….

This is a question I get asked, alot, especially from: 1) First time home buyers and 2) buyers NOT from California. Now, like most of you, I would try to circumvent a buyer from buying in a Santa Clarita Mello Roos district because I also couldn’t understand WHY would anyone want to pay MORE to live in a similar Santa Clarita community. I’ve had a 360 degree turnaround since. Let me tell you why.

First…..The term Mello-Roos derived from the names of its co-authors, Senator Henry Mello & Mike Roos. It’s also known by the term Community Facilities District Act (CFD). The CFD started when people in California voted for Proposition 13 in 1978 to limit property taxation. Therefore, new initiatives were considered to finance public constructions and improvements. In 1982, the California State Legislature made Mello-Roos legitimate. But, we didn’t see it commonly until the building of the Stevenson Ranch neighborhood in the late 1980’s. Bonds are issued to help fund the community infrastructure (such as: police services, schools, roads, ambulance and fire protection services, utility connection, sewer lines, and streetlights). Once Mello-Roos is established, residents must repay them in order to fund ongoing projects. A special tax is assessed to the homeowners as the repayment method and levied yearly. When you get a property tax bill, you will see near the bottom the break down and a “CFD” which is the Mello Roos amount.

  • -Advantages of a Mello-Roos: New schools, parks, recreation centers, and more can be built and funded using the revenue generated from the Mello-Roos income. And more housing inventory will be created when undeveloped locations are built up.
  • -Disadvantage of a Mello-Roos: Housing cost may be increased because of the tax, possibly limiting the amount of prospective buyers when it comes time for resale.
  • -How Long Does Mello-Roos Typically Last? The length of time varies. 15-25 years from the original build date is somewhat common. Rarely does it extend beyond 30 years.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

Buyers Who Circle the Water-But Can’t Jump In…..

MovingFamily2

Recently I held an open house, the listing was HOT and it was in a great area….and during my time I met some really cool people who were searching for their first home. One particular couple spent FOREVER in the home, looking at everything, asking very detailed questions about the neighborhood, the homes updates & remodel (extensive!) and other general questions. I certainly believed they were going to put an offer in within the week!

During the next several weeks there were a lot of showings, and finally on the third week the same buyers came back with their agent, and again spent over an HOUR in the home talking to the seller about a litany of things (shopping, schools, plans for expansion, etc) Unfortunately for them we were already in contract negotiations with a couple of well qualified buyers. Another week goes by and this young couple’s agent contacted me about possibly putting in an offer-the buyers HADN’T GOTTEN PRE QUALIFIED before their search…..and had just gotten that wrapped up……didn’t they know better….??

This particular buyer had a large down payment-they felt assured getting qualified for a loan was going to be a SNAP-but guess what? NOPE! They didn’t listen to their agent and decided to do their own investigations on lenders. Which took FOREVER! Meanwhile not ONE but TWO homes they were hoping to bid on were GONE! Tsk Tsk Tsk….

So again-what do you need to do?

1) WORK WITH A REALTOR-doing all of their exhaustive work on the internet on their own didn’t put them any closer to making an offer than it would have had they been working with a full time professional agent

2) LISTEN TO THE REALTOR-We like to work with people who get results-that’s why we feel a bit territorial about working with our preferred lenders, termite, home inspectors, etc. Generally speaking we’ve seen all the crap that goes down, so we like to look good to our clients by working with people who get the job done, on time, and with no complications.

3) GET PRE-QUALIFIED BEFORE YOU START LOOKING-so If you’ve got a Kia budget-why do you shop at the BMW dealership? Also the likewise has been true-some of my clients have been surprised that they can afford MORE house than they think.

4) PUT THE OFFER ON THE HOUSE-GET IT TIED UP-THEN INVESTIGATE, INVESTIGATE, INVESTIGATE…AND INVESTIGATE-there is a built in time period for buyers to do just such a thing-if you’re not sure, cancel before the contingency period is over. But do get an offer accepted if you have any interest in the property…

By following those basic steps, and not jumping the gun, you’ll be better prepared and ready to start your search and be ahead of the game…..

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292

So….lets talk about Comps…

RealEstate

Psst, have you heard? The real estate market is crazy right now. Bidding wars up the wazoo, all cash offers have been undercutting the mere mortals right and left.  In addition to ratcheting up the stress and busting the budgets of buyers, it adds an interesting wrinkle to the matter of figuring out how much to offer for a house. In the good old days (like last year), you’d look at the comps. That is, recent sales of comparable houses in the neighborhood of the house you have your eye on. Comparable means houses of a similar

— location
— age
— style
— size
— condition
— number of bedrooms and bathrooms
— quality of amenities

Considering all of that, and after factoring in other considerations like how long the house has been on the market, how motivated both buyer and seller are, and what else is comparable on the market, you could determine not just what a house is worth, but how much above or below that your offer should be. It was a simpler time. Now, with home prices rising, a house might also ultimately go under contract at a price considerably above what the comps indicate as its real value. Which brings us to…… appraisals!!

An appraisal is what your lender performs once a house is under contract (goes into escrow) to assure itself that it’s making a good investment and you aren’t agreeing to wildly overpay for it. Which means that appraisals don’t apply to all-cash buyers, who are free to overpay as wildly as their bank accounts/mattresses will allow. But for those who will use a mortgage to buy a home, here are some of the things an appraiser will look at: — Structural condition: the appraiser should give the home a thorough going over, from foundation to roof, to make sure the house is in sound shape. — Interior: the walls, the appliances, the floors, the plumbing, and signs of neglect will all get checked out (but remember that it’s not a substitute for a full inspection). — Amenities: desirable features like fireplaces and pools all affect the price of a home, and they’re considered too. — Location: It’s not just the general neighborhood under consideration, but also the other things that can play a huge role. Is the house on a corner lot or busy intersection? Is it one of the few single family homes on a street with a bunch of apartment buildings? –Comps!: Yes, the appraiser looks at those, too, to get a sense of what the market thinks houses like yours are worth.

The appraiser will factor all that together and determine the value of your future home. And if that number comes in higher than your agreed-on price? Congratulations-you’ve got instant equity!  But, if it comes in a lot lower, you’ve got a bit of a problem on your hands, and it’s something that’s happening more as bidding wars drive prices up above comps. You have a few options, though. Your lender should have an appraisal dispute process that you can follow, if you think the appraiser was way off. You could also take the appraisal to the seller and renegotiate the price–after all, if your lender won’t agree to the current price, chances are the next buyer’s bank may not either. If you’re able, you could also make a bigger down payment, reducing the bank’s risk (and ultimately their objection to the loan). Comps and appraisals are as much art as science, but the idea behind them is to make sure you pay a fair price for your home, and neither you nor the bank gets stuck with a money loser. But there’s also the mantra of many an agent to consider (and something Dear Old Dad told me years ago) : its only worth whatever someone’s willing to pay for it, comps be damned.

Tripp Jones Real Estate for Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, Call 661-733-4555 or 818-527-6292