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5 Real Estate Myths Debunked

Buying or selling a home is easily one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make, and most of us don’t do that every day. Unless your directly involved with the real estate industry, most don’t truly know how the world of real estate works from A to Z. Here are some common real estate myths (debunked) that could help you save time and money when it comes time to buy or sell a home.

1. Set your home price higher than what you expect to get.

True… To a certain extent. If you want to list your home for a competitive price, you’ve got the right idea. But listing your home too high could potentially net you a lower price, as well as costing you time and money.

When your home sits on the market for an extensive amount of time (even if you eventually lower your asking price) people will begin to ask questions like, “whats wrong with the property?”, “why did they drop the price?”, “will they keep decreasing the price?,” “could we give them a low-ball offer?”, etc. You do not want this to happen.

You and your real estate agent’s goal should be to get the best and highest price for your home. Take your emotions out of the home sale and consult your real estate professional to choose a competitive price that reflects current market values and can potentially bring in multiple offers.

2. The market will only go up.

In recent years, homebuyers and sellers have experienced a time of increasing home values, then a sharp decline during the economic downturn and now another period of increasing values.

The typical real estate cycle is usually an 18-year period that experiences recovery, expansion, hyper-supply and recession. There’s no way to know what the real estate market will do but using this cycle and analyzing the past, we can make educated assumptions about what’s next for real estate.

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With that said, there’s no way to know if the market will go up tomorrow, next month or in the next year. Its obviously best to sell your home when its a “seller’s market” and best to buy a home during a “buyer’s market.” However, not all of us are able to hope, plan and wait it out, so whenever it makes sense for you to buy or sell a home, pull the trigger and seize that market’s opportunity.

 

3. Selling a home “For Sale By Owner” saves lots of money.

The main reason sellers believe that selling their home “For Sale By Owner” (FSBO) is a good idea is because it will save them lots of money.  This is a common real estate myth.  Many sellers who attempt to sell their home FSBO believe that selling homes is easy.  It would be great if selling homes was as simple as putting a for-sale sign in the front yard of a home, input the home into the MLS and watch it sell, but it is not.

 

FSBO’s often will end up losing money by not hiring a professional real estate agent and gain the risk of facing legal liabilities. A real estate agent is a professional who is trained to negotiate pricing, terms, contracts, etc., and equipped with the means and knowledge to efficiently market your home.

Think of it like a theatrical production. You show up to the theater, watch it, enjoy it, the curtain drops, you leave and its over. What you don’t see is all the time, sweat, tears, frustration, preparation and ultimately behind-the-scenes work that the director and crew puts it and executes. If you’re not ready to be the director of a play, then your not ready to sell your home FSBO.

4. A home doesn’t need to be prepared for sale.

Okay, so you want to sell your home “AS IS” or do minimal work to it. Great! However, that doesn’t mean your home is going to appeal to buyers walking through if they see piles personal belongings and they’re worried about stepping on the current owner’s shoes (literally). Clearing out your home and preparing it for sale can help buyers envision the home as an opportunity and see more possibilities with it. The difference this can make could be in the thousands (yes, $ signs) for you. Hire a cleaning, organizing or staging service to make your life easier, and just get it done.

5. All properties are listed in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

You and your agent must choose to let the listings show up online, and most properties do end up on the web.

When signing your listing agreement make sure to read the contract carefully or ask your agent if your property will be on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

For some high-profile clients or celebrities, choosing to opt out of the MLS is a big factor, due to privacy concerns. However, making your home available on the MLS means you’ll gain more traction, interest and potential buyers.

 

 

* Have any real estate questions? I would love to hear from you! Give me a shout via email or cell: stephanieronca@gmail.com or 805.550.5344.

OCTOBER TO-DO LIST: LOS ANGELES

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch

Where: 10100 Jefferson Blvd. Culver City, CA

Admission Cost: On weekends entrance fee per child is $4 (1-11 years old). Adults (12+) are $5. All entrance fees paid go as credit to the purchase of your pumpkin.

Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch has been around since 1986 and is considered the LA pumpkin patch to go to if you want to be seen. Many celebrities like Jessica Alba, Robin Thicke and Fergie have been seen visiting this pumpkin patch with their kids and snapping some pics. This is a great place to take the kids or enjoy with the whole family!

Website: http://bit.ly/1JT6ROW

Lopez Ranch Pumpkin Patch

Where: (Hollywood) 1323 N La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90028

Admission Cost: Free, Pumpkins sold separately

Lopez Ranch Pumpkin Patch is a great family farm in Hollywood that makes you feel like you’re miles away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. This is a great family friendly place to check out during the week or weekends!

Haunted Hayride:

Where: Griffith Parks OLD ZOO – 4730 Crystal Springs Dr. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Admission Cost: $30+ (packages & tickets differ; purchase tickets online)

Los Angeles Haunted Hayride is LA’s most talked about Halloween Attraction, and was even featured on Shark Tank! Located at Griffith Parks OLD ZOO, the Haunted Hayride runs from October 2nd through October 31st and is fun after work or weekend attraction to check out.

Website: http://bit.ly/1zcGTmZ

LA Oktoberfest Alpine Village
Where
: 833 W Torrance Blvd. Torrance, CA 90502

Admission: $20+

The Alpine Village Oktoberfest in Torrance is the oldest and largest Oktoberfest celebration in Los Angeles and was voted a top 10 best Oktoberfest in the U.S. by USA Today readers. This Oktoberfest is held on the weekends and even includes a family day at the end of October for all ages.

Website: http://www.alpinevillagecenter.com/

LA Oktoberfest 2015

Where: Olympic Collection, 11301 Olympic Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90064

Admission: $25 – $100 (tickets vary)

Put on your Lederhosen and get your stein ready for the LA Oktoberfest, traditional foods, beers, lively tunes and leading sing-along’s of old time drinking songs. Running every weekend of October, this 21+ event is a great weekend activity to enjoy with friends.

Website: http://www.laoktoberfest.com/

Underwood Family Farms – Fall Festival 

Where: 3370 Sunset Valley Road Moorpark , CA 93021

Admission: $3.00 per person Monday-Friday. $6.00 per person weekends & major holidays. $15.00 on weekends during the Fall Harvest Festival. Children under 2 admitted free.

Family fun for all ages at Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark! Enjoy tractor rides, the corn maze, the pumpkin patch, a petting zoo, live entertainment, great photo op locations and their 18th Annual Fall Festival!

Website: http://bit.ly/1NnULVH

 

Selling Your Home? 10 Facts You Need to Know!


1. Well maintained homes sell for more money

What does this mean? If a home shows areas that need fixing, a buyer will wonder what other things need repair and might be afraid to buy, offer a lower price or will request these repairs be done prior to closing. In turn, that can cost you more money and more stress than you anticipated. A well maintained home provides a sense of well being to any prospective buyer as they imagine the home has been well taken care for and likely will not provide them with too many worries down the road after they purchase the home. This also means you should de-clutter and organize your home prior to putting it on the market. Help your potential buyers envision themselves living in your home by ridding your home with excess belongings and personal touches that may not resonate with a general buyer.

 

2. Good photography and videography can help sell homes

Did you know over 90% of buyers start their home search online?! That means they want to “see” homes first and not read about them. Buyers want to see high quality photos and videos as they start their home search. Poor quality photographed or too few of photos will have buyers clicking the next button before giving your home a second glance.

3. Staging can help your home sell faster

On average, staged homes sell in 11 days or less and sell for 17% more! Unless your home already looks like one of Meridith Baer’s designs, then home staging is a great way to sell your home quick and for a great price. This is also a great feature to add to vacant homes, newly built homes or homes that lack furniture. This allows the buyer to get a better feel for the space and hopefully envision themselves calling your house home. Keep in mind — most agents will pick up the cost for home staging, so never hesitate to ask your realtor about adding that to your listing contact and/or marketing plan.

4. The closing date, is move-out date

When you think of your ‘closing date,’ think its time to close that door the last time. Closing date means move-out date, so keep track of that date so you can have all your belongings packed up and ready to go.


5. Make sure buyers are financially eligible

First off — your real estate agent should only be showing buyers your home once they know the buyer’s credit, income and assets to make sure they can indeed afford to buy your home. Make sure you hire a real estate agent who screens buyers before they enter your home.

6. Buyers love to negotiate prices after the home inspection

This time is where buyers will nickel and dime you for every little repair they see fit. Hiring a skilled realtor who knows how to negotiate, is key for these types of situations. Like mentioned in #1, buyers will request major repairs be done prior to closing, so avoid the stress and cost, and get the big repairs done prior to listing — then the repairs will be done on your watch, and you’ll have the time and ability to shop around for the best price.

7. Home priced right, will sell

Simply put, price your home to sell. Take the emotions out of the process and work efficiently with your real estate agent to determine a proper price for your home. From the first day you list your home, you will attract the most qualified and most interested buyers. The first few weeks of a new home listing shines brightest, but if your home is priced too high, it will lose its luster and attention. A home that sits on the market too long becomes stale and potential buyers start to wonder if something’s wrong with the house. If a home is priced right, buyers will want to see more. So price your home right, sit back and let the multiple offers roll in.

8. Help buyers envision themselves living in your home

Begin your packing before listing your home for sale and remove all the memories on display and all the things that say “you” live there. This may seem difficult with all the memories your have built in this home, but your home is now in a position to sell, not to reminisce. Help potential buyers see themselves living in your home, raising a family, celebrating holidays, etc., by de-cluttering and removing personal objects that will distract them from seeing the true beauty of your home.

9. Know your local real estate market

Real estate will always be local and to be able to sell your home, it’s critical to know what the local trends are for your neighborhood. With the vast amount of resources available online, its easy to find out what type of housing market your home is in and receive a rough estimate of what your home may be worth. Having some basic knowledge of the current housing market, recent trends and local real estate news can help you in the selling process and provide you a better understanding of whats going on. However, those are not nearly as accurate as the knowledge and expertise a licensed real estate professional can provide, so hire someone knowledgable who can add to what you already know and get your home sold quick and for a great price.

10. Hire a knowledgable and savvy real estate professional

Make sure you hire an intelligent realtor who knows the market extremely well, can provide you with great market analysis, implement a stellar marketing plan and guide you through the selling process with ease. The rule of thumb is always hire someone smarter than you, right? So of course this applies to real estate agents as well — you’re entrusting them with the sale of possibly your biggest financial asset, so hire someone good!

805.550.5344 | stephanie@strandhillproperties.com

 

My Guide to Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is currently one of the hottest spots in LA right now. From its award winning restaurants, pristine beaches, friendly locals and all-around good atmosphere, it is a perfect place to live, work and play.

Where to Eat:

MB Post – Small plate style restaurant with an ever-changing menu of delicious bites. Make sure you try their famous bacon cheddar biscuits!

Simmzys – Great spot for a beer, burger and people watching.

The Strand House – Great restaurant for a night out with your special someone or to grab a cocktail with some friends. The restaurant has beautiful ocean views from almost every seat and a great selection of cocktails and seafood!

The Kettle – One of the few places open 24 hours in Manhattan Beach… The Kettle has it ALL. From their great breakfast selection to delicious dinner entrees, you can never go wrong with The Kettle.

The Rockefeller – One of my personal favorite places for weekend brunch, and us Angelenos love to brunch! They have an awesome selection of brunch choices, flavored mimosas and all around fun atmosphere, with locations in both Hermosa and Manhattan Beach. They also have 99 cent burgers on Tuesday night… Yes, 99 cents.

Where to Go:

The Beach – One of the best beaches in LA County and even the sand was once imported from Waikiki Beach! The Manhattan Beach strand and beach is always a happening place, from people walking, biking, rollerblading, socializing, playing beach volleyball, surfing, swimming… you name it! If you’re looking to surf, try a little north in ‘El Porto’ to catch some great waves.

Manhattan Beach Boulevard – the artery of Manhattan Beach where locals and visitors can enjoy great food, shopping for all ages and budgets, fun bars, people watching, etc. Parking can sometime be tricky (especially during the summer) so plan ahead!

Manhattan Beach Pier & Roundhouse –  The MB Pier is the possibly most iconic landmark in the South Bay. The pier extends from Manhattan Beach Boulevard and breaks off from the bike and walking path to give beach-goers a stroll over the ocean. This clean (MB is a non-smoking city) and spacious pier has great lookout points, concrete benches and a friendly aquarium and cafe at the end!

Where to Play

Shellback Tavern – Simply put, this place is your all-American beach town dive bar.

The Strand House – Perfect for drinks after work or grabbing a well-crafted cocktail on a Saturday night.

Events to Note:

6-Man Beach Volleyball Tournament

AVP Tournament

Manhattan Beach Farmer’s Market 

Manhattan Beach as Special Olympics Host Town

Concerts in the Park 

Manhattan Beach Open Tennis Tournament

International Surf Festival (ISF)

 

*Interested in calling Manhattan Beach home? Contact me today to learn more about the beautiful South Bay area and Manhattan Beach housing market. I would love to provide you with a free no-obligation consultation and show you how great living here truly is!

 

10 REASONS TO BUY vs. RENT

by Stephanie Ronca

The choice between buying a home and renting one, is among the biggest financial decisions you make. Everyone’s financial and living situations are different, but here are the reasons why buying a home may be a better opportunity than renting. 

  1. You can build equity:

Rising home prices will allow you to gain equity simply because your home with be worth more when you sell it. When you have a mortgage, you increase your degree of ownership in your home with every payment. A general rule is that if you intend to stay in your property for at least five to seven years, the costs of purchasing the home are more likely to be offset by accrued equity and increased housing value. In the event the equity in the home grows more than a 20-to-80 percent loan-to-value ration, then you will be able to borrow against your equity in the home.

  1. You can customize your space:

You can paint the walls the color you’ve always dreamed of, take on a DIY kitchen project or update appliances, without worrying about losing your security deposit! By doing so you are able to make the space your own, and if you update or remodel, these upgrades can potentially increase the value of your home when you sell.

  1. Owning a home forces you to save: 

Since most homeowners have to pay a monthly mortgage, they are routinely putting money away into the house they own, instead of spending the money on overpriced rents that go into a landlord’s pocket. Then, if you sell your home after the mortgage is paid off, there is a good chance that you can walk away with a profit once selling the home.

  1. Homeownership allows you to build a 2nd income stream: 

From renting out a bedroom, to renting out a detached garage or garden space, owning a home can provide you opportunities to put extra cash in your pocket. Ex: You purchase a 3 bedroom home, but only need the master bedroom and guest bedroom for yourself, so you decide to rent out the 3rd bedroom to a friend and co-worker – you could bring in extra monthly cash and help cover utility costs!

  1. Homeowners can take tax deductions: 

Many homeowners who have taken out a mortgage in order to buy do so in anticipation of the tax breaks that come with homeownership. Depending on your tax bracket, a first-time homebuyer’s 1040 tax deductions can heavily subsidize many of the expenses you have poured into your new home. Also, you can deduct mortgage interest as well as your property taxes and those who work from home may be eligible to take deductions for their home office and portions of utilities.

 

  1. Can take advantage of low interest rates: 

Interest rates a currently very low, making it ideal for buyers looking to get home loans.

  1. Unlike rent, a fixed mortgage can’t go up (even if inflation does): 

Fixed mortgage rates don’t go up, even if the cost of everything else does. To protect yourself, you could make a 20% down payment and take out a 30-year fixed mortgage to lock in today’s low interest rates.

  1. Ramp up energy efficiency: 

You can save money and get tax breaks just for making your home more energy efficient. Even buying new windows or other materials for your home can be written off at the end of the year.

  1. No landlords, ever:

You’ll no longer have to worry about unexpected eviction notices, poorly maintained properties, security deposits or Fido being banned from the premises! Homeownership allows you to be your own landlord and decide what goes and what doesn’t.

  1. You can settle in a community: 

Once you commit to owning a home, you’re more likely to become more involved in your community because you know you’ll be there for years. You can get to know your neighbors, perhaps join a homeowners’ association, volunteer for local projects and meet other neighboring homeowners.

 

*Interested in buying your first home, or wanting to learn more about different first time homebuyer options? I can provide you with current market insights, different financing options, mortgage broker contacts, and help guide you through the transaction process with ease. Contact me today to set up a no-obligation consultation!

 

Sources:

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/04/24/10-reasons-to-buy-instead-of-rent?page=2

http://www.zillow.com/home-buying-guide/rent-vs-buy/

http://www.rfrlmtg.com/loanOptions/Overview/10%20Reasons%20to%20Buy%20vs%20Rent/

http://www.moneycrashers.com/rent-or-buy-a-house/