4 Reasons to Sell this Fall



Some Highlights:

  • Buyers are active in the market and often competing with one another for available listings.
  • Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply found in a normal housing market.
  • Homes are still selling relatively quickly, averaging 31 days on the market.

Originally published here.

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Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020


Freddie MacFannie Maeand the Mortgage Bankers Association are all projecting home sales will increase nicely in 2020.

Below is a chart depicting the projections of each entity for 2019, as well as for 2020.Home Sales Expected to Continue Increasing In 2020 | Keeping Current MattersAs we can see, Freddie MacFannie Mae, and the Mortgage Bankers Association all believe homes sales will increase steadily over the next year. If you’re a homeowner who has considered selling your house recently, now may be the best time to put it on the market. Give me a call today.

Originally published here.

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A Home Maintenance Checklist for Every Season

Seasonal Home Checklist

Owning a home comes with year-round responsibilities, but you don’t have to dread these tasks. “Home maintenance is easier than people think,” says Jim Magliaro, risk consulting technical lead at the insurance company Chubb. The key is to complete seasonal preventive measures which are more manageable and less expensive than the costly repairs that might be needed if household systems are neglected. Here’s a primer on the essential tasks to be completed each season of the year.


Summer is a perfect time to make sure your home systems are in working order. The warm weather also makes this season an ideal time to take care of outdoor tasks that can deter pests and minimize the chances of property damage later in the year.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in summer:

  • Test GFCI outlets.
  • Secure outdoor furniture.
  • Add anchor bolts to doors.
  • Cut back vegetation.
  • Trim branches and remove dying trees.

Test GFCI outlets. Kitchens, bathrooms and other areas that may be exposed to moisture should be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, outlets. These outlets are designed to avoid electrical shocks and minimize the possibility of fires by shutting off the flow of electricity when a ground fault occurs. The easiest way to test that the outlets are working properly is to plug in a radio, turn it on and push the test button on the outlet. If the radio shuts off, the outlet is working as it should; if not, it should be replaced.

Secure outdoor furniture. Summertime storms can upend patio furniture and large equipment, such as trampolines and swing sets. Secure items to the ground or deck with anchors, bolts or cords, and properly store items when not in use. It may also be helpful to create a wind barrier around furniture by planting shrubbery or installing a decorative wall.

Add anchor bolts to doors. Joe Meisinger, chief underwriting officer for personal insurance at Travelers, says 27% of the home claims his company receives in the summer are related to wind damage. High winds can cause garage and house doors to fail, but anchor bolts help secure doors to the structure of a home. They may be especially useful in areas prone to tropical storms and hurricanes. If you are replacing a front door, Meisinger suggests getting one that opens out. That way, high winds will seal a door shut tightly, rather than trying to push it open.

Cut back vegetation. Keep pests at bay by trimming or removing vegetation that may be close to the house, advises Mike Malone, senior vice president of marketing and inside sales for pest control company Arrow Exterminators. Left unchecked, this greenery could attract and conceal insects, rodents and other wildlife.

Trim branches and remove dying trees. Walk around your property and look for overhanging limbs, cracked branches or dying trees. Trimming branches and removing unhealthy trees in the summer can help prevent a tree limb from falling on your home or vehicle during a future storm. Meisinger recommends maintaining a 10-foot clearance between the house and tree limbs.


Fall can be a busy season for household chores. “It’s always a good time to prep the house for the winter,” Meisinger says. That means getting heating systems in order and preparing for the cooler weather ahead.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in fall:

  • Clean out gutters.
  • Add insulation.
  • Protect pipes.
  • Clean the chimney.
  • Inspect your HVAC system.

Clean out gutters. Falling leaves and debris can fill gutters and clog downspouts. In snowy climates, ice dams are the main hazard associated with clogged gutters going into the winter months. However, keeping gutters free of dirt and debris should help you avoid the problem.

Add insulation. Insulation is important not only for comfort, but also for protecting the integrity of your home. It can prevent ice dams and pipes from freezing and may protect against fires. However, be careful not to add too much insulation. People naturally create moisture in a house through cooking, cleaning and bathing. Too much insulation, combined with a lack of ventilation, means that moisture has no place to go and can lead to a wet attic and mold growth.

Protect pipes. Water pipes in crawl spaces, attics or basements may be prone to freezing in the winter. Adding insulation to a house is one way to prevent that from happening. Other ways to prevent freezing include plugging drafty cracks or holes in walls near pipes or wrapping them with foam or another insulating substance. Outdoor pipes, such as those for sprinkler systems, should be drained and their water source turned off to prevent frozen or burst pipes in the winter.

Clean the chimney. The fall is a good time to have a professional inspect and clean your chimney if you have a fireplace. They can remove creosote that has built up inside and check for other potential hazards such as bird nests and debris.

Inspect your HVAC system. You don’t want to wait until the winter to have your furnace checked. “Staying on top of HVAC maintenance during the milder seasons will ensure your system is running at its best when the frigid winter or sweltering summer arrives,” says Matt Orcutt, portfolio leader for ducted and split systems at Trane Residential, a premium HVAC brand that’s part of the Ingersoll Rand family. “A tech will clean the system, look for leaks and monitor for potential issues that could impact its efficiency.” Fall is also a good time to have boilers, radiators, heat pumps and similar systems inspected.


Ushering in ice and snow, winter can be a harsh time of the year in many parts of the country. Not only do homeowners need to protect your home against external damage from storms, but they need to address potentially devastating internal hazards. One-third of all home claim payouts made by Travelers in the winter are fire-related, according to Meisinger, making it the most expensive loss to incur during the season. However, you need to worry about pest control and internal air quality during the cold winter months as well.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in winter:

  • Change the furnace filter.
  • Seal cracks and holes.
  • Update alarm and alert systems.
  • Clean out your dryer vent.
  • Review your insurance coverage.

Change the furnace filter. This isn’t an annual task, but one that should occur every couple months during the heating season. “It’s crucial to replace air filters every 30 to 90 days, monitor for abnormal sounds or smells, keep the outdoor unit free of dirt and debris and inspect the base pan for blocked drains,” Orcutt says. Otherwise, you could be faced with less-efficient heating, higher utility bills and potential health hazards due to air pollution.

Seal cracks and holes. “Wildlife look for a warm environment to seek food and shelter from the frigid temperatures,” Malone says. To ensure they aren’t overwintering with you, seal exterior cracks or holes with caulking, foam or another filler. Make sure screens are firmly affixed over vents and other larger openings. Pay particular attention to the roofline, chimney and areas where pipes enter the house.

Update alarm and alert systems. Though they won’t prevent a fire, alarm systems can minimize damage and save lives in the event of one. Homes should have a smoke alarm outside every bedroom and on every level of the house. Photoelectric alarms may be best at detecting smoldering fires that can fill a home with carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. “Maybe even get a smart smoke detector,” Meisinger says. These devices will send phone alerts in the event a fire or carbon monoxide is detected.

Clean out your dryer vent. While you should be cleaning a dryer’s lint trap after every use, vents need a deep cleaning at least one a year. Over time, lint can accumulate and even ignite. Check the vent hose and remove any accumulated buildup. Also, make sure the external vent is properly screened to prevent pests from accessing your home through it.

Review your insurance coverage. Not all home maintenance chores involve manual labor. As the calendar turns to a new year, it’s a good time to review your homeowner insurance policy. If you’ve made improvements in the past year, make sure those will be adequately covered and consider shopping around for a better deal if you haven’t compared insurance costs recently.


Spring can be an unpredictable time that brings snow, flooding and high winds, and Meisinger notes 30% of all home claims made to Travelers from 2009-2016 occurred in the spring. Household chores during these months focus on preparing for shifting weather patterns as well as cleaning up any damage from the winter months.

Here are important home maintenance tasks to complete in spring:

  • Clean out gutters (again).
  • Do an exterior inspection of your property.
  • Renovate with impact-resistant materials.
  • Check your sump pump.
  • Turn off water when on vacation.

Clean out gutters (again). Between snow melt and spring showers, there is the potential for a lot of water to be running through your downspouts. “Make sure drainage systems are clear and working properly,” Magliaro advises.

Do an exterior inspection of your property. Those living in northern climates may not have spent a significant amount of time outside during the winter months. Even those in sunnier climates may not regularly inspect their home’s exterior. The spring is a good time to look for missing shingles, loose siding and hanging branches.

Renovate with impact-resistant materials. Hail causes some of the most expensive damage in the spring, according to Meisinger. If you need to replace roofing or siding, use an impact-resistant material to avoid future damage. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has developed a national standard that can be used as a checklist to guard against hurricane and wind damage.

Check your sump pump. Take action to ensure that water from outside doesn’t cause damage inside. “This is a great time to go down to your basement and check your sump pump,” Meisinger says. You can test that your sump pump is adding enough water to raise the pump’s float and see if it is pumped out properly. For a more thorough evaluation, consult with a plumbing professional.

Turn off water when on vacation. Magliaro notes 45% of property claims made to Chubb are related to internal water damage. To avoid expensive damage to your home, consider turning off your water supply when leaving for an extended period of time. Another way to avoid water damage is to check pipes to sinks, toilets and appliances for leaks or loose connections.

Originally Published here.

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12 Home Features That Can Make It Easier to Sell a House

SC Homes Blog

What makes a home really special? Whether it is a grand mansion or a two-bedroom apartment, what are the attributes that the trained eye of a real estate expert are zeroing in on when she views a home?

Whether on the hunt as a homebuyer or selling a home, certain details in a property stand out as memorable features, while others will only be noticed if they’re missing. Here are 12 important qualities that will always make it easier to sell a house:

  • Natural light.
  • Fireplace.
  • High ceilings.
  • Master bedroom on the ground floor.
  • Attached garage.
  • Waterfront.
  • Central air.
  • Large windows.
  • Soaking tub.
  • Walk-in shower.
  • Clothes washer and dryer.
  • Big closets.

Natural Light

Natural light is almost always preferred, especially in the living room. Homebuyers looking for this feature may ask to turn the lights off and see how much light there really is.


A fireplace always makes a room elegant. Do not get turned off by an ugly mantle or hearth, as this can easily be changed – the mere existence of a fireplace is a huge plus. Many homeowners prefer to convert to gas from a wood-burning fireplace to cut down on work and mess, but either is a great asset for any room. The more fireplaces in a home, the better.

High Ceilings

Ceilings 9 feet or higher are optimal. The higher the better. Many new developments have a standard height of 10 feet and this has been a huge factor in their success. High ceilings are transformative.

Master Bedroom On the Ground Floor

Savvy homebuyers will be thinking about the future when they shop for a new home. If you plan on this home being where you age and retire, make sure you do not have to climb stairs to get to your bedroom.

Attached Garage

Garages are often considered a must-have in colder climates. A garage isn’t just a home for cars, but serves as extra storage and a place to organize skis, boots, tools and all those other items you don’t want to bring inside the house.


Views of the water are highly desired whether you’re located in the city or in a small town, and automatically increase the value of your home. This is the crown jewel.

Central Air

For many homebuyers, central air for heating and air conditioning is a must-have. This is a huge time and cost savings when central air is already installed.

Large Windows

Corner windows and casement windows can create a real “wow” factor in any room. Great windows, along with high ceilings, are real game changers. Another option, seen more frequently in the luxury new development world in New York City and Florida, is floor-to-ceiling windows. This modern, fishbowl-type aesthetic has a more limited audience, but is unrivaled with a great view.

Soaking Tub

Glamorous tubs make the list because of the way they’re able to become the focal point of a bathroom. They look luxurious and special, particularly in new construction.

Walk-in Shower

Every home should have at least one walk-in shower. For people looking to age in place, a curbless shower is ideal to reduce the chances of tripping as their flexibility decreases.

Clothes Washer and Dryer

In major cities like New York, a washer-dryer is not always a given. It should be.

Big Closets

A necessity for everyone. Especially in metro areas where home prices are high, ample storage can be a major selling point.

Real estate agents are trained to look for these types of key home features as they are valuable attributes that many buyers might initially miss or undervalue in searching for a new home. Everyone has their personal hit list of features that are important to them, such as the number of bedrooms, architectural style and neighborhood. These personal requirements, along with the standout features to look for, may uncover a diamond in the rough and create the perfect dream home.

Originally published here.

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What You Need to Know About Buying a Second Home


Second homes and properties purchased for investment purposes are big business in the U.S. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2017 Investment & Vacation Home Buyers Survey, about 12% of all home sales in 2017 were acquired for vacation use and 19% for investment purposes. With roughly 6 million properties changing hands each year, 1.8 million are for non-primary use.

The reasons for acquiring a second property are varied – from warm-weather getaways to a consistent source of cold, hard cash – and with each objective, there are specific guidelines, mortgage requirements and tax implications. Let’s take a closer look at the deciding factors of whether a second home is in your future.

Vacation Homes

When starting your search for a vacation home, location will likely be your primary focus. Whether you envision fun and sun on the beach or a peaceful mountain hideaway, keep in mind that mortgage lenders often have guidelines for the minimum distance between your primary and vacation properties (usually in the 50- to 100-mile range). According to the NAR report, water is a prime attraction with 57% of vacation homes situated near a beach or lake.

As far as the property itself, you’ll want to look for a home that’s easy to live in and maintain. If you’re passionate about entertaining, having gracious guest quarters, plenty of bathrooms, a big open kitchen and spacious living areas are essential. If peace and seclusion are your preference, you can save on interior square footage and invest instead in a larger, more private lot.

Second homes receive the same tax deduction benefits as primary residences, but your mortgage down payment requirement will be higher. For both mortgage and tax deduction purposes, vacation homes are subject to strict rules regarding if and for how long they can be rented to others.

Of course, you must factor in all the expenses maintaining a second household entails, including all furnishings and housewares (down to two sets of toothbrushes), utilities and insurance, maintenance and caretaker fees, any homeowners association dues and don’t forget the cost of travel to and from your new retreat.

Second “Primary” Homes

Whether for work or family obligations, or a just thirst for variety, many people prefer to live in two places at once. Rather than serving as a vacation getaway, their second home caters to everyday life, work and responsibilities. It’s a pied-à-terre, or a “foot on the ground” as the French – and New Yorkers – would say.

Second homes used in this way are typically more modest than a primary residence, especially if they’re used by just one member of the household rather than the whole family. A cozy bedroom is important, and a fully functional kitchen will save on dining expenses, but living spaces can be smaller or fewer.

Even if it’s a bit simpler than your primary house, the vibe should be welcoming and relaxing – somewhere you’ll be happy to arrive after long commutes between your two locations. Look for options within easy reach of your preferred transportation hub, and close to your office or local obligations. Condominiums and lock-and-leave communities are ideal for this use due to their security and maintenance provisions.

Many of the expenses, mortgage and tax ramifications for a vacation home apply in this category, but keep an eye out for any HOA or co-op board regulations that may frown upon pied-à-terre usage.

Retirement Home

Moving to a less expensive area, or one with ideal weather, is a common plan for many Americans approaching retirement. For those who know where they want to move, this can mean several years of accruing rental income or equity on a retirement home purchased well before retirement age.

Mortgage rates are still low, so securing a loan now could have significant benefits down the line. Getting approved for a home loan while still employed is also infinitely easier than when you’re not. Do some serious number crunching to assess your ability to pay for the home after you retire, any changes in tax considerations between your current and future address, plus the upkeep and income taxes involved in the meantime.

Areas with good weather, a reasonable cost of living, ample local shops and services, and convenient public transit are preferable. As for the type of property, whether you’ll be renting it out or using it as a vacation home will have an impact on your choice. If so, make sure that usage is in line with any mortgage or HOA requirements.

Mobility and accessibility are huge concerns for older homeowners, so be sure to choose a residence in keeping with universal design standards, meaning it can be used and enjoyed with people of all ages and abilities. That includes a single-level layout or elevator access throughout, wide hallways, bathrooms with grips and wet room showers, accessible appliances and closets and so on.

Housing for Children or Students

As children go off to college or leave home to start their new lives, you may be inclined to assist with their housing costs, whether your motivations are as a caring parent or a shrewd investor. Helping your kids buy a home as young adults can impart financial lessons that will last a lifetime, and compared to throwing money at dorm fees or expensive rentals, it’s a move that can actually save money over the long term or even cover tuitions costs in just a four-year stint.

Students will gain the stability of not having to move each year or store belongings over the summer. On the downside, they’ll potentially lose the flexibility of changing schools or seeking employment in a new city, and of course, real estate investing isn’t always a guaranteed success.

When seeking a home for students or young adults living on their own for the first time, you’ll want to emphasize safety, proximity to school or work, long-term local employment prospects, and the potential strength of the area rental or sales market. Keep in mind that some HOAs, co-ops and condominiums don’t permit parents buying for children or co-purchases.

No matter how you go about acquiring a home for your children, make sure the ownership arrangements, maintenance and financial responsibilities of all parties are clearly spelled out, both in the long and short term. Be sure to speak to a qualified attorney or financial advisor to determine how best to structure the purchase, keeping in mind the ramifications of cosigning a mortgage as well as applicable gift or estate tax regulations.

Investment Property

If you’re searching for a property purely for investment purposes, look at it as just that: not as a home, but as a financial venture. For a rental, look for a property in move-in-ready condition in a strong rental market with a good likelihood of appreciation down the line. If you’re planning to flip, a fixer-upper with a bargain-basement price is your target. Examine the property tax rates, the quality of the local schools and the health of the area job market, then check out how long sales or rentals are sitting on the market.

With either a rental or flip, keep a close eye on financials; investment property loans have more stringent requirements and higher down payments than primary or even secondary residential mortgages. You’re responsible for short-term capital gains for your flip profits and income taxes for your rental income, plus you’ll need to cover utilities until your property sells or rents and have insurance in place for the duration of your ownership.

In general, buyers of second homes report that their non-primary properties are smaller and less expensive than their primary homes. Second homes are also more likely to be a townhouse, condominium or other multifamily arrangements. No matter the size or location of a second home or investment property, the advice of a skilled real estate professional is still important, especially because you will not know the specific local market conditions and idiosyncrasies as well as you do where you live full-time.

Originally published here.
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3 Powerful Reasons To Buy A Home Now

Reasons to Buy | SC Homes Blog

Whether you are a first-time buyer or looking to move up to the home of your dreams, now is a great time to purchase a home. Here are three major reasons to buy today.

1. Affordability

Many people focus solely on price when talking about home affordability. Since home prices have appreciated throughout the past year, they assume homes are less affordable. However, affordability is determined by three components:

  • Price
  • Wages
  • Mortgage Interest Rate

Prices are up, but so are wages – and interest rates have recently dropped dramatically (see #2 below). As a result, the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Affordability Index report revealed that homes are MORE affordable throughout the country today than they were a year ago.

“All four regions saw an increase in affordability from a year ago. The South had the biggest gain in affordability of 6.9%, followed by the West with a gain of 6.0%. The Midwest had an increase of 5.8%, followed by the Northeast with the smallest gain of 1.8%.”

2. Mortgage Interest Rates

Mortgage rates have dropped almost a full point after heading toward 5% last fall and early winter. Currently, they are below 4%.3 Powerful Reasons to Buy a Home Now | Keeping Current MattersAdditionally, Fannie Mae recently predicted the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will be 3.7% in the second half of 2019. That compares to a 4.4% average rate in the first quarter and 4% in the second quarter.

With mortgage rates remaining near historic lows, Fannie Mae and others have increased their forecasts for housing appreciation for the rest of the year. If home price gains are about to re-accelerate, buying now rather than later makes financial sense.

3. Increase Family Wealth

Homeownership has always been recognized as a sensational way to build long-term family wealth. A new report by ATTOM Data Solutions reveals:

“U.S. homeowners who sold in the second quarter of 2019 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $67,500, up from an average gain of $57,706 in Q1 2019 and up from an average gain of $60,100 in Q2 2018. The average home seller gain of $67,500 in Q2 2019 represented an average 33.9 percent return as a percentage of original purchase price.”

The longer you delay purchasing a home, the longer you are waiting to put the power of home equity to work for you.

Bottom Line

With affordability increasing, mortgage rates decreasing, and home values about to re-accelerate, it may be time to determine if buying now makes sense for your family. Give me a call today.

Originally published here.

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One Block: Things to Do in Laguna Beach This Summer


Looking for things to do in Laguna Beach this summer? Here are the amazing things to do, see, eat and drink along a single stretch of famed Laguna Canyon Road.


All three Laguna Beach art festivals are on a single stretch of the coastal destination; all offer activities and live-music events. The Festival of Arts is California’s longest-running outdoor fine-art exhibition. Laguna Art-A-Fair is also a juried show featuring a wide array of media. The quirkier Sawdust Art Festival is more craft-inspired.

Festival of Arts, 650 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.494.1145. foapom.com
Laguna Art-A-Fair, 777 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.494.4514. art-a-fair.com
Sawdust Art Festival, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.494.3030. sawdustartfestival.org



The renowned Pageant of the Masters, outdoors at the Festival of Arts, features tableaux vivants (“living pictures”), re-creations by live models of works of art with live narration and orchestra. Next door to the festival is the Laguna Playhouse, which presents comedic and profound theatrical fare but is fairly quiet in the summer.

Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.497.2787. lagunaplayhouse.com 
Pageant of the Masters , 650 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.494.1145. foapom.com



The finest dining near the festivals is adjacent to the Sawdust at the Hive. New Oliver’s Osteria has distinguished itself as one of the county’s finest Italian restaurants. Another Kind Cafe, also new, offers creative Vietnamese and “crossed-culture cuisine.” Kitchen in the Canyon is a favorite gathering spot for breakfast and brunch.

Another Kind Cafe, 793 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.715.9688. anotherkindcafe.com
Kitchen in the Canyon, 845 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.715.5388. kitcheninthecanyon.com
Oliver’s Osteria, 853 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.715.0261. oliversosteria.com



The finest drinking near the festivals is also at the Hive. The new tasting room of Santa Ynez Valley-based McClain Cellars offers excellent wines as well as olive oil, artisan popcorn and live guitar. Find nearly two dozen taps and styles of brew—plus sandwiches, salads and snacks—at Laguna Beach Beer Co.

Laguna Beach Beer Co., 859 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.715.0805. lagunabeer.com
McClain Cellars, 849 Laguna Canyon Road, 949.590.9980. mcclaincellars.com

Originally published here.
Adapted from the 2019 Where Traveler Orange County summer issue.

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Should I Refinance My Home?

Refinance | SC Homes Blog

With the recent lower interest rates, many homeowners are wondering if they should refinance.

To decide if refinancing is the best option for your family, start by asking yourself these questions:

Why do you want to refinance?

There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:

  1. Lower your interest rate and payment – This is the most popular reason. If you have a 5% interest rate or higher, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower interest rates, hovering below 4%, to reduce your monthly payment and overall cost of the loan.
  2. Shorten the term of your loan – If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner.
  3. Cash-out refinance – With home prices increasing, you might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a vacation home, or a new business.

Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:

How much is it going to cost?

There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and Lenders Network explains:

“If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs will run between 2%-4% of the loan amount.”

They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:

“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually pay charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”

If you’re comfortable with the costs of refinancing, then ask yourself one more question:

Is it worth it?

To answer this one, we’ll use an example. Let’s assume you have a $200,000 home loan. A 4% refinance cost will be $10,000. If you want to lower your interest rate from 6% to 4%,  then refinancing is going to save you $244 per month. To break even ($10,000/$244), you need to continue owning your home for over 40 months.

Now that you know how the math shakes out, think about how much longer you’d like to own your current home. If you plan to stay for more than 3 years, then maybe it is advantageous for you to refinance.

If, however, your current home does not fulfill your present needs, you might want to consider using your potential refinance costs for a down payment on a new move-up home. You will still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

There are many opportunities for growth in the current real estate market. To find out what’s right for your family, give me a call, I can help you understand your options and guide you toward the best decision.

Originally published here.

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Is Renting Right for Me?

Renting Right for Me \ SC Homes Blog

If you’re currently renting and have dreams of owning your own home, it may be a good time to think about your next move. With rent costs rising annually and many helpful down payment assistance programs available, homeownership may be closer than you realize.

According to the 2018 Bank of America Homebuyer Insights Report, 74% of renters plan on buying within the next 5 years, and 38% are planning to buy within the next 2 years.

When those same renters were asked why they disliked renting, 52% said rising rental costs were their top reason, and 42% of renters believe their rent will rise every year. The full results of the survey can be seen below:Is Renting Right for Me? | Keeping Current MattersIt’s no wonder rising rental costs came in as the top answer. The median asking rent price has risen steadily over the last 30 years, as you can see below.Is Renting Right for Me? | Keeping Current MattersThere is a long-standing rule that a household should not spend more than 28% of its income on housing expenses. With nearly half of renters (48%) surveyed already spending more than that, and with their rents likely to rise again, it’s never a bad idea to reconsider your family’s plan and ask yourself if renting is your best angle going forward. When asked why they haven’t purchased a home yet, not having enough saved for a down payment (44%) came in as the top response. The report went on to reveal that nearly half of all respondents believe that “a 20% down payment is required to buy a home.”

The reality is, the need to produce a 20% down payment is one of the biggest misconceptions of homeownership, especially for first-time buyers. That means a large number of renters may be able to buy now, and they don’t even know it.

Bottom Line

If you’re one of the many renters who are tired of rising rents but may be confused about what is required to buy in today’s market, contact a local real estate professional who can help you on your path to homeownership.

Originally published here.

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Top Orange County Things to Do in July

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Outdoor foodie happenings, sunset movie nights and art festivals … See our list of the 30+ top Orange County things to do in July.

Bourbon Steak Fourth of July Sunset Package
July 4. Experience a premium tasting menu with wine pairings and a fireworks show at acclaimed Bourbon Steak at the Monarch Beach Resort. The VIP package includes a five-course dinner with signature Michael Mina dishes such as caviar parfait, Maine lobster potpie and American wagyu strip steak. Seating is extremely limited; reservations can be made by emailing aault@monarchbeachresort.com or by phone. 8 p.m. $350. One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, 949.234.3900. monarchbeachresort.com

Concert on the Green and Fireworks Festival
July 4. Enjoy a Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza by Pyro Spectaculars and live music by the Derek Bordeaux Group, as well as food trucks, field games, bounce houses and raffles at an event hosted by the Irvine Police Association. Gates open at 3 p.m., fireworks at 9 p.m. $15 adults, $10 children ages 2-12 and seniors 60+, free for kids under 2. Irvine High School stadium, 4321 Walnut Ave., Irvine, 949.724.0488. irvinepa.org

Fourth of July Hornblower Cruises 
July 4. Celebrate Fourth of July on the water in Newport Beach. Choose from the Old Glory Boat Parade brunch with free-flowing champagne, a lavish brunch buffet and live entertainment, or a buffet dinner cruise complete with a DJ spinning tunes, libations and an all-American buffet. See website for departure times. Buffet Dinner Cruise: $115; Brunch cruise: $75; Observation Cruise: $78. Hornblower Cruises & Events, 2431 W. Coast Hwy., Newport Beach, 949.650.2412. hornblower.com

Fourth of July Parade and Pier Festival
July 4-5. Enjoy live entertainment, exhibitors, food vendors and family activities at this year’s festival, “United We Stand,” in Huntington Beach. Enjoy breakfast at Lake Park (7-10 a.m.), cheer on participants in the Surf City 5K run, visit Pier Plaza for entertainment and much more. End the day with a spectacular fireworks show over the ocean. See website for full schedule of events and locations. Fireworks at 9 p.m. See website for prices. Huntington Beach Pier, Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street, 325 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, 714.536.5486. hb4thofjuly.org

Independence Day on the Bay
July 4. Come to the Back Bay for the annual Fourth of July celebration at Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort & Marina. Enjoy a jam-packed day of live music from some of the nation’s top tribute bands, an inflatable aquatic park, food trucks and a fireworks finale. Doors open at 2 p.m., 2:30-10 p.m. Free GA, $60 VIP table seating, $50 per car (street parking also available). 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, 800.765.7661. newportdunes.com

All-American Fourth of July
July 4. Let freedom ring aboard the majestic Queen Mary with an Independence Day full of live entertainment, delicious food and family-friendly activities including strolling performers, carnival activities, and arts and crafts. The red, white and blue celebration is a shipwide event, culminating with Fourth of July fireworks above one of America’s shining seas. Considered one of SoCal’s best displays, the Queen Mary’s 15-minute fireworks show takes place at 9 p.m. off the stern and in sync to upbeat patriotic music. 3-10 p.m. $49 adults, $29 children ages 4-11, $119 VIP. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0742. queenmary.com


Get tickets to the annual Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach.

Festival of Arts 
Begins July 5. See a breathtaking showcase for artists and art lovers at California’s longest-running outdoor fine-art exhibition. The Festival of Arts features juried works by 140 artists in a wide variety of media including paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, handcrafted wood, ceramics and glass. Enjoy nightly live music, jazz concerts, guided art tours, demonstrations and art workshops. M-F noon-11:30 p.m., Sa-Su 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m. $5-$15. 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.1145. foapom.com

Artist Reception: Judit Csotsits
July 6. Avran Fine Art presents Undercurrents, featuring original acrylic work by Hungarian-born artist Judit Csotsits. Attendees can meet Csotsits and learn more about her work and technique at the opening reception that includes appetizers and wine. Please send your RSVP—not required but appreciated—to margo@avranart.com. 6-9 p.m. 540 S. Coast Hwy., Suite 106, Laguna Beach, 949.494.0900avranart.com

Drag Me to Brunch
July 7. 
Grab a mimosa and have a fabulous time with acclaimed drag entertainers at Mozambique’s monthly brunch extravaganza. Guest talents include Willemina Caviar, G Licious G, Raquel Blake and Shae Shae Lareese. They bring celebrity impersonations, high-energy dance, comedy and drama. Ages 18+. 11 a.m.-2 p.m. $45 presale, $55 at the door. 1740 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.7777. mozambiqueoc.com

Pageant of the Masters 
July 7-Aug. 31. The renowned unique production of tableaux vivants (“living pictures”) presents faithful re-creations of classical and contemporary works of art. Real people pose to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces. This summer’s production is themed The Time Machine. Live narration and a full orchestra accompany each full-stage vignette. Daily 8:30 pm. $15-$178. 650 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.1145. foapom.com

Domaine Carneros Wine Dinner
July 9. Executive chef Jesus Mendoza and the culinary team at 21 Oceanfront present an exclusive wine dinner featuring Domaine Carneros wine pairings. Menu highlights include octopus carpaccio with pickled peach, dilled potato and preserved Meyer lemon; pan-fried New Zealand Sea Bream; Australian waygu New York steak; seared jumbo scallop; and summer Pavlova with graham cracker crème fraiche, strawberry and blackberry confit, smoked cinnamon custard and Valrhona chocolate. Reservations required. 6:30 p.m. $125 (excludes tax and gratuity). 2100 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, 949.673.2100. 21oceanfront.com

"The Phantom of the Opera" photo by Matthew Murphy

Fall in love with “The Phantom of the Opera” at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The Phantom of the Opera
June 10-21. Cameron Mackintosh’s spectacular new production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famed musical at Segerstrom Center for the Arts features new staging and stunning scenic design. The cast and orchestra of 52 make this one of the largest touring productions in North America. See website for showtimes. $35+. Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.556.2787. scfta.org

Sunset Jazz Newport Beach
July 10-Sept. 18. The Jazz Cruise and Blue Note at Sea—the only full-size charter cruises dedicated to “Straight-Ahead & Contemporary Jazz”—and jazz impresarios Joe Rothman and John McClure present an 11-week series on Wednesday nights at the Rose Garden and Seaview Terrace of the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa. Performances from 6-8:30 p.m. See website for lineup and ticket prices. 900 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.759.5003. sunsetjazzatnewport.com

July 10-13. 
The 10th anniversary of the world’s largest event featuring digital video and online creators takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center. Attendees enjoy live performances, panels, interactive experiences, fan-creator meet-and-greets and innovative brand activations. See website for full schedule and prices. 800 W. Katella Ave., Anaheim. vidcon.com

Movie Night Summer Series
July 11. The Queen Mary presents a monthly movie-night series.This month, enjoy a screening of the American musical romantic comedy Grease; Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands come August 22. Food trucks and a full bar are available during screenings. Date-night packages include VIP seating for two, Champagne, assorted snacks and cocktail service. 6-10 p.m. Free, $75 VIP. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0742. queenmary.com

Chefs Collaborative Dinner
July 12. Executive chefs Istvan Toth of Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse and Brian Huskey of Tackle Box join forces for an exclusive dinner at Davio’s in Irvine. The five-course menu includes chef Istvan Toths’s prosciutto scarpinocc, crispy prosciutto and Parmigiano rosemary brodo; and chef Brian Huskey’s grilled ribeye cap, potatoes pave, summer vegetables and uni butter. Pastry chef Lena Hunyh presents the dessert course: a sweet milk panna cotta, rose-poached rhubarb and mulberries. 5-10 p.m. $89, wine pairings available for additional cost. 18420 Von Karman Ave., Irvine, 949.477.4810. davios.com

O.C. Brew Hee Haw
July 12-13. After last year’s record-breaking event, the craft-beer fest returns opening weekend at the O.C. Fair. This year’s edition features unlimited tastings from more than 80 breweries, dancing, a commemorative glass and free admission to the fair. 21+. Tasting sessions: F 8-11 p.m., Sa 1:30-4:30 p.m., Su 7:30-10:30 p.m.; VIP entry one hour prior to GA sessions. See website for ticket prices OC Fair, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.1500. ocbrewheehaw.com

O.C. Fair 
July 12-Aug. 11. Bring the family to enjoy action sports (rodeo, BMX, pig racing), tribute bands in the Hangar, a carnival with rides, La Grande Wheel, livestock competitions, agricultural displays, a petting zoo, wine tasting and, of course, deep-fried everything at the O.C. Fair. Concerts at the Pacific Amphitheatre include artists such as Earth, Wind & Fire; Hunter Hayes; Trevor Noah; Straight No Chaser and more. M-Tu closed; W-F noon-midnight; Sa-Su 11 a.m.-midnight. $7-$14 adults; free for children under 5; $10 parking (cash only). 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.1500. ocfair.com

Rock the Queen
July 13. Rock out to your favorite 1960s and ’80s hits aboard the Queen Mary. Some of SoCal’s best British tribute bands perform on three different stages, among them the Who Generation, Britain’s Finest, Arena, These Handsome Devils and the Cured. Expect a 1960s culture clash inside the Grand Salon, an underground 1980s rendezvous below deck in the Exhibition Hall, multiple bars and an outdoor pub. 7 p.m.-1 a.m. $35 per person (ages 4 and up), $20 on-site parking per vehicle. 1126 Queens Hwy., Long Beach, 877.342.0742. queenmary.com

Guo Pei: Couture Beyond
Through July 14. View the West Coast premiere of a fashion exhibition by world-renowned Chinese couture designer Guo Pei before it leaves Bowers Museum. For more than 20 years, Guo Pei has been dressing celebrities, royalty and politicians around the globe. The show features more than 40 breathtaking pieces from her runway shows, masterpieces that underline the artist’s impact on the fashion world. Tu-Su 10 a.m.-4 p.m. See website for ticket prices. 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, 714.567.3600. bowers.org


Feast on all types of burgers from 50 restaurants during O.C. Burger Week.

O.C. Burger Week
July 14-20. Burger lovers, rejoice! The Fork Report presents Orange County’s inaugural burger week, featuring burgers from 50 participating restaurants countywide, among them Braizen Sexy Sandwiches, Fable & Spirit, Great Maple, Habana Irvine, JT Schmid’s, Mozambique, Orange Hill Restaurant, Pacific Hideaway, Salt Creek Grille and Tanner’s Huntington Beach. Burgers range from classic to creative, from beef to plant-based proteins; menus are priced at $10, $15 and $20, luxe burger menus at $25 and $30. burgerweek.com

Orange County Designer Camp
July 15-19. The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity invites young creatives between the ages 11 and 17 to a summer camp offering a behind-the-scenes look at the world of design. Topics include art, branding, fashion, interior design, photography, styling and trend forecasting. Students work in teams on a design project that will be presented to parents and the local design community. 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $795. SOCO & the OC Mix, 3303 Hyland Ave., Costa Mesa, 424.333.0329. designercamp.com

Cheese and Charcuterie Backyard Party
July 17. Known for its award-winning cheese and charcuterie offerings, SideDoor collaborates with the Bruery at this biannual event. Specializing in barrel-aged and experimental ales, the Orange County-based craft brewery offers beer pairings to complement superb cheeses. 5:30-8:30 p.m. $95. 3801 E. Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, 949.717.4322sidedoorcdm.com

San Clemente Ocean Festival 
July 20-21. Competitions, beach runs, body-surfing clinics, a fishing derby, a woody car exhibit, an ocean art show and children’s events mark more than 40 years of “The Greatest Show on Surf!” See website for more information. San Clemente Pier, San Clemente, 949.440.6141. oceanfestival.org

Happy Hour Yoga and Hot Yoga
July 25 and 27. Get grounded and connected at two summer yoga classes set amid the beauty of Sherman Library & Gardens. Come for the happy hour yoga Thursday to experience hatha yoga (all levels) and meditation  and end with a restful, restorative Savasana pose. After class, enjoy a glass of wine and wander the gardens. On Sunday, build strength and balance in the humid and sweetly scented environment enjoyed by the orchids, bromeliads, koi fish and turtles. Bring a mat, small towel and water. Happy hour yoga: 6-8 p.m., Hot yoga: 9 a.m. Happy hour yoga: $20 members, $25 non-members; hot yoga: $15 members, $20 non-members. 2647 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, 949.673.2261. slgardens.org

Zac Brown Band
July 25-26. The Grammy Award-winning American country band takes the stage for two nights at the FivePoint Amphitheatre. The special guest is jazz band Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, led by trombonist-trumpeter Trombone Shorty. Doors open 7 p.m. See website for prices. 14800 Chinon, Irvine, 949.988.6800. fivepointamphitheatre.com

O.C. Meets Napa
July 27. More than 60 Orange County restaurants participate in the annual Latino-influenced festival of food, wine, live entertainment and activities. Chefs, vintners and winemakers from Napa and Baja come together to offer up some of their best bites and sips. VIP reception 6-7 p.m., GA 7-10 p.m. $125 before June 30, $150 GA. Mission San Juan Capistrano, 26801 Ortega Hwy., San Juan Capistrano, 323.622.2405. altamed.com

Vans U.S. Open of Surfing 
July 27-Aug. 4. The world’s largest pro surfing competition also includes events featuring the world’s most respected skate and BMX professionals, a beach-lifestyle festival, autograph signings and community movie nights. 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Free. Huntington Beach Pier, Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, Huntington Beach. vansusopenofsurfing.com


Indulge in vegan bites at Healthy Junk’s annual Vegan Faire along Center Street in Anaheim.

Vegan Faire
July 27. Renowned vegan comfort eatery Healthy Junk hosts its sixth annual Vegan Faire, themed “We are the World,” with live entertainment representing cultures from around the world along palm-lined and market-light-illuminated Center Street Anaheim. The event features more than 100 curated vegan cuisine booths and local artisans with an emphasis on sustainability. Festivalgoers can unwind in a second music area with a tropical beverage at a beer garden hosted by the nonprofit Anaheim Fall Festival. 4-10 p.m. Free. Center Street Promenade, Anaheim. veganfaire.com

Knott’s Soak City Water Park 
Ongoing. Catch a break from the heat at the 15-acre water park Knott’s Soak City. Have fun on seven different waterslide experiences, four of them on a 60-foot tower. Other attractions include the Gremmie Lagoon, Tidal Wave Bay, the 1/3-mile Sunset River and the three-story Beach House, which features 200 water guns, nozzles, sprayers and other interactive surprises. See website for operating hours, which vary and are subject to change. Knott’s Berry Farm, 8039 Beach Blvd., Buena Park, 714.220.5200. knotts.com

Laguna Art-A-Fair
Ongoing. This annual juried art festival features works by 125 artists in a wide array of media including painting, drawing, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, glass and wood. Weekends bring live entertainment. Su-Th 10 a.m.-9 p.m., F-Sa 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (closes 6 p.m. on July 4 and Sept. 2). $7-$9. 777 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.4514. art-a-fair.com

O.C. Parks Summer Concert Series
Ongoing. Rock out to local and national artists at outdoor concerts Thursday nights throughout the summer. Venues includes Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park and Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach. Among the featured artists are Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Sega Genecide and the Fenians. All concerts 6-8 p.m. Concertgoers 21+ can purchase beer and wine at the beer tent. 5-8 p.m. Free. See website for schedule and locations. 714.973.6865. ocparks.com

O.C. Parks Sunset Cinema
Ongoing. Pack a picnic, blankets and beach chairs for a family film series presenting 14 screenings in regional parks. The series kicks off with Disney’s Zootopia. Food trucks will be on-site. See website for list of events. Films begin at approximately 8 p.m. Free entrance and parking. Carbon Canyon Park, 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, 714.973.6865. ocparks.com

Pirate Coast Paddle Co. Glow Tours
Beginning June 21. Spend a summer evening on an LED-light-adorned paddleboard or kayak on the bay; see marine life only visible at night on this excursion held Friday and Saturday nights through Labor Day. Cocktails and dinner at Back Bay Bistro follow. See website for availability. $45 per session. 1131 Back Bay Drive, Newport Beach, 949.278.0011. piratecoastpaddle.com

Sawdust Art Festival
Ongoing. View works by 200 Laguna Beach artists in mediums including glass, painting, jewelry, ceramics, clothing and textiles, sculpture, scrimshaw and photography. Event highlights include demos, kids activities, outdoor cafes and live music in the eucalyptus grove. Daily 10 am-10 pm (closes 6 p.m. on July 4). $4-$9. 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.494.3030. sawdustartfestival.org

Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill
Ongoing. Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill is the first exhibition to present work spanning the artist’s entire career, from the early 1970s to today. Curated by Elizabeth Rooklidge, it features 20 works by the Los Angeles-based Murrill. F-Tu 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Th 11 a.m.-9 p.m. $7 GA, $5 students and seniors. 307 Cliff Drive, Laguna Beach, 949.494.8971. lagunaartmuseum.org

Originally published here. Edited by 

Photos: Courtesy Sunset Jazz Newport Beach; “The Phantom of the Opera,” Matthew Murphy; O.C. Burger Week courtesy Moxxe PR; courtesy Vegan Faire

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