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.

Posted in Home Sales, Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Should I Refinance My Home?

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.

Posted in Home Sales, Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Renting Right for Me?

Top Orange County Things to Do in July

JulyEventsImage | SC Home Blog

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 or by phone. 8 p.m. $350. One Monarch Beach Resort, Dana Point, 949.234.3900.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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 6-9 p.m. 540 S. Coast Hwy., Suite 106, Laguna Beach,

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.

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.

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.

"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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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,

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Posted in Misc | Comments Off on Top Orange County Things to Do in July

Do You Have What It Takes to Buy a Fixer-Upper?

Fixer Upper \ SC Homes Blog

A couple currently on the market to buy a home are looking at two different types of properties: turnkey condos, in which the home is basically move-in ready, and then what these clients affectionately refer to as “Great Grandma’s place” – or homes that have not been touched in decades and need a gut renovation. The wife is an architect and decorator, and she is hungry to take on a project.

A turnkey property allows the couple to purchase a home at the top of their budget. Alternatively, a fixer-upper that needs work on just about everything – often referred to in the real estate industry as “estate condition” – will require them to factor the projected cost of the renovation into their budget when assessing the contract price.

When purchasing a home, condition is one of the five most important factors to consider, along with price, location, size or layout and wow factor – or lack thereof. Because a turnkey property has already undergone its renovation, if you plan to finance the purchase you’re essentially financing the cost of making the home move-in ready as well. For a property in estate condition, however, financing the cost of a renovation can be harder, and you may be paying cash for the work.

Most buyers who plan to take on a renovation hope that after all the blood, sweat and tears – and sawdust– they’ll have a home that is customized to their own standards and taste, and ultimately spend a net total of less than the price of an equivalent move-in ready home.

Properties that need work generally trade for significantly less than their renovated counterparts. Two homes on the market with similar square footage and layout, location and architectural style will generally sell for very different numbers if one has been renovated to today’s standards and the other has not been updated in decades. This means that there can be a great opportunity if a buyer is willing to take on a project, understanding what this entails.

The scope of work required is something any homebuyer should take into consideration when searching for a new property. No matter what, you’ll likely have to paint, but renovating a kitchen and bathrooms, rewiring and moving walls are another ball of wax. Depending on a buyer’s bandwidth, connections, budget and timing, buying a fixer-upper and taking on a renovation can be a great option to save money in the purchase price and, in the process, create a customized space that can be a real source of pride. Here are a few reasons why buying a fixer-upper might (or might not) be the best option for you.

Before deciding to buy a fixer-upper home, ask yourself these four questions:

  • Do you have the bandwidth?
  • Do you have the architect or contractor connections?
  • Do you have another place to live temporarily?
  • Do you have the vision?

1. Do You Have the Bandwidth?

In today’s world, we are pushed and pulled in many directions, juggling the obligations of work, family, friends and day-to-day errands. Adding a big, stressful project – with economic consequences, no less – is more than many people can handle. If your shoulders are wide enough to take on renovating a home, you can be at quite an advantage to buy a discounted property that is an overwhelming prospect for much of the buying public. Many buyers will pay a premium to avoid taking on the significant hassles of a renovation. The commitment is not small: Undertaking a renovation entails not only hiring the right people, but also the flexibility to visit the site on a regular basis and taking the time to shop for materials and appliances.

2. Do You Have the Connections?

Do you know architects, contractors, project managers or other people in the construction business? Can you find some that you trust? Hiring the right people can make all the difference, in part because time is money. A project manager or general contractor can streamline the process and keep subcontractors on task and on a timeline. Furthermore, they often have connections for better prices on materials and appliances.

3. Do You Have Another Place to Live?

While you’re renovating, you might not be able to live in your new place. Although some people can live through a kitchen renovation – especially in a city with good takeout options – or other aspects of a gut job, you can’t live without a bathroom. When budgeting for a renovation, you have to consider that while your new home is ankle deep in plaster dust, you will likely need to live somewhere else, and generally, that’s not free. Do you have the budget to carry two homes, or rent something economical while renovating? If a nearby friend or relative can put you up this can be a great way to save, but beware of the strains it might cause on the relationship.

4. Do You Have the Vision?

Be honest. Some people are just better at envisioning and then seeing a project through. The wife in the house hunting couple not only has a vision but the industry connections, so she can see what she wants in her mind’s eye and also explain it properly to her subcontractors and properly manage them. Conversely, her husband is a genius certified public accountant and tax attorney, but isn’t exactly creative. Without her, he’d be totally overwhelmed at the prospect of a renovation. If you don’t have the vision to help you get started, you may be better off looking at homes that don’t require as much work and creativity.–

Originally published here.

Posted in Home Sales, Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Do You Have What It Takes to Buy a Fixer-Upper?

5 House Flipping Mistakes to Avoid

House Flipping | SC Homes Blog

These days, house flipping is a popular concept. There are entire TV shows devoted to it. It may even be something you’ve thought about doing yourself.

The premise is simple: You buy a home that might not be in the best condition. Because of its state of disrepair, you get it for a good deal. You spend a few weeks fixing the place up, slapping on a new coat of paint – literally or figuratively – then quickly list and get the place sold. You should walk away with a tidy little profit.

Yes, on paper, it’s pretty simple. But in practice, there are a number of reasons why your house flip can go wrong.

Here are five house flipping mistakes to avoid that could derail your investment:

  • Not having enough money.
  • Not having a business plan.
  • Not having property insurance.
  • Not understanding the market.
  • Overpricing your listing.

Not Having Enough Money

You’ve probably heard the old expression about how you need to spend money to make money.

Well, that’s certainly true in house flipping. Before you can realize a profit, you’ve got to sink a little money into fixing the place up – making repairs, adding new fixtures, replacing appliances and more. How much exactly all of this could cost depends on the upgrades you are willing to make and the materials you want to use. For example, if you want to replace the countertops in the kitchen, the difference between choosing marble or granite can make a big difference.

But what happens if you buy a house that’s in disrepair, and then realize you don’t have the resources you need to fix it up? That can wreck all your plans for a successful house flip. Always make sure you’ve got some cash on hand before you invest in a house flip property.

Not Having a Business Plan

House flipping isn’t just about getting the place sold. It’s about getting the margins right. It requires you to not overpay on the front end; to stay on time and on budget as you make repairs; to list and sell expediently; and to get a certain sale price.

If any of those components are out of place, you may end up losing money on your house flip. That’s what makes it so necessary to have a business plan where you lay everything out in advance – and maybe leave yourself a little room for error.

A business plan could include:

  1. A list of all the repairs you want to make.
  2. A list of prices for everything you want to replace so you can stay on budget.
  3. A schedule to make sure you are spending the right amount of time on certain projects.

Not Having Property Insurance

One of the top house selling tips for flippers: Get insured.

Yes, really. Property insurance isn’t just for your residential property. It can also help you protect your house flip against fire, flood or items and materials lost to theft.

Yes, it’s going to eat into your margins just a little. But imagine the alternative – buying an investment property and losing everything in some kind of natural disaster. Insurance can make that a non-issue.

Not Understanding the Market

A successful house flip isn’t just about the property; it’s about the market itself.

Simply put, you can get a great deal on your initial investment, you can spruce the place up and you can list it for a competitive price. But if the market’s bad, you may still have a hard time selling.

Intimate knowledge of your local real estate market is essential to any successful flip. Look at the comparable home sales in the neighborhood. How much are houses with similar floor plans and square footage listing for? How are neighboring houses that have been listed doing? Have they gotten any offers or has the home selling process been really slow? Have those offers been below asking price, and by how much? How long have neighboring houses been on the market? These are all helpful questions to ask yourself before purchasing a home you have the intention of flipping.

Overpricing Your Listing

When it comes to how to sell a house, pricing is always key. And that’s very much the case when you’re flipping.

If you undervalue it, you’re leaving money on the table. And if you overprice it, you won’t get any takers – and the property may just languish on the market. Either way, your investment is in trouble.

Make sure you do your due diligence, checking comps and surveying the market, before you price your home. And by the way, you’ll want to start thinking about pricing before you invest, ensuring it’s actually going to be worth your time.

House flipping can be exciting – and profitable. But that’s only possible when you take care to do it right, avoiding these common errors.

Originally published here.

Posted in Home Sales, Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 5 House Flipping Mistakes to Avoid

How to Maximize Your Homebuying Power in a Buyer’s Market

Maxamize Homebuying Power

Market conditions have never been stronger for buyers in most of the country, which means there are lots of homes for sale with many sellers looking to make a deal. It has never been a better time to buy a home, and here are a few strategies to capitalize on a housing market that is tilting in the buyer’s favor.

To buy a house in a buyer’s market, follow these recommendations:

  • Organize your finances.
  • Consider fixer-uppers.
  • Check out up-and-coming neighborhoods.
  • Manners matter.
  • Utilize agent intel.
  • Be patient.
  • Remember: penny wise, pound foolish.

Organize Your Finances

Make sure you have a clear handle on your finances in advance of your home search. What is your realistic budget? Cash is always king, but for those who plan on financing the purchase, get a loan preapproval letter from a mortgage banker. The buyer who has done his or her homework and is prepared and ready to move fast is more appealing to a homeowner who is in a hurry to sell.

Consider Fixer-Uppers

Are you open to doing work on the home you buy? This is where the deals are. Most buyers do not want to invest the time and energy in a fixer-upper. These are the listings that linger on the market and could be an opportunity for the savvy buyer.

Check Out Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods

Urban sprawl has created more and more great neighborhoods. Expanding your radius might open you up to an opportunity. Real estate agents are generally very knowledgeable about neighborhood trends and new opportunities in their markets.

Manners Matter

Agents take careful note of the customers who come in to view properties. Respectful and polite behavior from the prospective buyer goes a long way. Homes are personal – sellers want to get top dollar, but they also like to sell to people who love their home. In a recent listing with multiple buyers interested in purchasing the home, the seller ultimately chose the buyer who said he loved it just the way it was, as opposed to another buyer who said he was going to gut renovate it. It’s not that a new owner is not entitled to renovate a home as they please, but if the home is not in obvious need of repair, it may be best to keep these plans to yourself.

Utilize Agent Intel

Real estate agents have the pulse of the market. Ask them where the deals are. They also are in touch with new developments. For example, sponsors of new developments in New York City advertise deals to agents that a buyer might not be aware of.

Be patient

It is OK to make a lowball offer, but if you don’t get the counter you had in mind, be patient and wait it out. Over time, the seller may see the light and change his tune. Many sellers in a buyer’s market soften and come back to offers that were made months prior. Sometimes sellers just need more time to face the reality of the current marketplace. After all, it may be a harsh reality for some, and take a bit of time to process psychologically.

Remember: Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Do not get so focused on winning every aspect of the deal that you lose sight of the big picture, which is buying a dream home for a great price. Many buyers are so worried about leaving money on the table that they don’t realize they are getting a home that is already deeply discounted. They have already “won.” Keep your eye on the prize and don’t get nitpicky.

Everyone is looking for a good deal, and for today’s buyer, this is the market to get it. In much of the U.S., buyers have never had a market this good. It’s important to remember that one only knows the perfect time to transact in the rearview mirror. If you can find a home that you love at a great price, buy it. It is not a stock or commodity, it is your home where you live, and it will hopefully bring you many years of joy. More importantly, nothing remains this good forever. It is only a matter of time before the pendulum swings and real estate is back to being a seller’s market again.

Originally published here.

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on How to Maximize Your Homebuying Power in a Buyer’s Market

Top Orange County Things to Do for June 2019

June Events | SC Home Blog

This month, Orange County brings you outdoor concerts, wine dinners and renowned art festivals…. See our list of 30+ top Orange County things to do in June.

Anaheim Packing House Citrus Centennial 
June 1. The Anaheim Packing House—originally the Sunkist orange packing house, now Orange County’s largest food hall—presents historical tours and live entertainment throughout the day in celebration of its 100th anniversary. From 5 to 10 p.m., adjacent Farmers Park presents a citrus fair featuring a pop-up Sunkist orange grove OC Fair Centennial Farms, a citrus cocktail garden, citrus-themed vendors, music and the premier of an Anaheim Packing House documentary. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 440 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 714.533.7225.


Newport Beach Jazz Festival
Through June 2. Annual weekend event features a lineup of jazz artists including 10-time Grammy Award winner George Benson, Sax to the Max, Morris Day & the Time, West Coast Jam, Najee and Poncho Sanchez. The festival also features an international food court and shopping in the surrounding vendor village. F 6 p.m.; Sa-Su 10:30 a.m. $85-$325. Hyatt Regency Newport Beach, 1107 Jamboree Road, Newport Beach, 949.360.7800.


Duckhorn Vineyards Wine Dinner
June 4. Indulge in a five-course wine-pairing dinner and sweeping ocean views at 21 Oceanfront. Menu highlights include beer-battered-halibut fish and chips with 2017 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Chardonnay; sautéed black cod with 2016 Goldeneye Anderson Valley Pinot Noir; and plum-glazed roasted quail with 2016 Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Merlot. See full menu online. 6:30 p.m. $129. 2100 W. Oceanfront, Newport Beach, 949.673.2100.


Newport Beach Wooden Boat Festival
June 7-9. Come see 50 of the best wooden-hull boats on the West Coast at the Balboa Yacht Club. Enjoy a day of fun on the waterfront in appreciation of the timeless beauty and craftsmanship of privately owned boats of all sizes, both power and sail. F 5-6:30 p.m. VIP reception; Sa 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Free. Parade and sail-by viewable around the harbor, 1801 Bayside Drive, Corona del Mar, 949.673.3515.



Grab your cowboy boots and jam out with Brad Paisley at FivePoint Amphitheatre.

Brad Paisley at FivePoint Amphitheatre
June 8. The three-time Grammy Award-winning American country singer takes center stage at the new amphitheatre in Irvine. Special guests include country singers Chris Lane and Riley Green. Doors open 7 p.m. See website for prices. 14800 Chinon, Irvine, 949.988.6800.


M. Butterfly
Through June 8. Inspired by true events, this Tony award-winning break-out hit by the author of Chinglishand Golden Child proves much more than a steamy tale of seduction between a married French diplomat and a mysterious Chinese opera diva. Obsession, perception and the allure of fantasy make for a remarkable tale of espionage and betrayal described as “visionary” by The New York Times. See website for showtimes and ticket prices. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.5555.


Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Through June 9. Enter a world of pure imagination at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts presentation of the classic children’s tale. Willy Wonka and four golden-ticket winners embark on a life-changing journey through Wonka’s chocolate factory. See website for show times. $29+. Segerstrom Hall, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.556.2787.


The Velveteen Rabbit
Through June 9. Bring the whole family to watch Margery Williams’ beloved children’s book about the power of love—and magic—come to life on stage. Adapted by Janet Allard, the classic story follows a lonely and forgotten stuffed rabbit that longs to be real. See website for showtimes and ticket prices. South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, 714.708.5555.


VieVité Rosé Brunch on Ocean Lawn
June 9. Cheers to a rosé brunch on Montage Laguna Beach’s Ocean Lawn featuring Côtes de Provence rosés. The limited-edition VieVité Rosé—whose bottle was created by American fashion designer Zac Posen and Côtes de Provence producer Domaine Sainte-Marie—will be served with an elegant brunch prepared by the resort’s culinary team. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. $140. 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6000.


OC Parks Sunset Cinema
June 14-Sept. 13. Pack a picnic, blankets and beach chairs for a family-friendly 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 films and venues. Films begin at approximately 8 p.m. Free entrance and parking. Carbon Canyon Park, 4442 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, 714.973.6865.



Come hungry to OC Night Market at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.

OC Night Market
June 14-16. Come one, come all to the original and largest Asian-themed night market in the country. The OC Night Market features hundreds of distinctive food items as well as merchandise, crafts, arts, games, music and entertainment attractions in one jam-packed weekend of festivities. New and returning chefs present all manner of delectable dishes. F-Sa 4 p.m.-midnight; Su 4 p.m.-11 p.m. $5 GA, free for kids under 6; $8 parking. OC Fair and Event Center, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa.


Newport Beach Art Exhibition
June 15. Mingle with the local and regional artists at the 55th annual juried event, which features more than 250 works in mediums including painting, mixed media, sculpture and photography. Art lovers have the opportunity to view and purchase quality original artwork and enjoy an afternoon with food and live entertainment. 1-6 pm. Free. Newport Beach Civic Center, 100 Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.717.3800.


Summer of Mud: Lake Mud Run
June 15. Celebrate summer with a 5K mud run beginning and ending at Irvine Lake. The course takes participants through hills, water and built obstacles and over a dozen mud pits—more mud than ever before. Expect to become drenched and muddy; bring towels and a change of clothing. 9 a.m. $60. Oak Canyon Park, 5305 Santiago Canyon Road, Silverado.


Father’s Day Dalmore Scotch Dinner
June 16. Suprise dad at the Loft with a four-course dinner featuring the Dalmore distilleries’ whiskies. Created by chef Joosung Lee, main courses include roasted squab accompanied by Dalmore Cigar Blend, roasted venison tenderloin with Dalmore 18 Year and chilled green apple risotto with caramel ice cream served accompanied by Dalmore 25 Year. Guiding guests through the whiskey tasting is Dalmore’s head of education, Craig Bridger. Reception 5:30 p.m., dinner 6 p.m. $135. The Loft, Monage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6000.


Father’s Day Dinner at Eats Kitchen & Bar
June 16. Treat your dad to a family-style dinner of his favorite foods. Highlights include a whole rotisserie chicken, a prime flatiron steak with chimichurri sauce, shrimp cocktail, farmer’s market salad, mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables and three delectable desserts. Reservations required. Starts 5 p.m. $69. Hotel Irvine, 17900 Jamboree Road, Irvine, 949.225.6780.


Through June 16. The Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary friend Harvey, a six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit. When Harvey is exposed at Dowd’s sister’s society luncheon, it has everyone questioning what exactly is real and who exactly is crazy. See website for show times and prices. Laguna Playhouse, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, 949.497.2787.


Newport Beach Concerts on the Green
June 16. A four-part summer concert series kicks off on the Civic Center Green. First up is American band The Side Deal—featuring members Charlie Colin (Train), Stan Frazier (Sugar Ray), and brothers Joel and Scott Owen (PawnShop kings)—with a rock performance that includes familiar and revamped renditions of their respective global hits. Concertgoers are encouraged to bring picnic dinners, blankets and low-slung beach chairs. Food trucks will be on-hand for dinner and desserts. 6-7:30 p.m. Free. Civic Center Green, 100 Civic Center Drive, Newport Beach, 949.644.3309.


Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill
Opens June 16. Sculptures by Gwynn Murrill is the first exhibition to present work from the artist’s entire career, spanning 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.



Come see Train (above) and Goo Good Dolls on tour at FivePoint Amphitheatre.

Train and Goo Goo Dolls
June 16. Grammy Award-winning Train and Billboard Music Award-winning Goo Goo Dolls go-headlining a show  at the FivePoint Amphitheatre. Special guest is soul singer Allen Stone. Doors open 7 p.m. See website for prices. 14800 Chinon, Irvine, 949.988.6800.


Wags N Wine
June 16. Get ready for an exciting day of food, wine tasting, beer, prizes, live music, live and silent auctions and, of course, dogs—lots and lots of dogs. Watch the Pooch Pageant and introduce your furry pal to new friends. Every dog attending gets a doggie goodie bag. Food, drink and entertainment are included with admission. VIP entry noon, GA 1-5 p.m. $75-$105 adults, $20 children ages 6-12, free for kids 5 and under. Paséa Hotel & Spa, 21080 Pacific Coast Hwy., Huntington Beach, 714.328.8661.


OC Parks Summer Concert Series
June 20-Aug. 29. Rock out to local and national artists at outdoor concerts every Thursday night all summer long. Venues includes Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park and Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach. The series kicks off with Hard Day’s Night on June 20, followed by events featuring  artists 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.


Day of Music Fullerton
June 21. Celebrate the summer solstice with 150+ free musical events in more than 40 venues throughout the city of Fullerton. Musicians participating are of all all ages, creeds and musical persuasions. See website for schedule of events and various locations. Noon-10 p.m. Free. See website for


Pirate Coast Paddle Company Glow Tours
Beginning June 21. Spend your summer evenings on an LED light-adorned paddleboard or kayak on the bay;  see marine life only visible at night on this unique excursion on 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.


Star Wars Day at the OC Zoo
June 22. May the Force be with you on this day of family-fun including Star Wars characters, themed activities, crafts, games and photo opportunities. Attend animal meet-and-greets throughout the day. The first 100 children ages 12 and under in costume receive a gift and a free ride on the Irvine Park Railroad. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. $2 GA, free for children 2 and under, $5 parking. 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, 714.973.6847.



Cheers to the annual Summer Suds Brew Fest in Fountain Valley.

Summer Suds Brew Fest
June 22. The annual brew fest features more than 40 craft breweries and more than 80 beers for tasting. Enjoy live performances by the Microphone Doctors, Outerwave, and Casey Sullivan and Friends. Visit the giant party game arena for friendly competition, engage with beer-makers and enjoy cuisine from Southern California food vendors. VIP entry 2 p.m., GA 3-6 p.m. GA: $35 pre-sale, $45 at the door; VIP: $45 pre-sale, $55 at the door. Fountain Valley Sports Park, 16400 Brookhurst St., Fountain Valley.


Baroque Music Festival
June 23-30. The annual festival features five concerts in eight days. Watch stylistically authentic performances of works from the Baroque period at various locations in Corona del Mar. The themed programs include Back to Bach Concertos; Glories of the Guitar; Passionate Voices: Music of Longing, Devotion and Joy; Bach’s Sons, Friends and Rivals; and Bach the Magnificent. A Wine and Waters reception follows each performance. $30-$50. 949.760.7887.


A Taste of Greece
June 28-30. Get a taste of the Greek Islands without having to leave Orange County. Enjoy traditional cuisine and pastries, Greek folk dancing lessons, children’s play zone, church tours and cooking demonstrations at the annual festival. F 5-10 p.m.; Sa noon-10 p.m.; Su noon-9 p.m. $3 GA, free for children under 10, free for seniors age 65+ on Saturday from noon-5 p.m. . St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church, 4949 Alton Parkway, Irvine, 949.733.2366.  


Laguna Art-A-Fair
Begins June 28. Annual juried art festival includes works by 125 artists in painting, drawing, photography, digital art, mixed media, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, glass and wood. Weekends feature 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.


Sawdust Art Festival
Begins June 28. View works by 200 Laguna Beach artists in mediums including glass, painting, jewelry, ceramics, clothing and textiles, sculpture, scrimshaw and photography. Additional 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.


Aperture Cellars Wine Dinner
June 29. Chef Joosung Lee of the Loft welcomes highly recognized winemaker Jesse Katz for a five-course dinner paired with Aperture Cellars wines. The second course of roasted duck breast with corn pudding and blackberry jus is complemented by Aperture Pinot Noir (Dry Stack Vineyard, Bennett Valle), the fourth course of roasted lamb loin, smoked polenta cake and cherry-balsamic jus with Aperture Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley, California. Reception 5:30 p.m., dinner 6:15 p.m. $145. Montage Laguna Beach, 30801 Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, 949.715.6000.


Moments of Reflection
Through June 30. Exhibit features more than 100 works of art by members of the Mukrim Brush Painting Club. The 35 artists present genres as diverse as landscapes, folk art, fans and folding screens. The centerpiece of the exhibit depicts the beautiful Mt. Geum Gang in North Korea. W-Su 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 714.956.8936.


Secrets and Illusions
June 30. Illusionist Ivan Amodei’s new stage show features his signature storytelling, thought-provoking vignettes and audience participation. The Boston Globe says it’s “magic with a message.” 4 p.m. See website for ticket prices. Irvine Barclay Theatre, 4242 Campus Drive, Irvine, 949.854.4646.

Originally published here. Edited by Whitney Lauren Han.

Pirate Coast Paddle Company Glow Tours photo by Ray Kang. Train and Goo Goo Dolls photo courtesy Live Nation. Summer Suds Brew Fest photo courtesy Summer Suds Brew Fest.OC Night Market photo courtesy 626 Night Market. 

Posted in Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Top Orange County Things to Do for June 2019

6 Ways to Try Out a Neighborhood Before Moving There

Know the Neighborhood | SC Homes Blog

If you’re looking for a better way to get a feel for a new neighborhood, consider a tactic some recent homebuyers in New York have put to use: Because they are seriously considering moving to a neighborhood they don’t know well, they rented an Airbnb and had a staycation in the area they’re exploring. They stayed in their rental from Thursday through Monday, not only enjoying the area’s restaurants and shops, but they even practiced what might be their new commutes to work.

This young couple plans to sell their first home, a one-bedroom condo in an expensive neighborhood, in order to buy a larger home in a neighborhood that would be more affordable and family-friendly. Currently they live in a chic area of Manhattan that has become increasingly expensive and gentrified over the last few decades, with an explosion of luxury condominiums, and the boutiques and markets which support the demands of these new residents.

The couple has loved living there, but they’re ready for the next chapter of their lives, and like so many young people in big cities across the country, they’re being priced out of a neighborhood that was once significantly more affordable. Furthermore, as they begin to explore the possibility of starting a family, they want more space while simultaneously lowering their cost of living.

Certain Brooklyn neighborhoods – while certainly not inexpensive for the average American (or New Yorker) – have become increasingly attractive for young families who feel stretched by the stressful demands of Manhattan living, but who aren’t ready to embrace suburban life. For people like these clients, moving to a new neighborhood can be a scary prospect – the consequences of a life decision this big can be daunting. That staycation in their potential new neighborhood was eye-opening, and one of many ways to scope out a new neighborhood without going in totally blind.

Here are six ways to see if a new neighborhood is right for you:

1. Take a Staycation

There is no way to get to know a neighborhood better than living in it. If you can, rent an apartment for a week or a long weekend in a neighborhood you’re curious about. Practice living in the new neighborhood, including commuting, eating, shopping and exercising. Is it fun? Easy? Exciting? Or the total opposite? If nightlife is important to you, grab a nightcap at a local bar. If cooking is important to you, scope out the nearest markets. If outdoor spaces are important to you, take a walk or a jog in the nearest park and see how it feels.

2. Talk to Your Friends

Do you know people in the new potential neighborhood? What do your friends and acquaintances say about the quality of life? The restaurants? The traffic? The noise? The school system? The parks and playgrounds? The cultural outlets? The commute? If you don’t know people who already live in the neighborhood, how do you feel about making new friends?

3. Walk the Streets

All around the world, in just about every city, there are so many neighborhoods with well-established histories. Taking a walking tour can be fun and educational, as well as informative. Is there local lore that makes your potential new neighborhood even more interesting? What is the architecture like? Do the locals in the neighborhood look like how you envision yourself in the next chapter or your life?

4. Taste Test

What is the local culinary scene like? Even if you’re not a foodie, going out to the local restaurants will tell you a lot about the neighbors. Are the restaurants elegant and formal, or hip and casual? Is the food basic or inventive? Are the restaurants expensive or more affordable? Whether the restaurants are empty or bustling on a Friday night – or even on a Monday night – might speak volumes about the habits of your potential new neighbors.

5. Envision Your New Life

How do you feel about living in the new neighborhood? Does it feel natural? Does it seem like a good fit? What will it be like to come home to this neighborhood every day after work? Is it something you’re looking forward to, or does it seem like a dreaded compromise with which you’ll never really be happy?

6. Rent

Though homeownership has many benefits, it’s a big commitment. If you’re thinking of moving to a new neighborhood but you’re not ready to really invest in the area, rent there for a year to see how it goes. Renting may allow you to actually save more money for a bigger down payment on your next home and give you the luxury of putting off the big decision a bit longer.


The couple who tried out the neighborhood with a staycation are still looking for a new home, but their weekend in Brooklyn got them excited. The wife now has a list of her favorite neighborhood restaurants and the husband has already found a route for his morning jog. They have begun to envision the next chapter of their lives with excited anticipation.

Originally published here.

Posted in Home Sales, Mortgage | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 6 Ways to Try Out a Neighborhood Before Moving There

Can You Use Home Equity to Buy a Vacation Home?

Vacation Home \ SC Homes Blog

BUYING A VACATION HOME could make sense if you have a preferred vacation spot you frequently visit. The financial consideration of a vacation home purchase isn’t the same as booking a hotel room one trip at a time, though. This is a long-term expense you’ll need to figure out how to pay for.

If you’ve built up equity in your primary home, you could tap into it for a vacation home purchase. Doing so could minimize what you pay out of pocket to buy a vacation home, but consider whether using home equity to buy another property makes good financial sense.

How Using Equity to Buy a Vacation Home Works

There are two ways to think about using home equity to purchase a vacation home. The first is how you can access your equity; the second is what it can be used for.

There are three primary ways to pull equity from a home:

    • Home equity line of credit
    • Home equity loan
    • Cash-out refinancing

All three can free up cash that you can use as you see fit to purchase a vacation home, says Carrington Carter, co-founder and president of real estate investment company McKinley Carter Enterprises. But each one can impact your financial picture differently.

A home equity line of credit, for instance, is a flexible line of credit that you can draw against as needed. An advantage of using a HELOC to buy a vacation home is that you may only have to make interest-only payments or have a low monthly payment for the initial draw period. But, Carter points out, HELOCs typically have a variable, rather than fixed, interest rate. If interest rates rise, that could increase the amount of interest you’ll pay. And after the draw period, you should expect to make full principal and interest payments.

With a home equity loan, you’re getting a lump sum of money you can apply to your vacation home fund, and you’re more likely to get a fixed interest rate. Similar to a HELOC, you’d have your regular mortgage payment to make each month, along with a payment toward your home equity loan. That could require some budget adjustment to accommodate both payments.

A cash-out refinance works differently. With this type of arrangement, you get a brand-new mortgage to pay off the old one and withdraw your accumulated equity in cash. You only have a single payment to manage going forward. That’s a plus, but if you extended your new mortgage term beyond the number of years you had left on your original mortgage, that could mean more interest paid over time.

In terms of how equity can be used to buy a vacation home, homeowners have some leeway.

“The beauty of the equity in your home is that it’s your money and can be used for what you see fit,” says Jeremy Sopko, CEO and co-founder of Nations Lending direct mortgage corporation. “A vacation home will generally require 10% to 20% for the down payment, so depending on the amount of equity you have, you can buy a home outright or use the equity in your primary home as the down payment.”

If you have a significant amount of equity – meaning enough to buy a vacation home outright or make a sizable down payment with money left over – you might also use some of it to make renovations or remodel your new getaway spot once the purchase is complete.

Should You Use Home Equity to Purchase Another Property?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the terms of your current mortgage and which method you plan to use for tapping equity. Sopko uses a cash-out refinance as an example.

“If your current mortgage has favorable terms, you may not want to refinance this loan at all,” Sopko says. “However, if the current market rate is lower than what you have on your primary mortgage, it’s possible to refinance your first mortgage, get cash and not have any additional cost associated with tapping into that equity.”

How much equity you have also matters, since it can determine which type of equity financing option you’re eligible for, if any.

Ann Thompson, retail sales executive-West, consumer lending, Bank of America, says, “If you’re taking out a HELOC, for example, the amount of available equity you have in your home plays an important role. Your equity helps your lender determine your loan-to-value ratio, which is one of the factors your lender will consider when deciding whether or not to approve your application.”

To determine your LTV, divide your current mortgage balance by your home’s appraised value. If you owe $100,000 on your mortgage and your home is appraised at $300,000, your LTV would be 0.33, or 33%. Depending on whether you’re using a home equity loan, HELOC or cash-out refinance to access your equity, lenders may require an LTV of 85% or less. In other words, you need to have at least 15% equity in the home.

Thompson says owning a second home can bring potential tax benefits, depending on the type of property purchased and how it’s used. But, she notes, owning a second home just for vacations is different from owning an investment property. “That difference can affect a buyer’s finances, including the taxes owed on the property and the type of insurance coverage needed,” she says.

Alternatives to Using Home Equity to Buy a Vacation Home

There are some other options for purchasing a vacation home that can leave you with your equity intact.

For example, you could make the purchase or down payment in cash if you have the assets to do so. However, if you were to pull money from liquid savings, such as a savings account or money market account, you would want to be sure that you still have enough cash to cover emergency expenses or repair costs.

Or if you’re using tax-advantaged retirement plan assets to buy the home or make a down payment, there could be penalties. If you’re pulling money from a traditional individual retirement account or 401(k) before age 59½, you may have to pay a 10% early withdrawal penalty, along with ordinary income tax on the withdrawal. Not only that, but you’d be shrinking your retirement nest egg.

Originally published here

Posted in Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Can You Use Home Equity to Buy a Vacation Home?

JUST LISTED! 33601 Brigantine Drive, Dana Point 92692


Rarely on the market this Panoramic 180 degree Ocean and Catalina Island Single Level home in the exclusive Niguel Shores community.  This home has been professionally remodeled to capture ocean views from almost every room.  Enjoy watching the boats pass by while cooking in your upgraded kitchen with all new appliances.  Relax in the beautiful flowering atrium providing an abundance of light throughout. Niguel Shores is in a 24-hour guard gated community next to the Ritz Carlton hotel and Monarch Beach golf club.  Enjoy resort style living all year round with access to a private beach and private park overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

002_Entry Hallway 003_Living Dining 004_Living Room 005_Dining 006_Entry 007_Study 008_Study 009_Study 010_Atrium Courtyard 011_Atrium Courtyard 012_Atrium Courtyard 013_Family Room 014_Family Room 015_Family Room 016_Family Kitchen 017_Kitchen Breakfast 018_Kitchen Breakfast 019_Kitchen Appliances 020_Kitchen 021_Master Bedroom 022_Master Bedroom 023_Master Bedroom 024_Master Bathroom 025_Master Bathroom 026_2nd Bedroom 027_2nd Bathroom 028_Back of Home 029_Patio Retreat 030_Back Patio Awning 031_Patio View 032_Side Patio

Posted in Home Sales, Misc, South Orange County | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on JUST LISTED! 33601 Brigantine Drive, Dana Point 92692