Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Seven Different Reasons To Own Your Own Home…

You've probably seen lots of financial arguments about why you should own your own home rather than rent. This includes budgeting (no rent increases) and the tax savings you'll most likely have. Now we're going to give you some reasons you probably haven't heard.

#1: Freedom to pursue other goals in life once the major goal of home ownership is achieved.

Strange as it sounds, many of our first-time buyers have told us that once they bought the house, other things in their life started to fall into place. It's as if not owning took so much of their mental energy that other goals were not worked on until that big goal was reached. So buy a home and get on with your life!

#2: A greater sense of belonging to the community.

Once you own a home, you feel more attached to the city in which you live. You're more interested in what happens in town, to the roads, schools, and shopping areas. Some people even become involved in local politics.

#3: A commitment to something, a sense of stability.

Home ownership is an anchor, something that cannot be pulled out from under you. You'll never get a notice that you have to move. You're kids will never have to change schools. It gives you freedom to plan years ahead.

#4: You can change things, a feeling of being in control.

It's your home. You can add to it, remodel it, change the landscaping, do whatever projects you want. You have a feeling of being in control of something in your life. At work we don't always have control of what happens, but your home is your castle and you have dominion over it. You can see what you're building take shape before your eyes.

#5: More control over the children than in an apartment complex.

In a neighborhood, kids usually play in the yards or go to friend's houses a few doors away. Our clients have told us that in an apartment complex they never knew where the kids were. They could be in any of hundreds of apartments, doing who knows what. In a home you get to know the neighbors and watch out for each other's kids.

#6: Children do better in school and feel more secure.

This one surprised us, but buyers have reported to us that their kids calmed down in school after they bought a house. We don't know why, but it seems to work that way. We remember a single mom watching her son play in the yard, making steps in the slope and building things. She didn't have to tell him to leave everything alone, like she did at the apartment complex. I guess kids feel the same need for control we adults do.

#7: Time and money saved by not going to the Laundromat.

A small point, but if you have kids, you know the value of this one. You gain a whole evening a week when you buy a house! The wash gets done in between other things, or while you're at work. What would you do with the extra evening you'll have? How about going out for dessert with your spouse with all those quarters?

We've been in a home of our own for so long; we take these benefits for granted. We forgot what it's like to be renters! If you have anything you can add to the list, please let us know via email. We would love to hear from you!

This Surf City Lifestyles Report was provided to you by the Surf City Kahunas of Real Estate:

The Louison Team
Raymond and Stephanie Louison
Real Estate Consultants and Realtors
714-925-5361 or 714-307-2934
Website: http:www.soldonhb.com

REMAX Real Estate Services
Each office independently owned and operated

All information deemed reliable, however not guaranteed!

How to Buy a House

Can I Afford a Home?

Many people never buy a home because they don’t think they have enough money for the down payment. They’ve been told that they need 10-20% of the purchase price in order to buy a home. This isn’t true.

So, why have so many real estate companies told them this? It’s simple.
Selling homes to people with 10-20% down is easier than selling homes to people who have little or no money for a down payment. Most agents prefer the easy sale.

We have a different mission: To help people. That’s why I created this special report and sent it to you with no obligation. This information is designed for people with good credit and income, but little cash for a down-payment.

Option 1: FHA Loans – Best Bet
Although this isn’t a “No Money Down” option, the FHA loan is by far one of the best alternatives for people who want to buy a home and don’t have much money to put down. With an FHA loan, you could put down as little as 3.5%. Plus, FHA loans are easier to qualify for.

While you can’t borrow the 3.5%, you can get a “gift” from a family member, borrow from your 401k, or sell some “stuff” you have lying around. At the end of this report, we’ve included a special section with great ideas for raising this small amount required for an FHA loan.

FHA loans do have requirements and restrictions:
• Not all townhomes and condos qualify.
• There is a maximum loan amount.

Option 2: Some Special Loan Programs
Special loan programs come and go quickly.

Loan One: Allows the seller to provide the 3.5% downpayment required for a home loan. That means little money out of your pocket if you know how to negotiate with the seller!

Loan Two: Requires only 5% including closing costs – wow!

So, how do you find out what type of loan programs are available for you right now?
The best way is to work with a great mortgage broker who keeps up to speed on these special programs. If you don’t know of one, we work with at least three such mortgage professionals, and we would be happy to refer you.

Option 3: Owner Financing
Owner financing means exactly that: The owner (or seller) finances a portion of your home purchase.

For example, you might borrow 80% of the value of a home from a lending institution, and “borrow” the other 20% from the owner. In this situation, the owner “carries back” a second mortgage.

Owner financing can be advantageous, especially to investors who buy up properties and then rent them out. For the average homebuyer, however, owner financing is difficult to find and requires some tricky negotiating. Even after successfully negotiating a deal, it requires some detailed work by qualified attorneys in order to protect the interests of all parties involved.

While you shouldn’t rule out owner financing, keep in mind that by looking for someone who is willing to help finance your purchase, you severely limit your choices. There are a lot of houses for sale today, but not a lot where owner financing is an option.

Option 4: Lease-to-Own
With a lease-to-own, you essentially lease a home, but make larger payments in order to begin accumulating a down payment.

For example, if a house would normally lease for $800, you might lease it for $1,000/month, with $200/month going into a special account. At the end of a specified period, you buy the home using the money in that special account as your down payment. However, if you decide somewhere along the line not to purchase the home, all of the money in the special account then goes to the seller.

Think of this option as renting with a forced savings account. If you can find someone willing to do this, it’s not a bad option. However, most people who are selling their homes need their money out of it in order to buy their next home, so finding someone who is willing to lease to you may prove more difficult.

Where to Begin
Now that you have four good options for buying a home for little or no money down, where is the best place to begin?

Get pre-qualified.

We’ll Do More Than Help You Get Financed!
We're dedicated to helping you through the entire process, delivering world-class service all along the way. We can help you find the right home, negotiate the right terms, and then make sure that you actually get to the closing table.

Simple Ideas for Raising Money for a Down Payment
1. Have a garage sale. You’ll be surprised how much money you can raise this way, especially if you’re willing to give up the junk you’ve been hoarding for years!

2. Raid your savings. Even if you’ve been trying to keep a little stashed away, this is important. If your kids have a savings account, ask them if you could borrow from theirs as well!

3. Borrow from your retirement fund. Many retirement funds (401k, IRA, etc.) have provisions for you to borrow from them for important reasons. This counts as an important reason! Check with your plan administrator or your financial advisor about this option. The nice part about this is that as you repay your loan, you pay the interest to yourself.

4. Ask your family. This is probably the hardest thing for some to do, but you might be surprised at how willing a family member would be to help you buy a house, even if they’ve said “no” to you before when you tried to borrow for other things. If you do this, you’ll need a form for your banker stating that this is a gift and not a loan. (Yes, you can still repay your family member. It just can’t be a formal loan.)

5. Sell something. If you look around your house, you might find items that have value, but that you haven’t used in a long time: An old coin collection, an old musical instrument that no one plays anymore, an extra freezer you don’t really need, a second (or third) car you could do without. Often, the cash from selling these items can add up quickly.

6. Win the lottery. Somebody’s going to win – it might as well be you!

This free report was provided to you by the Surf City Kahunas of Real Estate:

The Louison Team
Real Estate Consultants and Realtors
Raymond and Stephanie Louison
714-925-5361 or 714-307-2934

Altera Real Estate
Service Areas: Huntington Beach and all areas of Orange County and Long Beach.
All information deemed reliable, however not guaranteed!

Orange County Real Estate Market Update

Orange County prices have continued to go down slightly this month due to an increase in the total number of foreclosures, short-sales, and mandatory corporate employee relocations. According to the National Association of Realtors, this trend is expected to continue for another six to twelve months.

Unless you absolutely must, now is not the best time to sell a home. The real estate market cycles sometimes like a roller coaster, with ups and downs. Over the long term, residential real estate prices have always has ended up much higher. If you wait long enough prices will again rise up to another all time high. The best bet is to always think long term whenever investing in residential real estate.

Now is a wonderful time for buying a home.
Current economic conditions have created a very strong buyer’s market, where negotiating price reductions, closing cost, repairs and other items are possible. Once prices begin to rise again, many potential negotiable items will be taken off the table. Waiting for the market to reach bottom, could cost you big bucks!

This Report Posted By:

The Louison Team,

Raymond & Stephanie Louison, Real Estate Consultants

REMAX Real Estate Services,

Each office independently owned & operated

Raymond: 714-925-5361 or Stephanie: 714-307-2934

Toll-Free: 800-546-4821, ext. 2444

All information deemed reliable, however not guaranteed!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Safety Tips For Halloween

Click on picture to make it larger!

This report brought to you by the Louison Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Services. All information is deemed reliable, however not guaranteed. Each RE/MAX Office is independently owned and operated. For more information on our services call Raymond at 714-925-5361. or visit our website at http://www.soldonhb.com

Remodeling? Check Your Insurance!

You've hired an electrician, selected new tile, countertops and appliances, and have the home improvement loan in order. You're all set for your remodeling project -- or are you?

As you embark on any type of home improvement endeavor, be sure you make a call to your insurance agent to determine whether additional homeowner's insurance coverage is needed. And, if contractors or sub-contractors are involved, you'll want to be sure they have the proper insurance so you're not liable for any accidents or damages that may occur while they work on your project.

Check your insurance coverage BEFORE the work begins. If the new work is damaged or destroyed before additional coverage takes effect, you could be responsible for repair costs, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Home insurance policies typically require that you insure your home to at least 80 percent of its replacement cost. About 25 percent of remodeling projects result in a home value increase of at least 25 percent, according to the Independent Insurance Agents of America. In such cases homeowners insurance needs to be increased to provide adequate coverage.

Owners should be careful when it comes time to projecting renovation benefits. A renovation will usually increase the value of the home, though not always by the amount invested in the improvement. However, some improvements are justified because they create a better lifestyle, because they make a home safer, or because they make a home easier to sell. To see which improvements work best in your community, speak with local real estate experts.

Even smaller projects like decks and home offices -- which might include custom cabinets to include a desk, a computer work station, storage, as well as rewiring to accommodate faxes, computers, cable modems and DSL lines -- should be considered for increased insurance coverage.

The IIAA reports that nearly 60 percent of homeowners who recently made significant improvements have not updated their homeowner’s policies.
"The investment is considerable, in most cases more costly than a new car. While few people would question the need to adjust their auto insurance if they were to go from a compact car to a luxury sedan, many fail to see the importance of safeguarding a significant investment in their home," said Madelyn Flannagan, IIAA assistant vice president of research and development.

The IIAA and the III offer these insurance tips for your remodeling projects, including some suggestions for working with contractors:

* Contact your insurance agent before work begins on your project. He or she will help you determine appropriate coverage for your addition or improvement.

• Find out if the contractor has workers compensation, which covers any medial-related expenses and lost wages if any injuries are sustained.

• Request a copy of the contractor's certificate of insurance. Let your agent look over the certificate to determine if any exposure exists.

• Check with the Better Business Bureau. Follow up with references provided by the contractor.

• If your project involves tearing down walls or chimneys, review your policy for theft and weather damage liability.

• Establish responsibility for uninstalled appliances, cabinets and other items in advance. Your contractor will likely have a builder's risk policy or installation floater to cover such items.

• If you plan on leaving your home during the remodeling, check with your agent about terms of your policy. Vacancy clauses vary from company to company. In some cases, you may not be covered under your homeowners policy if you are gone for more than 30 days.

• If friends or family members will be helping out with the project, you may want to consider a personal liability umbrella policy to cover any potential medical bills.

• If you are working with a contractor who is subcontracting to builders, electricians, and plumbers, make sure they all have adequate coverage.

The need to stay on top of your insurance coverage with each new remodeling project doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. The National Association of Home Builders has reported the remodeling market to be upwards of $150 billion, fed by ongoing prime interest rate cuts and low mortgage rates, which fuel home improvement projects for those aiming to sell.

Meanwhile, another thing to keep in mind as you increase your homeowners coverage is that any additional furniture, home office equipment, electronics, grills for the deck, or other personal effects, should be added to your home inventory, and if necessary, additional contents coverage or a separate rider should be considered.

This Report Posted By:
Author Unknown!
The Louison Team,

Raymond & Stephanie Louison, Real Estate Consultants

REMAX Real Estate Services, Http://www.SoldOnHB.com

Each office independently owned & operated

Raymond: 714-925-5361 or Stephanie: 714-307-2934

Toll-Free: 800-546-4821, ext. 2444

All information deemed reliable, however not guaranteed!

Conquering A Cluttered Garage

By Leona Laurie, Professional Organizer

It’s a great time of year to tackle your garage! The holidays are coming, which means an influx of guests will probably inspire you to hide your current clutter in the garage during their visits, and add the gifts they came with once they’re gone. Cleaning out the garage before December’s consumerism hits its peak will allow you more post-holiday storage, and may give you some terrific gift ideas.

A thorough garage cleaning is a one-weekend job: One day for purging and sorting, and one day for cleaning and putting everything back together. (Garage sale lovers can add a second weekend for a big blow-out.) The trick to getting it done in two days is having laid a good foundation. Before the big weekend, you may want to order a dumpster to be delivered by the morning of the purge. You can also call St. Vincent de Paul, or another charity which makes pick-ups, and arrange ahead of time for them to come the following week to collect any useable items you’re willing to part with. It would also be wise to check with OC Landfills to see where your nearest hazardous materials dumping site is.

You should also have your shelving and storage solutions figured out beforehand. Cabinets are not the only way to go, and they may not necessarily be best for you. Visual people often fare better with a combination of open shelving and clear containers. You can also use the “dead” space in your garage near the ceiling for seasonal or other infrequent-use items. Several companies make overhead storage bins for garages which can handle a lot of weight. The Uncluttered Garage (www.theunclutteredgarage.com) sells Tuffrax overhead storage bins, which are made from 14 gauge industrial grade steel and hold up to 500 lbs.

As you’re packing things up to go back into the garage for long-term storage, resist the temptation to store things in cardboard! Storing things in cardboard is like throwing them away in slow motion- especially in the garage. Cardboard is vulnerable to moisture, mildew, mold, bugs, and rodents. Store your belongings off the floor in clear plastic or fire-safe containers to ensure that they’ll be worth reclaiming later. I recommend the clear plastic storage boxes with flat- not interlocking- lids available at Target or Wal-Mart.

The order of operations for the big project should follow this basic outline:

1. Empty garage onto driveway for sorting. Create an area under an overhang (or in a spot which can be tarped overnight) for items you’re definitely keeping, and have trash receptacles and bags or boxes for charity items available.

2. Sort contents of garage into available containers and designated “keep” area.

3. Clean interior of garage with natural cleaning products to avoid getting a headache from the fumes of chemical cleaners.

4. Assemble and install any new shelving needed.

5. Pack up the items you’re keeping, and put them back in the garage with the most frequently used items in the most accessible spots. (Keep like things together!)

6. Distribute the trash, hazardous wastes, and charity items you have left over, and give yourself a pat on the back!

If your car has never seen the inside of the garage because of the mountain of miscellany piled inside, make this the year you take control of the chaos. A weekend of sweat this fall will create a dry haven for your car during the winter, and if you need help you can always call a professional organizer!

Leona Laurie is the president of Working Space Unlimited, Inc. (www.workingspaceunltd.com), a professional organizing firm based in Newport Beach. She can be reached at (714) 343-2587, or by e-mail at Leona@workingspaceunltd.com.

This report brought to you by the Louison Team of RE/MAX Real Estate Services. All information is deemed reliable, however not guaranteed. Each RE/MAX Office is independently owned and operated. For more information on our services call Raymond at 714-925-5361. or visit our website at http://www.soldonhb.com

Preventing Fires

According to the National Fire Protection Association, home fires cause more than $5 billion in property damage each year, and more than 3,000 deaths. That's the bad news. The good news is that most fires are preventable. First, let's look at the top causes of home fires.
• Cooking fires. Cooking fires pose a serious hazard. Always stay near the stove when cooking. Avoid wearing loose sleeves while cooking; they can be ignited by a burner or a grease splatter. You'll also want to keep curtains and other flammable materials well away from the range or oven. And never put water on a grease fire, which can cause the hot grease to splatter, burning you or spreading the fire. Instead, smother it with a lid or another pan, then turn off the burner. Leave the lid in place until it has cooled off completely.
• Portable and space-heating equipment. Wood-burning, kerosene, propane and electric heaters can ignite draperies, clothing and other flammable items. Keep anything that can burn at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment. Shut off a heater before you leave the room or go to bed. When you purchase a heater, make sure it's been tested and approved by a reputable organization.
• Careless smoking. Cigarettes are the leading cause of fire deaths. Never smoke in bed or in a place where you may fall asleep. Also, use deep ashtrays so a lit cigarette won't roll out and fall onto rugs or furniture. It's also a good idea to run water over an ashtray before emptying it into the trash. A smoldering cigarette butt could set the trash on fire.
• Electrical wiring. You can't see wires hidden inside walls and ceilings, but there are some warning signs of electrical problems. If lights dim or flicker, fuses blow frequently or sparks shoot from receptacles when items are plugged in or unplugged, consult an electrician. Faulty electrical cords can also spark a fire or cause an electrical shock. Never run cords under rugs or heavy furniture. Pressure can crack insulation and break the wires. Don't overload outlets.
• Children with matches. Children playing with matches or lighters are the leading cause of fire deaths for children 5 and under. Keep these items up high, preferably in a locked cabinet, out of the sight and reach of small children. Teach older ones how to handle matches responsibly.
• Holiday hazards. Decorations and candles are a special concern during the holidays. If you buy a live Christmas tree, choose a fresh one and water it daily. With an artificial tree, make sure it's made of flame-retardant materials. Keep candles well away from anything that can burn and blow them out when you leave the room or go to bed. Fireworks also deserve special mention. They endanger life, limb and property. Avoid amateurs who set off fireworks. Instead, attend public displays conducted by trained pyrotechnicians. Even sparklers are hazardous; they burn at 1200 F.

There are some other simple, common sense precautions you can take to decrease your chances of a home fire:
• Never store or use gasoline in the home. Gasoline is a motor fuel only. Keep small quantities in an approved container designed to store gasoline, and store outside, preferably in a locked, detached shed. Wipe up spills immediately and never refuel motors near heat sources, sparks or cigarettes.
• Don't overload electrical receptacles.
• Don't use light bulbs with greater wattages than a fixture can handle.
• Don't let combustible materials such as newspapers and rags pile up in basements and garages.
• Leave plenty of air space around appliances and television sets; they can overheat and catch fire.
• Use outdoor gas and charcoal grills with caution. Keep them away from structures, particularly when in use. Never add materials to the fire.

Preventing Theft

Every year, burglars hit more than five million households, stealing more than $4 billion worth of property. Determined thieves can break into just about any home, but you can take steps to make entry a lot more difficult for them.

• Invest in a quality door. Door security begins not with a good lock but with the door itself and the frame it fits into. Weak door assemblies can be broken with a single kick, popped open with a jimmy bar or even pried out-frame and all-from the wall. Strong exterior doors have solid, not hollow, cores; doors that are sheathed in metal are even better.

• Install deadbolts. Deadbolt locks provide the best protection for the least amount of money. Ordinary spring-operated locks can be defeated with a credit card. Intruders can't slip a deadbolt lock because it has a solid metal bar that fits into the door jamb. To be effective, a deadbolt lock should have at least a one-inch throw (meaning the metal bolt extends at least an inch past the edge of the door). Doors with glass panes present a special security problem because a thief can break the pane, reach inside and unlock the door. If state or local laws permit, the solution is a double-cylinder lock-one that must be opened with a key from inside as well as out. But don't defeat the purpose by getting into the habit of leaving the key in the lock on the inside. To exit quickly in case of a fire, keep the key near the door but in a spot that can't be reached from outside. You might want to hang it on a nail near the floor where you can find it easily if fire breaks out.

• Don't forget windows. Windows and sliding glass doors also should be secured. Look for locks specifically made for different window styles at your local hardware store or home center. You also can secure a sliding glass door with a broomstick or piece of 1" x 2" lumber laid in the door track when the door is closed.

• Light up. Outside flood lighting reduces your risk of burglary by highlighting the exterior of your home at night. You can choose from lights that remain on all night or motion-sensitive lights that come on only when someone approaches your home. Motion-sensitive lights save energy and could catch a would-be thief by surprise. Timers on inside as well as outside lights give the impression that someone is home, even if you're on vacation, out to dinner or visiting the neighbors.

Sounding an Alarm

For greater peace of mind, consider investing in a professionally installed alarm system. Alarm systems come in many shapes and sizes, at prices that range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Many installers also charge monthly monitoring fees, which should be taken into account when you shop for a system. A home alarm system includes some combination of the following components:

• Perimeter sensors. These consist of photo cells or magnetic contacts on doors and windows that sound an alarm when an intruder tries to get inside. Perimeter sensors are mounted on two points, such as the door jamb and the door itself. Photo cell sensors are activated when something passes through a beam of light projected between the two points, while magnetic sensors are activated when contact is broken between the two magnetized points.

• Heat and motion sensors. You can use heat and motion detectors to protect specific spaces in or outside your home-a bedroom hallway, for instance, or your backyard. Heat detectors respond to body temperatures. Motion sensors detect movement.

• Glass break detectors. These devices recognize the sound of breaking glass. They activate the alarm when they sense breaking glass in a window or door.
• Keypad. One or more keypads allow you to turn the system on and off.

• Audible alarm. A piercing alarm alerts neighbors and the police. And it lets the burglar know he's been detected, meaning he'll probably leave your house in a hurry.

Keep in mind that false alarms can be a problem. In addition to annoying the neighbors and taking the police away from real emergencies, some communities now assess fines for excessive false alarms. The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association reports that nearly 80 percent of false alarms are caused by user error. Steps to prevent false alarms include regular system maintenance and ensuring that whoever has a key to your house also knows the codes to activate and deactivate your system. Local police are a good source of information and recommendations regarding security systems. They work with the security services in your area and can tell you what types of break-ins are most common in your community.

After you've determined which alarm system is best for you, ask your insurance agent, family or friends for referrals. Get written quotes from at least three companies. Before you obtain an alarm system, investigate a security service's reputation and how long it has been in business. Also ask about warranties and what they cover.

Our 24-hour Toll-Free Information Hotline

Obtain current information without any of the usual hassles!
Simply call our 24 hour Toll-Free Information Hotline!

Buyers can receive pre-recorded information on any of our listings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without having to talk to an agent.

Obtaining current information on homes listed for sale is often a huge hassle. Either you get the run around while tracking down the agent or - just as bad – they go right into an unwanted sales pitch and then ruthlessly hound you until they sell you something!

Well...it doesn't have to be so difficult!

You see, our homes all have pre-recorded information which you can access immediately by simply calling our 24-hour Toll-Free Information hotline.
This is great for everyone involved. First of all, our experience shows that when homebuyers don't have to deal directly with an agent, many more of them will call in for information on homes. If you're selling, that's really good for you because your home will receive mush more exposure to many more prospective buyers.-
And it's really easy and convenient for buyers too. You can call anytime, day or -night, and never have to never have to speak directly with an agent (unless of course you want to).

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Here all about this wonderful 4 bedroom executive style home.

1-888-845-4240<Ext. 86220

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Here all about this wonderful 3 bedroom townhouse.

1-888-845-4240<Ext. 86180

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Here all about this wonderful 3 bedroom townhouse.

1-888-845-4240<Ext. 86210

For Color photos, maps and more details visit our FREE HomeFinder Website. WWW.SoldOnHB.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Surf's Up in Surf City USA

Welcome to the Surf City Kahuna's Blog! Let us know what information you want to see here! Have a question about Surf City. If we don't know, well find out and post it for you.