What Makes a House a Home

What Makes a House a HomeThe home I grew up in was humble, small and dated. But the experiences I shared there with friends and family are forefront in my mind to this day; the memories are a rich tapestry that still envelope me and warm me and comfort me. That little box of a house was a real home.

The kitchen was open to a family room where we shared many meals, watched TV, played cards, fought, argued, laughed, entertained friends and had parties. Every morning, my folks would get up early, make coffee, read the paper at the kitchen bar, and get ready to go to work. The front door was usually left open in the late afternoon to allow in the breezes and the sounds of the neighborhood. Opposite the front door in the living room was a large picture window overlooking the backyard where we would play and where my dad panted the elm tree and orange trees when he first moved in to the home. We were at the same time part of a charming, friendly neighborhood, privy to the goings-on, and yet had private unlimited access to those cherished things unique to our family. Both were a constant; always there, always within reach.

Orange County HomesI usually tell my homebuyers that it will hit them right when they walk in the front door that they have found the right home for them. At that moment they may not be thinking of price or affordability, if the home has the right type of counter tops or the view they imagined or the proximity to a park they like. At that moment, they are coming home. They are feeling welcomed; they sense the light and space and mood, and inexplicably it just “feels” right. They can see themselves doing this in that room; they can fit a favorite piece of furniture in just the perfect space; or a specific feature of the home will captivate them, and they just have to have it.

If you are a buyer looking at the long term, finding a HOME that speaks to you will most likely bring you the most happiness and probably the best return on your investment. And best of all, a treasure chest or memories to last a lifetime.

What Makes a House a Home

This Home is Juuust Right

a home just right for youWhen you are ready to go out and buy a home, I am sure you have done your research, asked for advice and perhaps visited open houses so you could make the best buy for you. Well, I did, too. My own father gave me advice many years ago. He advised me to try and buy the most home I could afford. While this advice worked for me, it may not work everyone.

If you stretch your budget to buy a home, this may work great if you don’t have a lot of other obligations and/or are planning to stay in the home for many years. Seven to ten years after you stretch your budget, sacrifice and purchase that home, you may be well ahead of the game here in Orange County. For instance, if you purchased just about anything back in 2009-2011, you have probably realized at least $100,000 and more in equity gain. Even since last year, values have gone up anywhere from 2%-7% depending on the area where you bought. However, if you purchased in 2005 -2007, you may just be breaking even right now or perhaps slightly under depending on where you live in the County. Another 4-5 years from now, though, the value of your home will most likely be more than what you paid back then.

couple making an offerThe longer you plan to stay in a home, the less you need to try and time the market. In many instances, I think this practice of timing the market can be self-defeating. I may blog about that at some other time, but as a quick example, in 2010, I had a client who wanted to buy an investment home, had ample funds to do so, but was scared that he was overpaying and was listening to those who said the market was poised to go down again. So he did not buy. He basically threw away about $100,000 in equity he would have realized in the next 2-3 years. But the decision as ultimately his.

Keep in mind it is not just your principal and interest payments you will be paying monthly, it will be taxes, insurance, HOA payments, etc. Either you or your lender needs to factor these in to your monthly payment so you have as few surprises as possible once you close escrow.

So do what you have to do to help you make good home-buying choices, close escrow on the home that is just right for you and enjoy!

Should I Buy a Condo or a House?

Should I Buy a Condo?You know you need to make a home purchase, but you are unsure of a house or a condo. There are compelling reasons to buy for both as well as detracting factors. Give them all some thought beforehand.

Condo living can be more carefree since much of the maintenance is taken care of by the governing homeowner’s association. If you don’t want to take care of a yard but still want some gardening space, you can usually find that with a condo. Condos come in all sizes, so whether you are a single or a small family, you should be able to find something. You will usually pay less for a condo, too, so if you are on a budget, a condo will seem very attractive. If you outgrow your condo, it would be fairly easy to keep the condo and lease it out, turning it into a great investment property. On the downside, since these are multi-family homes, your neighbors are in closer proximity to you, so noise and odors that you may find objectionable will be hard to escape. The Homeowner’s Association may have rules that might not fit your lifestyle or that you find too restrictive. And storage space can be tight.

huntington beach condoSingle family homes usually have much more space in general. You are usually freer to customize your home if you desire. You may find more privacy with a single family home. Lower or fewer association fees and rules are attached to your property. When going to purchase, you usually have more choices with single family homes. However, usually all the maintenance is up to you, the homeowner. It may be harder to keep as an investment if you need to move.

So consider your budget, how you live and where you want to live if yo are lucky enough to be able to choose between house or condo. And call me so I can help you with the process!

Home Buying and Water Damage

water damaged home in orange countyIs it just me or do other agents and their clients see a lot of water damage-related issues here is Orange County? It seems like about half of the deals I am involved in see more than average water damage issues like slab leaks, plumbing leaks, leaky appliances, mold, etc. The remainder still have some minor issues like smaller, easier to fix leaks or stains from old leaks.
Based on my experience, I always advise my buyers to be very aware of the likelihood of water-related damage or issues when performing home inspections during escrow. This type of damage, if left to fester, will just get larger and more costly. A small drip can wear away wood or drywall over time. It can lead to a lot of unseen serious damage that will make itself known in sudden, unfortunate and expensive ways.
Beware of signs of rust or missing grout. Invest in a moisture meter and take with you to home inspections. It is wise to take a good look under sinks, along the lines of the ceiling, around the water heater, etc. even before you write an offer. But just a visual look….don’t go poking holes in the wall looking for water damage.
If you are currently happy in your own home and not thinking of moving, it may be wise to check it for potential leaks and damage so you remain happy and content in it. The old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is doubly true with water damage and the pain and heartache it causes in time, money and inconvenience if you have to move out while catastrophic damage is repaired.