Choosing a Neighborhood

Location is most likely the one feature that adds most value to any real estate property. Therefore, much consideration should be given to the neighborhood where that home is located. Here are some items to consider:

Property Taxes

Property taxes can play a huge role in your overall cost of living. In California, we have Proposition 13, so property taxes have caps on how much they may go up each year. But there may be special taxes associated with the property above the base rate. It may be a good idea to check out the Orange County  Tax Collector site ; they provide an interactive map with multiple layers for your use.

Safety and Crime

Before you sign on the dotted line, search sites like and CrimeReports to get a sense of the safety level of a particular neighborhood. As with all homebuying decisions, determining what level of crime you feel safe with is all part of the process of choosing a neighborhood.

Topography and Geography

Geographic features like views and privacy can add value, but they may also include additional costs and/or considerations. Are you in a special flood zone or a seismic zone that could impact your insurance costs?


School zones come to mind when thinking of location, especially if you have children (or plan to have them soon), as they tend to affect home values. If schools are important to you, evaluate the schools in your neighborhood and which homes fall into which district. Additionally, there may be community centers or parks that increase the value of the neighborhood.

If you are targeting Mission Viejo, I have a great site where you can check out the schools, homes, parks, etc. in the area. Check it out here.

There are other things to consider when choosing a home and and neighborhood such as current and future property values, access to area amenities, public transportation, hospitals, etc. I can help you research your target neighborhood so you can make the best decision possible as a home buyer.

What I Think About When I Ready Your Home for Sale

Getting a home ready for sale takes more than tidying up a few rooms, cutting the lawn and taking some photos. Well, at least for me it does. I have a routine that I follow prior to uploading the listing in the MLS to help insure not only your home is ready, but you, the seller, is ready for the market; and this is not a complete list…

  • Home is reafy to SellDoes my client, the seller, have a replacement property ready to move to once her current home closes escrow? I don’t want her to be homeless, and I want to be ready to negotiate closing dates to accommodate her.
  • Are there other homes actively for sale in the seller’s neighborhood? How are they doing? What do they look like inside?
  • Have there been any sales like my client’s listing recently? How does my client’s home compare to those? How long did it take for those to sell?
  • What has the housing market in the seller’s area been like in general? How will it affect my client?
  • Does my seller’s home have any unique features or qualities? Does it have better light or less nearby noise than others in the area?
  • Does the home need any fixes or upgrades? If so, can the seller afford them? What can I do to mitigate for these if the seller can’t afford to fix or upgrade?
  • What kind of buyer will this home appeal to most? How can I prepare it so that this buyer is targeted above the others if need be? Does it make sense to target specific buyers?
  • Does the home need de-cluttering or cleaning prior to going on the market? Can the seller help with this? Does the seller need to have a garage sale or an estate sale before going on the market?
  • Does my seller have special needs or limitations while her home is actively on the market for sale? Any pets or children? Do I need to be present when a buyer schedules a showing?
  • Does my client need help with staging his home? A lot of help or just a little? What can they afford? Is he okay with me staging his home for him?
  • How will my client’s home look best in photos? What story do I want to tell with the photos?
  • Does the seller have a time frame for selling they are working with? How does that affect price, outcome, length of time on market, etc.? Is the seller aware of all this?
  • Does the seller know what to expect when offers start to come in? Are they ready for what happens once escrow starts and the inspection period begins?
  • And so much more!

Nicely Staged Living RoomMy goal is to make sure your home leaves a lasting impression with buyers and to make sure you understand the process and the options you have not only as you ready your home for sale, but during the listing period, during negotiations and escrow, too. It’s a complete package of a successful sale!

Dream Home Magic

big dream home magicDo you believe in magic and dream homes? Well I do. When folks are buying and selling homes, they are emotional, full of hopes and dreams and visions. They may get disappointed a couple times during the buying and/or selling process, but in the end, things usually work out so they have a happy ending. The following is a favorite story of mine.

I represented a couple who had a young son. They wanted to move closer to some family members and nearer a school for their son. They also needed to sell their current residence. We decided to go out and locate a replacement home first. After searching for a week or so and being disappointed with just about everything they saw, I suggested we go and look at a property they noted online but had previously decided they did not want to see. After looking at homes with them for a while, I had a good idea what they would like and felt strongly that this one had potential. We took separate cars, and as we drove up the street to the property I suggested, the soft spring breeze was blowing the white ornamental pear blossoms off of all the lawn trees and blowing them across and up the street in front of our cars like a flower girl spreading rose petals in front of a bride walking down the aisle. That is when I knew that this was THE home.

magic flowering pear trees along the streetWe all went inside, and immediately my clients had a strong emotional reaction to the property. It was the right size, had the right amenities, and it had decor and details that had meaning for Mrs. Client. Mr. Client fell in love with the pool, the RV access, the corner lot, huge updated kitchen (he was a great cook) and the condition of the home. He had always been a bit subdued, but now he almost grabbed me and said “where do I sign?” We wrote the offer, but someone else had already submitted an all cash offer. We had to wait a couple days to hear back from the seller.

My clients decided to list their current home, and it sold in a week; much sooner than expected and for a price higher than their asking price. However, just prior to receiving this offer, we heard back that the seller of the Dream Home had accepted the cash offer. My clients were very disappointed, and we had to go out looking at properties again. My clients were dragging out responding to the buyer’s offer, unsure if they could find a home as good as the Dream Home. Mrs. Client did not want to go looking, but Mr. Client agreed to look at a couple listings I chose for them. After being disappointed by both, my client and I got back into my car and decided to just head back to his house. They were thinking of taking their property off the market until they found just the right home again.

Buyer Found Their Dream HomeHowever, before I could start the car, the agent of the Dream Home called me (Mr. Client sitting next to me). I almost jumped through the roof and nearly dropped my phone when I saw who was calling, certain of the reason for her call. And I was right; the other buyers, the cash buyers, were cancelling the deal, and she wanted to see if my clients still wanted the Dream Home. I was shaking, and my client was sitting next to me agog at the news. I was actually teary-eyed. Yes, they still wanted the home! She was sending over a counter offer to our initial offer for my clients to sign and accept. The home they fell in love with was theirs.

Needless to say, Mrs. Client was stunned when we got back to their home after Mr. Client told her the news. It was somewhat unreal. But she felt it was magic and meant to be that they got that home. And I tend to agree with her. Profoundly. I do believe in Dream Home Magic. I do. I do.

You Can Find Your Dream Home

Think Like a Buyer When Selling Your Home

staging your home to sellChances are you love the home you are selling, and you don’t see anything wrong with it. You love the colors, the landscaping, the decor, yard size, the location, etc. But chances are when you go to sell it, most buyers may not see it the way you see it. You may love the bedroom painted midnight blue or the hot pink furniture in the living room, and you may think it is charming the way the roof has a few shingles or tiles missing. But a buyer will only focus on the odd decor and colors and anything perceived as outdated or in need of repair. They will start taking dollars off any offer price to compensate for these perceived negatives. Yike!

Help a buyer to see all the good points of your home. Neutralize the decor and even remove and pack away items. You may think that large gold-framed mirror is a lovely antique, but in a smaller home, it can be a distraction. Help the buyer to focus on the home and its good points, and not the decor. This does not mean a total makeover, but it can mean removing and/or moving items, perhaps painting and performing minor fixes. I have helped a lot of sellers by helping them to make wise choices that will be kind to their pocket book AND attract the most buyers.

Help with Staging

The home pictured here benefited greatly from simplifying the decor and adding life and light to this living room. It looked out into the front garden, so I wanted to create a “garden room” feel to it. I added more green decor, removed the antique framed family photos, removed/moved some furniture pieces, added some modern framed botanical prints and used the homeowners blue and white pieces to tie everything together and help them to feel it was still their home. I did the same thing throughout the rest of the home. The long-time owners had taken good care of their property, made some updates over the years, but needed help making it appeal to younger people who were the most likely buyers for their home. The folks who eventually bought it loved it so much, they wound up paying over appraised price to close the deal.

Home Beautifully Re-Staged to Appeal to More Buyers
After Staging