Posted on March 28th, 2017 No comments
Looking for something different to do this weekend? How about checking out the California Poppies in the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve? The poppies are in bloom and you only have a few weeks left to view them.
My trip to see the California Poppies
It was my first time visiting the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve a week ago. It was an easy hour and a half drive that allowed us to enjoy the rolling hills and farmland on the way. As we got close to the state reserve, there were poppies growing on the roadside. People were pulling over everywhere to spontaneously enjoy the poppies! But I wanted to get to the reserve where there was going to be a much larger expanse of flowers. The traffic came pretty much to a standstill as cars waited on Lancaster Road to turn into the reserve and pay for parking. We quickly realized it would be easier to park on the side of the road and walk into the reserve. It’s cheaper too! So even less of a reason not to make the trip! It was hot out there so we took our water and made the long walk into the park. And it was worth it! We feasted our eyes on a glowing carpet of orange.
There were a handful of trails to follow. Picnic tables were available. And there was a small museum where you could learn more about… well, what else… the poppies.
We headed to where we thought there would be the fewest amount of people and the largest number of petals. It was hard to avoid the crowds, but more importantly we avoided stepping on any flowers! We got lots of great photos and enjoyed the state flower. I will admit that I was on the lookout for rattlesnakes the whole time, but happy to report that I didn’t see any. Although now that I know that the rattlesnakes actually protect the poppies by killing all the rodents that would otherwise snack on the petals, I’m a new found fan of the rattlers. And apparently, rattlesnakes try to avoid people and use their rattler as a first alert system to let you know they’re there. Just give them space and they will slither away.
It was a fun day with great weather to enjoy the outdoors and a beautiful landscape. My partner-in-crime was my on-again, off-again boyfriend and that’s a whole other story… but at least he knew about the poppies. He is handy to have around sometimes.
Good things to Know for Your California Poppies Excursion
Parking is $10 per car. There are other rates for seniors, handicapped, and buses. But you can also park on Lancaster Road for free and walk into the park.
Other flowers include goldfields, lupine, and lacy phacelia.
If you can get away during the week even better. The weekends are jam packed with visitors.
There are eight miles of trails and areas that are paved to accommodate wheelchairs. The state reserve takes their poppies seriously so no tramping through the fields! There is a fine for killing any flowers.
Leave Spot home. Only service dogs allowed.
No tramping through the fields. It compacts the soil leaving it useless for new flower growth.
And this is really important: Strong winds and cold weather cause the poppies to curl up. So check the weather before you go. For more info: visit https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=627
Posted on March 25th, 2017 No comments
Spring is finally here and it looks like the worst of the rain is over so… time to get back outside! Here are some fun South Bay Events in the upcoming month.
It’s Paella week at Basque Kitchen! If you’ve never tried Paella, it’s a rice dish originating on the central coast of Spain and comes in vegetarian, fish and mixed versions. Basque claims they are “Abducting unsuspecting paella lovers everywhere” March 22-26. Located on the Redondo Beach Pier. Click here for details.
The City of El Segundo is having its 100th anniversary concert on Saturday March 25. Admission is FREE! For more info, click here.
The 2017 Multicultural Film Festival is happening from March 31 to April 2 at several locations in Palos Verdes. To find out where and when, click here.
The Annual LA Harbor International Film Festival is going on March 16-19 at the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro. Click here for schedule and tickets.
Put your running shoes on for the 2nd Annual Matzoh Ball Run/Walk on Sunday March 26. Benefitting the kids of Hillel Hebrew Academy, it takes place at Dockweiler Beach. Click here for more info and to register.
Don’t forget the Torrance Antiques Street Faire featuring over 200 sellers! Sunday March 26 from 8AM to 3PM. 1317 Sartori Ave, Torrance, CA 90501
It’s no April Fool’s joke! The first annual Whisky, Wine and a Splash of Love event will take place on April 1 in Manhattan Beach. Sample fine wine, whisky and bourbon to benefit the P.S. I Love You foundation. For tickets, click here.
The Annual Culture Fashion Competition is being hosted by the Multicultural Film Festival on April 1. Everyone is welcome to show off their wearable art inspired by the culture of any country you choose. Click here to register!
Enjoy an overnight adventure, and spend the night on the Battleship USS Iowa! Take this extraordinary and rare opportunity to sleep on a real battleship. Tour the ships, have dinner in the mess hall and Q&A with legendary Veterans and more. Overnight April 1-2. Click here to book your passage!
For more nautical fun, check out the Queen Mary’s 2nd Annual Fantasea Magic Festival. The Academy of Magical Arts and The Magic Castle team offer a day of magic, mentalists, illusions dinner shows, mind readers and even a haunted tour of the ship. Saturday April 8. For more info and tickets, click here!
Easter is just around the corner! Come back next week for a list of upcoming Easter events in the South Bay.
Posted on January 28th, 2017 No comments
You’ve just got an offer accepted on a home and now the hard work really begins. It’s time for your buyer’s inspections to determine if this really is the right home for you. It would be nice to depend on the seller for all this information. But the fact of the matter is, most sellers can’t recall everything that has happened in their home over the years. And quite often homeowners get used to the funny quirks of their house and don’t even notice them anymore. And sometimes sellers are not aware of issues that exist, and wouldn’t be able to disclose them anyway. Therefore, it’s crucial to hire the right inspectors to assess the home’s condition. Keep in mind, inspectors can’t always find everything. If the roof needs repair and it hasn’t rained in years, the inspector is probably not going to detect it. But if it rained recently and they can detect elevated moisture, then you are on track to discovering a potential needed repair.
The First Step is a Home Inspection
Buyer’s inspections run the gamut. I will provide you with a pretty comprehensive list below, but it’s always important to start with the general home inspection. The home inspector will give you an overview of the home and then indicate where there may be a need for additional inspections or experts. The home inspector will look at the foundation, roof, plumbing, electric, appliances, water fixtures, doors, windows, and general condition. They will report any discrepancies or issues that they see. The home inspector is a generalist however. If they think there is an issue with the roof or some cracks in the walls look suspect, they will make a note of it and then recommend that you bring in a roofer or foundation inspector, respectively.
When I am working with a buyer, the buyer’s inspections that I always recommend, at the bare minimum, are the home inspection, mold inspection, and termite inspection. As I stated above, the home inspector will give a good general overview of the home. A mold inspector will focus on moisture elevation, water leaks, and well… mold. The mold inspection is so crucial because leaks often occur that no one is aware of. Left unattended, water can lead to wood damage and mold which of course carries health concerns with it.
The termite inspection is also a smart move. As the buyer, you want to know about any dry rot, wood damage, and termite infestation. It’s so much easier to tent a house for fumigation before you move in. Termite repairs, as all repairs, can be negotiated with the seller.
If it’s an older home with mature trees, then I also suggest a sewer line inspection. Quite often tree branches penetrate the sewer line because they are searching for water. They can cause quite a bit of damage and can be costly.
Best Practices for Your Buyer’s Inspections
Schedule your buyer’s inspections on the same day with some overlap in time. You want to be able to speak with each inspector separately, but it’s also a great idea to have the inspectors at the property at the same time so they can share information. I find problem solving more effective when different experts can share their perspectives. Recently, I had a client who was buying a house in the Hollywood Rivieria in Torrance, CA. The inspectors detected a high level of moisture all along the base of an exterior wall within an enclosed patio. Each of the inspectors had a theory on where the moisture was coming from. There was no nearby plumbing and the crawl space underneath the house was dry. Getting to the bottom of this mystery was important in order for my clients to know if it was a singular incident or an ongoing problem that could prove to be expensive to correct. In this instance, we ended up bringing in a water intrusion specialist. He determined that the dark stains on the floor were probably from potted plants that had sat under the windows even before the patio was enclosed eons ago.
These plants had probably been overwatered causing the dampness and elevated moisture. The deceased owner’s children confirmed this when they disclosed that their mother kept plants under the windows as long as they could remember – even when they were kids and the patio was an outside space. They also mentioned that they had asked their mom’s aide to stop overwatering the plants only a few weeks prior. Mystery solved! My clients could move forward knowing that there wasn’t a moisture issue to contend with.
Here is a partial list of buyer’s inspections for you to consider when buying your home: General Home Inspection, Wood Destroying Pest Inspection, Mold, Foundation, Sewer Line, Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, Lead Based Paint, Methane Gas, Asbestos, Pool/Spa, Chimney, Square Footage, Permits, Boundaries, Soils, Radon Gas
Not all inspections will apply to every property and some will only come up if there are red flags on the home inspection. But it’s a good idea to know what type of inspections are available and what information you want to gather when buying a home.
Posted on January 10th, 2017 No comments
Conforming loan limits for Fannie Mae have increased for 2017!
With the increase in housing affordability in the real estate market, conforming loan limits have increased for the first time since 2006. Here are the new limits for Fannie Mae loans for 2017 in Los Angeles county:
Conforming Loan Limits
1 Unit: $424,100
2 Units: $543,000
3 Units: $656,350
4 Units: $815,650
Conforming Loan Limits for High Cost Areas
1 Unit: $636,150
2 Units: $814,500
3 Units: $984,525
4 Units: $1,223,475
What does this mean for home buyers? Buyers have an opportunity to borrow more money (with a Fannie Mae product) which is good news since home prices have continued to climb since the market began its rebound toward the end of 2012. In fact, for the first time since the Great Recession, the average US home price has returned to pre-market crash levels. With the real estate recovery, the conforming loan limits should continue to have increases on an annual basis.
There is also talk about interest rates increasing over the next year. They have already ticked up above 4% for the first time in a couple of years. For those home buyers who are at their maximum borrowing power already, any additional rate increase could prevent them from getting a loan. And if rates continues to climb, it could have a slow down effect on the market, and ultimately put downward pressure on prices. But for now, for homes priced at $1.5 million and below, the tight inventory and high demand has continued to push prices up.
Posted on September 20th, 2016 No comments
To Sign or Not to Sign the Arbitration Clause in the Residential Purchase Contract
The Arbitration Clause in the Residential Purchase Contract (RPA) in Southern California is the only section of the contract that may not be agreed upon by buyer and seller and yet you still have a fully executed contract. Most buyers’ agents tell their clients to sign this clause without fully understanding it, and without fully explaining it.
The Arbitration Clause comes into effect if buyer and seller have a dispute, and mediation does not work. Mediation is compulsory, but not binding. This mean that if there’s a dispute between buyer and seller, they must go to Mediation. However if they don’t like the result, they don’t have to adhere to it. Arbitration, on the other hand, is voluntary but the decision is binding. There is no jury in an Arbitration, and you can’t appeal a decision. The upsides are that it’s much faster and much less expensive than going to court.
What a lot of agents don’t tell their clients is that you don’t have to agree to Arbitration at the time you sign the offer. Both parties can always decide to go to Arbitration at a later date even if the clause is not signed. In fact, my broker, RE/MAX Estate Properties has been instructed by our E&O insurance company not to sign the Arbitration Clause in a listing agreement for this very reason. The E&O company wants the flexibility to decide at a later date if there’s a dispute between the Broker and a seller.
Many agents go on auto-pilot when it comes time to sign the contract. They see a blank line for a signature and they assume it needs a signature. Make sure to ask your agent more questions. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but your agent should be giving you the information to help you make these decisions.
Posted on September 14th, 2016 No comments
What you need to know about termites
Termites are a fact of life in California. Without the cold, harsh winters, termites are able to thrive. Here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to termites whether you’re buying or selling a home:
1. It takes approximately 8 years for termites to rear their ugly heads.
2. Even if you’re buying new construction, it’s possible to have termites. They have no problem taking residence in wood at the lumberyard.
3. If there is serious infestation, you will need to fumigate your home to rid yourself of termites.
4. Most termite companies outsource their tenting which results in a marked up price for the homeowner. There are companies who do the tenting in-house which will save you money so don’t be afraid to ask!
5. There are non-toxic treatments but at the end of the day if you have a full infestation, fumigation will most likely be the only way to get rid of the little buggers. The company will still recommend fumigation as the number one treatment, and the non-toxic alternative will only be a secondary treatment without the same warranties most likely.
6. How termite treatments are being negotiated in a real estate purchase contract has recently changed in southern California. Just about two years ago, buyers would ask sellers to handle Section 1 termite items in the offer before there was even a termite report on hand. But now, termite work has been grouped with all other possible repairs. Buyers typically negotiate termite repairs at the same time they are requesting other repairs based on the home and other inspections. What this has successfully done is take termite treatments off the lenders’ radar. And now the lender doesn’t have to require fumigation prior to funding, and the seller won’t be forced to move out early or leave for 3-4 days during tenting and then return to move out again.
Have more questions regarding termites, tenting, and negotiating them in a real estate transaction, feel free to contact me!
Posted on October 21st, 2015 No comments
If you ask agents in the South Bay what’s going on with the market, you get some puzzled looks.
The market that was red hot, all of a sudden is not. And it’s hard to put a finger on what is happening, whether it’s an anomaly or a sign of a downtrend or if we’re just plateauing.
I personally think we’re stuttering, but it may be indicative of a few environmental and economic conditions that may be temporary.
1. The volatility of the stock market was undeniably sobering. Whether people lost money or were just fearful that they were going to lose money, it put a damper on buyer mentality. Buyers may have pulled back, as they do, when they don’t feel flush with cash. As the market settles down, this feeling goes away and buyers may resume their hunger for purchasing real estate.
2. We all know that a great part of the southern California market has been propelled by Chinese money. And as of late, the exchange rate has shifted in favor of the USD. Costing them 10% more, the Chinese buyers seem to have pulled off from their purchasing frenzy… for now. On top of this, and maybe more importantly, the Chinese government has put new caps on the amount of yuan that can be withdrawn outside their country.
3. And finally, it’s hot. I mean it’s really hot. I go so far as saying, it’s “Africa hot”. I believe that the heat wave that has hit Los Angeles and the Beach Cities has an impact on real estate. And why not? We know that horrific winters on the east coast put a halt to the market there. It’s been so hot here in the South Bay… Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beach have been experiencing weather in the high 80s which is normally unheard of at the beach. And people don’t know how to cope with it. There’s very little A/C, very little reprieve. I think to some extent people have actually been beaten by the heat. So there’s little motivation to go shopping for a home when all you want to do is stick your head under the faucet… which is not even kosher in the drought that we’re having.
So we’ll see in the coming months which direction the stock market and the temperature take. And we’ll see if this is just a hiccup or a sign of a slowdown to come.
Posted on October 15th, 2015 No comments
It’s scary how much spooky-fun is to be had this month! “Witch” events will you attend???
For full event details and information, click on links.
Every Thurs thru Sunday (Nov 1 Finale): Universal Studios Horror Nights
All Month at Dark Harbor in Long Beach: The Queen Mary
All Month at Knott’s Berry Farm: Knott’s Scary Farm
Oct 23-25: Long Beach Zombie Walk
***AND PLEASE!!! Everyone be safe, alert, and have lots of batty batty fun this Halloween!!!
Posted on October 9th, 2015 No comments
What to do on Friday night in Redondo Beach?
There’s still time to head over to Lincoln Elementary in North Redondo Beach and enjoy a family movie night on the baseball field. Food trucks, friends & fun!!
Posted on July 9th, 2015 No comments
For full event details and information, click on links.
July 10-12: South Bay Greek Festival: 50th Year Celebration South Bay Greek Festival at St. Katherine’s!
July 13-18th: USA Volleyball HP Championship: It’s for ALL the marbles!!! Or in this case, seashells???
July 16-19th: 48th Annual Manhattan Beach Open Tennis Tournament: Go to “court” and leave your daily “racquet” behind. 😉
July 19th: Concerts in the Park: Blue Breeze Band (Motown, R&B, Soul, Funk, Jazz, and Blue). That’s too cool not to do.
July 21-25th: Special Olympics: Hermosa Beach is a proud host of the World Games LA!!!