South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Ignore The ‘Bubble’ Talk – 4 Reasons Why This is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by southorangecounty on September 16, 2015

Ignore 'The Bubble' Talk - 3 Reasons Why Summer 2015 is an Excellent Time to Buy Real Estate It is common for those who are interested in buying real estate in the near future to tune into news stories about the real estate market, and many may have heard that there is speculation about a real estate bubble that may pop soon. While this gloomy outlook on the real estate market can strike fear in some hearts and may deter a purchase until a later date, the fact is that this is an excellent time to purchase property. In fact, there are four good reasons why potential buyers may want to start moving forward with their buying plans soon.

Low Interest Rates

Most who have plans to purchase real estate will need to apply for a mortgage loan to complete their transaction, and today’s low interest rates are highly competitive. Low interest rates make the cost of borrowing money to purchase real estate lower, and this means that the mortgage payment that may be locked in may be lower. There is some speculation that interest rates will rise in the coming weeks or months, and this means that now may be a great time to take advantage of lower interest rates.

Great Deals Available

More than that, there are some great real estate deals available for buyers to take advantage of. Real estate values in many areas have rebounded in recent years, but some areas are still off historic highs. In addition, there may be foreclosures, short sales and other types of transactions that can result in buyers saving money on their property purchase.

This is Usually the “Slow” Season for Real Estate

It may be hard to believe, since we’re just emerging from Summer, but now is actually the start of the slower Fall home buying season. There are fewer buyers to compete with, while at the same moment, there are sellers who are getting more anxious because their house hasn’t sold yet. They probably started out trying for higher than market value, their house didn’t attract a buyer, and now they’re starting to lower their price, so they can get into escrow – an ideal scenario for a buyer. This slowing down condition will get even better – for buyers – as we approach and go through the Holiday season.

The Benefits Of Home Ownership

Another benefit associated with making a purchase now is that home buyers can start enjoying the financial benefits of home ownership sooner. These benefits include the ability to build equity through debt reduction and value appreciation as well as tax benefits associated with owning property. These are benefits that can have a true impact on a person’s financial situation, and it may be financially advantageous to have access to these benefits sooner rather than later.

There will always be speculation about what the real estate market may do in the coming weeks, months and years, but it is impossible to accurately determine how the market may act. With this in mind, it may be best for buyers to take advantage of currently great market conditions rather than attempt to time the market in the future.

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Four Excellent Reasons to Buy a Home So You Can Get out of the “Renting Rut”

Three Excellent Reasons to Buy a Home So You Can Get out of the Renting a home is a good option for some, but buying a home just might be the best thing for you.

There are some big advantages to buying a house that will help you get out of your renting rut and focus more on your future.

#1.)  Build Equity

Did you know that when you rent a home, you help someone else build equity? Any changes that you make with your landlord’s approval puts money back in his or her pocket. Keeping the yard clean and taking care of routine maintenance builds equity in that property. When you buy a home of your own, you have the chance to build equity of your own, which can add significantly to your net worth.

#2.)  Save On Your Taxes

When you rent a house, you cannot deduct the money you spend on your taxes. Though some states will let you make a small deduction based on the total amount you spend in rent each month, you cannot make any deductions on your federal taxes. When you buy a home, you can save with a few different types of deductions.

The federal government lets you make a deduction if your home is worth more than what you currently owe on your taxes. If you purchased your first home, you can make a deduction in regards to your property taxes. You can also deduct money that you spend on some renovations and energy saving appliances.

#3.)  Put Your Personal Touch On Things

As long as you continue renting, you live in a home that belongs to someone else. Your landlord has final say over what you do and do not do. This often means that you cannot make repairs or significant changes without seeking approval first.

Renting a home lets you put your personal touch on things. You can paint the walls any colors you want, rip out the carpet to add hardwood flooring or even make significant changes outside to turn your new home into your dream home.

#4.)  Interest Rates Are STILL Incredibly LOW!

One factor that has contributed to home affordability has been the incredibly low interest rates that have been available for the last couple of years.

Now that you know more about the benefits of buying a home and how that purchase can get you out of the rental rut you’re in currently, isn’t it a good time to give me a call? I would be thrilled to assist you in becoming a homeowner. Let’s go home shopping!

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Three Tips for Reducing Your Closing Costs if You’re Looking Forward To Buying a Home in the Spring

Three Tips for Reducing Your Closing Costs if You're Buying a Home in the Spring Spring is approaching fast and it is usually the busiest time of the year for home buying. After a long and cold winter, many people are ready to enjoy the nicer weather and begin to shop for a new home. Spring is also the perfect time for home buying for families with children because it allows them to move during the summer without interrupting school.

Home buying has costs associated with it other than the mortgage itself. Known as closing costs, these fees are a part of the home buying process and they are due at the time that the mortgage is finalized. Buyers, however, can negotiate these costs and reduce the expense with a little bit of effort and with the help of a good mortgage professional.

If you are thinking of buying a new home in the spring here are three helpful tips to reducing your closing costs.

Compare All of Your Mortgage Options

If you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage adviser to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.

You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

Third Party Fees

Some of the closing cost fees will be associated with third party vendors that must perform required services. Home appraisals, title searches, and costs for obtaining credit reports are some of the items included in this area. While these may be a little harder to negotiate because the lender uses specific companies to perform these services, it does not hurt to ask if you can use your own appraiser or title search company.

Zero Closing Cost Mortgages

Buyers may also wish to inquire about a no closing cost mortgage. This type of mortgage eliminates all closing costs. The lender covers all of the closing cost fees in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate on the loan. In most cases the increase is less than one-quarter of a percent. This type of loan can be very helpful to buyers. Buyers can then use the money that they saved on closing costs to help with the move.

With a little preparation, you can find the best mortgage product for the up-coming spring season. Be sure to contact your experienced mortgage professional, as they will be able to help you find the right mortgage for your specific needs with the lowest out-of-pocket expenses.

Compare All of Your Mortgage OptionsIf you’re using mortgage financing to cover some of the up-front purchase cost of your home you’ll have other closing costs to pay including lender fees, mortgage insurance and more. Be sure to compare all of your options with your trusted mortgage advisor to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal and paying the least amount in fees and interest.

You may also be able to save a bit on your closing costs by choosing a “no points” mortgage. In this type of mortgage you’ll end up saving on closing costs but you’ll be left paying a higher interest rate. Spend a bit of time doing the math to determine the best course of action.

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Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs

Looking for Luxury? How to Upsize Your Next Home Without Upsizing Your Costs Size matters when you are buying your next home. Whether you plan to expand your family, need more room for your stuff, or are concerned with resale value, you want to get the most space for your money. Also, if you want to add a feel of luxury to your home, one of the best ways to do it is to create open spaces rather than cramming all your furniture in rooms so tiny you can barely walk around without knocking something over.

Traditionally speaking, the larger a home is, the more it costs. If there are two newly built houses side by side in a subdivision, the bigger one is likely to cost more. However, there are some tricks to finding spacious houses that are affordable.

Choose Emerging Neighborhoods

Houses in this year’s trending neighborhood are at their peak prices. Clever buyers look for neighborhoods that are in the process of being gentrified, buying at the bottom rather than the top of the market, to get more house for their money.

Fix It Up

Houses in perfect condition, that show well, sell for a premium. If you want to get more house for your money, choose something that needs a bit of TLC. A house that has pink walls and orange shag carpet might appear just too ugly to consider when you first view it, but it might just need a few coats of paint and some new carpet to become a spacious dream home.

Do Some Finishing

Unfinished areas such as attics and basements can be finished to create additional living spaces. The basement could become a family room and the attic an extra bedroom or study. An unfinished space can become the extra bathroom you need to make morning more manageable.

Consider an Addition

Contractors can add rooms to a house. If you have a large lot, you can build an extra wing. With a one story ranch house, it may be possible to raise the roof and add a second story.

The more stuff you have, the smaller your home appears. Reduce clutter and invest in smaller condo size furniture to give even the smallest home the appearance of spaciousness.

Ready to Go Bigger? ( Or Maybe Even Smaller?)

Give me a call – (949) 887-5305 or shoot me an email BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com  and let’s talk about your options.

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Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding the Right Community to Buy Your New Home In

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on October 22, 2014

Moving to a New City? Tips for Finding a Family-friendly Community to Buy Your New Home InIf you’re moving to a new city with children, one of your likely considerations is finding a family-friendly community where you can settle in and call home.

In this post we’ll share a handful of tips that you may find helpful if you’re searching for a family-friendly neighborhood in a new city.

Check Out The Quality Of Local Schools

Schools are one of the cornerstones of a community and high-quality schools are a sign that a community is suitable for your family. When you’ve made your short list of communities that you are considering, take some time to research the local elementary or high schools to see how they stack up against other schools in the surrounding area.

You may also want to connect with the school’s principal or dean to ask about the environment and whether or not it would be suitable for your children.

Look Around For Local Churches And Other Community Groups

Great communities are those which are filled with engaged citizens who are actively working to better the area for everyone. When you drive through a community that you’re considering, look around to see if there are churches and other groups that get local residents together on a regular basis.

You may find that these groups make for an excellent welcoming committee who can introduce you to the area and help to get your family settled.

Parks And Other Gathering Spaces Are A Good Sign

Another excellent way to determine if a community is suitable for raising a family is the number of nearby parks and public gathering spaces. You’ll want to ensure that your children have a nice area to run around and play with your family pet, or that you have a nice park in which to have the occasional picnic lunch to spend some quality time together.

When In Doubt: Ask The Locals

If you’re visiting a community or touring through homes, spend some time talking to the locals to hear their thoughts and opinions on how family-friendly the local area is. If you haven’t yet, you should also connect with a local real estate agent who can share the ups and downs of the community you’re thinking about moving to.

Over the past 38 years, I have watched South Orange County grow up.  When I started my real estate career, there was no Aliso Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, or Ladera Ranch.  It used to take me 40 minutes to drive from my house in Lake Forest, out to Coto de Caza, where my daughter got tennis lessons.

Today, when a family tells me they want to do a tour of South Orange County, with my 38 years of local experience, I am uniquely qualified among Realtors, to show them the ins and outs of our beautiful area, and I am proud to introduce them to what I consider to be God’s Country – South Orange County, California.

Hopefully, if you’re moving away from our area, you’ll be able to find an agent equally knowledgeable about the community you’re thinking of moving to.  I can help you find such an agent, and would be happy to research the candidates for you.

Follow these tips and trust your instincts, and you’ll be able to find a great new community that makes a perfect home for your family.

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Lowballing 101: How to Avoid Insulting a Home Seller when Making a Low Offer for Their House.

Posted in Home Buyer Tips, Home buying, Homebuyer Tips, Orange County Real Estate, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on August 20, 2014

buyersBuying a home is a huge step for people who are ready to make an investment in their future. Getting a great deal on a home is just as important and knowing how much to offer could be confusing. It is important to make sure   the home seller is not insulted by a low offer and is ready to negotiate to make sure everyone wins.

Make a List of Necessary Improvements

One of the best ways to validate a lower offer on a home is to list improvements that need to be made to the property. If the home needs a new roof or a new heating and air conditioning system, these are reasons to offer less than the asking price. Sometimes a home may also need new flooring, paint, or matching appliances which all cost money. The buyer can make a lower offer stating the additional expenses of making sure the home is move in ready.

Explain Any Issues with the Location

Another option when considering a lower offer is to point out problems with the location. If the home is on a busy street or close to something equally undesirable, the buyer has legitimate concerns. In the offer, list the potential problems of living too close to fast food restaurants, train tracks, or airports. A less desirable location could equal a great buy on a new home.

Provide Pricing for Comparable Homes in the Area

A knowledgeable real estate agent can help compare homes that have sold in the area. When you are writing up a lower offer, look at the lower priced homes that have sold in the same neighborhood. A seller will quickly realize that if he wants to sell the home, he will need to accept a reasonable offer or risk letting his house sit on the market for weeks or months.

Consider the Seller’s Reasons for Selling

Finally, the seller’s situation can also be key in getting a good deal on a home. If the seller is anxious to sell because of a job relocation or if he has already bought a new home this can be the perfect reason to make a lower offer and take the home off the seller’s hands. Without insulting the seller, the buyer can make an offer for less than the asking price and agree to a quick closing.

The Right Agent Can Make a Huge Difference

I’ve been successfully representing buyers in South Orange County since 1976 – almost 38 years! In that time I’ve been able to negotiate some excellent buys, for most of my buyer clients. If you are thinking of buying your next home, I would be honored to be considered as your agent.

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Experiencing ‘Purchase Anxiety’? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New Home

Experiencing 'Purchase Anxiety'? How to Calm Your Nerves Before Committing to Buy a New HomeWhether this is your first big purchase, or your family is moving to a new location or looking for more space, buying a home has its share of ups and downs.

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious about whether or not you’ve found the right property. Here are some things you can do to make yourself feel more secure with your decision.

Do The Math

You’ve probably already done this, but it’s okay to go over it a number of times to be sure. Factor in your household income and all the bills you expect to pay every month. Add everything up.

It sounds like a stressful activity, but when you look at the numbers and realize that buying a home is actually doable, it can be a liberating feeling.

When you know for sure you can make it as a homeowner without getting underwater, you will feel more confident.

Meet The Neighbors

If you haven’t had the chance to knock on a couple of doors yet, you should spend some time saying hello to people in the neighborhood. The more you can get to talking with families that are just like yours, the more you will be able to picture yourself as a member of the community.

If you have kids, find out if there are other kids the same age nearby. That will help to ease their anxiety about moving as well.

Ask Your Agent

Don’t feel like you are being overly cautious if you ask your real estate agent and or mortgage professional your lingering questions. Make sure you’re getting a good price for the area, and make sure you know about any issues with the condition of the property.

You should be able to trust that your realtor and mortgage professional are excited for your decision.

Familiarize Yourself With The Neighborhood

Take a drive and figure out which stores you’re nearest to, the route you can take to get to work, and which other amenities you might take advantage of. Home buyers often underestimate how important living in a safe neighborhood with plenty of accessible businesses can be.

The more you can imagine yourself living at your new address, the better you will feel.

Remember, never sign the papers on a new home unless you feel one hundred percent secure in your buying decision.

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Buying or Selling, Here Are Three Traits You’ll Want in Your Real Estate Agent

AddressFor both buyers and sellers, choosing the right real estate agent is an important and difficult decision, but making   the right selection is critical. Consider the following essential characteristics for a real estate agent before signing a contract:

#1.) Experience

An agent must understand the real estate market as well as the practices and processes of buying and selling. While a new agent may have energy and desire, experienced agents will be able to offer insights and experiences which are likely to give their clients the edge in their deal. Experience also indicates negotiating skill.

Of course an agent must be licensed, but they must also be knowledgeable about the specific neighborhoods and types of property their clients are interested in buying or selling.

#2.) Creativity

Since a variety of problems can happen at any point in a real estate deal, a real estate agent should be able to solve problems creatively. An agent who helps their clients think through problems, offers reasonable alternatives or finds a way to overcome obstacles is invaluable to both buyers and sellers.

Marketing is essential in the real estate world, so an agent who knows how to creatively use technology to entice buyers or to locate homes is a benefit. Buyers usually start their search online, so an appealing, user-friendly and updated website is essential.  This is just one of today’s many technological real estate tools, so an agent who knows how to use them has a better chance of making an effective deal for their clients.

#3.) Honesty

Home sellers need someone who will be realistic with them about the value of their home, no matter what other homes in the neighborhood are selling for or what the sellers think their home is worth. Home buyers need an agent who will tell them, for example, that consistently under-bidding in order to get more home for their money is not a viable strategy. These conversations are difficult, but an honest agent will have them in order to achieve a successful result.

Another aspect of honesty is maintaining consistent communication in whatever form suits their clients. Even if there is nothing new to discuss, a quick update to say that nothing is happening is essential to maintaining trust. Silence is a sign of denial or worse, so an agent who communicates regularly is being honest with their clients.

Finally, an agent should be honest enough to put their client’s interest ahead of their own, showing the client every house that fits the criteria and not just those that will get the agent the biggest commission. An effective seller’s agent will give their clients the feedback they receive from potential buyers, even if the news is discouraging. Keeping problem areas from a seller may keep the relationship friendly, but it does not put the seller’s interest above the agent’s.

      Bob Phillips, 37+ years serving South Orange County clients & friends.                (949) 887-5305                   BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com

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