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Remodeling Ideas That Will Save Money Now And Make Money Later

When looking to remodel your San Clemente Home, it is not necessary to take on huge projects when smaller ones will look great and cost a lot less if done right.  Whether thinking of putting your home on the San Clemente Real Estate market or simply wanting a nicer home to live in, there are a few things you can do to spruce up your home without emptying your bank account.


1. Landscaping

Many people are so concerned with making the inside of their homes look nice that they neglect the curb appeal.  The exterior of your home is just as important as the interior, particularly to potential buyers whose first impression of the home will be the outside.  Planting some nice palm trees and flower bushes will create a tropical feel to your home; even some smaller plants and healthy grass will add to the appeal.


2. Kitchen counters and appliances

Strangely enough, remodeling your kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances is not as crazy expensive as you would think.  You can find good deals on appliances throughout the year at retailers and online, particularly during holiday events when great sales go on; you can also save money when buying your appliances as a package deal rather than separately.  Nice granite counters may be had for several thousand dollars and look great; take our word for it, the majority of buyers we’ve worked with view granite counters as a huge positive when looking at San Clemente homes for sale.


3. Handyman projects

If you conduct a thorough inspection of your home, you will find a variety of smaller items that need repair.  Everything from new caulking around a shower or tub to adding dimmer light switches are small projects that will look nice and add value to your home.  Spend a little money on changing out all of the regular light bulbs in your home to LED lights; not only will you save on monthly energy costs, but these bulbs tend to last for around 10 years (plus they look great!).


As you can see, it is not necessary to spend a lot of money remodeling your home in San Clemente.  Find smaller projects like the ones above to complete, and we guarantee that others (and yourselves) will be impressed by the quality of your “remodeled” home.

Smart Phones Leading To Smart Homes

The past decade has seen huge advances in communication technologies, particularly in the smart phone and tablet arenas.  The ways that people communicate with each other have changed so much over the past several years, and these tools are beginning to find their way into the real estate industry.  More and more San Clemente homes are utilizing technology to become more energy efficient and easier for owners to control.


There was an interesting article on (“Houses are about to get really, really smart“) highlighting recent and forthcoming advances in home technologies.  When installing a home alarm system, it is no longer necessary to push buttons on the main control pad to activate and deactivate the alarm; now the system may be controlled from your smart phone.  Alarm systems are not alone; things such as your thermostat, utilities, and even door locks can be handled by pressing buttons on your cell phone.  According to the article, these technologies will only continue to grow and improve; as the article points, it is rare to find new construction that is not utilizing at least some type of centralized technology that can be controlled with a mobile device.


It is truly an incredible age we live in when it comes to technology, and it is amazing to see that the advances of the past several years may now be applied to San Clemente real estate.  Not only do these innovations make controlling your home much easier, but they can save on utility bills and make your home more secure.  These technologies will eventually become the norm in homes throughout the nation, and installing them now, even if you are thinking of listing your San Clemente home for sale, will only add a “wow” factor to your dwelling.

Things To Consider When Holding An Open House In San Clemente

After (hopefully) spending a good amount of time preparing your San Clemente Home For Sale, you are finally ready to put it on the market!  Once your home is an active listing, one of the first things your San Clemente Real Estate Agent (if you have one, and we highly recommend you do) should do is hold an Open House.  Open houses are a great way to get numerous potential buyers through your home in a short window rather than scheduling a variety of showings throughout the week.  Here are a few things to consider that may not be at the forefront of your mind:


1. Inform the neighborhood

While your Realtor will undoubtedly put up multiple signs around your neighborhood directing people to the Open House, you should definitely let your neighbors know that a)you are selling your home, and b)you are having an Open House.  You never know – one of your neighbors may have a friend or family member looking to purchase in your San Clemente neighborhood.  Word of mouth is your best friend when trying to sell your home, so let your neighbors do some of the work for you.


2. Find something else to do that day

We know that selling your home in San Clemente is exciting and nerve-wracking, and one of the hardest parts is having patience with the sale’s process.  On the day of your Open House, plan to be somewhere else; let your agent do the talking and allow buyers the freedom to walk through your home without worrying about saying something insulting around the owner.  In fact, this is pertinent advice throughout the listing period…buyers tend to be uncomfortable when the seller is in the home, so give them their space.


3. Emphasis on the word “Open”

When holding an Open House, you want to ensure that potential buyers can take the whole house in, both inside and out.  Don’t close off a room because it’s messy or you’re hiding a pet in there; figure something out and make the room accessible.  We know this sounds a little ridiculous, but you’d be amazed at the numbers of open houses we’ve attended where the listing agent tells us to stay out of certain rooms or the backyard because of pets.  If you want to sell your home, closing parts of it off creates more barriers than you should care to have.

More Senior Housing Planned For San Clemente

A little over a month ago, the San Clemente City Council unveiled the five-years-in-waiting General Plan for the city.  The primary intention of San Clemente’s new General Plan is to serve a guide for community decisions, including land use, community improvement, climate action, and a pedestrian master plan.  The document is almost 250 pages long and may be found on the City of San Clemente’s website for those who are interested in viewing all of the work put in by the City Council and others over the past 5 years.


One of the interesting land use items found in the General Plan involves a 6-acre piece of land on the Shorecliffs Golf Course in North San Clemente.  Located near the driving range and clubhouse, this land has been set aside for some time as a potential spot for a new hotel in the city, an idea that has never come to fruition.  The City Council decided to change the land use of this area for the eventual development of new senior housing that will neighbor the golf course.


San Clemente senior living is some of the best found in all of Orange County.  From affordable options like Bay Cliff Village and Colony Cove in North San Clemente to more luxurious and expensive options in the Talega Gallery, San Clemente offers a wonderful environment for buyers aged 55 and older who are looking for an older living atmosphere.  This portion of Shorecliffs is a great spot for a new senior community; besides being close to the golf course, the beach and Downtown San Clemente are not far away.  Beach communities like San Clemente are a paradise for retirees, and unlike the majority of Orange County coastal communities, it is nice to see our City Council embrace seniors with a variety of wonderful senior living developments.

Paying Rent Is Not A Good Deal For You

Ahh, the age-old question in real estate – is it better to buy or rent your home or condo?  Over the past several years, the national rental market has seen a boon as many people unable to qualify for a mortgage have sought rental properties for their new homes.  2012 and 2013 saw a large influx of investors into popular places to live (like the San Clemente Real Estate Market); these savvy buyers saw a great opportunity to cash in on low housing prices, higher inventories and widespread demand for rental properties.  While purchasing a home or condo in San Clemente can feel like a daunting task, is it really better to take the simpler route and rent from someone else.


A recent article on Trulia (“Buying a Home 38% Cheaper Than Renting – But How Risky Is It?”) highlights a study from the real estate website showing that, in the 100 major metropolitan areas throughout the United States (including Orange County), buying a home is still cheaper than renting.  The gap between buying and renting has decreased in the past year but still hold a good margin; for example, it is currently 21% cheaper to buy in Orange County than rent.  This study takes into account the home price rises over the past year along with current mortgage interest rates.  An interesting part to the article shows what the “tipping point” would be in each of the studied metro areas, meaning what would have to happen to mortgage rates in order for renting to become cheaper than buying.  In Orange County, mortgage interest rates would need to climb to approximately 6.8% for renting to overtake buying as the more affordable option; this means that mortgage rates would have to rise almost 2.5 percentage points from the current 4.36% rate of a 30-year mortgage to reach this tipping point.


Owning a San Clemente home can be one of the most rewarding and lucrative experiences in your life if you are willing to take the plunge.  Stop writing a monthly rent check to someone else – you will never see that money again.  When you buy a home and pay your monthly mortgage, you are in essence writing a check back to yourself (minus the interest collected by your lender of course)…think about that before filling out your next rental application.

Get To Know Your Potential San Clemente Neighborhood

When people are thinking of buying a home in San Clemente, the majority are focused on the residence itself – condo or detached home, upgraded or not, small or large yard, etc.  For the most part, potential San Clemente home buyers have an idea of what type of home they’re looking for and spend all of their time trying to find that perfect fit.  However, a big mistake you can make in your home search is solely focusing on the home itself; there is so much more to “home” than the roof over your head, so keep in mind other things that are important.


When searching for a San Clemente home, the neighborhood itself should be a major priority.  You want a San Clemente neighborhood that is right for your lifestyle preference, be it the hustle and bustle of Central San Clemente or the modern suburban feel of Talega.  The great thing about San Clemente is that every neighborhood is unique in its own way and truly offers something for everyone; however, it is up to you to get to know the 9 different neighborhoods.  You should also look at the schools within your particular neighborhood, although this will require little stress on your part as there is only one high school in San Clemente and a variety of award-winning elementary and middle schools (not to mention one of the top school districts in the state in Capistrano Unified).


If you are working with a San Clemente Real Estate Agent, have them pull sales information on your preferred neighborhood(s) to see what home prices have been doing over the past few years.  While reselling your home will be one of the last things on your mind when looking for something you want to move into now, you should at least have an idea of your community’s economic health with regards to real estate sales.  Buying in a declining neighborhood could cost you money down the road; fortunately for you, coastal cities like San Clemente are always in demand.

New Financing Regulations Means More Paperwork For You

Across the United States, banks and other mortgage lending institutions rang in the New Year by further tightening their lending standards.  Due to new regulations stemming from the Dodd/Frank Act, lenders must check and re-check all financial documents provided by potential borrowers and must verify all reported income rather than accepting documents with “stated income.”  This has forced lenders to hire more people into their mortgage departments to meet the demand of these new regulations.  While the new standards of mortgage lending are much better than several years ago when basically anyone was able to obtain a home loan, they do create more work for San Clemente home buyers looking to qualify for a mortgage.


The new regulations pretty much guarantee that your lender will ask for every type of financial document imaginable from you.  Pay stubs, checking and savings account statements, retirement accounts, etc…all will be required from your lender to help give them a clear understanding of your financial situation.  It is a good idea to have all of these documents available prior to submitting offers on San Clemente Real Estate; ask your lender for a list of things they may ask of you.  Going through the loan pre-approval process will help take some of the headaches away that you’ll encounter once in an escrow; lenders will ask for a lot of these documents during pre-approval, so you will only have to fill in any blanks that underwriting asks for when you’re in the full approval.  Getting a loan pre-approval is also a good thing to have at your disposal when submitting offers; a pre-approval letter shows the seller that a lender thinks your application is good enough on the surface to qualify for a home loan – in fact, many sellers ask for a pre-approval letter up front these days.


The best thing you can do is to be prepared for anything – be able to provide any document or explain any received payment to your lender, because believe us, they will ask for EVERYTHING before offering you a home loan.

Don’t Buy A New Car When You’re In The Market For A San Clemente Home

There are many factors that go into the successful purchase of San Clemente real estate – finding the right San Clemente neighborhood, choosing the best home for your needs, getting your offer accepted, and completing the escrow (to name a few).  Buying a home or condo in San Clemente is an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is far from an easy one.  While it is easy for the most part to set yourself up for success when thinking of purchasing a San Clemente home, you can set yourself up for a long ride if you don’t plan things the right way.


One of the biggest challenges you will face when buying San Clemente real estate is qualifying for a home loan (if you are unable to pay all cash for the property, which we assume is most people reading this blog).  Potential borrowers are so concerned with coming up with the down payment and getting all of their financial documents in order that they forget about one of the most important pieces to the lending puzzle – your credit score!  Lenders want to see that you are able to pay back the loan you are asking them for, so a good credit history is crucial when applying for a home loan.  Not only that, but lenders will also look at your monthly payments to creditors and compare it to your monthly income – this is call the “debt-to-income ratio.”


One of the bigger mistakes you can make when shopping for a San Clemente home is to add debt to your credit report; this is not the time to buy that new Prius you’ve wanted.  Many buyers get so excited about buying a new home that they begin purchasing furniture for that home that, by the way, they don’t own yet…this is a big NO NO!  Wait until you’ve purchased the home before spending money on furniture; chances are you will finance some of the larger purchases, and this will negatively impact your creditworthiness in the eyes of your lender.

Central San Clemente Is A Rental Haven (And Heaven)

Beach cities like San Clemente tend to have very active rental markets; from long-term to one-week vacation rentals, people who cannot afford the higher purchase prices associated with Southern California coastal communities can still get a taste of the good life through renting.  While purchasing a San Clemente home or condo is, in our opinion, the better and smarter way to spend your money, the truth of the matter is that the San Clemente rental market offers a variety of excellent options at reasonable prices.  And believe us, nowhere is this more apparent than in the social hub of the city – Central San Clemente.


The Central San Clemente neighborhood is primarily situated around the Downtown area of San Clemente and heads down towards the San Clemente Pier.  While there are communities east of the 5 Freeway that are part of the Central neighborhood, the majority of rental options are concentrated west of the freeway.  The reasoning for this is simple – people looking to rent in San Clemente want to be close to the action; the nightlife, shops, restaurants, the Pier, the beach – everything you could want as a renter is found in Central San Clemente.  These features are particularly attractive to younger renters who want to live the beach lifestyle and enjoy the surf; Central San Clemente is littered with smaller apartment and condo buildings along with duplexes, triplexes and four-unit buildings.  Many of the homes in Central San Clemente are on the older side, so rents aren’t as bad as you may think; however, come into the Central rental market knowing that you will pay a premium for living close to the beach and the shops, bars and restaurants along Avenida Del Mar.


Central San Clemente is also a haven for short-term vacation rentals; people from all around the country venture to San Clemente, particularly in the warmer months (which, come to think of it, is almost all year), for their chance to live at the beach for a short time.  For investment-minded San Clemente real estate buyers, you could not ask for better opportunities than buying a rental property in Central San Clemente.  If you buy a decent place and charge reasonable rent, you will have potential tenants banging down your door for the chance to live in this beautiful coastal city.

Do You Really Want To Haggle Over Nail Holes?

Purchasing a home or condo in San Clemente is one of the most rewarding and stressful experiences you will go through in your life.  When you’re talking about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a new home, your stress level tends to be at an all-time high; but as anyone who has ever purchased a home knows, the sense of gratification you feel when handed the keys to your San Clemente home is unparalleled.


Getting through an escrow can be a long and arduous process, or it can be relatively painless if you are prepared.  We have spoken in the past about having your finances in order and ready to submit to your lender during the loan underwriting process; trust us, if anything is going to hold up your deal and lead to sleepless nights, it is the mortgage process.  However, what amazes us as San Clemente Realtors is that, even though so much money is on the table for the transaction, it is the little things that somehow become such a big deal.


The best example of this is the home inspection and resulting report; this report can be a long document highlighting every large and/or small issue with the home (if the home you are buying is not new and the report is not filled with details about the home, you may want to find a different home inspector).  After a buyer receives the inspection report, a Request for Repairs may be submitted to the seller requesting one of two things: the negotiated repair of any damages to the home and properties within; or a credit to the buyer for the cost of said repairs.  What is amazing is how many buyers want an absolutely pristine home with nary a ding or nail hole in site, and they are willing to potentially derail the entire deal by asking for every little repair listed on the report.  While we understand that you want the home you are spending a lot of money to be in good shape, be reasonable about what you ask for; big-ticket items such as non-working appliances or termite issues should definitely be negotiated, but you’re taking things a little too far if a light bulb is out and you want to make a new light bulb a condition of closing the escrow.


Remember, a seller does not have to agree to any repairs, leaving you with the choice of either fixing things on your own or cancelling the escrow under the inspection contingency clause.  To ensure this doesn’t happen, keep an open mind when requesting repairs, particularly if there are some high-priced items that need fixing.  A seller will be much more willing to fix larger items if you don’t include every little thing wrong in the home; after the close of escrow, pay a handyman a few hundred bucks to correct the issues (or Do It Yourself – you’re a homeowner now, start getting your hands dirty!).

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