Archive for May 2016
May 2016 edition of Bennion Deville Homes @HOME Magazine. This magazine is inserted in the first weekend’s edition in newspapers and distributed throughout the Coachella Valley to Riverside, as well as Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE 4-PAGE SPREAD of Diane’s advertising in the magazine.
There’s definitely something enchanting about living in a desert home. North American deserts offer breathtaking rugged landscapes, awe-inspiring sunsets, and a natural beauty that just isn’t present anywhere else in the country.
While moving into a desert home is certainly exciting, it also helps if you’re well-informed. Here are a few things to look out for:
Materials used for desert homes are different than those typically found in other homes in the rest of the country. Wood for example, is not practical in the desert – it tends to warp and distort because of the intense temperature and dry desert air. Homes built from materials like adobe, stone, or ICF concrete are the best, as these can withstand the harsh environment, and keep it cool indoors. Another thing to look out for are tinted and treated windows, as these significantly reduce cooling costs and protect your home from intense sun rays.
Because of the intense desert heat, temperature control is very important. Many people simply choose to run their AC units round-the-clock, but this results in sky-high electricity bills. A well-designed desert home has high ceilings with ceiling fans, quality blinds and drapes, and strategically placed window fans that help circulate the air and minimize the heat.
A desert yard is one of the most prominent features that separate a desert home from most traditional homes found in the country. Desert landscaping adds a very unique look, with vegetation such as hop bush, desert sage, and a wide variety of cacti. Many homes also use rock gardens in place of grassy yards.
Homes that take advantage of the unique desert environment are definitely a huge plus. Desert homes are perfect for outdoor patios, grilling areas with large umbrellas, tropical-style swimming pools and so on. And while it’s hot during most of the day, desert areas are cool during the evenings – dramatic lighting and fire pits will turn any home into an evening desert oasis perfect for parties or simply relaxing while watching the sunset.
Desert homes are perfect for solar paneling. These days, solar panels are very affordable, so many homes take advantage of the scorching hot sun to reduce energy costs, sometimes bringing power bills to zero. In addition, some municipalities actually pay homeowners with solar panels for extra power that they provide back into the power grid.
With home prices gradually increasing after the housing crash, many are left wondering if investing in the real estate market is still a good idea.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) however, predicts steady growth for the industry in most parts of the country, with low interest rates continuing to attract buyers.
Financing Investment Property
Despite the low interest rates however, the tightened credit market can make it more difficult to secure a loan for an investment property. But the good news is all you need is a bit of preparation an effective strategy to successfully secure a loan.
Here are a few tips:
Put down a substantial down payment
Because investment properties are not covered by mortgage insurance, you need at least a 20% down payment to secure traditional financing. If you are able to put down about 25%, you can qualify for a better interest rate.
Boost your credit score
Your credit score is one factor that can greatly impact a loan’s terms for an investment property. If your credit score is below 740, you will need to pay a higher interest rate.
Avoid big banks
If you do not have a sizable down payment, it’s better to choose a neighborhood bank for financing, rather than a nationwide financial institution. A local bank is more likely to give you more flexibility, plus they are more familiar with the local market and have more interest in local investments.
Request owner financing
In the past, asking for owner financing made most sellers suspicious of potential buyers, as nearly anyone is able to qualify for a bank loan. It’s now more acceptable today due to the tighter credit market. If you decide to request for owner financing however, you need a strategy. Be more specific with the amount of money as well as the terms, so sellers are more convinced with owner financing.
California is home to a thriving rental market, making more and more homeowners consider renting out their property to earn more money. While the state’s robust rental market is certainly very encouraging, most people tend to overlook the many responsibilities attached to being a landlord.
Renting Out your Property
Putting your property up for rent is not as simple as looking for a tenant and making them sign a contract – it involves preparation, research, and knowledge of several California and federal laws.
Thinking about preparing your property for rent? Here’s a helpful guide:
Research on federal, state, and local laws
Before preparing to put your property up for rent, you want to find out first and foremost if it’s legal. Most cities, neighborhoods, and homeowners associations have a set of rules or by-laws governing rental properties.
Moreover, the state of California has several laws in place which cover the rental process as well as the screening for potential tenants. There are also laws requiring the disclosure of information to both applicants and tenants, and laws that place restrictions and limitations on fees and rent collected by landlords.
Landlords in California are also required to give tenants written information regarding Megan’s Law. There’s also a law requiring landlords to disclose whether the property uses lead-based paint.
Doing some research on these laws beforehand will ensure a smoother process.
Create a Limited Liability Corporation or LLC for your rental property
Having a rental property is similar to running a business, which means there’s also a possibility for encountering lawsuits. If your home is listed under your own name, facing a lawsuit will place you as the defendant, and losing any assets you own is very likely. Having an LLC for your rental property is an effective way to limit your personal liability to that property’s value.
For more information about creating an LLC, visit the California Secretary of State’s website.
Consider how much you’ll charge for rent
Knowing how much you’ll charge for rent is one of the key items to consider when creating a rental property. You can do some research online by taking a look at listings in your local area, and comparing your own property with those. If your property has unique features or special amenities, you can factor these in when determining a reasonable amount of rent from tenants.
Prepare a proper rental contract
Preparing a detailed rental contract is often considered a difficult and time-consuming process, as you’ll need to sift through many specific terms for your rental contract. Because California does not require a standard rental agreement, you’re free to decide on what terms appear on the contract.
One important thing to keep in mind is whether to offer a periodic rental agreement or a lease. A lease binds a tenant for a specific period of time, while a periodic rental agreement depends on the length of time covered by each rent payment.
You also have the option to go with a default rental contract, which is available online, at office supply establishments, or at a real estate office. You are free to customize these default contracts in order to suit your preferences.
Your rental contract is a very important document, as it establishes the terms between you and your tenant. It will also help you avoid any potential lawsuits.
Show your property to prospective tenants
After preparing your property for rent, the next step is to get prospective tenants to see it. Schedule an open house and place ads on your local paper, online, and outside your home. Make sure to put important details in your ad such as details about the property, monthly rent, and your contact details. Have a rental application ready for attendees of your open house and for anyone interested in renting the property.
For information about rental properties, visit this page.
It’s easy to start
Investing on Real Estate
Specialist knowledge or training isn’t a requirement for property investors. There are many successful real estate investors who never intended to earn through selling properties – they simply bought a house, saw its value increase over time, and discovered it’s a great way to earn more money.
It’s easier compared to stocks or shares
Getting into stocks is difficult: you need to have a solid grasp of a lot of things such as trading, research brokers, fund managers, and how the whole system works, among other things. On the other hand, real estate investment is much simpler – you can simply go online and look for properties. There’s much more to it of course, but most of the research you’ll need can be done online, by visiting different suburbs, talking to other professionals, and so on.
It’s easy to get financing
It’s a given fact that lenders like properties. Home loans form a significant part of every bank’s business model, which means lenders tend to prefer to lend on residential property than other types of assets.
You can increase your home’s value by renovating
Renovation is a surefire way to increase a property’s value. Investors have many options with renovating. You can update kitchens and bathrooms, install new carpets, improve landscaping, and so on. With the right strategy, even a few thousand dollars can increase a home’s value significantly.
Your properties can help your children’s future
Your kids can also benefit from your investment. Sure, you can do this with shareholdings too, but it’s riskier and not as solid compared to a well-positioned property that increases value over time.
It’s an affordable investment
Investing in real estate is possible, no matter what your budget is. You don’t have to aim for luxury properties in exclusive gated communities, you can start by buying a 2-bedroom apartment in a more affordable area. And if you play your cards right, you can expect equivalent or even better growth compared to more expensive properties.
You have complete control
When you buy a property, you get complete control over it. You can choose to increase its value, or raise its rent and increase your cash flow – something you just can’t do with shares in a company.
Properties are assets you can use
A property is still something you can use, whether you intend to use it as an investment or not. So in case you hit a rough patch, you have the option of moving into that property, and decide to move out again eventually. In other words, your investment stays intact.
It’s very stable
Compared to the share market, the real estate market is much more stable. If you choose a very desirable area, it’s unlikely that the market will crash overnight, or even during an extended period of time. By doing some research about various communities or properties, investors can easily avoid high-risk areas.
You can choose not to do the dirty work
Because the real estate industry is already well-established, you can find different types of service providers such as property managers, buyer agents, builders, and so on. It may cost you, but getting the services of the best providers often gives you a competitive advantage, thereby boosting your profits significantly.
For market information on the Coachella Valley and other nearby areas, visit this page.
Setting a budget for home renovation is often tricky, given the nature of construction. It’s very common for homeowners to set ambitious renovation projects, only to end up disappointed when they discover they can’t afford the cost.
Home Renovation Budget
Many are not aware that a budget constraint can actually improve a home renovation project. Sticking to a budget will help narrow down your options, resulting to more focused goals and better overall results.
Here are a few tips:
Set a budget range early
Establishing a budget early will help you save a lot of time. Without a specific budget, you may need to go through several meetings with designers, contractors, or architects, as they’ll need to figure out exactly what they’re working with. Having a budget is a key factor that will help the entire team zero in on results you can be happy with.
Make sure your budget is realistic
It’s difficult to come up with pricing for renovation projects, as it largely depends on a number of factors such as location, complexity of construction, cost of materials, and so on. Consult your design team or friends who have completed similar projects in order to get an idea of a realistic budget.
Understand the costs
In order for a renovation project to be successful, you and the team need to be on the same page regarding budget numbers. Communication is key – it’s important that you work closely with your team to understand the costs, the schedule, and items you might not have considered.
Be prepared for changes in the project
There are certain situations that might require the redesigning of a project, and these may occur even while the project is underway. At times, this will cause a lengthy delay in completion, as you might be required to gather more resources in order to finish the project. It may be difficult for everyone involved, but a delay is sometimes the best course of action. Talk to your team during the early stages to know what type of issues you may encounter.