Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 9/3/2017

Homeowners insurance is necessary, but that doesn't mean you should be forced to pay an exorbitant amount for it. Instead, you can take advantage of the following money-saving tips to lower your monthly homeowners insurance premiums: 1. Bundle Your Homeowners and Auto Insurance. In many cases, you can bundle your homeowners and auto insurance to save money. This will allow you to cut costs and leverage the same insurance company for both your homeowners and auto insurance policies as well. If you already have auto insurance and are looking for home insurance for your new residence, be sure to discuss your plans with your auto insurer. By doing so, you may be able to bundle your homeowners and auto insurance and lower your insurance premiums for years to come. 2. Explore All of the Options at Your Disposal. When it comes to finding homeowners insurance, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Thus, you're sure to discover many great options at your disposal, all of which you should explore before you decide on a homeowners insurance provider. With homeowners insurance, you should try to conduct plenty of research. And remember, the most affordable option may not be the best option based on your homeownership needs. Therefore, homeowners who do their homework will be able to review all of the options at their disposal and make an informed decision about their homeowners insurance. 3. Exclude Land Value from Your Homeowners Insurance Policy. Your homeowners insurance may include the value of your land as well as your residence. In this scenario, you may want to consider removing the land value from your policy. With homeowners insurance, you'll want to ensure that your residence and its contents are fully covered. That way, these items can be replaced if they are damaged. On the other hand, you may not need replacement coverage for your land. Before you exclude land value from your homeowners insurance, however, you'll want to discuss the pros and cons of doing so with an insurance agent. This professional will be able to outline how much money you can save by making this change, along with the short- and long-term ramifications of this decision. 4. Increase Your Deductible. Boosting your homeowners insurance policy's deductible likely will result in a drop in your monthly premium. At the same time, it is important to consider the trade-off that takes place if you make this change to your policy. A higher deductible means that you'll be required to pay more out of pocket if and when a claim is filed. As such, you should weigh the immediate cost savings versus the long-term value of increasing your deductible before you finalize your decision. Homeowners insurance can be tricky to understand, but insurance agents can help you discover the best ways to lower your monthly premiums. Ask your insurance agent for help with your homeowners insurance, and ultimately, you can work with this professional to find solutions to help you save money on your insurance premiums.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/27/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, financially and otherwise. When you buy a home you're deciding on the region you want to live in, where you might want to raise children, and the people you'll live around for likely many years. You're also signing up for all of the responsibilities that come with a home: utility bills, issues and repairs, cleaning the house, maintaining the yard... the list goes on. So, before plunging into a mortgage, check off all the items on this checklist to determine if you're ready for home ownership.

The First Time Home Buyer's Checklist:

  1. I know where I want to live. Determining the location of your home is one of the most important factors that goes into home buying. Most decisions are influenced by your job/career, but things like family, friends and weather are all important things to consider. Aside from knowing where you want to live, you'll also need to know how long you want to stay. As a general rule, if you don't plan on staying in your home for at least 5-8 years it could be cheaper and easier to rent until you find somewhere you'd like to settle in.
  2. I have my finances under control. You don't need to be wealthy to buy a home, but you do need to have a strong understanding of your personal finances. In a spreadsheet, write down your total savings, monthly income and monthly expenses (including groceries, transportation, bills, and loans). Find out what type of mortgage and downpayment you can afford at your income level.
  3. My income is dependable. When you apply for a home loan the bank will look into this for you. But you should also want to make sure you can continue to afford your mortgage payments. How dependable is your job? Are there a lot of job opportunities in your field and in your area? These are all questions that help you determine the stability of your income.
  4. I have a good credit score. Your credit will be a big factor in getting approved for a home loan. Building credit seems complicated but it's based on four main things: paying bills on time, keeping balances relatively low, having a long record of repayment, and not opening several new cards or taking on multiple loans in a short period of time.
  5. I'm pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approved isn't mandatory, but it offers many benefits. First, it shows lenders that you are a safe person to loan money to. Second, it will give you insight into what banks think of your finances and will give you an idea of what price range you can safely buy in.
  6. I'm prepared for the responsibilities of owning a home and willing to learn. If you're handy around the house and can fix anything, that's great. What's more important, however, is that you have the time and willingness to learn new skills that will help you become a good homeowner.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/20/2017

Is a two-car garage a luxury or an essential feature of a home? While it may not always be a top priority for first-time buyers, many seasoned homeowners consider it a "must have" item. In a lot of cases, it all boils down to expectations and what people have grown accustomed to.

Climate also plays a key role in how important a two-car garage is to you and your family. However, even if your winters are mild and your snowfall amounts are slim to nil, there are other weather conditions that a garage can shield you (and your cars) from.

Being able to park your vehicles in a protected, enclosed area is especially welcome when you have an armful of groceries, inclement weather outside, small children in tow, or an elderly parent to care for. Once you start adding up the advantages of having a two-car garage, it makes you wonder how you ever got along without one!

  • Crime deterrent: No matter where you live, if your cars are parked in your driveway or on the street overnight, they're going to be much more vulnerable to vandalism, car theft, and break-ins. From a personal safety standpoint, it can also be safer to drive into your garage, close the automatic door behind you, and go directly into your house. Even if you live in a low-crime neighborhood, safety habits are a good thing to cultivate, especially if you sometimes arrive home late at night.
  • Valuable storage space: As you acquire more possessions and your family grows, storage space becomes more of a precious commodity. In addition to protecting your vehicles from the elements, spacious garages are also great for housing lawn mowers, bicycles, barbecue grills, golf clubs, yard maintenance equipment, spare tires, gardening supplies, firewood, tools, and lawn chairs. If you don't have a backyard shed, then garage storage space is indispensable.
  • Protection From The Elements: Besides wind and rain and dark of night, other elements your cars don't need to be subjected to include the hot, baking sun, bird droppings, and air pollution. And speaking of the hot, baking sun: Keeping your cars in a cool, shady place during the hot summer months can help spare you the discomfort of having to sit down in a sweltering vehicle! For those who live in chillier climates, garages can make your morning commute just a little less bone chilling!
  • Privacy: There are a lot of benefits to being sociable with your neighbors, but it's also nice to be able to pick and choose when those social interactions takes place! Parking in your garage can provide you with an extra measure of privacy when you don't have the time (or inclination) to stop and chat.
Whether or not a 2-car garage is a "must-have" for your next home depends on your climate, your neighborhood, and what you've grown accustomed to. For some people, a one-car garage may suit their needs just fine -- especially if they only own one vehicle and have all their yard maintenance taken care of by an HOA.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/13/2017

Cooking vegetables from your own garden is a great experience. In the same way that you appreciate a meal made from scratch more than a frozen dinner or takeout, cooking food that you grew yourself is an extremely rewarding feeling. Aside from being delicious, growing your own food can help you save money, waste less food, consume less plastic packaging (helping the environment), and try out new recipes you normally wouldn't. When it comes to planting vegetables for cooking, however, there's more to it than simply tossing some seeds in your garden. Here's how to get the most out of growing your own vegetables for use on the dinner table.

Plant smart

One of the first mistakes beginner gardeners make is planting the wrong vegetables or the wrong proportions of vegetables. One or two squash plants, for example, will provide ample amounts of squash for most small families. So, think about the meals you love to cook and what vegetables they require. Then find out how much those plants yield. Some vegetables can be planted and harvested at many times throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don't plant a huge row all at once. Instead, plant in intervals of two or three weeks so you can reap the rewards throughout the season. Similarly, many lettuces (such a romaine) are able to be continually harvested--that means there's no need for pulling the whole planet out of the ground and replanting.

Plan your meals

To get the most out of your garden plan a weekly menu that incorporates items from your garden. If your tomatoes look like they're ripening, plan for making tomato sauce, pizza, or caprese sandwiches the following week. Get creative with recipes. If you have a surplus of peppers, try different stuffed pepper recipes. The internet is your best friend when it comes to discovering new uses for surplus vegetables.

Preserving

A garden should be useful to you year-round, not just during the autumn harvest season. There are several methods of preserving your vegetables. The way you choose depends on your own need. Common means of preservation include:
  • Freezing meals. Remember those stuffed peppers? You don't have to eat them every day of the week once your peppers are ripe. Cook up some rice, beans, and sauce, stuff your peppers and bake. Eat however much you want and place the rest in airtight bags in the freezer. They'll make great lunches for when you're in a rush.
  • Blanching and steaming.  If you're not quite sure how you'll want to use your vegetables but you know you'll use them later blanching and steaming are great options. Boil or steam them for five minutes then toss them into a bucket of ice-water to cool. Once cool, drain them and freeze them in bags.
  • Canning.  This method takes some preparation and research but canning is a great way to save fruits and vegetables for use throughout the year and are great if you don't have extra space in your freezer for frozen vegetables.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/6/2017

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, one of the most important parts of the process is the negotiation phase. This means different things whether you’re buying or selling a home. When you’re selling a home, you’re usually looking to get the most money for your home that you possibly can. If you’re buying a home, you want the lowest possible price for the home. Hence, the reason for real estate negotiations. Buyers and sellers must meet somewhere in the middle. For your consideration, we’ll break down some of the most important aspects of the real estate negotiation process. The Cost Means Different Things As we stated above, buyers want the lowest price, while sellers want the highest price possible for a home. Whatever side you’re on, expect to meet somewhere in the middle. The price of the home has to make sense for both sides. The seller wants the sale of their home to make sense financially and the buyer wants to home to fit into their budget while getting the things they desire out of the home. The Financing Process Is Complicated If you have your mortgage fully approved prior to making an offer, you’ll be able to shorten the closing time of the home. The reason for this is that the preapproval shows that all of the buyer’s finances are in order and there will be no financial problems in the transaction. Sellers often prefer these buyers since they can be trusted to close properly and there won’t any issues with the real estate transaction. The property also won’t be on hold for months on end. The Date Of Closing Matters If sellers need to get their home off of the market fast, they can negotiate when the closing date will be. As a buyer, this matters because the next month’s mortgage payment is skipped once you close on a house. The closing date affects when exactly this payment doesn’t need to be made, which can have a positive effect on your finances when it’s timed right. Closing Costs Are Actually Paid Upfront Escrow is when the mortgage company holds the money for taxes and insurance, which is the prepaid closing costs. Buyers sometimes ask sellers to pay a portion of the closing costs. This could be a flat fee or up to 3 percent of the included mortgage. This could all have an effect on the asking price for the home. Just Like A Car, Homes Can Come With Warranties Buyers can ask for a warranty on the home, or the seller can offer one. This warranty typically covers the home’s appliances and utility systems. This provides a protection if things like the air conditioning or the dishwasher break after a certain period of time and need repair. This may make the home extra enticing to buyers and give sellers an advantage to get their home off the market quickly.