Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 10/29/2017

Whether you’re shopping for your first house or your next house, finding a listing you love is exciting. You browse the pictures, check out the property facts, share the link to your significant other, and maybe even schedule a showing.

With the exciting prospect of owning a new home that has all or many of the features you’re looking for, it can be easy to forget about certain details that matter. Most of us look for similar things in a house--close proximity to work, enough bedrooms, an upgraded kitchen, and so on.

In this article, we’re going to give you a list of things to investigate about the house you’re looking at to get a better idea of whether or not it’s the perfect match for you and your family.

1. Re-read the listing

If you’re like me and get lost in the photos of a home and forget to make note of the details, be sure to go back and check out the listing a second time. It will likely give you important details of the house that you overlooked on your initial visit.

Look for things like the year the house was built, information of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, and the total acreage of the lot and square footage of the home. These things are hard to accurately represent in the listing’s pictures, but will likely be important to your decision of whether or not you should view the home.

2. Do your online research

The number of things you can learn about a home and neighborhood on the internet is astounding. We suggest that before you go to visit a home, you spend 10-20 minutes on Google researching the following topics:

  • School district ratings. If you have or plan to have school-aged children, you’ll want to know what your options are for your child’s education. It’s often a good idea to check out the local schools’ websites to see what

  • Commute times. With Google Maps and similar sites, you can plan out what your new commute will be and see how long it will take. You might find different routes that will save you time or avoid traffic (we could all use those extra few minutes in bed every morning). Google Maps isn’t always accurate when it comes to morning traffic estimates, but it’s a good place to start.

  • Amenities. Having moved into a neighborhood that has no grocery stores within a 20-minute drive, trust me--you’ll want to know what’s in the area. Use Google Maps to find stores, gas, schools, parks and trails, hospitals, and other things you’ll want close by.

  • Street view. While we’re on Google, use street view to take a remote look around the neighborhood. You’ll be able to see how the infrastructure looks--if the neighborhood is taken care of and if there are sidewalks that offer a safe place to walk or jog.

  • Crime ratings. Don’t get too caught up in this section. Crimes happen everywhere, but this is a good way to see if the area you’re moving to is a safe place

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If, after all of your online research, you decide you want to go view a home, don’t be shy when you arrive. It’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to be a burden in someone else’s home. But remember--if you’re considering living there someday you’ll want to know as much as possible before making an offer.

Test the plumbing, ask about average utilities, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to neighbors and ask them questions about the community. The more you know, the better. Happy sleuthing!





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 10/22/2017

The average person doesn’t need to know much about the different architectural styles to determine whether or not they like a home. We’ve all heard likely heard of ranch and colonial style homes, and could probably identify them without much help.

However, America is filled with homes that are inspired by numerous cultures, their styles spanning centuries of innovation. America is a melting pot and its houses are no exception. As a result, many homes are a blend of styles.

The McMansion

Some style blends are more successful than others. The term “McMansion” has been used to describe a type of large house that is being developed across the country. These houses typically are an assortment of features that can’t really be called a cohesive style. Another way to think of a McMansion is like choosing items off of a dollar menu--they might not fit together in a particularly tasteful way, but they’re all things you crave.

That being said, there are many styles that share similarities with McMansions that architects consider to be postmodern or “New American.” These homes are often a combination of Traditional style homes and other styles such as Greek Revival and cottage style.

Style isn’t just for looks

The style of early American architecture was heavily inspired by factors like climate and available resources. New England colonial houses were and still are built with steep roofs to shed the heavy load of snow in the winter time.

In the southwest, homes were built with adobe, or sun-dried bricks, due to the lack of other building materials. But also, adobe stays cool even on the scorching summer days faced by the southwest region of the country.

In architecture, as in all sciences, form follows function. So, it’s a good idea to keep these factors in mind when you’re shopping for your next home.

The most common styles

We’ve only just scratched the surface of the hundreds of home styles that are to be found across the country. Building such a list would require a full-length book. So here, we’re just going to mention some of the most common house architectural styles throughout the United States.

  • Cape Cod. This early colonial home style has changed a bit over the years, becoming bigger and incorporating additions and garages. However, one aspect that most Cape Cod houses have in common is the symmetry between the doors and windows. Cape style houses have two windows on the left, a front door in the center, and two windows on the right. The siding was traditionally made from wooden shingles, but in modern day they can be made from a number of materials, including stone, brick, and vinyl.

  • Revival. Revival houses attempt to bring back certain characteristics of historical buildings. Greek revival is common in affluent suburbs of the United States. They are typically painted white, include large white columns at the entry way, and are at least two floors. Gothic Revival omits the columns and adds ornate trim along its steep roof edges. They are typically made from brick, especially dark red in color.

  • Dutch Colonial. The most obvious indicator that you might be looking at a Dutch style house is the roof which usually has two different pitch angles and flared eaves. These homes originated in New York and New Jersey but have since spread across the Mid-Atlantic and New England areas of the United States.

  • Craftsman. Originating in Southern California, the craftsman style home is a bit trickier to identify than more traditional styles. However, they’re making a big comeback due to their notable interior designs. This includes exposed roof rafters, detailed interior woodwork, and large, single-paned windows that let in lots of natural light.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 10/15/2017

The home selling journey can be long and time-consuming, particularly for those who are listing a residence for the first time. Lucky for you, there are many quick, easy ways to avoid the danger of becoming a "typical" home seller, i.e. someone who lacks the skills and know-how to generate plenty of interest in his or her property.

Now, let's take a look at three tips that you can use to become an expert home seller.

1. Review the Current State of the Housing Market

The housing market often fluctuates. As such, a buyer's market today may quickly morph into a seller's market tomorrow.

Ultimately, an expert home seller will allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about the current state of the real estate market. He or she will be able to identify housing market patterns and trends and collect extensive real estate market data to map out the home selling journey accordingly.

To learn about the housing market, take a look at some of the houses that are currently available in your city or town. Evaluating available houses in your area will allow you to find out how your residence stacks up against the competition.

Also, assess the prices of recently sold residences in your region. This may help you differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market.

2. Analyze Your House's Interior and Exterior

For a home seller, it is paramount that his or her residence makes a positive first impression on potential homebuyers. And if you enhance your house's interior and exterior, you may be able to boost your chances of a quick, seamless home sale.

A property appraisal usually represents a great starting point for home sellers. This appraisal involves a full evaluation of your house by a property inspector. Then, you'll receive a report that outlines your home's strengths and weaknesses and will help you plan any home improvement projects.

Also, it is important to remember that there are many simple ways to upgrade your home's exterior and interior.

Home exterior improvements like mowing the front lawn and clearing dirt and debris from walkways can make a world of difference in the eyes of homebuyers.

Removing clutter from your home offers multiple benefits as well. De-cluttering allows you to free up space inside your residence as well as get rid of unwanted items.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

There is no need to navigate the home selling process on your own. Fortunately, you can hire a real estate agent to help you remove the guesswork as you proceed along the home selling journey.

A real estate agent understands what it takes to promote your residence to large groups of potential property buyers. In fact, he or she will set up property showings and open houses, offer honest, unbiased home selling suggestions and respond to your home selling queries at any time.

Don't settle for an "average" home selling experience. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you can become an expert home seller in no time at all.




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 10/8/2017

Everyone uses a slightly different set of guidelines when it comes to food safety, but some people's standards are a bit more "flexible" than others. The perfect example is the so-called "five second rule." If you're not familiar with it, that "rule" states that if you drop food on the floor (or ground) and pick it up within five seconds, then it's safe to eat!

In some cases, you can wash and safely eat food that has fallen on the floor, but it depends on the condition of the floor and what type of food you're dropping. While some mothers may jokingly say, "My kitchen floor is so clean you could eat off it," eating food that has fallen on the floor can be somewhat risky.

Although the 5-second-rule has its humorous side, food safety is a very serious subject. Making sure that perishable food is properly prepared, cooked, and refrigerated is one way to help keep your family healthy. There's also a psychological benefit to being careful with food safety: When you and your family know that your food is fresh, safely stored, and properly prepared, it helps give you peace of mind and makes mealtime more of a pleasurable experience.

Basic Food Safety Tips

One way to keep track of food freshness is to pay attention to expiration dates and other information printed on food labels. Another step involves putting your own labels on perishable foods and leftover food containers. "When in doubt, throw it out," is also a good policy to consider.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DOH) offers a number of helpful food safety guidelines to keep in mind and discuss with your family. To reduce the chances of cross-contamination and harmful bacteria growing on food, the agency recommends the following practices:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds before preparing food
  • Wash food preparation surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards after each use
  • Wash the outsides of fruits and vegetables to help remove bacteria and other impurities
  • Promptly refrigerate food and follow recommended storage times and refrigeration temperatures
While there are a lot of safeguards to be aware of when preparing, handling, and storing food, the DOH breaks it down into four easy-to-remember categories: "clean, separate, cook, and chill." A couple related topics worth researching and keeping in mind  are minimum cooking temperatures for meat and recommended refrigerator storage times for perishable food (often three to five days).

As an afterthought, the other advantage of putting dates on your food packages and leftover containers is that you avoid wasting food by throwing it away prematurely.

Healthy food preparation and storage does involve heightened awareness and sometimes creating new habits, but preventing food poisoning and other digestive ailments in your family is well worth the effort!





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 9/24/2017

Bad housing contractors have a conscience. It's just that they don't behave as if they have a conscience. A big reason for this has to do with the contractors' focus. Instead of putting you, your family and your house first, bad housing contractors focus on how much money they can make after you give them access to your property.

What happens when you're not your housing contractor's top priority

Money is so important to bad housing contractors that these workers publish ads and seek out customers right after a hurricane, tornado or another natural disaster. Instead of seeing the suffering caused by a severe storm, bad housing contractors see opportunity.

To safeguard yourself from bad housing contractors, you have to be alert. And you can't just be alert right after a severe storm, the type of storm that causes millions of dollars of damage in a town over the matter of a few days.

You have to be alert year round and in all situations. Specific safeguards from bad housing contractors starts with a simple search. You can conduct this search online.Simply log into your local licensing department's website.

Confirm that housing contractors you want to work with have an active license. Look to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. Also, check to see if the contractor has had a lapse in her contract.

More safeguards from bad housing contractors

Make sure that housing contractors have a license for the type of work that they will be performing at your house. For example, contractors who you pay to repair or replace plumbing fixtures should have an active plumbing license. Before performing electrical or wiring work, electricians should have an active electrician's license.

Other safeguards from bad housing contractors include:

  • Thoroughly reviewing legal agreements before contractors start working on your property
  • Speaking up on points in legal agreements that you don't feel comfortable adhering to (Don't be intimidated by strong willed housing contractors. Remember that housing contractors are working for you.)
  • Seeking referrals on licensed contractors. Don't rely on the fact that contractors are licensed. Check to see how satisfied customers are with contractors' work.
  • Asking contractors about the process that they follow when preparing to perform work and while they work. Also, find out about the process that housing contractors use to clean up after they finish making renovations or repairs at a property.
  • Putting valuables in a safe place to avoid having the valuables get damaged by paint or other materials or equipment.
  • Ensuring that contractors stick to work schedules so that you don't end up paying more for a job than you had budgeted for.

Safeguards from bad housing contractors come with far reaching effects. Not only do the safeguards protect you from overpaying for repairs or renovations, these safeguards protect you during other business situations. The first step alone teaches you how to review legal documents, experience that you can use in other work negotiations.