5 Holiday Hosting Disasters and How to Avoid Them

By: Don Johnson

Published: November 19, 2012

Many hosting nightmares can end your holiday party before it even begins. Thankfully, some of the most damaging mishaps easily can be avoided. We collected five of the most prevalent issues and give you preventative tips to keep your holiday party on track.

Problem: The oven doesn’t heat

For any holiday occasion, the oven is the most important appliance in your house. If it fails to work, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted beef, ham, duck, or Tofurky to Peking Duck from the local Chinese takeout joint.

How to avoid:

There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent. Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays can be tough.

Problem: The kitchen sink clogs

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts. We hope your Thanksgiving went well, and that you avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:

Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.

If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.

To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The heat goes out

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats—not apologize to them for having to keep them on. A lack of heat can stop a holiday party dead in its tracks.

How to avoid:

The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.

Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they’re missing or damaged.

Problem: The toilet stops up

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, such as during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990s.

How to avoid:

Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet. And there’s nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same.

Problem: The fridge doesn’t cool

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat could get contaminated, your dairy-based treats could go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:

Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.

Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.

# # #

If you have questions about how best to compete in the current market, please contact me today.

Don Johnson, a Licensed Broker with the California Department of Real Estate, is the owner of Don Johnson Realty Group DRE#01398835, a resale real estate brokerage located in Murrieta, California. We specialize in short sales, rental properties, foreclosures and mortgage lending. If you would like to obtain more information, please contact Don at findyouahome@msn.com or call 714-856-3992. http://www.djrealtygroup.com

Low Housing Inventory Means Buyers Must Be Smart When Making Offers

In areas all over the country, the supply of available homes for sale is down… way down in many areas. It’s down about 50% here in parts of California. That means fewer homes for buyers to buy, and fewer buyers to actually get their offers accepted.

It’s like 2002 – 2005 all over again, which means very few homes on the market and LOTS of buyers. That means multiple offers are received on most homes, even the fixers. The net result is that many buyers are frustrated with the market because, of course, only ONE buyer “wins” on each house.

It’s interesting, though, because even though Realtors counsel their buyers about this market (low inventory and multiple offers on each property), buyers often “don’t get it” and still want to write low-ball offers. The market is changing, again, and that means buyers have to be “smart”, along with their agents, and write good offers that will get accepted. So, what does that all mean? Read on.

While I strongly recommend buyers work closely with their Realtors in this area, here are some basic guidelines when submitting offers in the current market:

1. Listen to your Realtor. Realtors work the market every day. They know the market. They know what works and what doesn’t.

2. Don’t think you can low-ball the seller and win the property. While this works occasionally, it’s working less and less in today’s competitive marketplace… even with fixer-uppers. Offer a reasonable price. In our current competitive market, it’s not uncommon for properties to sell for ABOVE the list price. I’ve seen properties with 20+ offers, so you can imagine, many of those offers end up well-above list price. Work with your agent to determine a “smart” price, since too high an offer can hurt you, too (because of appraisal – ask your agent to explain this).

3. Don’t ask for “everything”. There are many different items on a contract that are negotiable and paid by either seller or buyer. Sellers like it when buyers pick up many of the “additional costs” that accompany the selling process. The more that buyers offer to pay for, the more attractive those offers are to sellers.

4. Get pre-approved by a lender… and not just pre-qualified. The more “solid” the buyer looks in the seller’s eyes, the better the offer.

5. Put down a larger deposit. This shows the seller the buyer is more serious. Ask your agent what a good deposit is in your market.

6. Listen to your Realtor. No, writing this a second time was not a mistake. I write it again because it’s important to listen to your agent and take his/her advice when writing an offer. They have a vested interest in ensuring you get the property, so listen to their advice.

If you have questions about how best to compete in the current market, please contact me today.

Don Johnson, a Licensed Broker with the California Department of Real Estate, is the owner of Don Johnson Realty Group DRE#01398835, a resale real estate brokerage located in Murrieta, California. We specialize in short sales, rental properties, foreclosures and mortgage lending. If you would like to obtain more information, please contact Don at findyouahome@msn.com or call 714-856-3992. http://www.djrealtygroup.com

# # #

Is Buying a Home Right Now a Smart Plan?

With the burst of the housing bubble, credit crisis, and millions of foreclosures across the country, you may wonder if buying a home is such a good idea after all. However, it’s important to consider all of the facts. The important message to take away from these events is not that buying a home is a bad idea, but that you must be smart about buying your home.

The housing market, like every type of market, unavoidably has its ups and downs. That doesn’t mean buying a home is a bad investment. As a long-term investment, homeownership is still one of the best investments for individual households. Historically, real estate has consistently increased in value, despite shorter periods of depreciation due to local markets and/or national economic conditions. The data shows that homes generally appreciate about 5% per year.

Savings & Investment

Five percent may not seem like a great return on investment, but you have to think about it in the context of the situation. For example, let’s say you put 10% down on a $200,000 house. That’s a $20,000 down payment, or initial investment. At a 5% annual appreciation rate, your $200,000 home would gain $10,000 in value during the first year. Earning $10,000 on an investment of $20,000 is a whopping 50% return.

For further perspective, let’s say instead of spending that $20,000 on a down payment, you invested it in the stock market. With a 5% return, you would gain only $1,000 in profit.

Tax Benefits

So now you’re saying that a home may have a higher return, but that’s before you consider all of the costs of home ownership, such as taxes, etc. Well, think of it this way: your property taxes as well as the interest on your mortgage are both tax deductible. You can deduct those costs from your income, thus reducing your overall taxable income. In other words, the government is subsidizing your home.

Other Benefits

It’s easy to get carried away with all of the economic reasons for home ownership, but it’s important to remember that not every reason is financial. Have you ever wanted to paint the walls of your apartment? Well when you’re renting, you can’t. Has anything in your apartment ever needed updating, but the landlord refused to do it? When you own a home, you can make the space yours in almost any way you want. And you benefit when you do home improvements, both financially and psychologically. Homes generally have more space, for storage, living, etc. than other living arrangements. Not to mention that you have space outdoors for barbecuing, pets, and kids. Owning your home carries with it a sense of pride, accomplishment, and even an elevated social status.

So when you’re considering buying a home, consider the broad range of benefits that owning a home can have. And always make sure you have an experienced real estate agent and loan officer to help make sure you’re getting a home that is right for you, both financially and psychologically.

 

Don Johnson, a Licensed Broker with the California Department of Real Estate, is the owner of Don Johnson Realty Group DRE#01398835, a resale real estate brokerage located in Murrieta, California. We specialize in short sales, rental properties, foreclosures and mortgage lending.

If you would like to obtain more information, please contact Don at findyouahome@msn.com or call 714-856-3992. http://www.djrealtygroup.com

# # #

How Much Home Can You Afford? You May Be Pleasantly Surprised…

Provided by Lending Tree

If you’re like many first-time homebuyers, chances are you’ve been spending your weekends driving around visiting open houses and new model homes. This is a great way to get a feel for what you want. The problem is that what you want isn’t always what you should get.

Before you start touring homes for sale, it’s important to start off with a budget so you know how much you can afford to spend. Knowing what mortgage payment you can handle will also help you narrow the field so you don’t waste precious time touring homes that are out of your reach.

Where to begin

The key factor in figuring how much home you can afford is your debt-to-income ratio. This is the figure lenders use to determine how much mortgage debt you can handle, and thus the maximum loan amount you will be offered. The ratio is based on how much personal debt you are carrying in relation to how much you earn, and it’s expressed as a percentage.

The ideal ratio

Mortgage lenders generally use a ratio of 36 percent as the guideline for how high your debt-to-income ratio should be. A ratio above 36 percent is seen as risky, and the lender will likely either deny the loan or charge a higher interest rate. Another good guideline is that no more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income goes to housing expenses.

Doing the math

First, figure out how much total debt you (and your spouse, if applicable) can carry with a 36 percent ratio. READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE

Swimming Pools, Part Deux

Add a Pool or Other Luxury Items with the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Loan

by on March 19, 2012

After the mild winter we have had around the county most likely our summer will be much warmer than usual. Why not relax in your updated back yard with the newly installed or repaired pool. How can this be accomplished you ask?? Easy, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle renovation loan allows for luxury items such as pools, spas, outdoor kitchens, etc to be financed when you purchase a new home or refinance an existing one.

Just got a home inspection telling you that you have mandatory roof or foundation work? Not to worry, the Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan allows for these repairs too. The best time to do any type of renovation is before you move into the home. Use this loan to turn fully customize your dream home!

This is a conventional loan which means the loan amount can go up to $417,000.00 and has a low down payment of 5%. Best of all unlike the FHA Rehab loans, luxury items ARE ALLOWED with the HomeStyle loan. This means that not only landscaping and new decking are allowed but with this loan you may add a pool, renovate an existing pool add an outdoor kitchen and even a sauna! READ MORE OF THIS ARTICLE

Don Johnson, a Licensed Broker with the California Department of Real Estate, is the owner of Don Johnson Realty Group, a resale real estate brokerage located in Murrieta, California. We specialize in short sales, rental properties, foreclosures and mortgage lending. If you would like to obtain more information, please contact Don at findyouahome@msn.com or call 714-856-3992. http://www.djrealtygroup.com

 

What to Consider Before Building a Pool

In-ground pools are expensive projects with ongoing maintenance costs, so review  the numbers before taking the plunge.

The decision to build an in-ground pool isn’t one to take lightly. Apart from  the substantial installation costs, which typically run into the tens of  thousands of dollars, you have to factor in ongoing maintenance expenses as well  as insurance and tax implications. And you can’t be assured of recouping your  investment when you sell; while a pool may be attractive to some buyers, others  might be put off by the upkeep or safety concerns.

If you’re looking for bang for your buck at resale, an upscale kitchen or  extra bathroom offers greater impact. But if you want the ultimate backyard  entertainment amenity and social gathering spot, nothing fills the bill like a  swimming pool.  Thinking about taking the plunge? Here’s a look at how the  numbers add up.

Read more:  http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/pools-spas/what_to_consider_before_building_pool/#ixzz1oSF0V61T

Don Johnson, a Licensed Broker with the California Department of Real Estate, is the owner of Don Johnson Realty Group, a resale real estate brokerage located in Murrieta, California. We specialize in short sales, rental properties, foreclosures and mortgage lending. If you would like to obtain more information, please contact Don at findyouahome@msn.com or call 714-856-3992. http://www.djrealtygroup.com