Halloween Trick-or-Treating: the 'Sweetest' Neighborhoods

Halloween Wasn’t Always About Candy

Modern Halloween comes from the Irish festival, Samhain. Samhain was the occasion that marked the passage from the summer harvest season to winter. Ancient Halloween rituals included bonfires built in fields to distract fairy spirits from lurking in homes or affecting the farm harvest. People would make carvings on vegetables, specifically turnips, and line the roads next to the gates with lanterns. The lore was that the lights would guide the way for travelers and any passing fairies.

Modern Halloween, Pumpkins and Lore…

Halloween celebration in modern America—although a few remnants remain like lanterns and carved pumpkins—bears little resemblance to the ancient tradition. The modern Halloween holiday as we know it, didn’t take off until Irish and Scottish settlers immigrated to America in the 1800s. According to History, the carving of rudimentary vegetables eventually became Pumpkin carvings. Although the exact date of the first pumpkin carving is not known. Says the History website in its article titled, The Halloween Pumpkin: An American History

In 1866, the children’s magazine ‘Harper’s Young People’ reported that ‘a great sacrifice of pumpkins’ had been made that for that year’s Halloween celebrations. By the 1920s, Halloween had been embraced throughout the United States. Parties and costumes became the norm, and “trick or treating” soon followed in the mid-1930s.

Spooktacular Events in Conejo Valley

For organized Halloween festivities to enjoy with the kids in Conejo Valley, choose from some of the most popular local events below:

  • The Trunk or Treat party at the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center on October 31stfrom 3-5PM. The event is free to the public. Take your dressed up munchkins trick or treating to a trunk show by participating local businesses including Fire Engine 125 from Station 68.
  • The Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District will host a Community Halloween Carnival “Fright Fest”at Camarillo Community Center Park, 1605 E. Burnley Street, on Halloween night from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Trick-or-Treat Village, Carnival Games, Costume Contest and much more.
  • Oak Park’s 8th Annual Indoor Halloween Carnival at the Oak Park Community Center, 1000 Kanan Road, on Thursday, October 31st from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Only $2 for ages 2 and up and $1 for under age 2. Parents are free when accompanied by children. An evening of games, attractions, food and prizes, the carnival is held indoors and costumes are encouraged. Attractions include a Trick or Treat Village, Face Painting, Game Booths, Food and Prizes.

Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet…

For those parents who want to enjoy traditional door-to-door trick or treating, safety issues are always a concern. Halloween is almost as popular as Christmas. The collection of trick-or-treating candy closely rivals that of Christmas Day presents under the tree. Parents of course for this reason, want to indulge their children in the fun and festivities, without neglecting safety.

In Southern California, there are some beautiful, family-oriented neighborhoods that are at least the safer bet. The upscale communities of Calabasas, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, and Thousand Oaks are great choices for your little princesses and cowboys. The neighborhoods in these communities are well lit with home lots fairly close together. This makes the trek easier on little legs and parents can park without fear while accompanying Junior or Little Miss door to door. And as an added bonus—and this is the best perk in my opinion— you can do a little scouting for your next dream home purchase!

Happy Halloween from Westlake Village Realty!

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Choose Your Realtor Well-Westlake Village Real Estate

Choose Your Realtor Well

Why Choose Westlake Village Real Estate?

Last month at least eight homes that I was personally involved with sold in multiple offers–meaning many buyers missed out. Knowing how to list your home to achieve the most optimal results means understanding how to position and market your listing well and drive the market to inspire buyers to compete. That’s the bottom line. If you want a realtor who often has homes going into escrow just days after listing, choosing Westlake Village Real Estate is a smart move.

Experience, results and competitive sales are the reason I have been a top producer in Westlake for years.

Multiple Offer Sales: Why Does This Happen?

Most multiple offers—or at least the most desirable types of multiple offer sales– happen on newer listings after being listed for fewer than 14 days on the market. This means that your home has to be listed competitively, priced suitably for the neighborhood, shows the best it can and it must drive the competitive buyer to bid. In order for that to happen within just a few days of listing–as opposed to after sitting unsold and when the listing price drops–your realtor needs to know how to highlight your home’s sizzle and appeal. How does s/he do this? It’s an art that involves a lot of passion, experience and know-how but can never be about desperation. First, your home must be priced right on the first listing. It must be shown in excellent condition (paint, uncluttered and well maintained) and you should be schooled on the impact your location will have on the sale. Location is huge and you can’t change that. If a home is located in a desirable neighborhood with good schools, many buyers will want it immediately after being listed– a competitive listing in a highly desirable location like Westlake Village is ideal.

The Winning Difference: Choosing the Right Realtor to Sell Your Home

Conversely, if your realtor is simply listing to list, by the numbers only, desperate to sell, many mistakes can be made that affect the “look” of your particular home listing. For instance, if your house sits too long after being listed for sale, it loses its appeal. Buyers begin to think: There must be a reason or I’ll bid really low because the seller must be desperate.

For these reasons, starting with an incredibly savvy realtor, right out of the gate is your best option. A great article in Kiplinger.com “5 Steps to Picking the Right Agent to Sell Your Home” says it well:

If you’re selling a home, a good real estate agent will help you set the right price, market the home professionally, qualify the buyers, and expertly negotiate and finalize the deal.

A great seller’s agent has long experience with recent sales and can walk a tight rope, balancing optimism with realism, diplomacy with brutal honesty…You owe it to yourself to interview more than one agent.

Does Your Home Have Curb Appeal?

Does your home have “curb appeal?” A recent MSN article, “7 Ways to Increase Your Home’s Curb Appeal,” stresses this important point that many sellers miss. In order for your home to sell in a competitive buyer’s market, it must have “curb appeal.”

Your home and your “curb appeal” need to look amazing right now, especially because many buyers are likely doing initial drive-bys before they schedule a showing.

At Westlake Village Real Estate, many of my homes go into escrow within days. I will be honest, fair and do the best to highlight your home’s “curb appeal.”

Let’s be honest. Home values are rising, interest rates are low and lots of buyers are hungry to buy now.

So why wait, the market is ripe. Let me show and sell your home today.

Call me at Westlake Village Real Estate at (818) 934-8902 if you are ready to sell your home right now.

 

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A Ventura County Thanksgiving

In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. But it wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. History.com

Turkey, Stuffing and Giving Thanks…

It’s that time again, Thanksgiving. This is the one time of year where we give ourselves permission to eat way too much turkey, go for seconds of stuffing and feast in our glory on delicious pumpkin pie. Hopefully, while we are over-indulging, we also give thanks for a comfortable home and loving family. In honor of giving thanks, I thought it fitting to point out how lucky we are as community to live in Ventura County.

Take a look at all the fun and unique activities offered during this holiday season.

The Whale’s Tail Thanksgiving Buffet

If you have thrown down the gauntlet this year and you just refuse to cook and wash dishes, take the family to a fabulous gourmet buffet on Thanksgiving Day at The Whale’s Tail in Oxnard. The Whale’s Tail is located at 3950 Bluefin Circle. The fixed price is: Adults – $29.95, Kids (12 & under) – $18.95. The buffet starts at 11AM and goes until 6PM so you can sleep in. According the website the menu includes:

… Free Range Turkey, Tavern Ham, Prime Roast of Beef, Baked Salmon with Hollandaise, Mashed Potatoes, Country Bread Stuffing, Freshly made Cranberry Relish, Sweet Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots, Stove Top Gravy, Brussels Sprouts, Freshly Baked Bread … pumpkin or apple pie a la mode with whip cream or Banana Foster.

Holiday Ice Skating at The Lakes

Take the whole family for holiday skating at The Holiday Ice Rink at The Lakes in Thousand Oaks. The outdoor rink, decorated for the holiday season, is open through the holidays. You can bring your own skates or rent. What a wonderful way to work off a big holiday meal. Check the website for more information.

General Admission $10
Skate Rental $4

Group rates are available Monday through Thursday

Horsing Around …

I bet you’ve never thought of this unusual but fun-for-the-whole family activity. How about Thanksgiving Horseback Riding Camp? Take the whole family to Peck Farm in Moorpark, CA.

Camp begins on Monday, Nov 25 at 8:00AM. Learn everything you need to know say camp website:

…how to get the horse, halter, lead, tie, brush, clean feet, tack up English or Western, mount and ride. Then dismount, untack, feed carrots and return to corral. We will also cover different feeds, breeds, colors and care. We will break for a half hourlunch then ride again, bareback! Will have a horse show on the last day to show off new skills…

Peck Farm: 8295 Happy Camp Rd.

Moorpark, CA 93021 p.: 805-529-1939;

Price Resident: $183.00

Non-resident: $228.75

Senior, 60 and over, resident: $164.70

Senior, 60 and over, non-resident: $210.45

Happy Thanksgiving from Your Local Realtor….

If you are staying close to home, take advantage of this wonderful temperate climate that we all get to enjoy living in Southern California. Take the time to take a walk around Lake Sherwood or take a hike on the many trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.

At this time, I would like to take the time to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And remember, if you are thinking of buying a new home before the holidays, it’s not too late.

Contact Lydia Gable for a consultation now and you could be in your dream home by New Year’s!

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A SoCal RE Market Update: It's on the Rebound!

Market Update

Analysts Say the Market is Good, Bubble Not Likely

According to economists, reports are promising for the Southern California real estate market since the last part of 2012 and for the first half of 2013. While the state still ranks high on the list for its number of foreclosures, prices are on the rise, according to The Los Angeles TimesarticleHousing Outlook is Bubble Free for Now, Economists Say.”

The depressed Southern California real estate market, it certainly seems, is rebounding. The Timesreport explains:

The lack of homes for sale, low interest rates, investor demand and an improving economy have caused sharp price increases recently. The median price paid for a home in Southern California rose 24.7% in May from last year.

Also although the market could still take a turn for the worse, analysts think it unlikely at this point, at least if the market continues to rebound the way it has. As one real estate analyst said as quoted inThe Times article:

On the current path, home prices, sales and construction should continue upward, said economist Jed Kolko of Trulia. Meanwhile, vacancies, delinquencies and foreclosures will be dropping. “Inventories may be down too as a necessary part of the housing recovery.

Is It a Good Time to Buy or Sell a Home?

So what does this signify for Southern California home buyers and sellers? Well supply and demand will dictate the next few months. But certainly, if inventory is down, it means more buyers are bidding for a single sale. Consequently it’s more important than ever to stage your house well, use a competent realtor and set the price appropriately. Additionally, if you are a buyer, it’s probably a good time to dip your toe in the market. If you’re in doubt about timing, follow the money trail. Drive around Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and see neighborhood areas that were at one time ensconced in a foreclosure quagmire and now see full blocks of houses being bought left and right by foreign and American investors. This is happening all over Southern California again because of a perceived return on investment—if indeed the economists are right. 2013 is likely to be a profitable time to acquire real estate for many Los Angeles and Ventura County home buyers.

As reported in a recent Yahoo Real Estate article,

Further encouraging a housing market recovery are a decrease in the distressed property inventory and an uptick in consumer demand. The interest in Southern California properties in particular — they represented 70 percent of sales — is driving the real estate market recovery for the entire state.

Choose Your Realtor Well

As a Ventura County and Los Angeles realtor, I have not experienced the devastating “valley” that most brokers have. For me it has been mostly peaks. However, I don’t deny the market was and is in a slump. But when inventory is limited, when pricing is so vital to a sale especially in a depressed market, my clients time and again chose to listen to experience and track record over the sensationalism that the media reported ad nauseam that no one was buying or it was a bad time to sell. I worked through all of this and I’ll continue to thrive through many more peaks and valleys. In the end, no matter what the state of the market, your realtor is the essential first decision in the process.

Choose a realtor with experience and know-how in the face of the most competitive and the most depressed markets. If you are ready to sell your home or are considering jumping into the buyers’ market particularly in Westlake Village and Agoura Hills, call me for an appointment at (818) 934-8902 today.

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Winterizing Your Home

Winter-Proof Your SoCal Property

Are you pulling out your favorite sweaters and sorting through the holiday decorations already? Winter is just around the corner and although Southern California temperatures don’t dip as low as some parts of the country, homeowners should still make sure to Winterize their homes.

Suppose the heat doesn’t seem to warm the house or some rooms leak when it rain—which can be problematic as it can lead to mold—don’t ignore Winter-proofing your palace. If you wait until the Winter’s upon you to address these issues, you may find that you are cranking up the heater excessively leading to higher bills or having to get emergency and costly home repairs to weather-seal the roof, doors and windows. Winterize your home now so that when the season is in full swing, your home is properly maintained allowing you to simply curl up by the fire and relax—as it should be. Energy Upgrade California in Los Angeles County offers easy options for homeowners on their website to weatherize your home from rainy, windy and cold conditions. Energy Upgrade California suggests these weatherizing tips:

  • Prune Trees: Heavy rains and wind can knock leaves onto your roof and clog gutters.
  • Repair cracks: … repair cracks in ceilings or the foundation
  • Inspect the roof and foundation: … check the roof annually and repair loose shingles
  • Air sealing: For drafts…home air sealing is the least expensive way to see the greatest impact on your utility bill.

Safe and Warm All Winter Long

Safety checks are also a key aspect of Winterizing your home especially for homeowners with fireplaces, furnaces and gas-run appliances. Always check your smoke detectors. Make it a habit to check the batteries. As the holidays approach, decorative candles, dry Christmas trees, and space heaters can potentially be fire hazards. And although it is a law in California to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in all homes, check that all these devices have batteries (if they are battery operated) and are working properly. In a recent article titled Prevent a Disaster: Check Your Smoke Detector Now, George Maher, Agricultural Safety Specialist warns:

Always replace the battery when it is weak. Some smoke detectors are powered by the home’s electricity and don’t have batteries. These hard-wired detectors should also be tested frequently. If a hard-wired smoke detector is found to be unreliable, replace it immediately. It is good practice to have a battery-powered detector as a back up for the hard-wired detector.

Inside-Out

Now I know we all want to cuddle up inside when the days get shorter and the temperatures drop, but don’t forget to Winterize the outside of the home as well as the comfy interior. Be sure to keep your trees trim. If the trees hang too close to the roof or deposit debris into your gutters, it may not only hazardous but can be quite costly. So take the time to trim those trees. If the debris hasfallen already, clear the gutters to ensure that the downspout is unobstructed. Drain your sprinkler systems and shut off outdoor faucets. You may also install freeze-proof faucet covers as a protectant. And finally, something many homeowners forget, and suggests Trulia.com should be done seasonally:

If you have exterior lights that are controlled by timers, including low-voltage ones, check the timer settings. Change the “on” times to an earlier hour to reflect the earlier winter darkness, so that you always have adequate outside light available.

A Weather-Proof House is A Happy Home

If you are planning on buying a home in Southern California, now is a great time to view properties. If you buy now, not only will you be comfortably situated in your new dream home by the holidays, but the great thing about buying now is you can make sure it’s Winterized before you buy it. And it’s a buyer’s market! Call Lydia Gable at 818-383-4335 today for an appointment and to view new home listings.

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The History of the Christmas Tree

Long before the early days of Christianity, trees and plants that stayed green throughout the seasons, had a special meaning for people in the winter time. Believe it or not, the history of the Christmas tree traces back to the earliest winter solstice celebrations, to Queen Victoria and finally evolves to our modern day tree celebration. Did you ever wonder how the tradition of having a Christmas tree in the living room as a celebration of the holiday, evolved into the practice as we know it today?

Weirdly enough, the history of Christmas trees does not date back to Christmas—at least not initially— quite the opposite. According to History.com, the decorating of the tree has its early roots in ritual and warding off of witches and ghosts and not the birth Christ:

Just as people today decorate their homes during the festive season with pine, spruce, and fir trees, ancient peoples hung evergreen boughs over their doors and windows. In many countries it was believed that evergreens would keep away witches, ghosts, evil spirits, and illness.

The Winter Solstice Celebration

In an article on History.com titled, History of Christmas Trees, the author explains that because the shortest day and longest night of the year falls on December 21 or December 22, the winter solstice became a sacred time for ritual. Ancient people, many of them relying on agriculture and crops, revered the sun as a god and rationalized that winter came when “the sun god had become sick and weak”. They celebrated the solstice because it signified a time when the sun god would find strength once more. They chose evergreen boughs because these remain green all year and served as a reminder that green would soon return. All trees and plants would soon grow again when the sun god was once more possessing of optimal strength. Summer would be upon them soon.

Queen Victoria Makes the Christmas Tree Trendy

But where did our current version of the Christmas tree come from? Does the song “O Tannenbaum” ring any bells? The Christmas tree as we know it is a German tradition of course. It dates back to the 16th century when devout Christians supposedly first brought decorated trees into their homes — also believed to be the time when the first candles were put on the tree byMartin Luther, the famous Protestant reformer, monk and teacher. But the first real record of Christmas tree displays in America dates back to the 19th century after the tradition was brought over by German settlers to Pennsylvania. However it didn’t catch on right away. For most Americans, it was still viewed as an odd practice and even in some cases viewed as a Pagan ritual. According to History.com as reported by the Jamestown Comet, it wasn’t until the late 19th century when Queen Victoria was seen posing in front of a tree, that it soon became a trend in America by way of Europe.

In 1846, the popular royals, Queen Victoria and her German Prince, Albert, were sketched in the Illustrated London News standing with their children around a Christmas tree …Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at court immediately became fashionable—not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.

The Joy of a Home

Do you remember the first home you bought and how proud you were to put up that poor little Charlie Brown tree in the living room? This year when you put up your tree whether it is in a new home or the same home you have lived in for the last thirty years, take a moment to appreciate the tradition and sentiment behind the tree. And whether you celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday or not, remember as you sit around the family tree, that it’s not only about presents and what you get, but also about enjoying your family and appreciating the warmth a beautiful home filled with joy.

Blessings go out to all of my friends and clients, from Lydia Gable Realty Group, as we take time out from our busy schedules to celebrate the joy of this beautiful Christmas season.

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Thousand Oaks Ranked 4th in Safety

Safety, A Priority for Home Buyers

When home buyers consider a potential neighborhood in which to buy, they look at several factors which might include the school district, neighborhood aesthetics and home values. However, one factor which always tops of the list in terms of importance is safety. So it’s exciting to report that an area in which I take great pride as a real estate broker, the City of Thousand Oaks, has once again been ranked among the safest cities in America as reported by CBS and according to an annual report by the FBI.

Not only has the city of Thousand Oaks been ranked as “safe” but it’s at the top of the list! It ranked 4th out of 279 cities nationwide —that is number one in the state of California—with a population of over 100,000. CBS quoted Mayor Claudia Bill-de la Pena who credits many, including the police department personnel, with the honor:

We are very, very proud of the numbers. We have residents who call in whenever they see something suspicious, so it is really an overall effort.

The Citizens of Thousand Oaks

While there are many different factors that contribute to a city’s ability to be on the top of such an honorable list, the common denominator in this case is the caliber of the people. Thousand Oaks is a rare mix of wonderful citizens who care about their community and neighbors and take pride in the city. Says Thousand Oaks resident Bob Moody:

People are pretty mellow. I don’t think anyone’s even honked their horn at me in this town.

Buying a Home in Thousand Oaks

If you are considering buying a home in the city of Thousand Oaks, you should know that you will not only be living in one the safest areas of the country, but unlike some other communities which border somewhat sketchy neighborhoods, Thousand Oaks has as its neighboring cities, some California’s most affluent and often gated communities like Westlake Village, Calabasas and Agoura Hills. In addition to safety, aesthetics, outdoor recreation and great neighbors, you will be among one of the best school districts and most exclusive residential communities in California.

If you are interested in buying a home in Thousand Oaks, contact Lydia Gable today to view listings.

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Top Five Tips to Prepare a Home for Sale

Prepare a Home for Sale

List Your Home to Sell!

Be the home seller who goes to market and sells, not the one who is forced to keep dropping the list price. The difference between a listed house that translates to sale quickly and an unsuccessful listing actually occurs in the preparationbeforeyou list the home.

Remember it is a seller’s market—the competition is fierce and you want to get the highest price possible. I’ve listed homes that go into escrow only days after listing. So because of this market, that means you have to do some work to remain competitive for the sale.

Here are five must-dos to increase your home’s curb appeal:

1.) Curb Appeal

Curb appeal is all about first impressions. The potential buyer should be greeted by fresh flowers, green grass, and painted light fixates at the very least. Additionally, viewers should never enter a dirty home or they won’t even stay to see the home. All they will remember is grime. You must scrub and shine the house from top-to-bottom. If cleaning is not your strongest skill-set, there are cleaning companies that you can hire that specifically clean for moves and sales. Jeff Wiren, past President of the Portland Metropolitan Association of Realtors in Oregon, says in a recent article,For sale: Get a Home Market Ready to Sell:

Give it a really good cleaning. A lot of sellers might not have the same perception of ‘deep cleaning’ that a buyer would. It might be worth spending a couple hundred dollars to have professionals come in and clean.

2.) Cluttered is Not Clean

Eliminate clutter. If you have a two car garage, there should be two cars parked, not two cars and everything but the kitchen sink stored in there. Remember your entire home is now a show case. Your personal stamp or personality is not going to sell the home—in fact it may detract from a sale. Wiren continues in the article:

… while you’re decluttering, you’re depersonalizing. You really need the buyer to be able to picture your home as their home. You don’t want the family portrait gallery lining the hallway.

3.) Stick to Neutral Paint

Your favorite room in the home may have red walls, but remember the home is now a show piece soothers might envision themselves living there. A nice neutral paint, even a DIY option, if neatly done, is encouraged.

4.) Don’t Skimp on the Flooring

It’s true that many sellers are reluctant to put any money into the flooring because it seems frivolous since they are moving. But the sale price should reflect how amazing the home is from top to bottom. So if the rugs are soiled and torn or the floors are scuffed, you must invest in a little maintenance. Says Wiren in that same real estate article:

Don’t lie to yourself. If the house has areas that show wear, get that work done before offering the home.

5.) The Home Buyer’s Perspective

Lastly, do a walk-through of the house from a buyer’s perspective. Questions to ask during the walk-through are:

    1. How does it feel when you step in the entry way?
    2. Does the house ‘step up to greet you’ as Oprah Winfrey always says. The house should invite the guest in. Is it clean?
    3. Objectively, would you buy it in the current condition?
    4. Does it look like a home buyer’s dream show case? The answer should be a resounding yes, if you want the home sold days after listing!

A Real Estate Agent You Can Trust

Finally–and this may be the best piece of advice–after you ask and answer all of these questions, enlist your real estate broker for his or her professional opinion. A successful home seller—one who knows the neighborhood and the current market well—will be honest with you and help you show case the home optimally. As a long time, experienced, real estate professional, my homes are flying off the market at record speed. Although it is indeed an ideal buyers’ haven, not all realtors are experiencing the same rates of success. So a bit of advice: choose your real estate agent wisely. And remember, pay special attention to the details in your home and follow the key preparation tips for a successful home sale.

For more information on my listings or if you are ready to list your home now in the Conejo Valley area visit my website at lydiagable.com or call Lydia Gable at (818) 934-8902.

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Your 2014 Real Estate Wish List

What is on your real estate wish list for 2014? Do you even have a wish list? Maybe you’re planning on selling a house or purchasing your dream home in the New Year. Just as you might write down your New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of each year, write a real estate wish list for 2014. You might be surprised how fast your wishes can materialize!

Here are some suggestions…

Sold to the Highest Bidder…

If you plan on selling your home this year, but perhaps your house isn’t appraising as high as you would like right now, a wish list might include minor renovations in 2014.

1. The Best in Design…

Granite countertops and updated appliances in the kitchen and/or pedestal tubs and sinks in the bathrooms, can add value to any home. A recent article in CNBC titled Eight Ways You Can Improve Your Home Appraisal, states:

If you’re going to do minor renovations, start with your kitchen and bathrooms, says G. Stacy Sirmans, a professor of real estate at Florida State University. He reviewed 150 variables that affect home values for a study sponsored by the National Association of Realtors. Wood floors, landscaping and an enclosed garage can also drive up appraisals.

2. The Outside Reflects the Inside…

Make sure to clean your yard. Add a swing or a garden patch. Appraisers pay attention to the outside as well as the interior. If your yard is unkempt or unappealing—as the appraisal process is not a perfect science—a negative first impression could really affect your home value.

Buying a Dream Home in 2014…

If you know that this is the year you will finally purchase that home of your dreams, you need a plan. What might you include on the list? Well first, while it’s important to remain flexible once youstart touring prospective homes to buy–initially it’s perfectly fine to have a vision in your mind.

1. Your Dream Home: The Big Picture

Go through real estate magazines and clip out some pictures of homes that are in your price range that you might consider—at least upon seeing a picture—to be a version of your dream home.

Getting clear on what MUST be included on your wish list, can ultimately make the home buying process a fulfilling one.

2. Location, Location, Location

Location, location, location—Location is everything in real estate. You may want to include this on your list. If you are buying a home, research the school district, the safety rankings, the close proximity to thriving cities, the mountains or ocean. All of these things will not only enhance your community, but they also contribute to the value of a home if and when you choose to sell.

3. Must-Haves

Do you have deal breakers, must-haves, in other words are there features of a home that if not present, you absolutely will not buy? For example, do you know you must have two full bathrooms or you won’t buy it? Do you know that you won’t settle for a California ranch style house, you absolutely must have a split level? If any of this sounds familiar, put all these must haves on your wish list. RealtorMag posted an article, Your Property Wish List in which they included a must-have chart which would be really helpful for any 2014 realty wish list. Take a look at the items on the chart. If you find some are must-haves for you, circle them:

Front Yard Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Back yard Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Garage ( __ cars) Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Patio/Deck Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Pool Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Family room Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Formal living room Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Formal dining room Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Eat-in kitchen Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Laundry room Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Finished basement Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Attic Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Fireplace Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Spa in bath Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Air conditioning Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Wall-to-wall carpet Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Wood floors Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important
Great view Must Have Would Like Willing to Compromise Not Important

Lydia Gable Realty Group

My wish list for each of my present and future clients is that the New Year brings happiness, good health, wealth, and a soft, warm place to call home. If you are looking to purchase a dream home, consider the community of Westlake Village a beautiful planned community with hiking and horse trails and very close to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Not only does it boast a close proximity to Los Angeles, some of the school district and safety rankings in Southern California and as far as recreation, there are West Coast beaches as close as nine miles away. Westlake Village has a reputation as one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Southern California.

If you are ready to fulfill your home buying or selling wishes in 2014, contact Lydia Gable today for a consultation.

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It's Summer: Check Your Air Conditioning Units

Thermostat

California Homes, California Air Conditioning

The summer has finally arrived for this real estate agent in my little corner of the world Westlake Village. For me, summer means that sunny Southern California is even sunnier. However, along with outdoor fun, barbeques and pool parties, Los Angeles summers equal hot, hot, hot temperatures. If you have lived through even one summer season in Los Angeles and especially in the San Fernando Valley area, you already know that the air conditioning unit in your home is your best friend. And conversely if your AC is on the fritz, it can become your biggest headache.

Preparing a Home for Sale? Don’t Forget the AC Unit

Whether preparing a home for sale, buying a new home or just trying to keep your lovely current abode cool, here are some dependable tips to make certain that your AC is reliable, especially in those dog days of summer when the heat index can top 100.

In an article titled Things You Can Do Yourself to Repair Your Home Air Conditioner, they list some less obvious things to check for if your AC is acting up.

Here are a few items on the check list:

Timing Circuitry:Be aware – air conditioner systems usually have timing circuitry…if you change the thermostat temperature setting, or turn a component on or off, the system may not react for up to 10 minutes.

Ice Blockage:If your system is not cooling as much as it normally does, and the air is not blowing out of the registers as strong as it usually does, there is a chance that your evaporator coil has frozen up.

Cool Agoura Hills Homes for Sale

Now if you are preparing your home for sale or renovating your home—especially in an upscale and competitive real estate market like Agoura Hills–do it right the first time. Don’t cut corners. Not only is it less cost effective in the long run, but if you decide to put your home on the market in the middle of August, if your potential buyers are sweating the minute they walk in to view the property, they aren’t likely to stay, much less buy your home.

On SmallNotebook.org in an article titled, 10 Must Know Tips for Your Air Conditioner, the author gives really great preventative tips for the home owner. She says in part:

Change your air filter every 3 months. Put in a new filter at the start of summer, and then at least once every 3 months after that.

Buy pleated filters. Spend a couple of dollars more to buy pleated synthetic filters, not the cheapest fiberglass filters.

Check your ductwork for leaks. You don’t want all the cold air to leak out into your attic. There are two types of ductwork: flexible ducts and rigid metal ducts. Flexible ductwork is often used because it’s faster to install, but it doesn’t last as long. Metal ductwork lasts longer.

On that note, from my beautiful Westlake Village real estate office, to all of my friends and clients: stay cool and safe this summer and don’t forget to check your air conditioning units. If you would like to purchase a home in the area or view current listings, contact me, Lydia Gable at (818) 934-8902 or at my email.

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