New Parents: Buying a Family Home?

Buying a Home for a New Family

Starting a new family and buying a new home can be daunting tasks on their own respectively. But doing both at the same time, for some can be an overwhelming process. Where do you start? What do you look for when purchasing a new home that must not only meet your needs, but now must meet the needs of your new family? Should you plan to stay for a few years? And even if you plan on selling in a year – if you cannot sell for some reason—will this home work for your new family long term?

Here are some important steps to take when taking your first steps into your new family home.

A Professional and Personal Inspection

The U.S. HUD portal suggests in their article 100 Questions & Answers About Buying A New Home that it’s important to be present at a both the professional inspection so that you may ask questions, but also to you do a very thorough personal walk-through—and most especially if you have a new family—consider the present and future. HUD calls this the ‘HUD Home Scorecard’.

  • Is there enough room for both the present and the future?
  • Are there enough bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • Is the house structurally sound?
  • Do the mechanical systems and appliances work?
  • Is the yard big enough?

Finding a Safe Neighborhood

Do due diligence when researching the safety of the neighborhood if you intend to raise a family there. The house might be beautiful or the street might be picturesque, straight from a postcard, but are surrounding neighborhoods safe? Do a walk-through of the neighborhood both during the day and night. Also ask people and do research. There are reputable resources that rank safety yearly – see my article from 2013 Thousand Oaks Ranked 4th in Safety. As a resident of the Conejo Valley and a realtor in Westlake Village and its surrounding communities, I said in the feature:

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.

Good School Districts

When buying a home, look at the school district both in around your area. If you end up buying a house, you may not stay in the actual neighborhood for years but it’s likely that you will stay in the area. Keeping that in mind, inspect the entire district. If you are just starting your family, prepare for a long term stay in the community even if you plan on selling in a year or two. For a good example of a great school district, see my article from earlier this year 2014-15 School Tours in the Conejo Valley. Conejo Valley has one of the best school districts in the country.

If you are new to the area, planning on a buying a home in and around the Conejo Valley, or you want your children to attend school at any of these top ranked educational locales…

A Local Realtor Who Lives and Thrives in the Community

I am not only a Westlake Village realtor, but I live and thrive in this community – I care! So when you ask a question about the schools or homes in the area, I can answer you from my real life experience. Ask your realtor if they live in the community, do they have a family there, kids in school?

If you are looking for a beautiful home in a good community in a safe neighborhood with good schools and great activity for the entire family, Conejo Valley is a great choice. For more information on any topic covered in this article or looking at homes for your new family, contact Lydia Gable today.

Take your time and think carefully about each house you see. Ask your real estate agent to point out the pros and cons of each home from a professional standpoint:

  • Safety
  • School
  • Fun
  • Proximity to Thriving City for Work
  • A Trusted Real Estate Agent Who Knows the Area

Conejo Valley Real Estate Updates from Lydia Gable

5/16 – This information has recently been updated:

As somebody who likes to keep a pulse on what is going on in our lovely community, I wanted to share some exciting news about upcoming developments I recently received from my friend and trusted commercial Broker, David Massie, with DJM Commercial Real Estate.

Here is the update:

  • The Old Plug Nickel location (now a wine tasting bar called Cuvee Terrace) in Westlake Village is being sold and leased to a couple of very high-end successful Italian restaurants in other cities.
  • The vacant space in the same center as Lure Seafood just past The Counter location has signed a lease for a New Zeland Pacific Rim type restaurant called Aroha. In the old 9021Pho location in this center to the left of The Counter, a new restaurant called Kaze—which somehow fuses Japanese and Italian foods together—signed a lease.
  • In Agoura Hills, Vincitori Italian (owns Spumoni in NP also and replaced China Star here) just opened up recently in the Agoura Hills City Mall where the Agoura’s Famous Deli is and there will also be a new Kosher Israeli restaurant opening in the next couple of months just to the left of this Deli.
  • Padri’s will be opening up a high end Mexican restaurant in the Whizzins Center where Latigo Kid used to be in the next couple of months. Latigo relocated to the old Alamo location in the Vons anchored center at Kanan and Thousand Oaks Blvd. in Agoura Hills.
  • The old Red Robin in Calabasas is being leased by the Agoura Famous Deli owner and it’s yet to been seen what it will become.
  • The Gelsons/Sprouts/Vons center in WLV (all owned by one owner) is performing a 25 million dollar renovation and is going to not only remodel but also build new buildings in some of the parking areas as well as try to connect all 3 different plazas into one. New restaurants/food uses coming here are: Leilas (rumor only, not confirmed), Mendocino Farms, Pitfire Artisan Pizza, Le pain Quotidien, Pressed Juicery and Firefly. Target is under construction with a July 25, 2014, grand opening date and they own their land. The goal is to get all other Tenants open on or around this date, with the exception of buildings B and E, which will be later phases delivered in September. Here is a website link that will show you a site plan for each building so you can see where each tenant is going in this new center:

Building J – In N Out

Building G

– Suite A: Hook Burger

– Suite B: Negotiating with several food users

– Suite C: In Leases with a sit-down seafood restaurant

– Suite D: In Leases with a dessert tenant

Building F

– Suite A: In Leases with a sub sandwich tenant

– Suite B: Greens Up!

– Suite C: Olio E Limone Ristorante

– Suite D: Olio E Limone Pizzeria & Enoteca

Building C

– Suite G: Los Agaves

– Suite F: All Tressed Up (blow dry bar, also offers make-up application)

– Suite E: In Leases with a wireless tenant

– Suite D: Endless Beauty (high end beauty supply)

– Suite B & C: Salon suites tenant (haircut and color services)

– Suite A: BCBC Nail Salon

Building D

– Suite A: Negotiating with sushi concept

– Suite B: Negotiating with women’s apparel

– Suite C: Negotiating with a jewelry store

– Suite D: Negotiating with a home goods boutique

– Suite E & F: In leases with a men’s clothing store and children’s concept, but may relocate both users to accommodate a microbrewery we are negotiating with

– Suite G: Jeannine’s Marketplace

Building B (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– Suite H: Tilly’s

– Suites A, B and a portion of C: Medical Use

Building E (this is a second phase of the project, which will be delivered in September)

– We have a lease out for signature with a 1,000 SF user, however. Will have several food and retail tenants.

Isn’t that exciting? These new developments will do wonderful things for Westlake Village Real Estate values and will certainly keep all of us entertained!


First-Quarter SoCal Real Estate Market Update

While I am immersed in the busiest spring season for this realtor’s real estate career in years, I thought it pertinent to share with you a 1st quarter housing market update for Southern California. It’s good news indeed for you vigilant housing market watchers especially in the Ventura County area. Real estate numbers are on the up-tick and apparently not just for yours truly! Profit margins, new development, buying and selling— a majority of analysts report—is all on the incline. And although many naysayers feared another “housing bubble” debacle, the numbers remain consistently positive as does the future forecast.

Following are just a few analysts’ findings as they pertain to, specifically Southern California and Ventura County housing market numbers for this, the first quarter of 2014.

Positive Real Estate Market Numbers in SoCal

According to The Press Enterprise, KB Home, an LA based home builder discussed first quarter market results for 2014. KB Home President and CEO Jeffrey Mezger said in a conference call with analysts, “There is a strong indication that new home development in California will rise – and coastal communities will dominate the sales scene.” KB’s profits are at $10.6 million profit for the period ending Feb. 28. And he stressed that this is a profit margin milestone that hasn’t been achieved in the first quarter since back in 2007. Metzger went on to say:

Total revenues grew 11 percent to $405.2 million from the company’s delivery of 1,442 homes compared to 1,485 in the first quarter of 2013… California has some of the most dramatic examples of reposition strategy. We expect positive cross-over to positive unit sales in California at some point in the same year.

Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village Home Sales – HOT!

A February 2014 article in Ventura County Star said while some of Ventura County and parts of Southern California are experiencing a slump, the numbers emerging from the end of 2013 and now in this first quarter, indicate that luxury property sales are doing remarkably well. The Starsays some the best reports are coming from my “neck-of-the-woods” and I can vouch for that. The report says:

Homes selling in 2013 for at least $1 million in the county leapt nearly 43 percent to 780 sales up from 547 in 2012, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. Hot areas were the Thousand Oaks-Westlake Village area.

Additionally, at least according to the forecast for Ventura County as projected by Zillow, these numbers over the next year are likely to continue a steady incline. Says the Zillow forecast of current home values, expected home prices, and the Ventura County housing market overview, it’s all moving upwards:

Ventura County home values have gone up 15.3% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 4.9% within the next year.

Ventura County Market Overview
(Data through Feb 28, 2014)

  • $474,700 ZHVI
  • 4.9% 1-yr forecast (Feb 28, 2015)
  • $559,000 Median listing price
  • $454,000 Median sale price

Where Luxury Steps Up to Greet You

Where luxury steps up to greet you – this is the focus for Westlake Village Realty. Beautiful homes are listed for sale now in the exquisite communities of Westlake Village, Lake Sherwood, and Thousand Oaks and Agoura Hills. If you are a potential home buyer or seller, I can help you find the perfect fit for your luxury lifestyle. For questions on any topic covered on this article or to set up a consultation to view or sell fine homes in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today.


Reality TV on Real Estate: Is it Worth Watching?

Real estate is sprouting up as the central character on so many reality TV shows these days. No one could have predicted this kind of success! Who would have thought reality TV shows about real estate and home buying would become so wildly popular? But some of these reality shows such as the ones featured on HGTV and TLC are supporting entire networks!

As a realtor, I thought you’d find it interesting to hear my unique perspective and reviews of some of the most popular real estate reality shows. Are they realistic representations? Is the home buying process actually as it is portrayed?

‘Real Estate Reality Shows are Like a Mini Course’

A recent article on US News & World Report titled Real Estate Reality TV Shows: Fact vs. Fiction got me thinking about real estate reality television. The article’s author, Susan Johnston, calls out some of these so-called “reality” shows for depicting real life situations that simply are not, but instead are staged representations of what would likely happen. While I agree that reality TV is not always real—how could it be in a 22 minute condensed version—there are some very accurate and practical aspects of putting the home buying process on TV. In Johnston’s article, according to Herman Chan, a San Francisco real estate broker who’s appeared on HGTV’s “House Hunters” and “My Home is Worth What?” he points out that despite the condensed nature of reality TV he believes that these shows can serve a purpose. Says Chan:

Before the proliferation of reality TV, your only information as a consumer was what your real estate agent was telling you and friend’s anecdotal experience. The real estate reality shows are almost like a mini course: Ask about the foundation, or this is how to act at an open house.

I agree with Mr. Chan. Below are my top three reviews of what I consider to be the top “reality” real estate-based TV shows currently on the air.

For the Fun Factor…

Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing NY is a hoot. It makes real estate much more about drama than it actually is, at least from this realtor’s point of view. But I like the show and apparently so do the viewers. According to an article in TV By the Numbers, it had its best premiere ratings ever last week. But the show also gives a glimpse into the world of the realtor. What one has to do get a listing sold at the seller’s asking price and some of the challenges that come along with that – even if a bit staged. But from a purely fun point of view, I give it a B+!

Real Estate with a Twist

For its “interesting twist” factor, The Property Brothers on HGTV is a best bet. The two Scott brothers, Drew and Jonathan—realtor and contractor respectively—sell the dream to couples who want their dream home but can’t actually afford to buy it as-is. So the Scott brothers sell clients fixer-uppers instead and ask the couples to reimagine the possibilities. Then they bid, purchase, and fix it up. The cool factor on the show is that Jonathan presents CGI designs to show the clients what it could look like! The Property Brothers gets an A for its cool twists and use of advanced design technology.

HGTV HouseHunters

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a wee bit biased with this particular choice because not only do I love HouseHunters, but I was a featured realtor on an episode titled New Parents Look for A Home With Good Feng Shui in LA. But honestly, HGTV HouseHunters earns my highest rating of A+, for two reasons. First I love that they show couples who have opposing ideas of what they want and then have to compromise. That is reality. I also love that they show the process of showing and buying – it really is a ‘mini course’ as described earlier. And lastly I like that HGTV features real estate all over the country.

Reality v. Entertainment

Reality TV definitely gives you an encapsulated version of the buying process. For instance, people on TV look at two or three homes before they buy when in reality it’s more like 10 or more. And it can sometimes be a very long process, much longer than is portrayed. But if in addition to entertaining, it inspires nervous or edgy first-time buyers to stick their toes in the housing market, I’m all for it.

For more information on anything covered in this article or to view or list a home, contact Lydia Gable for a consultation.


Spring & Summer Fun in Conejo Valley

If you live in the Conejo Valley or you are planning on buying a home in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village or the surrounding communities, now’s the time to explore all the summer recreation available. There are a myriad of activities here for children, adults and entire families. While the wonderful Southern California climate contributes to year-round outdoor fun, the community particularly comes alive in Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and the vicinity during the spring and summer months. So don’t miss out! Some of these events have already started registration. Take a look at just a few of the ‘best’ summer activities that Conejo Valley has to offer.

Conejo Spring Fest & More at the Park!

Registration has begun already for the Conejo Recreation Park District – there are programs for adults and kids alike. The Recreation Program Guides are published five times a year. The guides include detailed information about various classes, programs and special sponsored events happening at the Conejo Recreation & Park District. While priority is given to district residents, programs and classes are open to non-residents as well. They have so many classes and programs for the whole family including dance, camp, arts & crafts, dog training and more. So take advantage! And don’t miss the Conejo Spring Fest on Saturday April 12th from noon-3PM at the park at Conejo Creek South Playfield. The event is for children ages 2-12 and includes egg hunts, face painting, entertainment, food and beverages.

Signed Up for Summer Camp?

Camp registration has already begun among the many camps in the area. Camp Keystone is a popular choice among residents. Keystone offers a variety of activities for campers of all ages. The Agoura Hills summer camp offers programs in water sports, leadership training, junior counselor programs and more. The camp also offers flexible scheduling and flexible transportation options to accommodate parents’ needs. Additionally, the Agoura Hills day camp location is about 25 minutes north of Los Angeles and offers transportation for campers who live between Toluca Lake and Camarillo. This is a great choice for your child especially if you are planning a move to the area or buying a summer home in the Conejo Valley any time in the near future. Open house has already begun. See more information below.

Camp Keystone 2014 Open House Dates

Sundays from 11:30am-3:30pm:
April 6th, 13th, and 27th

The Benefits of Living in Lake Sherwood

If you have just moved to Lake Sherwood, CA or are planning on buying home there, you will discover rather quickly that the area is surrounded by beauty and has so much to offer in terms of family activity. Particularly, Sherwood Lake Club offers a terrific country club environment for the entire family as well as its guests. The club offers members golf, tennis, swimming, dining and entertaining – plus a variety of daily activities – all set among the beautiful post-card setting of Lake Sherwood. As stated on its website, the Sherwood Lake Club is an “elegant clubhouse, spanning 14,000 square feet and a distinguished playground for those who appreciate the rewards that come with exclusivity.

Sherwood Lake Club
341 Williamsburg Way
Thousand Oaks, CA 91361
(805) 497-3037

Find Your Home in Conejo Valley

If you have ever considered buying a home in or around Sherwood Lake, Agoura Hills or Thousand Oaks, think of all the great perks you’ll enjoy. In addition to the aforementioned, there’s the Agoura Hills Summer Concert Series, top horseback riding and running trails, local road races and events for the whole family, close proximity to Malibu Beach and the mountains, and just a short commute to Los Angeles museums and Hollywood movie events.

For more information on any events listed in this blog or to view home listings in Ventura or Los Angeles County, contact Lydia Gable today at Westlake Village Realty.


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