Summers by the Pool: Tips to Stay Safe!

For many of us, especially in Southern California, a pool is not only a valuable part of a luxury home purchase, but a more-common-than-not expectation at most properties in this part of the nation. Many of us prefer living in a home with a pool, beyond just for the added luxury it affords, but also because we are so lucky to enjoy year-round warm weather. And from a realtor’s point of view, a pool adds real value to a home’s appraisal price. Prospective buyers in Southern California particularly in the Conejo Valley area, expect to view homes that have swimming pools in the backyards. According to the Wall Street Journal, in Southern California, a pool is a must-have. Says WSJ according to the National Association of Realtors statistics:

Regionally, in-ground pools will add about 5% to the value of a home in the Northeast part of the country, about 6% in the Midwest and 7.5% in the Southeast and West. In the Southwest, a swimming pool will add nearly 11% to the home’s value.

However, with all this in mind, the sad fact remains that tragically, according to The American Red Cross, over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year. The truth is that these tragedies can be prevented. So as we approach the summer months and the kids are on school vacation, I thought it the perfect time to talk about pool safety. This might also be especially valuable information to you if you have recently moved into your first home or aren’t completely familiar with pool safety. At this peak time when we’ll all be spending lazy days at pool-side barbeques or hosting pool parties, having fun is important, but it’s also vital that you make safety a number one priority. When you do, you’ll feel free to laze and enjoy the luxury that the pool offers without having to worry about safeguards being in place.

Below are three all-too-common pool safety hazards and some very valuable tips to avoid falling victim to these accidents:

1.Drain Entrapment

  • An increasing common accident and pool safety hazard is drain entrapment. Children are getting too close to the suction valves on the sides of the pool and getting injured or even drowning. Long hair can get caught and in some cases, limbs. Says Pool Safety.Gov:

Consider installing a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS)—a device that will automatically shut off a pump if a blockage is detected—or any other automatic shut-off systems in your own pool or spa.

2.Accidental Pool Drowning

  • Install an automatic pool cover. Although the high end automatic pool covers can be a bit costly, they can be quite attractive and more importantly save lives in the end. But if that’s not an option, there are manual covers that also roll over the top.

3.Pool Gates and Alarms: Another Layer of Defense

  • Gates are also a great deterrent, but in the case of a small child somehow falling in, a pool alarm is a great second layer of protection. And depending on what state you live in, there may already be legislation on the books requiring this. According to an article in Good Housekeeping, alarms can alert parents to emergencies before it’s too late. Said the article:

We recommend using both pool and gate alarms. The more layers of protection, the better…

Now that you know the steps to take to keep your pool safe this summer, you’ll feel better knowing your family is safe. It’s time to relax – you’ve earned it! Now that we’ve gotten all of the safety talk out of the way, here’s wishing you an awesome summer full of lazy sun-filled days that you will cherish for years to come!

For more on Westlake Village Real Estate or any information in this article, contact Lydia Gable. Whether you’re relocating to the Conejo Valley area, a first-time buyer or seller, you will be in the best hands with a realtor who is not only a top ranked in Conejo Valley, but is also a long time resident. Contact Lydia Gabletoday for a consultation today.

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How Much ‘Home’ Will $1 Million Buy in Southern California?

‘The Bedroom Could Fit Inside a Walk-In Closet’

How much home will a million dollars buy in Southern California? In certain coastal areas of Southern California, prepare to appreciate the beach location over the size of the home. Unlike other parts of the country, $1 million in Malibu for instance, won’t buy you a mansion – a quaint cottage home maybe. And in Orange County for example, the home of the famed Real Housewives of OC, whose lifestyle we’ve all become privy to, $1 million doesn’t stretch as far as you might think.

A recent article in the Orange County Register, highlights just how little home $1 million will buy in the OC. Paul Crane, consultant to a group of investors who bought a 1930s era home in Newport Beach says when he stood in the bedroom doorway of a home for lease one block from Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula – an exclusive part of Orange County—it was abundantly clear that the buyer was paying for the location not necessarily the home. The price tag: $1 million. His conclusion:

The bedroom could easily fit inside a typical walk-in closet in this city. The residence itself is only 534 square feet. What we would consider a bedroom is maybe not what they considered a bedroom when (the home) was built.

And, points out the author, Marilyn Kalfus:

Twenty six miles inland, $1 million could fetch a ‘highly upgraded,’ 2,800-square-foot, five-bedroom home on half an acre in Fullerton… with a swimming pool and spa – plus a private tennis court.

The Median Home Value in Westlake Village: $847,400′

If you prefer instead that the price match the luxury surroundings and home size, don’t be disheartened quite yet. Travel a bit north of the OC and there are still very exclusive areas in Southern California where $1 million can buy you a beautiful home – quite possibly a beautiful home in a gated community surrounded by lake views, mountain ranges and just minutes from the Pacific Ocean.

Wikipedia describes it well saying, Westlake Village “borders the Malibu hills, and is nine miles inland from the Pacific Ocean.” What else could you want? But that’s only he cherry on the proverbial cake. For $1 million or less, you will live in a gated community among professionals and celebrities alike, just a short ride to Los Angeles and in one of the best school districts in Southern California. In Westlake Village, you can buy a home for less than $1 million and currently the home prices are on the rise. It’s a good time to dip your toe in the market. If you buy now, the valuation—if the market continues to rebound as it’s predicted—should appreciate in a few years if you plan to invest and sell. Of course there are many homes—as is true of any luxury community—in the area that list above $1 million, however there are just as many properties where $1 million will be buy you a luxury home and I promise, your bedroom will be bigger than a closet! Zillow writes, regarding home prices in Westlake Village:

The median home value in Westlake Village is $847,400. Westlake Village home values have gone up 4.9% over the past year and Zillow predicts they will rise 1.8% within the next year. The median price of homes currently listed in Westlake Village is $835,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $894,750.

You Can’t Put a Price Tag on Quality of Life

If you’re curiosity is piqued about what a $1 million looks like in the Westlake Village area, come take a tour of the community. A drive through the neighborhood, the surrounding exquisite scenic views, and the prime location, will leave you wanting more. Take it from me – I not only sell homes in Westlake Village, but I live in the area. My point of view after living in the Conejo Valley for many years: you can’t put a price tag on quality of life!

If you are a potential home buyer, our team will find the right fit for your lifestyle and needs. Lydia Gable specializes in the finest real estate and luxury properties. She is a permanent resident of Conejo Valley who lives and plays where she works. Contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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Turnkey Homes: ‘Turning’ Up the Dial on Conejo Valley Home Sales

“Turnkey” home listings have experienced a recent jump in popularity specifically on the West Coast. The term “turnkey” refers to those properties which require no renovations or repairs. The house is ready to move in – everything inside it is part of the asking price. West Coast realtors, including yours truly, have found when it comes to home sales, these types of homes are ‘turning’ home listings into fast closings. As a realtor, I thought you’d find it interesting to hear my unique perspective on turnkey homes. While in years past, the trend leaned more toward building a home to exact specifications, now as the market finds a new resurgence, turnkey homes are indeed ‘in’ again.

What Realtors Say About Buying Turnkey

Although turnkey listings tend to be a bit more expensive than traditional home listings, buyers like this option because once you close on the home your expenses are essentially complete. A recent article on MSNBC says that there has been an increase in popularity—mainly on the West Coast and in vacation communities—for turnkey properties. In the article titled, Where to Find Turnkey Homes, Susie Nancarrow, broker and owner of Nancarrow Realty Group in San Diego County is quick to point out though that turnkey “isn’t necessarily synonymous with move-in ready.” She says:

… a 1970s-style house in great condition isn’t turnkey because it’s dated. I usually use ‘turnkey’ when the house is up-to-date with today’s buyers’ expectations.

At the end of the day, the process is much simpler. There’s no need to imagine where the children’s room will go, how you will renovate. View real estate listings, choose the home you fall in love with, make an offer, close and the best part awaits. Put the key in the lock, turn it and voila, you are home.

The Benefits of Buying Turnkey Real Estate

The real reason a buyer wants turnkey-ready is two-fold. The buyer may be a very busy executive with very little time to remodel. With interest rates at an all-time low– the prices while a little higher than traditional home sales are still very low. The buyer is then more willing to pay a premium for this type of home.

Home buyers understand that to remodel a home they will need a minimum of 20 percent down to purchase it in addition to the money it will cost to then do the remodel. So the idea of only paying for the home with no additional costs can be attractive. If a kitchen needs a remodel for example, this could cost the home owner another $50,000 to $75,000.00. To redo windows for example, it could cost $20,000. To upgrade to central heating/air, it could be another $15,000.00. If a buyer only remodels the bathroom, it could cost upwards of $10,000 and $25,000.00 just to remodel the master bedroom. These are estimates of course, depending on the size of the home, but one can clearly see the benefit and savings based on these examples, in choosing a turnkey home.

Is there a down-side to buying a turnkey home? Not really – if there is, maybe one could say “it doesn’t have my personality stamp”. But the truth is, if you fell in love with the home in the first place, it does – it must speak to some aspect of your personality and personal taste! And there is no saying down the line, you can’t make changes or add special touches. But truly, if you’re buying a vacation or a holiday home or even buying your first home, this is a good move. I think especially if you must move in a hurry for a job change, a turnkey home can be the perfect alternative to a traditional option. So there you have it –just one realtors perspective. Good luck on your home search whether it’s for a turnkey home in Westlake Village, a mansion in Calabasas or a condo in Thousand Oaks, your home is wherever your heart is!

For more on “turnkey homes” or to view property listings in the Conejo Valley, contact Lydia Gable today.

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Keep Your Home Cool in the Summer Heat

We are already starting to see glimmers of Southern California summer heat especially in Ventura County. The temperatures reached blistering temps twice already last week and it’s only May. Pretty soon we’ll be taking lazy weekend trips to the many lakes, long stretches of beaches, and hiking trails that Southern California residents boasts about. So start preparing your home now for the hot season. Then all you have to do is sit back and enjoy your beautiful chilled home as the dry West Coast desert temps hit their high marks.

Following are easy steps to use as a check list when preparing your home for summer.

First Things First: AC

Check and change the filters in your heating/cooling systems. Change them as often as is recommended by the manufacturer. Also, make sure to double-check that the thermostat is working correctly. Don’t wait until it’s already too hot to do the maintenance because if you do, you run the risk of trying to get an HVAC repair man to come out during the busiest season in town. For more tips on checking air conditioning, read my article titled It’s Summer: Check Your Air Conditioning Units in which I said in part:

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 head ache.

Up on the Roof

Now is a good time to inspect both your roof shingles and your attic insulation. An MSN real estate article recently offered some great suggestions to keep your home cool. And many of the answers are up on the roof. The piece suggests:

  • Using light shingles on a new roof can cut the amount of heat the house absorbs. Repainting in a light color, especially south- and west-facing exterior areas, helps as well.
  • Upgraded insulation in the attic and double-paned windows all around, complete with tinting to reflect sunlight, are good ideas, too.

Cut Your Costs While You Cool Your Home

If you want quick ways to weatherize your home with spending as much on the cooling as you spent to buy the house, a Networx article Simple Weatherizing for Summer, offer a few greats tips to keep the costs and the temperatures down without breaking the bank. The author suggests that a cost saving tip:

Caulking doors and windows: Air leakage is a serious problem. Running a bead of caulking around interior and exterior doors and windows will create a seal to minimize air flow, keeping cool air in and hot air out.

Soak Up the Fun in the Sun! Then Come Home to COOL!

Now you are prepared – stay cool inside while after enjoyed the outdoors in the beautiful Southern California sun . And on that note, if you need ideas for things to do this summer in and around Conejo Valley, read my recent blog, Spring & Summer Fun in Conejo Valley. Summer’s almost here, go have a mint julep, enjoy your dream home and beautiful backyard and reflect on how blessed we are to have this weather. Oh…and remember this when the temps shoot up to triple digits!

Lydia Gable is an experienced and respected Realtor® who has helped countless clients in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties find new homes. For more information on any topics covered in this article or to view home listings or meet about homes sales, contact Lydia Gable today for an appointment.

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