5305 Carlsbad Blvd, Carlsbad, CA

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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.

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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
jdimino@sherwooddc.com

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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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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