Missed it by that much

missed by thatZillow, Trulia and other online real estate systems are great entertainment. For anyone who is just starting the process of purchasing or selling a home, and like to gather as much information as possible, they provide a loose idea, of home values and of possible homes for sale. Yet I have found, in speaking with my clients, as well as some of my colleagues, they miss the mark Big Time, there are MANY mistakes, and a lot of misinformation.

Everyone of my clients, who have used an online search system prior to contacting me to help them find the perfect home, stated that Many of the homes were already SOLD, there is a lot of misrepresentation of amenities, and some are even made up (they don’t exist anywhere in the system, and no one has any record of them being for sale). Here’s what one of them posted on my website (http://www.orangecountyrealestates.com); “Your website has been a great help in trying to find the right home. The search options available are great and the feature to save searches is very helpful and time saving. One big advantage over websites like Zillow and Trulia is that the listings are always up to date. Prior to my knowledge of your website, I found many properties on Zillow and Trulia that weren’t available anymore or had errors in listing. This lead to false perceptions and were a waste of time. Thank you for showing me your website. I really appreciate it.”  Ritesh Meta 9/30/13

When it comes to putting a value on your home, the results are likely just as far off. Sites have been as much as $100,000 in difference, on the same home. Zestimates (by Zillow) rank their accuracy, for Los Angeles & Orange County, 4 stars (their highest ranking) as of the date of this article.   Missed by that much

Here’s what they published for the OC (LA stats are within 2% pints in each level); “…our estimates are with __% of the sold price, __% of the time. Within 5% – 40% of the time, within 10% – 67% of the time and within 20% – 85% of the time.” Note; All rounded to nearest whole.

So, if we use the current OC median price, of $680,000, they may have only been off by $34,000, 60% of the time. You may be ok to eat that, if you don’t want to talk to a professional. Yet it could be a $68,000 loss in 33% of the cases, which would make it a little more difficult to swallow. It gets better…They would only be off 15% of the time, by $136,000. Is that bad?

If I were one in 7 people, who could stand to lose $136,000, I would CERTAINLY ask a professional.

Your local Realtor (if they have over 20 years experience, like I do) can Save you money, by finding the perfect house, in the quickest time and negotiating the best offer, and/or Make you the most Money, through correct pricing, marketing and negotiating your current home’s sale. All while making sure everyone is protected through the most up-to-date disclosures.

Go ahead and satisfy your curiosity and be entertained with an online site, but use a Realtor, when you get serious about buying, selling or investing in real estate.  And don’t be surprised if they come up with some very different information.

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Surprise…I’m not going to tell you “It’s Time to Sell”

I’m going to let you make that decision, based on the facts of our current real estate market.

The trend – Median sales prices in California have been appreciating for going on 5 years now. More the most part, all loses have been recouped from the 2007 debacle. In 2012 the median rose about 12 percent, in 2013 it was 27 percent, last year we saw about a 10 percent appreciation and this year we’re at about 5. What direction do you think it will take from here?

Supply – The 2015 spring market saw an average appreciation, which was surprising, because the inventory was very low. The supply this spring was only about 1.5 months (meaning if nothing changed and no more came on the market that inventory would be gone). Currently we have about nearly a 2.5 month supply.  Listing inventory has nearly doubled. This isn’t all do to fewer buyers (because the spring market is over), there are also many more sellers listing their homes, and buyers are more cautious, taking their time to find the right home. More sellers believe we are near a peak again. The OC Register reported 8/6/2015, that consumer confidence in long-term appreciation had dropped by 10%.

Demand- The obvious fact that I mentioned above “the spring market is over”, is only part of the demand issue.  Here in Southern California housing affordability has dropped to one of its lowest points in history, 21%. Plus, the age of our average home buyer has moved up again, from 38 two years ago to 48 today. Condos are the new affordability frontier again. Existing condos sale in The O.C. are up 17.9% from a year ago, compared to the 5% home sales.

The proverbial Straw – Chinese government devaluing the Yuan. This monetary imbalance may affect many aspects of our life, most of all real estate values. You see 19% of Southern California homes sales have been to Chinese buyers. This may change drastically.

Where do you think the real estate market is going?

Check your neighborhood stats against those of any other area across the country;  http://www.orangecountyrealestates.com/micompare/zip/92694/

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Rents are Syrocketing!

Rents Skyrocketing & not coming down Any time soon

In 20 years as a Realtor, I’ve NEVER seen a better time to Stop Renting & Buy a Home!
Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the experts have to say…
OC Register 10/12 & 10/16 “OC Rents keep upward push” & “Average Rent Hits Record”; apartment rents rose another 3.3% over last year, for an average increase of $57/month and vacancy rates dropped to 4.3%. Average monthly rents have been steadily increasing for the past 4 years (about 18% = $273/month). This average monthly rent is expected to hit $1800 by 2016. Some areas of the OC have 8-9% increases; Cypress, Irvine, Newport and others. Renters in Los Angeles are paying 48% of their income for shelter. Topping it all off, Builders are not keeping up with the demand, and there doesn’t appear to be any relief in sight.

Interest Rates Surprise everyone Again!

In another very, unexpected turn of events, interest rates came DOWN a few days ago.
Check out the wild effects of last week’s stock market debacle in our last blog post (written on 10/15/14)

But I missed the big 30% appreciations last year
This is not the end of the world nor is it the end of appreciation. Home prices generally run in 7-8 year cycles and we are only 1 ½ years into this one. So STOP crying over spilled milk and get in NOW, before you really miss out. If you’re waiting for prices to go back down to where they were, you might as well just take what you have saved to Vegas now.

Bottom line

Do whatever you can to get out of that rental and start building wealth with you own home, TODAY!

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WOW!! How low can they go?

Interest rates in a free fall this morning, more so than what we have experienced since the rally began. The 10 yr., at 9:00 am was at 2.04%, down 16 basis points (bps) from yesterday’s 10 bps decline, and 25 bps in less than 24 hours, for a total loss of 60 bps in less than a month. This move today can only be compared to Oct 1987 when the stock market collapsed and interest rates went into a free fall that lasted three days.

The German 10 yr. bond is at another new all-time low of 0.71%. The world economy is also slipping much more than had been expected by most analysts. Data this week has shown German investor confidence slid to the weakest level in almost two years, U.K. inflation unexpectedly stalled and China’s consumer-price gains declined to the lowest in five months.

Back here, in the U.S., it looks like a possible blow-off move in the rate and stock markets, especially in the rate sector (yet it can’t be certain until after the fact). The DJIA opening, at 9:30, was -148, NASDAQ -71, S&P -20; within 10 minutes the DJIA was off 363 points and continuing to decline. Panic is the definition this morning; all of the stock market bulls, and all of those sure interest rates were headed higher, and all those that were not concerned about increasing price declines—are I panic mode today. Usually this kind of move is a blow-off. Total capitulation–complete.

PRICES @ 10:00 AM
10 yr. note: +36/32 (112 bp) 2.05% -15 bp; the low 1.87%
5 yr. note: +26/32 (81 bp) 1.28% -18 bps
2 Yr. note: +5/32 (15 bp) 0.29% -9 bp
30 yr. bond: +143/32 (443 bp) 2.74% -21 bp
Libor Rates: 1 mo 0.153%; 3 mo 0.230%; 6 mo 0.321%; 1 yr 0.547%
30 yr. Fixed Rate Mortgages 3.5%
15 yr. Fixed Rate Mortgages 3.0%

Dollar/Yen: 106.11 -0.94 yen
Dollar/Euro: $1.2784 +$0.0124
Gold: $1240.20 +$5.90

As presented by Brad Snow, of United American Mortgage.
His contact information and more about local housing trends can be found @; OrangeCountyRealEstates.com Continue reading

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More home buyers turning to social media

LOS ANGELES (June 26) – Reflecting the proliferating use of social media in today’s society, more home buyers are turning to social media in the home-buying process than ever, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2014 Survey of California Home Buyers.”

More than three-fourths of home buyers used social media in their home search, up from 52 percent who used it in 2011. Buyers said they primarily used social media to obtain buying tips and suggestions from friends (44 percent), neighborhood information (44 percent), and to view their agents’ Facebook pages (42 percent).

Mobile technology and the Internet continued to be important tools in the home-buying process, with 91 percent saying they used a mobile device to access the Internet during the course of their home purchase. Buyers used their mobile devices to look for comparable home prices (78 percent), search for homes (45 percent), and take photos of neighborhoods, homes, and amenities (43 percent). Conversely, with the increased use of social media, fewer buyers “Googled” their agent (50 percent in 2014, down from 68 percent in 2013), turning to agents’ Facebook pages instead.

In another sign of recent market competitiveness, more than nine in 10 buyers (91 percent) made one or more other offer, with an average of 3.6 offers in 2014, up from three offers in 2013. Additionally, buyers viewed a median of 20 homes in 2014, up from 10 last year. Given the limited supply of homes available for sale, fewer buyers were satisfied with their home purchase than last year. Only about half of the buyers were satisfied with their purchase in 2014, down from two-thirds (66 percent) in 2013. Nearly half (46 percent) of buyers felt they “settled” on their home purchase in 2014, up from 34 percent.

Additional findings from C.A.R.’s “2014 Survey of California Home Buyers” include:

• Buyers cited price decreases (54 percent), receiving a promotion or raise (34 percent), low interest rates (29 percent), and favorable prices/financing (17 percent) as the top reasons for purchasing a home.

• Echoing a recovering housing market over recent years, buyer optimism of home prices also continued to improve, with the vast majority of buyers (81 percent) believing that home prices will rise in five years and 60 percent believing that prices will rise in one year. This is an improvement since 2009, when only 35 percent of buyers believed that prices would rise in five years, and only 8 percent who believed prices would rise in one year.

• Higher down payments are still the norm in this market, with buyers putting an average of 28 percent down on their purchases. The average down payment has been higher than the traditional 20 percent since 2009.

• More than nine in 10 buyers (92 percent) obtained a fixed-rate loan, a 23 percent increase from 2009, when only 69 percent obtained a fixed-rate loan, reflecting low rates and the desire for certainty as the market gets back to basics.

• Nearly all surveyed buyers (88 percent) used a real estate agent in 2014, down slightly from 91 percent in 2013. Reflecting a growing use of the Internet, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those who used an agent found their agent online, compared to only 38 percent who found their agent online in 2003.

To search the Realtor MLS or get info on schools, crime rates, & other demographics; www.OrangeCountyRealEstates.com
or download our Fabulous search app; http://app.kw.com/KW2NM0M2U

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A Home Purchase Loan that Includes Fixup Money

If you’re not finding the perfect home, have you thought about buying one that’s not so perfect and borrowing enough money to make it the perfect home?

Here’s the solution: HUD (Housing & Urban Development) has government-backed loans available, that cover not only the purchase price of the home, but also the cost to rehab it. These loans are part of the Section 203(k) Program.


What is Possible?

The 203(k) loan is best known for allowing the borrower to rehab and repair a home. Yet there are many other uses. Borrowers have used the loan to:

Convert single-family homes into multifamily dwellings, with up to four units.

Convert multi-units to a single-family home.

Move a house to purchased land.

If you’ve found a house that requires just a bit of work and not an entire rehab, HUD offers a 203(k) streamlined program. This program covers improvements, upgrades or repairs with costs that don’t exceed $35,000.

Some of these improvements may include a kitchen remodel, interior paint and new carpet – ideal for the homeowner wanting to spiff up a home before putting it on the market or the buyer who wants to make her new home move-in ready.


What kind of Properties?

With most government loans, not only must the buyer qualify, but also the home. A dwelling’s eligibility for the 203(k) program includes:

It must be at least one year old.

If the home is going to be demolished, the existing foundation must remain.

If the program is being used to rehab a condo, you must intend to live in it, and all work must be confined to the interior of the unit.


Who is Eligible?

Qualifying for the 203(k) loan is identical to the requirements for any FHA loan. The borrower must:

Show a steady employment history, preferably with the same employer for at least the past two years.

Be a lawful resident of the U.S. and have a Social Security number.

Intend to occupy the home.

Be able to show that your mortgage payment, taxes, insurance and mortgage insurance will be less than 31 percent of gross income.

Be able to show that the mortgage and all other monthly debt add up to no more than 43 percent of gross income.

Be at least two years out of bankruptcy, three years out of foreclosure, and have re-established good credit. There are exceptions to these rules, so speak with an FHA-approved lender for more information.

Have a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify for a 3.5 percent down payment. Borrowers with scores between 500 and 579 may qualify with 10 percent down.

Keep in mind that these are HUD’s requirements and lenders’ requirements may be more stringent. For example, most lenders require a credit score of 620 or higher, although there are rumors in the lending industry that this may increase.


So How Does it Work?

The beauty of the 203(k) loan program is that the borrower has only one loan that incorporates both the price of the home and the cost to rehabilitate it. The loan amount is based on what the property’s projected worth will be after the work is done.

The nuts and bolts of how the program works are detailed and may be somewhat confusing to homebuyers who lack home construction experience. The process starts with the lender, and you must use one that is FHA-approved. Ask your real estate agent for a referral, or you can find a list of these lenders at HUD’s website.

Your lender will then choose an FHA-approved consultant, whose job it is to determine the scope of work required. Once that determination is made, the appraiser will figure out what the property will be worth when the work is complete. Payouts from escrow will occur at several points during construction.

You will have six months to complete the rehab.

With housing inventory tight in many regions across the country, expanding your home search to include fixers may just allow you to rehab your way to the home of your dreams. So, go ahead and fall in love with the possibilities. Let me show you some fixer-uppers.

There are also many listed at; OrangeCountyRealEstates.com

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Will my Score drop if I apply for new credit?

Unfortunately, many people may be losing out on homes, because they withhold credit information from lenders or landlords until they find the perfect place.  By this time it may be too late.  Knowing when to authorize the pulling of your credit can mean the difference between getting that new home and Not.

Credit Checks & Inquiries

If you apply for several credit cards within a short period of time, multiple inquiries will appear on your report. Looking for new credit can equate with higher risk, but most credit scores are not affected by multiple inquiries from auto, mortgage or student loan lenders within a short period of time. Typically, these are treated as a single inquiry and will have little impact on the credit score.

What is an “inquiry”?

When you apply for credit, you authorize those lenders to ask or “inquire” for a copy of your credit report from a credit bureau. When you later check your credit report, you may notice that their credit inquiries arelisted. You may also see listed there inquiries by businesses that you don’t know. But the only inquiries that count toward your FICO score are the ones that result from your applications for new credit.

Does applying for credit affect my FICO Score?

Fair Isaac’s research shows that opening several credit accounts in a short period of time represents greater credit risk. When the information on your credit report indicates that you have been applying for multiple new credit lines in a short period of time (as opposed to rate shopping for a single loan, which is handled differently as discussed below), your FICO score can be lower as a result.

How much will credit inquiries affect my score?

The impact from applying for credit will vary from person to person based on their unique credit histories. In general, credit inquiries have a small impact on one’s FICO score. For most people, one additional credit inquiry will take less than five points off their FICO score. For perspective, the full range for FICO scores is 300-850. Inquiries can have a greater impact if you have few accounts or a short credit history. Large numbers of inquiries also mean greater risk. Statistically, people with six inquiries or more on their credit reports can be up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports. While inquiries often can play a part in assessing risk, they play a minor part. Much more important factors for your score are how timely you pay your bills and your overall debt burden as indicated on your credit report.

Does the formula treat all credit inquiries the same?

No. Research has indicated that the FICO score is more predictive when it treats loans that commonly involve rate-shopping, such as mortgage, auto and student loans, in a different way. For these types of loans, the FICO score ignores inquiries made in the 30 days prior to scoring. So, if you find a loan within 30 days, the inquiries won’t affect your score while you’re rate shopping. In addition, the score looks on your credit report for rate-shopping inquiries older than 30 days. If it finds some, it counts those inquiries that fall in a typical shopping period as just one inquiry when determining your score. For FICO scores calculated from older versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 14 day span. For FICO scores calculated from the newest versions of the scoring formula, this shopping period is any 45 day span. Each lender chooses which version of the FICO scoring formula it wants the credit reporting agency to use to calculate your FICO score.

What to know about “rate shopping”

If you need a loan, do your rate shopping within a focused period of time, such as 30 days. FICO scores distinguish between a search for a single loan and a search for many new credit lines, in part by the length of time over which inquiries occur.

Special thanks to Phil AndrewsUnited American Mortgage Corporation, for supplying this information.


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Is my Realtor Trustworthy?

      You have listened to good advice and interviewed 3 agents.  You’ve looked at all their stats, graphs and awards and you’ve hired the Neighborhood Expert, a Top Producer who Guarantees you’ll love their service or you can fire them.  But what do you Really know about them?

      Just because you see their face, when they come around every month knocking on doors or they drop great looking flyers on your front stoop or even mail you gardening & recipe postcards, doesn’t necessarily mean they are honest.  Just because they’re a go-getter and work hard to get your business, doesn’t mean they’re a great agent.  There just might be a reason they have to go out and drum up new business all the time.

      Unfortunately, as in most other industries and areas of our lives (government, religion, schools, police, etc.), there are some bad eggs in the real estate industry.  We would like to think that the people we sit face to face with, at our kitchen tables, will do what’s best for us and be honest in their handling of our most important assets.  Yet all too often this is NOT the case.  Greed and the promise of a fast buck have turned many agents bad.  Some even get caught in the act, a seen in this report;  Good Morning America’s “Caught on Camera”

      So how do you protect yourself?  Go the extra mile.  Take a few more steps to make sure they are who they present themselves to be.

      First and foremost, make sure they have the Realtor® designation.  Just because some one has passed the state licensing course doesn’t mean they are properly trained and must abide by a high Code of Ethics, like those who have joined the National Association of Realtors. Second, check their license.  Most states have a Department of Real Estate or Secretary of State or Bureau of Real Estate (here in Calif. it’s http://www2.dre.ca.gov/PublicASP/pplinfo.asp ), where you can easily check …DO IT!  Third, Google them.  By that I mean do a little background investigating online.  You just might be surprised at what you find. Fourth, call 4-6 of their references…not just 2 and not just email.  Lastly, ask friends, family, and/or coworkers for referrals.  Selling or buying a house is not an embarrassing proposition, nor does it have to be a big secret.  You don’t have to announce it in a company-wide email, yet getting input from someone who just experienced what you’re going through can be invaluable.  Using a Realtor with an already proven track record, who comes highly recommended, may be your safest bet.

      Client testimonials and license number for this agent are always, PROUDLY displayed at; http://OrangeCountyRealEstates.com

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Active Parents make ALL the Difference in Successful Schools

Most parents that I run into these days want their children to have a better life than they did.  They don’t want them to have to worry about money and most want their children to have the best of everything.  This usually leads to the conclusion that the best education will afford them that opportunity (unless you want them to be a highly successful Jewel Thieves or Drug Dealers).   Unfortunately, too many of them depend solely on the schools and their teachers.

Obviously a necessary beginning to a great education is a school and some teachers.  I’ve never been an advocate of Home-schooling, especially in this day and age, where EVERY field has many levels of Specialists.  How could anyone expect to know more about educating children than someone who has attended many years of college, has a degree and is working in the field?  Stick to what you know (mechanic, lawyer, nurse, CPA, bus driver or home-maker) and leave the teaching to the professionals.

Successfully educating children, however, does NOT stop there.  Dropping your kids off at school and expecting miracles will pretty much yield the opposite of what you are hoping for.  Teachers are not magicians and much like anything in life, that is worthwhile, we have to work hard at it (children & parents alike).  This not only means asking if their homework is done but checking & helping… not just attending church, but instilling deep moral values…not just saying Thank You, but helping someone in need.  Studies have shown that smart, successful children come from Well-Rounded backgrounds.                                                

The Orange County Register recently published an article entitled “Tight Communities Help Best Campuses Shine”.  The article delved into the fact that many of the highly successful schools consistently have stellar academic standards and close-knit communities (on and off campus).  This seemed to ring true whether in affluent neighborhoods or not.  One key factor was parents being actively involved in helping & supporting the schools & teachers (not bucking the system and placing blame).  Another mutually beneficial factor was getting the kids to interact with each other, in clubs and as teams, as well as out-reach projects in their communities.  A sense of pride in themselves, clubs/teams, their school and their community is what perpetuates great students and successful adults.

You can argue all you want; that you are paying hard-earned money for your children’s education (whether through taxes to public schools or directly to private ones) and that should be enough.  However, the indisputable truth is that teachers cannot do it alone.  The Buck will Always stop here.  If you want your children to have a better life you must stay vigilant for many years to come.

For more information about schools, scores, demographics, crime rates and more, please check out this Fabulous site;           http://www.orangecountyrealestates.com/mischool/zip/92807/

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One little √ could Cost $10,000s on a Home Purchase or Sale

No matter how hard the attorneys work to protect everyone in a real estate transaction, with longer & longer contracts, there will always be loopholes and/or room for deference in interpretation.   Real Estate transactions are fraught with danger, to anyone who doesn’t have a complete understanding of the process, the contracts and the disclosures involved.  For instance, attorneys probably understand the contracts, yet understanding buyer and seller needs, knowing the inventory, and negotiating a successful closing may elude them.  Realtors on the other hand, may be better at asking the right questions, knowing the inventory, and proper negotiations; yet, many do not fully understand the contracts they are advising their clients to sign.

Over my 20 year real estate career, I have been asked to teach many classes.  The areas I thoroughly enjoying training in the most are those on contracts.  I take great pride in having a thorough understanding of their every provision, even though they usually change at least once a year.  My hope is that some day every Realtor will have this thorough understanding and make life easier for all our clients and the entire industry as a whole.  Perhaps even putting attorneys out of work 🙂

One particular area of the California Residential Purchase Agreement, where most people have a complete lack of understanding, is the section dealing with “Minimum Mandatory Government Retrofits”.  I know it’s a mouthful, and yet, not knowing what it means, and inadvertently checking the wrong box, can bind someone to untold costs, with no way out.  This section goes way beyond the simple mandates like Smoke Detectors, Water Heater bracing & Carbon Monoxide Detectors.  Quite often, it deals with building codes or updates that few people, outside the politicians who enacted them, are even aware of.

Example; about 10-12 years ago there was a city here in Southern California that had a law on their books (for no other reason than to punish people for not paying them permit fees when doing even the smallest upgrades to their home).  This law roughly stated that when selling your home, if it was discovered that you had done more than $1,000 in work, to your property, which required a permit, (at any time during your ownership), and no such permit had been issued, then the entire property would now have to be brought up to current code standards.  In many cases, having the wrong box checked, could cost sellers (or buyers) tens of thousands of dollars.  Another scary example (brought on by our recent drought conditions) is the real possibility that low flow toilets, faucets and showers heads may become mandatory upon the sale of a home (its happened before).  Currently our public officials are pushing to have every home built prior to 1994 (which is 80% in the OC) to have such water saving devises in the next few years.  There was a front page story in the Orange County Register last weekend, about a woman who contracted to do a $17,000 remodel and was informed that all plumbing fixtures would have to be changed, to the tune of $70,000.  Unfortunate side affects to passing laws without considering all ramifications.

The problem is that there is a small check box for buyer & another small box to check for sellers, which, when initiated, makes that party (or parties) liable for ALL known & unknown “Minimum Mandatory Government Retrofits”.  How do I avoid potential problems?, you may ask…Don’t check either box!  There may not even be any such retrofits for this home and mandating it “your way or the highway” could lose you the home of your dreams for no reason.  Likewise, I have always believed and taught my fellow Realtors that, every transaction should be a Win-Win for everyone involved.  Don’t ever check a box with the intension of taking advantage of someone who doesn’t know any better, because it will usually come back to bite you when you least expect it.  If something is discovered during escrow, all parties can negotiate from a level playing field.

So the bottom line is, use a Realtor for all real estate transactions.  Use a Realtor you trust, believe and are comfortable with or who comes highly recommended by others.  Never choose someone because they pronounce that they will “get you more money” than anyone else or do it for less pay (commission) than everyone else.  There are costs in running every a real estate business and if someone cuts their commission in 1/2, you can bet that you are not getting something that you deserve.  Ask yourself this; if an agent’s first act is to give away their money, how likely are they going to fight for your money (you get what you pay for).  A good Realtor will negotiate the Best Price & terms for you, make sure you are thoroughly protected, Save you tens of thousands in hidden costs, and get you family moved in the time frame you are looking for.

For more great information like this or to search for homes go to; www.OrangeCountyRealEstates.com

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