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6 People Who Help You Buy Your First Home

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Advice for first-time home buyers often focuses on all the steps involved in buying a home. To simplify things, let’s look at the people involved, not the steps.

If you’re a people person, focusing on the people might help you visualize the whole home buying process better than trying to remember the details.

Okay, besides you and the home seller, about six other people will be involved when you buy a home. Some of them will be involved from beginning to end, others will pop in and out, and still others will be optional.

Please be aware that each state has its own unique legal requirements for transferring the ownership of homes. Below is a simplified overview.

  1. Mortgage Loan Officer

I’ve never heard of a first-time home buyer paying all cash for a home so let’s assume you have to borrow money to buy the place.

Your mortgage loan officer will be involved from beginning to end. From your first phone call to see how much home you can afford to buy, until the transfer of the ownership of the home to you, your loan officer will be involved.

  1. Real Estate Agent

Home buyers, especially first-time home buyers, usually use a real estate agent to help them buy their homes. Your agent is involved from the beginning to the very end.

They’ll help you find the home, draft up your written offer and give you advice on how to negotiate price and terms with the seller. After you have a written, signed agreement to buy the place, they’ll help you navigate through the inspections and closing process.

  1. Real Estate Attorney

Some states in the Northeast and Southeast require licensed real estate attorneys be involved in the transfer of home ownership. As mentioned above, every state has its own unique laws on how to transfer the legal ownership of homes.

  1. Closing Agent / Settlement Agent

A closing agent—also called a settlement agent—will always be involved from the time you reach a signed written agreement with the seller until ownership of the home is transferred to you. A closing agent will be involved during the last 30 to 45 days or so before you take ownership of the home.

Closing agents are the ones who make sure the buyer and seller do what they promised to do in the written contract. At the end, closing agents are the ones who do the paperwork to transfer ownership of the home to you.

I like to say the boss of the closing agent isn’t the buyer or seller, the boss of the closing agent is the written contract the buyer and seller signed.

In the Northeast and Southeast, the closing agent is probably a closing attorney. In the rest of the country, the closing agent is probably either an escrow officer or title agent.

Generically, they’re all called closing agents or settlement agents.

  1. Home Inspector

Home inspectors are often involved but not for long. They pop in, do a home inspection in less than half a day, write a report the same day and they’re gone. You’ll probably never hear from your home inspector again.

You may also have other inspections done, such as a termite inspection. Different areas of the country have different customary inspections.

  1. Appraiser

To make sure they aren’t lending you more money than the home is worth, your mortgage lender will hire an appraiser to estimate the market value of the home you’re buying. The appraiser works for your lender, not you, even if your lender charges you for the appraisal.

Appraisers pop-in, do their thing and are gone. They check out the house in person, do more research back at their offices, and within a few days they’ll send their official report with the appraised value of the home. You’ll probably never meet or talk to the appraiser.

Source: ~ By: Jake Wake ~ Image: 21online Asset Library

Categories: Blog

9691 PARAJE WAY HOLTSVILLE Residential Lot, 1.9acres

Asking $20,000

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Property Description for 9691 Paraje Way, HOLTSVILLE CA 95329

Quiet, secluded buildable lot with seasonal stream and numerous mature oak trees. Beautiful location for vacation home or year round living, with a unique and lovely historical rock wall and plenty of privacy. Close to Lake Don Pedro and Lake McClure. HOA includes pool, recreation room, etc. Water and power available at the street.

  • Property Class: Land
  • Listing Status: Active
  • State: CA
  • Zip: 95329
  • Area: 21301 – Mariposa County
  • County: Mariposa
  • Class: Lot/Land
  • Property Subtype: Residential Acreage
  • Approx Lot Size: 1.900
  • Baths (F/H): — / —
  • Lot Sq Ft Apx: 82764
  • Listing#: 18041596
  • School District: Mariposa
  • Association: Default MLS Association
  • Value Range Price (H/L): $0
  • List Date: 6/20/2018
  • Last updated on: 6/29/2018

Property Features for 9691 Paraje Way, HOLTSVILLE CA 95329

  • Equipment Included: None
  • Improvements: None
  • Primary Residence: None
  • Sewer-Septic: Septic Needed
  • Water: Meter Required, Private District
  • Crops: None
  • Development Status: Raw Land
  • Income: None
  • Probable Use: Recreational, Single Family
  • Road Surface: Paved
  • Special Conditions: Easement, Other See Attachment
  • Vegetation: Brush, Grassland, Trees Many
  • Current Use: Other See Remarks
  • Irrigation: No Irrigation
  • Outbuildings: None
  • Road Frontage: Public Maintained RD
  • Utility: Elect Within 500 Ft
  • Zoning Description: Residential

Additional Information for 9691 Paraje Way, HOLTSVILLE CA 95329

  • APN: 021-160-0030
  • School District 1: Other
  • School County: Mariposa
  • Lot Measurement: A
  • Add Living Unit: No
  • CCRs: Yes
  • Area: 21301 – Mariposa County
  • Acres: 1.900

Categories: Featured properties

4821 Old Ranch Rd Salida 3bds/2bths 1096sf

Asking – $285,000

Charming, well maintained home in highly sought after Salida location, near great schools, shopping and Highways 99 and 219 for easy commute. Nicely landscaped front, and rear yard boasts a lemon, avocado and dwarf citrus trees. As well as, delicious blackberries, oregano, rosemary and mint. This cozy home is move in ready and waiting to welcome you home.

Categories: Pending Sales

6607 OAKDALE RD Riverbank home for sale

Asking $499,900

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Property Description for 6607 Oakdale Rd, Riverbank CA 95367

Highly sought after River Heights beauty with lovely curb appeal. Newly remodeled kitchen and huge living space creates a perfect open concept, with easy access to pool and patio. A whole house fan makes cooling your home a breeze. Many wonderful features and the perfect home for those who enjoy entertaining.

  • Property Class: Residential
  • Listing Status: Active
  • City: Riverbank
  • State: CA
  • Zip: 95367
  • Area: 20201 – Riverbank
  • County: Stanislaus
  • Class: Single Family
  • Property Subtype: 1 House on Lot
  • Approx Lot Size: 0.215
  • Stories: 1
  • Fireplaces: Yes
  • Beds: 3
  • Baths Total: 2
  • Baths (F/H): 2/0
  • Living Area (SqFt): 2,195 sqft
  • Lot Sq Ft Apx: 9348
  • Garage: 2
  • Year Built: 1978
  • Listing#: 18037300
  • School District: Stanislaus
  • Association: Default MLS Association
  • Value Range Price (H/L): $0
  • List Date: 6/5/2018
  • Last updated on: 6/29/2018

Property Features for 6607 Oakdale Rd, Riverbank CA 95367

  • Bedrooms: 3.00
  • Acres: 0.215
  • Area: 20201 – Riverbank
  • Air: Central
  • Energy Features: Ceiling Fan(S), Dual Pane Full, Whole House Fan
  • Exterior: Siding Lap, Stucco
  • Foundation: Raised
  • Heat: Central
  • Kitchen Description: Counter Granite, Pantry Closet
  • Master Bath: Closet, Shower Stall(S)
  • Road Description: Paved, Public Maintained
  • Utilities: All Public
  • Baths Other: Double Sinks, Tub W/Shower Over
  • Dining Description: Dining Bar, Dining/Living Combo
  • Features Misc: Patio Covered
  • Floor Covering(s): Carpet, Laminate, Stone, Tile
  • Kitchen Appliances: Cook Top Gas, Dishwasher, Disposal, Oven Double, Oven Elec B/I
  • Security Features: Carbon Mon Detector, Smoke Detector
  • Site Description: Level, Shape Regular, View Local
  • Water: Public District
  • Construction: Wood
  • Fireplace Desc: Electric, Family Room, Insert
  • Improvements: Sidewalk/Curb/Gutter
  • Laundry Description: Cabinets, Inside Room
  • Other Structures: Pergola, Tool Shed
  • Roof Description: Comp Shingle
  • Sewer: In And Connected
  • Subtype Description: Detached

Additional Information for 6607 Oakdale Rd, Riverbank CA 95367

  • HUD: No
  • APN: 074-018-047-000
  • School County: Stanislaus
  • CCRs: Yes
  • Census Tract: 4.02
  • Horse Property: No
  • Lot Measurement: A
  • Pool Y/N: Yes

Categories: Featured properties

7 Things to Know Before Buying Your First Home

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From how much house you can really afford to how many coffee shops are nearby, here’s what you need to know before buying your first place.

Get Ready to Buy

If you watched the 2008 mortgage crisis from the desk of your first job, you’re probably squeamish about jumping into the market yourself. Don’t be. Arm yourself with a great real-estate agent, then read on for what to look for and what to do to get your dream first home.

Put a Hold on Spending

So you’ve saved a hefty 20 percent down payment…excellent. But don’t stop there. Banks check your recent purchasing history as part of the mortgage approval process. They’re looking for a steady cash flow and at your habitual spending habits to figure out if you’re a safe investment. So tamp down on spontaneous trips to Hawaii and other huge expenditures for 3-6 months before talking to a mortgage broker, and during the search and buying process. (Talk to your broker if you suspect your history might be problematic.)

Sail Through Pre-Approval

With a down payment of 20 percent or more of your home’s expected purchase price, you’ll be on solid ground with most banks. To ensure the best loan rates, however, give yourself the same financial checkup the mortgage broker gives: Figure out your debt-to-income ratio by adding up your total monthly debt (including student loans and car payments) and checking to see that it’s no more than 36 percent of your monthly gross income. If it’s higher than that, take a year or so to aggressively decrease your debts. (Need help? Money Under 30’s Debt Payoff page offers a thorough roadmap.) Then run a credit check on yourself. 720 or higher is ideal. If it’s drastically lower than that, take the time to build it back up before meeting with a banker. Finally, stay in your current job. Many banks shy away from people who have switched jobs in the last two years or have a history of job hopping. Remember: They’re looking for a stable, sure investment in you, so take the time to clean up or bolster your finances even if it means delaying your house plans for a year or more. It will pay off in better financing and lower interest rates.

Know Your Real Budget

Now that you’re pre-approved, take a hard look at the amount: Is it a figure you can actually afford? Your monthly house costs should be one third of your gross income. This includes not just your monthly mortgage payment, but also property taxes, HOA fees, and other associated costs. (Your agent can give you ballpark figures for the neighborhoods you’re most interested in.) Factor these hard costs into a more realistic budget, and then consider the softer lifestyle implications of going higher. A payment higher by a hundred or two a month might seem easy to bear until you realize you’ll be dipping into your travel fund to cover it.

Check Area School Rankings

Even if you don’t have kids, these rankings are important. They affect resale value, for instance. If you’re in a desirable school district, you can expect future development and an increase in your property value, which could add up to a quick and profitable resell down the road. A school’s ranking also gives hints about the demographic makeup of the neighborhood. If it’s a top school, expect lots of families in the neighborhood. Niche.comand both present school rankings nationwide calculated with data from the Department of Education and local reviewers.

Suss out the Neighborhood

Nothing beats hanging out in neighborhoods you’re interested in (and striking up conversations with the people who already live there). But if you’re looking for hard data about amenities, public transportation options, walkability, and crime, head to the Internet. ranks areas by total livability, including high-school graduation rate, crime, amenities, weather, and other important factors. It shares the data behind its scores and lets you compare neighborhoods.

For a deep dive into a neighborhood’s walkability index that includes public transit options and commute time projections, check Also check with the neighborhood association or city council about any building plans approved, and ask yourself if you’ll benefit from the development.

Finally, it’s a good idea to glance at police incidents in the area. Go to to filter a neighborhood’s submitted reports by time of day, type of incident, and more. Check out at least six month’s worth of data to get an accurate picture of overall police activity in the neighborhood.

Source: ~ By: JOANNA LINBERG ~ Image:

Categories: Blog

4 Hot Trends for Outdoor Spaces

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Regardless of its size, a home’s outdoor space should be a showpiece in a listing.

“This year it’s really about making your outdoor space function like an interior space for all things fun, lounging, and entertaining,” Gretchen Kennelly, a San Diego interior designer, told®.

Designers offered up some of their trend insights to® for homeowners or sellers trying to maximize a home’s outdoor potential, including:

Alternative flooring options

Outdoor rugs have been common in recent years, but more flooring options are emerging, such as porcelain. Porcelain is known as being durable and simple to install, which is adding to its popularity. “Porcelain pavers can create this beautiful transition without creating a huge divide between the two living spaces,” says Joe Raboine, national design and training specialist with Belgard. Ikea’s beechwood deck tiles are another way to enhance a patio or balcony’s flooring without spending a fortune, says designer Christina Harmon.

Vertical gardens

A garden can fit in any space outside; just go up instead of out. Vertical gardens maximize the available space by growing herbs and veggies upwards. Arbors, arches, pergolas, and gazebos can help enhance a vertical garden. “They’ll create the ambience of an outdoor garden ‘room’ and give a sense of height and depth to an otherwise small space,” Raboine says. Read more: The Hot Home Trend of Vertical Gardens

Attention-getting lighting

“This year is the time to brighten up the exterior of your home in unexpected ways,” Michael Amato, creative director at the Urban Electric Co., told®. “If you have an all-white painted brick or stucco home, adding lighting in a fun color like blue with gold hardware creates interest. If your house is already painted a fun color, lighting presents a great opportunity to work in a contrasting color for a striking statement.” Hanging stringed Edison-styled bulbs along an outdoor space can create a festive flair to a backyard too.

Blues and greens

Deep blues and greens are on trend this season in outdoor spaces. Fabric cushions and umbrellas are showcasing the color. “This year, it’s all about outdoor spaces that feel luxurious rather than cheesy,” Harmon says. “Think lots of neutrals coupled with gorgeous jewel-toned greens and furniture and accessories that create a truly indoor-outdoor vibe.”


Categories: Blog

Homeowners: May Is the Best Month to Sell

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If you are considering listing this spring, now is the time.

May is the best bet for home sellers, according to an analysis by ATTOM Data Solutions, which found that the average seller gains 5.9 percent more than market value—the highest of all months—in the fifth month of the year.

June is profitable for sellers, as well, with an average 5.8 percent premium, with June 28, pointedly, reeling in 9.1 percent—the best day of the year. May 29 and May 31 are also high-returning, with an 8.2 percent premium and an 8.3 percent premium, respectively.

For homeowners, the key is timeliness. According to the analysis, the advantage drops off sharply after June, with a 3.8 percent premium in July, a 4.2 percent premium in August, and back down to a 3.2 percent premium in September. Through the remainder of the year, the average seller earns between 1.6 percent and 2.6 percent over market value—considerably less than had they acted during the May peak.

The analysis findings’ are reminiscent of spring 2017, when May 1 through May 15 was found to be the ideal listing window. The difference now is that inventory is tighter—down 7.2 percent year-over-year—and, although homeowners are getting multiple offers, there is the burden of buying another home at the record prices they are today.

Still, it is a seller’s market, and the numbers have it: In the first three months of 2018, the average seller recouped 29.5 percent, or $53,369 at resale.

Source: ~ By: Suzanne De Vita ~

Categories: Blog

5 Ways to Green Your Home for St. Paddy’s

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Going green for St. Paddy’s doesn’t need to mean wearing your favorite emerald t-shirt or adding dye to a batch of cookies. You can make eco-friendly choices to “green” your life, starting with your home.

Appliance upgrade. If you have a tired old appliance, like a fridge, washing machine, dishwasher or toilet, consider a new, energy approved version to slash energy costs and consumption.

Switch to less caustic cleaners. Choose a natural cleaner to keep your home spotless. You can make your own easy with vinegar and baking soda, or head to the natural aisle of the store for premade options.

Lights out. Choose one or two days a week where the lights are out early in your house to slash energy consumption. You don’t need to send everyone to bed early. Instead, have the whole family congregates to one room to make use of light for reading, web browsing, or even better–game night!

Buy local. Creating a St. Paddy’s feast? Consider buying as many local ingredients as you can, which supports the local economy and cuts down your carbon footprint as the goods did not need to travel. Local farms often have cabbage and potatoes this time of year, or seek out locally produced canned goods, bread, and even beer!

Use less. Put a paper ban on your home. Make grocery lists digitally, keep a white board for notes and reminders, and stash reusable bags in the car for trips to the store. ~ Image:

Categories: Blog

In the Market for a House? A Quick Guide to Home-Buying This Spring

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It’s an exciting milestone in a young person’s life to be on the cusp of purchasing a first home. If this is where you are at the moment, you probably have mixed feelings ranging from thrilled to anxious. That’s understandable, as this is a big purchase that will change your life forever.

To help you, here’s a quick guide that’ll make you better prepared as you begin your search:

Timing Is Everything

The natural first step to buying your first home is to determine if this is really the best time for you do so. While renting might not be a long-term solution, it may be what’s best for you given your current situation. You just want to make sure that you are at a place in your life where homeownership is really within reach. If it is, and you feel confident that you are ready, then it’s time to proceed.

Consider Your Finances

You might fall in love with a certain home, but struggle every month to make the mortgage payment. This is no way to live. You want to end up with a home that is well within your budget. Figure out what you are comfortable with spending and then only look at homes in that range. Do not get talked into buying more home than you can afford.

Work With a Real Estate Agent

There is no need to look around for the best home on your own. Real estate agents have a special knowledge of the market. Work with an agency and let them know what you are looking for. They will then compile a list in preparation for scheduling some viewings for you.

Shop Around for the Best Deal

Most people looking to sell real estate are willing to negotiate their price a little bit. Keep that in mind. In addition, some homes are over-priced, while others are under-priced, so you obviously want to aim for the latter, while still finding a great property in the location of your choice.

If you can follow this short guide, your path to homeownership will be within reach. The key is to take it slow and make sure that you’re confident in your final decision. You want a home that you’ll be comfortable in for the long term, and one that you can easily afford. Accomplish both of these objectives and you will be set for a happy future.

Source: ~ By Kara Masterson ~ Image:

Categories: Blog

SOLD – 13451 9721 Salinas St. La Grange

SOLD for $350,000

Spacious foothills custom home with views of Lake Don Pedro. A two story home with over 2000 Sq ft, 4 bedrooms and 2 baths, featuring a sunroom with balcony, separate laundry room, upstairs office, and a large loft perfect for game room or pool table. This home also includes a small workshop with outside access and a good sized steel storage shed with roll up doors. New laminate flooring and brand new upstairs bathroom. Great home for vacation or year round. Many recent improvements, must see.

Categories: Solds