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5 Reasons Why You Should Move to Palm Springs!

Many people not only enjoy winter, but wait eagerly for the start of the season. We, however, live in the desert, because we thoroughly enjoy the pleasant year-round temperatures and mild climate. If you’re like us, then you will enjoy reading today’s post about some of the things you can escape from when you spend your winters in the desert. Contact Darlene Harwick in Palm Springs today and let us help you find your dream desert home.

Icy Sidewalks

Icy sidewalks are one of the primary causes for personal injury during winter. Sure, you can spend the money to have radiant heat placed into your own sidewalk, but how does that help you when you want to walk beyond your property? If you are tired of wondering whether your next step might just shoot out from under you, or you can’t fathom sprinkling another round of salt across your driveway, then you should consider moving to Palm Springs and adopting the desert lifestyle.

Black Ice

Speaking of ice, there are few things in life that are more scary than suddenly realizing that you are driving across black ice. Named for its ability to blend in with the color of the road, black ice is dangerous primarily because you can’t see it until it’s too late. The best thing to do is to take your foot off the accelerator and hold the wheel steady until you are at a spot where you can safely brake.

Flu

Whether or not you catch the flu during winter, you probably struggle with a stuffed up or runny nose at least several times over the course of this sickness-inducing season. The fluctuations in temperature between your warm home and the cold outdoors, coupled with changing humidity and a variety of other factors, make winter one of the hardest times to remain healthy.

Scraping and Defrosting Your Car

Even if you keep your garage organized enough that you are able to park indoors, you don’t have the luxury of that protection when you drive to work, or run errands. It is easy to forget the simple luxury that we enjoy during the summer of simply hopping in our cars and taking off. During the winter, not only will you have to scrape ice and snow off of your vehicle, but you will also have to allow time for the heater to warm up your car and defrost your windows.

Heating Bills

During winter, there are only so many clothes that you can put on before it becomes uncomfortable. Likewise, short of heating your home to match the temperature of a sub-tropical climate, there aren’t a lot of other options for remaining comfortable. Most people choose to heat their home to a reasonable temperature and then simply wear an extra layer or two. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk around in your shorts even in the middle of winter? You will have that, and many other comfortable luxuries when you move to the desert.

 

Darlene Harwick wants to help you find the perfect desert home for you and your family. Whether you are interested in a vacation home to escape winter, or you are looking for a permanent residence, we can help. Contact our office in Palm Springs today!

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Top Five Things to Do in the Desert

Contrary to what television shows and movies would have you believe, the desert is not simply a dry and barren wasteland. In fact, there are so many fun and engaging activities that we couldn’t possibly list them all in one blog! We chose our top five favorite things to do and see when we are in the desert, and we hope you’ll try them out! If you enjoy your time so much that you are wondering how you can make the desert lifestyle your own, then Call Darlene Harwick today and find your desert home retreat.

Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is a must-see in our book. Founded in 1938, it specialized in Native American artifacts, as well as the natural sciences and environment of the area. Today, it still focuses on the unique microcosm of the Coachella Valley where it is located. With rotating exhibits, educational programs, and performing arts productions, the museum has something for everyone.

The Modern Tour

Palm Springs is well-known as a home to some of the great influencers of modern architecture, as well as some of their most famous creations. You will get to visit some of the most legendary Palm Springs homes to view examples of mid-century modern architecture and design. One of the highlights of the tour is, of course, the Albert Frey House II with a boulder that juts into the home’s interior. This is one tour that you will not want to miss!

The Living Desert

As its name indicates, the Living Desert is part zoo and part botanical garden, set in the desert. You will be able to experience both African desert life and North American desert life as you walk through the park. There are educational presentations throughout the day, opportunities to feed different animals such as giraffes and lorikeets, and over 1,400 species of desert plant life. The Living Desert is a great place for adults and children alike to learn and have fun.

Joshua Tree National Park

Whether you are an avid hiker or someone who enjoys casual strolls, you need to make sure to set aside a day during your visit to experience this absolutely stunning national park! There are a number of day hike options for you to choose from. One of the shortest trail options, Arch Rock, is just three-tenths of a mile. On the other end of the scale in terms of distance, is the Cottonwood Springs nature trail at two and a half miles. You will enjoy open views of a diverse landscape as you walk this trail. No matter which day hike you choose to take, you are sure to enjoy your time in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tahquitz Canyon

Home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Tahquitz Canyon is a beautiful and culturally sensitive area in their reservation. A small admission fee will allow you to enter the reservation and walk the two-mile loop to the stunning 50-foot waterfall in this canyon in the middle of the desert! The fee goes toward maintaining a pristine walking trail, as well as protecting the falls from the graffiti that has marred so many other waterfalls in the L.A. area.

We hope that our list has inspired you to visit the desert and see all of the fun things there are to do. If you fall in love with this area as much as we have, then call Darlene Harwick in Palm Springs to learn how you can find your desert home.

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4 Cheap Ways to Prepare Your Home for Sale

improve how your home shows to potential buyers

If you want to improve how your home shows to potential buyers, you don’t necessarily need to invest in a costly remodeling or renovation. In fact, there are some simple – and relatively inexpensive – things you can do to make your property look significantly better!

Let’s take a look at some of the options available:

1. Paint it.

There’s no doubt about it. A fresh coat of paint will significantly improve the appearance of just about any area of your home. In fact, compared to other home improvements, painting will give you the highest return on investment when you sell your property. Think beyond walls. Painting a door, window frame, garage floor or deck can make those features look like new.

2. Declutter it.

Eliminating clutter will make your home look more attractive, roomy and comfortable to buyers. Do an inventory of each room. Ask yourself: “What can I throw out? Give away? Sell? Put into storage?”

3. Put up mirrors.

Mirrors are a relatively inexpensive design feature. Yet, according to an article in Style At Home magazine, they can make small rooms appear bigger and dark rooms seem brighter. You don’t necessarily need to buy wall-hanging mirrors. Standalone floor models will have the same effect.

4. Repair it.

In most cases, you will have to get any needed repairs done anyway. So, do them before you show your home. That way buyers will focus on the appealing features of your property, not the minor defects.

Want more ideas for preparing your home for sale on a tight budget? Call today.

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Escrow Can Be Confusing!

Escrow can be a somewhat confusing process for buyers and sellers, but think of Escrow as the neutral third party that acts as the depository for documents and money in a real estate transaction.

Upon request, escrow provides copies of the real estate purchase contract, earnest money deposit and escrow instructions to the lender at the beginning of the transaction. Additional items may be estimated closing statements, copies of trusts, homeowners’ association information and evidence of insurance.

Escrow provides the title company with the buyers and sellers completed statements of information and items specified in the preliminary title report as needed to clear title. The title officer reviews them and may request additional items. Escrow creates the estimated and final closing statements, which are an accounting of the real estate transaction. Escrow receives prints and reviews the loan documents, specifically the lenders instructions. Escrow will prepare the estimated HUD statements and arrange the signing of these and other documents with a notary public. Once signed and returned to our office, Escrow assists the lender in compiling funding conditions. Escrow is then notified by the buyer’s lender when they are ready to release loan funds. When all conditions of the escrow have been met, including receipt of all necessary and cleared funds, Escrow notifies the title company to release the documents for recording. Upon confirmation of recording, escrow completes the prorations and costs in order to reconcile/balance all funds to be disbursed. The final HUD statement is prepared by escrow.

Some things escrow cannot do or take responsibility for:

Process the buyer’s loan.
Underwrite the title insurance.
Make decisions on the items provided to title and the lender.
Give tax or legal advice.
Mediate or arbitrate on disagreements between the parties.
Prepare unilateral amendments or instructions without other parties’ knowledge.
Take verbal instructions.
Order inspections, appraisals and reports (this includes Home Warranty, Zone Disclosures etc).
Order repairs to be made.
Obtain signatures on disclosures provided by the real estate agents.

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5 Criteria for Pricing a Home

  1. Location: Homes in the same neighborhood typically follow the same market trends. Comparing your home to another in the same neighborhood is a good start, but comparing it to homes on the same street or block is even better.
  2. Date of sale: It varies by location, but housing markets can see a ton of fluctuation in a short time period. It‘s best to use the most recent sales data available.
  3. Home build: Look for homes with similar architectural styles, numbers of bathrooms and bedrooms, square footage, and other basics.
  4. Features and upgrades: Remodeled bathrooms and kitchens can raise a home’s price, and so can less flashy upgrades like a new roof or HVAC system. Be sure to look for similar bells and whistles.
  5. Sale types: Homes that are sold as short sales or foreclosures are often in distress or sold at a lower price than they’d receive from a more typical sale. These homes are not as useful for comparisons.

 

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5 NEGOTIATING TACTICS THAT KILL A HOME SALE

kill home deal

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers (and real estate professionals) should avoid:

  1. Lowball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. More, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.
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What to Consider when Buying a Second Home in the Desert

The Costs: Before you begin your search for your dream get-away home, talk to your tax professional about how a second home will impact your tax situation. The IRS has different rules for people with second homes and vacation homes (defined as such if you stay there at least two weeks a year), so before you do anything, find out how buying a second home will affect your taxes.

Consider the expenses of buying a second property and the ongoing financial commitments involved in maintaining it, such as property taxes, insurance, utilities, gardeners, pool service, and homeowner association monthly fees (if in a gated community).  Condominiums make great second homes because you don’t have to worry about the issues owners of detached homes do, like the exterior and outdoor areas. When looking at condos, research the homeowners’ associations (HOAs). Ask about monthly fees, special assessments and community rules.

If you’re looking for an investment property, a low price is not the only consideration. A turnkey operation is ideal. Look for properties that don’t need extensive repairs or much maintenance and steadily generates a steady positive cash flow. When buying a rental property, budget for added costs, such as marketing the home to potential renters, hiring a property manager and making repairs.

As with any home purchase, you’ll need to factor in closing costs and a down payment, which in the case of a second home or investment property will be sizable. Typically, you’ll need to put down at least 25 percent of the purchase price.

Down the road, if you decide the property isn’t working out for you, how hard will it be to sell it or rent it out? How much will it cost you? Planning ahead and coming up with a plan B will help you deal with potential surprises.

The City: Location, location, location. One of the keys in being successful in investing in a second home is your awareness of the neighborhood you’ve decided to target. Take the extra time to study the demographics of a specific neighborhood before making an investment. Ask your realtor if the community is primarily comprised of baby boomers, families with children, or filled with rental properties.  Ask how your targeted area compares with others in that city.

The Knowledge of the Coachella Valley:  Many times when people talk about Palm Springs, they’re actually referring to other cities in the Coachella Valley, like Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, and La Quinta.

  1. INDIAN LAND: Land that is laid out by sections in a checkerboard fashion throughout Palm Springs and also parts of Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage. Approximately every other section of this checkerboard is owned by the Agua Caliente Indians. Though fee simple (land you own) is the standard type of ownership in California, there are some benefits to buying a home, condo or lot located on leased land. Be sure to find out if a property you are considering is on leased land and what the terms of that particular lease are.
  2. HILLSIDE DEVELOPMENT: Hillside development is very limited in the Coachella Valley. Steps are being taken in many of the cities throughout the valley to limit and/or rezone hillside property to restrict residential development. Therefore, when considering the purchase of vacant hillside property, a visit to the Planning Department is suggested. Take along a parcel map of the subject property and a city planner will gladly explain to you any restrictions that may apply. This trend has caused a strong appreciation of developed hillside property over the past years and should continue into the future.
  3. EARTHQUAKE FAULTS: As throughout the state of California, earthquake faults, including the San Andreas fault, run through the Coachella Valley. Although homes are built to withstand most earthquakes, it is important to know how close a property may be to an active fault. Maps showing earthquake fault lines in the Coachella Valley are made available through the County of Riverside.
  4. HOMEOWNER’S ASSOCIATIONS: The Coachella Valley has many private country clubs and private developments with homeowner’s associations. Important information regarding each individual association should be made available to you before you purchase any property in which you are required to be a member of a homeowner’s association. Among other things, you should verify monthly and/or annual fees or dues you will be required to pay and whether any assessments are anticipated in the near future. Important documents include CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions), By-Laws, and Financial Statements.
  5. GAMBLING: The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have opened their own casino at the Spa Hotel in downtown Palm Springs. The overall opinion in Palm Springs is that gambling will be good for the city, and most merchants and residents are in favor of gambling. The Agua Caliente Tribe has eventual plans to expand their existing casino at Indian Canyon and Amado streets.
  6. WIND: Certain areas in the Coachella Valley experience a higher degree of wind than the secluded canyons and other wind sheltered areas. This is not to say that the wind is good or bad, but, if you have a strong opinion one way or the other, you should investigate how the wind affects each area of the valley.
  7. CONSIDER THE ELEMENTS: Because of our unique desert climate, certain types of construction fare better and are more economical to own than others. Be sure to carefully consider the energy efficiency of any improved property before buying or leasing it. Look for well insulated walls, pitched roofs, and strategically placed landscaping.
  8. WHAT ARE THE TAXES? State property taxes are limited to an annual assessment of approximately 1.25% of the purchase price. Example: $100,000 home will equal $1,250 per year. In addition, many cities have small local taxes such as the utility tax in Palm Springs. Some areas have assessments for recent street and sewer improvements. Be sure to check it out.
  9. WHAT ABOUT THE HEAT? It is true that during the summer months the temperature will reach up to and over 100 degrees almost daily. However, most of the time it is a dry heat, and is a very small price to pay for the nine months of ideal weather we do enjoy. Most areas of the country offer only three to six months of quality weather as opposed to our nine months. Imagine laying out by the pool in the middle of January!

Average Daily Minimum-Maximum Temperatures in January, February, March, April, May, June:

41 – 69/45 – 74/48 – 79/ 54 – 87/60 – 94/66 – 103

July, August, September, October, November, December:

74–108, 75–107, 67–102, 59–92, 48–79, 42–70

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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HOA vs NO HOA

HOA or no HOA. That is the question.

Homebuyers considering to purchase a home in a gated Home Owner Association community (HOA) or purchase in a non-gated community here in our Coachella Valley is an important consideration before buying. Rule of thumb is the higher the monthly HOA fee the higher the amenities in that community. Buyers who are not familiar with our desert are advised to research and walk through different communities to understand what amenities are offered and the costs associated with them.

The Coachella Valley (Palm Springs to Indio) is a world-renowned vacation community of luxury vacation homes and resort-like condos. Many of our region’s residents live here part-time and expect a resort-like lifestyle. They like the convenience of an HOA to manage maintenance, landscaping and security during the months they spend elsewhere.

HOA dues vary widely from community to community depending upon the amenities (golf course, tennis courts, clubhouse, pools/spas, fitness centers, etc) and services that are offered. HOA dues in condominium communities will generally be higher than those of most single-family home communities. Besides amenities, HOA dues can also include exterior building insurance, maintenance (outside walls. roofs, painting) and landscaping, making it ideal for seasonal homeowners because they can “lock and leave” and not worry about outside maintenance.

Most gated communities (single-family and condominium) fund street maintenance and security through their HOA budgets, board members and HOA managers. Many HOAs also pay for common area landscaping —which can include HOA-owned golf courses — along with pools and owners’ yards. Some HOAs use reserve funds for house painting or roof maintenance every few years; others pass those fees onto residents as special assessments. Some offer golf course or country club memberships as separate costs from HOA dues.

Lenders seriously take HOA fees into consideration approving mortgage loans. A helpful guide for buyers to keep in mind is that every $70 in monthly HOA fees lowers purchasing power by $10,000. So, if a buyer was prepared to spend $300,000 but wants to live in a neighborhood charging $240 in monthly HOA fees, that buyer should consider homes closer to $270,000.

Information is paramount in buyer decision-making.  Budget, lifestyle, and location are important considerations before purchasing. Do your homework before making an offer.  Ask yourself what amenities you want (if any) then visualize living in a gated or non-gated community and the costs associated with your selection.

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Location Location Location

The mantra of smart real estate purchases is “location, location, location,” Taking heed to this discipline can dictate future gains or losses of your selected property. Pricing of identical houses or condos in different areas reflects current demand and future appreciation.

It is important to select an agent who knows the areas and communities in your selected city.  Top agents will review your criteria and then guide you to locations that best match your needs while mindful of area trends.

Starting your home search begins with your list of wants and needs. Determine your price range of targeted homes, what type of view you prefer (if view is important), sunlight exposure, interior and exterior amenities, and your lifestyle.

Here in the Coachella Valley area homes offering views are one of the most requested location options in the desert. And since outdoor living is so popular here, sweeping views can and will add value to an identical property with limited or no views. Some buyers prefer golf course views, while others choose the mountains. Here in the desert you can actually get both.

Maybe you want to live close to restaurants and shopping so proximity to a city center will be an important requirement on your ‘wants and needs list’ of desirable locations. Many Palm Springs area activities are in walking distance or a short golf cart or bike ride away from many locations.

An important consideration in choosing your desert home is whether you want it to be in a gated community with HOA (Homeowners Association). HOAs offer benefits to some buyers and drawbacks to others. HOA’s have rules and regulations. On the plus side is the fact that most HOA’s work hard at maintaining high community standards and appearances so your neighborhood doesn’t become run down or have blighted homes. Keep in mind that there are HOA dues to pay and you’ll need to be aware of the monthly fees and any HOA rules pertaining to using or modifying your property. Before buying a home or condo located within an HOA, you’ll want to read your copy of the HOA CC&R’s (Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions). You’ll be provided this document during the start of escrow after your offer is accepted, and you will be given a period of time to either proceed with your purchase or cancel.

You’ve chosen the Coachella Valley because of the beauty, weather and activities. Use your agent’s area knowledge and expertise to get your desert dream home.

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