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Best Dog-friendly Restaurants in the Desert


The Palm Springs area conjures up images of sunny skies, golf, tennis, lounging by the pool, and dining at fine and/or fun restaurants. And, for many of us, with our dog by our side.

While dining with your canine best friend is a common site here in the desert, it’s important to know before you arrive at your chosen eatery that it is indeed receptive to your furry family member. A call or website search will be worth your research. Here are a few of my favorite pooch-friendly restaurants I enjoy with my Lollie!

JC Café
Family owned since 1987, and conveniently located on El Paseo Dr in Palm Desert, JC not only offers the freshest food and refreshing cocktails, but hands down has one of the best patio and al fresco dining experience in the desert. Check out the Saturday and Sunday $5 all-day cocktails. The staff will treat your loved furry one with a lot of attention, water bowl, and treats.

Melange at the Chateau at Lake La Qiunta
The patio is ideal to lunch, dine, and socialize and with a glass of champagne or crafted cocktail. It’s located right on the lake offering incredible views of the lake and waterfront homes, and is ideal to lounge with your pooch.

The Corridor
This hip and happening courtyard with shade trees, lawn, and outdoor sculptures is surrounded by small shops, cafes, restaurants, and events that can be shared with your dog pal.

Jakes Palm Springs
Named for the owner’s cherished Westie, this popular eatery pampers pooches with water bowls, treats, and plenty of praise from staff and other diners.

The Café at Venus de Fido
A popular neighborhood lunch destination, the Café offers healthy and creative plant-based meals using only fresh ingredients. This unique destination offers the upmost pampering for you and your doggie, with Spa treatments for both, doggie daycare, indoor dog park, themed doggie playdates, and Fido birthday parties, Bow-wow-wow!

The Farm is like a trip back to the South of France. The experience at Farm is like being transported to the South of France. Expect an extraordinary sensory experience; from the garden-like patio seating, beautiful bouquet of floral landscaping, to our incredible authentic menu comprised of the freshest ingredients, you will be wowed at every turn.

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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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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 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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