Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 4/9/2017

If you have a list of home contractors that you use and are satisfied with, consider your yourself lucky!

Many homeowners find themselves in the unenviable position of having to blindly search online for reputable contractors, sort their way through dozens of miscellaneous reviews, and then hopefully find a handful of promising candidates to interview.

Even after all that, there's no guarantee you'll be 100% satisfied with your choice!

Although picking a contractor may sometimes feel like a gamble, there are strategies for lowering your risk factor.

A personal recommendation from someone you know and trust is usually the most reliable method of finding the right person for the job. If a relative or friend has had a positive experience with a roofer, bathroom remodeler, or plumber, then there's a good chance, you'll be satisfied with them, too. It's still a good idea to get two or three contractor estimates, but a good starting point is to have at least one recommendation from someone who has your best interest at heart.

Do Online Reviews Help?

Online review sites can also provide helpful information and feedback, but they're not always the "unvarnished truth". In spite of efforts by review sites to discourage biased reviews, some are probably going to slip through. For example: Have you ever read a review that sounded like it was an advertisement for the contractor? Sometimes when the praise sounds just a little too glowing and over the top, you can't help but wonder if those reviews are genuine and unbiased. Although the majority of online reviews are probably legit, the best way to view them is with a healthy dose of skepticism.

When it comes to the occasional scathing review by a disgruntled customer, one has to put it in context and look at "the big picture." There are some customers who are literally impossible to satisfy and will always find something to complain about. However, if a contractor has more than one or two negative reviews online, and they're not offset by a couple dozen positive ones, then that could be a potential red flag. Since you don't know the reviewers personally, and the reviews are often posted anonymously, the credibility factor is much lower than if you got a recommendation from one of your parents, a close friend, a next-door neighbor, a sibling, business associate, or your real estate agent.

The point at which you should be able to separate the "wheat from the chaff" is during your face-to-face meetings. If a contractor gives every you indication of being professional, honest, knowledgeable, experienced, ethical, and customer-service oriented, then they're probably a good prospect for the job. Other factors include the price they quote, their Better Business Bureau rating, and their willingness to provide references, proof of insurance coverage (such as general liability and Workers' Comp, if applicable) and direct answers to all your questions





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 10/2/2016

Purchasing a home is a large investment and not one that anyone should make on a whim. Itís important to understand your maximum budget but also what you are comfortable spending, which may not be the same number as your maximum budget. But itís also important to fully understand the hidden costs that come with owning a home. Your mortgage payment is not the only payment you will be making each month and itís certainly not the only cost associated with owning a home. Letís take a look at some hidden costs listed below: Home Insurance: Insurance is something that you may know you need, but not a cost you are thinking about when house hunting. Therefore, the cost can sneak up on you. Be sure to factor in this cost, as it will be associated with your homeís location, age and value. For example, you are going to pay more if you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes. Home furnishings: Is this your first home or, at least, your first home that you would like to furnish with new furniture not hand-me-downs or a couch from craigslist? There also may be items that you need for this home that you did not need in your apartment such as a dining room table or spare bedroom bed frame and mattress. Furnishing your home can be a large expense and one that you should be saving up for. You donít need to go out and spend thousands on each item and you may want to spread out your purchases, but this is a very important cost to consider when purchasing a home. Appearance: When you purchase a home there may be things about the house that you want to change or update. This is something that not many factor in when buying the home as they are so wrapped up in the process of purchasing. However, even small updates cost money and if you spend all of your money on the down payment, you will not have any leftover to make those updates to make the home truly yours. Maintenance: If you previously rented, then maintenance is not something that you had to handle, as that is what your landlord was for. However, when you buy a home all maintenance and repairs fall on you. If you are purchasing an older home itís extremely important to understand what needs to be updated or replaced now or in the near future, such as the water heater, furnace or roof. Itís possible that you may get the previous homeowner to take care of this if itís in need at the time of selling, but if these updates/replacements take place a couple years down the road then itís up to you to take care of it. There is also the general maintenance of your home such as landscaping and snow removal. Will you purchase your own equipment or hire a service? Either way, this is an additional expense. Utilities: Often times many utilities are included in your rent. Well, this is not the case when owning a home. If the home does not have a septic system then you will need to pay for water and sewerage. You will have to pay for your own cable, Internet, and phone, and letís not forget about electricity. Itís important to understand all of the utilities that you will have to pay when you purchase a home. Property Taxes: Property taxes vary by town, but will always be an additional cost when owning a home. And, this cost will increase if you make additions or significant updates to your home. More desirable/expensive locations will have higher property taxes. This is often a cost that catches many off guard so be sure to research the locations where you are house hunting to see if you can afford the property taxes on top of all of the other associated costs. This is not meant to discourage anyone but shed light on the costs that many do not consider when they are house hunting. Make sure your budget allows for your mortgage payment and the expenses listed above that are tailored to your situation and you will have no problem becoming and staying a homeowner.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 9/4/2016

Wait, when was the last time you cleaned that ? And how often are you supposed to wash that? Never have to ask yourself these questions again by creating a monthly chore calendar. Creating a chore calendar may seem like youíre taking your house cleaning duties a little too seriously, but by creating a regular cleaning schedule you will set yourself up for success. And youíll have a guaranteed cleaner home, and who doesnít want that? Monthly

  • Scrub grout in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Wash pillow and mattress protectors as well as duvet covers.
  • Discard any food in the†freezer that has become freezer burnt or is past its time.
  • Wax any wood floors your home may have.
  • Dust fans you have throughout your home. Donít forget to do this in the winter when they are not in use to avoid build-up.
  • Wipe down and disinfect light switch plates and door knobs.
  • Wipe down and disinfect your home phones and your familyís cell phones.
  • Flush drains. Try a natural solution by pouring baking soda down drains and allowing to sit overnight to deodorize. In the morning pour hot water down the drain to rinse the baking soda out and flush the drain.
  • Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards.
  • Check the fire alarms throughout your home and replace any batteries when necessary.
Weekly
  • Dust each room in your home.
  • Empty all trash bins throughout your home. Donít forget smaller, less used baskets like in your childís room or in the office.
  • Clean sinks, toilets, and bath of any soap scum or buildup.
  • Vacuum and mop the floors throughout your home.
  • Wipe down surfaces like tables and counters.
  • Clean mirrors and windows.
  • Wash sheets and pillowcases.
  • Sort through your mail and email inbox. Pay any upcoming bill and file paperwork as necessary.
  • Clean fridge out of any food that has gone past its expiration.
  • Wipe down appliances in the kitchen such as the microwave, stove, and toaster.
  • Wipe down and deodorize trashcans and recycling bins.
  • Put out fresh towels in your bathrooms and kitchen
Daily
  • Tidy up. Keep on top of clutter by putting items away when they are no longer in use.
  • Make the beds and if your children are old enough encourage them to make theirs.
  • Sort out mail. File and discard as necessary.
  • Clean up as you prepare meals to leave time to relax after dinner time instead of spending another hour in the kitchen.
  • Wipe up any spills as they happen to avoid having to use elbow grease to clean up later.
  • Sweep the kitchen floor and any other high traffic areas.
  • Throw in a load of laundry. If you have a large family make laundry more manageable by doing a load a day.
Keeping your home clean is hard work, there is no doubt about that, especially if you have a family. However, by creating a monthly chore calendar you can create a more manageable workload for yourself. With a little planning up front you can have a neat and tidy home you can sit back and truly enjoy!