I AM A REALTOR… BUT I DON’T SELL HOMES

I have been a real estate agent for over 15 years but I don’t sell homes!  

Over the years I have worked with may different buyers and sellers but it is not my job to sell a home….. I guide people through the process that will fulfill their personal dreams or needs, I assist people prepare for the largest financial decision of their lives, and I offer ongoing home information needed throughout the years they live in the home.

no homes

STARTING A FAMILY:  Working with a newly married couple looking for the perfect home in the right neighborhood close to a great school so they can start a family….It is not my job to sell this couple a home, my job is to help this couple with their dream to start a family.  Years after the sell when I visit the family in their home and watch how their kids have grown, I know that my job is much more important than the house, my job affects people’s lives and I couldn’t be more proud of that.

INVESTORS:  Working with many investors…..It is not my job to sell them a home, my job is to help them expand their business portfolio.  Finding a home for investors and assisting them with finding the perfect tenant.   In the recent years many of my clients have decided to invest their money in real estate and I provide them with the information needed to make the best financial decision they can.

RELOCATION:  I help people relocating to a new area get familiar with a neighborhood/city/state….. Moving to a new area is very stressful but I provide clients with the information needed to make the transition as smooth as possible.  When relocating to a new area every client will have different needs that are important to them and I help them through the process.  I am not selling them a home, I am helping them get familiar with a neighborhood, city or state.

FINANCIAL HARDSHIP:  I assist people going through a financial hardship…. When someone is going through financial struggle or on the brink of loosing their home it is a very difficult time.  I give my clients the information needed so they know how to navigate through the process.  I advise them of all the different options and help them determine what the best decision is for their situation.  I walk them through the process and I don’t sell their home, I help them get through a stressful financial struggle.

FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS:   I help first time home buyers fulfill the American dream of owning a home… When making the biggest financial decision of your life it is important to have someone you trust guiding you along the way.  I provide my first time home buyers with all the information they need so they know that they are making the right decision for them.  I help my first time buyers figure out what they are looking for, what they want and what they need, and walk them through the entire process.

DIVORCE:  I help couples going through a divorce communicate about important home decisions…. When helping divorcing couples I help both husband and wife make important decisions about the home they are selling as well as assist them both in finding new homes.  The process can be very emotional, stressful and frustrating and the communication I provide helps both the husband and wife get through the process.

CHANGING HOME NEEDS:  Many of my clients need to downsize after the children move out or move into a larger home when they have more children,  When my clients need to sell their current home and buy a new home, they are concerned about moving from one home to the next.  I work with multiple parties to ensure that the client has a seamless move from the old home to the new home.

ESCROW:  The escrow process can be confusing.  I provide information and guidance for my clients to assist them through the escrow process.  I help my clients navigate the paperwork with confidence assurance throughout the entire escrow process.

LOAN INFORMATION AND REFINANCE:  I provide lender information for both clients looking for new homes or wanting to re-finance their current loan…. giving my clients information is a huge part of my job.  When you are purchasing a home or refinancing your loan years after, I help my clients obtain the loan information needed.

AREA REFERRALS:  I offer referrals to contractors and service providers in the area….  Throughout the time people live in their home they sometime need the advise of a local contractor or service provider.  I offer my clients references that may have been used by other past clients by keeping a referral database.

Just like in most jobs, as a Realtor I wear many hats.  Working with people and helping them through the real estate process is my passion!   I don’t sell homes…..I assist buyers and sellers with their real estate dreams, financial questions, lender information, etc.

I look forward to assisting you with your real estate needs……..

  • Kari Cross
  • Intero Real Estate Services
  • 925-584-1640
  • kcross@interodb.com
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TOP 5 CALIFORNIA REAL ESTATE TRENDS TO EXPECT IN 2014

In the past few years the housing market has had many changes and RealtyTimes recently predicted some of the top housing trends for the California Real Estate market for 2014:

  • Mortgage rates will go up
  • Home values and prices will increase
  • Fewer investors buying up properties and more buyers looking for primary residences
  • Seller’s market will continue but cool off
  • Home buyer’s need to start searching

real estate trend

INCREASING MORTGAGE RATES

Mortgage rates are predicted to rise, but not too far, up to 5% or 5.25% in 2014. The
Federal Reserve will begin tapering soon and the greater the reduction in Federal government purchases, especially of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), the more rates are likely to grow.

It’s a great time to buy now because mortgage rates are still below the historical average so if you’re thinking of making a move, 2014 is the perfect time to jump into the market and start looking! With low rates and increasing home values, now’s the time to buy in order to make a smart investment for your future.

Speaking of mortgages, home buyers also need to be prepared for stricter qualifications on home loans. Come January 10th lenders will be required to prove borrowers’ ability to repay a loan according to new “qualified mortgage” standards. An important statistic to keep in mind is the maximum debt-to-income ratio of 43% that borrowers will need to qualify.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has also announced plans to reduce the maximum loan limits for conventional conforming loans some time in 2014.

If you are considering buying a home in 2014, contact your local Realtor now to make sure you know how these changes will affect you. 

INCREASING HOME PRICES AND VALUES

Predictions show that home values and prices will rise in 2014.  Moderate predictions are clocking in at a 6-8% increase for California markets whereas others foresee a 10-15% increase.

According to Bill Plattos, Execute Vice President of First Team Real Estate, “2013 has begun the upward progression of the real estate market in California. In the next 3 to 4 years prices and sales will continue to rise bringing us back up to a peak.”

FEWER INVESTORS

Investors swoop in when home prices bottom out like they have in the past few years, seeking foreclosed homes and short sales to snatch up.  However, as our economy strengthens and home values come back up in 2014 there are fewer distressed homes on the market to interest investors.  The rise in home values in and upswing in the economy will also make it easier for current home owners who’ve built up equity to afford a down payment and enter the market in search of a bigger and better home to fit their needs.

Fewer investors also means less price competition and fewer bidding wars for buyers shopping for primary residences.  2014 will be the prime time to buy and sell for home owners who are ready to move on to a better neighborhood, larger home or location offering a more convenient commute.

CONTINUED HOME SELLERS MARKET

The seller’s market will continue in 2014 for California and on a national level.  However, it will be much cooler than the one we’ve witnessed over the past two years. “The market will get closer to normal – or as normal as the market can be,” says Plattos. “It will continue to cool and inventory will come up to a moderate level, not too low or too high.”

HOME BUYERS NEED TO START SEARCHING

With the seller’s market leveling in 2014, that means buyers need to be realistic about the home they can afford.   Home buyers, now is the time to start searching the best deals in real estate in order to get the most for your money.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO MAKE A MOVE IN 2014

CONTACT A REAL ESTATE AGENT TODAY

Provided by:

  • Kari Cross
  • Intero Real Estate
  • 925-584-1640
  • kcross@interodb.com

SOLD FOR $7,750,000

A penthouse owned by Oprah Winfrey at 207 East 57th Street that sold for $7.75 million was the biggest sale of the week, according to city records in New York.

Current listing information shows the 36th floor spread has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms, 2,530 square feet of glass-wrapped interior space, and an additional 750-ish square foot wrap-around terrace with beautiful city views. twelve-foot high ceiling, opens into an unforgivably slender, chute-like entrance hall that explodes in to a scalene triangle-shaped dining and living space where two long walls of floor-to-ceiling glass with birds-eye views that stretches from the George Washington Bridge, over Central Park, west towards New Jersey and south to the glittering towers of Midtown.

A swinging door in the dining area swings open to a light, bright, modern kitchen finished with flat-fronted cabinetry, charcoal-colored counter tops, and chunky center island.  Two guest/family bedrooms, one with private bathroom the other with access to a hall bath as per the floor plan below, occupy the northeast wing of the airy. A short corridor behind the kitchen and off the entrance hall has a stacked washer/dryer closet and connects to the relatively petite master suite occupies that the southeast wing and includes three walk-in closets (two with windows), a spa-style pooper with jetted tub, separate shower and cubby for the toilet and bee-day.

The Tower provides its residents white glove services that include 24-7 doorman and concierge services, a fully equipped fitness center, thematically designed children’s playrooms, residents only conference rooms, and a beautiful garden area.

 

WOULD YOU BUY FACEBOOK?

Later this week you can own a piece of Facebook.  A document has just been published with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Form 8-A, which confirms that Facebook’s stock has been registered and approved for listing on the Nasdaq.

Facebook is offering 180 million shares of its Class A common stock and the selling stockholders are offering 157.42 million shares of Class A common stock.  Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg will personally sell 30.2 million shares for the IPO.  despite this, he will still control the majority of the company: 57.3 percent of voting shares after the IPO.  The company has set a $28 to $35 IPO price range, but many expect Facebook will raise it as the final date draws closer.

Facebook is expected to start trading this week under the “FB” ticker.  Many believe this Friday is the big day….shares will be priced on May 17, with trading beginning on May 18.  Whenever FB makes its way to the Nasdaq….will you be in line to own a share?

Here’s the relevant excerpt:

Facebook, Inc. (the “Registrant”) hereby incorporates by reference the description of its Class A common stock, par value $0.000006 per share, to be registered hereunder contained under the heading “Description of Capital Stock” in the Registrant’s Registration Statement on Form S-1 (File No. 333-179287), as originally filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “Commission”) on February 1, 2012, as subsequently amended (the “Registration Statement”), and in the prospectus included in the Registration Statement to be filed separately by the Registrant with the Commission pursuant to Rule 424(b) under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, which prospectus shall be deemed to be incorporated by reference herein.

The Registrant’s Class A common stock to be registered hereunder has been approved for listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market of The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC under the symbol “FB.”

Whenever FB makes its way to the Nasdaq….will you be in line to own a share?

SAVE ENERGY AND SAVE UP TO $600 A YEAR

During peak months, my energy bill is so high!  I am looking for some easy ways to cut my energy costs and thought I would share some findings…….

TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER AT NIGHT (Save up to $105 a year)

Why?   Turning your computer off at night could save you up to a third of its energy costs, depending on your use and power management settings. Save even more by plugging your computer, monitor, and printer into one power strip and turning the strip off when you go to bed.

Is it okay to frequently shut down my computer? The U.S. Department of Energy assures that switching a computer on and off multiple times does not negatively affect its life because advances in technology, typically computers are replacement before equipment failure occurs. In fact, giving your computer a rest can be good for it. Certain software updates require computers to shut down, and the fan is more likely to wear out on a machine that run constantly. Good to know: Some computers have settings that can automatically turn a computer on or off at certain times of day. You are most likely to find these options in the Control Panel folder on a computer running Windows® or in System Preferences on a Mac®. Check your owner’s manual for more specific information.
  • Shut your computer down during the day when you will not use it for the next two hours.
  • Unplug the computer or switch off its power strip after it powers down.
  • Turn off your monitor too for greater savings.

WEATHERSTRIP WINDOWS AND DOORS (Save up to $50 year)

Why?    The edges of doors and windows are often not sealed well, allowing cold air to seep into your home or air conditioning to escape. Windows and doors can be responsible for up to 25% of heat loss in a typical home and 33% of summer heat gain. Weatherstripping your windows and doors will help reduce this leakage.

Step-by-step: Do it yourself:Using affordable supplies from a local home improvement retailer, you may be able to seal your windows and doors yourself. You can usually complete the work within a day, making this an easy weekend project.
  • Doors
    1. Reduce air leakage at the bottom of exterior doors. For a no-cost solution, use rolled-up towels. Or:
    2. Install sweeps at the bottom of exterior doors. Available at most hardware and home supply stores, sweeps are generally plastic or metal strips that you apply to the bottom of the door.
    3. Install low-cost compressible foam. This creates a tight seal around the door. Don’t forget to seal doors into unheated areas of your home, such as the garage.
  • Windows
    1. Seal windows. Rope caulk and compressible foam are very inexpensive. Or,
    2. Install weatherstripping. The cost for this is slightly higher, but still reasonable. Plus, this is a more permanent solution.

SEAL AIR LEAKS (Save up to $100 a year)

Why?    Air leaks can be a large source of air loss in your home. This raises your heating and cooling costs and can make your home less comfortable.

Step-by-step:
  1. Purchase caulk and/or polyurethane foam appropriate for the surfaces you plan to seal. Check the label for its best uses and whether it is appropriate for indoor or outdoor use. Some caulks are specially designed for small leaks along the edges of walls. Foams are more appropriate for larger gaps and holes.
  2. Find leaks. To find leaks, try to follow drafts of air to their source on the wall, floor, ceiling, and around ductwork. Watching how the smoke of a smoke pen or burning incense flows is one way to check for leaks and drafts.
  3. Check where different materials meet. Look where brick meets wood siding, between the foundation and walls, between the chimney and siding, where gas and electricity lines exit your house, and where there are any penetrations through the floor from unheated crawlspaces and basements.
  4. Seal any cracks you find. Use the right sealant for each leak.

USE DIMMERS (Save up to $35 a year)

Why?   A standard light switch gives you two lighting options – full brightness or none at all.  Dimmers give you more control over the level of light in a room, which opens up stylistic possibilities and saves electricity.  By using only as much light as you need, you can save up to 40% on your lighting bill while extending the life of your bulbs.standard masonry fireplace can add charm to a home, but is also an inefficient way to produce heat. You can make a few easy changes to your fireplace to improve its efficiency.

Even a small reduction makes a difference. The human eye can barely tell the difference between full and 90% brightness, but setting a dimmer at this level can still save you 10% on the room’s lighting costs.

USE MOTION DETECTORS OUTDOORS (Save up to $35 a year)

Why?      Though you’re rarely awake to see them, outdoor lamps left on all night can consume more electricity than most of your other light fixtures. However, motion sensors can reduce their energy use by 80% without compromising security or style.

How it works: Motion sensors turn lights on when they detect movement in their vicinity. After a certain amount of time elapses, the lights switch off. You can adjust the time delay.
  • Lights with motion sensors can also contain photocells, which sense sunlight and switch on your lights only when it’s dark outside. ENERGY STAR® fixtures with photocells are available.
  • You can buy new lights that include motion sensors or retrofit your current lights with their own sensors. Either purchase should include installation instructions. The installation itself should take about 30 minutes.
  • If you are using compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), be sure to look for a motion sensor that is compatible with these types of bulbs.

TURN OFF LIGHTS WHEN NOT NEEDED (Save up to $45 a year)

Why?    An average home’s lighting bill can account for 15% of electricity costs. Turning lights off when you’re not in the room is a simple way for you to make a dent in your utility bill.

How it works:
  • You save energy whenever you turn off a light, unless you plan to turn it on again immediately. Light bulbs use a little bit of extra energy to “start up” — for a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), only a few seconds of operating power.
  • Turn off incandescent bulbs every time they are not needed.
  • Turning a CFL on and off many times per day can reduce its operating life. If you turn your CFLs on and off very often, you may need to replace them sooner. Generally, it is cost effective to turn off a CFL when you won’t need it for 15 minutes or more.
  • Make it a habit to turn lights off each time you leave a room.
  • Before you go to sleep, walk through your home and shut off any forgotten lights.
  • Encourage other family members to turn off their lights, as well. This is a great way for young children to do their part in saving energy.

USE AND SWITCH OFF POWER STRIPS (Save up to $85 a year)

Why?    Many computers, televisions, and other devices draw power even when they are turned off. Since plugs to these devices can be tough to remove from the outlet and reconnect, use a power strip. With a flip of the switch, you can easily cut off power to multiple devices at once, saving time, energy, and money.

What to look for:
  • Surge protection strips with their own circuit breakers or surge protectors. Protect connected devices in the event of a short-circuit or power surge.
  • Programmable strips with timers. Power down connected appliances according to a schedule you set.
  • Smart” strips that link electronics together. Shutting down one “master” device, such as a computer, automatically turns off peripheral devices, like speakers or printers, on the same strip.
  • Remote controls. Turn off hard-to-reach power strips with the push of a button as you leave the room.
  • More spacing between sockets. This ensures that the strip can fit multiple large power adaptors. This is an especially important feature if you are buying a power strip for a home office.
The energy that some electronics draw while they are off is called a “phantom load.” Products that waste electricity this way are often called “vampire devices.” Which of my electronics are likely to be vampire devices?

  • Televisions
  • Digital video recorders (DVRs)
  • Computers
  • Entertainment systems
  • Video game systems
  • Printers, scanners, and fax machines
  • DVD players
  • Coffee-makers
  • Microwaves
  • Cell phone and battery chargers
  • Any device with a remote control or LED indicator light

ADJUST YOUR THERMOSTAT BEFORE LEAVING HOME (Save up to $20 a year)

Why?    Setting your thermostat for energy savings can decrease your cooling and heating bills significantly.

  • Set your “home occupied” temperature. When you are awake and at home, the U.S. Department of Energy suggests setting your thermostat no higher than 68°F for heating and no lower than 78°F for cooling.
  • Set your “away from home” temperature. When you are away from home, set the thermostat to an energy-saving level. Setting the temperature at least 10°F higher in the summer and 10°F lower in the winter is a good rule of thumb.
  • Go the extra mile: To save even more energy, set your thermostat at least 10°F lower in the winter or 4°F higher in the summer when you’re asleep.

REDUCE HEAT LOSS FROM YOUR FIREPLACE (Save up to $15 a year)

Why?   A standard masonry fireplace can add charm to a home, but is also an inefficient way to produce heat. You can make a few easy changes to your fireplace to improve its efficiency.

  • Seal the top. Install a removable chimney cap or a permanent one if you do not plan to use the fireplace.
  • Keep the damper closed. The damper should be closed tightly whenever you are not using the fireplace.
  • Seal the front. Install a glass door to control the draft when you have a fire.
  • Go the extra mile: A professionally installed fireplace insert is the best option. Fireplace inserts can be cost-effective depending on the age and nature of your fireplace.

OPEN YOUR SHADES ON WINTER DAYS (Save up to $5 a year)

Why?   Taking advantage of winter sunlight can help make a dent in your heating costs. Open blinds during the day to provide natural lighting and capture free heat.

  • When you let the sun in, remember to lower the thermostat by a few degrees. These two steps combined are what save money and energy.
  • South-facing windows have the most potential for heat gain. Keep the drapes up and windows clear in order to let in the most light.
  • The sun is most intense from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so make sure windows are uncovered during these hours. Close window coverings at night to insulate windows.

CHECK YOUR AIR FILTERS EVERY MONTH (Save up to $30 a year)

Why?   Heating and cooling consume the most energy in the average home — up to 50% of total home energy use. Dirty air filters make your furnace, central air conditioner, or room air conditioner work harder to circulate air. By cleaning or replacing your filters monthly, you can improve energy efficiency and reduce costs.

WASH CLOTHES WITH COLD WATER (Save up to $20 a year)

Why?   Washing your clothes uses a sizable amount of energy, especially if you use warm or hot water. About 90% of the energy consumed for washing clothes is used to heat the water. Unless your clothes have oily stains, washing with cold or warm water will clean your clothes just as effectively.

SHAVE A MINUTE OFF SHOWER TIME (Save up to $60 a year)

Why?    The average American spends about 8 minutes taking a shower roughly once a day.  Reducing average shower time by 1 minute can result in a 13% decrease in shower water use, which reduces the money you spend on water heating. 

  1. Time yourself and others. See how long you and your fellow household members take to shower and compare your shower times to the national average. Use a water-proof timer in the shower or a kitchen timer out of the shower.
  2. Set a goal for showering a bit faster.
  3. Added benefits: In addition to saving money on energy, you’ll also save on water costs.

DRESS EXCHANGE

I am starting a dress exchange! Between homecoming, valentines, prom, graduation, etc, I am tired of buying expensive dresses for my daughter that are only worn once. With dances around the corner, I will again find myself at the mall again with my daughter wanting the most expensive dress in the entire state. Oh and of course the dress will be worn only for this one dance (which is in the dark) and never come out of the closet again. The sad thing is that I know all her friends also have 15 dresses in their closets that have only been worn once. Why are we not sharing these dresses?

I am asking everyone who has older children that will not be in need of another dress to donate their old ones so we can get a supply started. Then I am wanting to start an exchange between the girls that are looking for a new dress. If you bring four old dresses you can take home a new dress to keep. Or you can rent a dress for a small fee of only $25.00 to cover the cost of having the dress cleaned upon return. This will save room in your closet, add money to your wallet and still make your kids happy because they can have a new dress.

If you might be interested in donating or exchanging dresses for the upcoming events, please let me know. I am interested to hear your thoughts and help to make our girls and our wallets happy.  Maybe you would like to save some money-getting your daughters next prom dress, or you might be able to help another family save money…..

I know it is a little early to think about prom dresses but to make it work correctly so the girls are happy and you save money we need to start early to get donations so we will have a large selection of styles, colors, and sizes when the time comes.

SEND OUT YOUR MAIL AND BUY MORE FOREVER STAMPS BEFORE JANUARY 22

POSTAGE RATES ARE SET TO INCREASE ON

JANUARY 22, 2012

With the increase of Internet mail along with the current recession, the post office has been taking a huge hit financially.  The post office lost $8 billion in fiscal 2010 and it is expected that 2011 will be even worse when the final figures are released next month.  Proposals to cut the losses have included reduction of mail delivery from six to five days a week and closing thousands of offices across the country.  This putting more people out of work and adding to the vicious cycle of money loss.

“The overall average price increase is small and is needed to help address  our current financial crisis,’’ Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in a  statement. “We continue to take actions within our control to increase revenue  in other ways and to aggressively cut costs. To return to sound financial  footing we urgently need enactment of comprehensive, long-term legislation to provide the Postal Service with a more flexible business model.’’

A major financial problem for the post office has been the requirement,  imposed in 2006, that it pay $5.5 billion annually into a fund designed to cover  the medical benefits for retired employees in the future. No other agency has  such a requirement.  But while the post office is not part of the federal budget, the fund  receiving the payment is, so it counts as income to the government, making the  federal deficit appear $5.5 billion smaller.  Because eliminating the payment  would make the deficit seem bigger, there has been reluctance to drop it.

As of January 22, 2012 the rate increases will be as follows:

Because most stamps being issued are “Forever’’ stamps, they will remain good  for first-class postage. But buying new Forever stamps will cost more when the  prices go up.

—First class letter up to 1 ounce up 1 cent, to 45 cents.

—Each additional ounce add 20 cents.

—Postcards up 3 cents, to 32 cents.

—Letters to Canada and Mexico up 5 cents, to 85 cents.

—International letters up 7 cents, to $1.05.

New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:

—Small Box – $5.35

—Medium Box – $11.35

—Large Box – $15.45

—Large APO/FPO/DPO Box – $13.45

—Regular Envelope – $5.15

—Large-Size and Padded Envelope – $5.30