Another Happy Seller!

Annelie Russell

Without a doubt, Jon & Natalya are the best Realtors in town! We interviewed a number of other Realtors and they stood out amongst their peers. Jon & Natalya worked their magic and sold our home in 10 days! Their exceptionally knowledgeable, due diligence and hard work ethic comforted us throughout the entire process. They even interviewed a Realtor in the State we planned to move to and helped us find the home of our dreams. Thanks for all of your help. We couldn’t have done it without you.

 

Best Regards

James and Annelie Russell

Top Things To Consider Before You Buy a Condo

luxury-condo-with-ocean-views-santa-barbara-real-estate Condos were once thought of as homes that attracted singles or couples, often without children. But today, condos are growing in popularity and attracting families of all sizes.

Condos can be an excellent choice for the right buyers. Here are a few things that should considered before purchasing a condo. Most buyers start with the condo itself. That may be a good place to begin but, before they buy, buyers should also consider other factors outside of the condo.

Some developers are building condos that have a look and feel like single-family homes. These modern condos have great rooms and open, flowing floor plans that look and feel like a single-family home rather than an apartment or condo.

One of the major attractions of condos is the low maintenance. The community area is maintained by an association funded by the dues that homeowners pay into it.

That’s why buyers’ first consideration should be to explore the development and make sure they like the look and feel of the complex and surrounding community. There are codes and restrictions, often referred to as CC&Rs (covenants, codes, and restrictions) that buyers will have to abide by once they purchase a condo. Buyers should ask to review them before making an offer to purchase a condo. These regulations help ensure that the community maintains its general appearance and any necessary repairs of the external areas.

Review the association’s budget. It may be necessary to get the seller to provide this information because it may not be released to a non-owner who is only a potential buyer. However, in considering buying into a development, it’s almost like going into business with the neighbors in the complex. It’s important to make sure that the association is running properly and has enough of a reserve for necessary expenses and maintenance. The budget and CC&Rs will give an idea about how stable the association is and if increases in the homeowners’ association dues are likely each year.

Find out how many owners in the development are delinquent on their dues. A condo complex that has a high level of delinquencies can cause problems for buyers when it comes time to get a loan or sell the condo. Some loans are not approved if delinquency rates are higher than 15 percent.
Review the minutes from the association’s board meetings. They will reveal the day-to-day issues that occur each month and give an indication of how the development is run. For instance, lots of complaints and filings about noisy residents, loud parties, or dog droppings on the lawn reveal potential problems with neighbors. The minutes will also reveal if the development is engaged in any lawsuits.

Understand what your responsibilities are for the upkeep of the condo. Find out what the association takes care of and what the homeowners have to maintain. Look at the association’s property management team and see how many times the association has changed management companies. Find out why. This will may reveal how responsive the association will be should residents need its assistance.

Ultimately, buyers need to ensure that when they purchase a condo they’re not buying into any legal battles the association is in the middle of and that they will be able to live in their condo the way they want. Study the CC&Rs and do due diligence before buying.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

www.JonMahoney.com

Tips For The Prospective Landlord

Luxury-House-Design-Great-Room-Santa-Barbara-Real-Estate

Investing in rental real estate looks like a great idea on paper. You just buy a place in a nice area, find tenants and let the cash roll in. However, there are some matters you have to consider before buying a property and putting a “for rent” ad in the newspaper. Here is a rundown of the pros and cons of owning rental property and a few tips on how to turn a profit as a landlord.

Advantages of Rental Real Estate
The advantages of rental real estate are quite substantial. One that is not listed below is the fact that when you own rental real estate, you own a tangible asset. You can paint it when you’re happy with it and throw rocks at it when you’re not.

Many people who feel uncomfortable investing in financial instruments have no qualms about investing in real estate. This is a psychological distinction, as a bad stock and a bad rental property are equally capable of losing money, forcing you to sell for a loss. That said, here are the advantages that show up on paper:

Current Income – This refers to the rent money that is left over after the mortgage and related expenses have been paid. Current income is basically monthly cash that you did not have to work for – your property produces it for you.

Appreciation – This is the increase in value that properties generally experience as time passes. Appreciation is not guaranteed. However, if you own a property in a stable area (cities like Santa Barbara), the property will likely increase in value over the years. Even properties in sparsely populated and less desirable areas may appreciate due to general inflation.

Leverage – Rental properties can be purchased with borrowed funds. This means that you can purchase a rental property by putting down only a percentage of the total value. Essentially, you can control the whole property and the equity it holds while only paying a fraction of its total cost. Also, the property you purchase secures the debt rather than your other assets. You may lose the rental property, but you shouldn’t lose your own home.

Tax Advantages – Your rental income may be tax free if you do not receive net cash flow after expenses are deducted. This means that your mortgage is being paid down and you own more of the total value of the property (rather than just controlling it), but you do not pay taxes on the money that is doing this for you. In addition to this, you can also pull out tax-free money by refinancing your loan if the property appreciates and the interest rates have fallen. Lastly, you may be able to avoid paying taxes on the sale of a rental property if you sell it and reinvest the money in another property (called switching or tax-free exchange).

Disadvantages of Rental Real Estate
For every upside, there is a downside, and rental real estate is no different. Rental real estate may expose you to the following:

Liability – What happens if a stair breaks under your tenant’s feet? With the increase in frivolous lawsuits and the unquantifiable nature of “emotional distress”, liability can be a scary thing. Providing someone with shelter in return for money puts you and the tenant in a relationship where both parties bear responsibility. You have to be certain that the property you are renting out meets all government codes.

Unexpected Expenses – What do you do when you pull up the basement carpet and find a crack that opens onto the abyss? It is impossible to prepare for every expense related to owning rental property, so there are bound to be some unexpected ones. Things such as boilers, plumbing and fixtures often need to be replaced and are not prohibitively expensive. However, faulty wiring, bad foundations, compromised roofing and the like can be very expensive to repair. If you can’t find a way to pay for repairs, you will be left without a tenant and with the grim prospect of selling the property at a significant discount. Also, as building codes evolve over time, lead paint, asbestos, cedar roofing tiles and other materials that passed inspection in the past may be reevaluated to your disadvantage.

Bad Tenants – No one wants to have to use a collection agency to collect overdue rent. Unfortunately, almost every landlord has a story that involves police cars escorting his or her tenant out of the property – erasing all hopes of getting the five months’ worth of overdue rent. Bad tenants can also increase your unexpected expenses and even hit you with a lawsuit.

Vacancy – No money coming in means that you have to make the payments out of your own pocket. If you have an emergency fund for the rental property, you will be able to survive long vacancies with little trouble. If you don’t have one, you may find yourself scrambling to pay the rent to the harshest landlord of all – the bank.

Tips
Minimizing the disadvantages of owning real estate is actually quite simple. While you won’t be able to eliminate the pitfalls completely, following these guidelines will take the teeth out of their bite.

Keep Your Expectations Reasonable – Have the goal of positive cash flow, but don’t expect to be purchasing a new yacht at year’s end. If you keep your expectations in check, you won’t be tempted to jack up the rent and push out good tenants.

Find a Balance between Earnings and Effort – Are you “hands on”, or should you work with a property management firm? Current income doesn’t seem so great if you are putting in another full-time shift working on your rental property. There are property management firms that will run your rental property for a percentage of the rental income.

Know the Rules – Federal and state laws outline your responsibilities and liabilities, so you can’t claim ignorance when something happens. You will have to do some reading; nevertheless, it is better to spend 20 hours in the library than in the courtroom.

Have the Property Inspected – One of the best ways to avoid unexpected expenses is to have the property inspected by a professional before you buy it.

Make Sure Your Leases Are Legal – If you make a mistake on the lease, you will find it more difficult to litigate if a tenant violates the terms.

Take the Time To Call References and Run Credit Checks – Too many landlords rush to fill a vacancy rather than taking the time to make sure the prospective tenant is a better option than an empty property. If you have time, you may want to drive by a prospective tenant’s current living space – that is what your property will probably look like when that tenant lives there.

Join the Landlords’ Association in Your Area – Joining an association will provide you with a wealth of experience as well as sample leases, copies of laws and regulations, and lists of decent lawyers, contractors and inspectors. Some associations may even allow you to join before you buy a rental property.

Make Friends with a Lawyer, a Tax Professional and a Banker – If you find that you like owning rental properties, a network including these three professionals will be essential if you want to increase your holdings.

Make Sure You Have the Right Kind of Insurance – After learning the rules, you will need to buy insurance to cover your liability. You will need the help of an insurance professional to select the proper package for your type of rental property.

Create an Emergency Fund – This is essentially money earmarked for unexpected expenses that are not covered by insurance. There is no set amount for an emergency fund, some say 20% of the value of the property, but anything is better than nothing. If you are getting current income from a property, you can pool that money into an emergency fund.

Conclusion
Investing in a rental property can be an excellent decision if you go into it informed. Consider these words from Donald Trump: “It’s tangible. It’s solid. It’s beautiful. It’s artistic … I just love real estate.”

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Market Statistics – June 2014

Santa Barbara Compehensive Real Estate Market Statistics - June 2014Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Market Statistics – June 2014

51 page PDF Report | 3.2 mb

DOWNLOAD:

June 2014 – Santa Barbara Comprehensive Real Estate Market Statistics.pdf

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com

Vacation Home Tip Sheet

Here are 6 factors you need to consider when investing in a second home.

Santa-Barbara-Real-Estate-Vacation-Homes

You should understand the differences in making this type of purchase versus a primary residence. Here are six key criteria to assess vacation choices, whether for personal use or an investment.

1. Keep costs within the budget. Qualify for a loan before looking, unless you pay all cash. Then, figure out how much discretionary income you’ll need. For example, you’ll need at least $30,000 annually to afford a $500,000 home comfortably. Why so much? To cover the monthly mortgage, real estate taxes, assessments, regular maintenance, homeowners’ insurance, flood insurance, furnishings, a caretaker to watch the property if the owners don’t live nearby, an emergency fund for disasters and major repairs, and travel costs. Also critical is that you not use retirement funds to fund the home; there’s never a guarantee you’ll recoup your money by renting out the property to vacationers.

2. Determine the frequency of use. The amount of time you  will spend in your vacation home depends on the individual and family and the investment and rental potential.

Some think they need to go every weekend to justify the expenses, while others are fine just visiting in summer or winter. Distance will play a factor.  Some potential buyers may also hope their grown children and grandkids will visit for multigenerational gatherings.

3. Pick the right location. What makes one vacation locale more appealing to buyers than another largely depends on the buyers’ interests. In some counties, a typical buyer’s wish list includes a departure from the urban life that many commute from, along with mountain or vineyard views and room for guests. While in others, there are multiple attractions of water, beaches, wine trail, and proximity to many large cities.

4. Understand upkeep. A big lawn needs mowing, lots of square footage means more cleaning, a pool requires maintenance — make sure you have a realistic picture of the upkeep a property will require. Some communities are trying to remove some of the burden by offering landscape services through its homeowners’ association and by developing smaller, more efficient homes and condos.

5. Research rental potential and costs. If income is the prime motivation, you should know that demand and dollars fluctuate with the economy, weather, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and amenities. Buyers need to remove emotion from their purchase choice and pick what appeals to the widest target market rather than what they want for themselves. Buyers also need to know whether their homeowners’ association permits renting out a property, what their own comfort level is about having children or pets in tow, and whether they’ll need to split proceeds with a rental service or property manager — sometimes by as much as 50 percent of the take. They’ll also need renter’s insurance.

6. Think about resale and changing needs. Research sales, prices, and trends. Family needs also change. Little kids may willingly head out with parents but teenagers less so, and multigenerational families often require more space.

Having a keen understanding of your second-home market coupled with meeting your individual needs will help you to find your dream vacation property.

Take the Stress Out of Homebuying

Santa-Barbara-Buyer-Tips

Buying a home should be fun, not stressful. As you look for your dream home, keep in mind these tips for making the process as peaceful as possible.

  1. Find a real estate agent who you connect with. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the REALTOR® you chose is both highly skilled and a good fit with your personality.
  2. Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, just as there’s no perfect time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess interest rates or the housing market by waiting longer — you risk losing out on the home of your dreams. The housing market usually doesn’t change fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.
  3. Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas from too many people will make it much harder to make a decision. Focus on the wants and needs of your immediate family — the people who will be living in the home.
  4. Accept that no house is ever perfect. If it’s in the right location, the yard may be a bit smaller than you had hoped. The kitchen may be perfect, but the roof needs repair. Make a list of your top priorities and focus in on things that are most important to you. Let the minor ones go.
  5. Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price or by refusing to budge on your offer may cost you the home you love. Negotiation is give and take.
  6. Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself — room size, kitchen, etc. — that you forget about important issues as noise level, location to amenities, and other aspects that also have a big impact on your quality of life.
  7. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate home insurance, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.
  8. Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-home buying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
  9. Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big financial commitment. But it also yields big benefits. Don’t lose sight of why you wanted to buy a home and what made you fall in love with the property you purchased.
  10. Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually over from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is to serve as a comfortable, safe place to live.

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Jon Mahoney

Director, Luxury Homes Division

Professional Financial Planner

Keller Williams, Santa Barbara

(805) 689-0532

BRE# 01269717

info@JonMahoney.com