Fun Home Facts

Home values rise for first time in 5 years

Here’s a great CNN article I just read that does a good job spelling out what is happening in the market. Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday. Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter…

Click here to read full article

July 4th Fun in Orange County

Check out this great site for what is happening in Orange County.  There are a lot of great 4th of July venues to select from for your family.  Let me know if you go to one that you find spectacular!

There is a link to Free Events Newlsetter.  I receive this throughout the month so I can stay on top of what is happening all around the area.

SCAMS: Fake Short Pay Letters Plague The Real Estate Industry

The December 2009 issue of Fraud Insights warned Realtors about the latest type of advanced fee scam targeting settlement agents (title companies). Since then they published three articles describing the characteristics of these scams: a buyer purchases a property sight-unseen off the Internet, and remits a check representing the earnest money deposit and down payment. The checks are usually drawn off an international bank, although a few have come in from a U.S. bank or credit union. Shortly after we receive the check the buyer requests the amount over and above the required earnest money deposit be sent back to them because, “an urgent business transaction just came up.” These checks are always counterfeit.

Recently one of our offices forwarded the funniest response yet. The buyer sent a check in the amount of $885,000. The bank immediately identified the check as counterfeit and the settlement agent notified the real estate agents. In the meantime, the buyer sent a request to the settlement agent to send him back $400,000 because, “an urgent business transaction just came up,” but promised to send replacement funds in time for closing. The settlement agent forwarded the request to the buyer’s real estate agent who responded with this e-mail:

Since the first article we published on this topic, the Company’s National Escrow Administrators have been notified by settlement agents nationwide on nearly a weekly basis of transactions just like this. Times are tough, sellers and real estate agents want to believe they have an all-cash buyer. When they discover the transaction is bogus they admit all the signs were there from the beginning.

Dear Ivo,

I am so sorry to inform you the bank teller who took the deposit of your cashier’s check, literally took the check, cashed it and then fled the country with the entire $885,000.

But I have good news on how I can make it up to you. I was just informed by e-mail a king from the Congo needs to get several million dollars out of his country and has chosen me to help him. He will be sending me a cashier’s check for $10 million dollars and he will let me keep half as long as I send him back $5 million dollars. As soon as the funds are in my account, I will send you back $400,000 and deposit the $485,000 lost into your escrow account.

If that doesn’t work out, I have also won the Nigerian lottery worth $2.5 million and will be able to reimburse you from those winnings.

Dispose of Hazardous Waste Properly Around the Home

We all have one—that shelf or cabinet with leftover paints, old bug killers and unwanted cleaners. You don’t want that toxic stuff near your kids or pets so you keep it out of reach.

It’s equally as important to keep those dangerous chemicals out of the environment. So when it’s time to get rid of hazardous household items, make sure you do your part and dispose of them the right way.

It’s estimated that every American home has an average of 100 pounds of hazardous household waste. This includes everything from paint and thinners to used motor oil, pesticides, bleach, cleaners and even batteries. Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs) are also considered hazardous waste due to the small amount of mercury they contain.

Let’s start with what not to do when getting rid of all this stuff. Pouring hazardous household waste down any drain sends the toxins directly into our water supply.
Drains include the ones inside your home and the storm drains outside. Pollution flowing into storm drains is called storm water pollution and it’s the leading cause of fresh water pollution in America.

You should also never put hazardous household waste in the trash. Whether it’s sending it to a landfill or burning it in a trash pile, both can release toxins directly into the air, land and water. Hazardous household waste needs to be disposed of properly. This means taking it to a qualified recycling center.

Household Hazardous Waste may be taken to a county collection center for safe disposal – all for free.  For more information on county sites that accept these items, please call (714) 834-6752 or go to

All Orange County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Centers are open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and closed on rainy days, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas and New Year’s Days.

The closest one to Central/South Orange County is The Irvine Regional HHWCC.  They are located at 6411 Oak Canyon in Irvine off of Sand Canyon between the 5 and 405 freeways, (use the same driveway as Bark Park)

Another way to reduce the amount of hazardous household waste in your home is to start buying less of it. Many times there are natural alternatives that work just as well. Eco-friendly cleaners and pesticides are more widely available on store shelves and while they may cost more to purchase, keep in mind the true cost of an item is always more than just the money you spend.

Just because the hazardous household waste may be out of sight in your home, it shouldn’t be out of mind. Identifying it, disposing of it and reducing the amount in your home are all easy ways to do your part for everyday green living.

Fuddruckers Classic Car Show Turning over a new Leaf?

Last night we enjoyed the sense of community that living in Lake Forest offers by attending the Tuesday Classic Car Show at Fuddruckers.  For years Orange County can enthusiasts have been gathering here to talk all things…CAR.  Lately it appears that this weekly show has been “Turning over a new Leaf”.  A Nissan Leaf, that is.  Last night there was a good showing of not-so-classic cars including three Nissan Leafs, a handful of Toyota Priuses and Toyota’s (Proof of) Prius Plug-in Concept Car.  This car combines hybrid technology with a plug in feature.  You might say that it is a hybrid of a hybrid crossed with an all-electric car.  You can drive to work the next town over or all around town picking up kids and groceries with no fuel required.  Every time you plug in the car, you will get at least 13 free miles.  This is the perfect car for a family who can only get one green car as they can drive it for free on short strips and then take it on vacation and visit the gas pump less than they would with a traditional internal combustion engine.  Toyota sent us this concept car to drive around town and then return it in a few days with our feedback.  The extra cool part is that we can plug it into our home ‘s solar panels and enjoy free fuel!  If you would like to know more about how easy it was for us to get an HOA approval for our solar panels or how you can cut back your visits to the gas station, give me a call.  I’d love to help!

26 Ways To Save Money On Home Renovations

As the interest in home renovations continues to grow, homeowners are constantly looking for ways to get the job done without depleting their bank account. With numerous steps and details involved in the process, it is easy for homeowners to become overwhelmed and spend more money than is truly necessary.

The following tips from the April 2011 Issue of HOLMES: The Magazine To Make It Right provides useful information that will keep homeowners from going over budget as they take on renovation projects this spring.

1. Work in the off-season. Some jobs like pouring concrete and applying stucco, are best done in good weather, but if your job doesn’t require it, postpone it until the off-season to save on labor costs.

2. Avoid structural changes. Moving walls and adding foundations also raise the bill. If you must have more space, steal it instead of adding on; grab it from an adjoining closet or room, or even the hollow between studs.

3. Work with what you’ve got. Unless you’re dealing with structural issues or water damage, it’s likely that not everything needs to be replaced. If you’ve got a good set of cabinets, why trash the boxes when just replacing the cabinet doors will do?

For the other 23 ideas, click here:

Saving Hundreds of Dollars in Three Easy Steps

How has the economic downturn affected your buying habits?  If you are like millions of other Americans, it has had a dramatic effect and finding the best deals for products and services have become a daily quest.  Sure, you can go to the big warehouse stores where volume shopping lowers unit cost, but you end up walking out with large quantities as well as a fairly hefty bill!

Enter the new online hyper-local community shopping sites where local business meets consumer!  These aren’t your regular shopping sites with hundreds of products, rather a once-a-day “limited” offering from a local merchant.


Daily deals from the “big three” and save consumers anywhere from 25 to 80% off services, food, events and activities.  There is no cost to sign up and the daily deal is delivered straight to your email inbox every morning.  You choose to buy it or not!  One recent deal was $15 for $30 worth of food at The Blue Danube restaurant in San Clemente. 

Own a local business?  These “deal” sites also provide local businesses with an amazing way to reallocate advertising budgets in a way to help consumers save money.  Here’s how that works.  Rather than spending $1000 on a print ad which may draw 3-8 people to the business, small businesses can allocate the same amount in a discount to a consumer who actually needs the service!  On average, several hundred consumers buy the discount online and come into the business to redeem the deal. Way better than print advertising and a “Win. Win.”


5 Habits of Highly Prepared Families In An Earthquake

In a  moment when we least expect it, a moderate to severe earthquake will occur in Southern California. Fewer than 10% of California households have an emergency survival kit and a plan to evacuate and contact family members.

Habit #1 Be Proactive

Take a picture of all family members and have copies of their driver’s license or birth certificate in an envelope along with important documents such as insurance policies. Don’t forget photos of your pets and vet records. Map evacuation routes from the house and neighborhood together. Establish a meeting point outside your home and one outside your neighborhood.

Habit #2 Maintain An Emergency Survival Kit

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistles to signal for help
  • Dust masks, plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Moist towelettes, pocket tissue packs, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench to turn off utilities
  • Reflective and cotton blankets

Keep this emergency kit in a location which is easily accessible to allow fast and easy evacuation from your home.

Habit #3 Prepare with Multiple Outcomes In Mind

Utilities might be out for an extended period or your home could be uninhabitable. Make a plan for short-term sleeping accommodations outside your home. Water and food in supermarkets will be in short supply.

Habit #4 Plan To Pull The Family Together

Create a family communication chain to make contact and schedule to meet at one of your predetermined meeting points. Long Distance phone lines usually work before local lines in an emergency. Establish an out-of-state phone contact for family and friends to call for information. Use TEXT messaging to contact friends and family. TEXT uses a different frequency on your cellphone and might work better in an emergency.

Habit #5 Think Win-Win

Develop plans in coordination with your neighbors. Share these tips and work together to have a strong community support system when an emergency occurs.

Create your emergency plan today and make your kit.  Pre-made kits are available at to buy a complete Emergency Survival Kit for your family.

Lake Forest’s First All-Electric Nissan Leaf powered by Real Estate

That’s right.  Two and a half years after putting a 7.1 KW photovoltaic solar panel system on our roof, we finally took delivery of a Lake Forest’s first all-electric Nissan Leaf.  It was on the ship right ahead of the tsunami and arrived at the dealer a few days ago.  Our Lake Forest Real Estate now provides free fuel for our car.  Pretty cool, huh?  I say it is time to move out of your condo and get control of your roof…and your future fuel prices. 🙂

Here is a link from the write-up in the newspaper:

Save on Fuel for your Car

Four-buck gasoline is a reality again for some American motorists. Only this time, unlike 2008, the price spike follows years of deep national recession and its aftermath—including rampant job loss and home foreclosures. That means many households’ battered budgets are less able to absorb higher gas prices, especially when the costs of such necessities as food and clothing are rising fast too.

Paying $4 per gallon would mean a household spends $4,800 on gasoline in a year, assuming the household owns two vehicles getting 25 miles to the gallon and traveling 15,000 miles. There’s a one-in-four chance that the average price of gas nationwide this summer will exceed $4 per gallon, according to a forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For consumers, a long-term solution to higher gas prices is to drive less or drive a more fuel-efficient vehicle. But in the short term it matters more “how” you drive than “what” you drive.

Here are suggestions for saving money on gasoline, with help from the U.S. Department of Energy, Consumer Reports, the Alliance to Save Energy and   Look at my upcoming post to learn how Gary and I are dealing with the high gas prices.