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Understanding the Home Appraisal Process

What you should know about home appraisals.

Do you know what a home appraisal is, or why it is so important for you to have? Many people misunderstand this crucial component of the home buying experience. In essence, an appraisal is a valuation of your home – it is needed to ensure the homebuyer, the home seller, and the mortgage lender receives the accurate value of the real estate in question.

Generally, you can choose your real estate agent and lender, but you cannot choose your appraiser. The appraiser will be chosen by your lender to provide a level of independence from the buyer and seller. This helps to produce an unbiased report on the worth of the house.

The most important component involved in arriving at a property’s value is called comparable sales, or comps for short. These are similar properties, usually located within a mile or so of your property, that have sold within the last 90 days. The appraiser will compare the home’s features against the comparables’ features to get a better understanding of the home’s value. Factors range from square footage, appearances, amenities, and condition. The appraiser will take special note of improvements that greatly add value to a home. These include new flooring, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, adding living space in a basement, and additions to the property.

Once the appraiser has inspected the property, he or she will provide a written report with their analysis and conclusions about the property’s value. If the home appraises at or above the purchase price, then you’ve completed a major step in the home-buying process and can move towards closing! Sometimes, a home will appraise for much less than the agreed-upon purchase price. Generally, you will have a legal way out of the sale if the appraisal comes in too low. Another option is to renegotiate for a lower sale price based on the appraised value.

Have more questions about the home appraisal process? Buying a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Best Golf Courses in Palm Desert

Enjoy a game of golf? Check out these top-rated courses.

Whether you are an avid golfer or a seasonal player, you may know that nothing quite beats a Californian golf course. The lush green grass, constant sunshine, and fresh air make ideal conditions for every golfer. If you have yet to check out the top golf courses in Palm Desert, here are a few to try!

Desert Willow Golf Resort

Known to be well maintained, have good deals, and challenging enough to be fun, golfers should check out this stunning location. It’s highly rated as one of the most beautiful courses in all of Palm Springs, and this course doesn’t let you down. Complete with cactus plants and wildflowers, you can truly enjoy nature while having a round of golf. 

Marriott’s Shadow Ridge Golf Club
Located in the Coachella Valley, Shadow Ridge Golf Club enjoys over 350 days of sunshine and blue skies every year. This beautiful and peaceful valley is often referred to as the “golf capital of the world” because of its ideal playing conditions and abundance of courses.

Palm Desert Country Club

Palm Desert Country Club is a premier golf club in Palm Desert and the Coachella Valley. Renowned for its wide fairways and subtle greens, the Palm Desert Golf Club appeals to golfers of all levels. The golf course and golf clubhouse have recently undergone tasteful renovations. Come play a round of golf and see why generations of golfers have hailed Palm Desert Country Club as a “must-visit” golf course

Are you looking for a home loan to land your dream home in California? If you’re interested in learning how you can get the best loan for your needs, the team at Dean Rathbun is ready to help!

Don’t Miss the 2018 OC Fair!

The OC Fair is back and it starts tomorrow! 

Are you ready for ultimate summer fun? Running from July 13th to August 12th, the OC Fair is back and bigger than ever. During the 23-day event, you can enjoy live entertainment, shop from local vendors, marvel at exhibitions, check out the competitions, and indulge in some seriously good eats.

The carnival is what you’re going for, right? There are a wide variety of rides, ranging from the Wheel, Balloon Ride, Carousel, Crazy Coaster, Galaxy Coaster, Super Slide, Zipper, and lots more! There are rides to suit people of all ages and are fun for the whole family.

This year, the 10th Annual OC Fair Fun Run 5K will be held on Sunday, August 5th at 8:00 a.m. Gather your family and friends to enjoy this run around the whole fair! Additional exhibitions include The Courtyard Wine Seminars (designed to wow your inner wine connoisseur), and city days celebrations.

Quite possibly the best line up to date is that of the exhibits. Joining us for the first time is My Fair Selfie, a pop-up palace of photo fun. Opening July 20th, don’t miss this year’s must-see exhibit. Along with culinary exhibits, garden and floral displays, crafts, visual arts, a heroes hall, and more, there is plenty to do and see!

OC Fair Hours
Wednesday-Friday: Noon – Midnight
Saturday-Sunday: 11 a.m. – Midnight
Monday-Tuesday: Closed

What are you waiting for? Grab your tickets here! Bring the whole family for extra summer fun.

From the team at Dean Rathbun, we hope that you and your family enjoy this special event. Contact us for all of your home loan needs.

Fun Fourth of July Events in Costa Mesa

Don’t miss these exciting July 4th local events!

There is no other celebration quite like Independence Day, falling on July 4th of every year. On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies claimed their independence from England, helping to eventually form the United States. This holiday is one of the most significant national holidays in the U.S., and us Americans are only right to celebrate in style! To get involved in Costa Mesa celebrations, check out these events!

Pacific Symphony: Music of Chicago

July 4, 8:00 p.m. | Pacific Amphitheatre @ OC Fair & Event Center

Celebrate the Fourth with the music of Chicago, known as the “rock and roll band with horns.” With hits like “You’re the Inspiration,” “25 or 6 to 4,” “If You Leave Me Now,” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” you’ll be swept away by the melodies that make this band such a beloved classic. To cap off the evening, sing along to your favorite patriotic tunes as we salute our armed forces and thrill to a sizzling fireworks show. This year, parking is free!

Concert On The Green and Firework Festival 

July 4, 3:00 p.m. | Irvine High School Stadium

Hosted by the Irvine Police Association, this event is a Pyro Musical sky concert & Fireworks extravaganza! This year’s event will be featuring live music by the Derek Bordeaux Group, Professional Field Entertainers with Field Games and Activities, Bounce Houses, Raffle with Prizes & Gourmet Food Trucks (food available for purchase).

Fourth of July at Centennial Park

July 4, 4:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. | Centennial Park, Santa Ana

The city of Santa Ana will celebrate Independence Day fireworks at 9 p.m. Celebration begins at 4 p.m. (activities end at 8 p.m.) with live music, delicious food, youth sports activities, kids jump zone, face painting, and more! Along with the fun, children will have a chance to meet important figures from American History at our annual History Walk and see a civil war cannon display. To end the festivities, a 20-minute firework finale will light up the night sky! So bring the family, a picnic, and lawn chairs, and enjoy a fun-filled evening!

4th of July Parade & Pier Festival 

July 1-4, 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. | Multiple locations

Complete with live entertainment, exhibitors, food vendors, a parade, 5K run, and fireworks, don’t miss this spectacular event to celebrate the fourth of July.

 From the team at Dean Rathbun, we hope that you have a fun and safe fourth of July! For all of your property buying needs, get in contact with us today.

3 Ways to Research a Property Online

Find out about properties before you purchase.

These days, nearly every home search starts online. Sorting through listings, photos, floor plans, and descriptions is a great way to suss out the market for those who are just starting to house hunt. When you find a home you love and are ready to bid on it, it’s wise to find out as much information as you can about the property before you place your bid. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find out more about your chosen property!

Check Building Records

Nearly all public information and documentation is now available online, so you can check the building’s permit history. The law requires most sellers to disclose previous work done on the property. However, there may be a history of earlier work that the seller didn’t know about. For example, if there is a newer kitchen but no history of a permit for a work, there may be a chance that someone did the work without a permit. This could be an issue, especially if they violated health or safety codes.

View It On Google Street

Simply type in the address to Google Maps and click on the street view. Street view provides a snapshot of a property at a particular moment in time, which can provide insight into the recent history of the property or neighborhood. Keep in mind that the image that pops up may not accurately reflect the home’s current state. You may spot something that raises questions about the neighborhood safety or the structure of the home. For example, if there were bars on the windows previously, then you may question why there are no bars on the windows now.

Download a Neighborhood Crime App

A variety of crime reporting apps for mobile devices show recent crimes that have been reported on a map, including assault, theft, robbery, homicide, vehicle theft, sex offenders, and quality of life (which often means noise complaints). This is an easy way to get an overview of how easy and safe the neighborhood is to live in.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

House Hunting Tips to Help You Make the Right Choice

Find the home of your dreams with these tips in hand.

In pursuit of the perfect house, it’s easy to get carried away by a potential home’s beautiful characteristics. However, it’s important that you don’t push aside the important stuff that you’ll be kicking yourself for later. If you are inspecting multiple houses, there is every chance that you’re going to end up feeling exhausted and frustrated. However, a few organization tips and simple strategic steps can help you find the home of your dreams without the stress and worry. Here are our tips to help you stay focused on finding the right home for your needs.

Set your priorities. Before looking at any houses, make a list of what you definitely want, such as three bedrooms or a large backyard for the dog. Then list features that you would like, but aren’t entirely deal-breakers. Once you only view homes with your must-haves, you can narrow down your choice and finally view homes that are right for you.

Take photos. When you start to house hunt, it can be overwhelming to remember all the homes that you’ve seen. Help to keep track of all the homes by taking notes and photos. That way you’re better able to remember which home was which. However, before you take photos, remember to ask the realtor for permission. 

Make a comparison chart. After you have seen multiple houses, make a spreadsheet that compares details of each house against your priority list. Remember to make notes after each visit so that properties are fresh in your mind. Include notes on landscaping, the condition of the roof, natural light in each room, time of day, storage space, and price.

Envision yourself in the space. Just because the current owner has the second bedroom set up as an office doesn’t mean you can’t use it as a home gym or baby nursery. Wall colors, furniture arrangement, and window treatments can all be swapped out, so use your imagination to put yourself in the home.

Look high and low. When we view a property, it’s easy to rush through the property to get the feel of it and view the layout. It’s important to take your time so that you look high and low, too, spotting any problems that may be present. Make a point of focusing on things outside of your usual line of vision.

Buying a home is no small feat, so it pays to have a trusted, experienced professional on your side! Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Is Buying a ‘Starter Home’ Still Smart?

Pros and cons of buying a starter home.  

As generations come and go, so do traditions and right of ways. When the Baby Boomer generation was moving into adulthood, it was common to buy a ‘starter home,’ often considered a modest, small property. As their families and careers grew, they moved into larger homes. These days, many individuals and couples struggle to come up with the down payment for a first home. They may even wonder if it is smarter to wait and save more money so that they can buy a bigger and better home to settle in. If you’re on the fence, here are some advantages and disadvantages that come along with buying a starter home.

Advantages:

  • It builds stability quickly.

A great benefit that often strikes most people is the stability they feel when they become homeowners. They may feel more grounded, less constricted by landlord rules, and part of a larger community. Finally, they can call a property ‘theirs.’ Many new homeowners enjoy decorating, entertaining, and enjoying their own space.

  • Builds equity.

Generally, when you get into your first home, you can realize some equity. If you can commit to a significant period of time, such as five to seven years, there’s a chance that you can come out well ahead. That is, if you keep up with home maintenance and improvements that add value.

Disadvantages:

  • Buying twice means moving twice.

If you think you’ll be ready to upgrade in just a few years, it could be more cost-effective to save and stretch for the larger house. That way, you can stay in it longer without the hassle (and expense) of moving twice in a short period of time.

  • You may spend more than you wanted to.

There are some definitive costs when it comes to homeownership, from property taxes, mortgage payments, to furniture, landscaping, and maintenance expenses. Some parts of homeownership are trial and error. If you’re not ready to be responsible for a load of expenses, you might be better off renting until you have saved up enough for a long-term home.

Contact Dean Rathbun when you’re looking to secure the right mortgage for your needs. We work with your credit score and financial picture to ensure that you lock in the right home loan to land that house of your dreams. Give us a call to get started.

3 Factors to Consider When Pricing Your Home to Sell

How to price a home accurately.

Pricing a home for sale is an art. It is something that real estate agents are trained rigorously at, so when you’re the homeowner, knowing where to start can be the first of many hurdles. The most important factor in selling a home is the right price. Numerous studies indicate that the longer a home remains on the market, the less money it will fetch when it finally does sell. So, how do you price a home without undervaluing it and without dooming it to stay on the market? These factors play a significant role.

The condition of the market. Generally, the market has been improving for some time now. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t dips. If you happen to be selling your home during a slowdown, you will need to price your home more competitively if you want it to move along quickly.

Comparative sold properties. Look at recently sold properties in your area that are similar to your current home. Since markets change quickly, it’s best to find comparative sales within the past three months. If you go back too far, you will see homes where a deal may have been made many months before it closed.

Fixtures and finishes. Buyers generally prefer a tastefully renovated home with neutral finishes and fixtures instead of an unrenovated home that is stuck in the ‘80s. If your home isn’t updated, but all of the comparable houses online are, you should face the fact you may need to update before listing the property or opt to take a lower price.

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

Cleaning Projects That Protect Your Home’s Long-Term Value

Home maintenance cleaning tasks to do.

Every homeowner wants to protect his or her property’s value. While home improvement projects and renovations will certainly improve the value, there’s nothing quite like cleaning that will keep your home in good condition. Fortunately, these cleaning tasks help to retain your home’s value and are incredibly affordable. Here’s how to get started.

Wash the windows inside and out. Make the glass shine so that your property feels lighter and bigger. While you’re cleaning the glass, you’re also able to spot any cracks, chips, and winter damage to the glass and frame. Windows are expensive, so taking care of them is a great way to protect their value and your home’s curb appeal.

Check gutters and roof. While you’re cleaning the exterior of your windows, check the state of your gutters and roof. Any winter damage can be quickly repaired, preventing leaks and causing costly repairs.

Clean and freshen the front entry. Your front door and entryway is the first thing that people see. An overall sweep, a thorough hosing, and a quick polish to lights and décor can make a huge difference in curb appeal.

Wipe the fans. Ceiling fans are places where you wouldn’t think to dust, but they should be one of the first things you start with when you spring clean. Dust can pile up on the top blades of a fan and solidify. Be sure to wipe down the blades often with a mild detergent.

Clean the carpets. Whether you use a professional or a DIY machine, cleaning the dirt and dust out of your carpets at least once a year will make them look newer for longer. Your whole home will smell cleaner, too!

Being prepared for a home sale or purchase is critical. Ensure that you know how to handle it by relying on the expertise of a professional mortgage corporation. Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to find the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.

What You Need to Look for When Buying a Flipped Home

Consider these important factors when looking at a flipped house.

A flipped home is one that has been purchased, renovated, or remodeled, and is now listed for sale for a much higher price than what it was purchased for. In many cases, flipped homes are purchased by investors who are looking to purchase a home below market value, fix it up, and sell it for a good profit. While not every investor will cut corners, there are a few things you should look for when viewing a flipped house.

Look at the Details

It can be easy to get caught up in the amenities of the home, especially is everything is shiny and new. However, it’s important to look at the home’s details to see the quality of the renovation. Consider checking light switch plates to make sure they’re snug into the wall, check that the crown molding lines up at the corners, and even open and close doors and cabinets to ensure they’re the right fit. Since you might be the first person to live in the newly renovated property, there are some issues, technical or cosmetic, that may need adjusting.

Book an Inspection

A flipped house doesn’t necessarily mean a new home or even a property in good condition. An inspector can check the contractor’s work and see if any shortcuts were made during the renovating process. If a home inspector finds any major problems, you’ll have the opportunity to pass on buying the home or negotiating the purchase price.

Learn About the Seller

Ask your real estate agent for some background information about the seller who flipped the property. Were they new to remodeling houses? Do they have a portfolio of their previous work? Did they use reputable contractors? Successful flippers generally want happy homeowners with few to no problems.

Need help on your next real estate move? Contact Dean Rathbun when it comes time to finding the perfect plan of action to buy your home. We are happy to help you.