8 Things to Consider Before Purchasing a Home

Sarah Sitar new Real Estate blog post1. Potential Resale Value When purchasing any home future resale value may seem irrelevant at the time of purchase but consider this, building equity and great resale value can make you money in the long run. Ask your Real Estate Agent to pull home sales in the neighborhood you’re buying. If you figure that a […]

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Best Kept Secrets in the West Bluff Neighborhood (Westside Costa Mesa)

Sarah Sitar new Real Estate blog postMost people living in Orange County know that Costa Mesa is split into eastside and westside, what most may not know is that the West Bluff neighborhood is one of the best kept secrets. Located on the border of Costa Mesa and Huntington Beach, West Bluff has so much to offer. Living in Westside Costa […]

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7 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home When Selling

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Any good Real Estate agent will tell you prior to selling your home that small upgrades can make a big difference. Give these suggestions consideration when selling they may help you get more than you expected.
1. Think About Curb Appeal

Regardless of the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” homebuyers will jump to conclusions when they see the outside of a potential home for the first time. Upgrade your curb appeal by cleaning up your yard, add color with flowers and give some thought to investing in a gallon of paint to clean-up a weathered exterior.

2. Stage Your Home like a Model
Add value by keeping the decor simple — there’s something special about walking into a model home and loving how they’ve decorated it. Apply this simplicity and to your own home to prep it for potential buyers. So, when in doubt start packing early, get rid of the clutter — keep counters, tables, desktops clean and don’t forget to put kids toys (if you have them) in the closet.

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3. Hire a Professional House Cleaner
Everyone has a different perception on “clean,” to be sure that you’ve hit all of those nooks and crannies, hire a professional house cleaner. Have them wipe off blinds, clean the outside of cabinets, dust baseboards and scour tubs. Here is a great list of the items to check-off the list.

4. Repaint Your Walls
If you have bright colored walls think about repainting them with neutral tones. A new coat of paint and a neutral color will appeal to a larger group of buyers who have may want to envision their own decor in your home.

5. Upgrade Your Windows
Outdated single pane windows can be a concern for buyers due to increased energy costs. If you can afford it, install double-pane windows and have your Realtor use it as a key selling point with potential buyers. Not only do dual-pane windows save energy, money, they also help to reduce outside noise.

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6. Clean Your Windows
Hire a professional to clean the inside and outside of your windows. This immediately shows a homeowner that the home has been taken care. This tip is especially true if you have large windows in your living room, kitchen or bedrooms that let in a lot of light.

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7. Bake Cookies for Your Open House
There’s nothing quite like a homemade chocolate chip cookie. Imagine the nostalgia that a simple baked good could invoke for a potential homebuyer. Not only will your house smell great, but homebuyers may just imagine themselves in your kitchen. Offer one to every guest that enters for great success!

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Four Summer 2015 Events To Attend in Orange County

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Looking for some summer fun? Orange County offers its residents so many opportunities to enjoy the summer and weather, at some of the best cultural events. Whether you live here or you’re here for a visit check out these local events — just by attending and participating you give back to local businesses and nonprofits.

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Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach (July 25 – Aug 2, 2015)
It’s only appropriate that this event is hosted in Huntington Beach — Surf City, USA, and it’s all for the love of surf, sand and sun. The Vans U.S. Open of Surf is hosted over eight days and draws large crowds, not just because there is no cost to attend but because the entertainment lineup has something for everyone — live music, surf, skate, and bmx. While you’re there check out downtown Huntington Beach and grab a hamburger at 25 degrees or some Hawaiian fare at Aloha Grill both local favorites.

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Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters (July 5 – Aug 31, 2015)
If you admire arts and culture then this is the summer event for you. The Festival of the Arts runs through the end of August and features 140 artists and artisans who show and sell their work. You’ll find everything from from painting to ceramics to sculpture. This event has been around for more than 80 years and held in the heart of Laguna Beach just minutes from the beach. In addition to the festival, you can attend the Pageant of the Masters — a once in a life-time opportunity to see famous pieces of art brought to life on stage. The costumes, makeup and art direction make this production almost too good to be true.

Here’s a tip: if you purchase a ticket to see the Pageant of the Masters you’ll gain free entry to the Festival otherwise Festival of the Arts tickets are sold separately.

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Hi-Times Chili Cookoff in Costa Mesa (August 2, 2015)
This event has been going strong for for 9 years straight and has proved to be an amazing time for many Orange County locals. Set-up in the parking lot of Hi-Times, a well known wine and liquor store with an amazing selection off of 17th street in Costa Mesa. When you attend you’ll be eating bowls of chili, drinking beer, wine and cocktails.

In addition to food and beverages, they’ll showcase some local bands to keep the vibe going from noon to 5:00p. Be prepared to get your fill of sun and fun all day long Sunday, August 2! Admission and 20 raffle tickets is only $20 (and all of it goes to The Boys and Girls Club of the Harbor Area)

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Orange International Street Fair (September 4-6, 2015)
How often do you get to experience International food and entertainment so close to home? The Orange International Street Fair features 15 ethnic streets of 42 food and alcohol booths and 8 entertainment stages with local bands playing ethnic music. You’ll have a chance to try everything from a bratwurst from Germany to a Polynesian treat like Kalua Pork sliders. Admission to the street fair is free but be sure to bring your best walking shoes and some sunscreen because it gets hot out there.

 

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Four Summer 2015 Events To Attend in Orange County

Sarah Sitar new Real Estate blog post

Looking for some summer fun? Orange County offers its residents so many opportunities to enjoy the summer and weather, at some of the best cultural events. Whether you live here or you’re here for a visit check out these local events — just by attending and participating you give back to local businesses and nonprofits.

Surfer_at_Huntington_Beach_Pier
(Image via)

Vans U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach (July 25 – Aug 2, 2015)
It’s only appropriate that this event is hosted in Huntington Beach — Surf City, USA, and it’s all for the love of surf, sand and sun.  The Vans U.S. Open of Surf is hosted over eight days and draws large crowds, not just because there is no cost to attend but because the entertainment lineup has something for everyone — live music, surf, skate, and bmx. While you’re there check out downtown Huntington Beach and grab a hamburger at 25 degrees or some Hawaiian fare at Aloha Grill both local favorites.

FOA_facade_hires
(Image via)

Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters (July 5 – Aug 31, 2015)
If you admire arts and culture then this is the summer event for you. The Festival of the Arts runs through the end of August and features 140 artists and artisans who show and sell their work. You’ll find everything from from painting to ceramics to sculpture. This event has been around for more than 80 years and held in the heart of Laguna Beach just minutes from the beach. In addition to the festival, you can attend the Pageant of the Masters — a once in a life-time opportunity to see famous pieces of art brought to life on stage. The costumes, makeup and art direction make this production almost too good to be true.

Here’s a tip: if you purchase a ticket to see the Pageant of the Masters you’ll gain free entry to the Festival otherwise Festival of the Arts tickets are sold separately.

Screen-Shot-2015-07-01-at-10.47.28-PM
(Image via)

Hi-Times Chili Cookoff in Costa Mesa (August 2, 2015)
This event has been going strong for for 9 years straight and has proved to be an amazing time for many Orange County locals. Set-up in the parking lot of Hi-Times, a well known wine and liquor store with an amazing selection off of 17th street in Costa Mesa. When you attend you’ll be eating bowls of chili, drinking beer, wine and cocktails.

In addition to food and beverages, they’ll showcase some local bands to keep the vibe going from noon to 5:00p.  Be prepared to get your fill of sun and fun all day long Sunday, August 2! Admission and 20 raffle tickets is only $20 (and all of it goes to The Boys and Girls Club of the Harbor Area)

orangestreetfair-300x199
(Image via)

Orange International Street Fair (September 4-6, 2015)
How often do you get to experience International food and entertainment so close to home? The Orange International Street Fair features 15 ethnic streets of 42 food and alcohol booths and 8 entertainment stages with local bands playing ethnic music. You’ll have a chance to try everything from a bratwurst from Germany to a Polynesian treat like Kalua Pork sliders. Admission to the street fair is free but be sure to bring your best walking shoes and some sunscreen because it gets hot out there.

 

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Buying a Home? Here’s What You Need To Know About the Prequalification and Preapproval Process

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The home-buying process can be confusing, especially if it’s your first time. Sometimes just learning about where to start can he helpful and there are some basics, like prequalification and preappoval that can set you up for success during your purchase journey.

Benefits of a Prequalification

Get started early with the loan prequalification process. It will help you better understand what you may be able borrow when purchasing a new home and set expectations as to what your monthly mortgage may be.

What You’ll Need To Get Prequalified

The first thing you’ll need to do is find a lender who can help you with the prequalification process, there are no costs or commitments associated to getting prequalified. Speaking to your realtor, friends or family members may be a great place to start for a recommendation.

The prequalification process begins with the lender asking questions about your  income, assets, current budget,  debts, and potential down payment to help estimate the amount you could borrow. While going through the process, it’s helpful to collect other important financial documents which will make the preapproval process go more smoothly. These documents can include, proof of employment, proof of income (w2, tax returns, and bank statements), investment, asset statements, and any other documents that show viable income.

Once you’re prequalified you’ll have a better idea of what investment you’re able to make on a new home. With it comes the confidence that you’re making the right financial decision for your future.

The Difference Between Loan Prequalification and Preapproval

As mentioned, there are no commitments between lender and buyer during prequalification for a loan, it’s a bit different when working with a lender for preapproval. It’s recommended that potential homebuyers find a lender who provides desktop underwriting approvals, which is the best form of qualification to purchase.  This process takes a little more time and work on behalf of both parties. Depending on the lender, there can be a small application fee. You’ll want to be sure that the lender you choose for preapproval is a reliable partner and someone you’d like to work with during the home buying process.

Once you’ve selected a lending partner and worked through your preapproval, be sure to ask your lender for a letter of commitment to help both you and your realtor understand your buying power when looking for a home. The bank will provide an approximate dollar amount that they’d be willing to loan for your home purchase. It’s important to remember that this dollar amount is contingent upon numerous factors including, appraisal, credit and financial verification, among other items.

If you’re looking for a trusted real estate professional with several reputable references in the area to help guide you through the preapproval process and ensure success when purchasing a new home, email or call Sarah Sitar, real estate professional. She specializes in the home buying process and can put you in contact with the right lender.

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Costa Mesa Real Estate Market 2014 Recap

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Sarah Sitar Costa Mesa Real Estate 2014 Report First TeamThe 2014 numbers are in for Costa Mesa’s single-family residence home sales, and there seems to be a positive outlook for the 2015-year ahead. The numbers seems to suggest that demand for living in Costa Mesa is on the rise, which is great for real estate companies moving forward. These numbers were gathered by First Team Real Estate.

At the beginning of last year, there was an active inventory of 117 single-family homes for sale on the market with a pending inventory of 48 homes.  Six months, we saw a surge in active inventory as well as the average sale price of homes due to new developments in the Costa Mesa area. In December of 2013, the average sale price was $504,585. In June of 2014, the average sale price skyrocketed to a staggering $690,591 with an active inventory of 177 homes for sale and a pending inventory of 50 homes for sale. These six months between December of 2013 and June of 2014 represent an increase in demand to live in Costa Mesa due to their good schools, safe neighborhoods, beautiful property developments, and exquisite atmosphere.

In September of 2014, we saw a decrease in active inventory to 147 homes for sale and an increase in pending inventory from 50 to 68 homes for sale. The Average sale price also decreased from $690,591 in June of 2014 to $580,374 in September of 2014. Single-families are typically focused on settling in and sending their kids to school, so there is a higher demand at the beginning of summer as it is more convenient for families to move in. Houses were seen to sit on the market for an average of 77 days (the most average days on the market in 2014). Again, this is potentially due to single-families focusing on their children’s first couple of months at school.

In December of 2014, we see a resurgence of average sale price at $683,381 per home and the fewest average days on the market with 59 days. Pending inventory was at its lowest point at 19, and active inventory continued its downtrend since June of 2014 with 138 single-family homes for sale. As we look towards 2015, we can expect the real estate market in Costa Mesa to fluctuate similarly as it did in 2014 with higher average prices due to higher demand and further developments to keep up with the increasing demand to live in Costa Mesa.

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Costa Mesa Approves the Development of Symphony Apartments

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Sarah Sitar Costa Mesa Real Estate DevelopmentCosta Mesa’s City Council recently approved real estate development plans to build apartment complexes in the South Coast Metro district. The plans were pitched by the well-known Sakioka family, who are responsible for multiple valuable real estate development projects in Orange County. The plan proposed was to build a mid-rise apartment complex with 393 units two blocks away from the popular South Coast Plaza. The address of these apartments will be 595 and 585 Anton Blvd. The apartment complex will be called the Symphony Apartments, and this 5-acre plan would replace two vacant restaurants and a parking lot.

These apartment units will be one and two bedroom apartments ranging from 750 to 1400 square feet. Also inside the complex will be additional 4000 square feet of retail space and a parking lot with 731 spaces. The complex will come with a multitude of amenities such as a gym, pool, spa, an open plaza, and a small dog park. Local business owners in the neighborhood consider these apartments a great addition to Costa Mesa’s bustling urban economy. It’s important to develop these complexes as the urbanization of a city develops.

The City Council is also charging the Sakioka family $3,000 for each apartment, which will be going towards developing and maintaining public parks. The reason for this is that the apartments are not ownership housing, so a fee is required from each apartment in the complex.

The neighborhood is surrounded by some of Costa Mesa’s most popular retail and commerce destinations, as well as high-end hotels, office buildings, and similar apartment complexes.  Construction is set to start towards the end of 2015 and expected to last 18 months. 

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First Team Real Estate Wins Best Real Estate Company in Orange County

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Sarah Sitar First Team Real EstateRecently on Orange County Register, Sarah Sitar’s company, First Team Real Estate won the best real estate company in Orange County for the fourth year in a row. The winning office was their East Orange County Regional Office on East 17th Street in Tustin, California. First Team Real Estate has closet to 110 full-time licensed real estate sales people that serve the Irvine, Orange Park Acres, Orange, Cowan Heights, North Tustin, Tustin, Villa Park, and Costa Mesa.

First Team Real Estate was founded in 1976 by Cameron Merage. They have the 11th best sales volume in the county. First team is able to outdo their competition with their innovative marketing tools such as “Hot Buys” and “Market Trends.” Their customers know First Team as a luxury real estate brand, with their ever-so-famous slogan “Live Beautifully.” At First Team, the customer is their number one priority. They launched a popular “My Video” campaign, that consisted of past and current clients talking about their experiences with First Team agents and how they were able to find them the home of their dreams or sell their home with ease.

The East Orange County Regional Office was opened by Mike Hampton in 1991. In the end, First Team is all about customer service. They give their agents all the tools and resources that they need to the be real estate agents of choice in their given community.

First Team Real Estate is very selective about who they hire. They chose agents who they believe are motivated and can provide clients with the service and respect that they deserve. The team has been able to persist through the volatility of the real estate market as they have a high retention rate from their agents. First Team also has a philanthropic foundation called “First In Our Hearts.” This is an in-house organization where employees are able to donate time or money to charitable causes or organizations in Souther California.

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