Tips on Being a Landlord

Let’s say you have a property that you are considering to rent out, either you are going to buy a new property or you are looking for somewhere else to live. Renting your property out is a great way to have some cash flowing your way but it is important to take a step back and understand the responsibilities of a landlord before jumping in. I have put together some tips for you to avoid some common mistakes and to be a step ahead of the game.

20160715042410-shutterstock-129797951First things first, it is crucial that you live near your rental property. If you are looking for a new rental property to buy, it would be helpful to do some research into the best investment areas around you. If you already have a property you want to rent out, make sure that your new living area is close by. Here are some reasons why: it allows you to be able to go over quickly when repairs are needed, it allows you to be able to check up on the property but not before giving your tenants notice, and you will be able to show the rental property often when it is time to list for rent again.

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Another piece of sound advice is to know your tenant-landlord laws, as these may vary from state to state. An easy was to do research now is online. Look up the area you will be renting in and familiarize yourself with the laws. Some of the primary areas to look into in regards to tenant landlord laws are: landlord disclosures, security deposit limits and returns, late feel rules, termination and eviction rules, and landlord access to rental property. There are obviously more to just those and I would recommend spending a good amount of time researching and reading about the laws of rental properties. The last thing that you would want is a lawsuit because you didn’t take a little extra time to read through the laws.

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Have a respectful but firm relationship with your tenants. This is not the time to be “too nice.” And trust me, people might try to take advantage by turning in the rent a few days late or not following certain rules you set in the lease. Be sure to be firm but on the other hand, manners and respect cost nothing. A friendly but disciplined relationship can truly make the difference in avoiding uncomfortable situations down the road.

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Make sure to include regular inspections in the lease and do them! Again, you would have to give the tenants proper notice (in California it is 24 hours notice of entry) but there is nothing unusual about inspections, this is your property in the end! I would suggest taking pictures before and saving them in your records to have proof of what the property looked like previous the tenants.

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Lastly, understand it takes money to make money. This simply won’t be a process in which you will be merely sitting on a couch receiving checks in the mail. While the check will definitely be a part of it, there is also a lot of work and money that go into being a landlord as well. You might need to invest in spending money on remodels before looking for tenants. You will have to purchase landlord insurance and be making payments on property taxes. You should also have some money saved up for unexpected repairs and maintenance.

Hopefully these tips have shed some light on the realities of being a landlord and what is to come with this endeavor. Good luck!

 

 

Better Understanding the World of Refinancing

I’m sure you’ve seen commercials about refinancing or have even heard from people at work discussing refinancing their home. But what is it exactly? And how can you get started?

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First, let’s break refinance down. There are two types of refinancing:

  1. Rate and Term Refinancing, and
  2. Cash Out Refinancing

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Rate and term refinancing is usually done in order to save some money. It is the renegotiation of the rate and/or the term (number of years it will take to repay the loan) of your mortgage with no actual change to the mortgage.  You might want to consider this type of refinance if your current mortgage is an adjustable rate mortgage and the fixed period is about to expire. Or if mortgage rates have significantly dropped since you’ve taken out your original loan.

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The second type of refinancing is cash out refinancing. This option is not as common as rate and term refinancing because it can be a bit riskier. Cash out refinancing is refinancing your mortgage for more than you owe, then being able to keep the difference. A cash out refinance is basically a replacement of your first mortgage and the interest rates on cash-out refinancing are usually (but not always) lower that the interest rates on a home equity loan. Many people turn to this type of refinancing when they need some quick cash but I would recommend looking into a personal loan instead of a cash out refinance, as the risk might be too high for some.

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For both of these types of refinancing there will be closing costs. These closing costs can go anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, the monthly savings from refinancing will usually end up covering these costs over time. You might also come across “No Cost Refinancing.” Which is basically a way to refinance that you won’t have to pay any money up front but you might end up paying more over time in the form of a higher mortgage rate. A no cost refinancing might be an acceptable option if you are only planning to be in a home for a short period of time but does not really make sense if you plan on living in your home for over five years. It’s all about doing the math and making sure that your method of refinancing is right for you and fits your budget.

Quick Tips on Selling Your Home

 

Selling your home could be a daunting process but I have put together some tips in helping the process go as smooth as possible.

First, I would obviously recommend selecting the right broker. You need someone who is properly informed and who knows the market. There are invaluable tips that a broker can provide you with along this process and it is essential to select the one that has your best interest and is most knowledgeable is the subject field. Something that I am constantly doing is reviewing listing services, knowing what properties are going on the market, and keeping up to date with new technologies to assist my clients. In these case scenarios, two heads are better than one.

The second tip would be to price it right. Overpricing your home could lead to less buyers coming around and some agents even go as far to argue that underpricing your home might even be the better option in that more bidders will come and you can make it more of a competition. If you appropriately price your home, you will have an edge over other sellers and have more of chance to get it off the market.

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Thirdly, don’t underestimate the power of staging. Staging your home might feel strange at first but it will add to the photographs that you take and add to the experience when people come visit your open house. If there are too many family photos or personal elements, it might be harder for the buyer to imagine their life there. Keep it simple and keep it clean. Clean out some of the closets and move some of your belongings to storage. This way when people snoop around (and they will) they can see the full potential of the closets in the home you are selling. Storage space is important for many people so making sure that your closets and extra storage spaces look tidy and spacious is a safe route to take.

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Though you don’t need to upgrade everything in the home before selling, some areas might mean more than others. Though it might cost a few thousand dollars to remodel a kitchen, some buyers might ask to take some money off the asking price if they think the kitchen is old and outdated. Spruce things up with a new paint job and maybe even a new stainless steel appliance. Trust me, you won’t believe the difference that it will make when trying to sell your home.

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To many, the idea of selling their home could be terrifying. But remember, with the right help and a few tricks, nothing is impossible. And if you are in the Southern California area and have any questions, feel free to contact Su Casa Bella Realty:

Phone: (323) 363-9148

Fax: (888) 703-4158

E-mail: ijustlisted@gmail.com

Bay Area Brew Fest

This weekend, I had the opportunity to join some of my best friends in the beautiful city of San Francisco and to attend Bay Area Brew Festival. My friends who live in the city attended the year before and invited me to join the festivities this year. This past Saturday we started the day at Fort Mason Park which offered lovely views of the Golden Gate Bridge. We brought cheese, crackers, and champagne to start the day off. A friend of mine brought her portable speaker and we all were relaxing and enjoying cool tunes. I’m going to admit that Saturday morning in San Francisco was gloomy and I worried that the day might take a turn since half of what we wanted to do was outdoors, but low and behold, around 1 PM the clouds opened up the sun shone through.

 

From the park we made our way to Pier 35, were the festival was to be held. Upon arriving, we noticed a massive line outside of the warehouse but a line, to our great surprise, that moved incredibly quick. My friends had shared what the experience was like the previous year but I really only knew very little about the event. Right after the scanned my phone with my electronic ticket, there were tables passing out the cutest little beer mugs and a red wristband. The warehouse space was MASSIVE! Tents lined both sides of the warehouse which offered unlimited samples of different beers from local brewery’s. As we walked along the warehouse we spotted a DJ in the middle of the space bumping funky 90s music (which we obviously loved) and then as we made our way to the back, we found food trucks! Score! My favorite cider that I tried that day (yes they had ciders too) was a Goldenstate’s Gingergrass Cider. It was crisp and refreshing, a perfect summertime cider. The music was great, the energy was positive, and the drinks were flowing. After leaving this event, it made me want to explore the fests that are down in Los Angeles. The ticket prices were reasonable for the Bay Area Brew Fest ($48) and the time spent with friends was well worth it. Here are some of the beer fests that are coming up in Los Angeles. Just in time for the warm weather! IMG_5457

In five days, on March 25, Orange County will be hosting its 4th annual Beer and Music Festival. Tickets range from $35-$50 and will be offering local and regional beers to attendees. Unlike the Bay Area Brew Fest that was all held in one massive warehouse, this festival will be a “walk around” festival and there will be parts of Downtown Santa Ana shut down for the festivities.

On April 29, you can attend the Brew Lagoon Craft Beer and Music Festival in Redondo Beach. It will be taking place from 2 PM to 7 PM and advance sale tickets are $40 whereas if you are to buy them the same day, they are $50. This festival will be offering unlimited tastings from various brewery’s and there will be five live bands performing as well.

And on May 6th and 7th, The BBQ and Craft Brews Festival will be making its debut in downtown Los Angeles in Pershing Square. Here’s the kicker, entrance is free! They will be selling beer, beer samples, and food once inside and also will be offering live music to fill the air. This one is also open for all ages so it can be a great event to take the entire family to while you relax and sip on some brewskies.

And in the words of my mug from the weekend, Drink, Eat, Play!

Top of the Morning to Ya!

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day and for many people that means beer, beer, friends, and more beer. And this year, the holiday lands on a Friday, meaning more will be out to celebrate the holiday! Here are some options for you and your friends to hit up tomorrow.
Casey’s Irish Pub, an underground downtown LA pub, will be throwing their annual St. Patrick’s Day Street Parade. Casey’s Irish Pub will be opening at 6 AM on Friday morning and the festival will begin at 11:30 AM and offers free admission before 3:30 PM. The festivities include musical entertainment from DJs throughout the day, pizza from Pellicola Pizzeria, and 400 kegs of beer! Casey’s Irish Pub is located at 613 S Grand Ave. Los Angeles, Ca 90017.

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Two well known and well attended pub crawls will also be going on Friday night. One in Hollywood and the other in Santa Monica. For the pub crawl in Hollywood, the check in is at the Cabo Cantina in Hollywood from 12 – 4 PM to pick up a wristband and a map of all the bars to walk to. The wristband gives you access to the different bars and some killer drink specials. The other pub crawl, the Kiss Me I’m Irish Santa Monica Pub Crawl, has registration beginning at West End Nightclub in Santa Monica. Tickets similarly gives you access to the different venues and more drink specials.

For those of you on the westside and wanting to stay in one place, Venice Whaler might be the place for you. This Venice favorite is offering some amazing drink deals on Friday night including Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey shots for $5, Guinness Pints for $7 and a Guinness and Irish Whiskey special for $10. The bar is open until 2 am.

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Another option is to take a class at the Greenbar Distillery in downtown LA. Every Friday in March they are offering cocktail classes and St. Patrick’s Day that lands on a Friday is no different. On that night they will be giving a class on Green Cocktails, in the spirit of the holiday. The classes teach you how to use a variety of ingredients to make yummy, yummy cocktails. Each class runs from 7:30 PM to 9:30 Pm and the cost is $40 per person.

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If you want to have a view of the Long Beach skyline, while enjoying tunes and drinks, the Shamrock St. Patrick’s Weekend Party Cruise is the place for you. The cruise is a three hour long, Irish themed excursion and tickets are reasonably priced at $14.50. Tickets here: https://www.goldstar.com/events/long-beach-ca/pier-pressure-shamrock-cruise-tickets?test_signup=&utm_campaign=affiliate_program&utm_content=3736&utm_medium=affiliates&utm_source=has_offers)
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No matter how you decide to spend St. Patrick’s Day remember to wear green, stay safe, and drink responsibly. Cheers!

There’s No Season Like Tax Season

Though it is still a month away, just watch this month creep up before all of our taxes are due. Here are a few things that you should know about this filing tax season.

First off, this year we will have a few extra days to turn in our taxes. While the due date is usually April 15, this year of 2017 the deadline is April 18 since the 15 falls on a Saturday. Then that Monday, the 17 is Emancipation Day, a holiday that is recognized by the District of Columbia, so they pushed it back one more day.

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Second, you need to know that there are options and different ways for you to get assistance. The IRS offers assistance through their Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). In the previous years, these centers used to be first come, first serve but now they are only taking appointments over the phone. The number to call if you are looking to set up an appointment is (844) 545-5640.

FreeFile is also an option for about 70% of taxpayers. FreeFile is a program from the IRS that allows participants whose incomes are $64,000 or less to, as the name implies, file their taxes for free.

Refunds, might arguably be some people favorite part about doing their taxes. There are a few options in receiving your refunds, but the IRS claims that direct deposit is the quickest way to receive your refund over a check.

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And of course, there is the option of doing your taxes by yourself. Now with various online sites, such as TurboTax.com or CreditKarma.com to name a few, doing your taxes from the comfort of your own home is an option. Note, if you are planning to do your taxes online, you might be required to have your Adjusted Growth Income (AGI) from the previous year. The IRS is doing this as a way to combat identity theft and refund fraud. Basically, having your Adjusted Growth Income from the year before is a way to make doing your taxes online safer. You can find your AGI on line 37 of the Form 1040, line 21 on Form 1040-A, or line 4 on the Form 1040-EZ.x.

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There are also some tax benefits for homeowners. First off, you can deduct many home related expenses and these tax breaks can be made for any type of home you purchase including single-family residence, townhouse or condominium. Unfortunately, in order to take full advantage of your tax breaks, it can get a bit complicated. To deduct expenses of owning a home, you must file Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, and itemize your deductions on Form 1040. Again, it gets a bit tricky but trust us, it is worth it. The four main areas one could deduct from are real estate taxes, sale taxes, home mortgage interest, and mortgage insurance premiums. Most commonly, all four of those are included in your house payment. Your biggest tax break is going to be from your monthly mortgage payments. And since a majority of that is going to interest, all that interest is deductible. However, if your loan is more than one million dollars, the IRS will limit your deductible. The other main deduction that comes with owning a home is property taxes. If you are a recent homeowner, I would recommend seeking professional help with your taxes this year if you are planning on itemizing and taking advantage of just one of the perks that comes along with home ownership.

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For those of you who have already filed your taxes, good for you! And for those of you who still haven’t don’t it yet, be warned. You don’t want to be rushing this at the end to make sure that you file correctly and so that you can get back a refund if it applies. Good luck to all and happy tax season!

International Women’s Day
So much comes rushing to mind when I think of International Women’s Day. It is inevitable to not think of our mothers and grandmothers that have paved the path before us. It is impossible to not think of women who have touched and blessed our lives with their wisdom and courage. Even famed women cross our minds on this day to honor them. This day celebrates the women who have made strides socially, economically, culturally and politically. This day has been observed since the 1900’s and has grown since then.


Last year, I read two books both by very influential women fighting for two different causes. The first was by a young nineteen year old by the name Malala Yousafzai who wrote I am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban and the other by Sherly Sandberg called Lean In. While both are different in their topics and stories, a similarity that they share is the encouragement of women to reach their full potential and the demand for spaces to provide them with the resources women need. Malala is a passionate advocate for female education and fights for women around the world who have been discriminated against or have had their access to education stripped from them. Malala was threatened by the Taliban and then later shot (and survived) for speaking out for girls living in her country of Pakistan and for girls around the world to have access to education. She is an activist for the expansion of education to reach girls who are limited either because of social or political norms. She believes that education is right and should not be taken away from anyone.


Sandberg, on the other hand, shares the challenges that face women in the modern workplace. She discusses the balance of trying to be what society has called on a woman to be while at the same time being driven and breaking those stereotypes. She discusses the importance of understanding the wide gamete of women and recognizes that not all women are the same or have the same desires when it comes to their careers and paths, but argues that all women have the potential to reach their goals. Both women have travelled, independently of each other, and their messages have reached millions. Both have been able to influence the trajectory for women in those related aspects for the years to come and I salute them. And those two are modern examples that have risen in the past few years, it would be crucial (but impossible to fit all in this post) to recognize the work of the women pioneers even before both Yousefzai and Sandberg and to celebrate their years of hard work and dedication.


On this March 8, take some time to reflect and think about a woman who has shaped and changed your life. It is important to move forward so that we ensure that not only in this nation, but around the world that women have access to education and are encouraged to make their mark in this world. There is nothing that a woman can’t do and there is so much more that we will do.