Do this BEFORE Browsing for Housing

What does a buyer need to do before purchasing a home?

Simply save money and purchase a house. 

The end. 

If only that simple. 

Here are the most important factors to ponder before you browse for the house:

  • Become best friends with a lender. Call your fellow Realtor and ask for referrals. Chat with a few, get to know the human being. The best humans are the ones who ask pertinent questions then attentively listen. Like a Realtor, no two lenders are alike. Real estate transactions are a collaborative effort. Agents work with lenders, lenders work with agents – ALL with the purpose of doing what’s best for our client(s).  
  • Once established, let the documentation begin! Your lender will work with you, gathering information regarding job history, paycheck stubs, and current finances. Most important, the lender will take your information and guide you towards reaching your financial goals regarding the purchase of a home. Lender and Realtor work in tandem; once your qualified and have a clear idea what you may be able to afford without eating sticky rice each day, then your Realtor steps in. Your Realtor appreciates you and knows how much of a roller coaster your ride will be! She or he will guide you along, discussing your financial and home-buying goals. 

Online home searches are fun, aren’t they?! Can’t get enough of Zillow, Redfin or Realtor.com! 

Yet……

Before your serious home search, establish a relationship with a lender and Realtor. Once you’ve got that under your belt, we’ll get you where you want to go! 

Please feel free to reach Carin at 714.290.2192 for any questions. 

Happy browsing. 🙂 

Buyers, Remember to Breathe

To all first-time homebuyers, whatever you’re feeling after escrow closes, it’s ok.

 

 

Cheers,

Carin Arrigo / TopBroker Network Real Estate /  714.290.2192

Transitioning Alice: Part 2

A few days from moving from her apartment to assisted living, Alice shared more thoughts September 7th, 2017. 

This was the beginning of what a community of caregiving looks like, which continues today and tomorrow. 💜

Moving Alice. The Transition is Real: From Apartment to Assisted Living Part 1

She didn’t think she was ready. Who is ever ready to move to assisted living? 

It was early August, when mom’s fall would become a game changer. 

After one night in ER, followed by two weeks in skilled nursing, followed by two weeks of 24/7 care at home, reality made its way into all our lives. 

Yet this is a story of respite and resilience. Caregiving, community, camaraderie. A story dotted with hope, the thoughtfulness of family – love at its core, with a smattering of humor in unexpected places. 

Please join me with my mom-in-law, as Alice paves a new kind of landscape for her life. She graciously gave me the honor to share with those who might need some encouragement

Humanity in Real Estate

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Upon closing the last several listings, It never ceases to amaze, the human connection in real estate. Houses are houses are houses. They entail a living area, bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, a patio, a doorbell. All of which stand upright on a foundation from a parcel, wherein humans gathered together. Turns out, the construct of building a house begins with humans.

Each listing, different. Different homes, neighborhoods, zip codes, elementary schools, landscapes. Each listing, a different story. Each person; buyer, seller, agent, escrow officer, different. Yet, all the same, wrapped up in each transaction: humanity.

Sitting at open house, humans wander in and out. Some are more open than others, light chatting, ask a few questions, share their son’s winning run at his baseball game.  Some prefer to turn away, not make much eye contact, saunter throughout, quietly slither away before barely saying ‘hello.’ Which is why browsing for housing on line is so attractive: incognito and anonymous, albeit the websites that require one sign away their DNA. On line or real life, each party, couple, family, all want the same things: safety, security, community, a home. 

My recent listing stories run the gamut:

  • Senior moving from a condo to a senior community.
  • Adult children selling their parents’ home through a trust after their dear mom passed away.
  • Sellers no longer needing a rental property they cherished for years.
  • Selling a residential home in Orange County CA in order to begin a new chapter in Texas. 

What’s most important to think about is the house is somewhat incidental. My mom used to tell me this often. “It’s the people who count the most in real estate.” The variances of selling and buying a home can not be underestimated. It’s because of all the human interaction, real estate is no piece of pie. Anxiety, trepidation and frustration are all part of the fun! Unbeknown to many, there are a few of us Realtors who care deeply about you humans. Humanity is the biggest asset in every transaction. 

Clients like Kimmy keep real estate real. 

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I’d like to personally thank the following for entrusting me over the past few months:

Peggy
Clair
Geoffrey
Quin
Cindy
Kimmy
Carlos
Frankie the Pooch

 
Thank you for bringing it, working together and being the awesome humans you are. (Frankie, in her own way)
 

The Aging Parent

We all have a story of our aging parents. To be a baby boomer today, is to face our own mortality as we navigate our relationships with our adult children and aging parents.

Boomers, as a whole, are criticized for selfish behavior and self-absorbed character. We weren’t dubbed the “me generation” for naught.

Yet, my purpose is to share what it’s like to cope with aging parents. It’s a journey no generation before has quite mastered, as our parents are not only living longer lives, our culture is now affixed to a quality of life that didn’t quite exist previous.

When it comes to our parents’ home, that’s a doozy in itself.

How long are they able to live by themselves? Perhaps a spouse has passed and mom now lives alone. Up until recent, she’s been doing fairly well and able to care for herself. Her cognitive behaviors, however, have waned and she seems a bit more confused about her daily routine. Maybe she forgets to take all her medication or no longer uses the microwave for those meals that were once easy to prepare.

When to step in?

There are no exact timetables. Families, while a blessing, are a human bunch. The chasm lies within certain family members, who may love one another, though have different thoughts about what to do with the living situation of mom, dad or both parents. One might be adamant to step in and tell dad he must start pondering the thought of moving out of his home. The happened years ago with my dad-in-law. My husband (at the time) told his father, “I’d rather live with your anger dad, than live with the guilt if something were to happen at home and you get hurt.”

The decisions are dynamic.

Selling an aging parents home is not a slam-dunk reaction or resolution. Unlike younger generations thinking of selling a home, seniors need extra time, patience, encouragement, education and above all, empathetic care and concern for what it’s like for the senior. The process varies for all. It’s important to recognize this, as the options may be more than one realizes.

  • Keep mom and dad in their house and age in place. Install grab bars in baths, bathrooms. Remove small area rugs and make sure they have a way to alert an ambulance at a moments notice.
  • If aging in place, consider some in-home care. Have someone come a few days a week to look after mom. Have a caregiver cook meals, take her to the doctor, be a caring companion while you’re busy living your own life.
  • Consider leasing dad’s house, as the asset can be used for assisted living or board and care living.
  • Sell the home.

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We, as families, are going through our own specific journeys. I want to hear the whole story. Not to gain detailed and needless information, rather, to understand the bigger picture; who your family is, how they relate to each other, how their specific roles intertwine with their parent(s). It is then I’m able to serve my greatest capacity. 

To you and your aging parents, I applaud your efforts to care for one another. Take deep breaths and know you’re not alone. 

Real Estate Referrals of the Lasting Kind

When my dad told me he and his wife were thinking of putting their Cottage Grove, Oregon house on the market many years ago, first immediate thought: I have NO idea of a real estate agent within the Eugene area. That was two real estate brokerages ago, a time when I didn’t quite understand the importance of referrals, let alone where to look. As it happened, I found this cool dude of a real estate agent online. Long hippyish hair, kind smile, his profile mentioned how he saw his clients as people, not merely part of hitting a high volume of business. Bingo.

Enter the beginning of a virtual professional relationship with Bobby Stevens, agent of ALL agents in the state of Oregon.

This story rocks on a number of levels. Let’s begin with two dedicated real estate agents who uphold humanity above all the regular details of a transaction. Right from the beginning of our correspondence, Bobby demonstrated the key to any great agent: attentive listener who puts a clients’ needs way before what he deemed important; an advocate with keen knowledge of his given neighborhoods and the kind of compassion not easily found in other agents. Pretty fine start, I’d say. 

Our story involves such issues as quick claim deeds, attempted refinance, horrific tenants, property management, city ordinances and two agents who deeply cared about a seller. 

Without delving into the particulars, which would make an interesting tale of its own, the point of this post is a reminder of all that is right with real estate. 

Just last April, years after our virtual relationship started, I finally met the man who would bring closure and comfort to my dad. We met for lunch, I saw the exterior of house (I’d never seen it and tenants were still residing at the time), and toured a bit of downtown Cottage Grove. Bobby and I left each other, a whole new appreciation for what we do for a living.  Thanks, rock n’ roll man. {Side note. He plays in a band, too. Married to an awesome woman with two beautiful girls they adopted from China. The coolest of cool.}

The house closed this month. Dad is breathing more easily. I developed a friendship with a Realtor from Eugene. Try as one might think otherwise, as my mom used to say, “The house is incidental. It’s the people who matter in real estate.” 

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Carin and Rock n’ Roll Realtor Bobby Stevens, Cottage Grove Oregon – April 2015

 

In a Seller’s Senior Shoes

There are many times in this business I am the fortunate one. 

One can learn a lot more from a client than any formative real estate class. Want to learn more about Alzheimer’s? Work with clients who must cope with their parents who live with 24/7 at home care, while dealing with an aging mom who is losing her ability to recognize her children. Wonder what it’s like to care for aging parents when living thousands of miles away? Or, how does one pay for the extraordinary cost of home health care? These questions are becoming too common in the realm of advocacy in selling real estate for seniors and their families.

First thing, first: selling doesn’t always need be an only option. Consider leasing your loved one’s home.

Second: resources exist. Whatever county you live in, google senior home health care, senior resources or senior services. Some counties offer more resources than others. If you’re not able to find help in the county you live in, look at nearby counties.

Here, I share a recent example of what it’s like to be in a seller’s shoes. 

Not all sellers are alike. Not all real estate agents are alike. Sometimes they connect, sometimes not. With Doug and Ellen and sister, Nancie, our professional bond focuses on one thing: their parents. Living with 24 hour care in their home, mom has Alzheimer’s. Dad’s around too. The adult kids needed to sell mom and dad’s rental homes in Orange to help offset the cost of 24 hour home health care. Three years ago, we sold one home. Just last month, the other. A privilege to be a part of their story.

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The stories continue. I am the fortunate one.

The Philosophy of an Uncommon Agent

Ah, real estate. Us agents are making the big bucks, right? What’s in selling a home anyway? Put a sign up, mail a few hundred postcards, fill the calendar with multiple open houses, get fellow brokers and agents to come view the home..easy, peasy. With all things virtual and mobile today, geez, notwithstanding good ‘ole MLS, there’s tons of websites and your listing is virtually alive until it’s sold. How difficult is all of this? I mean, what is the big deal of selling a house and why pay so much to sell it? Besides the obvious answer being, oh, there’s a lot of money and legalities of selling or buying a home, some issues have very little to do with either of those. It’s called human connection.

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Yep, people are human. It’s a strange concept, though this REALTOR usually prioritizes that issue and people come first. We do a lot for our sellers and sometimes our sellers aren’t quite aware of our service until their house gets sold and they’re on their way to their next place of residence. As frustrating as this biz can be, it becomes apparent we need to do more to educate our sellers, including yours truly.

I am not a high-volume agent. You can’t mass produce the intimate service I provide to each of my clients. I don’t work in a large brokerage. I work with a small, yet mighty team who support each other, though each transaction is my own.

I serve clients. I earn listings, one at a time. 95% of my business comes from referrals. My services are not for everyone, I know. Some people want the marketing and their price, bottom line and could care less about actual service. Yet for those who need a good dose of human connection with their agent while selling their home, I’m your girl.

There’s a place for high-volume philosophies. Some agents are out there hustling, working their various listings, consistently prospecting, jumping in full force. I do all of that too. Only my energy goes out to one person at a time: you. I much prefer taking on what I can chew well, without sacrificing my integrity or ability to be there for my clients when needed. My “prospecting” approach is reaching out to those who know me and continue building on relationships that are meaningful.  In terms of a client, most of my prospecting involves caring for them at that time and not concerned about my next listing. It’s full force – individually.

Money matters. I like making money. I like earning what I believe I’m worth. Like others, there are financial responsibilities to take care of. Money is a fascinating phenomenon. When it comes to real estate agents, we all have our own philosophies of our business and how we like to operate. One equates success as a top producing listing agent, while others enjoy the search representing buyers. I equate success as doing both. Clients have different needs; gotta do what’s best for them. That’s the beauty of building a business as a real estate agent. It’s taken years to discover I’m right on target with the kind of business I want, the kind of business where I can work for the best broker that aligns with my philosophy and make a difference in each clients’ life, one transaction at a time.

What’s most important in your relationship with a real estate professional? Why did you choose that person to work with? What traits did you like? I love hearing other experiences. Carry on. 🙂

Home is Where the Mom is

Today is Mother’s Day. The explosion of Hallmark Cards, brunches and flower arrangements. It’s also about home. For where else does one feel more at home than with their mom. 

That’s almost Hallmark worthy. Almost.

My mom passed away 3 years ago. She lived near the beach nearly as long as I can remember. “The old woman by the sea” she’d call herself. Married for years with my own beautiful daughters, each time I visited mom, as if no time had passed, I reverted back to my teen years, laying on her bed while she happily labored another crossword puzzle, we chatted about life, dozing off here and there, mom and daughter, sweet moments of time, the two of us, the simplicity of love. Mom would always feel like home, no matter where she was. Now gone, she lives within my heart, her new home.

With my own daughters, it’s taken on a life of its own. Too much to write and express at this time, only that where ever this mom is, they have a home; today, tomorrow, forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms across the land. May your kiddos always feel right at home. 

Senior Advocacy all the way, Baby

I am but one Realtor living in California. No fancy schmancy car, shiny website or major top producing agent, what I DO offer my clients are as such: care, compassion knowledge and an attentive ear. When I first began helping seniors, these characteristics seemed plausible enough: what Realtor DOESN’T care for their clients’ best interest? Yet this past summer, my compassion exceeded expectations far higher than ever experienced before.

The story goes like this:

  • Mid-March I receive an email from a woman inquiring about the possibility of selling her parents’ rental homes. *Mary lives out-of-state and was given my brochure touring a local assisted living residence while visiting her parents.
  • From March until June, Mary and I correspond via email only. The key to her story: mom and dad reside in their own home with 24/7 care, as mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing. Mary and her brother, *Joe, make the decision to sell one of two rental homes in the same city so as to have enough funds to keep their parents in their own home as long as possible.
  • Tenant who resides in the rental house been living at property over fifteen years. Interested in purchasing the house.
  • Mid-June, three months after our first email, along with my brokers Bob and Kathy, Mary, Joe, Joe’s wife and I finally meet in person at a local coffee shop to discuss specific details on listing the rental house.
  • Upon initial visit, we all proceed to rental house where we meet with tenant. For the first time, tenant meets Mary and Joe in person. Prior to this, Mary and Joe’s parents had been the main contact for the tenant.
  • Tenant qualifies for loan and escrow opens shortly after Mary and Joe head back to their respective homes.
  • During escrow, I remain in contact with Joe, the primary trustee, who had transferred his parents’ trust in his name during our initial meeting.
  • Thirty-plus days later, escrow closes.

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I don’t work alone. All parties rallied together to make this transaction happen. Seller, buyer, Realtor, broker, escrow officers, title rep, et al. Seller, though dealing with the complexities of Alzheimer’s and parents far away, is now able to breathe a little more easily, knowing he can afford the care needed to keep them home until further notice. Buyer, once a former tenant living in the same house purchased, is now a bona fide homeowner. Together, they formed a partnership based on principle, similar goals and a willingness to put their trust in a local real estate chick. That real estate chick never once forgot who was most important in all of this: mom and dad. They are to be commended for the wonderful son and daughter they raised. They are what this is all about. To them, I salute you. Alzheimer’s diminishes the brain, though the love is only a heartbeat away. 

 

Cherish an Antique Day

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Still have that pocket watch Uncle John gave you on your seventh birthday?  Convinced that circus painting you bought at the flea market must be worth same as your Prius?

On Saturday April 12th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Kirkwood in Orange will host “Cherish an Antique Day”!

Come and share your family antiques and discover the stories behind them. Bring up to two items and have a free appraisal from Mr. K’s Estate Sales.  Enjoy complimentary refreshments and musical entertainment too!

Where: Kirkwood Assisted Living  1525 E. Taft Avenue Orange CA 92865

When: Saturday April 12th, 2014

Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm 

To RSVP or more info: 714.262.4737