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Lake View Terrace Real Estate Blog

Chris Griffiths


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How to Help Your Agent Sell Your Home Quickly

by Chris Griffiths

While your real estate agent may be working flat out to sell your home, you - as the seller - also have an important role to play.

It’s up to you to prepare your home for sale. 

While your real estate agent may suggest, recommend and even cajole, selling your home is your job, and no one else can do it for you. 

You have only one chance to make a first impression. 

It’s so true.

A recent survey indicated that more than 60% of buyers knew the property was for them the minute they walked in the door. 

So make sure you put a lot of your effort into that first impression. 

  • Cut the grass to make it easy and inviting to get to your front door. 
  • Repair stairs and railings and remove all the usual clutter. 
  • For a great first impression, paint the front door a color that coordinates with your trim and add new hardware.
  • De-clutter the entry and make it a 'Grand' entrance. A mirror over a hall table reflects light and gives your entrance a finished look. 
  • In the living areas, remove some of your furniture and paint the walls a neutral color to give them a spacious feel.
  • Use lighting, even in the daytime to brighten dark corners.
  • In the bedrooms, organize your closets to make them seem roomier.  
  • Kitchens and bathrooms can sell - or not sell - your home. If you can afford it, replace outdated appliances and fixtures. If you can’t, go for a good first impression with uncluttered, sparkling-clean counters. 
  • In the bathroom, new fluffy towels and accessories may help visitors overlook the dated vanity. 

While it’s listed, your home should always be kept clean, tidy and smelling fresh. Help your real estate agent and you’ll find that between the two of you, 60% of buyers may just, find your house is “the one.”


Why It Pays to Use a Buyer’s Agent

by Chris Griffiths

These days, a click of the mouse can open a world of dream homes to you.

But when you’re facing down a determined seller or trying to figure out what to offer, it literally pays to have a buyer’s agent on your side.

Real estate is all about negotiation.

On one side there’s the seller and his or her listing agent, who is bound by a legal agreement to represent the seller’s interest.

On the other side is the buyer - you - who wants to walk out a winner, having paid a price you’re comfortable with for a home you love. 

To get there, you’ll need comparable sales to establish a fair price; an educated perspective on the local real estate market; connections to home inspectors, escrow officers and mortgage brokers; and someone who is bound by a legal agreement - a buyer’s agreement - to represent your interests and yours alone. 

That would be the buyer’s agent. He or she puts you on level ground with the seller. 

In tough negotiations with multiple offers, you need someone who will advise on strategy and is required by law to treat everything you share in confidence. 

In “as is” situations or home inspections that turn up expensive surprises, you need a professional to advise you. 

Even when things are going smoothly, another perspective is often important.

An agent can also negotiate unemotionally and professionally on behalf of the buyer.

Effectively, your buyer’s agent is your new best friend. Don’t leave home without one.


Age in Place Later; Make Good Design Choices Now

by Chris Griffiths

Whether you’ve found the home you want to grow old in or you’re planning for an elderly relative to move in with your family, the design choices you make now should be made with a weather eye to the future.

You’ll want to consider adding those independent-living accessories now that will make life easier and safer for you or a relative down the road. Here are some suggestions.

Keep the kitchen safe and accessible by skipping trendy remodels that could transform it into an obstacle course.

Round the edges of countertops and shelves to reduce the risk of bumps and bruises. Place the microwave at or below counter height to eliminate the need to reach for hot dishes; frailer individuals have difficulty lifting and carrying cookware, which may cause spills and slipping hazards.

Also, make allowances for walkers or wheelchairs with lower countertops and extra space.
Consider installing a pull-out pantry with drawers that display all contents at a glance and permit easy access.

Note that U-shaped kitchen guidelines call for at least 60 inches (152 cm) of clearance between opposite cabinets, walls, or appliances; galley kitchens, a minimum of 40 inches (102 cm).
The bathroom can be a dangerous place for elderly people. Experts recommend you elevate the toilet, and install grab bars for getting in and out of the shower or tub safely.

Many designers are now including these features as a matter of course, so they needn’t negatively impact the resale value of your home.

Make sure the floors of your home are slip-resistant. Vinyl flooring offers good slip resistance and softness underfoot.

Tile floors should have enough grout and texture to grip. If your home’s interior has a few steps up to a landing or doorway, consider installing a threshold ramp; several kinds of affordable and easy-to-install rubber ramps are now available.

Well-considered changes now will make a big difference later.

Gardening Can Be a Bed of Roses: Try These Tips

by Chris Griffiths

Dreaming of a bed of roses or rows of tasty tomato plants is easy; the reality may feel like a nightmare, particularly to first-timers.

If you’re planning on seeing whether your thumb is green this summer, note that gardeners are just as varied as gardens, and even those who grew up surrounded by high-rise buildings can nurture something from a plot of earth.

You don’t even need your own backyard; thanks to locavores, the local food movement is spawning community gardens galore.

Before you take that first step, read gardening blogs and books. Talk to gardeners. Learn from them. Then check out these DIY tips:

  • Know your space. Gardens can occupy most of a backyard or a square-foot box. Consider where you’ll plant. Walk around your yard at different times of day so you can see what areas get the most shade, and when.
  • Make sure you have the necessary materials. Have water buckets and/or a hose that’s long enough. Invest in good tools and the space to store them.​
  • A word about water. Many areas in North America are suffering from serious drought conditions, while others have the opposite problem: too much water. Both issues shape the way individuals on this continent garden today.
  • Know your soil. Different plants grow better in different soil types. It’s important to know the pH level of your soil. You can purchase a home test, or you can submit soil samples to a lab and have experts look at it.
  • Know your strengths. Gardening takes time. For some, weeding, watering, pruning, and keeping your plants safe from insects and animals is part of the joy of gardening. If all that seems like drudge work, you may have to accept that gardening isn’t for you.
  • Know your plan. Successful gardeners plan ahead. During June, for example, you need to plant fast-growing summer annuals and heat-tolerant vegetables that can endure hot summers.

Online Estimates: Informative or Misleading?

by Chris Griffiths

Online real estate information sites are routinely used by homeowners, home buyers, real estate agents, and developers as gauges of a home’s market value.

Some of these sites use automated valuation models (AVMs) to provide information on estimated market value, usually for homes currently on the market. The information is available on many home search websites across North America.

AVMs are often proprietary, but generally these use algorithmic calculations that take into account characteristics such as square footage of both home and property, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, footprint of the structure, and property tax information and prior sales prices for nearby homes. The factors are weighted differently according to the specific geographical location.

Consumers often rely heavily on AVMs – sometimes too heavily. According to industry executives, some have median error rates of 8 percent. Of course, the accuracy of the information varies according to the individual website.

In fact, AVM error rates vary widely, and in some places they far exceed the national median. In large urban areas, as well as in desirable suburban and waterfront locales, AVM estimates may be off by tens of thousands of dollars in either direction. Sometimes online valuations are higher than actual on-the-ground selling prices, and sometimes they are significantly lower.

There are several reasons why AVMs can be off. For one thing, an algorithm can’t determine the actual physical condition of a residence. Sometimes homes have specific characteristics that add to or detract from value, such as a poorly located bathroom, a tiny bedroom, an unusual layout, or an obstructed view. Moreover, AVMs don’t take into account title issues, such as concern over surveys or boundaries.

Many agree that AVMs can be a good place to start when you’re in the research stage of house hunting. However, once you’re in search mode, forewarned is forearmed: ask your real estate agent for more detailed comparatives.

Decorating For Today: If it Works for You…it Works

by Chris Griffiths

From the shag carpets of the 70s to the neons of the 80s, each era brings its own styles and designs. But today’s trend is actually a non-trend: It’s a celebration of the beauty (and functionality) inherent in personal taste: if it works for you; it works.

Decorating today is about expressing your personality in your home. If you like those shag carpets from the 70s, get one. If Pantone’s pastel colors of the year leave you cold, warm up with lemon yellow or tangerine orange.

While coming to terms with your own decorating personality is liberating, it can also be scary.

Here are some ideas; make them yours:

  • Remember “flower power?”  If you love flowers, you’ll find floral prints on pillows, rugs, drapes and furniture. You can be subtle – add a floral cushion or two – or create an all-out garden in your space.
  • Oversized art – Fill a focus wall with a big painting or print that you love to look at. Large, bold pieces look great and don’t have to cost the earth. Some people are opting for stick-on photo art murals instead of wallpaper to give your room that very personal feel.
  • Make it shine – Today’s metal accents are subtle (think brushed brass, copper or soft rose-gold) – but if it’s glitzy you want, there are still lots of shiny things around.
  • Go bohemian…in a modern way – The modern boho trend encourages you to break all the rules. Combine vintage finds, antiques, personal accessories and modern furniture to create a style that shouts – ME!

The Renovations That Will Pay Off the Most for Your Home in 2017

by Chris Griffiths

How much return do you get on your remodelling projects?

Location, Location … the Good, Bad and Ugly

by Chris Griffiths

We all know that living near a good school increases the value of your home. But who knew a neighboring cemetery can adversely affect your property value? Or that proximity to a hospital isn’t a good thing?

In fact, we now know—or should know—that nothing is more important when selling your home than your neighborhood. So if you’re buying, think ahead; purchase your dream home in the wrong location and you may be buying into a nightmare. Here are some location no-nos:

  • research has found that living near a cemetery will lower your property value by 12.3% and having a hospital nearby means when you sell you can expect an impact on your sale price of 3.2%. Also note: make sure you move near a “good” school; a “bad” school will reduce your home’s value by 22.2%.
  • An article in the Journal of Transport Economics and Policy indicates that having an airport nearby can discount the value of your home. The greater the noise level, the greater the negative impact.

Among the amenities to look for in your neighborhood-to-be:

  • Proximity to transit. According to a Transit-Oriented Development in America survey, 55% of Americans would pay more to live near good transit options. The study, conducted by consultant HNTB Corporation, found that 57% of respondents liked not having to depend on cars to “work, live, and play.”
  • A neighborhood on its way up—not down. In transitional neighborhoods, you get a lot of value for your home-buying buck. Your real estate agent is the best source of information and will also know if there are any planned roads or developments that may impact the neighborhood—positively or negatively.
  • Water, parks, and green spaces. A nearby waterfront can add up to 25% to the value of your home. A fabulous view is also a moneymaker when it comes time to sell.

5 Reasons to Live and Buy in the Foothills

by Chris Griffiths


1. Communities

What image comes to mind when you think of Los Angeles? It is likely to be a faceless tract home in a faceless suburb. Probably a rather negative image, right? Well you’d better rethink that, here along the foothills we have very distinct communities, each with their own character.

2. Prices

Not only does each community have its own character, we have a broad range of home values too. For example, in La Canada Flintridge we have homes almost three times the median price in Los Angeles County, whereas in Sunland-Tujunga prices are slightly below the Median.

3. Traffic

Los Angeles is the poster child for gridlock, home of the infamous East L.A. Interchange. Don’t get me wrong, of course we have traffic in the Foothills, but we have a whole lot less than most of Los Angeles, and in the 2 Freeway we have a straight shot into the heart of Downtown.

4. Air Quality

Although I have been unable to find empirical data; I have two good reasons to suppose that the air is clearer in the Foothills than in the rest of Los Angeles. The first is that this area was historically home to many sanatoriums for the treatment of respiratory disorders, case in point the La Vina development in Altadena is built on just such a site. I can also tell you that the air moving down the canyons makes conditions visibly cleaner than the basin on many days during the year.

5. The Angeles National Forest

Possibly the best feature of the Foothills is the Angeles National Forest. This barrier to the North-East sets an absolute limit on development and provides awesome recreation opportunities. It has also led to several of our communities being designated as some of the finest Equestrian communities in the Southland. Plus it’s a joy to drive by on a sunny day!

I will be happy to provide all the information you need to buy or sell real estate in the foothills and surrounding areas. As a long time resident and a knowledgeable REALTOR, I look forward to serving you and will be happy to help at any time

Thoughts on Homeyness and the Home in 2016

by Chris Griffiths

A home is so much more than just a shelter, according to the most recent Life at Home report.

The 2016 report, which is published annually by the IKEA global home furnishings company, says a home is defined by what inhabitants experience through their senses: sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch. Together, these five senses make a house feel, well, homey, and create happy memories.

After surveying thousands of people around the world, the Life at Home report found that a whopping 63% of respondents said they cook to feel at home, while 59% attributed their home’s comfortable vibe to music. Interestingly, when the sensation is not a pleasant one – too bright or too noisy – that homey feeling is challenged. And, thanks to a society that prizes outdoor kitchens and living rooms, some 42% of individuals say they now feel more comfortable outside their homes.

The home is now a place of relationships and connections, both personal and virtual; the report found that 48% of respondents described their home as the “place where they have their most important relationships.” However, 23% noted that having Wi-Fi is more important in their homes than having a gathering space to bring family together. It makes a strange sort of sense: Loved ones can move away, but, realistically, they’re as close as the nearest Internet connection. A wired home is a happy home.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the report found that people highly value their “tchotchkes”: 53% suggested the objects in their homes hold memories and/or reflect who they are, while 43% said they assigned importance to objects that facilitate meaningful activities – for example, the kitchen island is where the kids do their homework, creating daily memories.

The report concluded that, no matter who we are or where we live, our feelings of home are all remarkably similar (if clichéd): we love our homes because “home is where the heart is.”

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 12