Cape Cod style homes are popular in the coastal communities of Southern California, and it's a style that appeals to arguably the largest segment of single family home buyers in the nation.

Cape Cod home architecture is one of the earliest style of homes built the in United States, dating back to the 1600s when English settlers drew their wisdom from the simple cottages in England. They adapted this original British design to deal with the harsh winters of the Northeast by having the chimney the focal point of the interior, providing heat to rooms clustered around it. The exterior utilizes cedar shingles on the fascia and roof to keep the cold out and a steep roof helps to discard rain and snow quickly. Cape Cod style architecture was created mainly for function, but offers a classic and oft sought after appearance.

How do you identify a Cape Cod style home? There are some key features to look for including

a large, central chimney, steep roof, windows on each side of the door and dormers on each side of the chimney, a narrow captain's stairway, and shingle siding weathered gray shingles are one of the most recognizable elements of a Cape Cod style home.

Due to their age, this style of home may be due for a major remodel. Luckily, Cape Cod style homes in Southern California are often in better shape than East Coast versions, which can date back to the 17th and 18th centuries. On the bright side, the simple construction of this architecture style can make is easy to adapt these homes to your modern needs.

Cape cod style homes are usually cozy may boast a less expensive asking price since many were built during the 1950s. A cape cod style home can be a terrific starter homes or a way for retired couples to live out their days in the community of their choice without the costs associated with larger, modern homes.

When it comes to purchasing a home the architectural style may be overlooked in favor of focusing on location, school districts, available homes and other pressing constraints.

But for some buyers looking for their Southern California dream home, architecture styles may be a hugely important aspects to choosing their new home.
 
Home inspections are one of the most critical steps in the home buying process, and for many reasons. Investing in a home inspection can protect you from unexpected costs before you buy, as well as save you money in the long run on your investment.

Not only is it important to know what will happen during a home inspection, but just as important to know what will not happen and how to interpret the results.

The Inspector
Not all home inspectors are created equal, so check certifications and chose someone who is part of the American Society of Home Inspectors and is an ACI (or ASHI) certified inspector. Even the best inspectors can make mistakes, so chose one who carries "Errors and Omissions" coverage that goes beyond the basic liability insurance. Don't choose an inspector for the wrong reasons.

Be informed
Attend the inspection and don't leave the inspectors side, as you will likely pick up additional insight along the way and better understand the final report. While most inspectors in California follow the National Association of Certified Home Inspections guidelines, there is no uniform checklist. So be sure to negotiate ahead of time what is included on your checklist and understand what is potentially not included, such as items not on the house (fences, surrounding buildings, pipes and septic tanks). Know that Asbestos, lead, mold and other dangers are typically not covered. Understand how thorough the inspection was, like if the inspector climbed on the roof or entered the basement, and how they evaluated the roof and foundation.

Inspectors are not psychics
A home inspection can only go so far. Inspectors can't see the future and don't know when housing systems will fail – they can only evaluate present conditions. Most home inspections are also non-invasive – meaning they only inspect beyond finished surfaces – so protect yourself as much as possible. Many of the most expensive repairs, such as water leaks and damage, rotted wood and faulty wiring or plumbing, are behind the walls and under floor coverings. A trusted inspector can notice defects and if homeowners are trying to cover up problems.
 
The advantages of cleaning the windows in your home are often obvious. But when staging your home for sale, the difference can often be in the fine details.

The concept of curb appeal is based on first impressions of the buyer, and the most astute buyers will notice clean windows. On the interior, clean windows allow bright, natural light show off the best features of your home. Outside, they will help create a clean and inviting view from the street.

Sure, anything to help your curb appeal is worthwhile. But you might notice an actual difference in the value of your home and a return on the investment of simply getting your windows cleaned.

Consider that 75 percent of people who first view a property online will drive by before they contact an agent, according to Homestaging for Dummies. Not only does curb appeal sell 49 percent of homes, per the National Association of Realtors, a good first impression of a home can actually add 5 to ten percent to the value of the home, according to the president of the National Association of Real Estate Appraisers.

Money Magazine surveyed 2,000 real estate agents and found out the improvement that generates the best return on investment is clean windows, estimating the ROI on window cleaning to be an astounding 768 percent.

We know curb appeal matters, and the lesson here is to not overlook your windows.

For South Bay residents, you might want to consider [Fish Window Cleaning ], a local company established in 1978 that offers real estate specials.
 
Income properties are bought or developed so the owner can earn income by renting/leasing the property or through price appreciation over time. There are many types of income properties an investor may consider including:

Single Family Investment Property
Second Home/Vacation Home Investment Property
Small Multifamily Investment Property
Large Multifamily Investment Property

Mixed Use Investment Property
Office Investment Property
Retail Investment Property
Industrial Investment Property
Land as an Investment Property 

Why buy income properties?
There are many benefits to income properties including developing a passive income stream and receiving tax deduction benefits. Read more about 5 benefits of Investing in Income properties.

If you are considering an income property in Redondo Beach income properties, Manhattan Beach income properties, Torrance income properties, Hawthorne income properties or other South Bay income properties, a knowledgeable local real estate agent will help you make the most of your income property purchase.

Share your income property desires with your agent and always give detailed information to your real estate agent about your likes and dislikes. Choose an agent who you can communicate well with so they can educate you about the market and successfully negotiate for your aims. 

The South Bay cities offer a unique beach community living experience in Los Angeles and a thriving need for good rental properties, both vacation and domestic. If you are planning to buy a South Bay Income Property the local market conditions will determine asking prices. Your agent will be the most help if they are an expert in your specific area and will also save you time in your income property search. Well connected Realtors may also have access to off-market real estate intelligence to help you snag the perfect investment property before it even hits the market.

Make a list of the features you're looking for in your income property and contact your agent today to begin your income property search!
 
Your home can grow a gorgeous garden in sunny So-Cal if you choose the right plants. If you're landscaping your home, selecting easy to care for, drought-tolerant plants will keep your lawn and flower beds looking great. Perennial plants are those that live for more than two years, giving your landscaping more longevity. Here are 5 perennials to get started with:

California Fuchsia
This plant blooms brightly with orange-red tubular flowers. Dependent on hummingbirds for pollination, expect it to attract friendly winged visitors to your garden as well!

Sage
Sage comes in many sizes and forms and are good additions to well drained garden areas. You can choose culinary or ornamental varieties. Sages will flower with aromatic foliage and prefer full sun areas of your yard.

Mexican tulip poppy (Hunnemannia)
Similar to the California Poppy, this bushy plant can grow to 2 feet tall. The leaves are blue-green and it blooms with bright yellow flowers.

Red-hot poker (Kniphofia)
Also known as a torch lily, these flowering plants produce spikes of upright, brightly colored flowers that hover well above the foliage. Exotic looking, they will add pops of red, orange and yellow to your landscaping. The flowers are high producers of nectar, attractive to bees and hummingbirds.

Verbena bonariensis
Also known as a "purpletop", this is a tall and slender flowering plant with fragrant lavender flowers in tight clusters. It can grow to 6 feet tall and can spread to 3 feet wide, preferring full sun.
 
The process of shopping for a mortgage loan can be a somewhat daunting task. Whether you’re buying your first house or consider yourself a pro, it's good to educate yourself and know what the latest options. In a mortgage, the most popular home financing option, the house you buy acts as the collateral in exchange for the amount you borrow. Lenders in the current financial markets have many products, meaning there is a different type of mortgage for nearly every need.

The two main types of mortgages are fixed rate and adjustable rate. A fixed rate offers stability in a fixed interest rate over the term of the loan -- whether it's 10, 15, 20 or 30 years – as payments are always the same. During the early part of the loan, the majority of each payment goes toward paying off the loan's interest. In the latter part of the loan, the payments are paying off mostly the principal.

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) offers an adjusting interest rate that may increase or decrease within certain set period of time. The interest rates are tied to a market index, and as the market fluctuates, so will your monthly payment. The intervals of time in which the interest rate is adjusted are specified in the loan contract, and often times there are caps placed on how much the rate can increase. 

A hybrid ARM loan is a type of adjustable rate mortgage that start off with a fixed rate for a set amount of time before rates begin to adjust.

There are also two government-backed loans insured by a federal agency. An FHA loan is designed for first-time buyers and buyers with moderate or low income and is by far the most popular. The biggest benefit of an FHA loan is the low down payment (generally around three percent) and lower interest rates than standard fixed rate loans. If you qualify, VA and USDA loans are no-brainers, as no down payment is required.

If the most common types of mortgage loans don't fit your situation, look into interest-only mortgages, balloon payment mortgages, graduated payment mortgages (GPM), two-step mortgages, bi-monthly mortgages and bi-weekly mortgage options.
 
It's no secret that first impressions are important. So when it comes to your home, don’t overlook the impact of curb appeal on potential buyers and the value the exterior appearance can add to the sales price.

Adding curb appeal doesn't have to be expensive, time consuming or complicated. By addressing the basic curb appeal principles, you can create a warm, friendly and inviting atmosphere outside and a strong initial perception of what's left to see inside.

Remember, the outside of your home is the first thing a buyer will see. Try to view it from their perspective, and focus on improvements that will appeal to the greatest number of buyers.

The Entrance
Create a focal point by painting or refinishing your front door. Paint faded trim and molding, and replace worn hardware, light fixtures and house numbers. Add style and appeal to the entryway with symmetry and a blast of color in mind, such as potted plants and sidelights.

Lighting
Not everyone will see your home during the day. While also providing safety and security, lighting along the walkway is aesthetically appealing and leads guests to the front door. If installing wired lighting isn't an option, go for lower-voltage solar powered fixtures.

Do look down
The condition of the walkway and driveway can have a major impact on curb appeal. Remove weeds and overgrowth, and repair cracks or stains. Simply power-washing, resurfacing or resealing can sometimes do the trick. For major impact that adds value, replace concrete with pavers, stone or bricks for a custom feel, or use them to widen existing walkways.

Landscaping
Terrible landscaping is an automatic turnoff. Instead of rebuilding your landscaping, improve what you have by cleaning up weeds, overgrowth and dead plants; restoring color with new plants; adding mulch and defining perimeters. Focus on a mix of colors and sizes at the front of the yard, along the walkway and immediately in front of the house for dynamics that accent and frame your home.

Dress it up
Paint is inexpensive, but a few new coats can transform the look of a home. Along with obvious defects, give a fresh look to flower boxes, shutters, railings, trim and molding with accent colors for a quick and inexpensive facelift.
 
Staging your home and properly preparing your home for open houses can have a big impact on your final sale price. The goal of home staging is to present your property in the best light, while making it easy for potential buyers to envisions themselves living in the space. There are many expert home staging companies, but trying to choose one on your own can be a challenge. You want a professional stagier whose work has proven results. Your local, experience real estate agent can recommend which stagier's they use and can connect you with the best professionals for your home. Your real estate agent may also be a great referral source for other home maintenance professionals who can help you prepare your home for sale like the best contractors, plumbers, electricians and window washers.

Here are some home staging tips and ideas to get you started on making your house sell-ready:

Declutter Everywhere
And by declutter we mean move every single personal thing out of your place—knickknacks, kitschy decorations, souvenirs, tattered furniture. It all goes elsewhere for the sake of staging. When you look at knickknacks and collectibles you remember their sentimental value, but these items don't have the same impact on buyers who don't know you. Buyers want to be able to imagine themselves in your space and its easiest for that to happen if they don't see clothes in the closet, family photos and random tchotchkes.

Focus on Kitchens and Bathrooms
Your kitchen and bathrooms are key to the resale value of your home. Get these spaces thoroughly clean (maybe a maid service can go the extra mile here), expect prospective buyers to open cabinets and pantries so keep them under filled and organized, and think about how low cost upgrades could help these rooms. Maybe it's time for new cabinet knobs, new faucet fixtures or a new light. 

Knock Buyers' Socks off with Curb Appeal
Don't forget the exterior when staging your home. Replace any bad areas of grass with new sod. Add fresh top soil to flower beds. Consider potted plants for your porch or entrance. Trim bushes and trees to make your yard look neat and well maintained.

Grow your space with Mirrors
Well placed mirrors will make your living spaces look lighter, brighter and bigger just like magic. Put mirrors in places that help bounce sunlight around the walls. 

Don't forget your table manners
Simply setting the table can have a big affect on buyers. Seeing a nicely set table makes potential home buyers feel welcome. Similar effects can be achieved by using non-scented candles throughout the home, hanging nice hand towels in the bathrooms, setting a breakfast tray on the bed or putting a nice book on the coffee table. 

Play up Light
Open all window coverings all the way to allow people to better view your home in sunshine. Home buyers love big, bright rooms. Make sure your windows are clean inside and out and you've dusted your windowsills. 

Last but not least, Clean, then clean some more
A sparkling clean house gives buyers the impression your home has been well-maintained over the years. Knock down cobwebs, wipe counter tops, scrub grout, mop floors, wash light fixtures and repeat. Keep the space fresh and clean until it sells; a one-time cleaning won't be enough. You may want to consider hiring a weekly cleaning service once your house is staged. If it shortens your selling time, it’s money well spent.

Compass Realty Group