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When you’re looking to buy a home, there are plenty of choices available. One of them is a condominium (commonly known as a condo). It’s a multi-unit property that is divided and sold into individual units. These units are owned privately. The common areas in the building are owned collectively by all of the condominium’s owners. 

Compared with a single-family dwelling, ownership in a condominium includes partial ownership in shared “common property.”  Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when buying a condo. 

HOA fees and rules
Every condo building has a homeowner’s association (HOA), which is a collective group in charge of community and property oversight. If you purchase a property in the community, it will be subject to the HOA regulations and you must pay owner member fees. 

These fees typically help cover building costs, such as the upkeep of shared structures, common areas, and exteriors. Some also include utilities or insurance. When you’re shopping for a condominium, make sure you keep in mind the building’s monthly HOA fees goes on top of your estimated monthly mortgage payment. 

Finally, review the property guidelines and make sure you don’t object to any of the rules (like restrictions on renovations or  limitations on dog breeds) before you commit. 

Amenities
Some condos include amenities in their listing prices. Ask about amenities upfront so you get a clear grasp of everything you’re paying for when you buy the home.  Amenities could be storage units, parking spaces, a private gym or pool. Sometimes utilities and earthquake insurance are included as well . You need to add these costs to your monthly budget.

Investment risk
You and your neighbors own the common property together. If one or many owners fail to pay their dues, the entire community suffers financially. Likewise, if one or more of your fellow condo owners go into foreclosure, the units could change hands at a serious discount, affecting everyone’s property values.  Keep in mind, some associations have rules and the funds to buy back these units. Be sure to ask how this situation is handled.

Owner occupancy versus rental ratio
When it comes to financing, it’s important to know the owner occupancy versus rentals in the building. It will be more difficult to get a loan approved if there are more tenants versus owners in the building. Some complexes can have many renters moving in and out. 

Hire a real estate agent
Working with a real estate agent  who has the experience with the type of housing you want is crucial. We at Aspire Los Angeles have assisted our clients with various condos and their specific regulations. We have a deeper understanding of how to assess property value, explain mortgage terms, and outline community regulations. All of which can benefit you during your shopping process.

When you’re a first time home buyer and you imagine your dream home, you probably picture a detached, single family house. A property that has only one residential unit.  But that’s far from the only option available to first-time home buyers in today’s housing market.  Another option is a multi-family home, which is increasingly popular nowadays.

What is a multi-family property?
A multi-family property is any property that has more than one unit. The smallest multi-family property has more than one unit and are called duplexes. The next step up are triplexes and fourplexes, having three and four units each, respectively. These multi-family units enable you to live in one unit and rent out the other(s) to offset your mortgage costs.

If you are a first time home buyer and weighing the options of a single family home versus multi family homes. Here are 4 reasons why you should consider a multi-family home as your first real estate purchase. 

Lower Down Payment
One of the great benefits of buying a two to four unit multi-family home is that you can get a conventional primary residence mortgage with as little as 5% down.  You could also qualify for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and purchase a property with 3.5% down. If you’re a veteran or active-duty military, you may be able to get a home with 0%-down with a Veterans Affair loan. 

Primary Residence Financing
It’s usually much cheaper to finance a primary home. If you’d like to take advantage of primary residence financing. You’ll get a lower interest rate and lower fees than you’d get for an investment property loan. If you’d like to qualify for primary residence financing, The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the parent of FHA, requires buyers of multi-family homes to occupy one of the units as your primary residence. 

Lower Housing Payments
Another benefit of a multi-family home and therefore collecting rental income, is that it makes your housing payment lower or even erases it altogether. For example, if you buy a fourplex with a mortgage payment of $3000 per month and you collect $2500 in monthly rent from the other two units, your out-of-pocket housing payment drops to $500. Alternatively, you can use the rent money you collect to pay down your mortgage even faster.

Build equity faster
Buying a multifamily home instead of a single-family residence also lets you build equity faster — and by using your monthly rental income. For example, if you can spend $400,000 buying a triplex or $200,000 buying a single-family home, making your monthly mortgage payments on the triplex will build equity twice as fast.

Thus, there are many advantages to owning multi-family real estate. These include access to better financing opportunities, lower housing payments (due to rental income), and the ability to quickly grow one’s investment portfolio.

We at Aspire Los Angeles, would love to assist you in finding a sustainable multi-family unit which you can add to your investment dossier.

Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest investments of your life. When you are ready to enter the market, finding a real estate agent with the experience to guide you through the process is key.

Due to the abundance of real estate agents, finding the right candidate can feel overwhelming. With a long term asset like a home, you want to make sure you hire the perfect professional. But, how do you find the right real estate agent who fully understands your needs? 

Here are some of the attributes our past clients appreciated from our agents.  Perhaps these insights will help you to decide if Aspire Los Angeles is the suitable firm for you.

Referrals 

There’s no bigger compliment for us than a referral from our past clients. Through the years we’ve built and maintained a loyal client base. The testimonials from our clients can assist you in making a decision on whether Aspire Los Angeles is a good fit for you. Take a look at our testimonials to see if we are a match. 

Track Record And Inventory

Our agents have over 16 years of experience and training in the real estate business. With our significant track record of serving clients, Aspire Los Angeles has built up a quality inventory. Our agents are specialized in the areas: Jefferson Park, West Adams, Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, Downtown LA, but also West LA, and the outskirts of Pasadena. We’ve helped our customers find or sell craftsman homes,  luxurious condos, contemporary mansions, mid century gems, and mediterranean villas.

According to our clients we provide the personal approach of a boutique firm, backed up with the bandwidth and strength of a real estate mogul. 

Passion, Conviction And Honesty

We at Aspire have the passion, conviction, and honesty to assist you with your real estate matters. Our agents will do whatever it takes to get your home to sell faster and for the best price. Our team will go the extra mile to find you the house, you can call your home. We are passionate about our service and celebrate diversity and inclusivity among our team, our clients, and our local community. 

Adequate Support

When you sign up with one of our agents, you have immediate access to all the resources of our team members. Thus, you will always have direct access to your assigned agent and our efficient team will serve your needs as well. Though the logistics of buying and selling a home can be complicated, our support staff will go out of their way to make it a smooth ride. 

If you are interested in buying property or selling your home. We, at Aspire Los Angeles, would like to assist you in this matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to connecting you with the right agent on our team. 

The neighborhoods West Adams and Jefferson Park are known for its historical beauty, central location, the expansion of the subway system, and its reasonably priced homes. 

This family friendly community is welcoming, generous, and caring of each other. The houses are charming block after block, there are mature trees everywhere, and plenty of parking. In addition, the rows of skinny towering palm trees are postcard perfect.

With the rise of economic change, came the rise of local cuisine businesses with a renewed focus on the historical district and its development. Let’s take a stroll down some of these community businesses that have been around for quite a while.

Harold & Belle’s 
One of the best Creole restaurants in Los Angeles. Harold and Belle’s Restaurant opened in 1969. Founders Harold & Belle’s dreamed of having a place where people would gather and socialize while enjoying delicious creole cuisine. The restaurant is now owned and operated by 3rd generation husband and wife Ryan and Jessica Legaux. The family expanded the restaurant from 12 dining tables to 35+, tripling the size of the kitchen and expanded the brand as a whole.
2920 W Jefferson Blvd, haroldandbelles.com

Earle’s on Crenshaw 
The Earle family has evolved from a hotdog stand in Venice Beach into a thriving restaurant within the heart of the Crenshaw district. The Earle brothers have established themselves as a fixture in the Crenshaw community with a following that extends beyond the greater Los Angeles area. While the business has grown, their commitment to the empowerment of Black and Brown people, and dedication to quality food and superior service, has remained constant for over 36 years. 
3864 Crenshaw Boulevard, earlesrestaurant.com

Mel’s Fish
Located in the heart of the Crenshaw district, Mel’s Fish serves up traditional Louisiana favorites. Meals like red snapper, shrimp, po-boy sandwiches with their private cornmeal batter along with their secret blended seasoning that always keep their customers coming back for more. Mel’s Fish is currently being run by Georgette Powell who took over after her father passed.
4524 W Jefferson Blvd, melsfishshack.com

West Adams and Jefferson park continue to grow in value. The property value of this quaint neighborhood of bungalows, cottages, and craftsman homes – just south of the 10 freeway – has doubled in 10 years, and homes are now listed around $1 million-plus.

Our office is located in Jefferson Park and we are proud to be an active community member. If you are interested in buying a property in this historical district, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to show you around in our neighborhood.

You are ready to sell your home as soon as possible and you realize you’ve lived with your home quirks for years. That jiggly bedroom door handle, the electrical outlet in the kitchen that hasn’t worked in a decade. The red carpet in the guest room that’s more dated than dramatic. 

Selling your home is quite a task, and you have to deal with the imperfections of your home. But what are mandatory updates? How do you get your house ready to sell? Which repairs should you make to add more value, and to get your house to sell faster? We recommend getting a full home inspection, which will give you all the insights you need into your home’s condition.  

The home inspection report will shed light on what improvements you might wish to make prior to the sale. We can help you prioritize these improvements to help you set the right price for your home.  Let’s take a look at some recommended updates before selling a house. 

Electricity Issues
Dated electrical issues need to be fixed immediately. You can’t have missing wire nuts, frayed wiring, or faulty light switches when selling your house.

Plumbing
Plumbing problems can cause water damage and lead to mold and dry rot. It’s not an option to leave plumbing problems unfixed. Even simple replacements of a leaky faucet, or a washer or toilet wax ring should be on your to-do list.

Heating, ventilation, and AC issues
Fortunately if your system isn’t running properly, it doesn’t mean you have to invest in an entire new system. Hiring a certified technician to repair it, can do the job. Do keep in mind that any system at the end of its lifespan can bring down the appraised value of your house. Especially if other houses in the neighborhood have newer units. 

Roof problems
Aging roof tops decrease your property value and cause all sorts of water damage and ventilation problems, which leads to paint blistering and mold. Not to forget high energy bills. It’s worth the investment to install a new roof before you sell your home. Though the average cost to replace a roof is $12,000 you will recoup that cost at resale. 

Foundation Flaws
A severely damaged foundation threatens the integrity of your home. Selling a home becomes difficult, when the foundation is flawed. Unless you are willing to negotiate on a lower asking price, you will benefit from restoring the foundation of the house you are selling. 

Lack of modern safety features
Every state requires in-home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Make sure you know your state and local laws. Inspectors or appraisers will look for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. 

Aesthetic pleasing updates
You can benefit from aesthetic pleasing updates when selling your home. They aren’t mandatory by state and local law like an in-home smoke detector, but aesthetic pleasing updates can help to sell your house faster.  

A new coat of paint will do wonders to freshen up your home, both inside and out. Leaving busy wallpaper, your daughter’s purple bedroom, the quirky turquoise bathroom, can turn off potential buyers. If you can, repaint your house in neutral colors.

If your kitchen, bathroom, or living room look dated, you may benefit from some minor work prior to putting your house on the market. Cabinet or door hardware, new countertops can have a big impact on your final sales price.

Luckily you don’t have to do this alone. Start by asking a top local real estate agent for help. We at Aspire Los Angeles are excited to help you decide on the necessary updates and to present your valuable home on the market.

Buyers in today’s market often have questions about the importance of getting a home appraisal and an inspection. That’s because high buyer demand and low housing supply are driving intense competition and leading some buyers to consider waiving those contingencies to stand out in the crowded market.

But is that the best move? Buying a home is one of the most important transactions in your lifetime, and it’s critical to keep your best interests in mind. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the appraisal and the inspection, and why each one can potentially save you a lot of time, money, and headaches down the road.

Home Appraisal

The home appraisal is a critical step for securing a mortgage on your home. As Home Light explains:

“. . . lenders typically require an appraisal to ensure that your loan-to-value ratio falls within their underwriting guidelines. Mortgages are secured loans where the lender uses your home as collateral in case you default on the agreed-upon payments.”

Put simply: when you apply for a mortgage, an unbiased appraisal – typically required by your lender – is the best way to verify the value of the home. That appraisal ensures the lender doesn’t loan you more than what the home is worth.

When buyers are competing like they are today, bidding wars and market conditions can push prices up. A buyer’s contract price may end up higher than the value of the home – this is known as an appraisal gap. In today’s market, it’s common for the seller to ask the buyer to make up the difference when an appraisal gap occurs. That means, as a buyer, you may need to be prepared to bring extra money to the table if you really want the home.

Home Inspection

Like the appraisal, the inspection is important because it gives an impartial evaluation of the home. While the appraisal determines the current value of the home, the inspection determines the current condition of the home. As the American Society of Home Inspectors puts it:

“Home inspections are the opportunity to discover major defects that were not apparent at a buyer’s showing. . . . Your home inspection is to help you make an informed decision about the house, including its condition.”

If there are any concerns during the inspection – an aging roof, a malfunctioning HVAC system, or any other questionable items – you have the option to discuss and negotiate any potential issues with the seller. Your real estate advisor can help you navigate this process and negotiate what, if any, repairs need to be made before the sale is finalized.

Keep in mind – home inspections are critical because they can shed light on challenges you may face as the new homeowner. Without an inspection, serious, sometimes costly issues could come as a surprise later on.

Bottom Line

Both the appraisal and the inspection are important steps in the homebuying process. They protect your best interests as a buyer by providing unbiased information about the home’s value and condition. Work with your trusted real estate advisor so you have an expert guiding you throughout the entire process.

Sheltering at home is the safe bet, but it can get a bit tedious. This is when gardening can come in and save the day. If you are growing your first vegetable garden, we have some tips to lead you to success. We will also share with you the benefits of crop swapping with your neighbors. There’s no better way to get fresh produce at home without having to go to the stores.

Starting Your Garden

Before anything else, you want to learn what will grow well in the Los Angeles climate. During late summer and early autumn, plants such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, fava beans, and lettuce will thrive and grow well.

Squash, cucumbers, carrots, sweet corn, watermelon, blueberries, and radishes are also wonderful choices. Just make sure you choose the varieties that will grow best in the current climate. Blueberries, for example, often do better in a cooler environment. However, you can find radish varieties that will do well during the spring months.

Tips For Gardening In LA

If you are planting vegetables, consider building the garden closer to your kitchen door, if possible. Doing so will allow you to get to the plot more easily and tend to it more closely.

You should also consider building raised beds. The soil in California is not always naturally fertile for vegetables, so you want to raise the bed and fill it with the best possible soil.

An automatic irrigation system is ideal for providing your plants with water. Some people may forget or may not have the time to water the garden manually and even end up not thoroughly wetting the soil.

You should also set traps for pests that eat fruits and vegetables. If anything has fallen, pick it up to prevent fig beetles and other pests from going to your garden. You also need to stay on top of the weeds before they go to seed.

Crop Swapping

Now that you have your garden up and running, why not check with the neighbors to see what they have grown? This is an excellent opportunity to organize a crop swap with others in the community so that everyone has access to fresh fruits and vegetables without heading to the stores.

What are you looking to plant in your new garden?

If you’ve been considering a home sale in the near future, staging is probably something you’ve at least heard of, staging can have a huge impact on the selling process.

In this post we talk about how staging can impact selling your home.

Home staging involves setting a home for sale up with furnishings that make it look ready to live in, and it gives prospective buyers an idea of what this home will look like when they make it their own. This move-in ready look creates a better first impression than an empty home, and it gives something to prospective buyers that they can really resonate with.

According to data from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, home buyers decide if they’re seriously interested in buying a home within the first 30 seconds they spend within the space. This shows just how impactful these first impressions are, and why you want to go the extra mile in making sure the first impression you make is a great one.

Take a look at this great timelapse video to see how staging can bring a home to life and presented in the best possible way.

Staging Statistics

It’s been proven that staged homes sell more quickly than non-staged homes. In 2007, a study was conducted by the Real Estate Staging Association. In this study, a group of vacant homes that were on the market for an average of 131 days were staged and re-listed. The results of this study found that these “new” properties sold in half the time or less than what they were on the market before, selling on average in just 42 days. This study was repeated once again in 2011, when the market was deemed more competitive, and the homes were sold 73% faster. What this study shows is that staged homes sell more quickly, and they spend a significantly less amount of time on the market.

Return On Investment

Staging a home for sale doesn’t just cut the time your home will spend on the market, it can also increase the value you get for your property. Home staging has an impressive return on investment, so if you’re looking to invest in your home before a sale, this is a consideration you should be making. According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical return on a home staging is around 8 to 10% of your total home’s value. Not only will your home likely sell more quickly, but you’ll get more for it, which together makes for a highly successful sale.

Home staging may seem like a frivolous investment in the selling process, but the truth of the matter is that it’s one of the most worthwhile investments one can make in their home sale. Here are six ways in which staging can help you sell your house faster. 

With a fixer upper, you are presented with the opportunity to make the home more valuable. Many times, you will find this kind of home at approximately 8 percent below market value. You will be paying less in taxes as well because the taxes are calculated based on your home’s sale price. So, how do you even go about finding your ideal fixer upper? Read on below for more information.

The Perfect Choice

It is often said that the perfect fixer upper is one that everyone will want to own in the future, but no one wants it right now. The location is going to play a key role in your selection. Make sure the home is in a desirable location or an up and coming neighborhood.

The layout of the home should also flow and have a good configuration to start with; otherwise, you may find yourself spending even more money to move and take down walls.

Choosing a Mortgage

When you choose this kind of home, there are different mortgage loans to consider because of the condition of the home. Renovation loans, for example, allow you to finance the home while also making improvements at the same time.

The improvements you make can then be paid off over a longer time and typically at a lower interest rate than with other types of financing.

Another type of loan is a construction loan. It is a more short-term option and often comes with a higher interest rate, but it provides the owners with the funds they need to build and renovate the property.

Before you can consider this type of loan, however, you need to find a qualified builder, have your minimum 20 percent down payment, and have the value of the property in its current condition appraised.

Less Competition

Since more and more buyers are looking to purchase newer and updated homes, you will find little competition when it comes to the fixer uppers that are available. However, instead of competing with other buyers, you are often competing with builders and investors which can drive the price up.

Final Thoughts

When choosing a fixer upper, make sure you understand your needs and make sure the home is what you are looking for. Depending on the renovations that need to be done, it can be a time-consuming project.

Finally, keep in mind that the property taxes will go up following the renovations because of its new value. If you remember all this info and you know where to draw the line, and you can envision the home’s potential, then you are ready to start your journey towards finding the perfect fixer upper.

If you are in the market for a Condominium, read on! The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s new condominium financing rules will bring more entry level homes to the market helping to meet buyer demand.

The National Association of REALTORS® says the new condo rules, which will help more would-be buyers access affordable housing, satisfy many of the changes the association has backed for more than a decade. Read more here.

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