Beautiful, spacious home in north Visalia area

31599  Road 132  Visalia, listed at $190,000.
Just north of Visalia, this beautiful home has had the same owners since 1971.

Enjoy a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with an updated kitchen, new appliances, sink and tile flooring.

This 1,831-square-foot home retains its original charm in the living areas.

The owner's suite bath has new tile shower and flooring, sink and commode.

The home features a formal living room, family room and a formal dining room.

There is a spacious laundry room with tile flooring. There is also central heating and cooling throughout the house, except in the sunroom, which is not included in the square footage.

Outside, there is an attached carport and a detached 2-car garage and workshop. The asphalt driveway gives this home a clean look and the mature landscaping adds nice curb appeal.


Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364

In-town half acre estate

3030 W. Iris Ave. in Visalia, listed at $544,200
Come take a look at the spectacular architectural design of this Royal Oaks Estate on a half acre in Visalia.

This home has it all. Enjoy a sparkling pool and spa with a waterfall. It also has a fitness center that includes a steam shower and sauna (335 square feet).

Inside this 3,108-square-foot home are floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and rear of the house, creating lots of natural light in the open living area and offering great views of a lush park-like yard.

There are tile floors in the entry, hall, living room, kitchen, laundry and owner's suite. There is a fourth bedroom/office with full bath, offering lots of privacy.

The remodeled kitchen has raised-panel cabinets, a center island with vegetable sink, roll-out shelving, pantry, and a SubZero refrigerator.

There are skylights in the vaulted wood ceiling, extending into the dining room with oak floors and another skylight - all electronically controlled.

The spacious guest bedroom wing has full bath and a 11'X16' family/computer room.

The owner's suite has a wall of windows overlooking the patio and yard with vaulted a ceiling. The three-sided fireplace splits the elegant, remodeled bath area with top-set sinks, jetted tub with leaded glass backdrop, a huge shower and a walk-in closet.

This unique property is a must see. For more information and pictures, click here.

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364

Decorating for a trendy Christmas on a non-trendy budget

Selling your house during the holidays? Do it with style.
(ARA) - We are all watching our wallets closely as we begin to prepare for Christmas. There are children, parents, siblings, friends, teachers and a host of others for whom we need to purchase gifts. And you're likely planning to throw at least one holiday gathering that involves large quantities of food and drink.

Then there are your holiday decorations. If you're like most homeowners, you were planning to simply pull out the lights, ornaments and adornments that you've been using for the last couple of years. But what if you could have all new decorations without the expensive price tag? And what if you are trying to sell your home during the holiday season as well?

There are creative, cost-effective ways to spruce up your existing decorations with the season's trendiest colors without breaking the bank. Here's a look at some inspired holiday project ideas:

Make your interior merrier
Your Christmas tree sets the stage for the holiday theme and feel of your home. Refinishing ornaments is one of the fastest and easiest ways to update your look. Grab a couple of cans of spray paint from your local craft or hardware store, such as Krylon's indoor/outdoor paint in colors like satin jade, Catalina mist or blue ocean breeze, to create an entirely new color scheme on which you can build.

If you are in the market to buy or sell, call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364. 

Lots of extras with this custom Visalia home

31760  Chelsea Rd,  Visalia, listed at $599,000.
This is one of the most custom homes you'll see on the market. This home features a very open great room with archways to the formal dining room, the music/game room, the kitchen and a wide hall to bedrooms.

Located at 31760 Chelsea Road just outside of Visalia, the home features a 14-foot ceiling in the foyer and a great room with crown molding.

Step into the library with cherry wood bookcases and french door to a covered patio.

A spectacular kitchen has a center island offering vegetable sink, wine refrigerator and chop block. Rounding out this feature-rich kitchen are cherry cabinets, a Viking gas range, Bosch dishwasher, microwave and stainless sink, including a walk-in pantry and butler's pantry.

The owner's suite has a walk-in shower, jetted tub and walk-in closet. More french doors to the patio.

A spacious bedroom/office has its own access to the yard off of the kitchen and mud room.

The property also includes a man's dream with 28'x 40' shop with bathroom RV shade barn with full hookups.

Other extras include: a central vacuum system, 5 Sola Tubes, 6 exterior walls, a whole house fan; it's plumbed for water softener, surround sound, over-head sprinklers and more. The third bedroom could be a mother-in-law set up.

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364.

Come see this unique Visalia home

3030 W. Iris Ave. in Visalia, listed at $544,200
Come take a look at the spectacular architectural design of this Royal Oaks Estate on a half acre in Visalia.

This home has it all. Enjoy a sparkling pool and spa with a waterfall. It also has a fitness center that includes a steam shower and sauna (335 square feet).

Inside this 3,108-square-foot home are floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and rear of the house, creating lots of natural light in the open living area and offering great views of a lush park-like yard.

There are tile floors in the entry, hall, living room, kitchen, laundry and owner's suite. There is a fourth bedroom/office with full bath, offering lots of privacy.

The remodeled kitchen has raised-panel cabinets, a center island with vegetable sink, roll-out shelving, pantry, and a SubZero refrigerator.

There are skylights in the vaulted wood ceiling, extending into the dining room with oak floors and another skylight - all electronically controlled.

The spacious guest bedroom wing has full bath and a 11'X16' family/computer room.

The owner's suite has a wall of windows overlooking the patio and yard with vaulted a ceiling. The three-sided fireplace splits the elegant, remodeled bath area with top-set sinks, jetted tub with leaded glass backdrop, a huge shower and a walk-in closet.

This unique property is a must see. For more information and pictures, click here.

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364

Hibernate in style and comfort this winter

(ARA) - OK, so humans don't really hibernate, but when those bone-chilling winds arrive, we all tend to prefer the climate-controlled comfort of our own homes. And like all creatures, great and small, who endure the hardships of winter, we must prepare.

While storing nuts or putting on a little extra winter fat may get some through the long days or nights, making a few home improvements can make your "nest" a little more habitable this winter (extra fat is optional).

Winterizing
If you consider your home to be a living, breathing thing, then its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system is its lungs and the ductwork its arteries. As you schedule checkups to keep your family healthy, do the same for your home's heating system.

An HVAC professional can perform a routine maintenance checkup to ensure all components of your HVAC system are operating properly and safely, and advise you on ways to improve energy efficiency. To locate an independent American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.

Here are some other suggested household checkups to cross off your list before winter arrives:

* Check the ducts for leaks and inspect the fireplace and repair as necessary
* Inspect windows and pipes for leaks
* Properly insulate the attic
* Remove dirt and clutter from gutters and replace gutters if they are damaged
* Check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly

Sale pending on beautiful Mangano-built home

6131 W Cherry Ct. Visalia, listed at $292,000.
Talk of a slow market aside, this Mangano-built home sold in one day.

This beautiful 2,640-square-foot home featured neutral colors, 10-foot ceilings with recessed lighting and a split floor plan.

The home featured 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms with coffered ceilings, and raised-panel cabinets with lighting.

The formal dining room opened into a great room.

The lush yard had a sparkling pool and waterfall with access from the owner's suite. In the master bathroom was a jetted tub and a walk-in closet.

The patio featured surround sound speakers. This was a very special and well-maintained home. It was a pleasure to represent the sellers.

Great mobile home with excellent landscaping

2400 W Midvalley Ave #J2 Visalia, listed at $19,000.
Life at West Lake Village in south Visalia couldn't be any better than at this beautifully maintained and landscaped mobile home at 2400 W. Midvalley Ave. space #J2.

Listed at $19,000, this home is a great value in a high-demand adult mobile home park that offers a clubhouse, activities, pool, and a common lake.

This home cost $48,000 when it was new in 2004.

There is a double carport at the end of the cul de sac. This home features a gated patio/porch with lawn area at back.

This is an immaculate and well-maintained 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath home.

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364.

Mortgage interest deduction vital to housing market

By Dona DeZube - The home mortgage interest deduction saves the average home owner thousands of dollars at tax time, supports home values at the community level, and helps American home buyers get into their first house.

Day 009: Procrastination
Via Flickr: Chloe Rae
Having a tax deduction for mortgage interest makes owning a home more affordable because the deduction lowers the amount of tax you pay. U.S. Census data shows 37% of home owners with mortgages spend more than 30% of their income for housing. Paying less for housing means having more disposable income for savings and other household expenses.

Increasing housing affordability increases the number of renters who can afford to buy a home of their own responsibly; increasing the number of home buyers helps keep home prices stable for those who already own homes by ensuring a steady stream of new buyers.

How the deduction works
In general, any home owners who pay U.S. taxes and who itemize their taxes can deduct mortgage interest attributable to primary residence and second-home debt totaling $1 million, and interest paid on home equity debt of as much as $100,000.

Mortgage interest deduction threatened
In recent years, the mortgage interest deduction has come under attack. Among the suggestions for cutting it back to deal with the deficit:

  • Reduce the mortgage interest deduction for upper-income taxpayers-they'd only receive 28 cents on the dollar, even if they're in a 33% or 35% tax bracket and can now deduct 33 or 35 cents on the dollar
  • Reduce the $1 million cap by $100,000 a year.
  • Change the mortgage interest deduction to a 15% tax credit.

In the past, members of Congress have suggested other mechanisms for eliminating or limiting the mortgage interest deduction. None of those has ever gained traction.

Do you have the right tools for your "honey-do" list?

Add caption
(ARA) - It's fall and there's no better time to take on home improvement projects and that ever-expanding "honey-do" list. Tackle those tasks now while they can still be done in the beautiful sunshine.

The key to tackling everything from the largest construction project to the smallest touch-up is to have the right equipment. Don't talk yourself into trying to getting by with makeshift tools - you'll only end up frustrated, and your project might not get done at all.

If you can't find everything you need in your tool shed (or even in your tool box), you may be worried about the cost of buying a lot of expensive equipment - particularly if you plan to do more than one project. For most people, renting equipment allows them to get jobs done without the extra cost of buying pricey items that they won't actually use much.

To make sure that you've got everything you need, start by assessing what tools and gadgets you have. Here are some ideas for what you'll need for some of the most common home improvement projects:

* For cleaning your home's exterior, whether it's the siding, deck or driveway, a rented power washer gets the job done in a fraction of the time with double the power.

* For touching up the paint on your home, you'll need sturdy ladders, an array of painting tools and, of course, paint. To give yourself an easy place to set all of your gear, a wheeled scaffolding unit with a platform is a great idea.

* For putting in a new fence, you'll need panels and posts, and, to make the job go faster, a power auger from your local rental store for digging post holes. Just make sure you contact local utilities to find out where it's safe to dig before you get started.

Affordable ways to make your new house feel like home

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(ARA) - You know that moving into a new home can be one of life's biggest stressors - the packing, the paperwork, the unpacking, finding the nearest coffee shop ... even though numbers are down, 35.2 million Americans changed residences in 2008, according to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau. There are many ways to make your new house feel like home sooner than later, according to interior design faculty at The Art Institutes.

"Incorporating items with personal meaning, such as memorabilia or a special collection, can make your new place feel less like a stranger's house and more like your home," says Annette Lawrence, academic director of the Interior Design program at The Art Institute of Ohio - Cincinnati. Lawrence describes the concept of "adaptive re-use," an easy, inexpensive way to create a "sense of place" - in other words, making your new house the place in which you feel most comfortable - home.

Adaptive re-use involves bringing items from your previous residence to your new home, but with the twist of adapting them for a different or new use. Adaptive re-use is affordable, ecologically responsible and helps ease the psychological stresses that come with moving into a new, unfamiliar space. Adaptive re-use also involves using items from local design consignment shops. Such establishments can now be found in most towns and carry items ranging from furniture to window treatments and accessories.

Some examples of adaptive re-use:

* Same item, same use - The entry rug from your old house goes in the entryway of the new house.

* Same item, different location - Your living room furniture from your old home becomes your family room furniture in your new place.

* Same item, new use - You use the fabric from a window treatment to upholster your dining room chairs.

10 ways to lower homeowner insurance costs

Whether in good economic times or bad economic times, it always pays to find ways to lower your household expenses. These days many of us are tightening our belt anyway we can. And with the holidays fast approaching, every little bit helps.

House Fire Training - Te Horo
Via Flickr: 111Emergency
As homeowners there are simply some expenses we cannot forgo. Homeowner insurance is one of them. Not only do our lender's require it, but the risk of not insuring our single biggest investment is simply foolish.

Still, there are ways to lower those insurance premium costs. Here are 10 tips on finding ways to reduce your expense:

1. Review the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report on the property you’re interested in buying. CLUE reports detail the property’s claims history for the most recent five years, which insurers may use to deny coverage. Make the sale contingent on a home inspection to ensure that problems identified in the CLUE report have been repaired.

2. Seek insurance coverage as soon as your offer is approved. You must obtain insurance to buy. And you don’t want to be told at closing that the insurer has denied your coverage.

3. Maintain good credit. Insurers often use credit-based insurance scores to determine premiums.

4. Buy your home owners and auto policies from the same company and you’ll usually qualify for savings. But make sure the discount really yields the lowest price.

Great curb appeal and open interior in southwest Visalia

3305  S. Martin St,  Visalia, listed at $159,900
Come join me for an open house on Sunday, Oct. 31 from 1-4 p.m. at this sharp-looking home across from Stonebrook Park.

This 3-bedroom, 2-bath home at 3305 S. Martin St. in southwest Visalia features fresh interior paint, a new gas range, new hardware fixtures in the bathrooms. The cabinets, except in the bathrooms, have all been refinished!

The 1,527-square-foot home has vaulted ceilings and solar tubes that create an open airy feel.

You will enjoy the pantry and indoor laundry. The third bedroom is now an office, but the owner will install Armoire.

This home has great curb appeal with its tile roof.  

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364.

The top 5 contractor scams and how to avoid them

By Oliver Marks - Protect yourself against unscrupulous contractors by learning about the warning signs of these common home-improvement scams.

New foyer addition
Via Flickr: Brock Builders
Crooks go where the money is. So with Americans spending as much as $22 billion a year on construction projects, it's no surprise that home improvement has become a favorite target for fraud artists. Some of these shady characters use amazingly well-polished hoaxes that are tricky to spot until it's too late.

The vast majority of contractors are honest, hardworking professionals. Protecting yourself against the few bad apples requires checking references, having a solid contract, and being alert to the warning signs of these top five contractor scams.

Scam 1: I need the money up front
This is the most common ruse reported to the Better Business Bureau, says Erin Dufner, vice president of the organization's Austin, Texas, office. Your contractor explains that because he has to order materials and rent earthmoving equipment to get the job started, he needs, say, 30% to 50% of the project price up front. Once you've forked over the dough, one of two things happens: He disappears on you, or he starts doing slapdash work knowing that you can't really fire him because he's sitting on thousands of your dollars.

How to protect yourself: Never prepay more than $1,000 or 10% of the job total, whichever is less. That's the legal maximum in some states, and enough to establish that you're a serious customer so the contractor can work you into his schedule--the only valid purpose of an advance payment. As to the materials and backhoe rentals, if he's a professional in good standing, his suppliers will provide them on credit.

Scam 2: Take my word for it
When you first meet with the contractor, he's very agreeable about doing everything exactly to your specifications and even suggests his own extra touches and upgrades. Some of the details don't make it into the contract, but you figure it doesn't matter because you had such a clear verbal understanding. Pretty soon, though, you notice that the extras you'd discussed aren't being built. When you confront the contractor, he tells you that he didn't include those features in his price, so you'll have to live without them or pony up additional money to redo the work.

Open house at northeast Visalia home

Listed at $159,900
Join me Sunday, Oct. 24, for an open house at 2714 E. Parker Court in Visalia. Doors will be open from noon to 3 p.m. at this beautiful home with an open floor plan in northeast Visalia.

The home features a vaulted living room and owner's suite. The owner has replaced the gas range, microwave, and dishwasher with stainless look appliances. There is new carpet, paint, and commode. New lighting and ceiling fans were added in 2005.

The large kitchen has a breakfast bar and corner window. The fireplace has a mantel.

There is a spacious laundry area. The owner's suite has a large window overhead, walk-in closet, and dual sinks.

The garage has a workshop area at the rear, plus a separate shop/storage building in the backyard. Also in the backyard is a sparkling swimming pool. There is a two-year roof certification and a home warranty!

Stop by or call me today at (559) 625-9364.

Second homes

Despite economic challenges over the past year, consumers continue to invest in second home properties.

Perfect Vacation Home
Via Flickr: Vijay Gunda
Many Americans purchase second homes either as vacation retreats or investment properties. According to the National Association of Realtors® 2010 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, vacation-home sales rose 7.9 percent to 553,000 last year, up from 513,000 in 2008.

Prices also rose. The median price of a vacation home was $169,000 in 2009, compared with $150,000 in 2008. From my experience I find second home purchases are typically influenced by lifestyle or financial considerations.

Consumers appreciate the value of home ownership – so much that many of them own second homes, either as vacation retreats or investment properties. 

According to the NAR, there are about 7.9 million vacation homes and 41.1 million investment properties in the U.S. compared with 75.0 million owner-occupied homes. Vacation homes are in every state, with the most popular locations by the water or in the mountains. Vacation-home owners prefer close proximity to areas they spend recreational time or to natural attractions.

Half of vacation homes purchased last year were in the South, 21 percent in the West, 17 percent in the Midwest and 12 percent in the Northeast.

Statistics show that the typical vacation-home buyer in 2009 was 46 years old, earned a median household income of $87,500 and purchased a property that was a median of 348 miles from his or her primary home; about one-third of vacation homes purchased were within 100 miles of the primary residence.

Unique Visalia home has it all

3030 W. Iris Ave. in Visalia, listed at $544,200
Come take a look at the spectacular architectural design of this Royal Oaks Estate on a half acre in Visalia.

This home has it all. Enjoy a sparkling pool and spa with a waterfall. It also has a fitness center that includes a steam shower and sauna (335 square feet).

Inside this 3,108-square-foot home are floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and rear of the house, creating lots of natural light in the open living area and offering great views of a lush park-like yard.

There are tile floors in the entry, hall, living room, kitchen, laundry and owner's suite. There is a fourth bedroom/office with full bath, offering lots of privacy.

The remodeled kitchen has raised-panel cabinets, a center island with vegetable sink, roll-out shelving, pantry, and a SubZero refrigerator.

There are skylights in the vaulted wood ceiling, extending into the dining room with oak floors and another skylight - all electronically controlled.

The spacious guest bedroom wing has full bath and a 11'X16' family/computer room.

The owner's suite has a wall of windows overlooking the patio and yard with vaulted a ceiling. The three-sided fireplace splits the elegant, remodeled bath area with top-set sinks, jetted tub with leaded glass backdrop, a huge shower and a walk-in closet.

This unique property is a must see. For more information and pictures, click here.

Call Darlene Loose for an appointment today! (559) 625-9364

As the seasons change, keep up with lawn care

Regular lawn maintenance gives your home maximum curb appeal and preserves the value of your property.

turf care DSC_2728
Via Flickr: Gregs Landscaping

A healthy, well-maintained lawn is more than just good-looking-it's a key to preserving the value of your home. Regular lawn maintenance enhances curb appeal, making your home-and neighborhood-attractive to passersby and potential buyers.

According to Su Chi Straka-Phillis, a residential real estate appraiser with Central Appraisal Services of Parma, Ohio, a well-kept lawn preserves a home's value.

Put off routine maintenance, and you risk devaluing your home. In fact, an unkempt lawn can be a warning sign to buyers of other potential home maintenance issues, explains Cecilia Sherrard, a real estate agent in Rocky River, Ohio. "The outside of the home is the first thing people see, and if it's not properly maintained, many will not be interested in scheduling a showing to see the inside."

Know your grass type
There are two main types of lawn grass: cool-season and warm-season. Homeowners living in the Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest should grow cool-season grasses. As depicted on the Plant Heat-Zone Map (http://www.ahs.org/publications/heat_zone_map.htm) provided by the American Horticultural Society, the regions for cool-season grasses are approximately zones 1 through 7.

Cool-season grasses do most of their growing in spring and fall, often going dormant in the summer. Cool-season grasses include tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass.

Those living in the Southeast and Southwest (zones 8 through 12) will generally have warm-season grasses. Warm-season grasses thrive from late spring to early fall and go dormant in the winter. Varieties include bermudagrass, zoysiagrass, and St. Augustine grass.

If you're unsure which zone applies to you, check your state extension service (http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/).

Thinking of making an offer on a short sale? What you need to know

Are you looking to buy a new home? Are you thinking that now's a great time to find bargains? That's true, but it pays to know a little about the seller's situation before you make an offer.

If a home is being sold for below what the current seller owes on the property—and the seller does not have other funds to make up the difference at closing—the sale is considered a short sale. Many more home owners are finding themselves in this situation due to a number of factors, including job losses, aggressive borrowing against their home in the days of easy credit, and declining home values in a slower real estate market.

short sale
A short sale is different from a foreclosure, which is when the seller's lender has taken title of the home and is selling it directly. Homeowners often try to accomplish a short sale in order to avoid foreclosure. But a short sale holds many potential pitfalls for buyers. Know the risks before you pursue a short-sale purchase.

You're a good candidate for a short-sale purchase if:

  • You're very patient. Even after you come to agreement with the seller to buy a short-sale property, the seller’s lender (or lenders, if there is more than one mortgage) has to approve the sale before you can close. When there is only one mortgage, short-sale experts say lender approval typically takes about two months. If there is more than one mortgage with different lenders, it can take four months or longer for the lenders to approve the sale.


  • Your financing is in order. Lenders like cash offers. But even if you can’t pay all cash for a short-sale property, it’s important to show you are well qualified and your financing is set. If you're pre-approved, have a large down payment, and can close at any time, your offer will be viewed more favorably than that of a buyer whose financing is less secure.

  • Amazing $76,000 price reduction!

    Truly, this is one of the most custom homes you'll find in Tulare County.

    This 3,150-square-foot home features a very open great room with archways that lead to a formal dining room, as well as a music and game room, and kitchen. Wide hallways lead you to the three bedrooms and three baths.

    The foyer has 14-foot ceilings and a great room with crown molding.

    In the library there are cherry wood bookcases and French doors leading to a covered patio.

    This home is listed at $599,000. Call Darlene Loose today for an appointment! (559) 625-9364

    The kitchen is spectacular with a chef's center island offering vegetable sink, wine refrigerator, and a chop block. There are cherry cabinets, a Viking gas range, a Bosch dishwasher, microwave and stainless sink. It also includes a spacious walk-in pantry and a butler's pantry.

    In the owner's suite you will see a walk-in shower, jetted tub, and a walk-in closet. There are more French doors leading to the patio.

    Make use of a spacious bedroom/office with its own access to the yard off of the kitchen and mud room.

    Also a man's dream: a 28'x 40' shop with bathroom & RV shade barn with full hookups.

    This home also features lots of extras, including: a central vacuum system, five Solar Tubes, six exterior walls, a whole house fan, it's plumbed for water softener, surround sound, over-head sprinklers & more.

    Also, a third bedroom and bath could be used as a mother-in-law set up.

    Two great deals get even better

    Call Darlene today to view these two homes. Dial her direct at (559) 625-9364. 

    Reduced to $159,900
    Here's proof that there are good deals on the market today. Here are two homes that not only have much to offer new owners, but that have been reduced in price to boot.

    Parker Court in northeast Visalia

    The home features a vaulted living room and owner's suite. The owner has replaced the gas range, microwave, and dishwasher with stainless look appliances. There is new carpet, paint, and commode. New lighting and ceiling fans were added in 2005.

    The large kitchen has a breakfast bar and corner window. The fireplace has a mantel. There is a spacious laundry area. The owner's suite has a large window overhead, walk-in closet, and dual sinks.

    The garage has a workshop area at the rear, plus a separate shop/storage building in the backyard. Also in the backyard is a sparkling swimming pool.
     
    Four Creeks in northeast Visalia

    Reduced to $109,000
    Take a look at this updated property that is well maintained and mostly re-built in 1990.

    The bathroom cabinets are original. There are triple closets with new tile and shower in the owner's suite.

    There is a built-in wine refrigerator in the dining room hutch and a barbeque at end of a 32-foot tiled patio and spa off the owner's suite.

    Enjoy nice landscaping all around. This home is a  dream to show. Seller will pay $500 for New Roof Certification. Call today!

    Nine tips for the perfect kitchen remodel

    (ARA) - For many Americans, remodeling their kitchens tops the list of home improvement projects - and for several good reasons. Not only is the kitchen the heart of many homes - the center of family activity and home entertaining - but remodeling your kitchen is typically one of the smartest investments, often generating a payback of 80 to 90 percent on the cost of remodel at the time of resale.

    With thoughtful planning, remodeling your kitchen is within the capability of many homeowners who want to attempt a do-it-yourself project. But, because the kitchen is so central to most homes, is interconnected with other spaces such as the family and dining rooms, and because there is a fair amount of water (sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal) involved, a kitchen remodel project has the potential of going horribly wrong.

    Park-like beauty in northwest Visalia

    Listed at $194,500
    Take a look at this charming cul-de-sac home in northwest Visalia.

    Enjoy shady, mature landscaping with a park-like backyard on a lot that backs up to a creek.

    There's plenty of room for entertaining in this 1,774-square-foot home that includes a living room, dining room, and a vaulted family room with wall of windows overlooking the lush backyard.

    The home features laminate wood flooring.

    The kitchen includes a chef's island, along with a newer dishwasher, microwave, and pantry.

    The owner's suite has a sliding glass door to the patio and features a walk-in closet. The second and third bedrooms have mirrored closet doors.

    The home has a three-car garage. Call Darlene today to view this beautiful home. Dial her direct at (559) 625-9364.  

    Owning a home beats renting 5 ways

    Don't let the housing market fool you. Talk of foreclosures, short sales, and previously slumping home values shouldn't discourage you from moving out of your rental into a home of your own.

    Home owning beats renting in a myriad of ways, especially if you are financially ready. Home prices have come down to more affordable levels. Mortgage interest rates are at historically low levels. And a number of new federal laws and regulations will help ensure you step into your new home on sure footing.

    Plus consider these timeless benefits:
    • No landlord, just you. Having a home of your own means doing things your own way. It gives you a sense of stability, and your own space.
    • Paying your mortgage is like putting money in the bank. Yes, every payment includes interest that goes to the bank, but the principal portion of the payment is another piece of your home that is yours to keep. On top of that, your home is likely to grow in value, so that ownership of your home is a real investment. 
    • No surprises. With a fixed-rate mortgage you know what you will be paying for the life of the loan. As a renter, you never know when your rent may rise.
    • Closer to good schools.
    • Closer to family-friendly amenities. In a home, you are likely to be closer to parks and other community features that will appeal to you. 
    Now is a perfect time to look for a home if you are wanting to get out of the rent-as-you-go lifestyle. It's time to own something that's truly yours.

    Price reduced: Parker Court in Visalia $164,900

    Listed at $164,900
    This beautiful home with an open floor plan is near excellent schools in northeast Visalia.

    The home features a vaulted living room and owner's suite. The owner has replaced the gas range, microwave, and dishwasher with stainless look appliances. There is new carpet, paint, and commode. New lighting and ceiling fans were added in 2005.

    The large kitchen has a breakfast bar and corner window. The fireplace has a mantel.

    There is a spacious laundry area. The owner's suite has a large window overhead, walk-in closet, and dual sinks.

    The garage has a workshop area at the rear, plus a separate shop/storage building in the backyard. Also in the backyard is a sparkling swimming pool.

    La Vida home on the market

    Listed at $185,000
    Park-like living on a cul de sac
        Enjoy a comfortable home with serene surroundings in this southwest Visalia home. With 3 bedrooms and two baths in 1,779-square-feet of living space, you have all that you need in this decked out home.
       There are newer features throughout this home: heating and cooling, gunite and tile in the pool, exterior paint, dishwasher, microwave oven, 5-burner gas range, garage door opener, and water heater have all been updated in recent years.
       The kitchen opens to the dining room. The spacious great room has a sliding glass door to the pool and trek deck with railing. Most light fixtures are newer.
       See more details for this home at a custom website just for this listing HERE.

    Good fences

    A mural can add beauty to your fence and landscape
    You have heard it said that good fences make good neighbors. Well, in addition to that good fences also add to your home's curb appeal.

    In fact, bad fences - weathered, broken, leaning - also take a lot away from the look of your home as well.

    We don't often think of our fences until it's time to do something about them. Most of the year they just help frame our yard. Most likely you share your fence with one or more neighbors, so you can't make radical changes without consulting a number of other homeowners.

    Still, there's plenty you can do to dress up the part of the fence that's yours.

    Repair
    Step one for fence maintenance is repairing any broken wood, especially fence posts that have rotted in the ground. Leaning fences leave a poor impression of your home.

    Fixing a fence post is inexpensive and easy to do in one day. Your local home improvement store will have all the supplies you need, as well as advice on doing it right. Make sure you purchase the same used throughout your fence line.

    Paint and stain
    Some fences are painted. Some fences are stained. Most are left untouched from the day they were constructed. If you have a painted or stained fence, put a fresh coat on the wood and any sealant that will help it last through the wet season. If sprinklers wet your fence boards on a regular basis, adjust them away from the wood.

    If you want to dress up your untreated fence, buy samples of paints and stains that appeal to you  and try them out on an inconspicuous portion of the fence.

    Vines and shrubbery
    We often plant vines and shrubbery to hide or soften portions of our environment. Over the years, fences can become overgrown with plant life. Trim away the overgrowth and make sure portions of the fence can be seen.

    Well maintained landscaping and fencing work well together and give your home a more inviting look.

    A trellis can add style to your fence
    Dress it up
    There are many ways to dress up your fence. Some people pay muralists to paint beautiful designs and scenery that complements the backyard. Other people  install trellises, lamp stands, and other decorative hardware on or along their fence to incorporate it into the overall look of the backyard and home.

    Mortgage insurance premiums increase soon

    If you plan on buying a home with a Federal Housing Administration-backed loan (FHA), time is running out for you to close the deal before the monthly mortgage insurance premiums go up in October.

    What this means to future borrowers is that on a $100,000 30-year mortgage with a 3.5 percent down payment your monthly FHA mortgage insurance premium will be about $70 instead of today's rate of $42.

    The reason for the change is that the number of FHA-backed mortgages has jumped dramatically in recent years - and so have the defaults. The insurance pool covering the loses struggled, so Congress authorized the cap increase on the mortgage insurance premium. FHA mortgages are popular, in part, because of the lower down payment requirement.

    While the monthly mortgage insurance premium has increased, Congress also lowered the up-front premium payment when you initially take the loan.

    So, with mortgage insurance premiums going both up and down, how do you decide when to buy? It depends on how long you think you will be in the home.

    If you plan to be in the home for more than four years, which most people do, then it makes sense to buy before the October mortgage insurance increase. Even though the up-front premium is higher, the lower long-term monthly payment will actually save you money after four years.

    If you wait to buy a home after the new mortgage insurance premiums go into effect, you will save money in the short run. But after four years the savings you saw from the lower one-time premium will be eroded by the higher monthly premiums.

    Is refinancing right for you?

    Earlier this summer mortgage rates hit their lowest level since the 1950s: 4.69 percent. And they remain at historically low levels.
    There are good deals to be had, and for those of you already in a home at a higher interest rate, such a rate could mean a lower mortgage payment each month.

    But is refinancing always a good idea? It depends. You have to weigh your personal situation carefully.

    Refinancing your mortgage will save you money in the long run, but it will cost you money up front. Refinancing a mortgage will cost thousands of dollars. You must pay the mortgage broker or lender, plus the title company, appraisal costs, and fees to cover document processing, among other expenses.

    What to buy - the pro and con list

    Buying a home is a big decision and shouldn't be taken lightly. Beyond talking with people whose opinion you value, it's also a good idea to look at buying a home from every angle possible. Should you buy in the country or city? Do you need to be near schools, medical centers, or shopping? What about traffic near your home?

    Sorting out all the variables to determine what's most important to you can seem a bit overwhelming. Consider making a list of pros and cons for your choices and rank them as you like to see which homes currently on the market best fit your needs.

    Here's some categories and things to consider as a way to get you started (by no means is this a comprehensive list):

    Four ways a Realtor helps you

    Unless you are a Realtor, you probably don't follow the real estate market very closely. Most people lose interest in following the intricacies of the housing market once they have successfully bought or sold their home.

    As a Realtor, my livelihood depends on my knowledge of the housing market, relationships with key professionals in finance, home inspection, title insurance, and others. It's paying attention to the little details and maintaining good working relationships with other professionals that makes working with a Realtor a real value. You could end up spending tens of thousands of dollars more when you go it alone and aren't aware of vital factors in your transaction.

    With that in mind, here are four major reasons you should consider using a certified Realtor the next time you sell a property:

    1) A Realtor will know how and where to advertise the sale of your property.

    2) A Realtor has the power to market your home to other agents, who have buyers looking for homes at the moment.

    3) A Realtor will help you negotiate the sale of your home using relevant and up-to-date data.

    4) A Realtor will help seal the deal on your home with a successful closing. Issues are bound to come up during escrow, and a Realtor will know the resources needed to get a quick resolution.

    All Estates Realtors: All Estates announces top agents for June 2010

    Thanks to all my GREAT clients!

    All Estates Realtors: All Estates announces top agents for June 2010: "June turned out to be a good month for 10 All Estates agents. Paulette Kaestner was the top sales agent for the month, and Maria Helm beca..."

    Better credit = better buying power

    Unless you have the cash to buy a home outright, you will be relying on your credit to obtain a loan for the purchase. For most of us our good credit is something closely guarded. We want it to reflect our sense of responsibility to pay the debts we owe.

    Yet, even when we are diligent black marks can appear on our credit, through no fault of our own. Identity theft, date entry errors and other problems can create negative marks on a credit report which can downgrade your score. If you are in the market for a home you will need to clear up inaccuracies quickly.

    Here are four steps you can take to manage the accuracy of your credit report and leverage your best buying power.

    1) Get a free copy of your credit report from all three reporting bureaus. Go to www.annualcreditreport.com to request your free copy. Under federal law, you can receive a free copy of your credit report every 12 months.

    All Estates Realtors --- (800) 625-1885: All Estates chips in for charity

    Our company is helping out with a worthy cause. Take a look:

    All Estates Realtors --- (800) 625-1885: All Estates chips in for charity: "As the saying goes 'Charity starts at home.' And there is no charity more worthy than one that helps children faced with devastating health ..."

    Clutter turns buyers away

    Messes are inevitable. Any homeowner knows that sometimes it's hard to stay on top of keeping things clean and orderly. Holidays, tough work weeks, visitors, home improvement projects - all of it contributes to the difficulty in keeping a tidy home.

    But when your home is on the market, the clutter can be a deterrent to potential buyers. In my experience there are four areas you need to concentrate on to keep your home ready to show:

    The kitchen
    Start the clean up process in the kitchen, which may be the most important room to consider.

    Be a smart home seller in 3 easy steps

    There is a lot of advice given on being a smart home buyer. Not as much is said about being a smart home seller. In my experience, the best deals are made between a smart buyer and a smart seller.

    Smart sellers are the homeowners who know what buyers are looking for and do their best to market the home in a way that attracts qualified buyers that appreciate dealing with a savvy seller. So what does it take to be a smart home seller? I have broken it down into three easy steps.

    Be serious
    Smart selling means being prepared to put the home's best foot forward. The house is clean and orderly, inside and out. Broken or damaged items are repaired and maintained to their best working condition.

    6 tips on buying a country home

    Some of us just can't imagine living within easy listening range of our neighbors. Whether it's a conversation from a backyard barbecue or sounds of the 6 o'clock news through an open window, we need open spaces and plenty of distance between our home and a neighbor.

    If a home with acreage is on your wish list, there are plenty of options here in Tulare County. I can help you find homes on the valley floor and in the nearby foothills. You'll even see some in my listings.

    As you shop for that perfect country home that offers solitude and a break from city living, there are at least six things you need to keep in mind when considering a home.

    Zoning 
    Check with local officials about zoning ordinances in the area, not only for your parcel but also for land near you.

    If it sounds to good to be true...

    There are a lot of homeowners right now who are having trouble hanging on to their house. As a result, there are also a lot of unscrupulous organizations trying to make a quick buck out of another person's desperation.

    Con artists take all shapes and sizes; and they seem to adapt quickly to the economic times. With the downturn of the housing market and numbers of homeowners facing foreclosure, financial vultures are circling the market posing as mortgage rescue firms who offer hope in a hopeless situation.

    If you find yourself needing help with your mortgage, there are at least five tips to keep in mind to avoid being scammed.

    1) Use only non-profit, HUD-approved counselors to sort out your options in avoiding a foreclosure. You can find a counselor by visiting www.hud.gov, or calling them direct at (877) 483-1515.

    Got Insurance? Follow it up with a good home inventory

    As homeowners we all have insurance to cover damages to our home from fire, theft, and sometimes flood and earthquakes. We insure the structure and the contents. But when it comes time to make a claim, evaluating the loss to the structure is a lot easier than tallying up the losses to the contents.

    That's why it is important to complete an inventory of your possessions. It sounds tedious, but with the right tools and a plan, it can be a lot easier than you think.

    Written inventory
    If technology is not your thing, the simplest way of creating an inventory of your possessions is with a simple piece of paper and a pencil. Organize the list by rooms. Write down the name of a room, then list all of the contents you want to record for insurance purposes. Go room to room until you have completed the entire home. Don't forget the garage and storage sheds, patio furniture, etc.

    Beautiful Visalia home with lots of extras

    This 2,547-square-foot home in southeast Visalia is truly a must-see for any serious home buyer.

    The 3-bedroom, 2-bath home sits on an 11,000-square-foot lot with a beautiful, aggregate bottom pool with pop-up cleaning system and plumbed for solar heating.

    The open floor plan features a formal dining room and a great room with 16-foot ceilings and lots of windows. French doors lead to the patio where outdoor ceiling fans will keep you cool.

    The elegant owner's suite is an oasis with a soaking tub, walk-in closet and garden door to the patio.

    The home is wired for surround sound. It also has a whole-house fan, security storm doors, solar screens, a gourmet kitchen with island and pantry.

    The four-car extended garage features a drive-thru door leading to a concrete pad in the backyard, which means plenty of storage for large toys and recreational vehicles.

    Call me today to see this beautiful property! Darlene (559) 625-9364.

    Summertime curb appeal

    The last days of spring may be the very best time to showcase your home's curb appeal. With flowers blooming, trees producing new, shady foliage, and clear sunshine your home will look fresh and inviting to potential buyers.

    Now that the rainy season is behind us and the heat is starting to climb, it's time to give your landscape some special attention.

    To make sure you have a beautiful yard for summer there are a few projects you will want to consider.

    Lawn
    Your lawn was probably green even through the winter, but even as we move into summer it will need some attention. First off, if you haven't applied a fertilizer with nitrogen in a while, it's probably a good time to do so. Remove any weeds or dandelions you find. Don't "burn" your lawn by mowing your tall fescue too short.

    5 tips for real estate investing

    Real estate is no different than any other kind of investment you may be considering to earn supplemental income. There are tremendous opportunities. There are also tremendous risks, especially for the uninformed.

    Don’t buy into the late night, get-rich-quick schemes you see on television. When it’s your money on the line, you must be very careful. Smart investors go into any situation with a wealth of knowledge about what they are doing. They get their questions answered before a transaction is finalized. With those precautions in mind, investment properties can be very worthwhile.

    What’s the difference between a speculator and an investor?
    1) Generally speaking, speculators are looking for properties they expect to go up in value in a short amount of time. They want to own the property for a period of time, then sell when they think it has reached it’s peak value. Investors, on the other hand, are looking at the income the property will generate while they are the owners. They too can benefit from an increase in value to the property but they are not banking on that one factor alone.

    Common obstacles for first-time homebuyers

    Do you think there are just too many obstacles to buying your first home? Like any challenge in life, you have to make a plan to achieve your goals. Part of that plan will include overcoming any obstacles you may foresee.

    Let's take a look at three of the most common challenges facing many home buyers:

    Downpayment
    1) Saving up your 20 percent down payment. Traditional mortgage loans require the borrower to put down 20 percent of the purchase price, leaving the lender to finance the remaining 80 percent. For example, on a $150,000 home, you would need to put down $30,000. That is a lot of money for many families.