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/).