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Monday, September 8, 2014   /   by Marilyn Perna

5 Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before Home Shopping

It starts innocently enough... you pass a house in a neighborhood you like, you hear someone is selling their home, you happen to look up home prices online. Before you know it, you’re knee-deep in home shopping and open house visits. This can actually be exceedingly dangerous to your financial future.
Falling in love with a home before you actually know what you want in a home is risky. To avoid the “buy first, think later” syndrome that burdens family finances, marriages, and work life, ask yourself these important questions:
 
1.How much do we want to spend each month on home expenses?
There’s a tendency for people who shop first to try and “make the math work” on purchasing a home. Often this leads to stretching the home budget and ignoring crucial expenses such as maintenance and property taxes in order to “make the mortgage.” Determine a comfortable, conservative range for home expenses first.
 
2.Which neighborhoodsm ...

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Monday, August 11, 2014   /   by Marilyn Perna

Down Payment Saving Tips

Every month you pay the rent, you’re probably thinking, “I wish this money was going into my future.”  For a lot of would-be first-time home buyers, it’s the down payment which makes home ownership seem impossible.  Climbing the “down payment mountain” isn’t impossible.  Like any major challenge, it’s all a matter of breaking your big, hairy, audacious goal down into practical steps.   Here are some tips to conquer saving for a down payment:   
Find out where your money goes. 
You can’t start saving if you don’t know where you’re spending.  For a month or two, track each expenditure, no matter how small. Get an objective picture of where you’re spending the cash.   
Get specific about how much you need to save. 
Even if you’re not 100% sure what your down payment needs to be yet, it’s good to start doing a little math tom ...

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014   /   by Marilyn Perna

3 Often Overlooked Home Details

Think you’ve found the perfect home?  Think again.  There are three little details which can turn an ideal house into the world’s most annoying location.  Before you make your offer, take into account these three small, but surprisingly important details:   
#1: “Let me call you back on my landline.”   Does your future dream home have cell reception?  Check your signal when you’re on the property and see if it has dead spots, poor/limited data connections, or flat out “NO SERVICE” messages.  This is especially important if you telecommute or had planned on skipping a landline entirely.  While you can try and live on VoIP connections, WiFi, and other options, the hassle of a hole in cell coverage can wear on you.   
#2: “Wow, the commute is longer than I thought.”   It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon, and for kicks you decidem ...

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Monday, August 4, 2014   /   by Marilyn Perna

Best Suburbs Of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a sprawling metropolitan area comprised of a diverse population with many sub-sections and enclaves catering to specific ethnic communities and demographic groups.  Burbank, Glendale, and Hollywood are a few of the various communities catering to the entertainment industry.    Chinatown and Koreatown represent sections of the city catering to the Asian community.   
A recent analysis of the Los Angeles area was performed by NerdWallet.   They ranked LA suburbs across several categories, including:
1. Most Diverse
2. Highest-Earning
3. Where Women Make More Than Men
4. Fastest-Growing
5. Most Educated
6. Smallest Gender Pay Gap
7. Highest Healthcare Coverage
Gardena, Carson, and West Carson were listed as some of the most diverse communities.
Calabasas, La Canada / Flintridge, and Manhattan Beach were a few of the cities listed in the Highest Earning catm ...

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Monday, August 4, 2014   /   by Marilyn Perna

Evaluating Schools when Buying a Home

Schools are a contributing factor for anyone buying a home.  Even if you don’t have kids yourself, your next buyer might, and they might base their decision to buy on the school district which serves your home.   
The question remains:  How do you evaluate schools?  What’s the best approach for understanding if your local schools will score your property an “A” or relegate it to the land of “D-”?   
Luckily, there are some excellent resources out there for vetting schools online.  Here are a few I’ve come across which provide a good place to start:   
Education.com:  A major portal site for education everywhere, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the schools section, found here: http://www.education.com/topic/school-and-academics   
GreatSchools.org:   A good search engine for researching schools, you can do zip code based m ...

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