Real Estate 101: Easements



Real estate has many intricate ins and outs, and understanding easements is no exception. When an easement is requested by a neighbor or neighboring developer, or when a homeowner needs to obtain an easement from a neighbor or a municipality where they live, it helps to understand the particulars.


According to our sources at the American Bar Association (ABA), an easement is an interest in land which is owned by a person who is not the owner of the whole parcel.

An easement can provide someone the right to use or control a portion of a parcel, or an area above or below it, for a specific limited purpose such as to cross it for access to a public road, to share a common drive with a neighboring property, or to install and maintain utility wires or lines.

Unlike a lease or license, the ABA says an easement may last forever, but it usually doesn’t give the holder the right to exclusively possess, take from, improve, or sell the land. And the owner whose property is impacted by an easement is normally free to use their property as he or she chooses, provided that use doesn’t impair the rights of the holder of the easement.


So, what happens when someone else has a properly recorded easement over property you’re interested in buying?

The ABA says if the survey of the property reflects a path labeled “easement” but no document is of record creating the easement, you will want to inquire as to where the surveyor obtained the information about this easement.

If the unrecorded easement is shown on the survey, the ABA says the title company will likely list this unrecorded easement on your title policy as an exception to coverage. That means that if someone were to claim the right to use this easement, your title insurance would not pay to resolve this issue.


Of course, the best person to advise you regarding obtaining an easement—or a property upon which an easement exists—is a reputable real estate attorney.


John Voket  –  RISmedia  June 2018

Posted on June 20, 2018 at 2:44 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers, Sellers |

Single Family Homes by Area – SOLD in April 2018

Source:  iTech MLS

   Location # Homes Average Average Average  Avg.  Days
 SOLD Square Ft. Price/SF    List   Price   On Market SP % LP
La Canada 28 2989 $ 725 $ 2,117,643 43 101.59%
Montrose 2  1349  $ 659  $ 814950 18 105.83%
La Crescenta 26 1885 $ 558 $ 972,646 33 100.98%
Tujunga  17 1751 $ 453 $ 720,883 46 102.46%
Sunland  22 1498 $ 496 $ 643,569 34 103.94%


Posted on June 11, 2018 at 9:12 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Market Stats |

Single Family Homes by Area – SOLD in May 2018

Source:  iTech MLS

   Location # Homes Average Average Average  Avg.  Days
 SOLD Square Ft. Price/SF    List   Price   On Market SP % LP
La Canada 24 3847 $ 676 $ 2,651,954 44 94.54%
Montrose 0
La Crescenta 27 1713 $ 611 $ 945,081 32 101.90%
Tujunga  23 1455 $ 453 $ 620,739 27 103.22%
Sunland  25 1972 $ 435 $ 780,680 34 100.66%


Posted on June 11, 2018 at 8:56 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Market Stats |

2018’s Hottest Backyard Amenity: Detached Living Spaces


Forget a pool or a BBQ area on your deck. Something else is trending this year as a must-have backyard amenity, and that’s sheds. Yes…you read that right.

These aren’t your typical sheds where you store junk or your gardening tools. They are luxurious, multi-purpose living spaces that just happen to be detached from the rest of your home.

The reason for their rise in popularity? Privacy, for one. There’s no one—and no surrounding noises from your disruptive family or neighbors—to make you lose your focus. It’s all you, the shed and whatever your No. 1 priority is for the day. Not to mention, if you have a lush and peaceful backyard, the view is a plus.

So, what do these look like? Anything you can imagine. From hobbit hole-style sheds to more contemporary glass structures, these can take the form that best suits your needs. And what are they used for? That depends on you.

For those looking to get some work done with no distractions and no access to the kitchen, where you’ll munch the day away, a luxury shed can be the perfect place to set up an office.


detached living

Source:  Tuff Shed


For artists looking to find an inspired area to paint, a studio shed can do wonders. Some may even use these sheds as a fluid space that blends the outdoors and indoors, creating a relaxing place for meditation or yoga.

detached living

Source: Studio Shed



Or, they can even be a great play space for your kids—especially those with quirky designs like the hobbit hole sheds. Whatever the need is, a backyard shed is this year’s answer.

detached living

Source: Wooden Wonders 


How much do they cost? Well, that varies depending on how large or complex you want your shed to be. According to Studio Shed, a manufacturer of modern sheds, single-room studios can start around $9,600, while larger spaces, such as for guest rooms, can run around $25,000. For those who are looking for more intricate designs like the hobbit hole, that typically involves hiring an architect and that could cause the price to skyrocket—unless you’re handy and can design and build it yourself.

Keep in mind that permitting laws vary by state. Check with your local government offices before ordering or building your dream shed to make sure everything is up to code or you obtain a permit, if one is required. Otherwise, you take the risk of incurring a fine, and it may be difficult to sell your home down the road. Once the paperwork is out of the way, you are free to enjoy your new backyard amenity!


Liz Dominguez  –  RISmedia    May 21 2018 

Posted on May 23, 2018 at 3:23 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Home Design, Yard & Garden Tips |

Keys to Buying a Second Home


If you’ve been thinking about buying a second home, now is a good time to take the leap. Mortgage rates are still historically low.


But there are some vital things to do before you start shopping. Follow these steps to make buying a second home a smooth process:


The best way to start the search for a second home is to find a real estate agent who is familiar with your desired location. This person could provide you information about neighborhoods, market prices and the pros and cons of particular properties.

With an eye toward the long-term value of a property, the agent could fill you in on price histories and how comparable sales have fared, and resale prospects. Factors that tend to help properties hold or increase in value are proximity to a major metropolitan area, ease of access and the availability of year-round amenities.


Factor in additional costs. Today’s second-homebuyers are more interested in enjoying their properties rather than getting a quick return on their investment.

Still, you should consider that you will be away from the property a lot of the time, which usually entails additional costs, such as having a management company check the place in your absence for water leaks, frozen pipes and other problems.

Getting insurance for a second home may be more challenging than it is for a primary residence. If you are considering a second home on the beach, for example, you’ll need flood insurance in addition to regular home insurance. It has become more difficult to get flood insurance in coastal communities, and the cost has increased greatly in some markets.

Be sure you can afford two mortgages. You have to qualify for a second-home mortgage, which is on top of any mortgage debt on your primary home.

Typically, you will need to make a down payment of at least 10 percent, meet credit standards and debt-to-income requirements, and provide documents for income and asset verification.

If you have a good relationship with the mortgage lender on your primary residence, that might be a good place to start your quest for a second-home mortgage.


Take into account the tax implications of your purchase. If you use your home as a true second home, you could get a deduction for mortgage interest and property taxes, just as you do with your first-home mortgage.

Be aware that under the new federal tax law, the cap to the mortgage interest deduction will be lowered from $1 million to $750,000. So if you already have a $750,000 mortgage and get a loan for a vacation home, you won’t be able to deduct the interest on the second mortgage.

If you rent out your second home, you will have to consider additional tax ramifications, particularly if the rental period extends beyond 14 days a year.



By Poonkulali Thangavelu   2018

Posted on April 23, 2018 at 7:33 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers |

Single Family Homes by Area – SOLD in March 2018

Source:  iTech MLS

   Location # Homes Average Average Average  Avg.  Days
 SOLD Square Ft. Price/SF    List   Price   On Market SP % LP
La Canada 17 2361 $ 772 $ 1,473,143 17 107.03%
Montrose 0
La Crescenta 13 1751 $ 552 $ 891,877 55 102.86%
Tujunga  12 1581 $ 413 $ 614,658 30 100.46%
Sunland  10 1466 $ 438 $ 607,110 28 99.73%


Posted on April 9, 2018 at 4:58 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Market Stats |

6 hacks to buying a home in a competitive market







Tips to purchasing a home in a tight housing market 

  • Get preapproved for a mortgage.
  • Identify where you can compromise.
  • Work with your agent.
  • Don’t make lowball offers; consider an escalator clause.
  • Avoid contingencies.
  • Write to the sellers or offer a large earnest money deposit.


“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle,” reads the ancient Chinese tome, “The Art of War.” Indeed, buying a home in a tight market — when houses sell within weeks instead of months — can feel like combat. Avoid the battle and keep a cool head with these six strategies to make your strongest offer and close as quickly as possible.


1. Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Sellers in hot markets care about two things: money and speed. Pre-qualification gives buyers an idea of how much financing they can obtain and, because mortgage pre-approval is a conditional agreement to lend, it sends a powerful message to sellers that your financing is ready to go. It is wise to compare mortgage lenders in any situation, but in tight markets many sellers and listing agents will not even work with buyers who are not pre-approved. If you are having trouble getting pre-approved for the size loan you need, take the time to improve your credit score, pay off debts and save more money for the down payment. These actions will help you obtain better loan conditions.

2. Identify home needs and compromises

In competitive markets, expect to make a decision rapidly. Homes can literally sell the day they get listed on the market. Establish a clear idea of the home you are looking for early on to make the decision process easier. Which features of the neighborhood and home are absolute necessities, nice-to-haves and deal breakers? Agree on what can be compromised so you don’t waste time discussing when you should be making an offer. Moreover, don’t disregard properties that don’t look perfect in the listing. Photos and descriptions can vary widely from reality, and you don’t want to miss a great home that was presented poorly.

3. Work alongside your real estate agent

Getting a real estate agent to help you search for homes and present offers is typically a good idea, and not just because the seller usually pays their commission, giving you extra professional help at no cost. Good realtors understand the local market, so they know what’s available, what is coming available, and what will sell fast. In competitive markets, however, it is useful to scout properties yourself as well, instead of relying solely on the agent. Tour neighborhoods you’re interested in and search online listings to share with your agent.

4. Escalate, don’t bargain

If you’ve found a great home in a tight market, this is not the time for tough negotiations. In hot markets, lowball offers can be rejected outright with no further opportunity for discussion. Understand your maximum budget — including budgeting for closing costs— but don’t be determined to strictly adhere to a fair market value.  Houses often sell above asking price in hot markets, so expect to pay more. Instead, present your highest offer from the start or consider using an escalation clause, which increases your offer over other bids, usually by $1,000, until it reaches your set maximum. If a home has a pending offer with contingencies attached, consider making a back-up offer in case the other buyer’s contingencies nullify the deal.

5. Avoid contingencies

Contingencies provide important buyer protections, allowing buyers to back out if an inspection finds major problems or the appraisal values the house too low for the buyer’s financing. Reducing contingencies will make your offer far more appealing to the seller, however, because it gives them less responsibility and can shorten the purchase timeline. If you aren’t comfortable waiving a home inspection, consider a pre-inspection — which allows the seller to keep the home on the market while your inspection is pending — or offer to arrange the home inspection within a week of making the offer. Financing contingencies are another potentially time-consuming clause. Waiving this contingency is extremely risky because it commits you to purchasing the home in cash should your lender back out. Only remove a financing contingency if you have a concrete pre-approval and are completely confident in your mortgage and the appraised value of the home.

6. Tug at the seller’s heart or purse strings

Sellers in a tight market will likely receive multiple offers on their property. Set yours apart and demonstrate your seriousness with a personal letter and/or a large earnest money deposit. A letter sharing a sentimental narrative and passion for the home may sway a seller to accept your offer over a similar one, particularly if they have cherished memories of the home. Likewise, a large earnest money deposit can boost the chances of your offer being accepted because it indicates you are committed to buying the house and closing quickly. If you are able and willing, consider offering to split the cost of the Realtor commissions — or use a buyer’s agent who you are paying — to sweeten the deal.


Jasmine Whiting  –   Ask A Lender  September 2017


Posted on March 26, 2018 at 6:50 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Buyers |

4 Cost-Effective Ways to Raise Your Home’s Value



home's value



If you’re looking to raise the value of your home, especially for resale purposes, you’ve undoubtedly heard all sorts of ideas that will get the job done, many of which may be too expensive or too difficult for you to handle at the moment. Many require a large chunk of change, and while they may very well give you a return on your investment, you may not have this kind of money lying around.





Here are four budget-friendly ways to raise your home’s value and increase its future resale value at the same time:

Change Out Doors and Windows

Not only can your doors and windows be easily seen from the outside of your home, thus impacting curb appeal, but they also significantly impact your home’s interior. Consider energy-efficient windows that keep heating and cooling costs down and also fit the design of your home. For outside doors, try steel or fiberglass doors that keep energy costs low and improve home security.

Add Space

If possible, find a way to increase space in your home. This could be as easy as adding a patio or deck for outdoor entertaining or finishing off a basement. If you have the space and the funds, consider adding an additional room, which can be a huge boon for homebuyers who need an extra bedroom or bonus room.

Modernize Plumbing

Little leaks and plumbing issues can cost you a great deal on your home value, especially if you’re actively trying to sell your home. Hire a professional plumber to address your pipes and drains and to change out plumbing fixtures for a modernized appearance. If your water heater is getting old, consider purchasing a new one at the same time.

Use Paint Wisely

Paint can do a great deal to modernize a home and improve its value for a very low initial cost. Paint walls a neutral color, and spiff up kitchen and bathroom cabinets with a new color. Many older cabinets can be salvaged with a quick sanding, a coat of primer and a new color.

Not every renovation or remodel has to cost a great deal of money to be a wise investment. Instead, as you can see above, there are many small, easy changes that will still yield great results. If you truly want to raise your home’s value, consider changing part of the aesthetic of your home or modernizing your windows, doors or plumbing.



Dixie Somers  –  Mar 20 2018   RISMedia’s Housecall

Posted on March 22, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Home TIPS, Sellers |

Sell Faster in 2018: Design and Staging Tips

sell faster

Selling your home can often be stressful as you live life in limbo. Once the house is listed, you want to receive a good offer as quickly as possible. Here are tips for staging and upgrading your home for a faster sale in 2018:

Start With the Basics

Buyers are going to be turned off if they see a leaking roof or furnace on its last leg. It’s not going to matter how impressive your kitchen is if your home has major issues. While new siding isn’t glamorous, the improvement can return nearly 92.8 percent of your investment, according to Remodeling magazine. Window and roof replacements also return a high investment of around 80 percent.


Cleaning Your Home

Getting every nook and cranny clean is the cheapest way to increase appeal. Potential buyers need to picture themselves living in your home. Dirt, grime and disrepair can distract them from the highlights of your home. Make sure your home is spotless for each showing, vacuuming floors and double-checking surfaces for streaks before leaving.

Hiring a professional to deep-clean and get into the crevices may not be a bad idea. You won’t want dirty dishes or laundry sitting around, so make sure they are either done or taken with you during the showing.



Photogenic homes are more likely to excite buyers and get them placing bids faster. Here are a few ways to make your home photo-worthy:

  1. Dramatic Color Accents: Purple is a big color for 2018. Update your home with trending accents. Lavenders are projected to be a popular decorating color and Pantone announced Ultra Violet as the 2018 Color of the Year. Using jewel tones in your floral arrangements, including mixed metal decor and choosing the right faux fur throw can help modernize your house to appeal to buyers.
  2. Light and Bright: If at all possible, brighten your spaces with natural lighting from windows, unique light fixtures and bright walls. Brighter interior spaces are easier to photograph.
  3. Moody Interiors: If natural light isn’t readily available, dark charcoals and navy colors can exaggerate the furniture and room features; however, buyers can be easily scared off if they feel like they need to repaint the walls. While moody can be a big payoff for the right house, it can be a devastating choice for the wrong house.
  4. Two-Tone Cabinets: Finishing upper and lower cabinets differently can create an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. A HomeAdvisor survey says the national average cost of refinishing cabinets is $2,600. Bleached wood lower cabinets can be contrasted with a vibrant paint color on the cabinets above.



All clutter has to go. If you have to rent a storage space offsite to house your items until you move, then do it. Clear clutter from your closets, cupboards and garage, as well—buyers are going to be looking at the storage spaces in your home. If you really can’t move the clutter to another site, box it up and put it in the garage or attic until moving day. You want everything looking move-in ready and showing off what your home has to offer.


Staging the Home

Set up every room to show off how it can be used by the new buyer. Even though a spare bedroom might feel larger if it’s empty, adding a bed and dresser that fit the space can make it more inviting to a potential buyer. Photographs, memorabilia and themed rooms, like Disney princess or a favorite sports team, should be swapped out for decor that keeps a personal touch without feeling exclusive.


Curb Appeal

When potential buyers arrive at the home, what kind of first impression is your home presenting? Curb appeal is typically a low-cost upgrade that can lead to faster sales. Make sure the exterior is clean by power washing the siding, driveway and walkways. Keep the lawn mowed, bushes trimmed and trees pruned back from the house. Keep the gardens free of weeds, mulched and edged. Spruce up the entrance with potted flowers or cute furniture that makes the space feel inviting and inspiring. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and hang house numbers that are visible from the street.

Selling your home can be a very stressful process, but it doesn’t have to be!  Follow these tips and up your chances of having solid offers come in quickly.

Althea M.  –  RISmedia’s Housecall   Mar 15 2018 

Posted on March 20, 2018 at 12:06 am
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Sellers |

Spring Maintenance Tasks for Your Rental Property


spring maintenance



In some locations across the country, March snowfalls are breaking records, so it’s strange to already be talking about spring. But the “spring forward” time change and the Spring equinox reminds us that the flowers will start blooming soon! This seasonal change means more than just fresh rain, new flowers and renewal. As a property owner, it’s also time to consider spring maintenance activities for your real estate investment.




Seasonal maintenance may be a chore, but routine inspections and proactive upkeep will keep your costs down and ensure that your rental property does not require preventable expensive repairs.

As the old adage goes, spring usually brings showers. You can prepare for this extra moisture by completing some of these simple tasks:

Roof inspection

Check out the interior walls and ceilings for signs of water stains, cracks and settling of foundation walls. During an exterior roof inspection, you should be looking for curled or missing shingles; rusted and pitted flashing; and cracked caulk around pipe collars, skylights and other roof penetrations. Last winter, many in the Northwest experienced ice dams due to the extended cold weather. This can cause significant damage to a home. It’s always a good idea to double-check for any lasting impacts from a rough winter season.

Eradicate moisture

Remind your tenants to check for mold that can build up in the winter from interior humidity. Heavy rains may cause small puddles or dampness in the basement or attic. It will soon begin to smell musty. You may need to install a dehumidifier to dry it out before mold develops.

Clean the gutters

A debris-clogged gutter can cause a leaky roof or water damage to the interior or exterior of your home. Most people use a sturdy extension ladder and scoop out the gunk into a bucket. There are tools at home improvement stores that allow you to accomplish removal from the ground. If winter storms have left debris in the downspout gooseneck, force it out with a garden hose.

Clean recessed foundation vents

Just like gutters, vents can become catch-alls for leaves, twigs and assorted debris. Clean the vents by hand or with a shop vacuum.

Of course, there is always landscaping to do in springtime. Common tasks include lawn aeration, overseeding, fertilization and pruning of shrubs. Early spring is also a great time for pruning flowering trees and fruit trees since they will start budding soon. Despite our best efforts in the fall, there are usually some leftover leaves to finish cleaning up, as well.

Taking extra care of the exterior of your property as the seasons change can help prevent structural damage, save energy and keep the property’s systems running properly. While some maintenance tasks must be completed seasonally, don’t forget about your annual tasks, as well. Maintenance, cleaning, servicing and landscaping guarantees that your property remains in good shape and your investment is protected for the coming years.


Brentnie Daggett  –  RIS Medias Housecall   Mar 7 2018  


Posted on March 12, 2018 at 5:46 pm
Jana Ace R Wunderlich | Posted in Home TIPS, Sellers |