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Bring the inside out - The outdoor area of your home is an extension of your indoor, as outdoor rugs mark spaces, side tables and ottomans are grouped with couches and chairs

Natural materials - Look for more wicker, rattan and teak, with succulents in decorative boxes

Colors - The popular blues and grays of inside are making their way outside, for a cool coastal feel, with pops of colors on throw pillows, cushions, and blankets for sitting around the fire pit

Landscape - Sustainability with drought tolerant plants, grasses and low maintenance plants

Edible gardens - Many homeowners are building raised beds, planting their own vegetables and herbs. Find a sunny spot and put on your gloves. Smaller space? Try vertical or potted gardens

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The market is robust right now, with prices continuing to tick up (see Market Update below), and interest rates even dropping a little. I had buyer clients lock in a 3.85% rate recently (CLS Financial), which certainly keeps payments affordable - relatively speaking.

The challenge for buyers is coming up with the down payment and closing costs. Look into various loan types to see what works for you: VA loans can be 100% financed, FHA loans can be 3.5% down, and some conventional loans require only 5% down, although the last two require mortgage insurance.

There are many buyers for homes in the $500,000-$700,000 range, and, without enough homes in that range, the competition is fierce. Make sure your agent is well versed in the area, comm...

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Jacarandas are blooming, graduation gowns are arriving, the weather is warming up, and more FOR SALE signs are going up. It must be May in Southern California!

It's the season for home sales to jump, and for people to start thinking about housing for the high school grads heading off to college, homes for the college grads thinking about coming back home to live, and where to move the family before school starts in the fall, if a move is needed.

Last month I wrote about how homes listed in May tend to sell faster, historically speaking. It's really the kick-off season for the busiest time in real estate, across the country, that continues through September. The best time to sell is whatever is the best time for you. You have more buyers ...

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Many Southern Californians know about Leisure World, that active community for those over 55 years of age.

In the Seal Beach Leisure World there are over 6,000 homes, with a golf course, more than 200 special interest clubs, a post office, a health center, library, pool, club houses, and churches. The units in Leisure World are stock cooperatives, where you buy in, all cash. There is one mutual (what they call their communities within Leisure World) with condos that can be financed.

There is an interview process to be an approved buyer, and you must have $25,000 in cash reserves, as well as a letter from your physician stating you are healthy enough to live on your own. There are monthly HOA fees.

Located near the beach and near the inte...

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One of the costs of buying a home is homeowner insurance, sometimes referred to as "Fire Insurance" in escrow documents. A lender will require an active policy be in force at the time of closing, to protect the investment.

As your advocate, I have referrals to insurance agents to assist you with this purchase. I'm highlighting Andrea Webster of Farmers Insurance this month.

This link takes you to a short video of how Andrea contributes to our community, when she's not busy serving the needs of her clients. If you need insurance (home, car, other), or just want to check a quote, please contact Andrea Webster at 562.989.8700 or awebster@farmersagent.com. Tell her Katie sent you!

We continue to have low inventory in homes for sale, which means the seller's market condition continues. Although not the price spikes we saw a couple of years ago, 2017 is still on track for about a 4% growth in prices, with a projected 5 year average annual appreciation of around 3.22%. January marked the 59th consecutive month of year-over-year median price gains. Are you feeling the equity?

We are seeing people staying in homes longer than in the past, which limits the number of homes on the market. The housing crisis of 8 years ago had some people in a negative equity situation. Now, almost 94% of homes with mortgages are in a positive equity situation. Click here for a little more insight from my friends at Keeping Current Matters...

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Kitchens are always a favorite topic in this space. Who doesn't love an awesome kitchen?

One of the most popular items my clients ask for in a kitchen is an island. I don't know if it's because the word "island" conjures up tropics, vacation, and warm spaces, but it's a deal maker in some cases. The trend of open kitchens begs for islands to define the space, to give creative storage options. If you're thinking of remodeling, consider the kitchen island in your plans. Here is a link to a slide show of some great kitchen islands from one of my favorite sites, Houzz.

Trends for 2017? Again, Houzz to the rescue with what they think the trends are now, and where they are going in kitchens. From low maintenance, to jewel tones, and flat panel...

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Of course, as a Realtor, I want you to buy a house! Okay, bias aside, why?

In 66% of U.S. counties, buying a home is more affordable than renting. The average rent in Long Beach for a 2 bedroom apartment, as of December 2016, is $2,694. You also have the tax benefits that put more money in your pocket, as well as you can't control when your landlord might raise your rent.

With a mortgage, you lock in that amount. Want to know more? Let's talk

Pantone's color for 2017? It's called Greenery, a bright spring-green that may be a little too bright to have as more than an accent here and there. You'll start to see it in stores soon, if you haven't already.

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Bathroom and kitchen remodels tend to get the highest return on investment when selling your home. Although you should design your home for how you want to live in it, keeping an eye on resale value - should it not be your forever home - is wise. Here are some of the current trends in bathroom remodeling:

Grout - Using a contrasting color of grout can set off tiles, tile patterns, update subway tiles


Heated floors - Underfloor radiant heating can add $1200-$1500 to a bathroom remodel, but won't you be glad in winter?


Sustainable design - Reclaimed wood on the wall, repurposing a cabinet, reusing fixtures


Storage - Open storage can be interesting, although consider the bathroom items to be shown

Wallpaper - Yes, wallpaper. You can also g...

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