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Carlos J. Gil, Broker


Millie Gil, Broker


Margarita Amigo, Realtor


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Are Renters On The Rise In Your Community

Remember when you first moved in and loved your neighborhood?

Then the renters started moving in.

Now that the housing slump has put a damper on buying and selling many sub-divisions are becoming rental communities. The result, overgrown lawns, too many teens hanging out in the park and loud parties in the "frat houses" down the street; not to mention some driveways with a dozen cars parked out front and people streaming in and out. Does any of this sound familiar?
Thousands of property owners across the country are now renting out homes they cannot sell. As a result, developments that once were largely owner-occupied are filling up with renters who are less engaged in the community and less concerned about the upkeep.

But let’s be fair; not all homeowners are model neighbors and plenty of renters cut their grass, take in the garbage cans and turn down the music at 9 pm.

It's a good news-bad news situation; renters can bring socio¬economic and racial diversity and a chance for owners to make money, even when times are tough. Some renters may start out as tenants but eventually will become buyers. Now for the flip side; too many renters can depress housing values in a community. You look at most renters as temporary with no long term vested interest in the community which will ultimately mean a swinging door – new faces in and out.

How to protect and preserve your neighborhood

• Many HOA’s require pre-approval by the board before allowing renters to move in. While this can cause problems it does provide another opinion about the people you’re about to allow into your space.

• While tempting, do not sign more than a one-year lease. If there are too many problems during that first year, you can simply choose not to rent to that individual again.

• Discuss, vote on and include language into your HOA bylaws that safeguard your community and keep your community stable.
Rules and guidelines pertaining to renters should be addressed at your annual HOA meeting. Be proactive not reactive. Often times, we wait until the “bleep” has hit the fan when we could have just addressed the situation before it became a problem.
Ask that homeowners update records if they move or rent; you need to know where notices should be sent.

Ask that homeowners provide a copy of any lease to the board so everyone knows how many people are moving into the community – this directly relates to the security of the community.

It all comes down to communication and setting up guidelines to live by.

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group. For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net 

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Why Your Lender May Choose Foreclosure Over Mortgage Assistance

The Treasury Department began a loan modification program in March 2009 to encourage lenders to modify troubled loans to prevent foreclosures. But from the beginning, the process proved slow, frustrating and for many non-existent. All the while, foreclosures continue unabated. But why the hesitation by lenders to help homeowners remain in the home?

Many mortgages are handled by loan service agents. They collect the payments and handle all the on-going business with your mortgage. But they also are the one constant villain in the foreclosure debacle.

The loan servicers lose paperwork, foreclose on homes they have no right to foreclose on, accept borrowers into modification programs while trying to foreclose on them at the same time, they deny borrowers a modification even when they shouldn’t, they’re impossible to get a hold of, and their communication with homeowners is appalling. And you know what, it’s depressing but loan servicers win in the end.

A loan servicers’ primary compensation is a percentage of the outstanding principal balance on a mortgage so the higher the outstanding principal the more their compensation package will be. This definitely presents a conflict of interest.

And while investors say they are all for helping out the homeowner, investors really look at the bottom line – are timely payments being made? So when the money is halted investors want to know that something is being done to recoup losses.

Under the government’s foreclosure program a service loan agent that modifies a loan for a homeowner can collect $1,000 from the government, followed by $1,000 a year for each of the next three years. While those sound like a meaningful incentive to help homeowners the government’s incentive cannot compare to what servicers collect by allowing properties to go into foreclosure.

So where should a homeowner start if looking for a modification?

The first thing that a homeowner should do is have an experienced mortgage attorney examine your loan documents for any potential violations of the lender. Lenders are not legally obligated to modify loans so it really is up to the lender to accept your request.

The more ammo you have to help them shift towards helping you the better.

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group. For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net 

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Are You Energy Reliant For The Upcoming Winter

I think by now we’ve all learned the importance of conserving energy on a regular daily basis.

During the winter months, heating a residence can account for nearly half a household utility bill.

1. Do not heat any unnecessary rooms. Close and seal heat registers and air returns. Be sure to weather-strip doors to these less-heated areas.

2. Insulate all electrical outlets & switches on inside/outside walls with foam pads beneath cover plates. These are inexpensive and easy to install. Weather-strip and keep bathroom door closed.

3. Weather-strip, insulate, and seal all access doors to unused and cold attic areas. Do the thinking — find the areas of heat loss, then determine how to slow the flow of heat and the loss of your money.

4. Turn the thermostat lower and dress warmer. Nobody ever froze at 60 degrees. Late at night and when you are away from the home set the thermostat to 50 degrees. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that, “two 10 degree setbacks will save 1/3 of heating costs.” If you’ll be gone for over 48 hours, drop the temperature to 40 degrees.

5. Window heat loss equals 1/3 of your energy bill so close shades and drapes. Use rope caulk in every crack & opening. If possible, use plastic over the outside of each window and/or use shrink plastic on the inside. Try clear bubble plastic packaging placed between the storm window and inside the main glass window (to insulate).

A $75 - $125 service call may seem excessive, but is it well worth the cost to have your furnace properly serviced before winter hits. Regular service keeps your furnace working efficiently which helps to reduce those energy costs. Also, don't forget to change out those filters at least once a month! If you live on a dirt road or along a dusty alley, the filters may have to be changed as frequently as twice a month.

The easiest change to make is by using a programmable thermostat. Simply program the thermostat around your schedule so that the heater is on while people are actually in the house, preferably with an approximately 30 minute window prior to warm the house back up to the preferred temperature. This way you are able to shave money from the energy bill every day with no extra work on your part.

Of course, these tips do not apply to everyone's situation but with minimal adjustments in your lifestyle, it is very possible to save some money off your energy bills month after month.

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group. For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net 

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Do I Really Need a Realtor

Everyone is looking for ways to save money during this recession including DIY everything. And although times look bleak there are many buyers out there ready to purchase your home. Question is can you go it alone or handle everything yourself?

Many homeowners believe they can go it alone and find themselves looking for a professional to save them.

With the advice of a real estate agent you’ll have a much better chance of selling quickly; recession or not.

But there are several crucial reasons for using a real estate agent.
 
First off, a real estate agent is trained in keeping an eye on how the market is moving and responding to different circumstances. This will allow them to tell you the important information as it develops. If you were selling your property by yourself you would be on your own as far as figuring out what a recession is doing to the real estate market including competition in your own backyard and sales and trends.

Second and most important, a real estate agent knows all the legalities, requirements and guidelines the buyer and seller must adhere to. You have no idea how many legal forms you are responsible for. You wouldn’t want to get caught with a voided contract after laying out tons of cash because you forgot a key item, would you? How about getting stuck with a one-sided contract in favor of the buyer?

Additionally, in order to improve your odds you will want a real estate agent helping out with all marketing related tasks. For instance, your agent will be able to schedule open houses, send out flyers, add your home to multiple websites, call clients and other agents in the market, and much more. These are all marketing tasks that need to be done successfully, and during a recession it is much better to use a real estate agent.

Sure, there are many ways to save during this recession but holding back on professional services during the sale of your home is definitely not one you want to undertake.

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group. For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net

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Voting for HOA Board Members

Why do so many homeowners have issues with their home owner association and board members? Probably because you’re voting in the wrong people who don’t have a clue what your community needs.
 
Homeowner associations are designed to be representative democracies governed by a board of directors elected by the members. Electing directors to the board that can thoughtfully govern is extremely important. To accomplish this, elections must be carefully planned with the candidates thoroughly researched, not hatched at the last minute.
 
Here are important components of a successful election process:
 
Find Worthy Candidates. When seeking nominations, a job description should be prepared so potential candidates know what is expected of them. Some refuse to run because they fear the unknown or an open-ended commitment. The director job and term of office can easily be summarized in a paragraph as can the descriptions of officer jobs (president, treasurer and secretary). Take the time to make sure all potential candidates understand and commit to fulfilling the job description by informing them of expectations in advance.
 
Candidates are identified a number of ways:
 
1. By a Nominating Committee. The board can appoint a Nominating Committee which can identify, interview and recommend certain individuals for election. While the Nominating Committee's recommendations are worth considering, any member in good standing is still entitled to run for office even if not recommended by the Committee.
 
2. Nominated by Self or Others. Any member may nominate themselves or be nominated by another member. It's best to do this as soon as the nomination process begins, far in advance of the annual meeting, so the name and credentials can be known to all members. Since it is common for some members not to attend the meeting and to provide a proxy to someone that does, if a candidate is not known in advance, those not attending the meeting will not have the ability to support that candidate.

3. Nominated at the Annual Meeting. Nominations are usually accepted from the floor at the annual meeting. Unfortunately, this option fails to inform members who have not attended the meeting; it is often difficult to get elected when nominated from the floor unless there are not enough candidates to fill vacancies.
 
4. Write-in Candidate. Writing someone's name on a ballot does not ensure that person is actually qualified for the job or interested in running unless the person was nominated from the floor.

Candidate Qualifications. Candidates should present their qualifications and platforms to the members in writing. This can be done door to door, by email, by letter, in the HOA newsletter, by the HOA website and at the annual meeting where the candidates can also answer questions posed by owners. Since some members may not be able to attend the meeting, circulating candidate qualifications before the meeting is very important.

It is definitely in the community’s best interest to identify candidates who have experience that will benefit the HOA such as:

•Having an organized president is essential. Seek those that are comfortable in that role. The president should also have experience in dealing with different personalities.

•Having a treasurer who regularly works with financial matters like a bookkeeper or CPA.
 
•Having a secretary who understands or can learn the art of minute taking.
 
•Having directors that are available and committed to attend all board meetings. This requirement cannot be understated. If board meetings fail to achieve a quorum or directors, official business cannot be done.
 
Good board members act to protect the interests of all members. Handle the candidate selection process carefully by seeking out the best candidates available. When it comes to board elections, rather than expect a train wreck, elect the right person for the job!

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group . For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net

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Have You Organized Your Important Home Papers

What would you do if you had less than 5 minutes to get out of your home? It could be a fire, a community scare, whatever the emergency; could you grab every crucial bit of paperwork in fewer than 5 minutes?

Think about this, can you place your hands on your property titles, life and homeowner’s insurance policy or birth certificate? How about tax forms? There’s certainly nothing fun about organizing all your important papers but it’s definitely well worth all the effort. Many homeowners allow the paperwork to pile up and before you know it you’re ordering copies because of lost originals.

Did you know many documents have a legal shelf life and should be filed for a minimum of 5 to 10 years?

Take a look at the length of time your important documents should be saved;

How Long to Keep Documents

Tax documents: Keep tax returns, as well as supporting documents like W-2 forms, receipts, and real estate closing statements for several years. The IRS may audit you within three years if it suspects good-faith errors; six years if it believes you underreported your income by at least 25%; and unlimited time if you did not file a return or filed a fraudulent one.

Investment records: Keep as long as you own the securities, plus another seven years. You'll need them to prove capital gains and losses.

Bank statements: One month. You just need these long enough to check the accuracy of the transactions. Unless the statement is your only record for a tax-related transaction, there's no need to keep them longer. Plus, your bank will have them available online.

Retirement plan statements: Most, one year, for tax purposes. Keep Roth IRA statements until you retire, to prove you already paid tax on your contributions.

Credit card statements: Shred immediately after checking the accuracy of the transactions. These documents are a prime source for identity theft. Unless the statement is your only record for a tax-related transaction, there's no need to keep them longer. Plus, your issuer will have them available online.

Paychecks: One year, until you receive your W-2.

Bills: One year, for tax purposes.

W-2 forms: Until you begin claiming Social Security. They're the best estimate of your earnings and entitlements.

There are many documents you’ll never need to see again unless a tragedy happens; however, there are many reasons you’ll need many of your documents close by. Keep them organized and stored in a safe location.

About the Author: Millie Gil is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Vice President of Bold Real Estate Group.  For more information please forward email to communityinfo@comcast.net

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