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Can You Help Manna Food Bank Make a Difference?

Manna Food Bank is a great addition to our community. Let’s take a look inside at what they do.

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Today, we’re going to be talking about the Manna Food Bank, which is a 45-year-old independent organization that helps feed people in need.

The week before Thanksgiving, we worked with them on a food drive. The drive was a success, and we are so thankful for the work Manna is doing for our community. 

Right now, they’re actually in the process of moving to a new facility, which will be 4.5 times larger than the current facility. There, they’ll host classes in nutrition, cooking, and more. These classes will focus on helping people with health problems learn more about their nutritional needs and how to meet them. Additionally, Manna will provide education on financial literacy and household management. 

When people hear about hunger, they often think of a fairly narrow demographic. But the people who benefit from Manna’s services actually come from all walks of life. This is especially true following the recession years ago. 

In fact, over 85% of Manna’s clients are employed families. The remaining 15% is made up of senior citizens and disabled people on fixed incomes. 

Of course, community support plays a massive role in what Manna does. The more food they get from the community, the more they are able to give. While all donations are welcome, they do have a list of preferred items on the front page of their website: https://www.mannafoodbank.org/. 

Manna is classified as a choice-based pantry, meaning their clients can choose their food as opposed to being limited to pre-bagged selections. Clients can visit three times a week with no appointment necessary. 

If you have any other questions or would like more information, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
 

What’s With the Low Inventory We’ve Been Seeing?

 

According to a recent study, 47% of sellers are worried about selling their homes for fear of not being able to find a new one that meets their needs. The trick is to find creative ways to find sellers the homes they need.

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Today’s topic of discussion will be the question, “Why are there so few homes for sale here in the Conejo Valley?”

First American did a study to find out why we have such a low amount of inventory. They found that the No. 1 reason had to do with the sellers. 47% of sellers are very uncomfortable about the inventory level, and they don’t want to put their home on the market until they find the home of their choice. They’re ready to move, they’re just holding back. This has an effect on the inventory level all across the US.

We’re seeing now that we have to become creative in how we get sellers to put their homes on the market. We did just that with two clients of ours, David and Tessa. They, too, wanted to move, but had not found a home that had met their needs. 

We knew where they wanted to live, so we worked with the title company, and we had them put together a report that showed homes that were on the view-side of the street, had a pool, and had a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms. We sent out a targeted letter to the specific homes that met this criteria, and lo and behold, we heard back from one family who agreed to meet with us. We took our buyers there, and we’re proud to say they’re now in escrow and will be closing in three weeks.

If you know of anyone who has that same concern and are struggling to find the home that they’re looking for, give us a call. We can sit down and put together a game plan of how we can go find that house for them, even if it’s not on the market.

If you have a topic you’d like us to discuss on our blog, feel free to reach out to us directly. We look forward to hearing from you.
 

How We Helped Damien Buy a Home

"I think it was the biggest thing that when it was time critical as far as with Veterans United and working with Shane Burr. When it looked like they were having a lot of difficulties confirming my employment. They went above and beyond doing everything they possibly could to make them close the deal. Once talking to them, going to their boss and saying look these people really want his house. They didn't just wait around, they knew a lot of things were time critical and they did what they had to do."

Damien Brandlen

How We Stuck with David in the Long Run

"Great results, she's a hard worker, she knows her profession, she's knowledgeable at what she does and she seems to serve her clients in the best interest that she can. We moved the area about six years ago and she helped us get into our first rental. She was the listing agent on it. That's how I got to know her. We just proceeded over six years just always staying in touch with us, provided customer service, to letting us know how the market was doing, doing follow throughs and being professional. Eventually, we used her when it was time for us to buy a house. So just the incident of her having the follow through and stick with a particular client. For the long term that was impressive."

David Evans

How We Helped Lori with the Buying and Selling Process

"I'd characterize them as excellent. I've worked with a lot of different agents and Barbara Radke was at the top as far as customer service as well as results. You know getting your house bought and sold. She did both, she helped me with the purchases as well as the sale. The sale of my most recent home was particularly difficult because I was out of the country so she and her agency managed not only the sale but the repairs and everything associated with getting the house ready to sell. They did a fabulous job."

Lori Buckley

 

How We Helped Hardy Through the Process

"They're excellent, they're so detailed and everything went well. One through 10, 10 being the best they are a 10. We are looking for a house to buy, in the meantime, they found us a house to rent. And there really is no incentive for them to help us with a rental. It's more of a time factor than anything. They were just there for us all the time, for my family."

Hardy DiCenzo

How we helped Bob Gerace by exceeding expectations.

"I was happy with the results I got! She's professional, experienced and the results were met or exceed my expectations. Showing up at inspections, when signatures were required. I would say that she didn't just depend on a fax machine or email. She showed up to make sure things were done correctly the first time."

        Bob Gerace

How we helped Melissa Klotz in a multiple offer situation.

"When we worked with Barbara we were buying a house. The experience was fantastic, if it weren't for her suggestions of the timing of putting in our offer and the amount of our offer we would have never gotten the house. Everything worked out perfectly. She was easy to talk to and always answering calls and emails promptly. She walked us through the entire process. It was my first time buying so I had no idea what a lot of these terms meant. She was always quick to put it into simple terms. The entire experience was great and we will definitely use her again. We put offer in on two houses, and the first one didn't end up working out at we were so upset. The way that she advised us on putting in the offer for the second home was just fantastic and we ended up getting our offer accepted when there were other offers on the table for that home. We are the happiest people in the world."

      Melissa Klotz, Home Buyer

How your neighbors can help you sell your home

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If you're thinking of selling your home, you need to immediately start preparing your neighbors.

Here’s what I mean.

Home appraisals are 5% to 10% lower if you have a so-called "bad" neighbor, with an unkempt yard or poorly maintained exterior.

That shouldn't be surprising when you consider that 63% of homebuyers drive by a home before coming for a showing.

Make no mistake — those potential buyers won't just be impacted by the exterior of your home, but by the state of your neighborhood as well.

On the other hand, neighbors can also be your best friend in selling your home.

They can provide you with free advertising, they can promote the neighborhood to inquiring buyers, and they might even actively work with you to help you achieve a higher price.

Here are three tips on working with your neighbors to achieve a faster, more profitable sale.

First, set up a special open house just for your neighbors.

Many neighbors will be curious for a peek inside your home. You can make the deal even more enticing by providing some free snacks and drinks.

Use this open house as an opportunity to show off your home, as well as to build better relations with your neighbors so they'll be more disposed to help you during the sale process.

One way to do this is to be forthcoming with information, including the price you're aiming for, renovations you're planning, or showings that might eat up local parking for an afternoon.

Get your neighbors involved, ask them for suggestions, and ask them how you can make the process easier for them.

Also, don't forget to mention that if you are successful in selling your home, this will positively impact the values of all homes in the neighborhood.

Second, organize a neighborhood cleanup party.

This is an opportunity to boost the image and value of your entire neighborhood, as well as to further cement good relations with your neighbors.

You can also use this as a discreet way to suggest small home improvement projects to your neighbors.

Which leads me to the third and final tip.

You can also offer to help with — or even pay for — any upgrades you’d like to see on your neighbors’ homes.

For example, if you’re having a landscaping crew come as part of your sale preparations, ask your neighbors with the overgrown lawn if they’d be ok with the landscapers also taking care of their yard for free.

These kinds of small investments can be worth thousands of dollars in terms of your final sale price.

If you want to get an estimate of what your home is currently worth without any of these upgrades, check out this home value calculator on my site:

Enter your street address here to find out what your home is worth

And if you need more advice on dealing with your neighbors in preparation for a home sale, just give me a call at 800-405-1433. I’ve got several other tips I can share with you.

How to File Taxes as a Homeowner in 2017

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If you bought your first home in 2016, chances are you're in for a very new tax experience this year.

That's because for many new homeowners, buying a house is the first time it makes sense to itemize taxes.

The good news is that itemizing your taxes is surprisingly easy to do.

Here's how to make sure you save the most on taxes while minimizing your filing headaches.

First, locate your Closing Disclosure Agreement. This is a part of your home closing paperwork provided by your lender.

Second, add up the following four main real estate deductions:

1. Loan costs and fees

These are different fees charged by your lender and spread throughout the Closing Disclosure Agreement.

Different lenders will call them by different names. Look for the items "application fee," "underwriting fee," and "loan costs."

2. Mortgage interest

You can deduct the entire interest portion of your monthly mortgage payments.

This will probably be your biggest tax deduction, particularly at the start of your mortgage when interest payments are highest.

3. Property taxes

You can deduct property taxes — but only for the part of the year that you owned the house.

Amazingly, you can claim this deduction even if you managed to negotiate with the seller to have them pay the full year's property taxes.

4. Mortgage insurance

If you've put down less than 20%, you probably have to pay for private mortgage insurance. The good news is this item is also tax deductible.

By the way, mortgage insurance is entirely different from homeowners insurance, which isn't tax deductible. 

There are a few other items you might also be able to itemize.

For example, if you gave away furniture or appliances before moving, this can be deducted as a charitable donation.

And if you work from home, you can claim additional deductions for that.

Now, add up all those deductions.

Is the total less than the standard deduction ($6,300 for an individual, $12,600 for a married couple)?

If it is — congratulations, you will save more this year by itemizing your taxes.

By the way, I've been talking this whole time about new homeowners.

But even if you've already owned your home for a while but you haven't been itemizing your taxes yet, you can definitely start doing so.

Points two through four above are recurring deductions, and you can also apply them this tax season.

Also, if you did not buy a house in 2016 but you're considering doing it this year, make sure you check out all the available listings around Southern California:

Click here for all available SoCal homes for sale

And if you have still have questions about your taxes, give me a call at 805-558-1500. I can give you additional tips, and I can also put you in touch with several excellent Southern California accountants.

Have a great day,

30700 Russell Ranch Rd. #200
Westlake Village, CA 91362
Phone: 800-405-1433
Email: Barbara@RadkeAgency.com
CalBRE # 01705722

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