Eight Local Elementaries in the Palos Verdes Peninsula District Deemed ‘Distinguished’ Schools

From a press release from state Superintendent for Public Instruction:

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today named 424 public elementary schools — including eight in thePalos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District — California Distinguished Schools for their strong commitment and innovative approaches to improving student academic achievement.

“I applaud these strong, thriving schools that are making such impressive strides in preparing their students for continued success,” Torlakson said. “This award is well-deserved by these school communities for their enduring dedication to high standards, hard work, and unwavering support.”

The 2014 California Distinguished Schools Program focuses on California’s students’ right to an equitable and rigorous education, and recognizes those schools that have made progress in narrowing the academic achievement gap.

To apply for Distinguished School honors, schools must meet a variety of eligibility criteria, including accountability measures. Once schools are deemed eligible, the California Department of Education (CDE) invites them to apply to be recognized as a California Distinguished School.

The process consists of a written application, which includes a comprehensive description of two of the school’s signature practices, and a county-led site validation review process focused on the implementation of those signature practices.

Local schools on the list are:

  • Cornerstone at Pedregal Elementary
  • Lunada Bay Elementary
  • Mira Catalina Elementary
  • Montemalaga Elementary
  • Point Vicente Elementary
  • Rancho Vista Elementary
  • Silver Spur Elementary
  • Vista Grande Elementary


Mortgage lending slows to a 14-year low

What with higher interest rates and fewer home sales nationwide, just $235 billion in home loans are started in this year’s first quarter.




What Contingency Should Your Home Purchase Offer Have?



Ycontingency offerou’re looking for homes and find one that really piques your interest, except it has a “contingent offer” status. As you keep browsing, you notice a lot of properties do. What’s a contingent offer? Should your offer have one?

A contingent offer is pretty standard. It means an offer on a home has been made and the seller has accepted it, but the finalized sale is contingent upon certain criteria that have to be met. These criteria, or contingencies, typically fall under three major categories: appraisal, home inspection and mortgage approval.

These contingencies are mainly put in place for the buyer to back out of a sale if something goes wrong, usually without losing their deposit. A seller might entertain other offers, but won’t deal with another buyer until the contingent offer is finished in one way or another.

Home Inspection Contingency

A home inspection contingency could well be the most important one. It gives the buyer the right to have the home professionally inspected. If something is wrong, the buyer can request it be fixed or they can back out of the sale. It’s rarely advisable to waive an inspection contingency.

“Never in my life have I seen a home inspection waived,” said Bishoi Nageh, vice president of branch operations for The Petra Cephas Team at Mortgage Network Solutions.

If something is wrong with a house, a good inspection will find it. Nageh recalled an instance of a buyer who asked the seller to fix up some windows, then found mold had been growing under the framework. Once you know the problems, you can talk with the seller about what they need to fix before you buy the home.

Appraisal Contingency

With this contingency, a third party hired by the lender evaluates the fair-market value of the home. In the instance the appraised value is less than the sale price, the appraisal contingency lets you back out of the deal.

“It’s in no one’s best interest to overpay,” Nageh said. “If the home comes in under the [asking] amount, you have the right to back out.”

In hot markets, eager buyers might feel pressured to waive it, but they could end up paying more. However, the lender will only put up a certain amount of money for the appraised cost—not the asking price—and the buyer will have to cover the rest.

For example, let’s say you have a loan that covers 90% and you need to put 10% down for a home selling for $500,000. If the house is appraised at $475,000, the lender is only going to cover 90 percent of that appraised value, or $427,500. And instead of a $50,000 down payment, you would be expected to put down $72,500 to cover the difference. Waiving this contingency can be a gamble.

Mortgage Contingency

You don’t want to sign a property sale without having the money to back it up. A mortgage contingency protects the buyer and seller from getting into a sale without a proper loan. Under this contingency, the buyer has a specified time period to obtain a loan that will cover the mortgage. If the buyer can’t get a lender to commit to a loan, the buyer has the right to walk away from the sale with the down payment.

To expedite the process, “know if you qualify sooner than later,” Nageh said. That way, you won’t be wasting the seller’s time or yours during the loan-hunting period, which could take a couple of months.

Like an appraisal contingency, eager buyers and sellers in hot markets might want to waive this contingency, especially if cash is on the table. But waiving this contingency means that if your lender delays or denies your loan, you can lose the deposit, so it’s a risky venture.



Can You Afford to Buy A House?

By Michele Dawson | REALTOR.COM

Check out these tips by REALTOR.Com’s Michele Dawson…
1. Determine the property value of homes that interest you. The property value (what the home is worth) is determined by comparing the prices of homes recently sold of similar size in the same neighborhood. Your real estate agent will be able to provide this information to you.

2. Review different mortgage loan types and compare their required down payment amounts to the money you have available. Down payments, based on a percentage of the value of the property and determined by the type of mortgage you select, typically range from three to 20 percent of the property value. Don’t forget to factor in private mortgage insurance, a policy that allows mortgage lenders to recover part of their financial losses if a borrower fails to full re-pay a loan. Mortgage insurance makes it possible to buy a home with as little as 3 percent down. Usually, the lower the down payment, the higher the PMI, which typically will cost somewhere between $40 and $125 a month.

3. Get an estimate of your closing costs, including points (the dollar amount paid to a lender for obtaining a lower interest rate on a loan—one point is one percent of the loan amount), taxes, recording, inspections, prepaid loan interest, title insurance (a policy that insures a home buyer against errors in the title search; cost of the policy is usually a function of the value of the property, and is often borne by the purchaser and/or seller) and financing costs from your mortgage lender or a real estate professional. These will generally add up to between 2 and 7 percent of the property value. You’ll receive an estimate of these costs from your lender after you apply for a mortgage.

4. Add the down payment requirements and the closing costs together to determine the amount of money you’ll need right off the bat. But you’re not done yet.

5. Think about the actual move. Will you hire a moving company or rent a truck? Either way will cost you. The more stuff you have, the more it will cost.

6. Property taxes. Many lenders will require an impound account in which monthly payments for property tax (and often insurance) are paid together with the monthly mortgage payment. You can figure your average annual tax rate will be about 1.5 percent of the purchase price of your home.

7. Next, budget for maintenance and repairs. HouseMaster, a home inspection company with 300 franchises nationwide, said that based on a study that evaluated 2,000 inspection reports, the typical costs of major repairs are:
  • Roofing: $1,500 to $5,000
  • Electrical systems: $20 to $1,500
  • Plumbing systems: $300 to $5,000
  • Central cooling: $800 to $2,500
  • Central heating: $1,500 to $3,000
  • Insulation: $800 to $1,500
  • Structural systems: $3,000 to $1,500
  • Water seepage: $600 to $5,000

Are Your Clients Prepared for Home Inspection?

Please Check out some Tips by Courtney Soinski from The Real Estate Blog…

As a real estate professional, it is very important that you fully prepare your clients before meeting with a home inspector.


Here are some of our favorite tips that REALTORS® can provide their clients for a successful and smooth home inspection.  You’ll be happy to know that these can be done at little to no cost!

1.  Clean out dirty gutters or debris from the roof.

2.  Trim trees, roots and bushes back from foundation, roof, siding and chimney.

3.  Seal asphalt driveways, if cracking.

4.  Clean or replace HVAC filter.

5.  Test all smoke detectors to ensure they are in safe working condition.

6.  Don’t do quick cheap repairs.  You may raise questions that will unfairly cause great concern to buyers and inspectors.

7.  Ensure that all doors and windows are in proper working condition, including repairing any cracks.

8.  Check and fix any leaks on plumbing fixtures.  Apply caulk if needed.

9.  Have clear access to attic, crawlspace, heating system, garage and other areas that will need to be inspected.

10.  Make sure all utilities are turned on if the house is vacant.  This includes water, electric, water heater, furnace, air conditioning and breaks in the main panel.

 Hope That Helps!


What’s Next for Housing in Your Town

NEW YORK (Money Magazine)

By Lisa Gibbs and Amanda Gengler | CNN MONEY

next town tampa

After years of dramatic price changes and sales stats that have vacillated from red-hot to moribund and back again, you could be forgiven for forgetting what a typical housing market looks like. This year, though, you may finally be in for a refresher course.

Researchers are predicting an average price gain of 4.2% — respectable, but a far cry from the 11% average posted in 2013, according to data firm CoreLogic. At the same time, the shortage of for-sale homes should ease, as more would-be sellers get off the fence and construction of new houses continues to pick up. Of course, in reality no market is truly average. Some areas are predicted to grow at more than twice the nationwide rate, while a few will barely tick up. Then there’s the specter of interest rate hikes, which could hit some places harder than others. READ MORE HERE… http://money.cnn.com/2014/04/02/real_estate/housing-market.moneymag/index.html

International Buyers like the Southern California Real Estate Market

Read this article we found in the Daily Breeze…


Home buyers outside of the U.S. really like the Southern California real estate market.

A lot, according to the California Association of Realtors “2013 International Clients Survey.”

And they are especially high on Southern California, according to the association.

Of the homes purchased by international buyers last year in California, 35 percent were in L.A. County, 22 percent were in Orange County, 20 percent were in San Diego County and 14 percent were in Riverside County, the association said.

The international community is also a fan of our government and financial system, which I know some will find hard to believe.

Eight five percent of the buyers shopping for homes in the state last year said that they only considered purchasing a home in the U.S. because its stable government and financial system would guarantee their home investment.

Fifteen percent considered investing in other countries, including Canada, Germany, Mexico, China, Singapore, Sweden, and France.

Twenty percent of the buyers said they chose the U.S. for its desirable location and climate.

The survey also found that 69 percent of international buyers paid all cash for their properties, compared to 27 percent of traditional buyers who paid all cash and 32 percent who bought their home to live in.

The international set has an eye for style, too. Forty-four percent of the international home buyers purchased homes with designer kitchens, 26 percent purchased homes with a wine cellar, and 9 percent purchased homes with a sauna. Other home amenities that international buyers wanted include a private beach, putting green, heated floors and outdoor kitchens…



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