September means time to head back to school, and for students of Richardson Middle School, that also means enjoying the campus’ new physical education facilities. In April, Richardson celebrated the grand opening of its brand new gymnasium, complete with basketball courts and boys’ and girls’ locker rooms. Richardson also recently revamped the outside playground area with six new basketball courts and five new volleyball courts. “The play that our students are now receiving is vital to their success as students,” said Ian Drummond, principal, in the school’s newsletter. “The physical activity keeps the kids healthy but it also helps them release energy, which results in a greater ability to focus during classroom time.” Richardson also now features brand new state-of-the-art science labs, new roofing, reflective windows, concrete pathways, paint, lights and many more improvements that enhance the learning environment. All of the modernization projects are part of Torrance Bond Measures T and U, which were passed in 2014 to support upgrades in our local schools. These upgrades include enhanced science labs and renovated playgrounds at elementary schools and new gymnasiums and lockers at middle schools. Modernization projects at the local high schools include new lockers, renovated auxiliary gyms, new auditoriums for arts instruction and performance, upgraded physical education facilities, and a new aquatic center for swimming programs. All schools also have or will receive upgraded safety and security systems and technology. Riviera residents who lived here before 1986 may remember that Richardson Middle School opened as Newton School in 1955, originally serving grades k-8. It changed to Newton Middle school in 1972 and was converted to an adult school in 1986. It was renamed Edward J. Richardson Middle School after a retiring superintendent, and reopened in 1993 to service grades 6-8. Do you know a Riviera resident with a story to share? Please give me a call at 310-892-6016 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
This year marks a milestone in the history of the Hollywood Riviera – the community’s 90th birthday. Nine decades ago developer Clifford Reid created this beautiful community which reminded him so vividly of the French Riviera. It’s only fitting then that very soon the community will be unveiling two identifying gateways. The Friends of the Hollywood Riviera have worked for more than five years with the City of Torrance to recognize our historic neighborhood with Hollywood Riviera signage. The marker project has now received final approval from the Torrance City Planning and Torrance City Council. The first marker will use bronze lettering set in vintage stone at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Palos Verdes Boulevard. The new “Hollywood Riviera Torrance” lettering will replace the current “City Of Torrance” signage. The second historical marker will be at the corner of Palos Verdes Blvd and Via Monte d’Oro, the entrance to the original Hollywood Riviera. One side will say Hollywood Riviera, Est 1928, while the other side will have a detailed history of our neighborhood imprinted on a vintage tile design. These beautiful new markers will pay tribute to our unique neighborhood, which boasted 42 original red-tile roof homes in the historic lower Riviera area by 1940. Currently there are approximately 3,500 homes within the official Hollywood Riviera boundaries. The goal of the Friends of the Hollywood Riviera is to promote the preservation and history of the original homes and community. We thank them for all the work they’ve done to pay tribute to the community we love so much. Fund raising efforts are still underway to pay for the completion of the markers. To donate, please go to the Go Fund Me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/2d9fh6as, or mail to the Friends’ Treasurer: Dina Wiley, 202 Via La Soledad, Redondo Beach, CA 90277. For additional information, please contact Karen Lent at 310-375-6539.
Before you even think about selling your home, you have to make it sparkle—after all, prospective buyers will be peering in every corner, closet and cabinet they can get into looking for some curb appeal. That being said, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the first (and arguably, most important) space buyers will judge: the outside. So, you’ll want to make sure and present a good first impression by getting your exterior in top shape. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to cost a bundle. It’s entirely possible to add instant curb appeal using less-expensive means. Here, Realtor.com offers six ridiculously easy ways to boost your home’s curb appeal—all for $200 or less. Make your exterior sparkle with a pressure wash For potential buyers, the walk up the driveway is their first look at your home. Repaving the entire driveway would be nice, of course. But on a budget, pressure washing—which will cost between $80 to $200, on average—will do wonders. Driveways can turn green and black with dirt, and you might not even notice it because you see it every day. White driveways and sidewalks really pop. Max out your use of mulch and drought-tolerant plants It’s easy to rack up the bills with elaborate landscaping, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Completely dead, neglected front yards can be converted into buyer magnets for around $200, especially if you’re able to do some of the work yourself. The secret? Put down fresh mulch in the front yard and gardens, and add easy-to-care-for plants such as ornamental grasses, bushy lavender and salvia plants—all of which are drought-tolerant and affordable, and can make a dramatic pop against dark mulch. Mulch not only brightens up the exterior of your home, it also can reduce the weeds and fill in bare spots so your lawn will look neat and tidy. Lure in buyers with fresh honeysuckle Try planting some honeysuckle along the path to the front door. This hardy plant is heat-tolerant and also thrives in the shade, and it can be used in various ways—as a bush, vine or ground cover. The sweet nectar also brings in beautiful hummingbirds, and of course, the fragrant smell also helps when potential buyers are viewing the home. Add symmetrical planters Savvy home stagers and landscapers rely heavily on visual tricks to draw buyers’ eyes to the right places. One of their biggest secrets? Symmetry. Try anchoring each side of your front door with pots filled with bright flowers such as hydrangeas. Having one plant by your door will look lopsided to potential buyers. Note: Don’t use plastic containers. Ceramic or terra-cotta pots will add a special touch and give your home that luxe factor. Freshen up the front door Adding a fresh coat of paint to your front door is an easy and inexpensive trick that can transform your home. Buyers sometimes stand at the front door for a couple of minutes while the agent is getting the key out of the lockbox, so make those moments count. You can’t go wrong with a shiny new coat in a classic color such as black, gray or red, but if you’re feeling a little daring and really want to stand out on the block, opt for a cheery pastel hue like a light green or orange-pink. Roll out the welcome mat A new welcome mat and an elegant wreath are inexpensive yet inviting ways to enhance the exterior and welcome potential buyers in for a home tour. Look for a cheery welcome mat, or if your sale is happening during a holiday, go for something seasonal.
Getting ready to move into a new home? Know that to have good neighbors, you must first be one yourself. Here, Zillow offers seven techniques that can help win the approval of your entire neighborhood. Bring cookies Delivering fresh-baked goods is an ideal way to break the ice and let neighbors know that you’re thinking of them. Avoid gratuitous gabfests If your neighbor seems to know the dirt on everyone within a two-block radius, you can count on them to keep tabs on your personal life as well. Talking with a nosy neighbor? Move the conversation along by refocusing the conversation. “So, what are you growing in your garden this year?” Share phone numbers You always should have your neighbors’ phone numbers, just in case, they receive your package by mistake, your house floods while you’re on vacation or even if you need a babysitter. Feel uncomfortable bringing it up? Ask during one of your cookie deliveries or right before a trip. Jot down your name, number and email address on a piece of paper and ask if your neighbor is comfortable sharing theirs. Be Tidy Always respect the sensitive tastes of others and clean up your act. Keep the ironic lawn ornaments to a minimum, and hide trash receptacles in the side yard or garage. Whenever you’re finished gardening or landscaping for the day, stow your tools and bags of unused mulch. Rake the leaves and clean up grass clippings. And, if it’s not too much trouble, pressure wash and paint your house periodically. Mow the lawn An unkempt and weedy lawn is embarrassing for your neighbors, so it should be embarrassing for you as well. Keep it mowed every week or two, and also be sure to trim the edge of your lawn regularly, fertilize on schedule and keep weeds to a minimum. Keep your foundation plantings simple, neatly trimmed and topped off with mulch. You also might want to go the no-lawn method and plant low-maintenance, drought-tolerant ground covers. Of utmost importance: Don’t overdo it on the sprinklers, especially when it’s raining. Communicate A good neighbor must respect boundaries, but they should also be crossed if you are unhappy with their shoddy workmanship or neglected maintenance, for example. Address shared interests such as fences, drainage ditches, and troublesome trees ahead of time so that you can work out a plan upon both parties can agree.
Because it difficult navigating the real estate market, it’s only natural that some people are going to make mistakes. With that in mind, Forbes asked industry professionals to share their experiences with the biggest 5 mistakes buyers make. Here, are some tips to avoid making one of these common pitfalls. 1. Not meeting with a lender early One of the most common mistakes first-time homebuyers make is not meeting with a local lender right away. A lot of people worry about wasting a lender’s time, especially if they aren’t ready to buy immediately. The earlier you consult with a lender, the better. Sometimes it takes a long time for people to qualify for a loan. Lenders are almost like free financial advisors and can help buyers develop a plan to reach their goals. 2. Relying too much on the advice of family and friends One of the biggest mistakes buyers make is listening to their family and friends about their real estate experiences. Buyers should understand that every transaction is different. When well-meaning family and friends give advice, they do it with the best intentions, but rarely do you get the details of their finances or their circumstances. Real estate is personal and regional. What works in one state doesn’t necessarily work in another state, and what a homeowner experienced three years ago may not be relevant to current market conditions. Seeking advice from family and friends rather than industry professionals who know their unique circumstances could prove frustrating and disappointing. 3. Waiting for the “perfect” home to appear In today’s competitive market, no buyer will be able to find everything they want in a home. So, they need to be clear on which features they may want but are ultimately able to live without. If not, while they are looking for the perfect home, the property they may have been able to make into their ideal home will be gone. While they may not like the kitchen or bathrooms to start, it’s much smarter to consider whether they could move in, live with them for a while and upgrade later. 4. Biting off more than you can chew, financially The mortgage will not be your only cost when buying a home. Make sure you have the monthly budget to cover regular, as well as unexpected, maintenance items. For example, will the house need a new roof, water heater, HVAC, windows or exterior siding in the next three to five years? In addition, there also are property taxes and HOA fees to consider. Buyers should account for all of these costs upfront. 5. Going on a shopping spree after applying for a mortgage Once their offer has been accepted, some buyers immediately go furniture shopping or book a vacation. That’s a mistake because it hurts their chances of getting a mortgage. Going on a shopping spree will create a new debt-to-income ratio if those purchases are financed, potentially causing a mortgage application to be denied. Even if the buyer does not finance these purchases and pays cash, it still will diminish their cash reserves, which the underwriter for the bank or lender may look upon negatively. The lesson: It’s crucial to keep your finances as steady as possible during the underwriting process.
Thirty-five percent of millennials who own a home or are likely to purchase a home in the next few years said the kitchen is the most important room when it comes to the house hunt, according to a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 millennials conducted by meal kit delivery company HelloFresh. Forty-eight percent said they would be more encouraged to cook at home more often if they had an “updated/amazing kitchen.” But what makes a kitchen amazing? Teaming up with HelloFresh, Redfin analyzed the listing descriptions of millions of homes that have been placed on the market during the past eight years and tracked how often specific kitchen terms are mentioned. Here, some insight into what is believed to be the key selling features. When it comes to countertops, granite is a rock-solid choice, but quartz is a notable up-and-comer So far this year, 3.7 percent of all listings included a mention of granite, making it the most common keyword Redfin analyzed. Marble also is growing in popularity. In 2010, 0.4 percent of listings mentioned marble, compared with 0.7 percent of listings in 2018. While marble is mentioned more often than quartz, quartz is growing in popularity at a faster rate. Stainless steel remains the standard for appliances Stainless steel was the second most-frequently mentioned the keyword in Redfin’s analysis, appearing in 2.4 percent of all listings thus far in 2018. This stalwart trend shows no sign of falling out of favor. Buyers still love breakfast bars and islands Appearing in 1.25 percent of all listings this year so far, the breakfast bar was the third-most commonly mentioned keyword and continues to grow in use. In 2010, just 0.3 percent of listings mentioned the term. Many buyers are keen on kitchen islands. In the HelloFresh survey, 64 percent of respondents said a big island is a must-have feature in their dream kitchen. Maple cabinets are out; farmhouse sinks and tile backsplashes are in When it comes to kitchen decor choices, maple cabinets appear to be falling out of favor. Sellers instead are choosing to highlight tile backsplashes and farmhouse sinks. In 2010, only 0.1 percent of listings mentioned a tile backsplash compared to 0.8% in 2018. While listings that mention farmhouse sinks represent a tiny share of all listings, the growth rate in the use of the term has been at more than 40 percent for the past five years. Mentions of ‘tile backsplash’ have also been consistently growing since 2010. Buyers adore the entertaining extras Use of the keywords outdoor kitchen, wine fridge and double oven are rising in popularity. This includes kitchens with a dedicated beverage area, with a wine fridge below and an attractive place to display barware above, along with a double oven and outdoor kitchen area. Although these features are considered standard in luxury homes, they are becoming more popular in mid-priced homes and can really set a listing apart from others.
You’ve found a house you love and made a good offer. Unfortunately, it was rejected. What gives? Although home sellers don’t have to explain why they pass up what seems like a perfectly fine offer, they do have their reasons—and it’s not always just because a higher bidder came along. Sometimes it’s you. Here, Realtor.com tells you what not to do or say when you really want a house. Your offer letter revealed a little too much When bids are very close, things like a personal offer letter can either help or hurt, depending on what it says. There are many agents who swear by the power of a heartfelt offer letter, but make sure that you don’t in any way insult the sellers or their taste. For example, never go on and on about the huge remodel you want to do once you own the house. This can be a slap in the face to sellers who have spent a considerable amount of money remodeling the property. And, if you want to write a poem to the sellers, make sure that it doesn’t contain spelling errors throughout. A seller can be turned off by an improper use of grammar. Your offer was too high—really A higher offer isn’t always better, since lenders will only loan you as much as the house is appraised for—not a cent more. A solid, realistic offer is a much better move—or, if you do bid high, make sure you’re willing to cover the difference out of your own pocket. For example, if you a seller receive two offers over list price (one of which is $15,000 higher than the list price), the seller might be tempted to take the higher officer. However, the house might not appraise for the higher amount, which means the loan might not close. So, the seller likely will go for the lower offer. Your lender was unfamiliar to the seller A real estate agent and seller often feel more comfortable with a local lender they know. Do your research and choose the loan that’s right for you, and consider giving preference to a well-regarded local mortgage lender when possible. Sometimes, if a seller receives an offer from a buyer using an online lender they’ve never heard of, it could make them wary. You can’t be sure that an online lender will understand the local customs and laws, specifically if they might worry the septic system was a risk and deny the loan. A local lender would already understand. You demanded a family heirloom If you love the house, as well as something in it, go ahead and request to include it in the deal. However, if it’s something the sellers want to take, let it go. It’s not worth losing the entire house in your bid for a pretty light fixture. For example, if the sellers exclude all of the chandeliers in the house, they might be surprised if an offer comes in that insists on keeping the chandeliers. The chandeliers could, in fact, be family heirlooms. It’s a better idea to ask if the sellers will provide a credit for the replacement of the lighting fixtures. You made a full-price offer but nickel-and-dimed elsewhere Although sellers love to see full-price offers, don’t try to get money out of them elsewhere. For instance, never submit a full-price offer and then request a sum such as $10,000 for closing costs. That means the sellers are not getting a full-price offer, but one that’s $10,000 under the offer. You acted like you had something to hide Playing games or withholding routine information can make the seller doubt you and your intentions. For example, a buyer shouldn’t insist on remaining anonymous and ban their real estate agent from providing the sellers with any information on them at all. This could leave the sellers feeling that the whole deal could wind up being a shady experience, and they likely will pass for another more upfront offer. Your financial picture didn’t look solid enough The last thing a seller wants is to get ready to close, only to discover that the buyer cannot complete the transaction and it’s back to the drawing board. Buyers should make sure to clean up their credit and have their finances in order before making an offer. Never, for example, come in with a low down payment, a very high debt-to-income ratio, and a subpar credit rating. This will set off alarms, as the seller might question the buyers’ ability to get their loan funded and close the transaction.
In a seller’s market, there can be many home buyers and too few houses. If you’re a buyer facing this dilemma, that means you need to figure out how to beat the competition and buy the house. Typically, when faced with many bidders, sellers will pick the highest offer, an all-cash offer or what gets them to the closing table the quickest. But if you can’t plunk down a lot of cash or waive a home inspection, there might be other ways to stand out, especially if you’re flexible on certain points or have specialized skills. Here, Realtor.com shares some creative—and kind of crazy—ways people have sweetened their offers. 1. Toss in free pizza for life! When Rob and Holly Marsh put their Oregon home on the market in 2015, they had multiple offers within days. One buyer had even offered $26,000 over the asking price but had a feeling that wasn’t quite enough to nail the deal. So, she threw in one pizza a month for life. The Marshes accepted the offer. How could they resist? Besides, when you add it all up, that much pizza was worth serious dollars—a free $20 pie once a month for the next 40 years amounts to $10,000 total. And it makes a business deal a more personal bond. 2. Fix what’s wrong with the house Here’s how Terence Michael snagged a beach house in Playa del Rey, Calif., in 2005’s hot housing market: He noticed it came with a detached garage that had been converted into a rental unit. Problem was, it wasn’t up to code—so most buyers were leery. Enter Michael, who had completed some of his own home renovations in the past and knew exactly how to bring this otherwise perfect place up to snuff. He asked the sellers for permission to begin converting that space back to a garage, not knowing if the sellers would accept his offer. Since the owners had little to lose and lots to gain, they allowed Michael to move forward with his plans, which entailed installing a garage door, removing the bathroom and making other changes to get the space car-ready. After 10 days, the sellers informed Michael that the house was his—new garage and all. He wound up getting the house for $592,000 and then sold it in 2014 for $939,000. 3. Add an open-ended escalation clause Adding an escalation clause to an offer means the buyer commits to paying a specified amount more than the highest offer submitted, up to a cutoff price. On a house listed for $450,000, for example, buyers might top any offer by $2,000, up to $480,000. Taking that idea to a new level, consider submitting an offer to pay $5,000 more than the highest offer, with no cap on the total purchase price. 4. Waive attorney review The attorney review is part of the home-buying process when buyers do their due diligence and have the house inspected for any problems before closing the deal. The risk of waiving the attorney review is substantial. It could be a good idea to forego the attorney review, however, if you really want to secure your dream house with the right room sizes in the perfect location. With the attorney review waived, the sellers basically only need to set a closing date, which can be very compelling. 5. Stop by during primetime If you really want to do something to stand out as a buyer, stop by the house, knock on the door and introduce yourself to the sellers. Although contacting the sellers directly often is considered pushy, it could actually work. Nothing beats a little face time. 6. Offer a trip…or tickets to a sporting event What would you choose: Season tickets for your favorite NFL team or a trip to Paris? In Denver’s competitive market this past spring, these two perks were offered up by buyers. It may seem extreme, but it actually makes sense to leverage what you have that others might find valuable.