The Value of a Home Inspection

So you found the house of your dreams, or is it? The only way to know for sure is to have a professional home inspection. A home inspection is not mandatory but definitely advised. What is mandatory is that home sellers disclose anything thats wrong with the home prior to selling. The home is sold in its present physical condition, problems included but the seller must disclose all known material facts affecting the value of the property. The home has to be maintained so its in the same condition as it was on the date the offer was accepted. The purchase contract has a time designation to remove the inspection contingency. In these days of multiple offers, many buyers will remove this contingency within 7 to 10 days in order to get their offer accepted over the other offers. A standard home inspection involves a visual, noninvasive examination of the home from top to bottom. The inspector will inspect and evaluate the foundation, drainage, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems, visible insulation, fireplaces and chimneys, walls, windows, doors and so forth. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report. Depending on the square footage, the average home inspection costs between $275. & $350. and takes about two to three hours. The inspector will indicate items that may require specialized follow-up by other professionals. Think of it as your primary care physician referring you to a specialist. The buyer, seller and agents are provided a copy of the report that is used to negotiate repairs or monetary credits between the buyer and the seller.

Susan Saurastri, a Fountain Valley resident, is a Realtor with Star Real Estate. Submit your questions to her at 714-317-0664.

Posted on October 12, 2017 at 2:15 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Home Buyer Advice | Tagged ,

Wow 8 Offers in 1 Week!

Excerpts from a two page letter…happy Fountain Valley clients

It is our pleasure to recommend, without reservation or hesitation, Susan Saurastri as your real estate agent, consultant, and negotiator: “A Realtor You Can Trust.”  In every transaction there can be setbacks, delays, and lots of things to do. Susan has a fabulous network of trusted service providers with quick response time to address all the little issues-plumbing, HVAC, electrical – that will come up in selling a 40-year-old house. She also has a great reputation and trusted relationships as a tough but fair representative for her clients among her peers in the Realtor community. This is a very important aspect of getting a deal over the finish line. At the same time, she has the highest degree of Integrity and Honesty. She knows her business in terms of making sure all the necessary details are executed in a timely manner, on both ends. She was available day, night and weekends to doggedly push our deal forward. She is proficient in the use of information and communication technology. If she takes you on as her client, she will be highly responsive, a knowledgeable and trusted advisor, a win-win negotiator, a tenacious business person, and may just become your good friend to boot. If you want to discuss our experience in more detail, please feel free to contact us by email at


Rick and Amy Beauregard

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 5:11 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Testimonial Letters from Susan's Clients | Tagged , , , , ,

Sharing my Knowledge & Experience

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and expertise with the agents. You truly are the best and they always learn from you. You make my job easier and Star (Real Estate) better.

Myna McCutcheon, Manager

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 4:55 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Real Estate News |

Impressed Buyer and Seller

Dear Susan,

Thank you so much for your friendship, care, diligence and hard work. We are blessed to have met you. Nothing tangible can adequately express our appreciation for you. Wishing you the best.

Paul and Tiffany

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 4:47 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Real Estate News |

Contented Buyer & Seller

To Whom It May Concern:

My name is PJ. Stanley and I have recently sold my home in Fountain Valley,
California. Another life time ago I sold houses for First Team Real Estate in Huntington
Beach. I was responsible for doing the relocation in Southern California for American
Presidents Line. I worked for one of the finest Brokers/Managers Chuck Grant. I tell this
not to make this about me but to ensure to the reader of my letter that I am not a newbie
in the world of real estate. I sold houses for twenty years and my slogan was one of the
Top Teams at First Team. I sold the first million dollar house downtown Huntington
Beach when others were selling for the low $400,000’s.

No-w to the point of my letter, Susan Saurastri, one of the finest people that I have ever
known. I had first met Susan almost a year ago. She had listed several houses in my
neighborhood and they all sold within a matter of days. The open houses were busy,
annoyingly so, as I tried to pull out of my driveway, but unlike other realtors she had
“action” on her listings. When I spoke with her she always had a great sense of humor,
and a smile that lit up the room. I told her that when I sold my house she would be the
one to list it. She never called and bugged me. She never called me right before dinner or
my favorite television show. She waited for my call and never over-stepped her
boundaries. I was truly impressed. Another “team” heard I was moving and literally
called me every night and insinuated that they were ready to stick the sign in my front
yard. When I told Susan it was between her, this other “team” and one of my best friends
she said, “PJ., if you give me a chance at the table that is all I can ask.” Clearly, I was
Unpressed. Everyone else was telling me how great they were and then there was Susan, a
consummate professional and kind person. I told the other team to take a flyer and called
Susan and listed with her. I told my best friend that if she was really my best friend then
she would want what was best for me and not pressure me to use a part-time agent (her).

Susan never told me anything that she did not back up with fact. – She is kind, considerate,
probably one of the furmiest people I have met, and a complete professional. I am not
being dramatic when I tell you that my family and I love her. She has become part of our
family. She is honest; she is compassionate for all the people involved in the transaction,
and a perfectionist for every detail. Nothing slips by her ever. You think that maybe she
did not hear you and she takes your request to another level.

If you are lucky enough to have Susan in your house for a listing appointment, do not
goof up and not sign with her! I promise you she is the best. I would never write or say
anything that I did not believe to be true. She is one of a kind. Do not accept a poor
imitation. She is the one you want in your corner, on the details, and with you through
this stressful time.

I refused to buy my house with anyone else and she took time and came all the way down
to Carlsbad to help me buy my house. I will never buy or sell a house with anyone else.
She already knows that in ten years she has to come list my house, and then, go with me


to Palm Desert to buy the next place. There are too many things to tell you that I love
about her. Just accept that what she does is GENIUS! She knows how to market your
house better than anyone else. She will give you the true value of your house even if you
do not want to believe it. She spends a great deal of money on her listings with
professional pictures and brochures. None of this cheap off the computer flyers that most
agents use. Even her wonderful husband Pan, came to our house (he is also a GENIUS)
and looked up a program to fix our garage door opener. Bless him he was simply looking
at our carpet he had no idea he would spend an hour fixing our garage door.

This wonderful couple honored our family and our life with their friendship. Trust me
when I tell you that the biggest mistake you may ever make is not listening to me.
Seriously, do yourself a favor. List with Susan, she will take care of everything and you
can worry about all the other things in your life. She will have the real estate thing
covered. She is the best. Her marketing skills are second to none. That is all I can tell
you, other than I feel sorry for anyone who lists with another agent.


P.J. Stanley


Posted on January 21, 2014 at 4:50 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Testimonial Letters from Susan's Clients |

Excited Seller & Buyer

Mr. William Arseneau, Manager
Star Real Estate

20951 Brookhurst Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92646

Mr. Arseneau,

We are writing to you to express our appreciation for the
outstanding job Susan Saurastri· did in representing us on
our recent real estate transaction. It is not often that
we take the time to write a positive letter of this kind.
Usually, we would call or write a letter to express our
frustration with the service that we received. In an age
that seems as though customer service is all but extinct,
we are genuinely pleased to see the contrary for a change.

We have known Susan for many years as the “neighborhood”
realtor. Her presence in the beighborhood is more
pronounced than many of the people that reside there. She
does not hesitate to stop and say hello. She has an
uncanny ability to remember more people and their names
than we could ever imagine. These are just a few of her
characteristics that make her the ultimate realtor.

Susan recently represented us in both the sale of our
Fountain Valley home (FV) and the purchase of our new one
in Costa Mesa (CM). We had not been actively looking for a
house, but that all changed upon seeing an advertisement
for CM. We called Susan and she immediately set up an
appointment to see it. Once we decided to make an offer,
Susan did not hesitate to deliver our offer, as she
submitted it the same day.

It wasn’t an easy process, but Susan had the persistence to
make the deal a reality. We found that there was a
competing offer for CM. Cleverly, Susan J crafted a letter
to the seller, illustrating our family. She believed that
if the seller knew a little more about us, it would be

easier for the seller to accept our offer. Even though we
had a contingency, in that we had to sell FV in order to
purchase eM, the seller appreciated the letter and accepted
our offer. The fact that we were given 10 days to be In
escrow with FV seemed inconsequential at the time, as we
were just so elated by the result.

Upon acceptance of our offer, Susan had the listing for FV
in the MLS instantly. On the same day, we received a full
price offer from the first people that came to see it. The
house sold for $799,888, which was the highest price in the
neighborhood in the last 5 years.

Everything seemed to be happening precipitously, but not
from a lack of difficulty. We received the seller’s eM
title report and were surprised to find a federal tax lien,
as well as being behind on several mortgages. The seller
wanted to extend escrow an additional 45 days in attempt to
settle his debt. This made our FV buyers nervous as they
were contemplating backing out of the deal. Susan was able
to broker an agreement and still close escrow In the
original 30 days. She even got us a few extra appliances
from eM in the deal.

As we mentioned in the beginning, we don’t typically write
these types of letters. However, we thought we would
mention how satisfied we were with Susan. She handled
every obstacle as they came. Her attitude didn’t get too
low or too high. She never lost sight of the goal, which
was to make us happy. The professionalism that Susan
displayed during this transaction turned what could have
been an utmost disappointment into one of the happiest
moments of our lives.


John and Donna Mourani

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 4:46 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Testimonial Letters from Susan's Clients |

A Happy Seller & Buyer

Mr. William Arseneau

Star Real Estate

20951 Brookhurst Street

Huntington Beach, CA 92646


Dear Mr. Arseneau:

I am writing to advise you of the outstanding service my wife, Linda, and I received from an Agent, Susan Saurastri, associated with your firm. We recently closed escrow on the sale of our former home in Fountain Valley, as well as the purchase of our new home in Huntington Beach.

Over the past 30 years, I have been involved in many real estate transactions completing transactions on my own and on other occasions working with Realtors. I have dealt with a variety of difficult issues in many of these transactions. Many times, I questioned why I was paying a Realtor based on either poor performance or the provision of very basic service without much enthusiasm.

Our recent transactions presented challenges that were unbelievably difticult, primarily ue to a very unstable seller whose home we were attempting to purchase. This process took nearly one year to finally pull together. Through it all, Susan displayed determination, diligence and understanding. The challenges were so great, and at times so bizarre, that most Realtors would have walked away. Absent Susan’s determination and professionalism, these transactions would have never been completed.

In addition to her obvious knowledge and skill, Susan handled all aspects of her workwith absolute integrity, displaying the highest level of ethics. This was extremely important to me, as I am a career law enforcement officer.

I have extremely high expectations of those to whom I am paying hard-earned dollars for their service. What little free time I have is very precious to me. I will not tolerate speculation on the part of those being paid to advise me. I expect to be provided accurate, factual information in order to make the best decisions possible. In short, I am a very demanding client. Through it all, Susan far exceeded my expectations and handled her responsibilities with care, tact, skill and punctuality. She always provided straightforward insight as we struggled to develop a successful strategy, and I found her information to be extremely reliable. I have never worked with a Realtor who displaye such a work ethic and such passion for her work and clients. I want you to know that she represented your firm and your profession in an outstanding manner. I rarely provide letters of recommendation; however, it is a pleasure to inform you that I would highly recommend Susan Suarastri to anyone in need of the services of a Realtor. Having an associate of her skill and character speaks well for your firm.


Posted on January 21, 2014 at 4:29 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Testimonial Letters from Susan's Clients |

Agent Referral

Brent Hoff, Housing Coordinator, and

Other Decision Makers in the marketing of the City’s residential property

City of Fountain Valley

10200 Slater Avenue

Fountain Valley, CA  92708

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am writing to submit my recommendation to you regarding the best agent to list the property for which you solicited marketing proposals last month.  I am hoping that my endorsement of Susan Saurastri of Star Real Estate will stand out as I am not a client of hers but rather a colleague, and in fact, even a competitor, as well as a very long time resident and taxpayer of Fountain Valley.

My family moved into Fountain Valley in 1971.  My mom, Martie Etheridge, has been selling FV/HB real estate from 1972 to the present.  My husband, son and I currently live in HB, but only after living in 2 homes in our beloved Fountain Valley.  (It’s really hard for me these days to support fundraising Edison Chargers when my blood bleeds FVHS red, blue and gold!!) My brother & sister-in-law are now raising their girls right there in the Meadows tract even now.  As residents, we have seen many a real estate agent come and go.  And as Realtors, we have sat across the bargaining table from many as well. 

When I was made aware of your RFP, it was just a few days before the deadline and we had a big family trip to a wedding out of state planned, so I opted not to apply for the job.  The timing was just not right for us this time.  However, as soon as I decided I would not pursue the business, my very next thought was that I hope Susan Saurastri is the agent you select, even though she is not even from our brokerage.  Susan is the type of agent that is an absolute joy to work with, is extremely hardworking, ethical and fair, and if ever we lose a listing to her in competition, the sting is just a little less knowing the client will get such excellent representation.  For years, decades actually, Susan has embodied Fountain Valley real estate. 

One thing the importance of which cannot be understated is how Susan participates enthusiastically in virtually every professional association and event, even writing her own real estate column for the Register, always contributing both positive and intelligent, provocative input to every discussion.  This is not only important in that other agents like and respect her, but it means we colleagues are always eager to preview her listings and look forward to being in transactions with her.  I am not alone in admitting I would go out of my way to show a client a listing of Susan’s in the off chance he might like it, knowing the transaction will be positive: smooth and equitable.  This can mean a faster sale and more competitive buying environment for Susan’s sellers, namely YOU! J

There are good and bad agents, busy and starving agents, but I can wholeheartedly say there is none who embodies both success AND professionalism like Susan Saurastri.  There are some agents who may do a lot of business, but at such a cost that their peers steer clear of them every chance they get.  Susan, on the other hand, attracts business, as well as supporting and promoting the community of Fountain Valley and the real estate profession as a whole.  In the harsh light currently directed at our industry, given many questionable practices that contributed to the current housing situation, Susan shines brightly under any degree of scrutiny.  I sincerely hope you will make her your choice.  I look forward to showing the property with her as listing agent.

Sincerely,  Maggie Etheridge-Ureño, Broker, ePRO, CLHMS, The Etheridge Team of Altera Real Estate

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 3:25 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Testimonial Letters from Susan's Clients |

Loan Talk

 At open houses, the grocery store and sometimes just stopped at a red light I am approached by Orange County residents with questions about the types of loans available and the interest rates. There are many different types of loans that one can acquire relating to real estate. As with all contracts and loan agreements, read it and understand it before you sign it.

A purchase loan: You are borrowing to purchase a home from a mortgage lender, credit union or bank. Rates, loan costs and terms vary from lender to lender. Before you celebrate the great interest rate you obtained, get all the costs up front in writing. Whether you are a first time buyer, an investor or are downsizing from your current house, interest rates are at historic lows.

In 2014 Interest rates are expected to rise but not more than five percent. If you’ve been waiting for the best time to buy, wait no more. The one obstacle to purchasing your dream home may be that you will have to compete with other buyers who have also recognized that now is the perfect time to acquire real estate.

Home equity loan: using the equity in your current home to obtain funds. This loan goes in second position behind your first mortgage loan.

Refinancing: usually to obtain better terms and conditions including a lower interest rate. Sometimes borrowers will pull cash through a refi.

Bridge loan: used to provide temporary assistance with down payment by using the equity in your current home to purchase a new home. The majority of lenders no longer provide this type of loan.

Reverse mortgage: all borrowers must be 62 years of age or older to qualify. You must occupy the home as your principle residence. A reverse mortgage allows you to draw funds from the existing equity in your home. The loan is payable only when you sell or expire. The amount of money received by the homeowner is determined by the borrower’s age. You are still responsible for the payment of taxes and insurance on the property. Wells Fargo and Bank of America both of whom were responsible for 43 percent of funding reverse mortgages are no longer offering the loans. As the economy faltered and home prices fell, for some homeowners the equity evaporated making it a questionable investment for lenders.

Susan Saurastri is a Realtor with Star Real Estate. Contact her at 714-317-0664 or

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 2:29 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Real Estate News |

Renovations That Get You Bang for the Buck

Our homes are an extension of who we are and how we live our lives. A house is as individualized as the people that occupy it. Some want a hermitage, a peaceful retreat, an entertainer’s Mecca, a meditative cocoon or a beachside paradise.  Whether you are purchasing, selling, investing, renting or house swapping many decorating options exist to create a sense of tranquility, charm and comfort.

One of the many benefits of living, working and playing in Orange County is that I get to mingle with the friendly residents. Folks invite me into their homes and solicit my opinion on décor and upgrades. It’s common for homeowners to put their signatures on a place. The décor should reflect the personalities of the residents. That’s what serves to make a house a home. One of the questions I’m asked most often is what renovations we should do to prepare our house to sell and how much value it will add. Why not do the upgrades in the years prior to selling so you can benefit from the fruits of your labor? If you expect to obtain dollar for dollar return on your investment when you sell, you will be disappointed.

Kitchen and bath remodels will always provide the biggest bang for your buck. Depending on the materials used a kitchen renovation will give you as much as an eighty percent return. It’s like grocery shopping, it all depends on what you put in the bag; granite versus tile, travertine as opposed to wood laminate, etc. These are some suggestions that will enhance the aesthetics and add value to your home.

1)      Scrape the popcorn/cottage cheese ceilings by a qualified company.

2)      Remove the florescent light box in the kitchen. Install a tray ceiling with some recessed lights.

3)      Consider crown moldings and 3-4 inch baseboards.

4)      Replace the original countertops with Corian, quartz or granite.

5)      Install new kitchen cabinets. Glass display inserts are a hit with buyers.

6)      Under cabinet lighting and puck lighting in the glass cabinets brighten the area.

7)      Apply fresh paint throughout. I always recommend Dunn Edwards Nomadic Taupe with bright white trim. You can put any color accessories with this warm, neutral color.

8)      Multiple options in flooring exist today. Hardwood, concrete and travertine tile are just a few of the choices available.

9)      Bead-boarding, chair rails or wainscoting add dimension, charm and style.

10)   Epoxy the garage floor.

While you’re beautifying your home don’t forget to rid yourself of the excesses. Reorganize the clothes and linen closets. Clean out the garage, donate or sell whatever you haven’t used in the last several months. One man’s crumbs are another man’s banquet. Any homeowner can tell you that there will always be budget-busting renovations that you can incorporate to increase the value of your home. Stay within your budget and don’t over improve for your neighborhood. Don’t take on too many projects at one time unless you plan to move out, otherwise you’ll be shaking up your marriage along with the plaster.

Need a contractor, electrician, handyman, interior decorator, or painter? I’m always happy to refer from my list of trustworthy vendors. At this time of year when we are more mindful of having an attitude of gratitude, I thank you, the readers of this column for your thoughtful comments. Your input and suggestions over these last eleven years has been helpful in providing useful real estate advice on a weekly basis.

Susan Saurastri is a Realtor with Star Real Estate. Contact her at 714-317-0664 or

Posted on January 21, 2014 at 2:21 PM
Susan Saurastri | Posted in Real Estate News |