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 that is wrong with the house prior to selling it. It is referred to as “disclosing all know material facts” that affect the value of the property. The California Purchase contract has a clause that warns, the home is sold in its present “As Is” physical condition.  A standard home inspection involves a visual, non-invasive 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, chimneys, walls, windows, doors and so forth. Only those items that are visible and accessible by normal means are included in the report. The average home inspection takes between two and a half and three hours and costs anywhere from $200. to $500 depending on the size of the house. 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 specilaist. The buyer, seller and agents are provided a copy of the report. Repairs are a negotiable between the buyer and the seller.

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

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 12:11 PM
Susan Saurastri | Category: Real Estate News

Fountain Valley Real Estate Market is Starting to Sizzle Again

     Fifty-five agents left their business cards at my client’s home between Friday, March 23th and Monday, March 26th. The house is in the Classic Fountain Valley tract, north ofWarner Avenue and east ofNewhope Street. The house was professionally staged and photographed.

     I hosted the first open house on Sunday 3/25. Potential buyers came in droves. One agent brought an offer to the open house. Another agent dropped an offer at my office on Monday. The sellers are moving toSan Clementewhere they purchased a house a few years ago. Mr. Seller has worked for the same company for forty-six years and is just about to sign his final paycheck. I believe real estate is as much about relationships as it is about the numbers. After consulting with my clients I invited agents to present their buyer’s offers in person.

     Each of the five agents that accepted was given twenty minutes to convince the sellers that their clients were the most deserving. Some buyers wrote letters to the sellers and others sent family photos. This was reminiscent of the 2003-2006 real estate market. As my clients and I reviewed the offers, we also ascertained that the buyers’ had included their bank statements to show proof of funds to close escrow, FICO scores, pre-approval letters from their respective lenders and copies of their $15,000 deposit checks. The house is listed for $569,900. The seven offers ranged from $540,000 to $578,100. One was an all cash offer for full price. The sellers could have rejected all the offers, accepted one offer or they could issue a counter offer to one or more of the buyers. On Wednesday the sellers issued a counter offer to two of the prospective buyers. It contained five conditions the most significant of which was the sellers request that the buyers remove the appraisal contingency. If the buyers opt to do that, they are purchasing the house at $578,000 regardless of the appraised value. One of the offers stipulates a fifty percent down-payment and the other has a twenty-five percent down payment.

     The result? Both sets of buyers accepted the seller’s terms. The sellers sold to Gino, Sarah and their 7 year old daughter, Emma.  Suddenly, the Fountain Valleyhousing market is sizzling hot. It’s a matter of supply and demand. There are only 49 single family homes and 18 condos available in Fountain Valleythis week. The seller on my newest listing in the Meadow Homes tract, south of Talbert Avenueand west of Bushard Streetis in receipt of four offers since the first open house on April 1st.  The buyers are comprised of a dentist who works inNorco, an engineer with Hundai inFountain Valley, a CEO of a rehabilitation facility and a PhD Associate Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at aLos Angeles college. The offers range from full price to eleven thousand over full price. I had only uploaded the listing in the Multiple Listing Service on Wednesday. It too had been professionally staged and shows like a model home. Some may consider the fact that it backs toBushard Street a negative but in this tight market it doesn’t seem to be a factor. Multiple offers are back folks. Spring is always the best time to list a home for sale and this spring seems to be no exception.

Posted on April 3, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Susan Saurastri | Category: Real Estate News

The Hectic Life of an Orange County REALTOR®

On Wednesday I met Rashmi Patel in Costa Mesa. Rashmi and her husband are moving to Orange County from Florida. We toured a four bedroom, 2.5 bath home on the market for $735,000. Rashmi was enthused about the house and called her husband to describe it to him. They decided to write an offer. We spent the next hour reviewing the comparables and discussing our strategy as there was already another offer on the table.

I spent Thursday sending and receiving emails and fielding phone calls from the listing agent on the Costa Mesa home. Her client is in Vietnam so the negotiations on our offer can only be conducted during the night locally to adhere to the time zone overseas. We are currently in counter offers. Thursday night I attended a one-woman show at the Elks Club in HB. The proceeds went to support the theatre arts program at FVHS.

On Friday, I met with clients I represented on the sale of one home and the purchase of their new home earlier this year. Our mission today was to check out a one bedroom, one bath cottage in downtown Huntington Beach in hopes that it would be a good rental. It is. Tonight I will compose a buyers net sheet so the buyers can determine what their closing costs and the payments will be with a ten percent down payment. Im waiting for a call back from the listing agent to ascertain if he has any offers on the property. Although the home is listed as active in the Multiple Listing Service some agents will leave it in active status until the buyer has removed their contingencies. Its not the right thing to do as its a waste of time for other agents to show a home that is already in escrow.

When I finished in downtown HB I still had time to preview three listings in Fountain Valley that came on the market this week. Each of them had good locations in nice neighborhoods. One stood out from the others. It is a single story with four bedrooms and a three car garage which is always a very desirable home. Its priced at $675,000. It was remodeled with some nice features. As I toured the house neighbors Nicky and Steve approached me and asked if I was Susan who writes the column in the VIEW every week. She told me that my column is the first thing she reads each week. When we walked outside Nicky asked me what I thought about the Egyptian theme and all the knick knacks throughout the house. I explained that it is too buyer specific. When selling its important to depersonalize the house so it appeals to the largest population of buyers. Not all buyers are able to visualize the bones of a house if there are too many distractions. Nicky agreed.

On Saturday I escorted my clients Charles and Angela through six Fountain Valley homes priced between $549,000 and $649,999. They want four bedrooms, at least two baths, and a minimum of 1,600 square feet in a nice neighborhood. They have $250,000 as a down payment and are currently renting. They are excited about purchasing their first home.

I received an email from Mary, a reader of this column. She said that she and her husband want to sell their Fountain Valley home in the spring and would like me to come over and pick my brain on what changes if any they should make to prepare their home for the market. Im meeting with them tomorrow.

Every night as I watched television I was surrounded by piles of notepads, real estate market reports, and Thanksgiving cards. During the course of the week I filled 500 bags. My husband loaded the boxes in my car trunk for delivery to Fountain Valley homes next week.

I have been writing this column every week for the last seven years. A realtor you can trust is my motto. I consider my readers trust a gift and in all that I do, I strive to be worthy of it. I thank you for your loyalty, your suggestions and your feedback over the years. This is my eleventh year in real estate and I am still joyful about the opportunity to represent Orange County residents. This profession requires that I be readily available, well-organized, detail-oriented, knowledgeable, efficient, resourceful, and always kind and cheerful. There is nothing else I would rather be doing.

Posted on August 27, 2011 at 1:01 AM
Susan Saurastri | Category: Real Estate News