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Probate Options in California

Losing a loved one is a sad and difficult time for family, relatives, and friends. In addition, those left behind must often figure out how to transfer or inherit property from the person who has died.

To do this, you must usually go to court. And dealing with the courts and the property of someone who has died is very complicated. Sometimes, however, family or relatives may be able to transfer property from someone who has died without going to court. But it is not always easy to tell whether you need to go to court or qualify to use a different procedure.

 This section will give you some general information to help you understand what your choices may be, but we still encourage you to talk to a lawyer to get specific answers about your situation. You can usually pay the lawyer’s fees from the property in the case.

What Is “Probate”?

Probate means that there is a court case that deals with:

o Transferring the property of someone who has died to the heirs or beneficiaries;
o Deciding if a will is valid; and
o Taking care of the financial responsibilities of the person who died.

In a probate case, an executor (if there is a will) or an administrator (if there is no will) is appointed by the court as personal representative to collect the assets, pay the debts and expenses, and then distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries (those who have the legal right to inherit), all under the supervision of the court. The entire case can take between 9 months to 1 ½ years, maybe even longer.

Deciding If You Need to Go to Probate Court and Whether You Can Use Simplified Procedures

You may or may not need to go to probate court to obtain title to property belonging to a dead person.  Figuring out if you have to go to probate court depends on many issues, like the amount of money involved, the type of property involved, and who is claiming the property.

And deciding if probate court is needed may also depend on the how the property is owned (the type of title ownership) or if there is some type of contract with beneficiaries. For example:

  • Type of Title Ownership:  : Sometimes all or some of a dead person’s property passes directly to the beneficiaries because of how the property is owned. So if the property was owned in joint tenancy, if it was community property with the right of survivorship, if it was a bank account owned by several people, or a bank account that is transferred to someone when the owner dies, then, in general, when the owner of the property dies, the property goes to the survivor. Keep in mind that even in these cases, the survivor may have to take legal steps to clarify his or her ownership of the transferred property.
  • Type of Contract:  Sometimes all or some of a dead person’s property does not need to go through probate to pass to the beneficiaries. This is because this property is a type of contract with named beneficiaries. Examples of this are life insurance that pays benefits to someone else other than the dead person’s estate, retirement benefits, death benefits, and trusts.
If the Person Who Died Left $100,000 or LESS

If you have the legal right to inherit personal property, like money in a bank account or stocks, and the estate is worth $100,000 or less, you may NOT have to go to court. There is a simplified process you can use to transfer the property to your name. The value of the property is based on what it was worth on the date of death –not on what the property is worth now.

  • Keep in mind, this process CANNOT be used for real property, like a house. If the person left $100,000 or less in real property, including some personal property, you may be able to use a form called Petition to Determine Succession to Real Property (Estates $100,000 or Less) (Form DE-310).  You will have to file the Petition with the court, obtain and file an Inventory and Appraisal (Form DE-160), and provide notice of hearing.  Talk to a lawyer to make sure you can use this simplified process in your case. Click for help finding a lawyer.

To use the simplified process for transferring personal property
First, figure out if the value of the property (the estate) is worth $100,000 or less. To do this:


  • All real and personal property.
  • All life insurance or retirement benefits that will be paid to the estate (but not any insurance or retirement benefits designated to be paid to some other person).

Do not include:

  • Cars, boats or mobile homes.
  • Real property outside of California.
  • Property held in trust, including a living trust.
  • Real or personal property that the person who died owned with someone else (joint tenancy).
  • Property (community, quasi-community, or separate) that passed directly to the surviving spouse or domestic partner.
  • Life insurance, death benefits or other assets not subject to probate that pass directly to the beneficiaries.
  • Unpaid salary or other compensation up to $5,000 owed to the person who died.
  • The debts or mortgages of the person who died. (You are not allowed to subtract the debts of the person who died.)
  • Bank accounts that are owned by multiple persons, including the person who died.

For a complete list, see California Probate Code section 13050 .

If the total value of these assets is $100,000 or less and 40 days have passed since the death, you can transfer personal property by writing an affidavit. There is a special form for this that you can get from most banks and lawyers. Your court’s self-help center may also have this form or a sample you can use to guide you.

Click for more information on the affidavit and for help preparing your own form.

If You Were Married to or Were a Registered Domestic Partner of the Person Who Died

You may be able to use a simple form, called a Spousal or Domestic Partner Property Petition (Form DE-221) to get a court order that says:

  • What your share of the community property is; and
  • What part of your deceased spouse or partner’s share of community and separate property belongs to you.

If the surviving spouse/partner is legally entitled to all of the property, a more complicated probate procedure may not be required. For example, a couple that was married for decades may only own “community property,” which belongs to the surviving spouse/partner and is confirmed by the court in the spousal property petition case.

If the Person Who Died Left MORE Than $100,000

If the dead person’s property is worth more than $100,000, none of the exceptions apply. You must go to court and start a probate case.

To do this, you must file a Petition for Probate (Form DE-111). This one form has different options, such as:

  • Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary
  • Petition for Letters of Administration

Talk to a lawyer if you are not sure which option you should choose on this form. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Steps to Take If the Case Belongs in Probate Court

1.  The custodian of the will (the person who has the will at the time of the person’s death) MUST, within 30 days of the person’s death:

    • Take the original will to the probate court clerk’s office within 30 days. Contact your superior court courthouse to find out where the probate court clerk’s office is located.
    • Send a copy of the will to the executor (if the executor cannot be found, then the will can be sent to a person named in the will as a beneficiary).

If the custodian does not do these things, he or she can be sued for damages caused.

NOTE: If there is no will and a court case is needed, the court will appoint   an administrator to manage the estate during the probate process. The   person who wants to be the administrator must file a Petition for Letters of Administration (Form DE-111). The administrator usually is the spouse,  domestic partner, or close relative of the dead person.

2. Someone, called “the petitioner,” must start a case in court by filing a Petition for Probate (Form DE-111). The case must be filed in the county where the person who died lived (or if the person lived outside of California, in the California county where that person owned property).

The Petition for Probate has different options, like:

  • Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters Testamentary
  • Petition for Probate of Will and for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed
  • Petition for Letters of Administration

Note: To start a probate case you will need more forms than just the Petition for Probate form.  Talk to a lawyer for help with your case. Click for help finding a lawyer.

3.   After a probate case is filed:

  • The probate clerk sets a hearing date.
  • The petitioner must give notice of the hearing to anyone who may have the right to get some part of the estate, plus the surviving family members even if there is a will and they are not named in it. Any person who is interested in the court case may file a Request for Special Notice (Form DE-154), which means that they must receive a copy of paperwork filed by the person who is chosen to manage the estate.
  • The petitioner CANNOT mail the notice. It must be mailed by any other adult who is not a party to the case.
  • The petitioner must arrange for notice to be published in a newspaper of general circulation.
  • A court probate examiner reviews the case before the hearing to see if it was done correctly.
  • Once all the paperwork has been reviewed by the examiner and corrected, if necessary, the judge decides who to appoint to be in charge as the personal representative of the estate (also called the “administrator” or “executor”).
  • The personal representative gathers up the assets and prepares an Inventory and Appraisal (Form DE-160) to be filed.  The personal representative usually will also need to contact a probate referee to value the nonmonetary assets. Find the contact information for a probate feferee in your county . (Get more information on probate referees .)
  • The personal representative provides formal notice to creditors with the Notice of Administration to Creditors (Form DE-157) and pays the debts.
  • A final personal income tax return is prepared for the person who died.
  • The probate court figures out who gets what property.
  • A Report of Sale and Petition for Order Confirming Sale of Real Property (Form DE-260) is filed with the court so that sales of real property are confirmed by the court.
  • If the estate earned any money (such as interest or profit in a sale), the personal representative will have to submit a final estate tax return.
  • The personal representative reports to the court on how the estate was handled. This report is a final plan and accounting. The report is scheduled for hearing so the judge can review how the personal representative handled everything. The judge needs to be satisfied that everything has been properly taken care of.
  • After filing with the court any required final receipts to show that everyone received their property from the estate, the court discharges the personal representative from his or her duties.

6 Tips for Choosing the Best Offer for Your Home

By: G. M. Filisko

Have a plan for reviewing purchase offers so you don’t let the best slip through your fingers.

You’ve worked hard to get your home ready for sale and to price it properly. With any luck, offers will come quickly. You’ll need to review each carefully to determine its strengths and drawbacks and pick one to accept. Here’s a plan for evaluating offers.

1. Understand the process
All offers are negotiable, as your agent will tell you. When you receive an offer, you can accept it, reject it, or respond by asking that terms be modified, which is called making a counteroffer.

2. Set baselines
Decide in advance what terms are most important to you. For instance, if price is most important, you may need to be flexible on your closing date. Or if you want certainty that the transaction won’t fall apart because the buyer can’t get a mortgage, require a prequalified or cash buyer.

3. Create an offer review process
If you think your home will receive multiple offers, work with your agent to establish a time frame during which buyers must submit offers. That gives your agent time to market your home to as many potential buyers as possible, and you time to review all the offers you receive.

4. Don’t take offers personally
Selling your home can be emotional. But it’s simply a business transaction, and you should treat it that way. If your agent tells you a buyer complained that your kitchen is horribly outdated, justifying a lowball offer, don’t be offended. Consider it a sign the buyer is interested and understand that those comments are a negotiating tactic. Negotiate in kind.

5. Review every term
Carefully evaluate all the terms of each offer. Price is important, but so are other terms. Is the buyer asking for property or fixtures-such as appliances, furniture, or window treatments-to be included in the sale that you plan to take with you

Is the amount of earnest money the buyer proposes to deposit toward the downpayment sufficient The lower the earnest money, the less painful it will be for the buyer to forfeit those funds by walking away from the purchase if problems arise.

Have the buyers attached a prequalification or pre-approval letter, which means they’ve already been approved for financing Or does the offer include a financing or other contingency If so, the buyers can walk away from the deal if they can’t get a mortgage, and they’ll take their earnest money back, too. Are you comfortable with that uncertainty

Is the buyer asking you to make concessions, like covering some closing costs Are you willing, and can you afford to do that Does the buyer’s proposed closing date mesh with your timeline

With each factor, ask yourself: Is this a deal breaker, or can I compromise to achieve my ultimate goal of closing the sale

6. Be creative
If you’ve received an unacceptable offer through your agent, ask questions to determine what’s most important to the buyer and see if you can meet that need. You may learn the buyer has to move quickly. That may allow you to stand firm on price but offer to close quickly. The key to successfully negotiating the sale is to remain flexible.
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has survived several closings. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Specialty Mortgages: Risks and Rewards

In high-priced housing markets, it can be difficult to afford a home. That s why a growing number of home buyers are forgoing traditional fixed-rate mortgages and standard adjustable-rate mortgages and instead opting for a specialty mortgage that lets them  stretch their income so they can qualify for a larger loan.

But before you choose one of these mortgages, make sure you understand the risks and how they work.

Specialty mortgages often begin with a low introductory interest rate or payment plan  a  teaser  but the monthly mortgage payments are likely to increase a lot in the future. Some are  low documentation mortgages that come with easier standards for qualifying, but also higher interest rates or higher fees. Some lenders will loan you 100 percent or more of the home s value, but these mortgages can present a big financial risk if the value of the house drops.

Specialty Mortgages Can:

  • Pose a greater risk that you won t be able to afford the mortgage payment in the future, compared to fixed rate mortgages and traditional adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Have monthly payments that increase by as much as 50 percent or more when the introductory period ends.
  • Cause your loan balance (the amount you still owe) to get larger each month instead of smaller.

Common Types of Specialty Mortgages:
Interest-Only Mortgages: Your monthly mortgage payment only covers the interest you owe on the loan for the first 5 to 10 years of the loan, and you pay nothing to reduce the total amount you borrowed (this is called the  principal ). After the interest-only period, you start paying higher monthly payments that cover both the interest and principal that must be repaid over the remaining term of the loan.
Negative Amortization Mortgages: Your monthly payment is less than the amount of interest you owe on the loan. The unpaid interest gets added to the loan s principal amount, causing the total amount you owe to increase each month instead of getting smaller.
Option Payment ARM Mortgages: You have the option to make different types of monthly payments with this mortgage. For example, you may make a minimum payment that is less than the amount needed to cover the interest and increases the total amount of your loan; an interest-only payment, or payments calculated to pay off the loan over either 30 years or 15 years.
40-Year Mortgages: You pay off your loan over 40 years, instead of the usual 30 years. While this reduces your monthly payment and helps you qualify to buy a home, you pay off the balance of your loan much more slowly and end up paying much more interest.

Questions to Consider Before Choosing a Specialty Mortgage:
How much can my monthly payments increase and how soon can these increases happen
Do I expect my income to increase or do I expect to move before my payments go up
Will I be able to afford the mortgage when the payments increase
Am I paying down my loan balance each month, or is it staying the same or even increasing
Will I have to pay a penalty if I refinance my mortgage or sell my house
What is my goal in buying this property Am I considering a riskier mortgage to buy a more expensive house than I can realistically afford

Be sure you work with a REALTOR and lender who can discuss different options and address your questions and concerns!

Learn about the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS Housing Opportunity Program at For more information on predatory mortgage lending practices, visit the Center for Responsible Lending at

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Top 5 Craziest Foreclosure Rescue Attempts

Treasure hunting, demolition, forgery–even a telethon. Our picks for the top five most bizarre foreclosure rescue attempts.

Three years after the recession hit, Americans still are losing their homes to foreclosure in record numbers. Not even celebrities are immune. Wanting to do anything you can to avoid losing your home is only natural. There are a wealth of resources on HouseLogic ( to help you take action. Still, some homeowners have tried other, less-proven methods. Here’s a countdown of some outlandish foreclosure rescue attempts:

5. I pimped my yard to PETA.
This past March, “Octomom” Nadya Suleman was reportedly approached by PETA when word got out about her mortgage woes. The offer: A billboard sign urging pet owners not to let their dog or cat become an “Octomom” in a campaign to raise awareness about controlling the pet population. Suleman ended up letting PETA advertise on her front yard for $5,000. In April, Suleman reached an agreement ( ) with the mortgage holder for a sixth-month extension to pay off the $450,000 debt.

4. God made me do it.
Earlier this month, a Montana man, Brent Arthur Wilson, was convicted for removing For Sale signs and forging ownership papers on a foreclosed home in a bizarre effort ( to keep a roof over his head. During his trial, Wilson claimed that “Yaweh,” or “the creator,” gave him the home. The jury was out for less than an hour before finding Wilson guilty. He now faces up to 30 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced August 19.

3. Buy my T-shirt, save my house.
To raise the $250,000 he needed to avoid foreclosure on his Port Washington, Wis., pad, former Saved by the Bell star Dustin Diamond sold T-shirts (,2933,199934,00.html) with his photo and a caption reading, “I paid $15 to save Screeech’s house.” (The extra “e” in “Screeech” was to get around copyright laws.)

The down-on-his-luck comedian turned his money problems into a publicity ploy, telling his story on The Howard Stern Show and even scheduling an online telethon to raise more money. The appearance was canceled moments before it went on the air. Despite all that, it looks like Diamond is still going to lose his home. Wells Fargo started foreclosure proceedings in April.

2. If I can’t live here, no one can.
This past February, Ohio carpet business owner Terry Hoskins decided that he’d rather bulldoze his $350,000 house to the ground ( than let the bank have it. Hoskins also basically confirmed that he’d do the same to his carpet store if he had to. Thankfully, it didn’t come to that. Although Hoskins didn’t technically break any laws, the bank did hold a sheriff’s auction of his business property to pay off the $600,000 debt he owed.

1. Superman saved our house.
On a more positive note, a rare comic book ( (an Action Comic #1-the issue that introduced Superman to the world) was recently found in the basement of a couple facing foreclosure. Although it hasn’t been valued yet, Stephen Fishler, co-owner of, guarantees that the comic will bring in more than enough to pay off the mortgage at auction time. Other rare finds like this have been valued at more than $1 million.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is dedicated to providing resources that help families facing foreclosure take every step they can to keep their home. To find out how to (legitimately) fight foreclosure, visit the HouseLogic Foreclosure Resource Guide (

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Insurance Programs

Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) enables homebuyers to obtain conventional home loans with relatively small down payments. Prior to the advent of PMI, lenders of conventional mortgages traditionally required a down payment of at least 20 percent of the home’s purchase price.

Saving enough money to make a down payment of ten or twenty percent is one of the greatest barriers to homeownership today, so that requirement shrank the pool of potential homebuyers. Having insurance helps first-time and moderate-income purchasers surmount this obstacle by reducing the down payment required to obtain a mortgage to as little as three percent of the purchase price. Both private and federal programs offer mortgage insurance. Down payment requirements may vary depending on the insurance issuer.

Lenders typically require mortgage insurance on low down payment mortgages because loss experience and studies have shown that a borrower with less than 20 percent invested in a home is more likely to default on a mortgage should problems arise. In other words, there is a good correlation between the size of the down payment made on a mortgage and the eventual likelihood that the mortgage will be paid-off according to its terms.

Although it is the borrower who normally pays for PMI, the insurance coverage protects the lender, not the borrower. The insurance protects lenders against default-related losses on conventional first mortgages made to mortgage borrowers who make down payments of less than 20 percent of the home’s purchase price. PMI typically provides lenders with a default guarantee covering the top 20-to-25 percent of the mortgage balance. The lender assumes the risk for the remaining (uninsured) portion of the loan.

Lenders are required to automatically cancel mortgage insurance on new mortgages once the equity in a home reaches 22 percent. Homeowners may request to cancel at 20 percent equity levels. Lenders are required to provide homeowners with the information needed to cancel their insurance. At this point, the insurer is no longer liable for default of the loan. If the loan was sold to Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, homeowners should contact their lenders once equity reaches 20 percent because they have more lenient requirements for insurance. Equity levels are determined according to the purchase price of the home. Any increased values do not apply. However, if the homeowner feels that his property has increased significantly in value, dropping the loan to value ratio below 75 percent, than the homeowner may request a new appraisal and cancel the PMI. There are some exceptions to cancellations, such as existing mortgages and high-risk loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac currently require mortgage insurance on all low down payment programs with a Loan to Value (LTV) ratio of 90-95 percent. A down payment of 3 percent requires coverage of at least 18%. Down payments of 5 percent require coverage between 25 and 18 percent. Loans with 10 percent down require 17 to 12 percent insurance coverage. There are several different options available to borrowers to increase initial buying power and reduce monthly payments while maintaining a security and safety level for lenders. At the inception of the loan, lenders can either add a small percentage rate increase or add additional points at the close of the deal. Information on Freddie Mac Mortgage Insurance and Fannie Mae Mortgage Insurance is available online. Fannie has partnered with PMI Mortgage Insurance Co. in order to create more affordable housing opportunities. This insurance company s website has information about how PMI helps homebuyers, how to calculate PMI premium, products, realtor training and PMI cancellations requirements.

CalHFA is home to four divisions: homeownership programs, multifamily programs, mortgage insurance services and small business development. Its mission is to finance below market-rate loans to create safe, decent, and affordable rental housing and to assist first-time homebuyers in achieving the dream of home ownership. The Mortgage Insurance Services division helps prospective homeowners move past current mortgage insurance challenges and restrictions by utilizing the California Housing Loan Insurance Fund. The insurance fund encourages lenders to make loans to hard-to-serve borrowers and buyers with little or no money for a down payment and closing costs. It also assists lenders by insuring loans for borrowers with past payment problems. Insurance is provided to those homebuyers that meet the income and area requirements. For more information: read CAR s paper CalHFA, and visit CalHFA Mortgage Insurance website.

Mortgage Insurance Services Programs

This list constitutes an inventory of mortgage insurance programs requiring minimal upfront funds with participating lenders.
Cal Rural ACCESS 97/6 (conforming, statewide)
CalHFA Conventional
CalPERS 97 & 97/3 CalPERS members have additional benefits such as reduced Title and Escrow Fees through , Stewart Title and Old Republic Title. Other benefits are 30-day rate lock, 100% financing option, Free 60-day rate protection, two free float downs, controlled closing fees, closing cost assistance and reduced mortgage insurance rates. For more information go to CalPERS Advantage program.
CalSTRS 80/17
CalSTRS 95 Conventional
CalSTRS 95/5
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac 97/3
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac Conventional 95 & 97 LTV
Freddie Mac 100 & 100/3
Lease Purchase – ABAG Program
Lease Purchase 97/3
NHF – Access & Gold 97/7 Conventional


The California Department of Housing and Community Development Announces $55 Million in awards for mortgage assistance and rehabilitation loans.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) today announced awards from the CalHome General Program totaling more than $55 million. HCD will allocate the awards for first time homebuyer mortgage assistance loans and owner occupied rehabilitation loans.

Fifty-two different local governments and non-profit housing organizations will receive funding throughout the State. A detailed listing of the award recipients and the amounts of those awards are attached to this press release, below.

“Today’s CalHOME awards will allow many low income Californians to achieve and maintain homeownership within their communities,” said HCD Director Linn Warren.

Localities or nonprofit organizations that receive CalHome awards will in turn make deferred-payment or forgivable loans available to individual homeowners or homebuyers. The awards will fund the following homeowner activities:
Mortgage assistance for low or very low income first-time homebuyers
Owner-occupied rehabilitation for low or very low income homeowners

In 2006, California voters approved Proposition 1C, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006. Prop 1C extended HCD’s existing CalHome Program.

The intent of the CalHome Program is to increase homeownership, encourage neighborhood revitalization and sustainable development, and maximize use of existing homes.

HCD provides leadership, policies, and programs to preserve and expand safe and affordable housing opportunities and promote strong communities for all Californians.

The Department also supports increasing the supply of housing, especially affordable housing and works to improve the state’s housing conditions and the health and safety of its residents. HCD is California’s lead housing department, and is part of the state Business, Transportation and Housing Agency.

Yikes! How much is this loan going to cost me?

After getting their offer accepted, the first shock buyers get is seeing the Good Faith Estimate. The Good Faith Estimate is an estimate that lists the money you need to purchase your home, including your down payment, fees paid before closing and all the closing costs you will encounter when purchasing a home. With recent changes in the laws, lenders are required to disclose all possible charges associated with getting your loan

Some of the big ticket items include the Origination Fee, Loan Discounts, Title Charges, Government Transfer Fees and the Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium for FHA loans. There’s also a lot of little charges that add up, like the Appraisal, Underwriting and the Courier Fee (which always seems high to me)

The Good Faith Estimate gives you an estimate of your settlement charges and loan terms if you are approved for this loan. For more information, see HUD’s Special Information Booklet on settlement charges, your Truth-in-Lending Disclosures, and other consumer information at

grab the January 2010 updated  HUD new settlement cost booklet

I also found these two websites that have very good interactive samples that explain what each line item is

As always, if you have any questions or doubts, please don’t hesitate to give me a call any time at 323-215-9836.

Low-Cost Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Exterior

Make your home more appealing for yourself and potential buyers with these quick and easy tips:

1. Trim bushes so they don t block windows or architectural details.

2. Mow your lawn, and turn on the sprinklers for 30 minutes before the showing to make the lawn sparkle.

3. Put a pot of bright flowers (or a small evergreen in winter) on your porch.

4. Install new doorknobs on your front door.

5. Repair any cracks in the driveway.

6. Edge the grass around walkways and trees.

7. Keep your garden tools and hoses out of sight.

8. Clear toys from the lawn.

9. Buy a new mailbox.

10. Upgrade your outside lighting.

11. Buy a new doormat for the outside of your front door.

12. Clean your windows, inside and outside.

13. Polish or replace your house numbers.

14. Place a seasonal wreath on your door.

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.


Common First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes

1. They don t ask enough questions of their lender and end up missing out on the best deal.

2. They don t act quickly enough to make a decision and someone else buys the house.

3. They don t find the right agent who s willing to help them through the home buying process.

4. They don t do enough to make their offer look appealing to a seller.

5. They don t think about resale before they buy. The average first-time buyer only stays in a home for four years.

Source: Real Estate Checklists and Systems,

Reprinted from REALTOR magazine ( with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS .
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

7 Tips for a Profitable Home Closing

By: G. M. Filisko

Be sure you’re walking away with all the money you’re entitled to from the sale of your home.

When you’re ready to close on the sale of your home and move to your new home, you may be so close to the finish line that you coast, thinking there’s nothing left for you to do. Not so fast. It’s easy to waste a few dollars here and for mistakes to creep into your closing documents there, all adding up to a bundle of lost profit. Spot money-losing problems with these seven tips.

1. Take services out of your name
Avoid a dispute with the buyers after closing over things like fees for the cable service you forgot to discontinue. Contact every utility and service provider to end or transfer service to your new address as of the closing date.

If you’re on an automatic-fill schedule for heating oil or propane, don’t pay for a pre-closing refill that provides free fuel for the new owner. Contact your insurer to terminate coverage on your old home, get coverage on your new home, and ask whether you’re entitled to a refund of prepaid premium.

2. Spread the word on your change of address
Provide the post office with your forwarding address two to four weeks before the closing. Also notify credit card companies, publication subscription departments, friends and family, and your financial institutions of your new address.

3. Manage the movers
Scrutinize your moving company’s estimate. If you’re making a long-distance move, which is often billed according to weight, note the weight of your property and watch so the movers don’t use excessive padding to boost the weight. Also check with your homeowners insurer about coverage for your move. Usually movers cover only what they pack.

4. Do the settlement math
Title company employees are only human, so they can make mistakes. The day before your closing, check the math on your HUD-1 Settlement Statement.

5. Review charges on your settlement statement
Are all mortgages being paid off, and are the payoff amounts correct If your real estate agent promised you extras-such as a discounted commission or a home warranty policy-make sure that’s included. Also check whether your real estate agent or title company added fees that weren’t disclosed earlier. If any party suggests leaving items off the settlement statement, consult a lawyer about whether that might expose you to legal risk.

6. Search for missing credits
Be sure the settlement company properly credited you for prepaid expenses, such as property taxes and homeowners association fees, if applicable. If you’ve prepaid taxes for the year, you’re entitled to a credit for the time you no longer own the home. Have you been credited for heating oil or propane left in the tank

7. Don’t leave money in escrow
End your home sale closing with nothing unresolved. Make sure the title company releases money already held in escrow for you, and avoid leaving sales proceeds in a new escrow to be dickered over later.

Other web resources
( Closing costs explained (

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who has survived several closings. A frequent contributor to many national publications including, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Daniel Andrade, REALTOR® DRE #: 01849983
Century 21 My Real Estate Co
7825 Florence Avenue, Downey , CA 90240
call today 323-215-9836

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