The Story of 18431 Santana Ave


The property opened probate on July 8, 2015.  The PR/Administrator is the deceased owner’s son.  His name is Byron.  He intends to complete his college education using the proceeds of the sale according to his departed father’s wishes.

On April 18, 2015 at 10 AM, Byron’s father took his own life.  This voluntary act ended eight years of pain and suffering.  He had been continuously suffering from the side-effects of a lengthy stay in the hospital in 2009.

He continued to work the job he had before his sickness but was blindsided when the company he worked for closed down his department.  Having lost his job, and his health deteriorating, he was not able to find a job to replace the one he lost. He applied for disability but was turned down with the reason saying that he could still work.

After unemployment ran out, he started exhausting his savings. He could no longer pay his health insurance, was unable to qualify for disability and unable to find a new job, he had no source of financial support.  He started going to the free clinics but the health care was not adequate enough to help him with his pain that was getting worse every day.

In his letter to his son and his family, he said that he never wanted to go back to the hospital.  He had finally reached the end of what seemed to all of us who knew him – his endless patience.

Harold was a very patient man.  He was kind, sensitive and considerate to others.  He was an extremely bright and talented computer programmer.  In his youth, he worked for IBM, where he received a lot of recognition.  He then founded his own consulting company, HCS Inc. and did very well but his health was always his weakness because of a genetic predisposition.

He was a very private man.  He was not one who complained about anything that happened to him.  He could have filed a lawsuit against his doctors during his 14 month stay in the hospital in 2009 but he was also not a litigious man.  He knew the doctors and nurses who worked with him were trying their best.

At the same time, he knew he never wanted to be in the hospital ever again.

Being a very logical man, he calculated his chances for survival and decided that he wanted to exercise choice over the way in which he would leave this world.

Byron has reached some sort of closure from the letter his father left for him and his immediate family.  This does not make it any easier for him to accept that his father is no longer in this world but he intends to continue with his education.

Byron hopes to become a famous writer someday.  He now lives with his mother in an apartment a few blocks from Cal State Fullerton where he intends to finish his studies.

If you are an investor, we are accepting backup offers and will choose a buyer no later than August 15, 2015.  Submit a formal offer – IN WRITING – to Carmelita in order to be considered.  She has graciously offered to help you write the offer if you need help.

Also, for those who believe in energy healing, a shaman has been hired to cleanse the property of all negative energies.  Ever since the clearing, the house has received quite a few offers.

If you are a buyer who wants to occupy the home, contact Carmelita or ask your agent to call Carmelita (562) 305-7995.


Choosing the Right Agent for You

cliffYou are now at the top of the cliff, by the edge, looking far into the horizon, then down into the ocean, and you peer deeper into the water and see all manners of fish, some are small and some are large, you see some with scars of past encounters and others with pristine scales, and even those that look similar behave differently, you see one, passive just floating with the ins and outs of the waves and another, aggressively nipping at other fish but seemingly confident. It can sometimes be difficult finding the right fish for your needs.

Of course I’m really talking about finding an agent but most people seem to treat finding their agents like fishing, casting into the sea and hoping for a good catch. You may be lucky and find the right agent for your particular situation and needs but in truth almost no one catches a keeper on their first cast.

What makes choosing an agent difficult is finding out what qualifications matter in determining how an agent performs, if he or she under-performs a deal can be lost leaving you at a loss in time and money.

What determines a good performer?

  • Will a history of performance suffice?
  • Will testimonial letters comfort you?
  • Will a list of phone numbers of satisfied customers add to their armament?
  • Is the size of their real estate company directly responsible for the amount of their success?
  • Or is the agent successful independently of her company because of her vast knowledge, experience, tenure, unsurpassed leadership?

These are all things you need to analyze yourself to determine if they are qualified to help you. Agents are not one size fits all, but there is specific quality I believe you should look for in every agent and that is:

  • Does she communicate? Does she communicate effectively with all parties involved?
  • Is she on time when you have meetings?
  • Is she structured/organized?
  • Does she talk honestly, directly, and openly about the details in a deal?

In my opinion, the ability to communicate is the defining quality to look for in an agent, because agents are salesmen and either as a seller or a buyer, a good salesman will make a deal go through and that only happens if she communicates well with everyone involved.

There are three types of agents and you are looking for one that is a perfect match to your own personality. The three types are whales, barracuda, and dolphins.

(Dolphins and whales aren’t fish I know but if this analogy got too literal, agents may just end up as dinner) Whales are agents that are part of large successful companies with lots of business. They may have the most qualifications but their weakness is having many clients and may end up treating you as a number and just another sale.

Barracudas are fast and aggressive producing results quickly, but they produce results by tearing pieces off others, and it can be you.

Dolphins are smooth sailors, they are like barracudas in that they produce results, but will protect and guide you throughout the whole process and may even become a friend down the road. In the end, if you are a follower, you need an agent that can lead you. If you are an executive type, you need a follower who can focus what is needed from you.

In both cases, you hired an agent for a good reason; she is the director and producer of this endeavor, selling your house for a lot of money, with fun, grace and velocity.

This dolphin can perform both roles and guide you in buying your next home. Buying a home in this tight market is a long journey, but swim along but I don’t know how in these murky waters! You may get tired, but your agent will not. Happiness comes to her when you receive the key to your new home. This agent will be there for you for life. Closing an escrow is opening a new relationship that will stay strong, forever.

Ethics – Finding or Defining Its Meaning

ethicsThis is an innocent looking word and is often used as much as the word moral. Ethics can be used as rules of conduct, the principles of an individual, a group or company, a field or profession, and can even be used to chastise somebody. There is a good chance you heard these: work ethics, business ethics, medical ethics, government ethics, religious, cultural, town, dress up, dating ethics?  Etiquette?  I searched on Google and found an article about ethics that started with this.

Some years ago, sociologist Raymond Baumhart asked business people, “What does ethics mean to you?” Among their replies were the following:

“Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong.”
“Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs.”
“Being ethical is doing what the law requires.”
“Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts.”
“I don’t know what the word means.”

(From “What is Ethics?” Developed by Manuel Velasquez, Claire Andre, Thomas Shanks, S.J., and Michael J. Meyer, Santa Clara University Studies on Ethics, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics)

“I don’t know what the word means.” — I wanted to share this because last night, I was taking my renewal exams on ethics, a required course in Real Estate licensing.  There were eighty pages of required reading on ethics called Realtors Ethics. As a good student I went through all the pages that included articles and practices and I notice that they kept amending them, until it got to a point where it said one thing, and later said another.

“What, I can do that?  Wait, I can’t do that?” I was getting tired of studying and anxious because I needed to take the exam before my license expired. Finally I had enough, and jumped into the exam, which would declare if I was “ethical”. If I failed, the state could say I did not have any ethics and deny my license.

Reading through the exam, I knew I would not pass it. It was only fifteen questions but that is worse than forty questions! With forty questions it would be more like life, mistakes may be made and the ethical choices are usually grey, but with fifteen, there was no room for mistakes; every answer determined my future, each ethical choice morbidly huge. I took a deep breath, reminded myself I’ve been in the business for 32 years and I did my best to adhere to my own ethical rules. Trusting myself, I finished the exam and I clicked my mouse and my result. One Hundred Percent!

What happened, I thought, there must be a glitch in the system. If I were to pass I would be happy with just seventy percent. Then I thought, these exams were designed to test the average, they know how to test, and they have done this for as long as the Ethics Exam existed. Thanks to my Ethos, and thanks to my own personal ethics, I took the exam with the attitude of “I don’t know what the word really means,” but I will be fine by just being me…

The Best Way to Kill Bugs

Why would you choose fumigation over local spray, orange oil, wavelength microwave, or other alternatives to fumigation? Because, it is still the best way to eradicate the most persistent hordes of wood-eating termites.

In my opinion, fumigation is still the best option. Lethal gas can go into tiniest cracks and spaces and meet and greet those critters. Once the house is tented and air tight, these guys don’t stand a chance, but there are things that need to be done to make sure it’s safe! Check and make sure no one is at home sleeping in one of the bedrooms, working in the attic or under the house, or maybe even an uninvited guest stopped by for a one night stay because the house was vacant, I have heard many of those horror stories. Make sure all your cats, dogs, fish, and pets, are accounted for and boarded. Plants also need to be removed from inside and any plants near the sides of the house may fall under the tent and be cooked. Your food in the refrigerator must be secured in special bags provided by the termite company. Certain materials such as your leather jackets and leather sofas need to be protected. Of course, remember to find a place to stay for a couple days!

Fumigation is very expensive but if money is not an issue, this is the most popular choice because it is the most effective.

When the tent is down for the next few days, don’t enter the house unless the termite company posts a Safe-to-Enter sign. Sadly when it’s safe to enter, termites in neighboring buildings can fly in again because it is safe for them too.

Now, how do you know if they really fumed the house? I will email you a Starbucks Gift Card for $20 to whomever can give me the most creative way to find or plant evidence that the fumes truly went through. I will publish everybody’s reply; identify yourself with a unique pen name. The answer must be true but very creative and entertaining.


Principal Reduction Alternatives




Principal Reduction Alternative #1

A couple of days ago, we learned that five major lenders have pledged, or to say it another way, are giving away $25 Billion Dollars as their contribution to the public to help bring back a healthy real estate economy. 17 Billion of those dollars are for helping distressed homeowners by reducing their principal, especially those who are underwater on their loan, meaning you owe more than the house can sell in today’s market.

This is the buzz; check out the National Mortgage Settlement. These 5 lenders will assist in lowering your principal balances, as long as you don’t have a Fannie Mae Loan, Freddie Mac Loan or a HUD backed loan. If your loan is with any of these 5 banks, call them already:

  • Bank of America/Countrywide  877-488-7814
  • JPM Chase 866-372-6901
  • Ally/GMAC 800-766-4622
  • Citibank 866-272-4749
  • Wells Fargo 800-288-3212

Ask them that you want to reduce your principal and that you heard about the real estate news regarding the National Mortgage Settlement. Take advantage while supply lasts… while the government is still in the mood.

Principal Reduction Alternative #2

Even if your bank is not in this list, call your bank anyway, and ask for it, even rental properties are now included. The program is called the PRA – Principal Reduction Alternative, which you will be doing if your bank is one of the above. Lenders who participated in the HAMP program are participating in the PRA, which may include your loan. For California homeowners, even if California is not conforming with the Mortgage Debt Relief Act regarding your state tax for 2013, California is still conforming with Insolvency Act, wherein includes people in bankruptcy. I have a lot to share with you in my next blog.  My time is limited, but next time I will talk more about your Bill of Rights, notifying you that your bank cannot file a notice of default once you have submitted an application for loan modification… (Lessons learned from Atty/CPA Paul Horn) Until next blog.

Home Inspection Is Not An Option

Home Inspection

The sellers accepted your offer. Great!! Congratulations!

Now what? You are given some 17 days to do your due diligence, and the most important thing to do first is the physical inspection.

Buying a resale house almost always requires a home inspection. If you are not a knowledgeable contractor, hire one who has been a professional home inspector for many years. The inspectors who have been on roof tops and under crawl spaces of hundreds of homes at minimum, as professional inspectors not city inspectors, would be ideal. Remodeled homes with new floors, new countertops, and new windows are always great and compelling, but don’t be surprised if their outlets are not grounded or the roof is at the end of its life. These problems get discovered through the home inspection. Other discoveries that seemed harmless to your innocent eyes may lead to costly repairs to you, if you didn’t catch them during your diligence period.

Ok, then what? You now have the report. You would request the seller to fix or replace items and submit this list to the seller’s representative. Remember that the sellers don’t have to agree to any of your requests. Then your choice is to accept the house in its condition as discovered, or cancel the transaction, get your deposit back provided you are doing this within the diligence period, or renegotiate with the seller to both parties’ satisfaction.

More sensitive issues like presence of mold or asbestos must be evaluated by the inspectors who have specializations in those areas. Always have the specialist take swatches from the wall and sample the air to determine what type and what level of contamination is in the air. If there is suspicion of disturbed asbestos, air sampling would be the best move. Special sampling and lab fees apply. If you buy a home on a hillside, or near water sources, these require different inspectors. If you still want the house despite all your discoveries, and they turn positive to mold or asbestos, you may determine if the level is acceptable or decide not to take a chance and cancel the deal in a timely manner and get your deposit back. Otherwise, you will renegotiate with the seller for remediation and costs.

Always play safe. Hiring specialized inspectors is worth the investment. Ask your agent for the Environmental Hazards and Earthquake Report Book. It is loaded with information and recommendations. If you don’t educate yourself, you may end up passing up on a good deal or buy a “money pit”.

How to Shop for the Best Rates

In my opinion, choosing the best lender has become very complicated. I still have to know what makes a lender very good today and bad tomorrow.

As a borrower/buyer, you have one shot and you will be stuck with this loan for a long long while. So take the best shot at it. Or, if you intend to keep this loan for a short term, you may opt for a little higher rate, but the least expense. [Read more…]

A Happy Client and Proud Homeowner


There’s always a first time for everybody. For me it was a first time, in my real estate life, to pick up a buyer from the airport, show homes they preselected, then take them back to the airport same day. It wasn’t my client’s first time to buy real estate, but the first time for their daughter, Heide.

Heide and I viewed as much homes as we could, as she took notes and video, rated each one, to share with her parents. Heide is a gifted student. At her young age, she got accepted into a doctoral degree at UCLA. [Read more…]

Now Is A Great Time to Sell

Beautiful home on Thornlake Av. in Cerritos, CA

I was knocking on doors in Cerritos to find homeowners to put their property on the market and to help them sell their house quickly. I was approaching a beautiful home on Thornlake Ave. (shown in the picture) when two big dogs barked loudly at me and almost jumped over the fence. For a moment I was scared for my safety but, to my relief, one of the homeowners – the husband, came outside to see what was going on.

We had a great conversation. As it turned out, he needed help to sell their house quickly. It was critical for him to find a dependable Realtor to guarantee that they get the most money from their property. It was fun and exciting for me to prepare a personalized Comparable Market Analysis, and send it to my client, who appreciated the convenience of being able to see favorable conditions for selling their property. [Read more…]

Dream Staging an International Venture, pt. 1

Philippines is my native land. I left her for a greener pasture, a land of opportunity called United States. So real.  While a youngster, I dreamt of oodles of chocolates, M & M, and instant coffee and spam!!! and couldn’t wait for my airplane to land in LAX. First visit I paid was to a grocery store…and there I got drowned in shelves and bags of all these sweet and yummy candies and didn’t want to [Read more…]