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News and events in Valley+Los Angeles. Housing. Style. Encino & Beyond

By Inna Ivchenko | Agent in Encino, CA
  • Energy and Money Saving Tips ( cont.)

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in California, Going Green in California, How To... in California  |  January 2, 2013 12:52 PM  |  915 views  |  No comments

    Did you know that the typical U.S. family spends more than $1,600 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. And electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars.

    As long as you’re remodeling, why not cut your utility bill and make your home a bit healthier?

    ( cont. of Energy and Money Saving Tips 1)

    Carl Seville, author of Green Building: Principles and Practices in Residential Construction, shared some simple, inexpensive ways to make remodels and additions more energy efficient from the standpoint of energy usage and conservation of resources.

    Try these eight tips from Seville:

    1. Check for water intrusion, condensation, and excess moisture before you begin the project. Fixing those issues during remodeling can improve your home’s indoor air quality (excess moisture encourages mold).

    2. Use the least amount of framing allowed by your building code when adding walls. Not only will you have to pay for less lumber and fewer nails, the contractor will have more room to put insulation in your walls, making your home more energy efficient.

    3. Resist the urge to splurge on multiple shower heads. Opt for a single low-flow shower head rather than installing a car wash-style plethora of shower heads.

    4. If possible, add new HVAC ducts to parts of your home that are heated and cooled, rather than placing them in a space with unconditioned air (like the attic). If that’s not possible, insulate the ducts. Have an HVAC diagnostician analyze your system to make sure it’s sized correctly and balanced to properly exchange old and new air.

    5. Be sure to insulate around recessed lights that protrude into un-insulated attic spaces — these are major sources of air leaks.

    6. If you’re wasting water, you’re wasting energy. Look at high-efficiency or solar water heaters, and insulate your water pipes. If you want hot water faster, move the water heater closer to the faucet or install demand pumps to drive hot water to the fixture.

    7. Install wall-mounted efficiency toggle switch plates for the outlets where you plug in your televisions and computers to make it easy to cut off the power to electronics you’re not using.

    8. A humidistat that automatically turns on the bathroom fan when moisture rises beats depending on teenagers or tenants remembering to use the fan. Reducing bathroom moisture reduces the chances you’ll have mold.

    What are your tips for smart energy savings during a remodel?

    What do YOU do to stop living in a 'typical house' and save your money?:

    Find out how much you might 'typically'' pay for:

    Start making small changes today.

    Call/text or email me Today for all your real estate needs!

    Yours truly,

    Inna Ivchenko

    GRI, PSC, CHS #01828994
    Leal Real Estate Group, Inc.
    310 867 0698

    The best compliment you can offer is a referral!

  • Energy and Money Saving Tips

    Posted Under: Going Green in California, How To... in California, Property Q&A in California  |  January 2, 2013 12:22 PM  |  908 views  |  No comments

    Here are a few surprising and simple ways to cut your energy bill this season.

    Put lamps in the corners: Did you know you can switch to a lower wattage bulb in a lamp or lower its dimmer switch and not lose a noticeable amount of light? It’s all about placement. When a lamp is placed in a corner, the light reflects off the adjoining walls, which makes the room lighter and brighter.

    Switch to a laptop, Ipad or any tablet: If you’re reading this article on a laptop, you’re using 1/3 less energy than if you’re reading this on a desktop.

    Choose an LCD TV:
    If you’re among those considering a flat-screen upgrade from your conventional, CRT TV, choose an LCD screen for the biggest energy save.

    Give your water heater a blanket: Just like you pile on extra layers in the winter, your hot water heater can use some extra insulation too. A fiberglass insulation blanket is a simple addition that can cut heat loss and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill.

    Turn off the burner before you’re done cooking:
    When you turn off an electric burner, it doesn’t cool off immediately. Use that to your advantage by turning it off early and using the residual heat to finish up your dish.

    Add motion sensors: Love them! You might be diligent about shutting off unnecessary lights, but your kids? Not so much. Adding motion sensors to playrooms and bedrooms cost only $15 to $50 per light, and ensures you don’t pay for energy that you’re not using.

    Spin laundry faster: The faster your washing machine can spin excess water out of your laundry, the less you’ll need to use your dryer. Many newer washers spin clothes so effectively, they cut drying time and energy consumption in half—which results in an equal drop in your dryer’s energy bill.

    Use an ice tray: Stop using your automatic icemaker. It increases your fridge’s energy consumption by 14% to 20%. Ice trays, on the other hand, don’t increase your energy costs one iota.

    Use the dishwasher: If you think doing your dishes by hand is greener than powering up the dishwasher, you’re wrong. Dishwashers use about 1/3 as much hot water and relieve that much strain from your energy-taxing water heater. Added bonus::) you don’t have to wash any dishes.

    There are more ideas, feel welcome to share your tips of energy and money saving! You'll help someone to save a lot of money.

    Sharing= Caring!

    Call/text or email me Today for all your real estate needs!

    Yours truly,

    Inna Ivchenko

    GRI, PSC, CHS #01828994
    Leal Real Estate Group, Inc.
    310 867 0698

    The best compliment you can offer is a referral!

  • Tips for a Short Sale Buyer

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Lake Balboa, Foreclosure in Lake Balboa, How To... in Lake Balboa  |  October 21, 2012 1:12 AM  |  848 views  |  No comments

    Buying in a short sale transaction can be a boom or bust (or something in between). In a short sale, the property is "upside down," which means the seller owes more on the mortgage loan than the property's value. The short sale seller and buyer enter into a sales contract, with an agreement that the seller is not obligatde to sell unless the seller's lender accepts a loan payoff for less than what's owed. Some buyers flock towards short sales in hopes of snatching up a good deal, whereas others stay away believing short sales are more trouble than they're worth. Ultimately, as the buyer, you can't be sure your short sale transaction will succeed, but you can certainly stack the odds in your favor. Here are some good tips to help ensure your short sale purchase will be a boom, rather than a bust:

    Hire a REALTOR: One of the best things you can do in a short sale is to hire a qualified REALTOR to guide you through the home buying process. A REALTOR can help you find the right property, negotiate a good deal, and facilitate the purchase transaction. Not all real estate agents are REALTORS. The world REALTOR is a trademark designation to distinguish real estate agents who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.
    REALTORS stand apart because, among other things, they voluntarily pledge to abide by a strict code of professional ethics to protect and promote their clients’ interests.

    Knowledge is your friend: A short sale is a new experience for most homebuyers, but knowledge is key to success. You should know the pros and cons of buying a short sale. You should also understand the overall short sale process – what you need to do, how long the process may take, and what the common pitfalls may be. Your REALTOR may be a great resource for information. Short sale information is also available online, such as news articles, governmental websites, lenders’ websites, and short sale blogs. Be careful, however, because a lot of misinformation on short sales also floats in our midst.

    Do your homework: Gather and review as much information about a transaction as you can before writing an offer to purchase. Your REALTOR can help you identify which properties for sale in the Multiple Listing Service are short sales. If so, you and your agent can obtain information from public records, comparable sales, and other sources to determine the likelihood your short sale will succeed. As an example, find out how much the seller owes. A transaction where the lender must forgive a $20,000 shortfall may be preferable to a transaction where the lender must approve a $200,000 shortfall. Also, find out what interests affect title to the property. A transaction where only one lender must approve the short sale is less problematic than a transaction where both senior and junior lenders as well as other creditors must approve the short sale. As another example, determine what price the market will bear. A transaction with a sales price at market value is more likely to be approved by the short sale lender than a sales price below market value.

    Write a clean offer: That doesn’t refer to sanitation. The word “clean” is industry jargon for describing an offer to purchase that the seller is unlikely to take issue with. Although the lender must ultimately discount the payoff, you have no purchase contract unless the seller accepts your offer. To get the seller’s acceptance, you can offer a good price, demonstrate your ability to obtain financing, and offer other favorable terms for the seller. A clean offer can make a big difference, especially if you are competing with other buyers to buy the same property.

    Understand the timing: The timing of a short sale transaction can be tricky. Things can start off slow, but speed up at the end. Once he seller accepts your offer to purchase, you may wait a few weeks to a few months for an approval from the seller's lender. As the buyer, other than asking for status reports, it may be difficult for you to speed up the short sale approval process.  Before agreeing to give up the collateral for its loan, the typical lender wants to review the seller's financial position, the property value, and the terms of sale, among other things. Once the lender approves the short sale, the pace can change dramaticlaly. Because a short sale approval usually expires within a few days or weeks, a buyer must move quickly to finalize the transcationl To make usre you success in your short sale transaciton, be prepared to wait a long time for the lender's approval, and then perform quickly thereafter. Patience, persistence, and the ability to perform will serve you well as the buyer in a short sale.

    Prep as best as you can: Because of the unique timing, short sale buyers are often uncertain whether to perform on their contract before the short sale lender's approval. On one hand, a buyer may be reluctant to incur expenses by ordering property inspections and appraisals until after the lender approves the short sale On the other hand, if the property inspecgtion and appraisals are unsatisfactory, theb buyer waited all that time for naught. Also if conducting property inspections and processing the buyer's financing causes delays, the short sale approval may expire. The alternative of waiving your inspections may be too risky. So what do you do when faced with this dilemma? You simply do the best you can, depending on your specific circumstances. For example, you may decide to pay for a crdit report because it doesn't cost a lot of money and your lender will use the same one if you end up buying something else. Or maybe you can find a lender to approve your loan wihtout charging any upfront fees. Or maybe you decide to wait on ordering a professional inspection because the house is well-maintained and relatively new. In the meantime, you can conduct cost-effective investigations, such as reviewing the seller's Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement and other disclosures, asking a contractor to give you a free esitmate for certain repair items, or going over comparable sales in the neighborhood with your REALTOR®.

    Manage your expectations about the property: In a short sale, the property may be in excellend considiton, but oftentimes, the proeprty is not in good condition because the existing homeowner has not been doing the upkeep, maintenance, and repairs for the property.  As gthe buyer, you may ask the seller to make certain repairs or do other things before close of escrow, but there's a good chance you'll have to take care of those things yourself. Given the typical short sale seller's financial situation, the seller may be unwilling or unable to rake care of the repair items that you may request. Moreoever, the seller's lender, who has already discounted the payoff,may be unwilling to discoun the payoff further to take care of the repair items that you request.

  • Avoid money sucking, gut wrenching DIY nightmares... and increase your homes value at the same time tips, #3

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Los Angeles, How To... in Los Angeles  |  April 7, 2012 12:00 AM  |  749 views  |  No comments

    Avoid money sucking, gut wrenching DIY nightmares... and increase your homes value at the same time tips, #3.

    Do it yourself

    There are more tips and thoughts about DIY/ cont./

    7. Know your limitations.

     “Everyone is not good at everything”.  

    Me?  I'm an expert on space.  I can tell you exactly if a couch is going to fit in a room.  I'm brilliant at color and form and instinctively I I can see what a room could be...  all its potential.   But give me a hammer and I fall to pieces.  I can’t drive a nail into a piece of wood to save my live...   sad... but true.   I know it's tempting to think we can do everything ourselves.   But if you want to sell your house, it's a good idea to keep your eye on the prize.  The "prize" is selling.

    8. On the Job Training

     If you want to attempt a home fix upgrade or repair, and you have no experience, how about offering your help to a friend, with experience, who is doing a similar repair?  You’ll get great knowledge and probably a free lunch to boot.   Not a bad deal at the end of the day....

    9. Hire a Professionaldo it yourself, Inna Ivchenko blog


     ''But I’m trying save money and do the work myself.  Why would I hire a professional?  Are you crazy lady? ''

    You can still do the work yourself, but hire a professional as a consultant.  They can give you great advice on how to avoid money sucking pitfalls.  Obviously they won’t guarantee your work but they can set you on the right path and go a long ways to piece of mind.  Also they  are a great safety net in the off chance that kids, pets, spouses,  life….  Pull you away from the project.  You’ll have a professional ready to step in and complete the job.  Remember if  your wanting to sell your house, time is money…

    Thanks for reading!

    Looking forward for your thoughts and comments!

    If you need any local vendor~let me know~ I'd be happy to help and  provide you with the names of local professionals with great recommendations!

    Inna Ivchenko

    John Aaroe Group

    Los Angeles/Valley Realtor, PSC, GRI. Specialization: Short Sales. # 01828994

    Notary Public

    (310) 867-0698

    (818) 232-7747

  • Avoid money sucking, gut wrenching DIY nightmares... and increase your homes value at the same time tips, #2.

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Los Angeles, How To... in Los Angeles  |  April 6, 2012 11:53 PM  |  749 views  |  No comments

    Avoid money sucking, gut wrenching DIY nightmares... and increase your homes value at the same time tips, #2.

    Do it yourself

    do it yourself, Inna Ivchenko blogThere are more tips and thoughts about DIY/ cont./

    4. Materials


    Don't buy cheap materials.   Penny wise pound foolish is a bad thing when you’re trying to sell your home.  If your redoing a floor...  1/2" ply may be cheaper than 3/4 but it’s not as sturdy and it will cost you more in the long run. 

    I had a client opt for cheaper 1/2 inch ply on a redo of a hard wood floor...  the finished floor was beautiful , that is until you stepped on it and the squeak, squeak, squeak, sounded like a herd of mice was partying underneath the floor...  We got the offer....  contingent upon my clients brand new floor...  being replaced.   Need I say more?

     do it yourself, Inna Ivchenko blog


    5.  Take your time and be precise


    Do what the pros do...  Take your time.  (And they get paid by the hour)  "Measure twice and cut once"  that’s the mantra of my favorite General Contractor.   And if you think you might make a mistake, err on the long side.  You can always make a piece of drywall shorter; it's real tough to make it longer. 

    Mistakes cost time and money, your time and your money.

    6. Safety

    Use proper safety equipment - and by that I mean industrial strength safety equipment not ray bans and playtex.  Wear Heavy Gloves if you’re carrying metal, wood or rock.  Wear a hard hat if you’re cutting trees or building scaffolding. Use a sealing tool pouch for nails. 

    Remember you pets don’t know the difference between a new toy or a sharp staple or nail.  

    Use a good respirator and make sure you take constant breaks if you’re working with any kind of chemical at all.  And most important, wear safety goggles at all times.

    How do i know?~ I do! Years in Real Estate, Ukrainian Dad who was fixing all by himself( of course, i was helping!) and a life of a single mom, when I do try occasionally DIY!:)( less and less though recently)

    /to be continued/

    Thanks so much for your comments on my  blogs about DIY 1-2-3!

    Can't wait to read  your thoughts and stories!

    If you need any help or advice, let me know, I work with the best vendors in town. You'll like the quality and prices!

    Inna Ivchenko

    John Aaroe Group

    Los Angeles/Valley Realtor, PSC, GRI. Specialization: Short Sales. # 01828994

    Notary Public

    (310) 867-0698

    (818) 232-7747

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