Keeping Current Matters | Feb 26, 2024

If you’re planning to buy your first home, saving up for all the costs involved can feel daunting, especially when it comes to the down payment. That might be because you’ve heard you need to save 20% of the home’s price to put down. Well, that isn’t necessarily the case.

Unless specified by your loan type or lender, it’s typically not required to put 20% down. That means you could be closer to your homebuying dream than you realize.

As The Mortgage Reports says:

“Although putting down 20% to avoid mortgage insurance is wise if affordable, it’s a myth that this is always necessary. In fact, most people opt for a much lower down payment.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median down payment hasn’t been over 20% since 2005. In fact, for all homebuyers today it’s only 15%. And it’s even lower for first-time homebuyers at just 8% (see graph below):

a graph of a number of blue squares

The big takeaway? You may not need to save as much as you originally thought.

Learn About Resources That Can Help You Toward Your Goal

According to Down Payment Resource, there are also over 2,000 homebuyer assistance programs in the U.S., and many of them are intended to help with down payments.

Plus, there are loan options that can help too. For example, FHA loans offer down payments as low as 3.5%, while VA and USDA loans have no down payment requirements for qualified applicants.

With so many resources available to help with your down payment, the best way to find what you qualify for is by consulting with your loan officer or broker. They know about local grants and loan programs that may help you out.

Don’t let the misconception that you have to have 20% saved up hold you back. If you’re ready to become a homeowner, lean on the professionals to find resources that can help you make your dreams a reality. If you put your plans on hold until you’ve saved up 20%, it may actually cost you in the long run. According to U.S. Bank:

“. . . there are plenty of reasons why it might not be possible. For some, waiting to save up 20% for a down payment may “cost” too much time. While you’re saving for your down payment and paying rent, the price of your future home may go up.”

Home prices are expected to keep appreciating over the next 5 years – meaning your future home will likely go up in price the longer you wait. If you’re able to use these resources to buy now, that future price growth will help you build equity, rather than cost you more.

Bottom Line

Keep in mind that you don’t always need a 20% down payment to buy a home. If you’re looking to make a move this year, reach out to a trusted real estate professional to start the conversation about your homebuying goals.

Keeping Current Matters | Feb 8, 2024

Are you on the fence about selling your house? While affordability is improving this year, it’s still tight. And that may be on your mind. But understanding your home equity could be the key to making your decision easier. An article from Bankrate explains:

Home equity is the difference between your home’s value and the amount you still owe on your mortgage. It represents the paid-off portion of your home.

You’ll start off with a certain level of equity when you make your down payment to buy the home, then continue to build equity as you pay down your mortgage. You’ll also build equity over time as your home’s value increases.”

Think of equity as a simple math equation. It’s the value of your home now minus what you owe on your mortgage. And guess what? Recently, your equity has probably grown more than you think.

In the past few years, home prices skyrocketed, which means your home’s value – and your equity – likely shot up, too. So, you may have more equity than you realize.

How To Make the Most of Your Home Equity Right Now

If you’re thinking about moving, the equity you have in your home could be a big help. According to CoreLogic:

“. . . the average U.S. homeowner with a mortgage still has more than $300,000 in equity . . .”

Clearly, homeowners have a lot of equity right now. And the latest data from the Census and ATTOM shows over two-thirds of homeowners have either completely paid off their mortgages (shown in green in the chart below) or have at least 50% equity (shown in blue in the chart below):

That means roughly 70% have a tremendous amount of equity right now.

After you sell your house, you can use your equity to help you buy your next home. Here’s how:

“You may want to pay cash for your home if you’re shopping in a competitive housing market, or if you’d like to save money on mortgage interest. It could help you close a deal and beat out other buyers.

Borrowers who put down more money typically receive better interest rates from lenders. This is due to the fact that a larger down payment lowers the lender’s risk because the borrower has more equity in the home from the beginning.”

The Easy Way To Find Out How Much Equity You Have

To find out how much equity you have in your home, ask a real estate agent you trust for a Professional Equity Assessment Report (PEAR).

Bottom Line

Planning a move? Your home equity can really help you out. Let’s connect to see how much equity you have and how it can help with your next home.

👩🏻 Christine Almarines @carealestategroup
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637
Tagalog speaking

👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266
Spanish speaking


Keeping Current Matters | Jan 8, 2024

If you want to buy a home, it’s important to know how mortgage rates impact what you can afford and how much you’ll pay each month. Fortunately, rates for 30-year fixed mortgages have come down significantly since the end of October and are currently under 7%, according to Freddie Mac (see graph below):

This recent trend is great news for buyers. As a recent article from Bankrate says:

“The rate cool-off somewhat eases the housing affordability squeeze.”

And according to Edward Seiler, AVP of Housing Economics and Executive Director of the Research Institute for Housing America at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA):

“MBA expects that affordability conditions will continue to improve as mortgage rates decline . . .”

Here’s a bit more context on how this could help with your plans to buy a home.

How Mortgage Rates Affect Your Search for a Home

Understanding the connection between mortgage rates and your monthly home payment is crucial for your plans to become a homeowner. The chart below illustrates how your ability to afford a home changes when mortgage rates shift. Imagine your budget allows for a monthly payment between $2,400 and $2,500. The green part in the chart shows payments in that range or lower (see chart below):

As you can see, even small changes in rates can affect your budget and the loan amount you can afford.

Get Help from Reliable Experts To Understand Your Budget and Plan Ahead

When you’re looking to buy a home, it’s important to get guidance from a local real estate agent and a trusted lender. They can help you explore different mortgage options, understand what makes mortgage rates go up or down, and how those changes impact you.

By looking at the numbers and the latest data together, then adjusting your strategy based on today’s rates, you’ll be better prepared and ready to buy a home.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking to buy a home, you should know the recent downward trend in mortgage rates is good news for your move. Let’s connect and plan your next steps.

👩🏻 Christine Almarines @christine_almarines
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637
Tagalog speaking

👩🏻 Michelle Kim @michellejeankim_homes
Realtor DRE# 01885912 | 714-253-7531
Korean speaking

👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266
Spanish speaking


Keeping Current Matters | Nov 3, 2023

Some Highlights

👩🏻 Christine Almarines @christine_almarines
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637
👩🏻 Michelle Kim @michellejeankim_homes
Realtor DRE# 01885912 | 714-253-7531
👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Christine Almarines (@christine_almarines)


👩🏻 Christine Almarines @christine_almarines
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637

👩🏻 Michelle Kim @michellejeankim_homes  I speak Korean!
Realtor DRE# 01885912 | 714-253-7531

👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor  I speak Spanish!
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266

CA Real Estate Group | Powered by Keller Williams Realty


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Christine Almarines (@christine_almarines)


👩🏻 Christine Almarines @christine_almarines
Realtor DRE# 01412944 | 714-476-4637

👩🏻 Michelle Kim @michellejeankim_homes  I speak Korean!
Realtor DRE# 01885912 | 714-253-7531

👩🏻 Anaid Bautista @singlemomrealtor  I speak Spanish!
Realtor DRE# 02179675 | 949-391-8266

CA Real Estate Group | Powered by Keller Williams Realty

Room Makeovers in a Flash

Refreshing a room in your home — for a season or a more permanent change — doesn’t have to be costly or take weeks to complete. Try these creative ideas for quick transformations.

Guest Bedroom
Low-effort, high-impact updates will welcome your guests year-round.

You might think a kitchen update means major upgrades like new countertops or painted cabinets. But there are quick changes you can make to give your kitchen a fresh new look.

First impressions are made in your home’s entryway. A few simple fixes will go a long way in making this multi-purpose space warm and welcoming.

Housewarming Gifts For A Warm Welcome

Celebrate a friend or loved one’s new home with these creatively unique housewarming gifts.

If the new homeowner loves to host gatherings with friends and family, a personalized cheeseboard or coaster set makes the perfect addition for their next get-together.

For those who value a tidy home, help them out with a cordless vacuum or lid organizer. To keep their schedules as organized as their home, a magnetic calendar is another option.

Culinary enthusiasts will enjoy practical kitchen gifts like organic salts, premium olive oils and artisanal honey. Or consider unusual accessories like hand-painted measuring cups or a mortar and pestle.

Those who love spending time at home will appreciate a relaxing evening with a bath caddy tray and a soothing candle. For families, a sampler of popcorn flavors for their next movie night will surely be a hit.

Hot Tips and Cool Tricks: Your Guide To Regular HVAC Upkeep

Keeping cool in the summer and warm in the winter isn’t just about comfort — it’s about maintaining a home that breathes easy year-round. Beyond merely reducing the chances of an unexpected breakdown, regular upkeep of your HVAC system significantly extends its lifespan and is easier than you might think. While experts suggest professional maintenance once or twice a year, there are some simple tasks you can perform on your own.




Spice Up Your Pumpkin-Decorating Skills

Turn ordinary pumpkins into extraordinary works of art with these “gourd-eous” decorating ideas.

Give your pumpkins a metallic makeover with copper spray paint that matches copper cookware for a trendy autumn kitchen.

Make a cozy sweater for your pumpkin by gluing thick braids of yarn from stem to bottom, spacing braids about one inch apart.

Bring mummies to life by wrapping strips of gauze around a small pumpkin, using hot glue to secure the strips. Leave a gap in the gauze, then glue on two different-sized black circles for the eyes. These cute pumpkins capture the spirit of the season with their not-so-spine-tingling stare.

Add a touch of elegance by gluing pieces of white lace trim or delicate flower appliques onto pumpkins.

Recipe: Personal Greek Pizza

2 small, pre-baked pizza crusts
¼ cup marinara or pizza sauce
½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
½ cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
¼ cup red onion, julienned
¼ cup black olives, halved
¼ cup green olives, sliced
¼ cup sundried tomatoes

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Place pizza crusts on pan and top with equal amounts of sauce, cheese and vegetables. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until toppings are hot and crusts are crispy. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Serves 2

©2023 The Personal Marketing Company. All rights reserved. Reproductions in any form, in part or in whole, are prohibited without written permission. If your property is currently listed for sale or lease, this is not intended as a solicitation of that listing. The material in this publication is for your information only and not intended to be used in lieu of seeking additional consumer or professional advice. All trademarked names or quotations are registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Personal Marketing Company
11511 W. 83rd Terrace
Lenexa, KS 66214 | Sep 13, 2023

Are you a baby boomer who’s lived in your current house for a long time and you’re ready for a change? If you’re thinking about selling your house, you have a lot to consider. Will you move to a different state or stay nearby? Is it time to downsize or do you want more space to accommodate your loved ones? But maybe the biggest consideration boils down to this – will you buy your next home or choose to rent instead?

That decision ultimately depends on your current situation and your future plans. Here are two important factors to help you decide what’s right for you.

Expect Rents to Keep Going Up

The graph below uses data from the Census to show how rents have been climbing steadily since 1988:Rents have been going up consistently over the long run. If you choose to rent, there’s a risk your rental payment will go up each time you renew your lease. Having a higher rental expense may not be something you want to deal with every year.

When you buy a home with a fixed-rate mortgage, it helps stabilize your monthly housing payment. This allows you to lock in your monthly payment for the duration of your home loan. That keeps your payments steady and predictable for the long haul. Freddie Mac sums it up like this:

“. . . homeowners with fixed-rate loans will see little to no change to their monthly housing cost over the life of their loan. You can be confident in knowing that your mortgage payments won’t change much in the long term, even when life’s other costs do.”

Owning Your Home Comes with Unique Benefits

According to AARP, buying your next home is a better long-term strategy than renting:

“Though each option has pros and cons, buying provides more pros, with a broader range of benefits.”

To help you choose what you’ll do after you sell, here are just a few of the benefits of homeownership that article covers:

Bottom Line

If you’re a baby boomer who’s wondering whether you should buy or rent your next home, call Christine Almarines at CA Real Estate Group for advice at (714) 476-4637. With rents going up and homeownership providing so many benefits, it may make sense to consider buying your next home. | Sep 1, 2023

Some Highlights

By Jeff Somers | August 11, 2023

There are ways to embiggen your home without spending a fortune.

When you first bought your first house, it probably seemed enormous, especially if you were moving from a tiny apartment. But inevitably, the longer you own it (and start filling it with stuff, pets, and children), the smaller it seems.

What’s to be done? Buy a larger home? Sure, but that’s going to be expensive, especially right now. Get a storage unit? Now your stuff is 20 minutes away, and you have a new monthly bill to pay. Add an addition to your existing house? Also expensive—but it doesn’t have to be. While adding a whole new room or wing to your house might be the ideal solution to your space needs, if you don’t have the cash for such a project, there are lower-cost options you could consider.

Finishing an existing unfinished space

The first option to consider is finishing the spaces that already exist. Unfinished areas like basements don’t count as livable space in your house, so finishing them adds value and space to your home.

If you have a garage, that’s going to be the cheapest space to finish. Garages are often already attached to the main level of the house, have a door connection to the rest of the space, and are probably wired up with electricity at the least. The average cost of converting a garage is around $15,000, though it can go a lot higher if you need to add plumbing for a bathroom or if your garage is very large (or if you’re trying to convert one portion of a 3-car garage and keeping the rest for a car). The main downside is the loss of covered parking, but this is a cheap way to gain square footage.

Unfinished attics and basements are also obvious targets for finishing, with the cost to finish a basement averaging about $23,000 and the cost of finishing an attic averaging $25,000.

Enclose an outdoor space

Another way to add square footage to your home cheaply is to take advantage of outdoor spaces that are already part of the home’s footprint, like patios and porches. This can be pretty involved, requiring new foundations and everything from plumbing to wiring in addition to adding walls, windows, and doors connecting the space to the existing home. Depending on the size of your patio, completely enclosing it can run you anywhere from $17,500 on the low end to several hundred grand on the higher end—which isn’t much cheaper than just adding a room. Enclosing a porch and making it into a four-season room can be cheaper, ranging from $20,000 to $80,000 on average.

A cheaper option for a porch or patio conversion is to create a sunroom or three-season room. Because these spaces lack insulation and heating, they’re generally cheaper to build (screening in a patio, for example, can be as cheap as $500, and a three-season porch can often be obtained for less than $10,000). While these won’t count as official bedrooms or anything and aren’t usable in colder weather, they still add value and usable space to your home.

If you’re handy, a cheaper option for a sunroom or three-season room conversion could be a DIY kit. These can get the job done for as cheap as $1,500 because they don’t include labor costs, and typically require just a few days to construct.

Create bump outs or dormers

An affordable option to add just a little space to your home is a bump-out or an attic dormer. A bump-out is a small addition to a room, sometimes as small as two feet in depth. They’re usually supported by the existing home’s foundation, so don’t require one of their own. Depending on the length of the bump-out, you can add a few dozen square feet to the living area of your house, and the costs range from $5,000 to about $32,000, depending on the size and complexity of the project.

Adding a dormer or two to your attic doesn’t actually add much square footage, but it can make the existing attic space into usable space by raising the ceiling height and adding windows. Attic dormers typically cost less than $20,000 to add, and can transform a tight attic into a sunny room.

Create a loft

If the interior of your house has at least one space with soaring ceilings, you can add some usable space by building a loft area. This can be a DIY project if you really want to keep costs down, and can give you an office space or additional storage space without sacrificing any existing areas. Depending on how ambitious you are (is this just a platform for a bed, or are you envisioning a fully-equipped office?) a lofted area within a room can run you anywhere from a few grand to tens of thousands of dollars.

Add a prefab shed/ADU

Finally, if you have backyard space, you could consider adding a tiny house (also called an Accessory Dwelling Unit, or ADU) or prefabricated shed space to your property. Tiny homes can be as cheap as $4,000 if you DIY the build, and you can wire them for power and add plumbing, climate control, and nice finishes to create freestanding living space. Be sure to check with your HOA or local government concerning permits and other requirements before you click “ORDER” on an entire small house.


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