Buyer Mistakes with Caruso!

First-time homebuyers almost always make a few mistakes when buying their home. Perhaps they pay too much, choose the wrong type of mortgage or neglect to budget for needed home improvements.

Working with a trustworthy, experienced lender can help prevent such mistakes. But consumers also need to take responsibility for their budgets and choices. Before buying a home, consumers need to develop a short- and long-term perspective on their purchase.

The following are the four biggest financial mistakes of first-time homebuyers:

1. Spending the Maximum on Housing

Lenders qualify buyers based on their incomes and debt-to-income ratios without considering how much the borrowers spend on items such as transportation, savings, food and other necessities.

A lot of first-time buyers are optimistic about the future and excited about buying a home, so they borrow the absolute maximum they can afford instead of allowing themselves wiggle room for a partial loss of income or for future expenses such as children.

Financial experts recommend that consumers decide how much they want to spend each month on housing before meeting with a lender.

Every buyer should create their own budget and know their limits. Many first-time homebuyers experience a sizable change in their housing payments. Some new owners may go from $500 per month in rent to a monthly mortgage payment of $2,000.

2. Not Getting Prequalified Early Enough

Meeting with a lender for a buyer consultation and prequalification for a mortgage should be the first step toward homeownership. Yet many first-time homebuyers wait until they are ready to start house hunting before contacting a lender.

It’s never too early to set up a free buyer consultation with a lender. Every buyer needs to get prequalified early enough in the process so that they can make some changes if they need to or correct errors on their credit report.

Some buyers may need to spend up to a year saving more money, increasing their incomes or cleaning up their credit before making an offer on a home.

A buyer consultation should include creating long-term financial goals and strategies for buying property.

3. Misunderstanding the Importance of a High Credit Score

While most consumers know it’s important to have a high credit score, not everyone understands how costly a low score can be.

All mortgage lending is done with a tier of interest rates and terms based on consumer credit scores. A credit score of 720 or above will earn you the best rates and can potentially save you thousands of dollars.

A score of 680 to 720 can get you good mortgage rates, while a FICO score of 620 is usually about the lowest score to qualify for most loans.

Consumers should learn about credit scores the minute they start working.

Websites such as Bankrate provide information about how to improve your credit score.

Even after a mortgage approval, consumers must avoid applying for new credit or taking on new debt, because a second credit check is often required before settlement.

4. Choosing the Wrong Mortgage Product

First-time homebuyers today typically opt for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Their conservatism is a reaction to stories about the dangers of interest-only mortgages and adjustable-rate mortgages. There’s no reason to pay a premium for a product you don’t need like a 30-year loan.

Homebuyers eager to build equity in their homes or who are older and want to live mortgage-free in retirement should consider a 15-year fixed-rate loan or, if they can afford it, even a 10-year mortgage to reach their goals.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Caruso’s Green Tip of the Day!

Speaking about spokes

When choosing a bike,

choose one with a steel frame versus aluminum

and you will conserve 25 kilowatt hours of energy. 

Steel frames can be made from recycled materials,

but aluminum frames must be manufactured from virgin ore.

And that’s your green tip of the day!

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Caruso’s OC Happenings ~ North County



Coming up September 18th is the Light the Night Walk. The walk benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. During this leisurely 2 mile walk, walkers carry illuminated balloons-white for survivors, red for supports and gold in memory of loved ones lost to cancer-thousands of walkers-men, women and children-form a community of caring, bringing light to the dark world of cancer. Check in is at 4:00pm, the Opening Ceremony starts at 6:30pm and the Walk Start time is at 7:00pmm. The event takes place at Angel Stadium. For more information you can visit


September 25th is the Wellness Festival from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Brea Community Center, (695 E. Madison Way). Admission is free. Begin your journey on a personal “quest” for enhanced health and well being at the Wellness Festival which showcases a variety of specialties, including medical screenings, cutting edge fitness trends, alternative and holistic medicine, aromatherapy, free massages, heart healthy food samples, the festival has something for everyone! For more information you can call 714-990-7740 or


The city and the Orange County Fire Authority are offering a training program for citizens to learn and practice disaster preparedness. The next courses begin in mid-October and are $25 per person. For more information you can visit or you can call 714-562-3554.


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September 3rd is the Downtown Fullerton Art Walk. Families and art lovers are encouraged to come to downtown Fullerton and enjoy an evening of over fifteen venues of free art activities and exhibition openings within walking distance of each other. A map will be provided at each venue providing a guided tour. Free refreshments are also provided throughout the evening at many of the stops! Shop, dine and enjoy! The event takes place from 6:00pm-10:00pm. For more information you can visit


Dying of heat!?!? You’re in luck! The H. Louis Lake Senior Center will serves as a public cooling center when temperatures are expected to read 95 degrees and higher. The cooling center will be open from noon to 5pm including weekends. For more information you can call 714-741-5353.


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Applications are now being accepted from bands, vendors, crafters, car show and parade participants for the 46th annual Placentia Heritage Festival and Parade on Oct. 9th. The theme this year is “On the Road to Prosperity”. For more information you can visit


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Starting September 8th to September 29th there will be a Mommy and Me class hosted every Wednesday. The classes will feature games, songs, stimulation, exercises and parent-child interaction. For more information you can call 714-903-1331.   


September 15th is Mary’s Shelter 16th Annual Golf Tournament. Come and participate in a fun day on the greens benefiting homeless teen mothers and their babies’ cared for at Mary’s Shelter. Don’t miss your chance to hear the testimony of a former resident and a swing at the $10,000 Hole-in-One Contest. Delicious lunch and BBQ dinner is served as well as fabulous auction and raffle prizes featured along with many other exciting fundraising activities. Check-in is at 12:00pm, Shotgun at 1:00pm. For more information you can call 714-961-0060.


And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards.   

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI  

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors   (949) 753-7900








For more information visit

Caruso’s OC Happenings~ Central County




September 30th bring your blankets and beach chairs and enjoy an unforgettable evening under the stars as one of the most unique contemporary dance companies in the world returns to the center. Project Bandaloop, is truly taking dance to unheard of heights. The event starts at 8:00pm at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, Segerstrom Hall. For more information you can call 714-556-2787


Coming up October 8th is the annual Taste of Fountain Valley. The event features food samplings, casino games and opportunity drawling. The cost is $45 a person until September 15th, and $50 after. For more information you can call 714-843-3229 or visit


August 28th at 7:00am come to the HB Firefighters Association Pancake Breakfast benefiting the Seagrave Restoration Project. The event takes place at Lake Park (1000 Main Street) and $5.00 donation as well. Tickets are available for purchase at the event. There will also be games, bounce house, entertainment and more! For more information you can call 714-442-9826


September 19th is the 30th Annual “Start!” Orange County Heart Walk. The Heart Walk promotes physical activity while raising much needed funds to fight heart disease and stroke. The event features a 5k walk, Survivor Route, team t-shirt contest, health screenings, food, kid zone, music and giveaways. The event starts at 7:00am. For more information you can visit


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Now through Labor Day you can cruise Newport Bay and the fabulous Newport Beach coastline to the backdrop of live Latin music. This 1½ hour cruise travels through the world-renowned Newport Bay with over 20 miles of gorgeous waterfront estates and multi-million dollar yachts. Food and drinks included as well. The cruise takes place every night from 5:30-7:00pm. Call 949-675-0551 for ticket prices and other information.


September 3-5 is the Orange International Street Fair. Come to this annual fair with the whole family to experience a wide variety of food, music and dance from cultures and ethnicities throughout the world. Every dime of the profits, from the street fair, goes to non-profit charities that help people from the community. The event is Friday 5-10:00pm and Saturday and Sunday 10am-10pm. For more information you can visit


September 18-19 is Orange County’s largest Mexican Independence celebration on historic 4th street downtown. The even features free, family oriented festivities, live entertainment and music, carnival rides and games, authentic Mexican food and several vendor booths. The event takes place from 11:00am to 10:00pm. For more information you can visit


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And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards. 

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI    

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors   (949) 753-7900


For more information visit

Caruso’s OC Happenings ~ South County

South County


Basketball tryouts start Tuesday August31st for advanced 6th grade basketball through the All-Net National Junior Basketball association. Tryouts will be held for the fall/winter season from 5-6:30pm. For more information you can call 949-362-0406.


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If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Sawdust Festival there is still time! The last day is August 29, 2010. From 10:00am-10:00pm everyday over 200 Laguna Beach artists, display their artwork for visitors to shop along sawdust-covered paths through a hand-crafted village of fine arts and superb craftsmanship. The Festival also features demo booths such as glass blowing, complimentary hands-on art workshops, and a children¹s art booth, refreshments from three restaurants and a saloon, live music and more. For more information you can call 949-494-3030 or visit


A Toys R US Express has opened at the Laguna Hills Mall near the Express clothing store on the first level! Go stop by and check it out!


Crafts Faire Vendors Wanted! Parks and Recreation will accept applications for the Fall Crafts Faire beginning Monday, August 2 at 8am. Submit application to Parks and Recreation 29751 Crown Valley Pkwy. Laguna Niguel, CA 92677 or fax to (949)249-1115.


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CALLING ALL CAT LOVERS! With an influx of 8 to 14-week-old kittens at the Mission Viejo Animal Services Center, now’s the time to get your pick of the litter or two. In fact, if you adopt two kittens, DAWG, which raises funds to support animals in need of medical treatment at the shelter, will pay the $100 base adoption fee for the second one. That means new owners will get the second kitten for only $35 or two kittens for $170. (The adoption fee for one kitten is $135.) The shelter is accepting applications for 18 adorable kittens. The kittens – tabbies, calicos, tortoiseshell and fuzzy black kittens – are vaccinated, de-wormed, spayed or neutered, micro chipped and ready to find loving, permanent homes. People interested in welcoming fun and feisty additions to their homes should drop by the center at 28095 Hillcrest. For more information, call 949-470-3045 or visit the City’s Web site at


This Wednesday September 1st, registration beings for fall classes at the Bell Tower Regional Community Center. For more information you can visit


There will be a Live Art Auction Friday, Sept 10 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm at the San Clemente Art Gallery at the Community Center. The Live Art Auction presented by the San Clemente Art Association with proceeds benefiting the Watershed Task Force. This fun and lively event features more than 40 works of art: paintings, ceramics and photographs. Also included are packages featuring Oakley Sunglasses, Restaurant gift certificates, fishing trips and more. Get a great deal and help a great cause! Admission is $10 per person (refunded with an auction purchase). There will also be complimentary appetizers, wine, and sodas. Please RSVP to


August 28th-29th from 2:00-8:00pm at Oaks Blenheim Rancho Mission Viejo Riding Park in SJC come for The Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo! The event is good old entertainment for the entire family, not to mention the richest 2-day rodeo in the nation with a purse totaling over $200,000. The top 30 rodeo contestants in saddle bronco and bareback riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, bull riding and team roping will come to San Juan Capistrano for this chance of a lifetime. Celebrating the golden age of early California history and the American West, Rancho Mission Viejo has committed to the preservation of the cowboy way of life. Carrying on the cowboy tradition of “passing the hat” in support of a sick child or needy friend, all proceeds from the rodeo will benefit local charities. The cost is $20.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards.        

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI 

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors   (949) 753-7900

As seen in

Caruso’s Laguna Niguel Closed Sales Report!

Is the market is improving or at least stabilizing!  Here are the facts…you make the decision!

The Laguna Niguel closed sales report for the month of

July 2010  63 listings closed escrow

Compared To:

July 2009   90 listings closed escrow

July 2008   64 listings closed escrow

Does a sales report tell the whole story about market environment, consumer sentiment and the value of your home?  Is it time to sell?  Is it time to add a property to your investment portfolio? Is the market getting worse?

Call our office if you have any questions or want more information on a particular neighborhood.  Learn What it’s Like to Work With Someone Focused on Your Success….not Theirs. 3 decades of experience, education and proven production.  Call Michael at 949-753-7900 or 949-495-8600 or email!

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors

Times are Changing…

As consumer’s expectations continue to shift, it is crucial that real estate agents take the time to understand these changing needs. One of the ways that successful real estate agents are staying ahead of the curve today is by branding the lifestyles they are selling. Recently I read about how companies are staying ahead of the curve and remaining relevant to the lifestyle of their clients.

The need for active participation in the larger customer conversation through social media, innovative partnerships and collaborative marketing tools began emerging well before the recession.

As such, any service business must continually evaluate “what is the value-add being provided?” With a consumer base growing more sophisticated, that means a partnership devoid of ego and distanced from the personality-centric status quo that propelled some of the macro trends that drove traditional real estate marketing.

The same can be said of the new real estate client. For they have endured what RECON Intelligence Services Founder and President Jeremy Conaway calls “the perfect storm of consumer emergence,” encompassing a recession, undulating financial indices, a volatile housing market, the emergence of Generations X and Y, the effects of the subprime mortgage crisis and the disruptive technology of social media.

Reaching out to a customer base that wants innovation, customization and simplicity can be challenging. Especially when entering the world of iPhone apps, which number more than 200,000.

Addressing the consumer demands for integrity, authenticity and performance drive today’s truly iconic lifestyle brands. Nike, Apple and Mountain Dew evoke a connection with their audiences that rise above transactional exchanges. Today’s real estate agent must also look for that lifetime engagement that defines lifestyle branding.

Brand your neighborhood. People don’t buy homes, they buy communities. It is a mistake to emphasize the features of a home to the exclusion of the features of the community.

Lastly, understand the changing expectations of today’s consumer. Perhaps you may realize that change starts at the granular level before it morphs into a larger trend. Be an astute observer of mini-trends to stay ahead of the curve and remain relevant to the lifestyle of your clients.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900