Caruso’s New Year’s Eve(nts)!


Still don’t have plans for New Year’s Eve? Here’s what’s happening around Orange County…Cheers! Happy New Year!

Noon Year’s Eve – Discovery Science Center: Why should adults have all the fun on New Year’s Eve? Kids, put on your party shoes and walk the red carpet on the day of December 31. www.discoverycube.org

8Eighty8 NYE 2011: Prepare yourself for one crazy night. The Hottest New Club in the O.C will be transformed like you have never seen before for this one night only. 8Eighty8 Night Club

NYE Long Beach Yacht Party: 4 hour luxury cruise through Long Beach Harbor, PREMIUM OPEN BAR ALL NIGHT, Champagne greeting, Appetizer buffet, Party Favors, Fireworks, etc. www.un4seenproductions.com

New Year’s Eve Block Party: The OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party will offer live tribute band entertainment by the decade – from the ’60s to the ’90s – plus DJs, food trucks,  and more in a casual setting. www.ocfair.com/blockparty

New Year’s Eve Downtown Fullerton: First Night, the City of Fullerton’s annual alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts. The event is FREE and includes children’s activities, inflatable activities, hybrid ice skating, entertainment, food vendors, art galleries, and more. www.cityoffullerton.com/residents/community_events/first_night_in_fullerton.asp

NYE Yacht Party – Newport Beach: Celebrate New Year’s Eve in style on one of the most elegant and exclusive Yacht’s that Newport Harbor has to offer. www.un4seenproductions.com/

Heat Ultra Lounge’s New Year’s Eve: Dance the night away at Heat Ultra Lounge. Champagne toast at midnight. Live video countdown. Balloon drop, confetti and party favors. www.heatultraloungeoc.com

Donavon Frankenreiter & Sugar Ray: Southern California natives, Donavon Frankenreiter and Sugar Ray will team up to co-headline a New Year’s Eve show at the Grove in Anaheim. www.grove-of-anaheim.com/events/event_details.asp?id=1942

For more events visit easyoc.com

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

 

Did housing help fuel your personal wealth this decade?


Taking a look back at the past decade, did housing help fuel your personal wealth? Did it help you in a good way or a bad way?

The California Association of Realtors reported California’s median home price was $248,250 in 2000 and was $304,220 in October 20210. Sure, the median home price peaked mid-decade at $567,000, but we must look at the long-term overview which tells us positive things. Over 10 years there was a steady, upward incline with a few spikes and dips-normal in any housing market. This means there has been an overall increase in wealth.

Now the important question remains-what did you do with the wealth created by the spikes, dips, and surges in your home’s value? Did you refinance to buy cars and toys? Or did you invest in a 2nd home or other funds to bring returns? We must use this housing-fueled wealth wisely and remember that a home is still a great investment.

Remember that all real estate is local and the increase in median price over the decade will vary by city. To find out the value of your come, click here.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

What will the home of tomorrow look like?


Say goodbye to suburban tract homes and hello to the future of housing. With the population rising and increased energy and fuel costs, new housing projects will become denser and environmentally friendly.

80% of Orange County’s current housing was built between 1950 and 1990 – a time when we weren’t worried about increasing population and decreasing resources. Some 825,000 homes were built across large open spaces in a mass produced form. But Orange County’s detached, SFR will soon be seen less and less and multi-family dwellings in urbanized, contemporary environments will become more frequent.

The new home will include more open rooms rather than individual family, living and dining rooms. No more 3 car garages and more sharing of amenities (think pools, parks, fitness centers and tennis courts). Lofts will be built above stores for less travel time to shopping and groceries. You will become friendly again with your neighbors. Housing will become transit -oriented, near rail lines and other transportation methods. And solar power will become a normal part of daily life. Current regional development and planning students in universities around the country are learning about this new way of life and upon graduation they will make it a reality.

Even though Orange County may not be ready for this lifestyle just yet, it is definitely heading in this direction and it needs to as space runs out. We will undeniably have to compromise and so will everyone else. But is not having a yard more important than saving a driving time of 2 hours in traffic each way to work and allowing for more time with your family?

Something to think about….

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI Past

President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

Images from http://www.ucxarchitects.com

How to never forget your anniversary


Many couples are flooding to get married on the easy-to-remember date 1/1/11 (January 1, 2011)

In response, the Orange County Clerk-Recorder Department is opening for special hours on Saturday, January 1, 2011. The marriage office will be open for civil wedding ceremonies from 10 a.m. to 1:11 p.m. Department staff have volunteered to work on New Year’s Day, a Saturday, and will take time off during the work week to compensate.

 Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly commented, “My staff’s willingness to work on a major holiday weekend, for the sake of romance, is much appreciated. They are very devoted to serving the public.” Now that’s love.

The marriage office is located at the Old County Courthouse on 211 Santa Ana Blvd. in Santa Ana. To make an appointment, call (714) 834-2588.

If you or someone you know is looking to get married on this numerically special day, spread the good news! They’ll be sure to never forget their anniversary!

If your recent or upcoming marriage calls for a new home, don’t hesitate to call me. I will help you find a perfect home to grow old in.

And Thank You For Making Me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

Remodels that pay off – Front Door Replacement


In a report by Remodeling magazine, the mid-range entry door replacement brought the highest payback at an average of 102.1%

This easy remodeling project can really make an impact on a buyer’s first impression, which we all know really does matter when selling your home.

Entry Door Replacement

Average cost: 1,218

Resale value: $1,243

Make sure your new front door complements the style of your home and neighborhood. Change your old door out for a steel door and paint it to match your home’s trim. If appropriate, try leaded glass as well.

Other considerations include the type of steel, rust inhibitors, paint vs powder coating, aluminum thresholds, composite stops, new lock sets with a brass or antique finish.

This budget-concious project will add excellent curb appeal to your home. Next week we will take a look at the garage door replacement.

And Thank You For Making Me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

Get more GREEN – for your wallet and home!


Save! Qualified homeowners will get a rebate with the new California REALTOR®’s Energy Audit Program (R.E.A.P.), a new program that provides rebates of up to $250 on Home Energy Rating System (HERS) home energy audits conducted by certified HERS raters.

This program is offered by C.A.R.’s Housing Affordability Fund (HAF). These audits assist homeowners learn about the improvements they can make to their home to reduce their monthly utility bills and be more energy-efficient.

To qualify for the program, homeowners must:

-Purchase a home in California between Oct. 1, 2010 and Dec. 31, 2011

-Use the home as their primary residence

-Conduct a HERS home energy audit of the home prior to close of escrow (as part of the Energy Efficient Mortgage*) or no later than 60 days after escrow

-Use a California REALTOR® in the transaction (referrals do not qualify)

-Complete an application – can be provided by their California REALTOR®

An energy efficient home saves money, countering rising energy costs while making a home more affordable. Green is good!

For more information visit carhaf.org

And Thank You for Making Me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-584-2300

November Foreclosures at Lowest Level since 2008!


According to RealtyTrac®, the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, the November 2010 report showed that foreclosure filings dropped 21% from the previous month and 14% from 2009.

November foreclosures dropped to the lowest level in 2 years (sine November 2008)!! Auctions and default notices also decreased significantly.

“Foreclosure activity decreased dramatically in November, with fewer than 300,000 properties receiving a foreclosure notice for the first time since February 2009,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer at RealtyTrac. “While part of the decrease can be attributed to a seasonal drop of 7 to 10 percent that typically occurs in November, fallout from the foreclosure robo-signing controversy forced lenders and servicers to hit the pause button on many foreclosures while they scrambled to revamp their internal procedures and revise or resubmit questionable paperwork.”

Despite decreases, Nevada, Utah, and California remain at the top of state foreclosure rates. Can’t wait to see these number continue to drop as we head into 2011! If you would like to purchase an REO property in Southern California, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Source: RealtyTrac®, www.realtytrac.com, read full report here.

And Thank You for Making Me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900

Caruso’s Top Ways to Saty GREEN During the Holidays!


The holidays are a time for giving, so why not give back to Mother Nature this year by going green? Going green doesn’t mean you have to give up turkey and Christmas trees, but you can find eco-friendly alternatives to many holiday essentials that may just save you some green.

Use Recyclable Gift Bags
If you want to keep your gifts a surprise and avoid the mountain-high pile of wrapping paper afterward, then opt for recyclable gift bags or a use the same bag every year. You can also wrap gifts in old newspapers, using the funnies section for kids. All in all, no one will really care what the outside of the gift looks like, just what’s inside.

Buy a Real Tree
Believe it or not, buying a real Christmas tree is more eco-friendly than buying an artificial one made with plastic, lead and other processed materials. It’s preferable that you buy one from a tree farm where only purchased trees get cut, and either replant the tree or recycle it (NOT throw it away) after the holidays are over.

Use LED Lights
LED lights offer a more eco-friendly and energy efficient option to regular lights, because they use only four watts per strand, whereas regular lights use about 34 watts per strand. LED lights can also last about 20 years or 100,000 hours, which means you won’t be buying new lights for a long time.

Limit Light Time
Christmas lights use a lot of energy and tend to stay on longer than necessary. Adjusting your use of Christmas lights to, say, dusk till bed time and turning them off during the day and when you’re not home will be much more efficient and save you money in the end. If you think you might forget, get a timer and let it do the clockwork.

Send Gift Cards
If you are sending gifts, opt for gift cards instead of big packages. You’ll save time, stress and money not driving around to find and send big gifts. Also, it takes less fossil fuels to send gift cards than transporting boxes that contain packing peanuts, plastic and other items that will usually end up in the trash.

Cook Organic Foods
Go green this holiday season by cooking with organic and locally-grown foods to support local farmers. You’ll feel better knowing you served your guests food that was free of pesticides and chemicals, and supported a more eco-friendly way of farming.

Send Ecards and Evites
This year, skip the paper cards and invitations and go with the instant electronic versions. Ecards and Evites are just as decorative and meaningful to receive and, best of all, no fossil fuels are used to send them.

Keep it Close
Celebrate the holidays at your place or close to home to save money on trip expenses and avoid using gasoline or burning fossil fuels to travel across the country. It’s safer and more convenient to celebrate at home, because holiday travel can be treacherous during the cold months when so many people are on the road.

Give Green Gifts
Green presents are the gifts that keep giving all year round. They can be as simple as battery chargers and rechargeable batteries and homemade toys, or as high-tech as E-readers. Consider the longevity of the product and how green it actually is.

Reuse Old Decorations
Holiday decorations are something you can repeat year after year, and they rarely need to be replaced. For example, ornaments are timeless, nostalgic pieces that deserve to be reused every holiday season. If you have the urge to get a new wreath or star for the top of the tree, be crafty and make your own.

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

www.MichaelCarusoRealEstate.com

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI

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

Luxury Housing Market Continuing to Rise


Do you work with luxury homebuyers? Despite the current market conditions, affluent consumers have continued to make considerable purchases in the last 2 years and this will only increase in the next year. However, when it comes to homes many of these buyers have changed their attitudes and we must adjust to their new concerns and demands.

Believe it or not, buyers of upper-tier priced homes are looking for a value. They are not willing to pay what they would have in the peak of the market in 2006 and are more interested in a modest property. These buyers are still attracted in settling where they can live a “lifestyle,” but with that they wish to also enjoy safety and affordable cost of living.

Wealthy consumers are aware of the need for a significant amount of accurate information about the market and the property in which they are interested in. This means less interest in properties not yet under construction. Be prepared to provide these capable, potential customers with comprehensive analyses and histories.luxury-insider.com

I believe the luxury housing niche (top 10% of residential sales) will lead the housing recovery as the affluent increasingly unreserved about investing in residential real estate again.

As a member of the Million-Dollar Guild, The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing and a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist, I can provide you and your buyers with valuable information on this market and sound, expert service.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors

www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

http://www.homevaluesinyourarea.info

949-753-7900

The Neighborhood Files – 2011 projections


I am excited to now be a contributor for the Real Estate section of Laguna Niguel Patch. Patch is an Internet online newspaper owned by AOL. They currently have 650 sites coast to coast with a goal of 750 by early 2011. The article below was featured in “The Neighborhood Files” and gives an update on the Laguna Niguel market.

An Insightful Meeting

Leslie Appleton Young, vice president and chief economist of the California Association of Realtors, brought to members of the O.C. Association of Realtors her projections for 2011 and explanations behind the lackluster 2010.

Appleton-Young said recent seller feedback suggests that only 33 percent of sellers who sold their home in the last year are planning on repurchasing. Problems are lack of  savings for a down payment; credit problems from foreclosure; employment uncertainty; and a presumption that prices will continue to drop.

The Culprit

What led to this subprime meltdown and flood of foreclosures? Appleton credits it to both national and international financial market problems.

A recent study by Cal State Fullerton professors concluded that part of the foreclosure wave was because of excessive borrowing against equity. From their probe of Orange County auctions, it was clear that continual re-fis were rampant. Appleton-Young suggested that these repeat offenders simply “thought that they could get out before the market turned down.” Buyers today are smarter and are capitalizing on these properties. And fortunately, for all parties, it appears that banks are getting quicker at closing these short sales and foreclosure purchases.

Looking Ahead

So when will the market turn around? Appleton-Young said, “Consumer spending represents 72 percent of GDP.” So if consumer spending is lower than normal, the other sectors of the economy will remain on hold until an explicit sign suggests that the recovery is stable and strong.

Laguna Niguel appears to be heading in the right direction, with a significant increase in closed sales in 2010 over to 2009. Closed sales in Laguna Niguel from January 2010 through November 2010 totaled out at 818; it was 700 during the same time period in 2009.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Specialist!

Best Regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GRI GREEN

Past President, Orange County Assoc. of Realtors

http://www.michaelcarusorealestate.com

949-753-7900