Monthly Archives: July 2015


Real Estate Deal Falls ApartNothing kills your home sale buzz faster than a pitfall that brings the whole transaction tumbling down. Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for a home sale to crumble during the closing process.

There are several things that can go wrong from buyer’s remorse to buyer-financing rejections but lucky for you there are things you can do ahead of time to avoid issues before they crop up and power through them if you have to. Here are the five most common reasons home sales fall through during escrow and what you can do to save it.


Lenders have significantly tightened their standards since the housing bubble burst and while things are starting to ease, a borrowers ability to repay a loan is still intensely scrutinized. In fact, buyer-financing troubles is probably the #1 home sale killer these days.


Work with a buyer that’s preapproved. While it is still possible for a preapproved buyer to get rejected, it’s not likely. A buyer who hasn’t gone through the initial credit screening could easily be turned down based on their qualifications or the size of the loan they’re seeking. Also, a cash buyer who doesn’t need financing is a sure thing.


Once you’ve secured a buyer and decided on a price, the home must be appraised to determine if the lender is wiling to finance that particular piece of real estate for the price offered. A certified, state-licensed professional will appraise the property and if it’s lower than the offer price, there’s a problem. A buyer’s lender will only lend funds up to the value of the property so if the appraisal comes in low, then your buyer may not be able to afford the home anymore.


To avoid the problem, price your home right the first time. Work with an agent who knows the area and where values stand and be realistic about what to expect. If you’re already in the middle of your home sale, then that means it’s time to negotiate and power through it. That could mean negotiating a lower price the buyer can afford or securing a second appraisal that could come in higher for the buyer. If you can, supply the appraiser with evidence of a similar home sold at a similar price to make a case for a higher price.


It’s the buyer’s job to purchase title insurance to ensure the home is fully theirs to buy and secure a home loan. If a homeowner defaults on the loan and a faulty title reveals that the home is not actually theirs, the bank has no way of recouping the money it lent. You should be aware of any liens on the property but a title report could drudge up long forgotten, past problems. A title search will look to see that all past mortgages and liens have been paid, check pending legal actions, easements and more.


Get your own preliminary title report in advance to make sure the property is fully in your possession with no legal threat of claims. The peace of mind that your home sale will run smoothly is worth it.


Your buyer will want an inspection and most likely needs one as a part of the loan process. As a seller, you should never be waiting for problems to turn up – you should be aware of all past and present issues with your house including termites, water damage, mold and more. If your home has problems, they should be fixed before you list or disclosed to potential buyers.


To avoid any surprises during the home inspection, get one done before you list your home. If you’re already in the middle of your sale however, get ready to negotiate. If the home inspection brings up issues your buyers could ask you to lower the price or to pay for repairs before closing. You want to negotiate with the buyer before inspection issues scare them off.


It is a common buyer contingency in an offer to make the purchase of your home contingent on the sale of their own. It’s because most buyers need the equity in their current home to purchase a new one. However, as you know now, there are plenty of reasons a sale could fall through.


Target buyers who have already sold their home or who aren’t relying in their current home equity to help buy yours. This is also a good reason to choose a cash buyer; they generally have little to no contingencies in their offers. However, keep in mind that cash buyers will always offer a lower price than a financing buyer.

Kevin Allen​      
Broker Associate
First Team Estates
Christie’s International Real Estate
Office: 714-481-5831

Those who say “It can’t be done,” shouldn’t interrupt those who are doing it.
First Team Real Estate is the number one family-owned, non-franchised real estate company in Orange County and all of Calif., voted Best Real Estate Company 4 years in a row by the OC Register, and has sold more homes in Southern California than any other brokerage in the last 10 years.

Meet La Habra, the corniest town in Orange County

La Habra, Ca Corn Festival 2015

A boy in the under eight children’s category races to finish an ear of corn Saturday afternoon at the 2012 La Habra Corn Festival during the corn eating contest. The 2012 La Habra Corn Festival celebrates corn with a corn eating contest, displays, and a parade.

Source: OC Register

La Habra has something no other city in Orange County has. A corn festival.

That’s right, corn – as in the plant that grows so high it meets an elephant’s eye.

Now, you may wonder why a celebration of corn. And I am here to report and reveal. But for context, you probably are asking yourself some basic questions about La Habra – like where the heck is La Habra?

Not to be confused with La Palma, another Orange County city, La Habra is arguably the least freeway-connected city in our county. And that explains why so many know so little about La Habra, including its location – north of Fullerton, west of the 57 freeway.

But that doesn’t tell you much about this city that proudly calls itself a “caring community.” To explore La Habra, you need to drive its streets, including ones the locals call “our freeways.”

After flying along Beach Boulevard and, later, Imperial Highway, where speed limits range from 50-55 mph, I get that surface-street-as-freeway thing. Still, La Habra is best seen through the eyes of City Manager Jim Sadro.

Understand, Sadro grew up here. Point to a big city map and he shows where in high school he chowed down hamburgers.


The recession hit all municipalities. But some were especially hard hit. Without a big mall and with relatively low property taxes, La Habra suffered.

“The recession was incredibly damaging,” Sadro allows. “We’re still feeling the effects.”

Consider that the city’s biggest employer is CVS and its warehouses, where some 900 people work. The next biggest employers are big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and Costco.

During the recession, two new-car dealerships disappeared and tax revenue plunged. Making matters worse, an old utility tax had expired. Still, basic maintenance was needed. Streets were in poor shape.

But residents rallied with a half-cent sales tax. And today, after a six-year-project, all residential streets have been repaired or replaced. Sadro points out that one of the vacant car dealership sites will soon become a gated community with 32 homes.

It’s a series of small and large successes like these that cumulatively make a big difference in a city that covers 7.4 square miles and has nearly 62,000 people.

The support of citizens means a lot to Sadro, and not just because he’s city manager. A teacher he had at Whittier Christian High School reached back to the civic service values of the 1960s and inspired Sadro to get involved with government. He went on to earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Cal State Fullerton, focusing on public administration.

Matthew Gaitan, 2, and Destiny Alvarado, 3, play around wooden ears of corn at the annual La Habra Corn Festival. ///ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: 0808.spr.corn – 8/2/14 – NICK AGRO, ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER  The La Habra Corn Festival is the biggest event in the city. The doggy costume contest begins at 2:30 p.m., with registration at 1:30 p.m. The corn eating contest begins at 2 p.m.

Matthew Gaitan, 2, and Destiny Alvarado, 3, play around wooden ears of corn at the annual La Habra Corn Festival.

The La Habra Corn Festival is the biggest event in the city. The doggy costume contest begins at 2:30 p.m., with registration at 1:30 p.m. The corn eating contest begins at 2 p.m.Approaching two years as city manager, Sadro doesn’t look to turn the city, incorporated in 1925, upside down. His goal is similar to his predecessors: “Create a more livable city.”

He explains that the city is in a valley with La Habra Heights to the north and Fullerton’s Coyote Hills to the south. He boasts, “It’s dead quiet here at night. You don’t get that constant freeway hum.”

Still, he’s quick to declare, “We’re not a sleepy bedroom community. There’s a lot going on.”

That’s especially true after council’s vote last week to completely remodel the city’s civic center.


Will La Habra try to one-up Newport Beach and its new $142 million city hall?

Sadro smiles thinly, suppressing a comment. Instead, he explains what will happen in La Habra over the next three years. His guiding principle follows previous city councils as well as new members: “Help the city become more of a community.”

The current City Hall will be replaced by 71 townhomes – which means more people and more sales tax. City Hall will move across the street and into existing buildings. The plan also puts City Hall closer to prized Portola Park, which includes baseball fields, a tennis center and the city’s Children’s Museum, which offers a hand-carved carousel, an interactive model train village and tours of a 1942 caboose.

Total funding? Sadro estimates that the entire civic center project, which includes updating other buildings, should cost $19 million. But the new civic center is only part of the focus

“We will create a new downtown community with a new La Habra vibe and restaurants, shops and stores,” Sadro predicts. “I’m a big believer in government presenting the opportunity and letting developers develop.”

Andrew Ho, director of community and economic development, admits he has his work cut out for him and estimates that it could take years before the area sees dramatic change. Still, he is encouraged with the plans as well as some newer additions already in the area such as G-Burger, a gourmet hamburger restaurant.

Mind you, the plans are a far cry from what Sadro’s predecessor handled back when Sadro was in high school. Those were days when tagging was a serious problem. The best the city could do was send crews out to paint over the graffiti. Sadro recalls one worker starting at 4 a.m. so residents could wake up to pristine neighborhoods.

Today, crime remains an issue just as it does in many areas. But Sadro reports that many of the old gangs are gone and tagging is less of an issue. As he talks, we pass El Centro Park in the downtown area. Kids in bathing suits squeal as they slip down a waterslide, and jump up and down in a bounce house.

Sadro mentions that it’s a city program. We pass La Bonita Park, where four softball fields rival the best in Orange County. We visit Vista Grande Park, where the city soon will build fields for soccer and football, and perhaps a dog park.

“If you don’t have to think about your government,” Sadro says, “then we’re probably doing a good job.”


By now, you’ve either forgotten about the corn festival or given up learning about it. Don’t worry. The corn festival happens to be one of my favorite Orange County events, if for nothing else because it has the same simple theme every year.

Realize there are no cornfields in Orange County. And even back in the day, La Habra apparently had no cornfields.

The idea for a festival started a couple of years after World War II, when the Lions Club needed a fundraiser. Soon, a member by the name of Bill Miller concluded that the city should have a corn festival because a lot of residents were from the Midwest.

It’s turns out Miller was onto something. Although few residents today hail from the Midwest, in less than four weeks the local Lions Club will launch its 67th Corn Festival.

Randy McMillan, a 26-year Lion, zeroes in on the hometown appeal: “I look forward to meeting up with my friends that I grew up with.”

The three-day festival includes what the Lions call Southern California’s longest-running summer parade, live music and, of course, corn eating contests.

Too corny? Perhaps. But in a very cool way.

June 2015 Real Estate Report

La Habra Heights, Ca Real Estate Report July 2015La Habra Heights, Ca Homes For Sale 90631June’s real estate report shows a increase of the number of homes listed for sale over the last six months over last year. In June there were (54) Homes for sale and a almost 9 month inventory. However the main take away is an increase in median sale price of $1,170,000 which is up 57% and average sales price up nearly 13% at $1,116,429 for homes in La Habra Heights 90631.  If you are thinking about moving or purchasing a new home please give me a call.  I’d love to help you sell your home for the most money possible in the shortest amount of time.

Kevin Allen​      
Broker Associate
First Team Estates
Christie’s International Real Estate
Office: 714-481-5831

Those who say “It can’t be done,” shouldn’t interrupt those who are doing it.


Shopping center could come to La Habra Heights

LA HABRA HEIGHTS >> For 37 years, this city has only allowed residential development. In fact, a real estate office is the only commercial area in town.

But that could change after Thursday’s night’s City Council 4-1 vote to approve an 180-day exclusive negotiating agreement with Costa Mesa-based Prism Realty to consider buying city-owned property and building a community shopping center there.

“It’s a parcel of land sitting their vacant,” said Councilman Brian Bergman about the 3-acre site at the southwest corner of Hacienda and West roads the city purchased for $480,000 in 2004 from Los Angeles County with the idea of building a new fire station.

That never happened and now it’s surplus property, Bergman said.

“It really doesn’t have much value,” he said. “We have a fiduciary relationship with the citizens to extract the highest price we can out of this property … so we can repair our roads. We’ve never really funded our paramedics.”

But the council needs to put something there that will be acceptable to the community, Bergman said.

La Habra Heights, Ca Shopping Center Location

The City Council is considering a deal that could sell a vacant three-acre site at the southwest corner of Hacienda and West roads to be developed as a community shopping center.


For example, that rules out putting in apartments, he said. In fact the council last year rejected a proposal from another developer for high-density housing, City Manager Shauna Clark said.

Bergman said he also doesn’t believe that single-family homes — no more than three would be allowed under the current zoning — would work because no one would want to live near the heavy traffic on Hacienda.

But there already is opposition to the proposal to consider commercial zoning for the lot.

That should be no surprise, said Jean Lietzau, who was on the City Council from 1978-90.

“We tried to do this about 35 years ago on the corner of East (Road) and Hacienda and the council almost got lynched,” Lietzau said.

Still, Lietzau is OK with the idea.

“If this council wants to do it, I say good for them,” she said.

But others aren’t.

“I am appalled by the fact that we’re even entertaining (the idea),” said Scott Thomas, a 40-year resident of La Habra Heights.

“If you allow one area to be developed for commercial real estate, there is no way for us to say no to any where else in the city,” Thomas said. “I’m concerned about traffic. Any commercial endeavor requires commercial traffic to be successful.”

Resident Norm Zezula said the general plan already forbids commercial zoning.

“The general plan states that La Habra Heights is a unique community because of its rural character. What part of unique doesn’t (the council) understand?”

Mayor Michael Higgins said opponents may be jumping to conclusions because there’s not even a project yet. In fact, Prism has yet to make an offer on the property.

Before the company can do that, it needs to do its due diligence on the site, such as traffic and other studies, Higgins said.

The council also would have to amend the zoning ordinance — right now the code has no mention of commercial zoning.

Higgins said Prism might bring in a couple of restaurants, a coffee shop or something like that on the lot. It also could be a gathering place for the community, he added.

Councilman Roy Francis, who cast the lone no vote, said the only way he would support it would be to put the issue to a vote of the residents.


Source: Whittier Daily News

La Habra Heights to move city council elections to November of odd years

La Habra Heights, Ca City Council ElectionLA HABRA HEIGHTS – City Council elections will be moved eight months ahead beginning in 2017.

Instead of being held in March as they have been since 1995, they will be consolidated with local school and water board elections and run by Los Angeles County.

The City Council on Thursday on a 5-0 vote approved the second reading of the ordinance making the change.

“It just seemed like in the long term that it is less expensive for us,” said Mayor Michael Higgins. “It also takes some of the burden off of staff.”

City Manager Shauna Clark said the city could save between $20,000 and $40,000 depending on whether La Habra Heights Water District’s board has a contested election.

If it doesn’t, the city would be responsible for all of the cost. Otherwise, the expense will get shared.

La Habra Heights blogger Stephen Blagden criticized the move because it will extend council terms by nine months – from March to December.

“It’s self serving,” Blagden said. “They’re extending it without a vote of the people.

Blagden said he would be OK with the change if the council members promise not to run again.

Higgins said the eight-month extension isn’t that big a deal and has happened before. The council during the mid-1990s moved the election from April of even years to March of odd years, giving council members an 11-month extension.

In fact, Higgins said he’s not that happy about the extension.

“I’m not thrilled about it, being the one who has to sit in the mayor’s chair for an extra eight months,” he said.

This year’s municipal election cost the city nearly $184,000. Two-thirds was the result of having Measure A, the anti-oil initiative, on the ballot. That was another reason to make the change, Higgins said.

“It cost a lot of money and hours in staff time,” he said.

The city was sued a couple of times and had to go through a recount.

“When we go to the county, that will be the county’s problem,” Higgins said.

2015 Community Awards Banquet

Name: Annual Community Awards and Installation Banquet
Date: July 15, 2015
Time: 11:00 AM2:00 PM PDT
La Habra Chamber of Commerce - Awards Banquet
Event Description:
Annual Community Awards and Installation Banquet
Each year we honor individuals, businesses and organizations that have shown exceptional achievements and service to our community. We also install our new Board of Directors and Chair for 2015 – 2016.

La Habra Chamber of Commerce - Awards BanquetThis is set at the beautiful Westridge Golf Club banquet room where we serve a grand buffet of cold cuts, assorted salads and more.

Selected to receive Awards are:
Citizen of the Year – Mayor Pro Tem James Gomez
Youth of the Year – Carrera Vilaubi
Business of the Year – Central Drugs Compounding Pharmacy
Entrepreneur of the Year – Living Justly Industries, Inc
President’s Award – Cindy and Danny Singer
George Rochester Award – Captain Ernie Ramirez LACFD
Chamber Award – Coach Frank Mazzotta
Business Revitalization – McDonalds Hamburgers
Scott Lawrence Award – Victor Laveaga
Chamber Appreciation Award – Ernesto Oros
Golden Apple Award – Matt Tiberg & Kathy Silvas
Special Appreciation Award – Barry Ross & Robert Morales
Chamber Night Special Award – Larry Rottweiler and Armando Gomez



City Council votes to begin process that could bring shopping center to city

LA HABRA HEIGHTS – The City Council Thursday voted 4-1 to begin a process that could end up in the sale of city-owned property to a developer who would put in a neighborhood shopping center.

The council approved an 180-day exclusive negotiating agreement with Prism Realty about the nearly three-acre property at the southwest corner of Hacienda and West roads.

“It’s an empty lot, a non-performing asset,” said Mayor Michael Higgins.

“It could be very good for this community,” Higgins said. “We’re being responsive to the needs of the community. We’re looking at a potential asset that could bring in a little more revenue.”

The city purchased the property in the early 2000s with the thought of building a new fire station, but it never happened.

Several residents opposed the agreement, saying the city’s general plan doesn’t allow commercial projects and such a development would ruin La Habra Heights’ rural character.

Councilman Roy Francis cast the lone no vote.


Source: Whittier Daily News


FREE Household Hazardous Waste Roundup for La Habra Heights

FREE Household Hazardous Waste Roundup for La Habra Heights
Date: July 11, 2015
Time: 9:00 AM2:00 PM PDT
La Habra Heights, Ca Hazardeous Waste Collection & Disposal

La Habra Waste Round UpsEvent Description:

There will be a free Household Hazardous Waste & E-Waste Recycling Roundup for La Habra Heights area residents on Saturday, July 11, at Hacienda Park, Hacienda Boulevard and Encanada Drive in La Habra Heights from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Safely dispose of household hazardous waste such as antifreeze, unused pharmaceuticals, car batteries, used motor oil, paint, pesticides, home-generated sharps waste, e-waste, and more.
It’s a free and easy way to safely dispose of items that are too toxic to trash.
For more information, contact the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works at 1(888) CLEAN LA or or the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County at 1 (800) 238-0172 or
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