Moving With Children

Moving is an exciting time full of commotion that can be tough on everyone, including the children. The impact the move will have on kids usually is age-related. Babies, toddlers and young children tend to deal well with moving, while adolescents may resent and resist the move. Here are a few timeless tips that may help all families on the move:

* Clearly explain why you’re moving. Children like to be in the loop and talking to them about the move, what it means and what it will entail can help limit move-related anxiety.

* Familiarize the children with the new location by providing them with exciting information about the area. Some useful tools include maps, news stories and pictures. Highlight some of the location’s points of interest that you think your children will appreciate, like an amusement park or nearby lake.

* Make sure everyone has packed and clearly labeled their most-used items and keep these items easily accessible. For a small child, this could include a few favorite toys or a security item. Older kids may not be able to survive without certain electronics or favorite clothing items.

Moving Babies and Toddlers
Babies and toddlers typically are easy to move, but they also can become confused or scared. Consider the following tips for them:

* Pack their rooms last and keep favorite toys and other must-haves close at hand.

* Try to stick to established routines like lunchtime and naptime.

* Once in the new house, young children may need to be reminded about which household appliances are dangerous and other safety precautions or rules they learned at the previous house.

Moving Preschoolers and School-Age Children
Kids this age can get excited about moving and may be eager to help. If you’re moving with school-age children, consider the following tips:

* Let the children help pack their own rooms and once you’re in the new house, let them help decorate and arrange their new rooms.

* Locate the recreational facilities and children’s group activity centers. Once you’re in the new location, enrolling your children in group activities can help them quickly make new friends.

Moving Adolescents
Adolescents are deeply involved in their social network. Child development experts suggest these kids receive news of the move as soon as possible. They will need more time to get used to idea and to say good-bye to their friends. Some other tips to consider:

* Spend time together getting to know the new area by driving around and noticing what other kids are doing and wearing. Discuss how you can help your child “fit in.”

* If your child is a senior in high school, some child-development experts suggest letting the child stay behind to finish the school year. These experts emphasize that this decision only makes sense if your child’s living conditions will be appropriate and safe.

Moving is an exciting time when families tend to work together to make sure the adventure goes smoothly. Your real estate professional has helped many families move and is a great resource for more information about moving with children.

Median Sales Prices – March ’08

Here are the median sales prices recorded in March for single family homes, condos and new construction in the following communities:

Agoura Hills – $527,500
Calabasas – $1,065,000
Camarillo – $487,500
Fillmore – $402,000
Moorpark – $555,750
Newbury Park – $572,500
Oak Park – $431,500
Oxnard – $360,000
Santa Paula – $334,000
Simi Valley – $500,000
Thousand Oaks – $485,000
Ventura – $432,500
Westlake Village – $965,000
Woodland Hills – $500,000

Source: Data Quick

Wireless Telephone Laws FAQs

Two new laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving go into effect July 1, 2008. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning these new laws.

Q: When do the new wireless telephone laws take effect?
A: The new laws take effect July 1, 2008

Q: What is the difference between the two laws?
A: The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a hands-free device. The second law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

Q: What if I need to use my telephone during an emergency, and I do not have a hands- free device?
A: The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.

Q: What are the fines if I’m convicted?
A: The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. According to the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, with the addition of penalty assessments, a first offense is $76 and a second offense is $190.

Q: Will I receive a point on my drivers license if I’m convicted for a violation of the wireless telephone law?
A: NO. The violation is a reportable offense: however, DMV will not assign a violation point.

Q: Will the conviction appear on my driving record?
A: Yes, but the violation point will not be added.

Q: Will there be a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: NO. The law becomes in effect on July 1, 2008. Whether a citation is issued is always at the discretion of the officer based upon his or her determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.

Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: No. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.

Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
A: Yes

Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless telephone?
A: YES. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.

Q: What if my phone has a push-to-talk feature, can I use that?
A: No. The law does provide an exception for those operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (excluding pickups), implements of husbandry, farm vehicle or tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a “push-to-talk” feature. However, a push-to-talk feature attached to a hands-free ear piece or other hands-free device is acceptable.

Q: What other exceptions are there?
A: Operators of an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment are exempt as are those motorists operating a vehicle on private property.

DRIVERS 18 AND OVER
Drivers 18 and over will be allowed to use a hands-free device to talk on their wireless telephone while driving. The following FAQs apply to those motorists 18 and over.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.

Q: Will it be legal to use a Blue Tooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.

Q: Does the new hands-free law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes.

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text page while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Text paging while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.

DRIVERS UNDER 18

Q: Am I allowed to use my wireless telephone hands free?
A: NO. Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even hands free. EXCEPTION: Permitted in emergency situations to call police, fire or medical authorities. (VC §23124).

Q: Why is the law stricter for provisional drivers?
A: Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than older drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless phones, which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.

Q: Can my parents give me permission to allow me to use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: NO. The only exception is an emergency situation that requires you to call a law enforcement agency, a health care provider, the fire department or other emergency agency entity.

Q: Does the law apply to me if I’m an emancipated minor?
A: Yes. The restriction applies to all licensed drivers who are under the age of 18.

Q: If I have my parent(s) or someone age 25 years or older in the car with me, may I use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: NO. You may only use your wireless telephone in an emergency situation.

Q: Will the restriction appear on my provisional license?
A: No

Q: May I use the hands-free feature while driving if my car has the feature built in?
A: NO. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any type of wireless device while driving, except in an emergency situation.

Q: Can a law enforcement officer stop me for using my hands-free device while driving?
A: No. For drivers under the age of 18, this is considered a SECONDARY violation meaning that a law enforcement officer may cite you for using a hands-free wireless phone if you were pulled over for another violation. However, the prohibition against using a handheld wireless telephone while driving is a PRIMARY violation for which a law enforcement officer can pull you over.

FAQs provided by CHP (California Highway Patrol). If you have further questions please contact Fran Clader, Media Relations Office: (916) 657-7202 .

www.TheMMTeam.com

It’s Spring. Ready to Buy a Home Yet?

Spring has always been busy for real estate. Even though buyers and sellers remain cautious, now could be a good time to make a move

by Prashant Gopal – source www.BusinessWeek.com/

The spring home-buying season is upon us. In small towns and big cities alike, “Open House” and “For Sale” signs are sprouting like crocuses. But it will take more than pleasant weather to thaw the ice-cold real estate market.

Many buyers—especially now that the housing slump is in its third year—are reluctant to take a chance on real estate in the face of continuing price declines, foreclosures, record gas prices, job losses, and general economic uncertainty.

Spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate, largely because parents, readying for a summer purchase, don’t want to move during the school season.

A Silver Lining
“Certainly it will be a big test,” says James Hughes, Dean of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy at Rutgers University. “If it doesn’t pick up this spring, then we’ll have another year on the down cycle. If it does pick up, we’ll have modest stabilization.”

Where some see despair, others see hope. Sellers, who were once clinging to boom-time expectations, are trimming asking prices. But the news isn’t all bad for buyers. In fact, for some the timing couldn’t be better. The lower prices—at least in some markets—are making homes affordable for first-time home buyers and more attractive for investors on the lookout for fire-sale discounts.

Of course, a flurry of foreclosures is also responsible for pushing down prices and adding to the glut of unsold homes, even in many of the nation’s most affluent cities and suburbs.

Some Good Deals
BusinessWeek.com, with the help of Mountain View (Calif.)-based Altos Research, a real-time housing research firm, ranked 14 of the country’s largest cities based on how much sellers have slashed listing prices. At the top of the list is Sacramento, where the median asking price on Apr. 11 was $226,978—a 29% drop from a year earlier, according to Altos.

Other markets with declines of 20% or more include Sacramento, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. On the other hand, Texas markets such as Houston, Austin, and Dallas, where inventory is relatively tight, have been doing much better. (It probably helps that the oil and gas industry, a key element of the state’s economy, is booming.) The annual asking price in Dallas actually increased 6.4%.

Annual listing price information was not available for Manhattan, one of the world’s tightest markets. But a recent report indicated that the median Manhattan condo and co-op sales price in the first quarter rose 13% compared to the same quarter a year ago.
“Yes, there is some opportunity for buyers and investors to find good deals but the conditions for them to get financing are tougher,” says Michael Simonsen, Altos co-founder and CEO. “People in the strongest positions might be able to take advantage of it. But clearly there is far more inventory than investors to pick it up.”

“A Redistribution of Wealth”
David Zugheri, co-founder of First Houston Mortgage, says the best properties located in or near downtowns in Texas are selling briskly. But owners of new homes built miles from job centers are seeing steep price declines.

Zugheri is optimistic the spring will help to awaken the Texas housing market. “There are going to be first-time home buyers coming out of the woodwork,” he says. “Some people get tax refunds, and they’re going to use them for a down payment. One man’s loss is another man’s gain. There will be a redistribution of wealth here that we haven’t seen since the mid-1980s.”

Sellers in Las Vegas are having to compete with a flood of heavily discounted bank-owned properties, says local mortgage broker Colleen Jane McGrath. But investors are returning to the market and scooping up houses, sometimes at 50% of the last list price. And they’re renting the homes to people who lost their own houses to foreclosure, she says.

Not the Best Time to Sell
In Los Angeles, buyers are concerned about the uncertainty in the market, says Simon Bliss, marketing manager for American Financial Realty & Mortgage in West Hollywood. “It has scared people so much that there’s a huge standstill in the market,” Bliss says. “It’s like trying to second-guess a hurricane.”

Rick Sharga, vice-president for marketing at Irvine (Calif.)-based RealtyTrac, an online marketplace for repossessed real estate, says it’s a bad time to be a seller.

“If you’re a seller, it’s a good time to take the ‘For Sale’ sign off the front lawn,” Sharga says. “If you don’t have to sell, now is a good time to be on the sidelines. That’s one of the reasons that the jury is out on how active the spring buying season is going to be.”

Article can be found at http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/apr2008/bw20080417_795645.htm?chan=autos_real+estate+–+lifestyle+subindex+page_real+estate+news

http://www.themmteam.com/

1380 Oak Trail Street, Thousand Oaks, CA

This open and bright two-story home offers 3 bedrooms, and 2.5 bathrooms. Large living room with fireplace, high ceilings and attached dining room which is currently used as a play room. The neutral kitchen offers tile floors, wood cabinets, a window overlooking the backyard and attached eating area. The expansive master suite features vaulted ceilings, walk-in closet with built-ins and a large master bath with dual sinks, a soaking tub and separate shower. All bedrooms with vaulted ceilings and ceiling fans, a full bathroom and loft area are on the second floor. A large covered patio allows for great outdoor entertaining opportunities. The 3 car garage and private backyard complete this lovely home. Gated community with 2 pools, play area and park.

DID YOU KNOW?

In 1996…

Median home price – $194,382. “A home is where the bad investment is.” – San Francisco Examiner

By 2005 the median home price reached $603,927.

Speculation on “Hitting Bottom” … more to come!

www.TheMMTeam.com

Things You Should Know…

April 15 provides an annual reminder about the tax benefits of owning a home: Most people know that mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible in most cases, as is the interest paid when homeowners borrow against the equity in their home. What they may not realize is that the Tax Payer Relief Act of 1997 provides that owners who have lived in their home for more than two years don’t have to pay taxes on the first $250,000 of profits (if they are single) and $500,000 of profits (if the owners are married) when they sell the home.

www.TheMMTeam.com

1380 Oak Trail, Thousand Oaks

Five Tips for a Green Home

Eco-friendly. Carbon footprint. Global warming. Energy-efficient. These catch phrases have become part of our lexicon as we’ve become more aware of our impact on the environment and our role in protecting it. As a homeowner, there are some simple, inexpensive steps you can take to make your home energy-efficient. Get started on the road to being “green” with these five tips:
Change Your Light Bulbs
By replacing just five incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, you can save $100 per year on electric bills while using up to 75 percent less energy and removing greenhouse gases from the environment.
Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances
ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and air conditioners, meet a higher level of energy efficiency set by the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy than standard models. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. And, switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may costs more, you can reduce your energy bill by $80 per year.
Seal Up
Cracks and air leaks represent cash seeping from your doors and windows. Get rid of air leaks in doors, windows and other areas by caulking gaps and cracks. This will help decrease your heating and air conditioning bill. But make sure you use silicone sealants. Acrylic caulk tends to shrink, while silicone sealants are waterproof and won’t shrink or crack, creating less waste.
Use Less Water
Did you know that roughly 60 percent of a home’s water consumption takes place in the bathroom, according to the California Urban Water Conservation Council? The largest culprit is the toilet, which accounts for 27 percent of your household supply every year. By installing low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets, you can save thousands of gallons of water each year. In addition, replace leaky fixtures. That slow-dripping faucet can waste as much as 2,400 gallons of water per year.
Adjust the Thermostat
When adjusting your home’s thermostat, the rule of thumb should be: turn up the dial in the summer and down in the winter. Lowering the temperature by just one degree will reduce your electrical costs. And if you use a programmable thermostat, you can program your air-conditioning and heating systems to reduce output while no one is at home or at night while you sleep. Ceiling fans are also helpful in circulating the air to keep the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Going green doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. By making just a few small changes within your home, you can help decrease energy consumption and help make the world a “greener” place.

Get Reassessed!!!

As a real estate agent who recently purchased a home within the last couple of years, I (Ryan) know what it is like to pay for property taxes on a price that is no longer valid. With the recent downward slope of the market, the value of my home has decreased at least 15%. Does that mean I should pay 15% less in property taxes?

YES!!! The Assessor is now preparing the 2008-09 Assessment Roll. Due to market conditions, properties purchased since 2004 will be reviewed to determine if they qualify for a decline in value assessment as of January 1, 2008.

If the market value of your property as of January 1, 2007 and/or January 1, 2008, was below the total assessed value as shown on your 2007-08 annual property tax bill, your property may qualify for a temporary assessed value reduction. If you believe your property qualifies, please submit an “Application for Decline in Value Review” form to the assessor’s office.

If you need help with comparable data to provide information to the assessor, we have an abundance of tools available to aid in your case. We would love to help!

For more information on this topic please visit the Ventura County Assessor, Property Tax Savings Website.