Why You Need a Good Negotiator in Today’s Market

[Image via The KCM Blog]


Making Your Rental Application Stand Out

You’ve been searching high and low and (FINALLY) you think you may have found the right apartment to call home.  Of course, your next step is to submit an application.  To help make sure you don’t blow it on something minor (and easily avoidable),  Zillow.com recently published an article detailing some of the ways would-be tenants can set their rental application apart from the rest.

1.  Write legibly.  Do not underestimate how much of a difference a neatly written application can make: “It’s like wearing a suit to a job interview instead of wearing jeans,” according to Zillow. “A sharp-dressed application always gets the attention before the sloppy one.”

2.  Fill out the application completely. If you’re unsure of information listed, take the time to look it up, find out what the application’s asking, etc.  You could be setting your application up to be rejected if you submit it only partially complete and/or leave the leg-work to your potential landlord.

3.  Reassure the potential/new landlord that you have all of your money (first month’s rent, security deposit and/or pet fee) ready to go now.  It’s up to you to, “Prove it to them that you have your ducks in a row and are serious about renting the property.  Mention it when you turn in your application, and be sure to jot it in the notes section on the application.”

4.  Follow policy.  If they ask you for a copy of your driver’s license, an application fee, a list of everyone living there, provide it for them.  You may not understand why they need it but it doesn’t really matter.

“Don’t question why they want it for, just do it.  If you buck their system during the application process, chances are they might determine that you will buck their system when it comes to the lease, too.  Your application will quickly get placed on the bottom of the pile if you don’t cooperate, or if the application is incomplete.”

5.  Do not hound the potential landlord or make a list of demands up front.  It’s important not to hound your potential landlord or property manager; at the same time, you also shouldn’t just disappear.  Zillow’s recommendation? Use email to keep in contact.

“It can take approximately 24-48 business hours to process an application, assuming you have filled out the application completely (see point 2 mentioned above).  If you haven’t heard back from them by the next business day or so, send a gentle (read: short, but sweet) email to the potential landlord expressing your interest in the property.”

Your rental application will be sure to shine as long as you hit all 5 of these hot buttons, and you remain calm throughout the process.

Weekend Open Houses

Looking for an open house to check out this weekend?


21 Reef, Marina Del Rey
5 bed / 4 bath
3500 Sq Ft. Area
MLS# 11-534655

Cape Cod, newer construction home with 3 levels of luxury living and just 1/2 block from the beach!  Living room, dining area, kitchen, guest bedroom/bath, powder all located on the first floor.  The second level has the master suite, which includes a fireplace and sitting area, plus 2 more family bedrooms and a bathroom.  The top floor has a family room with a wetbar and direct access to the rooftop deck, spa, and fireplaces. Hardwood and marble floors throughout, prewired for nework access.  Private, landscaped front yard, 3 car parking.

Click on a link to find out more about what open houses are happening in your neighborhood this weekend.

Culver City

Mar Vista

Marina del Rey

Playa del Rey

Playa Vista

Santa Monica



Tips on Avoiding Rogue Movers

Millions of Americans move households every year.  Though it can be a tiring process, a little bit of planning and preparation can make a WORLD of difference.  In the August 2011 edition of Real Estate magazine (published by RISMedia), the Carl Walter, vice president of Mayflower, one of the nation’s oldest moving companies, dishes out some helpful advice on ways to avoid falling for scam movers.

1.  Stick to companies you’ve heard of and names you know.  Try to find at least 3 moving companies with local offices that have been in business for more than 10 years.

2.  Get a referral. Why not ask around for recommendations?

3.  Ask for an in-home estimate.  Walter says, “Transportation charges are based on the distance of the move as well as the weight of the items being moved.  To ensure your estimate is accurate, have the moving company come and look at the items being moved.”

4.  Don’t be hooked by the lowest price. Scammers and disreputable movers often will use low prices to lure customers and then hit them later with bogus or unreasonable charges.  The best way to avoid this: “Get three estimates.  If one is much lower than the others, that’s a red flag.”

5.  Be sure the company is who it says.  Some dodgy companies will take prey on consumers by using names that are extremely similar to other more reputable companies.

6.  Don’t pay upfront.  According to Walter, “Typically you should not be required to pay a deposit to have your items moved.”

7.  Do your research.  For interstate moves, check to make sure your mover is licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for interstate moves.  You can find this out by visiting  protectyourmove.gov.

8.  Get it in writing.  Have your movers give you pick up and delivery dates in writing.

9.  Know your rights.  Walter’s final advice: “Request a copy of ‘Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move,’ a brochure created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that outlines consumers’ rights.


For info about reliable movers in Los Angeles (including movers that operate in Marina del Rey, Venice, Playa Vista, Mar Vista, Playa del Rey, Westchester, Culver City, Santa Monica, and more), please feel free email us at debraanpat@bermankandel.com.

HOA: Fact or Fiction

Many people deal, or have dealt, with an HOA Board in some way before, whether as a renter or a homeowner.   Realtytimes.com recently published an article by Richard Thompson, a nationally recognized expert on HOA management issues, addressing some commonly held beliefs about your HOA and how it should be working for you.

1. Homeowners dues and fees should be low.  

While it may seem more financially attractive to pay a lower monthly amount, cutting corners to save money now can end up costing you much more later.  Thompson says: “The board is elected to maintain the HOA assets properly. There is a big difference between being a good steward and a tightwad. Tightwads skip routine and necessary maintenance services which erode the value of the homes. It takes money to do it right and the board should spend the money necessary to accomplish the tasks.”

2. Since HOA Boards are volunteer operated, they aren’t held to the same standards as professional managers. 

Whether they are volunteers or professionals, the job is still the same.  HOA business should be conducted in an informed and professional manner by the board.  According to Thompson,  “This means taking care of things in a timely manner, planning ahead to anticipate problems, getting and acting on good advice.”

3. The HOA is small and so are the needs.

Keep in mind that the smaller the HOA is, the more costs and fees per owner increase.  For smaller associations, this means more careful planning and organizing by the HOA board.

4. The HOA is too small for professional management.

For the sake of a happy and peaceful neighborhood, for some things its better to let a professional take over: “In areas like financial management and rules enforcement, all homeowner associations should have outside professionals. Collecting money from neighbors and controlling their antisocial behavior is bound to cause problems for a volunteer doing it. It’s even worse when you live next to the offender. There are management professionals that do these tasks 24/7 and are paid for it.”

5. The board is elected to be the manager.

The HOA board is elected to: “Hire and supervise competent service providers.”  When organized, the job should demand no more than a few hours a month from its HOA board.

6. The board is entrusted with the most valuable asset most people own.

For many people this holds true.  As our HOA expert points out: “The responsibilities of an HOA board are not unlike those of any Fortune 500 company board. In both cases, there are physical and human assets entrusted to the board. Careful planning and effective communication to the stockholders (owners) is needed.”

You can find more info about HOA and HOA laws in California  here, or email us at debraandpat@bermankandel.com with any questions.

Financing 101: FHA

One thing we get a lot of questions about from buyers is FHA financing, so we thought we’d take the time to clarify some FHA basics.

What is FHA?

FHA (Federal Housing Administration) provides mortgage insurance on loans made by FHA-approved lenders. FHA insures these loans on single family and multi-family homes.  FHA does not lend money.

How can FHA help me buy a home?

According the the U.S. Department of Housing and Development, FHA financing can be a great option for some buyers and homeowners:

FHA insured mortgages offer many benefits and protections that only come with FHA:

  • Easier to Qualify: Because FHA insures your mortgage, lenders may be more willing to give you loan terms that make it easier for you to qualify.
  • Less than Perfect Credit: You don’t have to have a perfect credit score to get an FHA mortgage. In fact, even if you have had credit problems, such as a bankruptcy, it’s easier for you to qualify for an FHA loan than a conventional loan.
  • Low Down Payment: FHA loans have a low 3.5% downpayment and that money can come from a family member, employer or charitable organization as a gift. Other loan programs don’t allow this.
  • Costs Less: FHA loans have competitive interest rates because the Federal government insures the loans. Always compare an FHA loan with other loan types.
  • Helps You Keep Your Home: The FHA has been around since 1934 and will continue to be here to protect you. Should you encounter hard times after buying your home, FHA has many options to help you keep you in your home and avoid foreclosure.

With some programs requiring as little as 3.5% downpayment, FHA financing can offer many people the opportunity to buy who may not have qualified otherwise.   For those who do chose FHA mortgage insurance, borrowers should expect to pay an insurance premium upfront, as well as monthly insurance premiums that are added to the regular mortgage payment.

What are the eligibility requirements for FHA financing?

Most people living in the US, who are of legal age and have a valid social security number are eligible to apply for FHA financing.

FHA’s mortgage programs do not typically have maximum income limits for qualifying, although you must have sufficient income to qualify for the mortgage payment and other debts. Using FHA guidelines, lenders will make a credit determination based on the merits of each case.

To find an FHA approved lender in your area, click here.  For more information about FHA financing, visit the FHA resource center.