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Ginny Meister
    Years of Experience: 30

    Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
    DRE License #00632992

Direct: 949) 244-7779

Office: (949) 451-1200

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RE/MAX Premier Realty
5299 Alton Pkwy
Irvine CA
(949) 451-1200

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Buying a home in a senior community in Orange County CA

Posted by Ginny Meister | on Friday, January 7th, 2011 at 2:45 am
Category: Buying a retirement home.
Tags: , , , ,


Senior communities are usually defined as housing neighborhoods requiring the occupants to be 55 years old or more.  Usually one spouse of a married couple can be under 55.  There is a huge diversity of properties that fit this description.  Some of the homes are own your own apartments, and others are large detached homes.  Most of the senior developments provide some community activities geared toward older adults.  These senior developments are located in many different cities throughout Orange County. 

The largest senior community in Orange County is Laguna Woods.  This community is an incorporated city with its own city government.  Within Laguna Woods there are a variety of homes.  There are cooperative apartments where some interior maintenance is provided as well as exterior maintenance.  There are standard condominiums where only the exterior is maintained.  There are detached houses.  There is also The Towers where the homeowners’ association provides utilities, a meal, and house keeping.  The prices within Laguna Woods range from $5000 for a studio apartment in The Towers with an association fee of $1,594 per month to a detached home with 3100 square feet for an asking price of $1,295,000.  Laguna Woods has many community features including a golf course, horse stables, gardening, craft shops, theater  groups, trips, a library, pools, club houses, and more.  To really appreciate all the community offers, you should really contact the administration and arrange to attend one of the tours provided by Laguna Woods.  The website for Laguna Woods is

Another popular senior community is Palmia in Mission Viejo.  This is a neighborhood for active seniors with sales prices in 2010 ranging from $299,000 to $679,000.  The homes are attached or detached, but all have 2 car garages.  They range from 991 to 2300 square feet.  The community features a beautiful clubhouse, tennis and paddle tennis courts, and a putting green golf course.  For more information on Palmia go to

Huntington Landmark in Huntington Beach is a well established and popular senior community.  Huntington Landmark is located within 2 miles of the state beach.  The ocean breezes are wonderful and provide a comfortable climate all year long.  The homes are attached and feature a detached garage.  The association pool and tennis are very popular.  The association sponsors a large number of activities and clubs.  You can go to for more detailed information.

I also like Casa Del Sol in Mission Viejo.  This community is located above the Casa Del Sol Golf course.  Many of the homes have lovely views.  The homes are attached and detached.  They feature attached 1 and 2 car garages.  The prices have ranged in 2010 from $264,900 for a 2 bedroom with 1085 square feet to $679,000 for 3 bedrooms with 2679 square feet.  See more information at

One of the newer communities is in San Clemente in the neighborhood of Talega.  The developments are Sandbridge, Wavecrest, and Waveleaf.  The homes were built from 2001 to 2004 and range from $620,000 to $1,045,000.  Talega can be viewed from

These are just a few of the many senior communities.  There are others homes for sale located in Laguna Niguel, Corona Del Mar, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Fountain Valley, San Juan Capistrano, and Tustin.  If you would like more specific information, please contact me at  I will be happy to research your needs and send you specific information on homes that meet your needs.

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Financing for First Time Buyers in Irvine CA

Posted by Ginny Meister | on Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 at 11:28 pm
Category: First Time Home Buyers.
Tags: , , , ,

You have decided to buy your first home.  Congratulations!  What do you do next?  The questions that you should begin to ask should include the following:

How much can I afford to pay?

How much money do I have for a down payment and closing costs?

Do I need a tax break for home ownership?

Do I qualify as a “first time buyer”?

Can I qualify to purchase a home?

Speaking with a realtor and a mortgage lender should begin to answer these questions.  My website allows you to view homes currently on the market and calculate a mortgage payment. 

You should know your credit scores.  There are several websites that allow you to check your FICO scores.  One of these websites is  A good lending representative can make suggestions that may help you to improve your credit scores.  An excellent credit score may also make more favorable terms available to you when financing a home. 

Next you need to be pre-qualified to purchase a home.  This will allow you to see if your ability to purchase matches the type of home that you desire.   Again the lender and the real estate agent can help you become pre-qualified.  You can then consider if this is the right time for you to purchase your first home.

The down payment for your home will vary depending on the type of financing that you choose.  Some loan programs require the funds to come from the buyer directly.  Other programs allow all or part of the down payment to be a gift from someone else.  FHA financing requires 3.5% – 5% down payment.  VA financing does not require a down payment  California has special financing for first time buyers  In some circumstances these loans require as little as 1% down payment.  A “first time buyer” is usually defined as someone who has not owned a home for the past three years.  Some foreclosed properties qualify for special financing and  Additionally, some cities have special programs for first time buyers.  Irvine has a program, but they do not have currently funds available.  Some of the Orange County cities with special programs to help with the down payment are Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Orange, and Rancho Santa Margarita.  The availability of these programs changes all of the time, and it is best to contact each city directly.  With all of the above progams, the loans are still originated with a mortgage lender.  Not all mortgage lenders are approved to make all types of loans.  The best intest rate and terms for a home loan usually require 20% down payment with a comforming loan of $417,000 or less.  This type of loan does not usually require mortgage insurance or an impound account for taxes and insurance.  Therefore, the payment and the amount of prepaid costs at closing can be minimized.

You will need an accurate estimate of all buyer costs in addition to your down payment.  These costs are referred to as closing costs.  Many of the buyer’s costs are associated with the financing for your new home.  These costs include fees for an appraisal, credit report, documents, title insurance, and points.  Points are the origination fees charged by the lenders.  One point is equal to 1% of the loan amount.  Loans are available with or without points, but the interest rates decrease as the amount of points increase.  Other closing costs will include escrow fees, inspection fees, recording fees, and prepaid costs such as property insurance and taxes.  Real estate commissions are traditionally paid by the sellers.  The seller can pay all or part of the closing costs for the buyer.  This is something that can be negotiated when the buyer makes an offer to purchase the property.  For a first time buyer, it may be preferable to pay a slightly higher price and ask the seller to pay the buyer’s closing costs.  A small increase in the monthly payment may be better than thousands of dollars at the time of purchase.

There are many reasons to own a home rather than renting.  Initially, home ownership usually costs more than renting.  In the long run, owning allows you security and the ability to build equity.  When you own a home you are responsible for property tax, hazard insurance, and, in some cases, homeowner association fees; however, you will be able to claim the interest on your home loan and your property taxes as deductions on your income tax.  It will no longer to up to your landlord as to when you may need to move.  You will determine your own payment which can be a fixed amount for a specific amount of time (usually 30 years).  The landlord will no longer be responsible for property maintenance, but you will be able to determine how and when to improve your own home.

There are many reasons to own your own home even without considering the possible increase in value.  Now is a great time to buy your first home.  Interest rates are at an all time low and prices are much more affordable than a few years ago.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

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Is a Short Sale the Best Choice for you in Irvine CA

Posted by Ginny Meister | on Monday, November 22nd, 2010 at 12:15 am
Category: Buy a House.
Tags: , , , , ,

If you are considering purchasing real estate as your personal residence or as an investment, you are probably wondering about short sale listings.  What is a short sale?  Is the price really lower?  Is a short sale purchase really that difficult?

A short sale is a property offered for sale at a price that is less than the amount needed to pay off the existing loans and still pay for the sellers normal closing costs.  The existing lender must approve a short sale.  This approval involves the approval of the seller’s circumstances.  Not all sellers will be approved for a short sale.  The seller needs to submit a hardship letter to the lender.  The seller will also be asked to submit detailed information regarding income, savings, tax returns, and assets.   Next the first trust deed lender needs to approve the estimated proceeds from the sale.  This lender will need to approve an acceptable amount to be paid for any additional loans.  The other lien holders will need to agree to that authorized amount.  The lenders will not usually approve the costs of back homeowners association dues, back property taxes, or repairs and treatment required for a clear termite report.  The lender will then request an independent appraisal or brokers price opinion.

The asking prices for many short sale listings are generally lower than others in the same neighborhood.  However, there is no guarantee that the lender will approve that price.  When the price is approved, there will be items that the lender will not agree to be paid as a sellers’ cost, but the buyer and/or the buyers’ new lender may require these to be paid.  These items generally become a buyer cost.  Also, since the sellers do not have any money coming as a result of a sale, they normally are selling the property in “as is” condition.  As a result comparing the asking price of a short sale to the price of a standard sale can be misleading.

The final question is “How difficult is it to buy a short sale listing?”.  The process is becoming more streamlined.  Many lenders are using online programs where sellers’ information can be uploaded by the seller and the agent.  This process is shortening the time for a short sale approval.  The agents, sellers, and buyers can follow the steps in the process online.  There is still a question of price.  When buyers submit an offer to purchase a property, they usually would like to know quickly if the price and terms of their offer is acceptable.  With a short sale, it will be 30-90 days before the buyers receive that answer.  The lender will not  consider a short sale until there is an actual offer to purchase.  Many short sale listings are sold more than once.  The asking price of the property may not have been realistic.  The first buyers may get tired of waiting and find another property.  The secondary lenders may not be in agreement with their payoff amount.  The sellers’ hardship may not be approved.  Short sale listings are often still listed for sale long after offers have been received and submitted to the existing lender.   Attentive agents will report these listings as taking “back up offers” until the lender as approved the sale.  If  a property has had previous offers, the listing agent will sometimes note the accepted price in the agent information in the Multiple Listing Service.

If purchasing a short sale is something that you have decided will work for you, then you need an agent representing you who will research the property and communicate with the listing agent regarding each individual property’s  and each sellers’ circumstances.  With a lot of patience on your part and hard work on the part of the agent representing you, you may acquire a property for a less than market value price.

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Staging Your Home to Sell in Irvine CA

Posted by Ginny Meister | on Friday, November 19th, 2010 at 9:01 pm
Category: Real Estate.
Tags: , , , ,

What is staging?  Staging a home is a step beyond preparing a home to sell.  many people agree that staging a home will increase the final sales price for the property.  This is a hard fact to prove, but staging gives the buyer a view of the home’s potential.  If buyers can picture themselves living in a home, there is a much better chance that they will make an offer to purchase that property.  If more than one buyer will make an offer, then the ultimate price of the home will be higher.

AS sellers  you should start with the traditional ways to prepare a home for sale.  The home should be spotless.  This may mean hiring a professional to help clean the house including the windows, baseboards, flooring, and the outside of the house as well.  Don’t forget the smell of the house.  For instance, fresh baked bread or cookies are much more appealing than wet dog.  The home should have fresh paint in and out.  Repairs should be made, including minor repairs such as fresh grout and caulking where needed.  Next elminate clutter.  The counters in the kitchen and bathrooms should be virtually clear.  Also eliminate extra furniture.  The best idea is to rent a storage unit rather than stuffing it all in the garage. 

Now that you have achieved a home that looks larger, cleaner, and newer than you ever remember, you are ready to stage.  Staging does nothing if you are not starting with a well maintained home.

Staggers will add the artistic touches that make a home unique and memorable.  You can hire a professional stager or you can do it yourself.  A professional can help you with your own furniture and add small personal touches like plants, mirrors, baskets, flowers, etc; or they can furnish a vacant home from the ground up.  Some will set the stage for the whole house, and some will just set up the key rooms (kitchen, living room, dining room, and master bedroom).  The cost for a professional can be a few hundred dollars for a consultation or tens of thousands for the on going rental of furniture and decorating for a large home.  If you decide to stage your own home, I would suggest that you visit the model homes in a new development.  Your goal is to create an inviting space without too much diversion.  You want to highlight your homes best features.  Don’t forget to include the exterior of your home by staging the patio, setting the patio table, and adding hanging baskets of flowers.

Set the table

Clean open kitchen with basket, plants, and fruit

Open and light room with pillows and decorator touches

When you are finished ask your realtor or a friend to give you and objective opinion.  They will see your home from a different point of view. 

Good luck with selling your home.

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