Radiant Recommends….Cha Cha’s Brea

This blog article is the beginning of a series called “Radiant Recommends…” We not only love to sell homes here in North Orange County, we also love living here and supporting our local community and businesses. We hope these articles will help draw attention to some of the great places that we are sure you will enjoy as well. Without further hesitation, our first submission: Radiant Recommends…ChaCha’s Fresh Latin Kitchen in Brea!

When Market City Café closed on Birch Street in Brea, a large void was left at a highly visible location. Within a few months, remodeling was completed and ChaCha’s opened their doors. As a fan of all types and styles of Mexican food, I was eager to give the place a spin. Now, a year later, I can say that it is by far one of my favorite restaurants….period.

ChaCha’s menu is a California-Mexican fusion invention with many choices you would expect to find, and some you would not. Starting with the appetizers, it is tough to not order the guacamole or ceviche to start off your meal. Main courses range from taco plates, to salads, to carnitas (my favorite). With none of these choices can you go wrong. Fish selections are excellent as well, such as their mahi-mahi plate(see photo above) or seafood enchiladas. Excuse me for a second while I clean the saliva from my keyboard…..

Drink selections are also amazing. The frozen mojito is by far the fan favorite, although they make a mean margarita and offer a huge selection of tequilas. You can finish off the night with their flan or banana taquitos for dessert.

The service has always been spot on. Waitresses are friendly, the food comes at just the right pace, and management usually comes by just to check in to make sure that everything is just right. I have not had to ask for my water glass (or mojito glass) to be refilled, as the staff is always on their toes making sure that our tables every whim is being met. Yes, it really is that good.

ChaCha’s has become such a popular hit in this City that by popular demand, they are open on Mondays which they previously remained dark on. We were at their first open Monday the other night in which they offered a great coupon to all those who took advantage of their new hours. Speaking of coupons, their website also offers coupons from time to time, so take a minute and check it out before you run out the door. They do take reservations, and have incredible happy hour specials. Rumor has it that they are also going to be opening two new locations in the upcoming year based on their success in our fine city of Brea.

ChaCha’s is located at 110 West Birch Street, Brea, CA 92821. You can reach them by phone at (714) 255-1040. Their website is: www.chachasbrea.com

Thank you, ChaCha’s for making Brea a better place to live, and more specifically, eat.


Eagle Hills in Brea is tops for Christmas Lights

If you are looking for a great neighborhood to walk or drive through to enjoy Christmas lights, than look no further than Eagle Hills in Brea. The residents of this community go all-out every single year to put on a display that will leave you, your family and friends impressed. The time and effort that is put in to create this winter wonderland is nothing short of amazing. During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, you will find lines of cars, and groups of friends slowly winding their way through the streets to take in lights, decorations, live music, live nativity scenes and even horse-drawn carriages on some occassions.

Primrose Street seems to be the pinnacle of the tour. The homes along this street are usually even a bit more intense. Some of the residents on this street have even decorated the inside of their homes and allow you to take a look inside.

You can enter the neighborhood from either Starwood and Birch St. or Sunflower and Lambert Road just east of Kraemer Blvd.

Not only is it fun to walk or drive through, the mood of the holiday spirit is in the air. Parties are held out on driveways with fire pits,treats, and warm beverages, the friendly people of Brea somehow get even friendlier, and a general spirit of joy is felt as you are greeted by people on the streets.

Merry Christmas to you and your family from Radiant Property Group!


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When Can I Buy Again??

Given the current economic climate, more consumers are dealing with credit concerns. We are often asked, “How long do I have to wait after a foreclosure or bankruptcy to purchase a home?” The answer depends on the type of financing you will be using to purchase.

FHA Loans:
Foreclosure – 3 years
Short Sale – 3 years
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy – 2 years past discharge
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – paid in at least 12 months into payment plan and court permission

Conventional Loans:
Foreclosure – 5 to 7 years
Short Sale without late payments – 2 years
Short Sales with late payments – 4 years
Deed in Lieu with mortgage late payments – 4 years
Bankruptcy (Chapter 7 and 13) – 4 years

If you have been through a foreclosure, bankruptcy, or short sale, and are looking to purchase, be mindful of these dates, as they are standards set by HUD and Fannie Mae. It is also pertinent to note that short sales often report on a credit report like a foreclosure. The advantage of a short sale is the shorter waiting period to purchase again. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call.

*Content for this blog post was provided by Dawn Cychner, a local mortgage broker. Dawn is the CEO/Senior Account Executive with C&S California Capital, and you can contact Dawn to answer additional home loan related questions at DECychner@cscaliforniacapital.com or visit www.cscaliforniacapital.com.
**This information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Lenders make changes to the guidelines they use to qualify borrowers, so please contact us for current credit & home loan guidelines as needed.


The Unofficial Social Hub of Brea, CA

There are a lot of great places to hang out in Brea, CA. This suburban city in North Orange County is a magnet for people in the surrounding area as the place to go for dining, entertainment, and shopping. The Brea Mall is one of the most visited shopping centers in all of Southern California. All along Imperial Highway, from Berry to Kraemer, the options are endless for somebody looking to shop and eat. When my wife and I were looking for a place to make our home in 2002, it made sense to move to Brea. For heaven’s sake, we were driving here from Whittier every weekend and noticed how many young families were also making this great little City their home too. After moving in to our first house here, we began to realize that this town has big city appeal, but the heart of a small town. It was nearly impossible to go out without running in to a neighbor or friend. Since all of Brea’s exceptional public schools feed in to one junior and senior high, all social circles start to overlap.

So after being here for over 8 years, I have found that one specific place stands out as the social hub of Brea. The North/West corner of Imperial Highway and Brea Blvd looks much like the other shopping destinations on the surface, but it isn’t. This corner includes a Golden Spoon, Starbuck’s, Corner Bakery, Top Class Pizza, and the Fitness Grill. There used to be a Blockbuster there as well, but it recently closed down, leaving a new opportunity for a future tenant. I have done some research to see if it has been snapped up yet, but it looks like the space is still available. So why is this spot the unofficial social hub? First, the businesses here have a wide appeal. All year long the outdoor tables are filled with people studying, meeting for business, grabbing a cup of coffee, or hanging out with friends. Last week I met my friend Travis Austin who is the CEO of Rezitech at Corner Bakery for lunch. Besides being a brilliant entrepreneur, he is a regular at this spot. My first question to him was, “How many friends will we see here today?” It was not a rhetorical question either. Spend enough time here, and you realize that it is a non-alcohol serving version of Cheers for Brea. Keep an eye out for me next time you stop by. I’ll be the guy grabbing a frozen yogurt with my four excited kids! -Jonathan Pearson


Geocaching Brea: Rediscover your neighborhood

As a Realtor, I am always open to new ideas and ways to get out in to my neighborhood. Recently my sister Amy purchased a geocaching (Pronounced Geo-cashing) device for my family. If you have never heard of geocaching, it is like modern-day treasure hunting. No, you aren’t going to find any gold coins or items of great worth, but you will be able to go on a great adventure. This phenomenon is growing in popularity, and has taken root world-wide.

While some people only like to go out and find the caches, there are others who take the time to find hiding spaces for them. The caches come in many shapes and sizes, from small tubes to the size of a small treasure chest. Once they hide them, they figure out the exact GPS coordinates and register them for others to go and find. Inside each of these is a log for you to sign once you have found it. Some of the caches hold trinkets or toys inside. If you take something out, you should always put something back in. So what is the point? Well, you can think of it as a game or riddle. Most of the cach descriptions include some sort of story or clue to help you find it. Even with the GPS device, you can be standing right on top of it, but not find it. It takes some thinking, riddle-solving ability, and a good eye to spot most of these. Some are hidden in plain sight. Hundreds of people may walk by it each day, and not realize that it exists. The game is played on publicly accessed property and not on private property so that any person may participate. So what do you need to do to join in?

1.Sign up for an account- First you should go to www.geochaching.com which is run by this activity’s organizer, Groudspeak. You can register for a free account which will give you access to all of the “caches”. While at the site it is also good to familiarize yourself with the rules and culture surrounding geocaching. Just like any sport or organized activity, there are ways to conduct oneself when on a hunt.

2.Get a GPS device- There are hundreds of GPS tracking devices which can be used to help you find the coordinates where treasures are hidden. I found the official geocaching.com App on iTunes and used my iPhone. It costs $10, but works great. It helps to lead you right in to the vicinity where the treasure is, and also can be referenced when needing a hint.

3.Search near you!- You will be shocked at how many of these things are within 2 miles from your home or workplace. On the geocaching website you can search from an address, or several other criteria. When I looked up my home address, I had about five of them within a half-mile. Start with a goal to find one or two, put on your walking shoes, and head out the door!

4.Warning, this is addicting!- When I first heard about this I thought that it might be kind of lame. I mean, it isn’t even REAL treasure. I quickly discovered how much fun it can be. It combines exercise with problem solving. My kids loved it too, although it is a little bit harder to stay in “stealth-mode” when you are dragging four kids along! This activity has helped me rediscover my neighborhood and community. I love living in the North Hills neighborhood. I find that every time I am out I get a chance to talk to one of my neighbors or see another beautiful corner of Brea that I did not know existed. By the way, if you see “Team JP”, that is me!

-Jonathan Pearson


Home Buyer Tax Credit Expiring Soon!

A first-time home buyer tax credit up to $8,000 that has been in effect will be expiring on April 30th, 2010. This credit, which was part of a plan to stimulate the U.S. housing market was originally set to expire last year, but was extended by the U.S. Congress because of the continued economic challenges that our country has been facing. In addition to this, the credit is also being granted to some existing home owners who are purchasing a new or existing home. To help inform you of what this means to you and if you qualify, we have broken down this article in to a question and answer format:

Question: How do I know if I qualify for the home buyer tax credit?

Answer: If you are a first-time home buyer that enters in to escrow by April 30, 2010 or if you are a current home owner purchasing a home by April 30, 2010 who have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five (5) consecutive years within the last eight you will likely qualify for the tax credit. (A person may qualify as a “first-time home buyer” if neither they nor their spouse has owned a residence during the three years prior to the purchase.)

Question: What type of properties are eligible for this tax credit?

Answer: Properties which are considered primary residences will qualify, including single-family homes, condos, townhomes, and co-ops.

Question: What is the maximum tax credit available?

Answer: The maximum credit for a first-time buyer is $8000. The maximum credit for a current homeowner is $6500. It is important for you to consult your tax professional, and the IRS to know exactly what you will qualify for.

Question: How is the buyer’s tax credit determined?

Answer: There are two main criteria used to determine the amount of credit awarded to buyers. The first is the price of the home. The second is the buyer’s income. To qualify for the credit, the home being purchased may not exceed $800,000. As for the buyer’s income, a single buyer who has income up to $125,000 and married couples with income up to $225,000 may receive the maximum tax credit. (These amounts are different from the original buyer tax credit legislation which began in January 2009 and expired in November of 2009.)

If you earn more than these amounts, you may still qualify for a pro-rated portion of the credit. If you earn more than $145,000 as a single buyer, or $245,000 as a couple, you are not eligible for the credit.

Question: What is the final deadline for closing escrow and still qualifying for the credit?

Answer: As long as you are under contract for the purchase of the home by April 30, 2010 you have until July 1, 2010 to close escrow.

Question: Is there any chance that the tax credit will need to be repaid to the government?

Answer: Yes. There is a stipulation that you must occupy the purchased home for three years or more. If you do not live there for at least three full years, the entire amount of the credit will need to be repaid upon the sale of that home.

We hope that this information helps you in determining your eligibility for the tax credit. Perhaps now that you realize that this great opportunity is running out, you are interested in purchasing. If so, please contact us so that we can begin assisting you in your search for a new home. You can email the Radiant team at: info@RadiantPG.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

For more information, you can also visit this IRS website.


Speed the Sale of Your Home!

Small expenditures of money or time on carefully targeted projects can improve your chances of selling quickly – and ensure you get the best price possible.

You don’t have to spend a fortune renovating your house to ensure a quick sale at the best price. Some of the most effective fix-ups are also the cheapest.

Spending just $200 to $500 on fresh landscaping, for example, can boost your home’s value and appeal, according to a survey of real estate agents conducted by Home Gain, an Internet real estate service. Spend another $200 to $300 on cleaning and de-cluttering your home, the survey found, and you could add a few thousand more to the sale price.

To pinpoint the projects that make the most sense, start by touring your property with fresh eyes, as if you were a prospective buyer. Drive or walk up to your house and see how it appears from the street. Walk through the front door and take a look around. You might ask a trusted friend to help you spot problems, clutter and weird smells that you’ve long since stopped noticing. Keep a pen and pad handy to list the projects that need to be done.

Here are some suggestions for the exterior of your home:

•Start at the sidewalk. Landscaping makes a huge difference in how people perceive your home. Whack back overgrown bushes and trees so your house is visible from the street. Plant colorful annuals in the flowerbeds. Keep the lawn green and trimmed, even if you have to hire a gardening service or a local teenager to help.

Revive a tired exterior. Painting exterior doors and window trim can freshen your home’s look without the huge expense of a complete exterior repainting. Shine or replace worn door knockers and hardware. Replace or remove torn screens or damaged storm windows. Make sure exterior lights are working and have fresh bulbs — some buyers like to cruise by your home at night to see how it looks.

Remove outside clutter. Get rid of anything that blocks pathways or clutters up side yards, back yards and patios. This includes toys, excess furniture and tools.

•Clean your windows. You want your home to look as light and bright as possible. Dirty or spotted windows drag down a home’s appearance.

Once inside, inspect your floors, your walls, your kitchen, your bathrooms and your closets — because your buyers will. Here’s what to tackle:

Dig out the dirt. You can do it yourself or hire a crew for a day, but a deep cleaning is essential for a good first impression. It’s also key to keep up the cleaning as long as your house is on the market, which will probably mean a daily dusting and vacuum session. Bathrooms and the kitchen should be kept spotless.

•Banish bad smells. Air out your home by throwing open the windows at least once a day (or, in bad weather, by running all your exhaust fans). Don’t cook smelly or greasy foods, which linger in the house. If you have cats, clean the litter box at least once a day. Use potpourri or bake cookies before buyers visit to give your place a “homey” smell.

•Remove inside clutter. You need to move anyway, so why not get a head start and make your home look larger by packing away at least one-third of your stuff? Stowing away knickknacks, mementos and family pictures helps depersonalize your home, which is actually a good thing: You want potential buyers to picture themselves living in your home instead of being distracted by your personal effects. Consider renting a temporary storage space rather than stuffing your packed boxes in your closets or garage, which will make them look smaller.

Organize what’s left. Tidy closets and pantries look bigger and more appealing.

Fix your floors. Real estate agents say buyers really notice the condition of floors. Hardwood should be polished and carpets shampooed or, if they’re in bad shape, replaced. Repair any broken tile or linoleum.

Brighten your walls. If you’ve painted or wallpapered in recent years, you may be able to get away with just washing your walls. Otherwise, consider repainting your rooms in neutral colors.

What about bigger projects, such as a kitchen update, a new roof or upgrades to an electrical system? Generally, you won’t get your money’s worth from these projects, but here’s what you should consider:

Remodeling is for buyers, not sellers. Major renovations usually don’t pay for themselves, let alone add enough value for you to make a profit, as I wrote about in “The hidden financial truth about remodeling.” So why would you want to go through the hassle and the expense right before you move? Concentrate instead on smaller fixes with bigger impact, and let your buyers remodel to suit themselves.

Beware of deferred maintenance. Buyers expect your home to be in decent shape. That means a roof that doesn’t leak, paint that isn’t peeling and household systems (heating, cooling, electric and plumbing) in good repair. If you’ve neglected your home, you face a tough choice. You’re unlikely to recoup much of the cost of your repairs in the form of a higher sales price, since buyers are unlikely to pay you a premium for maintenance you should have been doing all along. Yet not making the fixes may turn off buyers altogether. Talk with an experienced real estate agent about which projects you should tackle before listing your home.

Consider a pre-sale inspection. Hiring your own inspector before you put your home on the market can alert you to problems you didn’t know about, giving you a chance to fix them before they complicate — or ruin — a potential sale. If the repairs are expensive, you may face the same difficult choice described above. But that’s better than being surprised once your home is in escrow.

By Liz Puliam Weston and Thomas Higgins


A Radiant Blog is Coming!

by admin on March 3, 2010

in Radiant News

A Radiant Blog is Coming!

Thank you for taking the time to visit the Radiant Property Group Website. We are putting the finishing touches on our site over the next few days, but will begin actively blogging about all things real estate and community life here in the greater Orange County area soon. In the meantime, please visit our Radiant Listingbook site and sign up for a free account to search the MLS listings like an agent!