Archives for August 2015


Costa Mesa Water Kurt Real Estate

It might be summer, but that doesn’t mean the grades have stopped going out. California cities are being tested and graded on their water-conservation efforts, thanks to Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive order that calls for Californians to reduce their water usage by 25 percent. If you don’t know what the order means for you, check out our guide to water restrictions for more information.

Since the order took effect on June 1, some cities and communities have been passing the new standards with flying colors. Although this is great news,  some communities could still use a little extra tutoring, and we’d like to help by showing you what some of the most successful communities are doing.

Some of the A+ students in the South Coast Water Region are:

Santa Ana, ranked as the fourth most water-conscious city according to the California State Water Resources Control Board, has been saving thousands of gallons of water every day. The average resident in Santa Ana uses only 47.5 gallons a day. Because of its water smarts, Santa Ana has decreased its water usage by an impressive 19.9%, conserving over 238 million gallons a month.

What can you do to save our water?

  1. Cut down on “warm-up” time by switching to a point-of-use tank-less water heater to save thousands of gallons.
  2. Save 5,000 gallons a year or 15 gallons per 10-minute shower when you switch to a low-flow shower head.
  3. Switching to a high-efficiency WaterSense toilet can help you save 1,200 gallons a year.
  4. Low-flow aerators on your faucets will cut your water usage by 40 percent.
  5. Hand washing uses more water than dishwashers do when full, and Energy Star dishwashers save you 5,000 gallons a year.
  6. Checking your water pipes or hiring someone to fix the leaks in your home can save you up to 2,500 gallons a year.
  7. Simply matching the settings to the size of your load on your washing machine can save you 1,300 gallons a year.
  8. Skip the hose when washing your car and instead use a sponge and bucket to save 840 gallons a year.
  9. Replacing your grass lawn with drought-resistant plants can save you 2,500 gallons a year. Check to see if you are eligible for rebates in Los Angeles and San Diego.
  10. Installing a pool cover can prevent the loss of up to 8,000 gallons of water a year.

We can all learn from these impressive communities, and thanks to SERVIZ you now have 10 easy and effective ways to save water in your home without disrupting your budget or daily routine. There are also loads of water-conservation tips on Pinterest and on our guide to water restrictions.

Many Southern California communities still are not making the effort to save water, and even those that are can save more. It is important that we all do our part to save our water. If you’re curious to see where yourcommunity ranks, SERVIZ has graded 29 cities using the California State Water Resources Control Board’s data.

Tell us where your city ranks in the comments and what you’ve been doing to conserve our water!

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rent vs by Kurtrealestate.comRents are up in Southern California. So are home prices. You want a place of your own, but aren’t sure if you should buy or rent.

What’s your best course of action?

Good question, but finding the right answer takes some digging. First, some statistics:


  • According to real estate data firm Reis Inc., the average rent in Los Angeles County in the first quarter of 2015 rose 2.4 percent vs. 2014, to $1,520 a month. Orange County climbed by 3.5 percent, to $1,660.
  • Both counties are among the costliest rental markets in the country, but below the $2,277 average rent in San Francisco and $3,233 in New York – and among the most competitive.
  • Seven of the 11 most competitive rental markets in the country are in California, including San Diego, Ventura County, and the Inland Empire, where rents rose 1.6 percent in the first quarter, the second-fastest pace in the country.
  • Rental prices in San Diego County have been rising at annual rates between 3 and 6 percent, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported at the end of July.


  • Home prices in Southern California have climbed by one-third in two years, a Los Angeles Timesarticle also noted at the end of July.
  • MarketPointe Realty Advisors reports that in San Diego County, the weighted average single-family home price was $959,251 in the first quarter of 2015, which dropped to $874,569 in the second quarter.
  • As for condos, the average price of a new attached unit was $660,156 in the first quarter, but dropped to $538,570 in the second quarter.
  • In four to five years, the county’s average new-home price will exceed $1 million and remain there.

Most everyone knows the advantages of buying over renting: Equity that builds over time. A safeguard against inflation. Tax-deductible mortgage payments. The satisfaction of living in a home that you can improve or modify to your liking without worrying about a landlord.

But coming up with a down payment, qualifying for a loan, and finding a suitable home in the neighborhood of your choice can be setbacks to ownership. So here are few things to consider when weighing one option against the other:

  • How long do you plan to stay in one place? Buying usually is better the longer you stay, since your upfront fees are spread out over many years.
  • Tax liabilities: Property taxes and mortgage-interest costs are important, but as mentioned above, they are deductible. The higher your marginal tax rate is, the bigger the deduction will be.
  • Closing costs can be significant: Fees for home inspection, title search, and mortgage insurance are part of the home-buying process. Plus, you’ll have moving expenses when you buy or sell.
  • Maintenance and upkeep: Owning a home means paying for things that renters typically do not. They can range from painting and carpeting to water bills and trash pickup.
  • Rental costs: Paying first and last month’s rent, a security deposit, and possibly a broker’s finder’s fee, can really hit your wallet. Those are costs that could go toward a down payment or upfront fees on a home purchase instead.

Deciding between the flexibility of renting and the potential long-term reward of homeownership is on the minds of many would-be buyers. Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, creates the Rent. vs. Buy Index for 100 U.S. markets. By factoring in home prices, rents on comparable apartments, interest rates, tax deductions, and other variables, he computes the difference between the costs of buying vs. renting.

Last February, he forecast that buying would be 24 percent lower than renting for the typical household in Los Angeles County over seven years. In Orange County, it would cost 21 percent lower. But, he pointed out, home prices have been rising faster than rents, and the next time he analyzes the numbers, he predicts those figures will be smaller.

Want to take a stab at crunching the numbers yourself? This interactive calculator from examines the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent.

Whether still you’re on the fence or ready to start the ball rolling toward homeownership, it’s always worth your while to connect with a great real estate professional.

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