Searching for that elusive “perfect” home

A few years ago, one of the main mistakes many buyers were making was not getting pre-approved before looking at homes. Today, one of the most common mistakes I’m seeing is unrealistic price expectation; that being, shopping for the right home, but in the wrong price category. Many buyers seem to “want it all”, but have it at their price. The truth is if you want a $500,000 home, you’ll have to pay close to $500,000. You won’t find the same features in a home costing $100,000 less. Are you on an endless quest for the perfect home (and driving your real estate agent nuts in the process)?  Here are a few ways to help:

The first (and most obvious) solution is to go back to your lender and see if you can get approved for a higher purchase price. Perhaps there is some additional income that you can declare? Is there a credit card or car loan you can pay off? Can a relative gift you some additional cash for a higher down payment? Can you get a co-signer? Maybe a parent can help purchase the home with you?

A second solution is to shop for your new home in a city or area that is more affordable. If you must have a home with specific features and you’re unable find it in the city of your choice, consider moving your search to a different area. There may be a neighboring city that has older, more dated homes where you can find the square footage and number of bedrooms at a lower cost (you can always remodel the home later). Also, look further away from the “prime” areas of the county. There may be outlying areas with newer, updated homes that are priced far lower because of the commuting distance.

If these solutions are not possible and your budget is already stretched to the limit, then the third solution is to make a list of priorities and to compromise.

What features are the most important to you? A large yard? Detached home? Low traffic noise? Number of bedrooms or bathrooms? Good schools? Open floor plan? List every home priority from most important (must have) to least important (would like to have, but can live without). Go over this list carefully with your spouse or partner and then be prepared to compromise. Focus on a new list of homes that incorporate your most important features. Don’t compromise on the top two or three items, but give ground on the less important ones. Some examples would be settling for fewer square feet, one less bedroom, or perhaps a smaller yard or a longer commute. Maybe you can pick up a home in your price range that is a “fixer” and update some of the features later, as funds become available. A townhouse may be a solution if you are looking for more space, but can’t fnd a clean, upgraded single family home in your price range. One thing to keep in mind is that some items cannot be changed later (e.g., location) while others can (e.g., kitchen counter tops).  Don’t specify “upgrades” as one of your top priorities if the home’s location could become an issue later.

What I don’t suggest is trying to compensate for your budget by making extremely low offers on more expensive homes (“low-balling”). Many home owners will work with you on price, but don’t insult them — you’ll only set yourself up for disappointment. Also, be kind to your agent. Don’t continually ask to see homes that are priced well over your budget or homes that you know are unacceptable. Focus instead on a subset of homes that include your most important features and then make a reasonable offer.

The point is, be realistic. If you want the features of a $500,000 home,  then understand that you’re not going to find them in a home priced at $400,000. Check your priorities and adjust your expectations accordingly. Failure to do so means you’ll find yourself searching for that elusive, “perfect” home for a very long time.


My web page, 7 Buyer Mistakes outlines many of the common errors buyers make when shopping for a home. You can find this article and many others on my web site,

Ron Denhaan, Realtor – Author , Orange County Real, Real Estate

DRE# 01728866

Orange County real real estate


Leasing or renting a home with poor credit

I would say that the majority of people contacting me to rent or lease these days have poor to very poor credit (about 60 to 70%). This is largely a reflection of the economy, with job layoffs, bankruptcies, foreclosures, and short sales accounting for the number of people seeking to lease.  Unfortunately, many do not seem to wish to concede that they have serious credit issues.

Getting accepted for a lease is very difficult with bad credit and the last thing you should do is combine your credit problems with unrealistic expectations. Sorry, you may not get your choice of homes — You may have to settle for a home with a landlord who is willing to work with you.  Also, please do not demand to see homes before submitting paperwork —  It’s much easier (for all of us) if I can speak to some of the lease listing agents to screen homes before showing them.  Last, please don’t ask if they’ll lower the rent or the security deposit!  In many cases, the potential landlord may ask you for more, to compensate for your credit rating.

There are a number of things you can do to help get accepted with poor credit. A landlord may ask for higher rent or security deposit. Some may ask for letters of explanation or references from your previous landlord.  One of the best solutions though, is providing a co-signer or lease guarantor. Landlords like having the security of knowing that they have someone that they can fall back on, in case you don’t pay the rent on time. Many people can find a friend or relative who will agree to do this for them.  If they can’t find someone to help, or if they prefer not to involve someone they know in their financial affairs, I would suggest professional co-signing.

Professional co-signing services provide a quick and easy solution for those needing a co-signer. For a small monthly fee, they provide assurance to the landlord that the rent will be paid. This is often the key to getting accepted. (Be sure to check out any professional co-signing services very carefully, using the BBB and other sources)

If you would like to read more about leasing or renting with poor credit, please see my web page here. I have a lot of information including tips, techniques for acceptance, and a link for professional co-signing. Remember, you can lease a home with credit challenges, but you must be willing to do what it takes rather than having unrealistic expectations!

Ron Denhaan, Realtor

DRE# 0172886

Check your trash! You’ll find that most of it is recyclable!

Check for recyclable items in your trashWhen I decided to go “green” at home, one of my first steps was to focus strongly on recycling.  Before discussing recycling with the family, I wanted to check how much of the normal, household trash we were throwing out, was really recyclable.  In checking the trash, it was apparent that the vast majority of it was indeed recyclable! This included paper, cardboard, old mail, cans, metal products, and glass containers, but also, lots and lots of plastic  (beverage bottles, milk bottles, food containers, shampoo bottles, dry cleaning wrapping, and of course, the ubiquitous plastic trash bag). Plastic items like these do not decompose. Instead, they sit in land fills for hundreds of years. Worse, some of this plastic winds up in the ocean, where it accumulates in vast islands. The sun photo-decomposes some of this plastic, but this only turns it into smaller, bite-size pieces which are then eaten by fish, sea turtles, and other wildlife;  killing or badly harming them in the process. It was time for a change!

Even though we have a large, outdoor recycle bin provided by the trash company, it just wasn’t convenient to constantly have to haul items out to the bin. To help make recycling easier, I bought several small recycling bins for various areas of the home. This included a large container for the kitchen, one for the master bathroom, and one for the laundry room. Once the family got into the idea of putting recyclable items into these containers, I was amazed to find out how quickly these containers filled up!  They were filled with plastic bottles, paper, cans, etc.  When I checked what was now going into the normal kitchen trash, it was only degradable items like left-over food, coffee grounds, etc. What had we been throwing out all of these years? How much of my trash was now sitting in landfills or filtering into the ocean, killing sea life and taking a thousand years to decompose? With my new focus on recycling, much of this waste is now (thankfully) headed for the recycling center!

One remaining (unresolved) item were the trash can liners. For some reason, the family felt the need to line our kitchen and bathroom trash cans with plastic liner bags. This may have been for convenience, as it’s easier to haul the trash away in a plastic bag, rather than carry the container out, empty it, and then  have to take the trouble to return it. This “laziness” meant it was easier to fill the planet with more plastic than to have to walk back up the stairs to return the trash container. My solution was simple – No more liners for bathroom containers; and for the kitchen, biodegradable trash can liners. These cost a bit more, but they decompose completely in about one year (one source for these is here:

With my new emphasis on recycling, I’m not only going “green” at home, but also doing  my (small) part for the environment. I hope you will also help spread the message and focus on extra recycling in your home!

You can find many more tips on going “green” on my web page, here:

Green designation

Condos and town homes for sale in Orange County, CA

Condominiums and town homes are very popular with first time home buyers, retirees, investors looking for rental properties, and home owners who are interested n a low maintenance, easy to care for home. My new page has dozens of links to search for condos or town homes for sale, anywhere in Orange County, CA!  This includes searches by price, for bank owned units, condos with no Mello Roos, waterfront and view condos, short sales, and more! Also, an explanation of the differences between condos and town homes, what HOA dues cover, and why a condo may have a tax advantage over a town home for an investor.

(DRE# 01728866)

The Greener home

First, a new web page for everyone who wants to go Green. Going Green can mean many things. For some people, it means purchasing products that are biodegradable or that are manufactured from recycled materials. For others it means trading in that gas-guzzler for a hybrid automobile. Still for others, it means making your home more energy-efficient, which is the primary focus of this web page. Energy efficiency means replacing older appliances or adding systems to your home that reduce your energy consumption and your utility bills. It can also mean using the power of the sun, to generate electricity, to heat your pool, or to add natural light to darker areas of your home.

My new web page has many references, product referrals, and Green Home renovation ideas!

(DRE# 01728866)

Green designation