26. September 2017 · Comments Off on Are Woodpeckers Ruining your Siding? · Categories: Uncategorized

Most people are surprised to learn that woodpeckers can cause a lot of damage to the siding of a home regardless of the type of finishing they have. These common birds have increasingly become a nuisance in many parts of North America and are causing an enormous amount of damage to homes everywhere.Woodpecker

There are basically two reasons that these annoying birds will peck on your house

  1. They have very sensitive hearing, so if they hear insects behind the stucco or wood of your house, they will continue to peck away at the siding until they get to those yummy bugs.
  2. They want to build a nest in the Styrofoam of EIFS stucco or in the case of wood siding, they can do the same there as well.

So why are they attracted to your home’s siding in the first place? In most cases, home exteriors have a fairly neutral color like a brown or a grey, and the woodpeckers may think that your home is made of wood even if you have stucco siding. The only solution there, is to possibly paint your house a brighter color that might discourage them from pecking on it. Most areas of Canada or the United States have laws in place protecting these birds, so you can’t just take a BB gun to them to scare them away. You can try yelling at them, but that will only work temporarily and they will be right back making their noise in no time.

What are the solutions to woodpecker damage?

Obviously the best solution is to prevent the birds from causing damage in the first place, but unfortunately there are not many options. Other than painting your house a different color, another possible remedy seems to be puting a giant spider toy where they like to peck in the hope that it will scare them away much like a scarecrow works on other birds. For the price of a toy spider, it might be worth a try.

One other thing to try is a product called Shieldlt which makes it much harder for woodpeckes to drill holes in your EIFS stucco. You can read more about this product here http://50stucco.com/woodpecker-damage/

How do you repair damaged stucco?

You should probably get a certified exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS) contractor to do the repair for you. If you decide to tackle the job yourself, make sure you take the time to watch a lot of videos on YouTube and understand what you are doing. Otherwise you could make some mistakes that lead to more damage to your home, and that could lead to an even larger expense down the road.

Just remember that the repair job is never going to blend in perfectly with the rest of the stucco, whether you hire a contractor or you do the job yourself. The color or texture will always be a bit different because the original color will have faded over time.



12. December 2016 · Comments Off on Market Prediction for LA in 2017 · Categories: Uncategorized

The real estate market in Los Angles in 2016 has been interesting to say the least. It has been a year of change since we came out of 2015 with a crazy busy market and now we are seeing a bit of separation from the regular market and the luxury market. The regular market with homes being under $750,000 is still very busy while the luxury market has cooled down a bit.

Los angles houseSo for the rest of 2016 and going into 2017 where do we thing the market is going to go? We think that the $750,000 to $1.5 million is going to stay red hot because interest rates are still ridiculously low and people will want to take advantage of that before rates start to go up. Even though the luxury market above the $1.5 million has cooled a bit, it will still be a good market because homes are still selling. There is activity in that range and there will continue to be action because of the low interest rates.

If you are a buyer, buy now to take advantage of the low rates, and if you are a seller, you should sell now. This is because there are more buyers out there looking for great properties. If you wait until rates rise, there may not be as many buyers and those that are in the market may be looking for deal. We don’t know what will happen with interest rates in the future, but we do know that they are low right now. That is a fact and you should act on it since we do not know what the election of Trump will do to the markets. If anything, they will rise if the economy starts to improve.

So, we are saying that the beginning of 2017 will be both a sellers market and a buyers market at the same time.

Thanks to Peter Lorimer at PLG Estates in Beverly Hills for his insight into the Los Angles real estate market.



05. August 2016 · Comments Off on How Much House Will You Get for 400K in LA? · Categories: Uncategorized

The question of how much you get for a certain price is always an interesting one. First of all, we have all heard the saying that real estate is local. Nothing could be more true. When you are comparing real estate, you really do need to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. For example, it makes no sense to compare a $400,000 home in Billings, Montana to a similarly priced home in Los Angles. The markets are totally different.

Home in Los angles CaliforniaTaking that one step further, you can’t even compare homes in the same city or even in the same corner of the city. You basically have to drill down to each individual neighborhood to get an accurate comparison. Then you need to consider whether or not the streets are comparable since a home on a busy street will get a lower price than a home in a nice quiet cul de sac. Next, is the home a bungalow, 2 story, split level or any other configuration? You can’t really compare a bungalow to a two story since the two story will typically give you more square footage, while the bungalow is usually more expensive per square foot. Is one of the homes a new build while the other is 30 years old? What are the homes backing onto? If one home backs on to a nice park or green space while the other backs on to several neighbors creating a “fishbowl” feel, then you have to give the home that is on the park at least 5% move value to compensate.

Another thing that will impact the value of a home is the motivation of the buyer or buyers. If you are in a hot market, you could see multiple offers on a good home. In that case the price of a home may seem inflated, but in reality the home is selling for market price because the market price is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. It is the same in the case where a market is depressed and a home owner is desperate to sell and they have to accept a lower than expected price. In extreme examples you can exclude the outlier prices if they are dramatically lower because the home was a drug house or some other negative thing happened there.

There are many other variables to take into consideration when comparing homes, but you get the point. So, how much do you get for $400,000 in Los Angles? I will let you watch this video that explains this further.


13. April 2016 · Comments Off on Southern California Real Estate Market Update 2016 · Categories: Uncategorized

If you are thinking of buying or selling in the near future, you need to consider what the demand will be going forward. . It may seem obvious but if there are a lot of buyers and not enough sellers, simple supply and demand economics will create a situation where home prices have to rise. In the opposite scenario, where there are not enough buyers and too many sellers, prices will have to fall.

southern california real estate forecastAnother very important factor is the direction of mortgage rates, so you should make it a habit of watching the financial news and in particular anything related to the Fed and their interest rate decisions. Whether they hike the rate or drop the rate, it will have an impact on your monthly mortgage payment. For example, if you find that home prices have fallen, but rates have risen, you could end up with a higher monthly payment than you would have had with a higher priced house but a lower interest rate.

Make sure that your lender has a good track record of closing deals since TRID (TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosure Rule) since that rule was enacted back on October 3, 2015. If you don’t know what TRID is, it is simply a rule that makes sure that lenders are disclosing everything to you as a consumer in a clear and transparent way. This all stems from the debacle in 2008 when so many people got into trouble with their mortgages and lost their homes. TRID requires lenders to clearly show you exactly what all of your fees will be during the mortgage transaction what your monthly payments will be. This way you should not have any nasty surprises in the future. However, you need to be responsible and actually read and understand the documents otherwise TRID will do you no good.

So what does the market in the southern California area look like for 2016? Here is Monica Diaz and Jay Campbell of Keller Williams in the Los Angles area with their take on what is happening in the market.


14. March 2016 · Comments Off on Why You Should Buy Investment Property in Southern California · Categories: Uncategorized

Real estate is one type of investment that seems to outperform all others on a regular basis. There have been exceptions, such as the 2008 recession where property values plummeted across the country and many people lost their homes. In this instance, the Wall street bankers got too aggressive and started handing out mortgages to anyone with a pulse and the whole system was thrown out of whack. Once the whole financial scheme was exposed, the world economy went into recession and narrowly avoided a depression. Home prices fell dramatically and people walked away from their homes because their mortgages were underwater, which just means that their mortgage was higher than the home was worth.

Fast forward to today and the market has balanced itself out and more regulations have been put in place to control what the banks can do. Homes are priced at levels Investment property Californiathat truly reflect their value and prices in general are on the upside. So with the exception of that unfortunate period in 2008 and a couple of other instances prior to that in the 20th century, real estate is usually a great investment. The biggest reason for this is the fact that real estate is tangible which means that there is a physical asset that you can touch and feel, unlike stocks, bonds, and other financial investments. Another reason real estate is a great investment is scarcity. They are not making any more land, so you can’t just produce more of it like you can with stocks, and printed money.

The other aspect of real estate as an investment that a lot of people are reluctant to try, is buying rental properties. This can be a great strategy for passive income, if you can find the right property to rent out and have it operated in a cash positive situation. This just means that the rent you collect from your tenant exceeds your expenses which might include your mortgage payment, taxes, HOA fees, and utilites. If you can make at least $100 extra each month from your rental, you will be in good shape. Sure you can’t live off $100 a month but your tenant will be paying your mortgage for you and in 20 or 30 years you will have paid your property off and then you will get some real passive income because most of that rent will now be pure profit after you pay your taxes and utilites. Another great benefit of this strategy is that your property will almost surely increase in value after 20 or 30 years, so you end up with a property that is paid in full and now worth potentially twice as much as you paid for it, or I should say, your tenant paid for it.

Here are some other good reasons to invest in real estate in the southern California market



08. February 2016 · Comments Off on How to Install Vinyl Siding on Your House · Categories: Uncategorized

We personally prefer the look of brick or stucco finishing to the budget option of vinyl, but sometimes that is all you can afford. Stucco or brick just look so much more elegant and exclusive when you drive into a neighborhood. When you see homes that are covered in vinyl, you know that the area is more affordable and there is nothing wrong with that. However, in a perfect world, there would be less vinyl and more stucco.

The biggest advantage of vinyl is it’s cost, and part of that cost is the installation. If you decide to hire someone to do the installation for you, it will be much cheaper than hiring a contractor to apply stucco. You will save even more money if you decide to tackle the job of installing your vinyl siding on your own.

Most people are intimidated by big jobs that they have never done before, but if you really think about it, installing vinyl siding is not rocket science and almost anyone can do it. You just need someone to show you how to do it. This is where YouTube comes in to play. I have done almost all the repairs on my house over the years, mostly because I am too cheap to hire someone to do something that I know I can do myself.

If you are thinking that you don’t have the tools and equipment to do a big job like this, just go to your local Home Depot and rent whatever you need. The most important thing you will need is scaffolding. If Home Depot does not have that to rent, there has to be a rental company in your city that does have it. Once you get the scaffolding, a hammer, drill, hardware, cutters, level, and measuring tape, you are ready to start the job.

Watch this video to see how to do the job right.


09. January 2016 · Comments Off on How To Wire Your Basement · Categories: Uncategorized

When you have a new home built you usually don’t get the basement developed with the base price. The builder may quote you a price to professionally finnish the basement, but that will usually be at least fifty thousand dollars. It is the best way to go since they will make the basement look like the rest of the house. The most important part will be that the drywalling will be done by someone that knows what they are doing. There is nothing worse than going into a basement where the home owner did the drywall as a weekend project. Usually they do a bad job and if they designed a poor layout as well, then the basement is worse than being undeveloped because everything needs to be ripped out and started from scratch.

However, if you do decide to develop your basement on your own, you really need to plan it out properly. You may be good at framing so go ahead and do that, but what about the plumbing? If you are worried about your basement filling with water some day, then you can outsouce that to a qualified plumber, but they are really expensive. One thing that almost anyone can do is the wiring of the electrical outlets and light fixtures. This is not rocket science but you need to be extremely careful because you can get yourself killed if you touch a live circuit. Here is a short video that explains how to install some outlets.

There are many more videos on youtube that explain switches and light fixtures.   If you don’t feel comfortable doing drywall then consider outsourcing that part to a professional. Depending on how much of the work you do yourself, you can save a considerable amount of money. You also have the pride of knowing you did a nice job and get that feeling of accomplishment.

The main takeaway here, is that you need to take your time and plan everything meticulously. If you don’t, you could actually harm the value of your home, because no one else will ever want to buy your house if you created rooms in the basement that are not functional.You can not go wrong with at least one bedroom and a bathroom in your basement. Almost everyone will want that.

27. November 2015 · Comments Off on Advanced Framing Methods · Categories: Uncategorized

Here is a great video that describes how to use advanced framing techniques to improve the efficiency of a new home. They show how the normal way of framing a home can leave gaps where cold air can come in which can be a big problem if you live in a cold climate. He goes into detail about air spaces where it is impossible to apply insulation – called a cold corner. They show how to avoid this situation with a method called the California corner.


14. July 2015 · Comments Off on Should You Get Stucco Siding? · Categories: Uncategorized

When you build a new home, there are always a lot of things to consider. How big should the house be? What style should it be in – bungalow, 2 story, ranch style, or split level? You also need to consider what color you want and what kind of siding you want.

At Riowalk, we mostly build our homes with stucco siding. Stucco has a number of advantages over other types of siding such as brick and vinyl. Sure it cost more than vinyl, but it looks dramatically better. If you drive through a neighborhood with vinyl siding you will get the impression that the area is less desirable and usually the yards are not as well kept. This is primarily because stucco is quite a lot more expensive and anyone that has a large stucco home will probably take a lot more pride in their yards and be more concerned about curb appeal.

However, we do build in some communities that are mostly vinyl since we also want to help people with less money get into a home. Vinyl is a great product for starter homes that your typical first time buyer would be able to afford. It can look good and is available in many different colors. It is a very durable product that helps keep the cost down and makes home ownership easier for more people.

Another reason to get stucco is for it’s excellent insulating properties that help to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is also pretty much maintenance free and can be painted if you decide you are tired of the original color. If you already have vinyl siding and want to dramatically upgrade the look of your home, you can hire a reputable stucco contracting company to transform your house into the best looking home in the neighborhood. However, you want to be careful not to go overboard by spending too much money on the job, since you may not get your money out of this type of renovation. This is because you may have upgraded your home too much compared to the rest of the houses on your block. Will someone want to pay an extra twenty thousand dollars for your home when compared to all the rest?

Take your time and do your research if you are thinking of redoing your siding in stucco or any other type of finish. Another option is to just sell your existing vinyl home and build a brand new home with us. That way you get exactly what you want and you don’t have to worry about the hassles of renovations that could drag on for months and you could end up hiring a bad contractor.

Here is a very good video that explains what you should do to prepare for your stucco around windows and doors.


09. March 2014 · Comments Off on New Canadian builder · Categories: Uncategorized

As we talk to numerous builders and developers in the Southern California area to gather information for this website, we also come across people from other parts of the United States or even other countries. We recently spoke to Jonathan up in Alberta Canada about his new development where he is building affordable homes for under 250,000 dollars. He told me about some of the unique challenges they have with building a home way up in the great white north.

In a land where temperatures routinely get down to -20 F you need to do a lot of things differently than you would in the beautiful weather of southern California. For starters all their homes have basements so that the water lines and sewer systems can be buried deep enough to get below the frost line. Most people in Alberta will develop that basement area in to a useable living area. In fact Jonathan showed me pictures of some of his new houses with developed basements and they are quite beautiful. This really adds to the living area of a home. In a two story home if you have 1500 sq ft and you develop the basement you can get another 700 sq ft of living space.

Obviously the homes need to be very well insulated to keep out the harsh Canadian winter. The insulation in the attic has to be of a certain standard to keep warm air from the living levels from escaping up into the attic. There must be adequate ventilation in the attic or else condensation will develop and frost will build up on the rafters. This would not be good because that would then cause moisture problems and ultimately mold issues.

Another thing that is almost a must when building in Canada is a garage. Preferably an attached garage that is also insulated. This is really nice to have on those really cold mornings when your car might not even start if it is left outside exposed to the elements. Car batteries lose much of their power in extreme cold and the oil in your car becomes like tar. If your car is parked in an insulated attached garage you will have none of those problems because it will be up to 20 degrees warmer than outside.

This makes me all the more happy that I live in Southern California where the weather is almost always nice.

Jonathan’s company is Broder Homes in Blackfalds, Alberta

He also recommends Carmen Paradis Real Estate in Calgary as his real estate agency.

04. February 2014 · Comments Off on Why build a new home in Southern California? · Categories: Uncategorized

When you’re ready to move into a new home, you have choices.  You can move to a new home that is the closest thing you can find to perfect.  You will have to do some work to a resale home, but you can make it your own.  However, you could easily have a home built that is just what you want.  Rather than searching all of Southern California for a great home, you can choose your own lot, skip over the real estate gent and build a home that is exactly what you and your family need.

Home in the area are hard to shop for simply because they are not designed for anyone.  Homes on the market are meant to appeal to broad audience so that they can sell.  You can avoid this market by working with a contractor and an architect to build a home that absolutely perfect for you.

In this home construction process, you can use the favorable weather in Southern California to your benefit.  Not only can you get a good deal of natural light coming in the home, but you can use the winds to produce energy at the home in creative ways.

As a wise homeowner, your home can be set up with solar and wind energy conversion units that can power the home “off the grid” without any retrofitting.  In fact, this new construction will be built to suit the alternative energy sources you want to use.

Also, the home can be laid out in a way that makes the most sense for your family.  You can have the bedrooms where you want, the kitchen laid out as you like and the driveway built at a slope that is comfortable for you.

When the home is being completed, you can have the right carpeting or hardwood floors put in, energy efficient appliances installed and the rooms can be wired for the entertainment units you want to have in the house.

Before you ever move in a stitch of furniture, you will be able to have a home that is laid out to your exact specifications so that you will feel right at home.  Homes are not designed just for you unless you work with a contractor and architect to have the perfect home built.

Avoid the real estate market by building your own home in Southern California that will be perfect for your family in every way.