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Smart Features Buyers Are Looking for in Homes

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For over three decades, Los Angeles realtor James “Jim” Cicchese has gained experience marketing and acquiring of residential, luxury, and condominium properties. As a realtor with COMPASS Real Estate, he works closely with buyers to find the best properties that match their needs. Jim Cicchese is skilled at accentuating each property’s specific features, including smart features.

Smart features in homes have become popular as homebuyers are increasingly becoming interested in properties that incorporate the latest technologies. The inclusion of smart technology in a home helps to improve a home’s value and marketability, making it more attractive to buyers. The following are some desirable smart features buyers are looking for in today’s homes.

A smart lock improves a home’s security by allowing users to lock or unlock doors using a phone app or voice command. Convenient and easy to install, smart locks also come with features such as tamper alarms and real-time email notifications to let owners know who is accessing their property.

For homes with lawns that need regular watering, a smart sprinkler can be installed and be programmed for operation using a phone app or computer. That makes it possible to adjust a sprinkler depending on the season and prevailing weather conditions, thus saving water.

Smart thermostats are a desired feature as they can adjust programmed remotely and help track and regulate a home’s energy consumption, which translates into savings. Despite being there for a while, programmable thermostats have, in recent times, been improved to incorporate more advanced technologies and capabilities.

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Ventura County Residential Real Estate Experiences Growth

An established Southern California realtor, James “Jim” Cicchese represents properties throughout Conejo Valley. Knowledgeable about trends in communities such as Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, Jim Cicchese strives to position homes for optimal sales given the current market.

In September 2021, Ventura County home prices were 18 percent higher than at the same time last year, with the median price higher than $1 million. At the same time, available properties for sale had decreased by one-third to 429 residences. Interest rates also crept higher to the 3 percent range, which appears likely to define the new benchmark moving forward.

Market watchers note that the region’s recent rate of increase may be unsustainable and that headwinds have shifted to favor buyers a little more, though without a significant decrease in prices. This is a normal shift for the fourth quarter of most years, with sellers more motivated to close transactions and negotiations often possible. Still, with inventory stubbornly low, buyers need to move proactively when they find a residence that meets their budget and expectations.

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How to Taste Wine

Jim “James” Cicchese is a realtor at Compass Real Estate in Los Angeles, California. For more than three decades, Jim Cicchese has been listing and selling condos, single-family homes, and other real estate properties. In his free time, he enjoys wine tasting.

Wine tasting had been practiced since its creation hundreds of years ago, and it entails a sensory evaluation of the wine’s qualities.

It’s important to hold the glass properly during wine tasting. Although it may seem to be a minor issue, having the correct grip can improve your overall experience. The warmth of your palm may change the taste if you hold the glass by the bowl.

Before you sip, swirl the wine in the glass by holding it by the stem. This increases the amount of oxygen in the glass and allows the wine to breathe, resulting in the best flavor.

A substantial part of taste comes from your nose’s olfactory receptors, thus tasting needs more than simply your mouth.

This means you should definitely avoid wearing perfume or cologne on your wine tasting excursion since their overpowering smells may make it difficult for you to enjoy the subtle tastes of the wines you’re sampling. This is also considered polite when it comes to being respectful of other winery tasters.

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Four Things to Avoid When Preparing to Purchase a Home

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James “Jim” Cicchese serves as a Realtor with the Los Angeles, California-based real estate firm Compass, where he draws on over three decades of industry experience. With a commitment to personalized guidance, Jim Cicchese works closely with buyers to identify properties that fulfill their needs and meet their lifestyle requirements. If you are preparing to purchase a home, consider the following guidelines on what to avoid doing beforehand:

1. Debt-Incurring Purchases
When determine your mortgage qualifications, lenders examine your debt-to-income ratio. This figure represents the pre-tax percentage of gross monthly income spent on principal and interest for your debts, including student loans, car payments, and credit card balances. A high debt-to-income ratio could compromise your chances for a mortgage approval or reduce the amount for which you qualify. Hold off on buying a car or high-end appliances, taking pricey vacations, and making other purchases that will increase your debt.

2. Changing Jobs if Not a Full-Time or Salaried Employee
While salaried and full-time employees can usually change jobs before buying a home without issue, other types of employment can create uncertainties regarding your future income. For example, mortgage lenders calculate commissioned workers’ income using their average commissions across the previous two years. A new job means you have no track record for lenders to draw from. It is also not advisable to switch jobs if you receive hourly pay, but seldom work a 40-hour week.

3. Actions That Could Lower Your Credit Score
Your mortgage loan’s interest rate and terms will largely depend on your credit score. Insurance companies also use it to determine your premiums for homeowners’ insurance, which nearly all lenders require buyers to purchase. Avoid actions that can potentially lower your credit score, such as maxing out credit cards, missing due dates for debt or bill payments, and closing a credit line or opening a new one.

4. Transferring Money between Accounts
Many mortgage underwriters will want a complete paper trail of withdrawals and deposits for all of your financial accounts, as well as recent statements for stocks, retirement savings, and other liquid assets. Transferring money between or consolidating accounts during this time can make it difficult for underwriters to fully document all of your fund sources.

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Top Features in Luxury Homes

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Jim Cicchese
Image: kw.com

As a Realtor with COMPASS Real Estate, James “Jim” Cicchese draws on close to 30 years of experience in the Los Angeles County market. Jim Cicchese focuses particularly on luxury homes and is adept at matching client needs with particular home features.

In the luxury market, buyers are looking for features that support a lifestyle of ease, comfort, and enjoyment. Indoor and outdoor layouts, which include elements like outdoor kitchens and seating, allow residents in warm climates to entertain in style. Gaming rooms, movie theaters, and even home sports bars bring the party indoors, while making sure that homeowners have everything they need right at their fingertips.

Today’s luxury homes also pamper their residents in their more intimate spaces. Bathrooms now resemble high-end spas with soaking tubs, heated floors, and streamlined styling. Gourmet kitchens are still a necessity for luxury consumers, who are now demanding climate-controlled wine rooms with increasing frequency.

None of these features, however, are as hot today as smart-home technology. Integrated systems let homeowners monitor door locks, thermostats, music streaming, and more from their smartphones or tablets. These systems also control home security, a vital element for globetrotting individuals with valuable possessions.

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Divorce Ministries at Calvary Community Church

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Image: DivorceCare.org

Jim Cicchese leverages nearly three decades of experience to serve as a Realtor at COMPASS, a real estate firm focused on luxury properties. Aside from his professional responsibilities, Jim Cicchese is active in Calvary Community Church in Westlake Village, California.

Calvary Community Church has been reaching out to the Conejo Valley for several decades, beginning with a small group of believers gathering in a local restaurant. Today, the church offers a number of opportunities for people of all ages to grow in their faith, including a range of support ministries. Two such ministries, DivorceCare and DivorceCare for Kids, provide support for people either going through or recovering from a divorce.

Divorce can be painful, stressful, confusing, and isolating. DivorceCare offers adults an opportunity to gather in a safe environment with others who understand what they are going through. Led by experienced, empathic individuals, sessions consist of a video seminar and a group discussion. Sessions cover topics such as dealing with anger, finding help, caring for children, and growing closer to God in the midst of a painful time.

DivorceCare for Kids, meanwhile, is a Christian program tailored to children between five and 12 years old. Through games, music, stories, videos, and discussion, children experiencing divorce are given the tools they need to process their emotions and improve communication in a safe and fun environment.

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California’s Carmel Beach

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Carmel Beach
Image: parks.ca.gov

Jim Cicchese is a longtime resident of Southern California and a licensed Realtor who has been working through the Los Angeles offices of COMPASS since 2017. One of Jim Cicchese’s favorite recreational activities is traveling up the California coast and visiting oceanside towns such as Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Rated “One of America’s Top Beach Towns,” Carmel-by-the-Sea is near multiple attractions and has many quaint shops and restaurants. The key draw of the city, however, is the beautiful white-sand Carmel Beach.

Carmel Beach offers panoramic views with features such as the rugged Carmel Point and an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright house. For a bird’s eye view of the beach and ocean, visitors can hike around the gravel Scenic Bluff Path that winds through Monterey’s cypress-lined hills and offers eight stairways down to the sea.

Nature-lovers can enjoy not only breathtaking geography and vegetation, but marine life that includes otters and dolphins. Surfers can enjoy great waves as well as crystal clear water and incredible inland views of Port Lobos and Pebble Beach.

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A Brief Overview of Townhouse Living

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Jim Cicchese
Image: kw.com

Jim Cicchese is a realtor with COMPASS, one of the fastest-growing real estate firms in the United States. Over the course of nearly 30 years in real estate, Jim Cicchese has excelled in the sale of various property types, including traditional single-family homes and townhomes.

A townhouse is a single-family property closely situated alongside other homes, with at least two floors sharing a wall with a neighboring residence. Unlike row houses, townhouses are not always configured in long lines. Unlike with duplexes, families owning a townhouse do not share the home with other residents.

There are a variety of benefits associated with living in a townhouse, particularly compared to a condominium. Families or individuals living in a townhouse maintain full ownership, and therefore have greater control over significant property upgrades and other maintenance and repairs. At the same time, townhouses are not as comprehensive as standalone properties and can provide owners with valuable savings.

For a better understanding of local townhouse opportunities, individuals should contact a reputable real estate professional.

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Cheeseboro Canyon Mountainbiking

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Cheeseboro Canyon
Image: nps.gov

Experienced real estate professional Jim Cicchese has spent time with a number of the industry’s most prominent firms. Outside of his current work at COMPASS, a rapidly growing luxury brand brokerage, Jim Cicchese enjoys mountain biking through the Santa Monica Mountains and Cheeseboro Canyon.

Cheeseboro Canyon is one of the most popular destinations for hikers and cyclists in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The canyon’s hiking and biking trails, some more than 150 years old, come in various styles and difficulty levels. The relaxing, primary fire roads crossing open fields and dense forests are perfect for beginners or those looking for a leisurely ride, with the more physically demanding singletrack trails preferred by advanced riders.

More recently, cyclists have enjoyed additional technical riding opportunities thanks to the introduction of new land parcels. Cyclists can enjoy the Canyon Trail, Ridge Trail, Sulphur Springs Trail, Palo Comado Canyon Trail, and a number of additional riding paths.

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Buying a Home in a New Area

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Jim Cicchese
Image: kw.com

As a REALTOR® with Compass, a national real estate company, Jim Cicchese draws on more than 25 years of industry experience. Jim Cicchese comes to his current role following service with Keller Williams Westlake Village, where he served as a corporate relocation specialist.

People who need to purchase a home in a new city due to a job change can take advantage of a variety of online and local resources. One of the most important resources is a real estate agent who has experience in the relocation of business professionals.

These real estate agents can recommend neighborhoods in the appropriate price range that meet buyers’ requirements, such as proximity to jobs and schools. Real estate agents can also help buyers understand the purchase and sale process and the financial aspects of homeownership in a particular city. For example, an agent who has worked extensively in a particular neighborhood can tell buyers about street parking and safety issues.

Buyers may also wish to explore websites that allow visitors to compare demographics and do research on areas that are growing or declining. Experts recommend that buyers make an in-person trip if at all possible because that is the only way to know if they will like the look and feel of a particular house, neighborhood, or town.