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Four Things to Avoid When Preparing to Purchase a Home

white and red wooden house miniature on brown table

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

Jim Cicchese pic

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

DivorceCare pic

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

Carmel Beach pic

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

Jim Cicchese pic

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

Cheeseboro Canyon pic

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

Jim Cicchese pic

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.

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Santa Monica Mountains Biking Trails

Santa Monica Mountains pic

Santa Monica Mountains
Image: nps.gov

Jim Cicchese has been a realtor in California since 1990 when he started his career at Fred Sands Realtor before moving onto Re/Max Olson and Associates. Currently, he works for COMPASS. When he’s not working, Jim Cicchese enjoys mountain biking, especially in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Close to Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains are an amazing wilderness retreat with access to the Malibu beaches, as well as more than 500 miles of trails.

The mountains offer many biking trails with a range of difficulty levels. One of the more popular trails is the Backbone Trail of Encinal Canyon, a great option for both beginners and experienced bikers. The trail runs 10.2 miles with a 1,777 foot ascent. The descent is one of the best parts, as it is smooth and relatively easy to ride.

On the other hand, the Dead Cow/Suicide Loop is extremely technical and not recommended for beginners. Dead Cow is extremely steep and the Suicide Loop involves many single and double jumps, drops, boulders, loose rocks, and switchbacks.

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About the MyHome Down Payment Assistance Program


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MyHome Assistance Program
Image: calhfa.ca.gov

Jim Cicchese serves as a realtor with COMPASS, a luxury brokerage that stands out as one of the fastest growing real estate firms nationwide. In his work with the real estate firm, Jim Cicchese draws on diverse experience in assisting homebuyers in California.

In the state of California, a resource known as the MyHome Assistance Program allows homebuyers to borrow funds for a down payment. Borrowed funds take the form of a junior loan with a deferred payment format and can total up to 3 percent of a home’s appraised value or purchase price. Neither the sale price nor the borrower’s income may exceed the limits in place under the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA), which must serve as the mortgage lender for a MyHome Assistance Program participant.

Each participant must be a first-time homebuyer seeking to purchase a single-unit residence, though in-law apartments and related units may qualify. The borrower must agree to occupy the unit as his or her primary residence and must complete a homebuyer education counseling program through an eligible organization. The program also requires that the borrower meet all requirements set by the lender and insurer or guarantor of the mortgage.

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Commercial Day – The Future of Commercial Deal Making

 Southland Regional Association of Realtors  pic

Southland Regional Association of Realtors
Image: srar.com

An experienced Realtor who has worked for multiple real estate agencies in California, Jim Cicchese builds upon 27 years of experience with the Westlake Village office of luxury brokerage COMPASS, one of the fastest-growing real estate firms in the country. Jim Cicchese holds active membership in multiple industry organizations, including the Southland Regional Association of Realtors (SRAR).

Billing itself as the “voice for real estate” in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando Valleys, SRAR is a group of roughly 9,500 Realtors that offers a wide range of member services and promotes the best interests of the real estate profession in general. It also sponsors a variety of industry events, such as Commercial Day – The Future of Commercial Deal Making.

Commercial Day took place on August 10, 2017, at the SRAR Auditorium in Van Nuys. This event centered on the evolution of the buying and selling of commercial property throughout the region. In addition to its panels and roundtable discussions, it featured a range of targeted speeches, including a keynote address by Eric Paulsen, senior vice president of the online real estate transaction platform Ten-X.