10 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Realtor to Represent You

When you decide to buy or sell a home, you are entering into one of the biggest financial decisions most people ever engage in. A lot of money will be involved and you understandably want to get the best experience you possibly can. This is why you need an exceptional Real Estate Team working for you. You need an advocate who will ensure you get what you need – whether you are buying or selling. Not all Realtors are created equal, though, so it is important to know how to screen them if you want to improve your experience.

We’re Bindu and Sam Xavier, local Realtors with RE/MAX Estate Properties and we would like to share our expertise on why it is so important to make the right agent or real estate team selection.

Why You Need a Realtor

Let’s answer this question first, because without knowing why you need a Realtor you may hesitate to do the work required to choose a good one. A real estate agent is a professional involved in buying and selling houses. It is this professional-level ability that you are paying for. Consider when you need to repair or upgrade your car. Yes, with the right tools you can spend a weekend – or weekend after weekend – doing the work yourself. It may even turn out great. However, it will also take substantially more time than it would be if you took it to a professional.

Buying or selling a home is similar. You can find the tools to do much of the work yourself, but your chances of getting professional-level results – especially in a reasonable time frame – are low. This may be OK when it comes to changing your oil, but when you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars – it pays to hire a professional.

10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Realtors

So you have decided you want to work with a Realtor. You just need to know how to find a good one. Again, like a mechanic, there are some great Realtors out there and there are some not-so-great Realtors. You want a great one. Take the time to interview potential candidates using these ten questions.

1.   May I contact some of your references?

Every agent should have a list of references that you can talk to about his or her work. If you are buying, you probably want to talk to other buyers who have worked with the agent. If you are selling, ask for the number of some other clients the agent has sold for. You want to get a good idea of how this person works and how satisfied the clients are. Also, you want to make sure he or she has been working recently. The market changes and you want someone who is successful now.

2.   Is the area growing or declining?

If the agent has been working for very long, he or she should have a good handle on how different areas are doing. You might see a heck of a deal in a new house, but the agent might see a cheap house in an area that is only going to decline in value. This is important information you need to make an informed purchase. See how this agent rates different areas of town you are considering. This is the type of question that a good buyers agent should have no problem answering. In fact you want an agent that know the area like the back of his or her hand.

3.  How many clients are you currently working for?

There is no perfect answer to this question, but it is important to ask it anyway. You want an agent that is sought after, but not one that is overworked. If the agent has 50 clients he or she is working for that you will probably not get the one-on-one attention you prefer. If the agent only has 5 clients, this may be a part time job for him or her – or the agent is just not well-recommended. Look for a Realtor who has somewhere in between a handful of clients and a number that is probably unreasonable

4.   What are your fees?

You might as well get this out of the way at the beginning. First, you want to know what the agent will charge you for selling your home or for finding you your dream home. Most of the time you will find that agents prefer to take a percentage – typically around 5-6 percent depending on your location. This may be something you can negotiate – or not. Also, determine what the stipulations of his or her contract will be. Are you locked into using this agent? If so for how long? What if you are dissatisfied? These are all questions that should be answered to your satisfaction. You may find a buyer on your own by accident or find a dream home without any help from the agent.

5.  Can you get me a FREE CMA of the area?

A comparable market analysis (CMA), also known as comps, lets you see what homes have recently sold in your neighborhood as well as those that are currently for sale. This can give you valuable information in either pricing your home or determining what you should be offering on a property. Depending on what side of the fence you are on this is critical information your Realtor should be providing you.

6.  Do you work in a team or solo?

This is important because it lets you know how heavy the workload is of the agent, as well as whether you will be communicating directly with him or her. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. Find out the agent’s work style to see if he or she is a good fit. If the agent you are interviewing does work in a team find out if you will be working with someone else as well. If so you will want a handle on this agents qualifications as well. The last thing you want is to be handed off to a junior partner who doesn’t have the same skill set as the person you thought you would be working with.

7.  How do you market homes?

You want an agent that takes advantage of all marketing avenues. Not only the more traditional ones like the Multiple Listing Service, but also other avenues like some of the top real estate portals like Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia. What is important to understand here is that nearly all Realtors use these vehicles but a much smaller percentage will do what is necessary to make your home stand out in these places. For instance you should be demanding vivid photography, well thought out descriptions of your homes best features and even a video tour. The real estate marketing channels are changing all the time. Make sure the agent is up to date on what works and what doesn’t.

At the moment one of the great things to find out is whether the Realtor is going to be using any social mediachannels like Facebook, Linked In, and Twitter to market your home. Social media is used daily by millions of people. It only makes sense to be in front of some of them!

8.  What is really wrong with my home?

You need someone that will tell it to you straight. Get the scoop on what is undesirable about your home and how the Realtor will work with what you have to get you the best price. The last thing you want is a “yes man”. While you might think it is great if you have found a real estate agent who agrees with everything you say that is not the case. You want an agent who is not afraid to put you in your place and answer the tough questions.

9.  How will you stay in contact with me?

You want and need to know what is happening with your home. Make sure the agent prioritizes regular communication. Some people like email other prefer the more old fashion method of picking up the phone. Find an agent that will accommodate whatever way you like to communicate.

10.  What experience do you have?

You want an agent that has done the work you need done before, and done it well. This is why references are important. Whether you are selling or buying you want an agent who has expertise in that end of the business. Most of the best real estate agents specialize in one or the other. It is very rare for example to find an agent who is representing a lot of sellers who also has the time to go out and show multiple homes during the week. Most agents are not able to juggle too many balls without their service levels suffering.

Best of luck with buying or selling your next home!

When you take the time to ask the right questions when interviewing a real estate agent you will have a much more pleasant & profitable experience. Xavier & Xavier are proven, local and experienced Realtors with RE/MAX Estate Properties and we service the entire South Bay Area and Palos Verdes Peninsula! Whether it is a first time home purchase or experienced move up buyer or seller, we have you covered with Xavier & Xavier Team's 5 Star Level of Service and backed by the best name in real estate, RE/MAX!

Contact Sam and Bindu
Xavier & Xavier Team
RE/MAX Estate Properties
Visit Us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamandBinduXavier

Cal DRE #01449986 & 01818247


Avoid Coronavirus Scams

Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing

Scammers are taking advantage of fears surrounding the Coronavirus.

Here are some tips to help you keep the scammers at bay:

Hang up on robocalls. Don’t press any numbers. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam Coronavirus treatments to work-at-home schemes. The recording might say that pressing a number will let you speak to a live operator or remove you from their call list, but it might lead to more robocalls, instead.

Ignore online offers for vaccinations and home test kits. Scammers are trying to get you to buy products that aren’t proven to treat or prevent the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — online or in stores. At this time, there also are no FDA-authorized home test kits for the Coronavirus.

Fact-check information. Scammers, and sometimes well-meaning people, share information that hasn’t been verified. Before you pass on any messages, contact trusted sources.

Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.

Don’t respond to texts and emails about checks from the government. The details are still being worked out. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.

Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.

Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about the Coronavirus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.

What the FTC is Doing

The FTC and FDA have jointly issued warning letters to seven sellers of unapproved and misbranded products, claiming they can treat or prevent the Coronavirus. The companies’ products include teas, essential oils, and colloidal silver.

The FTC says the companies have no evidence to back up their claims — as required by law. The FDA says there are no approved vaccines, drugs or investigational products currently available to treat or prevent the virus.

Source: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/coronavirus-scams-what-ftc-doing


The Signs at Home: When It’s Time to Consider Memory Care

Throughout California, some facilities offer special memory care services.

With that in mind, what exactly is memory care?

The broad definition says that it is a specific type of long-term care tailored to meet the needs of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other forms of memory deficits. Staff, who receive dementia training, provide 24-hour supervisory and nursing care in order to monitor medical needs and activities of daily living of the residents.

Family members and caregivers of aging adults with Alzheimer’s/dementia are fully aware that symptoms are not usually the result of an immediate onset; rather, symptoms progressively worsen over any given length of time.

This progression can sometimes make it difficult to gauge if or when the elderly individual requires more help.

So, what signs are caregivers/family members looking for when it comes time to transition a person with dementia from a private home to memory care?

Aging adults with mild Alzheimer’s or dementia can typically function well at home for a time, probably with occasional assistance from family members or caregivers for more complex tasks including (but not limited to):

Grocery shopping, finances, medication management, cooking/meal preparation, or community access and transportation.

Moderate to severe cases of Alzheimer’s or dementia dramatically change how a person conducts the basics at home, and safety becomes the main issue.

Example situations may include the following:

  • Forgetting to use an ambulation device (walker, cane, etc.) to get around the house can be a serious problem if the individual has terrible standing balance.
  • Wandering out of the house and not knowing how to get back
  • Turning on kitchen appliances and not turning them off when finished or using them unsafely.
  • Falling out of bed by simply trying to get up
  • Inability to complete dressing, showering, toileting, and hygiene needs without cuing or maximum assistance from others.
  • Lashing out or turning aggressive towards caregivers, making it near to impossible for them to receive help for functional tasks.

There should be massive applause for family members and caregivers who dedicate their lives to assisting persons with severe dementia so that they may reside at home.

However, there are some cases where it can prove too much.

Caregivers who may have limited physical capacity or deteriorating health themselves eventually have to get help (i.e. aging spouses), and there is no shame in it.

Consider these three questions:

1.) Is the person with dementia safe in their own home or can be left alone at any time?

2.) Are there family supports in place that are successfully working to keep the person safe at home?

3.) Are home health options in place AND working?

If the answer is NO to all of these questions, then it is time to consider something like out-of-home placement or memory care.


5 Things to Look for in Incontinence Products

When an elder is diagnosed with incontinence, he or she might quickly become overwhelmed by the options of incontinence products that are on the market.

There are hundreds of products ranging from pads to adult diapers, and this can make it hard to narrow down which product is best for the individual.

If you’re a care taker or an elder who suffers from incontinence, it’s important for you to know how to choose the right product.

So, to help you weed out the best products, here are a few things to look for when buying incontinence products.

1. Size

Size is a crucial factor that often determines how well a product will work for the user. If the wearer isn’t wearing the correct size of product, he or she will likely have to deal with uncomfortable leakage and accidents.

Most incontinence products range in size from extra small to triple large, allowing wearers of every size to find the perfect fitting product. By wearing the right size, the wearer will feel more secure and confident, as well as be more relaxed and open to enjoying life despite their incontinence.

2. Gender

Most incontinence products are gender specific. Some are better suited for men, while others are better suited for women. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, buying incontinence products based on the gender of the wearer is important.

Why? This is because extra protection is put in place where each gender needs it most.

3. Severity

Always consider how severe the wearer’s incontinence is before purchasing an incontinence product. For some wearers, the incontinence is only a minor issue and doesn’t require a lot of protection, but for others the incontinence can be severe and mean that he or she needs a strong product to put the issue to rest.

The products are made with all incontinence cases in mind, and products can be found for people who need only light protection to those who need full protection such as a person who has lost bladder or bowel control.

4. Frequency

How frequently the incontinence occurs is something to think about when buying incontinence products. As a rule of thumb, people who suffer from severe incontinence are more likely to suffer from it frequently, and people who have mild incontinence are likely to only suffer sometimes. This can mean the difference between the wearer needing strong or light protection.

5. Comfort

Although incontinence sufferers aren’t usually happy about having to use incontinence products, the products shouldn’t be uncomfortable. If they are, the wearer should try a different kind of product or a different size.

Each wearer has a preference, and this preference should be honored as incontinence is a life-long problem and won’t go away regardless of which type of product is used.

In Conclusion

It’s important to remember that incontinence products aren’t one-size-fits-all products.

Each person who needs them has different likes and dislikes, and different reasons for needing the products.

Their personal comfort, incontinence frequency and severity, gender, and body type should all be considered before a product is purchased.

Benefits of Identifying Alzheimer’s Early: A Rehabilitative Perspective

No aging adult wants other people pointing out times when their cognition slides.

Misplacing items, forgetting names, repeating stories…it’s all commonly part of the aging process and many older adults get embarrassed by it. In order to preserve their pride, they try to brush these slip-ups aside and in the end there is no harm and no foul.

On the other hand, there are times when these cognitive slip-ups result from much more than just the aging process.
Occasionally, these are early signs of Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. Again, the slip-ups are brushed aside to avoid embarrassment. Unfortunately, these symptoms get dismissed and early identification of Alzheimer’s disease is lost.

So, what is the big deal? So what if an individual doesn’t get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease as early as they should?

The Alzheimer’s association has identified 10 early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s which includes confusion with time or place, memory loss, difficulty with solving problems, and misplacing things.

They emphasize that the symptoms all have something in common: they cause a major disruption to function and to daily life.

Alzheimer’s disease (not including early-onset Alzheimer’s) typically effects adults 65 years and older. Being familiar with the early signs and symptoms leads to early diagnosis.

Here are some of the benefits of obtaining and early diagnosis:

Getting a more accurate diagnosis.
Obtaining an early diagnosis gives your specialists more time to properly diagnose you. There are several sub-types of dementia, all of which require a variety of prescriptive and rehabilitative approaches.

Treating reversible symptoms.
In rare cases, there are some Alzheimer’s-like conditions that can be reversed if identified early enough. This includes encephalopathic conditions in which liquid and inflammation builds up around the brain tissue. Visit the NIH Neurological Institute information page regarding normal pressure hydrocephalus.

Early rehabilitation treatment.
This includes getting access to physical, occupational, and speech therapy treatment in your home and in healthcare settings. Such professionals can assist you with maintaining your level of independence in tasks that mean the most to you for as long as possible.

Rehabilitative specialists can also work with family members and caregivers, providing education on how to facilitate your independence and what to expect as the disease changes over time.

Having control in planning your living situation.
Early identification means having the cognitive capacity to decide what your one living situation will look like as the disease progresses.
Options include living at home with family, applying for assistive living, deciding hospice care and advanced directives if and when the time comes.

Preparing your family for what’s to come.
Alzheimer’s disease obviously impacts the affected individual, but the functional loss that comes with the disease directly impacts relevant family members and caregivers.

This involves spouses, siblings, and other family members completely transforming their relationship to the role of caregiver. Early identification helps better prepare them for how their roles will change in order to best care for you.

Assisted Living/Board Care: Starting the Conversation With Your Loved One

Are you part of one of those families in which all of the siblings had to draw straws to determine who gets to take away the car keys from Dad when the time came?

Although this method and storyline often lightens the mood, there is no hiding how scary of an endeavor it is to be solely responsible for taking things away from your aging parents.

Children, grandchildren, and other family members/caregivers of the elderly are frequently, at some point, placed in a position in which they need to bring up that life-changing conversation with their loved ones:

discussing the possibility of relocating to an alternative place of residence including assisted living facilities (residential care centers), memory care centers, or other community-based options outside of their private residence.

Depending on the person and their history, this conversation could be a long time coming and not at all surprising. For others, terrifying circumstances at home may spark an immediate discussion:

an increase in falls or injuries at home, rapid health deterioration, or an unexpected change in caregiver roles (death, illness, etc.).

To merely suggest a transition to residential care outside of the home for some elderly adults is to rip away all feelings and modes for independence.

Therefore, this conversation should be taken with great care if family members/caregivers expect to come out with positive results.

Consider the following tips that could be used in initiating the discussion and to keep the dialogue from shutting down:

Prepare for a role switch: Children of elderly parents have a built-up expectation about interacting with each other, with typically children taking the submissive role even as adults. Now, it’s time for children to take a leadership (but not dominating) role. Be proactive and confident when discussing alternative living options.

Formalize the conversation: Talking about a potential move should be considered a sit-down conversation. Physically sit down with the elderly individual, even if this means scheduling a time to meet in advance. Select a quiet, comfortable room where there are limited distractions.

Have your care center resources at the ready: Have prospective centers and care options in front of you, whether the information is all on pamphlets or on your laptop. Have complete evidence of your research, but avoid making this an overwhelming part of the discussion because elderly adults who are talking about residential care for the first time will need time to process.

Back up your stance with recorded incidences: If you feel like the conversation is going a certain direction, appropriately bring up recent and past safety concerns without sugar-coating the facts. Examples include falls in the home, getting stuck in the bathroom, inability to access food or medication without others, hospital stays that resulted from problems at home, etc.

Re-emphasize your love for the individual: Make sure your tone in the conversation does not come across as demeaning or cold. Admitting that you need help is very defeating for some elderly adults. Consistently reassure them, verbalizing how much you care for them.

These tips are not fool-proof and will not work for every, unique situation. For some elderly adults, coming to terms with a residential change will take several scares and hospital stays.

We can only make our best efforts, which includes having the courage to bring up the conversation not once, but numerous times.

Avoid These Seven Foods

Are you eating these wrong foods?

I see it happen all the time fat loss results from eating the wrong foods. Please don’t let this be you. You exercise hard, so keep your results by avoiding these seven foods:

1) Don’t Eat: White Pasta
White pasta will never be OK to eat when your goal is to look fit. Sorry, it’s filled with way too many simple carbs. These plentiful carbs have one singular goal, storing body fat.

Eat This: Spaghetti Squash

On those nights when you crave a big bowl of noodles, try this instead. Poke a spaghetti squash all over then bake at 400 degrees F for 45-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool. Scoop out the seeds and then scrape out the long, noodle-like strands of squash. Serve these healthy noodles with spaghetti sauce and meatballs.

2) Don’t Eat: Store Bought Salad Dressing
The nutritional benefit of your salad can be undone by in store-bought salad dressing. Salad dressing is a landfill of unnatural ingredients that are best avoided.

Eat This: Simple Homemade Dressing

Making your salad dressing is simple and takes less than five minutes, and tastes great.

Three parts high-quality oil – extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, flax seed oil, or sesame seed oil.
1 part something acidic – vinegar, lemon, lime
A dash of salt and fresh ground pepper
Some fresh or dried herbs 3) Don’t Eat: Packaged Granola Bars
Packaged bars have one thing going for them — the convenience factor, and price. A bar contains preservatives, carbs, calories, and sugars that make them a poor eating choice.

Eat This: Raw Nuts

When you need a quick, energizing snack look no further than a handful of raw nuts. This will cut down on the sugar and other harmful additives. Nuts are a convenient energy boost and are much better for you.

4) Don’t Drink: Blended Coffee Drinks
Coffee chains have made it acceptable to sip on a sizeable blended coffee drink. Unfortunately, your body is going to respond to all that sugar in the only way that it knows how by storing it as fat. These blended drinks are addictive, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Drink This: Unsweetened Iced Tea

Double brew 4 cups of your favorite tea – try Chai Rooibos—then chill it in the fridge for a few hours. Serve over ice and sweeten with a sprinkle of Stevia if needed. Guilt-free refreshment.

5) Don’t Eat: Fast Food Breakfast Sandwiches
The drive-thru may be calling you. When you’ve left for work in such a hurry that you forgot to eat breakfast, but don’t give in. Fast food contains loads of preservatives, trans fats, and questionable ingredients.

Eat This: Grain-Free Mini Muffins

Grain-Free Mini Muffins make the perfect on-the-go breakfast. They can also keep you out of the drive-thru line. Make a batch on the weekend to stock the fridge and then grab as needed throughout your busy week.

6) Don’t Eat: Flavored Yogurt
Often promoted as a healthy snack Fruit-flavored yogurts are not a great alternative. They contain sugars, corn syrup, and preservatives. These can derail your fitness results and send you on a sugar high.

Eat This: Plain Greek Yogurt with Fruit

Plain Greek yogurt has more protein and far less sugar. Dress it up by adding your own, chopped fresh fruit.

7) Don’t Eat: Potato Chips
A potato chip habit causes people to gain weight even faster than an ice cream habit. This is likely due to all the preservatives, trans fats, empty calories and salt, and how hard it is to each a few.

Eat This: Bake Kale Chips

Kale chips are crunchy and satisfying. They are excellent sources of fiber, protein and real food nutrients. This is one crunchy snack that won’t expand your waistline.

Here’s how to make them at home: Wash and tear one bunch of kale into chip-sized pieces. Toss with a Tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.

The following is the quickest and most permanent way to drop fat and feel amazing — a combination of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts.

Bruno Perron has over 27 years of experience in the personal fitness industry and more than 28,000 individual training sessions. He has a BA in physical activity from the University of Ottawa and an MA in Kinesiology from Universite de Sherbrooke. Bruno is one of the countries top professional trainers.

Contact Bruno
Still Got It Fitness
2173 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717
Phone: (310) 294-1104