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3 Financial Steps to Take Before Investing in Real Estate

This guest post was contributed by Dream Home Property Solutions, LLC, your source for expert advice on Ventura County Real Estate.

Real estate has yet again become one of the most popular forms of investing.  With the recovery of the real estate market in many locations, the popularity of the house flipping shows, and all of the real estate gurus teaching their “secrets,” it’s created the perfect storm for people to consider investing in real estate.  Although we love real estate investing and what it can do for people financially, there are several steps you might want to consider before taking the leap.

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Build Your Savings Account

Whether you are investing in real estate or not, most experts agree that everyone should have money saved up in their savings account for emergencies.  The idea behind this is that you want to have money immediately available for you to live on if you were to lose your job for whatever reason and/or are not bringing in any source of income. Even if you have a fairly stable job, this money could be used to pay for any large unexpected expenses, such as medical bills, home repairs, etc.

This money does not necessarily need to be in a bank savings account, but it should be fairly liquid, such as a Certificate of Deposit (CD). We have seen recommendations anywhere from 3 months of savings to 12 months of savings.  The amount you choose will ultimately be up to you and your risk tolerance.  If you have a stable job and not many expenses, you may choose the lower end of that spectrum.  If you are self-employed, or have an older home or car, you may want more savings in anticipation of costly repairs.

Pay Down Debt

As you are building up your savings, you’re also going to want to start paying down any debt you may have.  The most common approaches we have seen for this are either paying off your lowest balance debts first or paying off your highest interest rates.  The idea behind paying off your lowest balance is that once it’s paid off, you can then use the amount of money you were paying per month and apply that additional amount to the next lowest balance.  There are pros and cons to each approach, so do whichever one you feel most comfortable with.

Although some financial planners view all debt as bad, you will find a lot of seasoned real estate investors tell you that leverage used properly is a good thing.  If you have debt with a low interest rate, and can get a higher expected return by investing in real estate, it may make sense to invest in real estate as opposed to paying off the debt faster.  For example, those with good credit can find auto loans for 0% interest.  Instead of paying off the auto loan, you might be better off financially by investing that money in real estate.

Take Advantage Of Your Company’s Retirement Matching

Some companies will match your retirement contributions (401k, TSP, etc.) up to a certain amount.  If your company has this perk, you should strongly consider at least investing the amount up to which your company will match.  This is basically free money for you to take advantage of.  We have heard one financial planner state that you can get higher returns in other vehicles, even when you take into account company matching, but contributing to your retirement account is an easy method to start saving up money for retirement.

At Dream Home Property Solutions, we are here to help you with all of your Ventura County real estate needs. Visit us online at www.DreamHomePS.com

Los Feliz Shopping Guide

We have so many reasons to love Los Feliz in Los Angeles: the authentic food, the awesome nightlife, and the diverse community. But if you’ve got a shopping bug or love hunting for unique pieces, you have to check out the shopping in Los Feliz.

Tired of shopping at chain stores and coming home with the same stuff? Hop over to Los Feliz and shop at some of these local small businesses. You’ll find vintage items and one-of-a-kind handmade crafts at the boutiques and local shops in this historic Los Angeles neighborhood.

Skylight Books

Why go to a chain bookstore when you can visit a hip Independent bookstore that’s been around since the 90’s? Skylight Books near Griffith Park offers a wide range of books for its varied audience and readers in the Los Angeles area. The store carries everything from graphic novels and magazines to children’s books. If you aren’t sure what you should read next, try checking out the curated staff picks (they’re posted online if you’d like to read them). And if you are looking for more than just shopping, independent bookstores run community events. Skylight Books hosts the Coyotes Book Club every month and features regular events with authors.

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We can’t think of a better place to grab a book and pass the time, especially in the lovely atmosphere created at this beloved bookstore

Spitfire Girl

Don’t buy a generic gift this Christmas season. Go to a shop like Spitfire Girl where you’ll find special, hand-crafted items for friends, family, and loved ones. The founder of Spitfire Girl, Kristin, shared her inspiration in an interview with Modcloth (read here). She described how the experience of hand-making invitations for her own parties and her daughter’s birthday party gave her the idea to open a store. Kristin and other artists (like her husband and daughter) design products sold in her store, like postcards printed on pieces of wood. You can’t find these just anywhere! She carries box cards, candles, perfumes, gift sets, dolls, bath salts, lotion, and more. For the home, you’ll also find pillows, tea towels, handmade soaps, etc.

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You might find something you didn’t know you wanted or needed!

Squaresville

For those of us with a passion for buying clothes and regularly updating your closet, Squaresville is heaven on earth. This second-hand clothing store has been operating in Los Feliz since 1996, making it more than twenty-years-old! Squaresville buys, trades, and sells vintage, second-hand, and designer clothing. Specifically, this store collects pieces from the early 1990s all the way to the 90s and keeps recent styles in stock for its customers. Regulars will love shopping here, because the stock is always rotating. You’ll never know what you’ll find from one day to the next. Your shopping experience is always new.

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Don’t forget your accessories and your shoes, which you’ll find a wide variety of at Squaresville on Vermont Avenue

Co-op 28

Love antiquing and vintage finds? Are you always checking out the inventory at your local Good Will and antique stores? Then you have to stop by Co-Op 28, voted Best of LA Boutique Store in 2015. Located in Los Feliz Village, this alternative store carries everything from furniture, clothing, signs, books, jewelry, artwork, home goods, candles, and more. When you shop at Co-Op 28, you know that you are supporting local business as well as local artists. The store carries objects, both vintage and handmade, from more than one-hundred artists. If you haven’t been there to shop in a while, then you might not know about the store’s new furniture collection, titled the Los Feliz Collection. You can order custom options or you can order a pre-designed couch produced by a local manufacturer. Our favorite part of the store is the counter made of stacked books and shelves. Co-Op 28 will also be launching an online store on its website, where they are also announcing the opening of the Bukowski’s Intellectual’s Dive Bar behind the store. Soon, you may want to hang out where you shop.

Carol Young / Undesigned

If you are passionate about fashion that is both functional and beautiful, then you will love the designer Carol Young. After her fellowship at Cornell University, she designed her own line of clothing that is recycled, organic, and designed for people living active lives. At her store, you’ll find dresses, tops, bottoms, shoes, boots, throw pillows, travel wear, and more. She also carries other brands in addition to her own.

Wacko Soap Plant

Wacko Soap Plant may be one of the weirdest shops you’ve ever been in. With a history dating back to 1971, Wacko Soap Plant is a well-known name in Los Angeles. At its current location, the store spans 6,000 square feet and is stocked full with popular culture items, music, books, toys, candy, gadgets, posters, clothing and more. The store originally offered handmade soaps, ceramics, and leatherware and was family-run. Owner Billy Shire expanded the store’s inventory over the years to include items that represent popular culture, counterculture, and Los Angeles art. The store is also home to the La Luz de Jesus Gallery, where art shows are held every month.

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Kingswell

This post wouldn’t be complete without a shout out to the skateboarders out there in Southern California. Kingswell is a rare store for professional skateboarders and those interested in beautiful design and street culture. Kingswell celebrates Los Angeles artwork, well-designed skateboards, and tattoo art. Skaters will find hats, shoes, t-shirts, and skateboards from brands like Converse, Huf Cromer, and Santa Cruz Skateboards.

We hope this post has inspired your next shopping trip as you get to know the small businesses within Los Feliz.

Real Estate Unlimited is a real estate agency with expertise in luxury real estate in Los Angeles. Whether you are looking to buy or sell a home in Los Feliz or in another Los Angeles neighborhood, we are here to answer your questions, share our knowledge with you, and help you find the right fit. Feel free to contact us today.

Best Places to Grab a Bite in Los Feliz

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The Los Feliz neighborhood is one of the most vibrant and culturally diverse in Los Angeles. As a result, residents are spoiled for choice when it comes to finding a place to eat. In this post, we’ll share some of our very favorite dining options in the area, so you’ve got a shortlist when you plan your next visit!

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Yuca’s

Like most parts of Los Angeles, traditional and fusion Mexican-inspired cuisine makes a strong showing in Los Feliz. One standout venue is Yuca’s, whose original location opened here in Los Feliz just over thirty year ago. The owner won a James Beard Award for her superlative cookery, and the resulting media buzz allowed her to open a glossy second location on Hollywood. We prefer the original location, whose cozy, intimate interior is the perfect place to enjoy Mexican cuisine from Socorro Herrera’s kitchen. You can find a long list of traditional favorites on Yuca’s simple yet splendid menu, and we recommend Yuca’s burrito: satisfying comfort food in an unassuming package.

Figaro Bistrot

If you’re planning a romantic evening, you can’t choose a better restaurant than Figaro Bistrot, a little slice of Paris in the heart of Los Feliz. Mirrored walls in gold lettering, spindly ironwork chairs, and elegant menus for the patrons: you’ll think you’re in Montmartre. The pastry case near the front entrance is filled with scrumptious creations of delicate pastry and rich cream, including eclairs, profiteroles, and a gleaming selection of fresh fruit tarts according to the season. If you’d like to sit outside and watch the people strolling by in traditional flaneur style, grab one of the wicker chairs out front and sample a noisette or a café au lait. If you’d like a more substantial lunch, try the onion soup covered with a toasty golden-brown layer of molten gruyere, or the veal entrecote with tangy green pepper sauce.

Looking for a music and cocktail venue to round out your evening? Check out the Dresden in Los Feliz!

Speranza

Named for the Italian word for “hope,” this family-friendly restaurant concentrates on fresh, unpretentious Italian fare. Tender, homemade pasta and tasty homemade sauce makes up the bulk of the menu, and every single combination – especially the ones that come paired with succulent seafood – is worth trying. We like the carbonara and the creamy alfredo on a platter of linguine, but we can’t honestly say that any of Speranza’s pasta dishes are anything but sublime. Perfect for an extended-family visit or a quiet Sunday night meal – just bring a hearty appetite.

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O Banh Mi

O Banh Mi is one of Los Feliz’ best kept secrets – and one of its most precious. This little Vietnamese sandwich shop is hard to suss out, with the only signage being a neon O shining in the window. O Banh Mi is devoted to banh mi, the traditional Vietnamese sandwiches comprised of pate, honey, meat, cilantro, and crunchy cucumber and carrots on a fresh baguette. Opening hours are restricted from noon to 4 p.m., and residents in the know show up at noon on Friday, when a whole roasted pig is brought in to furnish the afternoon’s batch of sandwiches. If you’re interested in trying another variety of banh mi, you can choose from pork, chicken, or tofu. More adventurous snackers may want to try the pungent anchovies or salty squid version. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy an authentic Vietnamese treat. Just remember to get there by four – and don’t forget to bring cash.

McConnell’s

Okay, maybe it’s cheating for us to put an ice cream parlor on the list – but you won’t blame us for making an exception when you see what McConnell’s has to offer. This small chain of ice cream parlors originates in Santa Barbara. The Los Feliz branch opened just last year, and it’s safe to say that it’s a neighborhood hit. (Proximity to another Los Feliz crowd-pleaser, HomeState, definitely isn’t hurting McConnell’s chances of becoming a neighborhood fixture.) The parlor includes a rotating selection of seasonal flavors as well as several permanent options. We like the chocolate almond brittle and the cool peppermint stick. Fruit flavors tend to be seasonal, but they’re always fresh, inventive, and delicious.

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Photo Credit: Gandb.coffee

Go Get Em Tiger

As the name implies, this restaurant is a great place to refuel – breakfast, lunch, and sandwich options are among the most unique – and delicious – in Los Angeles. Their coffee and espresso drink menu is inventive and consistently delicious – try the almond-macadamia latte for a sugary pick me up – but sandwiches and homemade baked goods are not to be missed. If you’re a blintz fan, try the L.A. Baby, a baked pancake served with crème fraiche and fruity preserves. If you’re in the mood for a savory breakfast option, try the toasted pan de sel breakfast sandwich with egg, bacon, onion jelly, and spicy arugula. The chicken salad sandwich on a baguette is our favorite for a fortifying lunch, but don’t be afraid to explore the daily and weekly specials, which are rotated frequently. Just don’t forget to grab a cookie for dessert!

Planning a weekend trip to the neighborhood? Don’t forget the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz!

Real Estate Unlimited is a real-estate company dedicated to representing clients in Echo Park and other historic neighborhoods throughout the Los Angeles area. We pride ourselves on our in-depth knowledge of the Los Angeles area, and we’re glad to give our clients the benefit of our local expertise. Call us to schedule a consultation today!