Are you prepared for the big one?

Are you prepared for the big one?

By:  Melissa Sims | The Boutique Real Estate Group | @MelissaSimsOC

I am not a California native. I came to California in 1986 for my father’s career. We moved to Arcadia in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. Coming from Wisconsin, we were not prepared for the heat. Nor, would I learn, were we prepared for earthquakes. I still remember very vividly where I was when the 1987 5.9 Whittier Narrows earthquake hit. I was getting ready for school… out of nowhere, dishes were flying out of cabinets and the floor was seemingly gone beneath my feet. My mother grabbed my sister and I and we all ran outside. I wish I could find words to appropriately explain what I saw…the earth was flipping, side-to-side. Earthquake, you say, mom? What’s that? I was only 7 at the time, and coming from the other side of the country, we never spoke of such things. Tornados? All the time. Needless to say, we were ill prepared – no extra water or canned food on hand, no extra clothing, batteries, blankets…nada. It was a very serious quake, with several deaths and many homes destroyed.

Fast forward 7 years, we are living near Northridge, CA. We must have had a knack to follow where the next big earthquake would be. My mother and I were living alone in a condo, on top of a subterranean parking garage. I was awoken at 4:31 am by being physically thrown out of my bed onto the floor. I looked up and saw a huge free-standing mirror about to crash over me…instinct told me to roll under my bed while the mirror shattered where I had just lain. The intense noise, not just the shaking, is what was so terrifying about this quake – I screamed the entire time, as did my mother, neither of us hearing anything from the other. As we got our bearings and cautiously went downstairs, we had no idea what had happened. How big was that? Is there power anywhere (not here, obviously)? As we scrambled in the dark, I am still thankful that my mom had just recently decided it was time for an ‘earthquake kit.’ We had water, food, blankets, a flashlight, radio and extra batteries. We sat in our doorway for probably close to 3 hours, listening to the battery-powered radio in the dark, trying to find out how bad the quake was, getting tossed over and over with aftershocks. We stayed in the house for over a week with no power or clean water, until the fire department finally made its way to us. To let us know that we couldn’t stay. While the Northridge quake was a 6.7, the ground acceleration of that quake was one of the highest ever recorded in an urban area, making it feel more like a quake in the 7.5 range.

Looking back on both quakes, I am so thankful that we were more prepared for the second quake. Nothing can prepare you, really, for the disorienting feeling of having the earth beneath you come to life, and rock your senses silly. After this most recent La Habra quake, we are reminded yet again that we live in ‘earthquake country’ and most of us are embarrassingly unprepared for the aftermath of a good shake.


Here are some tips for an effective earthquake kit. Some things to remember: you may not have access to water, electricity or emergency services for a few days, if not more.

1. Water. The single most important item you’ll need. Another option: steri pen. Will sterilize water from any source. You’ll need at least one gallon per day per person in your house.

2. Food – canned food (don’t forget an opener), boxed food that has a long shelf life. Pastas, canned tuna, canned vegetables, etcetera. Camping food is another good option.

3. Camp stove and fuel, along with utensils.

4. Whistle, in case of need for rescuers.

5. Extra set of clothing & shoes.

6. Emergency cash, in small denominations

7. Tool kit (to turn off gas/water)

8. Copies of your vital documents.

9. Tarp, plastic bags – in case of rain. Or, if preferred, a tent.

10. Toiletries.

11. Toys – if you have kids

12. Lanterns, flashlights & batteries.

13. Portable radio – don’t think your cell phone will work. You need the good ol’ fashioned antenna radio.

14. Solar panel for charging any items that might still work.

15. Portable power generator. There are solar versions out there as well. Most generators run on gas, and if there is a main break at your local station, no-can-do. There are other personal preference items you can bring, of course, but try to make your kit as accessible as possible. It should be in a waterproof container, easily accessed OUTSIDE. Do not keep it in your garage – you’ll probably not be able to access it if the damage is severe.

Nothing, like I said, will prepare you for the moment a large earthquake hits. The fear and adrenaline are intense and the disorientation is dumbfounding. But, your preparedness for the moments right after a quake can make the comforts of home enough to get you through mother nature’s moody behavior.

To connect with Melissa Sims please email her at

32 Home Buying Tips from Some of the World’s Most Popular Realtors


Via Scott Riley @homebuyernation

After the success of the last expert roundup, I knew another one was in order. This time I asked some of the world’s most popular Realtors from around the country to share one uncommon tip for a first-time home buyer.

They all delivered with some priceless insights and wisdom. We even had 3 agents from the hit TV show Million Dollar Listing weigh in with tips for the HomeBuyer Nation!

I learned a ton and I think you will too. After you’re done, I’d love to hear which one you thought was the most helpful, in the comments.

For full article, follow this link:

Buyers Beware!!

Buyers BEWARE!


5 Signs To Watch For When Looking For A New Home


By:  Raj Qsar


Our team has the opportunity of working with many buyers across many different price points in The Orange County Real Estate Market.  We look at homes all day, every day.  And our first impression is usually on the internet via The MLS (Multiple Listing Service).  There are certain red flags we pay special attention to that can distract buyers and waste valuable time in a hot buyers market causing buyers to lose focus on the real market and what is truly available and really for sale.  Here are our Top 5 Signs to What Out For When Looking For A New Home;

1. What!  No pictures?

What agent who wants to sell a home does not post any pictures on the MLS, their website, all the social media websites & all the other public websites?  What seller who wants to sell a home would not allow an agent to post pictures.  Let’s face it.  Looks sell!!!  And if there are no pictures of a home that is for sale then you can bet that something is not right.  For an example of what great looks like check out these photos of an estate home we just sold in Yorba Linda.  The Crown Jewel Of Vista Del Verde.  Our team spent days preparing this home for the photo shoot and brought in professional stagers, design & layout guru’s, truck loads of furniture, hundreds of candles, landscapers, Fung Shui Masters and the list goes on & on.   I think you know where we are going with this!!!

2. What!  No description?

Once again, we are in the business of selling homes for our clients and we go to great lengths to make sure that every “I” is dotted and every “T” is crossed and that our description is an accurate representation of the home we are selling.  If a description simply reads, “great home for sale in a great neighborhood.”  Then you know to watch out!  Something is wrong here as well.  If a hired professional can not take the time to produce vernacular that is worthy of a home they are representing and in turn clients they are representing then what kind of sale is this going to produce and how smooth is this transaction going to be?  For an example for what great text looks like have a look at this home.  Fabulous in Fullerton

3. What is The Deal With That Price?

One question we are asked everyday is, “What are the comps like?”  When a buyer or seller is asking us this question what they really mean is the following; Over the last 3-6 months what have similar homes in similar neighborhoods with similar features within a 0.5 mile -0.75 mile radius sold for and what do you think my home is worth (or what do you think I can get this home for) and why? So as you can see a lot goes into pricing a home for sale (many of us in the industry would call it an art form) and also on the flip side preparing an offer for your buyers that resembles the comps or more importantly an offer that will grab the attention of a seller is so important in todays real estate market.  So if you are looking for a home in a neighborhood that has comps in the $900k range and a home lists in that same neighborhood, is a model match, has similar upgrades & features, similar location, similar outdoor amenities and lists for $1.3m then you know something is going on.  Or on the flip side that same home lists for $600k.  Something is wrong.  Why is that same home worth $400k more than similar homes in the neighborhood?  Why is that home priced at $600k?  Are they doing an auction? Is it a short sale? Is it on a seismic fault line?  Is the entire home laced with gold leaf wall portraits?  Is the chandelier hanging in the dining room imported from the South of France and made by small elves with no thumbs and took 10 years to make?  This does not make sense and you know you are in for a ride on this listing.

4. How Many Days On The Market?

Now we all know that you have to strike when the iron is hot and most homes gain the most attention or exposure the first 4 weeks on the market if priced right and in good shape (especially in a hot buyers market).  What do you do if you are searching for homes on the internet or if your agent is emailing you homes that are currently for sale and you keep seeing the same home show up over & over again.  You ask your agent, “why has this home been on the market for 600 days?  Don’t they want to sell?”  The response will probably be something like this, “That is a teaser.” Or “They are doing a Loan Mod.” Or “They are suing their lender.”  There is always a story of why, who, what, when & where with these listings.  So stay clear of these homes and you will be steps ahead of your competing buyers!

5. Multiple Agents.  Multiple Listings.  Multiple Photos.  Same House.

Once again, that same home is “Back On The Market” for the 4th time and with the 4th Brokerage (each broker given 90 days to sell at an impossible price).  Why, why, why you ask?  You as the buyer basically have this home engraved in your head as you have seen it on the internet over the past 12 months.  This would basically come down to a seller who has not come to grips with where the current market is today.  They are stuck in 2005 or 2006 thinking that their home is worth 2x more than the comparables and that their upgrades are worth more than their neighbors upgrades and that the dirt their home sits on is that much more valuable than their neighbors.  Once again, you may want to avoid this home and keep your blood pressure at the 120/80 mark!


Our team knows that there is no black & white in our real estate market and that these scenarios are a bit of fun on one side but could really help you save time, decrease your frustration level and increase your chance of success on purchasing that home of your dreams!  Call us today if you have any questions about the real estate market!  Or visit us at to connect with us everywhere!