Month: January 2015

Protect Your Home While It’s On The Market

Ready to sell your home? Besides dusting every nook and cranny and pulling weeds from the garden, don’t forget to protect yourself and your home when it’s on the market! Here’s a few ways on how to protect your home while it’s on the market so that you can feel more at ease.

Hide the Valuables
Don’t keep high-end valuables visible in your home while it’s on the market, including jewelry, collectibles and other items that are easy to steal. Keep a safe in the home with the valuables locked up, or secure a safe deposit box at your local bank to keep them in while your home is for sale. Another thing to hide? Your social security number, bank information, blank checks, prescription medications, and anything else that someone is able to snatch while undetected.

Inform your Neighbors
Had an open house or buyer showing? If you’re not returning home directly after, inform the neighbors to check to be sure the doors were locked in the home. This will keep your home safe from unwanted visitors who know your home is for sale.

Accidental Property Damage
Potential buyers want to know the ins and outs of your home. Many will want to test the appliances and facets for functionality. Will they remember to turn off the gas burners and the bathroom sink? Avoid property damage that’s caused by fires, water damage and other threats by asking your realtor to communicate these concerns to the selling agent. The selling agent can double check to be sure everything is OFF before leaving the property.

Gun Safety and Dog Bites
You might think your gun is well concealed in your bedroom closet or nightstand, but potential buyers will poke around to get an idea of storage space. If you keep a gun in your home, make sure it is unloaded, locked in a gun box and completely out of sight. It will prevent accidental injuries and theft. And if you’re a dog owner? It’s best to remove the dogs from the premises. It will make your home more appealing to non-animal lover and eliminates the threat of dog bites. If you can’t remove your pets from the home, secure a crate that can be placed indoors or out, so that the animal is safely contained during the showings.

Slips, Trips, Falls
If someone gets hurt on your property, they may hold you liable and sue. Since potential buyers aren’t familiar with your home, make sure to prevent inquiries and lawsuits with preventative measures such as; repairing loose and uneven flooring (check porches and decks), remove ice and snow from the walkways and steps, secure rugs with non-slip padding, keep hallways and stairwells clear of clutter, and make sure your home is well lit (both inside and out).

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Stephen Nissou, Realtor ®

Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realy Estate

680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019

619-250-4541   |   619-873-2772 Office

Listed in Jamul, CA! Vacant Land to Build Your Custom Dream Home!

Listed in gorgeous Jamul, CA! $299,000 | Over 1 acre each!
Choose where you want to build your custom dream home! Panoramic views of the beautiful Jamul mountains, Grated & Approved, Ready to build! Electricity and water is available & ready. 
(Plans available for 3225 sqft home for lot #3).
Three lots are available for individual sale! Can combine lots for packaged deal!
Please call 619-250-4541 or email for more information!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Realtor ®
CALBre # 01443193

NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
680 Fletcher Pkwy. #100, El Cajon, CA 92020
DIrect 619-250-4541
Office 619-873-2772

3 Points to Ponder About a Home’s Location

When buyers are on the hunt for a new home, they’re usually very focused on one thing: the house. Buyers can lose objectivity if they fall in love with one, and the thought process becomes akin to one of those romantic photos with fuzzy edges—the only thing in focus is the house.

What those fuzzy edges obscure, however, is just as important as what’s in focus. So, be sure to identify the impractical features of a home you love—not only for your own comfort and enjoyment, but for the home’s future value as well.

“Location, location, location” isn’t just a silly real estate mantra—it’s a warning. Pay heed to the neighborhood and surroundings if you want to avoid losing money when you sell the home.

  1. School District

Not everyone can afford the higher cost of homes in a quality school district, but we can avoid purchasing a home in a district that will make it difficult to sell in the future. Even homebuyers without children should look into the area’s schools before signing on the dotted line.

For homebuyers with children, good schools are at the top of the list, according to, and many are willing to go over budget to purchase such a home.

Experts agree that homes are worth more in good school districts. What they can’t seem to agree on, however, is how much more. One study claims that the added value is $16,000 on average. Another study, from the Brookings Institute, says homes in quality school districts may fetch up to $205,000 more than those in a low-scoring district. Finally, another expert says to simply slap a 23 percent premium onto a home in a good school district.

Whatever the amount, savvy buyers know that an area’s schools will have an impact on a home’s future value.

  1. Vacant Land

Being surrounded by open space is lovely, isn’t it? The peace, tranquil views and that feeling of seclusion one derives from living in such a location is worth paying more for—or is it?

Nearby government set-asides of open space are in demand for homebuyers. Privately owned vacant parcels, however, should raise red flags.

Even current zoning of parcels isn’t set in stone, as neighbors in a Minneapolis suburb learned last year.Most homeowners in a 25-year old subdivision there purchased their homes because the area was surrounded by open space. What they failed to realize, however, was that the surrounding parcels were zoned for commercial development. In fact, many of the newer homeowners were shocked when they learned of the city’s plans to approve the construction of a 24-hour superstore right across the street. Their lovely, wooded neighborhood would now be expected to handle three times the vehicular traffic, round-the-clock hustle and bustle, and late-night deliveries to the back of the store, which happens to face the neighborhood.

Before you decide to purchase any home that has vacant parcels of land nearby, it would be wise to check the neighboring property’s zoning.

  1. Neighboring Homes

It’s easy to become smitten with the cutest house on the block, but if that house is the only cute one in the neighborhood, you may want to consider your purchase more carefully.

Foreclosed homes, certain commercial concerns (funeral homes and power plants, for example), messy, neglected yards, and a sex offender in the area can all drag down the value of nearby property, according to the Appraisal Institute. That reduction may be as much as 15 percent.

Experts with the Appraisal Institute suggest taking a leisurely tour of the neighborhood. Something as simple as shoddy landscaping or peeling paint on a building can knock 5 to 10 percent off the value of nearby homes, the Appraisal Institute’s president, Joe Magdziarz, told MSN Money.

Folks in the real estate industry are quite diligent when it comes to recommending various inspections and tests of structural elements to buyers. Many agents, however, may neglect to counsel their clients on the financial aspects of the purchase.

Your home is also an investment and requires due diligence to ensure that it’s a viable one. Do your homework, beyond admiring the snazzy kitchen and dreamy master bedroom, and you’ll sleep well knowing you made an informed investment.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
619-250-4541   |


Upholstery Made Simple!

Confession: we LOVE upholstery! There’s nothing like a new coat of fabric to reinvent a room! Check out some of our favorite upholstery designs that can really spruce up a room! Let us know what your fav’s are and what just doesn’t do it for you!
And while you’re at it- check out our Pinterest page! We’re sure you’ll love it!

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Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Rancho San Diego Executive Home For Sale!

3039 Lasven, El Cajon, CA 92019

Priced at $634,900

3 Bed, 2 Bath, 2190 SQFT

Rancho San Diego Executive Home next to Steele Canyon resort is the place to be when searching for a stylish single level home and an enjoyable community. Lovingly cared for with all the creature comforts you would expect to find in a well dressed home. Custom paint, plush carpeting and elegant tile floors create a soothing interior finish that let you know the little details have been thought about here!

For more information and to view this property please contact Stephen Nissou today!

Direct 619-250-4541

Office 619-873-2772


To view this home on the MLS.

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Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Interior Decorating, Farmhouse – Style


Farmhouse décor offers a relaxed, casual and charming feel. It perfectly combines old and new elements for an eclectic look. A farmhouse interior is warm and inviting while also being practical.

Whether you’re a true country dweller or simply love the look and feel associated with its laid-back style, bring the charm of the farm to your home.

Design Elements

Natural design elements are heavily represented in farmhouse homes. Exposed and distressed beams and ceilings are common features along with crown moldings, wainscoting or other wall paneling.

Natural wood flooring is a must. Leave them plain or consider giving the floors or wood wall paneling a whitewashed or distressed look. Also, incorporate oversized windows where possible. Farmhouse homes tend to let natural light flood their interiors.

A Farmhouse Kitchen

A modern farmhouse kitchen remains warm and inviting yet practical. Choose between either clean or weathered whites for cabinetry and dishware. It’s also common to refurbish cabinets and choose colors such as buttery yellow or pale blue.itchen

Butcher block countertops are also a farmhouse favorite, and an apron-front sink screams farmhouse kitchen. Consider incorporating some glass cabinetry to neatly showcase some of your antique favorites, and include open shelving to easily access essentials such as pots and pans or mason jars filled with flour or sugar. These elements will add charm while still remaining practical.

In open floor plans, a large wooden dining table enhances the inviting and classic qualities of farmhouse style. Stainless appliances and hardware in bronze or brushed nickel add subtle modern touches.


Consider browsing antique shops or flea markets for special pieces such as large iron bed frames, wardrobes, buffets, chests or hutches. Focus on blending eclectic items as opposed to purchasing furniture in sets. For example, an oversized wooden dining table is a must, but consider adding mismatched rustic chairs to enhance the casualness associated with farmhouse décor.

Living room furnishings should be welcoming and relaxed. Comfortable cotton sofas are often seen adorned with simple slipcovers, which again enhance a sense of informality. Accent with a reclaimed or reupholstered chair, chairs made from other natural fibers such as wicker, or even a classic wooden rocker dressed with a hand-stitched quilt.

Farmhouse Décor


When fine-tuning your farmhouse décor, remember to incorporate vintage pieces that were also utilitarian such as old milk jugs or wire egg baskets. Display antique china in refurbished, weathered hutches, and consider antique pitchers in lieu of a modern vase. Use clear or colored mason jars to store everyday essentials or display cut flowers or tea lights. Antique scales or canister sets can be charming additions to exposed shelving. Old wooden milk crates, wicker baskets, and galvanized metal buckets or watering cans add immediate rustic charm. Frame vintage photos in eclectic frames and add antique signs, mirrors or clocks to walls.

Replicate farmhouse style in your home, and craft a relaxed environment that exudes incomparable charm.

For inspiration, be sure to check out our Pinterest page for tips, tricks, and visual design!

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,


Remodeled Home For Sale in Granite Hills, El Cajon, San Diego!

1596 Richandave Avenue, El Cajon, CA 92019
$385,000 – $410,000
5 BED, 2 BATH, 1475 Sqft.
Price reduced! Seller is ready to move. This is a newly remodeled 5 bedroom home in the granite hills area is a real gem! It has been completely updated with a gourmet kitchen with wood cabinets, granite and newer appliances. The home is freshly painted on the inside and outside with new windows and nice concrete patios. Beautiful hardwood floors and carpet throughout the home. The backyard is ready for bbq and is fully fenced w/ dog run. Perfect for a large family or great rental property.
For more information, and to schedule a private showing of this property, please contact Stephen Nissou today!
Direct: 619-250-4541
Office: 619-873-2772
To view this home on the MLS, please click here. 
Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,
Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty El Cajon
680 Fletcher Pkwy. #100
El Cajon, CA 92020
Office 619-873-2772

5 First-Time Home Buyer Mistakes To Avoid

Avoid These 5 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes


According to the dictionary, a mistake is an error resulting from deficient knowledge or carelessness. While we can’t do anything about carelessness, when it comes to counseling first-time homebuyers, the real estate agent is a tremendous resource to help overcome knowledge deficiency.

That homebuyers lack knowledge about the process only makes sense when you understand that shopping for a home may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some. Certainly, it’s not something most Americans do frequently. The process is foreign and the pitfalls are hidden. This is why it’s so important to find the right real estate agent to assist you along the way.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common first-time homebuyer mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not Being Clear About Money

Going into a home purchase with your eyes closed to your finances is probably one of the biggest mistakes you can make during the process. Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, yet that’s what you open yourself up to when you are ignorant about where you stand financially.

If you are unsure about your credit-worthiness, order your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. By law, Americans are entitled to one free report from each bureau every 12 months. You can order your free reports at, the only authorized website, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Look for errors on the reports and dispute any erroneous information. Pay off what you can to help lower your debt-to-income ratio.

Then, see a lender to determine exactly how much you can borrow for a home.

Finally, when you have that figure, don’t be tempted to shop for homes priced at the limit. Give your post-purchase budget some monthly wiggle room by purchasing at the middle of the price range, or a bit more.

Mistake 2: Not Being Clear About Your Wants and Needs

While you may not get everything on a wish list, it’s a good idea to compile one – especially if more than one person will be living in the home.

Understand that your wish list isn’t set in stone and you can plan on it changing once you start viewing homes. During the home-shopping process, you will get a better idea of which items are feasible with your budget and which will have to be struck from the list. Knowing what you want and need in a home is vital to your long-term satisfaction, so it’s worth the time it takes to sit down and make a list.

Don’t neglect the neighborhood wish list either. Do you need to be close to public transportation? If you’d like a family neighborhood with lots of kids for yours to play with, put that on the list.

The bonus to getting clear on your wants and needs is that when you share the list with your real estate agent, your time won’t be wasted by viewing homes that don’t fit your criteria.

Mistake 3: Not Reading the HOA Documents

If the home you decide to make an offer on is managed by a homeowners association, you’ll be presented with a stack of paperwork to read over and approve. These are the HOA documents and, although terribly boring, they hold a wealth of valuable information that you must be privy to before making the final decision to purchase the property.

These documents govern how you can use your home, and they give you an idea of how much and how often your fees might rise. You’ll learn about common and ongoing problems the association deals with and how financially solvent the association is.

Don’t be like the couple that purchased a condo without reading the HOA documents and found out, three days after closing, that they – along with all the other homeowners – were being assessed $7,500 to remedy construction defects.

If you don’t feel that you can read and understand the information in these documents, it’s important to hire an attorney to help you wade through them.

Mistake 4: Making Big Changes

The best part of the home-purchase process is that point during the transaction when inspections are complete, all the contingencies have been removed, and it feels like smooth sailing to the close.

Unfortunately, this is a danger zone for rookie homebuyers. This is typically when they start picturing themselves actually living in the home and the urge may be overwhelming to shop for furniture, appliances and other big-ticket items.

Just before closing, many lenders perform what is known as a “soft pull” of your credit reports. It’s called “soft” because it doesn’t impact your score in any way. It’s the lender’s way of making sure all the circumstances under which it approved the loan haven’t changed.

Any big changes you make, such as large purchases or getting a new job, may derail or delay the purchase. If the new debt you’ve taken on is substantial enough, it may change your debt-to-income ratio and you may be forced to reapply for the mortgage.

Keep your pocketbook closed and remain on your current job until you walk away from the closing table.

Mistake 5: Waiving the Home Inspection

Although foregoing a home inspection was unthinkable a few years ago, in a seller’s market where multiple offers are common, it’s tempting to agree to waive the home inspection as an incentive for the seller to pick your offer. It’s also not very wise.

A professional inspection, even of a newly constructed home, may be the only way you’ll know whether you’re buying a lemon or a plum – a money pit or a smart investment.

When you forego a professional home inspection, you’re essentially buying the home “as is.” Without the inspection contingency, the buyer waives his right to ask for repairs or money to make the repairs.

Waiving the home inspection is never worth the risk.

Knowing how much home you can afford is paramount to a successful home purchase. Making the decision to remain within a certain budget, doing all you can to clean up your credit to get the lowest interest rate possible, and becoming clear on your desires and expectations all help to make the home-buying process as error-free as possible.

Your Local Real estate Expert,


What To Look For When Buying An Older Home

Anyone who has visited San Francisco or Cape May, New Jersey knows how beautiful historic architecture can be. In San Francisco, they’ve even named their stately, restored Victorian homes “Painted Ladies.”

But, are these older homes good buys? Considering that most of a home’s components deteriorate with age, you may be not only buying a vintage home, but vintage problems as well.

Here’s a quick look at some of the more common problems with older homes.


It would seem that an old house has done all the settling it’s going to do, right? Wrong, according to Page Engineering in Missouri. The rate at which the house settles diminishes over time, but it never completely stops – especially if the house has never been “piered.”

Piers are long steel shafts that are driven through the soil and into the bedrock below. This process takes the weight of the home off unstable soil, and the home is less prone to settlement. It’s a big job, though, and quite pricey.

Look for cracks in the walls, bulging floors and doors that won’t close. These are all signs of possible foundation damage. Not all cracks, however, indicate a problem, so don’t be alarmed – let a professional diagnose the situation.

The engineers with Page suggest taking a 4-foot bubble level with you when you visit an older home you’re interested in purchasing. Use the level to check the floors and walls. If any of them are out of level, have the house checked by a structural engineer.

Electrical System

A home’s electrical wiring system has a life expectancy of about 40 years, according to Mike McClintock, home repair writer with the Chicago Tribune. Safety risks increase when the system ages beyond this limit, he warns.

If the home was built between 1920 and 1950 and has never been remodeled, it may still have knob-and-tube wiring, which is considered incapable of handling today’s electrical loads.

Some home insurers won’t cover a home with this type of wiring and will insist that it is replaced before insuring the home.

Your home inspector should be able to determine what type of wiring the home contains and its condition, at least in visible areas.


Old houses typically have old pipes. If the house you have your eye on was built before 1960, the pipes may be made of steel or cast-iron. These materials corrode, decay and rust over time. Cast iron pipes are notorious for becoming clogged with mineral build up.

Determining the type of pipes in the home is challenging because so much of the system is behind walls. A plumbing contractor inspection is your best bet, and even then you may not learn about all of the pipes in the house.

“Replacing old pipes in a 1,500-square foot, two-bathroom home costs $4,000 to $10,000, and requires cutting open walls and floors,” claims Joe Bousquin at HouseLogic.


The last thing most homebuyers look at when they drive up to a home for sale is the roof. It’s easy to be distracted by charming landscaping and attractive paint colors, but it’s imperative that you take a good, long look at the home’s roof.

Sagging is a sign that a roof is holding too much weight. This can happen when new roofing is installed over old roofing or from prolonged contact with a significant layer of snow.

If you know you’ll be looking at older homes, take along a pair of binoculars. Before entering the home, look at the roof from the curb and determine whether the chimney and rooflines are straight.

Next, check the shingles. If they aren’t flat and instead curled or cupped, they may need to be replaced.

Ask the homeowner the age of the roof. Although the lifespan of a roof depends on several factors, if it is wood, tile or asbestos and over 15 years old, you may need to replace it in a few years.

Since a new roof may cost upwards of $8,000, it’s important to have the home’s roof inspected before obligating yourself to purchase the home.

While it’s highly doubtful that a home built in the mid-1800s still retains original components, you’ll need to inquire as to the last time these elements were replaced.

Other problems you may find in an older home include:

Lack of storage

Lack of natural light

Inadequate insulation (thus higher heating and cooling costs)

Small kitchen

While all of these items can be rectified, the cost to do so should be factored into the price of the home.

That the craftsmanship and materials of an older home have stood the test of time is a testament to its quality. But few things last forever, and a home inspection, using the appropriate contractors, is a must when considering the purchase of an older home.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,
Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty
680 Fletcher Pkwy. #100, El Cajon, CA 92020
619-250-4541   | Office 619-873-2772