Thanks for Helping Us Buy Our Home in Irvine by Srilatha R

Srilatha R – Irvine 

We were scouting for a buyers representative for our new house at Irvine. Through my friend’s referral came the name Ernie Casarez– of Casarez Associates.  During our first discussion, Ernie along with his wife Pat asked us some interesting questions, which were to understand our needs.  Soon after that, we found their interaction very comfortable.  Being in Pennsylvania and having to hunt for a new house in Irvine, all information has to happen through email and phone, there needs to be a tantamount trust and I saw that with Ernie & Pat. They were honest, clean and upright in their communication.  Should you need a clear assessment of your new home, they will give you an unbiased opinion.   The duo had the area market information, tax assessments, the ups/downs of the property, neighborhood etc.  You can be assured in your home buying process that Ernie & Pat would not settle for less.  They will work relentlessly, patiently until you find “your place”.  By having Ernie & Pat as your Realtor, we guarantee you, be it buying or selling, you will be less stressful and anxious. Because, they will TAKE CARE of you….


Thanks for Refinancing Our Home In San Clemente by Patricia W

Patricia W-San Clemente 

Mr. Casarez did a refinance for my husband and me for our San Clemente home and it was the easiest, fastest way that we have ever done.  He took care of every detail; hand carried the paper work himself and even brought the notary to us.
We would strongly recommend that you call them with any real estate or mortgage need. You can count of him.


Thanks for Selling Our Home In Ladera Ranch by Diane Q

Diane Q  – Ladera Ranch   

My husband and I used this company to sell our home in Ladera Ranch because it was recommended to us, and we needed to sell quickly as my husband was being transferred to another city. We were very pleased with the personal service provided to us by Mr. Casarez and his company. He walked through the house giving suggestions about what to do to improve the visual appeal of each room and even staged the front porch with potted flowers, a watering can, chairs, etc. Since we had only lived in the house for four years and because of this economic downturn, our back yard was never completed, so Mr. Casarez suggested that we spend a little money to finish the yard so that it looked inviting. He even suggested a landscaping company that would do it for a reasonable price and in a timely manner. We were hesitant to do this, but he said we would be able to recoup that money and more when the house sold. And he was right! The house sold for the full amount we were asking for which surprised us. The things that really stood out about Casarez Associates were their integrity and personal service. We highly recommend them.

By the way, Casarez Associates also has an affiliate in the Houston area (which is where we moved to), and they connected us with the owner of this company. We were very pleased with this other company as well. Having never been in the Houston area, we were in unfamiliar territory, but Mr. Baylor helped us find a home in a neighborhood that was close to my husband’s work and best suited to our needs and price.

Thanks to both of these companies for making this unexpected move go smoothly for us.

A Christmas Miracle on Main Street

Christmas 2011 A Miracle on Main Street A blogger friend of mine, Dani Nichols, sent me an article about our economic relationship to China vis a vis what we buy for Christmas gifts.  I took some liberties and modified her article and I hope you agree with me we each can make a difference with some new Holiday buying habits.  So here it is:

1.     It’s time to think outside the box.  Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box with fancy wrapping?   How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? 

2.     Gym membership at a local club? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

3.     Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Locally owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

4.     How about a gift card at their favorite local coffee shop.

5.     How about a gift certificate from the locally owned pet store for that special little friend.

6.     Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down the Benjamines on a flat-screen TV?  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like their lawn mowed for the summer or games at the local golf course.

7.     There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates.  If your gift receiver doesn’t like fancy restaurants, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your home town business owners with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

8.     How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the local working guy or gal?

9.     Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day or two or more.

10.    Pre-pay for babysitting for the young mom who needs to get out to save her sanity.

11.    A Friend’s computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW you can find some young person who is struggling to get their repair business up and running.

12.    OK, you were looking for something more personal. Seek out local crafts people that make jewelry, pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

13.    Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip.

14.    How about going out to see a play, concert or ballet at your hometown theatre.  Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

15.   Honestly, people, do we REALLY need to buy another ten thousand lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of light, about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip!

16.   Christmas is about the Christ Child and by definition, Love.  Christmas is about caring about our families and neighbors while encouraging local small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about others, and when we care about our communities, the benefits come back to us in ways we can’t imagine.

Take some time and reach out to your neighbors and local business owners and let’s help others realize their dreams and hopes for a brighter future this Christmas Season.


QuickBooks Accounting Services

You Don’t have a Business Unless you have Sales; You’ll Lose your Business if you Don’t know where the Money Goes.

These are two simple truths that get lost in the pursuit of a dream.  In a previous blog I talked about Do Your Customers Know What You Do?  Now I am asking the questions, “Do you know how much money is coming in?  Do you know how much money is going out?”

The answer is not: “It’s whats left in the checking account at the end of the day”

I made a huge mistake with a client that on the front end of a deal there were very attractive profit margins (or so we thought).  The conversation went sort of like this: “If we buy at $25.00 a unit and sell it for $75.00 how can we lose?”  The answer is, you can if you don’t manage your cash flow.  That’s where good accounting practices come in and a common tool used in business is QuickBooks.  It’s a very nice system BUT you still need weekly if not daily cash flow management tools such as an Excel Spreadsheet with the first column being your budget for each expense category.  Then daily, weekly or monthly you can measure your cash flow and the trends. 

Remember, a financial statement is old news, you need the most current information to make informed decisions for your business.  Think of this tool as your company’s GPS device for reaching your goals and remember, generally speaking, business owners hate to work with numbers because they prefer to be working on deals.  If you recognize this fact, you can make sure you have someone who likes numbers working for you.

That’s where Elissa Wadds comes in.  Over the last three years we developed some nice Excel tools to manage daily, weekly and monthly cash flows for a business.  I will not be without those tools again for a client because without them, the results can be painful.

If you are serious about succeeding, you need to contact Elissa and get set up with a good accounting system and cash management tools that have proven to be effective.  Elissa is smart, efficient, creative, cost effective and reliable.  Here’s her contact Information.

quickbooks professional orange countyElissa Wadds
Aeratus Financial Services
208-255-7509 Tel

Do Your Customers Still Know What You Can Do For Them?

As a business advisor and lender, I can’t tell you how many times I have asked a business owner “what do you do ?” and they do not have a straight forward answer that allows me to know what they do and what type of client they are looking for.  That’s called the elevator speech, where you have 30 seconds or less to deliver your message.

My first recommendation in this new series called Straight Talk for Business Owners, is to develope a simple, straight forward message that really describes what you do and what kind of client you serve.  In order to do that spend some time defining what your business is and the profile of the client you are looking to serve.  Then follow some basic “stay in touch” principles that include technology and the personal touch.  Here are some recommendations I recently published in my Straight Talk for Business Owners Newsletter that comes out twice a month:
1. Establish a database of your clients and prospects

2. Communicate with them at least once a month with information that is important to them with an email newsletter

3. Place a personal call to see how they are doing and if there is anything you can do to help them

4. Promote their business expecting nothing in return and let them know how and when you are promoting them on Facebook or your own blog as an example

5. Truly care about their well being and success

6. Stay Focused on what you do best, don’t wander away from what you are good at.  Why would you spend time on stuff that doesn’t work as well as the best thing(s) you can do?

7. Make sure your business card tells people what you really do and pass those cards out.  The more success you have the more you can help others
Relationships are the key for a successful business no matter what the current technology is.  People want the personal touch in addition to good technology or better said “High Tech/High Touch Service”.  If they know you, if they trust you and your product or service has value to them and can be delivered efficiently, you have a relationship not just a transaction.
In future Straight Talk for Business Owners newsletters, I will be going over some time tested principles that work. If there is a business issue you are faced with that you need some help with, email me at and let’s see if I know someone that has walked in those shoes who can help you.


What it Takes to Qualify for a Refinance

Right now with rates at an all time low, I wanted to prepare you for what it takes to get those great rates for conforming loans that sometimes you hear or see on a Radio or TV Commercial.  If you don’t meet the Loan to Value ratio, FICO Score, Debt Service Ratios or if you need cash out, these rates will go up to compensate for those variables.  And if your loan is greater than $417,000 the rates will be higher as well.   I just wanted you to know the basics for what it takes to get those great rates.

To get those no point, no fee loans at 4.25% for 30 years or 3.50% for 15 years, your loan size should be around $300,000 so the Lender rebates can cover all the costs.  If your loan is smaller you may have to pay for some of the fees.   Here is what most lenders require, so round them up and put them in a file:

1. You need a FICO score of 740 and above
2. The loan to value should be 75% or less
3. No cash out
4. Your income needs to verified by either two years of W-2’s and copies of your pay stubs for  the last 30 days.  If you are self employed copies of the last two years tax returns so the Lenders can average out your annual Adjusted Gross Income to come up with your monthly income for loan purposes.  Your monthly loan payments including property taxes, insurance and HOA fees should be around 45% of your monthly income.  Again some lenders will be more flexible than others.
5. Copies of your bank statements for the last two month period.  Please include a copy of all the pages even if they are blank.  The banks wants to verify the balances you say you have and to make sure there are no loans tied to your bank account.  If you are self empolyed, you’ll need copies of your business checking account for the last two months including all blank pages as well.
6. Copies of the last two periods for any investment accounts if that is where you have your savings, again all pages need to be copied
7. Copy of your last mortgage billing statement for your current mortgage or mortgages
8. Copy of the Declaration Page of your Homeowners Insurance Policy 
9. Copy of your HOA monthly bill

These are the basic documents and if you your situation is a little different, we’ll be able to help with what is needed.  I hope this helps, and if you have any questions please call me.

Painting Contractor

Here’s a service I have had many requests for.   My clients and friends want someone reliable that can paint either the outside of their home as well as the interior, plus if there are any repairs needed, those can be handled as well. 

Randy has painted both my son’s homes and will be scheduled to paint our home next year.  When he painted our son’s home in Las Flores ( RSM), four other neighbors hired him to do the same thing.  He does a nice job, follows up if there is any touch ups needed and is attentive to the job. 

Randy’s business is by referral only.  The way I look at it, if the neighbors see what he’s doing and like it, that’s a solid endorsement to me.  Contact Randy if you need you home painted anywhere in Orange County and please let him know we referred you.

Randy Lebeda

Assisted Living for Seniors

Chere Vought with “A Plan for Senior Care, was introduced to us by our Trust Attorney, Tracy Murphy.  Chere’s role is to be your personal Adviser as you try to do the right thing for your elderly loved ones.  She knows the senior care marketplace, she listened, she understood our financial budget and gave us several assisted living complexes to visit so we could do our own due diligence.

Chere taught us what to look for, the questions to ask and gave us that third party advice that we needed to make an informed decision for my parents.  She did an amazing job for us and I am a raving fan of her professionalism and service.  If you know someone that is looking for care for an elderly loved one, please call Chere.

Chere VoughtChere Vought
A Plan for Senior Care
tel. 866-657-0026
cell 949-313-7965

Senior Retirement and Assisted Living Community

After doing a thorough due diligence visit of several Assisted Living Facilities for Seniors, we found Vintage Las Palmas in Laguna Woods.  This turned out to be the best decision we could have made for my elderly parents.  They have a private apartment and a bunch of things to do.  The most important benefit is that they get compassionate care from a very polite staff.  The best way to describe this community is to call it a Cruise Ship on Moulton Parkway in Laguna Woods.  Call Sue or talk to one of her staff members if you have a loved one that needs a positive environment and compassionate care.

Sue Johnson
Executive Director
Las Palmas
24962 Calle Aragon
Laguna Woods, CA 92637
Lic# 306003637