Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Think twice before putting that ficus benjamina in the ground

I was looking at a house the other day and spotted a pretty ficus benjamina planted on the side of the house. The owners told me that it was only about 2-feet high or so when they put it down, and less than a year later, it's already taller than me. Uh, oh, I said.

You see, being from the subtropics, I know how big some house plants get in the wild. I once saw a schefflera that was perhaps 20 feet tall. Ficus benjaminas shouldn't be underestimated just because they look so sweet and helpless in a pot. They're related to banyan trees, and they have thirsty, powerful roots that will go hundreds of feet in search of water. They will also lift and break through cement, so watch out for walks, driveways, patios, and even your foundation.

Here's a link to a site with photos of ficus benjaminas and their roots:

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Selling a House from Kyoto via the Web

It sounds like a bad joke. I was in Kyoto, the sellers were in San Juan Capistrano, the buyers' agent was in Mission Viejo, the buyers were in Moreno Valley, and the house was in Riverside. So how did we do it? The Web, of course! The buyers' agent first faxed the offer to my office where another agent helped me out by scanning and emailing it to me. I also emailed back and forth with the buyers' agent to find out more about their situation and discuss the condition of the house. From there, my sellers and I went over the offer via email while my buddy at the office talked to the buyers' lender to go over how they were structuring the loan. I wrote the counter using Winforms on line, emailed it to my sellers, who then faxed it to my friend. He scanned and emailed contracts, and we were able to open escrow within 48 hours.

The only real difficulties in all of this was that none of the clients had a scanner, and my husband's laptop isn't a tablet. As I said, we got around the first problem by having an agent at my office act as middleman for the documents. And luckily, a colleague of my husband's at the university in Kyoto was able to scan the 2 pages that needed my signature.

I wouldn't want to work this way all the time, and I strongly recommend that clients go with an agent who is in the area. But it's nice to be able to stay on top of things and get some time with my family!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blogging from Japan: Lessons in Urban Living

We've been in Tokyo and then Kyoto this past week while my huband attends some conferences, and it's been an incredible experience overall. From the start, we've had a series of lessons in how people can live together in intensely crowded situations without killing each other. Californians could stand to take a look at some of their approaches.

The first thing that I noticed was that everything is smaller. Even though the Japanese, like the earthquake-wary Californians, tend to extend their cities horizontally rather than vertically, the lack of land has led to tiny buildings that are packed together. Cars are smaller and get better mileage (gas is expensive), there are lots of hybrids, and people park in amazingly tiny spaces. (I don't know if the Japanese don't have fender benders or just get their cars fixed instantly, but I have yet to see anyone with a dent yet.)

Which leads me to something I spotted from the airport train: stacks of cars. It was a tiny lot in front of an apartment building, and the denizens had their cars precariously (to me at least) stacked 4 at a time on lifts. I realized instantly that it meant that the first one home has to be the last one to leave in the morning. Could we possibly live that way without shooting each other?

Here's a photo of a Tokyo car lift.
tokyo car lift photo
carlift photo in original context
Here's a company that's been designing car lifts in the US:
harding steel