Barb Westlake

DRE: 01381939

(760) 525-9595
(760) 607-5900 (Office)

Barb the Broker's Blog

The Do's and Don'ts of Buying Vacant Land

Posted On: March 16th, 2021 12:54AM

Building a custom home is hard work that is rewarded when you move into the home of your dreams. The first step is finding the perfect lot to build on. Before you purchase a lot to build on, be aware of these do’s and don’ts.

Do work with an agent to find the land. Your real estate agent can help to research the property and make sure that you are making a safe investment. Buying vacant land is different than buying a home; work with an agent who knows what questions to ask and knows how to negotiate on your behalf.

Do have your finances in order. You will need to have proof of funds for the purchase amount, so make sure you understand what you can afford to spend on your lot.





Do find out what utilities service the area. If you are looking outside of a developed area, you need to know what utility services are available already, or if any infrastructure needs to be added.

Do find out if incentives are available. In areas where natural disasters have occurred, local governments may offer incentives for building where previous homes have been destroyed.

Do visit the tax assessor’s office. The tax assessor will be able to tell you the estimated 

value of your lot as well as your projected property taxes.

Do price the neighborhood. Your agent can help you with a market analysis of the surrounding homes. You don’t want your home and land cost to be vastly higher than the rest of the neighborhood.

Don't expect to finance your lot. Lenders often don’t lend money for vacant land, and if they do, they may only lend up to half the land value. This is why it’s so important to talk to your financial advisors before you start looking.

Don't skip the soil tests. You should have the soil tested to make sure there aren’t pollutants or foreign materials buried beneath the surface. If you will have a septic sewer system, you will need a percolation test to make sure the property is fit for a septic tank. In areas where sinkholes are common, a soil test can tell you if clay layers deep in the soil make your property more susceptible to foundation issues.

Don't forget to get a survey done. Before you purchase the lot, ask to see a recent survey or have one done to validate property lines and make sure other neighbors aren’t already encroaching on the lot with access roads, fencing, or structures.

Don't let neighbors know of your plans. Don’t get too friendly just yet. If the land you plan to build on has been enjoyed by nearby property owners for the view, for parking, or for recreation, your plans to build may be met with resistance.

Don't assume you can have property rezoned. Make sure you know the property zoning regulations for the property. If you are in a rural area and plan to have chickens or horses, make sure that is permitted. Be wary of sellers who tell you that you can subdivide the land or build two homes on one lot, as this may not be the case.

Don’t rely on a drive-by. You need to walk the property, no matter the size or your plans for its use. If you are buying multiple acres, don’t assume that the topography is consistent throughout with no hidden problems. Things to check for include flood-prone areas, environmentally protected-animal dwellings, trash deposits and neighbors that are involved in activities that may affect your enjoyment of the property, such as dog kennels or shooting ranges.

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Designer Picks for 2021’s Biggest Kitchen Design Trends

Posted On: March 3rd, 2021 11:10PM



Whether you’re planning on buying a new home or redesigning your current home, when it comes to the kitchen, you want the space to feel fresh, new, and on-trend.

But what, exactly, does that look like in 2021?

In a recent article, asked interior designers for their insights on 2021’s hottest kitchen design trends, including:

  • Extra-large islands. 2020 saw homeowners using their kitchens as not only a place to eat and prep food, but a place to socialize with their family, work, and enjoy leisure time—and, as such, the demand for larger kitchen islands is on the rise.
  • Handleless cabinets. While hardware can add a look and feel to cabinetry design, so can a lack of hardware—and the sleek, futuristic look of handleless drawers and cabinets is set to be a big trend for 2021.
  • Dark colors. All-white kitchens were a major trend for years—but in 2021, expect homeowners to opt out of all white for the more organic look of darker, deeper hues (like charcoal gray, deep blue, and dark green).

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Room Too Dark? Here's How To Double The Light!

Posted On: January 26th, 2021 1:01AM



Not every room is blessed with good natural light.. Sometimes when a window isn’t placed well, or isn’t there at all, it can be hard to work around, while other times, the window is in a great spot but is being blocked outside by trees or other plants. If you struggle with poorly lit rooms, there’s a simple trick to try to boost the light in that spice.

The trick is to place a lamp in front of a mirror. The idea is that the mirror will bounce back any of the light the lamp gives off, easily growing your light source. One of the best uses of this trick is in the bedroom on a nightstand or dresser.  If your bedroom isn’t dark in terms of sunlight, but dark in terms of decor, this trick also works well to liven up the space.

Apart from being a smart way to spread light in a darker space, symmetrical mirrors, lamps and nightstands also add the perfect touch to most rooms to help them feel cozy.. Darker shades force light up and down from the lamp, so placing the mirror in a way that catches both angles is key.



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25 Cheap Ways to Upgrade Your Home

Posted On: January 6th, 2021 3:16AM

DIY tools




1. Add some character and add texture to your walls with peel-and-stick wall panels.

2. Create a charming accent wall with peel-and-stick paper.

3. Upgrade your countertops to faux granite with a DIY paint kit instead of spending a fortune to replace it.

4. Reseal all those cracks in your tub and tile with caulking and make your bathroom look new again.

5. Update recess lighting without doing any electrical work with magnetic shades.

6. Install crown molding to help make your home look historic and charming.

7. Adding a fresh coat of paint to get that pop of color (or get rid of it) will give your home a touch-up without costing you a fortune.

8. Get the stainless-steel appliances you've always wanted at a fraction of the price with paint.

9. Add privacy and a touch of elegance, and make your windows look super expensive, with with "leaded-glass" film.

10. Paint your cabinets to give your kitchen that just-remodeled feeling for pennies versus what it would cost to replace them.

11. Add a new tile backsplash to give your kitchen (or bathroom) that gorgeous custom look.

12. Add a medallion to your light fixtures to instantly elevate your ceiling game.

13. Paint your ugly vinyl floors to get rid of the eyesore without ripping up the floor.

14. Bulk up your baseboards with paint and extra trim instead of replacing them.

15. Install shelving systems in every room to add storage.

16. Upgrade the fixtures in your bathroom to give yourself a mini spa experience.

17. Swap the handles on your cabinets and drawers to update your kitchen.

18. Add a doorbell to your home if you don't already have one, or upgrade your current one.

19. Update light switches to give your home a fresh look and a tech upgrade.

20. Add some curb appeal and a pop of color by painting your front door.

21. Forget interior designers! Find matching fabrics, paints, and materials with a color match tool.

22. Get even more curb appeal by sanding down and painting rusted railings.

23. Consider these useful tips for upgrading your bathroom.

24. Cover door scuffs and prevent new damage with a metal kick plate.

25. Add adhesive mirrored tiles to the underside or top of your cabinets to subtly reflect light and make your space look brighter.

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Painting Your Home this Winter? Here's what you need to know.

Posted On: November 19th, 2020 8:38PM





This winter selling season is gearing up to be one of the most active in recent years; inventory is low, demand is high, and homes are selling quickly and profitably in markets across the country.

But even though the current market is favorable to sellers, you still want to do everything you can to make your home as appealing as possible to buyers. And when it comes to improving your home before listing, there are few projects that make as big of an impact—for as low of a price tag—as painting.

A fresh coat of paint can completely change the look and feel of your house—and make it a much more attractive property to potential buyers. But if you’re going to paint your house in the colder months, there are a few things you need to know.

recent article from outlined the key things homeowners should know when painting their homes in the winter, including:

  • Paint dries faster in the winter. Many people think that the summer heat makes interior paint dry faster. But if you live in an area with humid summers, the opposite is actually true. There’s less humidity in the winter—and the less humid the air, the quicker your paint will dry.
  • Crank up the thermostat while you’re painting. The cold air outside can cause a drop in temperature in the interior of your home—and even if your thermostat reads 65, the temperature of your walls may actually be much colder. In order to paint interior walls, the temperature needs to be above 60 degrees—so make sure to crank your thermostat well above 60 to ensure your walls are warm enough to paint.
  • Use speciality paint. If you’re going to be painting your home’s exterior during the winter, make sure to use paint and primer that’s specifically formulated for colder temperatures.

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