Our Beloved Great Danes

My wife and I are dog lovers; right after we got married, we decided to get a dog. We ended up welcoming a Great Dane to our family. We did a lot of research about the breed before we committed to it.

I want to share with you 3 elements of this wonderful breed:


The origin of the breed seems to be mostly German. Great Danes used to be hunting dogs, when they were in the woods hunting boars mostly, the prey will bite the dog’s ears, to avoid that situation, they decided to crop the ears. And that’s the Great Dane figure that we all recognize.

Types of Great Danes

There are different types of Great Danes:

Harlequin: Mostly white with black patches

Mantle: Black with usually a white chest.

Blue Merle: similar to the Harlequin, they have black patches. However, the coat is mostly dark gray

Blue: Dark Gray

Fawn: Yellow Gold with a Black mask on the face

Brindle: Fawn ad black in a chevron stripe pattern

Black: Glossy Black

Care of the Great Dane:

Great Danes require a lot of attention, especially when they are puppies. You need Raised Bowls to feed them and also for them to drink water. The first two years of a Dane are very critical, in my opinion. During the first two years, the dog is growing, and food is a crucial component of it. They have a very sensitive tummy they don’t do well with cheap dry food. We make our dog rest after they eat for at least 30 mins to avoid bloat.

I walk my dogs every day for at least 1 mile, and they are the best accountability partners to get an excellent exercise first thing in the morning.

They don’t require a lot of space at home, and they want to be with you all the time. They are great with kids, we have a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old daughter and our 2 Danes have been excellent with our daughters. Training is a critical component on any large breed. We professionally trained our dogs with two different trainers, and all that time and effort paid off. Great Danes love to lean, and if you are not prepared, they can knock you down. The larger the breed, the shorter the lifespan of the dog.

The average lifespan of a Great Dane is 8-10 years. However, we’ve met Danes that have gone past this average up to 13 years. We are fortunate to say that our Girl is 8 1/2 years old and still very strong and our boy is seven years old.

These dogs grow a lot and could potentially be heavier than you. Our boy weighs 170lbs and our girl weighs 157lbs. We decided to feed our Danes raw. We did a lot of research before we switched them and they have been in a raw diet for six years now – they love it, and we love it as well.

How about you? We would love to hear your dog stories! Share it in the comments.

What Is A Reverse Mortgage?

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a loan application for people at least 62 years of age and is insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). This type of mortgage loan does not require monthly mortgage payments. It allows a homeowner to obtain their home equity to cash. This is the FHA’s program called home equity conversion mortgage (HECM). 

As long as the homeowner is the primary resident of the house, he/she does not need to pay for the mortgage. The homeowner just needs to continue paying for property taxes and insurance. The homeowner only starts paying the reverse mortgage if he/she wants to move out permanently or he/she dies. 

What happens if the homeowner dies?

Before, when the borrower dies, the spouse may have to repay the loan to be able to keep the house. If the spouse is not able to keep up with the payments, the house will face foreclosure. 

In the latest guidelines regarding this, if the borrower dies and the spouse is unable to repay the loan, he/she can still remain living in the house but must continue paying for the property taxes and homeowners insurance.

What are the advantages of a reverse mortgage?

Well, borrowers can get their home equity and cash it out. This will help them pay for their medical needs and also pay off their other debts. Either they can get the whole sum or cash it out monthly. Borrowers don’t need to pay for the mortgage loan as they have an option to pay it when they decide to move out of the property. A reverse mortgage keeps the cash flowing for the borrowers. 

What are the disadvantages of a reverse mortgage?

While there are benefits when going through reverse mortgages, there are also stumbling blocks. Even when you don’t have to pay for the mortgage monthly, you still need to pay for property taxes and homeowners insurance. You also have to keep up with your property’s maintenance. As we know, as time goes by, interest rates will increase and by the time you’ll have to pay for the loan, this may be a problem you’ll have to encounter. 

These are just some advantages and disadvantages. You might need to dig in much more if ever you decide to go through with a reverse mortgage.

Real Estate Questions? #CallCristobal!

4 Ways To Raise Your Property Value

If you’re selling your property and have a limited budget, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to increase your property value. There are a few options that you can do for free that can go a long way towards hooking a buyer.

Touch up Paint. There is no need to repaint the entire house before selling it, however, you should touch up any smudges that won’t wipe off. If you have some leftover paint in the garage from the last time you painted the walls, you can still use it for the retouches. So stir it up and lay it on where needed. It will take some time for the new paint to darken and match the current one, try to make this at least a week before showing the house.

Fill Wasted Space. If you have room in your home that’s not really doing much, It’s about time for you to give it some use. Add a desk and a computer and tell people that’s your home office, or you could clean it up a little bit and make it a guest bedroom. You want the potential buyers to think how versatile your floor plan and square footage is, so make sure to use it properly.

Mow the Neighbor’s Lawn. People that will buy the house, want to know that the neighborhood that they’re moving into is pleasant. If there are neighbors on your street that have fallen behind on their yard work, offer them a free mow or rake their leaves. If their house looks valuable, yours will too.

Warm the hearth. Put your fireplace to good use when showing your house, a warm hearth kick-starts the nesting instinct, and it will have increased the perceived value of your house.

These are only just a few options that can quickly and easily raise the property value of our home, best of all it doesn’t cost you anything. When you sell your home, is more about the care than flair. As long as you keep it well-kept, you don’t have to spend a lot of money with remodeling/upgrading projects.

VA Loans (Veterans Affairs)

There are different ways in obtaining a property, one common way is through loans. In the world of Real Estate, we should be able to know about these things. There are three types of loans: FHA (Federal Housing Administration), Conventional, and VA (Veterans Affairs). Whether you are an engineer, office worker, military or a person who has a great employment background and credit history can avail of such loans. Let’s talk about VA or Veterans Affairs loan.

What is a VA Loan?

Veterans Affairs or VA is a loan for military, veterans, reservists and the National Guard. Spouses of military members who died when they were on duty can apply for this loan. VA loans are offered by private lenders like banks and mortgage companies. 

There are a lot of benefits you can get when you are eligible for a VA loan. First, you can enjoy no down payment unless required by the lender in some cases. Second, closing costs are limited or will be provided by the seller. Third, you can enjoy a property tax reduction. These are just some benefits. 

 What are the steps of a VA Loan?

1. Look for a VA Loan approved lender. As there are a lot of lenders out there, there are specific kind of lender that are approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

2. Pre-qualification of your loan amount. This part of the process is optional. While you can choose whether or not to do this, this step is very helpful in improving the loan process. In this part, you just need to provide your employment, income, marital status and other information to your lender. By doing this, the lender will be able to have a grasp on what’s coming and what is needed to improve.

3. Acquire a Certificate of Eligibility. Securing this will be easy if you are in the list of the qualified candidates of the loan. This can be acquired through online lender portals or through the va.gov website. You just need to provide and verify some information of your military service.

4. Property search and purchase agreement. This may be the most exciting part of the process. You get to go around the area you would prefer and look for houses you’re interested in. You can search with the help of a real estate agent since they are the experts in this area. Afterwards, if you are able to choose the home you would want, you will need to sign a purchase agreement. 

5. Application processing and VA appraisal. Once you have signed the purchase agreement, the next process would be the VA appraisal. This can’t be done by just any other appraisers, only a certified professional who is approved by VA standards can proceed with this process. During this process, a thorough home inspection shall be done if the VA minimum property requirements (VA MPRs) are met. They say this stage of the process is a long one but the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gives a minimum of 10 days to complete the appraisal and inspection. Therefore, you have an ample amount of time to submit the required documents you have to process on your own.

6. Final approval and moving in. Like any other loan processing and home-buying, we have the closing part. After you’ve signed the necessary documents, passed the requirements and your lender completed the inspection, you can finally have the keys to your much-awaited home.

How about VA Loan restrictions?

There’s what they call VA standards, in which a borrower must meet or follow in order to qualify for the loan. The property must be residential and the veteran must be the primary resident of the property. Single-unit homes and multiple units are allowed in qualifying for a VA loan, as long as it complies the VA standards. All these rules can be found and confirmed in the VA lender’s handbook. The handbook states about single-unit and multiple-unit properties which can be for one or two veterans sharing one property. 

There are a lot of rules to be considered in applying for loans. These are the steps that needs thorough research and understanding. 

Questions about Real Estate? #CALLCRISTOBAL!

Improve Your Negotiation Skills!

Negotiation is a direct part of almost everything you do in the world of real estate. The better you are at negotiation, the more significant impact you will see on your bottom line. On the flip side, if your negotiation tactics and approach are weak, you will not only lose credibility, you will lose money.Improving your negotiation is more about the little things than drawing a line in the sand and not being flexible. Changing your mindset and doing your homework before any negotiation will help you win more small battles that affect your business. Here are five simple tips that will help improve your negotiation skills.

  • Do your homework. A majority of negotiation battles are won even before they are started. By doing your homework and knowing what the other side wants, you are squarely ahead of the game. Every negotiating party is motivated by something. The clearer the motivation of the other party is, the easier it is for you to build your plan of attack. It is also a good idea to know everything about your subject as possible. Walking into any negotiation without some data behind you not only makes you look foolish but will immediately put you on your heels and leave you willing to take the best offer you can get and run.
  • Let other person make the first offer. In any negotiation, there must be a starting point. It is important for you to let the other person say what they want first. This gives you a reference point and helps you know where you stand. There is a fine line in any negotiation between asking for what you really want and insulting the other side with a low-ball offer. An outlandish first offer or price gets things started on the wrong foot and can bring the negotiation to a halt before it even gets started. By letting the other party go first, you now know what they want and can work your argument from there. If you are thrilled with their offer, you can’t show your hand. You need to let them think you are taking it all in and considering it. If their offer is not even in the ballpark, you should immediately lay out the reasons why. The more data you have behind you, the easier it is for them to see they may be way off.
  • Stop talking. Regardless of whether you have the upper hand or not, you need to learn to stop talking. In any argument or negotiation, it is best to let the other side get out what they need to. This is important for several reasons. First, make them feel that they are in control of the situation instead of listing to you rattle off facts and data at them. Secondly, by talking too much, you will end up giving away the farm and boxing yourself into a corner. Most importantly, by listening, you will hear valuable information you may be able to use against them down the road. A seller may secretly disclose their motivation or let you know what they want out of the property. A contractor will tell you what they need to pay their guys, giving you an idea of how to structure your bid. If you listen without thinking of what you will say next, you will set yourself up to counter intelligently.
  • Be willing to compromise. The best negotiations are the ones where both parties walk away happy. Steamrolling may feel like an ultimate victory, but if you overplay your hand, it will eventually come back to haunt you. An attorney or real estate agent will form a negative opinion of you that may hurt on a future deal. This doesn’t mean you can ask for what you want, but you should always be willing to compromise. Before entering a negotiation, think about what is important to you. There is most likely one sticking point that is non-negotiable and several other items you want but can live without it. These items you must be flexible with and be willing to bend on if you have to.
  • Attach a firm deadline. If you make an offer to someone, you should never put them on the spot, but you must attach a firm deadline to respond. It is no secret that deadlines always spur action. By giving the other party 24 hours to respond, you put their feet to the fire while keeping negotiation moving. Even if they counter at least, you have followed the dialogue going and are closer to getting what you want. On the flip side, without putting pressure on them you increase the likelihood they will look elsewhere or put things on the back burner.

Negotiation is everywhere in real estate. Getting the upper hand on just a few negotiations a year will have a positive impact on almost every aspect of your business.