The Do’s and Don’ts of Getting Your Damage Deposit Back

Real Estate

Source: Zillow &

Tug of war with cashLandlords and tenants often disagree over what qualifies as inevitable wear-and-tear during move-out. Typically, reputable landlords don’t hold residents liable for minor wall scratches and scuffed floors. Even so, you can never be sure how reasonable a landlord is until your deposit is safely returned.

Each tenant and property manager is different, so we turned to personal finance writers to provide insight on their personal experiences with damage deposits.

1. Do you conduct an initial walk-through before signing a lease?

I have taken pictures when doing a walk-through of an apartment. It really has saved me later on when I moved out and the owner claimed I owed money for damage that was already there. If it weren’t for me taking these pictures, I would have been responsible for hundreds of dollars’ worth of stuff that was not my responsibility. There is no arguing with photographic evidence. — Natalie H.

I don’t recall doing an initial walk-through, only seeing an equivalent apartment beforehand. It was a fairly new complex, so there were no noticeable damages when we moved in, and we didn’t damage the property and received our deposits back promptly. — Lena Gott

2. In your experience, what are the most common damages you’ve made or seen in apartments?

The most common damages are usually stains to the carpet and screens. I also try to spot clean any stains on the carpet, so we are not charged. We’ve always been able to get the carpets clean enough before a walk-through to avoid any charges. Remember to agree to in writing who is responsible for cleaning the carpets when you move out. Repairing screens is something you can fix yourself easily and inexpensively before your landlord does a final inspection. — Toni Anderson

3. Why do damages sometimes go overlooked?

I think it’s easy to overlook the damage that occurs when a renter does not keep their home in a clean and organized condition. Some people are much harder on their living space than others, and you never really know whether you’ll get someone like that until it’s too late. — Holly Johnson

4. Any recommendations during move-in or move-out to help secure returned damage deposits?

Meet with the landlord on-site during move-in and move-out and get their assessment in writing of any damages they intend to levy. Also, check your local laws carefully to understand your rights. For example, rather than fighting in court with an old landlord over keeping part of my deposit for bogus pre-existing damages, I got them to return my money on the technicality that they didn’t give me timely notice of their intent to keep part of the deposit. — Wojciech Kulicki

5. Any rental damage horror stories?

When we were renting we had a hot water pipe (from baseboard heating) break around a faulty soldering joint. We weren’t home, and thousands of dollars’ worth of damage was done before we knew about it. The landlord was originally very accommodating but after everything was fixed tried to come after us for “damages” because he said we had something to do with the pipe breaking. — Catherine MacLean


Whither The Woodbridge Village Center?

Where There's Smoke There's Fire (aka Rumors We've Heard)

This would be really sad news.  It’s been rumored online for at least six months, and when Kimberly Pierceall of the Orange County Register, who covers the Irvine beat, mentions it, you start to take notice.

My journalism days are long past me, but I did some obvious snooping and found out the true concept of where there’s smoke there’s fire…

Woodbridge308The Woodbridge Center currently shows no space available according to The Irvine Company website.  What about the former Mobil Gas Station site (does anyone remember that)? The Assi Supermarket/SteinMart/Pavillions anchor site?

Woodbridge308If it’s razed for houses, what becomes of Woodbridge, nee Irvine staples such as the Starplex Dollar Theatres, Ruby’s and Sticky FIngers? How many Irvine families had their children’s first haircuts at Rainbow Kids (we have six kids and at least three were there).

If houses replace the Center, does the walking path stay? How about Del Taco, which is a staple for the school kids (and frugal Taco Tuesday diners)?

The current tenants are listed below and here:

Aloha Mind Math (949) 484-9383

Avalon Medical Aesthetics (949) 654-4400

Bank of America (949) 451-5900

Barnes & Noble Booksellers (949) 857-0322

Beacon Bay Auto Wash (949) 857-8220

Champagne French Bakery Cafe (949) 653-6828

CorePower Yoga (949) 551-9642

Dancing Keys Music Studio (949) 734-3567

Del Taco (949) 551-8792

Dr. Linda Alimadadian, D.O. (949) 654-7946

Eye Contact Optometry & Orthokeratology Center (949) 857-2020

Global R/X Pharmacy (949) 552-3111

Irvine Kids, MD (866) 549-3873

Irvine Periodontics and Dental Implant Center (949) 654-4760

Irvine Yamaha Music Center (949) 559-5440

Jitterbugs Toys (949) 551-8697

Kumon Math & Reading Center (949) 651-1200

Lake Dental Center (949) 857-2828

Loomis, Robert R. DDS (949) 559-5110

Mission: Renaissance Fine Art Classes (949) 551-5883

Moutsatson, John Orthodontics D.D.S. (949) 551-2532

OSHER Life Long Learning Institute (949) 451-1403

Pacific Holistic Health Center (949) 653-1187

Pedego Electric Bikes (949) 274-7944

Rainbow Kids Hairstyling (949) 551-6691

Ruby’s Diner (949) 552-7829

SGT Dental (949) 857-8898

Signature Plastic Surgery & Aesthetics (949) 387-1404

Sticky Fingers (949) 651-1137

Talium (949) 654-4411

Tiny Teeth (949) 653-8469

Treuhaft’s Fine Jewelry (949) 552-1955

UCLA Health System Hematology (949) 653-2959

Vale Consulting, Ken Meddock-Principal (949) 451-1900

Westcliff Medical Laboratories (949) 552-1996

Western Federal Credit Union (877) 254-9328

Woodbridge Movies 5 (949) 733-3795

According to The Irvine Company:

“Woodbridge Village Center enjoys an excellent location within the “medical corridor” along Barranca Parkway overlooking Woodbridge North Lake. The center further enjoys high visibility and easy access from Barranca Parkway as well as from the pedestrian and bicycle paths located throughout the community and park behind the center. With more than 178,000 square feet, the renovated center features Assi Natural Market, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Woodbridge Movies 5,and Ruby’s Diner, along with Avalon Medical Aesthetics, Westcliff Medical Laboratories, Global R/X Pharmacy, and many other medical services.”

How do you feel about this? Comment below or via Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to know your thoughts.

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill (@ Crossroads in Westpark)

Where To Dine In Irvine

Source: Mama Likes To Cook Blog by Valerie Mitchell

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

Turkish & Mediterranean Grill
3800 Barranca Parkway
Irvine, California 92606

(949) 861-2626

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

Yes. This food was absolutely delicious!

DonerG is a family owned fast casual restaurant that features foods from their Turkish culture and the neighboring countries. They use fresh, natural ingredients that are locally sourced. They take pride in their food using the ingredients and techniques that result in food that they are happy to serve and happy to eat themselves.

Tabbouleh at DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

As a vegetarian, Turkish and Mediterranean food is generally a very good choice for me. They do have meaty options, but also have plenty of protein rich foods without meat. I can get a balanced fresh meal that is satisfying and makes me feel good.

Shepherd's Salad at DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

The prices are very reasonable. You can order individual meals or eat family style, which is my favorite way to dine. I love being able to try a variety of foods while sharing a meal with friends or family.

The falafel and vegetarian dolma are really fresh and flavorful as is the homemade hummus and baba ganoush. It would be easy to make a meal out of an appetizer plate, but I’d recommend you continue and try out some of the other dishes as well.

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

The salads are fresh and have authentic flavor. The rice is prepared slowly using traditional methods giving it great flavor and texture.

Kids meals are available with plenty of options that will make even picky eaters happy.

Kids' Meal at DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

The meat is slow roasted on a doner (vertical rotisserie) and cut to order. I’m told it was tender, juicy and full of flavor.

The staff was friendly and helpful. They really looked like they were having a good time even though they were obviously working very hard.

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

Tables are available in the restaurant or you can order your food to go. There is plenty of parking available even on a busy Saturday afternoon. They can also do catering for events. Food can be delivered or picked up in the restaurant.

DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

My meal was fantastic and I’m looking forward to going back to DonerG. I’ll plan to order extras again, so that I can take home leftovers to enjoy later.

Baklava at DonerG Turkish & Mediterranean Grill - Irvine, California

Our thoughts: Denise & I eat here often for the very fair prices, the above average portion sizes, the tasty food and bottom line, the ROI. Well worth the try.   Let us know your thoughts.

 Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 2.21.46 AM


Elmo Monster Munching

Mad Hungry Woman

Too Tall Or Too Cool?

Real Estate, What's New In Irvine

Source: The Orange County RegisterKimberly Pierceall

It’s not that the Irvine Co. is trying to build the tallest building in Orange County. It just is.

It built an office tower at 520 Newport Center Drive in Newport Beach, long considered to be part of the master plan envisioned by mid-century architect William Pereira. At 315 feet, it surpassed the 302-foot-tall City Tower in Orange, according to an Orange County Register story about the county’s “skyscrapers”.

Now, the company has a plan for a 323-foot-tall office tower in Irvine, next to the Irvine Spectrum Center, on top of a parking lot at 8055 Irvine Center Drive.

At a meeting of Irvine’s Planning Commission on Thursday night, company officials and an architect said the tall building would be LEED Gold for environmental standards (below the highest level, platinum, but above silver), the stainless-steel finish would be “satin” and the landscape would include a “necklace of palm trees” around it.

The commission unanimously approved the company’s master plan. The building is “obviously gorgeous,” said Commissioner Harvey Liss, but he and others had concerns about a very visible and large parking structure next to it. They approved the plan with the caveat that the company work with city staff to make the parking structure more pleasing to the eye.

No mention was made of the building’s noteworthy height.

The company shies away from standing tall on the playground. While other developers wage battles to have the biggest building, this company doesn’t really want anyone to know how high it’s going to go.

The height is simply what companies in need of office space are looking for, said Irvine Co. spokesman Mike Lyster. For one, prospective tenants want floor-to-ceiling windows and lobbies with a “wow” factor (this one will have a 23-foot-tall entry). Overall, it will span 450,000 square feet of vertical space; 382,843 square feet of that can be leased.

While they don’t have any tenants lined up yet, the company is moving forward with the project, confident that the location near the Spectrum will attract takers.

New York-based architects Henry Cobb and Michael Bischoff of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners are behind the Irvine office design. Cobb designed the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles and the John Hancock Tower in Boston.

The firm also designed the Irvine Co.’s 650 Newport Center Drive (Pimco’s headquarters) and 520 Newport Center Drive buildings, the latter of which will be relegated to the second-tallest building in Orange County when the new Spectrum tower is built.

“The building is part of the Irvine Company’s long-term planning and investment in the Irvine Spectrum and enhances the area’s downtown setting with another workplace option for employers to locate alongside shopping, dining, hotels, transportation and recreation,” Lyster said in a statement.

No Holiday Celebrations For These Irvine Village Center Tenants

What's Closing (or already closed) In Irvine

A loss of two long time Irvine Village Center tenants in the past few weeks…

Paradise Perks, Drive Thru Cleaners and Devilicious Donuts all have shut down within the last month or so at the corner of Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive.

@paradiseperks is a loss since they provided a unique and free spirited Starbucks alternative and actually stayed up and open past 9p.  Alas, that may have been what doomed them according to this OC Weekly obit and editorial.

Drive Thru Cleaners had its fair share of fans and haters, as seen by the split reviews on Yelp, but it’s been around seemingly forever (my wife Denise and I have lived here over 20 years and can’t remember when we haven’t seen it there – but that might just be old age) and it’s another strike against cleaners on Irvine Center Drive, as we were longtime customers of “@ the cleaners” at the Sand Canyon Plaza off of Irvine Center and Sand Canyon.

Devilicious Donuts continues a new sort of trend in 2013-2014.  Just a random opinion here, but more and more businesses are pulling the plug sooner than ever on their businesses rather than sticking things out until they become a known entity/resource in the community.  This is by no means exclusive to Irvine.

Double D was selected as number 63 of the “100 Favorite Dishes of 2013” by OC Weekly Magazine.  Irvine’s location was not even open yet, and the date of that publication is late July 2013!  Less than a year?  With all of the hype?

For the record, we never got there to try it.  Opened late, closed early.  The guess here is a great PR agent, but a missing business plan.  Too bad.  However, Woodbridge still has the very tasty Donut Star, open 24/7/365, at much better prices and with very tasty treats.  To start you off right, here’s a buy 2, get 2 free coupon courtesy of Real Irvine and The Irvine Company!

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Things We Like: Restaurants: California Fish Grill

Where To Dine In Irvine

Irvine's California Fish Grill

California Fish Grill, fresh seafood eatery takes pride in serving the best tasting, freshest fish, by selecting only the highest quality seafood, having fish delivered daily and only using pure vegetable oil. Come enjoy the warm atmosphere for which California Fish Grill is known, as well as its exceptional seafood.”

Their words, not mine. That said, they pretty much nailed it both in description and in taste at the California Fish Grill in Irvine. Located at the corner of Culver and Barranca in the Crossroads Center, California Fish Grill stands out from the crowd, and that’s a good thing, since the crowds at lunch can quite often leave lines significantly out the door. The draw? Fresh fish and fair portions at a price that doesn’t leave you feeling like you took the bait for a sucker deal. How fair? The entire menu has only two items that are over $10. At a seafood restaurant. Fresh seafood, not Long John Silver’s.

The menu has a little something for everyone.


RIB ca fish grill ahi tuna cajun style

Ahi Tuna Cajun Style (courtesy Yelp)

Charbroiled platters include White Roughy (I was told that’s the most popular), Salmon, Trout, Ahi Tuna (served medium or Cajun seared rare), Mahi Mahi, Catfish, Swordfish, Halibut and Giant Shrimp. All charbroiled items are topped with garlic butter source or served Cajun style (the way Denise and I prefer) and include rice or fries along with a small portion of coleslaw and bread.

Fried Fish Combo Plate (courtesy Yelp)

More of a fried fish fan? Deep fried frenzies await you then. Choices include Shrimp, Scallops, Catfish and Calamari.

Fan of Wahoo’s or Rubio’s? Get ready to change teams after trying their burritos or tacos. Cajun Mahi, Grilled Shrimp and for you landlocked types, Chicken Burrito wraps can tie you over. A personal favorite of ours are the Cajun Salmon Tacos. Other taco options include Battered Fish, Shrimp, Mahi and Chicken.

Salads are on the menu as well. Cajun Salmon, Seared Ahi Tuna, Asian Shrimp and Crab Salads are all very tempting and eye pleasing options offered.

Sides include fries and sweet potato fries, a pretty solid New England clam chowder and the highly recommended Grilled Zucchini.

The restaurant is a fast-casual concept. You walk in, place your order, take your number, fill your drinks and grab a seat (if you can, remember it’s very, very busy around the lunch hour). Drinks come with unlimited refills and there’s a salsa bar which features a couple of surprisingly strong offerings for a fish restaurant. Cocktail and tartar sauces along with lemons and cilantro are offered as well for taste.

When the restaurant originally opened in late 2005, it was the chain’s 3rd or 4th location. They now have 6 locations. While not exclusive to our area, it’s been a welcome addition and has not seen many (if any) lonely days since arriving. We highly recommend it and we look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback.


3988 Barranca Parkway #B
Irvine, California 92606
Phone: 949-654-3838
Fax: 949-654-3858

Mon. – Sun. 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Some other reviews of California Fish Grill:


Monster Munching:

Griffin Eats OC:

Creamistry Brings the Future of Ice Cream to Irvine (@ Crossroads Plaza in Westpark)

Where To Dine In Irvine

Source: Where Magazine


Take your dessert to the next level at Creamistry in Irvine. A blast of liquid nitrogen flash freezes ingredients in seconds, giving you pure edible science in ice cream form.

Creamistry’s made-to-order ice cream just may be the freshest and creamiest ice cream in town. Using premium ingredients, including Straus cream, with organic and non-GMO soy options, Creamistry’s creations are only limited by your imagination. With roughly 50 base flavors and more than 50 mix-ins and toppings, the flavor combinations are endless. For those that can’t decide, ten signature flavors are available including vanilla bean with candied bacon, cookie butter, salted caramel, chocolate hazelnut and an array of Asian-inspired flavors such as Thai iced tea, red-bean and matcha green tea. Milkshakes along with ice cream cookie sandwiches are available as well. Pair your favorite ice cream flavors with a variety of cookies, including chocolate chip, macadamia and sugar.


Co-owner Jay Yim, whose family has been in the bakery and sweets business for generations, first encountered the concept of liquid nitrogen ice cream in Korea nearly a decade ago. Smitten by the cool factor of liquid nitrogen smoke, Yim knew that customers would get a kick out of watching the process of their concoctions come to life. Mobile carts can bring cool treats to your next private party or special event too, delighting and entertaining your guests. 3972 Barranca Parkway, Irvine, 949.777.6627.

Our thoughts: Great ice cream – just be prepared – if you have a large family like ours – VERY expensive for ice cream though.  Here’s our attempt to help – a link to the Irvine Company to get a coupon Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (good through the end of July).  Well worth one try…

These Are The 2 Rooms That Really Sell Homes

Real Estate

If you’re planning to put your house on the market, you likely want to maximize your very limited time and extra cash.  That’s why Trulia suggests zeroing in on what we call Buyer Hot Spots: the ‘make it or break it’ focal points of a home.  As a seller with a tight time line (and budget), you’ll want focus on these rooms first.

The Two Hot Spots: The two most closely inspected and anticipated rooms of a house are the kitchen and master bathroom. They’re the interior spaces where the most value can be added during a sale, so they need to look their best.

A well-appointed kitchen will dramatically increase the value of your home, so really spice up this spot to grab buyer attention. The same holds true for the bathrooms – especially the master– which will charm open house-goers with modern upgrades like dual vanities and soaking tubs.

Keeping Up With The Joneses: Before you start planning any interior upgrades, consider your neighborhood – and more importantly, your target buyer.  If most of the homes nearby have tidy, neat kitchens with Formica or tile countertops, then you should, too. If granite and flagstone seems to be the local flavor, hopefully yours will be similar, since that’s what local buyers are after.

Don’t Over Do It: Establishing the quality level of comparable homes is also crucial to saving you thousands. It’ll help you identify when to spend and when not to go overboard on unnecessary amenities. A kitchen upgrade can range from a one weekend, low-budget brush up (think paint job and installing new hardware) to a full-blown overhaul (with tens of thousands spent for granite countertops and luxury appliances). You want to make your home look as fantastic as possible – without wasting money, overinvesting, and ultimately creating a space that’s out of place with the rest of the houses in the neighborhood.

Make The Most Of What You’ve Got: Even if your kitchen is looking very tired, don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Keep the main elements, and simply improve what you can using a cost-effective, low-labor strategy.  Resurface or repaint cabinet doors, replace cabinet hardware, install a new faucet, upgrade the appliances, upgrade the lighting with new fixtures, and put on a fresh coat of paint. Also, the least expensive but most important tip – rid the countertops of all your stuff!

The Master Bath Mystique: In order of buyer-grabbing importance, the master bath is a close second. It’s the most challenging room in the house to upgrade because doing so requires the skills of many different tradesmen. But, on the positive side, there are several little tricks that can help create an inviting look that tugs at buyers’ heartstrings and evokes that “Oh Honey, I love it!” reaction.

When time and money are running out, and you need to get the house on the market, the key to doing a bathroom upgrade is, again, making the most of what you’ve got. Save as much of the existing bath as you can. Then, a quick switch of the sinks and faucets, new low-flow toilets and showerheads, and upgraded lighting, mirrors, towel racks and storage make for an entirely refreshed look. And for goodness sakes, make sure to clean the tile and grout, and organize the medicine cabinets (because buyers will open them).

This article These Are The 2 Rooms That Really Sell Homes originally appeared on Trulia Tips.

Selling your home isn’t the only tax “loophole” you can use
Recent tax increases have affected nearly every American homeowner and taxpayer. But with the right planning, you can take steps to take control of your taxes and potentially even lower your tax bill. In our brand-new special report “The IRS Is Daring You to Make This Investment Now!,” you’ll learn about the simple strategy to take advantage of a little-known IRS rule. Don’t miss out on advice that could help you cut taxes for decades to come. Click here to learn more.

ALL: What was the room that was most important to you when you bought or rent your last home or apartment?

ALL: You can get more information on my books here, follow me on Twitter@1MichaelCorbett and like me on Facebook!

Real Irvine Has Returned

Random Musings

RI keep-calm-we-re-backHave you missed us?

We’re back.

Check in daily for the news you can use related to Irvine and the world related to our fine city.

Real Estate and beyond, we’re here to help guide you through the trevails of real estate today, plus act as a tour guide and concierge of sorts.

Check in anytime, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and we’ll advise you on other social media platforms we’re on as we add them.

Looking forward to the adventure beginning again.

– Jon Silber, Agent, The Real Irvine Real Estate Team

Note: We have so much to cover, we can’t write most of the reviews ourselves – so we’ll cut and paste and give credit where due.

Real Estate News You Can Use: 10 Reasons To Buy A Home

Real Estate


Note from Jon: I’ve cleaned out all the old entries with the relaunch of the blog here in July 2014.  That said, I left this one.  4 years later and most properties here in Irvine have gone up by 25%.  Is this guaranteed to happen again in the next 4 years? Of course not. That said, it’s a great time to explore and be ready to jump on the right opportunity here in Irvine, be it as a starter home, a long term residence or as an investment property.  We’re here to help.  Call or email us anytime and we can let you know the strengths and weaknesses (yes, nothing is perfect) about acting now. Thanks and enjoy – Jon

Time magazine is being overly pessimistic in its recent cover piece that called into question the benefits of homeownership. In fact, now is a great time to buy. And, what’s more, tomorrow will be a great time to own, because the fundamental strength of homeownership hasn’t changed.

Why is now a great time to buy? Here are 10 reasons:

1. You can get a good deal. Prices are down 30 percent on average. They’re at a level that makes sense for people’s income.

2. Mortgages are cheap. At 4.3 percent on average for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, your costs to own are down by a fifth from two years ago.

3. You can save on taxes. When you add up the deductions for mortgage interest and others, the cost of owning can drop below renting for a comparable place.

4. It’ll be yours. The one benefit to owning that never changes is that you can paint your walls orange if you want (generally speaking; there might be some community restrictions). How many landlords will let you do that?

5. You can get a better home. In some markets, it’s simply the case that the nicest places are for-sale homes and condos.

6. It offers some inflation protection. Historically, appreciation over time outpaces inflation.

7. It’s risk capital. If the economy picks up, you stand to benefit from that, even if you’re goal is just to have a nice place to live.

8. It’s forced savings. A part of your payment each month goes to equity.

9. There is a lot to choose from. There are some 4 million homes available today, about a year’s supply. Now’s the time to find something you like and get it.

10. Sooner or later the market will clear. The U.S. is expected to grow by another 100 million people in 40 years. They have to live somewhere. Demand will eventually outpace supply.

Source: Wall Street Journal, Brett Arends (9/16/10)