Long before Neil Patrick Harris stepped onto the Broadway stage or became the skirt-chasing Barney Stinson in “How I Met Your Mother,” he was a young favorite of television audiences who followed his daily trials as Doogie Howser, M.D. - tackling the combined drama that accompanied being the country’s youngest surgeon and the typical issues of an American teenager. Though perhaps not a spot-on comparison, William Radcliffe surely felt some of the same pressures when he became one of California’s youngest attorneys to ever pass the bar exam. For the past 32 years, William has practiced law: at first alongside his father, John Radcliffe; and then, on his own. Hanging out a shingle as a young attorney takes guts and gumption, but William wasn’t long flying solo.
In 1986 he married his bride, Bonnie, and the two have been taking on the legal world ever since. Bonnie Radcliffe began her career as a legal secretary, working for an attorney in Ontario. Much like William, she soon made moves to start her own business, opening “Bonnie’s Paralegal” shortly after she and Bill tied the knot. Processing uncontested divorces and finding her aptitude in the business, her client base grew. She worked as Bill’s paralegal, and found her loyal customers helpful in maximizing his business - one of the first law firms that offered traditional attorney representation as well as giving clients the assistance and confidence to represent themselves.
With an office motto of “whatever it takes,” it is no surprise that the pair have grown a reputation for timely work and fair expenses. Lawyers, infamous in pop culture for exorbitant fees and overages, seem to relish their reputation: but Bill and Bonnie are swimming against the tide. “We understand that not everyone can afford a large legal retainer - no one wants to spend more than necessary.”
Challenging the status quo has always come second nature to the Radcliffes, and in 1990 they stepped out even further, moving first into the world of bankruptcies, and then wills and trusts. Finding their way to family law wasn’t a far reach, and soon they were taking on a multitude of cases for an enormous array of clients. For this legal team, working with clients in the US military is a particularly rewarding aspect of their practice as both William and Bonnie come from families with a strong military background: William’s father served as an officer in Military Intelligence post WWII and while Bonnie’s father was an officer of allied forces in the Dutch Army and a prisoner of war in Japan. William was a founding board member of Patriotic Hearts, a non-profit organization with a mission to help support US veterans and help them find employment. Additionally, William and Bonnie volunteer in the Children’s Ministry at Saddleback Church, San Clemente.
But can you expect the same caliber of work from an office functioning under a conscience? “Experience comes first. Put the area of your need first, and find someone who will offer you assistance, regardless if it comes in the form of expertise or traditional representation.” Move over Doogie - the Radcliffe’s are in the business of helping and they’re coming your way.
For a complimentary consultation or to connect with William and Bonnie, please call (949) 245-6162.
In 1519, a man named William Horma coined a phrase that many of us use in conversation still today. Horma, the headmaster of two colleges in England: Winchester, which was founded in 1382 by William of Wykeham, and Eton - educating boys 13 to 18, whose former pupils include 19 Prime Ministers, wrote the words “Mater artium necessitas”, in his book Vulgaria.
In 1545, a similar English version was used (convenient for those of us who don’t read Latin): “Necessitie, the inventor of all goodnesse.” We know it now as an English-language proverb: meaning roughly that the driving force behind all invention is a need. Any need.
Three years ago, Charlie Lott traveled to Fresno to visit his mother; “she’d fallen, broken a hip, and had some other age-related issues. I wanted to make sure she was getting the care she needed.” Charlie found that his mother wasn’t really able to move around at all, and in fact, was so drugged up she could barely carry on a conversation. “I called my wife and told her I was bringing her home with me”. They took her to a Kaiser and weaned her from most of the medication she was on - finding the real sweet spot between managing her pain, and keeping her alert enough to get her moving again.
But as quickly as she began achieving mobility, Charlie was realizing that their home was impossibly outfitted to accommodate someone with a walker. A licensed contractor since 1981, Lott found himself fortunately equipped to start taking the necessary steps to modify their house: removing doors from their hinges, installing grab bars in the shower, raising the toilet seat. “I just started guessing at what I thought would help her to get around. We did what was needed when she needed it.” Eventually, Charlie went so far as to install motion-sensor lighting in her bedroom, the hallway, and the bathroom.
“She lived with us for nearly nine months before the illness and some other issues caught up to her, and it became necessary to place her in board care where they could keep an eye on her 24/7,” he says. “The real defining moment was when I came home and she was standing over the stove, with her robe caught in the burner about to catch flame. She didn’t even know the gas was on.”
Those nine months were a game-changer for Charlie, who suddenly had a very clear picture of the struggles and frustration that senior family members must face when dealing with mobility and/or cognitive issues.
“It also made me realize how great it felt to help someone make it through a difficult time,” says Charlie. “And how a few minor changes made a world of difference.”
With his background in construction and realty, Charlie found he was set in an extremely unique place to make a difference for those struggling as his mother had. Researching what he could do to expand upon his 36 years experience in general contracting, Charlie found that an entire movement towards Aging in Place had already begun. Giving clients a Home Safety Assessment and providing them a written plan based off of their performance including detailed specifications, services and products based on their needs and budget became the final goal: and Charlie began checking boxes off on his list.
“I went through the CAPS (Certified Aging in Place) training and became a SRES (Senior Real Estate Specialist) as well, to really set me apart from other contractors who dabble in Universal Design on the sidelines of their other business.”
Additional certifications in hand, Charlie partnered up with Jane and Dan Zanini to found The Lott Group, LLC. A company that provides specialty plans for clients currently or potentially experiencing mobility issues who would rather age in place than move into an assisted living facility, the Lott Group determines exactly what products and services will best support their ability to carry out everyday activities safely, efficiently, and with dignity.
In 2000, there were 35 million Americans over the age of 65. By 2030, census estimates project that there will be over 71.5 million. The Lott Group is thrilled that they have found a place from which to help, as the number of seniors continues to increase, and folks face the enormous decision of staying in place or heading into a new chapter away from home.
“When my mom passed away, I realized that the nine months that she spent with our family were priceless,” says Charlie. “She really was part of the tribe: and a huge addition to all of our activities. Dinners, discussions, time with our grown kids. It really was life-changing. And that’s what I want to bring to the table - this priceless gift of freedom to those from whom it has been taken away.”
To connect with Charlie directly, please call (949) 541-1226. The Lott Group is located at 23811 Aliso Creek Rd., Ste. 181 in Laguna Niguel. BRE #01878857.
But here in Orange County, we can go one better as we are lucky enough to be able to experience the live action version of the hilarious tale of Buddy the Elf’s journey to New York to discover his true identity at its exclusive premiere at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
After its record-breaking run at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre during the 2010-2011 holiday season, ELF The Musical lands with a jingle of sleigh bells at Segerstrom Hall on December 20. In this modern day Christmas classic, Buddy, a young orphan child, mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported back to the North Pole. Unaware that he is actually human, Buddy’s enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. Most of us might cringe when imagining a grown-up human man in tights self-actualizing on stage, but the critics are raving. The New York Times called ELF “A splashy, peppy, sugar-sprinkled holiday entertainment” and Variety proclaimed that ELF is “happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids, and plenty smart for adults!”
The Segerstrom Center production of ELF The Musical features songs by Tony Award winning nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (The Wedding Singer), with a book created by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray), and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone). The production will feature direction by Sam Scalamoni and choreography by Connor Gallagher - bringing Buddy’s endless charm, innocence and magical holiday cheer to audiences young and old.
Segerstrom Center presents a broad range of programming each season for audiences of all ages, including international ballet and dance, national tours of top Broadway show, intimate performances of jazz and cabaret, contemporary artists, classical music performed by renowned chamber orchestras and ensembles, free performances open to the public from outdoor movie screenings to dancing on the plaza and many other special events. Visit scfta.org to find out more.
Classy Closets’ unique, custom solutions for the home and office can instantly double or even triple your storage space.
Closet organization is something of an oxymoron at my house. Same goes for my home office. I actually do know where everything is in the stacks of paper that perpetually reside atop my desk, but good luck having anyone else make rhyme or reason of my filing “system.”
I’m clearly a candidate for the handiwork of a company like Classy Closets – if it’s a matter of function or simply a desire to have your mess aesthetically addressed, Classy Closets will customize your work/life space with made-to-order cabinetry and organization systems for your home office, garage, bedroom, laundry room, pantry, media centers, wallbeds and more.
Think you can’t afford to bring in the professionals? Classy Closets, which has served all of Orange County and San Diego since 2003, offers organization options for virtually every budget – from basic white melanine to solid wood cabinetry.
“Nothing we do is cookie cutter,” says Company CFO Gary Pavitt. “Although Classy Closets is a franchise, we’re not governed by the rules that typically dictate processes of typical franchise operations – particularly with regard to the materials and mounting systems we use. What works in terms of style and function at a home in Tucson, for instance, wouldn’t necessarily translate to a house in Huntington Beach. So we have the freedom to customize our work to our client’s specific needs and desires.”
Another differentiator is that Gary and his team manufacture their products right here in Southern California, which affords them the ability to offer their clients a broader range of product options at a level of quality that is “second to none.” And because they are “hands-on” from design consultation to manufacture and installation, Gary and his staff pride themselves on providing unparalleled customer service.
“What’s really fun is having the ability to create the products in-house,” says Gary. “I really enjoy introducing new ways to make things better, bringing in new products and keeping up with the latest trends in the industry. We go out of our way to keep our customers satisfied … that’s what makes it all worthwhile. As in any business, your customers are golden and we’ve been very fortunate that a large percentage of our business is in referrals.”
Repeat customers Marta and Mike Fowler of San Diego say that Classy Closets is a “dream company - one that not only delivers beautiful craftsmanship, but also that elusive quality of excellent service. Every good cliché regarding their work applies.”
“This is our second home that Classy Closets has refined to meet all our storage needs, from closets to garage, from bathroom storage to entertainment center. And they never try to oversell, giving honest recommendations for products, charging fair prices within reach,” says Marta. “Their creative solutions and impeccable workmanship combine to make functional pieces we love living with. We have only one warning: Classy Closets is addictive, and you will find yourself wanting to spread the good news.”
In a letter to Gary’s business partner Kate Monaghan, Carlsbad-based Interior Designer Karen Wirrig echoes the Fowler’s sentiment and adds that “my new master closet is beautiful and your attention to detail is evident. I also want to commend your installation crew. They were on time, tidy, polite, and did excellent work … I will wholeheartedly recommend your company to all my clients. It has been a pleasure to work with you all.”
Whether it’s a glass of wine and appetizers-only affair or a more leisurely multi-course meal, my husband, Tim, and I try to make “date night” a weekly event. And with an extensive, eclectic array of eateries - from casual to formal fine dining and everything in between, there is certainly no shortage of inspired culinary destinations in South OC. Having said that, we always love when we stumble upon an establishment that offers up an “experience” worth writing about - a restaurant that not only delivers on creative and flavorful dishes and a warm, inviting ambience, but also throws in a signature differentiator for good measure.
In this case, it was a particularly fun one since Tim and I fancy ourselves to be wine aficionados (well, truth be told, he actually knows whereof he speaks, while I could tell between a white and a red in a blind taste test). While we perused the wine list, our server shared the details of “Brown Bag Tuesday” and offered up a $15 bottle of our choice of red or white that arrived wrapped in a … you guessed it, brown paper bag … to hide the label. Turns out that the selected wine is often worth far more than $15 and makes for great fun guessing the varietal over shared plates.
A “Common” is defined as a “large dining hall or room” and “food or provisions for a group in such a room.” The aptly-named eatery is characterized by a modern-accented rustic decor and the dynamic culinary stylings of Chef-Proprietor Ryan Adams.
For starters, he serves up several small plates and “bites” by the piece. The former include wonderfully flavorful charred shishito peppers paired with an olive oil, lime, parmesan aioli and a Wild Card Tuna Poke seasoned with chile, sesame, soy, lime, cucumber taro, macadamia and micro greens. The latter includes a rich, delicious short rib grilled cheese (limited number served nightly), spicy Thai chicken wing and a tempura shishito popper stuffed with goat cheese and cheddar.
If you’re a fan of bone marrow, pork belly or foie gras - this menu has you covered! The bone marrow arrives accented by parsley, red onion, radish, fennel, grilled bread and an Argentine-inspired chimichurri, while the foie gras is prepared differently daily - just ask.
For heartier appetites, the “large” plates include something for every palate - from seafood and chicken dishes to duck, pork and beef entrees. Popular picks include the pork loin (flavored with Harissa BBQ, mac n’ cheese and an apple-sweet onion slaw), the 10 Napkin Burger (piled high with cheddar, arugula, egg, bacon, mushrooms, chile, aoli, onion and fries or greens) and the duck (which arrives as a sweet potato-duck confit hash enhanced with greens, apple and red wine.
Oh! And the $15 bottle in the brown bag? A 2014 Conundrum - the perfect red blend to accompany all of the delicious, locally sourced, sustainable dishes served here.
Three Seventy Common is located at 370 Glenneyre Street in Laguna Beach. For reservations, call (949) 494-8686 or visit www.370common.com
There is a soft moment, in the early early morning, when the curtain of darkness begins to lift - the world spinning over 1,000 miles an hour - and the first glow of dawn appears on the horizon.
A great many poets and romantics have drawn inspiration from this moment over the years, finding it to be the sign of a glorious new beginning. Percy Bysshe Shelley called it “the mask/ Of darkness fall(ing) from the Earth.” Scientists call it luminance. The moment when an object exists in apparent brightness. When darkness turns to dusk, and dusk falls away before the intensity of light.
In 2015, a bright light appeared on the horizon in South Orange County. The standard-bearer for addiction, trauma, and PTSD recovery, Luminance has taken on the task of providing love and compassionate care to those in recovery - with the intention of transforming each and every life they touch. Starting from the ground floor, the team began with just 6 beds. To date, they’ve grown to 12 detox beds, and 50 residential inpatient treatment beds throughout South Orange County and Malibu. Unlike most recovery programs however, Luminance isn’t just offering tough love, or attacking symptoms without paying attention to the root cause of addiction. Priding itself on the unique commitment to quality care through five core values, the professionals at Luminance are driven by compassion, integrity, collaboration, innovation and excellence.
“Luminance offers 30, 60 and 90 day programs and is a dual diagnosis treatment center meaning we are able to address secondary psychiatric issues that are typically related to or cause the addiction,” says Carla DiCandia, MPA, Director, Clinical Outreach. "We treat alcohol and drug addiction, with an emphasis on underlying trauma identification and treatment. Our clinician to client ratio is 1:7 which means clients see their therapist multiple times per week in addition to their group therapies, exercise programs, and experiential therapy. Experiential therapy is a form of therapy that encourages clients to identify and address hidden or subconscious issues through experiences such as role-playing, guided imagery, the use of props, and a range of other activities."
Status quo is not an acceptable level of operation at Luminance. So what is the status quo for addiction in America? How dark is true dark? 40 million Americans, according to a Columbia University study, “meet the clinical criteria for addiction involving nicotine, alcohol, or other drugs.” Over 38,000 people overdosed, and died, in the U.S. in 2010: greater, the U.S. News reports, “than the deaths attributed to motor vehicle accidents, homicides and suicides.” Family dysfunction, financial struggle, legal problems, domestic violence, child abuse, unplanned pregnancies and car accidents are often simple and tragic side effects of the problem of addiction. The impossibly unfortunate consequence of addiction however, is most often manifested in neglect. Only one in ten people report receiving treatment for alcohol and/or drug addiction. Set that down next to a full seventy percent of patients with high blood pressure or even diabetes who receive treatment.
A consistently superior set of results for those in recovery, their families, and the team at the center is top priority, and non-negotiable. Be it as simple as improving the daily menu with the Chef, or better managing medications, Luminance is removing the veil of dusky complacency and replacing it with transformative care. Trauma-focused treatment modalities at Luminance include evidence-based therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, along with EMDR- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.
Waking up at Luminance seems more like emerging into a corporate retreat, but the structure is designed to provide tools for a lifetime of recovery.
“Eye Movement Desensitiztion and Reprocessing (EDMR) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences,” says DiCandia. "Many individuals struggling with addiction have suffered significantly traumatic events in their early lifetimes. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can, in fact, heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma. Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes and overcome some of the contributors to their addiction disorder."
Essential to such a full recovery is the settling of an enormous question within oneself: the question of guilt. With guilt comes shame, and the team is working to help its clients find forgiveness: be it faith-based or simply through better discharge planning. Finding that recovery success rates are directly correlated to societal change shouldn’t come as a surprise to any - and yet just now is the addiction treatment industry embracing the use of technology and connection to build a community of prevention and protection. With an app called Trigger, clients can remain attached to the Luminance relapse prevention program even after they leave, through geo-fencing targeted locations where the client may visit that were once part of their active addiction. The app triggers a response from a peer or their therapist, and the process of improvement moves on.
Luminance believes that together is better. Be it demonstrating the benefits of serving others through community events, like distributing food at the Second Harvest Food Bank, or collaborating with local elementary schools to promote reading materials to first graders, clients are meeting change hand in hand with those around them.
Waking up at Luminance seems more like emerging into a corporate retreat, but the structure is designed to provide tools for a lifetime of recovery. Each day begins with breakfast, a morning meditation and beach walk. Morning sessions of group therapy give way to afternoon activity time- quintessentially Californian- surf or equine therapy. Dinner follows, and then individual quiet time, if desired. Once you’re discharged, a planner will help you design a post-treatment plan: personalized for your specific needs. Be it placement in an outpatient program or an extended residential stay, the Recovery Center has your best future in mind. So why not wake up into a bright new day with Luminance. It might be easier than you think.
To connect with Carla DiCandia, MPA, Director, Clinical Outreach, please call (949) 482-9713 or visit www.LuminanceRecoveryCenter.com
If the Island Hotel had nothing else going for it, its idyllic location steps from the specialty boutiques, dining and entertainment of the city’s famed Fashion Island, its proximity to Newport’s pristine beaches and picturesque harbor would be enough to attract visitors from far and wide. Then add the fact that this upscale urban property features amenity-rich accommodations, an attentive and friendly staff, a luxurious full-service spa, resort-style pool and fabulous food (more on that in a minute) and it’s easy to understand why locals would rate this coastal resort high on their list of ideal stay-cation destinations.
Island Hotel’s guest rooms offer comfort in true coastal California luxury style. With a step-out balcony or furnished patio in every room, guests can enjoy breathtaking views of Newport Harbor, Newport Back Bay or the Pacific Ocean. All 292 guest rooms and suites have recently been reinvigorated and refurbished from top-to-bottom to reflect the city’s chic coastal lifestyle. Accommodations are characterized by custom-deesigned bedding, California-inspired artwork, marble bathrooms, spacious closets, plasma television and Bose audio system, Keurig coffee maker, customized mini bar to each guest’s preferences (at an additional cost) and complimentary wireless Internet access.
In celebration of our wedding anniversary, my husband and I booked a recent overnight stay - a mini-retreat close to home, but one that felt worlds away from the moment we arrived. Our eighth floor “coastal corner” suite was a gorgeous ocean-inspired residential-style space defined by modern splashes of gentle seaside colors (think rich orange, soothing sage and cool lilac) with panoramic ocean views. The private Island Club room on the 20th (top) floor - available for a $50 per night upcharge - offers equally incredible views and personalized service (curbside check-in, iMac workstation, dedicated concierge service, complimentary personal shopping service at Fashion Island and my favorite feature: 20% off spa retail purchases). Guests enjoy light refreshments in the afternoon, evening snacks, beer and wine during the “Wine Down” hour nightly and a continental-style breakfast.
Open year round, the hotel’s 3,000 square foot pool is heated and has also recently been redesigned to incorporate a whirlpool spa, round swivel chairs with shade umbrellas and private cabanas - and a full-service poolside bar.
Arguably among the best restaurants in Orange County, the Oak Grill is a true OC original that appeals to the appetite with inspired California cuisine influenced with flavors from around the globe and an extensive - and specifically curated - wine, beer and spirits program. This elegant eatery also appeals to the aesthetic with inviting, light-filled interiors and a lush, extensive deck for dining alfresco. Under a canopy of artfully lit trees, you’d never know you were surrounded by mid-rise buildings. But the real star of the show here is the menu populated with plenty of options for seafood aficionados and meat-eaters like my husband, who raved about the grilled-to-perfection 8 oz. beef filet which arrived with Lyonnaise potatoes, grilled asparagus and Bordelaise sauce. Other popular picks include the Jidori chicken (accompanied by California succotash and thyme chimichurri), braised short ribs (paired with Anson Mills corn grits and portobello mushrooms) and a delicious seared salmon with grilled asparagus, whole grain mustard potato salad and dill creme fraiche.
The luxurious spa offers an eclectic range of relaxing massage styles, soothing facial treatments or signature body rituals (to exfoliate, purify and detoxify the body). Because I’ll never pass up an opportunity for a massage and since I’m originally from the islands, I opted to try a traditional Hawaiian “Lomi Lomi” massage. Unique to each therapist, this one-of-a-kind massage features techniques that are rhythmic, using the forearms in long, connected strokes. As it turns out, very few therapists are trained in this style of massage considered a sacred healing art having been handed down from generation to generation by the Kupuna (elders) so it’s not a service found on many spa menus in the area. My therapist, Saiko, deserves a special mention - clearly passionate about the healing arts, she was extremely personable, knowledgable and skilled at her craft.
The Island Hotel is located at 690 Newport Center Drive in Newport Beach. For reservations or information, call (866) 554-4620 or visit www.islandhotel.com
It’s exceptionally rare to find hair artists who truly cares about their customers’ needs and are dedicated to finding the perfect solution – and have the skill and experience to actually achieve your desired results.
With years of experience helping women and men who have fine and thinning hair challenges, Debora Routhe and Elizabeth Nunez are the dream team behind Mission Viejo based Full Strands Inc. They are the go-to professionals for clients seeking non-surgical hair replacement options.
Debora is an American Board Certified Haircolorist and a cutting specialist, while Elizabeth is a skilled and experienced barber and cosmetologist. Haircutting and hair extensions are her forte.
“When it comes to hair extensions or hair restoration/replacement, it’s not one size fits all,” says Debora. “What sets our business apart from others is our dedication to continuing education. We continually seek to discover better products and techniques to give our customers the hair of their dreams. Further, we are full-time behind the chair hairdressers. We are well versed in all aspects of color, design, and styling. This experience allows us to make all hair systems and extensions look incredibly natural and undetectable.”
Eight years ago, after an increasing number of her clients came to her with fine and thinning hair concerns, Debora made it her mission to find ways to help.
“I sought out solutions and became certified in numerous techniques,” she says. “Our business in the non-surgical hair replacement industry has grown by word of mouth from our satisfied customers. We are truly making a difference for women and men who felt for so long that they had nowhere to go and could find no acceptable solutions for their fine and thinning hair. We have seen self-confidence come back for the clients we serve. They no longer feel self conscious or embarrassed of their appearance. We are excited to come to work every day and transform our clients into the best version of themselves. We live to make people feel beautiful!”
Equally passionate about giving back to the community, Full Strands supports South County Outreach, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing hunger and homelessness by helping people help themselves with a food pantry, homeless prevention counseling, and rapid re-housing programs.
“The most rewarding aspect of owning this business is that we get to do what we want to do,” says Debora. “We get to choose the products, the hair systems, extensions, and the tools we work with. We selected the salon decor and pick the music we listen to. We have created a relaxing, private environment for our clients to enjoy and in which our creativity can flourish.”
Book online at fullstrands.com.
Full Strands is located at 27741 Crown Valley Parkway, Suite 201, Studio 23 in Mission Viejo. Debora and Elizabeth can be reached by calling 949-300-3625.
According to a recent LA Times article, “the Southern California housing market is red-hot again.” 2015 was the second-busiest year since the 2008 recession, and experts are calling for 2016 to be the year that the peak returns to Orange County. With so much hype in the forecast, it can be difficult for both buyers and sellers to track market trends, sift through all the numbers, and forecast what may or may not happen over years to come. I know I’d rather choose a new paint color or build my dream wraparound porch than pore tediously over CoreLogic statistics. And that’s where Sheri Normandin comes into the picture.
Often, determining the difference between one’s skill set and one’s passion leaves much to be desired: a rift not many of us have the luxury to cross over in our professional lives. For Sheri, seeing her skill set and passion collide in the real estate market has revolutionized hers. With over 25 years of executive level management and marketing in over 26 countries, Sheri’s transition to luxury property management was as smooth as can be. In fact, it doesn’t get much smoother than earning herself a top 4% spot in the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Agents nationwide: and an entry in the 2014 and 2015 President’s Club.
Yet, unlike a great many OC brokers, Sheri doesn’t hail from Orange County.
“I grew up on a farm,” she notes with a smile. “I’m interested in Orange County in the same way my buyers and sellers are interested: I came here to buy a house for myself, I dealt with the same process, the same negotiations; and I think that makes me uniquely suited to welcome folks to the area.”
With the increased global reach of real estate, understanding and appropriately providing services to meet the various needs out there are constantly added to the equation of buying or selling a home. Sheri services all of South Orange County, not just the city she resides in, and she is willing to go the extra mile to help her clients understand what it is they are really achieving with her at the helm of their housing project.
“The needs of a buyer are vastly different than those of a seller,” she says. “We have seen a strong recovery over the past few years, but with low inventories, it continues to be a sellers market.”
So what questions are you asking as either a buyer or seller in the current market? You may have the perfect paint chip in hand, but what kind of wall would you like to decorate? You may be approaching retirement, and are looking to downsize. Do you have specific square footage in mind? Do you have a budgetary cap? Is there room for the family dog? A yard?
“Floor plans and functionality of a home can vary greatly and rearranging the current use with minor changes can have a much bigger value to a buyer, if they can see it,” says Sheri. “Not all agents can provide that vision. I look for areas I can make the process easier for my clients and actively take things off their plate to reduce stress.”
Because everyone’s motivations are different, a good realtor connects with clients and can manage the expectations on the table, while successfully maximizing results. Finding a broker that will offer more than a minimum level of service however, can be painstaking. With her background in marketing and negotiation, it is no wonder that Sheri has found such success - invaluable when navigating the market and its constant fluctuations.
“When I’m looking for a prospective agent to sell my home, I’m asking if they do this as a full time job - I’m asking for reviews and references - I’m asking what sets them apart from other agents. Professional photography, quality marketing materials and online exposure are base requirements these days to provide great results for the seller. I go beyond what is expected, which changes with each client. I’ve planted flowers, moved couches. Selling or buying a home can be an emotional experience, and making it as positive as possible is my goal.”
They say those who can’t do, teach. But they also say that while we teach, we learn. In fact, Seneca said that. The Roman philosopher Seneca. (Not Seneca Crane from the recent Hunger Games films.) So which is true? Stephanie Frisch hails from a family of teachers. And she would have to agree with Seneca. “I’m always learning. I want to know everything there is to know.” In the world of insurance, the demand is high for those who are dedicated to teaching the consumer, rather than taking them simply as a commission.
What do you really know about your insurance policies? Has anyone ever sat down and explained insurance to you in a way you really understood? Medicare. Prescription drug coverage. Covered California individual family plans. The chances are about as slim as Katniss escaping the Hunger Games alive. As the owner of Insurance 101, Stephanie is taking an industry norm and turning it on it’s head.
“I come from an all-teacher family. I learned a long time ago how to properly and thoroughly inform my clients. And I believe that a personalized, caring approach is what it takes to garner trust with folks who at a base level, have no idea what the terms are, or what the provisions of the plans mean.” Specializing in senior needs - such as Medicare plans and prescription drug plans for South County residents, Stephanie is faced with unique situations daily. “As the demand grows for this type of service, I find that my successes lie in earning the trust of my clients. The actual business is just one factor. Caring for the whole person is the key.”
I’ve been told that my method of explaining insurance makes it easier to understand than any other way my clients have been told before. And I’m really trying to help them, not sell them.
Her old-school approach is unrivaled. Rarely does a broker find the time to spend one-on one with a client, let alone achieving any sort of true human interaction in the world of text messaging, multi-password online applications, and automated 800-number customer service recordings. “I keep contact information and notes from past conversations with all of my clients. When someone calls me, I see their name pop up on my phone and I greet them personally. I love helping people, and bringing a personal touch to the impersonal world of insurance is key. You can’t rush when you do what I do.” Having the knowledge and savvy to navigate the insurance world is one thing. Having the patience to wade through the headlines and get to the heart of the issues speaks to a deep desire to do right by her clients. “It’s my responsibility,” she notes.
Sifting through the sludge of government issues, printed articles, and healthcare propaganda is enough to drive any American toward feeling as if the premium they are really paying is in lifeblood, not dollars.
“What I provide is ‘value added’ to what customers pay in their insurance premium,” says Stephanie. “I don’t personally charge for my consulting service. I’ve been told that my method of explaining insurance makes it easier to understand than any other way my clients have been told before. And I’m really trying to help them, not sell them. I want to know everything about the products I offer to people and what is going on out there. 65 looks and acts a lot younger than it used to. They want the information that will help them be proactive about their lifestyle, and I help them find that.”
Be it working, traveling, parenting, surfing, running marathons, practicing yoga, or training for the next Hunger Games - you should be informed. If you’d like to understand your options and benefits better, Stephanie’s the one to call.
Question: How long have you been doing this and do you have an office?
Stephanie Frisch: I have been licensed and working this business full time since May of 2006. Initially I would make house calls and meet people in a common area. Two years ago my client base and amount of prospective clients made is necessary for me to open an office in San Juan Capistrano and have people come to me. It’s worked out very well. We can spread documents out on my desk, it’s quiet without distractions and I have access to my printer and the internet which is very important these days. I do still make house calls for my Medicare clients, many times they’re housebound or just don’t get around easily.
Question: Do you have set office hours?
SF: No, I work by appointment only. If I don’t have appointments with clients many times I work out of home. My attitude with my career is that I’m basically working 7 days a weeks at least a few hours a day. I’d never be home if I was always working out of my office.
Question: We know you work a lot with Medicare beneficiaries, is there any new information they should know about?
SF: Well a big change was to the Medicare Part B standard premium. For years it’s been $104.90 a month. Several months ago people that were new to Medicare or that were already on Medicare but not taking Social Security had a premium increase. The premium adjusted up to $121.80 a month. Also, many people aren’t aware that they will pay MORE than $121.80 a month if they make more than $85K a year as an individual or $170K as a married couple. That sometimes translates to sticker shock. I have a worksheet that I share with new Medicare beneficiaries so they’re not taken by surprise.
Question: What choices do people have during Open Enrollment?
SF: From October 15th to December 7th people with a standalone drug plan and/or a Medicare supplemental plan can shop to see what Medicare Advantage plans have to offer. This is the time for them to learn about plans that have a zero premium and include RX coverage too. If they do end up wanting to enroll in a Medicare Advantage with Prescription drug plan, they don’t need to worry about health conditions because enrollment is not subject to underwriting and is guaranteed issue (unless they have end stage renal disease). For people already on a Medicare Advantage plan, this is the time they can look at changing to another like type of plan that may be richer in benefits and/or meet their needs better than their current plan. Or, these people may want to go back to Original Medicare and purchase a standalone drug and Medicare supplemental plan. Drug formularies (the list of covered drugs in an RX plan) can change every year, so if someone is taking a lot of medications it’s important for them to be aware of any changes that may affect their out of pocket costs. The only time to change drug plans during the year without some special circumstance is during Open Enrollment.
The only time to change drug plans during the year without some special circumstance is during Open Enrollment.
Question: Do you still find a lot of confusion exists for people when they go onto Medicare for the first time?
SF: Oh, absolutely! Those consultations generally take an hour and a half to two hours. There are so many factors to cover. Many times they or their spouse may still be working, so we need to look at the cost of their current group insurance and what it covers versus what they’ll pay for Medicare. If they’re still working and their income is high, many times it’s more expensive to go on Medicare and they should wait until they retire. We have to take into account past and current income, researching doctor participation in medical networks if they want a Medicare Advantage plan, and look at what drug plan gives them the lowest copays for the medications they’re currently taking. If I’m meeting with a husband and wife we are basically going through this whole process twice.
Question: You specialize in Medicare, but you also help people with their health insurance that are under 65, what advice would you give them for their Open Enrollment that starts November 1st?
SF: Don’t try to figure it out on your own. I get paid by the insurance companies that I repre sent and it costs nothing to take advantage of my knowledge and experience. This is a very busy time for me because open enrollment coincides with Medicare open enrollment, but I’m able to help most non-Medicare prospective clients by scheduling a phone appointment or two with them and enrolling them online. The deadline enrolling in a new plan for 1/1/17 coverage is 12/15/16. The deadline for changing your current plan with your existing insurance provider for 2017 is 1/31/17.
Question: What do you think is the biggest change in insurance plans offered for 2017 for those who buy insurance from Covered California or directly from the insurance companies?
SF: Well, Anthem is going back to their 2015 model of an EPO vs. the Tiered PPO that they had last year. Any hospitals that were in Tier 2 may now be out of network and people won’t be able to access care in those hospitals. So for example, last year an Anthem Tiered PPO member could go to Hoag, Mission, St. Joseph and St. Jude hospitals here in Orange County and still be in-network, they just wouldn’t get as good of a negotiated rate as they did by going to a Tier 1 hospital such as Saddleback and U.C.I. In 2017, with the change back to an EPO plan structure, they have NO coverage out of network. It is much like a HMO, but they don’t need to have a referral to specialist, just like with a PPO. I’m told the network of doctors shouldn’t change any more than the normal shuffle, it’s just the hospital in network participation that is being affected.
Question: So are there less choices this year than last year for people?
SF: Actually as of this interview there are more. Blue Shield has decided to bring a HMO product to Orange County and Molina Healthcare is expanding their service to Orange county. I’m still waiting to see what Cigna and Healthnet PPO will do. They had very slim offerings last year and their prices were much higher than the other companies. However, they had broader networks, and for some people it’s worth it to them to be able to continue seeing their doctors.