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The Connected Kitchen

July 19, 2018

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Are you thinking of buying your first home? Do you know someone who is ready to graduate from renting to homeownership? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

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7 Ways to Keep Your Bedroom Comfortably Cool This Summer

July 12, 2018

 

Emily Keegin/fStop Images, via Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

When the summer heat really sets in, it’s tough to get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few tips to help you find some relief.

By Alan Henry, New York Times

When the temperature rises, it’s tough to get cool enough to fall and stay asleep. But a few bedroom upgrades can make a big difference. The experts at Wirecutter, a New York Times company that reviews products, offered suggestions, and we found some tips for keeping cool without buying a thing.

The Obvious: Buy an Air Conditioner (or a Fan)

Install an air conditioner, if you can. Not everyone can fit a unit in a wall or window, but portable air conditioners don’t need either to function. The downsides are they’re much less efficient than the window and wall-mounted units, and in some cases they don’t work very well because instead of cooling indoor air and radiating heat outdoors, they operate entirely inside. (If you have central air, lucky you! You may move on to read something else.)

Wirecutter has suggestions for window-mounted units and portable ones, as well as tips to fit an air conditioner into a small window. Harry Sawyers, an editor at Wirecutter, said their testing went well beyond cooling: “We’ve also found that the most important thing for most buyers is that they’re quiet, which is especially important in a bedroom.”

In the absence of air conditioning, fans are your next best bet. Mr. Sawyers recommended Wirecutter’s suggestions for the best room fans, the best ceiling fans and even window-mounted fans, which are good for setting up a cross-breeze with another window or blowing out warm air.

Design Your Bed for Cool Comfort

Consider swapping out your cotton or jersey-style sheets for linen or percale. Percale sheets are made of cotton, but they’re known for that crisp, cool feeling when you slide into them. Linen sheets are porous and breathe, so warm air won’t get trapped next to your body while you sleep.

“My personal favorite for hot weather are linen sheets,” said Christine Cyr Clisset, an editor at Wirecutter. “These are super breathable, which helps on muggy days. You can also mix-and-match your sheets. I like using a percale bottom sheet, because it feels smooth and cool, with a linen top sheet that does double duty as a light, airy blanket. This is also a good strategy if you want to invest in linen, but you’re on a budget.”

You could also try a chilling pillow, like this one from Tempur-Pedic, which incorporates water or gel that’s cool when you put your head down. It can work well as you fall asleep, before it heats up to match your body temperature.

Block Out the Light (and by Extension, Heat)

Another way to control the temperature of your bedroom — or any room — in warm weather is to keep the light out during the brightest hours of the day, and then open the curtains to allow built-up heat to dissipate during the cool evening hours. Insulated blackout curtains can keep your room dark and cool in the summer, but also prevent warm air from escaping through windows in the winter.

“Most any window treatment will help a little with reducing the amount of heat in a room, but certain ones work better at this,” Ms. Clisset said. “Generally curtains or shades with a white backing work best. Cellular shades (like our blackout shade recommendation, which does have a white backing) are the best at insulating a room, at both keeping heat from escaping and solar heat from getting in.”

You don’t need blackout cellular shades for this — the same company that makes Wirecutter’s blackout shade recommendation makes a number of other cellular shades. “The U.S. Department of Energy says cellular shades can block out up to 80 percent of solar heat, if installed correctly,” Ms. Clisset said. “Curtains can also work, but again it’s best if they have a white backing.” While Wirecutter’s favorite blackout curtains don’t have a white backing, similar models that do aren’t difficult to find.

Try Some Unorthodox Methods

Finally, if you can’t (or won’t) buy a bunch of stuff to keep your bedroom cool — or if you find yourself picking and choosing which method will work best for you — there are things you can do without spending money at all.

  • Build a homemade air cooler. Fill a bowl with ice and place it in front of a room fan. The breeze over the slowly melting ice will send chilled water vapor into the air in front of the fan. Combined with the fast-moving air, you’ll get a nice, chilly breeze. Until the ice melts.

  • Put your sheets in the freezer. This one’s low-tech, but it works surprisingly well if you’re willing to make your bed before you settle in for the night. Pop your sheets — or even just your fitted sheet or top sheet — into a resealable plastic bag and into the freezer. Put them on your bed right before bedtime, and you’ll enjoy a cool start to the night.

  • Sleep Egyptian style. There isn’t too much evidence that the so-called Egyptian style of sleeping actually dates to the ancient Egyptians, but it is an internet-popular method to stay cool at night. Ditch your blanket or comforter for a top sheet alone, and then wet that top sheet before bed. Wring out the sheet until it’s just slightly damp, but still cool. Then curl up under it and enjoy the cool sheet against your skin while you fall asleep. If waking up to clammy sheets bothers you, this may not be for you.

  • Fill a water bottle with ice water and take it to bed. Sometimes the oldest methods are the best. Grab a hot water bottle (the silicone kind that you’d normally fill with hot water) and fill it with cold water and ice. Wrap it in a towel or other absorbent cloth, and keep it near your feet while you sleep.

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Are you thinking of buying your first home? Do you know someone who is ready to graduate from renting to homeownership? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

The Worst Mistake You Can Make Before Selling Your Home

July 6, 2018

By Audrey Ference, REALTOR.com

If you’ve ever gotten ready to sell a home, you know that in order to fetch top dollar, you need to get your place in good shape. But that costs money—hiring contractors, painters, and other pros—so you might be wondering: Why not save some cash by tackling a few of these fix-its myself? 

That’s fine and good if you know what you’re doing. But unless your DIY skills are fairly advanced, experts agree that this is one of the biggest mistakes a home seller can make. If you bungle the job, you might end up making things worse, and shelling out even more money down the road.

“You have to ask yourself: Is it likely to do more harm than good?” says Dan Bawden, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers

To help you separate the tasks you can tackle from those best left to the pros, here are some DIYs to avoid when preparing to sell your home.

Drywall repair

If you have rooms that need a fresh coat of paint, go for it, says Bawden. But if you have cracks in the drywall from a shifting foundation or a little depression from years of doorknob slams, it’s worth it to hire a pro.

“In my house, I wouldn’t do the Sheetrock,” says Bawden. “I’d hire someone to fix plaster or drywall. If you don’t get the texture just right, when you paint the wall, the repair is going to stick out like a sore thumb.”

You don’t want your “fix” to look worse than the original problem. Contract out the drywall repair, then DIY the paint job afterward.

HVAC

“I’ve been in the construction business for years, and I don’t mess with anything inside an HVAC,” says Bawden.

The heating and cooling systems in your house are complex, and often connected to both electrical and gas. Making a mistake could mean blowing out the entire system, setting you up for a much more expensive repair in the end.

Furthermore, you’d better believe that potential buyers are going to have their inspector go over the HVAC as thoroughly as possible. Even something relatively simple such as installing a smart thermostat can fry your wiring if done incorrectly. When it comes to your heating and AC, approach with caution.

Dishwasher installation

Unlike installing a refrigerator, stove, or washer and dryer (which can often be a simple DIY task), installing a new dishwasher is complicated.

“The complexities involved with setup, such as installing water and drainage lines under the kitchen sink cabinet, are best handled by a professional,” says Doyle James, president of Mr. Rooter plumbing.

Doing this job wrong could mean flooding your kitchen, which will ruin your floors and more. And besides, most big-box stores offer installation for a fairly reasonable price if you’re buying new units, or a plumber can handle it for $150 to $500.

Tree removal

“Even if it’s not a really massive tree, you’d be surprised how hard it is to dig around the roots,” says Bawden.

It’s also dangerous, especially if you don’t have the tools professionals would use to remove the upper part of the tree before taking out the stump. Do you really want to be that person who puts a tree through your own roof because you were too cheap to hire a tree removal professional? (No, you don’t.)

Siding and window fixes

Bawden cautions against DIY siding or window replacement, because water can seep into the walls if you don’t reseal the layers properly. It might not be noticeable at first. In fact, you may sell the house not even realizing there is a problem, but down the line, mold and water damage will start to appear.

Not only is that bad karma, it could also be what Bawden calls “lawsuit city.”

Advanced electrical

While replacing a light fixture or ceiling fan could be fine to DIY, experts draws the line at any electrical work involving the breaker box. Not only could you hurt yourself, you could also create a fire hazard, especially if your home isn’t brand-new.

“Older homes do not usually have safety devices like ground fault circuit interrupters, making it especially dangerous,” explains Shawn McCarthy, owner of Handyman Connection of Colorado Springs.

“You reach the limit pretty quickly,” agrees Bawden. “Anything that involves running new wires or repairing faulty wiring should be left to a professional.”

Aside from the risk of fire or injury, serious electrical work done by an unlicensed electrician could have code problems, meaning you’re likely to get a thumbs-down from the inspector later anyway.

Roof repairs

Even if it’s just a little fix that the average DIYer could easily do (e.g., hammering down a shingle or two or replacing chimney pipe roof flashing), be cautious.

“It’s very easy to get disoriented,” says Bawden, especially on a peaked roof. This is why even pro roofers always use a harness in case of falls, so unless you take similar safety measures, steer clear.

Plumbing

Some plumbing tasks are doable: Fixing a running toilet or snaking a slow drain should be in pretty much anybody’s comfort zone. The problem with attempting bigger DIY plumbing tasks, though, is that you often don’t quite know what you’re getting into. Disassembling leaky or blocked undersink pipes, for example, seems simple enough. But according to James, “Pipes are complex and very tricky to reassemble, particularly when they’re in close proximity to other plumbing components and machinery, such as dishwashers or garbage disposals.”

He notes that what might appear to be a straightforward problem, like low water pressure or a fractured pipe, could actually be a symptom of a larger issue with your system. Plumbing has a way of getting out of hand—i.e., broken pipes, flooding, and worse.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Are you thinking of buying your first home? Do you know someone who is ready to graduate from renting to homeownership? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

Calculator Offers Water Insights

June 28, 2018

 

 

Most San Diego County residents realize that water conservation is important, but that doesn’t make the job any easier.

In fact, the numbers on water bills typically provide only the most general sense of whether use is going up or down, without the kind of details that would help make decisions about specific ways to improve water-use efficiency.

That’s where the online Water Calculator comes in. This tool, provided by the San Diego County Water Authority with a grant from the Hans and Margaret Doe Charitable Trust, gives homeowners a breakdown of water use at their properties and suggests ways to boost efficiency.

It takes just a few minutes to follow prompts through the model home and answer questions about your appliances and water-use habits. Using that data, the calculator estimates your annual water consumption and compares that to average and water-efficient homes in your zip code. It also provides tips and resources for trimming water use, for instance, by adding aerators to faucets or replacing a water hog clothes washer.

Learn more about how the water calculator works here.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

Tackling the Remodel

June 21, 2018

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

Are You Ready To Graduate From Renting To Owning A Home?

June 14, 2018

With graduation season in full swing, many may be pondering a change in their living quarters. Some may be moving out of Mom and Dad’s house into dorms, or maybe out of dorms into their own apartments.
But what if you’re ready to take an even bigger step—moving out of a rental into a home you can call your own?

Buying a house, after all, is a great way to put down roots and build wealth (since homes tend to appreciate so you can sell later for a profit). But purchasing property isn’t a simple process, so you should make sure you’re prepared.

So, how do you know if you’re ready to move from an apartment to a house? Ask yourself these questions below to get a sense of where you’re at—or what you have to do to transition easily into home-buying mode once the time is right.

Can you afford to buy a home?
For starters, let’s talk money. Buying a home is a hefty purchase, probably the largest you’ll ever make. So, you’ll need a down payment (typically recommended to be 20% of the home’s purchase price) and steady income (i.e., a job) to pay your mortgage.

There are other costs also associated with homeownership:

Closing costs (typically 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price)
Home insurance (cost varies by state)
Maintenance
Utilities
Budget for unseen repairs and emergencies
While renting might seem more economical than owning at first glance, that’s not always the case. You might be surprised by the results!

Another good first step to figuring out whether you can afford a house is to enter your salary and town of residence into a home affordability calculator, which will show you how much you’d pay for a mortgage on a typical house in that area. Or talk with a loan officer about whether you would qualify for a mortgage, and how much you can spend comfortably. Such consultations are free, and will give you a concrete dollars-and-cents sense of where you stand.

Are you settled in your job?
Your job situation is not only important in terms of income to buy a home, but also whether you’re happy where you work and plan to stay put. Because once you own a home, your career prospects do narrow somewhat, purely because a home anchors you to one area.

Do you know where you want to live?
Since moving once you own a home is not as easy as just packing your bags (which, let’s face it, is a hassle in itself), you really need to make sure you’re picking a home in an area where you’ll be happy.

When in doubt, try renting for a few months to make sure you like the area before you start shopping for a home to own for good.

How much home maintenance are you willing to tackle?
If you love the challenge of fixing a leaky faucet and figuring out which shrubs will flourish in your yard, homeownership may be right up your alley. But if the idea of mowing a lawn or messing with the HVAC makes you depressed, then you may want to stick with renting, which gives you a roof over your head without the work.

Living in a house you own is a different story. There’s no landlord to call if anything goes wrong; it’s all up to you. So you have to be either adept as a handyman, or willing to find and pay someone else to do such tasks. Or else consider buying a condo or co-op, where the lawns and public areas around your home are maintained by hired help.

Bottom line: Owning a home is a big commitment. So before you jump into it, you should have confidence that it works for your circumstances.

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Are you thinking of buying your first home? Do you know someone who is ready to graduate from renting to homeownership? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

8 Real Estate Documents to Keep – And What Happens If You Don’t

June 7, 2018

 

Which real estate documents should you keep after buying a home? After all, you don’t want to have to file all of it if you don’t have to; but you also don’t want to chuck something crucial.Your closing company is required by law to keep a record of your closing documents, so that’s a good fallback in case you misplace yours. Still, it’s smart for you to keep important documents on hand—particularly if, later on, you need to file a claim against the seller or your professional representation team (i.e., your real estate agent, home inspector, or mortgage lender). Hopefully, that doesn’t happen, but it’s wise to be prepared.

So, of the hundreds of documents you’ll encounter during the home-buying process, here are the ones you should keep—and why.

1. Buyer’s agent agreement
When you choose a real estate agent, you sign a buyer’s agent agreement—a contract between you and the brokerage, stating that the agent represents you in the purchase of your home.

This agreement outlines the terms of the relationship with your agent—including who pays the agent’s commission (in most cases, the seller), the length of the agreement (90 to 120 days is standard in most markets), and the terms for terminating the agreement.

Why you should keep it: This contract spells out what services your agent agreed to provide you with—and it can come into play if you have an issue with your agent after the transaction closes.

2. Purchase agreement
Every home sale starts with a real estate purchase agreement—a legally binding contract signed by home buyers and sellers that confirms that they agree upon a certain purchase price, closing date, and other terms.

Why you should keep it: The provisions stated in this contract must be followed to the letter. If you or the seller fails to fulfill these duties, there could be legal ramifications.

3. Addenda, amendments, or riders
These types of documents alter or amend the terms of your purchase contract. For example, if a survey reveals that there’s an encroaching fence built by a neighbor, and you’d like the fence removed, the sales contract has to be formally amended.

Why you should keep it: Addenda, amendments, and riders are often related to home inspections or appraisals, and because they change the original terms of the signed contract, they’re worth holding onto.

For instance, if both parties signed a repair addendum, where the seller agreed to make certain repairs based on the home inspection, you’ll need this addendum if you find issues with the repairs down the road.

4. Seller disclosures
Sellers are required by law to disclose certain problems with the home, both present and past, that they’re aware of that could affect its value. While laws vary by state, these disclosures might include lead-based paint, pest infestations, and renovations done without a permit.

Why you should keep it: If major problems crop up with your home after you move in, these disclosures can be the basis for a future lawsuit against the seller. If you lose them, you might have trouble holding the seller accountable in a court of law.

5. Home inspection report
After your home inspection, your inspector should produce a report with detailed notes on the condition of the home and any potential problems.

Why you should keep it:  This document is an extremely detailed list of everything that the home inspector finds, and it typically includes photos of problem areas. By keeping this report, you’ll have a record of any repairs that you may need to make to the property in the future.

6. Closing disclosures
Mortgage lenders must provide borrowers with a closing disclosure (also called a CD) at least three business days before settlement. This document spells out things such as your loan term (typically 15 or 30 years), loan type (a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate mortgage), the interest rate, and closing costs, among other financials.

Why you should keep it:Y our CD is an itemized list of all the costs associated with closing and your mortgage, and it’s important to have for future reference. It’s also the document you’ll need when you go to file your taxes, since you can take deductions for things such as mortgage points.

7. Title insurance policy
Title insurance offers protection against any competing claims to a home. As part of the process, the insurer will run a title search of public records, seeking loose ends such as liens against the property or fraudulent signatures on ownership documents.

Why you should keep it: You’ll need this document in the event another party, such as a previous owner, tries to claim the property. Note that there is separate title insurance to cover lenders versus buyers, and you would do well to get a policy for yourself.

8. Property deed
When you take title and become the sole owner of the property, you’ll receive a deed—a legal document that confirms or conveys the ownership rights to the home, says Anne Rizzo, associate vice president of Detroit-based title insurance company Amrock.

“It must be a physical document signed by both the buyer and the seller,” Rizzo says.

Typically, the property deed is mailed to you after the title transfer documents are recorded in your county’s public records office.

Why you should keep it:  Presenting a property deed is the only way to show someone you legally own the home you’re residing in. Because the deed is sent to you directly, neither your mortgage lender nor title company is required to keep a copy of it.

By: Daniel Bortz

 

Consider me your #1 resource for all things Real Estate! Household changing? Getting married (or divorced)? Time for a change of scenery or job relocation? Want to invest? Just send me an email or call 619-888-2117 – I can help.

 

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