California’s Public School Loans

We have loan products that reward your clients who are teachers and staff that serve in California’s public schools.

This product is for anyone that works for the California Public School Districts.

Down payment assistance
– $7,500 for non-high cost areas
– $15,000 for high cost areas
– Deferred payments
– Mortgage Credit Certificate Program (MCC) – federal income tax credit that may lower your taxes and increase your disposable income.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ to learn more.

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Upgrades That Can Mean a Lot to Home Buyers

(BPT) – Anyone who’s ever bought or sold a home knows how even little things can sway a buyer to feel a particular house is “just right.” While major features such as a good location, a big kitchen, and a certain number of bedrooms and bathrooms all drive a home’s price and how attractive it is to buyers, small details like fresh paint and new faucets can also help clinch a sale.

When you’re trying to sell your home, you should be willing to spend some money on repairs and improvements to help boost the sale price. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot to make a big impact if you invest in key quality details. Here are seven “little things” you can do to help make your home more appealing to buyers, and possibly get a better price – and you can accomplish them in just a weekend:

* Upgrade your kitchen faucet and sink – The kitchen faucet and sink aren’t just practical tools every kitchen needs – they can also be essential elements of a room’s overall design and appeal. Replacing a dated kitchen faucet is a minor change that can mean a lot to home buyers. Choose a pull-down, multi-function option like the American Standard Edgewater semi-professional kitchen faucet with SelectFlo technology. In addition to modern styling, you’ll get four spray functions and a convenient pause feature, the ability to set a preferred water temperature without re-adjusting the handle, and a water-conserving maximum flow rate of just 1.5 gallons per minute. Pair it with an Edgewater double bowl stainless steel kitchen sink, and you’ve created a new focal point of design, efficiency and utility sure to catch buyers’ eyes.

* Install a programmable thermostat – If your home’s thermostat predates Facebook, it’s probably time to ditch the dial and install a touch pad programmable thermostat. Not only would a new thermostat help your home look more modern, a programmable thermostat helps with energy efficiency – something that’s very important to today’s home buyers. The U.S. Department of Energy says reducing your thermostat setting by just 7-10 degrees for eight hours a day can save you as much as 10 percent annually on energy bills. A programmable thermostat automates the savings for you!

* Replace incandescent light bulbs – If your home still has traditional light bulbs, replacing them with energy-saving LEDs or CFLs is an easy way to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency. These bulbs use 25-80 percent less energy than conventional bulbs and last three to 25 times longer, according to the Department of Energy. Imagine the appeal for home buyers when your selling agent mentions that light bulbs won’t need replacing for years after moving in!

* Upgrade the front door – Your home’s entrance is the feature that officially welcomes potential buyers into your humble abode. Replacing an old, weathered front door with a new one creates a positive first impression. What’s more, installing a steel entry door returns 90 percent of its value at the time of resale, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value Report.

* Put a water-efficient faucet in the bathroom – A great deal of water can be wasted in the bathroom, and the faucet can be one of the biggest culprits. Replacing an older bathroom faucet with a modern water-conserving option like one from the Townsend bathroom sink faucet collection is not only visually appealing for buyers, it also speaks to their sense of environmental responsibility. What’s more, upgrading to a faucet with handles, instead of a knob-style operation, allows for easier functionality for people with varying degrees of dexterity, from small children to senior citizens.

* Add a water filtration system in the kitchen – Americans are more aware than ever of the quality of water inside their homes, so adding a filtration system can be an extra feature that appeals to home buyers. Simple under-sink filtration systems can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars.

* Install a sun tube – Who doesn’t want a home filled with natural light? Not only does sunlight deliver physical and mental health benefits, using natural light can also help reduce dependence on artificial light sources that impact your energy bills. Sun tubes can bring natural light into dark spaces, even those on the ground floor. DIYers can install this special reflective tubing for under $500, while pro installation can run closer to $1,000.

When you’re selling a house, every little bit helps, and upgrading small details can make a big difference in how potential buyers view your home. Go ahead, make these upgrades now, and see potentially higher gains in the sale of your home.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

In the Military? Know the Benefits of Investing.

Your VA benefit allows you to purchase a home with a zero down payment. As all of you know, investing in real estate can be a beneficial way to save for retirement and earn additional income. Prepare yourself for your long term financial health and know your VA benefits. Securing a primary residence will benefit you in the long run by creating an instrument with equity instead of renting.

You can buy a home even if you do not plan on living there long term or if you think you may be stationed elsewhere. Buying a home is an investment and there are many property management companies in your area that can rent your home for you if you are moving to another location. Even if you do not plan on returning to the location where you can buy now, having an out of state investment is common practice when it comes to real estate investing. You can always sell your asset if you need the funds to settle elsewhere when you retire. These additional funds from selling your investment home can be crucial to a smooth transition at retirement. You will be able to buy a home for cash and not have rental payments at retirement. Otherwise, you would only have your savings if you were able to save. The investment can also create monthly passive income for you.

Pacific Home Brokers is veteran owned. We can help veteran’s and active military obtain a home loan and guide you through the loan and home buying process.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Catch home buyers’ eyes with a lush lawn.

(BPT) – When it comes to selling a home there are many different strategies and most of them focus on the home’s interior. However, what many sellers fail to realize is that it’s the exterior of the home that often makes or breaks a sale.

Curb appeal is necessary for that vital first impression. Much of a buyer’s opinion about a property is formed before they even enter the front door. Research shows curb appeal not only speeds the sale but also increases offer prices.

One of the biggest influencing factors of curb appeal is the health of the lawn. Think about how much property space the lawn covers. A sparse lawn dotted with weeds lowers a buyer’s opinion of the home, while a lush, green lawn elevates a home, and gives the impression it is well taken care of.

Lawn revitalization projects provide impressive return on investment. According to the 2016 Remodeling Impact: Outdoor Features report, lawn seeding earns the top spot for return on investment, recovering 417 percent of the project cost at resale. Implementing a standard lawn care program recovers 303 percent and updating a landscape with a sod lawn recovers 143 percent. Lawn revitalization projects offer much higher returns than many other home improvement projects, including kitchen remodels and deck additions.

Lawn revitalization projects are surprisingly easy to do, so whether you’re selling your home or are staying put and just want to enjoy your property more, it’s a worthwhile investment. The experts at Grass Seed USA, a coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, offer the following five simple steps to achieving a lush lawn fast.

1. Aerate

When the soil under a lawn becomes too compacted, water, air and nutrients have a hard time reaching grass roots. Lawn aerators correct this problem by pulling small plugs of soil about 1/2 inch in diameter and 2 to 3 inches deep out of the ground. You can affordably rent an aerator for a day or hire a professional.

2. Reseed

If you have bare patches or your lawn looks thin, reseeding is an easy solution. Start by contacting a local turf specialist to determine the best seed or sod to purchase for your location and soil type. Then, rake the bare areas of your lawn and apply seed. Water lightly and regularly until new grass grows in. The spring and fall are good times to seed due to cooler weather, although it can be done any time of year.

3. Mow high

Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade height at a time. If grass gets too long, raise the height on your mower. Recommended mowing heights vary by grass type, but an easy rule of thumb for the most common types of lawn is to mow to a 2-inch height when the grass blades reach 3 inches tall.

4. Fertilize

To keep your lawn healthy, aim to fertilize at least once a year; four times a year is ideal. Your local garden center can recommend the fertilizer best for your climate and grass type. Additionally, naturally fertilize your lawn by leaving grass clippings after you mow. As grass clippings break down, they enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the same nutrients found in fertilizer.

5. Irrigate

A thorough watering once or twice a week is better than lightly misting every day. Allowing the soil to dry before it is watered again encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil and can help the lawn become drought tolerant in the future. What’s more, water during the early morning and evening hours to avoid excess evaporation. Watering during the heat of the day can actually scald and burn grass. Learn more at www.WeSeedAmerica.com.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Instilling Garage Logic in Your Kids

(BPT) – It’s a long-standing tradition performed at the workbench of American garages, passing garage logic to the next generation. From hammering that first nail to changing a car’s oil, the garage is a living laboratory where parents teach their kids life lessons, self-reliance and problem-solving skills. It can even be an incubator where the seeds of a future profession grow.

Today, instilling that larger vision requires a break from the small screen. Too often, smartphones and video games dominate the attention of kids, replacing time once craved from their parents. In 2016, National Public Radio reported preteens spend more than four hours per day in front of their screens, and teens spend seven, not including the time spent using these devices for or in school.

Replacing the tablet with a tool in kids’ hands requires parents to be creative and focused. Here are some easy ways to start and, in the process, create a sense of accomplishment and ownership kids won’t forget when it is their time to pay it forward.

Give a garage tool tour

Start with a tour of your tool collection, demonstrating the role each one plays. Chances are you acquired your tools over a lifetime or more, elevating their significance beyond the specific task for which they were initially forged. Some may even carry a special story – the $3 putty knife that saved a $200 damage deposit in your first apartment, or the pipe wrench that stopped a basement flood in your childhood home. Share the stories, and the glory.

Contract the kids for your next project

Projects with a variety of tasks provide opportunities for all skill levels to get involved. Just one example is maintaining a wood deck or fence. Youngsters can assist with sanding and painting, while teenagers can learn to clean fences with a Powerhorse Pressure Washer from Northern Tool + Equipment. Keep it interesting by introducing more sophisticated tools as they get older.

Keep it clean and safe

Help your children understand the importance of keeping tools and workspaces safe, clean and well maintained. Everything starts with protective gear – safety glasses, earphones, masks and gloves – appropriate for different jobs. Teach them the value of caring for your investments. Preventative maintenance, such as changing oil and checking filters, keeps equipment working better and longer, which ultimately saves money. When the project is done, stress the importance of returning everything to its place for an organized and safe shop.

Have fun

Most of all, make your garage a place kids want to be. Personalize your garage with conversation pieces, memorabilia from your local sports teams or other things that may not be welcomed inside the house. The ultimate goal is keeping kids interested and wanting to learn more ways to be helpful around the house. Assume the role of mentor, not a drill sergeant. Teach them what they need to know and how to succeed. Finally, when a job is done, make a point to celebrate with refreshments and sincere thanks. This fulfillment will keep them motivated and instill invaluable garage logic that will forever be part of their character.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Beauty and utility: Designing a functional, stylish home

(BPT) – Spring is a time of renewal and home improvement. More and more, homeowners are looking for maximum practicality and durability from everything in their home. They won’t, however, sacrifice style and aesthetic to achieve it. Fortunately, home products continue to advance, be it waterproof technologies or scuff-proof surface finishes, all while maintaining the on-trend style and beautiful details design-savvy homeowners seek.

Form and function of flooring

The most impactful way to refresh the home is starting from the ground up with flooring. Many homeowners are drawn to the beauty of wood floors, but worry about spills or kids and pets tracking messes through the house. Retailers like Lumber Liquidators offer an array of waterproof and water resistant flooring styles.

Scuff and scratch resistant baseboards

Adding baseboards and moldings to walls creates a rich and custom look. However, these finishes are often the first to show the wear and tear of high traffic areas. Baseboards treated with a high gloss, washable and stain-resistant paint are better able to withstand abuse, and they come clean with just a little soap in water.

Busy and beautiful kitchen countertops

Countertops are another design centerpiece of the home, and beautiful products abound. Quartz brings the look of stone and the variation of granite, with less maintenance. Butcher block counters are on-trend, add warmth and dimension, and are easy to repair. A good varnish helps maintain the wood and prevent staining.

Wallpaper makes a comeback

Wallpaper has seen a resurgence in design circles, with detailed patterns and bold prints that can bring whimsy to spaces. Many homeowners experiment with a bold pattern in a smaller space, like a powder room, but worry about the suitability of wallpaper for rooms where moisture is common. More brands carry water-resistant wall covering materials. Vinyl wallpaper works best in bathrooms and kitchens that are prone to stains and water.

When homeowners see a look they love on Pinterest or in a design magazine, there’s likely a product or material to help them achieve it while protecting their investment.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Ways to Quickly and Economically Save on Home Heating and Cooling Costs

(BPT) – What would you rather do: Pay your utility bill or take a much-deserved vacation? With an endless stream of bills each month, you might wonder where you can find the money to jet off to the beach or mountain resort of your dreams. Read on for the solution.

The average U.S. household spends more than $2,200 yearly on energy bills, with about half of that for heating and cooling, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). As a large portion of that energy is wasted, making your home more energy efficient will pay big dividends.

With only a couple weekends of work, these three simple low-cost DIY projects can significantly reduce your home heating and cooling costs, freeing up money year after year so you can take vacations or do other fun activities. Best of all, the three actions work together to not only reduce your utility bills, but to make your home more comfortable year-round.

1. Add insulation

Chances are your home lacks sufficient insulation, despite when it was built. Some 90 percent of U.S. homes are under-insulated, reports the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA). Fortunately, adding insulation is simple, with products readily available at your local home improvement store.

One of the most cost-effective and easiest types of insulation to work with is expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam boards. EPS panels are simple to cut to size without creating a mess, are recyclable and can be installed throughout your home, including in walls, floors, ceilings and foundation walls. A similar material, graphite polystyrene (GPS), also is easy to work with, and provides even higher insulating power, according to manufacturers. One of the EPS and GPS brands available at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s is R-Tech insulation from Insulfoam. “R-Tech EPS and GPS insulations offer some of the highest insulating power per dollar,” says Michael McAuley, Insulfoam general manager.

2. Seal air leaks

While inadequate insulation allows heat to pass out of your home in winter or to come in during summer, another path for energy loss is air leaks. Insulating your home and sealing air leaks can save you up to 20 percent on home heating and cooling costs, notes the DOE. Common places to look for leaks include attic access hatches, around windows and doors and in crawl spaces. Readily available weather stripping, caulks and spray foams can help keep your home airtight. For step-by-step instructions, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s “DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR.”

3. Install a programmable thermostat

With your newly insulated and sealed home, a third step you can take to cut energy bills is to install a programmable thermostat. Today’s sophisticated thermostats enable you to better manage your furnace when you’ll be away from home at work or to lower the setting when you’re already in your warm bed. Either way, automatically turning down the heat can save you up to $180 every year in energy costs, says the DOE. That’s enough for a one-night hotel stay or a fancy dinner out.

These three utility bill-busting tips are within the skill set of many homeowners, but if you want a little extra help, hiring a contractor is also cost effective, as these are not large projects.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Personalize Your Home’s Curb Appeal

(BPT) – At its core, the desire to create a home with curb appeal is a desire to make a home uniquely one’s own. After all, no matter how beautiful they are, rows of homes that look the same inherently fail to capture attention. Using personal touches, people want friends and family to know which home is theirs.

Among the dozens of affordable ways you can personalize your home’s curb appeal, the first tip from Better Homes and Gardens is to “dress up the front door.” One way they note to do that is by installing a custom wood door.

“Wooden doors are most often used in custom or specialized design situations since they are easiest to manipulate,” explains the DIY Network. “With the countless options, wood species, side lights, transoms, decorative glass, etc., you can custom design the specific look you want for your entryway.”

To achieve a one-of-a-kind look for your front door, consider these three ways to personalize your wood door.

1. Choose your favorite wood

From modern to traditional, doors are available in many different wood species to meet your personal taste. If you like the look of high-end furniture, cherry or walnut might be right for you, while exotic woods like sapele mahogany have distinctive patterns for an eye-catching door. Woods like knotty alder create a casual, rustic look, while Douglas fir provides a timeless appeal.

2. Go big

If you’re planning a new home, or a remodel of your existing home, replacing the front door with an extra-large door is an impressive way to fashion a grand entry. To make a big impression, wood doors can be custom ordered in virtually any large size. For example, a door that is 5 feet wide by 8 feet high is almost two times larger than the typical front door, and is sure to capture the attention of visitors to your home. Wood door manufacturers recommend that if you have a large door, consider making it 2 1/4″ thick, which is a common thickness for a custom entry door.

3. Add a touch of class with glass

Wood door manufacturers offer a wide range of glass designs to complement your door. Depending on the look you prefer, these range from a full lite door, in which the glass extends from top to bottom, to quarter lite doors, in which the pane is limited to the top one-fourth of the door. Glass is tempered to resist breakage and to help keep intruders out. Additionally, you can choose from options with a wide range of transparency, to ensure the right balance of privacy and natural light for your situation.

Although homeowners can choose from several different materials for their front door, wood allows greater flexibility for customization and creates enduring value. “It’s easy to understand why many of us still like our doors to be made of wood – nothing else matches the material’s warmth and satisfying heft,” says This Old House magazine.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Kitchens, showers and baths highlight outdoor living spaces

(BPT) – The trend toward outdoor living spaces that mimic the look, comfort, convenience and functionality of indoor spaces doesn’t have to stop at the backyard grilling station. A growing number of homeowners are exploring new additions to their outdoor spaces, including outdoor showers and powder rooms, and even garage entertaining areas anchored by sinks and wetbars!

While traditional plumbing techniques might once have limited just how homey you could make outdoor versions of kitchens and bathrooms, modern up-flush plumbing cost-effectively solves many problems. Above-floor macerating plumbing systems, like those from SFA Saniflo, U.S.A., allow the easy addition of a sink, shower or toilet outside, regardless of where plumbing lines are located inside. They also eliminate the need to cut through concrete if you’ll be placing your project inside a garage or on a concrete patio. Finally, the compact systems fit perfectly into smaller spaces, such as inside cabinets in an outdoor kitchen or in an outdoor powder room.

Here are four water- and drainage-dependent, outdoor living features that are more possible and popular than ever, thanks to up-flush plumbing.

Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are in high demand, and have evolved to be true mirrors of their indoor counterparts. In addition to cooking facilities, such as a grill, cooktop, or pizza oven, today’s outdoor kitchen incorporates running water.

While a sink is an obvious necessity in outdoor kitchens, traditional plumbing can limit the location, configuration, size and capabilities of the space. Up-flush plumbing affords homeowners greater flexibility in designing an outdoor kitchen.

Showers

If you have a pool or are lucky enough to live near the beach, an outdoor shower can keep sand and other messes from getting tracked into the house. However, traditional plumbing practices can limit where you can locate your outdoor shower. Up-flush plumbing systems use pumps to move wastewater away from the drain, so you can locate an outdoor shower where it’s most convenient.

Wetbars

Whether you would like to add a wetbar to a patio or tucked into a corner of the garage, up-flush plumbing can make the process easy and cost-effective. Above-floor plumbing can handle wastewater removal in spots where no drain is present or possible. This means you can easily install a wetbar on a wooden deck, concrete patio or anywhere else where installing a traditional drain would be costly and inconvenient.

Powder rooms

When is an extra bathroom ever a bad idea? Imagine hosting a backyard barbecue or pool party without the need to make guests traipse through the house to reach the facilities, or wait in line inside the house while missing all the fun going on outdoors. Exterior bathrooms can solve those dilemmas, and up-flush plumbing can make it easy to add a toilet and sink outside the house.

While tying into existing traditional plumbing lines might require you to snuggle your outdoor powder room against the side of a house, above-floor plumbing allows you to position it virtually anywhere that’s convenient and appealing for your needs. The Sanicompact is a decorative one-piece system that combines a classic china toilet bowl with a built-in macerator/pump that can handle drainage from the toilet and a nearby sink.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Secrets Smart Investors Use Year-Round to Save on Taxes

(BPT) – Come tax time, many people work to locate tax breaks. While this is always a smart financial move, a little-known way to help build your net worth is to keep taxes top of mind throughout the entire year.

Invest your tax refund: One smart place to invest your tax refund is in an IRA. Normally, investors might divert a portion of the refund into this account as part of a well-rounded investment strategy and claim the deductions for next year’s tax time. Invest your refund, and you may get a portion of that back in tax savings. Stay in the habit of investing that refund if you can and watch those small returns add up over time.

Think several moves ahead: Investing is complex and from time to time you will have to sell some of your investments; everybody does. It might be to re-balance your portfolio or maybe your goals have changed and your investments no longer match their intended purpose.

Still, smart investors need to think ahead before blindly selling parts of their portfolio. This is because selling could potentially lead to taxes. By carefully choosing which investments to sell, you can help minimize that hefty tax consequence.

One way to do this is to partner with an investment company that has the tools to make this information easy to access and understand. Betterment.com, for example, offers Tax Impact Preview, which lets investors see estimated potential tax on a sale before making the trade. If you don’t think the pros outweigh the cons, don’t do it.

Reorganize your investments: Another way to potentially leverage even small tax advantages into long-term growth is to build your portfolio like an energy-efficient engine, built to run for more miles with less need to refuel. You can help accomplish this by reorganizing your portfolio. Move inefficient investments like international stocks and other assets that are taxed more often into a tax-deferred account, such as an IRA or a Roth IRA. That way, you can enjoy the high growth for less tax. Then, move less-taxed assets, such as municipal bonds, into taxable accounts.

Benefit from losses: Help keep your portfolio in balance by selling off the laggards and replacing them with a similar investment. You can receive a tax deduction from your losses that can help cancel out the taxes you owe on assets that have gains. This is done automatically for investors at many automated services through a strategy called tax loss harvesting. Smart investors should always remember that investments involve risk and may result in loss.

Give to a worthy cause: While it’s important to secure your future, many investors see community support as an important goal. Consider donating a to a nonprofit organization in your community. Not only are you helping to improve the quality of life in your locale, you can potentially claim a deduction from your income tax. It can pay to do the right thing.

Purchase an investment property: Before the tax year ends, increase your tax deductions and decrease your earned income for the year by purchasing an investment property.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Spring Home Improvements in 24 Hours or Less

(BPT) – For most of us, the idea of spring cleaning probably sounds refreshing after a winter of bundling up against the cold. Now that spring has arrived, it’s finally time to get started! Sprucing up your home doesn’t have to take lots of time, and is a great way to leave you feeling reinvigorated after a long winter.

To help you spring into warm weather home improvement, here are 24 simple projects that take 24 hours or less to accomplish:

Put a fresh coat of paint on the front door. Standard paints can take a long time to dry, especially if you live in a humid climate. SnapDry(R) from Sherwin-Williams(R) dries in as little as one hour, and you’ll be able to close the door without it sticking. The paint can be used inside or outside the home and it resists dirt, fingerprints, UV rays and weathering.

Update kitchen cabinets. Recently, homeowners are changing the facades of their kitchen cabinets and painting them instead of staining them-a trend that has grown tremendously.

Add new knobs to complete the look for an easy, inexpensive way to give your cabinets a facelift.

Swap pillows and throws. You can’t change your couch every time the season changes, but switching out pillows and throws is a great way to give seasonal flare to your living room decor.

Create a statement wall. Installing graphic wallpaper or wood planking on one wall, or simply painting one wall or the ceiling a contrasting color, can add drama to any room in the house.

Spruce up the deck for summer enjoyment. A refinished deck looks great, and doesn’t have to be a lot of work. SuperDeck(R) from Sherwin-Williams goes on fast and easy, and protects the integrity of your wood deck. It can even reduce the surface temperature of the wood, making the deck barefoot-friendly on a hot summer day.

Add wow factor to your entryway. Large planters with hardy, bright blooms add curb appeal when positioned on either side of the front door.

Update your lighting. Modern light fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms shed a whole new light and look on the room. Consider installing a dimmer so you can create the right mood, any time of the day. While you’re upgrading lighting, be sure to replace old-style incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient ones that will last longer and cost less to operate.

Create a gallery wall. Hang multiple family photos and/or chic prints in varying frame styles and sizes on one wall of the living room. Rearrange your furniture. Talk about a no-cost way to get a totally different look.

Experiment with different furniture configurations, and don’t be afraid to move pieces from room to room.

Create a recharging drawer in your kitchen. Clean out that junk drawer, add dividers and a power strip and you have the perfect place for recharging your family’s electronic devices. Install a ceiling fan.

Nothing says spring and summer like a ceiling fan wafting gentle breeze through a room. Choose the style and size that’s right for your space. Bonus: ceiling fans can help reduce energy bills by cheaply supplementing air-conditioning and heating.

Organize your mudroom. Whether it’s a formal mudroom or a corner of the entryway, every house has a spot where shoes, backpacks and other personal items collect. Organize that area with hooks for hanging and cubbies or shoe racks for storage.

Add a display shelf above a doorway. A wooden shelf above a doorway is a great place to feature collectibles. Add vintage class to a powder room.

Replace the ordinary doorknob on your powder room door with a vintage or replica glass knob.

Install decorative house numbers. You can purchase decorative tile or glass numerals from a variety of sources. Stencil some fun.

Add animal or character stencils to the walls of a child’s room, staircase or kitchen, or patio table for a quick, artsy take.

Add a ceiling medallion. Draw attention to a light fixture by installing a decorative ceiling medallion that has a slightly different color than the ceiling.

Replace a kitchen faucet. A new kitchen faucet can be practical and decorative, but can also control water flow, saving money.

Pressure wash siding and walkways. Power washing exterior home areas makes siding and walkways look fresh. Hang a new mirror in the bathroom.

A decorative framed mirror in place of a standard bathroom mirror adds interest, elegance and even light to the space. Put a decorative decal in the laundry room.

Create some fun in the laundry area by adding a decal with a humorous saying, such as “Life is too short to fold fitted sheets!”

Upgrade bathroom towel storage. Replace those builder-issue towel bars and rings with decorative options that add pizzazz.

Make your own art with a shower curtain. Love large-scale artwork but have a smaller scale budget? Use wood to frame a decorative shower curtain and turn it into wall art.

Wash windows! What’s the one spring DIY task that will make all the others in your home look even better? Wash windows to allow spring and summer sunlight into your home.

Trying just a few of these easy home-improvement tasks is a fast way to perk up your home for spring and summer.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

7 Home Improvements Before You Move In

(BPT) – You found the perfect home, so it’s not surprising that you want to move in as quickly as possible. However, there are some projects that are best done when the house is still empty.

So, consider completing the following seven items before the moving trucks arrive.

* Painting. A fresh coat of paint can instantly update a room, and it’s common to buy a home knowing you will need to paint several rooms or the entire house after the sale. However, painting is best done while every wall is accessible and there are no worries about getting paint on furniture or rugs.

* Changing locks. Now is the time to change the locks on your new home to eliminate the risk of any former key holders accessing your new space. Do this even if you know the former key holders because you never know who they shared keys with. This fix is quick, inexpensive and it provides you with peace of mind.

* Flooring updates. Redoing a floor is always easier when the floor is empty. Whether you’re choosing to redo wood floors or lay tile before you move in, tackling this process now also allows you to keep wood and tile dust off of furniture and collectables.

* Roof repairs. Roof repairs are a must. If the home inspection revealed any damage to the roof, make the necessary repairs before moving in. Choose a contractor experienced with the type of shingles your home requires. Several of the largest shingle manufacturers have programs for contractors who meet certain qualifications, like TAMKO Building Products’ Pro Certified Contractor program.

* Removing popcorn ceilings. No one likes these. We’re not sure anyone ever did, but alas, they are a common sight, especially in older homes. Popcorn ceilings (and walls) are easy to remove, but messy. Use a spray bottle to moisten an area, then scrape the texture off with a towel. Clean-up will be much easier if you complete this project before introducing your furniture to the space.

* Fix leaks. If left untreated, water leaks can do serious damage to furniture, rugs, flooring and other valuables. Leaks can also lead to secondary problems like rotting wood, mold and mildew. And let’s be honest, no one wants to live in a house where you can’t use the water, so address plumbing issues before you move in.

* Child and pet proofing. Careful child and pet proofing can protect your babies (furry or otherwise). Gates at the top and bottom of stairs, outlet covers and locks on cabinets, drawers and any other place chemicals or medicines are kept, can help make your new home a safer place.

As difficult as it can be, sometimes delaying your move-in by a few weeks can save months of frustration in the long run. So don’t wait, because the sooner you start, the sooner you can start your new life in your new home.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

6 Last-Minute Tasks Before Every Showing

(BPT) – Real estate experts agree: dirt and clutter are the anti-staging elements that can send buyers running for the door before they ever think of making an offer. Prior to staging your home, invest some time in deep cleaning it, paying attention to everything from the front walk to the garbage disposal to the air inside your home.

Once you’ve created a clean foundation, follow through with these quick cleaning tasks before showings:

1. Sweep in front of the house.

A pot of flowers on the front step is great, but they won’t look that welcoming if dirt and debris are visible too. Thoroughly sweep front walks, stairs and entryways, and don’t forget to clear cobwebs above the door. Put away any children’s toys or gardening tools that may be in the front yard. Hide trash and recycling containers out of sight.

2. Freshen the aromas inside.

Pet and cooking smells are major turnoffs for home buyers, but even if your house has neither, freshening the indoor scent can have a positive effect on a buyer’s mood. However, you don’t want to saturate your home in overpowering, chemical-based scents, either. To deodorize more naturally, try cleaning with essential oils. Mix 2 teaspoons of Aura Cacia Main Squeeze Essential Oil Blend, 1 3/4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon of Borax and 1/4 teaspoon of unscented liquid soap in a 16-ounce bottle. Before a showing, use the mixture to wipe down kitchen counters, leaving behind clean countertops and a fresh, energizing citrus scent.

3. Speed clean the kitchen.

Now that your counters are clutter-free, sparkling and smelling good, just a few more tasks will get your kitchen ready to show. Wipe away any fingerprints on appliances, and put away all pots, pans, dishes and glassware in their proper place. Store pet bowls out of sight, give the floor a quick sweep and dry the interior of the sink with a paper towel.

4. Put your best foot forward in the bath.

It’s tough but critical to keep the most-used room in the house looking its best. You probably used your bathroom to get ready this morning, so wipe down surfaces to ensure no hair or debris lingers. Check the mirror for spots and wipe and dry the sink. If the bathtub or shower door show signs of recent use, dry them off. Store used soap, shampoo, scrubbies, loofahs, wash cloths and towels out of sight.

5. Clean carpets.

Nothing says “show home” like fresh vacuum tracks in the carpet! Just before you leave the house for a showing, give carpets a quick pass with the vacuum.

6. Take out the trash.

Go through every room with a trash can and make sure it’s empty. It may not seem rational, but many buyers will equate trash in a waste basket with an untidy home. It’s especially important to empty trash that may stink, such as in the kitchen. Remove trash, store it in a sealed receptacle outside the house, and give potentially stinky trash cans a refreshing shot of sweet basil and lavender aroma with a DIY garbage pail pod.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Make a striking focal point the foundation of your spa-like bathroom.

(BPT) – American homeowners’ desire for spa-like bathrooms shows no signs of waning, says the latest Design Trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). From freestanding bath tubs and floating vanities to LED lighting and soothing color schemes, some of the most-requested bathroom renovations focus on creating the atmosphere of luxury and calm found in world-class spas.

With the average mid- to upscale bathroom remodeling costing in the range of $30,000, homeowners are also looking for the most cost-effective way to create that spa-like feeling. Many are opting to build their bathroom renovations around a focal point, such as a freestanding tub or luxury shower, and round out the effect with more modest accessories and fixtures.

Choosing a focal point

Homeowners are choosing to install freestanding soaking tubs in their master bathrooms, in particular, to create an exclusive sanctuary of relaxation. In fact, in 2016 half of NKBA members were asked to install freestanding tubs in bathroom remodels, and 60 percent expect to be doing more of them in 2017.

Traditionally styled freestanding tubs were often claw-footed fixtures that meshed well with conventional design themes, but struggled to fit into the sleek, contemporary lines associated with a spa-like setting. Strikingly modern freestanding tubs offer expanded design flexibility as a focal point in today’s spa-inspired bathroom settings. Options like the American Standard Coastal-Serin Freestanding Tub in high-gloss cast acrylic enhance the deep soaking space of a luxurious tub with a clean, simple and modern profile that fits well in spa-like bathroom design.

Few bathroom fixtures speak of luxury as clearly and loudly as a showpiece bathtub. A deep, sumptuous freestanding tub not only provides a restful spot for a soothing soak after a long day, it also serves as a striking visual focal point for modern baths.

Considering Fixture Alternatives

Already have a standard alcove tub, but still want to create your spa at home? Try installing a deep soak tub drain, which has a unique overflow feature that allows 2-inch deeper water than a standard bathtub drain. This universal drain works in most standard bathtubs – and that could be yours.

Replacing a standard toilet seat with an upscale option like the DXV AT100 SpaLet Electronic Bidet Seat furthers the luxuriousness of the bathroom without the cost commitment and permanency of installing a full bidet. Its heated seat, choice of water temperature and volume for the two cleansing wands, and the oh-so-decadent warm air dryer are the ultimate self-indulgence to bring the spa right into your home.

Wood vanities and storage cabinets for bath linens continue to be popular with today’s consumers. Floating vanities and open shelving, which are gaining in use with interior designers and homeowners alike, can further the effect of an upscale spa by creating a visually clean, uncluttered effect.

Rounding out the theme

Soft, pale greens and aquas have long been associated with spa-like design, but in 2017 bathroom color choices are trending toward grays, off whites, blues and violets, according to the Design Trends report. Sedate and subtle are the hallmarks of spa color schemes, so when choosing yours keep in mind the calm effect you want to achieve. Also, remember your color scheme doesn’t have to be limited to the walls; consider incorporating your chosen colors into cabinetry, countertops and accessories.

Flexible lighting is also key for a spa-like bathroom. Remember to incorporate brighter lighting where you’ll need it most, such as around vanities, and add features like dimmers that will allow you to reduce the amount of light in the room when you want to create a relaxing atmosphere.

Finally, adding touches that appeal to all your senses, such as music, mood lighting and aromatherapy can elevate a bathroom to a spa-like environment. Whether you opt for a full surround system in your bathroom or add waterproof blue tooth speakers in the shower, it’s easy to bring music into your spa bath. Scent adds yet another layer of luxury and is easy to achieve, whether you choose a simple arrangement of essential oils and diffuser reeds or an electronic diffuser that gently mists aroma into the room.

Americans view their bathrooms as more than just a room to take care of business. Infusing your master bathroom with spa-like features can turn the room into an oasis of relaxation and luxury.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Flood insurance: Does your excuse hold water?

(BPT) – We know the old saying: when it rains, it pours… and when it pours, it floods. With winter snow storms coming to an end, the threat of flooding increases as the snow begins to melt and the rivers and creeks begin to swell. It’s easy to forget about how powerfully destructive water can be. In fact, nine out of 10 natural disasters include flood, making it the number one disaster in the United States according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, only 15 percent of homeowners have flood insurance. From 2006 to 2015, total flood claims cost more than $1.9 billion per year and the average claim was more than $46,000 during that time.

For most homeowners, that means looking into flood insurance. But does it make sense for everyone?

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about flood insurance:

“Flood is covered by my homeowners insurance policy.”

Typically, flooding is not covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Therefore, homeowners must purchase a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) from their insurer. If the homeowner does have flood insurance, it’s important to regularly reevaluate it to ensure it provides adequate coverage.

“Flood insurance is too expensive.”

To emphasize an earlier point, the average cost of a flood claim hovered around $46,000 from 2011 to 2015. The average annual premium for flood insurance in the U.S. is $650, according to NFIP. Do the math.

“I don’t live in a flood plain so I don’t need flood insurance.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency found that as many as 20 percent of flood claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. These are areas in which lenders don’t require the purchase of flood insurance. However, “less likely” doesn’t equal “no risk.” Complete this quick self-survey: “Does it rain where I am?” If the answer is yes, consider flood insurance because it can flood anywhere it rains.

“Flood insurance won’t provide me with the coverage I need anyway.”

It is true that the NFIP limits coverage of a single residence to $250,000 for the structure and another $100,000 for contents to the home, but they aren’t the only source for coverage. Excess flood coverage can also be purchased above the $250,000 limit.

“I’ll just wait until it rains.”

Sorry to break this to you, but most insurers require a 30-day waiting period before a policy is effective. Unless your own forecasts rival the best science and technology have to offer, it might be wise to stick to the mantra, “better safe than sorry.”

The consequences for being ill prepared for a flood can be long lasting. Research and carefully weigh the risk to you and your property. Chances are that you’ll find that it might be more reasonable than you thought. Visit USAA.com/flood for more tips and information on flood insurance and what to do before, during and after flooding occurs. You can also visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center for more information or to determine your flood risk.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Exterior Home Improvements Yield Higher ROI for Less Money, Report Shows!

(BPT) – Renovation season is approaching. Do you know what home improvements will give you the best return for your money? Here’s a hint: step outside.

You might assume upgrades to interior spaces like kitchens and bathrooms have the best payoff, but most home improvements don’t return 100 percent of their value at the time of resale. Those that yield the best return on investment for the most modest costs are generally exterior improvements.

Outside the box

Interior projects like a minor kitchen renovation or bathroom upgrade return a decent percentage of your initial investment when you sell your home – about 80 percent and 65 percent, respectively, according to Remodeling’s Cost vs. Value report. However, they can also cost tens of thousands of dollars.

By contrast, exterior projects like adding a deck or replacing a garage door deliver similar high rates of return, but for far less cost. Adding a composite deck can cost around $17,000 and yield an ROI of more than 65 percent, while a garage door typically costs less than $2,000 and returns nearly 77 percent of your investment when you sell.

In fact, six of the eight improvements with the best ROI on Remodeling’s report were exterior projects, and their average payback was nearly 75 percent.

Top exterior projects

Here are popular exterior projects that offer high ROI, according to the Cost vs. Value report:

* Roof replacement – A midrange roof replacement costs approximately $20,000 and returns nearly 69 percent of the investment. What’s more, a new roof helps protect your entire home from weather damage and can improve curb appeal.

* Composite deck addition – Costs vary, but Remodeling bases its evaluation of ROI on a cost of about $17,000. At that price, adding a composite deck delivers ROI of 65.2 percent. Of course, the value of your deck will depend on many factors, including the quality of the building products you choose. Capped board composites, like Envision Decking by TAMKO Building Products, are gaining popularity.

* Siding replacement – Another exterior feature that protects the whole home and greatly affects its curb appeal, new siding can cost around $14,500. When you sell your home, that new siding will recoup about 76 percent of your initial investment.

* Garage door replacement – Older garage doors may lack modern insulating qualities and a shabby-looking door can drag down the look of your home. Replacing the garage door costs roughly $1,700 and returns nearly 77 percent of that amount at the time of resale.

* Steel entry door – The single exterior home improvement with the greatest ROI is also one of the cheapest and easiest to do. Replacing a wooden door with a steel entry door will run you about $1,400 and you’ll recoup more than 90 percent of that cost when you sell your home.

Exterior home improvements not only enhance your enjoyment of your home and help maintain its security, they’re also the first things potential buyers see when they pull up to the curb. When you want to make cost-effective, high-ROI improvements, making exterior upgrades is money well spent.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

 

Light Solutions: What to Do When Your House Feels Like a Cave!

(BPT) – A house with ample windows can win your heart with silent promises of sun-drenched rooms and warm breezes wafting through open windows. The truth, however, is that even a home with windows galore can have rooms that feel dark and cave like.

Some of the most-loved aspects of modern design – open, expansive floor plans, wood flooring in darker tones, walls of windows – may leave portions of a room dazzled with sun and other parts dim and poorly lit. For example, a room with a wall full of picture windows will often lack windows on other walls. Near the windows, you’ll get plenty of sunlight and some glare, but the natural light might not make it to the far corners of the room – especially if it’s a large space like a great room.

What’s more, interior spaces like powder rooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms and closets often have no windows at all, making them feel small and dark. No one wants rooms that look like caves – not even if your house has an actual “man cave” or “woman cave” in it!

Fortunately, a few smart decorating tricks and some budget-friendly, high-impact enhancements can help brighten rooms and relieve that cave-like feeling.

Sunlight solutions

Of course, the sure-fire way to get more light into a room is to add more windows, but that’s not always a practical or cost-effective solution. Instead, look for alternative ways to bring more sunlight into a room.

Daylighting systems can bring sunlight from a rooftop down into a room, allowing natural light to illuminate dark spaces where light from windows can’t reach. For example, the Solatube Daylighting System captures daylight with a rooftop dome. A highly reflective tube funnels light inside the home, where a decorative fixture on the ceiling spills the natural light into dim areas. The tube fits between rafters, so there’s no need to cut through critical structures, do frame work or make repairs to sheet rock.

An options light kit provides electric illumination on cloudy days or at night. The included integrated solar-powered nightlight provides gentle, low-level illumination at night, and qualifies the entire system, plus installation, for a 30 percent federal tax credit. With the tax credit, Solatubes start at less than $500 installed, making them a cost-effective option for any room in the house, and especially in master baths, powder rooms, mudrooms, hallways and laundry rooms.

Another option is to amplify the sunlight coming into the room. Strategically positioning mirrors can help reflect natural light to dark corners. What’s more, a large mirror mimics the feeling of a window, making rooms feel bigger and brighter.

Window dressing

Maximizing the amount of light that comes in through the windows you do have is easy. Keep curtains light and airy, and use blinds or shades to control the amount of light coming from the window. Install curtain rods 2 feet wider than windows so that when curtains or drapes are open, they don’t block any of the window or the light coming through it.

You can also “dress” walls to mimic the look of windows. For example, if you have a windowless powder room, adding a transom above the door can help the room feel bigger while borrowing light from adjacent rooms. The tactic of borrowing light can also work if you’re able to put a pass through between a closed off room and an adjacent one that has windows.

Decorating tricks

Finally, don’t overlook the power of decor in making a room feel bright and welcoming. Light-hued walls of white, cream or pale yellow or blue not only make a room feel bigger, they evoke the visual qualities of natural light.

Large windowless rooms, like a basement play room, can benefit from large framed art. Select scenes that mimic the view you might get from a picture window, such as a seascape, mountain scene or city skyline.

Filtered overhead light can also create the effect of a natural light source. For example, drape light-colored, opaque fabric above a bed, so that the cloth conceals the overhead light fixture. As the artificial light shines through the fabric, it will imitate the diffused look of natural light.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Plumbing The Power of a Powder Room Addition!

(BPT) – Never underestimate the power of a powder room to make your home more livable and increase its resale value. Having more and nicer bathrooms consistently scores high in surveys on homeowners’ wish lists. What’s more, extra baths deliver more than just convenience; a National Association of Realtors study found each extra bathroom boosts home sale prices approximately 24 percent.

With more Americans living in multi-generational households, many will be looking for ways to add a half bath to their homes. If you’re tired of haggling over bathroom time or just looking for a high-value way to spend your home remodeling dollars this year, adding a powder room could be a good investment.

Finding the right spot

Adding a full bathroom can be problematic. A full bath requires you to give up more living space, or even build an addition on your home. However, powder rooms can be tucked into small spaces like part of a walk-in closet and areas you might not use otherwise, such as under a staircase or in a nook in the garage.

A space as small as 20 square feet (5 feet by 4 feet) can make a comfortably sized powder room, but you can even squeeze a half bath into a space as small as 11 square feet. You simply need enough room to fit a toilet and sink, and accommodate required setbacks. When choosing a location for your powder room, be sure you understand building code requirements for your area.

Smarter plumbing

If you attempt to run water and drainage to your powder room using traditional plumbing methods, you’ll be limited as to where you can put it. Typically, with traditional plumbing you’ll need to locate the powder room somewhere that has easy access to existing water and waste lines. You’ll have to open walls, add new piping and possibly even cut through concrete if you’re adding a bathroom in a basement or in the garage or ground-floor of a slab-foundation home.

However, opting for up-flush plumbing opens up a greater range of possible locations for a new powder room, because above-floor macerating plumbing systems, like those from SFA Saniflo, U.S.A. allow you to easily add a toilet and sink where no drainage existed before. Above-floor plumbing eliminates the need to open walls or cut through concrete flooring. The compact systems are a perfect fit for the kind of smaller spaces you find in powder rooms, easily fitting into a closet or space beneath a stairway.

Size and space wise planning

Because powder rooms typically occupy small spaces, it’s important to be smart about how you lay out the space and keep in mind the size of the fixtures you put in it. As you plan the space, think of where the toilet and sink will go – side by side or on opposite walls – and be aware of clearance needed for the door to open.

Choose a toilet, sink and vanity that fit the space without overwhelming it. For example, a pedestal sink, rather than a cabinet, can make a powder room feel larger. A round-front toilet may fit the space better than one with an elongated bowl. You’ll likely need little or no storage in a powder room, and won’t need to add a medicine cabinet.

Powder rooms frequently lack windows, so be sure to provide ample lighting. If you really crave a window in a powder room, one option is to install a small one above the door. This preserves privacy but allows additional light to enter the room from the space outside it.

A powder room can be a powerful way to enhance the livability and value of your home. For a smaller investment of time, money and space, a powder room delivers the same essential convenience of a full bath and a healthy dose of resale value, too.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

6 Smart Home Features That Could Sell Your Home Faster!

(BPT) – Fresh paint on the walls, professional staging and an asking price that ends in 999 – when you’re selling your home, you’ll do whatever you can to help it stand out and sell faster. Because the National Association of Realtors is predicting modest growth for the 2017 real estate market, as a seller you want every edge you can get. And on the heels of the popular Consumer Electronics Show in January, perhaps that edge is a smarter home.

According to IHS Markit and CNBC, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide last year. That’s a 64 percent increase from 2015.

Here are six trending smart home features that might catch buyers’ attention and help sell your home faster:

* Keyless/remote entry door locks – Have you ever left the house and worried that you left the front door unlocked? If your home is equipped with a keyless/remote entry door lock – available from multiple manufacturers – you can use an app on your smartphone to lock the door from wherever you are. Some manufacturers make versions that will also send a text or email to your phone when the door opens. Locks that can be programmed with multiple entry codes also allow you to see who comes and goes and when.

* Smart lighting – From lighting automation that allows you to control lights remotely and wirelessly, to energy-efficient LED bulbs that can change color to match your mood and decor, lighting has come a long way. Some smart lights work in tandem with home automation systems to allow you to turn them on or off, or even dim them, from an app on a smartphone or tablet. Others require no communication hub and can be controlled directly from your mobile device. You can also put some smart bulbs on timers (using your wireless device), sync them with certain TV shows or movies, and integrate them with security cameras and thermostats.

* DIY security systems – Don’t want to sign a contract or deal with complex security systems? Install-it-yourself security systems are affordable and offer security features like cameras, sensors, motion detectors and alarms or sirens, without the need for a security service to monitor them.

* Smart appliances – The Internet of Things (IoT) – everyday objects that have network connectivity – includes a growing list of smart appliances. Many manufacturers are offering washers, dryers, refrigerators and other home appliances that can communicate with you – and each other – wirelessly. Many can be controlled remotely from your smartphone – so if you leave the house and can’t remember if you turned off the stove, you can check in and turn it off using your smartphone app.

While appliances aren’t always included in a home sale, they do make for interesting features that keep your home top of mind to buyers.

* Smart plugs – One of the easiest, most affordable smart home upgrades you can make is to add smart plugs to your home. These Wi-Fi-enabled plugs fit existing outlets and can be controlled from a smartphone app. Plug anything into a smart plug, like lights or a television, and you can turn it on or off remotely, track energy consumption, or even create an on-off schedule.

* Temperature controls – Programmable thermostats were just the beginning; today’s home temperature controls are even smarter. Like other smart home features, smart thermostats can be controlled remotely from your mobile device. You can program them to make automatic temperature adjustments and then use your smartphone to override the program like turning up the heat on a particularly cold day. Some smart thermostats learn from household behavior and adjust the temperature to meet your family’s needs and save energy, while others adjust based on the number of people in a room. And several can now be operated via voice-controlled virtual assistants.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Four Statement Pieces to Elevate Your Bathroom to a Work of Art!

(BPT) – Investing in a bathroom upgrade is in the cards for nearly a quarter of homeowners planning to renovate within the next 12 months, according to a new survey. Improving a bathroom is rewarding on multiple levels; if you’re selling, buyers love great bathrooms. If you’re staying, a luxurious bathroom can be a relaxing oasis where you’ll be happy to begin or end a busy day.

Your bathroom is also an expression of who you are, and it should reflect not only your needs but your unique artistic flare as well. What could be more satisfying than making an artistic statement in one of the most-used rooms in your home? If you’re planning a bathroom renovation, here are four ways to make a statement in the space – and elevate your bathroom to a work of art:

Choose a showpiece sink

Few design elements afford such a perfect opportunity for utility and artistry to blend beautifully as does the bathroom sink. A striking statement vessel in patterned porcelain or smoky glass can be a focal point for your vanity while still providing ample space for essential functioning. It’s not difficult to find statement-style sinks, but to truly elevate the basin to a form of art, look for options that evoke the look and feel of the era when luxury items were handcrafted by learned artisans. Kohler offers Artists Editions collections that turn everyday fixtures into striking statement pieces.

Stun with a standout shower

Most Americans spend six to 10 minutes or more in the shower each day, according to multiple surveys. But a shower is so much more than just a place to get clean. A shower can soothe at the end of a trying day, or invigorate your senses in preparation for a busy day ahead. Statement showers incorporate luxury features such as multiple shower heads, wall jets, hand showers, rainfall shower heads, seating, customized lighting and even sound and video.

While bigger may be better in a statement shower, it may not always be possible. Start with a glass enclosure that makes the shower feel open to the room. If your space is small, choose lighter-colored tile. Bigger showers can withstand darker tile work.

Create luxury with counter tops

Options like granite, marble, concrete, limestone and other natural stones might be too costly for a kitchen, where you have a lot of counter space, but they’re a cost-effective way to make a statement in a bathroom where you have less square footage to cover. These high-end materials pair perfectly with statement sinks to create a unique, one-of-a-kind look. Upgrade bathroom counter tops to your dream material and then add luxury touches like a matching backsplash or under-counter LED lighting.

Transformations with tubs

Tub options are virtually limitless these days, and you can find statement tubs in every size and style imaginable. The tub is often the essential element homeowners and designers first fall in love with, and the one that establishes the direction for their overall bathroom redesign.

Soaking tubs continue to be popular installations for bathroom renovations, according to the 2016 National Kitchen & Bath Association trend report. Whether you choose a traditional claw-foot design that evokes a bygone era, a concrete tub that creates a more modern or industrial look, or a porcelain confection with sweeping, graceful lines, you can find a statement tub to match your personal sense of artistry.

Renovating a bathroom is an investment well worth the time, money and passion – and it’s an opportunity to put your artistic mark on one of the most important rooms in any home.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

Follow this New Year’s Plan to Get Fiscally Fit!

(BPT) – Buying a new home tops your list of New Year’s resolutions. As you picture the big moment, the one where you pull up to your dream home in your moving truck, sprint up and unlock your front door, you probably understand there’s something you need to do first. You need to get your finances in shape.

Just like those who make resolutions to run a marathon, making this big investment starts with a plan. Runners know that if they run a certain distance each day, it gets them closer to accomplishing their goal.

By following a few tips to reach financial fitness goals, you, too can achieve the goal of home ownership.

Do those daily sprints

People who reach their fitness goals begin with a look at their current habits and then make a plan to replace them with better ones. The same is true for home buyers. First, look at the spending choices you’ve been making, and review three to six months’ worth of bank statements. Consider what is necessary and what needs to cut back. The goal is to trim the fat in your budget so you can use the extra money to reduce your debt and increase your savings.

Crunch your debt

Take a look at your debts and consider the monthly payments you make. Are there any debts standing in the way of making a house payment affordable? Those are the ones you want to knock out with an accelerated payment plan, using the money you freed up by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Try focusing on one debt at a time, paying close attention to the ones with the highest interest rates to pay off first.

Beef up your credit score

The good habits you exercise today will make all the difference on your interest rate later. Put in the extra work to raise your credit score. Your credit score pulls together many details from your past and current debts as well as other financial factors, and helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. Making the effort to raise your score is worthwhile because shaving off even one-quarter of a percentage point from a mortgage loan can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

A credit score factors your history of on-time payments, the amount you owe on your debts, the type of credit you have, the age of that debt and any recently opened new credit lines as well as other factors. You may be able to improve your score and get the lowest possible interest rate on a home loan if you follow these steps every month: pay all your bills on time, don’t close old credit card accounts and don’t open new lines of credit.

Increase your intake of savings

Even when paying down debt, it’s still a good idea to start a small savings plan so you have some cash to fall back on if you need to go to the doctor or get new tires for your car. Start by opening a savings account and set up automatic transfers each month. Even with $50 a month, you’ll have $600 in one year, which could bail you out of a number of small emergencies. Eventually, once your debts are paid off, you can divert those payments right into savings, which also can build your down payment for that new dream home

Prepare for the big event

All these steps lead to one main event: buying a home. Once you meet those smaller goals – following a budget, eliminating debt, raising your credit score, and saving for your down payment, you are ready for the final push toward home ownership.

First, figure out how much home you can afford. Look at home prices in your area, use an online loan calculator to estimate your payments, and go through your budget. Then gather up the financial documents you will need, including proof of employment, bank statements and tax statements. Finally, choose a lender that is right for you.

“Following these habits can be challenging from a motivation standpoint,” Hamilton says from Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “It takes patience, but once you’ve followed the steps to get financially healthy, it is a very rewarding experience.”

Pacific Home Brokers offers all your financing needs.We can preapprove you, same day, and help you plan for the future home purchase!

Please click here to learn more about Pacific Home Brokers™ home financing.

4 Tips to Help Keep Your Home Efficient this Winter!

(BPT) – With winter comes the holiday season, a time that’s supposed to be associated with “comfort and joy.” But how joyful will it be if pests invade your house, or if your home is cold and drafty? Help stay warm all winter long by addressing factors like air leaks from gaps and cracks that can make your home feel uncomfortable.

“Drafts and heat loss are common problems in the winter, and they affect homes of every age, size and construction,” says Gary Parsons, fellow at The Dow Chemical Company. “Those factors can seriously affect your home’s energy efficiency and how comfortable it feels. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to deal with issues like air leaks and insulation, and doing so can significantly improve your home’s function and livability.”

Parsons suggests these steps to help ensure a draft-free, pest-free and comfy home this winter season:

Seal cracks and gaps

Gaps and cracks throughout the home allow hot air to escape and cold air and pests to enter. Energy Star estimates that homes can have a half mile or more of cracks around doors, windows and sill plates alone, and those aren’t the only places in a home where gaps can exist. Air duct joints, points where piping enters a home, and anywhere wood meets concrete (such as around the foundation) are locations where cracks and gaps can occur.

Sealing cracks can help prevent air leakage, improve a home’s overall energy efficiency and block out pests and insects. In fact, homeowners can save an average of 15 percent on heating and cooling by air sealing their homes and adding insulation, according to Energy Star.

Even do-it-yourself novices can easily and quickly seal cracks and gaps in their homes. The ready-to-use insulating foam sealants can fill gaps up to 1 inch. When using the product, be sure to follow safety guidelines, including covering all skin, using gloves and safety goggles, and keeping the work area well ventilated.

Check insulation

Insulation is like a blanket that your home wears to help keep everyone inside warm and cozy. If your home doesn’t have the right amount or type of insulation for your climate, it can lose heat, energy efficiency and comfort. About 90 percent of existing homes don’t have enough insulation, according to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association.

Follow Energy Star’s guidelines for more information on how to check your insulation to see if your home could benefit from adding more.

Take care of the HVAC system

If your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system isn’t working as well as it could, you’re sacrificing comfort and increasing your energy bills. Make sure to check the cooling system in the spring and the heating system in the fall to ensure they are operating efficiently.

Have the ducts inspected and seal any leaks. Be sure to change air filters regularly, per the system manufacturer’s recommendation for filter type and frequency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, dirty air filters restrict airflow, making HVAC systems work harder and consume more energy to heat your home.

Don’t overlook little things

Things as simple as a forgotten window left cracked in summer months or neglecting to close the flue in your wood-burning fireplace can all affect the amount of heat and comfort that escape your home in the winter.

Before the weather turns very cold, make a sweep through your home and check for these minor but important points:

* Windows – Are all your windows closed? If you’ve recently sealed around windows, you probably opened them for ventilation. Double check to be sure you remembered to close them.

* Thermostat – Is yours properly programmed to optimize energy use by adjusting the temperature when you’re out of the house? Proper use of a programmable thermostat can cut energy bills by nearly $200 per year, according to Energy Star.

* Ceiling fans – you can use ceiling fans to supplement your furnace during the winter, but you have to remember to reverse the air flow. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the direction of the fan blades to spin clockwise, which pushes warm air down from the ceiling during winter.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

New Neutrals Dominate the Color Trends of 2017!

Home decor: The hottest colors of 2017

(BPT) – From furniture to walls, new homes to remodels, cool grays have dominated home design palettes for the last five years. Look to 2017 to gently shake things up with a focus on fresh neutrals that bring warm and cool tones together to create versatile color with timeless appeal.

One of the most notable trends of the year is the transition of neutrals from monochrome gray to warmer hues, including complex taupe, beige, khaki and brown colors. These warmer tones create an inviting feeling, and while grays will continue to be popular, look for hybrid hues that blend the best of gray with warmer undertones for colors that are unique, yet familiar.

The perfect example of this trend is Poised Taupe (SW 6039), the Sherwin-Williams 2017 Color of the Year. Earthen brown combines with conservative gray resulting in a weathered, woodsy and complex neutral that fits well in virtually any room.

If you’re looking to refresh your space with this new color trend, there are countless opportunities. Here are three stunning home decor themes using this up-and-coming color:

Organic re-imagined

Create an updated nature-inspired palette in your home with citrus green, weathered bronze, mustard yellow and light, cool-toned blue paired with earthy neutrals. This contemporary organic look is perfectly re-imagined for the modern world with just the right amount of visual appeal.

Wine and taupe

Saturated color pairings that evoke deep moods are gaining popularity by taking cues from baroque and romanticism designs such as rich colors that are reminiscent of vine-ripe fruits, dramatic wine colors and deep blues. Balance this mysterious palette with a neutral you’ll have a look that is unexpected and gorgeous.

Gray tones always provide a clean, modern base, but contrasting these hues with vivid colors allows you to transform any room into a contemporary paradise.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

6 Holiday-Friendly Home Design Features!

(BPT) – Whether you’re shopping for a new traditional, manufactured or modular home or just attempting a renovation project, it’s important to consider the functionality of key spaces like kitchens and living rooms. These most-frequented rooms will host meals, family gatherings, movie nights, homework sessions and holiday celebrations, so they need to include features that facilitate all these uses and more.

If the layout of your current apartment or house isn’t working for you as well as you would like, it can seem even more unlivable during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. As you consider which home elements will be the best investment for your money, the home experts at Pacific Home Brokers suggest keeping these features in mind:

* Kitchen island – With the exception of galley kitchens, virtually every kitchen can benefit from an island. Kitchen islands are the perfect spot for serving Christmas morning breakfast, setting out dishes for a Thanksgiving buffet, food prep for a New Year’s celebration or a staging area for an all-night wrapping party after the kids are in bed. Utilize generous under-island cabinet space to store large items like a crock pot or large serving bowls. The island also makes a great space to add additional seating if you are expecting guests.

* Farmhouse sink – Also called apron sinks, farmhouse-style sinks are perfect sinks for holiday entertainers and very trendy in new homes. Larger and deeper than standard under-mount or top-mount sinks, a farmhouse sink gives you plenty of room for washing large kitchen items. The baking sheets you used to whip up a batch of holiday cookies, the big pot where you simmered chili and even the racks from your oven will fit easily into a farmhouse sink. What’s more, farmhouse sinks give any kitchen a comforting, homey, yet elegant look.

* Sweeping technology – With all the cooking and entertaining you’ll be doing in the kitchen, crumbs and spills are inevitable. The last thing you want to do with a houseful of guests is wrestle with a full-sized vacuum cleaner or risk having a hand vac prove inadequate for your needs. Sweeping technology like a central dirt-removal vacuum system can make cleanup much quicker and easier. The central dirt-removal vacuum system unit installs at the base of a kitchen cabinet, and you simply use a broom to move debris in front of the unit. A tap of the toe turns the vacuum on, and the unit sucks the dirt inside a pull-out pan. You can open the drawer and ditch the dirt immediately, or leave it for later while you entertain guests.

* Fireplace – Few home features are more appropriate for the holidays than a fireplace that will add warmth and ambiance to any celebration, no matter how large or small. Gas log fireplaces set a festive atmosphere with the flick of a switch. It’s possible to install one in virtually any style home, from site-built to manufactured, and some versions can even work on interior walls of a home. Many homes will even feature a hand-laid stone or tile fireplace for a stylish, sophisticated look.

* Pet-friendly features – Four-legged friends are part of the family – and every holiday celebration. Home builders now offer a variety of features to make life more pleasant for pets and easier for homeowners. Clayton Built™ homes can be customized with a pet dish drawer that allows you to hide feeding dishes when they’re not needed. A window seat or hideaway cubby can be the perfect escape spot for pets who feel overwhelmed by holiday activities and guests. And a built-in grooming station in a mudroom or utility room makes it easy to primp your pet before holiday guests arrive.

* Single-level construction – If you’re thinking of getting into a new home in time to celebrate the holidays, remember that a single-level design and an open floor plan will make holiday entertaining easier and more enjoyable. Having all rooms on one floor ensures guests never have to climb stairs to find a restroom or go to bed. Plus, an open floor plan allows you to work in the kitchen and interact with guests – or keep an eye on kids – in the living room.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Brokers™ agent to learn more.

We are Thankful for You!

During this month of Thanksgiving, We have been reflecting on the things we are most grateful for this year. Primary among them is our talented group of agents and our clients. Thank you for the work you do to make our agency great. You help us provide valued services to our clients. Without your commitment, creativity, and high standards, we would not be the thriving company we are. We are very grateful for your efforts. To our valued customers, we want thank you for your remarkable patronage and for letting our company provide what you really deserve. We wish you a Thanksgiving filled with abundance and bright moments.

Warm wishes,

Pacific Home Brokers Staff

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Holiday Entertaining Tips and Tricks

(BPT) – A holiday party is a wonderful way to celebrate the season with friends and family. However, no matter how big or small the guest list, hosting the event can turn stressful fast. Before you know it, your holiday gathering has become more frustrating than festive, and you’re suddenly feeling like a Scrooge.

With a few tips and tricks, you can easily host an impressive holiday party without the fuss. From easy appetizers to elegant ambiance, try these five stress-free ideas for creating a memorable event:

Opt for potluck: The holidays are all about coming together and helping others, so this year instead of tackling a multi-course meal, set up the buffet table and invite guests over for a potluck. You provide the appetizer and main course and allow guests to bring over their favorite holiday recipes to share.

Amazing appetizers: Set out apps that are easy on the host but don’t compromise taste, such as cheese spreads with a crudite plate and a variety of chips or flat breads. Try the new Alouette Sharp Cheddar spread on a crostini topped with thinly sliced prosciutto. If you want to be a little more adventurous, swap in either the Chipotle or Ranch variety for an extra kick.

Simplify the color scheme: To give your home a professionally-decorated touch without the extra effort, focus on simplifying holiday hues. For a time-saving, chic look, use just two or three colors. For example, gold and red or silver and purple are timeless pairings that will transform your party into an elegant affair.

Add a magical twinkle: Strings of lights are one of the easiest ways to transform any space into a winter wonderland. Try incorporating strands of mini lights into topiaries and tablescapes for instant holiday allure. Just remember to test lights before using so you don’t end up with burnt-out bulbs or broken strings.

Create a premade signature cocktail: By making a big batch of a signature drink ahead of time, you’ll have more free moments for mingling. For example, fill a punch bowl with eggnog or set out pitchers of sangria so guests can grab a tasty libation and toast to a happy new year.

The right strategies will help you create a holiday party that will be the talk of the town long after the new year has arrived. What’s more, these tips don’t require excess time, stressful steps or unneeded expenses. And that’s a holiday surprise to welcome with open arms.

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