Repair Before You List


When you’re getting ready to list your home, it’s of the upmost importance to ensure you are showing it in the best light. Taking time to highlight its strengths and fix up some of its possible weaknesses can make a big difference in how fast it sells. Here are our top five recommended repairs to make before selling your home.

Repaint walls.

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to spruce it up, and generally, it can be a do-it-yourself project. Make sure cover any walls with scratches and chips and consider updating any accent walls with a more neutral coat.

Repair floors.

Hardwood floors are a very desirable feature in a home, so you want to ensure they look their best by fixing scratches or dull areas. If your carpet is worn or stained, consider replacing them. And don’t forget the tile in your kitchen or bathrooms. Re-grouting can go a long way in making dingy tile work look brand new!

Refresh the landscaping.

Show buyers your home is the full package by dressing up the outside as well as the in. Clean walkways and driveways, plant seasonal flowers and plants, trim hedges and trees, install outdoor décor pieces and fill in mulch and gravel.

Fix your fixtures.

Leaky faucet? Rusted drains? Loose drawer handle? Making these small fixes can make a big difference to potential buyers with detailed-orientated minds. Improve your kitchen. An outdated kitchen can be a real eyesore in a home. Updating cabinetry, repairing or replacing countertops, and installing new faucets and sinks may be worth the investment

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Upsizing Your Home


Our homes don’t always grow with us. What may have initially worked fine for a single person, a young couple’s starter home, or a family with a newborn can quickly become too small as families expand and multiple generations live under one roof.

Remodeling and adding to your home is one option for creating more space, but it can be costly, and the size of your property may be prohibitive. That’s when moving to a bigger home becomes the best solution.

WHERE DO YOU NEED MORE SPACE?

The first thought when upsizing your home is to simply consider square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. But it’s important to take a more critical approach to how your space will actually be used. If you have younger children (or possibly more on the way), then focusing on bedrooms and bathrooms makes sense. But if your children are closer to heading off to college or starting their own families, it may be better to prioritize group spaces like the kitchen, dining room, living room, and outdoor space—it’ll pay off during the holidays or summer vacations, when everyone is coming to visit for big gatherings.

MOVING OUTWARD

If you need more space, but don’t necessarily want a more expensive home, you can probably get a lot more house for your money if you move a little further from a city center. While the walkability and short commutes of a dense neighborhood or condo are hard to leave beyond, your lifestyle—and preferences for hosting Thanksgiving, barbecues, and birthdays—might mean that a spacious home in the suburbs makes the most sense. It’s your best option for upsizing while avoiding a heftier price tag.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Turning a Bedroom Into a Lux Bedroom

For most of us, our bedroom is little more than a place to sleep and relax. However, just because it’s always been that way doesn’t mean that we have to settle for drab and dreary.

One trend that’s gaining steam these days is converting your current bedroom into a luxury suite (or something comparable). If you want to live like you’re renting a room at the Ritz, then you want to follow these tips.

Compartmentalize Your Activities

Making your bedroom more functional is going to make it more luxurious. Add a gorgeous desk for working and a TV area for entertainment, and you’ll be living it up in no time.

Make it Chic

Choose a color palette that is both luxurious and classy. Silver and gold can seem tacky, so choose muted shades that compliment each other.

Also, a brilliant and commanding headboard can instantly upgrade the look of your room without any other changes.

Light it Properly

Finally, make sure that you have the right light to show off your designs. If it’s too washed out or yellow, then it will look drab and run down. Switch to brilliant LEDs and see the difference.

Choose Your Accents Wisely

We already mentioned a headboard, but some elegant drapes can also make your room feel more royal. Being strategic with your furniture accessories is going to both keep you under budget and avoid doing too much with the space.

Are you ready to lux your bedroom? You’ll be impressed by the results, and the feeling of decadence will make you more confident in your surroundings.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Consider This When Refinancing


Refinancing your mortgage is something most homeowners consider at least once throughout the lifespan of their home loan. It allows you to pay off your previous loan by applying for a new one that has better financial advantages. While there are many good reasons to refinance, here are five common ones.

  • Scoring a lower interest rate. The number one reason homeowners decide to refinance is to secure a lower interest rate on their mortgage. Not only does this save you money in the long run and decrease your monthly payment, but you can start building equity in your home sooner.
  • Using an improved credit score. Even if interest rates have not dropped in the market, if you’ve improved your credit score over the last few years, you may be able to reduce your mortgage rate.
  • Shortening the loan’s term. If interest rates are decreasing, there is a chance you may be able to get a shorter loan term with little to no change in your monthly payment, allowing you to pay off your loan sooner.
  • Switching from an adjustable rate to a fixed rate. If you chose an adjustable-rate mortgage with great introductory rates when you initially financed your home, that rate may increase significantly over the years. By switching to a fixed rate while interest rates are low, you can protect yourself from future increases.
  • Cashing out home equity. If there is a big purchase or payment on the horizon, such as funding a wedding or going back to school, your best option may be to use the equity you’ve built in your home to borrow money at a lower cost.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Loan Officer or Agent to learn more.

Short Sale and Foreclosure: How Are They Different?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.

A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.

On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.

On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.

After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

 

Create an Evacuation Plan for Your Pets

An evacuation plan is a necessity for every home, especially if you live in an area where fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters are a possibility. Many homeowners create evacuation plans for their homes and practice them with their kids, but far fewer have considered one for their pets. Take these steps to add your pets to your evacuation plan.

Assign pet evacuation to an adult. Everyone should know how to act during an evacuation, and that includes assigning one parent or adult to the pets. This allows the other parent and the children to focus on their part of the evacuation plan, so there’s no confusion during a high-stress moment when time is of the essence.

Keep evacuation maps and pet carriers readily accessible. If you need to evacuate, you should know exactly where every important item is. If you pets require carriers, keep them in a place that you can access easily.

Practice your plan. Include your pets in your home evacuation drills. It’ll help you see how they will respond and make changes to your plan if necessary. Getting your dog out of a window may not be as simple as you think!

Be prepared in case you get separated from your pets. No matter how much you drill your evacuation plan, it’s possible that a dog or cat will run off while you’re focusing on keeping your family safe. A microchip or a GPS-compatible tag can help you find your pets once it’s safe to return to the area.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Subtle Art of Negotiation in Real Estate

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers and real estate professionals should avoid:

  1. Low ball offers: Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.
  2. Incremental negotiations: Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer, $1,000 or less. The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. “Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.
  4. Nitpicking after inspection: Obviously if inspections reveal a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Healthy Lawns Benefit Our Environment and Communities

(BPT) – Now that the temperatures have warmed, families are emerging from weather-imposed hibernation to delight once again in outdoor living. For some homeowners, however, the spring season can be fraught with embarrassment as they covet their neighbor’s lush lawn and seek help from Mother Nature (and her helpers) to fix all that ails within their own backyards.

Let’s face it. We all want a beautiful carpet of green to create the backdrop for entertaining, playing and relaxing. However, what you may not realize is the benefits of a beautiful lawn go well beyond its aesthetics.

Environmental benefits

Well-maintained lawns support healthy community environments. For instance, grass captures dust, smoke particles and other pollutants to help keep air cleaner. Plus, grasses absorb carbon dioxide and break it down into oxygen and carbon.

Healthy lawns also protect important water resources. A thriving lawn can help absorb unhealthy runoff that would otherwise reach water sources used by communities. An average, healthy lawn can absorb more than 6,000 gallons of water from a single rainfall, according to the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Additionally, lawns are natural coolants. Lawns can be 31 degrees cooler than asphalt and 20 degrees cooler than bare soil. Just consider: If you don’t have to turn on the air conditioner, you save energy and reduce your electric bill.

Community benefits

Communities that house healthy lawns, parks and commercially landscaped spaces just look nicer and feel more welcoming. Properly managed green spaces also help minimize the growth of weeds that can cause allergies, making it difficult for residents to enjoy time outdoors. Additionally, studies show that public green spaces can reduce stress, lower health care costs and improve quality of life.

Noise reduction is another big benefit for communities with healthy landscapes, particularly important in urban settings. Studies show that lawns and landscapes can reduce noise levels by 20 to 30 percent over hard surfaces like concrete and pavement. More than just providing a quiet, calm space, healthy landscapes make communities safer, too. Neighborhoods with tree-lined streets and larger yards have reduced crime rates, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Take action

The benefits of a healthy lawn are limitless – environmentally, emotionally and financially. Take the first step in creating a beautiful – and healthy- lawn by consulting a lawn care professional. Find one near you using the National Association of Landscape Professionals’ directory at www.loveyourlandscape.org/find-a-pro.

Get a head start on smart lawn care with these fast tips from the experts at NALP:

  1. Daily watering is not necessary. Instead, give your lawn a deep soak every couple of days, so the moisture can penetrate the soil down to the roots.
  2. When mowing, never remove more than one-third of a grass blade for a finished height of 2 to 3 inches.
  3. Keep grass clippings on the lawn after mowing. They break down and provide nitrogen and nutrients to the soil for a healthier lawn.
  4. Change directions when mowing. The pattern change will control coarse grass and create more even surfaces.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Transform Your Bathroom Into A Wellness Retreat


(BPT) – When you think of your bathroom, what comes to mind? A place you’re in and out of quickly while getting ready for the day or winding down for the night? Your bathroom can be more than just a utilitarian space. Features like these cam also increase the desirability of your home.

By adding certain bathroom amenities, you can transform your bathroom into a calming oasis that serves as a retreat from everyday stressors. Consider these five ideas that provide a spa-inspired experience in the comfort of your own home:

1. Tantalizing tub features provide a peaceful paradise. Water has many therapeutic benefits, and with the right tub, you can enjoy any time you’d like. Relieve sore muscles and calm the mind with an air bath, a soothing bathtub option that uses thousands of tiny air bubbles to melt away the day. For instance, one product like the DXV Aqua Moment Drop-In Airbath with Waterfall provides a gentle shoulder massage that helps release tension, while the waterfall transports the mind to a peaceful paradise. Activate the chromatherapy to complete the ambiance; for example, choose purple to reduce anxiety or orange to boost energy.

2. Create coziness using heated elements. Warmth brings relaxation, so make sure your bathroom has all the features to keep you toasty. Consider adding heated elements underneath your flooring. Just imagine being able to adjust the temperature on a knob and warming the floor to your preferred level of comfort. A heated towel rack is a must-have and easy accessory to add. Flip the switch at the start of your shower or bath and by the time you get out, your towel will be warm as if you just pulled it out of the dryer.

3. Delight the senses with a distinctive shower experience. A shower can be much more than an opportunity to get clean. Modern shower heads offer an experience to delight the senses. For example, the Spectra eTouch shower head from American Standard allows you to choose from four distinct spray patterns with the simple tap of a finger on the wall-mounted remote. Select your spray pattern to jump-start your morning and another to relax at night after a busy day.

4. Enjoy a luxurious, clean feeling. It is important to pause and take time for yourself, you’ve earned it. Choose bathroom products designed to offer you superior cleansing and improve your well-being. You can add fixtures with self cleaning nozzles and toilets with heated seats.

5. Complete the experience with pampering accessories Add the extras you need to your bathroom to make it feel like a true spa retreat. Invest in a plush robe and slippers to make you feel relaxed. New loofahs and sponges, along with scented bath products, can make the experience extra calming and luxurious. Don’t forget to pick up some new, lavish towels that will wrap you in softness.After a long day at work, there’s nothing better for your body and mind than the ability to experience your own “five-star” spa treatment. Even better, you don’t even have to pack a bag or hop in the car now that you have a calming oasis right at home.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Retaining Walls To The Rescue


(BPT) – Segmental retaining wall (SRW) units are one of the most versatile landscaping tools in the homeowner’s and professional landscaper’s toolbox. Retaining wall units have evolved from just being used to retain soil, transition slopes and prevent erosion. Today’s SRWs can do all that plus serve as multipurpose building blocks for a variety of outdoor-living features, including stairs, columns, freestanding walls, tiered walls, curved walls, seating and more.

Creative designs

While SRWs still beautifully accomplish their original intent, professionals and homeowners alike can easily create hardscape features that make outdoor-living spaces more useful and enjoyable. “Our landscape designers are very inventive in their use of segmental retaining wall units, and our customers really appreciate all the features that can be created with SRWs,” says Scott Arnold, manager of Villa Landscapes in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Products such as the VERSA-LOK retaining wall system can be creatively adapted by homeowners and professionals to accommodate curves, corners, columns and tiers – without any special pieces. For example, one popular application is a retaining wall that employs a convex curve set into a small slope. Additional courses can be stacked against the lower courses of the wall to create a “couch” or seating area to surround a circular paver patio and fire pit installed at ground level.

Freestanding walls

Freestanding walls are common applications for retaining wall units. Sometimes called garden or seat walls, freestanding walls are designed to surround the perimeter of a patio and can serve as space for seating or potted plants. They also add a measure of privacy around an outdoor-living space, and when designed with inset columns, can be a support for fencing.

Tiered walls

Tiered walls are a common solution for grade changes and erosion control. The benefit of tiered walls is that they look great, and the space in between the walls can be used for a patio or for perennials, shrubs, vegetables or herbs. Tiered walls add visual depth and texture to a hardscape design and can be more aesthetically pleasing than a single wall. Stairs incorporated into a tiered wall design give safe access to a home on a slope or hill. A tiered design also creates a low-maintenance landscape, eliminating the need to mow a difficult slope.

Stepping up

Retaining wall units can serve as risers for steps. Stair treads can be finished with special precast stair tread units or bullnose (round-edged) paving stones. When installed in a contrasting shade or color, stair treads add interest to a hardscape design. Stairs created from retaining wall units can be placed within a tiered wall design, in a single wall or with wing walls on each side. Raised patios, built with a foundation created by SRWs, are another popular feature that is often used to replace high-maintenance decks.

Can-do columns

Columns created with SRWs are a versatile, beautiful and functional feature within a hardscape design. They can support a pergola, lighting or other landscape features such as statuary, and are used to finish off the ends of a freestanding or seat wall. They can also be installed at intervals within a wall design, and columns create an attractive way to frame and support fencing.

The use of SRWs is limited only by the imagination for outdoor-living features. With a variety of colors, textures and configurations, one system is the VERSA-LOK retaining wall. It can be used for landscape walls designed with curves, columns, corners and steps, and professionally engineered, soil-reinforced retaining walls. This system, enables homeowners and professionals to create multi-angle corners, curves, stairs, columns and freestanding walls with just one type of unit, and no voids to fill or special pieces to purchase.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.


Connectivity is King This Home Buying Season


(BPT) – The spring home-buying season is just around the corner and that means people are busy making improvements to get their homes ready to sell. These days, home upgrades are increasingly focused on one key feature: connectivity. In 2019, buyers want smart homes they can easily control from anywhere. From smart HVAC and sprinkler systems to connected garage door openers, it’s all about creating convenience and comfort.

Security gets connected

Security systems are nothing new, but the technology used to arm those systems is changing rapidly. More and more home security companies now offer fully connected systems that allow users to protect and monitor their homes from any smart device. Whether it’s a live video feed, the ability to lock and unlock doors remotely or just checking that all sensors are working properly, integrated security systems offer peace of mind. Having the infrastructure in place can be a selling point for buyers who want to make sure their new home is as safe as possible, given they’ll only have to set up the monitoring subscription upon move-in.

Updated garages add value

According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2019 Cost vs. Value survey, a garage door replacement is the number one home improvement project in terms of return on investment. But these days, more homeowners are taking it a step further and installing new technology to make the garage more user friendly. For example, the SilentMax Connect garage door opener from The Genie Company comes with Aladdin Connect technology built-in to improve convenience and functionality. Not only is the opener super quiet – ideal for attached garages – but the connectivity features allow you to check whether your garage door is open or closed, grant individual access with virtual keys, instantly know when someone is operating your garage door (authorized or not), and provide a log of when each opener was used – all from your phone or smart device. Thanks to this technology, you can open the garage door remotely for delivery people, a housekeeper or for your child coming home from school. Considering your garage is one of the most accessed points in your home, this functionality is a great security feature and proves that garages offer more than just storage space. With the right connectivity tools and features, they can provide convenience that will be attractive to future owners.

Save energy, increase comfort

As home improvement trends go, increased connectivity is rivaled only by the desire for more energy-efficient homes. Smart thermostats accomplish both these aims and can increase the value of your home in the process. Smart thermostats let you easily control the temperature in your home from any connected device. You can set a daily schedule for your heater, adjust the temperature in individual rooms or let the system program itself based on your usage history. For energy-conscious buyers, this kind of technology provides a way of living that’s as aspirational as it is attainable.

Lighting the way

Smart lighting has turned from a novelty to a practical tool as products have gotten more advanced. Programmable lighting allows you to schedule when your lights will come on, turn on and off lights remotely or change the lighting to improve aesthetics. With a smart lighting system, you’ll never have to get out of bed to turn the lights off downstairs, and you can always come home to a fully lit house, boosting your sense of security. With these kinds of applications, your home’s lighting can go from a ‘given’ to a must-have, attracting buyers like a moth to a flame.

New, smart products are hitting the market every day. For homeowners savvy enough to incorporate this new technology into their homes, they’ll not only be more connected, but they’ll likely see more offers rolling in when it comes time to sell.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Protect Yourself Against Today’s Faster, Scarier Fires

(BPT) – If your new home is among the one million or so being built in the U.S. this year, congratulations! You’ll have the chance to customize it to your dream home preferences.

One feature that should be at the top of your priority list is the best possible fire protection for yourself and your loved ones: home fire sprinklers. While choosing household systems may not be as fun as picking paint colors and carpeting, it’s even more important. And asking for fire sprinklers could literally save your life.

That’s because home fires today are hotter and faster than fires of the past. Homes with unprotected lightweight building material and flooring burn faster, failing quicker (often collapsing in a fire). Common synthetic furnishings and belongings burn hot and fast and produce toxic smoke. Larger, more open layouts enable faster flashover. That means they can become deadly to people and pets in as little as two minutes.

The tragic facts are that seven people die in U.S. home fires each day, while another 12,300 are injured. The residents aren’t the only ones in harm’s way; firefighters are constantly in danger of injury or death. Studies show they’re being diagnosed with cancer as a result of their occupation.

Home fire sprinklers are dependable. They not only save lives; they protect property and possessions reducing fire damage by as much as 81 percent. Most insurers offer sprinkler discounts that lower your homeowners’ premiums.

“New homeowners have a great opportunity to ensure their houses are optimized for fire protection,” notes Lorraine Carli, HFSC president and vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association. “Start with working smoke alarms on every level, and prepare and practice a home escape plan. Create a complete system of fire safety by asking for home fire sprinklers.

Here are the basics:

  • Your sprinklers will be customized for your home, ensuring proper protection for your unique layout. Usually the sprinklers are connected to the household water main. In areas where there is not a city water supply or well water, a tank and pump are typically used for water supply. Piping is hidden behind the walls and ceilings.
  • There are several kinds of sprinklers made just for homes. Some can be hidden behind round plates. Some sprinkler companies offer custom painted sprinklers to match your décor.
  • Each sprinkler is individually activated by heat, so the entire system does not activate. Each sprinkler has a temperature-sensitive glass bulb. If a fire starts, the high heat from it breaks the glass, allowing the water to flow onto the fire. That controls or even puts out the fire, allowing you and your family to escape.
  • You need not worry about your sprinklers being set off by smoke alarms operating, burnt toast or cigarette smoke. They’re designed to operate from the high heat of a fire, usually between 135-165 F.

Your family’s fire safety is in your hands! Ask your builder for home fire sprinklers. The best time to install fire sprinklers is when the home is being built, while walls and ceilings are open and accessible.

Learn the facts about home fire sprinklers from the nonprofit Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, a non-commercial educational organization that offers free information and resources. Follow HFSC on Facebook and Twitter.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

New Smart Home Innovations For Your Interconnected Life

(BPT) – Smart home products made major strides in 2018. More people than ever now use connected devices in their homes, and smart home hubs are constantly adding new integration and capabilities. Research from Statista predicts that by the end of 2018, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes, fueling an exciting new phase for the smart home industry, offering consumers new and improved smart technologies and giving rise to a totally interconnected, easy-to-control environment termed the “smart home.”

This innovation looks to continue in the new year with increasingly intuitive products that make life more enjoyable and interconnected. Here are the new smart home products ready to change the way we live in the new year, coming out of the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

Laundry made easy

The calendar might have changed, but your laundry needs haven’t gone anywhere. Smart home technology is making the chore a little easier with such technology as the LG Ultimate Laundry Room suite of products which can be started, stopped or monitored from anywhere using LG’s SmartThinQ(R) app. Users will receive notifications when a cycle has finished, or they can download new cycles, check energy usage and quickly troubleshoot minor issues using Smart Diagnosis. For added convenience, these home solutions can also be controlled with simple voice commands using the Google Assistant.

Smarter home with smart displays

Laundry is just one example of how smart home technology is making life easier. By adding other connected appliances and devices, you can develop a true smart home ecosystem in which seamless integration produce valuable efficiency. One of the best ways to anchor your ecosystem is with a smart display. The advanced smart display builds on the capabilities of a Google Assistant speaker with the added convenience of a touchscreen display and delivers high-fidelity sound, precise vocal definition and accurate bass, despite its compact size.

Stay connected on-the-go

As innovation continues, smart home technology is branching outside of the home itself. With new products, you can receive notifications regarding your home from anywhere, making sure you never lose touch with the most important things in your life. With mobile connectivity, your life becomes easier no matter where you are.

Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.

Smart home technology is all about making our lives easier and more comfortable. Whether you’re just doing laundry, looking to power your whole home, or even taking that control on the road, new smart home products provide a level of convenience that’s changing the way we live.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

New Year’s Resolutions To Help Prevent Pests


(BPT) – From healthy lifestyle changes to productive habits, there are plenty of New Year’s resolutions that can start your 2019 off on the right foot. Homeowners can extend those resolutions to include keeping the house in tiptop shape – and keeping out unwanted visitors.

Inspect your home

As you start the new year, it’s a good time to check if your home is fully sealed from more than just the elements. Even an opening as small as a dime is big enough for a mouse to squeeze through. Take a walk around your entire house exterior, looking for any cracks or holes, and be sure to seal any gaps you find.

Eliminate standing water

While a water feature makes for a perfect landscaping piece, be sure to be diligent about changing out water and reducing other sources of standing water. Refresh the water in bird baths, fountains and other water features at least once a week, and dump out any other unnecessary water on your property.

Be mindful when away from home

Unfortunately, places like hotel rooms can be bed bug hot spots, and these pests can be tough to guard against and easy to bring home. Be sure to do a thorough sweep of hotel rooms – along mattresses, furniture and headboards – checking for signs of an infestation such as blood spots or shed skins.

Keep firewood at a safe distance

Before you light those cozy winter fires, be sure you’re storing firewood piles away from your home. The wood could be an inviting home for termites and can provide an easy bridge to your home’s foundation if you don’t properly guard against these pests.

Call in the professionals

If you’re dealing with a pest problem too big to handle alone, know when it’s time to call in the professionals. For example, Terminix is a company that has trained technicians that can help you protect your home from winter pests, leaving you free to focus your sights on other goals. Our agent’s can help you prepare your home for sale and address any pest issues.

Our agent’s can help you prepare your home for sale and address any pest issues.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Avoid a Real Estate Lawsuit When Using Social Media

Social media can be a great way to showcase listings, build relationships, and connect with clients and potential clients. But to maximize its benefits, you need a solid social media strategy. You also need a social media safety plan, so your posts don’t land you in court.

Avoiding a real estate lawsuit related to social media starts by knowing the risks. Let’s look at three things you can do to avoid social media errors that could lead to legal issues.

Avoid False Advertising

With digital images, it’s easy to edit out unwanted visuals from pictures, but in most cases you shouldn’t.

In addition, make sure your words are always accurate. Just as with mistakes on MLS listings, you are responsible for identifying and correcting mistakes on social media posts and marketing as well. Avoiding statements like “perfect condition,” is also a wise practice, as those kinds of phrases can be easily disputed. A better choice is to give clear, accurate descriptions of the property, without vague labels that might be misunderstood or argued.

Since even old posts can get you into trouble, you should also go back and edit or correct information you know is wrong. Social media posts are often short and informal, which means it’s easy to get a little lax. Take time to get it right.

Get Social Media Authorization

You want to share success stories, so you snap a photo of your clients in front of their home and post it to Facebook. Is that a problem? It depends. Do you have authorization to post photos of your clients on social media?

Make it a practice to get authorization to use client names and likenesses in photographs and videos. ALWAYS get authorization if the photos or videos include children. You must have permission to use the photos and videos in social media, on your website, and in any other marketing materials.

Additional information to convey in the release is that clients will not be compensated in any way for the use of images or other materials, and they can choose to revoke authorization in the future by stating their intent in writing, though they cannot undo any sharing done while the authorization was in place.

If you have clients who choose not to sign the authorization, make it very clear in the client’s file that authorization has not been given.

Avoid Copyright Infringement

It’s so easy to grab pictures from another website to share on your blog or your social accounts. Or maybe you’re creating a virtual walk through, so you grab your favorite song off YouTube to use in the background. Both of these actions are problematic.

If you want music for a video or ad, look for music that you can license for use. There are a number of sites that feature free or low cost music for use in videos or podcasts.

If you want to use pictures, you have choices:

  • Request permission from the owner to use them
  • Use free stock photos, if you aren’t highlighting a particular property
  • Take pictures yourself
  • Share the link to the website with the original photos.

When posting pictures, leave any details from the photographer in the details about the photograph and give credit according to any use agreements. You don’t want to get into a situation where a client or image owner gets into a negative discussion on your very public page about the use of their materials. Such a situation creates a poor perception of your business, which can harm prospective relationships. It could also create a snowball effect with people digging through past posts to see what else you’ve shared that you didn’t have rights to.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

This article is a reprint originally published at https://www.cresinsurance.com/3-ways-avoid-real-estate-lawsuit-using-social-media/ .  Copyright © held by CRES Insurance Services.

Recreate Your Entertaining Space

(BPT) – The holidays, the big game, New Year’s and everything in between: At this time of year there are plenty of reasons to invite family and friends to your home to entertain. In addition, there are also plenty of times, particularly on cold winter nights, when you just want to have a place you can go to get cozy, play a video game or watch a movie in peace.

Either can be an appealing option, but do you have an entertaining space that fits the bill? One where you want to spend your free time?

If the thought of your entertaining space has you sadly shaking your head no, the good news is there’s no reason you have to settle for a less-than-ideal solution. Like the events you use it for, your space can change as needed. To help you make the most of your space for all of the group and individual events you have planned, follow these tips.

  • Control light. A common design tip for most spaces is to allow for lots of light. You may want that when everyone comes together to watch a game, but for those times when you want to watch a film or play a video game, a darker environment may be more immersive. To keep total control of the light in your entertaining area, invest in room-darkening blinds or dark curtains that can block out the sun when you crave darkness and let in the light when you don’t.
  • Redefine your viewing experience. When people come to your home, they will often be there to watch something on the screen. That makes the right technology essential. The 4K UHD Laser Smart Home Theater CineBeam Projector is perfect for binge-watching the hottest shows, enjoying an immersive gaming experience or cheering on your favorite team. The projector itself can be ceiling mounted or set up to reflect onto any screen you want, and because it is empowered with Smart TV, you’ll have access to wireless streaming, Netflix and YouTube. What’s more, HDMI and HDCP input make your projector ready for Blu-ray and gaming consoles right out of the box. Whatever you want to do or watch, this project enhances your experience.
  • Install a seating strategy. Every entertaining area has viewing seats that are less than ideal, and while a new projector can expand your viewing options, there’s still no reason to settle for second-class seating. If you’re planning to have a large group over on game day, a simple platform can provide your room with stadium seating and give everyone that at-the-game feel. If stadium seating isn’t for you, strive for an open arrangement and place display tables and other storage solutions behind seating when guests come over. Those items don’t need a good viewing angle anyway.
  • Add a few extra comforts. It’s time to take customizing your entertaining space up a notch by adding a few elements that are uniquely you. From full bars to mini fridges, humidors and portable air conditioners or dehumidifiers, there are several tiny additions you can make to any entertaining area to make the space more enjoyable. If you’ve ever wished you had something nearby, now’s your time to add it. Think it over and you’ll see that the right additions can have a big impact on how you use the space and how much you enjoy it. Reshape your entertaining space today. With so many big events coming up, every moment you waste in reshaping your entertaining space is another opportunity missed, so don’t delay. Start visualizing your space for what it could be instead of what it is and you’ll be on your way to creating the entertaining space you’ve always wanted.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Protect What You Value In Your Home

(BPT) – The gift-giving season is upon us once again! Whether you’re buying your loved ones a new pet, some fancy jewelry or the latest mobile phone for the holidays, one thing is for sure, these gifts come with costs and complications that can add headaches in the long run. For instance, new pets will inevitably need visits to the vet, electronic devices are often accidentally damaged, and valuables such as jewelry, art or cameras can get stolen or misplaced frequently. Here in California, the threat of fire and loss of valuables also exists. Take the time to protect what you value in your home.

This holiday season, invest in pet insurance, device insurance and valuable personal property insurance, so that the “little” things in life do not turn into big problems when things don’t go quite as planned. Here are a few reasons why you should consider purchasing insurance this holiday season:

1. Pet insurance: Coverage is flexible and nondiscriminatory.

A major bonus of pet insurance is the flexibility associated with it. For example, unlike health insurance policies for humans that often require you to use a specific group of providers, pet insurance policies allow you to choose the veterinarian you prefer. Likewise, pet insurance does not favor certain ages of pets. You can choose to begin insuring your pet at any time, whether that is at the time of adoption/purchase or many years later when your pet reaches maturity. Perhaps most compelling is the fact that many pet insurance policies reimburse owners at least 3/4 of costs after deductibles. This is a significant chunk of change, especially when a seemingly small procedure, such as having a foreign object removed from a pet’s stomach, can cost nearly $800.

2. Device insurance: Accidental electronic device damage is all too common.

Approximately one-third of all users damage their cell phone within the first year of owning it, and as we all know, repairing or replacing these devices can be quite pricey. While a phone warranty typically does not cover loss or theft, many insurance providers offer protection plans that do and save you money to boot such as USAA who has partnered with ProtectCELL to offer a smartphone protection plan.

3. Valuable personal property insurance: Homeowner’s and renter’s insurance do not always cover valuables.

Many homeowner’s coverage policies have a certain limit for valuable items categories. For example, a typical homeowner’s policy may have a limit of $1,500 in coverage for jewelry. A valuable personal property policy provides coverage for higher-ticket items such as jewelry, silverware, fine art, stamps and coins, instruments, etc. that may not be adequately accounted for in other property policies. This type of policy also provides coverage for damage or loss, which is a major distinction from a homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

It is the smart and financially savvy decision to protect your purchases for loved ones this holiday season, especially when it comes to meaningful and valuable gifts such as pets, electronic devices and personal property, such as jewelry or art. After you purchase your new home, protect what you place in your home.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Top Exterior Trends To Inspire Your Home Projects

(BPT) – Thinking of adding a deck? How about replacing the tired, worn siding on your house? Now that the weather is colder, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a hot beverage and start planning your 2019 home projects so you can nail the budget and settle on the look you’re after.

Think “cool neutrals” for the color story

When someone suggests a neutral tone for your exterior, do you think boring beige and tepid taupe? When it comes to vinyl siding, you may be pleasantly surprised to discover there’s a broad range of color and style choices to meet your taste and design preferences, including soft grays, bolder mid-tone blues and warm earth-toned terra cottas.

Bring the inside out

If you’ve decided this year is the year to add a deck or a patio, don’t settle for an uninspired open-air platform. Today’s designers are remaking the deck concept altogether by bringing traditionally “indoor” amenities outside. Rugs, arbors and high-design furniture will turn your deck into an outdoor living room. By adding a fire pit, portable furnace or heater, you and your family can spend time on the deck year-round. For a finishing touch, a floor-to-ceiling sliding glass door not only brings in more sunlight and natural views, it creates a seamless transition between inside and outside.

But a great deck starts with high-quality materials, because the last thing you want is to spend excessive time and money on routine maintenance. Instead of using natural wood, opt for a premium composite decking, such as Zuri Premium Decking at zuri.royalbuildingproducts.com, that combines the natural beauty of exotic hardwood with the unsurpassed and exceptionally low-maintenance requirements of composite materials. If you’re interested in learning more, visit.

Make relaxation a top priority

Home is where the heart is, right? So it makes perfect sense to make it into a space where self-care is a priority. That’s why wellness and mindfulness have become huge influences in interior and exterior spaces. To turn your backyard into a retreat space, consider amenities like water features, zen gardens or even a shaded reading nook.

Reframe the possibilities of your shed

Garages and sheds can be more than a storage space for your lawnmower and tools. These four walls hold many other possibilities, and homeowners have come up with creative, free-time-oriented uses for these simple backyard structures. The options are only limited by your imagination: backyard bar, outdoor shower, or the classic she-shed or man cave. You can even make it into a home office for those telecommuting days. To dress up a plain shed, add siding with complementary trim, windows and flower boxes, finished with a sleek glass door.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

 

Keep Hungry Herbivores Out Of Your Yard Year-Round

(BPT) – Few sights make homeowners more furious than an attractive landscape destroyed virtually overnight by hungry deer. Rose bushes and ornamentals? Nipped off every bud. Expensive shrubs? Browsed within an inch of their lives. Trees? Damaged, disfigured and sometimes dead.

Deer – and their wilder relatives, moose and elk – usually leave a path of destruction in their wake, and even winter can’t calm the carnage. In fact, as cold weather descends, deer shift their sights to your most expensive and difficult-to-replace trees, evergreens and shrubbery.

However, you can strike a blow against deer’s voracious appetites by maintaining a year-round program of defense such as Bobbex Deer Repellent foliar spray. The product is an environmentally friendly, nontoxic and long-lasting deer deterrent that’s safe for people, pets, wildlife and aquatic life. Ingredients include putrescent eggs, fishmeal, fish oil, garlic and other natural ingredients – all materials that offend a deer’s sensitive sense of smell and taste. Additional ingredients such as urea and Epsom contain natural fertilizer components which are beneficial for all plantings.

The product mimics predator scents, which deer have an aversion to, and is classified a fear repellent, but it also tastes terrible to deer, adding another layer of protection for plants. Because it contains effective sticking agents, the repellent won’t wash off even in harsh winter weather. And it’s been 3rd party tested against 10 other like-repellents and is rated #1 for protection against deer browse.

Fall

Fall is a particularly active time for deer as the mating season begins, and bucks and does seek each other out. In addition, bucks begin to repeatedly scrape their antlers against trees to remove summer’s “velvet” growth from their antlers. They can kill a tree quickly with this repetitive motion, even girdling a trunk in a single night. Keep destructive deer away from your prized plantings by regularly spraying deterrent on deciduous trees, evergreens, shrubbery and perennials throughout the fall.

Winter

Although you might imagine winter brings a break from deer destruction, you would be dead wrong – and expensively so. When some food sources die off and deep snow covers preferred food, deer reach up, often nibbling up to a half-bushel worth of twigs or other tree material per day. This can quickly deform or even kill landscape plantings.

Even though we’re approaching winter weather’s doorstep, you’ll need to factor spring and summer into your year-round application process so you don’t interrupt protection.

Spring

Since food is not as readily available for deer in the winter, their appetites are strong in spring.

Tender shoots of new, green growth entice bucks, does and fawns, all ravenous after the ravages of winter. Because deer will return to areas where they found tempting fodder again and again, keep them on the move by applying the deterrent on all stem, flower, leaf and bud growth in your yard and garden. During this peak growing season, spray repellent about every two weeks or when one to two inches of new growth appears.

Summer

Unlike during the winter, it’s atypical for deer to start gnawing the bark off trees during the summer months, since available, natural food choices are easier to find. Although deer will find food in fields and forests, your yard is not out of the woods. When hot, dry summertime weather becomes the norm and natural vegetation turns brown and dies off, deer will venture out of the woods and into your yard, in search of the green, healthy plants that you’ve watered and kept thriving. Once deer find your foliage and flowers, they’ll keep coming back unless you continue to protect your plants and teach them to stay away.

Persuading hungry deer that your yard and garden is not their personal produce bar takes vigilance. With a year-round deterrent spray program, deer will soon learn to take their hungry habits elsewhere.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

3D Printing Is Reimagining the Way We Live Today

(BPT) – When additive manufacturing technology – better known as 3D printing – was first invented more than 30 years ago it was intended to make the product design and manufacturing process more efficient. At that time, 3D printing was used primarily as a way to create prototypes to validate and perfect product design, but the inventor, Chuck Hull, had no idea how it would change the way we live.

Today, 3D printing has evolved beyond product prototypes only used by industrial designers and engineers. Manufacturers all over the world now rely on additive manufacturing to produce final parts and products that are purchased and experienced by mainstream consumers across the marketplace. This includes parts in automobiles and appliances, medical and dental implants, custom prosthetic limbs and food, and has also become an important component in interior design, reinventing what you think is possible.

One example is when Kallista, a division of Kohler, sought to execute its new Grid Sink Faucet design, the company quickly realized the idea could not be executed via traditional manufacturing methods. Rather than sacrifice the design, the team turned to 3D printing. The result was a faucet that delivers on its design without compromising functionality.

Additional benefits of 3D printing

While 3D printing solutions are inspiring designers everywhere, giving them the opportunity to expand their creativity, 3D printing also offers several other benefits to companies and consumers, including:

* A single source of efficiency and strength. “Some assembly required” is a catchphrase synonymous with traditional manufacturing and it is that assembly that also exposes the end product to errors in the pieces, poor construction and added time to fabricate the object. However, because 3D printed objects are made in one solid piece, they solve many of these issues. They are structurally stronger, free of connection weaknesses and expertly assembled to specifications.

* Environmental consciousness. While traditional manufacturing takes raw materials and trims them down to the finished product, 3D printing builds the desired piece by adding material as the process goes along. This means it essentially utilizes only the amount of material necessary to create the object. The result is less waste and a reduced environmental impact.

* Faster results, favorable returns. The 3D printing process offers a new level of accuracy and rapid part production with the ability to reduce – and in many cases, eliminate – material waste, which also favorably impacts a project’s overall bottom line.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Create A Four Season Outdoor Space

(BPT) – Creating an outdoor living space will give you an extra “room” to enjoy in all types of weather, even as the temperatures drop. You can start small with an inexpensive patio set and charcoal grill on a new deck, go all out with a fully installed kitchen, fireplace and living room, or something in between. It depends on your budget and how you plan to use the space.

Here are some ideas for must-have elements in your perfect outdoor living space that will allow you to enjoy your back yard in style with family and friends all year long.

* Deck

It’s the foundation of your outdoor space. Using real wood for your deck is the key to creating a natural, beautiful outdoor living space. One great option is Western Red Cedar. It’s resistant to rot, decay and insects so it lasts a long time with minimum maintenance. It’s also durable, yet surprisingly lightweight, which is one of the reasons DIYers and building professionals find it so easy to work with. It’s also a green choice. Woods such as cedar leave the smallest carbon footprint compared to any other building material.

* Fire

There’s nothing cozier on a crisp night than curling up in front of the fire. Adding a fire element to your outdoor room creates the same sort of ambiance. Imagine gazing up at the sky on a dark, starry night while sitting in front of the fire and you’ve got the idea. You’ll find a wide variety to choose from, including decorative metal fire pits or bowls; chimeneas, which are earthenware or stone outdoor fireplaces; or full-blown, permanent fireplaces like you might find inside the house. Whatever you choose, the crackling fire will draw people and create a focal point for conversation and reflection. Added bonus: It will provide a heat source for chilly nights.

* Outdoor kitchen

You can go big, creating a second full kitchen alfresco with a high-end gas grill, a wood-burning pizza oven, a fridge, a sink, storage for dishes and utensils, and a countertop for prep, or you can go small, with a simple grill. Either way, it’s essential to be able to cook outside so you won’t be stuck in your home’s kitchen preparing dinner while your family and friends chat on the deck.

* Furniture

A patio table and comfortable chairs are a must, as are some Adirondack or other sturdy, comfy chairs positioned around your fire source. But beyond that, think about how you’ll use the space. Does a chaise or two for lounging with a book and a cold beverage make sense? What about an outdoor sofa and chairs to create more of a living room-type feel? Whatever you choose, comfort, durability in all types of weather, and the size (not too big or too small) are prime considerations.

* Shelter

In addition to the standard umbrella for your patio table, creating shelter for your outdoor space lets you enjoy it in all types of weather. The sky is the limit on your choices: a simple wood and fabric canopy to shade your seating area, a more structured gazebo complete with mosquito netting, a decorative wooden pergola, or an outdoor sunroom or solarium that attaches to your home’s exterior wall. Get some ideas for great DIY projects, be it a pergola, a Tiki bar, a cover to protect your grill (and the grillmaster) from the elements, or for less experienced DIYers, a dining table, benches and chairs, by downloading free DIY project plans at http://www.realcedar.com.

* Landscaping

The final touch is the yard beyond your deck. Extend your outdoor space with a patio, create a walking path with stone pavers, or add shrubs, plants and flowers that will cycle and change with the seasons, giving your space a fresh look as the months go by.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Avoid Chilling Accidents by Winterizing Your Home

(BPT) – Winter will be here before you know it. The season has a way of sneaking up on you and before you realize you’re not ready, the first chilling breezes have already arrived.

Begin with winterizing your home now to ensure you’re prepared for the season. Apply the following tips and your home will be winter ready in no time.

* Prime your plumbing. If you live in an area where freezing pipes are a threat, this is one area you’ll want to correct immediately. A frozen pipe that bursts can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on damage. Shut off any water lines tied to outdoor spigots and your sprinkler system if you have one. Indoor pipes running along the exterior walls of your home are also potential freezing risks, so cover them with a towel or wrap to insulate them through the season.

* Be sure your heating system is ready for the season. The importance of your home’s heating system during the winter cannot be understated. If it isn’t up to the test, replace it now before winter arrives. A good unit is The York(R) Affinity(TM) Series YZT two-stage heat pump which offers a two-stage compressor to deliver higher energy efficiency and quieter operation. A smart home integration is easy with the Touch-Screen Thermostat. Control your home’s temperature by voice command or by using your smartphone when you’re away from home. Program auto-alerts to stay aware of necessary maintenance and replace the filter each month to ensure your home heating system performs at its best all season long.

* Have your home audited. A home energy audit can help you make sure your home will be energy efficient and comfortable throughout the winter. Your energy audit will show you where energy is being wasted and provide suggestions on how to correct them. You may discover opportunities to add insulation in drafty areas or replace appliances that are no longer operating efficiently.

* Seal the leaks. Even the smallest draft could end up costing you big time over the course of a winter and repairing this problem is easy. Inspect each of your home’s windows – replace the broken ones – and use caulk to seal any cracks you find around the window frames. You can also apply weather stripping where appropriate and when winter begins, don’t be afraid to keep the curtains closed to block cold air from coming into your home through the glass.

* Protect yourself from CO concerns. Colder temperatures cause many of us to seek alternative heating sources, but this can often be dangerous. Never use a generator, camp stove, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning device inside your home or garage. These devices, combined with closed windows, can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. If your home does not have a carbon monoxide detector, buy one immediately and if you do have a detector, make sure to test and replace the batteries regularly. A C02 detector is a vital component in keeping those in your home safe throughout the winter and beyond.

Don’t let winter freeze you out

Winter’s frigid temperatures haven’t struck yet, but the season will be here before you know it. Apply the tips above in your home today and you’ll stay nice and warm inside no matter what the outside weather conditions may bring.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Take A Second Look at Your Home Buying Options

(BPT) – Buying a home is an exciting process, but for many people it can also seem out of reach. While many renters would like to buy, there are several factors that may lead potential homebuyers to believe they may not be ready. These include credit score requirements, income and debt levels, and the common myth that a 20 percent down payment is needed. Here is some good news: Qualifying for a mortgage may not be so far out of reach.

While it is true that borrowers with stronger credit profiles – FICO scores of 720 and higher, low debt-to-income (DTI) ratios, and cash reserves – generally receive better mortgage terms, there are products in the market that can enable access to affordable, prudently underwritten mortgage financing.

Down payment is routinely cited by prospective home buyers as the largest hurdle to home ownership, but low down payment mortgages are widely available in today’s market. These include conventional loans with private mortgage insurance (MI) and government-backed loans like those insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

Many borrowers incorrectly believe that they need a 20 percent down payment to buy a home, but with private MI a borrower can qualify for a conventional home loan with as little as 3 percent down. In addition to the competitive pricing of mortgages backed by private MI, private MI can be canceled when a borrower reaches 20 percent equity in his or her home. This added perk often makes private MI a more affordable option over other home loan programs, such as FHA backed home loans, which require mortgage insurance premiums for the vast majority of borrowers for the entire term of the mortgage, which is often 15 or 30 years.

For more than 60 years, more than 30 million homeowners have used private MI to successfully buy homes and build the long-term wealth associated with home equity. In 2017 alone, private MI helped more than one million borrowers nationwide purchase or refinance a mortgage. According to a study by U.S. Mortgage Insurers, 56 percent of those borrowers who received purchase loans were first-time home buyers and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

For decades, millions of homeowners and prospective home buyers have relied on private MI to help them affordably and responsibly buy a home. Based on median home prices, it can take an average of 20 years to save for a 20 percent down payment. And with home prices dramatically on the rise, this wait time will only increase. Luckily, private MI can help you get into the home of your dreams sooner.

When making home buying decisions, it is important to take a second look to make sure you are aware of all your options. More information can be found on lowdownpaymentfacts.org.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Tips Toward a Safe DIY Moving Day

(BPT) – Changing residences can call for the coordination of a lot of details. It is especially true if you’re a do-it-yourselfer who’s renting a truck rather than hiring a moving company.

Though the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the average American changes homes 11.4 times in his lifetime, many of us never take time to think about the potential safety hazards involved. Usually we’re way more focused on the challenges of figuring out all the logistics, packing up our possessions in logical fashion and starting the psychological adjustment of having a new place of residence.

Still, it’s important to take a moment to think about best practices for the safety of you and your family as you plan your move. Consider taking the following steps toward a safe and organized moving process.

1. Assign roles. Organize your packing and loading crew so everyone knows his role. Your work will be much more efficient – and you won’t get in each other’s way – if your friends and family members are each assigned a task according to their physical capabilities. As a side note, you may wish to keep small children completely off-site so the adults can focus on the often-physical work at hand.

2. Choose a reputable rental company. Secure your moving truck from a reputable dealer, then follow its specific instructions for safely packing and driving the vehicle. Trusted longtime vendor Penske Truck Rental offers a clean, reliable, well-maintained vehicle every time, with a range of available packing and moving tools and the peace of mind that comes with 24-hour roadside assistance.

3. Optimize tools. Use dollies, hand trucks, harnesses and/or multiple people to lift boxes that weigh more than 50 pounds. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer you may take pride in being able to handle any chore yourself, but you need to remember you’ll be self-sufficient no longer if you sustain an injury from trying to be superhuman.

4. Lift correctly. When picking up anything even moderately heavy, avoid back injuries by keeping your back vertical and your chest forward. Draw the item as close to your body as possible while bending at the knees and lifting with your legs, avoiding bending horizontally as you straighten.

5. Be aware of obstacles. When moving items out of your house and into your vehicle, watch for items that could trip you or get in your way, such as low-hanging obstacles, ground protrusions or surfaces that are wet, slick or uneven. Wear close-fitting clothing that can’t be snagged and choose durable footwear that offers both support and traction.

The DIY moving process need not be difficult or risky as long as you plan ahead and take a few precautions.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

How Is Your Home Color Received?

A home’s curb appeal leaves a powerful first impression. Yet, according to the recent poll conducted by Ply Gem Building Products, only half of homeowners say their home’s exterior reflects their personality. This is an especially surprising statistic since 81 percent of Americans say the exterior of a home shapes their view of the homeowner.

With countless material options and accents like shutters and trim, there are several ways to add color to your home. Replacing old siding with vinyl siding tends to be a popular approach because it can improve the look of an entire home exterior, while also being low maintenance and durable. Before replacing your home’s siding, you may be interested to learn what your color choices say about your personality. The following profiles will provide some insight and inspiration for making big decisions about your home exterior:

* Calm, cool, collected = Blue: More than half the population (55 percent) believes the color blue has the most positive impact on their mood, which explains why blue skies are synonymous with peace and happiness. Along these lines, blue siding coordinates easily with a variety of accent colors whether it be white and gray or red and orange.

* Safe, certain, dependable = Neutral: Neutrals are the norm when it comes to exterior color preferences. Fifty-three percent of Americans would choose neutral colors such as beige, white or gray for the exterior of their home. In fact, if you want the latest on-trend curb appeal, consider shades of gray, which have grown in popularity by about 5 percent over the past four years. Gray is very versatile – it can easily be mixed and matched with just about any accent color and trim selection.

* Brave, confident = Bold: If you want to stand out and make a statement, dramatic siding colors are the way to go. Fifty-five percent of Americans say homes with bold colors belong to people with bold personalities. Recent advances in vinyl siding technology, such as the SolarDefense reflective technology from Ply Gem Mastic, have made it possible to choose daring colors such as deep reds, greens and browns.

Colors are important, but don’t forget maintenance

While colors can send a message, that statement can be undermined by a lack of upkeep. Seventy-eight percent of Americans say the maintenance of a home also impacts their first impression of a homeowner. Consider low-maintenance products like vinyl siding, which come in endless color options, but do not require upkeep such as painting or staining.

Is it time to make a change?

Thirty-seven percent of homeowners say they did not get to choose the exterior siding on their home. If you’re part of that group, what better time than the present to update the look of your house (before the holiday season kicks in)? Doing so could also add significant value to your home. According to the latest cost versus value survey by Remodeling Magazine, upgrading to vinyl siding recoups 76 percent of the project cost on average.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Amp Up the Natural Benefits of Your Yard

(BPT) – It’s easy to appreciate the sights and smells afforded by lawns and landscapes, but when it comes to your yard there is much more to consider besides pleasing aesthetics and aromas. Many would even be surprised to learn that the benefits of a lush lawn and stunning landscape design extend well beyond a yard’s perimeter.

That’s right, well-managed landscapes offer tremendous benefits for the community and environment. Here are just a few:

* Scrubs the air: Beautiful greenery, including grass, catch dust, smoke particles and other pollutants to make the air you breathe fresher and cleaner.

* Protects waterways: Well-maintained yards and lawns help prevent soil erosion and unwanted runoff into nearby lakes, streams and rivers.

* Adds oxygen: A 50-by-50-foot lawn produces enough oxygen to supply a family of four.

* Boosts home values: The yard is the first thing a potential buyer sees, and it sets the first impression. If you plan to sell your home in the next few years, investing in your landscaping now can pay dividends later. A recent study by the National Association of REALTORS and National Association of Landscape Professionals found that investing in landscape maintenance recovers 100 percent of the cost at the time of sale!

* Makes you feel good: Having a nice yard with lush turf and well-tended landscapes delivers some mood-enhancing properties as well. Looking at plants and trees, even through a window, has been found to lower stress and blood pressure, while walking among plants and trees improves attention and memory.

Ideas to enhance your yard’s natural benefits

Now that you know the benefits of your lawn and landscapes, you may be inspired to try some of these simple improvements to make it look and feel even better. Some of these can even save you time and effort, so you have more hours to spend outdoors.

* Mow properly: Raising the deck height of your lawn mower is one simple thing you can do right now to improve your green space. When mowing, the blade should remove no more than a 1/3 inch from the blade of grass.

* Mow at the right time: Professionals recommend to not mow right after it rains. Mowing wet grass will cause clumping and ruts. This also leaves the lawn more susceptible to certain diseases.

* Let the clippings drop: “Grass cycling” your clippings allows nitrogen and other nutrients to return to the soil. Even better, it eliminates the step of hauling around heavy bags of yard waste.

* Invest in smarter watering tools: An irrigation system saves time on watering chores, but one that uses smart technology and weather-based data will apply water only when your lawn and garden need it.

* Consider natural landscaping: The next time you choose flowers, shrubs or trees, opt for species native to your region. These plants have adapted to the climate, so they’re more resilient to your region’s weather patterns, and require less watering than exotic species.

With these tips, you have plenty to get started on creating a beautiful lawn and landscape that looks and feels even better. If you’re seeking fresh ideas to amp up your landscaping or want to maximize its full environmental and enjoyment benefits, consider turning to the expertise of a lawn care or landscape professional. You can find a professional to help you with your landscaping in your area at LoveYourLandscape.org. With help from a professional, you can have the outdoor oasis of your dreams.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Consider These Options Before Renovating


(BPT) – Home improvement projects are popular this time of year and you’ve certainly tackled your share of DIY to-dos in the past. But not this year. This year you realize it’s time to go big, to go bold, to set aside those traditional home improvement projects for another year and do something even bigger.

Yes, this year, it’s time to renovate.

Whether your plans include renovating one room, a floor or your entire home, there’s no denying that a renovation project greatly increases the scope of the work to be done – and the expense. And because of that, it’s incredibly important to have your entire plan laid out before you begin. After all, the last thing you want to do is renovate your latest renovation.

To be sure you’re ready for the renovation project of your dreams this season, apply the tips below.

* Finalize your goals. The largest projects are more successful when they are planned down to the finest details and that includes getting very specific about your goals. Don’t settle for a goal of simply improving your home. Decide if you’re trying to up the resale value, add more space, create a hobby area or finally build the bathroom you deserve. Any or all of these could qualify as improving your home, but when you get specific about your goal, you’ll better recognize what needs to be done to attain it.

* Determine if you need to update/replace core systems. Your air conditioning unit, water softener and furnace are all vital components in your home and it’s easy to take the work they do every day for granted. However, these systems eventually need replacement as well, and your home renovation could be the perfect time to tackle this task. For example, take your air conditioning unit, , and replace your old, inefficient unit with a new two-stage unit like the Luxaire Acclimate Air Conditioner. It uses a two-stage compressor to meet your comfort needs and its SilentDrive system ensures a peaceful, enjoyable experience.

* Set your budget. Many homeowners have no idea what a renovation project will cost and even if they do, unexpected expenses can appear very quickly. If you are working with a contractor, they should be able to give you a fairly accurate estimation of how much your project will cost. However, it’s still a good idea to determine what your absolute spending ceiling is for the project and not go above it. This means making sure you budget in some extra space below this mark to allot for unexpected expenses.

* Organize your calendar. Delays during a renovation project will cost you time and money, so it pays to eliminate them when possible. Do you plan to remain in your home during the project? Are there any seasonal plans – like a family vacation – that could interfere with the progress? Understand these potential hazards early and you can plan for ways to minimize them.

* Know what you can do and, more importantly, what you can’t. When you move from a home improvement project to a renovation, you’re also probably moving from DIY to hiring an expert. Tackle what you can yourself – including buying materials for the project, which will save you the contractor’s mark-up – but leave the things you don’t know how to do in the hands of the professionals. Doing so will make sure that you’re happier with the result and that you don’t have to pay someone to fix your mistakes.

Start your project today

No matter your motivation for starting a home renovation, it’s easy to be excited about the result. Take your time, plan your process using the tips above, and be ready for any hurdles that come your way, and that result will be all the more satisfying.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Beat The Heat In Favorite Outdoor Spaces

(BPT) – Are summer’s sizzling temperatures causing you to retreat from your favorite outdoor spaces? Garages, patios, sheds, gardens and other outdoor areas should be enjoyed throughout the year. Unfortunately, heat and humidity can quickly make being outside intolerable during the dog days of summer.

The good news is keeping outdoor spaces comfortable doesn’t have to be a challenge. With the right tools and some thoughtful planning, you can stay cool and continue your favorite hobbies, no matter how high the temperatures rise. Whether it’s wrenching on a car, in the garage tackling a DIY project, tending to your patio container garden or simply kicking back on the deck, the following steps can help you stay cool and safe.

Step 1: Shade

Direct sun on decks and patios can make it nearly impossible to enjoy hot days. Strategically install shade features like umbrellas and awnings to add instant protection and ambiance. An alternative is vine-covered trellises that block sunlight and align well with the natural elements outdoors. For covered areas like garages and sheds, direct sunlight isn’t a concern, but those rays can raise the temperatures in those spaces fast. That’s why it’s important to take additional steps to cool the air within.

Step 2: Portable cooling

Fans alone simply circulate stagnant, hot air throughout outdoor living spaces. Instead consider an evaporative cooler. Portacool portable evaporative coolers drop temperatures through the naturally occurring process of evaporation using water and the surrounding air, without creating mist. Open backyard spaces, patios and garages can be more comfortably cool on the hottest days by rolling this cooler wherever it’s needed.

Step 3: Insulation

For covered spaces like garages and sheds, adding insulation can help regulate temperatures. Batt insulation is inexpensive and an easy weekend DIY project to install if drywall isn’t present. Add to walls and ceiling spaces where applicable and then cover with drywall. If you already have drywall, you can look into blown-in insulation options. By insulating these spaces, you’ll help keep sweltering heat out and cool air in for more enjoyable summer days.

Step 4: Color

Keep color in mind when evaluating outdoor spaces. Light colors reflect the sun and dark colors absorb it, causing temperatures to rise. For decks and patios, opt for rugs and furniture in light colors to stay cool and comfortable. For garages and sheds, consider the color of the exterior. If you find the afternoon sun beats mercilessly down upon it, consider painting the exterior a lighter shade of paint, and when it’s time to replace the roof, choose a new color in a lighter hue.

Summer heat doesn’t have to force you indoors. Enjoy favorite outdoor spaces with these simple steps to stay cool and comfortable.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Take the Sting out of Summer

(BPT) – If you’re like many people, the warm months of summer are when you are most active outdoors. You’re not alone. The same is also true for fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. New findings show these pests are more than just an annoyance, they can pose a health risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses caused by these pests are on the rise, and in recent years, nine new germs spread by ticks and mosquitoes have been identified or introduced into the U.S.

Now more than ever, it’s important to be proactive by putting a plan in place to protect your home and outdoor space from these pests, and any of the other 200 insect types that could inhabit your lawn and enter your home.

Start with these five tips:

* Narrow down your summer guest list. Different pests are drawn to different things. Mosquitoes can breed and thrive in even the smallest amount of water, and yellow jackets enjoy spending time around trash. Many stinging insects are also drawn to the bright bulbs of certain flowers. Remove these appealing targets from your space to keep these unwanted guests away from your family.

* Protect your home inside and out. When creating your indoor and outdoor pest control strategy, a few preventative measures go a long way. Apply Ortho(R) Home Defense Insect Killer for Indoor & Perimeter early in the season to protect your home from ants, roaches and spiders and create a long-lasting barrier around your home to keep bugs out.

* Keep your yard clean. Insects love dark, moist areas, many of which can be found in your yard if you don’t keep it tidy. Mow the grass at least once a week so insects have less room to hide and remove debris or clutter as soon as it accumulates, particularly in areas like your wood pile. If you put off these tasks, unwanted visitors may have already moved in.

* Check your screens. With the windows shut all winter, it’s easy to forget about the condition of your screens when you open them once again. However, even the smallest hole in one of your screens can be all an insect needs to get inside. Check each of your screens – no matter how high the window is off the ground – to be sure it still works, and don’t delay if a replacement must be made.

* Be proactive about infestation. When you’re outside, take a moment to look for signs of insect infestation on your property. For example, wasps tend to build their nests in the crooks of your roof and carpenter ants will set up shop in old wood if left to their own devices. Clear these infestations yourself or contact a pest control expert to prevent the problem from growing worse. Don’t assume they’ll go away on their own, or you’ll be dealing with these pests all season long.

The summer months can be some of the best times of the year, and you should be able to enjoy your summer on your terms. Apply the tips above and you and your family will have a home and yard to enjoy all season.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Prepping for a New Addition to the Family

(BPT) – Whether it’s a baby or pet, a new addition to the family calls for new, unexpected responsibilities, and is bound to come with adjustments for every member of the family. While it would be silly to guarantee zero stress for the new family environment, below are tips for a transition with more playtime and fewer headaches to help you get started.

Here’s what you need to know:

Get ready in style

Prep the space with all the necessities needed to make your new addition’s life as happy as possible. Based on the needs of your new child or pet, this could mean turning your home office or game room into a nursery, or finding the perfect doggy door to install in the back entrance. After checking big-ticket items off your list, consider how moments such as bath time will change in the new dynamic. Choose a product that is stylish and functional, like the Peerless SideKick Shower System, which has interchangeable attachments for parents, pet and baby. Versatile shower additions create a one-stop shop for everyone in the family, limiting mess and making bath time more efficient and cost-effective!.

Proof! Proof!

When you walk through your front door, you are greeted with the comfort and security of being in a space made just for you. With a new baby or pet, that could all change! It is important to take a careful look at your home and proof for all possible dangers and accidents. Move chemicals and cleaning products onto high shelves, tape electrical cords to baseboards, find ways to secure cabinets and doors that you would prefer not to have curious hands, mouths and noses digging around in, and make sure anything that can induce choking is stored in a safe place, far away from the curious new family member.

Budget for two

A new addition to the family means one more mouth to feed and nurture. It is important to prepare for unexpected expenses. Babies and pets are more prone to illness, injury and accidents because they are constantly exploring their environment. Remember to plan ahead by setting up a monthly savings plan to make room for miscellaneous expenses in your monthly budget. Go the extra mile and save more money by buying clothes and accessories from thrift or consignment stores, using family or friends for backup daycare, and asking relatives to babysit or puppy sit. Remember that planning is key. You’ve got this!

Playtime

Ensure a stress- and mess-free playtime by designating an area for play in your home. If possible, create a gated space to give yourself a sense of control over playtime activities. This will offer peace of mind and allow your new addition to have fun and express themselves without any inhibitions. Bonus: There is less cleanup time as well.

Please click here to contact a Pacific Home Broker’s Agent to learn more.

Reclaiming the Rooftop: Tips for Decks With a View

(BPT) – Once reserved for the urban elite, rooftop decks are popping up all over the country as an attractive option that offers a mixture of space savings and an unrivaled view. Rooftop decks take what was formerly unused space – the top of a building or the flat roof over part of a home – and reclaim it for a unique entertaining area or family gathering spot.

1. Define the use

Defining how the deck will be used most of the time is the top way to make sure the space fits the homeowners’ needs. Questions like, “Will the deck host weekly family dinner?” and “Will you use it daily for drinks and lounging?” help determine whether a kitchen/dining area is needed and how much seating should be included. Plan for how many people you expect to fit on the deck.

2. Stay true to your style

Most people have a style or color scheme they are already drawn to. A good designer will pay attention to the rest of a homeowner’s space and incorporate that theme into the rooftop deck to create a cohesive style from interior to exterior.

3. Focus on materials

Materials have a significant impact on the final look of the deck, whether it’s sleek tile, decorative concrete or luxury composite lumber. James said his rooftop decks are primarily Envision composite lumber by TAMKO, because of the wide variety of styles the boards can accommodate, taking on everything from the look of exotic hardwoods to distressed reclaimed barn wood.

4. Add a covering

Regardless of how the deck will be used, it’s nice to have a covered area to escape the heat of the sun or the rain. Depending on the homeowners’ needs and budget, the covering can be anything from a grouping of large umbrellas to a covered structure with glass walls.

5. Include a fire element

If adding a covering helps extend deck season through the extreme heat of summer and the rain of spring, including a fire element extends the deck’s use through the fall and winter. This could be something as simple as a fire pit or as elaborate as a built-in fireplace.

6. Work with the views

Consider the natural views when deciding where to add a covering and how to position furniture on a rooftop deck. One area of the deck may offer superior views, either of nature or of a cityscape. Position furniture to open up to the best view and construct deck coverings and any needed walls to obstruct undesirable views.

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

Set the Stage for the Perfect Summer Soiree

(BPT) – The backyard barbecue is a staple of the American summer. Long days filled with sun, fun, family and friends are what make lifelong memories. Now is the perfect time to start planning for your next barbecue, so you, too, can create memories you won’t soon forget.

However, before you fire up the grill, you will want to ensure your backyard is prepped and ready to host your friends and family.

Here are three tips to help you create the perfect setting for your patio party:

1. Lay the groundwork

The first step to setting any stage is to lay the groundwork. Unfortunately, many deck or patio surfaces become uncomfortably hot in the direct sun. The problem affects dark-colored deck boards, especially, which absorb heat throughout the day, as well as some composite boards that hold heat. As a result, what should be a comfortable stroll across your deck might end up feeling more like a crash course in the ancient art of fire walking. An overly hot deck is especially problematic for young children and pets, whose feet are more heat sensitive.

“Many people tell us they love the beauty and durability of their composite deck, but not the heat,” said Brent Gwatney, vice president of MoistureShield Decking. His company has developed a solution they call CoolDeck technology. The boards are engineered to absorb up to 35 percent less heat than other composites in similar colors, for a noticeably lower surface temperature on hot summer days.

2. Create shade

Once you have protected your feet from the heat, you’ll want to shield the rest of your body from the summer sun with a pergola or gazebo. These stylish coverings provide a refreshing shady area for friends and family to relax and enjoy themselves. Turn this area into the ultimate relaxation zone by adding hammocks or hanging chairs, along with climbing vines for added beauty and extra protection from the sun.

If you are a weekend do-it-yourself type, look for gazebo and pergola plans on popular social media sites. For the less handy, many deck builders will complete the project for you without breaking the bank.

3. Light up the night

Once the sun sets and the temperature drops, you might find yourself missing the light and warmth of the day. While tiki torches offer a temporary aesthetic solution, a more permanent outdoor fireplace can provide heat, light and ambiance to keep your guests happy long into the night. There are many style options, from wood-burning designs to more modern styles that burn gas or propane.

The pricing varies greatly depending on whether you decide on a custom build, or choose to purchase a prefab or portable unit from a home improvement store. With a custom-built fireplace you can even include an outdoor pizza oven and give your guests an alternative to the typical burgers and hot dogs menu. A custom-built fireplace will cost more, and will require a stonemason, but will allow for more personalized features. For more budget-friendly options, you can always pick up a simple wood-burning fire pit from your local home improvement store, starting as low as $200.

Whether you are designing a completely new backyard or just giving your existing one a face-lift, these three tips will help you to create a stylish space that will keep you and your guests comfortable and happy during all of your summer events.

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

Wildfire Protection Starts in These 5 Places

(BPT) – It’s National Wildfire Awareness Week. So, if you live in a wildfire-prone area, make sure you’re taking the right steps to stave off potential damage long before flames rage toward your doorstep.

And one of the best ways to do that is to take a look at the home itself.

“It’s a combination of the house materials, the house design and then everything around it within 100 feet that makes the difference between a safer home and one that has a greater risk of damage from wildfire,” says Michele Steinberg, manager of the Wildfire Operations Division for the National Fire Protection Association.

“All of our recommendations are really for well before the fire ever starts.”

Steinberg recommends paying special attention to these five spots around your house:

* The roof. Ensure yours is rated Class A, which means the covering and underlayment provide the most effective resistance to fire. It’s a big-ticket item for homeowners, but the most critical design item when it comes time to replace an aging roof.

* The gutters. Keep them free of debris such as leaves and pine needles, which can be ignited by swirling embers. “A wildfire doesn’t even need to be close to your house to cause a problem,” Steinberg says. “A blizzard of embers can pile up on roofs, porches and in gutters.”

* The foundation. It’s best that decks, porches and fences be made of non-flammable materials. Keeping their surface areas clear also is critical. Screening porches and decks with fine, metal mesh can help prevent embers from sweeping in to ignite leaves and other debris.

* The windows and vents. Double-paned or tempered glass better withstands approaching heat. “I’ve seen cases where the outside window breaks but the inside pane stays intact, so you have that extra level of protection,” Steinberg said. And, if possible, build in under-eave and side-roof vents to make it more difficult for the wind to blow in embers.

* The landscaping. Keep organic flammable materials such as trees, shrubbery and even mulch from contact with your house. They can lead fire right to the siding. Store firewood at least 30 feet from the house because of the intense heat and large flames it creates when ignited.

Find out more about how the Wildfire Response Program can provide you with extra wildfire protection when you need it.

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

Tips To Create a Personalized Shed

(BPT) – The backyard. It’s your oasis. Your happy place. Your second living room. It’s the place to go not only for “me” time – but quality time with friends and family.

This National Barbecue Month, the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association wants to help you make your backyard the best backyard it can be.

Think sheds. No, not your grandparents’ tattered shed filled with a dusty mower and 30-year-old paint brushes. We’re talking highly personalized sheds. Intimate covered spaces that keep the sun’s rays out but bring the summer in.

Outdoor sheds come in all shapes and sizes and can be personalized to fit within all types of lifestyles. From fun-filled tapsheds where friends gather for a margarita and grilled salmon to an intimate she shed stocked with wine and cheese or even a hobby shed for the family to play board games while munching on braised ribs and root beer, sheds can do it all.

Building a personalized shed can be a daunting task. Consider these five tips to help you create your ideal outdoor oasis just in time for summer:

1. Have a plan: Are you starting from scratch or cleaning out an existing old shed? What’s the theme? What’s the budget? What’s the goal? How much room do you have to work with? Before you start building your shed, make sure you have a plan in place. You may be eager to jump right in but it’s much easier to follow a well-laid plan than to make decisions on the fly.

2. Stick to a theme: A craft shed, a relaxation shed, a party shed – there are so many options when it comes to creating your perfect shed. Choose one theme and tailor all decisions around your theme of choice. For example, if you decide to go with a relaxation shed, choose calming colors and peaceful decorations.

3. Utilize your resources: Your shed is a part of your outdoor space and you should utilize all the free beauty that nature has to offer when it comes to decorating your shed. Build your shed under your favorite tree to offer natural shade or decorate your shed with dried flowers or vines.

4. Less is more: When designing an outdoor shed, it is easy to go overboard. Remember to keep it simple and that you want to have enough room to entertain guests and to hang out in your shed. Keeping things minimal will also ensure you stay within your budget.

5. Remember the exterior: One easy way to customize your shed is with a coat of paint. Choose a paint color that goes with your theme. Then invite friends and family over for a day of painting fun in the sun.

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

Common Causes of Homeowners Insurance Claims

(BPT) – The value of homeowners insurance is often thrust into the national spotlight when natural disasters happen. The devastation and financial loss they can cause reinforces the importance of making sure you have adequate insurance coverage to rebuild if disaster strikes your home. In 2017 alone, the U.S. was struck by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events, resulting in a record-breaking $300 billion in damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Thankfully, most Americans don’t experience large-scale natural catastrophes, but millions of homeowners do experience some kind of property loss each year and need to make an insurance claim. The most commonly reported homeowners insurance claims are actually the result of events that can occur at any time, so it’s important for homeowners to be prepared for these potential risks.

Water damage claims are most common

“Water claims are the ones we see most often,” says Christopher O’Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “While certain perils are seasonal, water damage can occur any time of year. It’s important for homeowners to conduct routine maintenance of appliance hoses and water pipes to make sure there aren’t cracks or leaks and, if any are detected, have them repaired or replaced immediately.

Smart home technology also delivers an extra layer of protection for homeowners by providing 24/7 monitoring to help detect water pipe leaks. Professionally installed water pressure sensors, for example, work with most smartphones and can, among other things, automatically shut off the home’s main water supply if a leak or burst pipe is detected.

Fire damage is a concern for homeowners

While water claims are the most common, fire damage is another possible concern for homeowners and can be caused in several ways. The National Fire Protection Association reports nearly half a million structure fires occurred in 2016, resulting in $7.5 billion in property damage, and wildfires ravaged California in 2017, leading to one of the year’s billion-dollar disaster events.

“Most home fires happen when people are inattentive or negligent. These fires are preventable if people don’t leave things like lit stoves, fireplaces, candles or portable heat sources unattended. You should also refrain from overloading electrical outlets and using appliances with frayed electrical cords,” he says. “These things seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how many claims we see that result from simply not paying attention.

Theft can be costly

Theft doesn’t necessarily pose a threat to the physical structure of a home, but it too can be costly and it often leaves homeowners feeling scared and violated. The FBI’s Universal Crime Report estimates 1.5 million burglaries occurred in 2016 – with residential properties accounting for 69.5 percent of these offenses.

Homeowners can help safeguard against theft by taking simple, but often overlooked precautions like ensuring doors and windows are locked, and not leaving spare keys in easy-to-find locations. Several smart home devices can also aid in deterring potential thieves by allowing homeowners to adjust lights, monitor security cameras and activate security systems from their smartphones even when they’re away from home.

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

Home Improvements For A Fast Sale and More Money

(BPT) – The real estate market is heating up, and if you’re planning to sell your home in the future, you want it to sell quickly and for as high of a price as possible. By taking proactive action now, you can make a few strategic home improvements that can help you achieve both your goals.

To boost your home sale and reduce time on the market, consider these top home improvement ideas to catch buyers’ eyes.

Garage door: When potential buyers visit your property, you want to make the best first impression before they even come inside. That’s why it’s wise to replace your garage door. It takes up a significant amount of exterior visual real estate and helps define the home’s aesthetic. What’s more, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2018 Cost vs. Value report, a garage door replacement recoups an astonishing 98.3 percent of cost upon resale.

Bathroom addition: More bathrooms typically mean you can charge more for your home. Think you’re limited based on existing construction? Think again. With Saniflo, you can add a complete bathroom where no drainage existed before thanks to above-floor plumbing features like a macerating toilet and drain pumps. The Saniaccess3 is a smart choice for full baths, and the Saniaccess2 is ideal for powder rooms.

Kitchen upgrade: A complete kitchen remodel is costly, but a few smart upgrades can make the heart of the home shine. Consider replacing worn laminate countertops and updating hardware for a fresh look. For extra ‘wow factor,’ add an island.

Fresh flooring: You don’t have to replace all your flooring, but focal areas like the kitchen or family room, as well as areas that tend to experience higher wear, such as the entryway, can benefit from a new floor. Forget expensive tile or hardwood replacements. Vinyl wood flooring looks incredibly similar to real wood, and modern luxury vinyl tile mimics the gorgeous look of stone or ceramic tile but is more durable and affordable. You may be able to simply add new flooring on top of old, making it a much easier DIY project.

Neutral paint: Don’t ever underestimate the value of a fresh coat of paint throughout your home. Walls get dingy and colors get dated. Repaint rooms with modern, neutral tones. As much as you love plum, buyers may not, so stick with whites, creams and grays whenever possible. Visit your local paint store and you’ll see there are many neutral options to add excitement to interior spaces. Don’t forget the ceiling, too! A fresh coat of white can do wonders.

These five projects will enhance your listing so you get more attention and book more showings. You may even start a bidding war with enough interest, and that can really drive up the price. Take action now and these home improvement efforts are sure to make an impact.

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

Call 811 Before Digging for Home Improvement Projects

(BPT) – With spring having officially begun, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country will roll up their sleeves and reach for their shovels to start projects that require digging this season.

During the transition into “digging season,” Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the first step toward protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notification center.

According to data collected by CGA in a phone survey in February, millions of American homeowners will likely do DIY projects involving digging this year, but 36 percent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 before digging. Extrapolated to the full population of U.S. homeowners, approximately 48.3 million people will dig this year without first calling 811.

A utility line is damaged every nine minutes in America because someone decided to dig without making a call to 811 to learn the approximate location of buried utilities in their area. Unintentionally striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, serious harm to yourself or your neighbors, and significant repair costs.

As a result, CGA offers the following tips to make sure you complete your project safely and without any utility service interruptions, so you don’t become a statistic.

Here’s how the 811 process works:

1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, carefully dig around the marked areas.

There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States, which equates to more than a football field’s length of utilities for every person in the U.S. Your family depends on this buried infrastructure for your everyday needs including electric, natural gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone. With that much critical infrastructure underground, it’s important to know what’s below and call 811 before digging.

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

Protect Your Home From Termites This Spring

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BPT) – Spring is officially here, bringing flowers, greenery and increased pest activity. Because termite evidence is more noticeable in warmer months, it is important to check for any warning signs every spring. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a termite infestation in the first place.

Keep shrubs trimmed

Well-maintained shrubbery looks nice, but it also serves an important purpose: Trimming shrubs reduces the likelihood termites and pests will enter your home. Stray branches that touch a house’s exterior provide pests with direct access to potential entry points. By properly maintaining landscaping, you can make access more difficult for these unwelcome house guests.

Modify your landscape

It’s important to make smart decisions when adding landscaping, because termites are more attracted to some materials than others. Instead of traditional mulch, opt for synthetic mulch or pea gravel. These alternatives are less attractive to termites than wood-based mulch.

Maintain home exteriors

Termites need water to survive. Controlling excess moisture can help reduce the risk of an infestation. Regularly maintaining home exteriors, such as wooden siding and windows, can help you detect and repair leaks early.

Monitor interior moisture

Many homeowners forget to think about moisture inside their homes, particularly in basements and crawlspaces. Properly ventilating these areas helps minimize the amount of moisture around floor joists and sub flooring. Reducing moisture in interior spaces can help reduce the likelihood that termites will take up residence in your home.

If you suspect you may have a termite problem, the best solution is to call a pest professional such as Terminix. Termite warning signs include blisters in wood flooring, hollowed or damaged wood, and evidence of swarms such as discarded wings, mud tubes and droppings that resemble sawdust or coffee grounds. Early detection can prevent a small termite problem from becoming a widespread infestation.

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

5 Things To Do Before Re-Roofing

(BPT) – With spring officially arriving, home improvement season is swinging into full gear. Fair warning to homeowners looking to hire a professional, 2018 is predicted to be a record-breaker.

A recent study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University projects home improvement spending will approach $340 billion this year – the strongest gain for remodeling in more than a decade. Among the costliest of projects is roofing, a large expense with serious implications if put off or improperly done.

When you add 2018’s remodeling demand with the much-talked-about skilled labor shortage, on top of the recovery from last year’s hurricane season, homeowners could be tempted to jump right into major home work, all without doing their homework first. As this could prove costly, consider the following before anyone sets foot on your roof:

1. Check contractor qualifications

Choose a local, reputable contractor. These contractors should have the best knowledge of local building codes, state codes and required certifications and licenses. Ask the contractor to see their certificate of insurance before stepping onto the roof. Consider going the extra mile and choosing a contractor certified by the manufacturer of the shingle the contractor installs. Improper installation is considered one of the major reasons roofs fail prematurely, so finding a contractor with knowledge and experience in the correct application of a particular product is of the utmost importance.

2. Determine layover or tear off

Many times, contractors will push for a removal of all existing shingles, or a tear off, over adding another layer of shingles on top of an existing roof, a layover. Although a complete tear off is more expensive due to increased labor costs, there are some advantages.

“When you tear off, you get a chance to look at the roof deck and repair any deteriorating wood or substrate,” said Rick Taylor, longtime roofing contractor and a trainer for shingle manufacturer TAMKO Building Products Inc.

Typically, doing a layover is more economical, although homeowners need to discuss relevant factors with their contractor, including local building code requirements and implications for the manufacturer’s warranty.

3. Research the warranty

It is important to understand the warranty specific to the roof product you have installed. Educate yourself on requirements for installation, including whether a shingle layover is applicable, as mentioned above.

Other warranty concerns to consider include proper installation, the required steps to register your roof after installation and the time period allowed for transferring that warranty to future owners of the home.

4. Assess ventilation needs

Inadequate roof ventilation is another major culprit behind premature roof aging. There are a variety of options for roof ventilation; however, it is generally recommended to incorporate proper ventilation into the original re-roof, rather than add it later. The recommended ventilation depends on the size and architecture of the home, but when done correctly, the air inside the attic should be near the same temperature as the ambient temperature of the air outside it.

5. Check the weather

It may seem obvious, but a simple check of the weather before starting a roofing project could prevent a big headache later. Avoid starting a project with wet plywood or underlayment, or when the forecast indicates a strong chance of rain. Also, many manufacturers of asphalt shingles, the most popular form of roofing in the U.S., do not recommend installation in below-freezing temperatures or in excessively high temperatures.

Careful consideration of these steps during your next home exterior project could save you from costly and lengthy rework years later.

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

House Hunting? Use This Handy Checklist

(BPT) – House hunting can feel like an adventurous new chapter in your life. If you’re lucky enough to find the property that checks off all the must have boxes such as  appearance, size, price, and location, it’s easy to fall in love.

Not so fast. Before making an offer on any property, it’s smart to take a deeper look at the overall structure and its systems, just to make sure warning signs of major and costly problems are not hiding in plain sight. If the house holds more issues than your budget and drive to renovate can handle, it might be best to walk away.

Of course, once the offer is accepted, it’s always a smart idea to hire a third-party home inspector to take an in-depth look at the property. In the meantime, one last pass-through with this checklist in hand can give you peace of mind about taking the next step.

Exterior: Walk around all four sides of the house, scanning it from ground to rooftop. Note the condition of the doors and window frames, and look for cracked or peeling paint or signs of loose siding. Higher up, eye the chimney, making sure it appears straight and is in good condition, while the gutters and drainpipes should be in place and functional.

Roof: Ideally, the roof would be 10 years old or less, so scan the roof for the classic warning signs of aging and neglect. Things like curled and missing shingles, dark stains, moss growth and signs of sagging can signal serious issues. A home inspector can confirm if full replacement is needed, or if a few simple repairs would stabilize things for another decade.

Yard: Take note of the landscaping. Is there a slope angled away from the house, or is there a potential for a flooded basement after a major rainfall? Mature trees provide lots of shade, but watch for overhanging branches, as these can break off in a storm and do major damage to the roof. Finally, take note of the condition of the driveway and sidewalks.

Foundation: The sight of a few hairline cracks in the cement is no cause for panic. Do look for telltale signs of serious issues, such as widening cracks, water stains and bulges. It doesn’t hurt to bring a level to make sure the walls are straight.

Plumbing: In addition to checking basement and under-sink pipes for signs of leaks, scan the ceilings for water stains. Open all the faucets to check the water pressure as well as the time it takes for hot water to reach the tap.

HVAC system: Know the age of the heating and cooling systems, and check these for tags and other signs of routine maintenance. If the system is older than a decade, that can spell costly repairs and a replacement in a brief time frame. When it comes to older systems, energy efficiency is another consideration. For example, Coleman’s Echelon products are rated up to 20 SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Compare these to the 10 SEER systems of 25 years ago, and that can give you an idea of what to expect in potential energy costs.

Appliances: Note the age and condition of things like the refrigerator, oven and range, washer and dryer, and hot water heater. As with the HVAC, older appliances tend to consume more energy and you’ll face a shorter timeline for needed repairs and replacements.

Buying a house is a big decision, but knowing what you’re buying can go a long way in assuring you that you’ve found the right place!

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

Top Trends To Inspire Your Outdoor Living

(BPT) – Outdoor living spaces rank first among special function rooms desired by consumers, according to the American Institute for Architects, and so homeowners are expected to be going all-in for the outdoors in 2018.

Year-round enjoyment

Among the biggest trends is a shift away from seasonality as consumers adopt more of a year-round mindset, no longer restricting outdoor living to spring and summer. Thanks to new high-performance materials and innovative design approaches, homeowners everywhere are transforming their outdoor spaces into multi-seasonal extensions of their homes. For example, Trex contractors have reported an uptick in requests for its RainEscape deck drainage system by clients looking to add multi-seasonal living space underneath an elevated deck.

Minimal maintenance, maximum enjoyment

Just because people are spending more time outdoors doesn’t mean they’re willing to put in extra hours for upkeep. In fact, high-maintenance materials like wood are seeing a decrease in demand as people are opting for offerings that deliver better performance and sustainability.

Unlike wood, high-performance composites resist fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. No sanding, staining or painting is required, and food and drink spills wash off easily with just soap and water.

Comfy cozy

Among the hottest design influences right now is “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) – the Scandinavian term for a feeling of coziness and comfort. This year, outdoor spaces will beckon homeowners and their guests to relax and rejuvenate with hygge-inspired accents, from plush cushions and throws to protective pergolas, cozy warming features and outdoor lighting.

Residential goes commercial

While railing matched to the decking remains popular, an increasing number of homeowners are taking advantage of the complementary decking and railing pairings afforded by new railing materials in modern, metal finishes, as well as sleek designs inspired by commercial architecture. More homeowners are inspired by outdoor spaces they find in commercial settings, such as hotels and urban rooftops, and want to replicate those looks in their homes. A prime example of this commercial-to-residential trend is the growing popularity of horizontal railings such as rod rail – a sleek, industrial look that’s ideal for optimizing a panoramic view.

Hide and chic

With the increased usage of outdoor living spaces comes higher demand for chic decor and privacy. An easy design trick that adds personal style and functionality, lattice panels are perfect for enhancing privacy and concealing storage areas or unsightly views. With styles ranging from romantic to deco, lattice panels can be integrated into any outdoor area and applied to structures such as arbors, trellises and gazebos, or used as decorative wainscoting or deck skirting.

Fun and games

Kids are not the only ones who enjoy playing outside. Outdoor play spaces for all ages are on the rise, including everything from swimming pools and embedded sandboxes to regulation cornhole courts, horseshoe pits and dedicated spaces for volleyball, badminton and bocce ball.

Beyond yard games, electronics manufacturers now offer televisions and entertainment systems specifically designed for the outdoors, taking into consideration differences in lighting and outdoor acoustics. Meanwhile, new storage options include durable wall-mounted television and entertainment centers that beautifully protect pricey electronics from the elements, while concealing all of the unsightly – and potentially unsafe – cords and cables.

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

 

Smart home update 2018: New products that organize your life through voice

(BPT) – The artificial intelligence that’s already taking the world by storm is ramping up even more in 2018, enabling a number of innovative new smart home tools that can make your life easier, more comfortable or just more fun.

Throughout the year, consumers worldwide are expected to spend $102 billion on hardware, services and installation related to smart home systems, an amount expected to ramp up to $157 billion by 2022. The number of connected things installed in smart cities by next year? Nearly 1.1 billion, predicts Statista. Increasingly, people will enjoy the convenience of being able to monitor and control their surroundings with a simple touch or a few words of direction. In fact, a 2017 study found 24 percent of consumers already own a voice-controlled device and another 20 percent plan to purchase one in the next year.

“Pretty much anything can be made smart these days,” notes Bernard Marr in Forbes. “For our homes, there are obvious smart products like TVs and less obvious ones, like yoga mats that track your Downward Dog. We can carry out a whole range of tasks on the move simply by touching a screen.”

Some of the hottest smart home products that have recently debuted:

* LG’s entire line of OLED TVs is now AI enabled. They also let you speak right into the remote control so with one word, you can check weather reports, search for content from over-the-air or streaming sources (including Netflix, Amazon, Hulu or YouTube), order items through Google or even control other IoT devices within your network. Even better, LG Electronics has invented a next-generation OLED TV that combines the most powerful A9 Intelligent Processor created with Atmos audio technology. The result? The LG SIGNATURE OLED TV W8 offers stunningly clear and detailed pictures, cinema-quality sound and ultra-fast response times.

* Seeking the smartest refrigerator on the market? The Wi-Fi-enabled LG ThinQ InstaView is the first to offer built-in Amazon Alexa that responds to your spoken directions by creating to-do lists and grocery lists, ordering the groceries themselves, controlling your refrigerator settings, playing the music of your choice and otherwise stepping up to make your life easier. A convenient touchscreen panel lets you instantaneously peruse the weather, recipes, shopping sites or the contents of your fridge – without losing energy by opening the door.

* Hands-free speakers with voice-activated assistants such as Google Home and Amazon Echo are helping tens of millions of people worldwide efficiently manage their lives by interacting on command with everything from home appliances to entertainment systems to information sources to online shopping venues.

* What’s for dinner? Recipe apps like SideChef and Innit already deliver fast and intelligent answers to that age-old question, giving everything needed to plan and prepare the next meal. Voice-controlled AI takes this to the next level. Innit is now connected to some models of smart ovens, and for SideChef that feature is coming online in 2018. What does that mean for home chefs? When they speak to the oven to start heating, it will already know those roasted veggies need 25 minutes in a 425-degree oven.

* In its latest version, the Bluetooth music headset that may already be a staple of your life allows you to access the Google Assistant by voice so you can instantly access a range of functions beyond just music. The LG TONE PLATINUM SE lets you request and receive notifications and answers to questions, send text or audio messages and more while you’re on the go.

Thanks to the continual evolution of technology, we can start the new year with fun new products aimed at making our lives more efficient, organized and enjoyable. And that pattern should only continue into the future.

“Already, many of us wake up in our ‘smart beds’ to a Bluetooth-connected alarm clock that communicates with our WiFi-enabled speakers,” notes marketing consultant A.J. Agrawal in Entrepreneur. “Soon, all our devices – microwaves, washing machines and even bird feeders – will be connected to the web. With geospatial data from all of our devices, tech-savvy companies will be able to optimize and automate systems, eradicating inefficiencies caused by human error.”

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

Prep Your Home for Extreme Winter Weather

(BPT) – As winter approaches, many cities in the U.S. have already started to experience the winter chill with temperatures below freezing and snow fall. But cold weather isn’t exclusively a northern phenomenon as the majority of the country experiences extreme temperatures at some point during the winter months. Remember in January 2014 when all 50 states logged below-freezing temperatures on the same day?

Cold weather can wreak havoc on your home and your comfort if you are not well prepared. That’s why it’s important to prepare your home for winter and take extra precautions for when the temperatures drop, no matter where you live.

Here are some tips that can help protect your house and comfort this winter:

* Install a smart thermostat. You may not always be home when you learn of a coming cold snap or hear that temperatures have plummeted. Using an app on your smartphone, a smart thermostat can allow you to make adjustments to your home’s temperature from anywhere, which means you can always come home to a toasty warm house.

* Seal windows and doors. Check weather stripping around windows and doors. If you find worn, cracked or inadequate sealing, replace it. Sealing around windows and doors helps prevent heat loss in the winter.

* Prep your pipes. Below freezing temperatures can cause water pipes to crack or burst. Insulate any water pipes that are exposed, winterize outdoor faucets and turn off the water to your home if you plan to be away for a prolonged period of time.

* Make sure your heat source measures up. Older, traditional HVAC systems can struggle to keep your home comfortable when temperatures dip below freezing. Consider installing LGRED-enabled HVAC technology to your home. LG’s Reliable to Extreme Degrees (RED) heating and cooling systems can be installed in a wide variety of climates, including places that experience extremely low temperatures. They provide 100 percent heating capacity down to 5 degrees Fahrenheit, and continue to heat reliably even when the outside temperature is as low as -13 degrees.

* Take care of your roof. Inspect your roof and repair any damaged shingles before winter storms arrive. Be sure gutters are clean to help prevent an ice dam and trim any tree branches that could fall on your home if they break under heavy snow and ice.

* Add insulation. The Insulation Institute estimates 90 percent of American homes have less than the minimum recommended insulation. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s home insulation guidelines to see if you need to add more in your home. Having adequate insulation ensures your home efficiently retains heat and keeps the cold out.

* Gather emergency supplies. Extreme weather could leave you without power or unable to leave your home to get supplies or help. Keep a well-stocked emergency kit, complete with bottled water, non-perishable food, extra blankets, a battery-operated or hand-crank radio (for weather report updates), a battery or solar light source, and a solar charging device that can be used to power your smartphone. If you have a wood-burning fireplace for supplemental heat, be sure to have a supply of dry firewood on hand in case of a power outage.

Extreme weather can happen anywhere; in 2014, even Hawaii recorded a below-freezing temperature of 21 degrees. When it comes to home comfort and keeping your family warm during the winter, it’s a good idea to prepare for what is to come!

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

6 fast fixes for a fresh, cozy home

(BPT) – As temperatures drop, you and your family will be spending more time living indoors working, playing, relaxing and staying warm. More time indoors means it’s more important to keep your home fresh by staying ahead of the continual buildup of dirt, dust and allergens. Plus, taking a few simple steps to prepare your home for winter weather will ensure your home is comfortable and efficient, too. Tackle these key areas now so your home will feel fresh and cozy throughout the winter.

Wash and winterize windows

Washing away dirt and water marks from your windows and screens gives you a clear view of the outdoors and lets in more natural light. It will also make your home feel lighter and brighter, keeping cabin fever at bay. And to help maintain a controlled climate inside the home, prevent air from leaking in or escaping by using weatherstripping or caulk around your windows. You’ll stay cozy inside and save money on your energy bill.

Check and replace your vacuum bag, filter and belt

A full vacuum bag, clogged filter or broken belt can hinder your vacuum’s effectiveness, leaving dirt, dust and allergens behind. Replacing your vacuum bags every 1-2 months, filters every 3-6 months and belts once per year is recommended to help your vacuum achieve peak performance. Even more, a Filtrete HEPA vacuum filter will help trap particles 75 times smaller than a human hair, including 99.97 percent of dust mite debris, animal dander, molds and pollen. Even if your vacuum has a washable filter, you should know that repeated washing can cause the filter to break down over time.

Don’t forget to look up

After tackling floors, dust ceiling fans and light fixtures. These hard-to-reach and hard-to-see places can harbor dust. And while you’re up there, change the direction of your ceiling fans to counterclockwise for the winter. This will keep air moving, but circulate warm air instead of cooling the room down.

Clean around your HVAC

With the heater on, be sure to clear the area around your HVAC unit to make sure there is nothing blocking the flow of air. Next, remember to swap out that filter for maximum effectiveness. Filtrete Healthy Living Air Filters help capture dust, bacteria, viruses and allergens from the air for a cleaner, fresher home environment. Filtrete recommends changing your filter at least every 90 days. Set a reminder in your calendar or on your phone to help you remember.

Turn on the humidifier

Increasing the humidity in your home during the cooler months adds moisture to your air and living space. This raises the “heat index,” making 68 degrees feel more like 76 degrees. If your house has low humidity, you may notice chapped lips, dry skin or a dry sore throat. Be sure to maintain a relative humidity in the home between 20 to 40 percent. As the temperature outside drops, lower this percentage so condensation does not form on the windows.

Add extra insulation to all areas of your home

Adding insulation to your home reduces energy usage and increases comfort. If your home uses less than 12 inches of insulation, chances are heat is escaping. Add insulation in the attic to prevent warm air from escaping. Also consider adding insulation in crawl spaces, under floors and against basement walls to stop the transfer of cold through the house.

Take back your clean, fresh home today

Tackling each of these simple projects will add up to help you take on winter with a fresh, cozy home you and your family can enjoy.

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

We Salute You!

Pacific Home Brokers is veteran owned! We specialize in working with veterans and VA loans. We can help you build wealth through real estate. Even if you will be deployed, it is best to buy a home and rent the home to build your portfolio and retirement. If you have a permanent duty station, you should also take advantage of your zero down VA benefit and gain equity today!

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

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The savvy homeowner’s 5-point outdoor winterization checklist

(BPT) – Before the first flurries fly, it’s important to take some winterization steps to ensure your home is ready for whatever the season brings.

This five-point checklist will help safeguard your home against winter’s woes for another year. For additional winterization ideas and detailed project plans, visit Real Cedar.com.

Inspect windows

Inspect each window from the outside to see if any gaps or cracks are present. These small openings let in cold air and are also inviting to small critters looking for protection from the cold.

If you find some gaps, it’s important to seal them quickly. Apply caulk to the openings to prevent cold air from seeping in, helping to cut down on heating bills. Plus, you won’t have to worry about bugs making your home their hibernation haven. Note: never caulk above or below the window and door openings, as this may block moisture drainage.

Prep the deck

The amount of work you have to put into winterizing your deck depends on your decking material. For example, a durable, long-lasting material such as Western Red Cedar requires the least amount of maintenance. That said, all decks require some upkeep.

To preserve your deck’s luster, start by cleaning it with a warm, soapy solution and a soft-bristle brush. Do not power wash as this can damage the wood. It’s important that you remove all dirt and debris from the surface as well as in between the boards to improve ventilation.

Next, inspect the deck for mold. If present, wash the deck with a mild oxygen bleach solution and leave on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Finally, remove anything that might leave marks on the deck’s surface such as furniture, planters and mats.

Protect planter boxes

The majority of planter boxes are made with Western Red Cedar. That’s because the wood is naturally resistant to rot, decay and insects; and therefore, doesn’t require treatment from potentially dangerous chemicals that can leach into soil and plants. But like all garden beds, real cedar planters need protection during the winter months.

Start by removing all soil and cleaning the boxes as you did the deck. Then, if possible, store emptied planters in a garage, shed or under the porch. If you don’t have the space to store them this way, then cover them with a water-repellent tarp to protect from moisture buildup, but don’t seal the tarp. As with decks, it’s very important that you allow for proper ventilation.

Trim trees

Look for weak trees or those with dead branches, particularly those near your home. As snow accumulates, the weight may bring down a tree or branches, potentially damaging your house.

Eliminate this risk by removing any dead trees or dangerous branches now before the first snow. Be safe by using the proper equipment for tree trimming and removal, or, consider hiring a pro to do so. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and handling this issue now could prevent costly damage to your home down the road.

Clean the roof

Your roof is a large portion of your home, and it also holds a lot of snow over the winter. To prevent ice dams and other roof problems when freezing temperatures arrive, it’s important to clean gutters and check your roof for problems now.

Start by taking all debris out of gutters to ensure free flow for water. Next, walk around your roof and inspect it for any damage. Repair loose shingles and make sure the chimney and vents look intact and secure. Your roof takes on a lot of weight from ice and snow during the winter months and you want it to be as strong as possible.

A few simple steps now can mean a cozy, safe winter for you and your entire family. Add these five steps to your winterization to-do list for this weekend and give yourself valuable peace of mind.

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

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Upping Your Laundry Room’s Wow Factor

(BPT) – Doing the laundry is no longer relegated to dark, musty basements where no one cares to go. Thanks to modern technology, great design and access to innovative ideas online, laundry rooms have moved upstairs and come into their own. In fact, laundry rooms today are right up there with dream kitchens and dream bathrooms – and the more style, function and “wow factor,” the better.

“Laundry rooms are no longer just utilitarian,” said Anitra Mecadon, TV personality and award-winning interior designer. “People want stylish, healthy environments where they can relax, multitask and have some fun while doing the laundry.”

Below are four ways Mecadon recommends to ramp up the wow factor, function and allure of your laundry room:

* High-tech appliances

When looking for washers and dryers today, there are more features than you can imagine. You should consider your needs and desires before starting your search – and we’re talking about more than gas or electric, front- or top-loading, color, budget and space parameters. Today’s “smart” appliances offer custom wash cycles, wrinkle removal, steam cleaning, less noise, delayed start times, moisture sensors with allergen and sanitize cycles and more. There’s even a machine that washes two separate loads with different setting options at the same time. And nearly every machine today is Energy Star-certified for energy efficiency.

* Loads of style

Laundry rooms today can be decorated to complement other rooms in your home – and Pinterest and Houzz offer loads of pictures online to spark your creativity. Laundry rooms can be country French to modern, whimsical to multifunctional – and it’s not unusual to see them in bold or soothing colors, with comfy chairs, statement lighting, flat-screen TVs and docking stations to play music or charge tablets and phones. They also can include windows to let in natural light. If you think white and stainless are your only color options, think again. They can be turquoise, burnt orange, glacial blue, fire engine red, kelly green and even black stainless.

* Function galore

Washing and drying are only part of doing the laundry. There’s sorting, folding, hanging and ironing – and each of those steps needs its own space, supplies and storage. Baskets for sorting and carrying laundry can be wicker, plastic or wood and stored for all to see or out of sight. Counters for folding can be granite, marble, quartz, butcher block or laminate, and many people put them over their washers and dryers as well as around the room. Drying racks made of ladders or upcycled cribs can be creative and functional. Ironing boards can be stand-alone, foldable and stored in cabinets or retractable and out of sight. Washers and dryers can be big or small, stacked or all in one – and even put on pedestals.

* High-performance drywall

When laundry was relegated to the basement, part of the dread of doing laundry was the thought of being surrounded by dampness, mold and mildew – sometimes from washing machine water hose failure causing mold to grow within the wall cavity. Because your washer and dryer introduce water, moisture and heat into the room, it’s important to use drywall with extra protection for your laundry room walls and ceilings – such as moisture-, mold- and mildew-resistant PURPLE XP drywall by National Gypsum.

“I love that prettier and more functional laundry rooms are becoming places people want to hang out and do laundry, but it’s important to think about what’s behind all that style and function – and that’s their walls,” said Mecadon. “Walls and what they’re made of are important and they’re not all the same.”

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

 

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Home Buyer’s Closing Checklist

Along with performing your final walk through to ensure the home is in satisfactory condition, you will need to make sure the escrow company has all the items it needs to close after you sign your closing documents. Your Pacific Home Brokers agent will ensure you are ready for closing and answer all your questions.

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

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House Hunting and Credit: What You Need To Know

(BPT) – By now it is something of a cliche to call homeownership the American dream. But even if sitting on your own deck, looking over your picket fence and sipping lemonade doesn’t move you, homeownership is still one of the best ways to build wealth.

For many, owning a home is cheaper than renting and, in the long run, the biggest investment they will ever make. It is also a practical financial move thanks to the fact that you’re likely building equity while getting a mortgage interest tax break.

So although it is perfectly fine to dream about backyard barbecues and the smell of fresh-cut grass, the path to owning your own home should also involve taking the time to do some financial sightseeing.

 

Basics

If you are like most people, you will probably need to take out a loan. If you are able to pay cash for your home instead, count yourself among the lucky few!

A huge part of taking out a loan involves your credit history and credit score. Basically, you must prove to lenders that you can be a responsible borrower and can be trusted with a mortgage of many thousands of dollars. A strong credit score may provide proof of this trustworthiness.

Different types of loans have different credit requirements. Some loans require you to have a credit score of at least 620, although it is possible (with some difficulty) to be approved for a loan with a credit score as low as 580. But getting loan approval is only part of the story.

Better credit, better rate

Home loans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fixed interest mortgages, some have adjustable rates or longer terms and the list of variables goes on. Just like anything else, some loans are better for you than others. To get the loan that has the lowest interest rate, which right now is around 4 percent, usually requires a higher credit score. Rates can be considerably higher when you have a lower credit score, and the result is paying significantly more monthly over the life of the loan.

The reason is that a higher credit score demonstrates that you are skilled at managing debt and have a history of responsibly paying back many types of loans. Therefore, the lender is taking on less risk when lending you money. The less risk for them, the better the interest rate for you.

While there are, of course, more nuances to the process, your credit score plays an instrumental role in determining the type of loan you may qualify for. Therefore, before you go to your first open house, check your credit score to better understand the factors that typically impact your scores. Many websites provide free access to your VantageScore, which is a perfectly fine barometer to use to directionally gauge your creditworthiness. Mortgage lenders use FICO scores in their underwriting.

Knowing your credit history and understanding the factors that could impact your credit score will help you plan, budget and come up with a realistic wish list for your house.

Pacific Home Brokers is able to pull your credit and advise you of your scores an help you prequalify for a loan.

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

 

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Deciding Your Sales Price

The best thing to do when pricing your home is to analyze the market and price your home to sell quickly. Overpricing your home may prevent buyers from looking at your home. By pricing your home correctly, competition from buyers may drive their offers up into the high range you were anticipating for your home and even over your asking price.

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

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Smart ideas for renovating smaller homes

(BPT) – While newly constructed homes are bigger than ever, most Americans still live in modestly sized or even small houses – and many of these owners are choosing to remodel rather than move into a bigger home.

More than half of all American houses were built before 1980, according to the National Association of Home Builders. At that time, the average new home size was slightly more than 1,700 square feet, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. Meanwhile, interest in remodeling is at an all-time high, according to Metrostudy.

Homeowners looking to renovate their average-sized homes in order to get more living space don’t have to build costly additions. Many modern remodeling tactics, tricks and tools are made to work well in smaller homes. Here are ways to get the most out of your home renovation:

Space-saving plumbing options

Plumbing can be problematic in any renovation, but adding plumbing in certain smaller-house locations can be especially challenging. Traditional plumbing may require you to open walls and floors to connect to existing drainage lines, or break through concrete to add toilets, showers and sinks when finishing a basement.

Above-floor plumbing can solve a number of small-space challenges. For example, you may decide to add a powder room in the unused space beneath a stairway. However, if the space is very small, a standard toilet with water tank and traditionally plumbed sink might not fit. In such a situation, a compact, one-piece macerating toilet like the Sanicompact from Saniflo installs quickly, easily and conveniently in tight spots.

Traditional plumbing can also be a challenge in renovations where you’re adding plumbing below a main level, such as installing a bathroom with a shower or even a second kitchen in a basement setting. In southern states, where most homes are built on slabs rather than with basements, adding any kind of traditional plumbing would require you to break open the concrete in order to add pipes – an expensive and risky undertaking.

Right-sizing utilities

If you’re adding a bathroom or kitchen in your average-sized, average-age home, it may also be a good idea to replace the water heater – especially if it’s 10 or more years old. An older water heater may fail or worse, leak, causing damage to nearby floors and walls.

Modern tank water heaters are more energy efficient, but also larger as a result of the insulation needed to achieve greater efficiency. If you’re replacing a water heater in an attic that’s accessed through pull-down stairs or in a crawl space, or adding one in a closet or out-of-the-way corner, a traditional tank water heater might not fit.

Tankless water heaters require less room, solving space problems. Plus, they’re more energy efficient because they heat the water only when you need it, rather than using fuel to maintain the temperature in a large tank.

Natural light without sacrifice

If your home is older, it may have fewer or smaller windows than newly constructed homes. However, if you crave more natural light, you don’t have to sacrifice wall space to windows or incur the expense of opening a wall.

Skylights and tube skylights can bring more natural light into a home. Modern skylights are energy efficient and far less prone to leaks than older models. A standard skylight can easily be installed in rooms with direct roof access, and tube skylights can even bring natural light to ground-floor spaces. Plus, skylights allow you to preserve privacy in settings where it matters most, such as bathrooms.

Looking up

Older homes may have less floor space, but many older homes also have higher ceilings. Or, your smaller home may have a two-story family room or entryway. Using the extra height in your home to create storage space can allow you to free up floor space. For example, floor-to-ceiling shelves in a family room or entryway provide ample storage space.

Tall ceilings can also be an opportunity to add task lighting in work areas such as over kitchen islands, or to create design statements through the addition of exposed faux beams.

Smart renovations can help make your home feel bigger and function better for your family, no matter how big or small its square footage.

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

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Still A Great Time To Buy

 

Rates are at an all time low and home prices are going up. Now is a great time to take advantage of the low rates and build equity in your home.  There are 1% down loan programs available and if you think you have bad credit, you would be surprised at the programs available with great rates for those with low credit scores.

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

 

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Protect What Matters With These Nursery Safety Checks

(BPT) – You may have chosen the perfect color palette and all of your nursery furniture, but have you thought about some key safety checks?

Maintain crib safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, two-thirds of children’s deaths under the age of one are caused by suffocation. Make sure that, when prepping the nursery, the crib meets safety standards, and avoid loose bedding or soft toys in the crib. After the baby arrives, the infant should sleep alone and be placed on his or her back on a firm surface.

Check your smoke alarms

Smoke alarms help protect your family, but in order to do so the alarms need to be present – and working. Install a working smoke alarm in the nursery and ensure that the rest of the home is properly equipped. The National Fire Protection Association recommends smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.

Residential smoke alarms need to be replaced at least every 10 years. To find out whether it’s time to replace the smoke alarms in your home, simply look on the back of the alarms where the date of manufacture is marked. The smoke alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date, not the date of purchase or installation.

Protect from the “Silent Killer”

Often dubbed “the silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is impossible to detect without an alarm. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, CO poisoning is the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States and is responsible for an average of 450 deaths each year. Standard CO alarms are designed to alert people to high levels of CO (30-70 parts per million), which can be fatal.

However, lower levels of CO have also been proven to be harmful to infants. Fully protect your newborn from both high and low levels of CO with the Onelink by First Alert Environment Monitor, which provides protection for those most vulnerable to CO levels as low as 9 parts per million, and peace of mind for parents. Compatible with Apple HomeKit and Alexa Skills, it also monitors temperature and humidity, and notifies users of changing conditions.

Update the escape plan

It is important to plan and practice an escape plan for your home in the event of a fire. According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households has actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. This is even more important with the addition of a new member to your family. As a family, walk through the home and inspect all possible exits and escape routes. Identify two ways out of each room, including windows and doors. For the second story, place escape ladders near windows, and practice setting it up so you’ll be able to use it correctly and quickly in an emergency. Make sure everyone understands the plan, with special attention to carrying the newborn. Choose an outside meeting place that is a safe distance from your home, and make sure to practice your escape plan twice a year – and before the baby comes.

Create an emergency call list

Even though everything we need is on our smartphones these days, when a babysitter or nanny is with your infant, they might not be as prepared in case of an emergency – and you might not be either! Having an emergency contact list readily available can potentially save time and make everything go a little more smoothly when there is a crisis. Make sure the list includes family numbers, poison control, non-emergency numbers for police and fire departments, and neighbors’ phone numbers.

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

 

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Repair Or Replace a Worn-Out Cooling System?

(BPT) – Sooner or later, every homeowner will face the same tough decision: Can you repair that malfunctioning system or appliance one more time, or is it finally time to replace it? Summer temperatures can heat up the repair-or-replace debate for homeowners living with an older cooling system.

To arrive at an answer, you must weigh numerous factors, including which option is more cost-effective over both the long- and short-term, how the existing or new system will affect the air quality of your home, and just how much reliability you require. Your decision can affect your wallet and the comfort of your home for years to come.

When you can still repair

Sometimes, it may be preferable to repair a minor problem than to replace a system. Your cooling system might still be a candidate for repair if:

* It’s less than 10 years old and/or is a high-quality, energy-efficient model.

* The repair is still covered under warranty, or you will be able to pay for the repair without financing the cost.

* The cost of the repair will be far less than the cost of replacement.

* You can reasonably expect the repair to solve your problem.

* Repairing the problem means that specific issue isn’t likely to reoccur throughout the system’s remaining lifespan.

When it’s time to replace

It can be much easier to recognize the signs that it’s time to replace a worn-out cooling system. They can include:

* A system that is 10 or more years old.

* Frequent and repeated repairs that are adding up to be very costly.

* Even after repairs and/or maintenance, the system still doesn’t adequately cool your home.

* Very high energy bills. Modern cooling systems are significantly more energy-efficient than older units.

* You can afford to finance a replacement, but can no longer afford to pay cash for repairs.

* The unreliability of the worn-out cooling system is affecting the comfort of your home and causing you to feel stress.

Replacing a cooling system

When you decide replacing a cooling system makes the most sense for your needs, you’ll need to start looking for a new system. Here are some points to keep in mind:

* Choosing an energy-efficient unit like the Champion(R) Momentum(TM) Variable Capacity Air Conditioner can greatly reduce energy bills while improving the comfort of your home. Refer to the system’s Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) to get an idea of how much more energy-efficient the new unit is. Modern air-conditioning systems can be over 50 percent more efficient than ones manufactured a decade ago.

* It’s important to right-size your new cooling system. A system that is too small for your home won’t be able to deliver the desired comfort level, and will use more energy working harder at maintaining cool temperatures. A system that is too large will also use more energy and may result in uneven cooling throughout the house.

* Depending on the age of your home and your cooling system, you may have to repair or replace other elements, too. Have your home’s duct work, insulation, refrigerant piping, electrical service, wiring, thermostat and other cooling system components inspected, too. Ensuring all the parts of the system are in top working order will help your new air-conditioning unit work at its best, too.

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

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Tips to keep your home secure from hackers

(BPT) – Times have changed. It’s no longer enough to protect your physical home, it’s also vital you stay safe from cyber crimes. It has become increasingly easier for criminals to gain access to financial accounts, email and even hack internet-connected devices in the home.

The good news is that there are a handful of steps you can take to help defend your home from cyber attacks and lock down access to your personal information.

1. Know your status. Before you can take steps to keep yourself safe from external threats, it’s important to understand your level of vulnerability.

If you’ve been the victim of a data breach, immediately change the password of the vulnerable account along with the passwords of any websites or accounts that use the same credentials. For instance, if the email and password you use for Facebook was breached, and that’s the same login combination you use for your bank, your bank account could be vulnerable to hackers.

2. Invest in a protective router. Much like the front door is the entryway into a home, the Wi-Fi router is the entry point into a home’s digital information. It’s also the first line of defense against external threats. Do your research and invest in a router that prioritizes network security. You should always password protect your Wi-Fi and be sure to change the default username and password that comes pre-configured on the router (often this is listed on the bottom of the box or router).

If you can’t remember the last time you manually updated your router, it may be running outdated software, leaving your home vulnerable. Because the update process can be laborious, consider swapping out your old router for a newer technology.

3. Secure your devices. You don’t need to live in a “smart home” to be vulnerable to external security threats. These days, more and more products connect to the internet, and while that can be useful, it also leaves your home vulnerable to hackers. The first thing you should do when you get an internet-connected device up and running is check for new firmware updates. Most products sitting on shelves of retailers don’t have the latest software loaded, so applying updates is a critical step to ensuring those devices remain safe. Also be sure you’re not ignoring prompts for software updates and patches in the future. It’s crucial to keep your connected devices up-to-date.

4. Choose strong passwords. You’ve heard it before – make sure you’re using strong passwords. They need to be at least 12 characters in length, and include numbers, symbols, and lowercase and uppercase letters. They shouldn’t include personal information or common words (e.g., “password”). You’ll want to create a unique password for every account, so if a hacker gets one of your passwords in a data breach, they can’t immediately log into your other accounts.

Strong passwords can be hard to remember, but you shouldn’t keep a written record of them. Instead, consider registering for a password manager like LastPass. Password managers are applications or browser extensions that store login credentials for the websites, then log in to those sites automatically for you, so you don’t have to remember every password for each account.

5. Lock down your social media channels. Be careful about what you’re sharing on social media. Besides not posting sensitive information like your address, phone number, and when you’re headed out of town, be aware of other personally identifiable information that’s out there. When trying to reset passwords and usernames, hackers often go through the process of guessing your security questions. If you’re not careful, the information to help them answer those questions might be living on your social media page.

To keep yourself safe, ensure you’re properly securing your social media sites from the public and limit the amount of information you’re posting on those channels. Also, when you’re selecting your security questions, certain answers might be easy for intruders to locate online. Common security questions ask for your mother’s maiden name, your high school mascot, and the name of your family pet. Consider choosing more obscure questions to answer.

While following these steps won’t ensure you’re completely safe, they will help put you and your family ahead of the game when it comes to online and digital security.

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

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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.