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

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

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

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

Do those daily sprints

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

Crunch your debt

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

Beef up your credit score

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

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

Increase your intake of savings

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

Prepare for the big event

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

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

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

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

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

4 Tips to Help Keep Your Home Efficient this Winter!

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

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

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

Seal cracks and gaps

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

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

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

Check insulation

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

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

Take care of the HVAC system

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

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

Don’t overlook little things

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Neutrals Dominate the Color Trends of 2017!

Home decor: The hottest colors of 2017

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

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

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

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

Organic re-imagined

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

Wine and taupe

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

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

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

6 Holiday-Friendly Home Design Features!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are Thankful for You!

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

Warm wishes,

Pacific Home Brokers Staff

Please click here to contact an agent to learn more.

Holiday Entertaining Tips and Tricks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please click here to contact an agent to learn more.