Real Estate Gender Gap

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Gender Gap

Mortgage applications soar as consumers snap up low rates

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Tips For Selling Your Home

Tips

Spring is a popular season in real estate and if you’re thinking of selling, here are 5 quick and easy getting ready to do’s that will bring a big dollar return on investment that you can get started on now.

  1. Paint inside and out. This is one of the best tools available to make your home look fresh and well maintained. Neutral colors are always recommended but in today’s color palette, you can add tremendous warmth with gentle tones in a variety of neutral choices.
  2. Have your windows cleaned. Sparkling windows let the sun pour in and will make your home look brighter.
  3. Tour your garden and bring in some new color and fresh mulch. Who doesn’t love a manicured lawn and  blooming gardens?
  4. Buy new door mats that roll out a good looking welcome.
  5. Organize closets, clean out the garage and pare down before you sell.

Q3 Quarterly Market Report 2013 vs. 2014

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Nov 2014 Data

Greening Your Home Office

A lot easier than you may think

DeskPapersHaving a home office can be a wonderful space to have whether you work at home for a living, use your home office to pay bills, writing letters, or for researching online. Have you considered that a home office can leave huge carbon footprint and that it cost you a lot more money than you may have thought?

Greening your Home Office space is a great way to solve these problems and it can be a lot easier to do than you may think. In this article, you will learn some simple steps you can take to save you time, money, and help the environment.

Saving Energy

The first thing that most people think about when they want to be more green is how to save energy. Our homes can use a lot of electricity and by the end of the month the bill can a little shocking. However, here are a few things you and your family can do to bring down your monthly electrical bill and help make the planet greener.

One thing you can do is to let in as much light from the windows as possible. This will cut down on the need for lighting. If you have to have the lights on then you can replace all of your light bulbs with energy saving florescent or LED light bulbs. There has been a lot of debate as to which of the two energy saving light bulbs are the best. From the research it looks like LED bulbs are going to be the leader in energy saving, response, and overall safety.

light bulbYou can also shut down all the hardware you are not using like your printer or adjusting your computer screen from screen saving mode to sleep mode when not in use. You can also power down your Wi-Fi and modem when there not in use. Purchasing Smart Power Strips that automatically turn off the power when items are not in use will also help.

During the winter, you can put on more clothes rather than cranking up the heater. Most people may be home all day in their home office but they are heating the whole house. Try turning the house heater off or at least down to 65 degrees and purchase, a small energy saving space heater that will help cut down on the electrical cost and carbon footprint.

Many home offices still use a fax machine, scanners, and a printer, which are plugged in and usually left on. You can now purchase energy saving machines that fax, scan, and print all from one devise.

Saving Paper

Another easy way to make your home office greener is to cut down of the use of paper. We use paper in many of the daily things we do in our home office from printing out projects or proposals to taking notes. Below are several ways to cut down on the use of paper and save a few trees in the process.

ManInMiddleOfPaperStacksFirst thing you can do is to stop using paper. Instead, make everything a digital document. If you have projects or proposals save it as a PDF and send it to your clients via email so, they can read it on their laptops or iPads. You can use a digital signature on contracts saving you time and paper. The old way to get a contract signed was to print out the contract then fax it over to your client they in turn have it printed out on their end. They then sign it and send it back which now prints out on your end. If you had a ten page contract, that is a lot of paper.

Another great way to cut down on the paper is to choose to receive all of your bills online rather than having the electric company send you a bill, and then you write a paper check and send it back in a paper envelope. Try just paying your bills online, which will save time, energy, and trees.
If you do need to use your printer keep in mind that many ink cartridge companies will recycle your ink cartridges which means less garbage in the landfills

Lastly you can use older printed on paper that has not been used on one side and fold it in half with the unused side out to use for notes or checklists. Once you have used all your paper up completely keep a bin or box in your office so any completely used paper you don’t need can be recycled.

Save on Travel

Having your own business may mean you need to meet with people face-to-face. With the ease of online tools like Skype or Facetime, you can now setup online face-to-face meetings saving gas, time, and money all of which help the environment.

There is nothing more fun than heading out to your local office supply store. Unfortunately, this takes up time and gas, which increases your carbon footprint. Instead, try to make an office supply list at the beginning of each quarter and order your supplies online. You can also use many of the great online green office supply stores, which sell supplies such as recycled paper and green products.

Taking green a step further

If you wish to do even more to greening your home office you can take some structural steps that would be cost effective in the long run and depending where you live may even get you tax credits.

The first thing you can do is to make sure your home office area has the highest rated insulation that your local building code requires. This also means replacing your windows with a high R-value and making sure, they are double pane insulated. Lastly, adding solar panels to your roof will help cut down on your overall electrical cost.

Taking any of the steps mentioned above to greening your home office will not only help you save money, time, and energy but will help in improving the environment and the planet we all love.

Should I Get A Home Inspection Before I List?

Home Inspection

Absolutely!

Getting a home inspection before you sell your home is a smart choice on your part. Not only can it be a great negotiation tool but more importantly, disclosing as much information upfront via a home inspection will give your potential buyer the peace of mind and confidence that they will be investing in a structurally sound home.

So why get a home inspection?

There are many things beyond the curb appeal, the interior décor, and the square footage that are important to know before you sell your home. Unfortunately, most of these things are behind the walls or beneath the floors. Even if you had the home built less than a year ago many issues can pop up that you may not be aware of. One of the most important things to have inspected is the foundation of the home.  Some foundations can be cracked or have termite damage and this can be costly. Other things that need to be checked during your home inspection would be the electrical wiring and panels, the heating and air conditioning units, any appliances or mechanical units, backup generators, or alarm systems, proper insulation, and the roof and skylights. Also make sure to have your inspector check for any mold throughout the house. In some areas, a seismic inspection might be needed in order to check the ground your home was built on, especially if the home is built on the side of a hill or in earthquake country. Taking these steps before you list will give you a full understanding of the condition of your home and an idea of what you need to fix before you list. This can save you a lot of time and money prior to escrow.

Home Inspection 02

Finding the right Inspector

Finding a good inspector is imperative. You will have to place a lot of trust in the person who is inspecting your home. Referrals are the best way to find a great home inspector and your agent has a knowledgeable source of professionals who work in the area. It would be more important to find a qualified reputable inspector who has been in business 3 years completing 500 inspections than an inspector who has been in business 10 years and has only completed 20 inspections. Some inspectors have been around a long time but only work part time and do not have as much experience.  Also, make sure your inspector is a licensed professional before they perform any work. You can check their license status online and see if it is up to date and that they carry the proper insurance and boding necessary to do the work.

It would be a good idea for you to be around during the inspection to ask questions and make sure you are getting the service you paid for by your home inspector. Your inspection can take between 2-4 hours and longer for larger homes. You will receive the final written report usually within 24-48 hours and possible more time dependent of the size of the report or the requirements by the state.

Cost can vary depending on the size of the home and location. For example, if you live on the side of a hill it might be more work than if you live on a flat parcel of land. You get what you pay for so do not look for the cheapest service available. Instead look for the most professional skilled inspector.

Having a home inspection is worth every penny and having a professional home inspector’s objective opinion about the home assures a solid knowledge of the next steps you may need to take prior to selling your home.

2013 Year End Data For San Mateo & Santa Clara County

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SM&SC

Why Get a Permit

The best thing about being a homeowner is the opportunity to create spaces that reflect your style. You may want to paint the walls or pick out the perfect furniture. Maybe just adding the right art or accent pieces will take care of what is needed on a blank white wall. Perhaps you decide to remodel certain parts of the home by redoing the kitchen, updating the bathroom, or adding windows to help bring in more light. Whatever the project, it always feels great to step back and admire the work once completed. One thing that you may not have thought about while designing, fixing, or remodeling your home is the legality of the changes that you want to make.

Money Pit

Did you know that most municipalities require a standard building code? These codes are in place to guarantee that any building or structure is safe and that it will provide many years of comfort to the homeowner. Without the building code, your home might look great on the outside but have many problems behind the walls.

You will need permission to build, add to, take down, or move any building. This requires a detailed plan outlining the work to be completed. In return, and usually after much review and some fees, you receive a permit stating that it is okay for you to begin your project. The permit must remain on the project at all times to confirm that you paid and received permission to start your project. Unfortunately, if you are caught without a permit the inspector will shut the project down until the fees and now the added fines are paid.

Let me share some of the things that might require a permit in your community. Did you know that changing a water heater might require a plumbing permit or that removing a large tree on your property might also require a permit? Any electrical, plumbing, insulation or structural wood that is added, replaced, or redesigned behind your walls could also require a permit.

Cosmetic decorating, like adding wall paper, painting, replacing a faucet, adding new tile or new carpet are the type of things that would not normally require a permit. It is important to check with you local permit codes by going to the city or county building department website.

Why should you get a permit? It would seem easy to just do the work with the doors closed and make the changes yourself without paying for the permit. It can be time consuming to wait around for all the paperwork to be approved just so you can change your water heater or simply cut down that messy tree.

This type of thinking though could actually hurt you and others physically and financially in the long run. Just recently, a new home homeowner cut down a group of trees not realizing the need for a permit. The permit for this process may have been for aesthetic conservational reasons, but also for the safety of the neighbors. This resulted in large fines and associated fees that could have been avoided. There are many horror stories of unscrupulous building practices done without permits that have had severe consequences. Fires, structures falling, roof leaks, electrical shock, and unstable foundations are just a few of the more common problems that have occurred because of sloppy workmanship. All of these issues can be prevented by attaining proper permits.

The permit process is in place to protect homeowners. It is important to have a contractor build your home or remodel your bathroom with the guidelines stated in the building code. In addition, this guaranties that a city building inspector will confirm that things are built to code. The inspector will then sign your permit stating that everything met or exceeded the codes.

Permits are important because they protect the current homeowner and any potential new homeowners, should you decide to sell your home. In the case of the person who cut down the trees, the neighbors can benefit as well.

Where to Hike on the Peninsula

There are many reasons to live in the bay area. One of those reasons is the amazing amount of outdoor activities available all within a few hours drive depending on where you live. From skiing in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, to surfing the waves of Santa Cruz, there are very few places in the world where you can have coffee in the city for breakfast and a fine glass of Merlot in Napa Valley by dinner.

One of the many activities that doesn’t cost you anything (except maybe the gas to get you there and sometimes a small entry fee) is hiking. It has become the “Joie de vivre” for many with so many beautiful trails and open spaces to explore.

Eight well know hiking destination are located on the Peninsula just south of San Francisco.

Monte Bello Open Space Preserve

The first one is the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve just up the hill from Palo Alto. You can use Page Mill Road as one of routes to get you there. Monte Bello means “beautiful mountain” and this area is truly stunning. You will find rolling grasslands, deep river valleys, and, of course terrific views. There are several different hiking trails available dependent on what you’re looking for.

Purisima Creek Redwoods

The next hiking spot, Purisima Creek Redwoods, is located just off Skyline Blvd in Woodside. This area is very peaceful, with a nice mix of covered and exposed trails, redwoods, and stunning views. The trails are wide and you can even use your mountain bike if you would like. This is a perfect hike on a nice warm day.

Russian Ridge 01

Russian Ridge, with just about 2000 acres of open space and trails, dense forest and wide-open meadows is well known with the weekend hikers. You can see views of both the bay and the ocean depending are where you are on the trail. During the early spring, you will experience the beauty of all the wild flowers, which paint the hillside with color. This is a perfect spot to see the sunset on a clear day.

Sam MacDonald to Memorial Park

About 30 minutes from Woodside, CA towards the coast, you will find Sam McDonald Park, which said to be one of the best secret hiking areas in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Once there, you will find 850 acres of dense redwood groves, vast open fields, varied terrains, and stunning views. If you’re an equestrian, this would be a perfect place to ride. It does take a little longer time to get there but worth the drive.

Windy Hill in PV 01

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is located in Portola Valley and has over 1300 acres of hiking area for you to enjoy. There is a combination of open space and plenty of shade from all the trees. At the top, you’ll find sweeping 360 degree views perfect for pictures. This trail can be a bit more challenging of a hike to the top, but well worth it. The park is dog and horse friendly giving your animal’s ample room to run. The park should be added to anyone’s “Must Hike” list.

Wunderlich Park in Woodside

Wunderlich Park located just 5 minutes from downtown Woodside and conveniently located just off Woodside Road. This park is an amazing place to visit. When at Wunderlich you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful redwood trees amongst the lush green foliage. There are benches scattered around making it perfect for a snack or picnic.

Huddart County Park

Huddart Park in Woodside offers a mixed level of difficulty. Although this is perfect for hiking, it is also excellent if you are a runner. Huddart Park has tall tree covered trails that provide ample coverage to keep you cool on those hot days. You will also find a large open meadow, which is perfect for a picnic. You will see wildlife throughout the area and probably run into a few horseback riders. The park is located just 10 minutes from downtown Woodside off Kings Mountain Road.

Rhus Ridge

Rhus Ridge Trail is a 2-mile long trail located in Los Altos. The hike is a bit steep to the top with some shaded areas along the way. You will definitely find some nice views of Los Altos throughout your hike. If you want to continue your hike, you will find that this trail connects to Black Mountain Trail giving you the opportunity to continue your adventure.

For more detailed information about hiking parks in the Bay Area: click here