Bay Area 4th of July Event Schedule

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If you are looking to check out some awesome fireworks displays or fun 4th of July events this holiday, look no further. We have compiled a list of the top events around the South Bay – click on any of the links to take you to the website for more information on each event. Wishing you a fun and safe independence day!

Cupertino 

Children’s parade begins at 10 a.m. at Memorial Park. Pancake breakfast, flag raising, live entertainment, children’s carnaval and food! Monday, July 4, 2016. 7a.m. – 5p.m. Memorial Park Amphitheatre and Blackberry Farm. Cupertino, CA. (408) 777-3120.

Gilroy High School

City of Gilroy’s Annual Fireworks! – Fireworks at approximately 9:15 p.m. Monday, July 4 2016. 750 W 10th St, Gilroy, CA 95020.

Milpitas Sports Center Complex

“Red, White and Boom” Concert and Fireworks Show

The “Waving the Red, White & Blue” Pool Party event starts at 1 p.m. in the Milpitas Sports Center. Individuals will able to purchase food, enjoy music, games, and fun for $ 3 per person. As for the “Red, White & Boom” concert, the show starts at 7 p.m. with the doors opening at 6 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. with admission being $3 per person ( 2 years and older). Monday, July 4, 2016. 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd. For more information please call (408)586-3210.

Morgan Hill Outdoor Sports Center

Freedom Fest – Patriotic singing, parade, entertainment and fireworks on the green at around 9:30 p.m. Monday, July 4, 2016. 16500 Condit Rd, Morgan Hill, CA.

Mountain View – Shoreline Amphitheatre 

4th of July Fireworks Spectacular With San Francisco Symphony – “A Night At The Movies” with music from Inside Out, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, E.T., Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Raider of the Lost Ark and more on July 4th, 2016, Monday at 8:00 p.m. Shoreline Amphitheatre. (650)967-4040.

San Jose, The Alameda Avenue

Rose, White, and Blue Parade – Enjoy a family holiday filled with history, patriotism and roses! Live music, arts and crafts booths, antique cars and a picnic on the Alameda. Monday, July 4, 2016. Parade starts 10 a.m. at Lincoln High School parking lot at 555 Dana Avenue. If you want to participate in the parade applications are required for vehicles, walking groups, musical groups, marching units, floats and equestrian units. Applications must be submitted by June 14. Festival located at The Alameda between Hanchett and Hester Ave. For more information please call (408)436-8581.

Discovery Meadow, Downtown San Jose

New Century of Service – Enjoy this free, family-friendly event with a fireworks show at approximately 9:30p.m. after dusk with free Symphony Summer Pops music at 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 4, 2016. Discovery Meadow. 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA 95110.

Santa Clara’s Central Park

4th of July All-City Picnic and Fireworks Extravaganza – Celebrate 4th of July with an all-city picnic and fireworks at 9:30pm! Beginning at 12p.m., relax and enjoy live entertainment, good food, carnival games, face painting, dancing and a flag dedication from the Mayor. Central Park, 909 Kiely Boulevard, Santa Clara.(408) 615-3140.

Santa Clara – Great America 

Make sure to turn your head to the skies high above California’s Great America as we present our fireworks extravaganza to celebrate our great nation! Located at the Redwood Amphitheater inside the park. Fireworks after dusk.

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Boosting Your Home’s Curb Appeal

What would buyers see if they drove up to your home? Go ahead, take a look. Stand outside your home and try to look at it through a buyer’s eyes. First impressions are lasting impressions. If buyers see paint peeling, a crack in a window or an unkempt yard, they are apt to speculate that there are other, more substantial things wrong with the home.

That first impression, or curb appeal, can make the difference in the amount of money a buyers is willing to offer on a home listed for sale.

Here are some suggestions to enhance the curb appeal of your home to get ready for sale or even just to spruce things up a bit this summer: 

  • Mow the lawn, clean up and yard and prune shrubs and trees 
  • Scrub or paint the front porch and door. Sometimes an interesting pop of color on the door can really modernize the look of an older homea-little-front-door-love-curb-appeal-doors-painting.jpg
  • Check the porch or deck and hand railings to ensure they are secure 
  • Wash the windows, make them sparkle!! 
  • If you have time time and money, paint the exterior of the home. Try to stick to more neutral palates as some bright colors can be an immediate turn off for some buyers. Add color by painting the door a different color, instead. Exterior-before-after.jpg
  • Pick up and put away toys and bikes, outdoor bins are also great for storing these items 
  • Check that the lawn furniture is in good shape or, if not, store it away 
  • Add charm to the front and backyard by adding flower pots and planting fresh plants 

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  • Repair and paint the fence, if needed 
  • Repair the roof, gutters, and downspouts if needed 

These improvements are essential before a home sale and could mean an increase in sales price.  Feel free to call or email and let me know if I can answer any questions for you or make suggestions on how to improve your homes curb appeal!

 

Advantages to Home Ownership

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If you’re thinking about buying a new home there are many things to consider, including the tax benefits of owning a home. 

Sure, filing taxes may become a little more complicated, but you may be able to deduct home-related expenses and the savings on can add up to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Because the tax rules for homeowners can be tricky, I recommend you consult with a tax professional before deciding what you can and cannot deduct. But in general, you can figure on a number of significant tax breaks associated with homeownership, including:

Mortgage interest. The biggest tax break is reflected in the house payment you make each month since, for most homeowners, the bulk of that check goes toward interest. In most cases, the interest homeowners pay is deductible. This may mean a reduced tax bill overall and a bigger refund.

Property taxes. As a homeowner, you are entitled to deduct payments of real estate tax on your property if you claimed itemized deductions on your tax return. The IRS allows you to deduct real estate taxes on your primary residence and any other homes you own. There are no limits on the dollar amount of real estate taxes you can deduct.

Loan deductions. When homeowners borrow against the equity of their home to finance other investments, the interest they pay on the new loan is also tax deductible, within IRS guidelines. Generally, equity debts of $100,000 or less are fully deductible.

Improvements on your residence: While you generally cannot deduct improvements to your home on your taxes, such items can lower your tax bite down the road. Improvements such as a family room addition, a kitchen makeover, or a pool increase the “basis” of your home – i.e., the purchase price plus improvements. When you go to sell, the higher your basis is, the less you will have to pay in capital gains taxes if you pay at all.

Tax-free profits. The government allows homeowners to keep tax-free profits from the sale of a home that has been their primary residence for at least two years. Single taxpayers don’t owe taxes on the first $250,000 of profit from the sale of a principal residence, while married homeowners get $500,000 when filing jointly.

These tax savings can add up quickly. On a $500,000, 30-year mortgage loan at five percent, for example, a homeowner would end up paying nearly $25,000 in the first year in interest alone. At a 33 percent federal and state income tax rate, the mortgage interest deduction alone would save more than $8,200 in that tax year! But again, tax laws are complicated and everyone’s tax situation is different. Consult your tax professional to see how the rules apply to your situation. In the meantime, if you have any questions about purchasing a home and how much you can afford, feel free to give me a call! 

Why Now May Be the Right Time to Downsize Your Home

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For many people, their house may be their biggest asset. But it also can be their biggest expense. That’s true whether they’re planning for retirement or even if they already are in retirement. So it’s no wonder that many homeowners begin to think about selling their home and moving into a smaller one as they approach their golden years.

Downsizing your home doesn’t have to mean downsizing your lifestyle. Homes have steadily expanded over the years with the average home now more than 2,600 square feet in the U.S. according to Census data – 60% larger than it was 40 years ago when families were bigger! So there is plenty of room to downsize without cramping your style.

But downsizing doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a smaller home. It can also mean moving to a less expensive residence that’s the same size. Something as simple as moving from a top, reputable school district to a district that is not highly rated may lower the cost of a house. And if you do not have school age children, the quality of the school district may not be that important to you.

If you’ve been kicking around the idea of cashing in on your home’s equity and moving into a smaller property, there are a number of reasons why it may be the best move you can make right now:

  • The housing market in our area has rebounded quite nicely from the recession with the value of many homes climbing in recent years. Cashing in on some of that equity appreciation may help provide retirement income and extend the life of your nest egg. For more information on the propriety of such a move, please first consult with your financial advisor.

  • A smaller home may mean a smaller mortgage payment each month if you are still paying off an existing loan. Or it might mean paying off your mortgage entirely and being debt free on your new home. Additionally, downsizing may lower your property taxes, energy costs, property insurance and ongoing maintenance and repair expenses depending upon the choices you make.

  • According to the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College (CRR), housing costs (including utilities, taxes and upkeep), represent one of the biggest expenses for a retired couple – 30 percent of expenses for a couple aged 65-74. That’s money that can be spent on other things in retirement.

  • For example, CRR estimates that a couple downsizing from a $375,000 home to a $250,000 home may be able to cut their annual expenses and increase their annual income from savings by a combined $7,260. CRR provides a calculator that may enable you to determine your own savings here. As always, it’s a good idea to consult with your financial advisor before making any decisions.

  • Some homeowners are reluctant to trade a house for a condominium or town house because of concerns regarding the financial impact of homeowners’ association fees. While such fees can change one’s monthly budget, keep in mind that you may be paying similar expenses as a homeowner in the form of maintenance and upkeep costs.

  • While a smaller home may mean less space, it could also mean less time and aggravation spent on keeping up a big house. Without all the work that goes into keeping up a bigger home, you may actually find a lot more time to enjoy traveling, hanging out with friends, picking up new hobbies and, generally, having more fun!

  • Moving from a suburban home to an apartment or condo building in a downtown area with amenities on site may open up a whole new world for retirees. Those who have made the switch often find that they now can enjoy more trips to the theater, nightclubs, restaurants, shopping, as well as taking advantage of fitness centers and other on-sight activities.

According to the Wall Street Journal, it can pay to downsize sooner rather than later for those approaching retirement or already retired. The financial benefits can add up over time. Additionally, as we get older, moving gets harder thus it may make a lot of sense to move now rather than waiting.

If I can help answer any of your questions about downsizing, please give me a call or e-mail me today. I’d be happy to discuss the pros and cons of making a move and help you decide if downsizing is right for you.

Should You Rent or Buy? Things to Consider when Making Your Decision?

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“To buy or to rent?” That seems to be the question lots of people are wrestling with these days with interest rates still near historic lows and the housing market continuing to gain strength in most communities.

Recent graduates, thirty-somethings, relocating professionals and even current homeowners have probably considered both scenarios recently. While each option has its pluses and minuses, the decision to purchase a home as opposed to renting is a complex one and really depends a lot on your individual circumstances.

According to a recent survey conducted for the National Association of REALTORS®, nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home today is a good financial decision. But the question that remains is whether or not now is the right time for you to buy.

For most people, buying a home is the biggest financial decision they will make in their lifetime. Here are just a few things to consider when deciding between renting and buying:

  • Do you have a steady income? Buying may be a sound financial decision for those with documented income and a good credit history. A steady income can provide a strong basis for the initial down payment and future mortgage payments. Lenders will look at your ability to repay the mortgage and how positive your credit history is when deciding
    if you qualify for a loan.
  • Can you cover the other expenses? When you own a single family home, you – not your landlord –will be responsible for all of the maintenance and repairs, everything from a leaky faucet to replacing a roof. Will you have enough money left over in your budget each month (after paying the mortgage, property taxes and insurance) to cover any repair issues that may pop up?
  • How long do you plan to stay in your home? Although homes often appreciate over time in most areas and many owners build equity through monthly mortgage payments that go towards the principal of the loan, values can go up or down during any period of time. Generally, the longer you plan on staying in your home, the more likely that buying may be the right move for you.
  • How much will your rent increase in the future? Obviously no one knows for sure what the future will bring, but a recent study by Trulia found that rents on average are increasing faster than home prices. In fact, homeownership remains 38% cheaper than renting nationally, and it’s less expensive in all of the 100 largest metro areas studied by Trulia. But each neighborhood and each home are different, so it’s important to do your homework.
  • How do your other options compare? For renters, calculating month-to-month housing expenses is as easy as inquiring about the monthly rent and average utilities. The calculation gets a bit more complicated when considering the monthly cost and benefits of owning a home. Buy-versus-rent calculators, which are available on websites such as ColdwellBanker.com, offer a good start in comparing the two options.

There is a lot to consider when weighing the pros and cons of buying a home, and you’ll likely have a lot of questions. The best thing that you can do before making a decision is to do your homework and become better educated on your options.
I’m here to help answer your questions and find the right course for you. Give me a call at (408) 410-2060 or send me an email at nicole.emanuel@cbnorcal.com and we can get started today!

Just Listed! Best Value in Cambrian at $625k. Open this weekend!

Best Value in Cambrian!
1695 Hillsdale Avenue, San Jose, CA 95124
Nicole Emanuel (Culbertson)
Direct: (408) 355-1512
Mobile: (408) 410-2060
CA BRE# 01899594
Nicole.Emanuel@cbnorcal.com
1695 Hillsdale Avenue, San Jose, CA 95124
3 bedroom, 1 bath
1,288 square feet
$625,000

Look no further….you’ve found the best value in Cambrian! Wonderfully updated house with award winning schools! This beautiful home features remodeled kitchen, updated bath, crown moulding throughout, double-pane windows, tile floors, office area with possible addition for bathroom or bedroom and a 600-square foot garage. Relaxing backyard with newer fence and pergola.

OPEN HOUSE
Saturday, March 21 (1 pm – 4 pm)
Sunday, March 22 (1 pm – 4 pm)

©2015 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker® is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Office is Owned by a Subsidiary of NRT LLC. All rights reserved. This information was supplied by Seller and/or other sources. Broker believes this information to be correct but has not verified this information and assumes no legal responsibility for its accuracy. Buyers should investigate these issues to their own satisfaction. If your property is currently listed for sale, this is not intended as a solicitation. If your property is listed with a real estate broker, please disregard. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other real estate brokers. We are happy to work with them and cooperate fully. Real estate agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage are independent contractor sales associates and are not employees of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage or NRT LLC. CalBRE License #01908304.

How to Know if a Neighborhood is Right for You

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Before you buy a home and make what’s likely to be one of the biggest investments of your life, you owe it to yourself to receive quality information on your new neighborhood. Getting a deal on your dream home can quickly turn sour if the neighborhood doesn’t meet your expectations. Here’s how to research a neighborhood before you buy a home.

LOOK INTO THE CRIME RATES

In addition to the U.S. Census Bureau’s city profiles that list crime statistics, you can try sites like CrimeReports. com, which offers local maps where you can access crime data in near-real time (the site has partnerships with more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies). You might also visit the local police department to ask about crime statistics and what neighborhood watches or alerts are in operation.

CHECK SCHOOL REPORT CARDS

Even if you don’t have children, you should spend some time investigating the area schools (school districts are typically the largest beneficiaries of your property taxes). The reason for this is simple: good schools tend to attract a higher demand for homes, which can affect the value of surrounding properties. One way to research schools in your new neighborhood is to visit the GreatSchools website, a non-profit national organization, where you can find valuable information from local preschools to colleges.

REVIEW MUNICIPALITY AND PUBLIC SERVICES

It can be easy to focus on the condition of your prospective home, but you should also consider the general condition of the streets, sidewalks and parks in your new neighborhood. Take some time to research your new municipality (start with the official website) and the services offered. Don’t be afraid to call your local clerk’s office and ask questions if you can’t find answers on the website. Things like trash collection, street cleaning and general public maintenance can affect your property’s value over time, especially if these services suffer a sharp decline due to budget cuts.

WALK THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Visit the neighborhood at various times of day and on different days. The nature of a neighborhood changes from day to night and from weekday to weekend. Make sure the activity and noise levels are to your liking. If you see residents out doing yard work or walking their dog, ask how they like the neighborhood and tell them you’re considering buying in the area. Sometimes “insider” feedback can give you the real sense of a neighborhood.

When you’re in the market for a new home, it can be easy to get distracted by what lies within the walls. By following these home buying tips, you’ll be much better prepared to make an informed decision about your new neighborhood. That way, a sweet deal is less likely to turn sour. Please call me if you’d like help in further exploring a new neighborhood.

Kitchen Remodeling Ideas on a Budget (from $1,000 – $10,000)

If you are looking for ways to refresh your kitchen this spring, here are some helpful tips that you can use if you are on a budget. When should you tackle certain items yourself; or are they best left the professionals? You might not need to replace everything. Consider refinishing or re-staining cabinets and flooring to save some money…Find more tips here: Kitchen Remodeling Ideas on a Budget (from $1,000 – $10,000)

Top 10 Websites for Home Buyers, Sellers & Owners

Want to search for your next home without ever getting out of your pajamas? There’s a site for that. How much will the mortgage and taxes cost you each month? There’s a site for that. Or do you want to know approximately what your home is worth today? Yes, there’s a site for that, too. And once you move into that new home, there’s a site to help you find local schools, restaurants, even your next dentist.

Okay, with apologies to the iPhone app commercials, I thought it might be helpful to list 10 of my favorite websites for people interested in buying or selling a home, remodeling their existing residence, or just looking for local information on their new neighborhood. There are countless websites, of course, and I don’t claim to have the ultimate list – just ones that have good value for homeowners and those looking to become owners.

Here are 10 of my favorites:
• CaliforniaMoves.com. Okay, I admit I’m biased. But Coldwell Banker’s consumer website offers a myriad of tools for home buyers and sellers, including advanced search engines, tips on
buying and selling, relocation information, and even community facts, figures and links. • Realtor.com. In that same vein, Realtor.com is also a good consumer website, especially for those thinking about relocating to other regions or want advice on buying or selling, as well as hiring an agent. There are articles on the market, consumer tips, and even suggestions on gardening and remodeling.
• CaliforniaHome.me. This new blog, powered by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, is a non-stop feast of all things California. From luxury home features and design ideas, to California events and celebrations, the blog if filled with everything that makes the Golden State such an incredible place to live.
• Zillow.com. Who isn’t interested in what their home might be worth, or even better, their neighbors? This website offers property valuations. While I’m not convinced that their estimates are always on target, they do give homeowners some general idea of its value, as well as tax records and other useful info.
• Bankrate.com. Now that you’ve decided where you’re going to buy, this site will help you figure out how much you can afford. This is one of my favorite financial websites because it offers mortgage rate comparisons, links to lenders, and literally dozens of different types of calculators to figure it all out.
• Local.Yahoo.com. So you’re ready to move into your new home. Now what? Go to this site to find a plethora of useful links and information on everything from local restaurants and coffee shops to city offices and police departments to public utilities to get the water and gas turned on.
• Yelp.com. Another great site for newcomers to an area is Yelp, which features customer reviews and ratings on every imaginable local business. Sure there’s the usual restaurant ratings, but you’ll come here to find favorite dentists, veterinarians, gardeners and yes, even real estate agents.
• ServiceMagic.com. For those homeowners planning to remodel or just looking for a contractor to do some routine work, this website can be quite useful. Service Magic prescreens a wide variety of contractors and also incorporates customer ratings in order to provide a list of recommended businesses.
• HomeTips.com. Run by Don Vandervort, a host on HGTV and well-known author of do-it-yourself books, this site – as you might guess – specializes in articles on how to maintain and remodel your home. One of the favorite search engines helps the weekend warrior figure out how to do a wide variety of repairs and save money.
• SFGate.com, MercuryNews.com and SacBee.com. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include our local newspaper websites. Not only do they offer the latest news, sports and business, but also good restaurant and movie reviews, job search engines, and valuable community information and links for all homeowners.