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.

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Top 10 Turkey Tips

Roast Turkey and StuffingWhether you’re tackling a Thanksgiving turkey for the first or hundredth time, these top 10 tips will ensure your big bird is the best it can be this holiday!

1. Thawing a frozen turkey requires patience and the safest method is to thaw it in the refrigerator. Be sure to plan ahead — it takes approximately three days for a 20 pound turkey to fully defrost.

2. For crisper skin, unwrap the turkey the day before roasting and leave it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was purchased fresh or frozen. Plan on 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree oven for a defrosted turkey, and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey.

4. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables (carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely) or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.

5. For even roasting, truss your turkey.

6. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).

7. Don’t be a peeping tom (no pun intended)! Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you’re only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

8. Remove the turkey from the oven when the deepest spot between the leg and the breast reads 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well – it should be at least 165 degrees.

9. Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 15 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc. You can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.

10. Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife.

25 Fun Holiday Card Photography Ideas

Dog with Santa Hat Popping out of Present

Can you believe the holidays are already upon us?? It’s time to start thinking about sending out family holiday cards already. If you are looking for some fun photography ideas for your family’s holiday card, check out this post which features some unique and funny ways to showcase your wonderful family this holiday season! http://mylifeandkids.com/fun-christmas-card-photo-ideas/

Tips for Selling Your Home in the Fall

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Summer has ended, the weather is cooling, leaves are changing and, you may be surprised to learn, homebuyers are out in force. Autumn is a popular time for corporations to relocate associates – creating a pool of buyers who need to make quick decisions about housing. They’re serious about purchasing and, with fewer houses on the market this time of year, your house may soon be getting more attention. What can you do to make sure your home sells before all the leaves fall off the trees? Here are a few helpful tips:

Highlight the location. Bring the benefits of your location front and center. Establish a list of perks that your property offers, such as proximity to public transportation, schools, shopping, recreation or entertainment.

Use the season for curb appeal. Autumn is one of the most beautiful times of year and by using that to your advantage, your home can stand out from others in the neighborhood. Leaves turning shades of crimson and gold can add extra appeal, but be sure they don’t get out of hand. Keep trees and shrubs properly groomed and pick up fallen leaves before they suffocate your front lawn. Add pumpkins, gourds or a fall display to your front porch to invite in potential buyers.

Stage your home. Buyers need to be able to envision themselves living in your home before they will consider buying it. You can help them by de cluttering, de-personalizing and thoroughly cleaning the entire house. Brighten your rooms by bringing the outside indoors with vases or displays of twigs, leaves or acorns from your yard.

Get everything in tip-top shape. Your buyer will most likely hire an inspector before closing, so pay close attention to elements around the home that are important in the fall. For example, make sure gutters are cleared of fallen leaves and that fireplaces are in working order.

Know your home. Access to real estate information on the Internet means that buyers are walking into your home more educated than ever. Take the time to review homes similar to yours on real estate websites like http://www.californiamoves.com or http://www.realtor.com. I can also let you know of the conditions and price ranges of other homes for sale in your area. This will allow us to better negotiate with potential buyers. Despite what you may have heard, this time of year offers plenty of opportunity to sell your home. By taking a few simple steps to make sure you and your house are ready to hit the market, you can better prepare yourself for what is to come. After all, the more welcoming your home is to possible buyers, the more welcoming it will be to offers.

Be sure to work with a professional realtor to ensure that you get top dollar for your home! Give me a call at (408) 410-2060 today to discuss your needs further!

Bay Area Events Calendar – October

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The holidays are fast approaching and that means a load of fun Bay Area events are upon us! I’ve attached a schedule of great events for the month of October.  CLICK HERE – October Events Calendar

As always, if I can assist you or your friends or family with any real estate related needs over the holidays, let me know!

 

Nicole

Steps to the Home Buying Process

Reaching For A Home

Buying a home is one of life’s most exciting and important decisions. In addition to being a historically strong investment, owning a house provides comfort and security for you and your loved ones. If you are thinking of purchasing a home this year, there may not be a better time in which to buy. Attractive interest rates and lower prices are helping more first-time home buyers enter the real estate market today than ever before. So if you are thinking of making a move this year, here’s how to get started:

  • Select a professional Realtor®. Choosing a Realtor is one of the most important factors in buying a home. It’s important to select a Realtor who has experience, a strong pulse on the local real estate market and the neighborhoods you are looking in, and who you feel will do the best job in communicating with you. You are going to be working with this person a lot so your comfort with and confidence in the professional are key.
  • Get pre-approved. Getting pre-approved with a proven lender will allow you to understand how much home you can afford before you begin your home search. Coldwell Banker has an in-house mortgage banker, who has a reputable track record and can help you determine your purchasing power before you start looking. A qualified loan officer from the company will show you a variety of different types of financing and will determine how much you qualify for with each type, as well as what your monthly payment will be so you can make an educated decision that’s comfortable for you.
  • Determine what you are looking for in a home. Is location most important to you? Do you have to have a swimming pool in your yard? Will you only look at homes that have a formal living room? Understanding your preferences and what you are willing to compromise on will help your Realtor in their search for properties that most closely match your criteria. Remember, unless you are building your dream home from the ground up, there are often compromises involved when deciding whether or not you will be satisfied with a given property.
  • Be proactive. While your Realtor will keep you apprised of any properties that hit the market matching your criteria, it’s important for you to be proactive in your search too. By keeping tabs in the neighborhoods or cities in which you are looking, you will have a better understanding and knowledge of the local market and home prices so that when you are getting ready to make an offer, you can be educated and confident in your decision. Websites such as CaliforniaMoves.com and Realtor.com are both updated frequently and are among my favorites for home buyers.
  • Have an open mind. Remember that the first house you purchase is probably not going to be perfect. If you have been looking for a home for weeks or even months, maybe it’s time to reconsider homes that you’ve already viewed or make a few concessions. Chances are that if there are homes that have been sitting on the market for weeks, the seller may be willing to negotiate more on price and you may be able to purchase your first home for a lower price than originally thought – giving you extra money in the end for home improvement projects.

I hope you found this information useful.  If you are thinking of taking your first steps towards purchasing a home, I’d be pleased to meet with you to give you an update on the local real estate marketplace and your buying opportunities. For more information, contact me today.

 

Bay Area home sales, prices drop in September

Bay Area home sales, prices drop in September

Check out this recent Mercury News article with updates on today’s real estate market in the Bay Area. Higher inventory has led to a drop in sales prices making this a great time for buyers to jump back into the market. The real estate market seems to have shifted in the past few months – I had 25 offers on one of my listings back in March of this year and now buyers are often only competing with a few others for homes. If you were considering making a move in the real estate market, now is definitely the time! Give me a call today at (408) 410-2060 to discuss your options!