Four Facts to Think About Before Buying a Waterfront Home

When you ask a Californian to describe their truly perfect living situation, there is a decent chance they will mention living waterfront. Waking up to the sound of crashing waves certainly sounds more appealing than arising to the more traditional southern California wakeup call – horns honking. With mortgage interest rates at a reasonably low level, now may be the time to consider buying into that perfect living situation. If you are ready to take that leap and start looking, you may want to consider what a home on the waterfront truly entails. Here are four facts to think about before buying a waterfront home in Southern California.

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There is Salt…Everywhere

Saltwater and humidity can quickly erode and degrade the exterior of a waterfront home in southern California. Wood homes are certainly more susceptible to rotting from the constantly damp conditions and will require frequent upkeep and inspection. However, even the more modern homes made of stainless steel and glass require special consideration when at the waterfront. The stainless buildings require buffing, otherwise they can quickly look worn. All glass in any waterfront home should be highly impact resistant, given particularly high winds at times.

Summer Isn’t Always Sunny

For those with expectations of beautiful sunny days all summer long in southern California, you may want to temper those expectations. At times, often in June and July, there is a significant fog that infiltrates the area. It is especially bad on the coast. Home buyers looking at waterfront homes in southern California should be aware of this occurrence when shopping around. However, winter in southern California is often quite mild and can present beautiful, calm days at the beach.


Price

Simply put, think about the purchase price of a waterfront home carefully. To get into their price range, many buyers make sacrifices like purchasing a condo or moving farther out to an area like Long Beach, California. Weighing the frustration of an even longer commute against the allure of waterfront life is certainly something to consider.


Consider Lesser Known Waterfronts

When thinking of the southern California waterfront, a picturesque beach may come to mind. However, there are other opportunities for waterfront living that may be less expensive and still on or near the water. Venice offers “canal front” homes that are not ocean view but offer waterfront living, with just a short distance to the beach as well. Considering these types of alternative opportunities could make the dream of buying a waterfront home in southern California a reality!

 

10 Ways to Keep Yourself Busy This Summer

Try restaurants you haven’t tried before. You know that restaurant you always pass by and say you’re going to try but always end up settling for that Chinese spot around the corner? Yeah, finally gather up the courage to get out of comfort zone and try it! You never know, it could be your new go-to joint. Learn to cook something new. I know this has been on most people’s bucket list and you can never seem to find the right time to actually make that delicious looking 10-minute meal you saw on Facebook. Summer is the perfect time to explore your kitchen.

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Go for a bike ride. From the park to the beach, any outside scenery is perfect to ride your bike in the summer. It’s a good way to get leg day in without realizing you’re actually working out those calf muscles!
Craft. Whether you have kids or not, crafting is always a fun way to spend your time. You can create things you saw in a DIY video and add cute accessories to your home, or just keep yourself occupied.

Start a scrapbook. Scrapbooks are the most creative way to keep memories alive. Yeah, having pictures saved on a hard drive is one thing, but getting artsy in a scrapbook is even more fun and allows for the scrapbook to be a new addition to the family archive.

Read an entire book series. If you’re like me, you’ve been saying you’re going to read the Harry Potter books one day for the last 6 years. Finally, take your time to read that series all the way and see if you like it!


Take a yoga or dance class. This is a fun way to get some exercise in and pick up a new hobby. Yoga is relaxing and can put you in the perfect summer zen. Dancing can also be a nice way to get your grind on (and you can use your moves at the club)! If you can’t afford a class, just browse Youtube and keep up with those classes.
Binge watch Netflix or Hulu. During the fall, winter and spring, school can take a toll on your time and keep you from your favorite tv show. Summer is the ideal time to binge watch shows because you don’t have much to do to take advantage and catch up!
Volunteer. Want to try something else with your time while being productive as well? Take up volunteering at your local library, park, or even high school and gain some hours by helping out the community.
Work. Get a second job or even a third. Summer is the best time to grind because school isn’t a priority. Save up for the year and make bank!

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Spring Cleaning Checklist

Here comes the most dreadful, yet satisfying time of the year: spring cleaning. Although it might seem like there could never be an organized way to clean the house, here are some ways you could start.

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-Clean out your vacuum. A dusty vacuum won’t take you anywhere. Clean the dust cup and use scissors to cut off hair or other things that might be stuck in your rotating brush.


-Disinfect your washer and dryer. The same thing happens with your washer machine, make sure it stays clean by disinfecting the dispenser and rubber gasket. As for your dryer, use fabric softener sheets to get rid of any lint.

-Degrease your microwave, kitchen cabinets, oven, dishwasher, and fridge. Things spill and we don’t always get to it right away. Just grab some wipes and clean up those stains.

-Toss expired cabinet items. Cabinets and refrigerators clutter, this is an easy solution.


-Wash your curtains. There can be a lot of hidden stains on your curtains around the house, especially if you have kids, so take advantage of this season and wash them!
-Dust your ceiling fan. There are so much harmful particles and dust that collect on your ceiling fan. Keep your lungs clean and wipe down the blades of the fan.

-Wash your rugs and/or carpet. This is also a place where these dusty particles or stains can collect. Having a clean carpet or rug can change the aura in your house and it’ll definitely feel cleaner. -Wash your comforters, blankets, and pillows. Definitely get to these! Also go ahead and vacuum your mattress while you’re at it.


-Degunk your bathroom. Get into the sink, the shower, and even the toilet to renew your restrooms cleanliness.


-Deep clean your closet. This can be the hardest chore of all but there are probably a lot of pieces in your drawers that you haven’t touched in months. Get rid of them by taking them to your local Goodwill for people in need!
-Organize your cabinets. Just like your clothes, there are probably a lot of things in your cabinets and drawers that you don’t need, use, or that don’t work anymore. Go through those and end up with an organized desk!

3 Easy Barbecue Sauce Recipes to Up Your Grilling Game

barbecue-bbq-beef-597422Grilling season is upon us, and we’re prepping by giving our grills a good scrub and stocking the pantry with things like dry rubs and seasoning salts. And while we always love a good homemade meat glaze, there is no shame in going out and buying a bottle of barbecue sauce when you’re strapped for time. Or maybe you’re simply feeling a little bit lazy. Don’t worry, we’re not judging. There are plenty of top-notch bottled barbecue sauces on the market these days, many of which are made without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. But making a grilling sauce from scratch doesn’t have to be a big production.

We turned to three chefs across the country to get their easy barbecue sauce recipes that don’t require a lot of time to put together. Though the ingredient lists can look a little daunting at first, it’s likely you have most of the components in your pantry already. Plus, after stocking up on the rest of the ingredients, you can make these delicious meat glazes all season long. Whip up these big batch recipes, store them in the fridge, and reach for them anytime you break out the grill.

South Texas Mustard Base BBQ Sauce

(By Jason Dady, owner of Shuck Shack, Tre Trattoria, Two Bros. BBQ Market, B&D Ice House, and The Bin Tapas Bar)

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“This is a classic South Texas mustard base barbecue sauce,” Dady says. “It is the Texan staple, from brisket to ribs, turkey to cabrito. It’s a tried and true Texas barbecue sauce. I love using the Maille mustards because of their finesse and sharp flavors.” Ingredients:

  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 lb fresh peaches, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup worcestershire
  • 1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarse black pepper
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp dry mustard

 

Method:

    1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, sweat onions, garlic, and peaches until soft.
    2. Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour over low heat, being careful not to scorch.
    3. Puree and strain. Chill immediately and use as needed.

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3 Reasons Your Rent-vs-Buy Math Might Be Wrong

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It’s common knowledge that owning a home is cheaper than renting (at least in the long term), but anyone who has ever sat down to try and figure out the numbers knows that finding out how much you’ll save is harder than it looks. There are so many factors to consider.

To try and help you come as close to the real number as possible, we’ve outlined three ways your rent-vs-buy math might be wrong — and how to straighten things out to give you the best picture possible. Keep these details in mind as you weigh your decision and you’ll have a much clearer vision of which path is right for you.

You’re only looking at the mortgage payment

Anyone who’s ever looked at a mortgage calculator knows that seeing that number can be shocking – in a good way. For the most part, the number you’ll see there ends up being far less than monthly rent. Unfortunately, though, it only tells part of the story. It only accounts for your mortgage payment.

In addition to a loan payment, homeowners need to account for supplemental costs like their homeowners insurance and property taxes. Be sure to include those costs into your estimates. To estimate property taxes, you can take the property tax percentage in the area where you’ll be living and multiply it by the value of a potential property you’d buy. For homeowner’s insurance, the Federal Reserve Bureau estimates that premiums typically fall between $300 – $1,000, annually.

You need to account for closing costs

The term “closing costs” simply refers the fees that are incurred during the buying process. They’re unique to each sale, but could include things such as the costs of inspections and appraisals, the cost of running a title search, or an association fee. These costs are paid at settlement and typically add up to a few thousand dollars, so they should absolutely be accounted for in your home-buying budget. For instance, if you expect to stay in your future home for around 5 years (before you outgrow it or take off to a new city), add in one-fifth of the closing costs to your annual expenses when considering whether renting or buying ends up cheaper.

Luckily, there are a few ways to cut down on these costs. While some fees are fixed according to the home sale regulations in your area, others are negotiable. Try your best to buy when mortgage interest rates are low and to go research professionals (like your inspectors and loan rep) who have low fees. During sale negotiations, you may also be able to ask the seller to cover a portion of the costs in exchange for a higher sale price.

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Home Staging Ideas for Your Garage

    Need some home staging ideas for you garage? Yup, this grease-covered dumping ground that serves as a “home” for your car (at least we hope your car fits in there) is not overlooked by home buyers. A good-looking garage is worth its weight in gold, and can be a strong selling point. In fact, a recent realtor.com® survey found that 32% of home buyers say the garage is one of the most important rooms in a house! As such, in the same way you might try a little home staging to make your kitchen and living room look their best, it’ll pay to learn how to stage your garage. Here are some garage staging ideas that’ll wow buyers even before they’ve entered the more civilized parts of your home.

Declutter, of course


Gather all the items in your garage, and divide them into three piles: keep, donate, and toss. Once you’ve purged, it’s time to restore what you need in a better way.

“Resist the urge to stack bins on top of one another,” says Jennifer Snyder, a professional home organizer and owner of Neat as a Pin in Waco, TX. Instead, hang tools on a pegboard ($50), store boxes on a ceiling storage rack ($160), and mount a Spoga Wall Organizer ($8) for your mop, broom, and other cleaning equipment. Clean up When’s the last time you cleaned your garage? Never?! Well, you’d better take time now to dust the walls and corners and sweep the floor. Find an oil stain on the ground? Pour paint thinner on the stain, and then apply an absorbent material (e.g., cat litter, baking soda, cornmeal, or sawdust) over the saturated spot. Let the mixture set overnight, and sweep it up in the morning with a heavy push broom with sturdy bristles. Check garage safety

Make sure all flammable products and poisonous chemicals are stored out of reach of children and pets. (You don’t want potential buyers to wonder what else you may have handled irresponsibly.) And if you don’t already have one in your garage, install a smoke detector.
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Spring House Plants Add New Life And Color!

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It might be spring, but warmer weather is not exactly here yet for much of California which means we’re still not spending as much time as we’d like outdoors.  This set the scene perfectly for spring projects around the home, like spring cleaning. Spring is also a great time for new beginnings, it can be a great time to buy a new property and make a move.

Whether you’re moving or staying put, spring is a great time to start fresh; getting rid of clutter, adding a fresh coat of paint or changing the layout of your place are all great ideas to get into the spring of things.  As you’re making changes, consider bringing new life into your home with fresh houseplants!

The right houseplant can be really beneficial to the overall environment in your home; plants add just enough moisture to the air to help you breathe, they add fresh air and even clean the air of some of the air pollution.  Houseplants also bring the room together adding both color and texture that really set the mood.

Areca Palms are some of the best when it comes to cleaning the air, according to a NASA study.  Not only are they great at removing toxins from the air, they’re also a great humidifier which helps keep you healthy.  This plant is perfect for anyone looking to add a tropical vibe to their home décor. If you have less than a green thumb, don’t worry!  This plant is very easy to take care of and is very drought resistant.

Peperomia plants are easy to grow, compact and uniquely alluring.  They grow heart-shaped leaves that would rather be neglected than meticulously cared for.  These plants are most adaptive in spring when they’re in their sprouting phase. The plant does well under fluorescent lights and prefers an east-facing window where it will receive light to moderate light.

Snake plants go by a variety of names depending on which part of the globe you’re standing and are native to tropical Africa.  This plant is hassle-free, you can set it and forget it because it can withstand almost any condition. These plants like humidity and low light, so they make a great plant for the bathroom.  The shape of their leaves and color is absolutely alluring and they’re great at cleaning the air.

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Pothos plants stay contained to a few feet in a shrub-like diameter when potted and are great house plants not only because of their size but their uncommon leaf coloring.  A wild mix of green, white and yellow which dazzles the eyes, it is easy to see why this houseplant is so popular. Just like the rest of the plants mentioned, it is very easy to take care of and luckily it thrives even in dimly lit rooms.

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Dracaena plants also called the Madagascar Dragon Tree, can stay smaller if potted or grow to be as many as 6 ft. tall.   They do well indoor or outdoor with very little care and are popular for their strappy, colorful, palm-like leaves.

No-Fail Kitchen Color Combinations

pexels-photo-276554Walking down the paint aisle at the home improvement store can be overwhelming. With so many paint chips to choose from, where do you start? Let us help you whittle down the choices with our picks for the best kitchen color palettes.

Make your kitchen an expression of your personal style by drenching it in the colors you love. For a no-regrets approach, choose neutral tones for the expensive foundation elements (cabinets, floors, countertops, appliances) and introduce color on the walls, backsplash, window treatments, lighting, and other less-expensive accents. With this strategy, you can easily and affordably swap out the color scheme as your taste and popular trends change.

Chomping at the bit to pick the perfect palette for your kitchen? These delicious color combinations are sure to please.

Blue + Orange

Bring your kitchen to life with this energetic duo. Bold and juicy citrus orange pairs perfectly with soft blue. Plus, both colors complement bright white woodwork and provide lively punctuations against the austere backdrop of modern design.

Red + Yellow

This regal combination has been popular in Europe for generations, and it has found its way into modern design. Pair a deep red with golden yellow to evoke the sense of a stately English manor, a relaxed French country cottage, or a beautiful Tuscan villa. To make your kitchen feel larger, use yellow as the room’s anchor color, then add red accents to punctuate the design.

Gray + Purple

When paired with a deep charcoal gray, purple doesn’t seem quite as intimidating. A neutral base helps royal purple accents stand out without overwhelming the space. Balance rich, royal colors with plenty of white.

Black + White

Few color combinations are as balanced as black and white. Make use of the timeless duo by pairing white foundational elements with black accents. Further amp up visual interest by incorporating a black-and-white backsplash, wallpaper, or tile flooring.

Blue + Brown

This color combo has universal appeal. For modern or transitional homes, pair chocolate brown with crisp sky blue, and throw in a few bright accent colors for visual interest. In a country kitchen, pick robin’s egg blue and wheat brown, then layer on cream-color accents for a warm and cozy look. To give the duo a traditional feeling, choose deep shades of both colors and break up the dark tones with crisp white and rich gold accents.

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Does Your Home Staging Look Too Sterile? How to Warm Things Up

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Home staging—the practice of arranging furnishings and decor in a house so buyers can envision living there—is becoming an ever-more important tool for home sellers. In fact, studies show that staged homes sell 88% faster and for 20% more money than those that aren’t staged.

And yet: Home staging can be taken too far. Home sellers sometimes clear out every last family photo, pillow, and doo-dad until their house looks like a hotel for Scandinavian robots. How do you stage your home with warmth, so it looks as though humans live there? And by humans, we mean very tidy people with excellent taste but who still do stuff like eat and entertain? Here’s how to strike that warm yet aspirational balance, so that buyers feel that your house is the perfect place for them.

You still need to declutter

Even if you think you’re a minimalist, the truth is, we all tend to collect a lot of stuff. And that stuff is going to distract people from seeing the best features of your home. So reduce, reduce, reduce. You will probably end up adding a few things back in, but it’s easier to see what to keep if you’re starting with a nearly empty slate, so to speak.

Corcoran real estate agent Dennis Margulies, who stages most of the homes he sells, has edited back the belongings of clutter-loving clients “just for the photograph.” And when his clients see how amazing their decluttered home looks, they tend to want to do even more. So be merciless in your editing before you start adding the details that will warm up your space.

Furniture: Keep only the right stuff

How do you know how much of your furniture to keep? When Margulies works with estate sales, he keeps this principle in mind: “You’re trying to highlight the best attributes of the space.” So he’ll rearrange furniture (and remove some pieces) in order to make a room look and feel as spacious as possible. You want enough furniture to make the room comfortable, but not so much that people miss architectural details and the feel of the space itself.

If you are renting furniture to stage your home, don’t pick sets. That matchy-matchy look can create a sterile atmosphere, Margulies says. “Personality comes in when you mix things. There needs to be a sense of style.”

Warm up your lighting

“Changing the lighting makes a big difference,” says Margulies, “and it’s one of the simplest things you can do.” He says you should particularly consider this if you have directional lighting, such as spotlights or track lighting, which can create shadowy corners. What you want instead are rooms that are evenly lit throughout. This is especially important in the front entryway and in kitchens, Margulies says.

You also want to make sure that the light casts a warm glow. Triplemint agent Sam Lazar likes dimmers to create what he calls “golden hour” lighting, explaining, “You want to show that an apartment is bright, but doesn’t look like a hospital, with superbright lights.” So avoid those harsh, blueish LED light bulbs. Once you’ve got your primary lighting set, you can add in a subtle glow. “Literal warmth, like candles, or if possible, the fireplace if it’s winter, go a long way,” says Lazar.

Don’t be afraid of color

All the walls should be white, right? Not necessarily. While you don’t want to hit prospective buyers with a kaleidoscope of different colors in every room, one accent wall of color in the right place can be effective, says Margulies.

Bring in the green

Another way to make a minimalist space feel warm and vibrant is to add plants. “Definitely add flowers,” says Lazar. “Place flowers in several areas if you can, since they’re a touch of freshness that brightens the space.” So grab an arrangement, or opt for easy-to-care-for houseplants in attractive pots.

Now add some personal details

Contrary to conventional wisdom, you don’t have to banish every last personal object from your home before you show it. “Some family pictures are fine,” says Margulies. Just not all of them. Find the best ones, in the best frames (or have quality portraits reframed).

Yes, you can have a few throw pillows out. “Throw pillows and blankets project the fact that people live here and sit in those areas,” says Lazar. Just make sure they’re in good repair and in bright, harmonizing colors (this is another area that shouldn’t be matchy-matchy). And, if you have a dining area, “Set the table, and maybe add a centerpiece,” Lazar says. This could be a candlestick, or fresh flowers.

In bedrooms, Lazar likes a few well-edited personal items, like a ring dish or a small stack of books. “This also works in the bathrooms, which should have towels on racks and soap next to sinks.”

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Go Green At Home! Your Wallet Will Thank You!

Heating & Cooling 

Heating and Cooling your home takes up the lion’s share of energy consumption, but there are plenty of ways to mitigate the cost.  For starters, keep your ceiling fan running even in the winter when it is cold. The ceiling fan circulates more air, which makes heating and cooling easier. Next, consider insulating your attic.  Although this sounds like a big task, some insulations can be installed with just a small hole and there are lots of eco-friendly insulation fibers these days, like Green Fiber Cocoon. And while you’re insulating, make sure to seal up any gaps around doors and windows.  Last, set your thermostat at 68 during winter months and light up the fireplace. You’re probably thinking that chopping down trees to burn in your fireplace isn’t a green alternative? Try burning an eco-friendly alternative made from recycled coffee grounds; there are several brands to choose from these days, Bio-Bean, Java Log, and Pine Mountain to name a few.  They burn for 2-3 hours like a traditional log but produce 3 times the flame capacity. These logs burn 7 times cleaner than wood, produce 96 percent less residue and 54 percent less carbon dioxide than wood. You’ll love the gentle coffee aroma too!

Water

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Conserving water can be as easy as taking a shower instead of a bath, but for those looking to go the extra mile here are some more suggestions.  Try installing a water aerator on the faucet’s in your home; they’re inexpensive and almost invisible. They work by adding air to the stream of water coming out of the faucet, which still gives you a steady flow of water but can reduce water consumption by as much as 50% per use.  Another low-cost way to save more water is by installing low flow showerheads. These water efficient shower heads can save as much as 26 gallons of water per shower. Last, for all the garden lovers; try planning a garden composed of native and adaptive plants that require little to no watering.

Electricity

Whenever you leave a room, its best to turn off the light and most of us already know that.  But did you know that many of the devices in your home are drawing power even when they’re not being used?  It is best to unplug your gadgets when you’re not using them, but unplugging your TV, Bluray, etc. can become tiresome.  An easy way around this is using power strips which make it easy to switch everything off at once. Of course, these days there is another easy way to save on your electric bill if you have not already made the leap, consider installing solar panels on your home!  In sunny California, solar panels can save many homeowners about half of their entire electric bill!