Infographics

How to Upgrade Your Front Entrance

The front entrance of your home is the first thing visitors see, and also the most noticeable part of the home to passers-by. Upgrading your front entrance is easy, and increases the curb appeal of your home.

Fresh paint is an affordable, easy, and interesting way to update your home. Choose a color that compliments the style of your home, and the existing exterior colors. If you are looking for a more eye-catching look, try a darker color. A unique color scheme is the best way to stand out, but you don’t want to go overboard.

If you want a more natural look to your door, re-stain it. A nicely stained door will set your home apart from your neighbors’ factory painted doors. There are a variety of stain colors available to add a unique and beautiful change to your front door.

When you opt for contrasting colors, you add visual interest and personality to your home. A red door to contrast with your white home, or a light colored stain to contrast the dark stain of your house can create a beautifully eye-catching and bold look.

Finishing touches such as new lighting sconces, a door knocker, some plants, a new knob, a new doorbell plaque, or even a nice Welcome mat are other inexpensive little upgrades you can add to your front entrance to make it even more welcoming.

Your home is a reflection of you, and your personality. Making small changes to the entrance of your home can be a fantastic way to express your own style, and add some fresh appeal to your home.

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Best Pets for Your San Diego Home

If you’re thinking about adopting a new furry family member, you should always take into account the amount of space you have for your new addition.

San Diego has beautiful beaches, and some, like San Elijo State Beach allow dogs; but if having a dog won’t work for your space, fear not! Finding a furry friend to share your space, however large or small your space may be, is easy, and we’ve got a great guide for you.

If you’re living in a small place there are some great pets you can add to your family. Hamsters, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and geckos are fantastic pets that don’t take up much space. Aquarium fish are another great small space option, and will add a nice ambiance to your space. If you’re more adventurous, a snake, tarantula, frog, or crab could make for a fantastic pet as well.

Apartment living doesn’t mean you can’t have a cuddly friend to come home to! Cats are ideal apartment pets because they do well in any size home. Cats are also clean, and are perfectly fine to be left alone during the day while you’re at work. Small low-maintenance dogs are also great for apartments. Breeds like Pugs, Boston Terriers, and French Bulldogs are apartment friendly. If you like larger dogs, Bulldogs, Great Danes, and Greyhounds make great apartment pets because they like to lounge, and require minimal grooming.

If you have a house with a small yard, you can of course have a cat or dog, but when you have a yard, you have the option to adopt a more active dog who will enjoy the fun of running around in the yard. If you are into more exotic pets, you could get...

Buying a Home Together in San Diego

Deciding to buy a home together with your partner can be a huge decision. It’s a decision that will add a new dynamic to your relationship, and you’ll want to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. We’ve got some great tips to help you prepare for this big decision.

Chances are that you will be sharing many of the same priorities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will agree on everything. What type of home do you want? How important is a big kitchen? If you plan on having children in the future (or if you have them already), how important is it that the home you buy is in a good school district? What about the quality of the neighborhood? How long is the commute? Living in a lovely beach area like Carlsbad might sound like a fantastic idea, but if your job (or your partner’s job) is in Mira Mesa, the commute may be something you or your partner might not want to deal with on a daily basis.

Make sure you’re both on the same page financially. Make sure you both know what you’re committing to when you decide upon how much home you can afford. Keep in mind that a down payment is typically 20% of the home price, home inspections are approximately $315, moving costs an average of $1,170, closing costs are around 2% to 5% of the home price, and taxes and insurance costs can vary.

Check both of your credit. When you apply for a mortgage, both credit scores are taken into account. A lender doesn’t take an average of the two credit scores even if one is higher than the other, they generally will use the lowest score so both parties...

Keep Your San Diego Home Cleaner for Longer

Prevent dust by optimizing your home’s humidity levels between 40% and 50%. Low humidity causes static electricity, and more static means more dust will become attracted to objects and fixtures around your home.

You can help prevent soap scum from accumulating on your shower doors by treating them with automotive windshield rain repellant spray as needed. This will create a protective layer that encourages water to bead off the glass. If you need to remove soap scum that has already accumulated, make a paste with baking soda and vinegar, and apply it to your shower doors. Allow the mixture to sit for 15 minutes, then scrub it clean with water.

Make sure your stone countertops are sealed and protected. Because stone countertops are porous, they are susceptible to staining from wine, juice, soy sauce and oils. In order to test your seal, pour some water on your counter tops and watch to see if it beads. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time to reseal your counters. Making sure to keep up with this is important to keeping your counters looking new and clean.

Shield your furniture from stains! Protective furniture sprays and carpet sealants guard against stains and spills by causing liquids to bead on the surface and prevent absorbtion. Make sure you’re reapplying these sealants annually. This is especially important if you have a children or pets.

Some other quick tips to keep your house cleaner for longer include; moving furniture at least 6 inches away from the wall, putting together a touch-up kit and keeping it handy...

For Sale by Owner in San Diego

The amount of time your San Diego home is on the market, the stress levels involved, and the selling price of your home can all be affected if you decide not to use a realtor to sell your home.

The average selling price of a home sold by the owners in San Diego is approximately $40,000 lower than a home sold by realtors. Realtors have access to local market data about recent sales, and other listed homes in your area. Realtors also know negotiate a contract on your behalf that will give you the best outcome.

Realtors on average sell homes 19 days faster than owners. They have more availability than you to when it comes to inquiries, showings, and feedback from buyers. They also have professional marketing expertise, and buyers typically feel more comfortable viewing a home without the owner present.

When it comes to the stress of selling your San Diego home, legal and financing issues are the most stressful things to deal with if you’re selling it yourself. Owners deal with 70% more stress when selling their homes themselves. Experienced realtors have the expertise to handle these situations, and they are able to screen for qualified buyers so that you’re not wasting time on unrealistic buyers.

Realtors in San Diego look at your home objectively, and know what appeals to potential buyers. Using a realtor to sell your home rather than doing it yourself will save you stress and give you a better outcome.

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How To Get Your Home Ready for Walkthroughs

A final walk-through isn’t a home inspection, you will have (or should have) already done that. Bring your contract with you. You may need to refer to it when you’re on site.

In the San Diego market, the buyer and seller may never meet, but if both parties are agreeable to the idea, it’s good to perform the final walk-through with the sellers present.

If the sellers have already moved, and the home if vacant, it’s even more important to do a final walk-through. Since your last visit, for instance, someone may have left a faucet dripping, inadvertently causing water damage.

When you do the final walk-through, take a checklist with you. You’ll want to check the exterior of the home, especially if there have been strong wind or rainstorms since your last visit. You’ll also want to check all light fixtures by turning them on and off, and make sure the the seller hasn’t removed any fixtures such as chandeliers that they had previously agreed to leave behind.

Doing a final walk-through is important after all, you don’t want to spend the first weeks in your new San Diego home cleaning up or making unexpected repairs.

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Build Your Own Fire Pit

You don’t have to purchase a ready-made fire pit, nor do you need to hire a contractor. You can build a DIY fire pit quite easily by following the steps below. Our infographic also has some great illustrations to help you along the way.

What You’ll Need:

  •  Digging Tools (Shovel and Pick Axe)
  • Tamper
  • Level
  • Rounded Landscaping Stones
  • Metal Fire Pit Ring and Metal Grate
  • Approximately 1 ton of sand, and 1 ton of gravel

Now, before you get started, take a moment to consider the placement of your fire pit. You’ll want to select a location that is a safe distance both from trees, and from the structure of your home. Be sure to take into account any awnings.

Let’s get started!

Step 1:

Pick a spot for your fire pit, and lay the fire pit ring and blocks out around the ring, and mark a circle of dots about 3 inches out from the stone ring. Dig about 12 inches of soil out from this ring.

Step 2:

Add about 4 inches of gravel and tamp it flat. Next add 4 inches of sand, and tamp that flat as well. This will provide a good foundation for your fire pit that also allows for some water drainage.

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Greener House Made Simple

If the idea of having an eco-friendly home seems unrealistic, you should know that you have a lot of options that can make a noticeable difference. We San Diegans enjoy the outdoors, and do our best to take care of the environment, but sometimes when it comes to our homes we’re not quite sure how to make a substantial change. The truth is, you don’t have to install solar panels or wind turbines-just follow these suggestions:

 

Change your Lightbulbs!

LED lighting uses significantly less energy, and produces light levels comparable to traditional lighting. LED bulbs have a lifespan of 50,000 hours, and only use 10 watts of energy. Installing LED lighting in your home is a quick and easy way to make a big change in terms of efficiency, and cost.

 

Split-Ductless A/C Systems

Conventional air conditioning systems run large air ducts from a central unit throughout the house. Air ducts account for 30% of energy loss, while Split-Ductless A/C systems use multiple small units spread throughout the home. With a Split-Ductless system, you’re in control of the temperature in each room so that you only need to heat and cool them individually, the heat/cold is delivered directly from the source, and it’s 300% more efficient than conventional central air.

 

Water Conservation

Turning off the water in the sink...

Best Practices for a Healthy San Diego Lawn

When you’re deciding on how to maintain the lawn in your new home, purchasing a lawn mower is the first step. There are different options available when you purchase a lawn mower, and depending on the size and surface of your lawn you may want to opt for one over another. Manual lawn mowers work best on small even lawns, while gas mowers can work on small or large lawns with either flat or uneven surfaces. Electric lawn mowers work well on most sizes of lawns, but work best on flat surfaced lawns. One benefit of electric mowers is the fact that they don’t have any emissions, but gas mowers work better on thicker grass than electric mowers do.

String trimmers are great to have if there are places in your yard where your mower is too big to go, and edgers can be used to cut clean dividing lines between your lawn and your driveway, or walkways.

There is a misconception that cutting your lawn very short is better, and will ensure that you mow less, but that’s not the case. Keeping your grass too short damages the grass, and makes it easier for weeds to take root. Cutting your lawn a bit longer shades the ground, retains moisture, and enables root development. In reality, the time it takes for a lawn to look unkempt is not dependent on the length of the grass.

Depending on where you live, your watering schedules may vary but in general it’s better to water for longer intervals a few times per week rather than to water for a short amount of time daily. Watering in the early morning is the best time, especially if you live in a hotter part of San Diego county. If you water at night, the grass is soaking for too...

8 San Diego Landscaping Mistakes

Not having a plan. Starting a landscaping project without a solid plan means you might not be satisfied with the end result. If you have the money to do so, consider hiring a landscape architect.

Choosing plants not suited to your climate. Just because a plant is for sale at your local garden center, that doesn’t mean it’s going to grow in your yard. Some plants require more effor than they’re worth in order for them to grow in harsh climates. We’re lucky here in San Diego since our weather tends to be relatively mild, but in areas of East San Diego like El Cajon, or Escondido where there is harsher heat, you may want to evaluate the conditions needed for your plants to thrive.

Forgetting about proper irrigation. Each plant in your yard may have different watering needs. This is another great reason to start with a good plan. You don’t want to risk killing plants by either over or under-watering them, and you definitely don’t want to have to rework your irrigation after your landscaping project has been completed.

Improper tree placement. We have probably all seen a tree in a neighbor’s yard that has overgrown and is hanging over their home. That is a huge hazard. When you’re planning your landscaping project, don’t forget that trees get big! Don’t plant them too close to your house, walkways, or deck. Try to visualize what the tree will look like when it’s larger when you’re in the planning stages.

Getting in over your head. Be honest with yourself about how much...

When is the Best Time to Buy a San Diego Home?

Wanting to get your dream San Diego home at its lowest price? Research shows there are specific times of the year when homes can be bought for well below market value.

 

JANUARY = 2.1%
FEBRUARY = 2.4%
MARCH = 1.2%
APRIL = -1.2%
MAY = 1.7%
JUNE = 1.3%
JULY = 2.3%
AUGUST = 1.6%
SEPTEMBER = 1.8%
OCTOBER 2.6%
NOVEMBER = 1.5%
DECEMBER = 2.2%

Many sellers take their homes off the market until spring, leaving only the very motivated sellers who are more willing to negotiate.

What Days of the Week Can You Get the Best Deal?

Monday = 2.3% Discount

Friday = 2% Discount

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9 Ways to Make Your San Diego Home More Energy Efficient

The most effective stratedy for improving household energy efficiency is to first target your home's envelope—walls, attic, windows and doors.

Effective Insulation

If your house has no wall insulation, and it has more-or-less continuous wall cavities, it can improve enough energy to be very cost effective.

Upgrade Windows

If your windows are leaky, it may be time to replace them with energy-efficient models with weatherstripping and storm windows.

Tress Around Your San Diego House

If your house is older with relatively poor insulation and windows, good landscaping can save energy, especially if planted on the house's west side.

High-Efficiency System

For houses with boilers and hot water heat distribution (radiators, baseboard), the savings from a modern condensing boiler with outdoor reset.

Hot Water System

First, turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120F). Second, insulate your hot water lines so they don't cool off as quickly between uses.

Compact Fluorescent Lamps

CFLs can save 3 quarters of the electricity used by incandescents. Electricity to run a light bulb costs much...

What is an Appraisal?

An appraisal is a written estimate of a property's market value, completed by an appraiser. This objective third party will give their professional opinion of the market value of a home.

What Does an Appraiser Look For?

  • General condition of the home
  • Size of the home and the property
  • Location of the home
  • Number of bathrooms and bedrooms
  • Upgrades or remodeled areas
  • Architectural features such as fireplaces
  • Materials used for countertops, floors, etc.
  • Outdoor amenities like a pool, gazebo, etc.
  • Type of appliances such as a gas vs electric stovetop
  • Functionality and layout of the home
  • Exterior of the home and materials used
  • Condition of yard

What Can I Expect During my San Diego Appraisal?

The appraiser may tour the neighborhood after they view your property. You can walk around with the appraiser while they are atyour home to answer any questions he or she may have. They only last about 15-20 minutes. They may take photos along the way.

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Choose Your San Diego Home Loan

When it comes to San Diego home loans, there are several types geared to fit various needs. Here is important information about some of the most popular ones and why they might work for you. 

CONVENTIONAL

  • This is the most popular option, often with the best interest rates
  • Your interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan
  • Your monthly payments remain the same throughout the loan

ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage)

  • Interest rates typically start out lower and are locked at a set amount for an initial period
  • An interest rate cap sets a limit on how high your interest can go throughout the course of the loan
  • 5% of mortgages were ARM in 2010 compared to 62% in 1984

FHA (Federal Housing Administration)

  • This is a government backed loan that makes it easier for first time buyers to get a home loan
  • Requires a minimum credit score of 580 to qualify for the 3.5% down payment
  • 4.8 million single family FHA mortgages currently in the U.S.

VA LOAN (Veterans Affairs)

  • Only available to veterans...

Common San Diego Home Buying Mistakes

Whether you're a first time buyer or an experienced buyer in San Diego, there is still room for mistakes. When it comes to your biggest investment, you don't want to leave anything up to chance. 

Choosing the Wrong San Diego Agent

Choose an agent who knows the location you're interested in and is experienced selling homes in your price range

Being Too Picky

If you expect to find a house that meets all your requirements, you might be searching for a long time. It's important to be willing to compromise a little when it comes to what you need and want in a home.

Buying the First House You See

Even if you fall in love with the first house you look at, it's still a good idea to see what else is out there. You might be surprised to find something even better.

Buying a House That's Not Right for Your Family

There are some things that you should not compromise on. You could end up in a home that is too small for your family or in the wrong area.

Not Seeing the Home as an Investment

Buyers often forget that a home is more than just somewhere you live, it is an investment. It is important to look ahead and consider the future resale value of the home even if you don't plan on selling for a long time....

8 Ways to Cut Utilities in San Diego

Here are 8 ways to cut your utility bill this San Diego weather:

1) Crank Her Down and Layer Up

Turning your thermostat down by only 2 degrees will end up saving you $180 per year on your energy bill. 

2) Low-Flow is the Way to Go

A low-flow shower head requires less water and needs less heat to warm the water, not to mention the money you will save. 

3) Clean those Coils

Simply cleaning the condenser coils on your fridge can save you money and increast efficiency. If you are in the market for a new fridge, look for an energy star model.

4) Fix that Filter

Cleaning/changing your furnance filter every two months can increaste its effciency by 50%.

5) Caulk those Cracks

Micro cracks in the edges of your windows can cause some serious inefficiencies. Caulk those cracks and get rid of those drafts. You will conserve heat and save money.

6) Pull the Plug and Save

Did you know that when your electronics are plugged in they are using electricity? Even when you aren't using them! What's the solution? Pull the plug. If you unplug your electronics when you aren't using them, you can save $75 a year. Be sure to shut down...

Planning to Buy or Sell a San Diego Home?

The following list of terms will help you gain familiarity with what will be going on throughout the buying or selling process:

1) Appraisal

The evaluation of a property to determine its price based on previous sales of similar properties.

2) Closing Costs

Expenses incurred in the purchase and sale of property that are paid at the time of closing including: title insurance, attorney fees, appraisal fees, recording fees and taxes.

3) Code of Ethics

A standard of conduct required by license laws and by the National Association of Realtors.

4) Down Payment

The amount of money a buyer pays upfront to purchase the property. This is typically around 10% of the total cost.

5) Earnest Money Deposit

The deposit a buyer makes at the time of submitting an offer to demonstrate the true intent to purchase.

6) Equity

The different between what something is worth and any outstanding mortgage due.

7) Escrow

A third-party account for holding documents and money related to the loan.

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10 Holiday Decor Tips

Whether you are decorating your 2-story home or 2-bedroom condo, everyone can use these 10 useful tips:

1) For every ONE foot of tree heights you will need:

  • 100 Lights
  • 9 Feet of Garland
  • 20 Ornaments

2) For a whimsical take on traditional Christmas colors, try pink and teal with silver metallic accents instead or come up with your own unique color combo.

3) Go natural by decorating seasonally rather than holiday-specific. For example: use accents like cinnamon sticks, oranges, pine cones, etc.

4) Bring the wreath inside! A wreath on your front door is nice, but it means you don't get to enjoy it 24/7. Hang one in a window so everybody will see it.

5) Go floral with unconventional Christmas flowers like white amaryllis tinged with green.

6) Upgrade store-bought throw pillows with holiday appliques. Bunch a few together to spell a word like J-O-Y.

7) Don't love the tree skirt you have? Opt for a natural wicker basket—it's the new black!

8) Greet your holiday guests with festive decor in your guest room. A simple garland or holiday pillow will add a great touch.

9) Turn your everyday decor into holiday decor by stringing twinkle lights or sprinkling faux snow on them.

10) No mantle?...

8 Home Security Tips for San Diego

While the number of burglaries in San Diego decreases each year, you shouldn't let your guard down when it comes to home security. Follow these tips to prevent thieves from gaining access to your home. 

1) HIDING PLACES

Trim tall shrubbery covering windows and doors so thieves have no place to hide from you or attentive neighbors. Install motion detector lights in poorly lit areas around your home to deter intruders.

2) VACATION TIME

The social media pictures and updates can wait until you get back—and thieves will never even know you were away. Ask a neighbor to grab any mail or door flyers that might be piling up and giving clues to your absence.

3) YARD WORK

Thieves can easily break windows and gain access to your home. Don't provide them with tools to make the job easier. Keep your yard clear of tree limbs, toys, gardening tools, ladders, etc.

4) SECURITY ALARMS

Security alarms alert police of any intrusions—and give thieves only a small window of time to escape. But don't forget that alarms only work if you remember to arm them.

5) WINDOW PROTECTION

Shatterproof glass is great for window protection—but if replacing windows isn't an option, security film is a smart alternative. The film prevents...

10 Tips for a Clutter-Free Home

Whether you're preparing to sell your house or just need to rid yourself of unnecessary items, it's important to give all your things a home. De-cluttering can make preparation your home less stressful, and make the moving process faster and easier.

Here is a list of the top 10 things to do to organize your San Diego home:

1) Get Rid of The "Things" in Your Life

When debating on whether to keep things, think about how important that thing is to you on a daily basis. Could it be more useful to someone else?

2) Start Small

Start your organization with a single shelf, drawer or cupboard in your home and don't move on until that is totally cleaned out. Use a "Put Away" bin and "Give Away" bin and grab a trash bag for the things not worthy of being kept.

3) When Have I Used this Last?

Anything you haven't used in the last few years is probably not worth keeping. If it's sentimental, display it in your home or take a photo to keep in your memory. If it's worth money, consider selling it online.

4) Keep "Like" Things Together

Make sure similar items are stored together. It will make it much easier to keep track of things in the long run!

5) Organization in the Kitchen...