Aug. 15, 2018

Knowing The 925 featuring The Byron Inn Cafe

On this episode of Knowing The 925 we visit The Byron Inn Cafe, a staple restaurant here in Byron now under new ownership.

 

 

FACEBOOK

https://www.facebook.com/Byroninncafe2015/?fref=mentions

 

WEBSITE

https://www.byroninncafe.net

 

Keep looking out on our Knowing the 925 Facebook page or more awesome local businesses!

 

Posted in Knowing The 925
Aug. 9, 2018

Kitchen Improvements Under $100

Want to spruce up your kitchen but stuck on a tight budget? Check out the list of improvements you can get started on for under $100. These tips can come in handy when you're ready to list your home to sell on the market. 

1. REFRESH THE SINK:

If your sink is starting to look outdated, find an affordable, yet stylish, replacement. If you have the eye for DIY, you can also purchase some sandpaper and a $4 can of spray paint that is made for metal, and dye it to refresh and brighten the color.

2. HANG A NEW LIGHT FIXTURE

A decorative light fixture doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. You can generally find some decent ones that are under $100. Go for a chrome finish or choose the rustic route, whichever suits the current decor in your kitchen. You can also add LED lights under your kitchen cabinets for around $10-$20. 

3. PAINT THE CABINETS

With care taken in the prep work, you can refinish the paint on your cabinets. You can generally get a kit around $75. Refreshing the paint color or the stain can make your kitchen feel brand new. 

4. TURN YOUR FRIDGE INTO A CHALKBOARD 

Chalkboard finishes are a hot trend, especially on the fridge! They add more functionality by allowing home owners to write grocery lists, menus, and even to-dos. Use painters tape to outline the shape and size you want to use as the chalkboard then coat it with magnetic primer, then chalkboard paint. 

5. REPLACE OUTLET PLATES

Replace the outdated outlet wall plates for your light switches. You can add some character to it by using bold patterns, bright colors, or elegant textures. If they look faded, yellow, or chipped, they're a cheap fix to replace.

6. CHANGE HARDWARE

Replacing the hardware on your kitchen cabinets and drawers can provide a drastic change to your kitchen. Not only can you get rid of hideous outdated hardware, but you can add a completely new feel to the theme of your kitchen just by updating the hardware throughout it.

7. EXPAND STORAGE

Have empty wall space? Search your local home stores for cute baskets or storage containers you can use to fill the space. Not only can it add some character to your kitchen, it also adds functionality and more storage options. A feature buyers love if you're thinking of listing your home. 

8. DRESS UP YOUR DECOR

Bring some color to your kitchen. Throw out decor that looks like it belongs in the 90's, rugs that are falling apart, and anything else that weighs down a fresh look. Add in some new rugs and hand towels that match your personality and the theme you're trying to achieve. You can also add some plants and decorative pieces to add character. 

9. CLEAN UP THE CLUTTER

The best cleaning tip I can give all of my clients is to remove the clutter. Nothing is a bigger eye sore than too many things. It also messes with the energy in a home. Throw out a lot of things that are taking up too much space. If it's sentimental, see if you can store it in a new place or even donate it. 

 

KARI CROSS

925-584-1640

Posted in Dream Home, Homeowner
Aug. 1, 2018

Home Buying Mistakes by Generation

No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying.

Whether it’s picking the wrong location or buying more house than you can afford, the mistakes are often universal, says Ilyce Glink, author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.”

“When you’re in your 20s, your life isn’t the same as when you’re retired, and yet you’re both going to make timing mistakes,” Glink says. “You may make location mistakes. You may not think about what you need for every stage of your life, so you buy the wrong size home or make a bad money decision.”

Even so, certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.

20s: Getting the Wrong Type of Mortgage
People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority, but a necessity.

This can be a bad thing if buyers get into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) thinking they will earn more money down the road, says Michael Corbett, host of Extra’s “Mansions and Millionaires” and author of “Find It, Fix It, Flip It.”

“Younger buyers might get an adjustable-rate mortgage because the rate is really low; it’s like a teaser rate, and they think, ‘I’m going to get it because I’m improving in my job situation or I’ll pay off my student loan’—but if that doesn’t happen then, when interest rates go up in five to seven years, they’re going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple,” Corbett says.

If the rates on ARMs increase dramatically, there’s a chance the borrower will no longer be able to afford their mortgage payment, which could put the house in jeopardy. Before leaping into an ARM with just a dream of a house and a hope for a bigger paycheck, consider other cost-saving alternatives.

Along with popular programs like FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income. The HUD-sponsored Good Neighbor Next Door program, for example, offers home-buying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.

Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers, which you can typically find on your state’s website.

30s: Not Thinking About the Future
Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they’re standing in the middle of downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can also cost you money down the road, Corbett says.

“What happens is they end up having to sell—maybe not at an appropriate time—the bachelor pad and get into another house,” says Corbett. “Now they’re doing it under duress instead of planning ahead the first time, so there’s a lot of money lost there.”

If you plan on having a family, it’s important to consider that when you’re home shopping, even if you’re currently single. Glink says to ask yourself these questions before buying a home:

  • Who do I imagine living with in the future?
  • Where do I imagine living?
  • How do I imagine living?

Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you’ll probably want to choose a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.

40s-50s: Overestimating Your Budget
In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can’t afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level, Glink says.

“Just because you can afford a $500,000 home doesn’t mean you should buy one,” says Glink. “If you’re married and both you and your spouse are working, figure out whether or not you can afford the mortgage payment if one of you gets laid off.”

Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren’t prepared to make. Use Bankrate’s home affordability calculator to determine how much you should spend.

The takeaway for buyers in their 40s and 50s is to leave room in the budget for things they aren’t willing to give up—for example, private school for the kids.

60s and up: Falling in Love With That Vacation Home
Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan on moving to warmer climates, or even another country.

A costly mistake retirees make, Glink says, is going on vacation, falling in love with the place and moving immediately. Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should be sure they familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.

“Too many retirees make the mistake of going on vacation, and they think, ‘Oh my god, this is great,’ and they go home immediately and they sell their house,” says Glink. “They get there and they hate it. They didn’t spend enough time there.”

Before buying a new house in your vacation paradise, be sure to visit the area in every climate. For example, Florida is great in the winter, but many people might not be comfortable in the humid summer months. The same goes for Northern areas—what’s blissful in one season can be awful in another.

KARI CROSS
925-584-1640

Posted in Home Buyer
July 31, 2018

Knowing The 925 features Color Me Mine

On this episode of Knowing the 925 we are visiting Color Me Mine at The Streets of Brentwood.

FACEBOOK
https://www.facebook.com/colormeminebrentwood/

WEBSITE 
https://brentwood.colormemine.com/

If you are interested in being featured on a future episode of KNOWING THE 925, 
please fill out the form at:  bit.ly/the925

 

Posted in Community
July 26, 2018

2019 Can Cost You Ten's of Thousands

"I'll hold off buying a home until next year." If you've thought of purchasing a home, but don't want to deal with the process now, you've probably had this thought cross your mind a time or two. A pretty common tendency to hold off things on our to-do list, especially the ones that seem like a lot of work. But would you hold off the task if I told you that waiting could make a difference of tens of thousands of dollars? Meaning it could cost you a $10,000-$50,000 (or more) difference to get the home you want today, in 2019's market. 

It's anticipated, by the national historical trend report, that homes are on the rise by over 5% each year. That house you've been eyeing online, listed for $225,000, could be listed next year for $236,250. That is over $10,000 more just for waiting till 2019. This isn't even bringing into question the rising APR rates for mortgages, that can increase your monthly payment amount on a home pretty significantly, as well. 

I get it, the home buying process can seem pretty intimidating. But with an experienced agent on your side, it can actually go pretty smoothly. Let's get in touch. It won't hurt to connect you with a preferred lender and run the numbers through to see what you qualify for. The right time is always right now, I want to help you save the money you deserve to keep, by avoiding the wait. 

 

Kari Cross

925-584-1640

Posted in Home Buyer
July 19, 2018

Do's and Don't of Lawn Care

 

Do’s and Don’ts of Lawn Care

 

While the arrival of summer heralds great rejoicing by outdoor enthusiasts around the country, warm-weather lawn care can be a bit of a daunting task. This is especially true if you are a first-time homeowner or novice landscaper. Fortunately, maintaining a healthy lawn isn’t challenging – heed this simple list of do’s and don’ts to keep your lawn looking fresh and green.

1. DO mow often, but DON’T mow too short.

Maintaining a healthy lawn requires mowing your lawn frequently (around once a week) to keep the ends healthy and to stimulate growth. Let it grow naturally and don’t cut it shorter than around half the stem length. Cutting grass too short shocks the plant and prevents it from growing properly.

Keep in mind that this length varies depending on the type of grass you are growing, so you should always consider the species of grass before determining how short to cut.

2. DO fertilize but DON’T necessarily use chemicals.

Fertilizing is important, as it helps feed your grass the nutrients it needs. You can start fertilizing around the time you start mowing your lawn. Try not to fertilize during the hottest days, as this can burn the grass.

Keep in mind that fertilizer doesn’t have to be a store bought, synthetic brew. Organic, all-natural fertilizers work just fine, as well as, mulched grass clippings and shredded leaves. Grass clippings work well to naturally replenish the soil, and are easy to disperse evenly on the lawn during and after mowing. Other organic fertilizers include manure, bone meal, and compost.

3. DO follow a regular watering schedule but DON’T overwater.

Your lawn needs regular watering. If you live in a dry area or if it’s a particularly dry season, make sure you are supplementing rainfall with your watering. Consider installing an irrigation system to ensure your plants are receiving adequate access to moisture. Water in the early morning between 6 and 10 am, as this gives your plants adequate time to absorb the moisture before it evaporates under the hot sun.

Water deeply, but infrequently-aim for a good soaking every two to three days. Conversely, try not to overwater. Watering too often can leave your lawn soggy and cause fungi to grow.

4. DO pay attention to the time of day but DON’T ever cut wet grass.

Try to mow your lawn in the afternoon. Before noon, your grass should still be damp from morning dew or watering. Cutting wet grass inhibits further growth, and also makes the lawn more susceptible to damage and soil compaction. Plus, wet grass will clog your mower blades and make the chore more tedious. Set aside time for regular lawn maintenance, and follow a strict schedule to avoid working your lawn at the wrong times.

5. DO plan ahead but DON’T feel like everything must be done at once.

Regardless if you are a first-time landowner or a seasoned expert, planning out your summer landscape and lawn care is crucial. Don’t attempt to tackle your landscaping plan haphazardly. Dedicate spaces to vegetables, lawn, perennials, and annuals, and then stick to your plan.

At the same time, you shouldn’t feel like you need to transform your front yard into a verdant oasis in just one season. Landscaping is not cheap, and while curb appeal and home value both increase as you improve the landscape, it can be cost-prohibitive to do it all at once. Add a new garden bed, seed a section of lawn, or plant new shrubs one at a time, and don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the vast array of opportunities available to you. Taking care of your lawn shouldn’t be overwhelming, so take it easy and improve your lawn slowly, year by year.

July 18, 2018

Tour Tuesday - 3 Homes in the Discovery Bay Country Club

This week on Tour Tuesday we take a look at 3 homes in the Discovery Bay Country Club Community, a private community with homes suitable for many price ranges.

 

 

 

If you have any questions, contact Kari Cross at The Cross Group,

925-584-1641

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel so you won't miss our uploads:

thecrossgroup

Posted in Community, Home Buyer
July 11, 2018

Cost Across Time - A Look at Interest Rates Over 40 Years

Some Highlights:

  • With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years.
  • Rates are projected to climb to 5.1% by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
  • The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
  • Lock in a low rate now while you can!

 

Let The Cross Group help you get into your new home TODAY!

925-584-1640

Posted in Home Buyer
July 10, 2018

Tour Tuesday - 3 Homes in Brentwood

This week on Tour Tuesday we take a look at 3 homes in Brentwood California, an up and coming town, with homes in every price range.

 

 

If you have any questions, contact Kari Cross at The Cross Group,

925-584-1641

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel so you won't miss our uploads:

thecrossgroup

Posted in Community, Home Buyer
July 7, 2018

5 Tips to Maximize Your Open House Visits

While open houses seem pretty casual, savvy buyers know that checking out a home isn't just about aesthetics or a quick view. In today's hot market, you might not get another look before making an offer. 

If you aren’t totally sure about how the open-house process works, you aren’t alone. Sometimes homebuyers visit an open house to window shop instead of taking full advantage of the opportunity to get important details about the home. When you visit an open house, you should have several questions prepared for the seller’s agent and you should have already conducted some research, too. You want to leave this process feeling that you have enough information to make a well-informed decision. 

Here’s what you need to know about the open-house process:

Know which questions to ask.

 

 

By now, you know that an open house isn’t just a casual gathering of interested buyers, sellers and real estate agents. It is a major opportunity for you to feel out the home while also getting critical information. 

You are probably still wondering what to ask at an open house. You should have several questions prepared, as the open house might be the only chance you get to ask them. If the home is a hot commodity, then other potential buyers might be looking to put in an offer soon. 

1. How many offers have been made??

 

You should always ask the real estate agent if any offers have already been made. If there are multiple offers on the home, it could indicate that the property might sell quickly. If there aren’t any offers yet, then the opposite might be true. Real estate agents hope that multiple offers will push up the sales price of the home. Keep your budget in mind -- even if you love the home, you don’t want to get into a bidding war with other prospective buyers if the result is an unaffordable price.

2. Why are the sellers moving??

The sellers could be moving because one of the owners got a new job across the country. Or they could be moving because the home’s maintenance is unaffordable and the repairs are getting more burdensome. Always make sure to ask the real estate agent why the sellers are moving. If they give a strange or off-putting reason, take note. The last thing you want to do is move into a house the owners sold because of bad neighbors, rising crime or failing schools.

3. How long has the property been on the market? Why??

Learning how long a property has been on the market will allow you to make a knowledgeable offer. Make sure to ask the agent, but also verify their claim with a listing service. It could have been on the market for a while because a previous buyer’s financing didn’t come through. Or maybe the property just went on the market this month and there are plenty of suitors. The context will provide you with useful information that gives you a better idea of how fast you’ll need to take action and how competitive the offer process might be.

4. When was the house built? Has it had any updates??

 

You want to make sure that you know when the home was built and if there have been any updates or renovations. Check on key features of the home, such as the roof, piping or electrical wiring. If you are purchasing an older home and there have been no recent updates of these features, you should be wary -- you might have to make those repairs at significant cost in the near future.

5. How eager is the seller to sell the property? Is it an urgent sale or can it happen at any time??

 

Just as it is important to know why the seller is moving, it is also important to know how eager they are to sell and what their timeline looks like. If the seller needs to offload the house in a hurry, then perhaps they might be willing to consider a lower offer. But if the seller isn’t motivated, then the process might not move very quickly.

Make sure you are ready this weekend, and remember, if you have any questions, or need help finding that perfect home, call The Cross Group! Who you work with matters!

Kari Cross

925-584-1640

 

courtesy Forbes.com

Posted in Home Buyer