Lighten up: It’s spring!

Posted by at 1:25 pm

No matter what the groundhog’s opinion is, the calendar says spring is going to be here soon! And the warmer weather historically means home sales are about to heat up, as well. Studies show letting in more light and lightening your color scheme does wonders for your personal well-being. Incorporate one or more of the following inexpensive DIY changes into your springtime routine, and you may find your house is more salable down the road, as well. Start with the curtains. If you are sporting grandma’s triple-thick window treatments, it might be time for a change. Heavy “blackout” curtains originated in World War II-era Britain, to block the view of nighttime lights from German bomber pilots. Even after the war was over, blackout curtains remained in vogue through the 1970s, with the added benefit of moderating temperature. When closed, they...
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Freeze and thaw credit report for secure home buy

Posted by at 12:35 pm

In response to many high-profile data heists over the last decade, many people now choose to lock up access to their credit history with a PIN-controlled “credit report freeze.” Once widely considered the province of the paranoid, personal digital security is now the calling card of the credit savvy. After a 2017 breach at Equifax exposed the information of 500 million people, the federal government passed legislation requiring all three credit bureaus to allow people to freeze their credit reports quickly. Credit reporting agencies must respond to online or phoned-in freeze requests within one business day (they get three days for snail mail). A freeze effectively closes access to your credit report, and since new credit can’t be issued without a credit check, hackers theoretically can’t get it for their own nefarious purposes, either. This is a great new piece...
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Cash-out refi can be a financial solution

Posted by at 8:05 am

Do you need money to pay off student loans, cover bills and expenses, or start a new business? With homes prices skyrocketing across the nation the last few years, maybe you are one of the many homeowners who could tap your increased home equity for a significant sum through a cash-out refinance. At Bay Equity Home Loans, our experienced loan officers can help you figure out if refinancing your current mortgage makes good financial sense. Home equity is the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. It all comes down to how much your home is worth, your current mortgage balance and how much you want to borrow. Say you paid $200,000 for your house. You’ve been in the home for a while and have paid the principal down to...
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Water Floods Future Real Estate Concerns

Posted by at 10:18 am

The construction and ongoing maintenance of utilities, roads and other infrastructure is essential to meeting the growing housing need in the 21st Century. First among these needs is ensuring the availability of usable water, especially in drought-stricken parts of the Southwest and West already dealing with supply issues. In May, California became the first state in the nation to pass laws permanently limiting indoor water use: 55 gallons per person per day by 2022, gradually dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. The Department of Water Resources says it will recommend standards for outdoor use by October 2021. Water districts who fail the to meet the goals face fines of up to $10,000. Officials say they put the onus on providers to motivate cleaning up overall system problems. Estimates say up to 30 percent of urban water loss comes from supplier...
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October 19th, 2018

Think pickles

Posted by at 9:15 am

How does your garden grow? Well, after the uncommonly warm growing season of 2018, the answer is probably “pretty darn well.” With bountiful backyard harvests coming in faster than families can eat, many home gardeners are making up more farm-to-fork soups, pies and salads than they ever thought possible. But the onslaught continues. As the late season crops come in, this prodigious produce inevitably makes its way to the office, to church and the family reunion. At first, the people in your life may appear to appreciate it, but there’s a limit! Remember, they have their excesses too! Have you considered pickling? Pickling is an old-school, economical method for keeping fruits and vegetables out of the compost bin. The basic process is simple. First, add slices of fruits and/or vegetables to sterilized jars. Pretty much everything that grows can be...
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A bit about buying via blockchain

Posted by at 12:20 pm

Though Bitcoin still hogs most of the blockchain headlines, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of applications likely to be affected by this burgeoning technology. However, Bitcoin does provide a simple way to illustrate how many different blockchain transactions might be conducted in the future. As a publicly-accessible ledger, blockchain record-keeping is far more efficient and secure than traditional central-server transactions. When a Bitcoin sales transaction occurs, imagine the users of the blockchain as members of a large audience. The seller and buyer are on a digital “stage,” in front of thousands, or millions, of “people.” In front of all those people, the seller transfers an item to the purchaser, and the purchaser hands over the Bitcoin. Thousands of witnesses can now vouch that the buyer owns the item, and the seller received payment. Since all the...
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Bidet making headway in America’s bathrooms

Posted by at 8:44 am

Surveys today show Americans are open to all kinds of home innovation, and the bathroom is no exception. But acceptance of the bidet – the common personal cleaning fixture that graces commodes throughout much of Europe and Asia – has been a bit of a tough sell. It’s unquestioned that the quality of cleaning with a bidet fixture is superior to toilet paper alone, so why the American reluctance? One of the keys to selling a better toilet is marketing. And in America, talking about the best ways to clean up after the loo has always been a bit taboo. Many anthropologists believe American GIs coming back from World War II associated the bidet with bordellos visited overseas. Given America’s puritanical past, they may have been uncomfortable introducing the bidet to neighbors, afraid they might have to explain exactly where...
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Is a home warranty for you?

Posted by at 3:46 pm

Spend any amount of time watching television, and you’re likely to encounter a barrage of advertisements for home warranties. Well-written and engaging, the ads play on consumers’ well-founded fears of suddenly being faced with a major repair bill on an appliance or vital home system. Right after purchasing a home, a nominal monthly fee in exchange for peace of mind can be very enticing. Maybe you even know someone who saved plenty when their home warranty covered multiple breakdowns. Trouble is, home warranties often don’t deliver what’s expected. These “service contracts” cost $350 to $500 in premiums a year, but unlike insurance policies, don’t cover losses from theft, or catastrophes like floods or fires. The basic package usually covers breakdown of your plumbing, most kitchen appliances, water heater, heating and electrical components, sump pump and fans. Optional coverage is available...
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E-cycle to recycle your tech waste

Posted by at 3:17 pm

According to the Consumer Technology Association, the average American household owns 24 consumer electronics products at any given time. Replaced for upgrades on a regular basis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency warns these products are also the fastest-growing component filling our nation’s landfills. And it’s like throwing away a gold mine. Seriously. Products like computers, TVs and cell phones contain precious metals like silver and gold, rare earth elements and other valuable materials like aluminum, copper and steel that could be extracted and reused. Cellphones by themselves represent a mountain of wasted resources. Only about 10 percent of discarded cell phones are actually recycled out of millions replaced each year. For every one million phones thrown away, 75 pounds of gold, 772 pounds of silver, 33 pounds of palladium and more than 35,000 pounds of copper goes in the trash...
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Time to plan your escape

Posted by at 2:39 pm

Want to combine the unpleasant experience of being locked in a room with the tedium of solving complex puzzle problems? While this may not sound like a lot of fun at first, the “escape room” experience has become something of a cultural phenomenon. But you don’t have to pay big dollars for a high-tech experience at one of the many businesses hosting the games. Whether dinner parties, family game night or birthday bashes, you can design and build your own escape room at home. It can be a bit intimidating. Isn’t it going to be a lot of work and cost? After all, don’t businesses make huge outlays for authentic costumes and high-tech gadgetry? Take a deep breath. The true magic of the escape room experience lies in creating puzzles that are difficult without being frustrating, and hiding essential clues...
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