Cozi Family Organizer

Cozi Family Organizer

Today I’m going to start off by painting a little picture for you. It’s Thursday, so in Folsom one kid has soccer practice at 4, and another has a game at 7 in Sacramento, CA. Oh, then you know you need to stop at the grocery store while you are in El Dorado Hills, but can’t remember what all you needed to get… does this all sound familiar? So many people run into this problem so we found the perfect solution, Cozi.

All-in-One

We rarely recommend apps to our viewers or readers, but we came across this one that I think can make your life so much simpler. It’s called Cozi Family Organizer. And it’s free. You can download on your laptop, iPad, iPhone, Android or any Windows platform. It helps coordinate and communicate everyone’s schedules and activities, track grocery lists, manage to do lists, plan ahead for dinner, and keep the whole family on the same page, even if they are in different places! One of the most convenient features is the shared calendar that also syncs to Gmail calendars. You can see what everyone is doing and where everyone needs to be, set reminders and send agenda emails so no one misses an appointment. Just think how organized your activities, meetings, school schedules, lessons, practices, and games will seem when they are all in one place. This will help you and your family be stress free, while knowing where everyone is or what to pick up at the store!

Honey, Don’t Forget the Milk

It also has a To Do List that can be shared like a honey-do list, or a chore list for the kids. The second most favorite feature is the Shopping Lists. Your spouse can just email the grocery list with one click if you need to pick up groceries on the way home! This app has many more features, like a messenger, meal planner, recipe keeper, contacts, birthdays, etc… Remember it’s free, so beta test it with your family and see how it works for you. There’s my tip, I hope it helps you keep your sanity and your family more organized.

The market is still very hot here in the Folsom, El Dorado, Placer, and Sacramento counties. If another thing on your to-do list is moving, be prepared and get preapproved to get the process started. We’re always here to answer any questions you may have or to get you started on your next journey, so give us a call and we’ll be happy to help in any way we can.

5 Things the Seller Should Never Say

5 Things the Seller Should Never Say

Are you selling your house to move up into that dream home with more space and all the wonderful upgrades? It can be an anxious feeling, an unsettling feeling, not knowing how soon it will sell or where you will be next. It’s imperative that we put our home’s best face forward so its decluttered and looks perfect. Well, it’s also imperative to be smart about what we say and how we present our home’s condition.

Don’t Spill the Beans

When selling your home, there are certain things you should never say to you potential buyers! The last thing you want to do, is to alarm a buyer as to problems with the home, or to put expensive fixes into their head. Plus, you don’t want to create a potential liability by unknowingly give misleading or false information. This is one area where your Real Estate Agent is a great asset. Most folks that hire an agent never see or talk to the potential buyers, the agent does that! And your agent will advise you on what you must disclose per the law, and what you should disclose that may be found in the home inspection anyway.

What Not to Say

So, let’s talk about 5 things you should never say to people who come over to view the home:

  1. “We’ve always wanted to renovate that…” stop right there! Don’t indicate you are leaving because it’s cheaper than doing the renovations or moving a wall. This can make a buyer think there will be significant costs involved in making the home theirs.
  2. “This home is in perfect condition.” In your eyes, it may seem perfect, but the home inspection could reveal otherwise, so be careful about making claims that may not be true.
  3. “We’ve never had a problem with that…” You could set yourself up for potential liability on a problem you may not even be aware of, and it could translate into more than just an embarrassing moment upon inspection. So be truthful about what you know and admit what you don’t know.
  4. “We just need to sell, as it’s been on the market for X” No, no, no… This info is available on the home’s information sheet, and bringing it up can give sellers the wrong message. Either it’s a white elephant no one wants, or they may think they can get it dirt cheap.
  5. “We spent a ton of money on that…” The buyer doesn’t really care whether you spent $10,000 or $100,000 on upgrading your kitchen, they will only offer what they feel the home is worth. It may sound like you are trying too hard or are desperate to sell.

It’s No Longer Your Home

When you make the decision to sell, for whatever reason, your home is no longer YOUR home, it’s an asset you are selling. And, I’m sure you want top dollar. We all get it! Before selling, you go through the process of getting your home ready by decluttering, removing personal pictures and all the extras that make it your home. This helps take the emotion out of the transaction. So, this is the time to be realistic and open to offers within a reasonable range. Before you sell, be sure to get preapproved if you plan to purchase another home. Give us a call to get the process started so you are prepared with a strong offer when the time comes. Remember, the market in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado Counties is hot right now, so be ready to go all in when you find that home you love.

4 Ways to Prepare for Damaged, Lost or Stolen Phones

4 Ways to Prepare for Damaged, Lost or Stolen Phones

Have you ever had your phone stolen, dropped it in the sink, or have it fall off the balcony 30 floors up? It’s a sinking feeling and you’re terrified to pick it up and see if it’s shattered, scratched up, or completely unusable. All your numbers, contacts, texts, and emails, gone… The panic sets in!

Apple Picking

If you’ve never had your phone stolen, you are in the lucky majority. Snatching phones is so common, it’s called “apple picking”. It can really happen anywhere; a concert, the bus, or simply just walking down the street. It’s important to be prepared because it can happen at anywhere, or any time. In the U.S. alone, in 2013, there were 3.1M phones reported stolen, but it declined in 2015, to 2.1M. This decline is largely attributed to the “kill switch app”. This allows you to disable the phone if it is stolen.

Be Prepared

It’s still smart to take a few cautionary steps just in case it is stolen, dropped in a river, or ran over by a bus. So, here’s 4 things you should do:

  1. Back-Up It Up Often! – And backup everything! It’s easy to do, and doesn’t take long, but if you do have to get a new phone, most phones can have all the data restored up to the last time you backed up your phone.
  2. Set-Up A Passcode On Your Device – A passcode or pin number can deter others from getting in to your phone and data long enough for you to change your passwords on your accounts. Especially if you use an app for depositing checks or accessing your bank balances. It is recommended that you use a 6 digit pin rather than 4.
  3. Have a Tracking Option on Your Phone – Many phones now have built in tracking apps that you can access from your computer. There are several other options like the TrackR device that you keep on your key ring. If you lose your phone, it will find it. If you lose your keys, your phone will find your keys.
  4. Purchase Insurance For Your Phone – Replacement insurance is an affordable way to replace lost, damaged, or stolen phones. Enough said!

We store so many things on our phones today that it would be terrifying to lose it or have it stolen. Bank information, emails, passwords, social security numbers, and addresses can all be found through one simple little device, our phones.

We store so many things on our phones today that it would be terrifying to lose it or have it stolen. Bank information, emails, passwords, social security numbers, and addresses are just a few things that can be found through one simple little device, our phones. Just think if someone got to your Paypal, Amazon account, or even worse… Your bank account! Most of us probably keep our phones nearby at all hours of the day… so protect yourself so you can recover quickly and as painless as possible. Don’t think it can’t or won’t happen to you! You might check out my video on Spring Cleaning Your Wallet as well. That also has a few good tips on keeping your personal information safe.

The housing market is heating up here in Folsom, as well as Roseville, Elk Grove, El Dorado Hills, and the Sacramento County area! Houses aren’t lasting long on the market, so be ready with a preapproval before you make an offer. It will strengthen your chances of success in a multiple offer environment. Give me a call if I can help with a preapproval or refinance. Have a great day.

FHA 203K Home Loan

FHA 203K Home Loan Folsom & Sacramento, CA

The FHA rehab loan program, otherwise known as the 203(K), has been requested more and more by our clients, so I think it’s a good time to talk about it here. The 203(K) is broken into two programs, the Streamline and the Full. This loan program can work with FHA or Conventional home loans. The streamline permits work up to approximately $35,000 including the contingency holdback, and the Full permits more extensive work over $35,000. One thing to note is that this programs is not for any work the FHA deems as a luxury item, such as a pool.

203(K) Streamline Loan

Let’s just talk about the 203(K) Streamline. The Streamline permits homebuyers and homeowners to finance up to $35,000 into their mortgage to repair, improve, or upgrade the home they want to purchase or refinance. The Full 203(K) can go much higher than the streamline. Now, this includes work such as a roof, carpet, kitchen, bathroom, paint, downspouts etc. It’s a pretty extensive list of repairs and upgrades, and you can really improve the value of the home. The actual loan amount is based on the projected value of the home with the repairs and upgrades. Which may mean you walk in with more equity than if you bought a move in ready home. This program may not be used to do major structural work such as adding a room, moving a load-bearing wall or for projects that that will take over 6 months to complete.

203(K) For Homeowners

Are you not sure if you should Move or Improve? If you own a home that needs updating or repairs, you may be able to use a 203(K) Refinance to either make property repairs and improvements, or prepare your home for sale. It’s a great way to make your home move-in ready by remodeling the kitchen, painting the interior or purchasing new carpet. Plus, you have a better chance of getting top dollar for your home when you go to sell, as well as, potentially, a quicker sale when its move in ready! This type of loan product can also help you increase your equity faster. You won’t know unless you check it out.

203(K) History

The mortgage must be a first lien on a one-to-four unit owner-occupied dwelling. Over the years, lenders have successfully used the FHA 203(K) loan program in partnership with state and local housing agencies and nonprofit organizations to rehabilitate properties. This program was critical to municipalities that needed to revitalize neighborhoods and reclaim them as desirable areas to live. This revitalization is also good for the homeowners in the area, that felt helpless as their neighborhoods fell into disrepair, taking their home values down with them.

Everything Good Takes Time

As a loan product, it takes a little extra time and work for all, but this program can be very useful for homebuyers that are interested in a property that needs a little TLC. Buying a property that needs work means you may often get it at a lower price so you aren’t paying for someone else to do the renovations. As a result…instant equity!

The Forgotten Manners

The Forgotten Manners

Now and then, we occasionally look at our kids, and think… wow, my kids really do have manners… mostly when we are around other kids that don’t! Isn’t that always the way it is? It’s easier to see the misbehavior’s and disrespect of other parent’s kids, rather than your own. But it’s also easy to feel annoyed by kids that have bad manners.

Manners Our Parent Taught

When we were kids, our parents were always correcting us… sit up straight, back away from the TV you’ll ruin your eyes, get your elbows off the table, and (most often) respect your elders! Now, it is common to see kids slumped in a chair, earbuds in with their phones 6 inches from their face, and ignoring whoever is talking to them.

The Forgotten Manners

Well, this started me thinking about how we got to this point in our society with kids that do not respect authority! So, I wrote down another “tongue-in-cheek” list to ponder, I call The Forgotten Manners:

  1. Always say, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’
  2. Say, ‘Excuse me’ when you need to get go in front of someone or through a crowd
  3. Don’t interrupt others when they are talking.
  4. Enforce the importance of gratitude, like writing a simple thank you note.
  5. Table manners. Ask for something to be passed, don’t just reach across the table!
  6. Eat with your mouth closed.
  7. Use silverware and a napkin! Please don’t lick your fingers at the table!
  8. Teach them to hold the door open for others!
  9. Show them how to clean up after themselves both after play time and eating a meal.
  10. Talk to your kids about the importance of good sportsmanship whether you win or lose.
  11. Teach them not to litter and how important is it to keep our earth clean.
  12. Tell them how it’s impolite to comment on other people’s characteristics or physical appearances, unless it is a compliment. From the mouths of babes as they say!
  13. When you have spent time at your friend’s house, remember to thank the parents for having you over and for the good time you had.
  14. Knock on a closed door and wait for a response before entering.
  15. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don’t pick your nose in public!
  16. Do not argue with an adult.
  17. If you bump into someone, say excuse me or sorry.
  18. And finally, teach your kids how to use their inside voice when indoors!

Manners Help Form Who We are as Adults

The manners you are taught in childhood carry on with you into adulthood. How we treat each other is important. Having well-mannered children brings freedom for the parents as well, especially when your friends say, bring the kids! That’s when I know that my kids have left a good impression! Well, I’m sure you have a few other manners that you would like to see make a comeback, so send me an email or give me a call. I’m available if you’d like to get a preapproval for purchase or refinance. The Sacramento area, including the Folsom Housing Market is on fire! Have a great day.

4 Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs

4 Hacks Every Pet Owner Needs

Pet owners love their pets. In the U.S., 44% own a dog and 29% own a cat. Only 3% own other pets, like parakeets, snakes and hamsters. As much as we love our pets, they can create challenges in maintaining a home.

Four-legged Family Member

Most folks that have indoor pets, love their pets like a member of their family. We have clients that consider the needs of their pets as part of their home search in buying a home. They want a big yard for their larger dogs, or they want a laundry room large enough to set up a pet feeding station… One family only wanted a single-story home, as their aging dog had a difficult time with stairs. Yes, it’s true! That’s how much pet owners love their four-legged family member!

Indoor Pet Hacks for the Home

Owning a pet is a lot of responsibility. I’ve had friends that wanted to get their child a dog so they could learn to be responsible by feeding, bathing, walking, etc… Most end up doing it all themselves, as our kids grow up and have a busy life between school, activities, sports and socializing! So, keeping on top of the pet ownership job can help free up time. So, here are my 4 hacks that every pet owner needs to know:

#1 – Repurpose an old cabinet as a hidden cat litter box. Remove any shelves and add a hinged door on the front so you can get in and out of it easily. Paint it, install a cat door on one side, and there you have it… a cool looking piece of furniture and no litter box in sight.

#2 – Store dog or cat food in large plastic pitchers. It will stay dry and be easier to pour into the food bowl.

#3 – One of the biggest downsides of pet ownership is the never-ending collection of hair that piles up on furniture and carpeting. Eliminate fur from carpet and upholstery by scraping the surfaces with a squeegee.

#4 – Make your own pet odor eliminator… mix ½ cup each baking soda and 20 Mule Team Borax. Now add 20-25 drops essential oils or 1 teaspoon of cloves or cinnamon. Now put into an empty parmesan cheese container and sprinkle it on your carpeting and furniture. The cloves also prevent moths. Also check out the homemade Fabreze recipe here!

These hacks should help with the chores that pet ownership brings. Pets bring us a lot of unconditional love and joy, so not having a pet because of the extra work would be a shame. There is always a solution to every problem, right?

If you have other ideas, be sure to email me and I’ll share them too. When you are house shopping and looking for a home that suits your family (including Fido), we can get you preapproved so you know how much house you can afford! The housing market is hot in Sacramento, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Roseville, and Elk Grove, like many of the areas within the Counties, so let’s get in the game! Rates are still near historic lows, so get in while the getting is good! Well that’s my tip, and I hope it helps you keep your home cleaner. Enjoy your 4 legged family member! Give me a call if I can help with a preapproval or refinance. Have a great day.

The Real Truth About Rent vs Buy

The Real Truth About Rent vs Buying in Sacramento, CA

In the United States, there is somewhere around $13.1 trillion in total value of the equity held by over 75 million U.S. homeowners, according to the latest estimates from the Federal Reserve Board. And that works out to almost $175,000 per owning household. This is undeniable proof that homeownership is a crucial part of household wealth. In large part, because purchasers were able to put a good chunk of money down on a house, and to qualify for a mortgage. Paying for a mortgage actually helps produce more wealth, by freezing payment amounts and building equity through forced savings over the life of the loan.

A Mortgage is a Beautiful Thing

Having an option for a 30-year amortized, fixed-rate mortgage is a beautiful thing, providing an affordable route to purchasing a home while locking in today’s cost of that home for the life of the loan. The traditional rent versus buy argument compares the total monthly costs of buying a home with a mortgage with the corresponding rent. Although, that doesn’t take into account the equity that is built over time with a 15-year or 30-year Fixed Rate Mortgage. That simplistic  look at the dollar for dollar expenditure on a monthly basis, hides the fact that a mortgage is unlike a rent check. It’s really comparing apples and oranges, as they say!

A percentage of every monthly mortgage payment, after the interest is paid, goes toward the owner’s home equity. And over time, less of the mortgage payments go toward interest and more go toward equity, so the savings power is enhanced over the life of the loan. Whereas, if you continued to pay rent over the same 30 years, you end up with no asset and no equity at the end.  Even if the house only keeps pace with inflation over 30 years, which is a very conservative assumption, the forced savings built into a mortgage guarantees a homeowner is building wealth.

Building Equity in Your Sacramento Home

So it’s not just about the equalization of the monthly outlay of funds, it’s also the tax benefits, the principal paydown, and building equity. Just owning a home in the right neighborhood, that increases in value can build equity. Next, it’s what you can do with that equity… the smartest uses of equity are to put money back into your asset, your home, by keeping it maintained and upgraded, or to keep your debt at a low interest rate such as using it to pay for a kid’s college.

Now, that is the real truth about the power of homeownership over renting.

The Sacramento area, including Placer County, El Dorado County, and Yolo County is number 4 in the top Hottest Housing Markets in the nation, so now is a great time to buy or sell. So, check out the Home Buying University on the Resource Page to help you get started building wealth! Have a great week.

6 Laundry Organization Tips

6 Laundry Organization Tips


Taking care of household laundry can be grueling if you let it pile up and take over your life. Especially with kids, school, sports, and work! When life gets crazy, going here, going there, and family time is precious, doing household chores can be overwhelming. We have three boys, all in school and sports, primarily soccer, here in the Folsom area. That means a lot of sweaty, dirty, stained clothes. In my household, it is important to stay on top of this dreaded chore and keep it organized. So I wanted to share these laundry organization tips with you, as they just may help ease this household job.

6 Tips for Laundry Organization

Just like most tasks, setting up a process, getting organized and staying on track, will make the laundry chore much easier to manage as a family. So, here are 6 ways to organize your laundry duties:

  1. Teach your kids how to do their own laundry. You can assign one day of the week for each one to get their laundry done. Also, include stripping their bedding once a week. They aren’t going to do it perfect, but giving them responsibility helps them grow in many ways. This is a life maintenance skill your kids will eventually need anyway, so they will thank you when they go off on their own.
  2. When you have same sex kids and close to age, it truly helps to color code each kid’s towels and sheets. It will make it easy to know where they go and who’s they are! Plus, you will know who’s are left in the dryer!
  3. We all know that the dryer is a black hole for socks. So, keep a mesh bag in every laundry basket and have them put their socks and underwear in the bags. You won’t have to worry about pairing the socks and figuring out who’s is who. This can be a huge time saver.
  4. Use laundry sorting bins if you like to do whites and colors separately.
  5. Make sure your laundry room is well organized and equipped. Not everyone has the luxury of counter space for folding, but if you do, make sure to keep it clear for the next load coming out of the dryer. Having a trash can for lint next to the dryer is essential. Add some fun elements like a penny jar for loose change, a bin for single socks, and maybe a small tub for emptying pockets for each person.
  6. My favorite is to keep extra hangers in the laundry room for hanging clothes right out of the dryer, and prevent ironing! No one likes to iron! And it’s not necessary if you hang them up right away. Having that steam feature on the dryer is nice if they do sit for a bit but it never gets all the wrinkles out.

Family Citizenship

Teaching our kids how to participate in getting jobs around the house done, is teaching citizenship. That lesson starts in the home. It also helps them to be more independent as they mature and need to know how to do these things. Getting their cooperation at first can be a hassle, but worth it for everyone in the long run. And, household chores aren’t a favorite way to spend a weekend, but I do have to say, that when the laundry is kept up and put away, it feels good. Well that’s my tip, and I hope it helps you keep your sanity with all of the laundry chores. Give me a call if I can help with a preapproval or refinance. The Real Estate Market is taking off strong this year here in Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado Counties. Watch for my next blog on The Real Truth About Rent vs. Buy. You’ll have a better picture of that age-old debate. Thank you for joining me. Have a great day.

5 Tips to Start the VA Loan

5 Important Tips to Start the VA Loan

For military home buyers, the VA loans offer some unbeatable advantages, like a $0 down payment, no mortgage insurance, and more lenient credit requirements. This is a hard-earned benefit for those that qualify and isn’t all that different from buying with other loan products. Having the correct information and the right mortgage and real estate team in place can make a big difference.

The 5 Tips to Get Started

Whether this is your first VA loan or your 10th, you will want to have these tips:

  1. Start with the right Loan Officer – Not all mortgage professionals have experience and knowledge of the VA Loan. When selecting your Loan Officer, find out how many VA loans they have done in the past and if their team has experience in processing these loans. A lender that stays up on the VA requirements will facilitate the speed in which you can close your loan.
  2. Start with the right Realtor – To save yourself a lot of time, look for an agent who has VA experience, or is also a Vet. Buying a home isn’t any more complicated for veterans, but it helps to have someone who knows the ropes to negotiate your contract.
  3. Budget extra time to find the right home. – Do your research up front, to know what neighborhood you want to live in, the affordability of that area, and how much you can spend. Inventory can be tight in the most sought after areas. They may be experiencing multiple offers on homes in your price range. It may take several offers to get into contract. This is another reason, having the right Real Estate Agents is essential.
  4. Use technology to help your home search – If you are moving from out of state, you can do your home search online. Most Realtors will view homes for you and guide you in the decision-making process. Online searches will also be valuable in understanding what neighborhoods are attractive, school systems, and the median home prices.
  5. Be familiar with the VA rules on what homes are eligible – The VA has specific guidelines on what properties are eligible for VA financing. If you are looking for a condo, make sure it is on the VA Condo list. If it is a fixer upper, the VA appraisers require certain aspects of the property be in acceptable condition.

Great Benefit for Veterans

The VA Loan is an awesome loan product for Veterans and their families. It’s one of the only loans that requires zero down and doesn’t require Mortgage Insurance. It’s definitely a benefit you should take advantage of if you are an eligible Veteran. If you are unsure of your eligibility, give us a call and we can assist you with that as well. With the right lender and real estate agent, you can use this great benefit you deserve. I have an eBook on the VA Home Loan you can download. Thanks again for taking time to read my blog.

We love to serve our Veterans and our Loan Officers have experience in the VA Loan process. Have a great day.

Why Attend Open Houses in Sacramento

Why Attend Open Houses in Your Neighborhood?

Is your neighbor’s home for sale? I bet you are curious and want to go look as soon as they have their first open house, right? It’s a good idea, even if you aren’t buying or thinking of selling because it can be a wealth of information you may need to gauge your own interest.

A Good Agent Welcomes Visitors

Real Estate Agents know that not everyone who attends open houses are looking to buy. Having the neighbors come check out the house can be a great advantage for the agents, as it gets everyone invested in selling the home next door. In addition, many times the neighbors provide a lot of insight as to what they love about the area.

4 Reasons to Check Out Open Houses

Here are 4 opportunities that open houses present if you put on the brakes when you see an open house sign and stop in.

  1. Get the listing agent’s perspective. You check out the open house to not only see what is for sale and the price of comparable homes but also to learn about the local housing market. Talk to the listing agent. Pick their brain about the inventory available, affordability, and home values in the area.
  2. Check out design current trends. Getting your home ready to sell isn’t always a quick task. Sellers generally want to have their house perfect so they can demand the highest price possible. So, they may do a few upgrades to make it more desirable and therefore, sellable. Even if you aren’t considering selling at the moment, you might get design inspirations to make your home feel like new again, and keep it current. There is a point when you have to make a decision to Move or Improve.
  3. Get referrals. If they did upgrades or staging, you can check out the quality of the work. Although getting referrals from friends and family is always a great idea, seeing the finished product at an open house can provide you with a sneak peak as to the quality of work they would do for you. If you are impressed, you can ask the listing agent to get the contractor’s information from the Sellers.
  4. Food for thought. For those of us that are dedicated house hunters, always browsing the listing sites, attending open houses may just fuel that need. Plus, keeping abreast of the market in your area and the home values just might give you the information you need to pull the trigger on getting into homeownership or reselling your home to move up.

Most realtors won’t mind you coming through the open house, even if you aren’t looking to buy. You just never know when you may get inspiration to do some upgrades, redecorate, or even to list your home. Well that’s my tip for this week. Give me a call if I can help with a consultation for a preapproval or refinance to use the equity for those upgrades. Have a great day.