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.

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.

Clean Hard Water Spots

Clean Hard Water Spots from Dishes

For many reasons, you should remove hard water stains from glasses and dishes. Not only the dirty appearance it gives, but it can affect the health of your family.

What are Hard Water Spots?

Hard water is water with a high amount of mineral deposits like lime, silica, and calcium. When the water dries, the deposits are left behind, leaving unsightly spots on glass or ceramic surfaces, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens. Depending on the type minerals left behind, they can be harmful to your health as well as ugly! So, keeping these spots off your glassware and dishes can be important for your family’s’ health, too. We are lucky in the Folsom, CA area, where our water comes from Folsom Lake. Roseville, Granite Bay and other Sacramento area communities get water from Folsom Lake as well. Our water is considered “moderately soft” with very little mineral deposits.

Water Quality by Community

If you want to know where your water comes from and the quality of your drinking water, you can find out through your local governmental agencies. Here are a few of the local municipalities that manage the local water supplies:

Hard Water Spots Are Embarrassingly Ugly

Yes, those unsightly spots can be embarrassing when you are serving your guests a great wine in a glass with spots… or that beautiful table setting is marred with stains on your beautiful plates. Plus, they can be difficult to remove no matter how many times you wash your dishes. So, I came across a method for removing hard water from your dishes. For this method, you will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Cold water
  • Paper towels

Here’s How to Remove the Spots

First, be sure to buy a one-gallon jug of distilled vinegar to ensure that you have enough. Next, soak the dishes in a sink with half vinegar and half cold water between 3 and 4 hours. Take the dishes out one at a time, being sure to dunk them several more times in the sink before putting them in a drying rack. Use paper towels to wipe them all dry. You should repeat this every few months to make sure you keep removing hard water stains on your dishes. This will keep them extra-clean and sparkling.

Well, that’s my tip for this week! If you want to know today’s mortgage rates, or have questions, please give me a call! I’d be glad to help. Thanks for joining me. Have a great day.

Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program (ECTP)

Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program (ECTP)

On November 3rd, CalHFA announced changes to its Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program (ECTP). The changes allow more K-12 public school employees—including administrators and support staff such as aides, bus drivers, food services workers and janitors—to receive as much as $15,000 in down payment assistance. The program includes educators at public charter schools, school district offices and county continuation schools.

The Extra Credit Teacher Home Purchase Program helps with the down payment and opens the door for more teachers to become homeowners. Under this program, public school employees in California’s 35 high-cost counties —including Sacramento, Placer and El Dorado—could qualify for a maximum of $15,000 or 3.5 percent of the sales price or appraised value, whichever is greater. The maximum home price is buying homes for less than $430,000 in those counties.

Educators must meet county-by-county income limits for the program, which are based on the number of people living in the home. For example, the income limits for a family of four using a CalHFA FHA first mortgage are $90,700 in Los Angeles County, $150,750 in San Mateo County, and $106,500 in Sacramento County.

The down payment assistance is in the form of a junior loan. Homeowners are not required to pay back the loan until the home is refinanced or sold, or the mortgage is paid off.  CalHFA offers additional programs that help with closing costs and can be combined with the Extra Credit Teacher Program, making home-ownership even more attainable. If you know of teachers that would like to purchase, this is a great program to help them get into their first home. Combined with other Down Payment Assistance Programs, home ownership is a possibility.

Give us a call if you want more information, or click here for the CalHFA Extra Credit Teacher Program.

2017 Housing Market Forecast

The California Association of Realtors has released their 2017 Housing Market Forecast. Why is that important? Well, if you plan to sell your current home to buy that forever home, to downsize, or even get into the market for your first home, knowing what the housing market is forecast to do over the next year is important. Instead of having you read the whole forecast, I went through the informative 133 pages and broke it down into factors affecting the forecast, what that forecast means for us locally and what the experts are saying.

Why is the Housing Forcast Important to Understand?

Important Factors Affecting the Forecast

Now, the first big news is that the Sacramento area is still 15.7% under the peak median home price of $394,450 in August of ’05 at today’s median price of $332,580. Secondly, rates remain attractive. A 30-year fixed is still in the low to mid 3’s. The economic outlook is good despite some uncertainty such as:

2017_mortgage_forcast_01

  • the effect of Brexit
  • the Presidential election
  • the weak global production and exports
  • and the unexpected decline in oil

Here are a few more important takeaways:

  • California jobs are back, losing 1.3M during the recession but gaining 2.2M since January ‘08
  • Unemployment rates at an 8 year low of 5.5%
  • Consumer spending has been robust in 2016
  • Consumer confidence at a 9-year high

So, where is the inventory? Supply is remaining tight, or at least below the norm. Statewide we are at 3.4 months, and 2.9 months locally. Also, long-time homeowners are not moving, staying an average of 10 years, up from 5 years in 2009 citing the main reasons:

  • Low rate on current mortgage
  • Low property taxes
  • Capital gains hit
  • Where can I afford to go?
  • Could not qualify for a mortgage today

The last little statistic I thought was notable is, when asked what super power would you like to have…

2017_mortgage_forcast_02

  • the #1 answer at 29% was to make traffic disappear,
  • #2 at 26% was the ability to fly,
  • but the third top answer at 21% was to have Instant Mortgage Approval!

That’s a great sign that consumers are seeing the value in homeownership.

Demographics at Play in the Housing Market

First, 64% of the baby boomers say they do not plan to sell their home when they retire, yet, 92% have equity in their home. This makes a huge difference in the inventory level, as they contribute inventory when they sell and buy. So why are they not moving?

  • 44% say Their $1M+ in equity isn’t enough to retire in style.
  • 13% say They plan to be buried in the back yard and leave their home to their kids
  • 2% say They want to see all their children living under the same roof again.
  • 41% say All the above!

Maybe if they knew about props 60 and 90, they’d take the plunge! So, let’s check in with the Millennials now

  • When asked how important is the American Dream: 90% of Millennials say it is Moderately to Very Important to them.
  • When asked what part of the American Dream is most important:
    • 18% said owning a home
    • 18% cited a fulfilling job
    • 16% thought a family is most important
    • 14% put education as number 1 and so on.
  • When asked if they thought buying a home was a good investment, 82% agreed.
  • When asked if they knew they could qualify for a mortgage with a lower down payment would they purchase a home:
    • 69% said they would start looking today
    • Only 19% knew about the FHA program, meaning 81% are unaware they can put down as little as 3.5%!

The last demographic I found compelling was Renters. Nearly half of the renters’ plan to purchase a home within the next 5 years. 55% of them have already prepared to buy a home by either speaking to a realtor, searched for homes, gotten preapproved, etc.

These demographics are positioned to impact the market in 2017. Baby boomers are staying put, which can keep the inventory low, millennials will jump in as they learn about their options, and renters are tired of paying higher and higher rents.

What the Experts are Telling Us

Nationally:

  • The GDP will increase 2.1%, compared to 1.5% in 2016
  • Unemployment should drop to 4.7%
  • The Consumer Price Index should increase 2.1%, compared to the 1.4% for 2016
  • The 30 Year Fixed Rate may increase to the 4% range

In California, unemployment should drop to 5.3%, with a 1% population growth, and real disposable income is expected to increase from 2.9% in 2016 to 3.5% in 2017. Now, 62% of the expert economics say that the housing market will increase in volume and price in 2017.

  • Volume in sales will increase 1.4%
  • Median home price will increase slightly at 4/3%
  • Affordability statewide will decrease to 29%
  • And the 30 Year Fixed Rate will go up to 4%

The lack of affordability will be our biggest challenge. Although locally, we are positioned well with affordability around 47%. The low affordability in the coastal regions should drive more homebuyers inland. So, the 2017 Forecast is positive for our area as volume is expected to increase and values up slightly.

Your 2017 opportunities are to:

  • Educate first-time home buyers – talk to their parents
  • Become well versed on down payment assistance programs, debt management and improving credit to turn renters into buyers.
  • Don’t give up on international buyers

The big message in this forecast is to stay involved & stay current as the housing market should be better in 2017 than it was in 2016.

The bottom line is that 2017 promises to be a great housing market environment. Sellers will continue to have a slight advantage with fewer than the normal number of homes on the market. Buyers can take advantage of the continuing low rates, as well as the low down payment options such as the FHA program. And as rents continue to rise faster than home values, there isn’t any reason to delay buying your own home.

How to Save Money Without Trying!

How to Save Money Without Trying!

How to save money for your Next Mortgage, Refinance or Home Loan with Iron Point Mortgage in Folsom, CA

Saving money for small purchases or extra spending money on vacations doesn’t need to be boring or hard. It can be easy and fun! I found two clever ideas that can help you save without really even trying!

It’s very simple. The first idea is to use an empty 20oz bottle, like a coke bottle. You might want to rinse it out first so it won’t be sticky and then and let it dry. At the end of the day, go through your change and deposit all of your dimes. When the 20oz bottle is full there should be over $100 in dimes. Ridding your dimes at the end of the day is so easy and effortless because it doesn’t seem like you’re putting way a lot of money, so it shouldn’t be hard to stash away and the fun part is when the bottle is full. Now you have over $100.

Once you’ve conquered the dime deposit you may want a bit of a challenge. So, my next idea is to make some sort of safe, like a shoebox or a shadow box frame. That makes it more visible and fun. Now every time you get a $5 bill, put it in your “safe”! At the end of the year, you should have a great savings! I’ve paid for my family vacation to Disneyland using this trick!

If you have a great savings tip that works for you, we’d love to hear about it. If you are thinking about a home purchase or just interested in refinancing, give me a call while the rates are at historic lows! Thanks for joining me. Have a great week!