Spring Cleaning Hacks and Tips

Spring is right around the corner. It’s time to throw open those windows, let out that stuffy winter air and clean out the dirt and muck accumulated during the winter months.

Spring-cleaning is a huge job. You’ve got to take it one step at a time. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best tips to make a big job a little easier.

  1. Crank up the tunes! If you’ve got to clean you might as well shake your tail while you do it. Music makes the job seem less daunting.
  2. Get your whole family involved. We get our daughter to help out and she actually enjoys it. Creating a game out of spring-cleaning makes it a little less tedious.
  3. Put a little shaving cream on carpet stains. If you let it sit for a while most stains will come right out.
  4. Use socks on a different house hold tools to clean things easily. Put a sock over a butter knife to clean air vent covers. Put them over kitchen tongs to clean window blinds. Put socks on your hands dip them in a little soap and water and clean vents and blinds too.
  5. Create a makeshift vacuum attachment. Take a condiment lid the kind with a spout (like a ketchup bottle) and put it over the hose. Use that to get into tight hard to reach places.
  6. Lemons! Lemons are a great non-toxic cleaning agent that smells great. Throw half a lemon with some salt or ice into your garbage disposal to clean and make it smell lemon fresh. Scrub down water faucets on sinks. It removes tough water stains pretty simply. There are lots of uses for lemons here’s a few more Cleaning with lemons!
  7. Tired of digging through your refrigerator to get to the food in the back? Put in a lazy Susan. I did this in my fridge and it changed everything. We now don’t forget about something in the back of the fridge until it spoils. It’s also a big time saver.
  8. Clean your toilet with out any elbow grease by tossing a couple denture cleaning tablets in the bowl and waiting a few hours. Hard water stains will come off without much work at all.
  9. Take some distilled vinegar in a glass and nuke it in the microwave for a minute on high. The crusty food will wipe right away and the odor will be gone too. You can also disinfect sponges by microwaving them for minute as well or throw them into the dishwasher when you run it.
  10. Get the most out of that distilled vinegar. Put a cup of it on the top rack of the dishwasher and run it to clean.
  11. Need another use for distilled vinegar? Submerge showerheads in it overnight for easy clean.
  12. Clean your windows. Before you do make sure the tracks are cleaned and lubed so the windows and sliders open and close smoothly. WD-40 or another non-stick lubricant works the best. To clean the tracks use a vacuum with an attachment (tip #5) to suck up dirt and debris. Break out that distilled vinegar and a rag to clean the rest of the dirt. Now that the track is cleaned don’t forget to clean the actual windows.

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be the monumental task that it is sometimes made out to be.  To make it even easier do one room a day.  This way you’re not overwhelmed by trying to clean the entire house in one day.  Try to make is as fun as possible and remember it’s only once a year.  You can do it!

Real Estate Myths Debunked

Buying or selling a home is not something most of do often.  They may only do it a few times in their lifetimes.  When they do decide to buy or sell their home they find there are a lot of advice out there.  Not all of this advise is correct.  Here’s a list of real estate myths which I’ve debunked.

List your home for sale higher than what you anticipate to get:  Pricing a property too high may result in it being stagnant.  A stagnant property might not receive any offers at all.  Yes the price of a property can be reduced.  Many buyers tend to be wary of homes that have sat on the market for a few weeks.  In our market of low inventory homes which sit for too long often receive in low offers, resulting in a lower net price to the owners.  Check my video about pricing your home strategically here.

Renovate your home before you list it:  Sometimes renovating a home is not the best use of money.  Small fixes and cosmetics such as paint can be beneficial.  Big renovations such as kitchen and bathroom remodels rarely recoup the amount spent on them.  A buyer may not have the same style as the owner.  According to studies in Remodeling Magazine most large renovations only recoup about 67.8% of the money spent on them.    Spend your money wisely on cleaning up landscaping and a fresh coat of paint on the interior.  Read a post I wrote with tips to sell your home now for more ideas.

The Market will only go up:  We all remember the Great Recession of 2007 right?  The real estate market is cyclical.  Economist Robert Shiller did a study showing the market adjusted multiple times from the 1890’s.  Follow this link for a chart of Shiller’s home price index numbers.  Better to buy a home with a monthly payment you know you’re comfortable with and be happy.  If the market goes down that’s ok in the past the market has bounced back.  It’ll likely bounce back again.  Meanwhile you’ll enjoy the security of know you have a home for your family.

Getting pre-approved for a loan is done after find the perfect home:  Getting pre-approved for your loan is always best done before you go shopping.  When you get approved for a loan you’ll know exactly how much you can afford.  You’ll know what price range you should be looking in.  When you do find the right home you can make an offer on the spot.  In this market moving quickly and intelligently is mandatory.  If you look before you’re approved you may see the perfect home only to find out you can’t afford it.  Contact me today to get the approval process started.

Buying or Selling a home is cheaper without a Realtor:  It is true you can buy and sell real estate without an agent.  For a buyer there is no advantage to not working with an agent.  The commission is built into the sales price.  If you go it alone the seller’s agent gets the full commission and has no fiduciary obligation to you.

Some sellers successfully sell their homes without a Realtor.  They will need the skills to market their home effectively online, negotiate with the buyer, and handle any challenges which may arise during the transaction.  Buyers may want a substantial discount because you’re not paying a commission.  It may lead to a lower net profit to the seller.  It is possible to sell on your own, but very very difficult.  Want an evaluation of your home’s value?  Find out now!!

Buying and selling real estate is a complex process.  There are many more challenges then listed here.  If you’re thinking of buying or selling contact me today to develop a strategic plan.

Tips to Sell Your Home Now!

So you’ve taken the plunge, deciding to sell your home.  It’s a big step.  You want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to sell your quickly.  There are things you can do to better your odds of success.

      1.  First impressions are most important:  When potential buyers pull up to your home it needs to POP!  Keep your landscaping clean and bright.  Plant some new flowers, keep your lawn mown and keep your windows clean.  Buyers may not even enter your home if they don’t like the look of the outside.  Pinterest has a lot of ideas to inexpensively upgrade your landscaping.
      2. Declutter your home:  A clean home is a home that sells.  Decluttering your home will make it look larger.  Depersonalize your home by taking down pictures and religious items.  You want buyers to picture their family living in the home not yours.  You may want to try Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying up.  Basically you lay out your possessions pick each one up.  If it brings you joy keep it, if it doesn’t let it go.  See what Martha Stewart thinks about the KonMari Method here.
      3. The Kitchen Is King:  Cooking, eating, talking it all goes down in the kitchen.  It’s what truly sells a home.  Giving your kitchen a face lift may be easier than you think.  A coat of paint, new hardware on the cabinets, and freshening up the grout can give your kitchen a new look without breaking the bank.  Try and brighten it up as much as you can and of course it must be SPOTLESS!
      4. Keep Your Home In Show Ready Condition:  Before listing your home give it a deep thorough cleaning or hire someone to.  Than stay on top of it.  Be ready to meet a buyer’s schedule you never know when they may want to see your home.
      5. No Pets:  I love animals.  I’m not saying get rid of your pets.  Just take your pets with you when your home is going to be shown.  If a buyer can’t go into to the back yard because Spot is doing his job protecting the home how will they be able to write an offer?  Go on a walk with your pets so the buyer can see the house without your best friend trying to be the buyers new best friend.  Keep their area clean and odor free.  Nothing turns off a buyer more than pet odors.  Don’t make this mistake.
      6. Price it Right From the Start:  When you list your home you want it priced strategically.  The longer your home sits on the market without an offer the more wary of it buyers may become.  When they see it’s been on a while you don’t want them to wonder what’s wrong with this home?  Check my video about strategically pricing your home.

    7. Hiring the Right Realtor:  This one is the most important.  A good agent, like me lol, is the best thing you can do.  Your Realtor should hire a professional to photograph your home, aerial photos, and video maybe important too.  They should offer a property website specific to your home.  Your Realtor should be marketing the home through all the online platforms.  They should be savvy with their social me approach.  You should interview a few before you hire me to work with you.  When interviewing other agents ask these questions.

Selling your home might be something you only do once or twice in a lifetime.  Make sure you do everything you can to make the process as easy as possible.  Start with a free evaluation of your home’s value.  Then contact me to talk about a marketing strategy for your home

Negotiations After Getting Into Escrow

We’ve marketed your home and received an acceptable offer.  The buyer now has the opportunity to inspect the condition of your home.  The California Association of Realtors (CAR) residential purchase agreement (RPA) allows 17 days after acceptance for physical inspections of the property.  This timeframe can be negotiated, but this is the general timeline.

Common Ways Buyers Will Make Requests

Once a buyer gets the inspection reports they have the right negotiate.  If there are things in the reports needing repair the buyer’s agent will advise them to submit a written request to the seller.  They will most likely do so in the following ways.

  1. Seller’s Credit For Repairs:  The buyer asks for money to be held in escrow after the close.  The buyer would obtain a licensed contractor to do the repairs.  The contractor would be paid from these funds.
  2. Reduction In Price:  The buyer will ask for a reduction in the purchase price in the amount of the repairs.
  3. Seller Makes Repairs:  The buyer may ask the seller to make repairs prior to the close of escrow.  The buyer may need this done to obtain their financing.

Once we receive a request for repairs the seller has a few options.

  1. Agree To Request:  We can agree to the full amount of the request and the form in which the buyer is asking for it.  If we agree the contract moves forward as stipulated.
  2. Make A Counter Offer:  We offer them a different amount or a different way the amount is delivered.  We may not want to do the work prior to the close, but may agree to a reductions in price.  The buyer has the right to agree to this and move forward or counter us.  We must then make a decision based on the buyer’s counter offer.
  3. Say No:  Flat out refuse their request and see what happens.

If we cannot come to an agreement with buyers they may back out of the contract.  If that happens they receive their full deposit back.  We wish them the best of luck and place your home back on the open market.

When negotiating I advise the seller to look at the pros and cons of the request.  We contact the inspectors to answer questions about the reports.  We then come to an educated decision in our best interests.  As a rule I do not advise my clients to make cosmetic repairs.  For example buyers asking to re-finish hard wood, or paint would be advised against.  We should give consideration to requests for health and safety issues.  For example no leaking roof, or dry rot repairs should be considered.

Always consult with your Realtor before making a decision to move forward with a buyer’s request.

5 Top Home Improvements In 2018

Whether you’re thinking of selling now, in a few years or not at all, you want to know that the improvements you’ve made are worth what you’ve paid.  The best improvements you can make in 2018 that will add the most equity are:

  1.  Create Outdoor Living Space:  Living in California we can spend time outdoors all year long.  Build a fire pit for evening hang outs.  Create a water feature like a fish pond or recycled waterfall.  A small gazebo or shaded area is the perfect place to chill.  Put in some raised beds and grow your own food.  There are tons of options that are DIY.  Check out Pinterest for ideas
  2. Freshen Up What You Have Already:  Costly remodels are not always necessary.  A great way to give your home a new feel and a fresh look is to update your finishes.  New fixtures on your sinks and hardware on cabinets are a great way to modernize.  A new front door or garage door can completely change the look of your home.  Small landscaping projects like planting flowers look great!
  3. Making Your Home Energy Efficient:  This one starts paying off instantly in reduced energy bills.  Start small by caulking around your windows and sliders to ensure no air is coming through.  Insulate your attic, it’s an easy project your can do yourself that will significantly reduce your heating costs.  Replacing windows, HVAC systems, and water heaters will increase the efficiency of your home.  Solar energy is growing fast and is becoming very affordable.
  4. Turn Your Home Into A Smart Home:  Buyers are looking for smart home features when they’re buying a home.  Smart home features will maximize your home’s efficiency and security.  Put in a Nest thermostat which learns your daily routine, adjusts accordingly and can be controlled from your smart phone.  Smart security systems allow you to see who’s at your door, talk to them, record them and let them in if you want remotely.  There are even indoor gardening systems.  Grow your own food easily without the need for a large outdoor garden.  There are tons of options to turn your home into a smart home.  Think about it.
  5. Manufactured Stone Veneer:  Stone veneer is very popular these days.  It looks great and can used in many ways.  Build a raised bed and put veneer around it.  If your home has columns wrap them in veneer.  It can be used as siding to improve curb appeal.  There are tons of ways to utilize stone veneer.

These are just a few of the renovations with great return on investment. Realtor.com put together this graphic with the cost vs. return of multiple projects.

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Some of these projects are easy some will require experts to help you out.   I’ve got a team of experts to put you in contact with.  Let’s talk about renovations that will give you the biggest bang for your buck!

2017 Recap & 2018 Forecast

2017 is almost in the books.  We’ve had an interesting year in the real estate industry.  The housing market remains strong.  Attractive interest rates keep demand high.  However, a lack of inventory is affecting the market.

According to the multiple listing service homes for sale fell 3.4% from October to November 2017.  The inventory in November 2017 has fallen 10% when compared to November of 2016.

Sold properties from October to November 2017 rose by 16.9%.  However the sold property in November 2017 dropped 13.6% when compared to November 2016.

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There is about 2.3 months worth of inventory on the market as of November 2017.  Lack of homes for sale will keep buyer competition fierce.

According to the California Association of Realtors forecast of 2018.  “Solid job growth and favorable interest rates will drive a strong demand for housing next year,” said C.A.R. President Geoff McIntosh. “However, a persistent shortage of homes for sale and increasing home prices will dictate the market as housing affordability diminishes for buyers struggling to get into the market.”

The tax reform plan from Washington will affect the market as well.  Homeowners will not be able to write off property tax over $10,000 per household.  Writing off mortgage interest against ordinary income will be capped at a loan amount of $750,000 down from $1,000,000.  This might make it less advantageous for some to own property.

It is my opinion that the real estate market will remain strong in 2018.  The advantages of owning a home far outweigh the disadvantages.  Demand for homes will keep prices moving up albeit slightly.

Buyers will need to go through the necessary loan qualifications prior to writing an offer.  Buyers must write viable offers based on market data to remain competitive.

Sellers can continue to price their homes aggressively, provided they study and understand the market data.

Both buyers and seller should continue to rely on real estate professionals when making real estate decisions.

For the full article from C.A.R. follow the link below

California Association of Real Estate 2018 Forecast

For all of your real estate needs contact me through my website link below

Ghisletta Realty

To ADU Or Not To ADU?

There is a great need for housing in Napa and throughout California these days.  One way policy makers are hoping to help with the housing crunch is through ADU’s.

ADU’s or Accessory Dwelling Units are defined as: having a second small dwelling right on the same grounds (or attached to) your regular single-family house, such as: an apartment over the garage. a tiny house (on a foundation) in the backyard. a basement apartment.

The City of Napa defines ADU’s as a small, accessory dwelling not intended for sale on the same lot as a single-family dwelling, meeting the standards identified in Section 17.52.015(F) of this code. (links to City of Napa website below)  A Junior ADU is an accessory dwelling contained entirely within an existing single-family structure, meeting the codes listed above.

What are the PROs of an ADU?

  • The rental income from an ADU could make buying a home more affordable for a buyer.
  • Someone in need of a caregiver could have said caregiver in their home at all times.
  • Makes rental units available and affordable to the workforce in Napa.
  • Allows workforce to live in Napa, which helps daily commuter traffic in and out of Napa.
  • A homeowner might not need all the space of their home.  They could move into their ADU and rent out the main part of the home to someone who would use the entire space.
  • A family member or friend could live with you.
  • Home office or studio.  No need to rent an office if there’s one attached to your home.
  • Use rental income to supplement lifestyle changes.

What are the CONs of an ADU?

  • More cars parked on the streets of residential neighborhoods.  One off street parking space is required per bedroom in most cases.
  • More people living in single-family residences.
  • ADU’s are not being used for housing.

There are of course many more pro and con arguments about ADU’s.

To build an ADU on a property the owner will need to work with the City of Napa to ensure they’re following all the guidelines.  The property owner will need to fill out an application to build an ADU with the city.  Follow the link to the City of Napa website for exact specifications.  Certain parts of the city have different regulations also.

It is my opinion that ADU’s are a good thing..  It will take many approaches to solve our housing problems.  ADU’s maybe one of them.  The PRO’s of ADU’s outweigh the CON’s of them.  An ADU may not be the best option for everyone.  Homeowners who’s situation could benefit from an ADU should look at all the options.

For more details go to:

City of Napa’s Website

Accessory Dwelling Unit Application

Do discuss ADU’s or for all your real estate needs go to:

Adam’s Website