Too Much Candy? Best Ways to Confiscate Candy on Halloween

Alright Moms, Dads and legal guardians… Saturday is Halloween and you know what that means… A crazy overload of candy and hyper kiddos. I don’t like to call it “bribing” but there are ways I have found to work to get my kids to give me some or most of their candy. No one wants their kids to eat too much candy! I compiled a list of ways to get your kids to hand over their candy… Check out my list below!

  1. Set a daily limit. Have your kids count their candy after trick-or-treating and agree on a number of candies they are allowed to eat on Halloween night and the days to follow.
  2. If your kids are young enough, hide the candy and they may forget all about the bag of    sweets after the big night.
  3. Trade the candy in. Allow your kids to trade their candy for a toy, a book or even money.
  4. Donate the extra candy to troops and to charities.
  5. Collect the candies that would be good for gingerbread house making for this upcoming holiday season.
  6. Bribe your kids with homemade goodies. Perhaps your kids want to trade their candy in for their favorite “healthy” homemade baked goods.
  7. Distract your kids with TV!

However you choose to handle Halloween with your child, it is important to make sure to sort their candy and throw out all treats that aren’t packaged. Have a Spooktacular Halloween!

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A Recap of Alain Pinel’s “Figuring Out Chinese Buyer’s”

I just read a great blog post written by Alain Pinel, the Senior Vice President, General Manager of Intero Prestigio International titled “Figuring Out Chinese Buyer’s”. I know there are hundreds of news articles talking about this topic, but I learned a few facts from this blog post that I have not read previously.

Below is a recap of what I thought to be noteworthy ideas from the blog:

  • Last year in California alone, more than 50% of homes sold to foreign buyers went to Chinese nationals.
  • There are over 3,000,000 US$ Millionaires in China and 650 US$ Billionaires.
  • The source of funds to buy homes in America varies. Some come from business ventures, real estate investments or stock market gambles (before 2015) and some come from business or political payoffs.
  • ***Chinese buyers theorettically can only get $50,000/year out of the country, but many manage to collect enough from family members, friends, associates, employees, etc. Also, many are able to circumvent the restrictions through intermediaries, such as foreign companies doing business in China, domestic companies engaged in foreign trade, Hong Kong entities, underground money exchanges and offshore bank accounts.
  • The Chinese tend to hold properties as long term investments. They buy and rarely sell.
  • Many Chinese buyers are reluctant to share financial info, so to qualify them to buy a home real estate agents need to know their background and holdings, not necessarily their bank statements. (Pinel)

For the full blog post, click on the link:

Pinel, Alain. “Figuring Out Chinese Buyer’s” Web blog post. The Reserve. Intero Real Estate Services, 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

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Fall Checklist – Be Prepared for the Upcoming Winter

It’s hard to think we will ever see temperatures lower than 80 degrees and that it may indeed rain A LOT in the upcoming winter months… But it can and may happen! Take these precautions now so that you are prepared for the upcoming winter ahead of time.

♦ Seal it up Caulk and seal around exterior doors and window frames. This will prevent heat from escapinng the house and will keep water from getting inside.

♦ Look up Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles. Water and wind can cause serious damage to a vulnerable roof. If your roof is on its end of life, it would be smart to have a qualified professional inspect and repair the roof before/if El Niño comes.

♦ Clear it out Clear gutters and eaves of leaves, sticks and other debris. Check the joints between sec-tions of gutter, as well as between the gutter and down-spouts, and make necessary adjustments or repairs.

♦ Warm up time The furnace should be inspected to ensure that it is safe and in good working order. Most utility companies will provide no-cost inspections. Re-place disposable furnace air filters or clean the perma-nent type according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Using a clean filter will help the furnace fun more effi-ciently, saving money and energy.

Need a reference for any of these jobs? Feel free to call me!

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Get Your Free Home Energy Checkup Online with PG&E

Why is my energy bill so high? I don’t even have air conditioning!

This is a fairly common question of many homeowner and renters. I, myself have wondered the same thing. Luckily, PG&E has a free online service called “Home Energy Checkup” that is easy to use and will let you know by category how much energy you are using. You may be surprised to find out that the box fan you use on hot days to cool your home in the evenings uses way more energy than you would have thought! In addition, you will receive a customized list of changes that you can make to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Why wouldn’t you do this?! What a great idea.

Please see the link below to be directed to the website:

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California Association of Realtors Fun Facts

The California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) just celebrated their 110th year anniversary! Below are some notable moments in economic and market data history that I pulled directly from the most recent California Real Estate magazine.

California homeownership was 46.3% in 1900 and rose to 54.3% in 2013.                           (Source: U.S. Census Bureau)

Mortgage rates have remained at record lows in recent years, with the lowest level reaching 3.34% for the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage.                                        (Source: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)

The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was 18.4% when it peaked in October 1981.(Source: Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation)

C.A.R. has grown from 38 reporting boards in 1970 to 85 reporting boards in 2015.

California’s largest gain in annual median price was 1977, when the statewide median price went up 28.1% from 1976. (Source: C.A.R.)

Between 1968 and 2014, the statewide median price for existing single-family homes had been increasing at an annual rate of 6.6%. (Source: C.A.R.)

California’s largest decline in annual median price was in 2008, when it dropped 37.8% from 2007. (Source: C.A.R.)

Which statistic is most shocking to you?

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Assistant Living: Four Simple Tips to Avoid Being Tricked

As a senior real estate specialist and from my own experience, I know the importance of picking the right assistant living facility for your beloved family member. I read an article titled “Due Diligence: Helping Clients Avoid Assisted Living “Gotchas”” that went into great detail on how to help avoid any pitfalls that may be awaiting them. Did you know that most regulations for assisted living facilities are determined at the state or local level and that there is very little federal oversight? Below are 4 things that you need to be aware of when choosing the right assisted living facility.

  1. Be Your Own Regulator. Ask if there is a Resident Bill of Rights posted online. Request a copy of the community’s most recent state survey report from the facility. Ask for copies of the company’s most recent quality review program. Ask if there is a resident and family council at the facility to address concern.
  2. Understand the Contract. Before signing anything, you should have the contract reviewed by a lawyer to make sure you understand and know the contractual requirements and potential issues.
    1. Mobility– Check the rules to make sure you understand how easily the residents can move in/out or change levels of care.
    2. Service Fees– There are different “packages” and services that are “a la carte”, as well as all-inclusive packages. It is important to know the differences and know what they do not include that could end up costing you more out of pocket.
    3. Cost of Living/Annual Increases-Some facilities add an annual percentage increase or a flat rate increase each year. Make sure you are aware of this before you commit.
  3. Research the Facility. Find out its reputation.
    1. Complaints Check for any formal complaints that have been filed with state regulatory authorities or other governing bodies.
    2. Legal Actions Do a Google search on any legal action against the facility. You could also visit the local courthouse and do a search there.
    3. Staff Comments Research this website allows current and past employees to anonymously give their opinions on the facility and its management.
    4. Other Concerns Check message boards and do online research for comments, complaints, or unresolved issues.
  4. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover. Don’t let marketing pitches and nice decor blur your vision. What is most important is the level of care your family member is going to get. You want your family member to have the best caregivers and nurses available as well as feel comfortable where they are living.
    1. Management– Meet with the management team and take the “director’s tour” and enjoy the sales team’s offerings. It is a good idea to check the quality of the food and to talk with staff members.
    2. Sales and Marketing-Don’t automatically think that the more expensive facilities are better. Paying more doesn’t always mean they will provide better or extended services.

I hope this information was helpful. If you have a family member that is in need of assistant living and you need help selling their house, please feel free to reach out to me. I pride myself in being a senior specialist and would be more than happy to help you in this tough transitional period.

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HWY 85 Toll Project- A Good or Bad Solution?

If you have ever traveled on highway 85 any time in the afternoon or after work hours, you can relate to the frustration of the traffic nightmare it has become. In hopes to illeviate some of the traffic, the VTA (Valley Transportation Agency) is planning to add toll lanes to highway 85. Some individuals believe that the new toll lane will not make the overall traffic move faster; it will just put more money into VTA’a pockets. Barry Chang, Vice Mayor of City of Cupertino has started a petition asking VTA to not put toll lanes, but as per existing agreement keep the center divider space open for possible future mass transit.

To read more about the toll project, click on the link:

If you do not want to see toll lanes on highway 85, please take a moment and sign the petition at:

Was this information helpful to you? If you are thinking of buying or selling a home that is located near highway 85 and need someone to talk to regarding your real estate needs and or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me. I am more than happy to help!

“Making your dreams a reality, one move at a time!”

Posted in Bay Area, Development Projects, highway 85, Home Buying/Selling, Real Estate, toll lanes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget to Save! – Retirement Suggestions by Decade

Here are some tips that I found in “The Costco Connection” magazine a while ago on saving for retirement starting in your 20’s:

In your 20s and 30s…

  1. Don’t waste time. Money you save today will be able to compound for decades.
  2. Pocket the maximum match. If you have the option, take it. Always contribute enough to qualify for the maximum employer match.
  3. Fund a Roth IRA. If there is no match opportunity, focus on funding a Roth IRA. Anyone under the age of 50 can contribute $5,500. Set up an automatic monthly or quarterly transfer from your checking account into a Roth to ensure you follow through on your good intentions.

In your 40s…

  1. Keep the petal to the metal. By your 40’s you should be depositing a minimum of 10% of your annual income into retirement accounts. If you didn’t start saving in your 20s, push yourself to get to 15%. 
  2. Roll over your old 401(k)s. If you have changed jobs over the years, your 401(k) may still be with your old job. You can likely reduce your investment expenses by doing what is called a direct 401(k) rollover.

In your 50s…

  1. Consider accelerating your mortgage payments. If you are planning on staying in your current home after retirement, a smart move would be to get your mortgage paid off before you stop working. It’s one monthly expense you won’t have to worry about.
  2. No early withdrawals. Reducing your retirement assets in your 50s can be very dangerous if you live well into your 80s or 90s. You may run out of money when you get to that age.
  3. Size up long-term-care (LTC) insurance. If you are interested, purchase LTC insurance when you are younger so that you don’t have a hard time qualifying or ending up having to pay too costly of premiums.

In your 60s…

  1. The longer you wait for your Social Security retirement checks, the bigger your benefit will be.
  2. If you are married, one smart strategy is to consider having the higher earner delay retirement while the lower earner claims earlier to generate income.
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Five Common Home Buying Mistakes to Avoid

Deciding to buy a home is a very exciting yet stressful time in a persons life, especially in the real estate market we have been experiencing on the Peninsula. I read an article in the news recently that was about five common mistakes people make in the home buying process. My hope is that this blog will educate home buyers and prevent them from making these same mistakes.

1. Expecting too much prior to pre-approval

Deciding that you are financially ready to buy a home is a exuberant feeling. As a result, many buyers start their home buying search checking online websites and attending open houses. Many homebuyers think they know what they can afford without getting pre-approved first. The smartest thing you can do is get pre-approved before attending open houses so you aware right off the bat what you can afford. In this market, a lender’s pre-approval is a must in order to be taken seriously by a seller.

2. Working with the wrong agent

There is more to a good agent than having a hand to hold while looking for a home. Working with an agent that is educated on the market, is willing to go above and beyond for you, and has a good reputation can make all the difference.

3. Being stubborn about financial policy

Some buyers refuse to provide the sellers proof that they have the funds for a down payment because they feel it is an insult that they have to prove themselves. This should never be the case. It can only help!

4. Foregoing inspections

Most sellers are having inspections done prior to going on the market in order for buyers to know up-front what imperfections the home has. Sellers hope this will bring them more non-contingent offers. For the few homes that don’t have inspections prior to going on the market, I suggest to my buyers to get a property inspection after they are in contract so they have a clear picture of any issues they may face. I suggest this even with clients who write non-contingent offers.

5. Falling in love too quickly

The hardest part about this sellers market is that buyers may fall in love with a house but be out bid. Its in a buyers best interest to not get too attached to any home even if its “perfect”. This can leave you heartbroken.

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Vacation Bound? 8 Tips to Protect Your Home While You’re Away

It is that time of year again… It’s time for a little summer vacation with the fam! With that being said, before you leave town it is important that your home is burglar proofed.

Here are 8 tips that I suggest to protect your home while your away:

  1. Make it noisy to break in. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effect systems ring at an outside service, which alerts the police.
  2. ***Keep quiet on social media. Never announce your departure or vacation dates on social networks. Sharing settings are not foolproof and with new security updates it’s always hard to tell what’s public and what’s private. 
  3. Turn off your computer and disconnect it from the internet. Make sure personal information is hard to access. You don’t need a hacker in your home too.
  4. Keep valuables under lock and key and well hidden. Do not leave personal documents in your home office or desk. Be sure to lock them up. Same goes for jewelry. Lock up or hide somewhere in the house besides a bedroom.
  5. Stop your mail. Either place a “stop” on all mail and newspapers or have a friend pick up your mail daily.
  6. Remove your spare key. Don’t make it easy for a burglar to enter your home. Hide the key inside or bring it with you on your vacation.
  7. Don’t leave your lights on. Don’t leave your lights on at home throughout your entire vacation in an effort to make it look like someone is in the house. It will cost you $$$ and it will look suspicious that your lights are on in the middle of the night. Purchase a light switch timer that can turn your lights on and off automatically according to a programmed schedule. Criminals keeping an eye on your house will notice lights flipping on and off, and will probably assume someone is doing the flipping.
  8. Curtains Closed — or Open? Leave your curtains exactly as you usually keep them when you’re home, since noticeable changes could hint that you’re not around anymore — especially if your curtains are uncharacteristically left closed for two weeks.

You can never be too safe! Although it may sound like a lot of preparation work, it will keep your mind at peace and allow you to relax on your vacation.

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