Dispelling Refinancing Myths

“Refinancing” is a scary word for many people, but that shouldn’t be the case for you. For many homeowners, refinancing can not only lower your monthly payments and help with your monthly budget, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.

YOU’RE NOT TOO LATE

For years now, we’ve been hearing that interest rates will be on the rise, and although there have been some small increases, you’re still in a great position to drastically lower your interest rate. The general rule is if your mortgage interest rate is more than one percent above the current market rate, you should consider refinancing.

IT’S NOT TOO TIME CONSUMING

Don’t brush off refinancing just because it seems like a long and daunting process. An informational call with a lender to see how rates compare will only take a few minutes. There are also some programs for streamlining the application process. And besides, isn’t the amount of money you could save worth the time and effort?

ARMS CAN BE REFINANCED, TOO

Seeing your Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) increase after the introductory period can be incredibly stressful and place a squeeze on your budget. Many people assume they’re stuck, but ARMs can be refinanced, just like fixed-rate mortgages. You can even switch to a shorter term fixed-rate mortgage, such as 15 or 23 years. The longer you’re planning to stay in the home, the more sense it makes to look into refinancing.

JUST LISTED IN PONDEROSA VILLAGE OF SAN RAMON!

538 Treyburn Cir, San Ramon, CA 94583

$969,000 | 3 Beds | 2.5 Baths | 1,622 SqFt

Beautiful home on a corner lot located in popular Ponderosa Village! Light, open and airy floor plan with high ceilings. The flooring, kitchen and baths have been updated and the inside has been recently painted as well. Great location, near schools, shopping, parks, dining, commute access and the Iron Horse Trail.

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JUST LISTED IN MEADOW GLEN OF SAN RAMON!

2601 Shadow Mountain Dr, San Ramon, CA 94583

$750,000 | 3 Beds | 2 Baths | 1,354 SqFt

Truly a home to make your own and enjoy! Sparkling gem in the much sought-after Meadow Glen Community located by Twin Creeks! Wonderful, open, single-story floor plan with vaulted ceilings and more! The kitchen and baths have been tastefully updated and there is lots of storage as well. Appealing end unit with 2 patios creates a nice ambience to enjoy. Rare, oversized 2-car garage also offers additional space for storage, equipment, etc. Great location, close to schools, shopping, dining, entertainment, new downtown City Center, Business Parks and commute access.

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5 Negotiating Tactics That Can Hurt A Sale

Negotiation is a subtle art in real estate, but skilled negotiators can usually find some common ground that satisfies all parties. On the other hand, using the wrong negotiation tactics can sink a deal pretty quickly. Here are some negotiation tactics buyers should avoid:

LOWBALL OFFERS

Going far below market value when you make an offer damages your credibility as a buyer and can be insulting to the seller. The seller has a range in mind that they’ll accept, and if you’re not even approaching the low end of that range, they won’t even consider the offer.

INCREMENTAL NEGOTIATIONS

Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
“Take it or leave it”: Try not to draw a line in the sand with your initial offer. The seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if it’s true, don’t make a show of it.

NITPICKING AFTER INSPECTION

Obviously if inspection reveals a major issue, it should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a stalemate.

ASKING FOR MORE, MORE, MORE

Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing. Try to avoid giving the seller a reason to build up resentment and think that you’re being greedy.

THE BOTTOM LINE

While there are things you can do to help boost your odds of a successful deal, there are a number of others that can prevent the sale from happening. WHEN BUYING A HOME, ALWAYS FOLLOW THE ADVICE OF YOUR REAL ESTATE AGENT.

JUST LISTED IN THE LAKES IN DISCOVERY BAY!

9607 Boca Raton Way, Discovery Bay, CA 94505

$649,000 | 4 Beds | 3 Baths | 2,503 SqFt

Better than new – in the private gated community of The Lakes! Gorgeous “newer than new” well designed home features “tons” of upgrades and amenities to live in and enjoy!! Open floor plan concept bathed in lots of natural light to enhance the experience. Beautiful flooring, attractive counter tops, vanities and cabinetry. Master bedroom suite with a lavish bath plus a second bedroom are conveniently located on the main level. The upstairs has two bedrooms, a loft plus a bath to allow for a good, functional floor plan with flexibility. The three-car tandem garage also provides for added storage space as well. Relax in the lovely back yard with an inviting “California Room” plus an outdoor kitchen, built-in barbecue and luxurious spa. Lush lawn area with a spacious side yard creates a great entertaining atmosphere. Enjoy the privacy and amenities of “The Lakes” community, such as: security gate, greenbelt, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts & soothing fountains. a must see!!

FULL LISTING

HOT NEW PRICE FOR 4.5+ ACRES IN SAN RAMON!

111 Paulanella Pl, San Ramon, CA 94583

$1,899,888 | 4 Beds | 4 Baths | 2,026 SqFt

Drive out a country road and escape city life to enjoy your home, surrounded by nature and tranquility. Situated on approximately over 4 1/2 acres in a peaceful setting and it has much to offer!! The main house has been completely remodeled, creating modern conveniences while living in the country. Very open and airy. Rich in character and quality, finished in a style that exudes a country flair to enjoy. Adding to its charm is your own self-contained caboose – just for fun!! There is also an additional structure with a large interior area for storage of equipment, etc. plus a workshop and even a large bonus room! A lighted windmill allows for a touch of nostalgia. Cross a bridge over a stream to continue to the back of the property. A variety of fruit trees are an added bonus. Beautiful views!! If so desired, up to 4 horses are allowed. The illusion of being in a remote area gives way to realizing that shopping, dining, entertainment, services and commute access are only minutes away.

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8 Must-Have Tools For Every Homeowner

From replacing cabinet doors, to burned-out light bulbs, to everything in between, all sorts of scenarios will sneak up on a regular basis in your home that will require your handiwork. Even things like hanging a picture on the wall or measuring rooms for furniture require some type of tool to get the job done.

Unless you plan on calling the local handyman every time you need something done, you’d be well-advised to get yourself a set of tools so you don’t have to break the bank paying someone else to do something you easily can accomplish with the right tool.

Hammer

Owning a good quality hammer is a necessity. Whether you’re hanging art, pulling nails out, or just tapping things into place can all be done a lot easier with a hammer than with a random object. The one you get should feel well-balanced and allow you to grip the handle firmly and securely. You might even be able to get away with a smaller and lighter claw hammer if your hands are petite, though these versions aren’t as efficient as full-sized hammers.

Cordless Drill

A cordless drill is another very common tool that will make your life easier. If you plan on assembling furniture, for instance, a cordless drill is a necessity. There are many types of screw heads these days so make sure you have a wide variety on-hand. A cordless drill will ensure that you get the job done a lot faster without tiring your hands out.

Tape Measure

You’d be amazed at how many times you’ll be whipping out this tool at home. Buying new furniture? Installing some floating shelves? Hanging artwork? Then you’ll need measuring tape to make sure your furniture fits in your space and your shelves aren’t on a 45-degree angle. A standard 30-foot metal tape measure that locks in place should suffice.

Level

Speaking of making sure your shelves and artwork aren’t crooked, a level is another necessary tool to have in your collection. Get yourself one that’s around 3 feet long, which you’ll get the most use of.

Pliers

This handy tool is essential for tightening or loosening up just about every type of hardware, such as plumbing pipes. You can choose from a variety of options, including grove-joint pliers that are adjustable to grasp large or small items, and needle-nose pliers are great when you’re dealing with any type of wire. Get yourself a pair or two that lock, which make them a lot easier to work with.

Utility Knife

Imagine trying to cut through cardboard boxes or old wallpaper with a regular kitchen knife. Without a high-caliber tool, jobs like these are a lot more tedious. With a standard-size utility knife, cutting through tough material is a breeze. Always remember to keep this one in a safe place.

Ladder

Unless you’re 8 feet tall, you’ll probably find it a lot easier to change light bulbs, paint higher areas, or access something from an upper shelf using a ladder. At the very least, a step stool can help.

Putty Knife

If you’ve got any holes in the walls from where the previous owners hung their photos, or you simply made a mistake when hammering in your own nails and hooks, these holes will need to be filled and painted over. The way to fix them is by filling them with spackle or putty, but you can’t apply this goopy stuff with just any tool.

A putty knife will let you evenly spread the material to ensure a smooth finish that you won’t even notice after you’ve painted over the area. Consider getting yourself a couple of different sizes – wider ones are good for spreading, and narrower ones are ideal for scraping.

Short Sale And Foreclosure: What Sets Them Apart?

As unfortunate as it can be when homeowners fall behind on mortgage payments and must face the possibility of losing their homes, short sales and foreclosures provide them options for moving on financially. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re actually quite different, with varying timelines and financial impact on the homeowner. Here’s a brief overview.

SHORT SALES

A short sale comes into play when a homeowner needs to sell their home but the home is worth less than the remaining balance that they owe. The lender can allow the homeowner to sell the home for less than the amount owed, freeing the homeowner from the financial predicament.

On the buyer side, short sales typically take three to four months to complete and many of the closing and repair costs are shifted from the seller to the lender.

FORECLOSURE

On the other hand, a foreclosure occurs when a homeowner can no longer make payments on their home so the bank begins the process of repossessing it. A foreclosure usually moves much faster than a short sale and is more financially damaging to the homeowner.

After foreclosure the bank can sell the home in a foreclosure auction. For buyers, foreclosures are riskier than short sales, because homes are often bought sight unseen, with no inspection or warranty.

JUST LISTED IN OAKLAND!

821 34th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601

$699,000 | 5 Beds | 2 Baths | 1,197 SqFt

Wonderful opportunity for a flexible investment! Live in one unit and rent out the other, rent out both units, in-law quarters and more! The elegant front door adds a touch of class. Good floor plan with a good flow and functionality. Lots of improvements, including classic texturing, soothing paint colors, plenty of storage space, mostly newer windows and natural light. Nice remodeled kitchens in both units. Both baths have been updated. Most rooms upstairs have ceiling fans, several with additional lighting. Additionally, this property has been rewired and re-plumbed. The patio and fruit trees add to outdoor enjoyment. Convenient location near shopping, dining, services, amenities, public transportation, freeway access and Bart.

FULL LISTING

4 Ways To Eat Organic Food On A Budget

Organic food usually tastes better, and is better for you, but it can also be very expensive compared to non-organic products. Organic food can cost nearly 50 percent more, thanks to the extra labor required to produce it and consumers’ demand exceeding supply.

So how do you get tasty organic food without spending a ton of extra money? Follow these tips to get more bang for your buck.

SHOP AT FARMERS’ MARKETS

You can get fresh organic produce for far less at a farmers’ market than you’d pay at the grocery store. It’ll taste just as good, and you’re getting your food straight from the source.

CHOOSE SEASONAL PRODUCE

Out-of-season produce usually has to be imported, and that can really drive up the price. Focus your meals on in-season fruits and vegetables so that you don’t end up paying $6.00 for a pound of organic asparagus.

SHOP MORE FREQUENTLY

The trick here is to only buy what’s needed for your meals, and to only plan for a week of meals at most. That way you’re less likely to throw food away, because you can use leftover produce for more meals before it goes bad.

GROW YOUR OWN

A home vegetable garden will provide some extremely cheap organic produce, and gardening can also be a fun and rewarding hobby.