South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

The Connected Home

Posted in Around The Home, Around The House, Home How To, Home improvement, Home Security, Real Estate Tips by southorangecounty on July 10, 2015

smart-homeTechnology is infiltrating every aspect of our lives. Twenty years ago, who could have predicted we’d have the Internet in our pockets? Or a refrigerator that tracks our purchases? There are so many choices when it comes to connecting your home and finding fun ways to let technology make your life easier. But which new tech tools are really worth the cost?

Smart ovens.
GE has come out with a range of connected appliances. Smart ovens can be turned on to preheat while you’re still driving home from the grocery store, and you can also change the temperature or get a notification that dinner is done right from your phone, too.

Smart fridges.
According to thewirecutter.com, they’re just not worth it — yet. GE’s Wi-Fi enabled fridges, due out in fall 2015, will let you know when the water filter needs changing or if the door has been left open. One day your fridge will be able to order more milk when you’re running low and check you’ve got all the ingredients for pasta primavera. Currently, though, fancy refrigerators mostly play music and post notes for the next person nearby to buy that milk. Plus, thewirecutter says, the software in general can’t be upgraded. Wait until these things have developed further.

Smart dishwashers.
Huh? Do you really need an alert when your dishwasher is done? Personally I set mine to run either overnight or in the morning before I leave for work. I find it’s usually done by the next time I’m in the kitchen

eKeys.
Kwikset, a pretty well-known maker of locks, has developed an ekey system. You can share a key with anyone, so no more fake rocks in the yard or placing a spare above the front door (or sending your five-year-old through the doggy door, ahem). Keys can be assigned to multiple people and can be revoked right from your phone. Know when your door is opened when you’re not home. You can even create a “scheduled” ekey that only allows access on certain days at certain times. Pricey, but super-convenient for key losers, especially if your car is also keyless.

Connected thermostat.
The Nest is still the top pick for most people when it comes to home technology. The Nest Learning Thermostat is not only attractive, it’s smart—it can learn your preferences, and your daily schedule, and adjust the temperature in your home accordingly. So it saves you money as well as helping to keep you comfortable. Its interface with your phone is considered the best of all the smart thermostats out there, as well.

Smart lightbulbs.
Control color to suit your mood, turn lights on when you’re out late or away on vacation, or schedule lighting changes from your phone or tablet. Cree, GE, and Belkin make smart LED bulbs that get pretty good reviews.

The Hub.
Of course, you can’t really hook up your smart home without a hub. Hubs help you get all of your smart devices controlled under one app, making life easier, which is really the ultimate goal of a smart home, right? PCMag recommends the SmartThings Hub and devices from IControl, and Logitech. There’s also the Wink Connected Home Hub, Apple’s Homekit, and the Insteon Hub to turn your Wi-Fi enabled home features into remotely controlled smart accessories that you access on the go. If you’re working on a budget, the Quirky Pivot Power Genius is a smart power strip that you can use to control plug-in items you already have in your home.

Our lives are getting easier — or are they getting more complicated? Either way, these smart, connected home appliances and features can help you take care of your home with the touch of a few buttons, and soon these tools will be taking care of us!

Advertisements

Comments Off on The Connected Home

Preparing Your Home for Hot Weather

As warm weather rolls across most of the country, it’s time to start thinking about how to protect and care for your home when the mercury soars. What can you do to ensure the summer sun doesn’t cause damage to your home?

Beat_The_Heat_With_A_Programmable_ThermostatHeat stays out, cool stays in.
That’s the general idea, right? Check the weather stripping around doors and windows to make sure you don’t have a leak where your air conditioning can escape. This is a good time to assess the state of your insulation as well. Many power companies also offer home energy-efficiency assessments — often at no cost — to help you pinpoint places where the heat is creeping in, and often they’ll supply solutions too.

Perform an A/C checkup.
Don’t wait until you really need the air conditioning to make sure it’s working properly! If something goes wrong at the  height of summer, it could be weeks before repairs can be made. Replace your HVAC unit’s filters, and consider having    your air ducts and vents cleaned out and the seals checked.

Turn it around.
Your ceiling fan, that is: Many types have a way to reverse the direction they spin. In summer, the blades should rotate counterclockwise in order to maximize the fan’s beneficial effect on your home’s temperature.

Scout the perimeter.
Most people spend more time outdoors when temperatures rise. Check the boundaries of your property for damage to fences, security lights, and gate locks. Clear away any long grass that may have grown up next to fences as they can harbor fleas and ticks. Reset timers on sprinklers and outdoor lights in consideration of the longer hours of daylight.

Paint: It’s not just for looks.
Although we generally think of a new coat of paint as a cosmetic indulgence, it actually helps to protect the home from the effects of strong heat and sun. While you’re at it, check the deck to see if it needs a fresh coat of sealant as well. Washing the windows will ensure you can enjoy the summer sunshine. And speaking of windows, check screens and shutters for damage too.

Prepare to party.
If you love to entertain outdoors, or you want to live off barbecue for the next few months, your summer fun equipment will need a good once-over. Hose down patio furniture and check cushions to see if they would benefit from a good wash and a chance to dry in the fresh air or if they’ll need to be replaced. Clean off the bbq and fill the propane tank [or stock up on briquettes].

Scale the heights.
Before it gets too hot, an inspection of the roof and attic is a great idea. Check outside for missing shingles or other signs of damage. Trim back tree branches that could be used by local critters as stepping stones to get onto and then under your roof. Check out the gutters while you’re up there too. Then head inside to examine the attic for leaks, holes, and signs of animal trespass.

We may think of summer as a time for vacations, but we never really get a vacation from taking care of our homes. I hope these tips help you have an enjoyable summer!

Comments Off on Preparing Your Home for Hot Weather

Saving on Your Property Taxes

Tax-Saving-Tips-252This is a recent blog by one of my preferred lenders, Kevin Budde, of Prime Lending. Kevin has been doing loans in South Orange County for over 40 years, and I highly recommend him and his team, for any type of residential lending services.

Many Baby Boomers are selling their homes and downsizing these days. A question that is becoming more frequent is, “How do I transfer my current property taxes to a home I wish to purchase?” Most everyone in the real estate industry is aware of Proposition 60/90 but to articulate the guidelines and to not give wrong information is difficult. I find myself referring clients to the County Tax Assessors Office website for the technicalities of the Propositions. 

I decided to furnish the basics below to you and at the very bottom the URL address for the Assessor’s office. This is good information for any of your client’s that are thinking of making a move. If they are unaware of the ability to save on property taxes you might want to share this with them.

prop-60-90-a

prop-60-90

http://ocgov.com/gov/assessor/programs/55plus#470

 

Comments Off on Saving on Your Property Taxes

Dos And Donts Of Buying Fixer-Upper Real Estate

fixer-upper-3A fixer-upper is real estate in need of serious repairs. These properties are often called “handyman specials.” If you have the skill or the money to complete the repairs, you can often find great deals. Here are some dos and don’ts of buying fixer-upper real estate.

DO Get A Home Inspection

Fixer-upper homes need repairs. Some of these repairs, like broken floor tile, are easy to see. Others, like water  damage in the attic, can be easily hidden. The only way to know for sure what you’re buying is to have the property inspected by a professional home inspector.

DO Pay Attention To The Home’s Market Value

You don’t want to buy a house and spend your hard-earned money for repairs only to find out the home is worth less than what you paid for it. Have your agent complete a comparative market analysis so you know what the fixed up home will probably be worth.

DO Have An Estimate For Repairs

There’s no point buying a fixer if you can’t afford both the cost of the home and the repairs. Get an estimate from at least three contractors before you buy. Knowing the cost of repairs beforehand will help you make the best decision.

DON’T Think About Potential Profit

You’ve probably heard countless stories about people who bought fixers and sold them for outrageous profits. However, the reality is that most distressed homes are sold for a small profit or no profit.

DON’T Buy A Home Just Because The Price Is Low

When you buy a fixer-upper, you have to consider more than just the asking price. Add together the cost of repairs, insurance, and what you can realistically expect to make from the sale. This will tell you if the home really is a good investment for you.

DON’T Buy If You Don’t Have The Money

No matter how good a deal you find on a fixer, they aren’t worth it if they will stretch your budget too far. The last thing you want to deal with is damage to your credit score and the risk of foreclosure in the event you can’t pay for the home.

Not ALL fixed up houses are going to be flipped or resold

Many fixed up houses become the eventual home of the owner, and were purchased with that in mind, while a large number of them become rental properties, for the owner, so, as you can see there are plenty of options, or reasons for buying a fixer.

Comments Off on Dos And Donts Of Buying Fixer-Upper Real Estate

Do It Yourself, Or Hire It Done? Renovating Rental Properties

DIY Or Hire It Done Renovating Real Estate Investment PropertiesSometimes, when buying – or even thinking about buying real estate for investment purposes, you’re faced with the need to fix up the property.

The question then arises: Should I fix it up myself or hire it done? Unfortunately, no one can give you the right answer. However, there are a few questions that you can ask yourself to help decide the issue:

1. Do I Have The Time?

Time is an issue that many people forget about, but it should be one of the deciding factors. Some renovations, such as handles, hinges or kitchen hardware can take very little time to do. Others, like retiling a bathroom, can take hours, or even days to accomplish.

If you don’t have the time to do these things personally, you’ve already answered the question.

2. Do I Have The Money?

Obviously, money is as important a factor as time. Often, if you don’t have the time, you do have the money to hire someone. However, if you have neither the money nor the time, you may need to reassess whether you can really afford the real estate you’re thinking of buying.

You may want to continue looking to find something that needs fewer repairs or that you can get at a lower price.

3. Do I Have The Know-How?

Granted, there is a lot of do-it-yourself information out on the Internet. However, if you don’t have the necessary knowledge to understand what they’re saying, you’ll either have to research more, or hire someone.

Being knowledgeable on what you’re doing may not be so important when, say, you’re painting the living room, but it’s incredibly important if you need to rewire a room or want to knock down a wall.

The main key when deciding on what property to buy, what renovations need to be made and whether to do it yourself is simple: Be realistic. Be honest with yourself.

Can you really do this? Can you really afford it? Remember, if the answer is “no,” it could just mean “not right now.”

Don’t be afraid to wait until you have everything in place before picking your investment properties. If you’re careful with your time and money management, you may find yourself able to buy that dream real estate investment property.

4. Need Help?  Contact Bob Phillips.

I have been helping South Orange County clients buy and manage their real estate investment properties for almost 38 years. If you are thinking of buying investment real estate, or need help with managing ones you have now, I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to be your trusted agent.  Call or text me at 949-887-5305 or shoot me an email at BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com.

Comments Off on Do It Yourself, Or Hire It Done? Renovating Rental Properties

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways To Get More From Your Home Garden

The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways to Get More From Your Home GardenGrowing a home garden creates beauty, oxygen and even food for our families to enjoy. If you’re looking to get more from your home garden, here are four easy ways to improve a green thumb.

A Good Foundation For Your Garden

Good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden. By using quality soil, you can give your garden plants the best start possible. Adding a variety of organic matter to soil will give plants a happy home to grow in.

Add two to three inches of organic matter to your garden bed at the beginning of each season. Compost, dried leaves, grass clipping and dry manure are all good organic materials to use in your garden.

Manures provides nitrogen, which is a great contributor to soil aeration and composting efforts. Being so far along in the decomposing process, the nutrients in manure are readily available for plants.

Fresh manure, however, is more likely to leach out of the soil into groundwater and streams (where the nutrients it provides can become pollutants).

Design Fundamentals To Achieve Harmony And Flow

Although landscaping your home garden is a matter of personal taste and preference, there are some fundamental principles for creating a good garden.

Balance and proportion establish the basic structure of a garden. Order is obtained through symmetry, repetition of plants, and colors or thoughtful contrast. This will create a garden space that is both balanced and proportioned.

Harmony and unity is achieved when different aspects of your garden work together as a whole. Strong focal points and a limited color palette can help with the overall look of your garden.

Prevent the eye from making sudden stops with good flow and transition in your garden. Gradual changes in height and color create the illusion of a larger space, and will make for a full and finished look in your garden.

Variety Is Important And Maintenance A Must

Have a good combination in your garden of annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees and food producing plants. Plants that require little maintenance and come back each year will take some of the pressure off when it comes to seasonal changes and garden preparation.

With more time to focus on bedding plants and vegetable gardens, you’ll yield a bigger reward for your gardening efforts. Water features and other structural focal points work in much the same way; they provide your outdoor space with added beauty and appeal that is easy to maintain throughout the year.

Don’t Be Bothered By Pests And Bugs

Although people have differing opinions on pests, at home a greener garden is always a healthier garden. Harsh pest control products can hurt wildlife and pollute groundwater.

You may be solving one problem, but using chemical pesticides contributes to another. There are many ways keep pests under control without chemical products.

With so many easy to make homemade pesticides to discover, gardeners can ditch the chemical alternative without sacrificing quality. There are also plants such as marigolds that can be incorporated into your garden that deter pests.

A garden is a labor of love that creates a welcoming outdoor space that your family can enjoy.

Need A Home With Room For A Garden?

Shoot me an email – BobPhillipsRE@gmail.com – or give me a call or a text – 949-887-5305 – and let’s go looking for one.

Comments Off on The Green Thumb: Four Easy Ways To Get More From Your Home Garden

Thermostat Recall Due to Fire Hazard


White-Rodgers, a major thermostat provider, hasrecalled over 1 million thermostats in the United States and Canada due to a fire hazard caused by alkaline batteries leaking onto the thermostat’s circuit board. 
Which Thermostats are Subject to Recall? The digital thermostats are white with blue lighted screens and will have one of the following names printed on the front:
The thermostats have a battery door on the top, left-hand corner. There are three or four buttons to the right and three or four more buttons below the thermostat screen. 
Recalled thermostats do not show a battery icon on the left side of the blue lighted screen.
Only thermostats without a battery icon
are subject to recall.
What Should You Do?If you own one of these brands, check your thermostat for the battery icon on the left-hand side of the blue lighted screen. If the battery icon is not shown, contact White-Rodgers to receive a free repair or a replacement thermostat.

Consumer Contact:

Call White-Rodgers toll-free at (888) 624-1901 from
7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT Monday through Friday—or visit their website at www.white-rodgers.com and click on the White-Rodgers 1F8x-04xx Thermostat Recall link found at the lower, left-hand corner of the homepage for more information.

Click here to access the full report from the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Comments Off on Thermostat Recall Due to Fire Hazard

Vegetable Garden 101: Get The Kids Started On A Veggie Patch Project Today

Vegetable Garden 101: Get the Kids Started on a Veggie Patch Project TodayThinking about ways to engage your children in gardening and educational opportunities outside of the classroom?

Creating your very own veggie patch with them is a great way to help them develop interest in the wonderful hobby of gardening!

Growing a vegetable garden links together many concepts your children are learning about in school while teaching them the art of discipline, responsibility and delayed gratification. Here are some great tips on how to nurture this project with your children.

Choose Pick-And Eat-Vegetables

The joy of being able to eat the fruits of their labors straight out of the garden will be an amazing reward for children. Vegetables like snap peas and cherry tomatoes are great for this. A bonus is that pea seeds are big and easy for those tiny hands to plant if you are going to have your children involved in the garden from the very beginning.

Pick Fun Vegetables The Kids Can Use Later

Another great route when choosing what to plant is picking vegetables that children have a strong connection to. Pumpkins are a great example of this. Children will love to grow pumpkins because of the promise of carving a jack-o-lantern later in the year.

Ensure Your Garden Is Conveniently Placed

One thing you don’t think about until you have kids is how to streamline your garden activities in a way that accommodates them. Convenience is critical when trying to manage children and do gardening at the same time. Go easy on yourself by placing your garden as close to a water source as possible.

Plant A Few Seeds That Will Grow Quickly

It is always nice to give children a bit of excitement right off the start. Lettuce is always good for this. It grows fairly quickly and will grab the interest of your children while they wait for the other plants to sprout.

Make Your Children Planting Assistants

Involving your kids in the planting is definitely a lot of work, but it really helps build their interest and education later on. Get them to hoe rows, dig holes, or water as you plant. This will help them connect all the processes together in their minds, and will keep the engaged later on.

Keep The Garden Front Of Mind

Make the garden an ongoing, continuous project that the children are involved in. Don’t let weeks go by before you bring the kids out to it again – they might get bored or develop other interests. Always look for opportunities to involve them in the work.

Plant A Colorful Garden

One of the easiest ways to get children excited about what is growing in the garden is to make it come alive with color. There are many different ways you can bring a splash of color to the garden. Choose a variety of lettuce, radishes, or squash to bring interesting and unique shapes, sizes and color to the garden!

Building a garden is a fun way to teach your children the value of hard work and perseverance, and to help them learn science! A garden can engage children and draw you all closer together as you work toward a common goal.

Comments Off on Vegetable Garden 101: Get The Kids Started On A Veggie Patch Project Today

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your Mood

What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your MoodBelieve it or not, paint colors can affect your mood. When remodeling your home, the color you use on the walls can end up being just as critical to the thematic consistency of your home as the furniture you use to decorate it.

Before you slap any old color on the walls, take some time to consider what mood you’d like each room to inspire.

Red, Yellow And Orange: The Colors Of Excitement, Hunger And Happiness

Ever wonder why the dining rooms, kitchens and entertainment rooms you see in magazines always seem come in every shade of red? It’s because these rooms are dedicated to eating and leisure time. Shades of red, especially bright, vibrant reds, have been linked to increased appetite and increases in energy levels.

In a similar vein, we have shades of yellow. Typically, yellow hues have been known to encourage feelings of happiness and joy.

That said, it’s a good idea to steer clear of especially bright shades of yellow that can be harder on the eyes, as they can foster feelings of frustration and an inability to concentrate.

Orange, like red, provides a great way to bring up energy levels, but like yellow, is prone to cause irritation when used excessively. People are more likely to be excitable and show more enthusiasm in rooms that incorporate this color. In order to reap the benefits of orange without causing irritation, restrict your use of it to the odd wall here and there.

Blue, Green And Purple: The Colors Of Restfulness, Peace And Serenity

It’s no surprise that blue is the color of calm and relaxation. For bedrooms and bathrooms, blue hues are ideal for inspiring restfulness; however, this color’s calming influence makes it a poor paint color choice for high traffic areas where high energy levels are necessary.

Occasionally, overusing this color – especially in darker shades – can bring moods down beyond calmness and into sadness and depression.

Green is yet another color that inspires peace and restfulness. The advantage of green is that the serenity it brings on is accompanied by feelings of rejuvenation and replenishment. Think of green spaces as places where you can gather yourself and quietly rebuild your energy levels.

Purple is often associated with lavishness and luxury in deep, rich hues that spark creative thinking. In lighter shades, it has the same calming influence of blue but, thanks to its red undertones, none of the sadness that blue can often have.

Making The Most of These Colors: A Little Goes A Long Way

It’s unlikely that you will be painting any of the rooms in your house in a single shade of any of these colors. Experiment with different shades and work with colors that inspire similar emotions to break up the visual impression of the room.

You can use neutral paint colors like brown, black and white to bring depth to room, or to suppress the harsh tones of brighter colors like yellow and orange.

Psychologists have long known that colors affect mood, and in recent years, the interior design world has caught on as well. Now that you understand how paint colors can alter your mood, it’s important to paint your walls wisely.

Comments Off on What’s in a Color? Six Paint Colors That Will Affect Your Mood

Water Saving Tips For Spring

Green Living: Water Saving Tips for SpringWater is the planet’s most precious resource. Access to clean water is a privilege that, unfortunately, many people still     take for granted.

By utilizing new water efficiency technologies and age-old conservation methods, we can help preserve the water supply  for future generations. Cutting down on consumption whenever possible is something that everyone can do to live a little greener.

Making Sure Your Home Holds Water

The first stop on your journey to save water is to ensure your home is free of water leaks. Make your way through your home, and properly shut off the water at all fixtures and faucets. Air-cooling systems and other devices that use water should also be shut off.

Read your water meter, wait two hours (without using any water), and check it again. If your water meter gives you two different readings, you are losing water somewhere, and the problem needs farther investigating.

Air It Out And Get In the Flow

Installing aerators on faucets and shower heads reduce their usage by half. These contraptions are inexpensive and easy to install. By injecting air into the water flow, you keep the same water pressure, but use less water.

If you are in the market for a new toilet, complete your water saving bathroom makeover with a low flow, water efficient model. These toilets can save about 9,000 gallons of water a year.

If a new toilet is not in your near future, a simple homemade contraption can cut down on water being flushed away. Fill a water bottle with some pebbles so it sinks, and fill the rest with water. Place the bottle in the cistern of your toilet. By displacing some of the water in the tank, you can save around 500 gallons of water a year.

Obtain A Lush Lawn With Less Water

Over-watering your grass is wasteful and counterproductive. Watering your lawn two times a week is better for grass than daily sprinklings. Giving your lawn a good soaking with an inch of water every few days will keep it lush and save water. You should also avoid over-mowing.

Grass is happiest at two to three inches tall. Over-mowed grass tends to have weak roots, and requires more water to keep it growing strong. Let Mother Nature take care of the watering on occasion, especially during the spring.

Mulch Landscape To Lock In Moisture

Mulch around the trees and shrubs in your yard. Mulch holds in moisture, and will keep the water in the ground longer. There are also water bags on the market that do a great job of keeping young trees hydrated.

Make sure your sprinklers are putting water where it is needed, and not unnecessarily watering the sidewalk. When the sidewalks and patios need a sweeping, make sure you reach for the broom and leave the hose on standby.

By making a few informed decisions to cut down on water consumption, you can feel good knowing you are doing your part to conserve. When water flows freely, it is easy to forget how precious it is.

Remind yourself that water is a resource that needs to be saved, and should not be wasted. Access to clean water is something no one wants to see lost.

Comments Off on Water Saving Tips For Spring

%d bloggers like this: