Save on Energy Bills with These Seven Simple Tips

replace lighting to save on energySaving money on those monthly bills doesn’t have to be hard! In fact, there are numerous little things you can do to cut back on your energy expenditure and save on your utility bills, even during the cold winter months. Here are # easy ways to save big on energy during the winter.

1. Replace Incandescent Bulbs with CFLs

No lifestyle changes here, and you can save up to 75% on your lighting costs! Simply change out your old bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFLs)—which also conveniently last longer (and will produce less heat during the hot summer months). Be sure to also turn off lights when you’re not in the room!

2. Use Natural Lighting

Open up those windows and let in the sunshine! Not only will you avoid using electricity, but letting in sun will help heat your home, too. Just be sure to close them again at night to avoid losing heat through the windows.

3. Replace Furnace Filters

Did you know furnace filters are supposed to be changed every three months? Leaving the old, dirty ones in slows down the flow of air and makes your system work harder. It’s an easy and affordable swap.

4. Turn Down the Temperature of Your Water Heater

use smaller appliances to save on energy costsAnother easy fix is simply adjusting the temperature of your water heater to “warm” (120 degrees). Older heater? Add an insulating blanket to reduce heat losses by as much as 45%!

5. Use Smaller Kitchen Appliances

Avoid using the oven if you can use a smaller appliance, like a toaster, microwave, or counter-top grill. And when you do use the oven, keep it closed. Every time you open it, the temp can drop as much as 25 degrees!
You may also consider skipping the dry cycle on your dishwasher and letting those dishes air dry instead. And be sure to check and make sure you refridgerator is properly sealed, and possibly adjust the temps on your freezer and fridge, too.

6. Unplug Electronics When Not in Use

No, it’s doesn’t have to mean hunting under your desk for the computer plug or behind the TV for the Xbox cord. Simply plug everything into a power strip and switch it to “off” when you’re not using your electronics.

7. Lower the Thermostat

Not everybody likes to bundle up, but did you know that every degree you raise the temperature above 68 degrees can add as much as 10% to your energy bill? That might make you reach for your sweater…

Looking for BIG Energy Savings? Take on Some Small Projects

If you don’t mind putting a little work into your home, or you’re planning to sell it and want to see a little more return on your investment, here are some great ways you can really improve your home’s efficiency and value.

1. Seal Air Leaks or Replace Windows

Sealing up your leaks can save up to 30%! Caulk windows, add weatherstripping to doors, or consider a whole new set in more modern, energy-efficient designs, like double-paned glass.

2. Insulate Hot Water Pipes

Simply insulating your hot water pipes can raise the water temperature 2 to 4 degrees! Then you can turn the temp down.

3. Install Low-Flow Showerheads and Aerators

Reduce your water consumption with low-flow showerheads (less than 2.5gpm) and aerators (less than 1gpm).install a programmable thermostat to save on energy

5. Insulate the Roof

Check your current insulation in your roof or attic—older insulation may need to be replaced. Consider using more energy-efficient materials to really see some savings.

6. Install a Programmable Thermostat

You don’t have to go full-on Smart Home—you can still save big just by installing a thermostat that will automatically adjust while you’re away.

7. Replace Old Appliances

If your appliances are getting on in years, it might be time for an upgrade. New appliances are designed to run more efficiently. And if you invest in ENERGY STAR certified appliances, you can see some big savings while really upping your home value.

Planning Energy Efficient Improvements to Increase Your Home Value?

If you’re thinking of increasing your energy efficiency because you’re planning to sell your home, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to all things real estate and lifestyle in the Silicon Valley, we’re here to help you find your true home value, get your home ready to sell, and list your home with ease.

6 Ways to Save for Your Down Payment

A 20% down payment is a significant chunk of change. But with enough time to prepare and a little bit of creative budgeting, you’ll be able to save up for your new home sooner than you think. Follow these helpful budgeting tips to get started!

Break Down Your Budget

Closeup of the black and white number keys on a basic calculator.While it’s never a bad idea to start saving for a down payment, it’s an even better idea to analyze your budget before you consider a home purchase. This will help you set realistic expectations and concrete goals.

First, make a list of all of your necessary monthly expenditures — rent, power, water, phone service, student loans, etc. Add these expenditures up and subtract them from your monthly take-home pay. Then, look at everything that is left over and consider what to cut back.

After you’ve taken a look at your spending, determine what home price range (and, consequently, a 20% down payment) you could comfortably afford based on your current monthly budget. Our handy mortgage payment calculator might help!

Set a Concrete Savings Goal

Once you have an idea of how much money you’ll need to put down toward your new home, set a timeline for your savings. For instance, if you need to save up $20,000 for a down payment and want to move in five years, consider setting a savings goal of $335 per month.

Use a finance app like Mint to track your spending and your savings. Apps like these may also provide you with your credit score, which is essential to receiving the mortgage you need.

Get Prequalified for a Mortgage

A calculator sitting next to a paper document, which is signed at the bottom.Setting goals based on your current spending is a great place to start. To take the next step to buying your new home, meet with a lender about prequalifying for a mortgage.

Prequalifying for a mortgage will let you know how much financing you may qualify for — and how much you’ll need to save for your down payment. When you talk with a lender, ask for the maximum amount of financing that’s available to you based on your credit score and financial history. This may open up a lot of options when you’re searching for homes.

Not sure how to find a reputable mortgage broker? Give us a call and we can connect you with a trusted local lender.

Find Creative Ways to Save Money

If you’re having trouble meeting your savings goals for the month, even after you’ve carefully budgeted for the essentials, find ways to cut out superfluous spending or think of ways to earn a little bit of cash on the side. For example, you can:

  • Sell gently used clothing and household items at a yard sale
  • Substitute a movie streaming service for cable TV
  • Collect your loose change in a jar and cash it in every month
  • Use coupons while shopping at the supermarket
  • Use browser extensions like Honey to save while shopping online

Celebrate Your Accomplishments

A young woman holding colorful shopping bags in her hand over her shoulder.Saving for a down payment is no easy task. Every time you reach a major milestone, be sure to congratulate yourself!

Obviously, don’t spend all of that money in one place, but feel free to treat yourself to something special to reward yourself for your hard work.

Consider Home Buying Assistance Programs

Are you still having trouble saving for a 20% down payment? It might be worth looking into home buying assistance programs, such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans.

How Can We Help You Achieve Your Goals?

We are always available to discuss your home buying plans. Connect with us and we can provide you with the resources and advice you need.

Get Ready for the Amazing Public Features of the Charleston East Google Campus!

Life in Mountain View is already pretty spectacular—but it’s about to get even better when Google starts work on its amazing and futuristic new Charleston East campus. How will this campus differ from the current Googleplex? It’ll be open to the public, which means you don’t have to work for Google to reap the benefits of its new-age development.

Here’s what public features are coming to the Charleston East Google campus.

The New Google Campus Will Offer Futuristic Public Amenities

Modern big-city construction is often associated with green space and trees coming down and buildings going up… but Google plans to do it a little differently. In fact, the entire Charleston East campus will basically be a lush public park and gathering area. Check out what it’ll offer.

Parklike Landscaping All Around

lots of lush landscaping are public features of the charleston east google campusGoogle plans to plant trees and add lush parklike areas all around the building to provide a lush, green respite from big-city living. Sidewalks, crosswalks, and bike lanes will encourage car-free navigation, too.

An Oak Deck for a Peaceful Respite

park benches and decks are public features of the charleston east google campusEmployees and civilians alike can gather on the deck to relax, unwind, and enjoy the scenery. Gatherings, guitar-playing, and picnics welcome!

Welcoming Vendors & Entertainment

food trucks will be public features of the charleston east google campusThe park around the campus will be large enough to welcome local vendors, like food trucks, so you can stop by and grab a bite to eat or enjoy a sandwich on the lawn.

First-Floor Shopping & Dining

shops and restaurants are public features of the charleston east google campusPossibly the best part of all: the first floor will be open to the public and feature shops, restaurants, stores, and businesses along a pedestrian walkway leading out to the park. Pretty nifty.

Google’s Also Adding Homes and Offices

google plans to add more houses around the charleston east google campusGoogle is currently working with the city of Mountain View to develop plans to add over 10,000 homes, 3.6 million square feet of office space, and a mix of parks, shops, and businesses around the new campus and the current Googleplex, helping to develop the city into a walkable destination with plenty of high-quality housing and attractions.

Places to Live Near the Google Campus

searching for a home around the charleston east google campusIf you want to get in on the action, then it’s time to start searching homes for sale in Mountain View! The closer to the Bay you search, the closer you’ll be to all the Google innovation. But there are lots of other great neighborhoods and towns in the surrounding areas, too. Downtown Mountain View has lots of shops and restaurants, or you might find more affordable options in Old Mountain View or Castro City.

Nearby Towns Offer Amazing Lifestyles

You don’t even have to live in Mountain View to reap the benefits of the Google campus. Nearby towns, like Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, or Los Altos, offer beautiful homes, amazing amenities, and top-rated schools. It’s no surprise all of these towns rank among the best places to live in the Silicon Valley.

Searching for Your Dream Home in the Silicon Valley?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Silicon Valley, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to real estate and lifestyle throughout the Valley, we’re here to help you explore the area, discover its neighborhoods, and find the perfect home for sale.

A Quick Guide to Tax-Deductible Donations in Your Home

Coffee cups protected by paper in a cardboard moving box.In the season of giving, many local organizations and businesses often accept donations of clothing, household goods, and other gently used items to help those in need.

Homeowners looking to downsize or preparing for a move (or just clearing up some space at home) can not only pay it forward by donating to a local charity, they can also take advantage of tax deductions. We’ve created this handy guide to tax-deductible items to help you know what to donate and how to write off your contributions.

Belongings and Household Items That You Can Donate

Most organizations have guidelines about the specific items that they accept, but in general, you can donate these kinds of items to local charities:

  • furniture, such as beds, desks, tables, and chairs
  • clothing, such as shirts, shoes, and new underwear
  • appliances, such as heaters, working TVs, and A/C units
  • vehicles, such as cars or boats
  • building materials, such as doors, windows, and wood flooring

How to Deduct Your Contributions

Dozens of suitcases, duffle bags, and boxes packed into a tiny attic.The IRS allows homeowners to take itemized deductions on charitable contributions on their tax returns. If you have an attic full of items that you don’t use or have several boxes of items that you don’t want to move to your new home, don’t just throw them out! Here’s what to do instead.

1. Find a Charity That Qualifies for Deductible Donations

The IRS’s Exempt Organizations Select Check tool is a great place to start. You can search by city or state to find a list of organizations that qualify for tax-deductible contributions. It’s important to note that donations to individuals aren’t tax deductible.

2. Determine the Value of Your Contributions

Knowing the monetary value of your contributions is essential to writing off your donations on your taxes. Some organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill, have helpful guidelines about the fair market value of appliances, clothing, furniture, and other household goods.

Neon sticky notes and a pen sitting on top of a document with a long list.Before you donate your items, make a list of each item and its value. You can evaluate your items by checking with the organization or, for any high-value items, having them appraised.

3. Know Your Limits

There are limits to what you can deduct for charitable contributions on your income tax returns. If your donations are more than 20% of your adjusted gross income, certain caps may apply based on what kinds of items you donated and to what type of organization.

If you contribute over $500 in items, you will need to fill out and attach Form 8283 to your return. If you make any contributions over $5,000 for items like rare art, collectibles, or real estate, you will also need to have them appraised.

4. Ask for a Receipt or Other Written Record

Once you’ve donated your items, ask for documentation, such as a receipt. Having a record of your contribution will help you know exactly how much you donated (and what to write off on your taxes).

Are You Donating Items to Prepare for a Home Sale?

Granite kitchen countertops that are free of any clutter and appliances.You’re off to a great start. Clearing out your closets, basement, attic, or other storage space is the best way to lighten the load for your move. We can help you take your preparations a step further.

Whether you’re starting to research the value of your home or are simply considering the idea of putting your home on the market, we’re here to help. Contact us and we’ll provide you with all of the information you need.

Find Your Best City to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley

Thinking of buying a home in the Silicon Valley but not sure where to start your search? Take a look at some of these top-rated and favorite Santa Clara County cities to discover the perfect place to buy your home in the Silicon Valley.

The Best Places to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley

best places to buy a home in the silicon valleyIf we look at the overall Best Place to Buy a Home in the Silicon Valley, Los Altos Hills stands apart. ranks it as the #1 Best Place to Buy a Home in Santa Clara County AND in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as the #17 Best Place to Buy a House in California. It’s also ranked as the #1 Best Place to Live in Santa Clara County.

Other Top Silicon Valley Cities for Home Buyers

best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyLooking at some of the same rankings by Niche (Best Places to Buy a House and Live in Santa Clara County, Best Place to Buy a House in the San Fran Bay Area), other top cities appearing on the list include Los Altos (#4 for buying and #2 for living, as well as #8 best in the San Fran Bay area), Palo Alto (#5 for buying, #2 for living, and #11 in San Fran), and Mountain View (#7 for buying, #3 for living, and #17 in the Bay Area), as well as Los Gatos, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Santa Clara.

Other studies, like this one by StreetAdvisor, name cities such as Mountain View, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Milpitas, and Palo Alto among the best Silicon Valley cities.

But Rankings Aren’t Everything…

Sure, rankings like these can give you an overall idea of how cities compare. But what if you’re looking for something specific? Instead of getting an overall view, you might instead consider comparing cities on specific criteria, such as these:

Cities with the Best Schools in the Silicon Valley

cities with the best schools in best places to buy a home in the silicon valleyBeing near top-rated schools are crucial to many buyers. These cities’ school districts rank among the best in the area, as well as the state:

  • Los Altos Hills
  • Mountain View
  • Palo Alto
  • Los Altos
  • Los Gatos
  • Cupertino

Safest Places to Live in the Silicon Valley

safest places in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyFeeling safe in your neighborhood is definitely an important factor. So, where are the crime ratings the lowest in Santa Clara County?

  • Los Altos Hills
  • Los Altos
  • Cupertino
  • Los Gatos
  • Sunnyvale
  • Palo Alto

Silicon Valley Cities with the Best Shopping & Dining Areas

best shopping and dining in the silicon valleyBeing close to amenities, shopping, conveniences, and entertainment are also important to buyers, both for your own interests, and for your home values. Larger cities, such as San Jose and Santa Clara offer plenty of options and great downtown scenes, but smaller towns, like Palo Alto, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, and Mountain View also have a lot to offer.

Best Access to Convenient Transportation

cities with the best public transportation in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyIf you’re looking for a convenient way to get to work, or a city with lots of public transit options, San Jose is the winner, hands down. Here, you’ll find access to numerous freeways, as well as public transit that includes Caltrain, ACE, the VTA lightrail, and Amtrak. A close second, Santa Clara also offers access to major freeways and public transit.

Most Affordable Cities in the Silicon Valley

most affordable in best city to buy a home in the silicon valleyAffordability is key to almost everyone, especially home buyers. So, where is your dollar going to stretch the furthest in Santa Clara County?

  • San Jose
  • Sunnyvale
  • Santa Clara
  • Mountain View
  • Milpitas
  • Palo Alto

Searching for Your Perfect Home in the Silicon Valley?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Silicon Valley, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your guides to real estate and lifestyle in Santa Clara County, we’re here to help you explore the area, learn more about relocating to the Silicon Valley, and find your dream home.

12 Month-by-Month Goals for Your New Home

A beige couch in the middle of an open living room.‘Tis the season — for goal planning, that is! Many people spend December reflecting on the year and creating a list of goals to aim for in the New Year, and recent home buyers are no exception.

If you’re thinking about ways to preserve that “new-to-you” feeling in your home and keep the clutter at bay throughout the year, follow our handy month-by-month home organization planner.

January: Clear Out Any Cluttered Spaces

Decluttered spaces can keep your home looking and feeling like new (even if it isn’t). While you’re putting away holiday decorations, take some time to tackle any clutter that has begun to accumulate in catch-all spaces, such as closets, the garage, and any rooms that are still full of half-unpacked moving boxes.

February: Create a Home Organization Plan

A list of things to do each day of the week.Detailed planning is a great way to stay on top of your New Year’s home organization goals. Outline a list of tasks to complete daily, weekly, and monthly. This list can include indoor and outdoor maintenance as well as fun tasks like decorating.

Be sure to pin your home organization plan in a conspicuous space, such as on the refrigerator. You can also lighten your workload by divvying up the tasks to other members of the household.

March: Deep Clean Your Home

Kick off the spring season with a thorough cleaning of your home. In all likelihood, your new home won’t need too much TLC, so just focus on the well-used areas of your house: the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and main entertaining spaces.

April: Show Off Your Green Thumb

A vase of flowers.Take a break this month. You’ve earned it. Instead of cleaning or decluttering, decorate your home with greenery to usher in springtime. Flowers, succulents, and low-maintenance plants look great indoors.

May: Focus on the Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the most used spaces in a home. Devote the full month to tackling any clutter issues in the drawers and cabinets, investing in space-saving organizers, deep cleaning the stove, and repairing appliances if necessary.

June: Focus on the Bathrooms

Follow the same plan as you did with the kitchen, but this time focus your cleaning and decluttering efforts on the bathrooms. Dispose of any expired prescriptions or toiletries and consider flushing out your pipes.

July: Organize the “Junk Drawer”

After a few months of living in your home, you may start to notice little spaces that collect a lot of clutter. The so-called junk drawer is often a major aggravation to homeowners. Take some time to try and find a new home for the items that have accumulated in this drawer or space.

You can also come up with clever ways to keep the clutter at bay, or at the very least look intentional. Drawer dividers, wooden trays, and small containers can transform any cluttered drawer into a well-organized space.

August: Organize Mail and Other Documents

An office desk clear of any papers.It’s easy to let papers pile up on the counter or on the desk. First, discard any junk mail that is contributing to the clutter, then sort through the rest of the papers in the pile.

If you don’t have a system in place yet, create a way to effectively manage your mail and other documents, such as a binder or a filing cabinet. Be sure to go through your old documents from time to time and shred what you need to.

September: Reevaluate Your Summer Closets

Now that summer is coming to a close, sort through your wardrobe and figure out what you didn’t wear this season. Consider donating gently used clothes and accessories to a local charity or selling them at a yard sale.

October: Reevaluate Your Organization Systems

A blank piece of paper and a sharpened pencil.Think back to the whole-home organization plan you created in February: Have you been able to keep those resolutions? Are you noticing that you need to complete certain tasks more often than others? Reevaluate your plan and make changes as you see fit.

If you’ve had trouble sticking with your organization plan, take this time before the holidays to pick up where you left off.

November: Pick Through Your Holiday Decorations

As the holiday season approaches and the year winds down, go through your collection of holiday ornaments and other decorations. Keep the ones you use most often and discard any that you have either not used or cannot repair.

December: Focus Once Again on the Kitchen

If you plan to entertain guests for the holidays, focus your cleaning and decluttering efforts once again on the kitchen. This time, instead of devoting all of your time to the drawers and cabinets, turn your attention to the fridge.

Dispose of any expired food, transfer leftovers to smaller containers, and rearrange your shelves to make more room for holiday dinners.

We Can Help with Your Home Organization Goals

Whether you’re thinking about buying a home in 2018 or have just moved in (congratulations!), we’re here to help you with everything you need. Call us and we’ll provide you with even more homeowner tips and resources.

Transform Your Home with These Timeless Seasonal Color Schemes

rainbow of colors on paint swatch samplesNothing can transform a home quite like a simple seasonal color palette. Whether you want to embrace the fall foliage, some holiday whimsy, or a little winter coziness, you can do all that with a few coats of paint and some well-placed splashes of color.

The best part of all? Not only are these color schemes great for seasonal home decorating, they work wonders when staging your home to sell, too! Here are a few irresistible color schemes you can blend into your home this fall and winter.

Down to Earth: Rust Red and Terra Cotta

Connect with nature in the fall season using rich tones of red and brown. For an added touch of earthiness, incorporate natural elements like wood to really pull the look together.

Rustic: Persimmon and Oatmeal

orange wicker couch next to coffee table

Play up the autumn harvest theme with muted orange, shades of beige, and decorative elements like apples and pumpkins.

Cozy: Cream and Espresso

room with wood bed and beige walls

Neutral hues can make your home feel warm and inviting in the chilly fall and winter months. For a fun and functional look, add floor-length window coverings, which will keep the cold out and the coziness in.

Cheerful: Turquoise and White

gray couch with blue decorative pillows

Even if the weather outside is frightful, your home doesn’t have to be! Pair bright shades of blue with white to achieve a relaxing yet cheerful look. On a gray couch (like in the image above), turquoise accent pillows add a fun pop of color to the room’s neutral surroundings.

Small splashes of color here and there can go a long way into decorating a room for all seasons. All you have to do is switch out a few decorations and you’re set for the next season!

Merry and Bright: Snow White and Holly Green

stark white kitchen with greenery

While we typically think of red as a traditional holiday color, you don’t need bold hues to achieve a dramatic and trendy look. Stark white is becoming more and more common in interior design. To achieve this minimalist winter look, paint your space bright white and add pops of color with greenery.

When Selling a Home, Stay Neutral

The art of home staging is all about catering to the buyer. But since home buyers have drastically different tastes in color schemes, staying with a neutral color palette is the best way to appeal to the greatest number of buyers.

Selling Your Home Soon? Let’s Talk!

We’re always happy to share our knowledge of home staging trends, current real estate market conditions, and home selling resources with you. Give us a call and let’s discuss your goals.

What You Need to Know About Low-Maintenance Communities

fallen leaves on a lawn in the winterPicture this: It’s winter. It’s freezing. You still need to clear the last of the leaves from your lawn, but you’re finding every excuse to stay huddled inside your warm home and out of the cold, biting air. More than ever, you’re wishing your yard work would just do itself.

Sound familiar? Maintenance and lawn care can be tedious and exhausting chores, especially on the coldest or hottest days of the year. But there are types of residential developments that take care of these chores for you.

The Many Faces of Low-Maintenance Living

Low-maintenance communities, in general, are neighborhoods that provide services such as lawn care and exterior maintenance through an association fee. In a maintenance-free community, especially, little — if any — maintenance is required on the homeowner’s part.

As is the case with any neighborhood, different communities offer different amenities, especially when it comes to low- or no-maintenance living. So to give you a better idea about what to look for in a low-maintenance home, we’ve come up with a quick guide.

Low-Maintenance Townhome Developments

properties along a wide streetIf you want all the space of a single-family home but don’t mind sharing a wall, a townhouse is a great option for low-maintenance living. Though the amenities many vary from community to community, townhome developments typically provide common area maintenance and landscaping.

Low-Maintenance Condominiums

Think of condos as upgraded rental apartments: you have your own space, you can access community amenities, and you can count on someone else to take care of the most mundane chores.

It’s important to note that condos are a type of ownership: when you own a condo, you own everything within the walls of your home. Unlike with townhomes, you aren’t required to care for the exterior.

In addition, condo associations typically maintain the common areas and provide services like trash removal and pest control. Depending on the association, the community may also provide utilities, phone service, and cable or Internet.

No-Maintenance Residential Communities

house common in a maintenance-free communitySome communities, like 55+ communities, take care of more than just the common areas. True maintenance-free communities may also take care of your home’s exterior maintenance, lawn care, landscaping, and services like trash or snow removal.

Real estate options in these no-maintenance communities can include condos, townhomes, and/or single-family homes.

Where to Do Your Research

If a community has an association, check the rules and regulations to learn about what services the association provides. Not sure where to look? It never hurts to ask a trusted real estate agent.

Want to Buy a Low-Maintenance Home? Let’s Talk

We’re familiar with the types of homes and communities found throughout our area, so we’re more than happy to answer any questions you have. Just give us a call!

The Hidden Horrors of Going FSBO (For Sale by Owner)

piggy bank surrounded by coinsMany home sellers have considered skipping the real estate agent to save on closing costs, but very few have actually succeeded in seeing those savings. There’s a good reason: the average homeowner doesn’t have the rigorous training and real estate knowledge that a licensed agent does.

But just what makes For Sale By Owner (FSBO) such a bad idea? From incessant inconveniences to costly paperwork mistakes, here are a few of the horror stories that FSBO sellers inevitably encounter.

The Daunting Task of Marketing Your Home

It takes more than a “For Sale” sign in your front yard to make buyers notice your home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 95% of buyers use the Internet in their home search.

This means that online marketing — starting with listing your home on the local listings database, sharing your listing to dozens of social media platforms, and advertising your listing on numerous websites with a global audience — is essential to selling your home.

Without an Agent, Home Marketing Isn’t Cheap

This is where it gets expensive: yard signs, newspaper ads, brochures, high-quality photographs, and a professional-looking website — things real estate agents have at their disposal — are your responsibility to finance and maintain when you have to do your home’s marketing yourself.

Incorrect Home Pricing: The Ghosts of Lost Profits

chart of fluctuating home valuesEven after all that marketing, FSBO sellers don’t actually make more money. In fact, many lose money.

The research backs it up: the National Association of Realtors reports that the average home sold with an agent sells for $240,000. FSBO homes, however, sell for only $185,000. What you could save in commission you lose by pricing your home incorrectly or skimping on the marketing.

Without an Agent, Finding the Right Price is Impossible

Part of the problem with a low-dollar sale is the asking price. Real estate agents have more tools and resources, plus an intimate knowledge of the local housing market, so they can spot a wrongly priced listing from a mile away. FSBO sellers, however, have only limited access to home value tools and resources about past sales activity.

The Mountains of Paperwork

stacks of papers in bindersUnderstanding the paperwork involved in a real estate transaction is one of the biggest challenges of selling For Sale By Owner.

After all, the contract isn’t just an agreement about the price; it also includes contingencies (like those for home inspections and financing), the closing date, and other important terms.

Without an Agent, Sellers Can Make Costly Mistakes

The paperwork involved in a home sale can be complicated and full of legal jargon. An oversight could mean a costly mistake or even a lawsuit. Real estate agents, however, have the knowledge and understanding to take care of all the necessary disclosures.

Don’t Become the Next FSBO Horror Story

Sign that says For Sale By OwnerYes, commission is a sizable chunk of change. But so are the hidden fees and lost profits, not to mention the added stress, that come with selling a home by yourself. The best way to save money, save time, and save headaches is to work with an experienced real estate professional.

We’re here to help! Give us a call and let’s talk about the home selling process.

5 Reasons NOW is the Time to Buy a Home in Sunnyvale, CA

Thinking of buying a home in Sunnyvale, CA but want to be sure the timing is right before you invest? Good news for you—now is a great time to get in the real estate game in the Silicon Valley. Here are 5 reasons to buy a home in Sunnyvale.

1. Home Values Are On the Rise.

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because home prices are risingAs a buyer, that means two things. 1. That prices are the lowest they are going to be for a while (so buy now before homes get any more expensive) and 2. That your property value is expected to grow over the next few years. In fact, Zillow predicts as much as a 3.7% rise in property values in Sunnyvale over the next year.

2. Mortgage Rates Are Still Low

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because mortgage rates are still lowBut again, they’re expected to rise—as many as three times throughout 2018. Higher mortgage rates mean higher monthly payments, so once again, invest now while the getting is still good!

3. Sellers Are More Motivated

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale because sellers are motivatedSpring and summer are typically considered the “hot” real estate seasons, so sellers placing their homes on the market in fall and winter are usually doing so for urgent reasons, such as relocation for a job. That means they want to get their homes sold quickly, and are often more willing to negotiate on price and closing date.

4. The Competition Has Died Down

An African American couple walking on a residential street, with a young man holding a folder. He is a real estate agent, pointing at a house, talking.Spring and summer home shopping can be a little hectic because it is the real estate hot season. You might fall in love with a house—only to have it snatched up by another buyer before you can even think of making an offer. But fall and winter tend to be a bit more relaxed and give you more time to shop, find, and make reasonable offers.

5. If It Makes Sense for You, Then the Time is Right

now is the time to buy a home in sunnyvale if it makes sense for youThe bottom line is you can’t try to time the market. If you need a home and it makes sense for you in your current situation, then the timing is right. If you’re planning to stay for a while, your finances are stable, and you can comfortably afford a mortgage, then it’s time to consider buying a home.

Thinking of Buying a Home in the Sunnyvale?

If you’re thinking of buying a home in the Sunnyvale, CA, then it’s time to contact Gary & Robert. As your real estate guides to the Silicon Valley, we’re here to help you explore the area, find the perfect home, and relocate with ease.