Month: February 2015

Resume, Refurbish, and Recycle: How to Go Eco-Friendly With Your Home Design

Resume, Refurbish, and Recycle: How to Go Eco-Friendly With Your Home Design

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Furnishing, decorating or redecorating a home can be expensive, tedious and sometimes a bit frustrating. We must try to keep up with the latest, ever-changing fashion trends while also attempting to carefully balance expenses with the social responsibility of not creating additional landfill waste. We live in a crowded world where the unnecessary dumping of bulky furniture items or interior finishes that are still in good shape shouldn’t be tolerated.

Try to keep sustainability in mind as you decorate your home. Seek out items containing recycled content or made from eco-friendly materials. Donate or sell items that could be salvaged whenever possible, as they should be given the opportunity for a second life in another home.

Here are a few simple design ideas with a sustainable approach, to help give a fresh look to your home while remaining eco-friendly.

Focus on the Finishes

If you’re starting bare bones with your home décor, you can select interior finishes that contain recycled content or that are made from rapidly renewable resources. There are many flooring options available today that provide style and are also quite cost effective—bamboo, cork or linoleum, to name a few. For carpeting, look at selections bearing recycled materials, or that contain wool or even corn fibers, for a sustainable choice.

For bathroom or kitchen countertops, consider ceramic tiles or beautiful glass made entirely from recycled content. More exclusively for kitchens, look for counters made from concrete, stainless steel, recycled paper or even reclaimed wood. Consider cabinetry materials that are sourced from sustainably harvested forests, such as from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and steer clear of products containing added urea-formaldehyde to offer a healthier interior environment.

If you’re redecorating your existing home, try and salvage what you’ve already got! Refinish those beautiful hardwood floors that can last another lifetime, instead of replacing them. Refurbish existing cabinetry or interior doors by adding a fresh stain, a coat of paint, or updated hardware.

“New” Furniture Doesn’t Have to Be New

Shop at thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets or second-hand online retailers for one-of-a-kind treasures and give them a fresh look. Consider stand-out pieces such as oversized wooden or metal headboards, table and chair ensembles, distinctive dressers, buffets or armoires—then refurbish them to compliment your existing décor. Vintage pieces establish an effortlessly unique appeal and help divert unnecessary waste from already overflowing landfills.

Another eco-friendly and cost-effective option is to refinish the furniture you’ve already got at home. Some sanding, new hardware, and a fresh stain or paint color added to a single piece of furniture—or a complete ensemble—will give a room an entirely new look. Consider a distressed look or even add stenciling or texture. Encourage a family project and the whole gang will take pride in the finished product!

Use some imagination and creativity to give new meaning to existing pieces or eclectic, previously-owned treasures. Antique dressers make gorgeous bathroom vanities; and with a reclaimed wood top, you can make exceptional kitchen island creations. Search out vintage lockers for storing mudroom essentials and display houseplants on rustic hutches or armoires left lazily ajar.

If you absolutely must have something new, seek out furniture derived from eco-friendly products and those made from recycled plastics or metals. Consider ethically sourced wood or accent pieces made from rapidly renewable materials such as bamboo.

Addressing the Finer Details

Don’t forget to also think sustainably when fine-tuning your home décor. Seek out throw rugs or blankets derived from natural or recycled fibers. Do the same for your fabrics and textiles, and consider green options such as organic cotton or linen, hemp or jute.

Most importantly, instead of buying new, search again for unique, second-hand treasures. Make a bold statement by adding one-of-a-kind light fixtures to any room. Refurbish vintage mirrors or antique picture frames. Utilize abandoned window panes for your photo collections.  Consider rustic galvanized tubs, wicker baskets or ornamental canning jars for your storage needs and add a touch of classic elegance with a single glass vase or antique table lamp.

As consumers, it is our social and moral responsibility to think about how our individual actions affect the world we live in. We can help not only to divert unnecessary waste from already overcrowded landfills; we can have a lot of fun doing it.

Eco-friendly home design resources:

http://recycledinteriors.org/being-green/

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/Ecofriendly-Kitchens

http://www.bhg.com/kitchen/remodeling/planning/eco-friendly-kitchen-ideas/

Your Local Real Estate Agent,

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3 Things to Consider Before Buying a Townhome

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Have you ever noticed how the terms “town house” and “condo” are sometimes used interchangeably? This is most likely because both types of housing structures may be governed by homeowners associations. That, however, is where the similarity between the two ends. Comparing condos with town houses is akin to comparing apples and oranges.

When most consumers hear the word “condo,” they picture a unit in a larger structure. For the most part, this is accurate. The problem, though, is that “condominium” is actually a form of ownership, not a type of structure. There are three major types of homeownership:

Condominium

Fee simple

Cooperative

Condominium owners own the interiors of their units and share ownership of the common areas. “Town house,” on the other hand, describes a type of structure – one that is typically two or more stories and attached to one or more other town houses, each with its own front door.

In some parts of the country, town houses may be owned as condominiums or the homeowner may own it fee simple – in which she owns the building and/or land in its entirety.

As you can see, the questions to ask if you are thinking of purchasing a town house will be quite different than those you’ll consider when purchasing a condominium unit. Let’s take a look at three of the most significant factors you should consider.

  1. Homeowners Association

While not all town houses are governed by homeowners associations, many are. This fact opens up a can of worms when considering whether to purchase. HOA fees can be quite expensive, so you’ll need to take them into account when determining how much you can afford to spend on housing every month.

During the purchase process, you’ll be given a pile of HOA-related paperwork, and you’ll need to read every word of every page – or have your attorney do so. You’ll want to know if the HOA is solvent, how often it levies assessments and if there is pending litigation, among other issues.

Finally, you’ll need to consider if you want to live in an area managed by an association. Some people prefer the structure that an HOA affords while others find that structure too confining.

  1.  Getting Financed

Purchasing a fee simple town house is identical to purchasing a detached, single-family dwelling as far as lenders are concerned. If the town house is owned as a condominium, lending becomes a bit trickier.

Owner-occupied homes tend to be maintained better than those used strictly as rentals. Lenders understand this and make it a part of the lending decision. Find out the ratio of owner-occupied to tenant-occupied units before making an offer. If it exceeds 30 percent, you may not be able to get a mortgage for it.

Determine the percentage of homeowners that are delinquent in paying their HOA dues. This is critical information because banks typically won’t lend to anyone wishing to purchase a town house where the HOA delinquency rate is more than 15 percent.

  1. Exit Strategy

If you’re using the purchase of a town house as a springboard to the future purchase of a detached home, you’ll want to plan an exit strategy. Yes, it seems silly to consider moving before the ink is dry on the purchase agreement, but it’s necessary to achieve your future goals.

Building equity in a home takes time and, depending on market conditions and the type of home you own, it may take longer with a town house. All things being equal (location, proximity to good schools, etc.) a single-family home will appreciate in value quicker than a town house. In reality, the opportunity to build equity in the first few years of ownership of any type of home is minimal unless you pay an enormous down payment.

Ask your real estate agent to give you statistics on town house sales in your area over the past year. Check the average days on the market. The longer a home remains on the market, the less money it eventually brings. Should you decide to purchase, ask your agent to keep you updated on the town house market in the future. Most agents are happy to do this.

Keep in mind that even when your equity begins building, your property taxes may rise. Property reassessments can take a bite out of how much equity you’re able to build.

Living in a town house is ideal for those who want the benefit of homeownership at a cheaper price and without some of the headaches that come with a detached home. Choose your town house wisely and with an eye toward future market value.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
Direct: 619-250-4541    |    Office: 619-873-2772
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.NissouRealtyGroup.com

For Sale in El Cajon! Rarely Available 3 bed, 2 bath home!

1775 Woodburn Street, El Cajon, CA 92021
Priced at: $415,000
3 BED, 2 BATH, 1363 SQFT
Rarely available in El Cajon! Single story family residence on large lot at the end of cul de sac. Views of the mountains from the large backyard with landscaping, providing plenty of shade. Huge enclosed patio plus ground spa. 2 car garage plus room for RV, boat, or cars. 3 bedroom, 2 bath plus a bonus room/office which can be converted to an additional bedroom. 1363 SQFT priced at an impressive $415,000!
For more information please contactStephen Nissou!
Direct: 619-250-4541
Office: 619-873-2772
Email: Stephen@StephenNissou.com
Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,
Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
CalBRE # 01443193
#Realtor #RealEstate #StephenNissou#NissouRealtyGroup #SanDiego #ElCajon#SanDiegoRealEstate #SanDiegoRealtor #kwrealty#KWEC #KellerWilliamdRealty

3 Easy Improvements to Help You Sell Your Home

painting-a-new-house-vector-materialForget, for a moment, about market trends and interest rates. At any given time, no matter the state of the economy, someone somewhere is selling their home. In any market, homeowners can up the odds that a home sells as quickly and as profitably as possible by giving it a facelift.

Sellers should focus on home improvement projects that either add value to the home or that attract buyers’ eyes and pique their interests. Make them forget any other houses they viewed and want your house instead.

Don’t randomly select home improvement projects based on your own tastes or suggestions from friends, either. You won’t be the one living in the home, after all. Research houses in your community and compare features and appraisals to get a better idea what people in your area want. A swimming pool may be a popular upgrade in a Southern suburb filled with young couples and families, for instance. But in the North, a hot tub will have greater appeal. A community with older people, no matter where in the country, will probably value a car port or garage over a pool or spa.

Here are three home-improvement project categories that almost anyone can tackle without a large capital investment.

1.Boost Your Curb Appeal

You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. When potential buyers drive up to your home, if they don’t like what they see immediately, they may not get past the exterior to find the great things inside.

It’s not about planting expensive trees, installing fountains or other fancy upgrades. In fact, some of the most value-added outdoor home-improvement projects cost little to nothing, except for your time. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) suggests some of the following property improvements:

Get out your pruning shears: If your home is on the market, keeping the lawn mowed is a given. Keeping plants and flowers watered is also essential. Pruning trees, shrubs and other greenery is more easily overlooked, but it is one of those touches that will make your home stand out. Follow a pruning guide, like the one provided by Better Homes and Gardens, to get the most out of your efforts.

Dig into some mulch: Mulching is another often overlooked landscaping project with a tremendous impact. It helps conserve moisture, protects roots, discourages weeds, and other benefits. You can choose between all-natural mulches and decorative mulches, such as stone. You can even use compost that you create yourself or mown grass and fallen leaves.

Show off your green thumb: Purchase outdoor containers that complement your home’s style and plant something unusual or interesting, NAR suggests. Place plants on the patio or around the home’s entrance to immediately create a more appealing exterior. Plant bright flowers and foliage to provide a splash of color.

Clean up your home’s exterior: Spend a weekend cleaning your gutters, windows and especially your siding, among other exterior items. Rent or purchase a power washer for a very affordable price to really make your home shine.

  1. Add a Coat of Paint

Like a wash and wax for your car, a new coat of paint makes anything look better and brighter. To improve your home’s value and attract buyers, consider a fresh paint job, inside and out.

The “safe” advice is to choose neutral colors, such as beige and off-white, and to avoid vibrant or gender-specific hues such as orange, purple or red. However, safe isn’t always the best bet, argues real estate agent Todd Kroepel. “Keeping a home vanilla so that buyers can choose their own style and décor … ignores the fact that most buyers lack the ability to visualize the home differently,” he cautions. Don’t be afraid to add splashes of color and a touch of texture—it can be good to leave a dash of style evident.

Consider painting an accent wall in your living room with a contrasting color, or add some texturizing product instead. Adding hand-painted borders in the bathroom, by using stencils that run vertically or horizontally, is another classy touch.

Before painting, outside or in, ensure that the surface is clean and properly prepared. Use a primer to cover previously unfinished areas or bare wood, to better cover over dark or bold colors, or to block out stains. Inside your home, sand surfaces slightly if you don’t use a primer, to help paint adhesion.

  1. Update the Kitchen or Bathroom

Everyone appreciates a well-put-together and comfortable bathroom or kitchen. Renovations to these two rooms usually generate buyer interest and offer a high rate of return on investment when it comes time to sell.

Updates don’t always require a large expenditure and a messy, lengthy remodeling period either. Some of the simplest things can change the entire feel of the room. Do as much, or as little, as you choose—just don’t get too attached to the results.

Replace sink and bathtub fixtures: Switch out generic faucets and handles for newer, better-quality hardware. Think about using brass for a startling contrast, or select a style completely different from the current one.

Install a new sink: As long as you’re replacing faucets and such, why not replace the bathroom or kitchen sink as well?

Refinish the cabinets: Solid wood responds well to sanding and refinishing with stain and a polyurethane top coat, or even paint. Newer cabinets often require refacing with veneer instead. Veneer kits make the job fairly simple: Adhere the material to the cabinet box (the portion left after removing doors and drawers) and then purchase new drawer fronts and cabinet doors to complete the makeover.

Upgrade your countertops: Replace laminate with stone, tile or even a concrete countertop. If you have old ceramic tile, clean or regrout to refresh the look.

Add lighting and accessories: Think in layers when it comes to lighting. Adding accent lights or task lights in any room of the house makes it more visually appealing. Other little touches include changing door knobs, light switch and outlet covers, or installing ceiling fans or a medicine cabinet. Consider swapping old light switches with dimmer switches or energy-saving, programmable lighting controls.

Highlight energy-savers: Speaking of saving energy, programmable thermostats, upgraded insulation and proper weatherproofing are music to many home buyers’ ears.

While you can hire professionals to do the work for you, rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself will increase the amount you recoup when you sell your home. Each project will increase the value of your property, no matter where you live, and help you sell your home faster.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

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Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon

680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92020

619.250.4541 – Direct   |   619-873-2772 – Office

Stephen@StephenNissou.com

http://www.NissouRealtyGroup.com

SOLD by Nissou Realty Group – Before and After Curb Appeal

You hear it all the time – an eye-catching exterior with great curb appeal. But what exactly is curb appeal?

If you spend enough time looking, you’ll see that all the best things have one thing in common – an attractiveness. Viewed from the street, curb appeal is simply that; an attractiveness of the exterior of a residential property. It can be accomplished by a number of ways, including the installation of exterior decorations, re-painting, extensive attention to the landscaping, or sometimes even re-staging.

When you look at a home, many time you’re looking straight at the front door. Make your home a focal point of the neighborhood by giving your door a blast of color. Clean off any dirty spots around the knobs and polish the metal on door fixtures. Replace old hardware such as house numbers, locksets, or mailboxes.

For more curb appeal, check out my Pinterest page! 

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou
Nissou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty
680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019
619.250.4541   |   619.873.2772
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

What You Must Know About Insurance When Buying a Home

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Purchasing a home involves getting to know a lot of financial terms and processes that most first-time homebuyers have never been exposed to. One of the most confusing is insurance. If you’ve never owned a home before, your familiarity with insurance most likely centers around auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance and, perhaps, renter’s insurance.

Even then, your level of familiarity may be minimal, if you are like most Americans. In fact, a mere 14 percent of those who have health insurance understand even the most basic insurance jargon, such as deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance, according to a study published in the Journal of Health Economics.

The various types of insurance required in the average real estate transaction are even less understood, so let’s take a look at them and get you up to speed.

Title Insurance

Title insurance comes in two varieties: a lender’s policy and an owner’s policy. If you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, your lender will require that you purchase a lender’s policy. This protects the lender from anyone else who thinks he is the rightful owner or otherwise has a claim against the property.

Depending on where you live, you may also be required to purchase an owner’s title insurance policy. In other areas, the purchase is voluntary.

The issuance of either policy is based on research of the property’s title, or the “chain of title” as it is known. The examiner will look at public records, such as deeds, wills and trusts to ensure that the wording is proper and that the names on the documents are correct. She will look for outstanding mortgages, judgments and any liens against the property. She will check easements, look for pending legal action against the property and more.

Should the examiner find problems on the title, they will need to be remedied before the purchase can be completed.

Once the policy is in place, the lender (and you, if you purchase an owner’s policy) is insured against unknown heirs coming forward claiming ownership, forged signatures on the deed, mistakes in the public records, and other hidden hazards.

Homeowners Insurance

You may hear homeowners insurance referred to as hazard insurance, but they are one and the same. Again, if you take out a mortgage to purchase the home, the lender will require that you purchase homeowners insurance.

While coverage varies, most policies cover fire damage or loss, theft, wind damage, hail damage, vandalism and more. Some perils aren’t typically covered, such as flood and earthquake damage, but there may be supplemental insurance that you can purchase to cover these hazards.

Your insurance agent can help you determine how much coverage you require, based on the loan amount and what it might cost to rebuild the home.

Payments to the insurance company are either kept in an escrow account sent in with your mortgage payment or the homeowner pays the premium on her own – it varies by insurer.

If you suffer a loss, the insurance company will typically make out the check to both you and the lender.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance is something most homebuyers and homeowners would love to get rid of, but it’s a necessary evil. Without it, many buyers would not be given a mortgage and thus not be able to purchase a home.

PMI is required of borrowers whose down payment is less than 20 percent. Because these borrowers are considered higher risk, the lender needs assurance that it will get its money should the borrower default on the loan.

Because the borrower pays the premium (typically added to the monthly mortgage payment), it seems that the lender is the only party that benefits. Keep in mind, however, that without PMI, lenders would demand a 20 percent down payment. Therefore, the cash-poor borrower reaps an enormous benefit.

The good news about PMI – at least for those with conventional loans – is that you can request a cancellation of the insurance once your loan balance reaches 80 percent of the original value of the home. Unfortunately, borrowers with an FHA-backed loan are locked into paying mortgage insurance premiums for the life of the loan, if they put less than 10 percent down. Borrowers who pay more than 10 percent, but less than 20 percent, can cancel the mortgage insurance in 11 years.

The best people to speak with if you have questions about any type of insurance required during the home-purchase process are your lawyer, your real estate agent and your insurance agent.

Your Local San Diego Real Estate Expert,

Stephen Nissou, Realtor ®
CalBRE # 01443193

NIssou Realty Group   |   Keller Williams Realty – El Cajon
680 Fletcher Pkwy. El Cajon, CA 92019
619.250.4541   |   619-873-2772 Office
Stephen@StephenNissou.com
http://www.StephenNissou.com

Stephen