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Dreams will become Reality

4/10/2020


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What You Can Do to Keep Your Dream of Homeownership Moving Forward [INFOGRAPHIC]

What You Can Do to Keep Your Dream of Homeownership Moving Forward [INFOGRAPHIC] | Keeping Current Matters

Some Highlights:

  • Don’t put your homeownership plans on hold just because you’re stuck inside.
  • There are several things you can do right now to keep your home search moving forward.
  • Call me to learn about resource programs for things like down payments, and get pre-approved today.
DRE#: 02098949

Cooking with Flavor

4/8/2020
With California's Stay Home order getting accentuated with the request that everyone stay home this week, we all must dive into our pantries!!!   If you haven't heard, LA asks everyone to only go to the grocery store or pharmacy if absolutely necessary.  Riverside County has mandated wearing masks if we leave our homes.   Thus, the emphasis is stay home at all possible.  The curve is flattening and, rightly so, the county and state want to support our brave and hard working 1st responders and healthcare workers relieve the pressure of increasing cases of Covid-19.

Wouldn't it be awesome if staying home for a week would seriously alter the perception as well as the reality of the pandemic.  So no matter where you stand in the serious to the overblown pandemic, it is time to think of our neighbors!

Knowing to fulfill this request means eating what is in the house or apartment, some of us may wonder what will we do.  Thus the post below is very timely as it shares simple ways to make the bland exciting!!!

DRE#:  02098949

Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

5 Spices That Add Flavor but Not Heat

Are you looking to add spice to your home cooking, but not heat? Here are five interesting flavors to try, while sparing your mouth from fire.

Cumin. With a mild, earthy flavor, cumin goes great in curries without adding any heat, and has been known to aid digestion and improve your immune system.

Coriander. Did you know coriander seeds come from the cilantro plant? This spice has a nutty, mild flavor and is great for creating rubs, adding to homemade pickles or putting in a curry.

Smoked paprika. While paprika is derived from the pepper plant, it doesn’t pack the heat that its cousin cayenne does. And this smoky version can add depth to chilis and stews without firing up your mouth.

Turmeric. This bright root has a bold flavor, but no spicy zing, and is wonderful for treating inflammation. You can add it to smoothies, soups, stir-fry’s and more.

Sumac. Popular in middle-eastern cuisine, this spice has a bold lemony flavor. Use it to flavor rice, sprinkle on top of cooked vegetables or add to salad dressings.


 

What is the top "Smart Thermostat"???????

4/8/2020
Information is brought to you by
Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

Smart Thermostats: Top 4 Expert Picks

Programmable thermostats let you set the temperature in your home and have the thermostat change it based on the time of day. What makes them ‘smart’ is that they can learn from your behaviors, let you control the climate remotely, show you energy consumption in real-time and even adjust themselves based on conditions like humidity.

You can tell them to shut off after you leave for work and spring back into action in time to ensure the house temperature is comfortable by the time you get home. Many models can be managed from your phone or a website.

If you’re thinking of upgrading to a money-saving smart thermostat, here are four models highly recommended by independent reviewers at BestReviews, WiseBread and LifeHacker:

The Nest Learning Thermostat
This model tops most lists and is backed by over 17,000 five-star reviews on Amazon. The Nest is easy to use and install, and works with Amazon Alexa, the Nest App and other smart devices. It features energy-saving options, a remote control, auto scheduling, and more. This Energy Star thermostat uses Farsight for an easy-to-read display you can see from across the room, and can alert you if something is wrong in the home while you’re away. It costs about $225.

Honewell Smart Wi-Fi Color Touch
The Honewell also works with Amazon Alexa, features flexible scheduling, smart response technology, on-screen comfort information, an indoor humidity sensor, auto alerts and energy-saving options. It includes an app so you can control your thermostat from anywhere. Control features include a customizable color touch-screen, simple setup and Wi-Fi remote access. Another Amazon customer favorite, it costs about $189.

Eccobee 3 Light Smart
This one is easy to install, with an easy-to-use touch screen display, and also takes local weather into account and can be scheduled to desired comfort settings. It works with Alexa, as well as with optional room sensors and the mobile app. At about $169, it offers hands-free control and hundreds of integration possibilities.

Emerson Sensi-Smart
The Emerson is also compatible with Alexa. This model is easy to install and you can remotely control temperature and timeline with a free mobile app. It uses a GPS feature for location-based temperature control and flexible scheduling to help reduce utility bills. It runs around $135.


 

Having Fun while Staying Home

4/7/2020
Information is brought to you by
Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

How to Have Fun Without Leaving the House

Whether you’re self-quarantined or under restrictions to stay home, spending extended periods of time indoors may be starting to take its toll. At best, you may be painfully bored; at worst, you may be suffering from anxiety over the world-wide crisis at hand. That’s why it’s critical to find ways to build some fun into each day spent at home.

The following ideas are designed to do two things: take your mind off the serious issues of the day and trigger a few – or hopefully, a lot of – laughs. Laughter is essential now more than ever as it decreases the body’s stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. So turn off the news and try one of these fun-filled activities:

Dance like nobody’s watching (because nobody is!). Turn up your favorite genre of music – ‘70s disco, heavy metal, punk rock – move the furniture, and dance the stress away. In the privacy of your own home, you can really let loose, so use this as an opportunity to bust out some new moves.

Break out the Twister mat. If you’ve got Twister gathering dust in the back of the closet (if not, now may be the time to order it), break it out for some sure-fire fun with your partner or the whole family. This is one activity where it’s nearly impossible not to laugh!

Family portraits. No artistic talent required here – in fact, the less you have, the more fun this will be! Just grab some paper and your favorite medium – pencils, crayons, paint – and choose a subject. Then create your own interpretive portrait of your favorite family member or pet. The key to having fun here is letting all inhibitions go and being ok with poking fun at yourself!

Have a water-gun fight. If you’ve got a nice mild, sunny day on your hands, indulge in a little silliness – and get some exercise and vitamin D – by having a water-gun fight in the backyard. Depending on the number of inhabitants in your home, you can either break into teams or have a one-on-one battle. Just make sure it remains friendly!

Have a bake-off. Cooking and baking can be therapeutic…not to mention delicious! Challenge your family members to a bake-off to see who can come up with the most delectable sweet-treat. Model your contest after some of the most popular cooking shows by giving your bake-off a theme or requiring the use of certain ingredients, such as chocolate or cinnamon.

Whatever fun activity you choose, make sure it remains a stress-free zone. No news updates or worrisome thoughts allowed!


 

Be not Scammed!!!!!

4/6/2020
Information is brought to you by
Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

Top 10 Tips for Avoiding Scams

Scam artists continue to find new, creative ways to defraud innocent people, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to protect themselves, their families and their money. That said, by remembering these 10 tips from the experts at the Better Business Bureau, you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding most scams:

1. Don’t click on links or open attachments in unsolicited email. Links can download malware onto your computer and/or steal your identity. Be cautious even with email that looks familiar; it could be fake.

2. Don’t believe everything you see. Scammers are great at mimicking official seals, fonts and other details. Just because a website or email looks official, that doesn’t mean it is. Even Caller ID can be faked.

3. Don’t buy online unless the transaction is secure. Make sure the website has “https” in the URL (the extra s is for “secure”) and a small lock icon on the address bar. Even then, the site could be shady. Read reviews about the quality of the merchandise, and make sure you’re not buying cheap and/or counterfeit goods.

4. Be extremely cautious when dealing with anyone you’ve met online. Scammers use dating websites, Craigslist, social media and many other sites to reach potential targets. They can quickly feel like a friend or even a romantic partner, but that’s part of the con to get you to trust them.

5. Never send money to someone you’ve never met face-to-face. Seriously, just don’t ever do it.

6. Never share personally identifiable information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited, whether it’s over the phone, by email, on social media or even at your front door. This includes your birthdate and Social Security number.

7. Don’t be pressured to act immediately. Scammers typically try to make you think something is scarce or a limited-time offer. They want to push you into action before you have time to think or to discuss it with a family member, friend or financial advisor. High-pressure sales tactics are also used by some legitimate businesses, but it’s never a good idea to make an important decision quickly.

8. Use secure, traceable transactions when making payments for goods, services, taxes and debts. Don’t pay by wire transfers, prepaid money cards, gift cards or other non-traditional payment methods. Say no to cash-only deals, high-pressure sales tactics, high upfront payments, overpayments, and handshake deals without a contract.

9. Be cautious about what you share on social media. Consider only connecting with people you already know, and be sure to use privacy settings on all social media and online accounts. Imposters often get information about their targets from their online interactions and can make themselves sound like a friend or family member because they know so much about you.

10. Whenever possible, work with local businesses that have proper identification, licensing and insurance, especially contractors who’ll be coming into your home or anyone dealing with your money or sensitive information. Check them out at bbb.org to see what other consumers have experienced.


 

Certainty.....If we had certainty, oh we would....

4/3/2020
AGENTS: Did you know you can share a personalized version of this post? Learn more!
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The Best Advice Does Not Mean Perfect Advice

The Best Advice Does Not Mean Perfect Advice

The angst caused by the coronavirus has most people on edge regarding both their health and financial situations. It’s at times like these when we want exact information about anything we’re doing – even the correct protocol for grocery shopping. That information brings knowledge, and this gives us a sense of relief and comfort.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home today, the same need for information is very real. But, because it’s such a big step in our lives, that desire for clear information is even greater in the homebuying or selling process. Given the current level of overall anxiety, we want that advice to be truly perfect. The challenge is, no one can give you “perfect” advice. Experts can, however, give you the best advice possible.

Let’s say you need an attorney, so you seek out an expert in the type of law required for your case. When you go to her office, she won’t immediately tell you how the case is going to end or how the judge or jury will rule. If she could, that would be perfect advice. What a good attorney can do, however, is discuss with you the most effective strategies you can take. She may recommend one or two approaches she believes will be best for your case.

She’ll then leave you to make the decision on which option you want to pursue. Once you decide, she can help you put a plan together based on the facts at hand. She’ll help you achieve the best possible resolution and make whatever modifications in the strategy are necessary to guarantee that outcome. That’s an example of the best advice possible.

The role of a real estate professional is just like the role of the lawyer. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen throughout the transaction – especially in this market.

An agent can, however, give you the best advice possible based on the information and situation at hand, guiding you through the process to help you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. An agent will get you the best offer available. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, contact a local real estate professional to make sure you get the best advice possible.


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Trees Breathe for All of US

4/3/2020
Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

6 Tips for Planting Healthier Trees

Planting a tree is a great way to give back to the environment. You’re doing your part to battle deforestation and create cleaner air. However, when it comes to planting trees, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure the health of your new leafy friend:

Choose a native tree. Make sure the tree you pick naturally does well in your area. While this may seem obvious, it is often overlooked, and more exotic trees can easily be appealing.

Dig a big enough hole. To help your tree plant solid roots, make sure the hole is adequate. The size of the hole you dig will depend on the size of your tree. As a general rule, experts suggest digging a space three times as wide as the tree’s root ball. In terms of depth, aim for the height of the root ball.

Remove the burlap. Many trees come wrapped in burlap and covered in twine. Cut and remove the burlap, or at least bush it down to the bottom of the hole, so your tree’s roots can roam freely.

Backfill, backfill, backfill. If the soil you dug out for your tree is of good quality, then it’s fine to refill your hole with it. Just make sure not to pack soil back into the hole tightly. Loose soil will be easier for your trees roots.

Stake the trunk. To help your tree grow straight and strong, add a stake or two to help it stand. Lodge the stake into the ground and tie it loosely to the trunk.

Avoid fertilizer. There’s no need to fertilize your tree right away. In fact, some experts say this is harmful. Wait up to a year to fertilize your tree. Instead, make sure it’s getting plenty of water – especially the first few weeks after planting.


 

Wave Riding

4/1/2020

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures?

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures?

With all of the havoc being caused by COVID-19, many are concerned we may see a new wave of foreclosures. Restaurants, airlines, hotels, and many other industries are furloughing workers or dramatically cutting their hours. Without a job, many homeowners are wondering how they’ll be able to afford their mortgage payments.

In spite of this, there are actually many reasons we won’t see a surge in the number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash over ten years ago. Here are just a few of those reasons:

The Government Learned its Lesson the Last Time

During the previous housing crash, the government was slow to recognize the challenges homeowners were having and waited too long to grant relief. Today, action is being taken swiftly. Just this week:

  • The Federal Housing Administration indicated it is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for “at least 60 days.”

Homeowners Learned their Lesson the Last Time

When the housing market was going strong in the early 2000s, homeowners gained a tremendous amount of equity in their homes. Many began to tap into that equity. Some started to use their homes as ATM machines to purchase luxury items like cars, jet-skis, and lavish vacations. When prices dipped, many found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage was greater than the value of their homes). Some just walked away, leaving the banks with no other option but to foreclose on their properties.

Today, the home equity situation in America is vastly different. From 2005-2007, homeowners cashed out $824 billion worth of home equity by refinancing. In the last three years, they cashed out only $232 billion, less than one-third of that amount. That has led to:

  • 37% of homes in America having no mortgage at all
  • Of the remaining 63%, more than 1 in 4 having over 50% equity

Even if prices dip (and most experts are not predicting that they will), most homeowners will still have vast amounts of value in their homes and will not walk away from that money.

There Will Be Help Available to Individuals and Small Businesses

The government is aware of the financial pain this virus has caused and will continue to cause. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:

“In a memorandum, Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.”

The plan also recommends $300 billion for small businesses.

Bottom Line

These are not going to be easy times. However, the lessons learned from the last crisis have Americans better prepared to weather the financial storm. For those who can’t, help is on the way.

DRE#:02098949

Myth Busting is my Specialty!!!

3/31/2020

There are so many myths in the home buying process.  Many of the myths are perpetuated from well meaning friends and family
members that misremembered or were misinformed themselves.  There really is no fault that various myths survive!!

The key is to get with your favorite Realtor with your questions or perhaps to discuss a myth that you wonder about!  I will always
ensure you "Always Make the Smart Move".

DRE#: 02098949

Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process

Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process

The 2020 Millennial Home Buyer Report shows how this generation is not really any different from previous ones when it comes to homeownership goals:

“The majority of millennials not only want to own a home, but 84% of millennials in 2019 considered it a major part of the American Dream.”

Unfortunately, the myths surrounding the barriers to homeownership – especially those related to down payments and FICO® scores – might be keeping many buyers out of the arena. The piece also reveals:

“Millennials have to navigate a lot of obstacles to be able to own a home. According to our 2020 survey, saving for a down payment is the biggest barrier for 50% of millennials.”

Millennial or not, unpacking two of the biggest myths that may be standing in the way of homeownership among all generations is a great place to start the debunking process.

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Many buyers often overestimate what they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:

“A down payment of 20% for a home of that price [$210,000] would be about $42,000; only about 30% of the millennials in our survey have enough in savings to cover that, not to mention the additional closing costs.”

While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a bit of research, many renters may be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher”

In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing they need a credit score of 780 or higher.

Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans, shows the truth is, over 50% of approved loans were granted with a FICO® score below 750 (see graph below):Two Big Myths in the Homebuying Process | Keeping Current MattersEven today, many of the myths of the homebuying process are unfortunately keeping plenty of motivated buyers on the sidelines. In reality, it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may have more options than you think. I can answer your questions and help you determine your next steps.

Want to Retire Early

3/30/2020
Planning for Early Retirement?

Retiring sometimes gets to become very attractive as one approaches his or her 50s.  Who hasn't thought of retiring early???  I know that I have considered it a few times but as a Realtor I can't justify giving up the chance to help others find the home of their choice and/or selling for top dollar.  It is just too much fun and satisfying.

Yet, if you do have plans to retire(or when you do retire) this post you see below will be something to read and to consider.   Changes happen when we retire.   Even our home may need to change to "economize" or set more money aside to live on.  I have helped plenty of future retirees and current retirees downsize, move in with the kids, move to independent/assisted living arrangements or even be hooked up Seniors with a reverse mortgage specialist when the individual really wants to stay in the present home.

Read and consider your options.  Always know I am here to ensure you "Always Make the Smart Move!"

DRE#02098949

Bryan Cerny
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties

A Checklist for Retiring Early

Retiring early is a great idea if you can afford it.

Unfortunately, few people plan for retirement as well as they should. A common rule of thumb is to save 10 times your final salary to retire by age 67. For someone with an annual salary of $50,000, that would mean having $500,000 saved in retirement funds.

If you want to retire early, you probably already know you need to have a good chunk of money saved. But there are some other things you can do too:

Check Federal Benefits
The Social Security Administration has rules for when benefits can start to be collected. The longer you put them off, the more money you can get. To receive the full amount of benefits, you must reach full retirement age. Check out the agency’s to determine your full retirement age.

If your full retirement age is 67 and you choose to collect Social Security benefits at age 67, you’ll get 100 percent of your benefit amount.

If you start your retirement benefits at age 62—the earliest age to receive them—your benefit is reduced by about 30 percent. At age 63 it drops about 25 percent and at age 66 it drops 6.7 percent.

Starting Retirement Benefits
Retirement plans also have restrictions on when they can be used. Money can be withdrawn from a 401(k) retirement plan without paying a 10 percent penalty at age 59-1/2.

However, there’s a provision for taking out 401(k) funds as early as age 55 without a penalty if you retire early. Your employment must have ended in the year you turn 55, and the money in the plan must stay in the 401(k) plan to access it without having to pay a penalty.

How Much Income Will You Need?
Determining how much income you’ll need in retirement isn’t easy. There are many expenses to consider, so your annual income in retirement is a moving number.

One rule of thumb for calculating how much income you’ll need in retirement is to have 70 – 90 percent of your annual pre-retirement income. This can come from retirement accounts, Social Security and other savings you might have. You could also supplement it with part-time work.

Withdrawing 4 percent from your retirement account is a good starting point. You may also have IRAs, investment accounts, rental property and dividend-paying stocks to rely on.

List Expenses
Your expenses in retirement should change. You’ll probably no longer need to use your car as much to drive to work, you can find a more affordable place to live and you may not have a mortgage any longer. But other expenses may increase. These can include healthcare, travel, retirement hobbies and a home remodeling project. You should also plan for emergencies, such as paying for emergency medical care, a major home or car repair and long-term care.


 

 
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