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Steve Aragon

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Steve Aragon

CalBRE# 01240773

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5 SMART GARDENING TIPS FROM THE EXPERTS

(Published on - 3/7/2017 6:49:35 PM)

Whether you have an indoor garden or large backyard, smart gardening will help you save time, money, and design the best possible garden for your environment.

We reached out to gardening experts for their best gardening tips:

 

  1. Choose the right plants

Landscape architect Jessyca Frederick, who is also the founder and CEO of Water Wise Now, recommends selecting plants native to your region:

These plants prefer your soil and weather just the way it is. This means you don’t need to amend the soil texture or drainage, provide additional nutrients, and rarely will you need additional water. You still need to pay attention to microclimate, but this is usually easy to research.

“Native gardens are also wildlife gardens. They’ll attract the birds and butterflies so coveted by many gardeners. Plant milkweed and you’ll get monarchs.”

  1. Know your fertilizer

Bryan Clayton, CEO of GreenPal says fertilizer is an important consideration:

One of the biggest misconceptions gardeners and yard enthusiasts don’t know about is what the numbers on the outside of the bag of fertilizer mean.

The numbers you see on the bag or a percent of the content that is concluded in the bag in this order: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. In most cases, a homeowner can go with a balanced fertilizer such as a 15-15-15 and will be okay.

Especially during the spring and summer months, the grass has stressful conditions to deal with. So, applying a more expensive potassium now can prevent problems from developing or continuing.

  1. Make use of your windows

Michelle Polk, blogger at Houseplant Girl says you should take stock of your windows:

Which directions do they face? Do you have mostly south or north facing windows? What you want to do is get to know your home and understand that plants need the right placement in order to succeed. Some plants need more light, some plants need less light, some plants love neglect.

“Getting to know your specific layout is necessary for a great indoor garden. The rest will follow suit.”

  1. You can’t go wrong with herbs

Ostap Bosak, manager of Marquis Gardens, says herbs are a great option for indoor spaces:

They are less fussy and work well in indirect light. I like to plant them in separate containers as they generally have different growing rates and this prevents one plant from overtaking the other in a mixed planter.

  1. For gardeners with brown thumbs

Rather than learn all about different plant preferences and build an environment suited to each plant in your garden, Frederick suggests selecting “bullet proof” plants:

These are plants that are difficult to kill; they’re very tolerant of less-than-desirable conditions and are low-maintenance. These gardens will look “nice” most of the time, but will not necessarily be exciting or showy.

What are your tried and tested gardening tips? Tell us in the comments section below.


HOW TO NAVIGATE AN OPEN HOUSE WITH KIDS IN TOW

(Published on - 2/8/2017 5:08:45 PM)

 

 

You’ve decided to take your kids along with you to an open house and want to make sure they’re engaged, feel included and don’t distract you from the task at hand. Here are some tips to help you achieve these goals:

 

Recruit a media crew

Have your kids take photos or videos for you during the tour. According to Common Sense Media, 75% of all children have access to mobile devices at home, so chances are your kids are well versed when it comes to handling your cellphone. Involving them in this way is also a great way to use media to teach teamwork and foster curiosity, particularly if you engage your kids by “co-viewing and co-playing and asking questions about what they think,” when you get home and do a 360 photo or video tour.

However, before capturing any media, be sure to get permission first since this may be privacy concern for some sellers. Also, if your kids are old enough to read they can help you quiz the seller or real estate agent, asking any questions that come up during the open house.

Use activity sheets

Create activity sheets with elements and amenities that you’re looking for in your new home and have your kids mark them off as you encounter them. This will help you to better distinguish between the houses that you tour, and also turn the task into a group activity that the whole family can participate in.

Turn it into a scavenger hunt

Have your kids keep an eye out for specific defects like scuffs so you can focus on the big picture during the walk-through. This way you won’t have to split your focus but you’ll still have a complete picture at the end of the day when you’re comparing notes. Plus the kids get to make a game out of it to keep things interesting.

Make it educational

“Kids are always learning by taking in all that they see and hear around them – often without parents realizing just how much their children are paying attention,” says Elizabeth Grace of Kids Development. So why not turn the open house into a learning opportunity?

You could focus on vocabulary for younger kids and use it to teach them about the different types of homes you encounter, or geography and the different neighborhoods in your city. And if your kids are a little older and able to process more complex information, use these visits to discuss real estate and finances. Adapt your lessons to their age and change them up as you go.

Establish ground rules

As a courtesy, call ahead to let the host know that you’ll be bringing kids along. And be sure to establish ground rules to ensure that your kids are respectful of private property, any pets on site, and other visitors. You may also need to talk to them about bathroom usage, since this will not be a regular home visit with access to restrooms.

Finally, be sure to get there early to give yourself plenty of time for the group tour, and monitor the time as you go to ensure that you honor the ending time of the event as well.

 

 


QUIZ: HOW TO TELL IF A REAL ESTATE AGENT IS RIGHT FOR YOU

(Published on - 11/18/2016 9:16:58 PM)

Hiring the wrong real estate agent could significantly impact your experience as a buyer or a seller. The right real estate agent will not only have a great resume and be genuinely committed to helping you meet your needs, but he/she will “click” with you too.

“Real estate is a people business. You have to like and understand people if you want to succeed in real estate,” says Matt Williams, Broker/Owner of Realty Executives Williams Sykes Realty.

 

How the agent makes you feel, whether you’d be comfortable sharing personal and financial information with him/her, or whether they inspire confidence are some things to consider as you start narrowing down your list and conducting interviews.

7 Things to have on your checklist when choosing a real estate pro

Take our compatibility quiz to determine if your agent is a good match for you:

1. Does the agent have a strong online presence?

A)      Yes, they have a well-designed website with a personal blog, professional social media accounts, and accounts on the major real estate and review (Yelp, Google+ etc.) websites.

B)      They have a website and social media pages

C)      They  just have a website

D)      No, I couldn’t find anything online

2. How much experience does the agent have?

A)      They’re a seasoned professional with 10+ years of experience and several designations and certifications

B)      2-10 years of experience and an impressive portfolio

C)      Less than 2 years of experience, but works with a well-known broker and a team of experienced agents

D)      I couldn’t find any information about their experience

3. Does the agent seem interested in learning about your unique needs?

A)      Yes, they asked me several detailed questions

B)      A little, although they didn’t probe for any details

C)      I couldn’t tell

D)      No, they barely asked me any questions

4. How quickly does the agent take to get back to you when you call her?

A)      Immediately

B)      Within a reasonable time

C)      After a long wait

D)      Never

5. Does the agent have a good working knowledge of the local housing market?

A)      Yes, and was able to back information up with data

B)      They seemed to know the basics

C)      Not that I could tell

D)      No, they didn’t seem to know much about the neighborhoods that I was interested in

6. Does the agent speak in industry jargon and acronyms?

A)      They used language that I understood and explained all industry language and acronyms to me as we came across them

B)      Yes, but they explained what they meant when asked

C)      Yes, but I think I know what they mean

D)      All the time, I don’t understand half of what they say

7. You asked for a listing/buyer presentation and received…

A)      A road map that perfectly illustrated how they would be a top ally for my real estate journey

B)      An informative presentation that demonstrated the value of having an agent

C)      A rushed and poor quality presentation

D)      Nothing

8. What does the agent offer as part of her services?

A)      Everything from finding suitable homes and offering virtual or in-person tours, to access to a network of trusted service providers like lenders, inspectors etc.

B)      Basic services and a few extras

C)      Just basic services

D)      I have no idea

9. Is the agent pushy?

A)      No, their advice seems sound and is backed by data

B)      A little, but not aggressively so

C)      Yes, but it doesn’t bother me

D)      Yes, they seem more interested in closing the deal than meeting my needs

10. After a conversation with the agent, you felt…

A)      At ease and certain that they understood your needs

B)      Undecided, but interested in having a follow-up conversation

C)      Indifferent

D)      Uncomfortable, would not want to share personal information with them

Results

Mostly A’s

This agent will go above and beyond for you, and they’ll happily call on their network of trusted real estate professionals to do the same. Their organization skills, attention to detail and professionalism will immediately stand out and serve you well during your transaction. And their charisma will likely turn you into a fan and a referral.

Mostly B’s

This agent is competent and resourceful. You may have to take the lead and push them to take action sometimes, but they are reliable and will get the job done.

Mostly C’s

This agent does what is necessary and legally required, but don’t expect anything beyond that. If you aren’t pressed for time and are comfortable with an agent with limited resources, this agent should work for you.

Mostly D’s

Use with caution.


HOUSE HUNTING WITH TEENS: WHAT TO PUT ON YOUR "MUST-HAVE" LIST.

(Published on - 11/4/2016 5:36:03 PM)

Working with families as a professional organizer, I’ve learned that needs are different for a family with teens. With little ones, you want a bedroom close by your own room and a big yard where they can run and play. With older kids, your shopping list becomes an interesting combination. You want and need space to be together and interact. And at the same time, your teen needs space to be alone and to grow.

Here are some different factors to consider if you’re house hunting with teens or soon-to-be teens.

 

Eating

Eating often becomes a 24-hour-a-day sport with teens in the house. It’s hard to keep teens filled up, and it’s not just the boys. Teen girls raid the refrigerator as well. Accompanied by several friends, they really can eat you out of house and home.

As your family ages, their consumption of food will increase. Unless you want to go to the store every other day, you need increased food storage. A second refrigerator becomes extremely useful. Not many houses will accommodate a second fridge in the kitchen, but as you house hunt, see if you can find a convenient location for an extra one. That might be in the laundry room, the garage, the basement or, as was the case with one house that I owned, the under-the-stairs closet. If a refrigerator figures centrally in your home, you can research many family-friendly styles online.

 

 

The laundry cycle never seems to be complete. The more kids grow, the bigger the clothes and the fewer items that fit in a load. Couple this with increased sports and extracurricular activities, and there are mountains of laundry to do each week.

When house hunting, keep in mind your growing laundry needs. Having a highly functioning laundry room with space to sort, fold and hang becomes very important. A laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms can really save steps and time.

Our space vs. their space

 

 

You’ll still want a place where the whole family can gather for movies and family time. But as your tweens turn to teens, you may find you both like a little separation. The gang may be over for video games or movies with plenty of giggles and yelling. You might want to read a book or binge-watch your favorite show. As everyone grows more independent with their own interests, having a second living space is a good idea. This way you can separate activities as needed, but come together for family time.

Different hours, different schedules

 

 

When you had a small baby or young child, you wanted to be able to hear them. You looked for a home with a nursery right next to your own room. Even with the child just across the hall, you’d break out the baby monitor and plug it in.

With tweens and teens, you may not want to hear them quite as much. Even if you swore to never yell “turn that music down!” it might happen. Especially on the weekends with no school the next day, energetic teens can stay up much later than their parents listening to music, watching movies and chatting endlessly on the phone. It’s all in good fun, but if your body clock is on more of a 10:00 PM bedtime schedule, you may wish you’d chosen a house with a split bedroom plan. As you house hunt, consider if having your bedroom somewhat separated from the teens might be a good idea.

No reservations needed

 

 

If you are lucky, your home will need a revolving door. Groups of teens will come in and go out, and it is a good thing: it means your children’s friends love to come to your home. The bonus is you see your own child more often, get to know their friends and form special friendships with them.

Wherever there are teens, there is bound to be food. No matter your family size, look for a home with space for extra seating at the kitchen table or around the kitchen island.

Plan a parking lot

 

 

One change families find as their kids grow into teens is a continual car shuffling. Your teen driver needs a place to park. If she chooses to park behind mom, inevitably mom is going to be the one who needs to get out of the driveway first. Or, if you are sharing a car, there will always be someone who needs to go somewhere and the car is gone. If you have a teen, you’ll most likely have multiple cars. In addition to your own child, there will be friends popping in and out, and some of them will have cars too.

As you house hunt, consider parking. Where will you put the extra cars? Check to see if there are any neighborhood restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed, or any no-parking signs posted that might become a problem down the road.

Even though your teens are just a few years from heading out the door and living on their own at college or an apartment, you still want a new house to feel like a home to them. Ask them if there are any particulars that are high on their interest list. Keep in mind that house hunting is a great time for a discussion on finances, budgeting and even future plans.

This guest post was written by professional organizational expert Lea Schneider. Lea provides families with advice on how good planning in the home can help boost the enjoyment level for everyone. Lea writes tips on homes and family life for The Home Depot.


TO DECORATE OR NOT TO DECORATE: SELLING YOUR HOME DURING THE HOLIDAYS

(Published on - 11/2/2016 8:32:11 PM)

 

 

The housing market doesn’t come to a standstill during the holidays, and several real estate experts have found that buyers shopping for homes during this time are more motivated and deadline-driven.

“Homebuyers who shop during the off season, and in particular around the holidays, are typically very serious about getting into a house,” says Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

Buyers may be looking to relocate for new jobs before the start of the new year, or they may want to close a deal before the end of the tax year. Whatever the case may be, should you put the holidays on hold for you and your family, or go ahead and decorate your home?

 

Why you should decorate

According to Blake Miller, “You don’t have to pretend the holidays don’t exist if your home is on the market this time of year.”

Decorating your house will allow you and your family to celebrate the season while also offering any potential buyers a festive experience, and helping them to envision how the home will look dressed up for any occasion. “Houses show better when decorated for the holidays,” adds real estate coach Mike Ferry.

And in neighborhoods where most of the homes are dressed up, your home will give the added impression of unity and neighborliness.

However, if you do plan to decorate your home, home-staging experts suggest doing so conservatively and with the following tips in mind:

  • Keep it secular to avoid putting off potential homebuyers of different religions
  • Stick to neutral colors and decorations that complement your current décor
  • Keep it simple – decorations could give your home a cluttered appearance, and pose as safety or tripping hazards
  • Avoid decorations that block or hide important features of your home
  • For security reasons, don’t leave any gifts under your Christmas tree during showings

Find out how to decorate your home on a budget

Why you shouldn’t decorate

Holiday decorations could negatively affect your home’s appeal, whether it’s because they make your house seem small and cramped, or because they’re too much of a distraction for buyers who are trying to envision themselves in the home, some experts caution sellers to consider the implications of decorating before they do so.

“While it is impossible to define what would be inoffensive to every person in every market around the country, sellers should be mindful of who their potential buyers are and how their home and its decorations show,” says real estate expert and author Brendone Desimone.

Other reasons cited for skipping seasonal decorations include:

  • Religious décor could alienate potential buyers
  • Protecting your privacy, since personalized decorations and Christmas cards could reveal private details about your life
  • The appearance of untidiness caused by real Christmas trees shedding nettles, in addition to blocking off the part of the house where they are placed

If you do decide to put up some decorations, be sure to have professional photos of your home taken prior to doing so. This way buyers will also have a good idea of what your home looks like under normal circumstances.


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