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Autumnal Front Porch

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Decorating for Fall on a Budget

Autumnal Front PorchWelcome to the neighborhood! Now that the moving boxes have been unpacked and everything you need is settled into its place in your new house, isn’t it about time to have some fun with your home? Fall is the perfect time to add color and personality to your house, but after all of the moving costs, it can get expensive. Here are our favorite, budget-friendly, fall decorating ideas:

1.) Pick up some inexpensive faux pumpkins in place of the real variety. Many craft stores stock realistic looking decorative pumpkins for a reasonably low price. For the price of 2 real pumpkins, you can buy multiple faux pumpkins that can be used year after year. Keep them just as you buy them or get crafty and make them your own. Remember – pumpkins don’t have to be orange!

Bonus Tip: Place a few casually on your kitchen counter for a warm, rustic feel.

2.) Dress up a muted color palette by draping warm autumnal toned throw blankets and pillows over living and family room furniture. Add even more seasonal color to a room with a bowl full of crisp red apples – pretty, festive, and best of all, inexpensive.

3.) The front door is the centerpiece of your house. It’s the first thing guests will see when entering your new home, so give it a little decorating love! A twiggy wreath, pumpkins or gourds, and fresh autumnal flowers are all good choices to add a little color to your door step. Go with all three or just one, the choice is yours, but we guarantee that either way, it’ll grab some positive attention.

4.) Bring the outdoors in. Introduce a festive pop of color with flowers in shades of yellow, red and orange. Sunflowers and alstromeria are good bets for a tight budget as you can get at least one week of beautiful life out of them before they begin to wilt. Try them in entry ways, bathrooms, or a bedside table. Fall FlowersBonus Tip: Keep flowers fresh longer by removing any leaves below the water line, and be sure to change the water every few days.

Do you have any budget-friendly decorating tips you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments!


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You Can’t See it But it’s Everywhere: How Lighting Can Change a Room

Prudential California Realty is Central Coast’s Real Estate experts. Our first priority is you – always. It is our goal to provide you with the most innovative real estate services on the Central Coast.

Have you been truly enlightened to the effects that lighting can have on a room?

Whether you have just moved into your new home or simply want to see your “old” home in a new light, it’s important to consider how we see the things that, well, help us see.

The types of lights used and the ways those lights are used can have drastic effects on a room affecting the tone, mood, and personality of not just the space, but the people inhabiting that space.

Determining the right type of lighting for a room is a matter of finding the balance between functionality and personality.

The first step however is to make a few determinations: assess the amount of natural daylight the room receives and which cardinal direction the room faces to figure out how much light the room receives during the different seasons and thus affect the type of light the room needs.

For example, a north facing room will only receive the minimum amount of light even in summer. During winter months however, it could be practically dark after mid-day so more lighting fixtures with a higher luminescence will be needed.

With this said, it is probably apparent that lighting a guestroom will be vastly different than lighting a kitchen or living room. Some place like a bedroom should be calm, relaxing, tranquilizing, and inviting, and perimeter lighting accomplishes just that. Consider dim lamps or uplighting in the corners of your room or indirect lighting that illuminates your ceiling.

More bedroom lighting tips are as follows:

Bedroom lighting must be able to go from a subdued ambience to bright task lighting for dressing, reading, and other activities. Use a combination of general and task lighting that matches your needs. Dimming controls give you the flexibility to vary the light to their immediate needs.

Lighting should give the illumination needed to dress and see into drawers and closets easily. Lighting for closets is best done with recessed or close-to-the-ceiling fixtures that won’t get in the way in a tight space.

Next-to-bed lighting is often done with table lamps and recessed lights which can provide the light needed while leaving end tables open. Dimmer controls on next to bed lighting can change the ambience to suit your mood or make the room light low for TV viewing.

Here are some additional general tips to shed some light on your endeavors:

  • Most rooms need three light sources.
  • Overhead lighting, with the exception of chandeliers, is usually too harsh. Instead, try table lamps, floor lamps, uplighting, and spots.
  • If the room is for reading try a good reading light in all the places where that might happen.
  • If the room is for romance, put your lights on dimmers.
  • If the room is made for partying, uplights are fun and a little dramatic.
  • If the room is for showcasing art, spotlights put the focus on it.
  • Use CFL’s wherever possible.

Do you have any home lighting tips you think we should have discussed? Please share them in a comment below.

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6 Great Reasons to Buy a House in 2013

Prudential California Realty is Central Coast’s Real Estate experts. Our first priority is you – always. It is our goal to provide you with the most innovative real estate services on the Central Coast.

Have you been considering buying a home? Well the last quarter of 2013 could an excellent time for you to pounce on the opportunity.

Rates on fixed-rate loans are still tempting, and many experts say it’s still cheaper to buy than rent.

If you are still trying to decide if buying a home now is worth it, here are 6 reasons why buying a home in 2013 is a great idea.

1.   Mortgage rates are still dropping. 

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan is currently 4.49%. While this is a 1.15% increase from the historic low of 3.34% at the end of 2012, it’s still a very appealing rate for potential homebuyers.

2.   Home prices are relatively low. 

Housing price trends vary by city and county in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara County – even by neighborhood – but home prices in our area are still encouraging to even the most hesitant of homebuyers, especially when we take into consideration the beautiful, attractive location of the Central Coast.

3.   It may be easier to get a mortgage. 

Credit unions and banks may make a smoother process for some potential buyers to qualify for a mortgage. Less stringent requirements and qualifying criteria may help some people actually get their home loan.

If you have good credit and some savings available for a down payment, you may be able to get a loan for that home you’re currently eyeing.

4.   Less competition from home flippers. 

Investors seeking to buy and flip houses aren’t as easily able to do this as easily as they have been in recent years. Housing prices in some markets are increasing, making house flipping less attractive.

This gives other homebuyers more stock to choose from and it gives them the benefit of having less pressure to close a deal because of another pending offer. What does that mean? You can shop around for a home much more easily.

5.   Avoid the cost of rising rent. 

Tired of renting? A buyer’s market means you can finally lay renting to rest. If you’re exhausted by rent increases where you’re currently a tenant and want to move then buying a home should be what wakes you from your renting slumber.

You may be able to receive a great rate with a good credit history and end up paying the equivalent or less in monthly payments as you build equity in a home. Renting can be a more affordable option for the short term, but renting means facing increasing rental costs.

6.   Invest in your future. 

Buying a home gives you a chance to start building equity, which is a great investment in your future. If you sell your home in 5 or 10 years, you may profit from the sale and you can use that money to invest elsewhere.

Like our last point, investing in your future with leave you without the worry of monthly housing expenses changing significantly. Plus, you will be paying for something that has more value than a rental property.

There we have it. 6 excellent points for buying in the last quarter of 2013. Make your dream reality.

Are you looking to buy a house in the near future? Contact us today!

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Bringing Brunch Back Home

Prudential California Realty is Central Coast’s Real Estate experts. Our first priority is you – always. It is our goal to provide you with the most innovative real estate services on the Central Coast.

Brunch: it’s not just the combination of breakfast and lunch – it’s the combination of friends and family, typically on a Sunday, but happily enjoyed nonetheless.

Lots of people and restaurants feature different items, options, and traditions for how brunch should be done, but everyone can find a relaxing atmosphere in their own home to share delicious food with friendly faces.

It’s also a great way to introduce your new home to friends and family – especially this time of year as the weather cools down and we open up our windows for some fresh air.

So, what do we know about the actual history of brunch?

For one, the details on the origin of this tradition are unclear. Some food historians believe that the meal is rooted in 19th century Britain when hunting groups would have extravagant mid-morning meals. Another historical mention comes from an 1895 “Hunter’s Weekly” article:

“Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” Guy Beringer wrote in “Brunch: A Plea:” He continues, “Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee . . . By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday night carousers.”

So why not bring back the brunch tradition (and the staying up late on Saturday tradition)?

No matter how you prefer your brunch, bring it back for a weekly tradition!

Brunch is one of the best meals to host, since there is a lot more flexibility than at a Friday or Saturday night dinner.

For one, brunches can last as long or as short as you like. Most of the time, friends will probably have plans for later and won’t overstay, but sometimes they’ll have nothing to do, which can be great too because this can provide for hours of entertainment.

Secondly, if you have plans for later on, everyone will understand.

Here are a few ideas:

Cook one item on the stove. Sautéing hash browns and scrambling eggs while entertaining the first few arrivals can get a bit stressful.

Consider using foods that:

  • Requires immediate attention (scrambling eggs, cooking sausage, etc.)
  • You can make the night before (breads, coffee cake, etc.)
  • Require assembly (salads, sandwiches, etc.)
  • Require just a little washing like fruits and vegetables

Also, don’t forget about having coffee and consider using water flavored with lemon, lime, cucumber, or any other fruit you think will impress guests.

And last but not least, don’t forget the mimosas!

Do you have a great brunch tip? Please share it with us in a comment below.

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Great Fall 2013 Financial Advice – Especially for Those Looking to Move

Prudential California Realty is Central Coast’s Real Estate experts. Our first priority is you – always. It is our goal to provide you with the most innovative real estate services on the Central Coast.

The first day of fall (September 22nd  this year) is less than two weeks away. When the seasons change, we always like to write a seasonal blog with advice for all of you out there (you probably remember our last blog, Fun Fall 2013 Events in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara County).

As the summer departs making room for autumn, we know this seasonal change affects the schedules of a lot of you there as well. In this post, we’ll take a look at some great financial advice you may find useful for fall 2013.

This is especially useful for anyone looking to save money for a home loan or get their finances in order for any reason.

Prepare for the next few months and the wonderful holidays therein with these end-of-summer tips:

  • Pay quarterly estimated taxes.

If you’re self-employed or you have extra income you haven’t reported on your W-2, now’s the time to make sure you’re paying both state and federal quarterly estimated income taxes so you don’t get stuck with a big bill from Uncle Sam in April.

  • Prepare for the cooler months.

Although it may be hard to imagine with all the hot weather we’ve experienced this summer, staying warm gets expensive when winter hits. Many utility companies offer “budget billing” plans that allow you to spread your heating costs over the year while avoiding a surprisingly large bill for a particularly cold month.

  • Start saving for the holidays.

It may sound excessive to start thinking about the holidays in September, but Christmas is a little more than 100 days away. Now is a great time to create a holiday spending plan. For instance, if you plan to spend $300 on gifts, you should start saving $3 per day to get there. Stashing away cash in advance allows you to buy gifts for everyone on your list without taking on debt.

  • De-clutter and donate.

As summer winds down and you start spending more time inside, take a hard look at all the stuff you’ve been stockpiling. Sorting through clothes you no longer wear along with electronics and unused household items can free-up space and even make you a little cash. Sell items at a local consignment shop or donate them (by making a tax-deductible contribution). This will also make moving easier as you will have less to transport to your new home.

When kids return to school, they often have a renewed sense of focus and determination. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about money and the importance of saving. Your efforts will be rewarded as your child develops an understanding of financial principles and positive financial habits. Plus, this should make their future home buying experiences easier!