Elk Grove, CA – Help our hometown earn new bragging rights and save energy by registering to participate in the CoolCalifornia Challenge.
Elk Grove could be California’s coolest city this year. It is one of 22 cities participating in the 2015-16 CoolCalifornia Challenge, a city-to-city competition encouraging residents and communities to work together to achieve California’s energy reduction and climate change goals. Other participating cities includeClaremont, San Mateo, Buellton, Indio, Burlingame, Long Beach, San Carlos, Lynwood, Martinez, South Pasadena, Redwood City, Huntington Beach, San Pablo, Benicia, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Sausalito, El Cerrito, Fairfax, Larkspur, and Richmond. The CoolCalifornia Challenge runs through March 30, 2016.
The Challenge, organized by Energy Upgrade California, engages households in participating cities throughout the state to reduce their energy and water use at home as well as reduce their transportation emissions.
Help Elk Grove earn the title of “Coolest California City” and a portion of the $150,000 in prize money to support local sustainability efforts. You can join the Challenge by following these 3 simple steps:
Log your energy use each month during the Challenge (electricity, natural gas, vehicle gasoline) and share energy, transportation and water conservation efforts and activities to gain points for our city.
The city with the highest number of total points by March 30, 2016 will be crowned the winner. Participants can earn points, tracked through online software, if their home or vehicle energy use is below the baseline average in their city. Extra points are earned by participants that re-set their “personal best” for home energy and vehicle fuel consumption from a previous month. And bonus points are earned by signing up for the Challenge, filling out a MyEnergyUpgrade plan, uploading a photo, inviting friends to join the Challenge, sharing energy and water saving tips on social media pages, and committing to do an energy and water saving action and writing a review of that action.
Public Information Office, Elk Grove Police Department
**New slurry seal and asphalt overlays will restore neighborhood streets to like new condition**
Preventing potholes and keeping local streets in good condition is the goal of the City’s annual Street Repair Project. The City’s Public Works Department has announced that pavement maintenance work scheduled in several neighborhoods throughout Elk Grove will begin next week and extend through November.
Annual pavement maintenance projects extend the life of the pavement and avoid more costly repair or replacement of streets. The pavement maintenance being done this year includes asphalt slurry seal and asphalt overlay. This work includes replacing small areas of damaged pavement, sealing cracks, placement of the slurry seal or asphalt overlay treatment, and replacing striping as needed. The work will restore the surface quality to like new condition.
This work requires temporary full street closures. During the closures, residents will need to park their vehicles on adjacent streets until the roads are reopened to traffic. Barricades with “No Parking” signs will be placed on affected streets 48 hours in advance of the street closures. Residents affected by the work will also receive door hanger notices not less than 3 days in advance of the scheduled operations. A complete listing and map of the streets scheduled for repairs can be found on the City’s web site at www.elkgrovecity.org/street-repair.
Preparation activities such as crack sealing and replacement of damaged pavement will begin as early as Monday, September 28th. Slurry seal operations are expected to begin on October 22nd and continue through November 5th. Asphalt overlay and final striping will take place in late October and early November.
The City appreciates the public’s patience during these pavement maintenance activities. For more information regarding the project, please visit the web page or call the City’s Public Works hotline (916) 478-2256.
Spring is in full force; the summer months are right around the corner. If you are debating moving up to your dream home, here are four great reasons to consider buying today instead of waiting.
1.) Buyer Demand is High & Inventory Is Low
Recent numbers show that buyer demand is at the highest peak experienced in years, and inventory for sale is at a 4.6 months supply, which is still markedly lower than the 6.0 months needed for a historically normal market. The National Association of Realtors, Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun put it this way,“Demand in many markets is far exceeding supply, and properties in March sold at a faster rate than any month since last summer.” Listing your home today can greatly increase exposure to buyers who are out in force and ready to act.
2.) Prices Will Continue to Rise
The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 11.7% (most pessimistic) and 27.5% (most optimistic). The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting for your current home’s value to increase before selling could price you out of your new home if you aren’t careful.
3.) Mortgage Interest Rates Are Still Near Record Lows
As we reported last week, interest rates have remained below 4% for some time now, and are substantially lower than the rate previous generations paid when getting a mortgage. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will rise over the next 12 months. An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Even an increase of half a percentage point can put a dent in your family’s net worth. Whether you are moving up or buying your first home, your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your home.
4.) It’s Time to Move On with Your Life
The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise. But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait? Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Have you always wanted to live in a certain neighborhood? Would a climate change be just what the doctor ordered? Would you like to be closer to family?
If the right thing for you and your family is to move up to your dream home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.
To put it’s best foot forward, and as a complimentary service we staged, photographed, and videoed this beautiful home which, as a result, spent only four days on the market before the seller accepted and above list price offer.That all happened faster than we could get the just listed flyers out!
It’s always a great time to buy or sell when you have Mathews & Co Realty Group as your realty team. #MathewsAndCoRealtyGroup #Excellence #TheNordstromExperience
(Courtesy of The KCM Crew on January 26, 2015 in KCM Updates)
CoreLogic’s Q3 Equity Report was recently released. As a whole, the country has recovered well from the negative equity situation that existed previously. We now stand at 89.8% equity share as a nation.
According to CoreLogic’s Methodology:
“The amount of equity for each property is determined by comparing the estimated current value of the property against the mortgage debt outstanding (MDO). If the MDO is greater than the estimated value, then the property is determined to be in a negative equity position. If the estimated value is greater than the MDO, then the property is determined to be in a positive equity position.”
The President & CEO of CoreLogic, Anand Nallathambi summed up the findings of the report well by saying:
“Negative equity continued to decrease in the third quarter as did the level of homes mired in the foreclosure process. This should hopefully translate into less friction in the housing market as we move forward. Better fundamentals supporting homeownership in the face of higher rents should attract more first-time homebuyers to the market this year and next.”
Below you will find a map of the equity share percentages of each state.
Only 12 states have less than 90% equity share and can be seen in the shades of red on the map below. Seven states did not have enough data to be included in the report: Maine, Vermont, South Dakota, Wyoming, Louisiana, Mississippi, & West Virginia.
Sales volume decreased for the third straight month, closing with 1,375 single family home sales. This is down 1.5% from the 1,396 homes sold last month. Month‐to‐month since July, sales have decreased 1,548 – 1,428 – 1,396 – 1,375, respectively. Compared with last year, the current figure is down .8% (1,386 sales). Making up this month’s total are 1,208 Equity Sales (87.9%), 83 Short Sales (6%) and 84 REO sales (6.1%). For the month, REO sales remained the same, short sales increased 17.6% and conventional sales decreased 1.1%.
Of the 1,375 sales this month, 256 used cash financing, 654 used conventional (mortgage‐backed) financing, 312 used FHA (Federal Housing Administration), 89 used VA (Veteran’s Affairs) and 64 used Other* types of financing. The average DOM (days on market) for homes sold this month was 37, while the Median DOM was 23. These numbers represent the days between the initial listing of the home as “active” and the day it goes “pending.” Breaking down the Days On Market, there were 816 listings that sold between 1 – 30 days, 293 listings that sold between 31 – 60 days, 148 between 61 – 90 days, 69 between 91 – 120 days and 49 sold after being on the market for over 120 days. This breakdown, as well as types of financing, is show in the graphic below.
The month‐to‐month median sales price decreased 1.1% from $275,000 to $272,000. The current level is 7.3% above the $253,500 median sales price of October 2013. The current figure is up 70% from the January 2012 low of $160,000. When compared to the all‐time high ($392,750/Aug. ’08), the current figure is down 30.1%.
Active Listing Inventory in Sacramento County decreased 2.7% for the month to 3,434 listings, down from the 3,529 listings of September. Year‐to‐year, the current number is up (29.1%) from the 2,659 units of October 2013. The months of inventory remained the same at 2.5 months.
With more available homes on the market for sale, California’s housing market will see fewer investors and a return to traditional home buyers as home sales rise modestly and prices flatten out in 2015, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ (C.A.R.) “2015 California Housing Market Forecast.”
The C.A.R. forecast sees an increase in existing home sales of 5.8 percent next year to reach 402,500 units, up from the projected 2014 sales figure of 380,500 homes sold. Sales in 2014 will be down 8.2 percent from the 414,300 existing, single-family homes sold in 2013.
“Stringent underwriting guidelines and double-digit home price increases over the past two years have significantly impacted housing affordability in California, forcing some buyers to delay their home purchase,” said C.A.R. President Kevin Brown. “However, next year, home price gains will slow, allowing would-be buyers who have been saving for a down payment to be in a better financial position to make a home purchase.”
“Moreover, prospective buyers should know that it’s a misperception that a 20 percent down payment is always required to buy a home. There are numerous programs available that allow consumers to buy a home with less down payment, including FHA loans, which lets buyers put down as little as 3.5 percent,” continued Brown.
C.A.R.’s forecast projects growth in the U.S. Gross Domestic Product of 3 percent in 2015, after a projected gain of 2.2 percent in 2014. With nonfarm job growth of 2.2 percent in California, the state’s unemployment rate should decrease to 5.8 percent in 2015 from 6.2 percent in 2014 and 7.4 percent in 2013.
The average for 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates will rise only slightly to 4.5 percent but will still remain at historically low levels.
The California median home price is forecast to increase 5.2 percent to $478,700 in 2015, following a projected 11.8 percent increase in 2014 to $455,000. This is the slowest rate of price appreciation in four years.
“With the U.S. economy expected to grow more robustly than it has in the past five years and housing inventory continuing to improve, California housing sales and prices will see a modest upward trend in 2015,” said C.A.R. Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “While the Fed will likely end its quantitative easing program by the end of this year, it has had minimal impact on interest rates, which should only inch up slightly and remain low throughout 2015. This should help moderate the decline in housing affordability we saw occur over the past two years.”
“Additionally, the state will continue to see a bifurcated market, with the San Francisco Bay Area outperforming other regions, thanks to a more vigorous job market and tighter housing supply.”
With Californians being urged to cut water use as the state’s historic drought drags on, a growing number of local water agencies are enlisting the public to play water cop with their smartphones.
From Long Beach to Placer County, officials are rolling out apps that allow users to snap and send photos of homes and businesses that are violating watering restrictions or operating broken and wasteful irrigation systems.
The apps put more boots on the ground to spot waste and leaks that might go unnoticed, officials say. They say the high-tech citizen reporting programs are intended to encourage water conservation, and not to be used as evidence to fine offenders.
But at least one private company is taking things a step further. Creators of Vizsafe, a neighborhood watch app, have added a feature allowing users to map photos of water wasters — a practice dubbed “drought shaming” on Twitter and Instagram.
The company’s app provides people with useful information about their communities, said Peter Mottur, chief executive of Rhode Island-based Vizsafe. “People have a right to hold others accountable and that is what I think we are doing.”
Privately reporting excessive water use or leaks that have gone unnoticed is “fantastic,” said Karen North, a professor of social media and psychology at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
“But to the extent that people then publicly shame each other for that behavior,” she said, it could force “a lot of really solid compliance, but it can also lead to a lot of animosity.”
Matthew Kahn, a professor of economics at UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, said the mere existence of the apps could increase conservation.
“While we all fear Orwell’s Big Brother,” he said, “we all try harder when we are being watched, even if that is a little creepy. You may need these social apps to motivate these behavioral changes.”
Long Beach’s water department released its first app to report water waste in 2010, but revamped it in August so users could add photos, said Melissa Keyes, a special projects coordinator who helped design the service.
The number of app-generated complaints initially increased five-fold, to about 25 a day, but has recently returned to lower levels, she said. “We wanted people to feel they had an outlet to get their frustrations out when they were doing their part and they saw others weren’t,” she said.
The anonymous complaints typically prompt a letter from the water agency to the property owner. Most complaints involve broken sprinklers or irrigation leaks, Keyes said, and often the owners aren’t aware of the problem. So far the city hasn’t seen fence fights erupt over use of the app, she said.
The water-waste app provided downtown Long Beach resident Sherry Ray-Von a convenient way to deal with a nearby apartment building resident who she said washed his car every day for months.
She tried to discuss the matter with the man, she said, but he shrugged her off.
When the upgraded city app came, she thought: “This is great. This is my chance to get this guy.”
She said she snapped a photo of the runoff, sent it to the water department and a few days later, the car washer stopped.
In Placer County, the water agency released a multipurpose water-saving app in May. It lets users report water waste, but it also features a shower timer that estimates how many gallons a person uses. So far, the agency has received 30 complaints, mostly about water runoff, said Matt Young, the agency’s director of customer services.
The Santa Clara Valley Water District forwards app complaints, most involving over-watering or irrigating outside permitted periods, to five water inspectors in the field, who remind offenders of the water usage rules, said spokesman Marty Grimes.
In Palm Springs, 67-year-old real estate salesman Victor Yepello said he used to see broken sprinklers and excessive watering when he biked around the city. But when he got home, he’d often forget the locations or to call the local water agency to complain, he said.
Then he discovered the Desert Water Agency’s new waste-reporting app. This summer, Yepello saw a small river of runoff coursing down Mesquite Avenue from a nearby house, so he stopped, snapped a photo and sent it and the address to the water agency.
Within a few hours, he said, an email came back telling him the problem was a broken irrigation line the property owner hadn’t noticed.
“I don’t see it as a way to snitch on your neighbor,” Yepello said. “If you spot something that is a real problem, report it.”
A pet-friendly home is not just a fun and safe space for your pet, but also a space that can stand up to the kinds of things pets do to houses. Making pet-friendly choices in landscaping, design, and the materials you use will ensure that both you and your pet can enjoy your shared space together.
Opt for durable flooring – Even if your pet is perfectly well house-trained, they’re bound to have an accident or two. Choose a flooring material that’s easy to clean and won’t be damaged by accidents. Linoleum cleans easily and is naturally anti-microbial. Bamboo, cork, tile, and stone are also good picks. If you want carpet, try a modular kind, made of separate carpet squares. Buy back-up squares so if a section gets ruined, you can pop it out and replace it. Avoid wood and laminate floors. Wood is easily scratched and damaged by water and slippery laminate can cause injuries.
Choose pet-friendly materials and décor – Opt for satin paint instead of flat paint on walls. A glossier finish won’t show stains as prominently and wipes clean. Chose low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, especially if your pet bites or licks walls. Match the colors of throw rugs, upholstery, and other décor to your pet’s fur color to give yourself a little more leeway in how frequently you’ll be vacuuming and de-furring the furniture. Set up a feeding area in a spot where you won’t be accidentally kicking over the water bowl. Find a nearby place to store dog food, ideally in a sealed container, like a plastic bin or a metal garbage can with a lid.
Protect furniture – Choose upholstered pieces covered in tough, easily-cleaned fabrics like leather or ultrasuede. Consider washable slipcovers, throws to protect furniture, or extra-durable fabric designed especially for pet owners. Keep pets from chewing furniture by spraying with store-bought, anti-chewing spray or applying a bit of cayenne pepper to their favorite biting spots. If you need to keep a pet out of a particular area, put up baby gates and provide the pet with plenty of sturdy toys for diversion. Set up a special bed or blanket so your pet has a comfortable, cushiony place of his own.
Eliminate dangers around the house – Walk around your house and assess possible pet hazards. Move chemicals and cleaning materials to high shelves or locked cabinets. Make sure trash cans are safely secured so pets don’t get into something that could be harmful to them. (Many common household articles are toxic to pets including: coffee grounds, onions, grapes, and even nutmeg.) Latch lower cabinets with child locks if necessary and keep curtain and electrical cords out of pet reach. Put screens in upper level windows and make sure they’re intact and securely attached. Keep toilet lids closed and avoid automatic bowl cleaners. Wipe up spills in the driveway and garage immediately so pets don’t ingest poisons like antifreeze. Remove any indoor plants that are toxic to pets. You can find a list of toxic and non-toxic plants on the Humane Society’s web site (www.humanesociety.org).
Consider a pet door – If you are frequently away from home, consider putting in a pet door. Pet doors can be put in windows, doors, and walls. Smart models recognize your pet electronically and will only open for them, not for other animals. The doors can be controlled remotely and deactivated if you need the pet to stay inside. If you’re worried about the resale value of cutting a hole in the wall, consider a model that’s built into a glass sliding door. When you sell, you can replace that part of the door with a regular slider.
Create a yard for pets and people to share – Find safe, pet-friendly materials for plants and hardscape. Put in some mint or catnip for cats and a clover ground cover for dogs because it won’t yellow with urine. Outdoor cats like places to hide and things to climb and will make good use of trees and bushy areas. Dogs instinctively patrol the perimeter of the property and like running paths that follow the yard’s circumference. If your dog has already created a path, embrace it, covering it with mulch and lining with attractive plantings. Make sure your fence is in good condition with no secret ways out (including benches, large rocks, or other items that can serve as pet launching pads). Consider putting in a small eye-level panel in the fence so dog can peek out and keep a watch on things. For safety, keep sharp tools put away, keep compost bins covered, and avoid chemical like fertilizers and pesticides. Make sure plants are non-toxic and avoid plants with thorns. And pets like a lot of the same things humans like, so you’ll both be pleased if your yard has a shady spot to cool off and comfy places to sit.
There are a few tricky cleaning jobs universally dreaded for being time-consuming, hard, or just plain confusing. How are you supposed to clean off a ceiling fan without getting dust all over the house and your head? How do you clean a fireplace without creating an indoor dust cloud? The tips below won’t make any of these jobs fun, exactly, but they will make them quicker, easier, and maybe even tolerable.
Ceiling Fans Put a drop cloth or old sheet on the floor and furniture over an area about twice the radius of the fan blades. If you want to keep your hair dust-free, pop on a hat as well. Use an old pillowcase to dust blades, sliding the case around the blade so the dust falls into the case. Make a second pass over each blade with a new pillowcase, this time spraying each blade first with a cleanser (a spray bottle of water and two tablespoons of white vinegar works too.) Hop on a sturdy chair or ladder and wipe around the rest of the fixture with a dust cloth or use a long handled micro-fiber duster.
Refrigerator–Interior To clean the interior, first take everything out the fridge. Remove shelves, bins, and drawers and wash in warm soapy water (don’t plunge cold glass shelves directly into hot water because they might shatter). Wipe down interior with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and a quart of hot water. For extra cleaning power, let mixture sit for a few minutes before wiping off. Use a plastic–not steel wool–scouring pad for stuck-on food and spills. Clean seals with a baking soda paste or undiluted hydrogen peroxide, getting into crevices with cotton swabs. While interior parts are drying, wipe down jars and containers, removing drips and spills. Check expiration dates and toss any out-of-date items. Follow the same procedures for the freezer, adding a plastic scraper to remove frozen-on ice or food.
For the exterior of the fridge, wipe down the outside surfaces with soft cloth and a gentle cleaner. Use a toothbrush or plastic scouring pad for grime on handles. Unplug the fridge to clean the condenser and coils. Remove the trim panel from below the door (you may need to unscrew it.) Vacuum or dust the panel, or if it’s plastic, soak it in warm soapy water to loosen dirt. Using the brush or crevice attachment, gently vacuum dust from coils and condenser. You might need to move the unit away from a wall to get at the back. When you put it back, make sure to leave enough space between coils and wall so the unit can run efficiently.
Make a first pass over the boards with a dust mop, vacuum or a dusting cloth. If there’s leftover grime, wipe down with damp cloth and mild detergent. Use wood cleaner for wooden baseboards. Try a cotton swab to get at intricate designs and corners. Touch up scuffs and scrapes with a bit of matching paint. Finish off by wiping down clean, dry baseboards with dryer sheets to repel future dust.
Prepare for the job by donning old clothes and a pair of gloves. Cover the area around the fireplace with old sheets or newspaper. Remove grate and andirons and put outside on a tarp. Put a handful or two of used coffee grounds into the ashes to minimize flyaways, then shovel out the old ashes and put in a double-bagged trash can. Use the fireplace brush to sweep up remaining ashes. You can scrub the inside further by scraping with a wire grill brush and a fireplace cleaner, if desired. Clean the andirons and grate with the wire brush and a hearth cleaner or a paste of baking soda and warm water. Let everything dry thoroughly before putting back in.
Grout can be a challenge to clean because it’s porous and often light-colored. To clean, you will need a cleaning agent and a scrubbing tool, like a scrub brush or toothbrush. Use a baking soda and hydrogen dioxide paste, a half and half solution of white vinegar and water or a mix of oxygen bleach and warm water. Spray or apply the solution to the grout and let sit for about 20 minutes. Scrub the grout, reapplying the solution for tougher stains. For mold that won’t come off, you can use a chlorine bleach spray, but the bleach will weaken the grout over time. To maintain your grout and delay another deep cleaning, spray weekly with vinegar and wipe clean.
Gentle vacuuming with a brush attachment works for all types of blinds, including cloth, wooden, and metal/vinyl blinds. Close the blinds so they’re fully extended and brush each slat individually, working downward. Swivel the slats to do the other side, again moving downward. You can also dust with a micro-fiber cloth or a duster. Again, you have to go over each slat, front and back. For dingy vinyl and metal blinds, make a mixture of one part vinegar and one part water and go over each slat with a dampened cloth or, for more flexibility, an old sock turned inside out and worn on your hand. Cloth blinds can be spot treated with a damp cloth and a bit of dishwashing liquid. You can cut down on scrubbing time by removing metal and vinyl blinds and taking them to the bathtub or outside to hose them down, then scrubbing with warm soapy water, but you run a greater risk of bending or breaking the blinds. Make sure the blinds are fully dry before rehanging.