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Discover the Character of Contra Costa County at the Fair

May 4, 2017

County Fair season has begun, and this year, Contra Costa County is holding its fair a bit sooner than before. If you didn’t already know, this year’s fair will be held May 18th– 21st. If you have not been to a county fair in a while, this is a great chance to get in touch with what makes this region such an incredible place to live.

County fairs are one of the longest standing community traditions you can find in the world, and yet they showcase what is current and up-and-coming not only in the agricultural side of life, but in the arts as well. If you want insight into what makes a community unique, or understand the character of a region, a county fair is a great way to discover these things and more.

Within Contra Costa, we have the best of food and arts at our fingertips. Throughout the county, you can find farms, orchards, and ranches with top quality, and often organic fare. There is also strong support towards educating kids, preparing the next generation towards sustainable stewardship of the land. In addition to the rich agricultural aspects of Contra Costa County, we also have thriving arts communities, which enrich our lives and our economy. A fair is a great opportunity to experience the big picture in arts and agriculture within the county.

rabbit-1903016_640Held at the County Fairgrounds in Antioch, the Contra Costa County Fair is a fantastic family community event with something for everyone. Attractions at the fair include the Agriculture Pavilion, Arts Pavilion, and just for the young ones, a petting zoo. There are, of course, fun midway games and rides, fair food and drink favorites, and live performances and demonstrations throughout the weekend.

The Contra Costa County Fair showcases the best in the region for farming and the arts. I am also passionate about doing my best to serve my clients. When you are ready to sell your home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

Transform Your Garden into a Backyard Habitat

April 27, 2017

There is a growing trend in landscaping, a trend which is also good for wildlife and native plants. Backyard habitats restore yards to a more natural condition by providing areas where plants and animals once co-evolved together to thrive once again. Many eco-conscious home buyers are also interested in properties with certified backyard habitats, as recognized by the National Wildlife Federation.

Whether you have a small patch of green, or several acres, how you landscape effects the local environment. With sustainable gardening, you can enjoy an amazing variety of colorful plants alongside local and migrating animals throughout the year. To become a Certified Backyard Habitat Home, there are a variety of practices to incorporate within your yard and garden design, including using natural methods of pest control, and providing food and shelter for local wildlife.

swallowtail-1508884_640The benefits of such a landscape go beyond helping animals and insects. With native plant species, a backyard habitat can also be greatly beneficial in times of drought. Yards and gardens which are acclimated to our drier climate aid in keeping our water resources from being over-taxed. Native focused landscaping can also save you money and time. Following guidelines from the California Native Plant Society, with less lawn and more native flora around your property, garden upkeep can be a breeze.

One aspect of backyard habitats which is really beginning to take off is the use of flowering herbs as a focal point. California native herbs such as hummingbird sage and chaparral currants, not only bring a pleasant fragrance to your yard and attract pollinators, they bring a splash of color, too. Culinary herbs can also be incorporated; hardy pants such as lavender and rosemary may not be native, but they thrive in this climate, and attract some of the most important pollinators, bees. These herbaceous shrubs make an ideal addition to a backyard habitat.

5605336914_afabd80947_zIf you are not sure a backyard habitat is for you, or you are looking for inspiration on how to transform your garden, be sure to check out the 2017 Bringing Back the Natives Tour, coming up Sunday, May 7th. Over 30 native gardens across Contra Costa and Alameda Counties will be open for viewing on this self-directed tour. A Backyard habitat can also be an attractive feature to help sell your property. When you are ready to sell your home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

C.A.R. Supports PACE Act to Protect Homeowners

April 20, 2017

The California Association of Realtors® (CAR), announced a supportive nod to a new bill proposed to protect homeowners from predatory ‘green’ lenders. The Protecting Americans from Credit Entanglements Act, or PACE Act, was submitted by California Representatives, Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Ed Royce (R-Calif.), due to a rising concern over predatory loan tactics targeted towards homeowners seeking funds to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties.

California has a vast number of green upgrade and amenity programs and products available to homeowners across the state. Many of these can be financed with a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan. Qualifying homeowners can gain funding for energy-efficient upgrades such as solar panels, and energy-efficient windows or lighting, through an assessment of their property. Unfortunately, there is currently no industry oversight in place for how these loans are established. This raises the risk of predatory loans with exorbitant costs or hidden fees, and even negative tactics such as misleading claims and statements. Tactics such as this can lead uninformed homeowners into a predatory loan situation, which could, in a worse-case scenario, lead to them losing their homes.

interior-2009516_640The PACE Act proposal will help protect homeowners from predatory lenders as they improve their homes’ energy efficiency. There is also a version of the bill being submitted through the Senate by Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.); this is good news for homeowners across the nation, and C.A.R. is leading the way in supporting this action.

The PACE Act is an important piece of Federal Legislation geared to help homeowners and worthy of support. When you are ready to sell your home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

Having a Pet May Help Sell Your Home

April 13, 2017

Pets are a large part of many people’s lives. Now, more than ever, people across cultures, social, economic and lifestyles groups, live with at least one pet-and they wouldn’t have it any other way. The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has recently released their Remodeling Impact Report for 2016. According to the report, over 60% of households have pets, and 95% of consumers feel pet-friendly communities are highly important. There were also a surprising number of pet-focused remodeling projects happening in markets across the nation.

The things home owners will do for the love of their pet is also expanding into the real estate market, with a growing number of buyers seeking pet-friendly amenities. Gone are the days when a seller should hide all evidence of a family pet. Now buyers want to know if there is a fenced yard for Spot or perhaps a kitty litter closet for Fluffy.

dog-2040273_640 (1)The California Association of Realtors® (CAR) has taken the NAR report and put together one of their One Cool Thing info graphics, highlighting just what home buyers with pets are looking for. Security and easier care solutions topped the list of buyer preferences in home features for pets. 91% want a fenced yard, while 66% are looking for laminate flooring. Other top home features sought after by home buyers include a washing station, dog door, cat litter closet, animal pools, and built-in beds and dishes.

Don’t worry too much if your home doesn’t have any unique pet-oriented features, though. Home buyers with animal companions are also seeking pet-friendly neighborhood amenities. 54% would like a walking path close to home, and 49% want to find a home with a pet store nearby. Animal grooming services and kennels were also popular, as well as local dog parks. If any of these businesses or community amenities are close to you, they could be worth including in your listing features.

cat-358988_640If you do have pets and are planning to sell, you will still want to prepare your home to look its best, with as few ‘pet damages’ as possible. Be sure to make any minor repairs, such as wood door frames where your cat may like to scratch. Shampooing carpets and deep cleaning hard surface floors is another good idea. Keeping up on litter and yard clean-up is a must; as much as people may love pets, no one wants to smell them when viewing a home. If you have a regular space for your pet supplies, you can up the staging impact by updating the area. New food dishes, or a stylish wall hook for leashes can freshen up a space.

If you have a pet, and are planning to sell your home, including the pet-friendly amenities you have in your home could help attract potential buyers. When you are ready to buy or sell a home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

Antioch Rivertown Park Initiative Gets Support with Historic Home Tour

April 6, 2017

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Inspired by the success of cities such as Brentwood and Pittsburg. which have been able to revitalize their downtown districts, Antioch is aiming to bring new life to historic Rivertown. A revamping of this area is in the works, including Rivertown Square, featuring a proposed central location for community festivals, concerts, and other events. As reported by East County Today, the city is hosting a tour of Rivertown historic homes on April 30th as a fundraiser for the Rivertown Square Initiative.

One the biggest draws to Rivertown has been the incredible view of the San Joaquin River, which is truly spectacular between 2nd Street and E Street, the proposed site for Rivertown Square. If the initiative gets funding, a large community green will be created with plans for at least one major event, and up to three smaller ones each month throughout the year. This new green would also be located next to the Nick Rodriquez Community Center, resulting in a Rivertown Events District.
By Wiked0ut (talk) (Uploads) - Wiked0ut (talk) (Uploads), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5885879If you love touring historic California homes, then you won’t want to miss the home tour, which will feature at least 8 homes between A and G Streets, and from 2nd – 10th Streets, the heart of Rivertown. The idea of the home tour is to get people to come visit Rivertown, and that begins with purchasing your tickets; a perfect excuse to check out this part of Antioch and experience some of its history. Tickets are $25 each, and can be purchased at several Rivertown businesses, including antique and furniture shops such as Urban Jumble, Street Merchantile, and Oddly Unique.

The Rivertown Square Initiative is focused on bringing a more vibrant economy and community interaction within this part of Antioch. When local neighborhoods are supported businesses and residents alike can benefit. When you are ready to sell your property, you want a Realtor® who is passionate about the community, and passionate about helping their clients. My team and I are ready to help you from start to finish. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

Homeowners Beware: There’s a New Scam to Avoid

March 30, 2017

Some people will try anything to take advantage of others and steal their money, or their identity. Many of us already know about the IRS phone scam, where you get a call about owing taxes. Then there is the Microsoft Windows phone scam; the person calling claims they are trying to help you fix your “Windows computer”.

Take it from those that know, the IRS doesn’t call people directly-they send notifications by mail. And Microsoft doesn’t make computers-they make software programs. Now there is a new phone scam gaining momentum to be aware about. This time, the scam is geared around utility services. As recently reported by Forbes, there is a growing concern of people being swindled out their hard-earned cash through phone scams claiming to be from electric or gas companies. These callers are using scare tactics, threatening to turn off power or heat unless a bill is paid right away.

Like the IRS, most utility companies will not call customers regarding payment issues. They send notices via the mail. If you do get a call from someone claiming to be from your utility service provider, there are steps you can take to determine if they are legitimate.

talking-560318_640First, listen carefully to what the caller is saying. There have been reports of scammers claiming to be from General Electric, a company which is not a service provider at all! If you recognize the name of the company being used, but the call itself is unexpected (such as you just paid your bill the other day and know it is current), ask for employee information and a phone number to call them back. Chances are they will hang up if it’s a scam. Better yet, call your utility provider directly and speak to someone directly who can confirm your account status, and you can give the company the heads-up towards the scamming activity.

Other red flags that point towards a phone scam include attempts to get you purchase a prepaid debit card to make a payment, or to do so via wire transfer. If the caller asks for you to provide personal information, this is another big warning sign. Remember, when you call your utility provider, they ask you to confirm your identity with key pieces of information, which they have in your file, such as your house number or the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. A phone scammer will ask for your entire Social Security Number or specific bank account information.

money-256314_640In our fast paced, digital world, it is easy to get distracted, and scammers know this. They know people often succumb to threats or pressure. When you are aware of potential scams, you can stop them in their tracks, and protect yourself, your home, and your family. When you are ready to sell your property, you want a Realtor® who is passionate about the community, and passionate about helping their clients. My team and I are ready to help you from start to finish. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

New Overpass will Connect Mokelumne Trail in Brentwood

March 23, 2017

Brentwood has been growing and changing, with more commercial and housing developments in the works or being proposed. With population growth comes more traffic, and the need to address transportation options and concerns. This includes pedestrians and cyclists. At a recent Brentwood City Council meeting, approval was voted on for a new overpass which will not only improve the overall infrastructure of future public transit projects, but help those on foot and bike stay safer, too.

As recently reported by the East Bay Times, Brentwood will have a new overpass built across State Route 4 which will connect both sides of the Mokelumne Trail. This is a big plus for pedestrians and cyclists who utilize the trail extensively. The overpass will also aid in encouraging greater use of public transit, as currently there is no easy access to East County from Brentwood.

The decision to move forward with the new overpass was also made, in large part, to help support future transit stations, including in Brentwood and Antioch, which have been suggested by the latest BART New Segment Survey. This area is growing in economy and population, and there is a clear need to support a variety of transportation and recreation options.

california-192053_640The Mokelumne Trail itself is divided into five segments, one of which traverses the East Bay and Contra Costa County. By connecting the two parts of the trail which are split by State Route 4, the trail will also be one step closer towards becoming a fully completed trail, which has been in progress for almost 30 years. When finished, there will be a continuous trail where hikers and cyclists can experience this region of California from the Pacific coast to the Sierra Crest.

Brentwood and East Contra Costa County have a lot to offer; the new Mokelumne Trail overpass will help make enjoying the region a better experience. When you are ready to sell your property, you want a Realtor® who is passionate about the community, and passionate about helping their clients. My team and I are ready to help you from start to finish. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.