How To Clean Window Blinds

31 percent of homeowners say “cleaning window blinds” is their least favorite household chore. Perhaps that’s because they haven’t seen how simple blind-cleaning can be.

In this 2-minute video from HowCast, you’ll learn the basics of blind-cleaning with nothing more than a dust cloth and towel, a sponge and all-purpose cleaner, and ordinary dryer sheets.

The steps are basic:

  1. Get the dust off with the dryer sheet
  2. Remove the blinds from the window
  3. Go outside, or find a bathtub
  4. Wash, rinse, and dry with the towel
  5. Re-attach the blinds

Cleaning window blinds is a monthly activity, but with regular dusting, you could push that schedule to quarterly, depending on your home’s airborne particles and overall cleanliness.  The trick is that when you do wash your blinds, you wash them properly.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Hike the historic trails of Muir Woods and Mount Tamalpais

Don’t let the rain stop you from going on a hike this weekend.  Here is a great 6 + mile hike for the more advanced hiker.  Please note that Fido is not allowed on this trail, so give him/her a good bone and leave him/her home.

After the first rain, everything in the forest looks so wonderfully clean and the green palette is showing off all its nuances- the moss and ferns seem to smile in contentment as they absorb the moisture from the drizzle.  

Read the San Anselmo/Fairfax patch article for more details.


See How Credit Missteps Lower Your Credit Score

The FICO Recipe

The company behind the popular FICO scoring model has published a “What If?” series for common, specific credit missteps.

If you’ve ever wondered how your credit score would be affected by a missed payment or a maxed-out credit card, now you can use a look-up guide to assess the probable damage.

As published by myFICO.com, here’s a few common financial difficulties and how they affect FICO scores.

Max-Out A Credit Card

  • Starting score of 780 : 25-45 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 10-30 point drop

30-Day Delinquency

  • Starting score of 780 : 90-110 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 60-80 point drop

Foreclosure

  • Starting score of 780 : 140-160 point drop
  • Starting score of 680 : 85-105 point drop

Not surprisingly, the higher your starting score, the more each given difficulty can drop your FICO.  This is because credit scores are meant to predict the likelihood of a loan default. People with lower FICOs are already reflecting the effects of risky credit behavior.

Also worth noting that the above is just a guide — your scores may fall by more — or less — depending on your individuak credit profile.  The number and type of credit accounts you hold, plus their respective payments and balances make up your complete credit history.

Read the complete report at myFICO.com.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Tools For Design : Visualize Your Home In Different Colors

Exterior Home DesignIn home design, the exterior is as important as the interior. The exterior projects your home’s first impression while performing the double-duty of protecting living space from damage and Mother Nature.

And, occasionally, you may want to make upgrades.

For some people, visualizing changes to a home’s exterior is easy. For others, though, there’s the Better Homes and Gardens Color-a-Home tool.

Color-a-Home is a website via which homeowners can test different exterior home designs and color combinations.  Using a series of drop-down menus and mix-and-match swatch colors, homeowners can build home exterior mock-ups featuring:

  • New roofing
  • New siding
  • New windows
  • New shutters and doors

Better than a mental picture of your home — get an actual picture.

The Better Homes and Gardens site requires basic site registration to use its Color This! product suite. Color This! is also available for home interiors and window treatments.

Larkspur Home

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Avoiding Common Mortgage Scams

Despite tougher mortgage guidelines and better loan disclosures for consumers, mortgage fraud is on the rise, according to the FBI.

Fraud has many varieties and its estimated cost to the nation is between $4 to $6 billion annually.  Today, common mortgage fraud scams target homeowners behind in their mortgage payments and/or facing foreclosure.  And, despite the hordes of legitimate organizations that dedicate themselves to helping consumers, mortgage fraudsters proliferate.

In this 3-minute piece from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll learn to spot common frauds, and to avoid them.

Some of the frauds highlighted include:

  1. The Rent-to-Buy arrangement
  2. The Bait-and-Switch
  3. The “Phantom fees”

With respect to mortgage paperwork, it’s always wise to read what you’re signing, and to take time to understand what it means. If you’re uncomfortable reading mortgage documents, ask for an attorney’s help.  And don’t worry if you don’t have the budget — many states offer free or discounted help via advocacy groups.

Larkspur Ferry

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Homeowner Maintenance : Twice-Annual Gutter Cleaning

Clean your gutters twice annuallyGutters are designed to funnel rainwater away from a home. Properly working gutters help keep a home’s basement from filling with water, and protect a home’s foundation from long-term, structural damage, and keep a roof in tip-top shape.

In other words, keeping clean gutters is essential for homeowners. Thankfully, gutter maintenance can be a do-it-yourself job.

There are four main steps in gutter cleaning, summarized cleanly in this 4-minute video from Lowe’s.

  1. Gather your tools. You’ll need a ladder, a bucket, a hose, and a trowel.
  2. Scoop large debris from the gutter, using the trowel for hard-to-reach places smaller sticks and leaves
  3. Flush the gutters using a garden hose and spray attachment
  4. Remove clogs in the downspout and check for proper sloping

Gutter maintenance is a twice a year task and the Lowe’s video offers helpful safety tips, too.  Of course, if you’re uncomfortable on a ladder, or prefer to hire a professional, reach out to me anytime.

I’m happy to make a local Marin County gutter-cleaning recommendation.

Autumn in Ross

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Fannie Mae Rolls Out New Lending Rules December 13, 2010

Fannie Mae changes mortgage guidelinesStarting Monday, December 13, 2010, Fannie Mae is changing its mortgage lending guidelines.

For some mortgage applicants, the loan approval process will be simpler. For others, it will toughen.  How you’ll be affected personally will depend on your credit profile and your loan characteristics.

Among the biggest changes from Fannie Mae is a new set of guidelines for gift funds.  When the new rules roll out, accepting cash gifts for downpayment will be easier.

Undetr the new guidelines, buyers of owner-occupied, 1-unit properties (i.e. single-family homes, condos, townhomes) can forgo Fannie Mae’s typical, minimum 5% personal downpayment contribution. Downpayments on homes meeting the above criteria can be comprised of 100% gifted and/or granted funds.

Buyers of second homes and multi-unit properties, however, are not exempt.

There are also two changes pending with respect to revolving debt.

  1. Debt with less than 10 payments remaining may no longer be waived in debt-to-income ratio calculations
  2. Debt lacking a monthly payment on credit must be assigned a payment equal to 5% of the outstanding balance

Both of the above should increase the number of loan denials in 2011.

And, lastly, Fannie Mae changes some of its documentation requirements, the most noticeable of which will be with respect to income verification.  Salaried workers and applicants whose commission/bonus accounts for less than a quarter of their income will have fewer paystubs to produce for underwriting.

Loan applications taken prior to December 13, 2010 are exempt from the new rules.

Fannie Mae’s complete guideline changes are available online at http://efanniemae.com.

Mt. Tam viewed from Sleepy Hollow

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Marin assessor race: experience vs. fresh ideas

Civic Center - San Rafael, CA

Joan Thayer is retiring from her Marin County Assessor position after 16 years and two former colleagues are aspiring to replace her.  The two candidates seek election to a job that combines posts formerly held by three elected officials – the county assessor, county recorder and county clerk.  A sign of the times or of government inefficiency and waste, or maybe a bit of both? 

What does the County Assessor do exactly you may ask? With the support of 76 employees the Assessor is responsible for determining the value of all residential and commercial real estate in Marin, maintaining property title records, and  recording demographic  statistics (births, deaths and marriages).

Richard Benson, assistant assessor for valuation, is running on the basis of his experience, while Shelly Scott, an appraiser, is claiming that the county office needs new blood and a fresh perspective.  

Joan Thayer is backing Richard Benson while three county supervisors who oversee the assessor’s annual budget of $8.2 million support Shelly Scott.

While Benson got a few more votes in the primary election, the two candidates were very close at about 37 percent of the vote each.


2011 Conforming Loan Limits : No Change From 2010

Conforming loan limits 2011

WHAT IS A CONFORMING MORTGAGE?

Conforming mortgages are so named because, literally, they conform to the mortgage guidelines set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Of the many traits of a conforming mortgage, one is “loan size” and loan sizes have limits.  Mortgages exceeding this loan size limit cannot be securitized as a conforming mortgage and, therefore, are ineligible for conforming mortgage rates.

Conforming mortgage rates are often the cheapest source of mortgage money, all things equal.

CONFORMING LOAN AMOUNTS

Each year, the government re-evaluates its maximum allowable loan size based on “typical” housing costs nationwide.  Loans in excess of this amount are often called “jumbo”.

Between 1980 and 2006, as home prices increased, so did conforming loan limits — from $93,750 to $417,000.  Since 2006, however, home prices have retreated but the conforming loan limit has not.

In 2011, for the 6th consecutive year, $417,000 will be the country’s conforming mortgage loan limit, except in high-cost areas.

Conforming loan limits vary by property type.  The complete breakdown is as follows:

  • 1-unit properties : $417,000
  • 2-unit properties : $533,850
  • 3-unit properties : $645,300
  • 4-unit properties : $801,950
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MARIN COUNTY IS IN A HIGH COST REGION

Despite the limits, some parts of the country get “loan limit exceptions”.  In areas considered “high cost”, conforming loan limits range from $417,001 to $729,750. High-cost is defined by the median sales price of a region.

Marin County is a high-cost region, along with a lot of California. There are less than 200 such areas nationwide, though.

You can verify your local market’s loan limit via the Fannie Mae website.  A complete county-by-county list is published online.

Rowing on Corte Madera Creek

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.