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Brian Ripp, CRS, GRI, Broker's Blog

By Brian Ripp, CRS, GRI, Broker | Broker in Fremont, CA
  • Drought Update

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Livermore, Curb Appeal in Livermore, Home Ownership in Livermore  |  May 13, 2014 9:49 AM  |  196 views  |  No comments

    Drought Response Update: Local water agencies are updating their responses to the continuing drought conditions. On April 15 the City of Livermore escalated its drought response by enacting mandatory water conservation requirements. 

    Landscape irrigation is limited to no more than twice per week, from 6:00pm to 9:00am the following day. Odd street addresses irrigate on odd days of the month; even street addresses irrigate on even days of the month;

    • Washing of autos, trucks, trailers, boats and airplanes is limited to once per month and no wastewater from vehicle washing may enter the storm drain system;
    • Washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways, parking areas, patios, porches or verandas is prohibited.

    According to the City of Livermore, penalties for violation of the mandatory conservation measures begin with an advisory notice for a first violation and escalate to termination of water service after multiple violations.

    On April 22 the East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD) Board of Directors decided to continue supporting voluntary water conservation measures and purchase additional water rather than implement mandatory reductions.  EBMUD provides water service to communities throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties.  

    Pleasanton Mandates Water Conservation: On May 6 the Pleasanton City Council declared a Stage 3 water shortage which requires residents and businesses to reduce water use by 25%. The council action includes restricting outdoor irrigation to two days per week in the evening, prohibits car washing (except at commercial car washes) and asks restaurants to only serve water to customers if requested.  Penalties for exceeding the water restrictions include significantly higher water rates and penalty fees.

  • Fire Hazard Update

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Fremont, Tech Tips in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  May 9, 2014 11:08 AM  |  217 views  |  No comments

    Tangled extension cords? Power strips galore?  You home’s wiring system might be working overtime with all the new gadgets you currently have – and might be at risk for igniting a fire.  Straighten out these wiring problems and more with tips from This Old House.

    Have a licensed electrician walk through your home every five years to look at the wire insulation and the service panel and check for any code violations.  If you’re doing it yourself, start by turning off the circuit at the main breaker panel.

    Code requires outlets within 4 feet of a door and every 12 feet after that.  Extension cords can be useful, but keep in mind that smaller-gauged cords can overheat and start a fire if overused.  Adding more outlets can run about $100 per outlet on first levels and $200 upstairs.

    Another fire hazard is overlamping, in which light fixtures have a bulb with higher-than-recommended wattage installed.  Check the fixtures’ wattage limit or use bulbs that are smaller than 60 watts.

    Flickering lights aren’t just annoying – they could be a sign of wire trouble, too.  The outdoor fitting where overhead cables from the power line come into the house, or frayed wiring in the weather head, causes the short when the cable moves.  Call your electric utility company to have any power related lines looked at.

  • Keeping your energy bill low

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  April 7, 2014 11:05 AM  |  306 views  |  No comments

    Was your last gas bill higher than usual? Cold air might be finding its way into your house.  Conserve energy, save money and stay warm with these tips from the Department of Energy.

    Let the sun shine in!! During the day, open the curtains & blinds on the south side of the house.  Feel a draft? Seal a clear plastic sheet to the inside of the window frames or install drapes or shades that are tight and insulating.  Caulking and weather-stripping windows can also keep your home warmer.

    The heat is on, so keep your heating systems up and running as efficiently as possible.  Follow the recommended maintenance schedules and change furnace filters once a month.

    Fireplaces also can cause heat loss.  Keep the fuel damper tightly closed unless you’re burning a fire.  Grates made of C-shaped metal tubes and tempered glass doors can help keep the room warm when the flue is open.

  • That time of the year...

    Posted Under: Curb Appeal in Fremont, Remodel & Renovate in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  March 6, 2014 9:04 AM  |  472 views  |  No comments

    Kick off the New Year with a fresh attitude about home maintenance.  After all, you don’t want to wait until the furnace conks out before you deal with it.  Keep things in good working order with The Weather Channel’s to-do list.

    First, take a ‘snow’ day day to organize your files and review warranties and manual for equipment, appliances and other tools.  There, you’ll find how often to check or replace items.

    Take a room-by-room inventory with photos or video.  In the case of fires, floods or other disasters, a record of your possessions can be very helpful when filing insurance claims.

    Examine furniture and cabinets for loose knobs and hinges, and repair as needed.  Fix squeaks in floors and stairs.

    - Brian
  • Optional Entrance

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in Fremont, Design & Decor in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  December 3, 2013 2:54 PM  |  497 views  |  2 comments

    The word “mud” might not sound inviting, but a mudroom can actually be a welcoming – and useful – space.  Mudrooms, which serve as a transition between the outdoors and the inside of a home, are traditionally found in cold, snowy climates as a place to change out of wet clothes and shoes.  But, whether large or small, they’re ideal for houses in any climate.  They can minimize cleaning (no tracking dirt through the house), maximize storage and help with organization.  Whether you already have a mudroom or are thinking about creating one, consider:

     

      Location.  Off the kitchen or near the back door are the most popular locations for mudrooms, but garages and utility closets are also prime spots.

     

      Flooring.  This is the one place in the house where the floors are supposed to get dirty.  Choose a durable, non-slip material – tile, stone, vinyl, laminate, and concrete – in a dark color.  And be sure to include a few doormats: a fiber or rubber mat to clean off shows and an absorbent, washable rug to keep dirt from getting tracked in.

     

      Walls.  Surely they will get dinged and scratched and splashed, so choose covering wisely.  Vinyl wallpaper or an easy-to-clean, moisture-proof paint should do the trick.

     

      Seating.  Although you likely won’t be spending too much time in your mudroom, a place to sit is key.  A sturdy chair or bench is useful for removing wet shoes or boots.

     

      Storage.  Choose organizing accessories based on the main purpose of the space and who uses it most.  If it functions mainly as a staging area for adults, be sure to prominently feature coat and key hooks, as well as a place to sort mail.  If kids are the main focus, include labeled storage bins and designated areas for backpacks and after-school activity gear, such as sporting goods. 

     

    No matter how the rooms is used, it’s a good idea to include plenty of shelving and racks for shoes.

  • Mortgage Update; Refi or Purchase...

    Posted Under: Home Buying in Fremont, Financing in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  November 6, 2013 1:09 PM  |  501 views  |  1 comment
    Low interest rates have enticed thousands of Americans to seek funding for a new home or to refinance an existing mortgage.  This surge has created a demand for mortgage brokers, whose job it is to help borrower’s complete applications and secure loan rates.  It is estimated that brokers process hundreds of billions of dollars in mortgages every year.  If you are thinking of buying a home or refinancing  your existing one, here are some tips for finding a qualified broker to help;
    • Get good references.  If you want the help of a mortgage broker, ask friends or a trusted professional at your bank for a recommendation.
    • Get an upfront estimate.  This won’t be a problem, because federal law requires mortgage broker to provide you with a written estimate of the total cost of your mortgage transaction no later than three days after you apply.
    • Be careful about fees.  Brokers receive most of their compensation from lenders, who pay them a small commission on the mortgage deal.  If you’re asked to pay more than you expected, ask your broker for a detailed explanation of all costs.  You may find that you do not need all the services your broker offers.
  • Bath and Kitchen Update - Survey say's;

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate in Fremont, Design & Decor in Fremont, Home Ownership in Fremont  |  October 16, 2013 5:03 PM  |  472 views  |  1 comment

    As housing markets begin to recover, more homeowners are focusing on improving their kitchens and bathrooms, according to a recent survey by the American Institute of Architects.  Kitchens have not increased significantly in size, but more than half of residential architects surveyed say they are reconfiguring the kitchen to accommodate a computer station or a recharging area for tablet computers and smartphones, and more than 40% indicated a demand for increased space for recycling or a pantry.  Integrating the family room with cooking activities remains popular, as does making kitchens more adaptable with universal design features that allow homeowners to age in place.

     

    One in five say the number of baths in homes has increased while 22% report that bathrooms have gotten larger over the past year.  57% surveyed reported that adaptability and universal design features in bathrooms are also increasing in popularity.  Many homeowners are designing their baths with only a shower stall and no tub, while doorless / no-threshold showers, hand showers, LED lighting, water-saving toilets and dual flush toilets are popular options among homeowners.

     

     From July/Aug. CRS magazine

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