Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement Project

Going Solar: 3 Reasons Why Solar Panels Should Be Your 2018 Home Improvement ProjectHave you been scratching your head, wondering what your next great home renovation project should be? If you are like most homeowners, you have many areas that could use a little attention. Let’s explore three reasons why installing solar panels should be high on your list of home improvement projects for 2018.

The ROI On Solar Is Getting Better

It might seem counterintuitive to think about spending money to save money, but with solar panels, that’s precisely what you are doing. Solar is an up-front investment that returns money to your bank account over time. As you are generating your own electricity, you will spend less on utilities each month. Depending on your setup, you may even be able to sell surplus electricity back to the grid, lowering your monthly bills even further.

Don’t think about solar panels and installation as sunk costs that will never be recovered. Instead, work with your solar installer to determine what your return-on-investment should be.

Solar Drives Property Values Higher

As you might expect, installing solar panels can also increase the value of your home. Many potential home buyers are searching for modern, efficient, climate-friendly homes that allow for a bit of energy independence. If your home already has these features, it is likely to be more compelling than other houses on the street without them. If you are thinking of selling your home in the future, installing solar is a great way to increase its value.

Protecting Your Local Environment And Community

Finally, let’s not forget that investing in renewable energy means protecting the health of your local community. Every solar panel installation that goes up means one less home relying on power produced by other means. It might not seem like much, but over time a single home’s worth of solar panels can prevent a significant amount of emissions from reaching the sky. You can even take things one step further and invest in an electric car which can be connected to and charged by your solar panels.

These are a few of the many good reasons to consider an investment in solar panels in 2018. If you are interested in going solar, but can’t with your current home, contact us today. Our friendly team of mortgage professionals are happy to share some financing options for home listings that are ready for solar.

3 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect for the Allergy-Prone Pet Lover

3 Dog Breeds That Are Perfect for the Allergy-Prone Pet LoverDo you find yourself itchy and sneezing after an encounter with a friendly, furry dog? You are not alone. The CDC estimates that around ten percent of Americans suffer from allergies related to dogs or cats. But, of course, that is no reason not to enjoy the love of a dog. So, if you are ready to push your suffering aside and adopt a furry pal, below are a few breeds that are perfect for those prone to allergies.

What Causes Dog-Related Allergies?

Do you know what the primary causes of pet-related allergies are? Many people believe that reactions are triggered by hair that has been shed, but this isn’t entirely accurate. Shed hair carries flakes of dead skin known as dander, and it is this dander which causes most typical dog-related allergic reactions.

In an allergy-prone individual, this dander is treated as a harmful invading virus or bacteria. The body issues an immune response with symptoms like sneezing, watery eyes, hives and coughing which can be treated with antihistamines.

Note that it is not just a dog’s dander that can cause a reaction. Dog saliva and urine are also known to carry the proteins that can trigger allergic reactions.

3 Breeds Perfect For Allergy Sufferers

The Poodle – if you are the energetic type that likes to get out and walk, a Poodle might be the right fit. Poodles are recognized as a cleaner dog as they do not shed much fur. They love to get outside and can be trained easily.

The Schnauzer – if you are more of an introvert or have a quiet side, you might find a Schnauzer to be a better companion. These are smaller dogs that aren’t going to beg you to run around for a few miles each day.

The Bichon Frise – this breed is an excellent choice for first-time dog owners and those who prefer smaller dogs. Bichon Frise are happy, friendly dogs that are very sociable. They are not incredibly high maintenance, but they do need daily grooming.

Renting A Home That Doesn’t Allow Pets?

If you are thinking about how great it would be to have a dog but can’t get one due to your current rental situation, contact us today. Our friendly mortgage professionals are happy to introduce financing options for a pet loving home.

Take Your Bathroom From ‘Drab’ to ‘Fab’ With These Do-it-Yourself Bathroom Renovations

Take Your Bathroom From 'Drab' to 'Fab' With These Do-it-Yourself Bathroom RenovationsDoes your bathroom look amazing? As one of the most used rooms in every home, the bathroom can almost always use a bit of a facelift. In today’s blog post we will share a few DIY renovations that will take your bathroom from drab to fab.

Embrace A New Color Palette

One of the best ways to start your bathroom makeover is to figure out a new color palette for the room. Do you like soft, muted colors like a powder blue, light gold or cream? Or maybe something a bit louder and more exciting like a merlot red or deep purple? Whatever your taste, a splash of color might be just what your bathroom needs.

Start with a fresh coat of paint on the bathroom walls and work outwards from there. If you have windows, consider how you want the trim to contrast with the walls. Baseboards or molding can also offer contrasting effects, helping them to stand out more.

And of course, don’t forget to take care of the smaller bathroom accessories. Your shower curtain, hand towels, and even your toothbrush cup can all be matched.

Take Your Fixtures To The Next Level

Once you have decided on colors, it is time to turn your attention to the fixtures around your bathroom. The towel racks, hooks, faucets, shower head and toilet paper holder should all match in some way. If you do not have a lot of cabinet space, investing in a mirror that includes storage might be the perfect solution. If you have items like a scale or plunger in plain sight, think on some creative ways to hide them.

Brighten Things Up With Better Lighting

While you do not need ‘selfie quality’ professional lighting in your bathroom, it might be time for a brighter, more efficient light fixture. Aim for a design that complements the rest of the accents in your bathroom while being large enough to cast a bright light. You can also spend a bit of time choosing the correct color temperature for your bathroom light bulbs. LED lighting can offer some bold whites, but be careful that you don’t go overboard.

Renovating your bathroom is a fun way to spend a weekend or two improving your home. If you are thinking about buying a new home or looking to refinance for a remodel, contact me. I would be happy to help you find the perfect financing option. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our Homes

3 Key Ways That Driverless Cars Are Going to Reshape How We Design and Use Our HomesAre you ready for the coming shift to driverless cars? While it might seem like some sort of futuristic vision, the truth is that driverless vehicles will be on the road within a few short years. Let’s explore three key ways that driverless cars are going to help to shape how we think about our homes in the very near future.

#1: Goodbye, Garages

It might seem a bit strange to think about now, but many people are likely to get rid of their cars entirely. Car ownership is expected to shift to entrepreneurs and services who offer vehicles for on-demand use. We are already starting to see this transition take place, especially with city dwellers who are becoming familiar with Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services. So, if you do not own a car, having a garage attached to your house does not make much sense.

Consider the many uses that a family can get from the space currently occupied by a garage full of cars. Your house footprint can be that much bigger, or you can convert that area into more yard space.

#2: Get Used To Smaller Streets And More Efficient Land Use

The second significant change you are going to see is a complete re-imagining of how we design and use our streets. Fewer people will own cars that need to be parked along the side of the street. Also, self-driving cars can move elsewhere for storage when they’re not needed. This combination will allow city planners to thin streets, freeing up land use for bike lanes, boulevards or larger yard areas. If you are the type that enjoys having a beautiful big front lawn, the coming shift to driverless cars will benefit you.

#3: More Space Means More Green Space

Finally, expect to see a lot more green space around your house in the future. You will have more space for landscaping, flower beds, gardens, trees and other yard fixtures. Even if you do end up owning a driverless car in the future, it’s likely to be electric. The most substantial commitment you will need to make is either a charging plug and wall fixture or a large ground pad that the car sits on when it needs to top off the batteries.

There are few who doubt that driverless cars are going to cause a major shift in how we live, work and move from place to place. If you’re looking to take advantage of this shift when you buy your next home, contact us. Our team of mortgage professionals will be happy to help you.

‘Pine’-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to ‘Spruce’ up Your Home

'Pine'-ing for a New Look? 3 Ways You Can Use Wood Features to 'Spruce' up Your HomeWhether you are renovating an older home or putting the finishing touches on a new one, you would be amiss if you did not consider how to include furniture and other items made of wood. With a diverse range of colors and textures, wooden features are a must-have for any modern home design. Let’s take a look at three ways that you can use wood to add a little spice to your home decor.

Try A Visually Striking Wood Wall

If you are looking to add some ‘pop’ to a room, consider an offset or patterned wall made of wood. Your options are limitless when it comes to adding wood to a wall. Consider horizontal slats with a lighter wood like pine for a warm, modern feel. Alternatively, try a flat wall made of hardwood boards of a darker color than the room’s paint.

Go Rustic With A Farmhouse Dining Table

Does your dining room feel a little boring with your standard table and chairs? A rustic farmhouse dining table is an excellent way to breathe some life into your dining area. In addition, hardwood tables like these are sturdy and can suffer a lot of punishment. They are the perfect choice for families that are used to hosting large dinners or having company over.

If you are so inclined, you can build a table like this in just a few hours. Search around online for plans and head down to your local hardware store to get things started.

Reclaim And Refinish For Timeless Beauty

Finally, give some thought as to how you can use reclaimed wood in your home. Consider replacing tile or linoleum with a some “rip and refinish” hardwood flooring reclaimed from another house. Or if you would rather have wooden furniture, you can get chairs or side tables that are made of reclaimed wood. If you are located near the coast or beach, look around for large pieces of driftwood that can be turned into furniture by a local tradesman.

While we cannot help you choose your wooden furnishings, we can help you find the best mortgage for your new home to put them in. If you are interested in purchasing or refinancing your home, contact today at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home Automation

Learning to Love Technology: 3 Tips That Will Help You to Embrace Home AutomationAre you still using a key to unlock your door and twisting a dial on the wall to set the temperature? Home automation technology has made considerable strides in the past couple of years so it might be time to invest. In today’s blog post we will explore three tips that can help those looking to make the leap into a fully automated home.

Tip #1: Start With Home Security And Go From There

Installing a modern home security system is the perfect place to start with home automation. Does your home already have an alarm? If so, it’s likely to be one of the older “set it and forget it” models. You punch in a four-digit code when you leave the house to arm the alarm, and if someone decides to break in while you’re gone the alarm trips and notifies the security company. Sound familiar?

The good news is that there are far better and more high-tech options on the market today. You can install cameras that connect directly to your phone, so you can see what’s happening inside of your house. You can automate turning the lights on or off, as well as deciding what panic options you need in case a burglar shows up.

Tip #2: Consider Using A Central Hub

If you’re not as technologically-inclined as some, then you may want to consider using a central hub to help control all of the other automated pieces in your home. Amazon’s Alexa is a popular option, as are Mi Casa Verde and SmartThings. The idea is that you can use one single device to control everything else, rather than trying to figure out a myriad of apps and settings.

Don’t forget that once you lock into using a central hub, you will need to make sure that any new pieces of tech you invest in are supported.

Tip #3: If It’s Easy To Use, You’ll Use It Regularly

Finally, be sure to test things out before you decide to buy. If a piece of home automation tech is hard to use, you’re unlikely to stick with it over the long term. Ideally, setting up and using the device should be no harder than using your mobile phone.

Getting started with home automation is as simple as following the three tips above. When you’re ready to explore purchasing high-tech, automated homes in the local area, contact us. Our professional mortgage team is happy to help you. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

It’s Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It's Hammer Time: 4 Common Remodeling Mistakes and How to Avoid ThemInvesting in your home by remodeling or renovating is an excellent way to increase its value. However, a significant renovation project can quickly turn into a disaster, especially for those who are inexperienced. Let’s take a look at four of the more common home renovation mistakes that homeowners make and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Skipping The Permit Process

The first mistake you will want to avoid is undertaking any home renovation without the required permits. While some remodeling projects will not require a permit, others will. Regardless, it is more than worth taking the time to do your research to ensure you do not run afoul of the law. A visit to the city’s website or a quick phone call is all you will need to find out if a permit is required and how much it will cost.

Mistake #2: Being Afraid

A great way to ruin your renovation is to be too afraid to transform the space into whatever best suits your family. Try to avoid being trendy and going with renos that you saw recently on television. Instead, consider how you currently use your kitchen, bathroom or whatever other space you’re changing and improve it for the better.

Mistake #3: Using Cheap Materials Or Labor

When it comes to contractors, going cheap is rarely a good idea. You want someone who is going to do the best quality of work at a fair, affordable price. Moreover, since you’re investing in that contractor, it is best to also invest in using high-quality materials for the job.

Also, don’t be the type that skimps on costs just because something isn’t visible. A good example is if your contractor recommends that you install something like a bathroom membrane system. Yes, it’s an extra cost that is mostly a preventive measure against mold getting under your tiles. However, it is a small consideration in protecting the more substantial investment you’re making in upgrading your home.

Mistake #4: Changing Your Mind

As the old saying goes: “measure twice, cut once.” Changing your mind in the middle of your renovation is almost certainly going to cost you. Once you commit, try to stick to the plan unless circumstances force you to make a change. These are just four of the many mistakes that can be made by an inexperienced home renovator.

If you are considering doing a remodel on your home and looking for additional funds, you can contact me today to discuss your cash-out refinance options. you can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Decor Ideas

Brighten up Your House With These Autumn-inspired Home Décor IdeasThe kids are heading back to school, the leaves are starting to turn and the weather is getting cooler. Yes, autumn has arrived, but the end of summer does not mean that your home décor has to suffer. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can brighten up your home and give it that warm, autumn feeling.

Start With Oranges, Yellows And Light Browns

A quick walk through your local neighborhood will offer a good sense of the color palette that you should be using in your décor makeover. In much of the country, trees will be turning a variety of yellows, oranges, and golds as the leaves change and begin to fall. These colors make for a warm palette and are ideal for use in the living room, dining room and other areas where you might host guests.

Of course, you do not need to run out and change the wallpaper. Simply look to add color touches in areas that it makes sense. For example, you can get a couple of new sets of towels for the bathroom that match up with the colors you picked. In the dining room, look to replace your tablecloth and placemats with an autumn theme.

Add Leaves And Natural Décor Items

Autumn is one of the more “natural” feeling seasons and this should be incorporated into your décor. Look to add leaves, acorns, pine cones and other natural elements that make sense for the area of the country that you live in.

Note that you don’t need to head out and gather up these items for your home. A quick trip to the local craft shop and you will be able to find everything that you need.

Pumpkin Spice Candles For An Autumn Scent

Finally, no décor makeover is complete without adding a little seasonal fragrance. Nothing smells more like autumn than a subtle pumpkin spice. Scented candles are an excellent way to add a scent to a room without being overpowering. They are also an excellent centerpiece for tables and can be used for mood lighting as well.

These are just a few of the many ways that you can add a sense of autumn warmth to your home. And if your home just isn’t “autumn” enough, contact me today and we can find the right options for you. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From Harm

Baby on the Way? Learn How to Child-proof Your Home so Your Baby Is Safe From HarmDo you have a baby on the way? If so, you are likely already wondering how you are supposed to make your home safe from harm. The good news is that with a little work, you’ll be able to make your house or apartment that much safer. Let’s take a look at how you can child-proof your home in under a few hours.

Start With The Baby’s Bedroom 

For the first few months, your baby will be spending a lot of time either sleeping or resting in their crib. You’ll want to keep the crib away from any cords, blinds, drapes or other items the baby might get their hands on. The crib itself should meet federal safety regulations and should be comfortable without being too restrictive.

Keep a watchful eye out for anything loose that the baby might be able to put in its mouth. All choking hazards should be kept well away from a crib.

Baby-Proofing The Halls And Stairs

Next, it’s time to take a quick sweep through your halls and stairways. Once your baby starts crawling, they’re at risk for falls and other issues. Go through your hallways and look for any items that the child might pull over. For example, if you have hall tables with plants or pictures on them, are there any fabric items which the baby might be able to reach?

Your stairways should have some sort of baby guards placed in front of them at all times. If possible, you’ll also want your stairs to be carpeted. This can help to reduce injury if your child takes a tumble down the stairs.

Keeping The Kitchen Safe

Finally, don’t forget the kitchen. There are all sorts of dangerous items in the average kitchen, from heavy appliances with loose cords to tablecloths that can lead to utensils on the floor. In short, everything should be kept in drawers and out of a child’s reach. Cupboards should be secured so that a baby can’t open them. If you want to go a bit further, consider installing some padding on the legs of hard kitchen furniture and on corners where a baby could bump their head.

It’s almost impossible to fully baby-proof a home, but the above checklist is a good start. If you have a baby on the way and are looking for a larger, safer home, contact me today at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood Floors

Upgrading Your Home? 5 Great Reasons to Make the Switch to Hardwood FloorsAre you tired of scouring the internet, trying to find the secret recipe for whatever will take stains out of your carpet? And the irritating annual steam cleaning ritual where your whole home is soaking wet for a couple of days? Ugh. If your old carpet has you down, it might be time for a change. In today’s blog post we’ll share five great reasons why you’ll want to make the switch from carpet to hardwood floors.

Your Home Will Look Amazing

Let’s face it. Unless you have a serious appreciation for all things shag, hardwood floors look much better than carpet. Available in a variety of colors and grains, hardwoods add a natural element to any room. They give off a much warmer appeal than carpet as well, especially when polished.

They’re Much Easier To Keep Clean

Spill on the floor? No problem. Pet has an accident? Rest easy. Hardwood flooring is far easier to keep clean than any form of carpeting. Your floor won’t absorb liquids and solids won’t leave a mess.

They’re A Great Equity-Building Investment

Hardwood floors are an excellent investment in your home. Some studies show that up to 75 percent of the cost will be returned when the house is sold, which puts hardwoods high on the list of equity-building renovations. Also, many home buyers are specifically looking for houses with hardwood flooring. So when you do choose to sell, your home may sell that much faster.

They Last Longer Than Carpets

The next time you are over at a friend’s house, take a look at their floors. Many homes have hardwood flooring that has been around for decades, requiring only the occasional refinishing to restore its former shine. Hardwoods last much longer than carpets and won’t require a full “rip and replace.”

Your Allergies Will Thank You

Finally, if you or any of your family members suffer from allergies, hardwood floors may be the answer. Carpets collect dust, which can lead to the formation of dust mites and other allergens. And while you can vacuum them regularly, only the very best vacuums have enough suction to get deep into the carpet fiber to remove this gunk.

These are just five of the many good reasons to invest in hardwood flooring for your home. If you’re in the market for a great new home or looking for funds to update your current home, contact me today and we will find the right mortgage options for you. You can contact me directly at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the Winter

5 Key Maintenance Tasks to Prepare Your Home for the WinterThe days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping and the kids are heading back to school. The approach of autumn means that winter is just around the corner. The question is – is your home ready? Break out your checklist and let’s run through five key maintenance tasks that will get your home prepared to face the winter.

Pack Up And Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

Unfortunately, the arrival of winter means that the patio has to be closed up for the season. It’s time to get chairs, tables and other furniture covered up or stored if you have space. The BBQ will also need to be covered or moved off to the shed or another dry area.

Get Your Windows Ready For Cold Weather

Next, take some time to inspect your windows for drafts, leaks and other issues. This can be as easy as shutting them tight on a windy day and using your senses to determine if any air is leaking in. Depending on where you live in the country, you might need to do some additional work on your windows to get them prepared for the cold.

Turn Down Your Garden, Plants And Flower Beds

Unless you have a garden full of robust, cold-loving plants, it’s likely that you will see most of them die off as we move from autumn into winter. Spend some time turning down your gardens and other areas. This can help to move nutrients into the soil where they’ll be ready to nourish new plants in the spring.

Check Your Furnace And Heating Ducts

If you haven’t used it in a few months, now is the time to fire up the furnace and check the home’s heating system. The last thing you want is to discover that your home isn’t heating on the first cold night!

Consider Giving The Roof And Gutters A Quick Inspection

Last but not least, don’t forget to check your roof for any damage or areas that might be prone to leaking. You will also want to check the gutters to ensure they are clear of debris. Keep in mind that this does involve climbing up a ladder and physically inspecting these areas. If you’re not good with heights or don’t own the proper equipment, don’t sweat it. Give a professional roofing team a call and have them handle the inspection instead.

The better your home is prepared for winter, the less likely you are to have a nasty surprise waiting for you in the spring. If you would rather upgrade or check out a newer home than try to winterize yours, contact me today at 661-412-0700 or at mjames@myccmortgage.com.