Infographic: San Mateo County Home Sales | August 2019


Posted on September 19, 2019 at 4:25 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day! This day isn’t just about clocking in and out of a job. It’s about recognizing the people around us who put in the time and effort to make our days brighter and better. One of those people is you! You deserve to kick back and enjoy this holiday.

Appreciating you this Labor Day!!

Virginia Acio

Virginia Acio

INTERO Real Estate Services

License: 02082033


Posted on September 2, 2019 at 4:49 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Alexa, Am I Out of Milk? Smart Appliances 101

It seems like everything is getting smart these days. First the phones were smart, then the thermostats. Now you can buy smart lighting, smart locks, smart cameras and even smart little sensors that can tell you when there’s a water leak or a window is unlocked. What about your appliances, though?

Smart appliances do exist, and they’ve seen a significant increase in popularity in recent years. They offer several useful features, including smartphone interactivity and increased energy efficiency. Consider the following to see if smart appliances are right for you.

What Makes Them ‘Smart’?

So-called “smart” devices are called this because they offer functionality beyond what you would receive from a non-smart version of the device. Smartphones run apps and feature options such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC payment options that standard cellular phones don’t. Smart thermostats are programmable and can read temperature data from multiple sensors to create a more comfortable environment throughout the whole home. The same convention applies to smart appliances: They can do things that your regular appliances can’t.

Smart Microwaves

There are a few different options available when it comes to smart microwaves. Some units can estimate the necessary cook time for what you’re heating up. You can also find smart microwaves that adjust their intensity automatically based on how well their contents are cooking, helping to prevent the dried out and rubbery texture that often comes from microwaving. Many smart microwaves can be controlled over Wi-Fi from your smartphone, and some even interface with virtual assistants like the Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa to allow voice commands as well.

Washers and Dryers

Smart washers and dryers are focused on saving you money, adjusting details like water level or dryer heat based on the size of your load to reduce energy costs. The ability to check their status and start or stop a cycle from a smartphone is also a big feature for smart washers and dryers, making it easier for you to control them without having to come back and check periodically to see if they’re still running. In many cases, the washer or dryer can even send an alert to your phone at the end of the cycle so that you know exactly when your clothes are ready.

Smart Refrigerators

Energy efficiency is a priority for smart refrigerators as well. In addition to more accurately measuring internal temperatures and working through cooling cycles more efficiently, some smart refrigerators are designed to maintain a more consistent internal temperature by reducing how often you open the door. A video screen in the door can be activated, turning on internal lights and a camera that shows you exactly what’s on the shelves. Depending on the model, these images can even be sent to a smartphone or accessed via an app so that you can get a clear view of what’s in the fridge while you’re at the store.

The Future Is Smart

Of course, these are only a few of the smart appliance options available to you. Smart air filtration systems, ice makers, blenders and more are available to help you live your best life while making your kitchen (and home) more efficient and easier to control. You can even get a Wi-Fi enabled version of your Instant Pot to give you easy control of what you’re cooking, regardless of whether you’re in the kitchen or not. As both these small appliances and larger smart appliances such as ovens and refrigerators become more common, consumers can expect even more connective versions of smart appliances moving into the future.

Getting Smart Your Way

If you’re ready to smarten up your home with some new appliances but aren’t sure where to start, let HomeKeepr help you find a consultant who can match you with the smart appliances you need. Sign up today to find consultants recommended by people you trust.


Posted on August 7, 2019 at 5:14 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Weeds, Wildflowers or Invasive Plants?

If you have plants popping up in your yard that you didn’t plant, your first instinct may be that it’s a weed. You very well might be right; after all, what are weeds except for unwanted plants? At the same time, it’s possible that you’ve got wildflowers growing on your property. Depending on your view of wildflowers, that could change things significantly.

Wildflowers can do a lot of good for bees and other local pollinators, giving a boost to your local ecosystem and adding some beauty to boot. If the flower is from an invasive species, though, even something useful can cause a lot of harm over time. How are you supposed to keep all of this straight, so you’ll know what to pull and what to leave alone?

All About Weeds

So what is a weed? It’s an unwanted plant, sure, but it is also a plant that will compete with your existing flowers and other plant life for resources. A good example of this is clover in your lawn. As time goes by, the clover out-competes the grass and largely takes over your yard. You’ll face similar problems with any weed if it manages to become established.

One of the things that makes weeds so competitive is that most of the time you can’t just pull them up and be done with them. Dandelions are typically considered a weed, and even if you pull up a dandelion early you’ll still see more in your yard. This is because they have deep root systems that continue growing even if the flower is pulled free. Really getting rid of weeds means figuring out what the weeds are and what the proper way to eliminate them is.

Weeds vs. Wildflowers

Some weeds (including the dandelions and clovers mentioned above) produce flowers and are usually frequented by bees and other pollinators. Despite this, they’re still considered weeds instead of wildflowers. So what’s the difference between the two?

The primary difference between weeds and wildflowers is how they grow. Weeds tend to spread once established, growing to consume as many additional resources as they can and spreading their seeds as far as possible. Wildflowers are not as aggressive with their growth, instead growing densely in an area and spreading out from that area at a slower pace. This is why wildflowers are not generally considered competitive with existing plants; they aren’t likely to overrun an area in a short period of time and are much easier to contain to a single area.

Invasive Plant Species

One thing to keep in mind is that both weeds and wildflowers can be considered invasive. For that matter, even some of the plants you buy at nurseries are considered invasive in some regions! An invasive plant species is one that is not native to the area, so other species aren’t able to compete with it as effectively as they would with plants that are native to the area.

This can be very problematic. Invasive species typically have different resource requirements than native species, so as they grow and spread, they may use resources in a way that shifts the balance of the local ecosystem. This shift can be very bad for local species, giving the invader a much stronger competitive advantage for those resources. In some cases, invasive species can actually eradicate native strains from the local area!

Identifying Unexpected Plants

If you want to promote the growth of wildflowers while getting rid of weeds and invasive plants, you need to learn to identify them. Search online to find out which weeds and invasive plants are common in your area, taking the time to search for images online so you can identify them even with slight variations in their appearances. There are also smartphone apps available that identify plants with a high degree of accuracy which you can use to identify weeds and invasive plants.

Another option is to take photos or clippings of the plants in question to your local agricultural extension office. They should be able to identify the plant for you and can also tell you whether it’s a weed or an invasive plant. If it needs to be removed, they can also provide suggestions for the most effective removal techniques.

Call in a Pro

If you’re not sure whether the plants in your yard are a burden or a boon, you might want to call in a landscaping professional to set things straight. HomeKeepr can help you to find the right pro for your needs with recommendations you can trust, so sign up today to get your yard in top shape!

 


Posted on August 1, 2019 at 6:12 pm
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged

Foundation Cracks Don’t Have to Spell Disaster

Cracks in the foundation of your house can be signs of a problem. This doesn’t mean that you should automatically worry if you see a few small cracks, however. Believe it or not, there are a few perfectly normal reasons why cracks can appear in your foundation. It’s important to look into the issue if you notice cracks – but hold off on assuming the worst until you determine whether there’s a problem worth worrying about.

What Causes Foundation Cracks?

There are a few different things that can cause cracks in your foundation. In some cases, the cracks are simply caused by the settling of your home over time or soil expansion if your home is built on land with a lot of clay in the soil. Other potential causes of foundation cracks include:

  • Drainage issues around the home
  • Insufficient reinforcement to support the weight of the house
  • Major home renovations or add-ons such as adding a second story
  • Tree roots under the soil
  • Earthquakes, sinkholes or landslides that have affected the area
  • Deep soil freezing during the winter

As you can see, there are a lot of potential reasons why cracks might appear in your foundation. This isn’t even an all-inclusive list! Despite the wide range of possible causes, it’s important to not get ahead of yourself and worry over the cracks until you’ve figured out whether they actually indicate a serious problem.

Examining Foundation Cracks

The first thing you should do when you notice cracks in your foundation is get a good look at them and where they appear. Taking photos may help with this since they’ll give you an easy-to-access reference later on. If possible, include an object of known size in the pictures to give you a sense of scale; coins, ink pens or other common objects are easy to use in this regard.

When looking at the cracks in your foundation, take note of the direction of the crack, how wide the crack is and whether it has a uniform width. If there is an obvious point of origin (such as a crack that starts at the corner of a basement window or foundation vent) then you should take note of this as well. If you have a crawlspace or basement under your home, go in and examine the foundation wall from the other side to see if the crack is visible there was well. The more information you have about the crack, the easier it will be to determine whether there’s a problem.

Is the Crack a Problem?

Small, thin cracks in the foundation usually aren’t much to be concerned about; they typically form as the house and the soil beneath it settle into place. Likewise, small cracks that appear after a particularly harsh winter shouldn’t be a major concern since they are easy to seal before the next bout of cold weather comes around. There are some cracks that you need to watch out for, though.

Horizontal cracks, straight vertical cracks and cracks that are wider at one end than the other are all signs of potential problems. These can indicate that the foundation is cracking due to a much larger problem than just settling or bad weather. Check the depth of the crack, especially if you have a crawlspace or basement; a crack that goes all the way through the foundation wall can be very bad indeed. You should also see if there are multiple cracks forming around the same area or if any of the cracked areas correspond with cracks or other issues inside the house.

If the cracks seem recent, clean up the area and place marks on the wall beside the cracks. This will let you look for new debris or changes to the crack length over the next several days. Large cracks or cracks that seem to still be growing need to be repaired before they can cause significant issues.

Are You Worried About Your Foundation?

Even if you’re handy around the house, you might not be confident in your ability to analyze cracks in your foundation. Fortunately, there are pros out there who can examine your foundation and help you take whatever action is needed to fix any problems. The HomeKeepr network can help you find the professional you need, backing up your decision with recommendations from people you trust.


Posted on July 30, 2019 at 2:37 am
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

Demystify Your Credit Score Calculation

Understanding how your credit score goes together and how to improve it is a bit of a murky subject. The advice out there is not always consistent and depends on the financial viewpoint of the source. However, there are concrete factors that do go into the calculation of a credit score and when you understand what ingredients go into the mix, you can cook up a sweet situation for yourself. To begin, you will need to understand the many financial terms that you will encounter.

Learning the lingo

A credit utilization, or utilization ratio, is how much of your total available credit is open for use. Most of the advice you find states that a ratio under 30% is good, but a better number is under 15%. Revolving credit cards are those accounts that you can leave a balance on and roll it over month-to-month, paying over time. Examples of these would be your major name cards, some gas cards, and department store cards. Installment plans are your auto, home loans, and student loans. Charge card credit accounts are those that you pay in full each month. An example is American Express Charge Card versus American Express Credit Card. Service credit accounts are those you have an agreement with, like your utilities or cell phone service provider. In the end, having a mix of credit types helps to raise your credit score.

Helpful hints for credit scores

Another thing that helps your score is the age or history, of your credit accounts. Age counts for a percentage of your creditworthiness. The older your accounts are, the better, proof that time is on your side. Closing accounts can raise your ratio, so be careful about what you decide to do with paid-off credit cards or lines of credit. Even though you are not going to use that account, you may want to leave it open at a zero balance to help keep your ratio low. Apply for new credit only when you need to. For example, when buying a vehicle or a home, having too many inquiries for new credit in a small period can lower your score. Paying on time is a tremendous way to keep your score in a desirable range. Pay on or before the due date, every month. Keeping an eye on your utilization ratio so you can be sure to keep your score where you want.

Take the time this month to calculate your credit utilization ratio.

#creditscore #personalfinance #howto


Posted on July 26, 2019 at 1:06 am
Virginia Acio | Posted in Uncategorized |

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