Welcome to our blog!

The smart side & heart side of real estate

Silicon Valley Real Estate News, Market Trends...having an investor mindset & a look at what makes a house a home.

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics, property investing, and home values to community happenings. In Silicon Valley many people are concerned about making it financially - our focus is to encourage an investor mindset, even for residential real estate, at the same time we cover what truly makes a house a home.

That’s because we care about the community, your Silicon Valley experience, and want to help you find your place in it.

We also have a little bit of fun here! Our team lead Kelsey Lane has been in real estate 17 years, and this is a forum not only for new clients, yet also for friends, family and the many clients and vendors who have become like friends and family.

Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 2, 2023

State of the Real Estate market in San Jose and Surrounding Areas

Written by Kelsey Lane

 

It's February 1st and now that we have enough of 2023 under our belt, I thought I'd weigh in on the state of the real estate market. Even though I called this the current "San Jose Real Estate Market" it's really the trends for Santa Clara County. Because of the economic weight of Silicon Valley, San Jose is the epicenter that affects much of the Bay Area real estate market.

Almost everyone whether or a realtor or homeowner, or wanna be homeowner, freaked out about the market starting to soften during the last half of 2022. By now, you've already heard it has been generally because of inflation and higher than typical mortgage rates. In October and November of last year, interest rates hit the highest they've been in 20 years, so it's no joke.

Additionally, home prices came off of the pandemic-frenzy prices, softening.

Since then, I've been attending many economical forecast summits and real estate market workshops, and I've noticed a few common threads. First of all, most industry leaders believe that if homebuyers employ the strategy of buying at today's softened prices that when mortgage rates go down, there will be an opportunity to refinance having locked in a good price on a home. Since over time home prices tend to go up 5-10% average annually in the Bay Area if you hold a home long enough, I see the insight in this plan.

Brian Buffini, who trains Realtors nationwide and who is typically right in his annual predictions purports that owning property is the best hedge against inflation. His logic is that if you have cash sitting in the bank it will dwindle at the rate of inflation, whereas if you invest it, over time it will grow.

I have clients ask me lately if it's a good time to sell a house in the Bay Area now. For the most part, I don't believe in trying to time the market. I've observed that people who attempt this, usually end up selling after the peak or before the peak. A better approach is to evaluate your reasons for selling, and whether it's the right time in your life to make the move. Since you'd likely be buying somewhere, if the market is soft you'll be getting a deal on your purchase. There are ways to enhance sales price, and then maximize a bargain during your home buying - I'm happy to discuss if you want to go to coffee or have a phone chat. (We have signature systems for both.)

As for specifics in the San Jose and surrounding area, inventory of homes is up slightly both from where it was last month and also last year at this time. Where it was taking about a month to go through the current "supply" given the number of buyers in the market, now it's taking about 2.5 months. Homes last year were selling in 2 weeks, and then in January in about month - currently days on market is 35. In the grand scheme of "days on market" this is still relatively short. Many other states in the U.S. experience that even 3 months average is decent for days on market statistics. What I'm seeing in the actual marketplace is that the more desirable homes in good condition and nice locations is they're selling quickly with multiple offers even in this market. Challenged homes in other areas can still be finessed to have similar results.

While last year, homes were selling way above the list price, the average now is just barely under the list price. That doesn't seem so horrible to me if I think about my 20 years as an agent. The average price of all properties in Santa Clara County is up already from last month, from $1,505,797 to $1,647,953. Single family home sale price averages have dipped just below 2M after seeing incredulous peaks in 2022 much higher than that.

For additional counties (e.g. Alameda, San Mateo, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, San Francisco), please let us know and we'll make sure we get the information to you.

 

All in all, the market is stabilizing and it's projected that interest rates will come down a bit. Inflation is promisingly on a downward trend. Inventory will begin to go up and climb and then start going down at the end of the year - because of this, buyers in the market for a new home will have more to choose from. Their other added benefits will be time to think, do due diligence, make a wise decision, and have a variety of homes to choose from as they shop. Home sellers will have an easier time on their "up leg" as far as identifying a home to move into and getting their offers accepted (this would of course apply to downsizers as well).

Brian Buffini also projects prices to remain mostly stable this year, with a possible 1% gain. Next year he said there would be about a 4 to 5 % gain. 

 

Usually what I see is that a move, whether buying or selling, means change. Change can be exciting, and it can also be difficult. People move for new jobs and to be near family (like a new baby), but they also move for divorce or sell a family home due to the death of a family member. While not pleasant to talk about, it's reality and it affects whether timing is right when it comes to real estate decisions. Some people buy or sell strategically to reach their goals. No matter what the reason, taking time to assess what is right for you in your own life can mean a world of difference compared to only looking at numbers and statistics. As always, I'm happy to talk it over whenever you like.

 

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Kelsey Lane has been a Realtor in the Silicon Valley since 2003 and is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, specializing in listings. She works at Compass. She is also coaching certified through the Life Purpose Institute and approaches her real estate business through the eyes of a life coach. Cal-DRE #01390557 

Feb. 2, 2023

Visual Time Plotting for Peace of Mind

Journal and coffee www.kelseylane.com

Written by Nicole Kleemann

 

Decision Making, Inner Critics & Fears

Recently, a client of mine quit her job and decided to take some time off for herself, to meet up with friends and family, and determine what the next step really needed to look like.

On first glance taking time off to gain clarity and see friends and family sounds amazing, right? Or does it sound a bit indulgent? And how do you answer the question: What do you do in the next couple of following months, when you are used to saying: I am a [job title] at [company]?

When we create substantial change in our lives we are not only feeling excited, we can also be feeling a lot of fear and worry. Most people think that the financial side is the biggest worry. However, the length of time someone can take off work financially, and what the budget will be, can be figured out pretty fast.

What is much harder to deal with are the old beliefs and insecurities we have around taking time off. In a world where go-go-go is the way of being and FOMO is around every corner, taking time for oneself is hard. Some people already struggle with guilt and feel selfish when they try to take just 30 minutes a week for themselves. Can you imagine what happens when you increase this to two or three months of time off? Possibly a major stomach churn!

 

Reflect and Visualize

In the conversation with my client, I asked her what she likes to do and experience during her time off and she had two, well really three, thoughts as a response:

  • Gain clarity on her next career move.
  • Spend time with family and friends.

And ideally…

  • Learn something new.

Then I asked her how many friends and family members she wanted to see, and how much time she wanted to spend on learning something new and gaining clarity on her next career move.

While she was talking, I took notes and counted how many days that would take. And with friends and family, and the networking she wanted to do, it showed her as already being busy for a whole month. Vacation time to rest, relax, learn something new and what I call unforeseeables were not even covered yet.

And while I had created a visual while listening to her and taking notes, she had not done so yet herself. So her homework was to get a calendar with monthly spreads, post-it notes, colored markers, and highlighters and start marking the days.

You don’t need to quit your job or business to go through this process. If you think about what’s important to you in your life for the next couple months, you can have a brainstorming session with yourself and then start making a rough draft of a calendar to see what it would look like.

 

Make it tangible

Writing it down on paper helps to calm your worries as you have visible and tangible evidence of what the next few weeks or months could be. You see and know exactly how many days you have ahead of you and what open time and space is available.

According to research, writing things down has a higher memory recall than using digital means. You are more mindful while writing by hand, which is likely why it calms the worried brain. You are actually 25% faster than typing, and most importantly in this case “paper notebooks contain more spatial information than digital paper.” Paper does not disappear when you close the app, so we worry less that we will forget something. We recall much better what we wrote on paper than what we typed into our laptop. And it is very hard to see several months at one glance on any digital screen.

Visualizing your next two to three months on paper is a great way to:

  • Gain clarity & calm your mind
  • Note your goals and milestones
  • Figure out the best flow to take some time off
  • See where and when your work time fits in – looking for a new job, doing current projects, etc.

Personally, I like a wall calendar as I need to see 3-4 months at a glance to manage my projects. My client chose a travel compatible planner. Evaluate and plan out what will work best for you. It’s a worthy endeavor with huge benefits and a lifetime of payback.

 

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Nicole Kleemann, Leadership Empowerment Coach, is a regular guest blogger in our Heart of the Home series. She can be reached at https://www.nicolekleemann.com/ -- and other inspiring blog posts can be found there as well.

Posted in Heart of the home
Nov. 8, 2022

Steps in Selling Your Home

by Kelsey Lane

Various reasons may be prompting you to sell your home, or to look into the possibility of what it would take to sell it. Some examples would be clients who need to move further away from the urban center to get more space, or to downsize after kids going to college, etc. Others may be going through a life transition that is a catalyst for change to their housing needs. Whatever the situation, it can be helpful to know the steps involved in selling your home.

1) Schedule a preliminary walk through with your Realtor 

The first step is typically to have a trusted Realtor that you know or that you've been referred to come to take a look at your house, so they can help you with a list of what preparation work would need to be done in advance of selling. The Realtor can help you determine a budget for any prep work, and give you an idea if you'd be coordinating the work or if their team handles it.

 

2) Comparable sales report

Enlist the Realtor's help to give you a report of an average of the sales prices in your area for similarly sized homes with up to the minute data. And concurrently, a report of home sale prices in the area you'll be moving to (if you're moving well out of the area, your Realtor can give you a referral to a good agent in the new area, who can provide this report).

 

3) Start organizing, packing and storing

We typically advise clients to pack away 1/3 of their belongings if they'll be living in the home while it's on the market. If you move completely out of the house before putting it on the market, you'll receive the highest price for your sale. Circumstances don't always allow for this, but it's the most profitable way to sell a house.

 

4) Perform priority repairs and remodeling work, if doing.

If you've moved out already your Realtor team will likely coordinate any repair work that you've decided to do. If you're still living in the home, you may need to personally collect bids from contractors to get everything going.

 

5) Cleaning, staging, inspections, and disclosures

These all belong in the same phase because they take place around the same short timeframe the week prior to going on the market. You'll be filling out your disclosures while work is being done in your home. Staging is highly recommend -- it's documented that your market time will be shorter, and your net profit will be significantly higher. Having inspections done ahead of time also helps you in the long run - your negotiating power is higher since there are no surprises and it puts you in control of owning the documents that note the condition of the home.

 

6) Launching the listing

Your Realtor will be putting your home on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and employing a full panel of marketing strategies to draw in showings and offers. During this time period, potential buyers and their agents will be making appointments to tour the property, and your Realtor will give you updates and feedback about the showings.

 

7) Negotiating an offer

If your price is in line with the market, given the condition and location of your home, you'll likely have a buyer in contract during a standard amount of days for your area. Check with your Realtor to find out the typical days on market for your neighborhood.

 

8) Escrow time period

Once you have a signed contract, it takes anywhere from 10 days to close (for a cash offer) or up to 30-45 days for a closing involving a buyer who's getting a loan. At the beginning of escrow the buyer's good faith earnest money deposit will be sent in to the escrow/title company and will stay there until closing time. During this time, often repairs are re-negotiated as well. Mostly, it's the time period for the buyer to finalize their financing.

 

9) Closing and recording

Right at the very end, you'll do your final sign-off of closing documents. Don't forget to call your utilities and let them know to release it out of your name on the estimated closing date. Make sure all your keys are at the house or with the Realtor, and generally sweep and wipe down any surfaces to remove significant debris (have the yard tidied up as well). The buyer will send the rest of their downpayment in to the escrow/title company. Once their loan funds arrive at the escrow/title company the transaction will be recorded at the local county level. Then it will be closed!

 

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Kelsey Lane has been a Realtor in the Silicon Valley since 2003 and is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, specializing in listings. She works at Compass. She is also coaching certified through the Life Purpose Institute and approaches her real estate business through the eyes of a life coach. Cal-DRE #01390557 

 

Posted in Home selling
Nov. 5, 2022

Overcoming Social Anxiety

by Manuela Pauer

What if you could just be yourself without any anxiety?

Unfortunately many of us feel that if we were truly being ourselves in our work, our relationships and our life, we would be judged by others.

We fear people will see something “bad” in us and will reject us for it.

What is Social Anxiety?

Ellen Hendriksen, author of “How To Be Yourself: Quiet Your Inner Critic and Rise Above Social Anxiety,” defines social anxiety as  “the fear of being scrutinized, judged and found lacking in social or performance situations that gets in the way of doing the things you want or need to do.”

Social anxiety is more common that you think. 99% of people say they have experienced social anxiety in a particular situation. 40% of people consider themselves to be shy. And yes, I myself experience social anxiety quite often.

The great news is that people who are socially anxious have some wonderful strengths: They tend to be careful thinkers, conscientious, empathetic, considerate and helpful.

Yet anyone who has experienced social anxiety, knows how painful and debilitating it can feel.

What can we do to overcome Social Anxiety?

Here are 3 practices that Hendriksen recommends:

1.       Play a role to build your true self

In the next social interaction you have, give yourself some structure by choosing a role for yourself that allows you to build up and reinforce the real you.

Examples of roles you could take on:

Advocate, host, pet parent, unofficial photographer, takeout master.

2.      Affirm yourself with what you know is true about yourself

Before your next task that makes you anxious, write out your intrinsic values. For example: I am a loyal friend. I am a good listener. I work hard. I have a great sense of humor.

You can also acknowledge yourself for the times you did the right thing, for example -- a time when you stood by a friend when nobody else did.

3.      Let go of your safety behavior

We all have behaviors that we think will keep us safe in social situations.

For example:

Not looking someone in the eyes. - Rehearsing what you will say while the other person is talking.

Looking at your phone during any breaks. - Unfortunately, the message it sends is that you are aloof, distant, snobby, or prickly, when nothing further could be from the truth. 

Notice what behavior you usually engage in and let go of it during your next social interaction.

 

Don't wait until you are confident first

We think we need to feel confident first, in order to be ready to take actions on things we are anxious about.

That is not true.

The way you gain confidence is by doing things before you are ready, while you are still scared.

Which of these practices do you want to try?

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Manuela loves helping mid-level professionals create a career and life they love. Contact her for a free 45 minute Career and Life Strategy session. Get more information on Manuela’s Website.

Posted in Heart of the home
Sept. 6, 2022

Interview with Michael Garcia, Succulent Gardening

 

Michael Garcia is in our community of readers and was telling Kelsey about his love of succulents. She was drawn to his explanation of the hobby and wanted to share it with everyone, as part of our new ongoing series of enjoying our homes and lifestyles:

Q: Michael, you mentioned to me that you find growing succulents very therapeutic? How so?

A: I want to clarify and start by saying this hobby took time and a lot of effort to become therapeutic. At first, I did not have very many gardening tools or supplies or plants. I had to learn about proper plant care, soil types, container types and the biggest problems: bugs, plus how often to water. Once I had a general understanding, I was hooked. I wanted to recreate the propagation process. I found out the hard way that without large plants this is hard to do. I had visited a local San Jose favorite for succulents called Evergreen Farm and bought several small 2 inch and 4 inch pots to get started. I watered way too often and killed everything I had in a short period of time. It's funny now but was frustrating at the time. I started over. I went back to Evergreen Farms and bought more. I also went to other succulent nurseries throughout the bay area and bought many larger plants. When you buy large quantities and at smaller farms you can negotiate for better deals. I wanted to buy these larger plants so that I could create my own “propagation pattern trays.”

The reason I find growing succulents therapeutic is because there is something to be said about caring for things and getting results. There is also the fact that life can be challenging. Our lives are all complicated – such as family dynamics, grieving the loss of someone through death, divorce or drugs. I have had my share of many happy times in life but life has also had its challenges. In my life, I needed an outlet or just a temporary escape -- something that took my mind off of the day-to-day stress and my divorce. I needed something I could focus my attention on to help me relax and feel a sense of a simple accomplishment. This is when I turned to succulents and propagation. I like how my hands feel in the soil when I am creating a pattern of propagation or even repotting an offspring from a larger plant. When you have large overgrown succulent plants, you can remove pieces and start a new plant or propagate. As time goes on, I have so many new little plants, which of course get bigger. I end up giving these plants away to my good friends and family. I want others to share in the joy that these plants bring to me.

Q: How did you originally get into growing succulents? 

A: It started by accident. I am a lover of all photography, especially landscape, floral, and black and white photography. My love for photos of plant patterns, colors and designs led me to look on social media for additional photos. I originally came across a photo of a beautiful (Graptoveria Opalina) succulent on a group page. The colors were so unique and irresistible. That is when I made the decision to join that particular succulent group, to see more of the great colorful plant photos. Once in the group, I saw so much more interesting plants and topics. One of the posts asked the question: "How many succulent plants do you have?" At that moment, I was a new homeowner for about two months. I walked my front and back yards in search of anything that looked close to a succulent. I was shocked to learn that I had four. At the time I couldn't tell you what types of succulents these were. I have since learned that I had an aloe plant, a Jade plant, an echeveria and an Aeonium. The Aeonium was my favorite because it was the biggest I had at the time. The more I returned to this group page, the more I learned about these plants, their survival and propagation of these plants. The coolest thing about it was that everyone on this group page was super friendly! 

 

Q: Do you have a favorite type?

This is a hard question. It is hard to pick just one when there are so many types and varieties. I would have to say that in my possession, it would have to be the Echeveria Agavoides “Lipstick”. I love this plant because of its dark red tips. The darkness is based on the amount of sun it gets. The more the sun, the darker and wider the red tips become. I also have a plant that I thought had died but I found it living under some other taller succulents after months of not caring for them. That plant is called “Haworthia Cooperi”. I like this one because of its see-through puffy structure. I guess I also like it because I managed to continue to make it survive. It’s been 18 months since I found it and it is still going strong. The plants I would love to own are “String of Pearls” and “Hens and Chicks” plants. I have had them before but managed to kill them (probably from over watering or improper soil or not enough drain holes). 

 

Q: Is this a difficult hobby for someone to start doing? 

A: Well, my answers of the last two questions might make you think it’s difficult, but it is not. It is actually very easy as long as you develop an understanding for when your succulents go dormant, how often you should water them, proper soil for your plants, and drainage.  Succulents like to have their roots completely dry before you water again. This was hard for me to understand when I first started. When I water now, I keep track of the day I watered. I’ll return and check my plants after two weeks. If the soil feels dry, I’ll wait another two weeks and water again. Yes, I wait about a month to water again. Sometimes even longer than that. I have learned that the longer you wait, the better their survival rate. Some succulent people say, the less you care about your plants, the better their chances to live. The more you care, the sooner they die. Most people who start caring for succulents usually over water. When you water too often, the roots do not have a chance to dry out. This is when they get “root rot” and die. Sad but true. I have learned a lot about succulents over the last five years. Actually, I learned what not to do first. Haha. 

Q: A friend of mine gave me some succulent cuttings and said I can just stick them in the ground and water them. I am super excited about this - how soon do I need to plant them so they don't dry out? 

A: Well, depending on the variety, sometimes that is the case. If your friend is a succulent lover and told you to do this, I would do as they say and stick it in soil asap. 

In my opinion, plants go into shock when cut and do not like to be watered right away. I  would put it in soil, wait a week and then water it. If you repot the plant, make sure your plant stands on it’s own and the thick leaves do not touch soil. Then when you do water, make sure the leaves don’t get wet. Some people like to water their plants by submerging the plant container into a tub so that the water comes up the drainage hole and waters just the roots. This is an option but not necessary.

On a different note, if your new succulent cutting has thick, water-storing type leaves, you may want to wait a week for your new plant cutting to build up a “callus.” To do this, you want to store your plant in a cool dry place with indirect sunlight. You want the part that is cut to dry up. About a couple weeks after it has been cut, the callus happens. About two weeks to a month later, the plant should start to spout roots. These roots are looking for water and trying to survive. It can survive off of the nutrients inside the thick body and leaves. I usually wait a few weeks after the roots start showing through before I repot. These plants are very forgiving when neglected but not very forgiving when over-watered.   

 

I would like to conclude this interview by saying that I am not an expert on succulent growing but speak from my 5 years experience with these plants in the South San Francisco bay area. Different areas with high heat will affect succulents differently. When starting out, be patient, it can be lots of fun and rewarding. If you want help, I am up for meeting new friends. 

 

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Michael Garcia can be reached at Michael.garcia83@gmail.com .  He has requested you put “Your Succulent Interview” in the subject line of your email.

If you have a hobby that is therapeutic, or calming, or exciting and rejuvenating that you'd like to share, please email kelsey@kelseylane.com . We're beginning a series on enjoying our homes and creating a happy lifestyle in our surroundings. Kelsey can work with you on a Q & A sequence so others in our network can learn from your experience

Posted in Heart of the home
Sept. 6, 2022

Tips for Going Green, Part 3

 

Going green has become more than just a trend, especially when it comes to home remodeling or improvements. Buyers are looking for homes with energy efficient and cost-saving features. Demand for green housing has been growing, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on home buyers’ preference.

This is the 3rd and last article in a three part series with some suggestions from [link] (www.homewarranty.com) on things to consider when going green. 

 

Flooring 

If your carpet or other flooring is old, worn out, and needs replacing, consider wood floors. Home buyers are attracted to wood floors for their beauty and warmth as well as for practical reasons, because hardwood: 

  • is easy to clean and maintain 
  • can be sanded, refinished and renewed 
  • promotes a healthier indoor living environment 

 

Check out these facts from a 2006 national survey conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association: 

  • 99% of agents agree that homes with hardwood floors are easier to sell 
  • 82% agree that homes with hardwood floors sell faster 
  • 90% agree that homes with hardwood floors sell for more money. 

 

When looking to install hardwood floors, look for products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This means that utmost care was taken to harvest wood using sustainable methods. Other natural floor coverings include cork, bamboo, some linoleums and concrete are also available. 

 

Landscape

  • Plant a tree. Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses for cooling. 
  • Consider water use when replacing the irrigation system—native plants are well adapted to the amount of water your community usually gets and will cut down on overall watering needs. 
  • Replace outdoor flood lights with compact-fluorescent versions— they’re just as bright and use 1/4 the energy. 
  • Replace low-wattage halogen landscape bulbs with LED versions. They cut energy use by over 80% and can last for 10 years or more. 
  • Install motion sensors on any nonessential lights. New versions just screw right into your existing light socket. A typical 100-watt flood light, if used for six hours per day, can consume up to $40 of electricity a year. 
  • Consider solar-powered outdoor lighting for walks, paths and more. 

 

Pool and Spa

  • Consider a time clock that will give you day-to-day, automatic control over your filter’s and heater’s hours of operation. 
  • Consider replacing your old pump. Pools are commonly equipped with larger pumps than needed. Replacing an oversized pool pump—even one in good working order—with a smaller, energy-e cient pump is an investment that usually pays for itself in just two to four years. 
  • Go solar. Solar pool heating systems are especially effective during the summer months and can back up a regular pool heater in the spring and the fall. A solar pool heating system can be a significant investment, so make sure the savings have a payback time of less than, or equal to, the useful life of the equipment

 

Before purchasing any of these items for your home, check with your local gas and electric company for possible tax credits and rebates. Also check with federal, state, and local government agencies. Estimate your potential savings by using one of the many online free energy audit calculators and if you need to buy appliances consider ENERGY STAR® rated appliances. You can get more detailed information about the ENERGY STAR® program on their [web site] as well as a list of products that qualify for rebates. 

Please don't hesitate to contact the Kelsey Lane Real Estate team if you have questions or if you would like some guidance on which home improvements will be best for you. 

 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON GOING GREEN:

July 20, 2022

Tips for Going Green Part 2

This is the second in a three part series with some tips from Fidelity National Home Warranty on things to consider when going green. 

Dishwasher 

  • Consider replacing the dishwasher with an ENERGY STAR® dishwasher. These require an average of 4 gallons of water per load, compared with the 24 gallons it takes to do them in the sink. Using one will save 5,000 gallons of water, $40 in utility costs, and 230 hours of your time each year. 

Refrigerator 

  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need adjusting, the seal may need replacing, or you might want to consider buying a new energy efficient unit. Consider replacing the refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR® unit. Most any refrigerator made before 2000 is an energy waster compared to today's most efficient models. 

Oven and Cooktop 

  • Check the seal on your oven door for cracks or tears. Even a small tear or gap can allow heat to escape. 
  • Replace old and worn cooktop burners with new ones—they will reflect the heat better and save energy. If you need new ones, buy quality. The best on the market can save as much as 1/3 of the energy used when cooking on top of the stove! 
  • Consider using gas. A gas stove costs less than half as much to operate as an electric one, provided it is equipped with electronic ignition instead of a pilot light. The electronic pilotless ignitions reduce gas usage by about 30% over a constantly burning pilot light. 
  • If you don’t have one, consider buying a self-cleaning oven. They use less energy for normal cooking because of higher insulation levels. 
  • Consider a convection oven. Convection ovens distribute heat more evenly than ordinary ovens, so cooking time and cooking temperatures can be reduced, cutting energy use by about a third, on average. 

Heating, Cooling and Lighting 

  • Replace as many light bulbs as you can with compact fluorescent light bulbs. You’ll get more light and use less energy. 
  • Install a programmable thermostat. You can save as much as 10% on heating and cooling bills a year. 
  • Install ENERGY STAR® ceiling fan/light combination units. ENERGY STAR® rated ceiling fan/light combination units are about 50% more efficient than conventional units and can save approximately $10 per year. 
  • Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap, or use mastic sealant. 
  • Insulate ceilings to R-30 standards if your attic has less than R-19. 
  • Caulk windows, doors and anywhere air leaks in or out. Do not caulk around the water heater and furnace exhaust pipes. 
  • Weatherstrip around windows and doors. 
  • Replace old windows with new high performance dual pane windows. Select windows with air leak ratings of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less. 
  • If your old air conditioner/heating unit is on its way out, replace it with an ENERGY STAR® labeled energy efficient model. 

Around the House 

  • Install Solar Panels. You can also invest in a small solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system. This system has solar panels that collect the sun’s energy and convert it into usable electricity for your home. Solar panels are advanced enough to follow the sun throughout the day, but in general, they produce less energy when there is less sun. 
  • For indoor paint jobs, use low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints to create a healthy and attractive home. More and more paint lines are ordering selections to meet every aesthetic.

 

Before purchasing any of these items for your home, check with your local gas and electric company for possible tax credits and rebates. Also check with federal, state, and local government agencies. Estimate your potential savings by using one of the many online free energy audit calculators and if you need to buy appliances consider ENERGY STAR® rated appliances. You can get more detailed information about the ENERGY STAR® program on their [web site] as well as a list of products that qualify for rebates. 

 

Please don't hesitate to contact the Kelsey Lane Real Estate team if you have questions or if you would like some guidance on which home improvements will be best for you. 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON GOING GREEN:

 

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Information provided by Fidelity National Home Warranty: www.homewarranty.com

July 20, 2022

The 5 C's of Communication

The 5 Cs of Communication by Forbes and Sheeba Varghese Career Coach

Written by Sheeba Varghese

Why Understanding Communication is Key.

I have never met a person who doesn't communicate in some way, shape, or form...have you? We all know communication is extremely important as a leader, within our families, with our goals, on social media, and the list goes on. Communicating effectively helps us share how we feel, delegate to our team, set new expectations, handle conflict, cultivate trust; it’s how we interact on a daily basis.

Did you realize that you are always communicating? From slack messages, to zoom meetings, you are communicating with your facial expression, posture, words, tone, and even with emojis.

With the rapid pace we are moving these days, clear communication is being overlooked in favor of "getting the job done". In the aftermath, we are finding that results may occur, but it is happening at a great cost. When one thinks of remote teams, hybrid teams, global teams, multi-generational teams, great care actually needs to be taken when we are communicating. 

What are the two types of communication?

Verbal: Verbal communication is "interpersonal communication that includes oral communication, written communication, and sign language. Verbal communication relies on words to convey meaning between two or more people." And it seems more and more, that our verbal communication needs a decoder in many situations. People are talking at each other, and over each other, but not really with each other. 

Nonverbal: Nonverbal communication, the other type, "encompasses a whole host of physicalized cues that convey emotional states and complement verbal messages. Nonverbal human communication involves many different parts of the body and can be either conscious or subconscious on the part of the communicator." And sadly, people make many assumptions with nonverbal communication. For example, a face showing a lack of emotion can seem like the person is not interested, while silence can be interpreted as a lack of interest or understanding; while both assumptions may be far from the truth. 

Both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication are key in life and in business. You cannot have one without the other. Two tools that I use with clients to help them understand the various communication styles are DiSC and TypeCoach. 

 

A Forbes article discusses the 5C's of communication as this:

Be Clear: Know what you need and want from someone before you tell them. Try not to react emotionally or defensively.

Be Concise: Keep what you're saying simple and direct and keep the conversation moving forward.

Provide a Compelling request: Offer a solution to the person that you would be happy with. 

Be Curious: Ask the other person what they need and what issues they may have. Don't let the conversation be one-sided.

Be Compassionate: Put your own opinions and assumptions about someone aside when you're listening to them. This will help them open up more to you.

I also would add a 6th one that is just as important as these other points. 

Be Conscientious: Be aware of your nonverbal communication and what it is saying to the other person. Self-awareness is critical when you are communicating something.

 

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Sheeba Varghese is an award winning Leadership Trainer and Executive Coach who's clients include Emerging Leaders, Managers, Senior Directors, Vice Presidents and Partners who seek leadership excellence within their role and/or teams. She helps teams communicate, and can assist with DiSC and Typecoach assessments. You can read Sheeba's other articles HERE.

Posted in Heart of the home
June 18, 2022

Home Tips for Going Green

Going green has become more than just a trend, especially when it comes to home remodeling or improvements. Buyers are looking for homes with energy efficient and cost-saving features. Demand for green housing has been growing, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) on home buyers’ preference. And as homeowners, going green can save you money of course and increase peace of mind. 

This is the first in a three part series with some tips from Fidelity National Home Warranty on things to consider when going green. 

 

Plumbing 

  • Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. 

Hot Water Heater 

  • Insulate your water heater. Wrapping your water heater with a water heater insulation blanket will cost you about $20 up front and save you about $102 per year. 
  • Consider natural gas on-demand or tankless water heaters. Research shows savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural gas storage tank water heater. 

Washer and Dryer 

  • If you are considering replacing your washing machine, look at buying a front loading machine instead of a top loading one. Front loading machines use less detergent, less water and do less damage to clothes. An added benefit—clothes come out drier and require less drying time. 
  • ENERGY STAR® rated clothes washer will save you approximately $50 per year on your utility bill and approximately 7,000 gallons of water a year. If you have to replace the dryer, look for a clothes dryer with a moisture sensor that automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.

Bathrooms 

  • Consider installing low-flush toilets. They use less water and are quieter when flushed. Older toilets use as much as 5 gallons per flush (GPF), compared to new models’ 1.6 GPF. Dual-flush models save even more. 
  • Check to see if the toilet tank’s flapper is leaking. Pour food coloring into the water in the tank, wait two hours, and then check to see if any color has seeped into the bowl. If it has, your tank’s flapper is leaking, either from mineral build-up or worn parts. After you flush the dye away so it doesn’t stain, head to the hardware store for a replacement flapper assembly and install. Toilet leaks waste up to a gallon of water per minute. That’s more than 43,000 gallons a month. 
  • Install low flow showerheads. They can save as much as 14,600 gallons of water a year—especially if you limit your showers to 10 minutes. It will also save on your annual water bill, and $150 a year on water heating. 
  • Consider adding a skylight in your bathroom to increase natural light and decrease your dependence on electricity. 
  • For finishing touches, find caulk, adhesives and sealants that are specifically made for the bathroom, and are labeled either low-VOCs or noVOCs (volatile organic compounds).

 

Before purchasing any of these items for your home, check with your local gas and electric company for possible tax credits and rebates. Also check with federal, state, and local government agencies. Estimate your potential savings by using one of the many online free energy audit calculators and if you need to buy appliances consider ENERGY STAR® rated appliances. You can get more detailed information about the ENERGY STAR® program on their website as well as a list of products that qualify for rebates. 

Please don't hesitate to contact the Kelsey Lane Real Estate team if you have questions or if you would like some guidance on which home improvements might be best for you. 

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON GOING GREEN:

 

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Information provided by Fidelity National Home Warranty: www.homewarranty.com

 

June 18, 2022

Creating Your Best Summer Ever

Creating the Best Summer Ever Kelsey Lane Real Estate Elisabeth Stitt

Written by Elisabeth Stitt

 

Do you have a love-hate relationship with summer when it comes to your kids? Especially your teens?

If you answered yes, you are not alone!  I get this a lot from the parents I work with.

Summer used to be the ice cream truck, spending hours in the pool, and riding our bikes around the neighborhood.

Now it’s feeling torn between work and being there for our kids, logistical nightmares of getting kids to a different camp every week and spending the whole summer feeling guilty that our kids are spending too much times on their screens.  

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t hear…

“Mom! I’m bored,” 

 “Why do we have to...?” 

I don’t wanna...”

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to… 

Nag the kids to get off their electronics.

Be your kids’ personal cruise director.

Play referee 24/7.

 

Great, that’s why I can’t wait to share my  “4 Steps to the Best Summer Ever”:

Step 1: Creating the Vision

Before each person can look back and say, “That was the best summer ever!”, you have to figure out what is quintessential summer for each person.  For me it has to do with water—the pool, the beach, even the sprinklers on the back lawn.  It has to do with the food—roadside corn, watermelon, hot cherry tomatoes picked right from the vine, and ice cream (lots and lots of ice cream!). 

Ask your kids the question:  What would your Best Summer Ever include?  If we could do anything and go anywhere what would it be?

This is your time to BRAINSTORM, so accept all answers. And you should get in the game, too.  Maybe your dream is walking down the Champs-Élysées and stopping for a café au lait and fresh croissant.  It doesn’t matter if Paris is out of the question this summer.  If it is a dream of yours, write it down.

Once the brainstorming is done, start circling the things that are possible. Of the possible, start prioritizing what is most important, and begin to think of how to work it into the plan.

Finally, do some out of the box problem solving.  Sure, maybe Paris is off the table this summer.  But a good café au lait and a fresh croissant is probably doable.  Maybe you designate one day as “French Day” (Bastille Day is July 14th!).  You can start the day with that croissant and serve the kids pommes frites for dinner.  

Giving each family member a little of what they most wish for will go a long way to their getting excited about summer.  If nothing else, you can post the wish list for future summer planning.  

 

Step 2: Creating the Structure

Kids—and even adults—long for summer as a time when we can laze away the days without the constant pressure of school.  But the reality soon pales because at the end of the day, most kids really benefit from structure and knowing what is the plan.

For most families, summer means a lot of moving pieces—which means a lot of logistics.  Before you can even talk how to fulfill kids’ visions of summer, it helps to work out the nuts and bolts of who is going to be where when and how they are going to get there.  

Start by collecting all the data.

Every family member can help collect the schedules and requirements for their own activities.  Believe me, even an 8 or 9 year old can be taught to look up information for his camp online to answer questions like “Will you need a packed lunch or is lunch provided?”  Do they require you to bring a swimsuit and change of clothes every day or just for the Water Carnival days?  

A calendar can be created online, but I strongly recommend either printing it out in large format (your local Kinko’s can do that for you) or getting a desktop calendar that can fit each family member’s activities.  Which of your children might have writing neat enough to be responsible for writing everything down—or tech savvy enough to get it all down on an electric calendar?  I strongly recommend having a color to represent each individual in the family and one color for whole family activities.  

Once you have the calendar, take a detailed look at each week to discuss who is going to have free time and who is not.  How able is each child able to handle free time?  How is the dynamic in the house when one kid is at camp and the other is at home?  Where are there possibilities to spend some one-on-one time with each child this summer?  Which weeks might be especially challenging? What can you do to make them easier? 

Like adults, kids like to be in the know.  It helps them feel in control.  They are going to handle transitions better, if you have talked through in advance what each week will bring.  

 

Step 3: Creating the Plan

The NUMBER ONE STEP that is going to keep you from nagging and making threats—and keep your kids from whining and complaining this summer-- is coming to some agreements about expectations.   

Your kids are thinking, “It’s summer.  I’ve worked hard all year.  I shouldn’t have to do anything!”

You’re probably thinking, “No way! You’re not going to spend all summer sitting around all day doing nothing!”

So, for the kids, summer is about freedom and a lack of demands.  

For parents,  we don’t want our kids doing nothing, we fear the lack of a schedule, and maybe we even feel a little resentment that our kids have time off and we don’t—especially as them being home makes extra work for us.  

This is why it is so critical to have a plan.

But just like Creating the Vision, I highly recommend that you start with the fun of what is possible. Have each family member set some goals for themselves.  Whether it is learning to master a blues riff on the bass guitar, to ride a bike without training wheels or win the library’s summer reading prize, kids will feel really good about having bragging rights at the end of the summer if they have accomplished a goal.  During the school year, we are very goal oriented, but most of those goals are external—set by teachers, coaches and parents.  Summer provides some space for children to set goals around something that is really important to them.  THIS STEP IS IMPORTANT because it gets the kids’ buy in for taking action and moves them away from “I don’t want to do ANYTHING.”  

Before you go into the nitty gritty of what you expect this summer, build up a lot of what is possible. Baking the perfect chocolate cookie? Making a $100 bucks off a lemonade stand? Rereading all of Harry Potter?  

Once you have set some goals, it is time to set some limits!

The conversations about limits is much harder.

First, before you even talk to your kids, figure out what are your non-negotiable parameters.  Walking the dog? Looking after a younger sibling?  And where can you flex? 

Unless you already have clear limits and great cooperation from your kids, even as you set limits for kids, it needs to be a conversation and a negotiation.  You will do a lot less nagging and have to make less use of consequences if you get buy in from your kids.  Try to do some outside of the box thinking about what meets your underlying value.  Be willing to play around with things somewhat.

For example, you want your kids to get enough sleep but you don’t want them sleeping until noon, so obviously you don’t want them up half the night.   They, of course, want to sleep in.  Could you shift bedtime and rise-time by an hour?  Could you have one day a week where there are no restrictions?  When I was a child, my mother wanted the terrace swept and the outside cushions put out first thing in the morning.  We compromised by getting up at 7:00, doing that one chore (in our pajamas) and then going back to bed until nine or so.  She got what she really wanted (a salubrious breakfast outside) and we got at least the illusion of having a slow start.  

The more explicit you are about areas you are likely to nag kids (sleep? diet? screen time?), the happier the summer will be for everyone.  

And what about chores?  Personally, I am a big believer in them.  If having your kids contribute to the wellbeing of your home has not been part of your parenting, summer can be an excellent time to train kids on the skills they need to do them successfully.  If your kids are already doing chores, summer can be an excellent time to up their skill level and increase their responsibility.  Certainly with a later start time for most camps compared to school, summer is a good time for them to get in the habit of making their own breakfasts and lunch.  

What can school-aged kids be doing? Depending on their maturity and with training they can be

  • making a shopping list
  • helping with food prep
  • cooking
  • baking
  • cleaning 
  • doing laundry
  • cleaning the car
  • weeding
  • unclogging the toilet
  • paying the bills
  • taking clothes out of the dryer
  • washing dishes
  • dusting or vacuuming 

If you have not been requiring your kids’ help with keeping homelife running smoothly, one approach is to sit down with the complete list of what you do every day/week/month and have your kids mark which tasks they could do or learn to do.  From that subset, have them pick 2-3 things from the list that they will take responsibility for this summer.

There is no doubt that in today’s society, getting your kids’ cooperation is a negotiation process. Making deals successfully takes SKILL and patience.  Gone are the days when we can just announce to our kids how things are going to be and expect their obliging obedience.  Do NOT expect to get everything you want.  DO hold firm about the things you really care about but be prepared to really explain to your kids why something is so important (even if, as in my mother’s case with eating breakfast outside, it is about your own pleasure).  Just be prepared to offer your kids something they really want in return.  Most importantly, keep your kids on your team. Throughout the negotiation process, stay focused on creating a happy summer for EVERYONE.  Help your kids understand that if you are having a good summer, they will have a good summer, too.  And if things get heated, remember that your child is not a problem.   You are having a disagreement and THAT is the problem that needs to be solved.  Your kid is not a problem.  Even if you want different specific things, you and your child are on the same team:  You ALL want the Best Summer Ever.  

 

Step 4: Putting the Plan into Action

Formalizing the agreement you and your kids come up with is absolutely critical.  It is what makes the plan feel official to your kids.  Believe it or not, just as you might not trust that your kids will follow through with your end of the bargain, there’s a good chance your kids don’t trust you to hold your end up.  By writing everything down explicitly, it is what will keep your children from crying, “BUT YOU SAID….” and you from wondering if you really did say that. Lots of bickering and backtalk can be avoided by writing everything down.  When your child is arguing for ten more minutes of screen time, all you have to do is point to the agreement.   

There will also definitely be a need for Plan B’s. (Stuff comes up!) You might consider, for example, will you allow your child to not walk the dog if she has a friend over? Can the walk be shorter?  What if her friend is afraid of dogs? Or if you say yes to a sleepover, does that change bedtime? Will it be okay to stay in pajamas until later?  Will you allow more screen time because what your son and his buddy really like doing is playing Mario Cart?  

The more you can think through hypothetically, the better your in-the-moment decision making will be.  

And, finally, keep your summer plan on track by having regular family meetings.  If kids know that there will be opportunities to revise the plan, they will be more willing to try your way of doing things.  If family meetings are not currently part of your parenting tools, I highly recommend them.  Feel free to download my free ebook on Family Meetings from my blog site (see link to my site below).

 

That’s it!  Follow these steps, and I promise you that the series of conversations it takes to get a good plan together will be worth every minute in time saved from not nagging and arguing with your kids.  Now I am ready for my first chocolate-dipped soft-serve cone of the season! 

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Elisabeth Stitt is a Redwood City based parenting coach, published author, and teacher. with 25 years experience. She is the founder of Joyful Parenting Coaching and her mission is to support parents in getting the skills they need to restore their confidence as parents and their enjoyment in the role. You can read her own blog and see her other resources at www.elisabethstitt.com.

 

 

 

Posted in Heart of the home