Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc



Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/27/2017

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, financially and otherwise. When you buy a home you're deciding on the region you want to live in, where you might want to raise children, and the people you'll live around for likely many years. You're also signing up for all of the responsibilities that come with a home: utility bills, issues and repairs, cleaning the house, maintaining the yard... the list goes on. So, before plunging into a mortgage, check off all the items on this checklist to determine if you're ready for home ownership.

The First Time Home Buyer's Checklist:

  1. I know where I want to live. Determining the location of your home is one of the most important factors that goes into home buying. Most decisions are influenced by your job/career, but things like family, friends and weather are all important things to consider. Aside from knowing where you want to live, you'll also need to know how long you want to stay. As a general rule, if you don't plan on staying in your home for at least 5-8 years it could be cheaper and easier to rent until you find somewhere you'd like to settle in.
  2. I have my finances under control. You don't need to be wealthy to buy a home, but you do need to have a strong understanding of your personal finances. In a spreadsheet, write down your total savings, monthly income and monthly expenses (including groceries, transportation, bills, and loans). Find out what type of mortgage and downpayment you can afford at your income level.
  3. My income is dependable. When you apply for a home loan the bank will look into this for you. But you should also want to make sure you can continue to afford your mortgage payments. How dependable is your job? Are there a lot of job opportunities in your field and in your area? These are all questions that help you determine the stability of your income.
  4. I have a good credit score. Your credit will be a big factor in getting approved for a home loan. Building credit seems complicated but it's based on four main things: paying bills on time, keeping balances relatively low, having a long record of repayment, and not opening several new cards or taking on multiple loans in a short period of time.
  5. I'm pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approved isn't mandatory, but it offers many benefits. First, it shows lenders that you are a safe person to loan money to. Second, it will give you insight into what banks think of your finances and will give you an idea of what price range you can safely buy in.
  6. I'm prepared for the responsibilities of owning a home and willing to learn. If you're handy around the house and can fix anything, that's great. What's more important, however, is that you have the time and willingness to learn new skills that will help you become a good homeowner.





Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 7/16/2017

Humans today live a lifestyle more fast-paced than ever before. We're constantly keeping track of work, bills, emails, friends on social media... the list goes on. With all of these social and work responsibilities it's sometimes hard to unwind at the end of the day and fall asleep on time at night. Americans have some of the poorest sleeping habits on earth. One in three have what could be considered "mild insomnia." While sleeping patterns vary between cultures, one thing is certain: getting enough quality sleep is vital to living a long and healthy life. Here are some changes you can make in the bedroom that will help you get more quality shut-eye.

Beds are for sleeping

Are you the type who stays in bed watching TV, eating, reading on your phone or laptop. If so, you might be losing sleep because of it. It's important to train your body to know that when you're in bed with the lights off it's time to sleep. Read in your kitchen or on the sofa at night rather than in the bedroom if you're the type who has to be busy up until bedtime.

Clean your room

If your bedroom is messy, cluttered, or uncomfortable in any way it might be affecting your sleep. Clean things up to make it a more spacious, cozy environment. Once you've cleaned, don't stop there. Try adjusting the lighting and colors in your room as well. Studies have shown that the colors in our environment affect our mood. You don't want bold, stimulating colors in a place devoted to sleep. To make lighting adjustments, keep your shades or curtains open at night so natural light wakes you up in the morning. This is a good practice for your circadian rhythm (our 24-hour sleep cycle that helps us wake up and fall asleep naturally). If you do use lights in your room at night, use a soft, yellow light. Blue light, liek that emitted from most LEDs, is higher on the UV spectrum and tricks your body into thinking it's daytime.

No phones in bed

Just like the LED lights mentioned above, your phone, laptop, and tablets all emit light that can keep you up. When darkness falls your brain begins producing melatonin (a chemical than makes you fall asleep). Staring into these screens inhibits that production, keeping you up later. You may feel that you're "just not tired," which is perfectly true. But it's because you're stopping your body from telling you it's time for bed. Some alternatives to looking at your phone would be to read or knit in bed while you wait to feel sleepy. Then you can just put them down and drift off to sleep. Helpful bedtime tips:
  • At night, set your phone's brightness to very low and if you have an iPhone use the "night shift" mode that turns your phone's light from blue to yellow
  • Listen to calming, ambient music on your iPod that will take your mind off distracting thoughts
  • Listen to an app or podcast designed to help you sleep
  • If you can't sleep after an hour or so, try getting up for a bit or having a protein-filled snack. Then try going back to bed
     




Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 5/21/2017

If you're selling a home, having high quality photos is one of the most important things you can do to catch the eye of prospective buyers. Taking great photos, however, is something that requires a combination of frequent practice and knowledge of how your camera works. Sure, these days you can take a decent photo with an iPhone camera and be done with it. While that method is a good start, if you want to progress with your photography you'll eventually have to make the leap to a DSLR where you have more freedom to change exposure settings. I know what you're thinking. High quality photos means spending a ton of money on camera equipment, right? Fortunately, entry level DSLR cameras have become more affordable in recent years. To start taking great photos you'll only need four things: your DSLR camera, a tripod, a wide angle lens, and a place to practice your photography.

Step 1: Setting up

You'll want to set up the room with the right balance of furniture, decorations and natural light. Avoid decorations that are too personal (like family photos) or eccentric (no stuffed animals, preferably). Set up your tripod against one of the walls of the room. Ideally, you'll have the target of your photo illuminated by natural light coming through windows, so you'll likely be standing in front of or next to the windows. However, before you take any photos use your best judgment to determine the room's best angles. The amount of and the placement of furniture will play a large role in how spacious the room looks, but equally important is the camera angle from which you take your photos.

Step 2: Learn your camera settings

You won't learn all of the settings in a DSLR overnight, but it is important to get an understanding of the basics. In spite of the many technical improvements that have been made, the basic concept of a camera hasn't changed much over the years. The two main components that determine what your picture looks like are aperture and shutter speed. Aperture (or "f-stop") is what is used to determine how much light enters the camera. Much like your pupils dilate in the dark to let in as much light as possible, having a wide aperture will allow you to take brighter photos. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter on your camera is open. A slower shutter speed allows more light into the camera, creating a brighter exposure. However, due to our inability to hold a camera entirely still having a slower shutter speed creates more opportunity for your photo to become blurred from camera shake. A third important setting is the ISO. This setting is unique to digital photography because it controls the sensitivity of the camera's image sensor. The higher the number, the more sensitive. Why not just crank it up all the way then to get the best quality? Because if you set it too high the photos become grainy or "noisy."

Step 3: Practice

Now that you know the basics, start taking photos in your home using various camera settings. Play around with taking photos with different light sources on, with your camera flash on and off, and at different times of day. You'll find that there are endless possibilities when it comes to taking photos of your home.  




Tags: Real estate   home  
Categories: Uncategorized  


Posted by Duarte/Downey Real Estate Agency, Inc on 8/28/2016

If you're anything like me, your household pet is like a member of the family. Most of us have a soft spot for our pets. When they're hurt we feel their pain. When they're sick we get worried sick about what might be wrong. A difficult part of owning a pet is that since we can't verbally communicate (aside from some commands and accolades) we aren't able to always read how they're feeling. Fortunately, much work has been done when it comes to understanding the nonverbal languages that our animal companions speak. Reading body language and understand your dog's bark and cat's meow can help you be a better pet owner and a better companion to your dog or cat. In this article, we'll let you in on some little known facts about what the body language of your pet means.

Do you speak dog?

Our canine companions tend to let us know how they're feeling. When they're scared they lower their tail and cower. When they're happy they attach us while licks. However, there are many misconceptions about the body language of dogs. Here are some important ones every dog owner should know:
  • Yawning. As humans, we yawn when we're tired. Dogs also share this trait. But if you own one you've probably noticed them yawning much more frequently than we do. This is because they also yawn when they're unsure of a situation, if they're around someone new, and if they're trying to diffuse tension.
  • Whale eye. This is phenomenon occurs when your dog tilts her head and stares out of the corner of her eye, exposing the whites of her eyes. This can be mistaken for a "cute puppy" look, but it normally means they are afraid.
  • Face-licking. As humans we tend to see face-licking as a sign of affection. In dogs, however, it is more likely a friendly sign of appeasement. It is usually seen in puppies and if it carries on into adulthood it can be problematic if your dog frequently licks other dogs' faces who might not appreciate the gesture.
  • Tail position. Horizontal can mean the dog is alert. Facing upwards can mean dominance and aggression. Tail down can mean the dog isn't feeling well or is sad. Tail tucked can mean fear and aggression.

What's your cat thinking?

Cats tend to be a bit more subtle in their communication than dogs (with the exception of when they're hungry and meowing incessantly). However, if you pay attention you can still get a glimpse into how your cat is feeling. There are three main indicators you should notice when trying to read your cat: the tail, eyes, and ears.
  • Tail. A cat's tail will tell you a lot about their mood. A tail standing up and wagging means a cat is happy. However, a straight up, rigid tail can mean a cat who is aggressive. Similarly, a cat who is thumping their tail or waiving it with force can also be trying to show dominance and aggression.
  • Eyes. Cat's eyes are very intense and expressive. Dilated pupils and a focused look can mean the cat is surprised or scared, but can also mean it is hunting something. Relaxed pupils, blinking eyes, or closed eyes, however all mean that the cat feels comfortable and not threatened.
  • Ears. Ears pointing up are somewhat ambiguous; it can mean playfulness or attentiveness. Ears pointing back, however, are a sign of fear and aggression.




Tags: pets   home   dogs   cats   animals   dog   pet   cat  
Categories: Uncategorized