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Carpinteria Bluffs III, now Rincon Bluffs Preserve, is SAVED FOREVER!
If you intend to buy a house in the next five years or so, here are four steps to help lead you down the path to homeownership.
1. Consider where you want to live.
Don’t buy a home where you live now, just for the sake of homeownership. For many twenty- and thirtysomethings still exploring their career paths, buying a home can really limit their freedom. If you’re serious about becoming a homeowner, make sure the city you decide to buy in is a place you won’t mind sticking around for a while. Experts often advise would-be buyers to plan on staying in a new home no fewer than five to seven years. “You’re going to spend thousands of dollars to get into the home. To get out of it is going to be equally expensive and may possibly cost more when you do it in less than five years or in a down market,” says Keith Gumbinger, vice-president of HSH.com, a publisher of mortgage information and rates.
How do you decide which area is best for you to settle down in? You should definitely consider the local job market and cost of living. Other key factors that will likely impact your quality of life: the city’s demographics, access to public transportation and the social scene. If you’re single, for example, you might be interested in places with an abundance of other unmarried people (see Best Cities for Singles). Or people with limited budgets might want to look at cities where they can still have a life outside of the office without having to pay a fortune for it (see Best Cities for Cheapskates).
2. Determine how much home you can afford.
Once you’ve decided where you want to live, use a home search Web site, such as Realtor.com or Trulia.com, to get a detailed look at the market, recommends Eric Tyson, co-author of “Home Buying for Dummies.” It’ll provide perspective on the types of properties for sale and what sellers are asking for. Seeing exactly how much homes cost will help you determine how much you can actually afford and how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. If homes in your desired neighborhood are outside your price range, you can delay buying until you save more money, or you can downsize the type of home you’re looking to buy, or search in a different neighborhood.
That’s what happened when I embarked on a new home search with my boyfriend last spring in the Washington, D.C., metro area. In the beginning, he was pretty adamant about being in the city—me, not so much. We soon realized that our list of must-haves (a modern home with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, central air conditioning and designated parking) meant we could only afford a fixer-upper in northwest Washington. Because neither of us is handy—and I wasn’t comfortable buying a place that needed a ton of work—that wasn’t an option. After that reality check, we broadened our search area and settled on a new townhome community located in a Maryland suburb about ten minutes outside D.C. Homes there cost about half as much as comparables we’d seen in the city.
3. Boost your credit.
Your credit score plays an important role in qualifying for a mortgage. A score of 740 or above will help you secure the best interest rates. In the Washington area, for example, that can be as little as 3.6% for a $200,000, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 20% down payment, according to Bankrate.com. (Look up mortgage rates in your area.) If your score is lower than 740, however, expect to pay a higher rate. For that same loan in the D.C. metro region, if your credit score ranges from 680 to 699, the lowest rate you’d be able to get is about 3.9%.
Many young would-be home buyers might find themselves with blemishes on their credit report, thanks to missed student loan or credit card payments. Lucky for me, I learned long before pursuing homeownership that such behavior comes back to haunt you in the form of a low credit score. I’ve changed my bad spending habits and boosted my score. If you check your credit report early, you’ll have ample time to correct any issues. “What you don’t want is to have to address a bunch of mistakes on your credit report while actively looking for a home and trying to get approved for a mortgage loan,” says Gumbinger.
4. Start saving for a down payment.
In addition to building stellar credit, you should also save enough for a down payment of at least 20% of the home price to snag the best mortgage terms. That amount saves you from having to pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI, which protects the lender if you default on the loan (read more about this in What It Takes to Buy a Home). Even with an excellent credit score, if you put just 5% down on a home that costs $205,300 (the national median existing home price as of November 2014), private mortgage insurance will cost you about $94 each month, according to HSH.com.
That down payment’s not chump change; 20% of $205,300 amounts to $41,060. For many young adults with starting or even mid-level salaries, it can take many years to stash away that much. Start saving now!
You should keep the cash liquid because you’re aiming to use it in the next few years. We stored our funds in a regular savings account to give us direct access to it. You might also consider a short-term certificate of deposit. Neither option will earn you much right now, but your money will be safe from market losses and easy to tap as soon as you need it.
New Year’s Eve 2017
New Year’s Eve in Santa Barbara is filled with countless events and activities to bid farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018 with open arms. During this special night we raise our glasses and toast to a year well-spent and to the year ahead.
Put on your sparkly attire, let the Champagne flow and get ready to boogie the night away. There’s not a moment to be missed. Here is your complete guide to New Year’s Eve events in Santa Barbara.
A NEW YEAR’S EVE TO REMEMBER
El Encanto hosted its first dinner on December 31, 1917, exactly 100 years ago this New Year’s Eve. In commemoration of this historic event, Belmond El Encanto invites you to a resort-wide New Year’s Eve party that’s sure to delight. Whether you prefer formal or casual—from individuals to large parties—they’ll have a venue you’re sure to love. From five-course tasting menus to casual dining by the pool, Belmond El Encanto is pulling out all the stops to welcome 2018 on The American Riviera. Learn More
’80S DANCE PARTY
Dress in neon and dance to the ultimate ‘80s band, The Molly Ringwald Project, at The Fess Parker – A Doubletree by Hilton Resort. Even better? Reserve a VIP table and get two complimentary bottles of Champagne! Learn More
NEW YEAR’S EVE COUNTDOWN PARTY
Say goodbye to 2017 and party like it’s 1920 at The Kimpton Goodland Hotel’s New Year’s Eve Countdown Party. Don your best flapper dress or pinstripe suite to dance the night away with a live jazz band and DJ. Don’t miss the VIP Speakeasy and Champagne toast at midnight. Learn More
BLACKBIRD’S NEW YEAR’S EVE FESTIVITIES
Luxurious decor, delectable eats and impeccable style await at Blackbird’s New Year’s Eve festivities. Cheers to the new year at Hotel Californian’s signature restaurant with a special dinner prepared by Chef Alex LaMotte followed by a midnight Champagne toast.
NEW YEAR’S EVE POPS
Welcome the new year under the bright lights of the Granada Theatre. The always-entertaining Bob Bernhard will conduct a rousing program of popular classics mixed with Broadway and film favorites, while your eyes will be delighted with a spellbinding performance by the aerial performers of Troupe Vertigo. Learn More
RING IN THE NEW YEAR AT THE LARK
What better way to end the year than with a celebratory culinary event that will leave both mind and soul sparkling? Shine through the last night of 2017 and treat yourself to Chef Paluska’s heavenly New Year’s Menu at The Lark. In addition to the restaurants traditional dinner menu, the delectable New Year’s Eve cuisine will include slow-cooked beef ribs, scallops with a saffron risotto and a complimentary midnight toast. Learn More
CELEBRATE NEW YEAR’S EVE AT LOQUITA
Make your last meal of the year an exquisite experience and enjoy it at celebrated Spanish restaurant, Loquita. Guaranteed to be a feast unlike anything else, Executive Chef Peter Lee has prepared an exclusive menu, and promised a live paella performance in the dining room for guest to pleasantly savor. End the festive night by ringing in the New Year with a complimentary midnight toast. Learn More
CHEF JOHN COX’S NEW YEAR’S EVE
Foodies, delight in a New Year’s Eve culinary celebration in Los Olivos at The Bear and Star. Chef John Cox and team will be serving an indulgent five-course menu with the option to add wine parings prepared by Sommelier Robert Williams. Toast to life, happiness and good wine by ringing in 2018 with a glass of Fess Parker’s “Festivity.” Your celebrations are sure to sparkle! Learn More
RING IN 2018 AT S.Y. KITCHEN
End 2017 with a culinary bang in Santa Barbara wine country. Located in dreamy Santa Ynez, S.Y. Kitchen is promising a celebration of delicacy. Chef Luca and his team is serving a range of items á la carte, from freshly-shucked Kumamoto Oysters with Mignonette to hand-made Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragout and Pecorino Romano. Learn More
BREW YEAR’S EVE 2017
Calling all beer lovers: This is a New Year’s Eve celebration not-to-be-missed. What’s on tap? Unlimited samples of craft beer, wine and cider. Rock out to live entertainment by DJ Hecktik. Before festivities, have dinner at High Sierra Grill & Bar in Goleta (optional), allowing for early entry and a chance to grab the best seats in the house. Go car-free – Hop on The Brew Bus will be picking up at locations in Carpinteria, Santa Barbara and Goleta. Learn More
FULL MOON NEW YEAR’S MIDNIGHT HOUR
Sail into the new year with a special someone aboard the Sunset Kidd. Experience Santa Barbara on the glimmering Pacific Ocean as the first full moon of the year makes its appearance. With a glass of sparkling Champagne, this is a night you’ll never forget. Learn More
NYE SUNSET SAIL ABOARD THE DOUBLE DOLPHIN
As the last night of the year sets its sail, hop aboard the Double Dolphin and enjoy Santa Barbara out on the Pacific Ocean. With the fresh sea breeze in your hair, the sparkling stars above, and the coastline in your sight, toast to the New Year and celebrate what 2018 might bring your way. Learn More
New Year’s Eve at Boathouse
Say goodbye to 2017 at a restaurant with one of the most spectacular views in Santa Barbara. Located on beautiful Hendry’s Beach, The Boathouse is serving a New Year’s Eve menu well suited for all seafood lovers alike. As the waves are breaking in, indulge in a fresh local lobster or a spice rubbed pacific seabass, and end the year with a heavenly delicious chocolate cake. Learn More
A SURFER’S NEW YEAR’S EVE
Lace up those dancing shoes for an all-night dance party at Baja Sharkeez in downtown Santa Barbara. Begin the night with a four-course dinner, followed by bottle service and live entertainment. Worried you won’t make it ‘til midnight? Complimentary Red Bull is provided with purchased bottle service. Learn More
DOUBLEWIDE KINGS NEW YEAR’S EVE BASH
Groove into the new year with the Doublewide Kings as they headline at SOhO in downtown Santa Barbara – with the talented Brigham Brothers starting off the night for guests. Expected to sellout – be sure to buy dinner and/or general admission tickets ahead of time. The show begins at 9 p.m. but the fun starts when doors open at 7 p.m. Learn More
SANDBAR NEW YEAR’S EVE
Celebrate New Year’s Eve under the stars and on the patio at Sandbar in downtown Santa Barbara. Choose between bottle service or open bar packages, each guaranteed to offer a night of celebration. Learn More
NYE MIDNIGHT MASQUERADE AT EOS LOUNGE
Three bars, two dance floors and one large patio are the perfect ingredients for the EOS Lounge NYE Midnight Masquerade. Dress in your best masquerade attire and come prepared to dance with live music all night long by Calvin, Nagai, Chadillace and Bix King. Learn More
Every year when January rolls around you vow to lose weight, save money or spend more time with family and friends. But what goals do you set for your home?
Here are our five picks for the best home improvement resolutions for the new year and how to achieve them:
1: Streamline the stuff
One of the best and least expensive ways to feel better about your home is to clear it of clutter.
Each year most of us acquire a mountain of stuff. Without some regular purging, cabinets and drawers get jam-packed and it becomes hard to find the things you use and enjoy the most. (All that clutter also makes your house look dated and dirty, designers say.)
This year resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love and donate it to charity. After that, think twice about what you bring in, says Antoinette Nue, an Atlanta consultant who specializes in helping people simplify and go green.
“Fill your home with the things that raise your energy level and make you feel good, and get rid of the things that drain your energy or are broken,” she says.
Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a designer with Liz Levin Interiors in Washington D.C.
Clear your counters of everything you don’t use on a daily basis. And get ready to breathe a little easier in your own home.
2: Make it safe and sound
Your home may be beautiful, but is it safe? There are a few things that every homeowner should do to ensure that they’re not living with a potential health hazard or fire risk.
First, check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. One in every fifteen homes has elevated levels. And with test kits costing as little as $20 at your local hardware store, there’s no reason not to get right on that.
While we’re on the subject of deadly gas, make sure you install a carbon monoxide detector on every bedroom floor in addition to fire detectors. If a chimney flue or furnace vent gets blocked or leaks, carbon monoxide could back up in your house and kill you. Like a radon test, this is a small investment — $40 or more — for such an important safeguard.
Watch out for dryer lint. We know you clean the little trap inside the door, but most people neglect to clean the vents and ducts behind the dryer. Lint may seem innocent, but it’s highly combustible, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, accounting for more than 15,000 building fires a year.
Make sure your house can breathe. Hickory Hills, Ill. home inspector Jack McGraw is always surprised at how many people’s bathrooms and attics aren’t vented to the outside (or the vents are covered over with shingles.) This makes you a prime candidate for mold.
And if you’re considering a remodel — and your home was last built or remodeled before 1978 — consider testing for lead paint and asbestos flooring. It will have to handled properly during removal, or particles can be released into the air for you to ingest.
3: Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint in the process)
When people think of going green, they often think it takes solar panels or a hybrid car to make a difference.
Not so, says Bob Schildgen, who writes the “Hey Mr. Green” column for Sierra magazine. It just takes a little old-fashioned common sense.
The best place to start is by cutting your energy usage in your home:
Remember your mom’s advice and switch off the lights when you leave a room.
Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night.
Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads.
Try drying some of your clothes on the line and wait for the dishwasher or washing machine to be full before you run them.
Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.
Water your yard less. Put in drought-tolerant landscaping if necessary.
Give composting a try. Your garden will thank you.
4: Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean
Here are a few tips for keeping the mess under control.
Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night – no excuses! Dirty clothes go in the hamper and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.
Weekly: Clean your entire house, using these tips:
Keep all of your cleaners, as well as rubber gloves and spare cleaning cloths – in a portable carryall that moves with you from room to room.
Stash cleaning implements such as a toothbrush, scraper, sponge, a few cleaning cloths and plastic bags in a builder’s apron that you wear when you clean. Hook your glass cleaner and all-purpose cleaning spray on the loops to keep your hands free as you work around the room clockwise, cleaning from high (cabinets) to low (floors.)
Focus on one type of cleaning at a time. It’s faster, Campbell says. Wipe down fingerprints on all of the cabinets, for instance, before moving on to spraying and wiping counters. Then move on to windows and mirrors and appliances. Once that’s done move on to sweeping and then mopping floors.
For optimum efficiency, enlist the help of your family. If you can, divide the jobs among at least three parties: One of you can do the dusting/vacuuming and changing beds, the other can do the bathroom cleanup, leaving only the kitchen and trash emptying for you to handle. The upside? You can get the whole house done in 45 minutes, Campbell says, leaving more time on the weekends for the park or the movies.
5: Get your place ready for entertaining
Each year most of us vow to spend more time with family and friends. To make you feel like inviting people in, why not give the areas you entertain in a little update?
You don’t have go for broke here and invest in a new kitchen remodel. All it takes to get a fresh new look is a little bit of rearranging and a few updates says designer McCormick.
One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, she says.
“They bring in new energy and help clean the air,” she says. “And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.”
A couple of dramatic presentations like a large flowering agapanthus or potted palm in a bright ceramic planter that complements your existing color scheme will do the trick.
Pulling out a new accent color from your existing decor can make the whole room seem fresh. Pick an underused color in the room and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw to update your look, McCormick advises. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space.
Lastly, take some time to rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might up for chances for real conversation and connection in the New Year.
How to Help Thomas Fire Victims in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties
United Way created a Thomas Fire Fund for victims, and other organizations are seeking donations and volunteers
As an army of firefighters continues to battle the Thomas Fire, people want to help in their own way, by donating money or their time.
CalFire officials reminded people that the fire camps are fully self-sufficient, and asked that people direct their donations toward disaster relief organizations and funds to help people displaced by the blaze.
Officials warn people to be careful of scams, and to verify the beneficiary before donating to a cause.
Volunteer and donation opportunities
The United Way of Santa Barbara County and the United Way of Ventura County have partnered up (along with the American Red Cross of Ventura County and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services) to support Thomas Fire victims with the Thomas Fire Fund.
The organizations say 100 percent of proceeds go directly to the fund, which will go toward fire recovery and people who lost their homes or were temporarily displaced by the fire.
Donations can be made online here or by phone, by texting UWVC to 41444.
Local chapters of the American Red Cross have been managing evacuation shelters for Thomas Fire victims and are accepting volunteers who want to support wildlife relief efforts.
The Central Coast chapter of the Red Cross has so many people signing up to be volunteers that it is holding orientations every two days in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, a representative said Monday.
Click here to begin the online application. Once submitted, Red Cross representatives will contact the applicants with information about orientation and volunteer opportunities.
The next orientations in Santa Barbara are Wednesday and Friday, and people can learn more information on the organization’s website.
The American Red Cross is also asking for monetary donations, which can be made online or by calling 1.800.RED.CROSS.
“Each disaster is unique and so are the needs of its victims,” Red Cross spokeswoman Georgia Duncan said. “Financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most. The Red Cross is actively working to identify community partners who can collect, sort and redistribute donated goods. In contrast, financial donations can be accessed quickly and put to use right away to directly help and support those affected.”
The Foodbank Santa Barbara County opened five emergency food distribution sites last week, and has the sites open again this week.
With schools and businesses closing because of the Thomas Fire and unhealthy air quality, the food need in Santa Barbara County increased drastically last week, said Judith Smith-Meyer of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
Smith-Meyer said the organization gave out so much food at its emergency distribution sites that it turned over the contents of its entire warehouse, twice.
The Foodbank is accepting nonperishable food donations and fresh produce at its locations at 4554 Hollister Ave. in Santa Barbara, 1525 State St. in Santa Barbara, and 490 W. Foster Road in Santa Maria.
Smith-Meyer said monetary donations are the best way to help fire victims.
“The Foodbank can leverage every $1 donated into eight meals because of our statewide and national foodbanking networks, volume purchasing, grocery rescue, relationships that bring in hundreds of thousands of pounds of donated fresh produce from local growers each year, our status as the only distributor of USDA product within Santa Barbara County, and our Backyard Bounty local harvesting program,” she said.
Click here for more information about volunteer opportunities with the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.
The Salvation Army is accepting unopened and canned food donations, and monetary donations, at 423 Chapala St. in Santa Barbara.
The Unity Shoppe accepts new clothing, shoes, blankets, toiletries and monetary donations at its 1401 Chapala St. location in Santa Barbara.
Evacuated animals are being housed at Earl Warren Showgrounds and county animal shelters, among other places.
Volunteers who want to care for horses and other livestock and assist with large animal evacuations can sign up with the Santa Barbara Equine Evacuation and Assistance team.
Volunteers must be 18 or older, wear closed toe shoes and clothing items that will get dirty, according to Jennifer Adame, county Animal Services community outreach coordinator.
Volunteers can show up at the showgrounds, at 3400 Calle Real, at 8 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. to see if daily help is needed.
The Santa Barbara County Animal Services is also utilizing volunteers, and interested people are encouraged to sign up online and get trained so they are ready to help when it is needed.
Click here to donate to the County Animal Services Department and for more information about volunteering.
The Santa Barbara County Animal Care Foundation is raising money to directly help the pets sheltered at the county Animal Services and money can be earmarked for disaster relief.
K9 PALS is distributing funds to assist with medical care of homeless animals in Santa Barbara County.
The Santa Barbara Equine Evacuation and Assistance, the Santa Barbara Humane Society and K9 PALS have accounts set up with La Cumbre Feed — call 805.687.1880 to donate money for food and supplies.
Donate in Ventura County
Food donations and other goods can be donated to the following organizations, which ask people to call to confirm specific needs.
FOOD Share is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday at 4156 Southbank Rd. in Oxnard. Call 805.983.7100.
The Ventura Unified School District is taking food donations at 3777 Dean Dr. in Ventura. Call 805.289.7961 ext. 2306.
The Salvation Army is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday at 3451 Foothill Road in Ventura. Call 800.725.9005.
The Arc Foundation of Ventura County thrift store is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Sunday at 265 E. Main St. in Ventura. Call 805.653.1756.
HELP of Ojai is open noon to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 111 W. Santa Ana St. in Ojai. Call 805.646.5122.
The Rescue Mission Alliance is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Sunday at 315 N. A St. in Oxnard. Call 805.487.1234.
Thanks to Firefighters & Community Volunteers
Our thanks to the thousands of brave firefighters who are working so hard on the Thomas Fire. Our thoughts are with all our friends and neighbors who are affected by the wildfires here in SB & Ventura Counties, and throughout Southern California.
More than 8,000 crews from multiple counties and states have come to the area to help battle the flames. Crews as far as Montana, Arizona and Oregon could be seen pulling into Lake Cachuma on Tuesday as the staging camp opened.
Firefighters have been busy today setting up containment lines along Gibraltar Road and are looking at the possibilities of back firing, said Mark Brown of Cal Fire.
The current plan is a proactive approach and very important to understand that it will help with controlling where they want the fire to go and they hope to gain more control rather than waiting for the wind event on Friday to make it even more uncontrolled.
“We have brought the best experts in the state to study this plan and have approved of the operation,” said Mark Brown of Cal-Fire.
As there were multiple delays due to fire personnel traffic on Highway 154, the California Highway Patrol announced Highway 154 will be fully closed from Cathedral Oaks Road/State Route 192 in Santa Barbara to Highway 246 from 5 a.m. until 9 a.m to transport fire and support personnel.
To get involved or offer support: Unity, Direct Relief, Foodbank, American Red Cross, or visit http://abc7.com/how-to-support-local-fire-relief-efforts/2743551/
For updates on the fire and resources: http://countyofsb.org/thomasfire.sbc#update