Are you ready to buy a home? Buying a home can sometimes be a tiring and stressful experience. For some, it is too daunting to even begin! Perhaps you don’t know where to start, but know you want to eventually own a home? Maybe you have been saving but aren’t really sure how much you need before you can start looking. Through our years of experience in real estate, and hundreds of home-buying transactions, we know that education is key to a smooth and successful home buying process.
Education is Key!
The more educated you are on what to expect, how the housing market works, how lending works, and how to successfully save for a home, the better equipped you will be once you are ready to buy. Our job as Realtors is to guide you through the process and make it as smooth and stress-free as possible. And the more you know about this process the better we can all work through it together.
We recently came across a helpful guide from Money.com we hope will be very useful to many of you. This guide helps to simplify seemingly complex concepts. Things such as debt-to-income ratios, down payments, and how much is really needed, allocating your assets, and more. If you are able, please check out this guide here: https://money.com/how-much-house-can-i-afford/
We would love to know any questions, any areas about which you want more information, or just to chat about any thoughts and realizations you had from reading it. We are here and are hoping to hear from you!
Need a Lender?
Are you ready to begin the process of purchasing a home? Whether planning for your first home purchase or your next home purchase, we have a network of local lenders to help. Working with a lender before beginning your home search will enable you to know exactly how much you can afford to spend. We have seen many people qualify for more than they thought they could! Knowing your budget is the optimal place to begin the home search process and will ensure the best and most accurate results. If you are in need of a qualified broker, please let us know as we are happy to connect you with our trusted and tenured lender. You will be in good hands!
One of the things we have found helpful during this time of sheltering in place, is to implement ways to stay in safe, yet personal contact and communication with our community. We have been spending more time with our families, enjoying long phone calls with friends, and have been engaging in nearly daily Zoom meetings with our colleagues. In addition to these important and gratifying ways to stay in touch, we have also been supporting our local small business owners.
In previous blogs, we have shared small business resources for those who are unable to operate and need financial assistance. And, what about those who are still open and operating? Can you share a way you have found to support the local small businesses near you, in a safe and affordable way? We would love to hear who they are and what you love about them so we and others can support them too! Here are just a few of our favorite local small businesses and how we are supporting them during this time.
The time of year for outdoor libations and good BBQ is upon us! And with that, one of our favorite local restaurants during this time is Aptos Street BBQ. Their carefully prepared meats, barbecued to perfection, are sure to hit the spot for any meal. A new favorite of Joell’s, and the newest addition to the menu, are the BBQ breakfast tacos, a delicious, easy and affordable breakfast on the go!
No Sushi Shortage Here!
There are many things to be grateful for in the beautiful town of Aptos. Now we can add a wide variety of great sushi places to that list! Whether it is Sushi Garden, Akira, or the newest addition – Poke Bowl Aptos, you are sure to get fresh and delicious sushi. Corin and her family have been getting takeout from Sushi Garden and Akira, while Jarah has been frequenting Poke Bowl Aptos a couple of times a week for her and her son – an avid poke bowl lover!
With extra time at home and a shortage of things to do in public, many of us have been digging our old bikes out of storage. And with that also comes an array of bike necessities. Whether you have a flat bike tire, need a new helmet for your child, or are shopping for a new bike entirely, Epicenter Cycling is open and safely servicing our community. Corin experienced them strictly enforcing social distancing guidelines, only allowing one customer in the store at a time, and they are also offering curbside pickup for pre-ordered items. Check them out for all of your bicycle needs!
Finding a Way to Celebrate!
What better way to face adversity and depressive times than to find a way to be happy and things to celebrate? Wood Worm Party store in Capitola is helping us all do just that! Jarah was able to enlist their help in delivering a fun and exciting Easter celebration to her children with their creative curbside Easter basket delivery service. They are offering birthday balloon bouquets, available for curbside pickup or delivery, and have a wonderful variety of baking supplies for all of you who are spending this time at home getting back in the kitchen. Wood Worm Party store is a great long time local small business and we want them to stay!
Don’t Forget Our Non-Profits!
We understand that many of us are challenged financially and are on a tight budget. However, for any of you able to help, or looking for ways to have a positive impact, The Human Race of Santa Cruz is still active and working hard to raise money for all of our local non-profits. You can find a variety of non-profits and worthy causes on their website and can donate during their online giving campaign which is running until May 9th.
On a personal level, each member of The Mower Group has been working hard to raise money for a local non-profit, DomiNic’s Place, founded by our very own Joell Mower. We have been honored and amazed at the generosity still coming forth from our community during this time.
What Does “We are here for you!” Mean to You?
Like you, we have all received emails from different entities saying “We are here for you!”. What does that mean to you when you receive the same from us? We really want to know the answer to that very important question, as The Mower Group is all about you. How are YOU doing? What do YOU need during this time? How can we be of service to YOU? Our business has been and will always be built on the premise of “It’s all about you, our clients.” Some things will never change! We are looking forward to receiving and implementing your replies. Thank you for your time and attention!
Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! In the years past, this day has been celebrated with various community events. Activities that bring us together in celebration of our beautiful planet. However, as we know all too well, this year is anything but normal. Despite the shelter in place this year, we can still celebrate this important and special day. Here are three creative ways to celebrate Earth Day this week, from the comfort of your home this year.
Join the Big Sur Marathon Foundation – Just Run!
The Big Sure Marathon is an annual favorite tradition of many locals. The run is canceled this year. Therefore, they have founded this youth program. Just Run is a local youth fitness program developed by the Big Sur Marathon Foundation. They are now offering a free at-home fitness program. It aids and supports children and parents in getting physical activity at home. This program encourages parents to keep track of miles run or walked by their children and submit these miles to the Just Run website.
While adhering to local health mandates and shelter-in-place orders, parents and their kids can still get some physical activity. Furthermore, get activity in and have a fun way to earn rewards for this activity and keep each other accountable. This is also a fun way to get grandparents and family friends involved in physical activity. Work to match each other’s miles logged in your own towns and cities. It is also a great way to get outside this week. Enjoy some sunshine, and take in the beauty of our Earth.
Keep in Touch With Your Community
One of our favorite parts of celebrating Earth Day is community events. Coming together in the sunlight and the fresh air. Enjoying good food and joining a constructive activity to celebrate our beautiful planet. With all in-person events canceled this Spring, many people are engaging in video chats, social media sites, and even virtual dinner parties and BBQs on forums like Skype or Zoom. However, there is a large portion of our community that is uncomfortable engaging in these computer-based activities. Furthermore, many people don’t have access to join them.
Local Aptos resident, Nicola Balmain has come up with a great solution for this very issue that we can all take part in. Nicola, with help from her neighbors and other community members, has put together a chat-style phone line. Using Grasshopper, Nicola and her team have come up with a secure and easy way for anyone in our community to find someone to chat with. “The way I’ve been explaining it to people is it’s like having a coffee shop chitchat with your neighbors, but we’re just making that available via the phone,” Balmain said.
“The concept is people, they’re confined to their home, they’re in isolation. They’re not getting out. I live in a neighborhood where we would pop down to the coffee shop each morning to walk our dog and we’ve kind of befriended several elderly in our neighborhood. They look forward to that kind of check-in every day. That was kind of the principle behind it — gosh, they must be really feeling challenged without that socialization.”
Loneliness can be a dangerous thing for the mind, body, and spirit. Therefore, finding a way to keep our community engaged and helping to cure lonliness is a great way to connect as a community for Earth Day. The check-in and chat phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, at 888-278-6704. Give this number a call if you are feeling lonely or just want to chat with someone today.
Get Outside and Do Some Earth Day Activities!
This week Santa Cruz has blessed us with some great weather for our Earth Day celebrations. With a week full of temperatures in the 70s and blue skies, the outdoors have never been so inviting! So, take this as an opportunity to get outside in your very own yard and celebrate Earth Day. Whether you have children at home with you or not, here are some fun and creative ways to enjoy your very own slice of the outdoors this week.
- Garden! Whether it is planting flower seeds, getting around to that vegetable garden you’ve been talking about for years. Even just pulling weeds around your patio. Get outside and into your garden!
- Do a scavenger hunt! Whether walking your neighborhood or just your yard. Come up with 10 things you want to find on your scavenger hunt and find them. These things can be simple: a pinecone, an earthworm, a four-leaf clover, or a blue jay. Make a realistic but challenging list, and mark them off one by one. See how long it takes you and enjoy our great outdoors for every minute of your hunt.
- Nature Belts?! Have you ever heard of a nature belt? Have you ever worn one? These fun crafts are a lot of fun to create and require some hunting and gathering to do so. How We Learn has come up with this clever activity where you simply wrap a piece of duct tape around your child’s waist, or your own, sticky side out, and then get to walking. On your nature walk, as you find treasures you stick them on your nature belt. Before you know it you will have a beautiful belt made up of pebbles, flowers, leaves, and maybe even a penny or two!
In addition to the above recommendations, there are hundreds of companies and websites offering live streaming events for Earth Day this week. Everything from a National Geographic neighborhood safari tour to live science lessons from NASA can be found online this week.
We hope you can all find a little time this week to get some fresh air, enjoy some sunshine, and take in the beauty that is around us everywhere on this Earth – even the beauty in our very own yards.
Looking for something fun and easy to do with your kids this weekend? For most of us, Easter weekend and our celebrations look a little different this year. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still create fun memories with your family and do something festive. Here are three simple do-it-yourself Easter crafts. Try one this weekend, using things you likely already have laying around your house.
Egg Carton Spring Chicks
After you’re done making your Easter brunch deviled eggs save your egg cartons. These egg carton chicks from Typically Simple are a fun and easy way to recycle and reuse those egg cartons you have laying around. All you need is egg cartons, a little paint and a brush, glue, scissors, a marker and some paper. If you’re like most parents with kids in the house these things can be found scattered amongst your children’s backpacks. And the process is as simple as this:
1. cut apart two egg holders form the carton.
2. trim off excess edges and glue the two pieces together
3. paint and allow time to dry
4. add a beak and some eyes with your paper and markers
It’s as simple as that! You can get extra creative if you have any crafting feathers laying around and make some wings or hair. Use your completed spring chicks as your dinner centerpiece arranged on a cute platter or around your home as a spring decoration.
Easter Party Hats
Having an intimate Easter party at home – just you, your kids, and your sweat pants? Add in some DIY bunny party hats to make your family day more festive and keep your kids laughing. All you need for this fun Easter craft is cardstock in various colors, scissors, marker, glue dots, a crafting knife, and some twine. The House That Lars Built came up with this adorable craft, and they even offer an easy to follow template for this exact bunny hat craft. Head over to their site to print out your template and the full set of instructions.
Easter Egg Wreath
One of our very own local Santa Cruz mamas and friends, The Birth Project did this adorable craft with her two kids this week. All you need for this clever craft are some paper plates, markers, glue, and decorative craft supplies such as glitter, pom poms, or stickers. You merely cut out your wreath, cut out some eggs, decorate them all differently and fun, and glue them onto your wreath. String a ribbon through the top, hang, and enjoy the festive view! Check out The Birth Project’s website for more fun ideas and some empowering and powerful labor and delivery stories from local Santa Cruz moms.
Wishing you and your families a fun, safe, and happy Easter holiday. With love, from The Mower Group and our families to yours!
International Women’s Day is a globally recognized holiday that has been celebrated across the world since 1909. It has become a focal point in the movement for women’s rights. The day is aimed at helping nations worldwide eliminate discrimination against women, helping women gain full and equal protection under the law, and improving women’s participation in global development.
Women In Real Estate
The Mower Group knows all too well what it is like to be a working woman in today’s modern world. Currently comprised of three women, The Mower Group is proud of the experience and knowledge this helps us bring to the table. Joell Mower, our lead agent in The Mower Group, has been a working woman in real estate for over 32 years. With shelves of awards and years of accolades to boast about, Joell proves that it is not only possible to balance motherhood and womanhood with a successful career, but it is possible for both to thrive.
Corin Mower Routh brings an interesting background to her real estate career and The Mower Group. With over 15 years of experience as a Human Resources Director, Corin is experienced at working with others, problem-solving, and ensuring that all parties in each transaction are delighted with the results.
Jarah Sakamoto began her career in real estate and with The Mower Group with a strong marketing and legal compliance background. With over a decade of experience working in legal compliance in the healthcare field, Jarah is adept at combing over contracts and reports with efficiency and a careful eye.
The Mower Group and David Lyng Real Estate are also proud to share that our very own Morgan Lukina is the 2020 President of the Santa Cruz County Association of Realtor’s Board of Directors. Morgan is another prime example of a powerful and successful woman in real estate that is paving the way for the rest of us and proving that women truly can do it all.
Some Powerful International Women’s Day Quotes
There is no better way to uplift your mood or start your day than with a powerful quote. Inspirational quotes can inspire, incite reflection and change, and help to unite us across generations. Here are some of The Mower Group’s favorite International Women’s Day quotes.
“Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.” –Unknown
“To tell a woman everything she cannot do is to tell her what she can.” –Spanish Proverb
“Well-behaved women rarely make history.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
“A charming woman doesn’t follow the crowd; she is herself.” –Loretta Young
“The best protection any woman can have is courage.” –Elizabeth Cady Stanton
“Where there is a woman, there is magic.” –Ntozake Shange
“There’s nothing a man can do that I can’t do better and in heels.” –Ginger Rogers
“Above all, be the heroine of your life. Not the victim.” –Nora Ephron
“Girls should never be afraid to be smart.” –Emma Watson
“Life is tough, my darling, but so are you.” –Stephanie Bennett-Henry
“A strong woman looks a challenge in the eye and gives it a wink.” –Gina Carey
“If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” –Katherine Hepburn
“She believed she could, so she did.” –Unknown
“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.” –Malala Yousafzai
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” –Margaret Fuller
“We all have a ‘Wonder Woman’ inside of us.” –Unknown
“I can and I will. Watch me.” –Carrie Green
“There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” –W.E.B. Dubois
“The most beautiful thing a woman can wear is confidence.” –Blake Lively
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t.” –Rhonda Hansome
Many of us spend the fall and winter months shopping the sales and buying gifts for our loved ones. But it’s also an ideal time to reflect on how fortunate we are and think about how we can help others who aren’t as lucky.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to express my gratitude to you, my client. In the spirit of giving and the upcoming holidays, I also wanted to share a few simple ways you can give back and help those in need this holiday season.
Toys for Tots
This organization, created by the U.S. Marine Corps, collects and distributes toys to less fortunate kids for the winter holiday season.
One Warm Coat
If you have coats you no longer wear, donate them to this nonprofit that gives them to people in need during the fall and winter months.
This nonprofit works to break the cycle of hunger and poverty. You can donate directly to their efforts or get connected with one of their network food banks to help on a local level.
This nonprofit works to create a community of young people with hope, through recognizing and encouraging the unique gifts of each person and healing wounded hearts.
Thank you again for being my client. I’m very grateful for our relationship and look forward to working together again in the future.
Joell Mower & The Mower Group
With the arrival of Spring and the lessening rain, most of us are eager to get back outside! If you have a four-legged furry family member who enjoys the outdoors as much as you do, finding a great place for them to run and play is important. Santa Cruz’s beaches are becoming off-limits for off-leash pets. One by one they are banning off-leash dogs and handing out stiff penalties for offenders. Luckily, there are many great dog parks in Santa Cruz county. Many factors go into finding the right dog park for both you and your dog. The amenities, location, maintenance, safety, and disposition of other regular visitors all play a huge role in finding the perfect fit. Here is our guide to three of the best dog parks in Santa Cruz county.
Chanticleer Dog Park
Chanticleer holds the title of one of the county’s best dog parks. It’s really no wonder why! It is privately owned and both the parking areas and the park itself are well kept. Chanticleer Park Neighbors, a local volunteer group, work hard to maintain the park. They are always improving it’s features and adding in new amenities such as sitting areas, picnic tables, and well-shaded areas.
The park and its’ dedicated volunteers make sure to take care of their furry frequenters with free poop bags, toys, tennis balls, water bowls, and water fountains. It is located on the East Side of Santa Cruz, right down the street from the beach. We recommend you check out Chanticleer dog park where you are likely to see your pup happily roaming free.
Aptos Dog Park
Aptos Dog Park is unique in the fact that it is actually two dog parks in one. There is a mini-park for smaller dogs and a larger main park for bigger dogs. Therefore, this dog park is perfect for furry family members of any size. Located in the Polo Grounds of Aptos, this park is well maintained and full of great amenities for both two and four-legged visitors. Aptos Dog Park is equipped with plenty of trash cans, clean restrooms, water pumps, benches, fountains, sitting areas, and secure gates. Also, visiting pups will often find a multitude of toys and tennis balls donated by park regulars, volunteers, and the Santa Cruz County Parks Department. With a great local community and friendly neighborhood vibe, this dog park is a favorite of many local Santa Cruz residents.
Mitchell’s Cove Beach
If you are looking for a beach play-date with your pup, Mitchell’s Cove Beach is the place to go! Officially a State Park, Mitchell’s Cove is the only beach left in Santa Cruz County where your dogs are permitted to run around leash-free. Even their off-leash perks have some limits. Dogs must be on leashes during the day but permitted to run free before 10 am and after 4 pm. Some things to consider regarding Mitchell’s Cove is that it can get pretty crowded during the off-leash hours. There is no separate area for smaller dogs and larger ones. If crowds of beach lovers and a healthy mix of pups don’t bother you, we recommend you check it out. It is sure to offer a fun-filled afternoon of sand, water, and leash-free fun.