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Amanda Williams

Know your numbers: A few questions for sellers

A few months ago I received an email from some folks who were planning on selling their house and invited me, and according to their email, several other agents, to answer about a dozen questions on their attached list. They would then select an agent based upon their evaluation of the test results. Any experienced […]

What happens to the earnest money deposit?

My clients had been out-bid on two homes where they had made offers. They were determined not to lose another. When drafting their purchase agreement they volunteered to put $25,000 into escrow as an earnest money deposit. Their reasoning was they would be considered more serious buyers and that their offer would have a better […]

Purchase contracts: The really big contingency

My clients had already reduced the price of their home once and were considering a second reduction. They really needed to sell but the home had some design issues and the location wasn’t very appealing. After 75 days without any offers and only a handful of showings, the sellers and I were getting anxious. Then […]

Don’t fall for the wrong house

Most mistakes we make along the path of life are not life threatening. When we fall we learn from that experience and move on. Unfortunately, some of us are prone to repeating our past mistakes while others have the ability to learn from their missteps or avoid them entirely by learning from the mistakes of […]

Disclosing neighborhood nuisances

A few years back I was the listing agent on a nice house on acreage in Camino. I never met the buyers who were represented by another agent, but about a year after closing I received a call from their attorney who demanded a significant amount of money from me for my failure to disclose […]

Dealing with troubled properties

Every listing is different but generally they fall into three categories. There are really exceptional homes, pretty normal homes and troubled properties. Any agent can sell a really exceptional home. These homes are located in lovely well recognized neighborhoods with desirable floor plans and maintained in immaculate condition. Their sellers are motivated, fair-minded folks who […]

What you need to know when buying a new home

My clients were set on buying a new home. You likely know the type. They buy new cars off the showroom floor rather than pre-owned vehicles. They would never consider shopping garage sales for household items and they replace rather than repair a broken appliance. They purchased their existing home before it was finished and […]

Median sales price hits eight-year high

July was the best month this year for the number of home sales in the county. That was expected. The 280 recorded sales reflected the robust late spring and early summer sales activity as offers on homes during May and June became pending sales which after 30 to 45 days became closed sales. What I […]

New fees won’t build more affordable housing

The California legislature is about to approve legislation that they claim will provide a source of funding for affordable housing. Assembly Bill 1335 will increase recording fees for many standard real estate recorded documents such as: grant deeds, quit claim deeds, deeds of trusts, mechanic liens, easements and reconveyances. The additional $75 per document fee […]

California’s over-valued real estate

Our local real estate market seems to be in full recovery mode. In a recent press release senior analyst Andrew Le Page with Core Logic said, “From a sales volume standpoint, it was the best June in seven years. We’re getting back to the tail-end-of–the-boom, beginning-of-the-bust levels.” According to Core Logic’s numbers, June sales in […]

Avoiding the deal killers: experience matters

Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series focusing on the challenges of buying and selling real estate. If you missed the first, read part 1 online at  Not every accepted offer, called a “pending sale,” becomes a documented closed sale. The buyer and seller have agreed upon the purchase price, escrow has been opened and all […]

Avoiding the deal killers

Editor’s note: This is the first of a two part series focusing on the challenges of buying and selling real estate. There will be about 2,500 home sales in El Dorado County this year. Most will be pretty normal. Buyers and sellers will do some negotiating on the price, sellers will end up repairing or replacing […]

Texas is top pick for relocating homeowners

If you want information on the local real estate market, ask your neighborhood Realtor. When Realtors want serious information about what buyers and sellers are thinking, their behavioral patterns and statistical data, they read the California Association of Realtors yearly homebuyer’s survey. CAR collects both empirical data on statewide home sales and conducts extensive surveying […]

A bull market or another bubble?

Timing is important when making investment decisions. If we were clairvoyant we would buy when prices were the lowest and sell at their peak. That may apply to equities, precious metals and bonds but even the best prognosticator of the real estate market would find it impossible to always adhere to the money-making rule of […]

Unaffordable home prices contributing to widening economic divide

The median listing price of the 900 homes currently for sale in El Dorado County is $495,000. That’s likely okay if you’re an existing homeowner or a seller. After all, it’s about time and well deserved to those who held on to their homes during the Great Real Estate Recession or for the more recent […]

Nine things to check before buying rural properties

Not everyone wants to live in the suburbs. Despite the conveniences of living in a planned development with their community parks, bike trails and street lights, there are a few hardy souls that are attracted to living in the more rural areas of the county. Since the first of the year, 200 homebuyers have purchased […]

Time is of the essence when buying/selling a home

The closing date of June 1 was agreed to by the buyer and seller back in April when escrow was opened. Since the buyer had already been pre-approved by his lender, 45 days was a reasonable amount of time to perform the property inspections, get the appraisal and finalize the buyer’s loan. A week prior to […]

What are you waiting for?

If you have been thinking about selling your home this year, it doesn’t get much better than this. There will be more homes sold between now and Sept. 1 than during any other quarter this year. Why wait until the Fed raises interest rates? School starts next fall? Or the arrival of El Niño this winter? […]

Where’s my cat?

Despite using my GPS, finding rural properties can be challenging. My appointment was tucked far back from the road, accessed only by a narrow dirt drive, blocked by a field livestock gate and obscured by trees and brush. I had to stop and exit my car in order to read the faded numbers on the […]

Rural life not for everyone

This is the time of the year when I feel my 10 acres is 9 too many. While my friends are playing golf, fishing or taking the family on a vacation, I’m up to my elbows clearing grass, weeds and brush. My sole recreational activity over the next few weeks will be weed-whacking. It’s a […]

Housing market takes off in April

After four months and several price reductions without any offers, I was beginning to think I should have declined the listing. It was a sad little rental house, owned by absentee owners and had a long history of bad tenants. After the last eviction, the owner called pleading to quickly sell this financial albatross. In […]

Why can’t I find a home?

With 800 homes for sale in El Dorado County, one would think finding the right home would be pretty simple. Google, “El Dorado County Homes for Sale” and you will have your choice of 7.8 million web pages to visit. With all that help, it shouldn’t be too difficult picking out your dream home, unless […]

Buying a home? More money required … Ka-Ching

What’s the most important thing you need when buying a home? Good credit? A stable job? Handyman skills? While all that helps, if you’re planning to be a homeowner, what you really need is money and lots of it. First time homebuyers typically underestimate the amount of money required of them during the home buying […]

Why I hate home inspections

I don’t look forward to my yearly medical physical. This is when I’m subjected to poking, prodding and foreign objects inserted into my body. Then the interrogation begins. “How much exercise do you get each day?” “Do you consume more than three glasses of alcohol a week?” “Do you have a problem with …? After that […]

We have met the enemy and he is us

“Affordable housing” is one of those classifications with different connotations depending upon one’s perspective. Affordable housing often evokes images of government-subsidized, low-income Section 8 rentals. The city of Davis recently approved an affordable housing plan with home prices starting at $425,000. In El Dorado Hills, homes priced less than $425,000 would be considered affordable and in Placerville homes […]

No second chances for a good first impression

First impressions are really important. Buyers often decide on a home before they step through the front door. If they get that far. Many buyers will not bother previewing a home if the online pictures are not attractive. Studies have found home shoppers previewing homes on the Internet will make a decision within further seconds as […]

Finding the right agent

The first thing Vicki and I needed when we moved to El Dorado County from Southern California was a new bed. At the time, I was the senior partner of a small mortgage bank and, after asking around, an employee told me Sleep Train could have one delivered that day to our new home in […]

Early spring for February home sales

February sales were a welcome change after a pretty slow January. The year began at the slowest pace for home sales since January 2009. Housing economists were taken back by the unexpected slow start to what was supposed to be a good year. The experts cited all the possible reasons that sales were off to […]

Will development destroy home values?

Mary has wanted to move to El Dorado County for about four years now. That’s how long I have been showing her homes. About once a year she calls and says she has made up her mind. This time she is definitely moving from San Francisco. She drives over for the weekend, we preview some homes […]

Singlehood slowing down home sales

The residential real estate market is a fascinating study in behavior and free-market dynamics. Although home prices are influenced by proven economic principles such as supply, demand, liquidity and leverage, there are also non-economic elements that must be accounted for when attempting to establish the value of a home or when projecting the future direction of […]

Consumer Reports reveals ‘dirty little secrets’

My March edition of Consumer Reports magazine got my attention. The featured story was “Boost Your Home’s Value by 10%.” But also on the front cover was another headline “Money Saving Secrets Realtors Don’t Want You To Know.”  Which story do you think I turned to first? There it was on page 35 with the […]

Why rich people can’t get a mortgage

If your credit score is sub par, you likely still qualify for a FHA loan. If you don’t have a down payment, there are down payment assistance programs that will cover that. If you want to buy a fixer but don’t have the money to make the repairs, no problem. There are loan programs that […]

Sneaky ways to sell

Perhaps “creative ways” would have been more Realtor correct but “sneaky” got your attention. That’s the point of this column. On occasion, agents and sellers need to think outside the box with creative marketing ideas that may help sell homes and often at higher prices. These are a few of the non-conforming marketing strategies that […]

Slow start or a new normal for home sales?

This year is off to somewhat of a slow start. January home sales were down 40 percent from December and 27 percent lower than January of 2014. Historically January and February aren’t whoopee months for home sales. After all, who wants to be looking at houses when it’s cold and wet? Typically these two months […]

The curse of a quick offer

About a year ago, Ryan called me about selling his home in Shingle Springs. His family had outgrown the modest three-bedroom home and they wanted to sell and buy a larger home. We both agreed the home’s likely market value was in the $400,000 to $425,000 price range and since Ryan had not yet found […]

Rural land opportunities fading in El Dorado County

The history of El Dorado County has been one of opportunity. The discovery of gold was an economic opportunity not only for the miners but for the farmers and merchants who capitalized on related trade and commerce. Up until the 1950s, job opportunities in resource development attracted many to move to El Dorado County. Our […]

State of real estate

While driving to an appointment last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to listen to Gov. Brown’s State of the State address delivered at the Capitol after his inauguration. The 20-minute presentation wasn’t very inspiring. It was short on the normal rhetoric Americans have come to expect from their elected officials. A State of the State […]

Better to be lucky than good

My friend Jack was retiring to Oregon and needed to sell his house. He called me for a market evaluation and invited me over to discuss listing his home. It was a modest Three-bedroom, two bathroom with 1,800 square feet on 5 acres with one distinguishing feature. It had an acre of Cabernet grapes. Jack had […]

Market forecast for 2015

One advantage newspaper columnists have over staff writers is accountability. We expect our news writers to be accurate reporting the facts while columnists are given a wide latitude in expressing their opinions. Most of my columns are a combination of factual real estate news and my opinion as to what effect that information will have […]

No place like home for the holidays

There’s no other time of the year with so much emphasis on the family home. Be it ever so humble, it’s where everyone wants to be for the holidays. My earliest memory of home was Grandma’s house. It was a 1850s vintage, two-story farmhouse built more for functionality than style. It had six  bedrooms and […]

Early Christmas gifts for housing

Housing received early Christmas gifts this year from the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the agency that oversees government-owned mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Last week the FHFA began implementing changes to its conventional loan program that will make it easier for borrowers to qualify for a conventional loan. The first present was lowering the down […]

Don’t forget about the garage

The most overlooked and an under-appreciated room under our roof is the garage. Garages are either too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. They are dark and cluttered with all manner of junk. Garages have cobwebs on the ceiling, oil and transmission fluid on the floor, sharp instruments and half-filled liquid […]

Stuck in rural El Dorado County

A fascinating aspect of my real estate practice in rural El Dorado County is in its diversity. I might be showing homes in the gated community of Auburn Lake Trails one day and walking through a Fair Play vineyard the next. I recently closed escrow on an old winery and listed a 50-year-old roadhouse/biker bar. On […]

Commissions, bonuses, fees, kickbacks and referrals

“Well, how do you get paid?” It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that question. The couple was in their late 20s and was making an offer on their first home. Before reviewing the purchase contract, I had prepared an estimate showing the buyers an itemized list of their closing costs including: title insurance, […]

Ten reasons your house isn’t selling

Last month 230 county homes closed escrow. The median selling price was $348,000 and the homes were listed an average of 45 days before attracting an offer at 98.5 percent of the listing price. Congratulations to the sellers, buyers and their agents who made that happen. This column, however, is written for the benefit of the 600 […]

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