PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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Ken Calhoon

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 […]

Median sales price continues to fall 

The median selling price for an El Dorado County home has been slipping since it peaked at $385,000 back in March of this year. Last month it hit $350,000. That’s a 9 percent decline in seven months. According to the statistics furnished by the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, median selling prices are now lower […]

New lending response to the foreclosure phenomenon

It was a national financial tragedy. Since September 2008 about 5 million homes across the country were lost to foreclosure and another 2.2 million to short sales, according to data from CoreLogic and RealtyTrac. Forced relocation due to a job loss forced another million homeowners to sell their homes, avoiding a default but leaving them […]

The softer side of real estate

Occasionally, I am reminded that buying a home isn’t all about price, mortgage rates and square footage. That’s important but it’s not the primary reason most people buy a home. A few weeks ago I was showing a young couple a modestly priced home in Cameron Park. They loved the house and asked me the […]

My turn: Lies, damn lies and statistics

While driving through Coloma on my way to an appointment, I took notice of yet another modification on a Howard Penn for Supervisor sign. Penn’s first campaign signs during the primary simply read Howard Penn for Supervisor District Four. After the primary I noticed that his new signs included “Stop Developer Influence” and recently he […]

Managing buyer and seller expectations

One of the most difficult challenges for agents when working with buyers or sellers is managing their expectations. Both have unrealistically positive expectations as to the process of buying or selling a home. That’s a normal condition. ‘ No one takes a step forward in life expecting to trip and fall. If we all focused […]

Encroachment conflicts, you be the judge

Mr. Appleseed purchased a two-acre hillside lot in Camino in 2006 where he intended to build his retirement home. In 2009, after retirement, he hired an architect to design his custom home and spent other money in preparation for building. Prior to issuing a building permit, the county required a survey of the property. The […]

Finding opportunity with low-ball offers

Every buyer wants to buy a property at the absolute lowest price. That’s smart but sellers want to sell their home at the highest price. The truth is that neither a buyer nor a seller actually control the value of a single property. Its value is determined by the market. There are a few unique […]

Housing numbers reflect commonality

According to the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, 1,850 homes in El Dorado County have sold since the first of the year. Although every home is different there may be value in looking at what they have in common. El Dorado Hills was the county’s most popular destination for homebuyers. They purchased 573 homes […]

Why buyers will either love or hate your home

Do you believe in love at first sight? After many years of showing homes to folks, I’m convinced that most buyers will be instantly attracted to a home or not. If they don’t like the house, there isn’t anything I can do or say that will change their mind. Pointing out all the home’s special […]

A few missteps that will sink a mortgage

Matt and Cheryl were about to close escrow on their first home located in Cameron Park. All the contract contingencies had been satisfied and the lender would be drawing the loan documents within a few days. Then I received a call from the lender saying the loan had been pulled and put on suspension because […]

The hunt for refinancing applicants

Last week I had a friend call me about a mailer she received offering to refinance her home. The mailer claimed to have loan programs for those with little or no equity, less than perfect credit OK and previous foreclosures and short sales were overlooked. My friend was interested since she had little equity in a […]

Too much information

Some folks collect baseball cards, others cooking recipes or selfies to post on their Facebook page. I collect real estate information. I can’t help myself. Demographics, economic trends, new laws and regulations, consumer behavior — most anything that I believe influences the real estate market. My desk is cluttered with those published articles, newspaper clippings and reports that […]

Day of reckoning approaches for HELOC borrowers

Mary’s $70,000 Home Equity Line of Credit, a HELOC loan, had prevented her from selling her home in Cameron Park. Although her home’s value had increased since 2008, she was still under water; her mortgages exceeded her home’s current value. Then she received a letter from her bank that could force her into a short […]

The next housing crisis

There isn’t a week that goes by that somebody doesn’t call me looking to rent a single family home. They have already searched craigslist and the local newspaper but what they find is either too expensive or already rented. Since my real estate practice doesn’t include property management, I refer them to some brokers and they […]

County home sales and prices slipping

According to the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, the number of county home sales has declined 11 percent during the first six months of this year in comparison to the first half of last year. Every month since January has seen fewer sales than the corresponding month in 2013. Declining sales, yes, but year […]

Avoiding the deal killers

Most real estate sales close. There may be delays but when all parties are motivated to get a deal closed, necessary compromises are made and sales close. Not all, however. Today, about 10 to 15 percent of sales don’t close. That percentage had been as high as 25 percent back in 2009 and 2010, when […]

Most common mistakes homebuyers make

We all make a few mistakes along life’s journey. Most of us would do things a little differently if we had the opportunity — perhaps chosen a different career, traveled more or spent more time with our families. The process of buying a home is no exception. Global marketing and research firm Ipsos recently published its survey […]

Where are all the first time homebuyers?

First-time homebuyers have been noticeably absent from our real estate market. Their lack of interest in owning a home is preventing a full recovery of our housing market and a big reason for fewer sales this year. A few years ago, first timers were the largest percentage of homebuyers. Today, the group is one of […]

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