PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA

Ken Calhoon

Foreclosure crises over but more changes on the way

The most difficult part of writing a weekly column is choosing the topic. It shouldn’t be too technical, like attempting to explain a capitulation rate, it shouldn’t be too legal because there are always two sides to every story and it shouldn’t be too personal. Too many statistics are mind-numbing and much of what we […]

Maintaining balance in an uncertain environment

The $340,000 median price of a county home closing escrow last month was a bit of a decline from July and August. However, selling prices are still 21 percent above where prices were at this time last year. Over the last year we have experienced the highest rate of price increases since 2006. While homeowners […]

A birthday gift from Ty Russell

It was my mother’s 90th birthday and, as her eldest son, it became my responsibility to host a celebration party for Mom on this special occasion. She lives 2,500 miles away in The Villages, a senior community in Central Florida, and over the last few months, and with the help of one of her good friends, […]

Who wants a massive Mello-Roos?

Like most county residents, I am aware we have a Board of Supervisors. Five elected individuals from different county geographic districts and charged with setting policy and appropriating our tax dollars for various county services. I don’t usually attend the weekly meeting but when the board is considering issues that affect property taxes and home […]

Single women do it better

Single women are buying a lot of houses these days. According to a survey from the National Association of Realtors, single women are purchasing homes at twice the rate of single men. The California Association of Realtors reports that 15 percent of all owner occupied purchases this year were made by single women. So why […]

Feng Shui principals still working

With more listings and less buyers looking at homes this fall and winter, sellers may need to give a little more thought to making their homes more inviting to previewing buyers. Creating a WOW experience is a sure way sellers will get a higher price.  This last spring and early summer, it was less important. […]

Hard lessons learned from the real estate recession

It’s getting harder to find a short sale or foreclosure listing these days. Equity sellers now make up 91 percent of listings in our county. Fortunately, increasing property values leaves fewer homeowners under water. According to a recent report issued by CoreLogic, about half the homes in our Sacramento Region were under water in 2009 […]

The more personal side of real estate

Often my weekly column focuses on numbers. The number of new monthly listings and sales, the average number of days an average home will be listed before it sells and the number of homes that sell at or above the listed price. Those statistics and others, furnished by our local Board of Realtors and our […]

Housing mini-boom over for this summer

When I walked into the kitchen and spotted business cards from the two agents who had already showed the home, I had an “aha” moment. There were only two cards. Six months ago there would have been a dozen or more. This was a bank REO, priced less than $300,000 and in pretty good condition. […]

Is the price right?

An interesting pricing phenomenon is happening on homes listed for sale in our county. During the month of May, 56 sellers reduced their listing price. That’s pretty normal based upon the number of listings. But in June that number doubled. By July it nearly doubled again and by the end of this month one in […]

What’s keeping buyers awake at night?

When I checked my e-mail one day last week there was a note from a family that I had recently been working with trying to find them a home. “Sorry Ken, we need to take a break from shopping for a home. The experience is just too stressful and keeping us awake at night.” I […]

Where are the builders?

El Dorado County has an acute shortage of homes. That’s an undeniable fact. You can run the numbers in the MLS, study our General Plan, review every county demographic study that has been written and the bottom line is we currently have too few homes to accommodate the current and projected demand. Real estate agents […]

Investors play key role in market recovery

When the story is written about the housing market’s recovery, investors will play the leading role. Both individual and institutional investors stabilized the market by investing billions of dollars to purchase distressed properties. Most purchases were made by individual investors who got serious about buying single family homes in 2010. Institutional investors got in the […]

A gentle breeze cools hot housing market

There are a number of things I like doing during the summer but when temperatures get hotter than 100 degrees it’s just too hot to do any of them. How appreciative I become when the Delta Breeze kicks in and drops the thermometer reading just a little. Not exactly cool but less intense heat. That’s […]

Low-ball appraisals add uncertainty to escrows

Agents, regardless of whom they represent, will go to extraordinary lengths attempting to control the direction of an escrow, to ensure that once opened, their escrow closes. No agent wants to waste their time and their client’s money and emotional energy, only to have a deal go south. There are three primary reasons an escrow […]

Eighty-five percent of agents must be right

While watching the evening news last week, there was a story regarding how the real estate market has improved over last year. As evidence, the reporter had included the results from a survey of real estate agents with 85 percent saying it was a good time to buy. With respect to my fellow agents, when […]

Ken Calhoun: 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 Placerville that needed some TLC, real estate speak for ”trouble […]

Considerations for selling now or later

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 […]

Another bubble or sustained growth?

It’s understandable that some real estate pundits are fearful of another housing bubble. After all, most of us remember the 2002-06 real estate bubble when the median selling price of a county home climbed 86 percent in four years. When the bubble popped, property values plunged 50 percent over the next five years. The experience […]

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, a modest 2-bedroom home in Pollock Pines. Before reviewing the purchase contact, I prepared an estimate showing the buyers an itemized list […]

What’s not to like?

What’s not to like about our real estate market? The Sacramento region, which includes El Dorado County, is one of the fastest recovering real estate markets in the country. Redfin, a technology-powered online real estate brokerage, released its Fastest Real Estate Market Report last month which tracks the speed of the market as measured by […]

The good, bad and ugly of back-up offers

The listing agent’s explanation as to why my clients offer didn’t get accepted was all too familiar. “Sorry Ken, the sellers accepted a cash offer at a higher price. But you can always submit a back up offer.” Yes, I could and I would discuss that possibility with my clients; however, I’m not usually a […]

Rural life still 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, boating around Folsom Lake or taking the family on a picnic, I’m up to my elbows clearing grass, weeds and brush. My sole recreational activity over the next few weeks will be […]

Property acquisition rules for owners, investors and flippers

Homes are pretty versatile, as has been their transformation over the last 150 years. Housing has dramatically changed from its primary function of providing basic shelter and security. Today, homes offer something for everyone. We sleep at home but many of us also work from home. Homes can be an entertainment venue. They may make […]

Surely, not another housing bubble?

In a recent interview Daren Blomquist, vice president of California-based real estate website RealtyTrac stated, “The Sacramento region is one of a number of markets nationwide that are in danger of some minibubbles.” How could our region be in danger of a yet another housing bubble? After all, we’re just recovering from the effects of […]

Leverage or cash which is better?

Leverage has always been one reason folks buy real estate. It allows homebuyers to own and control an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for as little as a 5 or 10 percent down payment. Try that the next time you decide to purchase a few shares of stock, municipal bonds or commodities. Leverage […]

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 disclosure […]

Median selling price up 20 percent in March

The median price paid for a county home last month was $308,000, up $52,000 over March 2012. It was the highest monthly median price since July 2010. Monthly sales at 250 were up 31 percent from February and the highest number of sales for the month of March going all the way back to 2005. […]

Agents should get their listings out of their pockets

The California Association of Realtors, in response to numerous reports about properties being sold as pocket listings, recently issued a warning to its 160,000 members. “For a listing agent to arrange for a pocket listing to bolster the listing office’s own compensation and disregard the typical seller’s interest to procure the highest and best offer […]

Determining value not so easy on vacant land

The other day my neighbor asked me, “How much do you think my property is worth?” Coming up with a market value for a piece of real estate might take a bit of time but it’s not nuclear physics. Agents will review the recent sales of similar properties in the neighborhood and compare how they […]

Whatever happened to the local independent builder?

The residential real estate market is moving in the right direction. County median sale prices are up 24 percent over last year, foreclosures and short sales are now only a small percentage of our available inventory and interest rates remaining less than 4 percent are helping many buyers qualify for a mortgage loan. The only […]

Should homebuyers buy now or wait?

“I give up,” she said. “Why should I waste my time looking at homes and making offers only to lose out to cash buyers and higher prices?” It had been a disappointing couple of months for Shelly, who had been overbid by other buyers on all the homes on which she had made offers. Frustrated […]

Sustained growth or another housing bubble?

“There appears to be no stopping this runaway real estate market. Home prices are increasing monthly and there are multiple offers on nearly every listed property. With low interest rates and many creative financing programs, nearly everyone is focused on buying real estate.” That was taken from a column I wrote in June 2005 when […]

The plight of the fixer-upper

When shopping for a home, most folks look for the nicest home they can afford. They like lush landscaping, attractive flooring, granite counters and new kitchen appliances. It’s natural that they want the finest home they can afford. Selecting a home is a reflection of their lifestyle and personality and where they are going to […]

Why some real estate deals never close

Once an offer is accepted and escrow is opened, everyone involved works really hard to ensure that the sale closes. Buyers are put through the financing wringer to qualify for a loan and sellers start physically packing their belongings, looking forward to their next journey. When a sale unravels, everyone involved walks away with nothing […]

The bank of mom and dad

The No. 1 challenge for today’s would-be homebuyers isn’t their credit score, their income or how long they have been on their job. What’s holding back many young families from buying their first home is they just don’t have enough money for their down payment. It must be frustrating for young families who should be […]

Reconsider before making a low ball offer

After previewing an exceptionally nice home in Cameron Park, I wasn’t surprised when my client said, “Let’s make an offer.”  It was a perfect match for John who was already pre-approved by a lender, comfortable with the price range and had long-term ownership plans. We would need to move quickly, however, before another buyer snatched […]

Successful home buying strategies

OK, you want to buy a house. Your job and financial position are stable; you have sufficient savings for the down payment and you have been pre-approved for a loan. You’re the perfect candidate for home ownership. There is just one small problem. You can’t find anything that you really like and when you do […]

Where are all the homes for sale?

There are currently more buyers looking for homes than homes for sale. El Dorado County only has about 425 current active residential listings. A few years ago, it was not unusual for that many homes to be listed in a single month. During the last two months only 200 new listing came on the market. […]

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 […]

What happened to our 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 […]

New Year’s game plan for buyers and sellers

Looking back, my New Year’s resolutions have been pretty much a failure. They were well-intended at self-improvement like losing some weight, exercising more, spending more quality time with my wife Vicki and being more organized. But life happens and those good intentions get displaced by the moment. We often fail early at our resolutions because […]

Crunching the year-end numbers

The most unsettling aspects of living through a declining real estate market is the uncertainty as to when the bottom will be reached. If we all knew that property values would bottom out on a certain date, more folks would have held on to their homes and fewer would have walked away from their mortgages. […]

Coming home for Christmas

The news of the passing of jazz music legend Dave Brubeck earlier this month brought back memories of my most eventful journey home for Christmas. My high school years were spent attending a military academy not too far from Knoxville, Tenn. In the 1960s it was not unusual for parents to send their boys off […]

Realtors survey buyers, sellers

This past election was a confirmation once again of the accuracy of political polling. As much as some of us resent the intrusion of strangers surveying our inner feelings, sampling public opinion has become a frequent occurrence on all manner of topics. In the case of the presidential race, the 35 major national pollsters averaged […]

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