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 […]

Ground zero: The estate sale

I’m writing this from ground zero: My childhood home in Orange, Calif. To get through my job here I need smelling salts and a bulldozer. Eight months ago my elderly parents moved out of the single-story ranch they tended for years into a home that tends to them, I hope as well. I have parachuted […]

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. […]

A look back at lessons learned in 2012, part 2

A look back at the lessons the year served up reveals I once again had my share of jams, upheavals and awakenings. I faithfully reported these with what I hope some would call humor served with a dollop of advice on the side. For that advice, I credit and thank all the experts who graciously […]

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 […]

It doesn’t get any better than this

  I hesitate to make a list Of all the countless deals I’ve missed; Bonanzas that were in my grip – I watched them through my fingers slip; The windfalls which I should have bought were lost because I over-thought; I thought of this, I thought of that, I could have sworn I smelled a […]

FHA is a victim of its own success

My first home was financed with a FHA mortgage. I had applied for a conventional loan but was turned down because I didn’t have the required 10 percent down payment.  That’s when my banker suggested we try FHA. Two months later, I was moving into my first home. I kept that house and FHA mortgage […]

Don’t forget about the garage

The most overlooked and an under-appreciated room under our roofs 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 ceilings, oil and transmission fluid on the floor, sharp instruments and half-filled liquid […]

Property values bounce up

The $324,000 average selling price for a county home closing escrow during October was 18 percent higher than a year ago. That was the highest average purchase price for October going back to 2008. The year-over-year increase was consistent with increasing property values that have been climbing since they hit bottom in October 2011. This […]

Rats! One pest problem spawns another

“YEEP!” I text my oldest daughter at college. “What? I’m in class.” “The rat exterminator — the one who thought all rats were girls — just called to ask me out! AACH!!” “Bahahahahah!” Paige texts back. “I just passed that around my class.” I thought back to what could have possessed the rat exterminator to […]

Obama tax to take effect next year

“I can make a firm pledge. Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” — President Obama, Sept. 12, 2008 Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, Obamacare imposes a 3.8 […]

Making the world better — one napkin at a time

If I have pounded one message into my kids’ heads it’s this: Your job is to figure out your gifts and use them to make the world a better place. I try to model that behavior. And I am going to do that today beginning with … cocktail napkins. These are on my mind because […]

Who can you trust to value your home?

Determining the value of a property is an art, not an exact science. We all see properties differently as depicted by the old cartoon showing how differently buyers, appraisers, sellers and the tax assessor view our homes. When someone asks me for an opinion as to their home’s value, I must guard against injecting my […]

Designers take design challenge to help the Habitat

You will find this hard to believe. You will wonder how this could be. I did. But you can furnish your home, or a room in your home, beautifully, for one-third what it would cost if you bought the same furnishings retail, and, in doing so, help provide housing for others who need it and […]

Design rules made for breaking

I’m not a fan of rules. Give me a rule, and my inner rebel asks why and looks for an exception. While I get that rules have their place in society — kids should stay in school; drivers going the same direction should drive on the same side of the road; everyone should turn off […]

Go to the dark side when designing lighting

I am in the dark about a lot of subjects, and light is one of them. But the dark is a great place to start when seeking enlightenment on lighting, says at least one lighting expert. “Without the dark to play against, light would serve no purpose,” David Martin tells me. Martin is an architect […]

Saying good-bye to a great summer

It was a great summer for the real estate market in El Dorado County. The 281 home sales reported in August were 21 percent better than July and 28 percent ahead of August of last year. From June 1 through Aug. 31, the El Dorado County Association of Realtors reported 800 residential sales. Last year during […]

The view is somewhere between the trees and weeds

How much is a view worth? Are lake and river views more valuable than views of the Sierras? What is the difference in value between homes with views from interior rooms and homes with views from exterior decks? While property owners with views generally have an inflated opinion of its value, appraisers and homebuyers are […]

Not always easy turning an offer into a contract

Finding the right home in El Dorado County isn’t getting easier as the number of available homes for sale continues to decline. As an example, if you were in the market to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath home priced less than $350,000, there are only 245 in the whole county to choose from. A year ago […]

Too many cooks can spoil the broth

No matter how smooth a real estate transaction may be going, at some point somebody or something is likely going to try to screw it all up. It’s one of those universal real estate laws when trying to close an escrow. There are just too many parties involved in the whole process, many acting independently […]

Choosing the neighborhood is often about price

“What are we doing in Pollock Pines?” I asked smiling as she adjusted her seat belt. For nearly a month we had been previewing homes between Folsom and Placerville. Finding a home that would qualify in her entry-level price range had been difficult. We had already lost out on three homes despite our full price […]

High end, down home

Most people walk by a discarded wooden wine crate and see a discarded wooden wine crate. Sabrina Soto, host of HGTV’s “The High Low Project,” sees an ottoman, or an end table, a bookcase or a planter. “You say you are the thriftiest person in the world,” Soto said to me when I called her […]

Most common mistakes sellers make

Home values in El Dorado County are rising. The median selling price of a county home in July was $285,000. That’s 11 percent higher than June and 8 percent higher than July 2011. Of the 230 monthly sales, about half sold in less than 30 days at or above the listed price. With only 650 […]

DIY rug is tabula rasa

We writers know the tyranny of the blank page. Painters know the pressure of a blank canvas. And this week I discovered terror in another type of tabula rasa: a blank rug. The folks at Vecco Studio invited me test drive their make-your-own rug product. I loved the concept: Can’t find the right rug for your […]

Braided rugs blend color and tradition for fairytale finish

Start with a great rug. How many times have you heard that tone-deaf interior design advice? Sure, in an ideal world, decorating a room around a gorgeous rug, which provides an instant color palette, is brilliant. But it’s not reality. In the real world, of which I am a charter member, rugs happen last. Necessary […]

Every home has a dominate personality

All houses have a personality. There are happy homes and abandoned lonely ones. There are homes where you feel relaxed and comfortable and homes that have an intimidating attitude. Some homes are built around children. They are nurturing and protective while others have been neglected. There are homes nearing the end of their useful life […]

Instantly festive

“Sure!” I said too soon. FoxTV had called late in the day to ask if I’d come to the studio the next morning to demonstrate ways to decorate for July 4 using stuff viewers had around the house. I hung up. Then reality hit like a string of firecrackers. What had I done? I hadn’t even […]

NAR advocates for independent appraisal industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Developing and reporting property values more accurately is critical to improving market performance, reducing risk and strengthening the housing finance system, according to the National Association of Realtors. That was the message delivered recently by Frank Gregoire, immediate past chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, in testimony before the House Financial Services Subcommittee […]

Roll that real estate

A month ago — and halfway through his two-year lease — the tenant who rents my house in Colorado told me he’d bought a house. “But wait! You have a house, my house, for another year!” “I didn’t say I wasn’t going to pay rent,” he said dialing my fret factor down from skyrocket -high […]

From the Dept. of Misplaced Persons

“I feel like a misplaced person,” Mom repeats this like a mynah bird. She wants to go home. The confusing part is she is home. I know the feeling. Displacement is the norm lately in our once root-bound family. The various members of our clan have been moving so much people think we’re in the […]

May sales and low inventory point to market recovery

There is conclusive sales data showing the county’s housing market is rebounding. After seven years of declining prices and anemic sales, it’s a welcomed change. The median selling price of a county home last month was $285,000. That’s up $30,000 from April’s median of $255,000 and $35,000, or 14 percent, above the median selling price […]

The customer is always right unless they’re wrong

Prior to the 20th century customer service wasn’t all that important to trade and commerce. Today consumer spending accounts for nearly two-thirds of our GNP but it wasn’t always like that. In the 1800s consumers had a limited selection of goods and services. Products and skilled services were so in demand that those who controlled […]

Check your laziness at the curb

If you drive up to your house every day and say, “Now there’s a HOUSE,” do not read on. You do not need me, and you certainly do not need Kimberly Lacy, co-host of HGTV’s Curb Appeal, whom I prevailed upon this week for her curbside opinion of my place. But if like me, you […]

It’s not your grandma’s linen anymore

Though I knew better, I couldn’t wait to use the pretty new table linens that arrived in that day’s mail. “Made for every day,” the Website assured. That was all the encouragement I needed. I spread the crisp cotton placemats, which came in pretty patterns of fern orange, fleur-de-lis basil and scrolling lemon, paired them […]