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 […]

Ground zero: The treasure hunt

Contrary to what Sheryl Crow sings, the first cut is not the deepest. The last cut is. Cleaning out my parents’ former home of almost 50 years involved a rough and ruthless week of letting go of a lifetime of home furnishings. What’s left is the pyramid of postponement, a pile far bigger than it […]

Ground Zero: What to keep

“I’m sorry for your loss,” the buyer says as he streams through the door of the estate sale I’m having at my parents’ house. Loss? What loss? “Thank you,” I say, mirroring his somber note. “My condolences,” says another buyer a few minutes later. What? This is an estate sale, not a funeral. “Thank you,” […]

Homeowner 101: Which license classification should you hire?

As with most licenses, there are different classifications just like our driver’s license. We all understand the reason why we need a different classification for driving certain vehicles; it stands the same with working on your home. In the construction industry, we have three main classifications that contractors are able to contract in for their […]

All contractor ads must have a California State License Number

Three words: CAUTION, CAUTION, CAUTION. In every column I always try to get the point across to use caution when hiring a contractor. There are so many different elements to selecting the right contractor and the biggest element is finding that contractors license number and looking it up on the Contractors State License Boards Website. […]

Remodeling: On the right side of the statistics, for once

Generally speaking, I am not a numbers person. That is, I only like statistics when they support what I want to believe: Weight down, bank account up. If they don’t, I pretty much stick a finger in each ear, squeeze my eyes closed and make insect noises. Thus, for the last four years, I have […]

Ten steps to the perfect sofa

I still remember my shock and dismay when I realized that sofas had to be bought. Somehow I thought sofas just happened. They always simply showed up in homes, hotels and offices without explanation or fanfare, like feral kittens or bills. It seemed as if someone on high said: Let there be sofas! But somewhere […]

Fixin’ to sell

Maybe it’s because I was the youngest in my family. Maybe it’s because I’m 5-foot-3 and have a voice like snow white, but I lash out like a cornered rattlesnake when someone doesn’t take me seriously. I will take good-natured teasing, a friendly disagreement, moderate proselytizing, even a heavy-handed agenda, but patronize me and you’d […]

If you can dress, you can decorate

I know, I know, to many of you the idea of decorating an empty room feels as horrifying as one of those dreams where you’re suddenly in public naked. But I’m going to fix that. Although decorating a room from scratch is intimidating, here’s the truth: If you can dress, you can decorate. Stay with me. […]

Turn your closet into a boutique just for you

Quick: Which room in your house needs attention the most? Kitchen? Bathroom? Garage? Nope. Your closet. ”Foul!” You cry. “That’s not a room!” “It should be,” said Lisa Adams, founder of LA Closet Design. “The closet is where we spend the first and last moments of our day. “This highly used space needs some respect.” […]

How to sell what where

No sooner did I put out my cry to the universe — “Help! I have to clear out my elderly parents’ stuffed-full house and I don’t know what to do with it all!” — than it answered. My super-second-hand-sales-savvy friend Aaron LaPedis flew into town. The author of  “Garage Sale Millionaire” (Wiley) had come to […]

Parents’ possessions put past in perspective

Like my mother, the Roman God Janus — for whom January is named — had eyes in the back of his head. In fact, he had an entire face on the back of his head, so he could look backward and forward at once. This feature earned him the distinction of “god of doors.” He […]

Resolving to repurpose

This time of year I always feel a little sick to my stomach, and not just because of those midnight romps at the dessert buffet with the bottomless glass of Prosecco. (Do they make a combo antacid headache tablet?) I suffer from that other brand of post-holiday consumption bloat. Even though I— like most consumers, […]

Homeowner Bill of Rights in effect next week

SACRAMENTO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced that the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, a landmark package of legislation that extends key mortgage and foreclosure protections to California homeowners and borrowers, will take effect on Jan. 1. The new laws restrict dual-track foreclosures, guarantee struggling homeowners a reliable point of contact at their lender […]

A look back at lessons learned in 2012, part 1

As has become tradition, the last two weeks of the year I glance back at the 50 cathartic home columns I’ve written, pull one takeaway tidbit of scenario-wrapped advice from each month and re-share them here. This year brought no shortage of material. In the first six months I moved into a new old home, […]

What color is your future?

In the same way many of us can sense a cold coming on or a storm in the offing, some tuned-in types can spot a hot (or cool) color trend long before it arrives. These color forecasters go around with divining rods implanted in their foreheads. When they detect a color trend, they call it […]

When young love meets a good house much is possible

Young love is a state unto itself — full of starry-eyed possibilities, idealism, passion and a hefty dose of delusion. Young house love is exactly the same. Though it’s been a while, I have experienced both. I now possess wiser hope, tempered passion and a bag of combat stories from both fronts so large it […]

Gifts: It’s what’s on the outside that counts

In my constant endeavor to live more graciously, haste is my undoing. I am often whirling through life on extended credit from the time bank, and it shows — especially in my gift wrapping. During the holidays — when available time shrinks and gifts multiply — this failing is particularly obvious. I start well. I […]

This Christmas – make a scene

Whenever I visit a holiday tree festival where top designers deck the halls (and trees), I come away feeling as dull as a bureaucrat from Buffalo. I arrive to the affair feeling pretty confident in my holiday decorating skills. I know to layer on the white lights, stick with a unified color scheme and add […]

Guess who’s coming to dinner – and staying!

Those who’ve managed to keep tabs on the coordinates of my far-flung family know I have a husband in Colorado, a daughter with me in Florida and another daughter in Texas allegedly attending college. It’s complicated, and just got more complicated. The Texas daughter now has a boyfriend. (The nerve!) Holding up the family tradition […]

Three hurricanes, one homeowner’s horror and some heroes

So you think you’ve had contractor nightmares. I know I have. But I guarantee ours wither like flowers by the fire compared to what Linda Lipofsky’s been through. Lipofsky’s home saga involves an act of God, a nefarious contractor, a bankrupt insurance company and lost hope — all followed by absolute good. It’s a tale […]

Tight inventory hinders pending home sales

California Association of Realtors A continued lack of housing inventory constrained California pending home sales in September, while the share of equity sales reached its highest level in four years, the California Association of Realtors recently reported. Pending home sales data CAR’s Pending Home Sales Index fell 3 percent from a revised 119 in August […]

Obama administration cautiously optimistic about housing market

HUD WASHINGTON– The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of the Treasury recently released the September edition of the Obama administration’s Housing Scorecard — a comprehensive report on the nation’s housing market. Data continue to show signs that the housing market is strengthening; home equity has increased by $860 billion since the […]

HUD awards job grants

Funding helps localities create, maintain jobs WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently awarded $75 million in grants to help public and assisted housing residents connect with local services to obtain education and training to find jobs. The funding allows grantees across the United States the District of Columbia, Guam, the […]

California pending home sales up in August but down from a year ago

Equity sales reach highest level in four years California Association of Realtors California pending home sales rose in August from July, but a continuing shortage of housing inventory sent pending sales lower from the previous year. Additionally, the lack of supply, particularly of REO properties, sent the share of equity sales to its highest level […]

I had a dream – and I got over it

Attention those who can’t let go. The problem is not your stuff. It’s your stories. This bit of news from Mark Brunetz, Emmy-award winning co-host of Style Network’s “Clean House,” helped me get past the sting of selling my piano this week — for one-fourth what I paid for it eight years ago. Oh, that […]

Romance at home: It’s not what you think

Some homes are filled with love. Some homes are made with love. Some homes make you fall in love. I just left a home that was all that. Casa Feliz, a well-known historic home in Winter Park, Fla., is so romantic that I’m glad I toured it with my husband or I might have gone […]

Home as haven: Creating a de-stressful space

I recently had one of those weeks so stressful that I would have rather juggled flaming power saws. Not a death-in-the-family kind of week, but a week with a string of everyday life problems that proves the world cares about me about as much as a windshield cares about flying insects. It started with Hurricane […]

Talking with the editor of Do It Yourself Magazine

Deep down everyone wants to create. The smallest kids want to create a mess. Men have a particular need to create something tangible, often big, like skyscrapers, because they have so much catching up to do compared to women. Women give men a wilting look, put one hand on their curved hip and say, “I […]

House on strike

I don’t like to discuss politics. I avoid political conversations like I avoid mud puddles. I go around. It’s just cleaner that way. So I am still scratching my head about how I, a conflict-dodging home improvement columnist, and Pat Schroeder, former U.S. congresswoman, presidential candidate and political powerhouse, got aligned this week behind an […]

What to do before tackling DIY projects

By Jocelyn Jane Cox DIY author When confronted with a home improvement project, the first thing you have to do is decide if you can tackle it yourself or if you should hire it out. This is not exactly an easy decision and you might find yourself changing your mind halfway through. You really have to […]

Living vicariously through homes of rich and famous

A voyeur lives inside all of us. We’re human. We look. I particularly like looking inside others’ homes. When it’s dark out and the lights are on in someone’s home, and their lives and lifestyles are on display as if in a movie, I look. No, I gawk. Don’t tell me you don’t. I get […]

Facts about home-based businesses and the ADA

Do you run a home based business that requires clients or customers to access specific areas of your home on a regular basis? If so, you could be required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and be subject to a civil rights lawsuit. Maybe you run a small day care facility from your […]

Weak business conditions continue to affect landscape architecture firms

WASHINGTON, D.C., — Business activity softened for the landscape architecture profession during the second three months of 2012 but the level of billable hours grew slightly quarter to quarter, according to the American Society of Landscape Architecture Business Quarterly survey. Some year-to-year data also shows slightly weaker performance. Quarter to quarter, Q2 2012 saw 73.4 percent of […]

Construction lien protection laws changed July 1

SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board is alerting consumers who are hiring contractors for home improvement projects that legislation concerning liens against their property took effect on July 1. While the new laws don’t substantially change protections for property owners, the wording and formatting of the release and notification forms have been altered. Property […]

Affordable family housing opens in Folsom

FOLSOM — A new affordable family housing community, the first new project of its kind in Folsom in two decades, celebrated its grand opening on June 21. Folsom Mayor Kerri Howell, USA Properties Fund President Geoff Brown and Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency Executive Director La Shelle Dozier spoke during the grand opening at 9483 […]

International sales continue to climb in U.S. market, Realtors report

WASHINGTON D.C. — Due to low prices and the relative weakness of the dollar, international buyers continue to identify the U.S. as a desirable place to own property and make a profitable investment. According to the National Association of Realtors 2012 Profile of International Home Buying Activity, total residential international sales in the U.S. for the […]

Women’s Council creates leaders

Realtors in El Dorado County are making positive changes in their profession and their community with the help of the El Dorado Women’s Council of Realtors. The council’s mission is to empower women to “exercise their potential as entrepreneurs and industry leaders,” according to President Linda Ellen Anderson. “Many of our Women’s Council leaders go on to be leaders in the […]

Bracing for disaster

Apparently there’s just no escaping disaster. When I lived in California we got earthquakes. In Colorado we got blizzards. In Kansas we dodged tornadoes. Now in Florida we brace for hurricanes. Though disasters differ with the territory, home disaster plans are pretty much the same: Close your eyes and scream, “This can’t be happening!” If […]

Making a tough call for aging parents

My brother and I had a plan for our aging parents. The plan was they would not age. They would never need to move from the house where they have lived for 45 years. They had a plan, too. They would manage just fine, thank you. But this past year, as they both approached their […]

AG meets with military families, discusses foreclosure crisis

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and Holly Petraeus, director of the Office of Service Member Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), recently met with airmen and their families to discuss the financial difficulties they face, especially as they relate to the foreclosure crisis. California has the largest population […]

Housing affordability reaches records in first quarter

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Housing affordability conditions for all buyers reached a milestone in the first quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors. NAR’s composite quarterly Housing Affordability Index* rose to a record high of 205.9 in first quarter, based on the relationship between median home price, median family income and average mortgage interest rate. The higher […]

Nationwide, pending home sales rise

Pending home sales increased in March and are well above a year ago, another signal the housing market is recovering, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 4.1 percent to 101.4 in March from an upwardly revised 97.4 in February and is 12.8 percent […]

Realtors open doors to buyers across the nation

As the spring home buying season kicks off, Realtors will host thousands of open houses in neighborhoods across the country this weekend during Realtor Nationwide Open House Weekend. On April 28 and 29 Realtors in El Dorado County invite buyers to visit some of the many open homes throughout the area where they can learn more […]

Get a whiff of this — home scent management

Among the first impressions the old house gave off was its smell. The place hadn’t been lived in for months, and rather reeked of neglect. Even after I opened the windows and doors, and shook the place up by moving in, the house smelled musty, the bathrooms dank. I don’t fault the house. I’ll surely […]