Friday, November 21, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

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 […]

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 […]

When customer service falls in the toilet

When I arrived at my friend’s house, I did not yet know the trouble I’d caused. Jean and her husband Tony graciously squired me to the guest room, where I set my overnight bag. Then they showed me to the bathroom down the hall. “You’ve done such a nice job,” I said, knowing they had […]

Design team promotes ‘gilt by association’

Atlanta architect Bobby McAlpine woke up one morning and saw the light, in the most poetic sense. This never happens to me. “I noticed the light would move through the space, selectively choose objects and illuminate them to the point of bursting,” he told me describing the moment he knew he was onto a new […]

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 […]

Mid-century modern: What was cool in ’50s and is now hot

Back at the turn of this century, whenever I heard the phrase “mid-century modern,” which was rare, I was puzzled. What’s modern about a style that started before I was born and that came of age alongside “Leave it to Beaver”? But now, when I hear the term, which is almost daily because this style […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

How to have a garden party, minus the whining

Let’s be honest. So many occasions in life are simply not as good as we imagine they will be. Family vacations, road trips and outdoor dining come to mind. I blame movies and magazines for jacking up our expectations. No movie or magazine ever captures the jet lag, the monotony, the bugs or bad weather — […]

Lower prices for longer listings

While previewing properties over the weekend, I was surprised to see a sold sign in front of a home that I recognized as having been listed for sale for more than a year with different agents. Curious about the selling price, when I returned to my office I checked the MLS and discovered, not surprisingly, […]

Expect the unexpected when previewing homes and land

Most of the time, showing homes to buyers is pretty routine but occasionally the unexpected happens when I least expect it. Stuff happens when strangers go wondering around an unfamiliar home or property that’s listed for sale. I was reminded of how freak incidents occur while reviewing a District Court case, Campbell v. Federal Home […]

Another real estate bubble or just a bounce?

A real estate bubble can happen for a number of reasons. One example is when there is a rapid increase in property values, not supported by solid economic factors such as rising wages. Eventually prices reach unsustainable levels and then decline, often rapidly. That’s what happened beginning in 2003 when in May the median selling […]

Rural life is 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 […]

Cash is king

Real estate transactions have different degrees of difficulty. What makes them so stressful is the uncertainty that something will derail the deal during the escrow. The two most common deal killers are undisclosed property issues discovered during the inspection period and the borrower’s ability to obtain financing. Resolving property issues before a house goes up […]

Keeping El Dorado County rural

Over the last few weeks, I have attended several candidate forums featuring the eight candidates running for District 4 El Dorado County supervisor. At the forums, questions are asked of the candidates about important issues facing the county and District 4, in particular, those that affect portions of El Dorado Hills, Shingle Springs, Cameron Park, […]

A piece of Placerville’s history for sale

A “For Sale” sign posted next to a narrow driveway near the Highway 49/Highway 193 intersection might not attract much attention but those who make the turn will travel down Bennett Valley Lane and back in time. The Larned-Miller House, though to be constructed around 1875 and once owned by the Bennett family, has escaped […]

Helping Millennials with their first home purchase

Last week’s column reviewed why many young Americans were putting off buying a home. Many are burdened with student debt, employment opportunities are tight and living with mom and dad doesn’t have the stigma that it once had. The Millennials, born after 1980, should be taking advantage of owning California real estate at historically affordable […]

Why Millennials are not buying homes

This spring will reveal the direction of the real estate market for the balance of the year. That’s good because January and February sales haven’t been so great. January’s sales were less than a year ago and the median selling price declined 11 percent from December. February’s home sales were off 18 percent from last […]

Every home has a story

Matching up buyers to the right home is a journey of discovery. Every experience in the home-buying process is new and different because every situation is so unique. That’s what makes the process interesting. The first discovery for an agent is finding out who the next buyer will be. Much of a salesperson’s time is […]

Land sales and values not what they used to be

My first real estate purchase wasn’t a home; it a parcel of vacant land. I was 23 at the time and discovered the property while touring country back roads on my Suzuki Trail motorcycle. It was a one-acre parcel with beautiful mountain views. I called the number on real estate sign and with $500 for […]

Looking for answers for weak home sales

January home sales were pretty slow in comparison to the last three years and February sales appear to be about half of what they were last year. You can’t blame the weather. Most of January and February has been sunny and unusually warm. How about faulting interest rates? Mortgage rates are slightly higher. A year […]

Love it or list it

HGTV has a popular reality series called “Love It or List It.” The show features homeowners who can’t decide whether to remodel and stay in their home or sell it and move. Helping them make the decision is a real estate agent, who is in favor of selling the old place and buying another and […]

More difficult times ahead for borrowers

The average homebuyer has encountered countless obstacles while attempting to buy a home over the last few years. Back in 2009 and 2010, when nearly half the listings were short sales or bank REOs, getting an offer accepted was nearly impossible. Banks had no idea how to cope with their huge number of bad loans. […]

Who will be the future homebuyers?

Sales activity is likely to be much slower this year than last. December sales for El Dorado County were off by 24 percent from December 2012. It was the fifth straight month of declining sales. That’s pretty much the same story for the rest of the state. According to DataQuick, Sacramento County home sales were […]

Start early preparing home for sale

The unusually warm weather this winter has eliminated my normal excuses for not undertaking household projects that need to be done around our house. During past winters when it was cold or stormy, I had good reason to stay inside by the fire and watch a football game or read a Tom Clancy novel but […]

Does less mobility hurt the economy?

As a kid growing up, we moved a lot. My father was a career military officer and about every two or three years he was transferred to another military installation. One year we were living in Tampa, Fla., and the next I was in Chicopee, Mass. I attended school in five states from Alaska to […]

Saying goodbye to a great year

Last year was really pretty good for El Dorado County real estate. Traditionally, the January is a time we celebrate new beginnings and look forward to the new year. But while boxing up our Christmas decorations, I felt a little remorse saying goodbye to 2013. It was like saying goodbye to a good friend. There have […]

What a difference a year makes

At the end of last year, the median selling price for a home in our county was $289,000. This December it’s 21 percent higher at $350,000. A year ago the average selling price of a home in El Dorado Hills was $467,000. Today it’s up to $575,000. Cameron Park homes were averaging just less than […]

Unexpected property damage

I don’t usually find myself marketing small entry-level homes in Sacramento but when my friend and past client Jack called, I willingly accepted the assignment. After all, how much trouble could it be selling a $150,000 house? Besides, at this time of the year, my business had started to wind down and small sales are […]

Memories of home and Christmas Past

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. I still have flashback memories of Christmas past whenever I hear Bing Crosby’s singing “Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays” or “I’ll be […]

The good, bad and ugly of FHA loans

I spent much of the day after Thanksgiving in my garage untangling last year’s Christmas lights and taking down the decorations from their perch in the garage. While replacing bulbs and wrestling down boxes, I was listening to a radio infomercial on FHA mortgages. The talk-show host was bloviating about all the benefits of a […]

Determining property value an art and a science

The online Seattle-based real estate brokerage Redfin reported that our Sacramento metropolitan region is the 16th speediest in home sales among 23 major metropolitan markets. During October, 28 percent of area homes were under contract within two weeks or less. San Jose led the October list with about half of the new listings going pending […]

Time to bring back the stated income loan

Bob and Mary were purchasing their retirement home in a senior community in El Dorado Hills. Both had credit scores above 800, a modest pension and, after their 50 percent down payment, they still had a $1 million in a diversified investment portfolio earning healthy returns. Their loan originator said my client’s loan was a […]

So what’s wrong with cash?

At one time in my life, I thought I would add “land developer” to my résumé. After all, for several years I had assisted many developer clients with their land acquisitions and later helped them sell finished lots to builders. From my perspective as their broker, it looked easy enough. Buy some land at a […]

“It’s the economy, stupid”

James Carville was the brilliant campaign strategist for Bill Clinton during his 1992 presidential campaign against a sitting president, George H.W. Bush. Carville used this phrase to his political advantage showing Bush was out of touch with voters who were still feeling the aftermath of a recent recession. The irony was that by 1992 the […]

Pending sales slump no surprise

According to the most recent U.S. Pending Home Sale Index, fewer Americans than forecast signed purchase contracts for existing homes in September. The index was down 5.6 percent; the biggest drop in more than three years. “This tells us to expect lower home sales for the fourth quarter, with a flat trend going into 2014,” […]

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 […]

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 […]