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Homeless veterans expected to benefit from Prop. 41 grants

SACRAMENTO — Nearly 700 low-income and homeless veterans and their families will benefit from affordable housing opportunities announced today by three state agencies. Seventeen projects throughout California will receive funding through Proposition 41 and the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Program. “With cities statewide pushing to meet the national goal of ending veterans’ homelessness, this funding could […]

Pending home sales maintain momentum in May

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Pending home sales continued to rise in May and are now at their highest level in over nine years according to the National Association of Realtors. Gains in the Northeast and West were offset by small decreases in the Midwest and South. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, […]

All the home’s a stage: Finding the house

I knew the minute we didn’t get the house it was the one I wanted. I hadn’t been this heartsick since I got sent home from summer camp with mono. After helping DC shop for a new home for months we had a good sense of what we were looking for and what we weren’t. Like […]

All the home’s a stage: House hunting

Much as I carry on about house buying and selling, the fact is I haven’t bought a house in 12 years. That time around could hardly be called a house. What I bought was a poured foundation with the framing started, which I took from there. The house before that was also a lot and […]

Survey reveals slight dip in realtor business in 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After gradually climbing for three consecutive years, the decline in existing-home sales in 2014 resulted in a slight reduction in Realtor business activity and income last year, according to the 2015 National Association of Realtors Member Profile. The survey also found that Realtors are increasingly more comfortable using multiple communication channels, including social […]

All the home’s a stage: 10 staging secrets to selling success

When the idea of staging his house to sell came up, DC knew better than to question me. A HGTV devotee, he was tuned into the power of staging. He had also watched me, in the 14 months he’d known me, stage three very different houses. But he admittedly didn’t have the faintest idea how […]

Lower interest rates, steady home prices ease California housing affordability

LOS ANGELES — Lower interest rates and stabilizing home prices over the past year combined to make it easier for more Californians to purchase a home in the first quarter of 2015, the California Association of Realtors recently reported. The percentage of home buyers who could afford to purchase a median-priced, existing single-family home in California in first-quarter […]

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 […]

Experts: Balance needed between regulation and opportunity in housing market

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s leading housing economists recently spoke at an economic and policy forum to appraise the state of the U.S. housing market. The event, held by the National Association of Realtors, National Association of Home Builders and McGraw Hill Financial Global Institute, drew more than 80 attendees representing industry analysts, congressional staff […]

EDCAR reports open house scare

REcently, an El Dorado County Association of Realtors member encountered a disturbing incident while holding an open house. A man approximately 50 years old pulled up in a blue vehicle — possibly a Toyota but was similar to a Jeep. It had a silver grill on the front and big tread tires. The man had light blond/gray […]

Pillow talk part two: Picking the perfect sheet

Who knew so many people were losing sleep over their sheets? I didn’t. Not until my column about creating a heavenly haven broke two weeks ago, a column that tripped a feather-storm of emails from readers talking — and asking me — about that most intimate part of their life: What they sleep with.   Some readers […]

The rest is done with mirrors

Mirror, mirror on the wall, would you please go away, at least until I have my make-up on? No, wait. Stay. I need you to put my make-up on. Like many women, I have a love-hate relationship with mirrors. I need them to pull myself together, otherwise I would roll out of my house looking […]

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 […]

Without inventory, our boom can’t bloom

Supply and demand, right? Well, yes. And right now we are experiencing a larger than expected demand. Interest rates are still historically low, PMI has dropped 40 percent, down payment assistance, etc. Shall I go on?? With such a demand, an equivalent supply must be present to quench the insatiable need for housing. Later this year […]

The waiting game

As I sat waiting — and waaaayyyting — for the air conditioning repairman to show up last week, I began thinking about the chronic condition of late repairmen. This was the second time in a week I was cooling my heels waiting for a repairman, who, somewhere between his last appointment and mine, had gotten caught […]

New site takes closer look at how houses matter

In my current life as a nomad, where I live in houses that aren’t mine and serve as their foster parent until they find permanent families, I sometimes pine for a home of my own. While I enjoy the many benefits of non-commitment — Oh, the possibilities! Oh, the freedom from property taxes! — I do […]

HUD helps disabled people

SAN FRANCISCO — To help prevent thousands of people with disabilities from being unnecessarily institutionalized or possibly becoming homeless, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently announced it is awarding nearly $12 million in rental assistance to California. In turn, the California Housing Finance Agency will provide permanent affordable rental housing and needed supportive services […]

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 […]

The price of potential

“The house has potential.” Every time I hear those words, a story follows that has more ups and downs than the New York skyline. The word potential alone is dubious, as in that kid has potential, that relationship has potential, that job has potential. The word potential gets called out when one wants to infuse […]

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 […]

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 […]

California’s housing market returns to normalcy as year ends

Sales move higher in Southern California and Central Valley, while Bay Area pauses LOS ANGELES — California’s regional housing markets ended the year with mixed results as statewide home sales inched up from a year ago for the first time in nearly a year and a half, the California Association of Realtors recently reported. Closed escrow […]

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 […]

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 […]

How can you optimize the return on your home investment?

Who doesn’t want the answer to that question? The old adage to “buy low and sell high” is what we all aspire to do. The problem is that we can’t foretell the future. If we could, our home investments would no doubt consistently thrive! Since we don’t all possess a crystal ball, let’s take a look […]

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 […]

Existing home sales rebound in September

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a modest decline last month, existing home sales bounced back in September to their highest annual pace of the year, according to the National Association of Realtors. All major regions except for the Midwest experienced gains in September. Total existing home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and […]

Real estate firms optimistic about future of industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Real estate firms are confident about the future growth and profitably of their industry, according to the 2014 National Association of Realtors Profile of Real Estate Firms. “The real estate industry is competitive, and Realtors know that to be successful they must have a strong entrepreneurial spirit and the know-how to make a business […]

Exterior house color: public service or public nuisance

The problem with home design is there is only one kind of mistake. One everyone sees. That’s what makes home improvement decisions so nerve-wracking. Your taste — whether enviably good or so bad you need to hand out motion-sickness bags — is on display. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the color of your house. For […]

Putting a sense of place in your space

Twenty years ago, when I knew even less than I know now, if that is possible, I renovated an old California bungalow in the Santa Monica Mountains. The construction project felt exactly like childbirth — except the advanced labor part lasted 36 months. Seriously, the remodel took 50 years off my life while simultaneously assuring that […]

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 […]

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 […]

Putting the grace in gracious living

I have missed the point. For years, I have written about gracious living and thought I knew what it meant. Not that gracious living is an art I have mastered. Donkeys will fly first. But it is the nirvana toward which I clumsily travel, in halting steps, like the last-place contestant in a three-legged race. […]

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 […]

Decorating your home by the numbers

When I first heard about the open lecture in town where a top art historian and architect were going to talk about design using math, I sensed a migraine coming on. Why take a fun, creative act — decorating — and ruin it with math? There is a reason I became a writer, and a deep love […]

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 […]

Looking back at the way things were

It has been five years since the end of the Great Recession which officially began in December 2007 and, according to the economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, ended in June 2009. Most of us in real estate sales or mortgage financing knew long before the recession began that we were in for a […]

July 11, 2014 | Posted in Real Estate | Tagged ,

Get ready for the gold rush

Just as hemlines rise and fall with the stock market, colors, too, wax and wane with consumers’ bank accounts. During the recession — you know, that indulgence drought that was the last six years — any color that smacked of luxury was run out of town like a corrupt politician. But after several years of living with […]

Market running out of steam

A few weeks ago my wife Vicki and I drove to Carson City where we boarded the historic Virginia and Truckee Railroad on a narrated tour of the Comstock Lode. The replica 19th century wood burning steam engine chugs and puffs through the high desert to Virginia City. Five miles before our destination is the town […]

Love wood floors but not the price?

Ever heard anyone walk into a home and say, “Yuck. Wood floors?” Didn’t think so. And you won’t. Ever. Wood floors are always right. They are at home in any home. And unlike wall color, tile, carpet, windows, cabinets or any other home finishing or furnishing choice that is easy to blow, you can’t miss […]

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