Friday, December 26, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

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 […]

Ironic design: Unexpected moves that work

The other day the word “irony” floated across my frontal lobe while I paged through a stack of home decor books. Whenever I think of this word, I flash on my ninth-grade English teacher, who had the best definition of irony I have ever heard. “Irony,” Miss Crisco said, “is the opposite of what you […]

Downsizers are getting younger, smarter sooner

I don’t know about you, but I am not getting any older. Despite all evidence to the contrary — that not one but two of my kids who were just in car seats a few minutes ago are in college, that my skin suddenly has about as much rebound as a 20-year-old bathing suit and […]

Rookie mistakes of first time homebuyers

We all make mistakes. Some of us more than others. Looking back over the last 40 years of practicing real estate, I have certainly made my share when buying and selling real estate. My three biggest bloopers were selling rather than buying in a down market, holding on to a property too long in an […]

Homeownership rate continues to fall

The nation’s homeownership rate slipped to its lowest level in 19 years in the first quarter as more households decided to rent. This disturbing trend is holding back home sales while the demand for rentals has increased the nation’s median rent to an all-time high with vacancy levels to near record lows. With the economy […]

Previewing homes today with Ken

Welcome to my office on wheels. As you get comfortable, I want to review a few suggestions to ensure you get the most benefit from our tour of homes for sale. First, I don’t want you to feel under any pressure to buy a house today. We are not buying anything today. If you see […]

Spring statistics suggest slower sales

There is less demand for county homes this year than last. The number of existing homes closing escrow in March was 18 percent less than a year ago, according to the El Dorado County Association of Realtors, and April sales are tracking 20 percent fewer than April of last year. The pace at which homes […]

Faster sales with spring staging

It is a recognized fact that our behavior is influenced by the seasons. We may be more active in the spring, moody during the winter months and a little bit lazy during the hot summer. When marketing homes for sellers, my advice on its presentation will vary depending upon the season. During the fall I […]

Clueless in Sacramento

It is a fascinating phenomenon how often elected leaders can openly profess their commitment for one thing and do the complete opposite. Three recent examples are: State Sen. Leland Yee, a long-time gun control advocate, recently indicted on illegal arms trafficking; Sen. Ron Caldera, now under federal indictment for bribery who supported increased ethics legislation […]

What’s happening with my earnest money?

While experiencing a lingering case of writer’s block for this weekly column, I received an e-mail from a long-time reader with questions about his earnest money deposit. His problem was the return of his deposit after he decided to cancel the purchase contract after serious property defects were discovered during the inspection period. The seller […]

When moves align, or don’t

“Where are you moving?” People logically ask when they hear I am once again pulling up stakes. “I don’t know,” I say, which is sad, true and puzzling to most normal people, a group to which I have not belonged for some time. Eyebrows raise. Silences grows. Subjects change. People whisper. This I do know: […]

Endangered decor

Several months ago I wrote a column about feathers that got readers squawking. I wrote about how they were trending up in fashion and decor. Bird lovers cried, “Fowl!” And rightly so. Feathers are beautiful. When they are rendered as a motif in, say, wallpaper, fabric or tableware, they can be exquisite. But when actual […]

One decade, four houses, 520 columns

For 10 years — as of this week — I have been writing a nationally syndicated self-therapy column masquerading as home improvement advice. One decade and 520 columns later, this much I know for sure: Whatever remaining sanity I have, I owe to you. We have been through a lot together: four moves through three […]

Memories for sale: What’s a household worth?

It’s so true: Some things in life you just can’t put a price on. Until you have to. When it’s up to you to liquidate your parents’ treasure-filled home, you need to price the priceless. How much for that baby grand piano Mom used to play? How much for the sideboard that served up every […]

Siblings empty family house, find what matters

Up there in the category with death and taxes is this inevitability: At some point everyone will likely have to clear out a parent’s home. I’m not going to soften the blow. It’s like having open heart surgery without anesthesia. “It falls into the ‘most stressful’ category,” said Peter Brenton, of Medford, Mass., who with […]

Ten most common seller mistakes

Working with buyers can be unpredictable. One week they are convinced they want to live in the country and the next week we are in Folsom looking at new track homes. They wouldn’t consider paying more than $400,000 but all the homes they want to preview are priced at more than $450,000. Two-story homes are […]

The genius in everyday design

As someone chronically on the lookout for great design, like a sailor scanning the sea for shore, I sometimes need to check my compass to remind myself what great design is. It’s easy to get swept up by high-design and think a Lamborghini, a gown at the Oscar’s, a Cartier watch or a French chateau […]

Something old, something new

It’s the curly-hair-straight-hair dilemma all over. You have one, and want the other. Those who live in new homes covet the character and charm of old ones. Those living in old homes long for the modern amenities new ones offer. Having lived in houses ranging in age from so new the glue’s not dry to […]

Get it together

When the dog’s leash is in the drawer with your hairbrush, when you pull out the vacuum and three suitcases fall on your head, when you have 15 jackets but only wear two, when the space under your sink looks like the recycle bin and under your bed looks like the Dumpster behind Walmart, when […]

Window coatings: Not seeing is believing

It could be the best home improvement you never see. Or not. It’s hard to know. Window film — a transparent barrier that, its makers say, keeps big bad sunrays from eating up your furniture and driving up your air-conditioning bills — is at its best unseen. And that’s the problem. How do you know […]

A linen love affair

It happens every January. Once the glitz, glam, glitter and gluttony of the holidays are over, I crave simplicity. I long for austerity and to surround myself with natural neutrals. No frills, no excess. I want food no fancier than plain water and a tuna sandwich, and a home no fussier than a monastery. So […]

Handle with care: How to pack and ship heirloom china

I had just stepped out the door for a morning jog when I saw a blizzard of pink Styrofoam packing peanuts swirling and skipping down the street. What idiot did that? I thought. My stomach turned inside out when I realized the eye of the storm was my trashcan. Moments before, it had been filled […]

2013 lessons learned, part 2

As I close out a year that saw more changes than a newborn — a year during which I cleared out and sold my childhood home, sent my youngest off to college, moved into my fourth home in three years. and still managed to cover the gray. I am raising a Waterford crystal flute filled […]

2013 lessons learned, part 1

Every year about  now, I look back at what I learned — sometimes the hard way — during the previous dozen months through writing this column. I review the advice gleaned from others who know more than I do and sift out the best lesson from each month. I distill it down, and serve it […]

Purple reign: Color pros call violet Color of the Year

While many people dream of being in the winner’s circle at the Kentucky Derby, I want to be in the inner circle of the group that calls the color shots. Think of the power! Two years ago the Color Marketing Group, which forecasts color trends, predicted that Boyz-N-Berry – a jam-like violet – would be […]

Downsizing up

For years I was part of the move-up movement. Each time I moved, my home got a little bigger, a little grander, which felt, in that uniquely American way, like progress. A growing young family and a usually promising housing market whisked those moves along the way like a strong ocean tide takes a soda […]

Spike that room

This time of year, I have eggnog on the brain and soon, perhaps, also on the hips. But the big question when considering a holiday beverage is not how fattening is it? But is it spiked? One way is good; the other, well, can be extra good — if you go easy! The same holds […]