Posts Tagged 'Santa Rosa'

Real Estate Market in Sonoma County – Many Offers and Cash is King

On October 1 I entered 152 Firethorn Drive, Rohnert Park into the MLS.  After a week of constant showings and a well attended open house, I received 10 offers on October 8.  We accepted a full cash offer from a party that was willing to do inspections during the period of review for a preapproved short sale with Bank of America.  The sale closed on October 30 with no hitches.  This home was a fixer but was in a great location and had good “bones”.

Yesterday I learned that an offer we submitted on a major fixer in the Rincon Valley area of Santa Rosa was not the winning bid.  They received 17 all cash offers and ours was the only one for an owner occupant.  The asking price was $229,000.  I believe that the final contract price was around $255,000.  We will not know until the property closes.  What is a “major fixer”?  The roof was caved in at one spot and the floor boards underneath were rotted through.  Read the article below and you will learn that this is not an unusual scenerio.

Realtors’ 2012 Housing Survey:

Competition Is the Name of the Game in California

A highly competitive market pushed California’s housing recovery into high gear in 2012, forcing homebuyers into bidding wars for available homes and rewarding sellers with the strongest prices seen in years.

A new report — the California Association of Realtors’ annual Housing Market Survey — helps explain the dynamics of today’s market.

The survey found that 57 percent of home sales received multiple offers in 2012, the highest in at least the past 12 years, with each home receiving an average of 4.2 offers, up from 3.5 in 2011. Lower-priced homes – typically short sales and bank-owned properties known as REOs – attracted more offers than equity sales. Seven of 10 short sales and REO sales received multiple offers, while only half of equity sales received more than one offer.

Such a competitive housing environment has led to more properties selling at or above the list price, with 41 percent of homes selling without a markdown from the asking price, the highest since 2005 and up from a long-running average of 32 percent.

Additionally, homes sold faster in 2012, with equity sales selling in 32 days compared with 67 days in 2011. REOs took 30 days to sell compared with 50 days in 2011, while short sales took 90 days compared with 141 days in 2011, reflecting the still-difficult process.

Many regions in the Bay Area saw even tighter markets.

“San Francisco saw a higher percentage of multiple bids than the statewide average,” said Patrick Barber, president of Pacific Union International’s San Francisco region. “A solid majority of homes here are selling at or above the asking price.”

Chart showing the share of home sales with multiple offers.

The share of California home sales with multiple offers is the highest in at least 12 years.

In the East Bay, nearly 70 percent of home sales received multiple offers in the third quarter, and many homes went into contract within two weeks of coming on the market.

Across the state, the competitive market is being fueled by favorable home prices and record-low interest rates combined with pent-up demand and a severe shortage of available housing.

“Well-qualified buyers are recognizing the once-in-a-generation opportunity to purchase a home in California and are jumping into the market,” C.A.R. President LeFrancis Arnold said in a statement accompanying the survey. “However, the fierce market conditions have forced many buyers to compete with all-cash offers and investors, setting off multiple offers and bidding wars, making it even more difficult for first-time buyers to become homeowners.”

Other findings from the survey:

  • The percentage of homebuyers making all-cash purchases has more than tripled in the past 11 years, from 9 percent in 2001 to 30 percent in 2012.
  • Demand for investment properties and second homes remained strong in 2012, with investors accounting for 16 percent of sales and second-home buyers for 7 percent. The remaining 77 percent purchased homes as a primary residence.
  • International buyers accounted for 5.8 percent of sales in 2012, relatively unchanged from 5.7 percent in 2011. Buyers from China, Canada, India, and Mexico made up the vast majority of international buyers at 39.1 percent, 13 percent, 8.7 percent, and 8.7 percent, respectively.
  • Reflecting tighter lending standards, very few homebuyers have a second mortgage. The share of home sales with a second mortgage has fallen dramatically from a high of 43.4 percent in 2006 to 1.8 percent in 2012.

The C.A.R. report was based on a questionnaire sent to a random sample of 15,000 real estate agents  throughout the state.

 

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2011 Has Been A Wonderful Year

Happy American Canyon Buyers and Los Altos Sellers!

The last day of 2011 and what a year it has been.  When January 2011 came around, I had no idea where I was going or what the year was going to bring.  My first post was about the increased and difficult business of real estate.  Thankfully the volume continued and I am pleased to report that I closed more transactions than I have in any other year of my real estate career.  The year finished as it had begun with a flurry of activity.  Alas, the difficultly continues as sales are plagued with late appraisals, slow loan approvals and the hurry-up-and-wait process of short sales and bank-owned properties.  Home values have continued to decline except in those few areas where the prices fell so precipitously that there is nowhere to go but up – specifically Rohnert Park has seen some price increases in single family homes.  This December was a very busy month.  Not only was I working on Sonoma County real estate but I closed transactions in American Canyon (Napa County), Los Altos (Santa Clara County) and Lakehead (Shasta County).  These put a few miles on my car but I love working with great folks and these buyers and sellers were top-notch in my book.  I would go anywhere in the State of California for people like them.  And speaking of going – I only attended 8 parties in 14 days during this frenzy of work.  I needed a rest week after Christmas.

View from a Bedroom Window - No difference which one - they are all fantastic!

I am starting 2012 with a listing that I expect to be of great interest to anyone looking for a luxury weekend getaway.  Privacy, space and up-to-the-minute elegance is the best description.  This modern tree house is in a wonderfully sunny spot on Green Valley Road.  It will hit the market late January and you can be certain that you will see it on this blog.  There are many people looking for bargains in real estate and I am working to serve them.  But enough about 2012.  This post is about 2011!

The statistics for this blog were sent to me today.  Around 5,300 hits in 2011 with 35 posts.  I have made a New Year’s resolution that you will get a weekly update on Sonoma real estate.  This is something I follow and I should be sharing the information.  I was surprised to learn that my most read post in 2011 was the one I wrote in May of 2009 on our Redwood Empire Rose Show.  I guess that tells me that I should be more diligent about reporting on the Rose Society.   And, of course, I will continue sharing events around Sonoma County and my travels.  I don’t expect much traveling this year but then, one never knows.

Just a quick report on the Sonoma County real estate numbers.  Here are some numbers comparing November 2010 to November 2011.  The months of inventory (meaning – at the rate houses are selling, how many months would it take to sell all the houses on the market if no new ones were added for sale) has dropped significantly from 5.9 months to 3.3 months.  This is an indicator that buyers are taking advantage of these great prices and low interest rates.  Another interesting fact is that while the average list price has increased from $616,000 to $773,000 (about a 25% increase), the averages sales price has only increased from $374,000 to $386,000 (only a 3% increase).  This tells us that more expensive houses are coming onto the market as owners realize that holding out for better prices may not be a good idea.  The lower priced homes are not getting any lower and the higher priced homes are seeing a price compression.

Maike in Kauai

This last week I have spent on Kauai with my granddaughter – oh, and her parents and my friend, Katy.  What a great way to spend Christmas – no hassle, no clean up, no expectations.  We have had a wonderful time and I may get to reporting on our activities here.  But now it is New Year’s Eve and I wish the very best of 2012 to all my readers, colleagues and friends.

View of Bali Hai from the St. Regis Beach

New Homeowners in Santa Rosa

Today was one of those days when I love being a Realtor.  I was able to pass the keys to new owners.  The experience is even better when the owners are first time home buyers.   Don’t get me wrong – I like giving the keys to retirees, second home buyers and folks new to the area.  It makes all the phone calls, bank delays and inspections worthwhile.

Celebrating with a little bubbly!

I met Katie a couple of weeks before she and Justin were married.  They were looking to start their home search when they returned from their honeymoon.  I called Katie a week or so after their return.  We met to discuss the process of purchasing a home and to define what type of home they wanted.

First step – they were qualified with Redwood Credit Union for a loan.  Second step – I identified a number of homes that might meet their needs.  Third step – we went out looking at houses.

Katie and Justin were wonderful clients.  When we visited a home, they were forthright with their reactions and what worked and didn’t work for them at each house.  I was quickly able to ascertain what they really wanted.  When a vintage 1920’s home in central Santa Rosa came on the market, I emailed Katie immediately.  Bingo!  This could be the one.

Thinking about the floor plan, the neighborhood, the condition of the house, will the classic car fit in the garage . . . . . .

The offer made.  The escrow open. The inspections done.

The house is now a home.  The Wedgewood range will be producing great meals and the back deck will be the venue of great gatherings.

I love my job!

 

The Beginning of the Season in Sonoma County

Occidental Center for the Arts

Many an evening I am entertained by the various renditions of Jane Austin’s stories.  Storylines are filled with discussions of “the season.”  I don’t think that just London in the early 1800’s had a season but so does Aspen, the Hamptons and our own Sonoma County.  Looking at the number of activities happening in Sonoma County this weekend, I can state that “the season” has begun.

Today was a full one.  The Apple Blossom Parade was in Sebastopol.  Butter and Egg (yes, that is the correct name) Days is happening in Petaluma.  Sunday is the Cotati third annual Old Fashioned Chicken Barbecue. Earth Day Fairs and Festivals are occurring in Santa Rosa, Windsor and Sebastopol.   The Burbank Gold Ridge Farm is holding their plant sale.  Whatever your special interest may be, there is a place for you to enjoy, find like-minded friends and take in the beauty of Sonoma County.  I am sure that if a dozen West County people were asked what they were doing this weekend, a dozen different events would be mentioned.

Golden Nest by Jennifer Beckham

Last evening (that would be Saturday) I attended the Spring Fever Art Show opening at Occidental Center for the Arts.  The Center for the Arts is located across Bohemian Highway from the end of Graton Road in Occidental.  The complex that houses OCA is part of the school conversion to community resources that allowed the development of a small plot of land by Orrin Thiessen (known best as the restorer of Graton downtown and the developer of Windsor Town Green).  OCA is one of many locally created organizations that showcases the talent within their community.  The Opening of this show started at 5:00 PM.  By the time Jen and I arrived at 6:15, the savory snacks were consumed and tiramisu was being served in abundance.  For a small local event on a very busy weekend, there was a good crowd.  I got to chat with a few local artists who have become friends over the years,  MaryLu Downing, Tony Spears and Lisa Beernsten to drop a few names.  I was very pleased to see some of Jen’s cigar boxes displayed –   glad to have her back in the showing mode.  This show is until May 31.

Discussing Art

Many years ago, I met a young man and his girlfriend at the Forestville Firemen’s Breakfast.  It was one of those regular pancake breakfasts with sausage and scrambled eggs.  Boy Scouts scurried around the tables pouring orange juice and maple syrup was everywhere.  Anyone who has been  to one of these feasts knows exactly what the scene was.  To get on with my tale, the fellow informed me that the two of them went to a $5 breakfast every weekend throughout the summer.  They never needed to travel beyond the county.

Peeking into the Occidental Center for the Arts

So the season has begun.  In addition to pancake breakfasts, there will be crab feeds, spaghetti dinners and other food feasts.  Next weekend will bring another round of activities.  The following weekend even more.  Check here regularly as I plan to be the reporter of the “Sonoma County Season”.

Major Storm Hits Sonoma County

Bohemian Highway at South end of Occidental

This morning I woke to an eerie silence after a night of howling wind and pounding rain.  Yes, it was pitch black – not even a little red LED was shining.  The power was out.  I first decided that I would just lie in bed and enjoy the quiet – get a few extra winks of sleep.  But, no –  my body was awake.  I pulled out my flashlight (yes, when you live in the country, a flashlight is right by the bed) and propped up on the extra pillow and started my crossword puzzle.  While this seemed like a good idea at the time, it is really hard to do a crossword puzzle in bed while holding a 6 inch Mini Maglite.  Next, I decided to browse the web on my Android phone to find the outage number for PG&E.  Considering that the temperature was 55 degrees and when the only light is a flashlight, it seems even colder, I was not keen on getting out of bed.  Unable to find the number for PG&E, I started texting people I thought might be up.  Finally, around 8:30, I decided that it was no longer too early to call people on the telephone.  Out came the old fashioned telephone (you know, the kind that is connected to the wall by a cord) and the dialing began.  The first person who answered was my landlord – I can always count on them.  They had called PG&E and the message was “anticipate an extended outage.”   What does that mean?  Definitely, it means that coffee from my own kitchen is not going to happen this morning.  No answer from my daughter.  Do they have an old fashioned phone?  No answer at friends in Forestville until I call on their cell.  Their comments were “no power”, “why get out of bed?”   I figure out that coffee is beyond Occidental or Forestville.  I left a message in Sebastopol.  I discovered that the heater works without electricity – duh!  By the time I was dressed, I had a return call from Sebastopol – the power is on – yeah!

Detritus on and along the side of Bittner Road

Deciding that I must face the world to get a hot drink, I opened my front door to find my torch stand blocking the way with the cover and candle lying nearby, my jade plant thrown from its pot and every light weight item from the porch scattered down the stairs and across the walkway.  I ventured out onto the road to discover debris everywhere.  Rounds of wood revealed that chainsaws had already been to work.  The roar of generators broke the early morning silence as seasoned residents began the post storm ritual of keeping the refrigerators humming and the wells pumping.  No area was spared.  From Joy Road to Occidental to Graton to Sebastopol to Santa Rosa – the carnage of redwoods, firs and oaks littered the roads and filled the roadside swales.  A large tree had taken out a streetlight pole on Sonoma Avenue in the middle of Santa Rosa.  PG&E is having a busy day.

Volunteer Fireman on Joy Road

A great thing about Sonoma County folks is that no little storm is going to get in the way of having a good time.  The Occidental Community Center was full (without power) of local residents celebrating the 30th birthday of Efren Carrillo, 5th District Supervisor.  It was a bit cool but the spirits were warm.

I am one of the lucky ones whose power was back on by dinner time.  At 8 pm Joy Road was still closed at Bodega Highway due to a downed power line.  I only know this because I had accepted a gracious offer of dinner in Bodega Bay.  I only had to detour through Occidental instead of traveling over Coleman Valley Road because Bohemian Highway had opened around 5.  How wonderful to experience the beauty of a sunset within hours of such a storm.  Thank you to all the county maintenance crews, PG&E, volunteer firemen and great citizens who have cleared our ways today.

Sunset from Bodega Harbour

What is Happening in Sonoma County Real Estate?

Amazingly I realize that it has been almost two months since I have posted.  It is not that I have not thought about it – it all has to do with timing.

December was filled with getting myself situated at RE/MAX PROs in Rohnert Park.  Yes, it is the same office as CPS Property Advocates which I joined in November.  Four affiliations in the span of six weeks is quite an undertaking.   Fortunately during this time, I have been able to get some business transacted.

Last week the little cabin in Maribel Heights of Forestville closed.  Two days prior to the close, the short sale on Gamay Street in Santa Rosa was approved and inspections were completed.  Early last week, we opened escrow on a bank owned condominium on Racquet Club Circle in Rohnert Park.  I would say that business is picking up in Sonoma County.

But none of these escrows are straight forward or “easy.”  What is a “straight forward” escrow?  Straight forward is where the seller agrees to an offer, the inspections are completed to everyone’s satisfaction, the appraisal is submitted and accepted by the bank, the escrow company draws up the papers, the buyers and sellers sign the documents, the bank funds the loan and the sale closes.  There are many steps but everything goes in a smooth order.  This does not seem to happen often these days.

8190 Knoll Drive, Forestville

The sale in Forestville was the perfect opportunity for a regular, straight forward transaction.  It is a cute, clean cabin – built in the 50’s (maybe – who knows when the county did not keep records at the time) and with a second lot next door.  First problem was that many did not believe that the lot was buildable (i.e. that the county would allow a residence to be built upon it).   We finally (okay, it was only a couple of weeks) got an offer that seemed to be acceptable to all parties and opened escrow.  Second problem was that while there were other homes sold in the last three months in the neighborhood, none were with post and pier foundations or with a lot as large.  Then the appraisal came in $40K less than the agreed upon price – not much value for the extra lot and no comps in the same area.  When the bank reviewed the appraisal, they decided that errors were made and took another $20K+ off of the value.  So now we have a buyer who was willing to pay more and a seller who was expecting more.  After much back and forth, it was agreed that the house would sell for some over the appraisal (based upon what extra cash the buyer could pull together) and after the first of the year to allow time for the sellers to find a property to exchange into.  Everything was set – and then the interest rates began rising.  The property finally closed but it was nail biting down to the end.

1623 Gamay Street

The home on Gamay Street is a short sale.  What that means is that the bank is owed more money than the house will bring in a sale.  Wachovia is the bank who holds the note and they have been proactive in addressing the issues.  My client was qualified for HAFA (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) which is a very good program for people who are losing their homes due to financial circumstances beyond their control.  The two major benefits of HAFA for the seller are that the loan is forgiven (meaning that the bank cannot come after the seller in the future to pay off the remainder of the loan) and the seller is given $3000 to cover moving expenses.  All was going well and then the appraiser climbed under the house and said that he observed a leak in the plumbing.  The bank said that there needed to be a licensed plumber called to remedy the leak.  Two inspectors had been under the house and did not observe a leak.  The plumber did not observe a leak.  We are awaiting a resolution from the bank.

The condo in Rohnert Park is in escrow with a bank.  Fortunately (based upon the two earlier examples) there is no loan and, therefore, no appraisal.  The challenge is that the bank wants everything done yesterday but seems to be taking their own sweet time about getting their end of the deal done.  I am sure that it will work out well but I expect that something out of the ordinary will happen.

This is real estate today.  Deals are getting done.  Nothing is easy.  Most buyers and sellers are stressed.   But the bottom line is:  When you need to sell, sell.  When you need to buy, buy.  There is no better time to do it.

When I return to Sonoma County from my vacation, I will be holding the home on N. Main Street in Sebastopol open and I will be listing a horse property on Sonoma Highway.  Watch here for details in early February.

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol - OPEN FEB. 13, 2011 1 to 4

Joe Jaqua – Artist Profile

Joe Jagua

Joe Jaqua loves to watch people and transfer their lives to canvas.   Evidence is his large collection of urban, rural and interior paintings with people as accessories to everyday scenes of modern civilization.  The backdrops span European cities, the Eastern Seaboard of our United States to the bucolic hills of Sonoma County.  These images bring back memories of past travels, evoke plans for future excursions and raise fantasies of what could have been – or maybe could be in the future.  Joe’s paintings have a universal appeal.

I wanted to know what path led to all of the places in the paintings and ended in Santa Rosa.  Surrounded by paintings of scenes from around the world and in our own backyard, the story unfolded.  Joe was raised in Southern California but realized as a teenager that San Francisco was the place to be.  He graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in English and soon came to the decision that painting was his primary driver.  His first entrée into the painting profession was art fairs in Sausalito, Mill Valley, Beverly Hills, Palm Springs and La Quinta.  He challenged himself to present differing styles and genres for the reactions – both good and bad.   During this period he developed a style that was both pleasing to buyers and himself through observing which paintings were ignored and which were studied as onlookers strolled through his booth.

Joe was fascinated by art as a young student and was first drawn to the Impressionists.  Then he moved on to the Old Masters. Next was the German Expressionists with the bold art of Kandinsky.  Following was the detailed and realistic paintings of the Pre Raphealite Brotherhood.   The influence of Matisse and Picasso developed into a style of William Wiley.  Most recently the bold lines and colors of  Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and the social documentary of Edgar Degas are evident as strong inspirations to Joe’s creations.  Joe traveled to New York, Rome, Paris and took in the day-to-day life, the contrasts in style and popular art trends.  Experiencing different cultures and societies translated into an ongoing evolution in his painting.  During these episodes of expressing his creativity through different styles and approaching different venues for sales, Joe recognized that his figure work depicting society and the result of inquisitive people observation is his favorite genre and, also, the most difficult to sell.  After much travels, Joe settled in Marin County for seven years and eventually moved to Santa Rosa.  Proximity to family and San Francisco led him to Sonoma County.  He now has learned the many benefits of living in an art active community.  This year he participated in Art Trails for the 8th year and looks forward to many more.

Joe draws on his academic training to substitute teach in Santa Rosa schools.  He teaches mainly English but fills in wherever he is needed.  The interaction with students keeps him on his toes and provides a wonderful conduit to the positive energy of education.  He believes that he learns much more than he teaches in these sessions.  One never knows, he may inspire another young person to open their hearts to a gift they possess.

Enjoying the Food, Wine and Company at The Wine Emporium

Art Trails is past but there are still many opportunities to meet Joe Jaqua and enjoy his art.  You can see Joe’s work at The Wine Emporium at 125 North Main Street, Sebastopol until January 1, 2011.  The Wine Emporium is open Wed – Sun from 12 until 6.  Also, check out Joe’s website at:  www.joejaqua.com.


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