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What’s Up with the Market??

That’s an excellent question. Home sales in American Canyon dropped by almost 50% in March compared to last year. But the median sales price rebounded to over $600,000 after a fairly precipitous four month decline beginning in October, 2018.

At first glance this appears to be a rather significant market correction. Home prices in the city rose too rapidly (overall) last spring and now they are retreating. But statistics can be misleading. I don’t believe that we are seeing a market correction. The big homes are still selling for a lot – there just aren’t as many big homes going up for sale as there have been (although that’s changing as I write this).

Almost half of all the homes sold since August 1, 2018 have been in the Rancho del Mar Subdivision. Owners are starting to cash in on the profits. However, buyers have become discriminating in what and how much they are willing to put down. I think that I said this back in August. Buyers want quality since they lack quantity. That’s what the ever increasing days on market is telling me.

As a seller, what does this mean for you? You are going to have to put some time and effort into your home. And hey, that’s ok, pride of ownership is important, right? A little bit of elbow grease never hurt anyone (too much). Mow the lawn, trim down the bushes along a walk-way, pressure wash the front of the house, re-paint the trim. These are all things that a seller can do to improve the curb appeal without breaking the bank.

Make sure that the inside sparkles. Mop the floors, get the carpet cleaned, make your bed, do the dishes and know that most buyers will peak into your closets – even messy linen closets can leave a negative, lasting impression.

Council Got it Right!

3 cheers for the American Canyon City Council Last night. Nope, not talking about the Bottoms Up controversy (although I do appreciate their decision to deny the appellant). I’ve tried to stay out of it. I have many friends that I respect who are dead-set against it for a variety of reasons and I support them. Me, personally, I just chose not to give them any of my money.

I will say this, though. What I particularly liked was seeing the Oro-Leary coalition spear-head the “let’s move on and deny them” contingent. They were right. There was little more to say and little more that the appellant could do to sway minds. Ken’s distaste was clearly palpable as he tried to describe the “modeling” pictures of the applicant. Glad that David and Ken were able to get council to move rather than pass the buck until the next council meeting. I would also like to give kudo’s to our own local lawyer Ralph Andino who was representing the unpopular coffee chain here. It’s not easy to take what many consider to be the wrong side – especially in a small town like ours. Ralph is good people and showed it last night.

Council also gave Canyon Estates another 2 years to get things in order by extending the Tentative Vesting Subdivision Map. It’s an interesting plan – to some degree scaled back from it’s original vision I think. You can hear my thoughts on it here: http://americancanyon.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=1168&meta_id=89325 (my comments begin at approximately the 1:27:30 mark)

But for me, the big win of the night was Council’s decision to grant the new owners of Laso LLC a $40,000 no-interest loan to install an outdoor grease trap (or something to that affect). This will allow our local residents who are trying to start a family restaurant in town, the ability to do so.

I appreciate Councilmember Leary’s point about 90+% of all restaurants failing in the first two years. The fact is that this loan is a risk and that the applicants – and not the owner – are really taking all of the risk. It’s isn’t entirely fair to either the city or the applicants; but I can tell you this: last night’s vote by Council to award this loan was another tangible step forward in our larger goal. It’s time that we begin to move forward and have a larger tent

I love having lunch meetings at Thai Kitchen, Mi Zacatecas, Tacos Michoacan, Crave, et al. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for another restaurant. As we lurch forward with hope, also known as Watson Ranch, we will need more amenities like Laso to attract buyers for these $1M-plus properties from Canyon Estates. As we seek to continue to attract new homeowners to our area for the existing housing stock, we need to show discernible proof that we are prepared to make our community even better. $40,000 towards two young men’s dream seems like a small amount to me.

The money thing…

There isn’t anything fun about allowing someone to look into your finances and then have them decide whether or not you are good enough with money to have them lend it to you. It can also be fairly stressful to sit down with your spouse and go over money together. But it’s important. I highly recommend David Bach’s book, Smart Couples Finish Rich. These are fairly straight forward ways to communicate with your spouse about money.

If you learn how to deal with money along the way, that works too. The important thing is that you do it together and you communicate. I’m not particularly new age but I’m a huge believer in communication. All of the biggest mistakes and fractured relationships/friendships have come around being an inefficient communicator.

So…back to the money thing. It costs a lot of money to buy a house. Even a relatively inexpensive house. So you have to budget. You also have to get pre-approved for a loan. Because my wife only worked half of fiscal year 2016 and I was still finding my way as a Realtor(R), we didn’t make much money. That means that we have to get our 2018 taxes done ASAP so that we can show that we have 2 years of steady income and growth.

Regardless of who you choose to work with as a lender, there is basic information that you need to submit:

  • W2’s for the past two (2) years (or 1099’s if you are self employed);
  • Tax returns for the last two (2) years
  • Paystubs for the last 30 days
  • 2 months checking/savings statements
  • 401(k), IRA information
  • Copy of a CDL (or resident alien card & social security card if not US citizen)

And then there are several miscellaneous documents that you may have to provide if you are getting a VA loan, or if you are retired and downsizing, etc. The lender will also look through your credit report. There may be items that you have to pay off as a condition of the loan.

I intend to go through the entire underwriting process prior to submitting an offer. This will make our offer that much stronger when it comes down to it. Unfortunately we have already missed out on our (current) dream house: 773 Huntington Drive. There were multiple offers submitted last week and we weren’t one of them. The one thing that I have learned over the past few years is that we will find the right home for us when we are absolutely ready. It may take more time than we’d like, but if we are patient…and savvy…we’ll get there.

Sold on the KonMarie Method

Wait…what??

No. Joke. I am a huge Marie Kondo dude. It’s somewhat embarrassing to admit because she’s a little bit of a fruit loop…how many clothes can a person thank? Especially that special Christmas sweater?

But the KonMarie method is about so much more than tidying up. It’s about having an appreciation for the things that we do have. My wife and I binged on Marie Kondo right after the New Year and – I kid you not! – I went to work. I completely raided my closet and figured out (mostly) how to do all of the folds. A couple of cycles through and I’ve managed to keep it going strong. But that’s not the point.

These aren’t mine…Just wishful thinking.

I tried to read her book last January and I didn’t get through the prologue and sparks of joy. Just couldn’t do it. But this time was different – and it wasn’t just the medium. After all, as Sir Anthony Hopkins quips in The Mask of Zoro, “When the student is ready the master will appear.” (Although I think that it’s a paraphrase of some greater philosopher it’s just hard not to quote Sir Anthony…and now I have sudden need for a nice chianti!)

The point is – all of the reading that I did last year led me to this particular moment in time. I was mindful and this series (I’ll go back and read the book) touched me because I was finally at point and ready to listen and the deeper meaning was clear. The joy isn’t about tidying up (although it does ease the stress around you). There is great joy in being thankful for what you have.

There is a book by Ken Mogi titled, Awakening Your Ikigai: How the Japanese Wake Up to Joy and Purpose Everyday. As you might guess, it’s a little Japense-centric. But I read it on the heels of watching Marie Kondo’s show and it brought everything together. There are 5 pillars of ikigai.

  • Starting small
  • Releasing yourself
  • Harmony and sustainability
  • The Joy of small things
  • Being in the here and now

The KonMarie method squarely sits within the 5 Pillars of Ikigai. Start with the clothes. Get rid of the shoes that you’ve been collecting your whole life. Work with your partner so that the two of you can create some stability within your home. Take pleasure in the items that you kept and be present in the moment

It’s easy to forget the important stuff while in the rat race. Life is hard enough without adding additional, self-inflicted stress to the mix. I plan on picking up Marie Kondo’s book again later this year. And as I read it, it will be to find the underlying truths of her sparks of joy.

Of course, this is a real estate blog so how does all of this relate to real estate? Whether a buyer or a seller, you do have to start at the beginning. You have to start small even if it feels like it’s the biggest thing that you do. What does starting small mean? Make the decision. If you want to buy or sell (or both!) – great. Decide to do it and go all in. There is a process for both buying and selling – you need to release yourself to it.

Trust your realtor® enough to take direction. If you don’t then you need to find a different agent or you need to rethink whether or not you really want to buy or sell. Get on the same page as your partner. Buying and selling a home can be a slog. Don’t make it worse than it has to be.

What’s it like to buy a house, really?

If you follow my blog, you will find out…My wife and I have decided that this is the year to buy our own house. We love the neighborhood that we live in, but we’ve been renting and rather than continuing to pay for our landlord’s retirement, we’re ready to invest in our own. Like many home buyers today, we are going to need help from our family. We’ve worked hard over the past couple of years to pay down as much debt as possible (except for student loans…yup, I feel your pain) and now we’re ready.

I’ve also decided to share my journey with you so that – if you’re teetering on the fence of buying a home – you can learn from my mistakes and experiences. Like I advise many of my own clients, I will be talking to a number of different lenders. I will also be looking at a number of different scenarios: conventional, FHA, 203k fha rehab (there’s a particular property that I have in mind for this one).

It’s daunting and exciting. I don’t know if we can afford to buy the type of home we want but we’re gonna give it the old college try.

I will be talking to two lenders this week: Toni Hicks with Travis Credit Union & Dave Anderson over at Homestreet bank. Ironically, Toni use to work for David but chose to jump ship. They are two of my favorite people and I’m looking forward to seeing how they can help me. One of my reasons for working with Homestreet is because they are one of the few lenders that can do a 203k rehab loan.

I decided to reach to Toni because I’ve always wanted to work with her and I bank at Travis CU. They have some first time home buyer programs that I want to explore, as does the City of American Canyon. My wife is a teacher at Bethel so we’ll be looking into some programs through the California Teachers Association

It should be an interesting ride and I look forward to having you along on my journey.

Don’t make these home buying mistakes…

Buying a home isn’t easy. In fact it can be hard work. But don’t miss out on your dream home because of a few mistaken assumptions.

I read a survey a couple of years ago – it said that over 60% of first time home buyers have buyer’s remorse. It’s important to me that this doesn’t happen to you. As we begin to transition over into a more normalized market there isn’t the same pressures on buyers that there have been over the past few years. Take your time and find the right home, rather than a convenient one.

It’s been a while…

…and a lot has changed in the American Canyon Real Estate Market. Without a doubt the market has shifted from a hot sellers market to a more normalized market. We aren’t quite in a buyer’s market just quite yet, but we certainly headed there.

As of Sunday, there were 26 homes on the market. Last December there was only 15. Quite an astounding increase in inventory – this is a good thing. I predicted earlier this fall that the inventory would continue to increase and that sellers would need to start working harder. You can’t just throw a sign up in the yard and expect the buyers to come flocking. Good news is that home prices are slightly higher then last year at this time with the average sales price in the low $500,000’s.

Higher interest rates (hovering around 5%) and higher home prices mean slightly fewer buyers…and they are more discerning. They are taking their time to find the right home, rather than just any home. Staging is more important than ever now. I don’t mean that you necessarily have to go out and get all new furniture. I do mean that you have to de-clutter, de-personalize and clean.

As a buyer the good news is that you have a lot to choose from. The right home is out there to make your own. There are a lot of beautiful homes on the market right now and they seem to be lingering and there is a great opportunity to get them at below market…510 Chaucer, listed by Marcia Hadeler with Coldwell Banker and offered at $529,000 is one such home.

4 beds, 3 baths, 2003±sf – court location at the end of Chaucer; large back yard. Full bed and bathroom downstairs. My wife loves this home.

I will be honest though…right now my heart is set on 416 Bettona Way listed by good friend Nelia Medeiros and her partner Loreto Stribling with Eagle Vines. It’s currently listed at $657,000 and is a huge steal. Homes in that area were going for $680,000’s earlier this year. This is what I mean about the market softening. It’s been on for a over a month. Had it come on this past spring it would have garnered multiple offers and been off in a week.

4 bed, 3 bath, over 3100sf – this home has a fantastic flow.

If you have any questions about the real estate market I’d love to hear from you. Call me at (707) 853-0797 or email: rich@napasolanohomesforsale.com


Open House Alert – 712 Daniels Ave

I will be holding open 712 Daniels Ave in Vallejo today from 1-3pm

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Exclusively listed by Richard Peterson and offered at $350,000

Awesome opportunity for an investor or first time home buyer! Two blocks from the water, parks and schools. Near the ferry, Mare Island, 37 & I-80. Spacious kitchen and family room with a formal dining/living room combo.

712 Daniels Ave, Vallejo – Just Listed

Quaint, 4 bed & 2 bath town home close to Mare Island and the Ferry Building. Boasting over 1500±sf, this 2 story condo has it all. Spacious kitchen opening up into one of two living areas. There is a large, combined formal living and dining room off to the left as you walk through the door. Creep up the stairs to 4, ample-size rooms with a master suite off to your right. This home is perfect for the first time home buyer.

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There will be an open house on Sunday from 1 – 3pm.