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.

Open House Alert – 93 Crawford Way

Hey, I will be holding open 93 Crawford Way in American Canyon today (Sunday August 26, 2018) from 1 – 4pm. I had the opportunity to preview it on Brokers Tour earlier this week and it is stunning. I’m particularly enamored with the back yard – it has it’s own greenhouse and is large enough for entertaining.

93 Crawford Front

Gorgeous engineered wood floors, newer carpet and tile. It’s got this fantastic front yard garden – You can be sure that I will be taking pictures of that this afternoon. Listed at $545,000 by Kasama Lee from our office. I hope to see you there!

Other homes open this Sunday:

102 Summerwood Dr – Listed by Dotty Hopkins with Keller Williams and offered at $659,000. This 4 bath, 4 bed home shows beautifully. It has an open floor plan and has a junior master suite down stairs. I highly encourage you to take a look.

25 Larkspur – Listed by Travis Behn with Eagle Vines and offered at $549,000. This really is a pretty neat home. It does need new carpet and new paint but it does have a new roof put on so there’s that. The home is a little bit dated but for the most part it really is move-in ready. I am a fan of yards and this one is large with plenty of room to make it your own. Open 1-4pm today.

2108 Elliott Drive – Listed by Joe Brasil with Coldwell Banker and offered at $539,000. This one is a flip but the seller did a really nice job. The home is turnkey. It backs up to Kimberly Park and is just blocks from the multi-use center. Open from 1-4pm today.

323 Los Altos – Listed by David Barker with Better Homes and Gardens and offered at $459,000. It’s a cute house that has been upgraded. A 1954 bungalow in the heart of Rancho del Mar. Open today from 1-3pm.

210 Carolyn Dr – Listed by Octavillo Maravilla with 3 Tree Realty and offered at $449,990. Major upgrades to the home including new roof and gutters, new electrical…these are some big-ticket items and this group does a really good job. Open today from 12 – 3pm.

702 Deerfield Dr – Listed by Deepal Karunaratne with Redfin and offered at $445,000. This is one of the lower prices for a single family detached home in the Canyon Creek subdivision and it’s probably a bit of a steal. This was on the market this past winter. It’s open today from 1-4pm.

15 Lena Drive – Listed by Carlos Cruz with Intero Real Estate and offered at $419,000.  Home has potential but there is also a bit of differed maintenance. At this price, however, that shouldn’t scare you off. Fantastic setting with a large back yard. Open today from 12 – 3pm.

Why the need for Earnest Money?

Today’s blog is short but sweet. But since I get asked this question a lot, I thought that I’d address it.

Perhaps it is best to first answer the question, what is earnest money (EMD for short)? Earnest money deposit comes up in Paragraph 3A in the offer. It’s the first item in financing the property, right after purchase price. EMD can be anywhere from 1 – 3% of the purchase price. planning for deposit

The standard in most areas is 3%. Why?

Take a look at Paragraph 21B. REMEDIES FOR BUYER’S BREACH OF CONTRACT: LIQUIDATED DAMAGES. Liquidated damages for breach of contract are set at 3%. By voluntarily putting 3% up for the earnest money deposit, the buyer is showing that they are serious about following through with the contract and will not back out at the least minute.

If you are a buyer, one thing to keep in mind is that the sellers are very often as nervous as you are. They want to sell their home and – presumably – if you’re in contract they want to sell their home to home. However, sellers are as concerned about you backing out as you are about finding something wrong with the property.

That’s why it’s really important to start planning. While there is some creative financing, in a competitive market like the one we are in now, seller’s are wary of buyers coming in with 0$ down and asking for a credit for closing costs. It does happen and offers like this can be successful; however, why not put yourself in the best possible position to have your offer accepted in this real estate game?

 

Make Moving with the Family Easier

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Today is the third component in our ongoing guest blogging. I’d like to welcome Alexis Hall. Alexis is a single mom to three kids. She created SingleParent.info to provide support and advice for the many families out there with only one parent in the household.

How to Make Moving With Children Easier and Happier for the Whole Family

Moving to a new home, and often, to a new city entirely, is simply a part of life. Making a move may feel simple when you’re single or a couple without kids, but it takes on a whole new meaning when you have children. If your family is planning a move, know that it can be an overall positive experience using these tips to help along the way.

Finding Your Family Home

As you start searching, you may come to realize that your ideal home is different from what you wanted before having kids. Before making any big decisions, spend a little time researching the best prices and neighborhoods in your region. The average sale price for homes in Fairfield, CA, is $475,000.

With this information in hand, start your home search with a few key points in mind:

Get to Know the Neighborhood: The neighborhood your family ends up in is just as important as the house itself. Think about your family’s lifestyle and what matters the most to you. Do you want a neighborhood that is within walking distance to schools or parks, or are you OK with being in a less walkable neighborhood if the streets are quiet and ideal for children? Besides your own unique needs, there are several ways you can tell if a neighborhood is thriving and an overall good place to be. Drive or walk around to see if people are out on the streets walking or biking, if houses tend to look like they have been improved, and if you see churches and signs of city services.

Put Practicality Over Emotions: Buyers often fall in love with a home that feels just right, but then they realize that it doesn’t actually meet their family’s needs. Families with children should look closely at a home’s floor plan and yard. Think about whether you want all the bedrooms on the same level if you have small children, or if you want a flat yard for outdoor play. It’s completely OK to have a “feeling” about a house, but don’t let a feeling cloud your judgment.

Managing the Move

Moving can be scary and highly emotional for children. The best approach is to communicate about it with kids as soon as you know you’ll be moving and to keep the conversation going. Kids need to process their feelings about the change. One idea from Scholastic is to encourage them to write in a journal or draw pictures about the move. Kids who are old enough can also get involved in packing. Give them some independence in making choices about how they pack.

Don’t forget that while you are doing plenty of research into your new home and neighborhood, your children may not know what to expect. Spend some time helping your kids get familiar with the new area. Talk about what your new neighborhood has that they will love, and start exploring the area together, if possible. For young children especially, talk about what won’t be changing too. Make sure they know you’re bringing all of their possessions to the new home.

Settling In

When you first move into the new house, unpack your children’s rooms first so they start to get a feel for their own space surrounded by things that are familiar. In the days and weeks to come, help kids adjust to the change by keeping your schedule as routine as possible. You can also do some special family activities in those early days to start creating positive memories in your new home and neighborhood. The Art of Happy Moving blog suggests going to your local library or setting up a lemonade stand to get to know the neighbors.

While moving with children isn’t always ideal, it doesn’t have to be traumatic. You know you’re making the right move, and it will be best for everyone in the long run. There will still be bumps in the road, but these tips will help your whole family bounce back and adjust with less stress.

Photo credit: Pexels

One Thing You HAVE to do After You Buy a Home

Recently, my family and I woke up at 2am to the kitchen CO detector screaming that there was a problem. I walked around the kitchen, opened the back door and kitchen window to let things air out and then back to bed. At 4am the alarm right outside all of the bedrooms went off. This time I was able to figure out that something didn’t smell right. I had a hunch that it was the heater because it was old and…well…I hadn’t cleaned it recently.Smoke Detector

Turns out that my hunch was right. It was the old 1957 wall heater that came with our home. I smelled gas and so I called PG&E to come to turn off the gas leading to it. It took me awhile but I finally found a company that services wall heaters. Rich Jeffries with Creative Comfort Systems (707.373.0134) out of Vallejo was our savior. According to Rich it was one of the 10 worst of his career…

Heaters (and AC’s) should be serviced once per year. PG&E will come out for free once per year to make sure that everything is ok with your heating unit. You can take the additional step of having someone like Rich come out (if you have a wall heater) or another HVAC company if you have central Heat or AC. These companies will clean the filters and make sure that the units are running efficiently.

I sold two homes last year where both of my clients told me horror stories about how filthy the filters were. I highly recommend having a company come in – prior to move in if at all possible – and service your HVAC system.

A Wrinkle in Time…

One of my all time favorite books. If you haven’t read it, make the time. It’s well worth it…but today’s blog isn’t about that. Today I want to talk about time wishing the offer process. There is often a lot of confusion surrounding what happens – in fact, I just went through a similar process where the time for the other party to respond expired…twice! There are a few key points to keep in mind. Some may sound rudimentary but you would be surprised at how the pressure of the situation can affect an individual’s sound judgment. But that’s what you have us there for, right?

  1. Just because you submitted an offer, doesn’t mean that it has been accepted: Simple, right? People generally only get confused about this part a little later into the counter offer process but I’ve seen it start at the very beginning. Buyer rights an offer and asks, “So what’s the next step? When and where do I give my deposit too?” Unfortunately, next step is to wait until we see what the seller says. Boiler plate language on the contract states that the seller has three days to respond.pexels-photo-280254.jpeg
  2. Three days starting…now? Yes, but this can get a little confusing…but it’s still better than it used to be. The day you submit an offer (or counter offer) is day zero. You then have three additional days to wait for a response. For example, if you submit an offer on Monday at 3:30pm, the seller has until Thursday at 5pm (close of business) to respond. Feels like four days, right? The waiting can be interminable. If your agent knows that offers are due on a certain day, you can always ask them to shorten the time frame to respond.
  3. What happens when time runs out? You’ve blown past day three and still haven’t received a response from the seller or buyer. Hopefully your agent is in contact with the other side so that you know what’s going on. But if they aren’t…what now? Officially your offer has expired. If the other side wants to accept it they can but you are no longer bound by it. You do have a couple of options. You have the right to leave your offer open and go into contract. You also have the right to walk away. Your offer has expired and it is no longer valid. Just because the other side wants it now doesn’t mean that you still do. Make sure, however, that your agent communicates to the other side your intention.

Real estate is not a zero sum game. It is meant to be a win-win situation for all parties involved. There are times when it is difficult to get all parties on the same page because of distance; some times parties aren’t as technologically savvy as others and so you still need a “wet” signature rather than a digital one. Just make sure that your agent is talking to the other side as well as you. Communication the most important assets in real estate.

I’ve Got a House Crush…

American Canyon edition!

I actually have a couple of homes that I’m eyeing for the right buyer. The first is 442 Lucina Drive in Napa Square. It’s rough…it’s really rough even at $469,000. The bedrooms are a little small but the living space has a ton of potential. There is a small family room with fireplace immediately off to your left as you walk through the door. This gives way to a formal dining room and wet bar. The kitchen is massive but has enough wasted space that it makes you want to channel your inner Chip & Joanna…take out a wall and add an island. Here’s a quick video of the living area. It’s listed by Debora Graftaas w/ Homes 4 All Realty, Inc. Contact me now to set up a showing.

Next up on my mini tour was 233 Newberry offered at $529,500 and exclusively listed by Verna Mustico with Mustico Realty in Vallejo.

I love this part of American Canyon, perhaps even more than Rancho Del Mar. It’s just a long half-block from Donaldson Way Elementary, the Rec Center and another short jaunt to the middle school. Standard 3 bed, 2 bath, 1600±sf home.

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The carpet needs to be replaced and the kitchen could use some updating (I know…white tile counters should never have happened). Nevertheless, the layout of the home works well and there is a fantastic flow throughout the house. The bedrooms – including a well proportioned master suite – are nestled in the back of the home allowing for some privacy. The slider off of the master bedroom could be replaced by French Doors. The outside of the home is spectacular. It appears that there are several mature fruit trees and there is so much space…the tax record shows .18 acres but the lot feels larger.

I had some friends who lived on Crawford Way with a similar layout. They had their main family area in the living room to the left as you walked in with the TV and couches, etc. They turned the family room off the kitchen into more of a studio (he is an artist) but one could easily turn it into an office or small gathering area if so desired. The best part, though, was definitely the outside. They had enough room for two patio tables, a large grill and a dry bar. This back yard is easily the same size.

If you’re interested in seeing either of these two homes – or any home in American Canyon, Napa or Solano Counties – contact me today: 707.853.0797 | rich@napasolanohomesforsale.com

 

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