Monday, March 20, 2017

My clients and I quoted in a Comstock's Magazine article about millennial home buyers in Sacramento suburbs...

Last week Comstock's Magazine ran a little teaser online for their story that appears both in print this month and online -- "The Great Millennial Migration."

Millennials, if you aren't in the know, were born between roughly 1980 - the mid 1990's.That would put their ages in the mid 20's to mid/late 30's.  I work with lots of homebuyers of all ages, including many millennials. Contrary to some common stereotypes that most of them still live in their parents' basements, LOTS of millennials do buy homes. Yes. A lot of them. And their wants and needs aren't all that dissimilar from other Sacramento home buyers I work with. It's a matter of priority. What's important?

For single or partnered (millennials), they frequently value the ability to walk to happy hour and want to be somewhere conducive to that lifestyle...for those who have or want kids, they more frequently ditch happy hour in favor of being able to walk their kids to a good school.

So check out the article...it features quotes and a completely adorable photo of some of my clients, Aaron and Jamie, as well as quotes from clients Jonathan and Suzie.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Listing - 7110 Stella Lane, Unit 13, Carmichael, CA 95608

Adorable ground level 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1,000sf condo unit tucked away in a serene complex in Carmichael. You will love the easy access, spacious floorplan, cozy fireplace, newer carpet and paint, laminate flooring, updated kitchen with newer cabinets and granite counters, updated bathrooms, inside laundry. Big bedrooms, lots of storage space. Master suite has private patio. Nicely manicured setting, homeowners association has private pool and clubhouse. Located minutes from shopping and American River access! Don't wait! Offered at $164,900. HOA dues $335/mo. For more photos and information please visit 7110 Stella Lane #13, Carmichael, CA 95608.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Featured in Comstock's Magazine Online Edition today...

I was featured in Comstock's Magazine's online edition today...this is a teaser for a couple of articles my buyer clients and I are quoted in that will run later this month. I was asked these two questions -- (1) What is the biggest change in your industry in the past year?, and (2) What do you see as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?

No, I didn't say anything snarky about the Cubs 2016 World Series victory and how the Giants pitching acquisitions will help them in 2017. To read the piece, click here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Scam alert -- do not pay for a copy of your grant deed after you close escrow!

One of my recently closed buyer clients texted me this week asking about some mail he received. The mail looked pretty official and claimed for $83 the service would mail the new owner a copy of the newly recorded Grant Deed. It went on to list several reasons having a copy of the deed would be important...but there is a key issue with this letter -- it is a total scam.

New owners will receive a copy of the recorded Grant Deed directly from the Sacramento County Recorders Office within a month or so of closing at no added expense. Letters like these typically come within a week or so of closing, before the deed is received in the mail.

Buyers and new homeowners -- keep in mind that once you purchase a property, that record of ownership becomes public and your information will be purchased by 3rd parties. New homeowners receive all kinds of solicitations in the mail for things like life insurance, homeowners insurance, refinancing (already!), alarm installation, and other nonsense like this.

My client commented that this offer looked "very official." It does...but thankfully they were suspicious because they read the fine print that said "this offer has not been approved, or endorsed by any government agency." I warn my clients to be on the lookout for stuff like this and let them know they can always contact me with questions. Don't be fooled!

On another note, if one of my clients ever does need a copy of their grant deed and can't find their copy, I can easily obtain a replacement copy at no expense. Or you can request a copy from the Sacramento County Recorders Office by mail and pay a small fee ($13 for the first page, $2 for each additional page).

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to get an accurate measurement of a home's size and square footage when public records are incorrect...

Generally when I list homes for sale, I pull data out of public record to get an idea of the number of bedrooms, bathroom, parcel size, and square footage. Occasionally though, the data in public record is inaccurate.

Recently, a potential seller client contacted me about listing a home in the Arden area. According to the Sacramento County Tax Assessor's records, the home was 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1,440sf. So I reviewed similar comparable recent sales in the neighborhood and then met the seller at the house a few days later. Immediately I could tell that the home was significantly larger than the assessor's records. The home had an addition. This particular addition was not permitted...however sometimes even permitted additions do not get updated in the public records.

Another seller contacted me who owned a home in Natomas that he purchased new directly from the builder. Assessor's records showed the home was 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1,519sf. For whatever reason, the builder reported a different floorplan than the one my client had purchased. His home was actually 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, and the flyer he had from the builder said the home was 1,805sf.

So what do we do about this? In these situations I hire a professional property appraiser, at no added expense to my clients, to come out and measure the property. Getting an accurate measurement of a home is important, because even a small difference of perhaps 100 square feet may change the value, or change the buyer's perceived value of a home. In addition to having accurate square footage, a floorplan sketch can be a valuable marketing tool as well, since home buyers like to have room measurements.

In these two instances, the Arden home turned out to be 2,243sf, and the Natomas home turned out to be 1,838sf. Clearly those are large differences and those accurate figures definitely helped to properly market the homes and get top dollar. So I say, when in doubt, measure it!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

New Listing - 2701 Bronco Creek Way, Sacramento, CA 95835

Stunning, better than new 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1,838sf Natomas home! You will love the open layout, recessed lighting, tile flooring downstairs, kitchen with cherry cabinets, granite counters, and stainless appliances, formal dining room. Large loft/separate family room area upstairs, large master suite with walk-in closet, separate tub and shower, dual sinks and granite counters. Owned solar lowers utility bills! 2-car garage with epoxy flooring. Low maintenance yard. Adjacent to brand new charter school under construction. Low $60/month HOA dues covers front yard care. Don't wait! Offered at $339,900. For more photos and information please visit 2701 Bronco Creek Way, Sacramento, CA 95835.

Friday, February 17, 2017

California Transfer On Death (TOD) Deed -- avoids probate, less expensive, faster...

Thanks to California Assembly Bill 139 that passed in 2015, as of January 1, 2016 a real property owner has a new way to avoid the Probate process. AB 139 created the "Transfer On Death" Deed. Why is this significant? Let me explain...

Generally, if a property owner dies and does not have a Living Trust, any real estate owned must go through the Probate process in order to be sold. This applies even if the property owner has a Will...so don't be fooled into thinking that property named in a Will avoids the Probate process. IT DOES NOT. The Will only serves to specify who the deceased person wants to pass the property along to. Probate is a court process to actually transfer ownership of the property. Probate is expensive, extremely time consuming, and can be highly emotionally charged...trust me, I have helped several clients through the process in order to sell homes of deceased loved ones, and it is not a process I would wish on anyone.

So I am frequently asked -- how can we avoid Probate? Up until this last year, my answer was -- talk to an attorney, form a Living Trust, and do not forget to deed your real estate into the trust. Creating a Living Trust sets up a mechanism that transfers responsibility for real estate to a Successor Trustee, which makes selling a home after death pretty simple. There are two downsides to setting up a Trust though. The first is that forming a Trust is pretty expensive -- an attorney will charge $2,500 - $10,000 depending on how complicated your estate is. The second is that Trusts take time to plan properly -- so it could take a few weeks to a few months to form your Trust and deed your real property into it.

With the passage of AB 139, there is now an inexpensive and faster option -- deed your property into a "Transfer On Death" Deed -- aka, a TOD Deed.

One of my past clients called me in September when her mom was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  Her mom had just weeks to live, had no trust and no will, and owned a home in Carmichael. I immediately thought of the TOD Deed. With a TOD Deed, the owner remains the owner while that person is alive, and it names a beneficiary that the property is transferred to upon the death of the owner. She called an attorney who prepared a TOD Deed for her mom, had it signed and  notarized and recorded with Sacramento County. She passed away just days later.

The entire process to prepare, execute, and record a TOD Deed was just days and a few hundred dollars. Once her mom's death certificate was available, an "Affidavit Death of Transferor" had to be prepared and filed with Sacramento County. So within a short period of time, and for a few hundred dollars, daughter had full authority to sell the property. No Probate. No excessive costs. Way less stress.

I always suggest getting tax and legal advice before doing something like this, but what I can tell you is that this is a streamlined way to take the expense, time, and stress out of what is already an emotional time. And as a side note, an owner can file a TOD Deed, make changes to the beneficiary during his/her lifetime, sell the property, or deed the property into a trust later. No need to wait until a fatal illness to get one done. In fact I would recommend being proactive.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Named as a "Five Star Real Estate Agent" in Sacramento

For the 3rd year in a row, I have been named as a "Five Star Real Estate Agent" in Sacramento for 2017. The Five Star organization does research in metro areas and surveys those who have purchased or sold property. In order to be named a "Five Star Real Estate Agent" in Sacramento, consumers have given me the highest marks for exceptional client satisfaction and service. So this is a great honor yet again! It's nice to be recognized by my clients and the community. And there is an article in this month's Sacramento Magazine as well.