Friday, April 11, 2014

Every home owner starts as a first time home buyer at some point...myself included!

I vividly remember when I purchased my first home in 1998. I was young; a full-time college student, working a full-time job, and I had a small chunk of money that my parents told me I should use as a downpayment on a home. Homes were not really advertised on the internet at that point, and I looked through the newspaper for homes that looked interesting. I found my Realtor by calling about one of his listings. He was the only agent who took my inquiry seriously...others had blown me off. I didn't know where to start in the process. I just knew I wanted to buy a house.

Sound familiar?

This Realtor had the patience of a saint. I was not a big time client looking to spend lots of money but he still took time to work with me. He walked me through the home buying process from start to finish, and answered all of my questions. I had no idea what I was doing, and figured I might only go through the process a couple times in my entire life. He matched me to a great loan officer and helped me get pre-approved for a loan, listened to what I wanted, and showed me properties that matched my criteria. My Mom tagged along as we looked at property and helped me ask questions. After a couple months, and looking at a dozen or so properties, I ended up buying a bank-repo condo in Fair Oaks. It wasn't perfect - I immediately repainted many of the walls, and replaced the HIDEOUSLY UGLY electric blue laminate kitchen counters with white tile. But it was all mine.

That's me in the photo up top, the day I closed escrow, standing in front of my unit holding a housewarming gift. The other photo is at my housewarming party when my friends helped me break in my new BBQ. I was SO excited! Little did I know at that time -- years later -- I would get my real estate license and help first time buyers on a daily basis. Remembering my first home buying experience, I vowed to be like the agent who so patiently helped me with my first purchase.

So, if you are reading this -- know you are on the right track. The first steps involve reaching out to a Realtor and finding someone who is a good fit to help you with your home search. In conjunction with connecting with a Realtor, you will need to find a great lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan. I work with several outstanding loan officers I can refer you to who also work with lots of first time home buyers in Sacramento. The loan officer will help you establish your home purchase budget based on your income, explain all of the different loan programs available to you, see if you qualify for any downpayment assistnance, let you know how much your downpayment, closing costs, and monthly payment will be. Your Realtor will help you establish which neighborhoods you are interested in, what kind of home you are looking for, and what features are important to you.

Once you have laid the ground work for your purchase, the fun begins and you can start house hunting...there's a lot more from there that your Realtor and loan officer can review with you in person.

Just remember -- have fun, ask questions, get advice when you need it, and know that your home is out there. You just have to go find it. =)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

New Listing - 1121 Mariemont Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95864

Elegant "Cape Cod" style estate in a secluded private setting. This lovely home near Arden Park Vista is 5-6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, 8,467sf on 1.5 acres.You will love the high coved box-beam ceilings, gourmet kitchen w/secondary prep kitchen, large pantry. Master suite w/separate jetted tub & multi-head shower. Hallway bedrooms have attached bathrooms & separate living area. Upstairs library/home office w/bathroom & deck. Remote bedroom & bathroom w/separate entrance. Custom lighting & woodwork throughout. Lush landscape, gardens, park-like yard, RV access. Amazing home for entertaining. Don't wait! Offered at $1,999,900. For more photos and detail, visit 1121 Mariemont Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95864.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sacramento County Real Estate Statistics for March 2014

It's nice to see a stable, leveling off of home prices. As you can see from the graph to the left, the median home price for March 2014 in Sacramento County increased to $261,000; up ever so slightly over February 2014...the home buying season in Sacramento is definitely underway. I have several buyer clients who are aggressively looking for a home so that they can be ready to move in as their kids' school year comes to a close. The weather lately has certainly cooperated with that. Our dry and early spring we are experiencing here is helping spur buyer enthusiasm along.
Take a look at the huge spike in pending sales last month! It's a great time for sellers to list their homes as well...prices are strong and seemingly stable, and the buyers are ready to buy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

2014 David Lubin East Sacramento Garden Tour coming up in May!

It's almost time yet again for the 2014 East Sacramento Garden Tour! May 10-11, 2014 you have the rare opportunity to tour seven amazing residential gardens in East Sacramento’s “Fabulous 40s” neighborhood! Stroll along serene tree-lined streets and beautiful homes to view a variety of lush and creative gardens. Then enjoy a delicious luncheon at the Tea Garden at Sutter Lawn Tennis Club. Lunch will be catered by Curtis Catering, and this year food trucks will be parked at David Lubin Elementary School. All proceeds benefit academic and arts enrichment programs at David Lubin Elementary School.

Garden tour tickets are $20.00 in advance and $25.00 on the day of the event. Luncheon tickets are $15.00. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ask Erin: Should a home seller get inspections before listing a home?

Surprises during a real estate transaction are usually pretty expensive for someone. I hate surprises. This is why I suggest to sellers that it is a good idea to get certain inspections done on a home in advance. These inspections augment the disclosures that a seller fills out about their knowledge of a property.

I have a theory that I like to impart to my seller clients: it is better to provide "disclosure" before a the start of a transaction than give the buyer the ammunition that comes with "discovery" during the transaction.

Let me paint two similar, but remarkably different scenarios for you.

Scenario one: A nice Sacramento home is listed for $350,000. The house goes live in MLS, and within the first week or so they receive 3 offers. The seller accepts the best offer for $355,000. The seller is ecstatic. The buyer is thrilled! The listing agent provides the seller disclosure forms to fill out. The seller fills them out, and the listing agent provides them to the buyer's agent within a few days. The buyer does a home inspection and a termite inspection. The termite inspector finds dryrot and termite damage under the house and bids $10,000 to do the repairs. The buyer submits a Request for Repairs and asks the seller to repair the dryrot and chemically treat the termites before closing. OUCH. That's a $10,000 repair price tag that comes out of the seller's sales proceeds. The seller is faced with paying for this expensive repair, or putting the house back on the market and having to disclose this termite report to other buyers who wonder what scared the first buyer off. So the sellers repair the damage and ultimately get less money than what they had initially thought when escrow closes.

Scenario two: A nice Sacramento home is listed for $350,000. Before the home goes on the market, the seller does a termite inspection and fills out the disclosure forms. The termite inspector finds $10,000 in dryrot and termite damage under the house. The house goes live in MLS, and the listing agent has uploaded the disclosures and reports into MLS for buyers to review before seeing the house. Within the first week or so they receive 3 offers. These buyers have had the chance to review disclosures and reports, and are making an informed decision, during a competitive offer situation, to purchase the house as-is with full knowledge of the dryrot and termite damage. The seller accepts the best offer for $355,000. The seller is ecstatic. The buyer is thrilled! The buyer does a home inspection, and that inspector finds a few things that need repair, but that buyer has already agreed to purchase the house as-is. Escrow closes and the seller gets their $355,000. The buyer can then do whatever repairs they wish after closing.

Do you see the difference in these two scenarios? Both have many of the same variables, but vastly different outcomes. I have seen this dynamic play out again and again over time. The more disclosure a seller can provide to a buyer IN ADVANCE, the better.  A buyer can make an informed purchasing decision, know what they are buying, and the element of discovery and a secondary negotiation for repairs or a price reduction is eliminated from the equation.

I almost always suggest that sellers obtain inspections in advance for this reason.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Scratch another association off my list...

In my totally nerdy quest to visit other out-the-Sacramento-area Realtor Assocations, I can now cross the California Desert Association of Realtors off my list. They have a very small membership, small and friendly staff, and are just a short drive away from the 26-foot tall statue of Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs. I had the opportunity to visit CDAR while tagging along with my husband to a conference this week.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Listing - 5919 Stacy Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95823

Adorable 3/4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 1,618sf - first time on the market! Located in Sacramento but near Elk Grove. You will love the open layout with large living room, dining area with kitchen breakfast bar, large pantry, bonus room / den / separate family room /possible 4th bedroom downstairs (use your imagination!), updated bathrooms, freshly painted interior & exterior, huge master suite & balcony, separate tub & shower, large backyard, 2-car attached garage! Within Elk Grove Unified School District boundaries. Don't wait! Offered at $189,900. For more photos and information visit 5919 Stacy Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95823.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Temporary paper window shades are a great way to keep your vacant Sacramento home secure...

If you have a vacant property listing and want to take extra steps to try to keep it secure, temporary paper window shades can be a great aid. They are inexpensive -- a box of 6 is about $20 at Home Depot and a lot cheaper than installing mini-blinds or curtains. They look decent and much better than other cheap solutions like trying to hang sheets or taping newspaper over the windows. They are translucent and still allow natural light to enter the house. They are easy to install with an adhesive strip that sticks to the window or the window frame, and they can be cut with regular scissors into different sizes. Best of all, they prevent folks from looking inside to see that a house is vacant. I highly recommend using these...since break-ins and other crime can occur in any Sacramento neighborhood no matter how nice or safe you think the area is. They work great on occupied homes too! I can even install them for you. =)