House Prices

Staging a home works and sets expectations.

By | Buyers, Sellers | No Comments

Millbrook frontWhen showing homes to prospective buyers, I always love to show homes that are Staged. These homes are free of clutter and show well. It is easy for a buyer to see whether it would be a good match for their needs. Staged homes tend to sell faster and quite often for more money.

The initial decision to purchase a property is an emotional one and  driven by the sub conscious. It’s a great house, feels good, has lovely colors, great yard etc etc. This decision is justified afterwards by reason: the house is well maintained, no major flaws, great neighborhood etc etc. The different property inspections confirm the condition of the house, major appliances plumbing, electrical etc etc.

There is a flip side:

Staged KitchenWhen a home shows well it sets the expectation that it is well maintained and there are maybe only a few items that need attention. Imagine the response of a buyer who totally falls in love with a house and the inspections show a list of major and minor problems that need attention: plumbing leaks, improper drainage, ducts laying in the mud, a patched roof at the end of it’s life etc etc. The response more often than not is: what else is not maintained/taken care of/do we not know?Staged family room

While it is always wise to do at least a pest inspection prior to putting a home on the market, it is a must for homes that staged to perfection. I also highly recommend a general home inspection. The reason being the incredible first impression might turn into a incredibly low one. Neither of these are true to reality yet it is what is very likely to happen.

Especially in the higher priced areas -Sonoma County, Napa County- it’s worth spending the $350-$400 on a pest inspection to avoid cumbersome negotiations while in escrow. Preparing for a smooth sales process is beneficial for all parties involved.


Multiple Offers? How to get yours accepted…

By | Buyers, Sellers | No Comments

Embracing young couple who have just bought a houseYou found that great home and of course you’re not the only one. For a while now we have more buyers than sellers in Sonoma County. This means that there are usually multiple offers on well priced properties. How do you make your offer stand out? Besides working with a reputable realtor there is more that you can do.

First of all: make sure your offer makes sense. If a home is priced at $450,000 and you are willing to pay $475,000 for it, make sure you are able to do this. Should you need a mortgage, make sure that either the property will appraise at that value (submit the offer with an overview of comparable sales) or show that you are able to come up with the difference in case the appraisal comes out at $450,000. Your lender can help you with this.

Next: Share your story. Write a nice letter about yourself, dutch-wooden-shoes.jpgyour family and why you like the house that much, if you can, add a picture. Recently one of my clients had to pick from 10 offers, one had a letter and a picture of the family in Disneyland. Since my clients love Disneyland, this picture caught their attention and when she read the letter, they wanted this family to get the house. There was a another offer that stood out money wise, that offer is now in second position in case the first family won’t be able to complete the sale. The same was the case for one of my other sales, it made the sellers feel good about the choice they had made.

I know for some of you this doesn’t make sense and it does not always work, yet it won’t hurt either.

Had to share this with you,


US House prices vs Bonds…

By | Buyers, Financial news, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

The moment someone buys a home, that is the moment inflation on housing expenses stops. While rents go up, your mortgage payment remains the same  (in case of a 30 year fixed), for the coming 30 years. During the time that your mortgage payments stay the same, home prices fluctuate. However, over the long haul home prices do go up. If you doubt my statement, ask your parents/grandparents how much they paid

for their home way back when. When we lived in Leerdam (Netherlands), we lived in an older home, built in 1927, these homes initially sold for 27 guilders. At the time we bought it, you couldn’t even buy a washing machine for this amount 😉 Conclusion: Buying home is also a great long term investment vehicle.

But it is always good to diversify. Recently I spoke with Matt Schweifler, a great local financial planner about this subject. He mentioned an other ‘safe’ great investment vehicle: bonds. When you buy a bond you receive interest every year and you have a guaranteed return of your investment at maturity date of the bond. Between the moment of purchase and the moment of maturity, the value of the bond will fluctuate, but at the end there is the guaranteed return on investment…

What do these 2 have in common? The value of your home, matters only when you either buy or sell. In case the home values in your area go up, this is great, but realistically this only matters when you decide to sell. The same is the case when you buy a bond, between the date you buy it and the date you sell, the value may go up, may go down but that only matters in case you decide to sell before the maturity date.

BTW. How much time did you spend on planning your last vacation? How much time do you spend each year planning your retirement? While Real Estate is a great investment vehicle, you really need other investment vehicles too…