Info Sonoma County

Firestorms in Sonoma County!

By | Natural disasters, Sonoma County info | No Comments

The night from Sunday to Monday October 9 2017 as well as the weeks immediately after that won’t easily be forgotten. When I was living in the Netherlands, flooding was something a large part of the country had to deal with. After a major flooding in 1953, new laws came into place to protect the country. Living in California, the main natural disaster we anticipated was an earth quake. That was a scary Having to evacuate within 10 minutes because of imminent danger due to a firestorm most likely cause by a combination of faulty PG&E lines and a storm, was not something we ever imagined would happen.
IMG_0868and memorable night. Our neighborhood was
blocked of by the national guard for more than a week, it was not safe to go back.

The local newspaper has a section dedicated to this disaster. An other great article can be found here. Very soon after the disaster the city of Santa Rosa and the county of IMG_0777Sonoma came up with this website:  sonomacountyrecovers.org

The fires destroyed at least 5500 structures and  caused a major shift in our local Real Estate market. Our local markets sales and inventory dropped while prices rose by double-digit percentage points.

Lots are being clearedFor many of us this was a rude awakening as to insurance coverage. Many learned that depending on the advise of their insurance agent as to cost to rebuilt might not be that smart.  My suggestion to all is: check your insurance policy and ask a local builder what it would cost to rebuilt your home. This will give you more realistic number and this number should be used to make sure you have the proper insurance coverage in case of a major disaster.


Purchase Real Estate with Bitcoin

By | Buyers, Economy, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

Image source https://www.flickr.com/photos/100239928@N08/

An article on August 8 in WSJ online caught my eye: Lake Tahoe Property Sells for $1.6 Million in BitcoinsBitcoin is a software-based online payment system, a digital currency. Here is other article about this transaction in Martis Camp’s Lodge Estates. The transaction was paid using the bitpay service. 

At first it looks unusual but from a transaction perspective it is  more like a cash transaction. Instead of dollars, euros or yens, bitcoins are used. Similar to when paying with ‘foreign’ currency, an exchange rate is used. The property in Lake Tahoe sold for 2,739 BTC which was at the time appr $1,6 million.Dutch Euro

What currency or method is used to pay for property is something to agree upon between the buyer and the seller. Whether a buyer uses a mortgage, pays cash, uses a digital currency, or even an exchange -for instance an other property of equal value- doesn’t matter as long as the  parties involved agree and the method of payment is legally acceptable. Of utmost importance is to check with a CPA/financial advisor for tax consequences and an attorney as to possible legal consequences.

Bottom line: whether or not paying in bitcoin does not make a whole lot of difference to a transition as a whole. Buyers do their due diligence – the standard time for inspections etc in our local contracts is 17 days-, sellers do their due diligence -in this case whether the method of payment is acceptable – and upon agreement the deal closes.


Location: Walkability…

By | Around the house, Buyers, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

Zwolle walkFor more and more people the walkability of a neighborhood is no 1. Walking to stores, restaurants, schools and parks is on top of the list of  needs as to location . Come to think about this: this is common in small town Netherlands. When I visit my mother or my brother in Netherlands we usually walk to the store or farmers market, to the doctors office, restaurant etc. This might say more about the small towns my family live, yet this is very common in Netherlands.

De kaasboer

According to Walk score, New York is the no 1 in most walkable cities. Sonoma County in general doesn’t come out that well. AND that is where the knowledge of your local Realtor as well as your own research comes in place. We have great local neighborhoods that score high as to walk-ability. In Santa Rosa: the JC area, Proctor Terrace, Montgomery Village, West End, all score high as to proximity to stores, restaurants, shopping and schools. For Sebastopol: the whole downtown area scores high, it’s a small town anyway so that helps.  Also Petaluma: West Petaluma is very popular for that reason: walkability to the downtown area has caused a revival in some of the neighborhoods, while the historic district always has been very desirable.

Most people will have different need. Walkscore.com is a great website to help you with your research and help you find your perfect location.


Location: what is important for you?

By | Around the house, Buyers, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

Over the years I have come to realize that what is important for one person is not important for the other. So number one for a realtor is to find out what ‘hot buttons’ are, most buyers don’t even know that themselves. What might seem to be important might not be important at all, or might not be a good idea life style wise. That is probably where the saying in ‘Realtor land’ comes from: buyers are liars.

on 16 Acres in Franz Valley

One of my clients is looking for a quiet location… what does this mean: no street traffic in the street?  quiet as to noise? A few years ago, one of my clients moved to a location right under the flight path of airplanes into Santa Rosa airport… She loved the noise of the planes and loved seeing them. Interestingly enough this is quit often viewed as a minus, for her it was a plus. Friends of mine bought a multi million dollar home in the hills where they can see airplanes taking off.

In general most people connect rural locations with quiet as to noise etc… I have come to realize that you can find quiet locations -noise wise- in town and might have a hard time finding a quiet location noise wise ‘in the boonies’. I am always surprised how ‘noisy’ rural locations quite often are.
Zwartsluis huisMy brother lives in the Netherlands in an old town called Zwartsluis. Walking distance to shops and restaurant, that place is super quiet noise wise, except for a car through the street every once in a while during the day but at night, dead quiet.


BTW, there are super quiet locations closer to town. Think of West County, Piner road, Crane Canyon …and more.

Side note: this is also the case when selling a home: make sure your realtor knows why you bought the house, quite often that is what will attract that buyer that has been looking for that special home/location.

There is so much more to share, this will be number one on a series about this subject. Feel free to contact me as to what’s important to you so I can use this for upcoming postings.


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,