Info Sonoma County

Carbonmonoxide Detectors… It’s the law.

By | Around the house, Buyers, Sellers | No Comments

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPer July 1 2011 all homeowners in California, must comply with the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010. This means that every home must have a Carbon Monoxide Alarm. The reason for this law is because carbon monoxide poisoning is the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas produced whenever any fuel is burnedCO-detector. It can enter the home from sources as seemingly innocent as a gas stove, furnace, or wood stove, usually due to leakage, back drafting, or poor venting.

Do you have one installed in your home? Unless you are renting a home chances are that were not even aware of this legal obligation. It’s not unusual that home owners buy and install one when they are selling. Reason: it is part of the required seller disclosures and when a property is appraised (when a buyer needs a mortgage) this is one of the items an appraiser looks for.

But as a general rule, it is good to have one installed. According to California Safe Homes website, only 54% of the CA residents have a CO alarm. I am planning to do this the coming week;)


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…



USDA, Clint Eastwood and first time home buyers

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

When you see the acronym USDA you might think of meat, or farmers. USDA stands for United States Department of Agriculture. This organization is to support and improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. One way is through the USDA home loan program: a great mortgage for first time home buyers with limited income and very little down payment. It is a great alternative for the more expensive FHA loan programs: less down payment, no mortgage insurance.

When I think of rural areas, I think of the old western movies with Clint Eastwood, not necessary Sonoma County. And yet there are a lot of areas in Sonoma County eligible for the loan product. Because it is a low income program, only the ‘cheaper’ properties will qualify. Last year I was able to help a young couple buy their first home on Wall Street in Windsor. They love where they live and their monthly payment is much lower than when they would be renting.

Per October 1, 2012 this program is changing. In Sonoma County: Windsor, Healdsburg and Sonoma will no longer be eligible. The program will also become somewhat more expensive. Currently USDA loans don’t require mortgage insurance, only an upfront guarantee fee of 3.5%, this fee is added to the total loan balance and financed into the loan. Per Oct 1, the upfront fee will lower to 2% but there will be a new annual fee of 0.3% of the balance of the loan. This annual fee will be added to the monthly programs.

It’s still a great alternative for low income buyers in rural areas. It’s always best to talk to your lender about this program, for more information, please feel free to contact Seliga Financial :  707-577-8737




Location, Location, Location…

By | Buyers, Sonoma County info, Visit WineCountry, Wine Tasting, Winery with picnic place | No Comments

Number one rule in Real Estate: location, location, location. Recently I have been working with buyers relocating to Sonoma County. It’s fun, I get to ‘brag’ about Sonoma County, the ‘bragging’ is easy, Sonoma County is a great place to live. And yet within Sonoma County, there are many nuances as to neighborhoods, micro climates, schools, personal preferences.

I remember moving to California, I was brand new in USA, everything was different. Luckily, when we moved into our first rental there was a handyman who gave many great tips as to shopping etc. I had a map on the table and every time he mentioned something I asked him where is was and marked it on the map. This was a while ago, now I would search it with Google maps and write it down as a list. However, maps are great to get started thus I have maps for those who want to get introduced to Sonoma County and when we go house hunting. And besides a map, a list of great professionals who are local who are part of the team that makes for a smooth relocation experience… there will be some frustrations anyway…

Even though everything is new and exciting, it is good to make a list of things that are important, if possible even in order of priority… Is it the outdoors, the restaurants, the schools, what popular locally…

Recently I re discovered a great winery in Hopland. It’s about 40 minutes from Santa Rosa to Hopland, a beautiful drive, worth the trip. The winery is Campovida. The property used to belong to Fetzer Vineyards. Next to great wines, there are beautiful gardens to stroll through and you can also stay at the property. Gary and Anna will warmly welcome you as well as the friendly staff in the tasting room, tell them I said hi;)