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.


Location, Location, Location: Historic neighborhoods

By | Buyers, Disclosures, Dutch stuff, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

Living in the Netherlands, it is not unusual to live in a home built in 1700’s, thus about 500 years old. Think about Leiden, Zwolle and even for instance Zwartsluis. World wide you will find many historic neighborhoods, great places to live. As to Santa Rosa I am talking about the older part generally quite often referred to as the JC area.

Before buying a home in an older, historic neighborhood, it’s good to know how this affects the home owner. For the Netherlands, there is an organization for historic monuments, ‘Monumenten Zorg’. The goal is to preserve these properties that have historic value. Take the city of Leiden. Should you buy one of these homes, it’s not unusual to have your remodeling project limited on the outside as well as the inside. A new kitchen? Need a permit. Change of color on the outside and even sometimes the inside? Need a permit. Sidenote: this is extreme, even for Netherlands: it usually affects only the outside, then it’s called a “beschermd Stadsgezicht” -> Protected City Image (that’s the best I can come up with as to translation)

This is not the same for every neighborhood, take for instance the JC area in Santa Rosa, only the outside of a home is considered. The Cultural Heritage Board reviews proposed alterations for historic homes. A good resource is the Processing Review Procedures for Owners of Historic Properties.  Currently there are 8 designated Preservation Districts in Santa Rosa: Burbank Gardens, Cherry Street, McDonald, Olive Park, Railroad Square, Ridgeway, St. Rose and West End.

Bottomline… it’s prudent to do your homework before buying a home. Your local realtor is a great source of information.



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;)