Rural property

Location – disclosures : Mold…

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

GiethoornGrowing up in the Netherlands and living in older homes, mold was something we didn’t think to much about, clean the area thoroughly every so often and that was it… Now I am involved in selling property, I do look a little different at the subject.

Disclosures: when buying or renting in California, it feels like the amount of disclosures are never ending. One of them is the Residential Environmental Hazards booklet. It informs about hazards in and around the home. One of them is mold.

Blue cheeseRealize that mold is a hazard but also a friend… How so? Think about that delicious blue cheese… the blue stuff is… mold. And penicillin is made from mold. It is a fungus, in the same family as mushrooms.

But mold can also be an environmental hazard. There are several different types of mold. Black mold is toxic and an environmental hazard. Realize that mold can grow on virtually any organic substance, as long as moisture and oxygen are present. This means if the cause is remedied – lack of ventilation, moisture – and affected area is cleaned, mold will not come back.  

When selling property, sellers are recommended to have a “Pest Inspection” done prior to putting the home on the market. At that time items that need correction can be addressed prior to putting the property on the market. Buyers are recommended to also have an inspection done as part of their due diligence. The inspector will always have solutions when problems arise, or will recommend preventive maintenance as needed.



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.


Power Outages and the Location of your Home

By | Buyers, RE Investing, Sellers, Sonoma County info | No Comments

Have you ever noticed that if there is a major power Street with Powerlines outages, some neighborhoods seem to be without power longer than others? And sometimes a neighborhood   close to an urban area might be longer out of power than other areas. I noticed in our area, parts of Fulton and the Russian River area tend to be out of power longer than the direct surrounding area.

Coming from the Netherlands where all power lines are in the ground moving to an area with power lines above ground was something to get used to. They are part of a street view,  sometimes blocking a view or going over part of a property, affecting the desirability of a property. Power lines above ground are more vulnerable to outages during storm or Powerlines blocking a viewwhen a trees falls on a power line or a pole holding the power line is hit by a car. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., have concluded that the average U.S. electrical utility customer experiences 214 minutes of power outage each year. The research also indicates that the U.S. ranks towards the bottom among developed nations in terms of reliability of electricity service. The last Superbowl had a 30 minute power outage.

Super-Bowl-2013With that said, to a certain extent one can predict whether a neighborhood will have shorter or longer power outages in case of a major power outage. The PG&E website gives some good guidelines: “First hazardous situations, such as downed wires. After that the focus is the largest number of customers and on repairs that will restore service to critical facilities such as hospitals, water pumping stations and police and fire departments.

Should you desire to do so, you can make this part of your due diligence before you decide to move to a certain neighborhood or area. If you know upfront that the neighborhood you decide to move to is always the last one the power is restored, invest in a good generator or an other alternative power source.


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




Time to Evacuate!

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

Last week we stayed at a vacation house close to Lassen Volcanic National Park, the home was in a beautiful area surrounded by forest. At one of the last days of our vacation there was a thunderstorm at night which sparked a wild fire about 11 miles south of us. The fire spread fast and we had to evacuate the house that evening.

This is called a natural hazard and part of the disclosures when someone buys a home. Sonoma County also has high fire hazard areas. Besides having this covered by the home owners insurance, there is also a lot a home owner can do to defend his/her home against fire. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has a great website with lots of information.

Landscaping is important. One of the first things to do is to create a defensible space around the house, this is the buffer you create between your home and the grass, trees, shrubs or wild land area. This space is needed to slow or stop the spread of wildfire and it protects the home from catching fire. Also realize that firefighters are reluctant to go into a situation that will put themselves in danger and pick the homes that are easiest to protect first, depending on the situation.

While creating that defensible space, it is also important to use fire resistant plants for landscaping. While there are no ‘fire-proof’ plants, plants with high moisture and have low sap or resin content take longer to ignite. Hardwood trees like maple, poplar and cherry trees are less flammable than pine and fir. Check with your local nursery about fire resistant plants that are suited for your area.

And don’t forget to check with your insurance agent yearly to make sure you have enough coverage in case your home burns down. As mentioned before, a great local agent I can highly recommend is Erin Temple with Vantreo Insurance, she makes sure you have the correct insurance, whether or not you live in a high risk area.