Author: Pam Buda

Only half the Sonoma County homes for sale this year compared to last

Month's Supply of Inventory (MSI) is down sharply from last year. Sales of existing single family homes fell slightly last quarter as first time buyers and investors busily snatched up entry level homes price under $350,000. At the present moment, November 2, 2009, there are only 1190 homes for sale Unit sales are down also, from priced under $500,000 county wide, versus 2,458 at the end of October 2008, meaning there are only 2.8 months of inventory supply if sales continue at their current rate. Anything under a five to seven months supply is considered to be a sellers market. Inventory is in very short supply and sales seem to be increasing even moving up to the higher price points. Please call or email me if you would like to sell your home. If you have been hesitating to sell your home because of the market, conditions may be more favorable than you think. ...

All the Real Estate Market Stats you Can Eat

Some new web tools enable me to provide up to the minute sales trends for real estate in Sonoma County in a more thorough and clear fashion, for those who are interested in such things. The data is based upon actual sales information reported by the BAREIS (Bay Area Real Estate Information Services) MLS, or multiple listing service....

Sonoma County Real Estate Sales Update

Year over year the median Sonoma County home price dropped 5% to $359,000. However, the apparent bottom for this market (whether a V, U or W is yet to be determined) was in February when the median price was #315,000. Some of my smart buyer clients (you know who you are) are happily ensconced in homes they bought in January and February, sensing the (a?) bottom had arrived....

Excuse Us While We Are Under Construction

We don't have the same construction budget as Cal-Trans and any possible shut-downs to traffic won't cause the same commute complications as recently experienced in the San Francisco Bay Area, but we are undergoing some technical maintainence over the next couple of days.  So if you notice some odd behavior on our pages, or some missing links, our apologies in advance as we update our blog platform.  After nearly 2.5 years of existence, a little software overhaul is due.  It will enable us to improve our services and the look and feel of the site.  If you need to reach me please call or email or find me on Twitter or Facebook....

Horse Lovers! Don't Miss the 2nd Annual Sonoma Change Fundraising BBQ

Last year's inauguaral Benefit BBQ for the Sonoma CHANGE Program (Coins to Help Neglected and Abandoned Equines) was a great success!  A fun event in a beautiful venue that raised significant money to help coordinate efforts in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties to save neglected horses from abuse and neglect. In 2009, your help is needed more than ever. It seems that ticket sales are down this year due to the economy, and the need to help abandoned horses is greater than ever.  This year's event is at the beautiful Shone Farm of the Santa Rosa Junior College, on the border of Healdsburg, Forestville and Santa Rosa. Please visit the Sonoma CHANGE website to buy your ticket for this fun event coming up soon on Sunday, September 20, 2009.   You'll enjoy a great day with wonderful food, friends and family and lots of equestrian entertainment from dressage and jumping demonstrations, the chance to see and learn about all kinds of horses from Mustangs to Percherons and Friesians.  Enjoy drill teams, vaulting and carriage driving.  There will even be a Unicorn!  What a great way to spend a September Sunday and to benefit a great cause--the health and well-being of horses throughout the North Bay.  See you there! If you can't make it on the 20th, the CHANGE website will still accept your donation. If you would like more information about CHANGE, the video below will fill you in....

"It ain't over till it's over." or what Yogi Berra can teach first time buyers about Real Estate

yogiisms.jpgSo if you know me well, you know that I am a die-hard THIRD generation New York Yankees fan. (DISCLAIMER: Despite this fact, I have several clients, good friends and colleagues who are Boston Red Sox fans, but that is another story.)

How does Yogi Berra relate to the current real estate market in Sonoma County, Ca?
Well as current clients of mine will tell you-they thought they’d found a perfect house. We’ll call it “Park Place”. Great commute location, walking distance to shops and restaurants, and best of all a vastly over-sized, 13,000 square foot park-like back yard (complete with its own redwood tree and veggie garden).  Unfortunately for them, 18 other buyers also thought it was a great property and the winning offer was not ours, even thought we went well over asking, my clients were extremely qualified first time buyers. In this case it wasn’t enough. But they gave it their best shot at a price that made sense to them and lived with the results.
After a four week break to take care of family obligations, my clients were ready to write an offer on another pretty interesting property.   Meanwhile, I had told the listing agent for the first property to keep us posted if something happened to the original offer.
Also we  kept an eye on things.  We don’t want to rely on an overburdened REO listing agent. To make this easy for everyone, I set up a private web site for my clients updated in real time with changes to the MLS (Real Estate Multiple Listings Service). You may not realize it but most public facing websites are not reliably up to date, so a property could be back in escrow and not available again before you know it.
In this client website, we can keep homes in “Newly Matched”, “Saved”, and “Rejected” Tabs.  That way we are in sync and can both keep tabs on things so to speak. With my out of town clients, the “Comments” feature helps my get to know their preferences pretty quickly.
Back to the Yogi Berra situation: the same day we were writing on place number 2, I received a phone call from the listing agent on “Park Place” –the house of the 19 offers. Apparently the first buyer could not perform due to problems with their FHA financing.   The 3`cash buyers had gone elsewhere.  My clients were selected next by the bank who owned “Park Place” (bank as property owner-is an “REO” for real-estate owned).
Long story short, my clients are now in escrow to purchase “Park Place”.  Of course, it ain’t really over till escrow closes.  It is always wise for buyers of any property not to fall in love until they are moved in.  But this one, given up for good a month ago, looks pretty good now.
So thanks Yogi, for the real estate wisdom.   And I thought you were just a great catcher, hitter and 10 time World Series Champion!

Sonoma County Real Estate Market Half-Time Report

The long days and sunny weather have taken me away from my computer--sorry it has been so long since my last post. I have a new iPhone (fun and without a doubt best new productivity tool in a long time--probably since my first Palm Pilot in 1996). I am available by phone or email or Twitter, Facebook, etc. if you have an immediate question, please feel free to contact me. And thanks to those of you who already have! We are in the thick of a hot summer market here in Sonoma County. Buyers have been coming back into our market in increasing numbers since late last year. Now, nearly every property sold under $400,000 has multiple offers. First time buyers or conventional buyers with ten or twenty percent down should expect to have to write offers on multiple properties before they get "the one". There is only 2-4 months supply of inventory available at the current rate of sales (at price points under a million dollars). What about the new wave of "shadow" inventory of foreclosure properties being held back from the market by the bank? At this point, it would appear that the market of existing buyers (both first time buyers and investors) will absorb it fairly readily....

Add Solar now, Pay Later with your Property Taxes: Innovative Sonoma County program provides property owners with financing for Energy Efficient Improvements

One of the biggest problems with solar and other alternative energy systems and home energy conservation projects in general is that the upfront costs can take months or years to recoup in the form of lower utility bills. Plus, if a property owner is not sure they will be in the structure long enough to realize those benefits, there is even less incentive to make an investment, especially in our current economy. But reduced consumption of energy immediately benefits the planet, leading to less pollution and a reduced carbon footprint.  Unfortunately the environmental benefits don't reconcile immediately with short term financial outlay. One new program designed to address this problem head on. The Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) is billed as "HOT, COOL and GREEN!" An overview of the program was the subject of a story in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Conserve now, pay later A brief overview from the SCEIP web site: Program Specifics: Participation in this Sonoma County program is completely voluntary. Energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy generation upgrades must be permanently attached to the property to qualify. Items not permanently attached such as dishwashers and other appliances are not allowed. Improvements like insulation, cool roofing, heating and air conditioning systems, waterless urinals, solar panels and energy efficient windows are acceptable. Improvements must be for existing buildings, new construction does not qualify. Assessments are a lien on the property itself: when the property is sold, the assessment stays with the property. Repayment is made through your property tax bill over time. Participating in the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program is easy. First decide how much makes sense to invest in energy and water efficiency or renewables for your home. Then fill out our application and follow a few simple steps (outlined below.) Before you know it, you’ll be realizing a monthly energy savings on your bill. The lowest interest rate currently offered on the SCEIP website is 6.75%, but there is some talk of additional funds being made available to subsidize lower rates to make the payments more affordable.  There is a calculator at the site so you can see what possible payments might be. For more information on Solar Resources in Sonoma County visit "Solar Sonoma County" http://www.solarsonomacounty.com/index.html...

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