Author: Pam Buda

Homes on the auction block

One of my colleagues asked me to accompany him to a home auction at the fairgrounds in San Mateo County last weekend. Now, when I think of auctions I think of the Keeneland Yearling Sales in Kentucky, the Napa or Sonoma Wine Auctions or livestock auctions. The concept of auctioning peoples' HOMES, I found depressing and sort of difficult to imagine, as if the homes would be paraded around the livestock ring on a lead rope, with numbers stickered on them, and the happy buyers would roll them away in shopping carts. So last Saturday I decided to go, and to help Miguel and Cecilia, his wife, as their agent, and see what the scoop was. The auction was run by LandAuction.com, a company which primarily has run land sales, but recently has started to move more homes due to the subprime mortgage situation and the amount of homes in default. The process of buying a home in this way is appealing to a lot of people (they think they are getting a deal, and the average time of a home on the block (2 minutes--or 500 homes a weekend) certainly shortens the sales cycle! In Australia, many homes are sold at auction. The process is fraught with risks however, and is about as different as can be from the "standard" California home purchase transaction as it can be, without completely disregarding California laws concerning seller disclosure and buyer investigations in real estate transactions. In the case of the auction, the buyer generally must do ALL of their investigation prior to bidding on the property buy the property as is and with no contingencies close within 21 days of the auction Unless you are very familiar with an area, and have thoroughly investigated a property, you could find yourself in the position of losing your earnest money deposit if you change your mind after your "winning" bid and decide not to go through with a purchase. This is the reverse of the sequence and a vastly different process on a "normal" purchase where the buyer is in the driver's seat during a negotiated contingency period and can cancel a purchase during their timeframes if the property does not pass their inspections or their loan is not approved, for example if the property doesn't pass muster with either the bank or the appraiser. There is no loan contingency period unless you use the lender affiliated with the...

Horses and Wine Country

For more inspiration about the wine country from a horsey viewpoint. This article was posted last year in the monthly on-line magazine from Bay Area Equestrian Network, an invaluable resource for all things equestrian in Northern California. There are other regional equestrian magazines around the US, but this is one of the first and most widely visited. I bought my truck and my living quarters trailer through this site, although www.usedtrailers.com and www.endurance.net are also good trailer-finding resourses, but that can be a subject for a different day. Ciao for now....

Wine Country and Horses

Hi All, This is the first post of what i hope will be a series of regular comments on the Sonoma County wine country lifestyle and my experiences as a realtor with Coldwell Banker entering my fifth year of business. I am a high tech refugee from the Bay Area who traded in my home with views of San Francisco Bay for 3.5 acres in the wine country northwest of Santa Rosa nine years ago. My purpose was to fulfill a life long dream to own a horse property and have some more room to roam for myself and my Vizsla dogs, with whom I compete with at field events along with the horse or rather now, horses, plural. Personally I spent countless weekends searching both Sonoma and to a lesser extent, Marin and Napa counties before I found a beautiful spot on a quiet lane in the Olivet area. Wine Spectator just featured this part of Sonoma County so I guess it is catching on. (registration required).It was one of the last places I expected to buy since many of my friends owned property over in the Valley of the Moon area, i.e. Kenwood, Glen Ellen and the town of Sonoma, and their places were my base while I searched. However, one day I found a really neglected 3.5 acre piece surrounded by vineyards and horse properties which had sat on the market for over seven months. It had been very overpriced and showed poorly. Not a good sales strategy but a great opportunity for a buyer (and experienced friend) to whom setting was paramount, and the rest could be fixed. The place was full of stuff, not well maintained and a student lived in it and had the heat on to over 80 degrees every day. The grounds were neglected and there was an old prune orchard on a big chunk of it. However, the setting was secluded, with vineyard views and a quiet, peaceful feel away from major road, yet 10 minutes to everything. I was sold. Anyway, I am very glad to have landed here, as are my horses, and absolutely love Northern and Western Sonoma County, which have so much to offer. I really don’t miss the Bay Area, and can easily get to the Golden Gate Bridge in an hour (traffic permitting of course.) I fell so much more in love with the area that...

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