Blog

Tropical Dreaming-a new design project in Hawaii by Wright-Simpkins, Inc.

Many of my friends and clients are entrepreneurs and small business owners in the community. From time to time in 2010 I plan to showcase them so that you can learn about some unique and vital services to Sonoma County and beyond. Christian Wright and Gerald Simpkins were friends and fellow Vizsla owners long before they became clients in 2003 when we found them an astonishing 1915 farmhouse on acreage in Sebastopol, since lovingly restored. We sold their charming cabin in Guerneville near the Russian River so that they and their dogs would have more room to roam, and also to be closer to their full-time home in San Francisco, where they ran a successful interior design business, Wright-Simpkins, Inc., serving clients all over the United States. Gerald and Christian have progressed along a path somewhat typical of second home owners in Sonoma County. At first they left San Francisco on Friday evenings and returned home Sunday afternoon. Eventually Friday reverted to Thursday and Sunday became Monday, stretching the weekend to nearly four days. Holidays meant two week stays whenever possible and they became increasingly involved in the community of Sebastopol and Sonoma County. The house had already had some extensive restoration by the previous owners and Gerald and Christian took it and the grounds to the next levels, so much so that the house and gardens have twice been featured on the West County Garden tour sponsored every year by Food for Thought in Forestville. In 2008, Gerald and Christian decided to move to Sonoma County full time, and sold their home in San Francisco. The recently opened a small studio and shop in Sebastopol at 2833 Old Gravenstein Highway on the way to downtown Sebastopol. If you care to stop by and visit, you might call first, to 707 829-9177 to make sure they are in. Oh, and in their spare time in 2009, they neared completion of a project in Kohala on the Big Island of Hawaii. If you, like I, are thinking of tropical weather these winter days, take a look! ...

Last Minute Christmas Shopping at Nightingale Bakery

Downtown Forestville in Sonoma County is hopping as last minute shoppers crowd tiny Nightingale Bakery, one of many artisan purveyors of local foods. In addition to wonderful baguette, foccaccia and sourdough, you can find local goat cheeses, butter and locally produced salumi. I have never seen this new litlle shop so busy! Happy Holidays! # end Sent from my iPhone Posted via email from pambuda's posterous ...

Electronic Document Signing Makes Life Easier for Home Buyers (and Realtors)

Many many home buyers in Sonoma County live out of the area--they buy second homes here, they are relocating for work, or want to experience life in the wine country first hand. Many home buyers, even if they are local, conduct much or their search on line. Why not have as much of the purchase transaction paperwork be conducted on line too? This struck home this afternoon as I prepared an offer for out of town clients to sign. Their scanner was older and it was not easy to assemble the pages to fax back to me--believe me I had the same problem before I got a new scanner. What a tedious process for them! Or I have had illegible faxes come through as a result of too many generations of faxing and scanning of counter offers and counters to counters, ad infinitum. Every one involved tears their hair out and runs around wasting time on mechanics of the paperwork, when it is the content of the documents that is most important! Pretty silly. Enter the paperless transaction, beginning with the electronic signing of contract documents. It is easier than it might sound! What is an electronic signature? An electronic signature is any legally recognised electronic means that indicates that a person adopts the contents of an electronic message. There is a better way. Our new paperless transaction system at Prudential California Realty will be rolled out company wide in the first quarter. Hallelujah!!!!!! So many trees will be saved and countless hours chasing paperwork with also be saved by realtors and their clients. My client asked me about electronic signing--what does it mean? What does it look like? What are the basic facts? You can click on the link above for a Wikipedia article about the concept of electronic signatures. For more specifics, here is a link to the system we will be using, Docusign by Ziplogix. Here is a brief (2 minute) and not too fancy overview of how you, as a buyer or seller, would use Docusign to sign documents electronically. I'll have more posts about the whole process of greening the real estate transactions and preventing grey hairs for all the parties involved! ...

Lingering leaves in the vineyard

A cold storm is blowing down from Canada tonight and may bring snow to the upper elevations of Napa and Lake Counties, which are visible from here in Sonoma County. In a couple of days all the leaves will be gone from the vineyard but there are stragglers hanging on. It seems that only a couple of weeks ago it was the peak of fall color. Soon it will be time to think of pruning, which has already begun in the Dry Creek Valley in Healdsburg. Next week the daffodil shoots will poke up their heads in the garden. Two months to go till the mustard is up and early spring gets underway. Posted via email from pambuda's posterous ...

Sonoma Saturday-take a look at surprising Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is more than the largest city in Sonoma County, more than the largest city between San Francisco and the Oregon border to the north. It sprawls across over 40 square miles and is home to 160,000 people--half of it to the West of Highway 101 stretching towards Sebastopol, home of not only to vintage Railroad Square and newer subdivisions but farmlands, vineyards and equestrian properties in the Willowside and Olivet areas and over to the Laguna de Santa Rosa. To the east of 101 is downtown Santa Rosa, flanked by numerous charming communities of vintage homes, from Fountain Grove to Bennett and Rincon Valleys and Riebli Valley wine country. Many out of town buyers are not aware of the geographic diversity and gorgeous countryside in Santa Rosa. Here is a lovely video vignette produced by Sonoma Uncorked.com You can search the most up to date listings of Santa Rosa homes and country properties for sale with my compliments by going to the search page of this website.Santa Rosa CA Video...

Guide to Sonoma County Christmas Tree Farms-Share an enduring tradition

Before I ever moved to Sonoma County, I looked forward to my annual expedition to buy a fresh-cut Christmas tree at one of the many family-owned farms here. Many people from all over the Bay Area make the annual trip to Sonoma County's 20 plus Christmas tree farms. It is a far superior alternative to visiting the mall or Home Depot for a tree. It's a great excuse to get out doors in the fresh air and have some fun with the family. Farms from Knights Valley to Petaluma, Santa Rosa to Sebastopol offer stunning wine country vistas and a chance to cut your own tree, or buy a live tree. Many have picnic areas and other attractions such as tractor rides for the kids. You can find Christmas trees of every variety, wreaths and cedar garlands. What a great way to spend a day or two this holiday season! Drive through some of the most gorgeous country on earth, take a hike in the fresh air, drink some free cider, gobble up some candy canes, and come home with a very fresh Christmas tree for your holiday celebrations. There are at least 20 farms in Sonoma County that offer cut your own or live Christmas trees for sale. Most of them offer free apple cider, candy canes and coffee. Many offer tractor rides to the kids and Santa Claus is even know to visit a few. There are farms in Sonoma, Petaluma, Penngrove and Santa Rosa, but Sebastopol is the Christmas Tree Farm capital of Sonoma County with 12 farms in all. Tree farmers seem to be a dying breed as many folks go to a parking lot at a mall to buy trees trucked in from who knows where. Visiting a local tree farm sure is a lot more fun. Follow the link below to Sonoma County Uncorked for a beautiful slide show, map and guide to all the Christmas tree farms in Sonoma wine country. Feel free to comment with your favorite Christmas tree farm! ...

Today you Can Dine Out for Life in Dozens of Sonoma County Restaurants

Dining Out For Life - Sonoma County By dining out today you can help raise money for a great cause: Food for Thought, the Forestville-based AIDS Food Bank which does great work providing healthy food to many families in Sonoma County. Click the link above to find the list of dozens of local restaurants, from A to Z thoughout the county that are contributing anywhere from 25% to 50% of your dining check to Food for Thought. What a great way to help out and eat well at the same time!...

How can I tell if a home for sale on the MLS is available?

If you are searching real estate on line (and who isn't?) it is easy to be confused about the availability, or sales status, of properties, when you are focused on important details like price, location and pictures. It helps to be familiar with the terms. After all you don't want to get excited about a property if it's status is "Pending." "Contingent/Release" doesn't mean that the property has been released back into the market. If you are a seller evaluating the competition for your property when it goes on the market, it can be useful to see how properties are moving, so keeping an eye on alternative status's (beyond active) can provide insight in to the velocity of the market for your type of home. So let's do a little primer. ( A word of caution: Be aware of the source of listing data on the site you are searching. If it is not a direct feed (IDX feed) from a Multiple Listings Service, the data (especially status) may not be accurate. Many sites such as the websites of print publications and other aggregators are not necessarily up to date.) ACTIVE This means that the property is technically fully available, i.e. a purchase contract has not been "ratified" by an able buyer and a willing seller. Further caution. When is an active listing not really active? Some short sales and foreclosure (REO) properties may have multiple offers on the table and not be accepting further offers, but the parties have not fully ratified the purchase agreement and bank addendum so the status is not showing as Contingent. This has been a source of friction between MLS' and listing agents for these properties. It is a murky area because until the contracts are ratified, technically the property is active. It is a good idea to ask your agent to check the agent confidential remarks to see if additional offers are being accepted. These days, with so few homes for sale, I generally check with the listing agent to determine availability for the properties my clients are most interested in. CONTINGENT, CONTINUE TO SHOW This status means that the buyer and seller have come to terms and ratified a purchase agreement, but that the buyer has made their offer subject to the removal of certain contingencies, which can include, but not be limited to: Loan Contingency-...

Want to know where the best restaurants are in Sonoma County?

[caption id="attachment_644" align="alignleft" width="450" caption="The latest Bite Club post by Heather Irwin"][/caption] Then you should check out Heather Irwin's BiteClub which is a great source of the latest foodie restaurant news in Sonoma County. You will find the latest restaurant gossip, new openings, and guides to the best places to get a bowl of soup or a chile relleno. She is in the midst of running the second annual best cookie recipe contest. A community of commenters and Twitterers offers their own takes and tips. "Find it Fast" helps you quickly search by cuisine and location. I also use Yelp quite a bit, especially on my iPhone where I can find nearby restaurants based on my location. Posts are filed by nearby Yelpers in the community. Very handy. And then there is Open Table. I used to use this just to make reservations on my laptop, but it is far more powerful on the iPhone, since it takes advantage of the GPS to find me something near by that is open, and then automatically sends an email from the iPhone to confirm my reservation. It is a completely simple and fast. I use Open Table way more often now since I downloaded the iPhone app. There are only 98 "wine country" restaurants on Open Table, so it is a limited list of the better restaurants rather than the more comprehensive listing on Heather's site or on Yelp....

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