Real Estate Information Archive


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Breathtaking Vistas

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Some properties have a certain draw, a way of capturing your imagination and not letting it go. Often times, a home has one characteristic, the main focus, that runs through every aspect of the property, setting it apart from all of the others. Moments after stepping foot on 4059 Burnside Road, one can easily identify this stunning property’s unique signature.

With awe-inspiring views of the majestic Mount Saint Helena ridge tops, Sonoma County vineyards, redwoods, and valleys below, this Spanish-inspired home will capture your heart. Enjoy the privacy and seclusion on approximately 7.35± acres, nestled in the hills of the beloved West County. This home features exquisite architecture that was thoughtfully designed to capture the breathtaking views in each room and frame the artistic distinction of profound natural beauty outdoors. 

The 4,182± square foot home includes 3 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms. The outdoors is brought in again through the use of materials found in the natural environment. Faux wood beams mimic the forest found outside the back door and are matched to the rich wooden-frame windows found throughout the home. The floor tiles and stone are a warm earthen brown, with rustic, old-world, and rich colors mirroring the hues found in the surrounding hills, easily seen through the many large windows.

This home’s architecture is meticulously calculated to maximize the view from every location in the home. The whirlpool tub is set in a large bay window, helping you wash the day away while bathing in the setting sun. The luxury kitchen is oriented so that entertaining friends and family are simultaneously comfortable and awe-inspiring.

Enjoy pursuing your culinary goals while enjoying the incredible views in this gourmet kitchen complete with a Thermador 5-burner gas cooktop and warming drawer, granite kitchen island, dual under mount sinks, built-in wine rack, informal dining area, custom cherry wood cabinetry, and a built-in refrigerator.  Bring your wine up from the naturally temperature-controlled, 800± bottle wine storage closet – built below the frost line – to your kitchen in the classically charming dumbwaiter.

Many details of this home bring not only comfort but also an appreciation for the artistic design of the home. Renowned Marvin windows with low-E-tinting frame the landscapes outside. A locally sourced, custom-forged iron staircase banister welcomes you upstairs, as well as the custom solid wood doors and crown molding, with Peldaño Portuguese tile throughout. The entire home is wired with Cat5 ethernet, built-in security system, and custom doorbell chimes.

The master bath is a spa-like escape with the Aquatic Century whirlpool hydrotherapy bathtub with reheating element, steam shower and Japanese Toto toilet with bidet, all in the tranquil master bathroom adorned in travertine tile, vessel sinks and views of the valley and vineyards below your mountain top retreat.

Additional amenities include a 20 x 20 upstairs office complete with built-in desks, bookcases, and stunning views. A dedicated laundry room with Corian counter space which is plumbed for both gas and electric. There is an on demand hot water heater with recirculating pump and a dual-zone heating system.

The property includes 7.35± acres of lush countryside overlooking the Mount St. Helena ridge tops. From the property, you can gaze upon vineyards, redwood forests, and the peaks and valleys that make up our beloved Sonoma County.

Outdoor amenities include a total of (5) 2,600± gallon water storage tanks housed under the deck. 4 tanks are reserved for irrigation and are sourced from the roof’s rainwater runoff, and 1 tank contains filtered water from the well.  Also included is an underground fire suppression water tank.

The 557± square foot garage can occupy 2 cars and the outside decking measures approximately 1,960± square feet.

There is something about the view at this property that begs you to come back and gaze at the great expanse in front of you. Everything in this home and in the property that surrounds it is dictated by that stunning view. Windows become picture frames and decks become platforms for the imagination. Come and take a look for yourself and see why we think this property is truly spectacular.


Sebastopol Housing Market: Some Common Pushes and Pulls

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

This spring’s Sebastopol housing market continues to reflect most of the trends that have held sway across much of the nation. There is good news, not-so-good news, and (happy to report) no really bad news at all. In fact, it’s the absence of threatening factors that makes our housing market a welcoming one for those looking to buy or sell in Sebastopol this spring or summer. Here’s the brief run-down: 

Prices: look as if they will continue to trend higher, but more slowly than they have for the past couple of years. The consensus of expert opinion calls national average residential prices to climb 4%+, which is about 1%-2% more slowly than in 2015. Of course, every Sebastopol property (and neighborhood, for that matter) fares slightly differently, so those generalities are only helpful in the context of the actual Sebastopol “comps” (the comparables).

Rents: where Sebastopol rentals sustain the kind of vacancy rates that are being seen just about everywhere in the U.S., rates have nowhere to go but up. Property managers are reporting that they’ve raised rents in 88% of localities, which has had a push-pull effect on housing markets. On one hand, every increase nudges renters to more seriously consider the not-so-abstract monetary advantage home ownership produces. When owning is actually cheaper than renting in monthly cash flow terms (not even counting the long-term investment aspect), every month’s rent check is a new spur to investigate that option. That’s the push. The pull is that those expensive rental dollars spent make it that much harder to save for even a nominal down payment.

Mortgages. No news here: mortgage interest rates just don’t seem to want to rise—no matter how certain the financial experts are that they have to do so. Actual recent history has chastened those forecasts, though, so at this point, most local borrowers probably expect that rates will stay below the 5% mark throughout 2016. Still, with many quotes for last week’s 30-year fixed hovering in the high 3%s, the incentive to take advantage of today’s rates remains a strong point.

Inventories. With few exceptions, the reason why all those incentives to buy have not created an explosion of real estate activity is the shortage of homes on the market—the inventories. That is an additional incentive for Sebastopol owners to list, since it means limited competition channels more potential buyers to their own property. 

As the spring selling season gets going in earnest, we’ll see if Sebastopol’s housing market behaves the same way the broader national real estate trends indicate. For an immediate micro-update, just give us a call anytime! 

Ways that Sebastopol Location, Location, Location! Affects Value

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

“Location, location, location!” is one of the few proclamations which needs no verb, no adjective, no preposition to fully communicate its message. Everyone in Sebastopol understands—and usually agrees with—its meaning: The location [of something] is all-important.

In the commercial context, it used to mean “your store better be situated somewhere that gets a lot of the right kind of traffic.” Today, in the same context, that “traffic” can be clicks on the web rather than auto or foot traffic. Either way, location, location, location! stands for a truism that’s inarguably valid.

What’s interesting about the Sebastopol location, location, location! axiom when it’s invoked in a residential real estate context is how true it remains—though for different reasons. When it comes to buying or selling a Sebastopol home, location isn’t vitally important because of its being visible or easy for prospective buyers to find. This meaning of “location” points to a property being more or less desirable for a variety of reasons:

  • Accessibility offers easy access to local places of business, recreation points, etc.
  • Inaccessibility provides an oasis of privacy.
  • Position offers superior orientation: for instance, receives more (or less) sunshine.
  • Geography takes advantage of superior land features: for instance, is on a hilltop, by a stream, in a vineyard, etc. 
  • Exclusivity it’s in a respected, physically safe neighborhood.
  • Community offers desirable schools, lower tax rates, well-kept parklands and the like. The Brookings Institution finds that living near a high-scoring school can increase a home’s value by $100,000—or more!

Needless to say, another facet of location, location, location! in Sebastopol is how important it can be in dollars and cents. It isn’t just that houses are listed for different prices depending greatly on their neighborhoods and even locations within the same neighborhoods, but the ease of buying and selling can also be location-dependent. The “comps”—estimated values assigned by reports of sales of similar properties—are assembled taking into account how near or far they are, as well as the characteristics of their neighborhoods. 

For the most part, people tend to agree on the value of those location, location, location! characteristics—but in case you aren’t one of the crowd, the financial repercussions can be noteworthy. If, for instance, your ideal degree of privacy makes you value a home that’s considered to be too far out of town for most people, the asking price could be at a considerable discount from the same house closer in. If you prefer cool, shady backyards over more open and sunny ones, your offer might be accepted by an eager owner who’s not had many other takers.

Location, location, location! may be a cliché, but it’s been around forever for a reason. When you are house hunting—especially if you are new to Sonoma County—it’s important to give special attention to local neighborhood characteristics that may not be obvious at first glance. In Sebastopol, it’s another good reason to count on a knowledgeable local real estate specialist…like us!

Sebastopol Homeowners, Tax Deductions Add Major Value

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Sure, even the idea of homeownership is appealing for all of the traditional emotional and lifestyle reasons. Having proprietary control over your family’s center of operations is a goal for most Sebastopol residents—just as most of us would consider it a necessary evil if professional obligations make frequent moves unavoidable. Travel may be broadening, but most rolling stones (no matter how moss-less) eventually hanker to settle down.

But aside from the lifestyle aspects, another major advantage to settling down and owning your home gets its turn in the limelight at least once a year. This advantage is anything other than abstract. The time of year is April 15, when the concrete financial benefits are tallied up in the very welcome form of homeowner tax deductions.

Tax advice is not our specialty—for that, you should always defer to your qualified financial advisor, whose full time job it is to do all that’s humanly possible to keep track of the ever-changing Federal Tax Code. But even non-specialists know that some of the most beneficial provisions in the Code’s 75,000 pages do relate to the range of significant homeowner tax deductions. 

In the National Association of Realtors’ periodical houselogic, writer Dona DeZube recently surveyed some of the major ones—tax tips that deserve to be investigated by any Sebastopol homeowner who will soon be charting out their own mid-April strategies. 

The list was headed by the most obvious one, the mortgage interest deduction, which applies to interest paid on a loan secured by the place you live in. That doesn’t have to be a house—it could also be a trailer or a boat. As long as you sleep and cook in it,  interest paid for its purchase falls into the category. 

Likewise, there is the prepaid interest deduction. Prepaid interest (aka “points”) you pay in when you take out a mortgage or refi can usually be deducted in the year it is originated. An exception is when you refinance and use the proceeds for other than home improvements, in which case the deduction is spread out over the life of the loan. If you refinance again, it gets a little more complicated (may be time to ring up that qualified advisor again).

Another hefty deduction is the one for Sebastopol property taxes you have paid. If your mortgage lender required you to insure repayment through private mortgage insurance (PMI), if your income is less than a set amount, the premiums may be fully deductible (otherwise, a reduced deduction will apply). Even more complicated rules apply to government insurance premiums (qualified advisor time).

More homeowner tax deductions can be applicable, too, with varying degrees of complication—particularly those which relate to Sebastopol vacation homes. And there are also tax credits for things like energy-efficient home systems.

The bottom line deductibility of many aspects of homeownership can be a major reason why April 15 gets many Sebastopol renters to do some serious examination of their residential futures. We are here to help with any of your own real estate plans!    

Know the Emotional Element in Selling Your Sebastopol Home

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

When you read up on the dos and don’ts for selling your home, there is one piece of advice that’s universal when it comes to negotiating a successful deal: don’t let emotions get in the way. It does seem peculiar that something that is so obvious about any negotiation would have to be stated at all—much less repeated so often. You have to conclude that it happens a lot. 

It does, and there are deep-seated reasons. Although selling your area home is primarily a business venture, it’s one with some of the emotional overtones usually associated with creative endeavors. When an artist or sculptor, jewelry designer or photographer—any creative professional—decides to offer works for sale to the public, it’s nearly impossible for him or her to remain completely objective about how it is received. Or to avoid forming feelings about those who accept or reject the creation.

Selling your Sebastopol home only seems to be all business. True, it’s a single-transaction enterprise. It begins with preparing the property, and concludes with negotiating to close the deal. Every step of the process may seem to be all business. But in reality, it’s almost unavoidable for emotional cross currents to seep in from the very first step. 

Consider preparing the property. If there were such a thing as a perfect home, this would be a cut-and-dried affair: all it would involve would be to eliminate every flaw. But since perfection exists only in some alternate universe, deciding which of a home’s features need to be enhanced, replaced, or done away with altogether involves making subjective judgments. Some of these can require paying significant amounts of money; others, significant amounts of elbow grease. 

When the work is done and the results are first put on display, it’s like Opening Night. It is only human to feel personally connected with how prospective buyers react. Not only is the ‘product’ that’s being evaluated one that reflects your tastes and efforts—it’s also where you live! Your home, for goodness’ sake! It deserves to be appreciated at the very least

Especially when it comes to the negotiations phase of selling your area home, this is one business venture wherein it’s nearly impossible to avoid the personal element. Acknowledging it is simple. And knowledge is power—if you expect that you might experience an emotional reaction at some point, you’ll recognize it for what it is. If it’s an overreaction, you will be much more likely to be able to simply take a deep breath, put it into perspective—and come up with an appropriate response.  “A lot of times buyers and sellers will argue tooth and nail over things that aren’t really that important,” New York City closing attorney Sandor Krauss blogged recently; “and sometimes it blows deals.”

One of the great advantages to having a local agent by your side when selling your Sebastopol home is to have an experienced intermediary working on your behalf. It can put you at a professional distance from the direct negotiations with buyers—and their emotions! If you will be selling your home in Sebastopol this winter or spring, I hope you will call us!

Tips for Selling Your Sebastopol House this Fall

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

It’s October; a time of year that has a lot to recommend it. In many parts of the country, it’s the season when Mother Nature goes full throttle with the Technicolor. Sunsets can be outrageous. In some parts of the country, leaves can bid adieu with displays that put rainbows to shame. Fall weather turns the air a bit crisper. All in all, to a lot of folks, fall is the favorite time of the year. 

Selling your Sebastopol house in the autumn, on the other hand, can present some special challenges. Selling your house in the springtime, for instance, doesn’t include clearing the garden of the remnants of summer growth (that is, unless you let it go the previous year!). The plusses and minuses of selling your house after the peak spring-summer real estate rush is over can be debated at length. What isn’t debatable is that to take full advantage of selling your house this time of year, you should be aware of a few specifics: 

  • •    Keep up with the season 

… leaf fall for yards with deciduous plants can require almost daily attention during some periods. You’re the best judge of when the debris crosses the line from pleasantly natural into downright unsightly—but in any case, it’s a good idea to make a quick inspection part of your daily routine.

  • •    Keep up with the weather 

… leaf fall is one thing, but windy fall storms can turn a well-kept garden inside-out in a few hours. After a storm passes, be prepared to hose off the traces of muddy puddles and do some organized sweeping. It can make a big difference when you approach a house with a clear walkway (vs. one that looks like a typhoon just passed!).

  • •    Pet areas 

…they can be more difficult to manage in autumn and winter when Mother Nature can keep them indoors for longer periods or make their favorite hangouts less accessible. Being more flexible and attentive to their needs than in summertime is often necessary. 

  • •    Prepare the mechanicals

…if sudden chills descend, knowing that your heating setup is ready to go into action assures a welcoming environment for prospective buyers. If it hasn’t been in use since last spring, a system may produce some unpleasant side effects the first time it’s fired up. If yours one that needs a yearly checkup by the utility company, better not wait!

  • •    Anticipate success!

Selling your Sebastopol home in fall and winter may take a little extra vigilance when the weather acts up, but buyers at this time of year can be more eager to close on their new home. Be organized for success, which can mean everything from having a year’s worth of utility bills ready to show, to scoping out where you’re headed next.

Selling your Sebastopol home efficiently takes some organization and planning. A good first step is to get in touch with a Sebastopol real estate professional who will pitch in and help every step of the way. In other words—call us!

Outside Events Seldom Motivate the Decision to Buy a House

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

When you decide that the time is approaching to put your home on the market, you probably take special interest in exploring the conditions that are likely to motivate families to buy your Sebastopol home. Most of the research on the subject indicates that it has at least as much to do with how people live their lives as it does with external forces--like changes in the economy or jobs market. When you spend as much time as I do chatting with people who are in the hunt to buy a house, you’d probably agree.

When Sonoma County empty nesters come to the conclusion that supporting more house than they need is wasting their resources, finding the right smaller place can become increasingly appealing. The idea that they could buy a house that’s right-sized for them—and come away with extra cash to support more travel and leisure activities—can soon become Priority 1. The current status of the real estate market doesn’t come close as a determining factor.

In the same way, there’s nothing like the arrival of a new baby to prompt the decision to buy a house with an extra bedroom or two. Likewise, when a youngster is approaching school age—but your district isn’t quite up to par—a move across town might suddenly beckon. 

When the time comes to buy a house, people tend to take more seriously these kinds of long-term issues. Since there is a whole universe of possible changes in income or family situation that life can send our way, it does make sense to delay some decisions for a while.

If a move is to be from renting to owning, the dollars and cents wisdom is usually clear enough. Across the U.S., rents are rising quickly enough to practically guarantee the practicality of making such a move—even if only because of the ‘forced savings’ advantage that ownership brings. If a move is contemplated to a larger or a smaller home, or from one Sebastopol neighborhood to another, developments in the economy or particulars like changes in the mortgage rate may influence the decision, but not lead it. Family matters motivate most moves.

Such outside factors may not be decisive, but the good news is that this fall is one of those times when many of them are in place to make buying or selling a Sebastopol house more attractive than usual…and for sure, a good time to give us a call!

Market of Opportunity

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

Sonoma County attracts thousands of people every year. Situated just minutes from the Pacific Ocean and ancient redwood forest, home to award-winning winemakers and chefs, the juicy and versatile Gravenstein apple, and it’s friendly inhabitants, it is no wonder why Sonoma County turns many visitors into permanent residents each year. We welcome all new members of our community and encourage even more to find out what makes Sonoma County such a great place to live!  For both newcomers and old-timers, the Real Estate Market in Sonoma County continues to see the affects of low inventory and high demand creating a significant sellers' advantage.

According to the 2014 Sonoma County Indicators Economy, Environment, Health, Society, Tourism, Workforce Abridged Edition report there has been a 6% increase of tourists visiting Sonoma County. The quality of life in our area, accessibility to outdoor pursuits and even air quality drives visitors and permanent residents here by the thousands each year. This does not surprise us and we are encouraged by the upswing as it serves as a benefit to our communities all across the County. Tourism, as well as new residents, can only bring increased revenue that benefit our local shops, restaurants, wineries, apples orchards, markets, hotels, schools, residents and community supported foundations.

Another result of the increased interest in making Sonoma County home is in our local real estate market.  Over the last year we have watched the Sonoma County housing market and, in particular, Sebastopol develop into what's known as a seller’s market.  The high demand for housing, coupled with a low inventory of homes to sell, creates an advantage to anyone selling their home. Our daily conversations with our clients are increasingly more about multiple offer situations, shorter times on market, and a greater sense of urgency in moving forward quickly.

The number of new listings in all Sonoma County January 2015 decreased by 32% from last year, and in Sebastopol alone that number decreased by 81% with a 20% decrease in the number of days the properties spent on the market.  

If you have been considering selling your home to downsize, upgrade, or finally find the perfect panoramic view to build your dream home, now could be an advantageous time to do it.

There has been much discussion in Real Estate circles about the Federal Reserve increasing the standard mortgage rates soon. As of this blog post the rates for a 30-year fixed loan is 3.96%. Couple these low loan rates with the growing need for homes in our area; it is not likely that our current seller’s market will change soon.

It is gratifying to see our community continue to bounce back from the housing crisis of 2006/2007.  As local housing continues to increase in value and people are able to gain some stronger footing in their homes, we remain cautiously optimistic that this high demand for new housing, and low interest rates will provide communities all over Sonoma County with a richer diversity of people and strong financial growth.

Sonoma County Real Estate from two wheels….

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

    My favorite pass time is touring on my Harley-Davidson Road King through Sonoma County and beyond. The abundance of back roads and diverse scenery make each ride special.  There is one route in particular through the Alexander Valley that my wife and I enjoy and we use it as an indicator for the changing seasons. There is a stretch of Highway 128 lined with ornamental flowering plum trees which have brilliant flowers and an intoxicating fragrance during Spring and covered with brilliant red leaves soaked in a waning light in Spring. What is your favorite ride Sonoma County ride? 

Check out farmers markets in Sonoma County

by Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner

    Come to Sonoma County and enjoy great farmers markets!
    How about owning a piece of Sonoma County! On the weekends gather up some friends and family and head to the countryside of  Sonoma, from Santa Rosa to the Russian River.  Thinking of packing a picnic and getting a bottle of wine but why bother, when you can just join the locals at a festive weekend Farmer's market, it feels more like a festival than a produce market! The real estate in Sebastopol leads to a great lifestyle.

    Find your usual fare of local artists and farmers showing off their wares.  Let the music wafting in the air mix with food carts (bbq, pizza, Indian, Mexican) under the warm Sonoma sun. Yes, farmer's markets are nothing new or special, but I loved the festive atmosphere and the luxurious abandon with which visitors seemed to be lounging and enjoying the ambiance. They're small plazas though many in variety- a small knock.

Make an appointment with us we would love to help you find a house here in Sonoma County!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11




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Contact Information

Randy Mack and Heidi Faulkner
Artisan Sotheby's International Realty
7775 Healdsburg Ave.
Sebastopol CA 95472
(707) 696-6272
(707) 480-4098
Fax: (707) 824-0587