The holidays have passed, and most of the decorations have come down. It is the time of year when Heidi and I start reflecting on the previous year and plan for the next. Taking stock gives us a good picture of what is to come before the spring real estate rush.
What was the most significant impact on real estate last year?
Both Heidi and I agree that the 2017 & 2018 fires altered the housing market in Sonoma County. The slow and painful rebuilding process will continue for years to come. Then the horrific Camp Fire in Butte County happened. The choking smoke and powerful fear for all affected caused us all to take a significant pause.
What impact have the 2017 fires played in the real estate market this year?
The biggest change is what our clients ask us when looking for a home. Now the most significant concern is how they would evacuate if another tragic fire came to their house. This question is difficult to answer and one we often have asked ourselves. Our best advice is to prepare. Know your exit routes, practice those routes, pack an emergency kit and sign up for alerts from SoCo.
Sonoma County residents have the potential to face some natural disasters. Fires, earthquakes, floods, and mudslides are all a part of living where we live and must prepare for as best we can.
What do you see as being the most significant impact this year?
No matter how you stand politically, there is a backlash into our communities. Some initiatives have caused a decrease in consumer confidence. In the past, this has foreshadowed a slower year in real estate.
What factors play the most prominent role in Sonoma County real estate?
Preparation is key.
If you are selling your home, make sure it is at its best. Make the repairs needed, paint inside and out, declutter, clean up the curb appeal, and have a plan in place.
If you are looking for a new home, get your documents ready ahead of time. Contact your lender and find out how much you can afford. Get a verified lender letter. Have your 20% down payment. Finally, come knowing what your must-haves are and what your deal breakers are.
What is the most positive thing you can tell someone about buying real estate in Sonoma County?
This is plain and simple. Sonoma County is the most beautiful place to live. The weather is incredible, the landscape is remarkable, and the people are welcoming. There is no other place we would prefer to live.
What is the biggest tip you can give clients about real estate in Sonoma County?
When purchasing your “forever home” buy the location. Almost anything else is changeable.
What do you see as the biggest trends to come in 2019?
Biggest design trend is graphic white on white interiors. There are many shades of white. White on white allows the accessibility of using pops of color for dramatic effect. White is clean and unobtrusive.
In landscaping, fire-resistant landscaping is another big trend. For obvious reasons, this remains a considerable concern for buyers.
What is changing in Sebastopol specifically that may affect housing this year?
More country inventory and lack of in town inventory, the shift is to move into town.
When does the new office open? What impact will this have on your clients and business?
We are looking at a soft opening of February 1. Our clients can look forward to an open office in the heart of downtown Sebastopol.
What made the biggest impression on you in 2018?
Both personally and professionally we have both found it hard to see folks leave the area. Some left Sonoma County due to the devastation caused by the wildfires. Some have left from the sheer exhaustion of trying to rebuild. It has been tough to witness but we understand, and they have our most profound compassion.
What is your favorite part about being in real estate?
No two clients or properties are alike. It is exciting to watch a buyer find the home of their dreams. It is just as thrilling to watch a seller be able to move forward in their journey as well.
What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Helping people find the home and hearth of their dreams and our new office space in the hub of Sebastopol.