Randy and I are fortunate to call Sonoma County our home. We have built a strong professional foundation rooted in our love and respect for the area as well as the people who call it home. We joined Sotheby’s International Realty over ten years ago not only for the worldwide brand recognition and quality of service but because Sotheby’s has a profound respect for the people that work within the organization. This commitment ultimately benefits the people who hire a Sotheby’s agent to represent them. We are honored to serve Sonoma County residents to find their ideal home and be an ambassador for Sotheby’s International Realty brand. Give us a call today and learn more about how we can help you reach your real estate goals.
Real Estate can be an overwhelming topic. There is a lot of information and misinformation that can be confusing. One of our favorite resources for condensed and accurate real estate information is Realtor Magazine. We recently rediscovered some articles illustrating various topics. As a result, we are posting them in a series we are calling Real Estate Unpacked.
We will cover a multitude of topics including but not limited to:
- Top Reasons to Own a Home
- Top Reasons to Work with a Realtor
- House Hunting
- Preparing to Purchase a Home
- Tracking your Budget
- Improving your Credit Score
- Choosing a Lender
- Creative Financing
7 Reasons to Own A Home
1. Tax benefits.
The U.S. Tax Code lets you deduct the interest you pay on your mortgage, your property taxes, and some of the costs involved in buying a home.
Historically, real estate has had a long-term, stable growth in value. While home prices have appreciated nationally at an average annual rate between 3 and 5 percent, depending on the index used for the calculation, home value appreciation in different metro areas can appreciate at markedly different rates than the national average. Here in California, the average annual rate of increase is 4% and according to some experts and projected to rise on up to almost 7%.
Money paid for rent is money that you’ll never see again, but mortgage payments let you build equity ownership interest in your home.
Building equity in your home is a ready-made savings plan. And when you sell, you can generally take up to $250,000 ($500,000 for a married couple) as gain without owing any federal income tax. The only stipulation here is you must have lived in the home for two years out of the last five years.
Unlike rent, your fixed-rate mortgage payments don’t rise over the years so your housing costs may actually decline as you own the home longer. However, keep in mind that property taxes and insurance costs will likely increase.
The home is yours. You can decorate any way you want and choose the types of upgrades and new amenities that appeal to your lifestyle.
Remaining in one neighborhood for several years allows you and your family time to build long-lasting relationships within the community. It also offers children the benefit of educational and social continuity.
Heidi and I are here to answer any questions you may have, just give us a call!
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.
Gratitude is a powerful theme during most holiday seasons. For Randy and I, Sonoma County continually evokes a powerful sense of appreciation for its welcoming nature and fruitful land, warm and inclusive people, and breath of fresh air. We are grateful for so much, the people we love, the people we work with, the incredible landscape we enjoy year round, and the relentless “nothing can keep us down” attitude of our community.
Sonoma County’s landscape provides a master class in agriculture, food, wine, recreation, and abundance for all who live here. There is always so much to learn and experience right in our own backyard. For Randy and I, the landscape provides an incredible backdrop to our real estate business. It is not challenging to showcase the benefits of owning real estate in this community, but it remains a very competitive market. We work hard to meet our clients’ needs and goals in each transaction. Real Estate in Sonoma County remains a constant wave of emotions: competitive, satisfying, and generous. We absolutely love what we do and are humbled every day to be able to help clients achieve their dreams in this exciting real estate market.
The last few years Sonoma County has seen some challenges with the national housing crisis and on the heels of coming back from that – have faced some of the worst wildfires in California history. There is a strong sense of community spirit and personal kindness here that is like no other place we have lived. It has been rewarding to hear the stories (and there are many) of people reaching out to one another to lift each other up. This spirit is undeniable in Sonoma County.
Feeling a part of something more significant than yourself is an incredibly important aspect of being a part of a strong community. Randy and I both feel extremely grateful to be a part of this spirit of thanks, energy, and generosity. No matter what your circumstances are in life, Sonoma County has a way of bringing everyone together as a whole and making all feel welcome. Whether it is donating our time through the Redwood Empire Harley Club, leading hiking groups, working with local veterans in finding a new home or working within the real estate community, we are committed to this fantastic group of people encircled by this incredible land in Sonoma County.We are grateful, every day.
Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com are all easily accessible platforms for the general public to look up and shop for their new home. Often times, these sites also provide a free estimation of value for a current property. Although these platforms serve a valuable purpose, by giving people an overview of their current housing market, a Realtor’s experience in the local market still cannot be replaced.
Realtors across the United States are all trying to gain their customer’s attention, whether it be through their website, blogging, social media, mailers, advertising in print or even on the above websites on a profile page. Each agent comes to you with specific expertise in the area they service and in the particular real estate on which they focus.
Heidi and I are experts in Sonoma County. We have lived here for over 40 years. We have hiked the trails, ridden our motorcycles up and down the roads, camped in the parks, attended the festivals, shopped in the stores, and attended community meetings. Involvement in the community is our passion. Additionally, we have worked in real estate for over 30+ years, bringing our love for this place to our craft, all to help you make a home here as we have, in Northern California. We are deeply rooted in this area and extremely proud to represent Artisan Sotheby’s International Realty here.
What all the real estate platforms don’t show you are the hidden gems in a community. You may be able to see the inside of a home on the market from the privacy of your office or home but you can’t see the people in that neighborhood, the best place to get a cup of coffee to go or stay in, the best breakfast spot or the local evening hangout. Heidi and I know these details. We not only have the knowledge that comes with being a professional realtor and are extremely adept in negotiating the best terms on behalf of our clients but we also have a keen sense of neighborhoods, homes and the people we are working with. We strive to build lasting relationships with our clients’ not just sell a property.
The other thing they can’t tell you accurately is how the market is doing within a specific smaller portion of the county. For instance, you cannot search Sebastopol, CA specifically on any platform. Closest you will get is Santa Rosa, two vastly different communities in terms of real estate and lifestyle. Likewise in Santa Rosa, there are hundreds of micro-neighborhoods that these platforms cannot single out and tell you how many homes were sold in that specific area last year, two years ago or give you an educated guess as to what the home will be worth in 5-10 years from that day. Heidi and I can.
We know Sonoma County, we know real estate. Give us a call and we can help you reach your real estate goals.
The current housing market in Sebastopol California is on par with overall California trends that we’ve seen over the last few years. This last week’s report showed that Sebastopol has an average or median list price of $1,049,000 (ranging from $519K to $12.9M), and an average of $577 per square foot. The slight increase that we saw in the days on market, has held steady throughout this time. At a hundred and forty days this trend is concurrent with what we’re seeing in homes with price decreases, landing a little above 50%. One promising figure is that we’ve had 0% relisted in the last few weeks. Meaning that although we are still seeing a higher than average days on the market number, homes are still selling. This may help since our inventory is little higher than average, and the rental market is on the upswing averaging about $4,400 per month.
We have a few examples of homes that are selling right now in Sebastopol, CA. These homes are quintessential Northern California and they fully facilitate the lifestyle that keeps people moving and living in this fabulous part of the country.
The first home we would like to showcase this month is on Green Valley Road. This particular property was inspired by all of the glorious architecture from the shores of Martha’s Vineyard and is a prime example of the luxury real estate in Sonoma County. This two-story home is the essence of privacy and tranquility, located at the end of a private lane, creating a cozy backdrop to your indoor|outdoor lifestyle. The show-stopper of this property is in the landscaping and beautiful views of adjacent mountain ranges allowing you to feel private yet inspired.
Everything about this home is created to take-in that beautiful landscape. Its open airy feel is highlighted with large windows and bright light that beckons you to grab a warm cup of tea and a book, and just be in the space. Even though this home seems to be created just for the residents’ pure enjoyment and relaxation, bringing friends and family into your curated life is easy with large french doors off the living room into a grand open entertaining space complete with fenced courtyard perfect for family gatherings. From the covered porch where you can gaze upon your own hobby Pinot Noir vineyard to plantation shutters, this Northern California modern cottage house has been fully realized.
The second home we would like to share with you is on Cherry Ridge Road. There is much to enjoy about this modern French inspired farmhouse, located minutes to downtown Sebastopol. Just like the first, this home is nestled at the end of a quiet lane offering plenty of privacy and tranquility. Enjoy the quintessential northern California lifestyle in the home’s spacious open floor plan. The light-filled master suite embraces the outdoor views and creates is a relaxing retreat. Even the bathrooms are designed in a way to add to the clean and calm feel of the space.
The fashionable indoor/outdoor living is made seamless with a deck and patio area with expansive views of the beautiful west county landscape. Enjoy the peaceful walking paths through lush landscaping and vibrant gardens on this gently rolling parcel and escape to the country and tranquility with each step.
If Sebastopol California is known for anything, it is the Gravenstein Apple. This tart fruit is synonymous with late summer in Northern California. We are a community that is connected to the land, the bounty it provides, and the tasty treasures that are produced. The history of Sebastopol and the culture are so connected to this palm-sized gem!
The Gravenstein Apple is a tart apple that is yellow-green with some red lines. Due to some characteristics of the tree itself and of the flowers, Gravenstein apples are particularly difficult to harvest and sell. But those same characteristics make for a variable ripening season, solidifying the historic importance of this apple due to the fact that sometimes you can get the apples over a very long period of time.
These beautiful fruits are grown in many places around the world. In Austria, brandy is created from the juice of this fruit. In Australia, this apple is particularly special because the apple season only lasts for a few weeks. In Canada, although grown on both West and East Coasts, it is primarily a backyard fruit and not heavily produced for commercial uses. The Gravenstein was proclaimed the national Apple of Denmark in 2005, and is also grown in countries such as Norway and New Zealand, but not too a large commercial degree. In the United States, the Gravenstein is found primarily on the West Coast. As we in Northern California know, this apple is particularly found in Sonoma County.
In the early 19th century, the Gravenstein Apple was brought to Northern America and has a history of being used as applesauce or dried apples during World War II.
Here in Northern California, the Gravenstein can be harvested in August, yet is often gone by Labor Day. Gravenstein apples are often used as a baking fruit due to their tart and juicy nature. Although these apples ripen and can be harvested earlier than most, they do not travel as well as some of the more well-known apples we see in far-off supermarkets. Although this makes for difficult transcontinental sales, it does provide a beautiful niche here in Nothern California in the slow food movement. Restaurants such as Chez Panisse in Berkeley try and incorporate this fruit into their seasonal menu. For reasons including its ability to grow in Sebastopol’s mild climate, the early harvest, and the tart flesh, Northern California has created this perfect bubble for this beautiful fruit to thrive.
Gravenstein Apple Fair is held in Sebastopol’s Ragle Park on August 11th and 12th from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. This year marks of 45th Gravenstein Apple Fair put on by Sonoma County Farm Trails. Known as “the sweetest little fair in Sonoma County“, this charming festival is held under shaded oak trees in a beautiful neighborhood park. The family-friendly feel, the smell of apples in the air, and the quaint setting, all help to create a true hometown feel and showcase a little bit of everything we love about small-town life in Sonoma County. As Northern California continues to gain notoriety for fine wines, the apple industry faces new challenges, finding a reason to take a moment this August and celebrate the Gravenstein in Sebastopol, California.
The associated and more consequential design news is summed up in one word: flex. A flex room or area is one that has no designated purpose, but which can be configured and later re-configured to accommodate changing needs and lifestyles. Flex rooms are usually sited off the entry hall, near the main living space, generally close to a bathroom (“so they can easily morph into bedrooms”). They have ample electric wiring so they can become home offices or media centers. Or anything else, not yet anticipated.
Life is what happens between the beginning and the end. It is the actions, thoughts, feelings, and relationships that make up the minutes, days, and years, of our lives. Style is how you wave together those events and beliefs within the time that passes.
In California, we create an environment within our own lives that is curated in order to live each moment to the fullest. We manifest the lifestyle of which we dream. Even more so, we understand that the California lifestyle is definable. It must be a tangible way of living in order for us each to strive and eventually realize that vision for our own lives.
California has the perfect climate to realize your dreams. The winters are mild and the summers are sunny and dry. There are no limitations when it comes to being outside and enjoying your community. Walking through your local neighborhood with your pets, shopping in the town square, or hiking throughout your local natural areas can practically occur year-around. With an easy access to the mountains and forests as to coastal locals, Northern California is a paradise, no matter your idea of utopia.
The prolific farm-to-table movement and the renowned wine scene, Northern California is not only a foodie’s paradise but also a perfect place to sit back and just enjoy the tastes and smells for those of us who just like to simply enjoy the vines and vittles. Northern California is known for their agriculture, producing fresh apples, tomatoes, avocados, and many other fruits and vegetables is all local bounty we can enjoy firsthand. The boutique varieties of well-known crops are integrated into the mixed culinary style of California since it is an axiom of Asian, American and Hispanic influences.
In the home, lifestyle is as varied as individual tastes and ideals. In California, lifestyle usually incorporates a little of everything into one’s home to create that life that includes all things California. From the things we eat (and how they came to our table) to the art we hang (and the local artist that dreamt them up), and to the California landscape (and how we live and breath this outdoor paradise) which we welcome into our homes, to make this place a perfect mixture of all the beauty found and created.
Our recent Apple Blossom celebrations make it official – spring has sprung in Sebastopol! The air feels fresh, relaxing foggy mornings give way to warm and invigorating afternoons filled with activity. As children are gearing up to finish the school year, warm weather, busy parks, and blooming flowers remind us all how fortunate we are to call Sebastopol home.
The Real Estate market is warming up too! Spring is bustling time for real estate agents and brokers as clients seek to sell or acquire new property and homes. The number of homes listed in Sonoma County in March increased 11.4% over February, and the number of homes sold increased by 19.7%. In Sebastopol, the number of homes listed increased by 26% over the same period last year, and the number of home sold increased by 20% compared to a year ago. As we expect the warm up to continue, now is a great time to achieve your real estate goals.
We currently have several properties on the market with more coming soon. Our latest listing on Barnett Valley Road is an ideal home for those looking for a bit of land, sun, peace, and privacy. Just over 6 acres of sun-drenched meadows and redwood forests, this single level well-maintained home is nestled at the end of a private country lane. It’s just waiting for your vision and designer touches. Enjoy stellar views, relax on the deck and listen to birds chirping and the soft summer breezes rustling through the trees. Barnett Valley is a perfect wine country retreat.
If you are looking for something even larger, or maybe establishing a family compound, our Sweetwater Springs listing is just the property for you. Breathtaking views sweep through this 480± acre parcel with options for future building sites that share in the sights! Gently rolling ridge top features open sunny meadows, natural springs and incredible views of the Russian River Valley, Mt. Saint Helena and beyond. The perfect canvas awaits to create your dream estate with vineyard potential.
For those that are looking to live more of a country life, our Bodega Avenue listings will set you up nicely. An ideal property for raising crops or horses, this property occupies 80± gently rolling acres in a serene setting with gorgeous views with the potential for quality wine grape production. The offering includes the main house, original farmhouse, caretakers home, three large barns, and half acre spring-fed pond.
We welcome the springtime weather and renewed energy. We are gearing up for some even more exciting news we will be sharing with you soon – stay tuned! Until then, there really is no better place to enjoy the busiest time of year than here in Sonoma County, so rich in its warm and familiar ways. As new blessings bloom everywhere, we are opening doors all across Sonoma County, helping you reach your real estate goals this Spring. Be sure to give us a call, we would be honored to assist you with all your real estate needs.