Nevada City Virtual Tour

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How to get your home ready to sell in 2012

Study the local market. The most successful home sales are the listings that are priced right from day one. Ask any agent: even in the toughest markets, there are listings that sell quickly, mostly because the one-two punch of the property itself and how its price looks to buyers like if it's a very strong value.

In order to position yourself and your property at the point of pricing nirvana, you’ll need to do some leg work. Stat. You don’t need to pick an exact price this moment, unless you’re planning to list your home super soon, but you can get started on what I like to think of as the ‘thinking seller’s’ three-pronged approach to pricing now, by:

visiting open houses,
studying nearby listings, and
talking with an agent.

Before the year is up, try to visit a handful of open houses in your neighborhood. This will help you get a sense of the types of homes that are on the market, what condition they’re in, and how they are priced. Keep in mind that no home is going to be exactly like yours, but if it’s similar in size, location and features, then buyers that see that property will probably be the same buyers that come to see yours - and they will be comparing list prices.

Another great prep tool in gearing up to sell your home in 2012 is to study similar homes for sale on Trulia or Zillow! Pay particular attention to what features they have, how they are described and priced, any incentives the sellers are offering (e.g., closing cost credits, etc.) and how long they’ve been on the market. (Hint: you might not want to price your home right in line with one that’s been on the market over a year. Obviously, that home is overpriced, and that is NOT a result you want to replicate!)

Finally, one of the most efficient and nuanced ways to get to know your local market is to begin speaking with an agent who sell homes in your area. Ask these pros for their opinion on what you should list your home for, what recent sales they think are the most comparable (and why), and how long they would expect your sale to take given their experience and current conditions.

Get a head start on your ‘home' work. How much prep work your home needs really depends on its current condition. A good starting point for many sellers is to order an inspection. Most buyers will get their own inspection before closing a deal if some time has passed, but getting ahead of them with your own will help you avoid any unwanted surprises later on in the transaction. An inspection will give you a reality check on your home’s condition, enabling you to decide upfront whether it’s worth it to fix something now or simply reduce the price in consideration thereof.

(a) obtain any advance inspections your real estate agent recommends,
(b) have any reasonable repairs completed,
(c) pre-pack and declutter your place, and
(d) prettify your home’s curb appeal - painting the shutters and sprucing the landscaping goes a long way toward attracting buyers.

Please visit and contact Gary Tippner for help.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Homes Sales Data

Housing inventories fall to new four-year low in October
The number of homes listed for sale fell for the fifth straight month in October, hitting the lowest level in more than four years.

New-home sales edge higher nationwide
The Census Bureau reported an annual sales rate of 307,000 new homes last month, up 1.3 percent from a downwardly revised rate of 303,000 homes in September.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Second homes for retirement have pros and cons that need to be considered

If you have plans to buy a home at the beach, in the mountains or in the desert for your retirement years, you might be tempted to take the plunge and buy your future home now while interest rates and home prices are low.

Financial experts say buying your retirement home five to 10 years before you stop working could be beneficial. However, people in this age group should be aware of the risks of tying up money and perhaps losing flexibility with a second home purchase.

"While there's no denying that we have historically low interest rates and low home values right now, anyone considering buying a second home before they retire needs to run the numbers," says Kimberly Foss, president of Empyrion Wealth Management in Roseville, Calif. "People get stars in their eyes sometimes at the prospect of retirement, but the reality is that they may not be."

Foss says she recommends clients max out their 401(k)s and make sure they have adequately insured their future before thinking about buying retirement homes.

"I recommend that people have 12 months' (worth) of expenses in the bank as an emergency fund," Foss says. "If they choose to buy another property, they will need extra money to cover those expenses, too."

For 50- and 60-somethings with plenty of discretionary income, buying a home with cash is an option. Others need financing.

There are three basic options for financing a home, says Patrick Cunningham, vice president
of Home Savings and Trust Mortgage in Fairfax, Va. 

The home can be financed as an owner-occupied home if the buyer lives in it as a primary residence, as a second home or as an investment.

"Second-home financing means that you will need to qualify to pay the mortgage on both your current home and your second home," Cunningham says. "If you need some additional income to qualify for the loan, you can rent the property, and a lender will use some of your rental income for a loan approval."

Cunningham suggests that financing a property as a second home rather than as an investment property is the better option because interest rates, qualification guidelines and down payment requirements are generally more lenient on second homes than on investments. He says an investment loan always requires a down payment of at least 20 percent or 25 percent.

People getting ready to retire might want to consider the benefit of buying homes before they stop working because a mortgage approval could be more difficult to obtain without an income.

"Conventional loans are written off your income, and you have to prove you have the means to repay the loan," Cunningham says.

Foss says one of the primary benefits of buying a home before retiring can be the generation of rental income.

"Income from a rental property can act as a hedge against the low interest rate environment we are in and against future inflation because you can raise the rent to offset inflation when it hits," Foss says.

Foss says if you can handle the expense and hassle of a rental property, this could be a good way to use the property before it becomes your primary retirement residence.

Charles Duck, president of Charles Duck Real Estate in Phoenix, says the pre-retirement buyers he works with are looking for bargain-priced luxury homes because they offer more certainty of future appreciation.

"Some people are deciding to buy now and leave the property empty for a while or to use a place as an occasional vacation home," Duck says. "Others decide to rent the property until they are ready to use it."

When choosing a home a few years before retirement, Duck says the first consideration should be the location.

"Many retirees want an urban-suburban location where they can walk to amenities and restaurants," Duck says.

Duck says this cohort of buyers should consider looking for low-maintenance houses with all the living spaces on one floor, so the future retirees can avoid climbing stairs.

Foss says if you are 10 years or more away from retirement, you may want to opt to rent a vacation home for a month at a time to avoid getting stuck with a permanent decision about your retirement destination.

"People change a lot between age 50 and 90, Foss says, "so I like the idea of keeping your options open and allowing for flexibility."

Mortgage rates inched up this week as the stock market rallied, but they remain near record lows. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

House prices are finally nearing a bottom? What other data shows

House prices are finally nearing a bottom

After falling nearly 35 percent from their 2007 peak, nationwide house prices are finally approaching “normal” levels on two key valuation measures: The “price-to-rent ratio,” which measures house prices relative to what the houses might rent for, and the “price-to-income-ratio,” which measures house prices relative to average incomes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Help with home down payments

Help with home down payments

With most lenders requiring borrowers to put down at least 20 percent as a down payment – unless using an FHA or VA loan, or purchasing mortgage insurance – the best holiday gift some people might receive would be help with a down payment on a house.

Making sense of the story
According to a survey by Trulia, the biggest barrier to buying a home these days is saving for the down payment. The survey, conducted over the summer, found that 51 percent of renters said coming up with money for the down payment was preventing them from buying, while 35 percent identified qualifying for a mortgage as the stumbling block.

Under federal tax law, each individual is permitted to give money or valuables worth up to $13,000 to a single recipient in a calendar year. A married couple could jointly bestow up to $26,000 a year per recipient.

According to one financial planner, there also is the option of lending a relative or close friend the money for the down payment, or the closing costs, then forgiving the loan in a future year. The recipient would have to pay interest on the loan until it was forgiven, at which point it would become a gift.

Another way to help with the down payment is to pay other expenses, such as tuition, thereby freeing up money to make a home purchase. Gifts for educational or medical expenses are not subject to taxes, as long as they are paid directly to the educational or medical institution.

However, prior to giving the money, gift-givers should consider their own financial picture, and they should make sure the recipient is responsible and not behind on other payments that could be subject to debt collection.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Market Will Take Five More Years to Adjust to Normal

Fannie Mae: Market Will Take Five More Years to Adjust

We are five years through a 10-year adjustment process, said Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan at the Five Star MPact Mortgage Conference and Expo Tuesday morning.

so, does this mean we are at the bottom?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Another Real Estate Brokerage Gets Out of it

Prudential sells its real estate franchise business

Brookfield Residential Property Services -- the Canadian-based franchisor that provides services in the U.S. under the Real Living brand -- has acquired Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services for $110 million, the companies said.

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

10 Low-Cost Tips to Improve Your Home's Appeal

By P a i g e T e p p i n g

RISMEDIA, August 10, 2010--When selling your home, the goal is to sell it quickly for the highest price while investing as little as possible in renovations. With a limited budget and a little effort, you can greatly increase your home's appeal by focusing on what prospective buyers can see on their first visit. The experts at offer the following recommendations for preparing a house for sale and staging it for showings.

Tip #1: Refresh the exterior
First impressions count when it comes to selling a home. Most buyers won’t even leave their car if they don’t find the exterior appealing. The best ways to improve your home’s exterior include:
-Repairing and/or replacing trims, shutters, gutters, shingles, mailboxes, window screens, walkways and the driveway.
-Painting siding, trim and shutters and lamp and mailbox posts.
-Pressure washing vinyl siding, roofs, walkways and the driveway.
-Washing windows.

Tip #2: Spruce up the lawn and landscape
Home buyers associate the condition of your lawn and landscaping with the condition of your home’s interior. By improving the outside, you affect buyers’ impression of the entire property. The best ways to enhance the yard include:
-Mowing and edging the lawn.
-Seeding, fertilizing and weeding the lawn.
-Keeping up with regular lawn maintenance by frequent watering.
-Trimming and/or removing overgrown trees, shrubs and hedges.
-Weeding and mulching plant beds.
-Planting colorful seasonal flowers in existing plant beds.
-Removing trash, especially along fences and underneath hedges.
-Sweeping and weeding the street curb along your property.

Tip #3: Create an inviting entrance
The front door to your home should invite buyers to enter. The best ways to improve your entry include:
-Painting the front door in a glossy, cheerful color that complements the exterior.
-Cleaning, polishing and/or replacing the door knocker, locks and handles.
-Repairing and/or replacing the screen door, the doorbell, porch lights and house numbers.
-Placing a new welcome mat and a group of seasonal potted plants and flowers by the entry.

Tip #4: Reduce clutter and furniture
A buyer cannot envision living in your home without seeing it. A home filled with clutter or even too much furniture distracts buyers from seeing how they can utilize the space your home offers. If you have limited storage space, you may want to consider renting a temporary storage unit to place items you wish to keep. The best ways to declutter your home include:
-Holding a garage sale to prepare for your move, getting rid of unnecessary items.
-Removing clutter such as books, magazines, toys, tools, supplies and unused items from counter tops, open shelves, storage closets, the garage and basements.
-Storing out-of-season clothing and shoes out of sight to make bedroom closets seem roomier.
-Removing any visibly damaged furniture.
-Organizing bookshelves, closets, cabinets and pantries. Buyers will inspect everything.
-Putting away your personal photographs, unless they showcase the home. Let buyers see themselves in your home.
-De-personalize rooms as much as you can.

Tip #5: Clean, clean, clean
The cleanliness of your home also influences a buyer's perception of its condition. The appearance of the kitchen and bathrooms will play a considerable role in a buyer's decision process, so pay particular attention to these areas. The best ways to improve these areas include:
-Cleaning windows, fixtures, hardware, ceiling fans, vent covers and appliances.
-Cleaning carpets, area rugs and draperies.
-Cleaning inside the refrigerator, the stove and all cabinets.
-Removing stains from carpets, floors, counters, sinks, baths, tile, walls and grout.
-Eliminating house odors, especially if you have pets.
-Considering air fresheners or potpourri.

Tip #6: Make minor repairs
The small stuff does count, especially with first-time home buyers. Without dismissing the importance of repairing major items such as a leaky roof or plumbing, you do not need to spend money on replacing these items. Instead, focus on the minor repairs that will make your home visually appealing. The best ways to improve your home include:
-Repairing ceilings and wall cracks.
-Repairing faucets, banisters, handrails, cabinets, drawers, doors, floors and tile.
-Caulking and grouting tubs, showers, sinks and tile.
-Adding fresh paint to ceilings, walls, trim, doors and cabinets.
-Tightening door handles, drawer pulls, light switches and electrical plates.
-Lubricating door hinges and locks.

Tip #7: Showcase the kitchen
The heart of any home is the kitchen. If you are going to spend any money on renovations, this is the one area where you will see the greatest return. Even with a modest budget, focusing on a few key areas can make a great difference in getting the asking price for your property. The best ways to showcase the kitchen include:
-Replacing cabinet doors and hardware.
-Installing under-cabinet lighting.
-Replacing light fixtures.
-Replacing outdated shelving with pantry and cabinet organizers to maximize space.
-Baking cookies or cupcakes for a showing, to create a homey smell.

Tip #8: Stage furniture
Furniture placement can enhance the space of your home while giving buyers an idea of how to best utilize the space with their own belongings. Take some time to rethink how different areas in your house could be used. Some ideas to think about include:
-Moving couches and chairs away from walls in your sitting and family rooms to create cozy conversational groups.
-Creating a reading corner in the master bedroom.
-Clearing an empty room to set up a reading space.
-Turning an awkward space into a home office.
-Setting the dining room table with your best china.
-Set wine glasses in front of the fireplace or next to a Jacuzzi tub.

Tip #9: Light up the house
Create a sense of openness and cheerfulness in your home through its lighting. To improve the lighting try:
-Opening shades and drapes to let the sunshine warm and brighten rooms.
-Installing brighter light bulbs in rooms that tend to be dark.
-Adding additional lamps for ambient lighting.
-Turning on all the lights for a showing.

Tip #10: Add fresh touches
You can easily add color and style to your home by adding fresh touches throughout. Some ideas to consider include:
-Placing fresh floral arrangements in the entry and master bedroom.
-Placing bowls of bright-colored fruit in the family room and the kitchen.
-Filling an empty corner with a potted leafy plant.
-Setting new hand soap in the bathrooms.
-Displaying fresh towels near sinks.

Friday, December 9, 2011

grass valley center for the arts event calendar

Drew Harrison – In the Spirit of Lennon

The Center for the Arts presents
Friday, December 16

Paula Poundstone – NEW YEARS EVE!

The Center for the Arts presents
Saturday, December 31, 8:00PM

David Hidalgo & Louie Perez of Los Lobos

The Center for the Arts presents
Sunday Singer/Songwriter Series
An Evening of Storytelling & Songs
Sunday, January 15

An Intimate Evening with Lucinda Williams

Sunday, January 22
Sunday Singer/Songwriter Series

John Doe former leader of X

The Center for the Arts presents
Saturday, February 4, 2012

grass valley center for the arts event calendar

Photos with Santa through Dec 21 Nevada City

Photos with Santa through Dec 21

Photos with Santa
National Hotel
217 Broad St, Nevada City

• Saturday Dec. 10
10am to Noon & 1:30pm to 4pm

• Sundays Dec. 11 & 18
1:30pm to 6pm

Wednesdays During Victorian Christmas Dec 7, 14 & 21
5pm to 9pm

$5 – All Money donated to the local Mason’s Eastern Star Charities during Victorian Christmas

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Jan 13-15

Wild & Scenic ® Film Festival Jan 13-15

Festival Dates: Friday, January 13 through Sunday, January 15, 2012

Festival Locations: Downtown Nevada City, Headquarters located at the Veteran’s Building 415 N. Pine St., Film Screenings at the Miners Foundry, Nevada Theatre, Odd Fellows, Nevada City Elementary and Veteran’s Building.

Tickets: Online at beginning Dec. 1st. In person at SYRCL office, 216 Main St., beginning Dec. 1, Mon-Thurs, from 12-5pm until January 12th.

Short Synopsis: Celebrate a decade of inspiring activism with SYRCL (South Yuba River Citizens League) this January. Now the largest film festival of its kind, this year’s films combine stellar filmmaking, beautiful cinematography and first-rate storytelling. Wild and Scenic Film Festival informs, inspires and ignites solutions, and creates positive probabilities to restore the earth and human communities.

Each year, the Wild & Scenic® Film Festival draws top filmmakers, celebrities, leading activists, social innovators and well-known world adventurers to the historic downtown of Nevada City, California. Now known as “the next Sundance” the Wild and Scenic experience proves the power of film and passion.

Wild & Scenic Film Festival – Decade of Inspiring Activism

Films: Films to Change Your World
Over 117 films have been accepted for the January 13-15, 2012 festival. The program committee spent close to 2,000 hours previewing 345 film submissions. As always, over 100 filmmakers, activists and special guests will be in attendance this year.

28 World and US film premieres.
Film genres include: award-winning films about nature, community activism, adventure, conservation, water, energy and climate change, wildlife, environmental justice, agriculture, and Native American and indigenous cultures.

Local Filmmakers Showcase
Filmmakers: A Few Confirmed Filmmakers Steve & Ann Dunsky, filmmakers of Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic For Our Time Anne Makepeace, director of “We Still Live Here”, which will be featured at the WSFF, as part of our Native American film session. Farrell Cunningham, the only speaker of Maidu under 80 years old, is teaching Maidu classes locally and will speak in conjunction with the film.

Previous Special Guests: Sir Patrick Stewart, Peter Coyote, Daryl Hannah, Ron Kauk, Colin Beavan, Julia Butterfly Hill, Winona LaDuke, and Jeremy Jones.

Current Special Guests: Native poet and activist John Trudell, Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman, cosmologist Brian Swimme, naturalist David Lukas, John DeGraaf (environmental filmmaker & director of the Happiness Project), river activist Marion Stoddart, Estella Leopold (not confirmed, but very likely), Hans Florine (speed climbing world record holder), Zeb Hogan (aquatic ecologist, National Geographic Explorer), Andy Maser (filmmmaker, National Geographic Explorer), Jason Rainey (Executive Director, International Rivers)

Call 1-877-311-GARY
"Eight Seven Seven Three Eleven... Gary"

Grass Valley and Nevada City Bed and Breakfast Christmas Tour - FREE

Bed and Breakfast Christmas Tour Dec 15th

In the spirit of Christmas giving, three local Bed and Breakfasts have elected to “Show Off” for the holidays. Decorated in their Christmas grandeur, these inns will open their doors and welcome visitors to step back in time and enjoy the splendor of an old fashioned holiday season.

On December 15th the Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast and the Swan Levine House in Grass Valley will welcome all visitors from 4:30 to 7:00 PM, and in Nevada City, the Deer Creek Inn will do the same… and best of all…, IT IS FREE. Not only will you get to see the heart of these magnificent Inns, but of course, we never let anyone leave hungry. So, be sure to indulge in the holiday treats offered up and well… just consider it another Christmas gift from the Innkeepers.

In these hard economic times we must share with one another the small gifts that each of us has to offer. We will share the beauty of our inns with you and you can share those wonderful smiles that make this season, as they say… “A Joy to Remember”. Happy Holidays and we will see you on December 15th.

In Grass Valley:
Elam Biggs Bed and Breakfast
220 Colfax Avenue
Grass Valley, CA 95945-6844
(530) 477-0906

The Swan Levine House
328 South Church Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945-6709
(530) 272-1873

In Nevada City:
Deer Creek Inn
116 Nevada Street
Nevada City, CA 95959
(530) 264-7038

Nevada City Victorian Christmas

Victorian Christmas In Nevada City

Wednesdays, Dec 7, 14 & 21 5-9pm
Sundays, Dec 11 & 18 1:30-6pm

Welcome the holiday season in style in historic Nevada City, a quaint, Gold Rush town nestled in the foothills of the snow-capped Sierra where each year the town’s picturesque downtown transforms into a genuine Christmas card come to life. It’s a magical setting of hilly streets outlined with twinkling white lights and authentic gaslamps, wandering minstrels and carolers dressed in Victorian attire, and a myriad of visitors sharing holiday cheer and good tidings.
Nevada City’s Victorian Christmas evokes holiday memories of an earlier era. Join us for Strolling Carolers, Children’s Activities, Carriage Rides, Roasted Chestnuts, Holiday Shopping, Handcrafted Chirstmas Gifts, and much more!

Read more about Victorian Christmas here:

Nevada County Housing Rebound

Barclays analyst sees housing rebound coming in 2012

Barclays Capital predicts a housing recovery buoyed by improving jobs numbers and the fact prices for non-distressed homes will have stabilized...

You say "tomato" I say.... well you know.

But the fact is at least there is a lot of homes to choose from at great prices and still for the moment very very low interest rates. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Is lease to own home or rent to own purchase worth the risk?

A lease-to-own house purchase (also "rent-to-own purchase" or "lease purchase") is a lease combined with an option to purchase the property within a specified period, usually three years or less, at an agreed-upon price. Such arrangements have proliferated in the post-crisis market because many potential homebuyers can't meet the tougher loan qualification requirements today, and many potential sellers are unable to realize a satisfactory price in any other way.

Lease-purchase plans can be structured in such a way that both parties benefit. They can also be structured so that all the benefits flow to one of the parties and none to the other.
Buyers especially need to be careful because they usually know less about the market than sellers, and the seller usually provides the contract.

Please contact me about these types of arrangements. They can be minefields if not careful.

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