Do You Want to Buy a Brand New Construction Home?

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Thinking of Buying a New Construction Home from the Builder?

There are some things you should know.

Many people like the idea of purchasing a brand new home. There is the thrill of watching the construction process and choosing the upgrades you like, and something about knowing that you are the first to walk on the plush carpet, use the shiny appliances and take a bath in the jetted tub. This can be a very exciting time, but there are a number of things that you should know that will help you throughout the process. Take a look at this article before you head over to the sales office and put down a deposit on your desired lot.

First of all, although the people at the sales office may be nice, they are not looking out for your best interest as they have been hired by the builder to sell the house. Many buyers think that the process will be easier and that using the builder’s sales agent will result in getting a better deal. This is not the case, as builders generally aren’t very flexible on price and the job of their sales agent is to represent them and maximize their profits on each sale.  You need representation! A real estate agent that works for you will ensure that your interests are voiced and will negotiate on your behalf. If you choose to hire your own agent, they should accompany you on your first visit to the sales office. This will let the builder’s agent know that you are represented and the sales office will register him/her as your agent. Your agent can also insulate you from high-pressure sales tactics that a builder’s agent may practice.  It is best not to even casually go and take a look at the model homes without your agent. Some builders are very strict and will not allow you to hire your own agent if you have set foot in the office previously without your agent.

In addition, many buyers don’t realize that they are NOT responsible for paying a commission. Commissions are paid for by the seller or builder in this case. Builders rely on real estate agents to bring buyers to them. If buyers go to the sales office without an agent and contract directly with the builder, the builder will not credit them the cost of a commission that they would usually pay an agent. If they did, agents would cease to bring in buyers and it would eventually impact the builder’s sales. Really, there is no downside for a buyer to hire independent representation.  A buyer will pay the same cost for the home whether they have hired their own agent or not.

What are some other benefits of hiring an agent?

Representation – Your agent is looking out for YOU! They will advocate on your behalf and see that your voice is heard throughout the process.

Negotiation – While you may be a great negotiator and perhaps have experience doing so, it is always recommended to have someone else negotiate for you. Even the best negotiators follow this practice as an agent will not have the same emotional attachment that may blind a buyer. The agent can look at the deal from a different perspective that not only encompasses the price, but many other factors as well. While a builder may not negotiate on price (as they may have to answer to other buyers that paid more for the same home) an agent usually knows what they will discuss. Depending on the builder and the market, you may be able to get some free upgrades, closing cost credits, extended home warranty and perhaps some back yard landscaping or a patio slab that is larger than 3 x 3. A good agent will know what can be negotiated and how to be creative to make sure you are getting the best bang for your money.

Contract – How many buyers are really that familiar with real estate contracts? Although they aren’t that complex, agents look at them every day and have an understanding of what to look for to ensure sure you are getting a fair deal. I have caught mistakes on builder contracts more than once. Sometimes it is as simple as a math mistake and other times it is terms that were written in that hadn’t been discussed or previously agreed upon. An agent knows the contracts and knows how to make sure your interests are represented. Your agent should review the contract and notify you of any concerns prior to you signing a deal for your brand new home. They will make sure you are aware of contractual deadlines and that the building process stays on track.

Builder Quality and Reputation – Agents generally know most of the builders and will be able to share the information that they have learned over the years. Not all builders build the same quality of home. Some will use inferior materials, some have problems with quality control, some use different construction methods and so on. An experienced agent will know which builders are good about doing warranty work and which aren’t. They will also have seen how the builder’s homes stand up over time. This information can be extremely important and another piece in your decision making.

Financing – Builders usually have their own, preferred financing and will usually offer incentives for closing costs or upgrades if you finance through them. A good agent will be able to help you understand their loan programs and make sure you are able to choose the best for your circumstances. If the builder’s lender doesn’t have a program that works for you, your agent should be able to point you toward other lenders that may be able to help. I have had a couple situations where the builder still allowed the incentives even though the buyer used an outside lender.

Inspections – a builder will have walk-throughs at different points in the construction process. It is important that you have your agent there as they may be able to point things out and ask applicable questions that a regular buyer may not think about. You are also allowed to have an outside inspector look at the home to see if there are any issues you need fixed prior to closing or any other smaller items that can be repaired through the warranty process. Experienced agents will have qualified inspectors that they trust to find insufficiencies and items that a buyer will want repaired or replaced.

Recommend upgrades – An agent will know the latest trends, upgrades that are good for resale and how to choose complimenting and contrasting colors.  They will also know what upgrades may cost a lot but not add much value. They also understand which upgrades will be better to have done after-market that should save you money as well as giving you a superior product. Even though you most likely won’t move from your new home in the near future, an agent will look at everything from a “return on investment” standpoint. They can advise you on upgrades, lot choice, exterior elevation choices and other elements that can affect resale in a positive or negative way.

Knowledge of City plans – A good agent that focuses in a certain geographic area will know more than the builder’s sales agent about the city and about what is happening in the area. The builder’s agent usually lives outside the area and has a good knowledge of the homes, products and package choices that the builder offers, but doesn’t always know the details about schools and other upcoming developments like a hometown agent will. This information can be extremely valuable in making your decision.

Final thoughts and how to proceed – As you can see, there are many reasons and potential benefits in hiring an agent to work for and represent you. If you do decide to hire an agent, make sure that they are familiar with new construction and with the area. Have them take you through the models the first time you go to ensure that they are registered as your agent. Not only will your agent make you feel more comfortable in looking by insulating you from high pressure sales tactics, but they will also make sure you aren’t “blinded by the upgrades” and that you know what is included in the base price and what isn’t. They will take the emotion out and help you look at purchasing a home as a good business transaction that should help you increase your wealth over time.

Contact me today if you are thinking about purchasing new construction and I can guide and advise you through the process. The right agent really can make all the difference in the world!

 

Highway 65 Bypass to Open May 20th

Is anyone else getting tired of the detour route to get to 12 Bridges or on Hwy 65 southbound from downtown Lincoln? Certain times of the day, it’s terrible! I was happy to hear that Caltrans will be opening the southbound onramp from Lincoln to Highway 65 on Monday. It has been about a month that we have had to sit and wait at the 3-way stop there. I guess the guy selling cherries has profited from it but to most people it has been a nuisance. Funny thing, I was sitting there in the long line up and as I was getting closer to the front, awaiting my turn, I looked up and saw something you don’t see everyday. I saw a red Ferrari with a V12 in it. Or was it? Check out this picture, click on it for a closer view-I’ve never seen a Ferrari that looks like this before!

200 Monteverde Court, Lincoln, CA 95648 “Richly Appointed”

200 Monteverde Court

This beautiful home is located on a quiet cul-de-sac and backs nature in the desirable, gated, golf course community of Catta Verdera. You’ll love the spacious and private master bedroom that is located on the ground floor. The setup is what everyone wants; complete “his & hers” vanities and walk-in closets with a sunken tub and oversized shower in the middle. It also has an abundance of cabinetry for your linens and towels as well as access to the gorgeous pool. The gourmet kitchen features exquisite granite, rich mahogany cabinets and an eye-catching lattice backsplash. The stainless appliances are top-of-the-line GE profile and include double ovens with convection, built-in microwave, dishwasher and even a trash compactor. Throughout the home you will notice upgraded flooring including custom hardwood, plush carpet and neutral tile. The den, located between floors, is situated in the perfect spot for privacy and continues with the lavish upgrades. Upstairs the upgrades are carried on with custom paint and tile surrounds in the baths that have decorative transitions to match the tile work on the backsplash. From the balcony you can enjoy the sunset views and look into the lush, green yard speckled with bursts of color.  You’ll love the yard and pool, built-in BBQ and outdoor fireplace. Other great features include an oversized garage, central vacuum, tankless hot water heater and so much more! Call today!

Act now, call for a full list of upgrades and to request a private showing.

Home in Lincoln with a Pool (and EVERYTHING else)!

2172 Mount Errigal Lane, Lincoln, CA 95648

 

Actually, we have 2 homes in Lincoln with pools that have just gone on the market. The first one is at 2172 Mount Errigal Lane in Twelve Bridges and is an incredible home. This is one of those homes that has everything! From the pool, hardwood flooring, granite countertops and stainless appliances to the RV parking and media room this is a perfect family home. At almost 3900 sf, 5 beds/5baths separate den and upstairs media room, this home has space for everyone. The downstairs bedroom is spacious and has a full bath and makes a perfect, private guest room. One of the things I really enjoy about the neighborhood is the fact that it is close to Coyote Pond Park. This park is awesome for kids (and adults) of all ages. They have a small-child friendly play structure and swings and the older kids like to go on adventures hiking up to the cliffs or fishing for bass in one of the ponds. My boys love it! We go up there at least a few times a week on an “adventure hike” as my 5 year old calls it. You’ll love the home and the neighborhood too! Here is our description of the home:

Beautiful, quality-built Pulte home in the highly desirable Twelve Bridges neighborhood.  Within walking distance to the elementary school, parks & walking trails, this nearly 3,900 sf house boasts 5 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, large bonus room and a fabulous built-in pool with waterfall.  The modern kitchen includes granite slab countertops, hardwood floors, stainless appliances, double oven and a walk-in pantry.  Crown molding, formal living and dining rooms, a separate den and a full bed and bath on the 1st floor are just some of the features of this amazing home!  The handyman will enjoy the 4 car garage and RV parking.  The nice-sized backyard with patio, grass area and amazing swimming pool is sure to be a crowd pleaser for your summer entertaining.  Hurry, this one won’t last long!

This is NOT A SHORT SALE OR BANK-OWNED and is ONLY $459,999.

Call today to request a private showing.

Overlooking Coyote Pond Park-“Adventure Hike”

 

 

HOME #2 1285 Larkflower Way, Lincoln, CA 95648

1285 Larkflower Way, Lincoln, CA 95648

The 2nd Home is a home out in the Lakeside neighborhood in West Lincoln. This is a smaller home at a more affordable price point. At only $219,999, this is a perfect home for someone starting out or for “empty-nesters”.  Here is our description on this home:

Welcome to this perfect home in the desirable Lakeside Community of Lincoln. You’ll love all the natural light in the kitchen from the French doors that lead to the backyard swimming pool!  The remodeled kitchen includes beautiful wood laminate flooring, Corian counter-tops and pendant lighting. A formal dining room provides plenty of space for entertaining.  This 2 bed/2 bath plus den (3rd bed option) home with a newer roof could be the one you’re looking for. Enjoy the private backyard with in-ground pool, grass area and shade pergola. You’ll be impressed how well this home has been taken care of!

This is NOT A SHORT SALE OR BANK-OWNED.

Can respond and close quickly!

Call today to request a private showing

 

Both of these homes will go quickly! Call today for your chance to own one of these great homes.

Call 916 408-2222 and I can set up a private showing for you. To see additional photos on both of these homes, go to the

 “Featured Homes” (or use the hotlink) tab at the top.

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Lincoln, CA Homes: How to Make & Keep Your Lawn Green

Make your Lawn Green!

Lawn Fertilizers – What do the Numbers Mean?

Have you ever looked at your lawn and thought that it needed to be greened up? You get in the car and head down to Lowes or Home Depot (we have both in Lincoln) and then start looking at the numerous bags of fertilizer…Which one do you choose? If you don’t know, hopefully this summary will help you next time you feel like making your lawn as green or greener than your neighbors.

All fertilizers use a three number rating system, like 15-15-15 or 21-7-14.  The first number represents Nitrogen, the second Phosphorous, the third is Potassium.  These numbers are percentages of the total ingredients in the bag.  In case you forget the order, the words are alphabetical.

The chemical notations of these elements are N-P-K, an official designation for fertilizer numbers.  Triple 15 (15-15-15) has equal amounts of each of these nutrients, or 15% of each.  In a rating of 21-7-14, nitrogen has the highest concentration.  It is 3 times the amount of phosphorus.  Phosphorus is only half of the potassium amount.  Technically, this would be called a 3-1-2 ratio.

Look at any set of fertilizer ratios on a label.  Notice how the numbers relate to each other by size:

21-7-14 is Big – Small – Medium

21-3-3 is Big – Small – Small

6-20-20 is Small – Big – Big

21-0-0 is Big – Zero – Zero

The NPK rating you want for grass is typically Big – Small – Small.  If you follow this, you see that grass needs a lot of Nitrogen and a little bit of the other stuff.  That’s the essential part.  Here’s what the nutrients do:

Nitrogen :

Essential for growth of foliage; produces lush, tender green blades.  Deficiency results in a yellow-green color and little or no growth.

Phosphorous:

Stimulates root growth and hastens the maturity of plants, promotes development of seeds.  Deficiency can result in slow or stunted growth and discoloration on blades.

Potassium:

Gives vigor to tolerate changing weather conditions and helps resist disease.  Strengthens cell wall structure for strong stems.  Deficiency can cause weak stems & slow growth.

Now, look at the current status of your lawn.   An established lawn needs primarily nitrogen since it is not producing fruit or flowers = Big – Small – Small.  A new lawn needs more phosphorous to produce roots = Small – Big – Big.  A stressed lawn (preparing for extreme heat or winter) needs more potassium = Big – Small – Medium or Big – Small – Big.

To get that lush, green lawn you’ve always wanted, apply fertilizer in early spring, when the weather begins to warm up for good and plants begin to flourish.  Fertilize again in the middle of summer.   Fertilize a third time in the early fall after heat waves and droughts have subsided for the year.  Remember to always read and follow the product recommendations for fertilizers, or any other garden chemicals.  It won’t be long before your lawn is the envy of all your neighbors!  Let’s all make Lincoln a more beautiful town to live in!

How Accurate are the Zillow “Zestimates”?

One of our Realty World Brokers sent this interesting article on to me. I have sellers and buyers that frequently ask me about the values on Zillow and sometimes they are very influenced by the numbers they see. This article, written by Ryan Lundquist of Lundquist Appraisal Company, sums things up pretty well. I have seen properties that the Zillow “Zestimate” is way too high or way too low. There really is no substitute for a good appraiser or broker that knows the neighborhoods, floor plans and upgrades. Call me anytime and I would be happy to do a free comparable market analysis that gives you a real value of your property. See Ryan’s article below:

 

How does Zillow compare with 10 real appraisals?

by Ryan Lundquist on March 5th, 2013

I have people ask me about Zillow all the time. In fact, it came up last week at a discussion I led for Realtors. Is Zillow accurate? Do I use Zillow as an appraiser? Let me share 10 recent appraised values in 2013 and compare them with “Zestimates”.

1) Elk Grove Condo: Appraisal: $90,000; Zillow: $79,454 (-11.7%)
2) Rancho Cordova House: Appraisal: $172,000; Zillow $155,567 (-9.5%)
3) East Sacramento House: Appraisal: $315,000; Zillow $399,893 (+26.9%)
4) Elk Grove House: Appraisal: $262,000; Zillow: $267,676 (+2.1%)
5) South Land Park House: Appraisal: $217,000; Zillow: $273, 293 (+25.9%)
6) Roseville Condo: Appraisal: $111,500; Zillow: $113,914 (+2.1%)
7) Roseville House: Appraisal: $415,000; Zillow: $396,763 (-4.4%)
8) East Sacramento House: Appraisal: $232,000 ; Zillow: $368,000 (-36.9%)
9) Elk Grove House: Appraisal: $305,000 ; Zillow: $264,340 (-13.3%)
10) Del Paso Heights House: Appraisal: $65,000 ; Zillow: $76,348 (+17.4%)

                       

Is Zillow accurate? It’s hit and miss. Ultimately I don’t consider Zillow to be reliable. As you can see above, some of the values were really close, but others were not close at all. An online valuation site cannot possibly know the idiosyncrasies of a real estate market – not to mention interior condition, level of charm or quality of updates either. Sometimes tract neighborhoods with a high level of data seem to have more accuracy on Zillow (not always true), while neighborhoods where each street and house are different can be very far off (even hundreds of thousands of dollars off the mark). For instance, in Yolo County data can be very sparse, so an online “valuation” without actual data isn’t all that compelling. I would say if you use Zillow regularly, use it for what it’s worth, but understand its limitations.

Do I use Zillow in my appraisals? I never use Zillow to guide or support values in my reports. Sometimes out of curiosity I will check Zillow because I wonder how a lender might view a property if they run an AVM (Automated Valuation Model).

By the way, I don’t have any problem with Zillow. This post is simply written as an FYI for clients and consumers.

Questions: How do you use Zillow? Any comments or stories to share?

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook

Well done Ryan!

 

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Real Estate prices trending upward in Lincoln, CA

As I looked out the back window on Saturday, I noticed that the ornamental crab apples trees are starting to bloom. Spring is just around the corner and the real estate market is heating up even more. The last few years have been extremely interesting for real estate in Placer County. We saw the foreclosures come through and every second home on the market seemed to be a foreclosure with holes kicked in the walls, missing appliances and other damage. We saw the short sale boom and it went from being a situation where the owners didn’t want the neighbors to know they were selling, to it being commonplace and almost a trendy thing to do a “strategic short sale”. While bank-owned properties are still popping up and short sales are still happening, we have seen a definite change over the last 6 months. Most listings are seeing multiple offers and we are seeing more and more “regular sales” where we have an actual homeowner with some equity and a buyer that is purchasing to move in. I have read a lot of the predictions for where the market is going this year and most experts tend to agree that we will continue to see appreciation this year. The California Association of Realtors forecasted that the median home price in California would increase by 5.7 percent. Each market place is different and I think we will see an increase of well over the predicted statewide appreciation. We are seeing homes that sold last year for under $200,000 now selling in the $250,000 range. On the higher end, I have seen examples of homes purchased last year for $500,000 that would now easily sell for $600,000. Both of these are examples are around a 20% increase. Even within Lincoln, the rates of appreciation will be different in different neighborhoods and different price ranges.

Will appreciation continue? There are some indicators that we can watch to predict what will happen. The first one that is affecting our area significantly in terms of pushing the prices higher is supply and demand. Right now, the demand far exceeds the supply in most price ranges. Days on market are low (with the exception of short sales) and multiple offers are common. When we start to see the supply rise and days on market go up we can predict that the rate of appreciation will start to level off. I do think that because our demand far exceeds our supply that this won’t start to balance out at least until the end of summer.

The second indicator to watch is the interest rate. Interest rates are very good right now and a borrower’s buying power is quite strong. As rates go up, affordability goes down and this causes home prices to level out or even start to drop. A general rule is that as rates go up, prices go down. We have continually been hearing (over the last 3 years) that rates are going to go up. This hasn’t really happened. At certain times they may have ticked up a little but overall rates have been great. We’ll have to see what happens.

The current market is good for sellers. If you are thinking about selling this year, I wouldn’t wait too much longer to do it. There will be more homes coming on the market this summer, so get a jump on the competition. Call me to see what your home is worth, you may be surprised! I can put together a CMA (comparative market analysis) for you for free. This is a fun time for me being able to tell people their homes are worth more than they thought they were. I like to be able to give good news! A few years back it was exactly the opposite, people thinking their homes were worth much more than they really were…Give me a call, I’ll give you a number that is realistic and based on comparable sales. Hopefully the real estate market and the overall economy will head in the right direction!

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Fantastic Internet Exposure for Homes in Lincoln, CA

I have been involved in a number of different businesses through high school, during my college time and after graduation. Whether or not it was my own business, I have always been interested in looking at the trends that affect the performance of a company. Obviously there are many factors that a business owner can’t control and either has to adapt or suffer. Over the last five years or so, it has become very apparent to me how quickly the real estate industry changes. I am not talking about the overall economy (although the effects are evident), I am thinking about adjustments in marketing listings and advertising for new business. Years ago, the newspaper and slick magazines at the grocery stores were a big part of marketing. Now, many of these companies have either changed to an online presence, are half the size they used to be or gone completely. Of course, there are many options for advertising but one tool that we are now using is one that I am really excited about.

The National Listings Distribution Program is a newly updated program from Realty World that gives our listings maximum exposure on the internet. Here’s how it works…within 72 hours after we enter the listing in our system, your home is displayed on over 800 major national real estate portals, providing instant, maximum exposure and increased search results on the property (including Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com).  The facts are that about 90% (I think it may be higher) of buyers are using the internet to search for a home.  Calls from buyers come in everyday saying that they saw my listing on the internet. I can’t even begin to explain how important this is. Buyers are also now able to access numerous reports about the home. We also have informational reports that we can send you on a weekly basis so you can see how this program is working. The truth is, selling your home is a numbers game. The more people that know about it, the more chance we will get people through the door and the more people that come, the better chance we have to sell and sell at a good price. This program works! No other real estate company is providing this type of exposure at this point.

Sample of Some of the Websites our Listing are on

 

 

 

 

 

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HOCKEY’S BACK!!!

Is anyone as excited about this as me? NHL Hockey is back on the ice tomorrow and my team, the Edmonton Oilers, play their first game against the Canucks on Sunday. The longer off-season for the Oilers was a good thing as they continued to develop some of their younger talents with the Oklahoma City Barons. Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, RNH and Justin Schultz all played together down there. There were also some that played in Europe or on the Gold medal Spengler Cup team (Ryan Smyth-glad he’s back with the Oil!, Sam Gagner and Devan Dubnyk). Also the addition of 1st overall pick, Nail Yakupov, will make the young Oiler core even more exciting to watch! Young, fast and offensively talented like the Oilers of the 1980’s.
Some great World Juniors hockey was played over Christmas with the USA Juniors taking the gold. Canada had a strong round-robin beating both the US and Russia in close games but couldn’t get it done when it mattered. “The Nug” had a great tournament. Oh well Canada, there is always next year! The World Juniors is a great Christmas tradition, I always wear my Team Canada autographed jersey from the gold medal SLC Olympic team that time of year.
On another note, I am so glad that the vast majority of professional hockey players are humble and don’t act like some of the punk basketball and football players. This comment might make a few people mad but look at the facts…So there is fighting in hockey, but it is part of the game and these guys respect each other. After some of the epic Marty McSorley-Bob Probert brawls you see them pat each others’ head and tell each other “good fight”. They knew their role on the team and were great hockey players as well. I have seen both of them score some pretty goals and anyone that played with them said they were great teammates. Off the ice, these guys are totally different. George Laraque is a perfect example, he has now retired but is totally into animal rights and a lot of other causes. George always had respect for the guys he fought and gave them a chance to get ready. One of my favorite ones that shows how much of a gentlmen he is was when he was in Phoenix and “mic’d up” for a game. I love the way he says “You want to?” “Okay” “Square-up?” and “Okay, good luck man”. The best is when he slowly puts his gloves down on the ice right before the fight. Check it out and turn up the volume so you can hear George. And no, I wasn’t a goon when I played. I fought when I had to but would rather put pucks in the net than sit in the “sin-bin”. GO OILERS!

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When Will Galleria Mall Open?

 

Galleria Fire from CBS News

 

No alien abductions, no terrorist attacks, only some crazy kid that played one too many video games and knew how to start a fire…Thank goodness that nobody was physically hurt! I am sure some mental anguish took place for some people not being able to get their Nordstrom fix.

So now that the dust has settled to some extent, everyone is asking “When will the Galleria Mall open?” To be honest with you, my concern is not about the lack of immediate shopping options, but for the people that are currently out of work due to the fire. My daughter, on the other hand, has been worried that she won’t be able to frequent her favorite stores. I hear a lot of the rumors going around about when the mall will reopen and there are mixed opinions. I think the most reliable sources are saying that portions of the mall may be open by the end of the week. The parts of the mall that have the most damage, JC Penney and Macy’s, will take much longer to open. I feel bad for the people who are out of work, but as with any catastrophe, new opportunities are created. I am sure that some of the people working to restore the mall could be amongst those who were praying for work. Hopefully things will work out well for those directly affected.

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