Welcome to our blog!

The smart side & heart side of real estate

Silicon Valley Real Estate News, Market Trends...having an investor mindset & a look at what makes a house a home.

You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics, property investing, and home values to community happenings. In Silicon Valley many people are concerned about making it financially - our focus is to encourage an investor mindset, even for residential real estate, at the same time we cover what truly makes a house a home.

That’s because we care about the community, your Silicon Valley experience, and want to help you find your place in it.

We also have a little bit of fun here! Our team lead Kelsey Lane has been in real estate 17 years, and this is a forum not only for new clients, yet also for friends, family and the many clients and vendors who have become like friends and family.

Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

April 30, 2024

Hardwood Floor Maintenance Tips

 

Everyone loves a shiny hardwood floor, but there are a variety of daily activities that can cause wear and tear, such as moisture imbalances, pet claws, and common foot traffic. To keep that attractive sheen you love, it’s incredibly important to keep up regular, proper maintenance.

 

  • Wood has a tendency to expand and shrink depending on the moisture level, so if there are high levels of humidity in your home or your hardwood floors are consistently getting wet, they could be at risk for cupping which makes the sides of your flooring higher than the center. In order to prevent moisture imbalances, make sure to clean any spills immediately and keep your home’s temperature set between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

  • The color of your hardwood floors can also be compromised by pets or shoes. Dust and dirt can settle in the gaps or grain of your hardwood floor, which makes timely cleaning a necessity. It is recommended to dust or sweep daily and vacuum weekly to mitigate grime’s effect on your floors. It is also a good idea to refinish your hardwood floors every three to five years to counter gradual dirt build-up.

 

  • Most hardwood floors have a protective coating to prevent scratches, but you can take some of the pressure off your floor by using furniture pads for your chairs, tables, and couches. If you have any pets, you should also make a habit of trimming their nails to protect your floor’s integrity. Finally, make sure your hardwood floors will last by using hardwood floor cleaner once a month.
April 24, 2024

Recent Real Estate Updates

 

For the second month in a row, the number of homes just listed for sale California-wide has gone up. About half of the listings are selling for above the list price. Average sales prices are also still slightly on the rise with a 6% gain since last year during the same timeframe. Days on market is down from the same time period last year. Demand is still exceeding supply, and many are concerned that high-income earners are driving up the prices of homes with fewer residents able to afford a median-priced property.

Next week a group of California legislators will meet in the Capitol regarding the housing shortage and also housing affordability. Any regulatory barriers that stand in the way of housing development will also be discussed.

This summer the largest insurer in California State Farm will be dropping an estimated 30,000 policies. Is yours one of them? The Chronicle has provided a lookup function so you can check your address. Most of the addresses to be dropped are in Contra Costa County, the Santa Cruz Mountains, and Sonoma and Los Angeles Counties. (Please see below at the end of the article for the lookup link)

Mortgage rates for a 30-year rose to around 7.5%, which is the highest we've seen since November 2023. This is up from the mid 6% level that we saw in January. Rate drops are not projected to happen until the latter part of the year, if at all. Surprisingly, mortgage applications for home purchasing still rose 5% compared to a week ago.

 

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Written by Kelsey Lane

Sources: CNBC, MSN, Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, California Association of Realtors

Link for looking up insurance non-renewals: https://www.sfchronicle.com/projects/2024/ca-statefarm-nonrenewal-map/

March 14, 2024

10 Tips for Successful Spring Decluttering

Written by Alisha Pangburn

 

As a professional organizer, I know that decluttering and getting organized can seem daunting, especially if you need help knowing where to begin. With the arrival of Spring upon us, it's the perfect time to give your home a fresh start. But, how do you get started with Spring Decluttering?

Here are 10 Tips for getting decluttered and organized:

1. Plan & Prioritize:

Before you begin decluttering, decide what areas you want to tackle. Create a list of tasks and prioritize them so you can stay organized and on track.  

2. Divide & Conquer: 

If you have limited time blocks to work on Spring Decluttering, break large tasks into smaller ones. For example, instead of tackling your entire closet, start with one shelf, one drawer, or one type of clothing. Bottom line: getting something done is better than getting nothing done. Just dive in and get started!

3. Prepare for Letting Go: 

Before you begin, grab a trash bag, recycle bag, shred box, and donate box. Donate, recycle, or sell unwanted items. Try to be ruthless when deciding what to keep and what to let go of. Let go of duplicates and worn-out items. Keep the things you use the most and that add value to your life today. Donate items in good condition to charity or sell them online to make some extra cash. Recycle as much as possible. (see your local city guidelines for recycling). Trash is the last resort.

4. Clean as you Go:  

As you’re emptying drawers, shelves, and cabinets, grab your cleaning supplies, wipe everything down, and make it sparkling clean before putting things away. It’s not often cabinets and shelves are emptied, so take advantage of it.

5. Use Storage Solutions: 

Invest in storage solutions like shelves, containers, and drawer dividers to keep your items organized and contained. Using a container will assign a home and a defined space for all your stuff, making it much easier to put things away. If you don’t have a big budget, try visiting your local Dollar Store or using shoe and Amazon boxes as containers.

6. Use Vertical Space: 

Don’t forget about the vertical space! You can maximize storage by using wall shelving, hanging organizers, hooks, etc.

7. Label everything: 

Labeling your storage containers and shelves can help you stay organized and make it easier to find what you need. Not only will labeling remind YOU of where everything goes, but it will remind EVERYONE ELSE, too.

8. Don’t Go it Alone: 

If you’re overwhelmed and find it difficult to get started, consider phoning a friend, getting the whole family involved, or hiring a professional. Working with someone else, sharing some laughs, and having an extra set of hands will be more productive and fun.

9. Breaks & Rewards: 

It can’t be all work and no play! Make sure to take breaks and reward yourself. Sit and relax for a few minutes, get a snack, drink water, or take a walk. Plan a pizza night or something fun with your family or friend helpers as a reward for a job well done.

10. Create a Routine: 

After you're done Spring Decluttering, set aside time each week to clean and organize your home. This will help you maintain your efforts and prevent clutter from piling up again. Developing good habits and consistency is key.

 

Need Help with Spring Decluttering?  I offer a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your organizing needs and see if we are a good match. Let's Connect Today! 

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Alisha Pangburn, owner of Sort Your Nest is a professional organizer in the Greater Silicon Valley, CA. She helps clients get unstuck and get started on their organization journey. She believes if you "organize your space, you can transform your life." Alisha is a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), serving on the Education committee and a member of the Women's Networking Alliance (WNA), serving as the President of her chapter. She is a lover of dogs, people, fitness.... and coffee!!

 

Posted in Heart of the home
March 14, 2024

Spring Forward to New Hope in Real Estate

Written by Kelsey Lane

As the rain will start to ease up, we're seeing some new movement in the real estate world as well.

Here are a few real estate news items to keep you updated:

Listing inventory is up about 13% compared to same time period last year. This is the largest increase in about three years. Also, slightly more sellers than average have done a price decrease. If you're thinking of selling your home, these slight signs are an indicator that inventory may be continuing to climb, which may signal that now is a good time to get a higher price than when the market is more saturated.

Even though new purchase mortgages are 8% down from a year ago, current and recent loan demand is up 11%. Conforming rates are still around 7% give or take.

The California Housing Financing Authority (CalHFA) announced a new round of funds available for the CA Dream for All program. While the last round was gone in 11 days, this round is expected to last a bit longer due to a new rule: the parents of the homebuyers must not have owned property within the United States. According to Eric Johnson from CalHFA the program is designed for "those who may not have had the benefit of generational wealth."

If you're selling a home in California, you may find the following statistic interesting. While in the past it was believed that "location location location" was all that mattered, a new survey shows otherwise. Coldwell Banker conducted a survey of 4213 people age 18 and over, and 56% revealed that price is their number one consideration.

If you're curious about the home selling process and have questions, feel free to reach out to us and we're happy to help with information.

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Sources: KQED, Redfin, California Association of Realtors, CNBC, Coldwell Banker

Feb. 12, 2024

Current real estate news - Most Frequently Asked Real Estate Questions

One of the most frequent real estate questions we get recently is what the market is doing in light of interest rates. Everyone who has their eyes on residential real estate is hyper sensitive to rates, the job market, inflation, and what the future holds. And for good reason.
Here are some of the current stats for what is actually happening. Average mortgage interest rates are in the high six percent range. New mortgage applications are remaining fairly constant but there was an uptick in refinance activity compared to last week. There is quite a bit of conjecture surrounding how many fed rate cuts there will be this year. In December, the Fed predicted about three rate cuts to occur during 2024, but then in an interview with 60 Minutes Chairman Powell divulged that not much would be happening soon, citing a March rate cut unlikely. Some experts believe there may be up to five or six rate cuts by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, believe it or not median sales prices are up 5.4% since last year at the same time. New listings are up by about 7 percent, but pending home sales saw a pretty large decline of 8 percent over last month. Another metric that measures home tour activity shows that tours are 6% busier from January to now compared to last year during the same timeframe. Warmer weather is predicted to increase both pendings and tour activity.
Housing affordability dropped to 15% of households qualifying to purchase the median-priced California home of $833,170. This is down from 17% a year ago. To put this in perspective, in 2012 during the first quarter, the affordability index was 56%.
Sources for the above: CNBC, HousingWire, Redfin & California Association of Realtors.
If you're currently thinking of selling your home, you likely have quite a few questions. Once the rain is behind us, the home selling process is fairly straightforward. Clients who are planning to sell soon are not basing their decisions on market rates and stats - the beginning of 2024 will see more real estate moves and decisions being made based on family and lifestyle decisions. If you have any real estate goals you'd like to discuss, we're happy to help you talk through them to make the decision that is right for you & give you a more thorough picture of the home selling process.
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Kelsey Lane has been a Realtor in the Silicon Valley since 2003 and is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, specializing in listings. She is also coaching certified through the Life Purpose Institute and approaches her real estate business through the eyes of a life coach. Cal-DRE #01390557 
Jan. 11, 2024

The Vital Role of Chimney Inspections and Maintenance in Home Safety

 

Your home is your sanctuary, providing warmth and comfort for you and your loved ones. One crucial element that often goes unnoticed for those who have one is the chimney. While it may seem like a simple part of your home, regular chimney inspections and maintenance are essential for ensuring not only the efficiency of your fireplace but also the safety of your entire household.

Preventing Fire Hazards:

Over time, creosote, a highly flammable substance, can accumulate inside the chimney. Without proper maintenance, this buildup poses a significant fire hazard. Regular inspections and cleanings help identify and remove these deposits, reducing the risk of chimney fires.

Ensuring Efficient Ventilation:

A properly functioning chimney ensures efficient ventilation, allowing smoke and gasses to exit your home safely. If your chimney becomes blocked or damaged, it can lead to inadequate ventilation, causing smoke to back up into your living space. A malfunctioning chimney can also result in the release of carbon monoxide into your home – a colorless, odorless gas that poses severe health risks. Inspectors can detect any obstructions or damages, preventing potentially harmful indoor air quality issues.

Prolonging Chimney Lifespan:

Just like any other part of your home, chimneys require regular care to extend their lifespan. Neglecting maintenance can lead to structural issues, such as cracks and deterioration. Routine inspections allow professionals to identify and address minor problems before they escalate, ensuring safety as well as saving you money in the long run.

Compliance with Local Regulations:

Many local authorities require regular chimney inspections to ensure compliance with safety regulations. Neglecting these inspections may not only put your family at risk but also lead to legal consequences. Check your local requirements and stay on the right side of the law by scheduling regular chimney inspections and maintenance.

 

While chimneys may seem like a minor aspect of your home, their role in safety and functionality cannot be overstated. Regular chimney inspections and maintenance are crucial for preventing fire hazards, ensuring efficient ventilation, prolonging the chimney's lifespan, protecting against carbon monoxide poisoning, and complying with local regulations. By investing in the care of your chimney, you're not only safeguarding your home but also prioritizing the well-being of those you hold dear.

 

Posted in Heart of the home
Jan. 11, 2024

New Home Insurance Policies

Written by Kelsey Lane

Home insurance (fire insurance) has been a hot (no pun intended) topic for the last year. Due to much of California being wildfire zones, many large insurance companies have stopped writing new policies. This has left potential new homeowners and Realtors frustrated and in some cases, confused and overwhelmed.

All that said, there are still policies being written, and some of them are not as expensive as you may think. Hopefully that will help if anyone reading this is considering a home purchase in the near future. (We have insurance companies we can refer to you - just let us know)

 

Here is some information from the California Association of Realtors about how to navigate the current world of homeowner insurance policies:

  • Working closely with an insurance agent can help you to gain direction on what to do about your unique insurance situation.
  • A not-for-profit organization called California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) backs "admitted insurance companies" if they become insolvent. There is a list of admitted companies on the Department of Insurance website.
  • Make sure your new policy will cover the likely cost to rebuild your home in compliance with current building codes. In light of this, consider insuring for replacement cost value, not just depreciated actual cost value.
  • Ask your insurance agent pertinent questions such as: "Will the policy cover the cost of rebuilding the home to its pre-loss condition?" "Is there a coverage limit on temporary rent and expenses while the home is being repaired?" and "What causes of loss are not covered?" (to name a few)
  • There are also some options for non-admitted insurance carriers that do not have CIGA backing but may still be the best choice for you. A good insurance agent can help you navigate these solutions.
  • As a last resort an expensive policy from the California FAIR plan can be obtained. This only covers certain losses from fire and smoke, so an additional Differences in Condition (DIC) insurance policy will need to be purchased to cover other perils like theft and liability.

 

Please call or email if you have questions about obtaining a new home insurance policy, and we can direct you to some good resources.

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Source: CAR.org

 

Posted in Home buying
Jan. 10, 2024

Start Fresh: Home Organizing Tips for Your New Year's Resolutions

As the calendar flips to a new year, many of us embark on a journey of self-improvement through New Year's resolutions. While personal goals often take center stage, it's essential to not overlook the impact our living spaces can have on our well-being. A cluttered and disorganized home can impede productivity and create unnecessary stress. Here are some simple yet effective tips to get you started on your organizing journey.

Set Clear Goals:

  • Just as you set personal resolutions, establish specific organizing goals for your home. Some examples include: decluttering the kitchen, organizing the closet, or creating a dedicated workspace. Having clear objectives will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the year.

 

Declutter with Purpose:

  • Take a critical look at each room and ask yourself whether each item brings you joy or serves a practical purpose. Donate or discard items that no longer contribute positively to your life.

 

Create Designated Spaces:

  • Assign specific spaces for different activities and items. For example, designate a home for your keys, mail, and other daily essentials to avoid the frantic search when you're in a rush out the door. Establishing set spaces for different activities or items will help maintain order and organization.

 

Invest in Storage Solutions:

  • Consider investing in storage solutions to make the most of your space. Utilize storage bins, baskets, and shelving units to keep items neatly organized. Storage furniture, such as ottomans with hidden compartments or coffee tables with built-in storage, can also contribute to a clutter-free environment.

Implement a Cleaning Routine:

  • A regular cleaning and decluttering routine is crucial to maintaining an organized home. Set aside time each day or assign a specific day every week for cleaning and tidying up. Small, consistent efforts will prevent clutter from piling up and make the task of organizing less overwhelming.

 

Digital Decluttering:

  • In today's digital age, it's not just physical spaces that require organization. Take the time to declutter your digital life by organizing files on your computer, clearing out unnecessary emails, and streamlining your digital workspace. A clutter-free digital environment can enhance productivity and reduce stress.

 

Involve the Whole Family:

  • Make home organizing a family affair. Get everyone involved in the process by assigning age-appropriate tasks to each family member. You can also make it fun with music or turning tasks into a game. This not only lightens the workload but also instills a sense of responsibility and teamwork.

 

Celebrate Small Wins:

  • Acknowledge and celebrate your progress along the way. Completing small organizing tasks can be just as rewarding as achieving larger goals. Recognize the positive impact your efforts have on your living space and overall well-being.

 

 

As you embark on your journey to create an organized and clutter-free home, remember that resolutions are not just about making changes for a moment but about adopting a sustainable lifestyle. You're not only creating a more harmonious living environment but also fostering habits that can positively impact your life throughout the year and beyond. Happy organizing!

Posted in Heart of the home
Nov. 9, 2023

The Overwhelming Home Sale: Home Selling During Hardship

Written by Kelsey Lane

Instagram these days is riddled with gorgeous videos of glamorous Realtors showing upscale staged homes for sale at record-high list prices. We can easily imagine sellers trotting off into the sunset into even larger, more luxurious mansions. Of course, this is sometimes the case (and I'm not knocking it).

 

But in the spirit of being "really real" it's often difficult life events that get thrown at a homeowner that prompts them to need to sell. And when the tough realities hit, the last thing these homeowners likely want to face is cleaning out their homes to be staged.

 

Sometimes homeowners are faced with financial hardship - either the loss of a job, or other unforeseen surprise. Sometimes it's health. Sometimes it's both. Imagine knowing you need to divest your home which is currently providing you comfort and stability, and looking around at years of stuff that needs to be sorted, cleaned, and stored. Oh, and by the way, you don't have any energy to do it. I have helped many sellers that are in this situation, and it can be both overwhelming and heartbreaking for someone who is going through these life events.

 

There are some options of how to handle the home sale in order to minimize impact to the best level possible.  First of all, homes can be shown as is. This will, of course, affect the sales price, but often it is more important to maintain a low level of stress than it is to get the highest price. Only the homeowner can make that call, but it's an option. In addition, the hours of showing can be limited to certain days, where the seller can spend some time at a different location during the tours. Open houses are also not a requirement - showings can happen privately by individual Realtors with their clients during certain windows of time.

 

Another option is to begin the cleaning, sorting, and storing process of personal belongings (just like in a typical sale). Agents often have resources for personal organizers or other professionals that can help. Or, perhaps there are friends who can come on a regular basis for successive weeks in order to help. Many agents will help to "stage" with your own belongings if you're tight on funds to hire an actual stager. And in reality, homes do not need to be staged in order to conduct a home sale. Any progress of cleaning, sorting, and storing will help the eventual price.

 

During a difficult time to sell, you also have the option of not having your home on the MLS and not having a "for sale" sign if these options suit you better.

 

Bottom line is there are options if you are anyone you know are going through a difficult time and needs to do something with the house. I'm happy to talk over any scenario and answer what questions I can.

 

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Kelsey Lane has been a Realtor in the Silicon Valley since 2003 and is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, specializing in listings. She is also coaching certified through the Life Purpose Institute and approaches her real estate business through the eyes of a life coach. Cal-DRE #01390557 

Nov. 9, 2023

Market Mashup: This Month in Real Estate

 

Written by Kelsey Lane

 

I thought you may like a distilled version of the real estate news I've been reading this month. A few key points:

  • Rental prices have increased 23% in the last 3 to 4 years. During this time an extra 2 million households in the US have fallen into the "cost-burdened" category, totaling 22 million.  Cost-burdened households are paying more than 30% on rent.
  • New construction homes are becoming both more prevalent and more popular. The amount of available new construction homes is up to nearly 31% (up 5% from the same timeframe 2 years ago) and Q3 saw a 12.3% increase in new construction purchases. Why? Builders have been offering rate buy-down concessions, and sellers of existing homes have been reticent to put their homes on the market due to high mortgage rates.
  • The Fed's November meeting saw the federal funds rate unchanged and mortgage rates have been at their lowest since September (8% 23-year high).
  • Some sellers of existing homes have begun to offer buyers rate buy-down concession credit. Some lenders have been offering programs where buyers can pay 5.5% the first year of their loan, 6.5% the second year and so on.
  • Many analysts believe rates will be 5.5 by the end of 2024. Many Realtors perceive it's a good time to buy a home since competition is low, and homes may be able to be refinanced later as rates decline.
  • A "bombshell" lawsuit saw a verdict last week in Missouri regarding Realtor commissions and practices. Called Sitzer Burnett vs. Nar et al, I'm happy to answer any questions you have (call, text or email). This suit may affect how real estate is practiced in all of the United States.

 

My market mashup interpretations: Buyers can look to either sellers of existing homes or new construction for rate buy-downs which are becoming prevalent, and avoid some amount of the competition we were seeing previously. My advice is always to purchase the home that is right for you and your lifestyle, that you can afford, and love enough to weather economic storms. Sellers will likely need to offer a rate buy-down as part of the selling package, to prospective buyers. Realtors will need to reiterate to their sellers that commissions are negotiable. Sellers will also need to keep in mind that enough commission will need to be offered in order for listing agents to provide services & buyer's agents to be able to show and sell their properties. Quality of life is important, and renting or buying homes that are within a reasonable budget remains a factor for us all to remember and practice.

 

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Kelsey Lane has been a Realtor in the Silicon Valley since 2003 and is a Master Certified Negotiation Expert through the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, specializing in listings. She is also coaching certified through the Life Purpose Institute and approaches her real estate business through the eyes of a life coach. Cal-DRE #01390557