5-Year Plan Yields Safety in the Numbers

Even some veteran renters are looking at today’s housing market and wondering whether it’s time to start a Walnut Creek or Concord home search. With prices and mortgage rates as low as they are while rents continue to move higher, the numbers point to home ownership as an ever more obvious choice.


But that’s just the quick, back-of the envelope budget equation: monthly rent vs. mortgage payment less tax savings. If this June finds you at the start of your own Contra Costa County home search, many financial advisors recommend that you also consider another rule of thumb – you should plan to stay in your new home for at least five years.


Transaction costs are only one consideration that makes this a good idea. Here are some of the others why it’s prudent to think about the 5-year planning horizon as you conduct your home search:


Financial Safety – Homeowners need to have at least some extra liquidity: funds set aside as an emergency resource in the event of unforeseen loss of income. Affording a home and its maintenance costs should never jeopardize the financial health of your household.  Liz Weston of recently asked several experts for their calculations regarding home repairs. Their answer? Plan to spend at least an additional 1% of a homes’ value on maintenance each year.


Resale Value – The significant overhang in distressed homes will likely continue to exert at least some pressure on home values for the near future. If you need to sell your home two or three years down the road, you may come up short when all the moving, transaction, and other expenses are considered. It may be at least that long before the familiar growth in residential real estate value resumes. 


Sanity – Studies have shown that moving is one of the top stresses in life (up there with death, divorce and illness). Personally, I think a well-planned move is a little less dire, but it is true that a happy homeowner is a settled homeowner.  When you’re starting your home search, consider the changes coming to your family in the coming years: New baby?  Child to college?  If you know a move is eminent in the near future, consider finding a home with long-term rental value.  Buy a home that can grow with you and you’ll find yourself much more financially secure…and sane!


The current low prices and 30-year fixed mortgage interest rates aren’t likely to last forever, and that old adage remains true: buy low, sell high.  If you’re looking for a reason to start your home search in Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill or Concord  now, call me for a serious look at this June’s market.  

Survey Nails Outdoor Living Trends– Local Homebuyers Look for Space Young or Old: Outdoor Space Sells!


Those of us who focus professionally on our local real estate trends can vouch for it: outdoor living sells! And depending on what life phase their family is in, homebuyers choices tend to follow similar lines.

The 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey confirms again how important those backyard grills and dining areas are when it comes to what most people have at the top of their minds when they think about buying homes. 

When potential homebuyers come to me, some of the features highest on their “must have” list virtually always have something to do with outdoor space.   Young families buying homes, for example, are usually pleased to find a grassy area off the kitchen where their toddlers can toddle.  High-profile clients often seek out impressive spaces with great foot-traffic flow for indoor/outdoor entertaining.  Empty-nesters buying homes often come to me seeking the opposite — less yard with easy- or no-maintenance landscaping.   The point is, no matter what the age or demographic of the buyer, in todays market, outdoor space sells.

So — what is hot for those buying homes in 2012? The survey I cited earlier is one conducted every year by theAmerican Society of Landscape Architects. This year they came up with some clear winners. According to the survey, top popularity goes to BBQ grill space (97.4%), followed by low-maintenance landscapes (96.6 percent),fireplaces/fire pits (95.8 percent), and dining areas (95.7 percent).  

Not so obvious winners were decorative water elements such as ornamental pools, splash pools, waterfalls, grottos, water runnels or bubblers, and pergolas. Not as popular as they once were? turf lawns at 50.9%, gazebos at 49.1%, and hammocks at 27.4%.  Go figure!

If you are considering an outdoor remodel before selling your own home, be sure to design with local buyers in mind. Contact me any time for a stop-in — Ill be happy to go over the features most clients look for when buying homes today.

You’ve Got 5 Seconds To Sell Your Home

Your Walnut Creek or Lafayette Home Deserves a Hero Shot!
Contra Costa County Realty Listings: Curb Appeal Will “Git ‘er Done!”

As a whole, we Americans are an interesting group. We are smart, educated, involved in our community…and, not unlike the rest of America, our attention span about 5 or 10 seconds. It follows that when you put your home on the market and your agent places it among the Norcal realty listings, your home has about that long to grab potential buyers’ attention.

Time and time again, studies show that realty listings with superior curb appeal get markedly more attention than those with run-of-the-mill photos. First impressions count. It’s how advertising agencies can charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to get just the right angle with just the right lighting on their perfectly-designed product packages. In ad-speak, that photo with the perfect angle and lighting is called the ‘hero shot’.

Your home can have its own ‘hero shot’. Its landscaping, color, the condition of its driveway, walkway, garage and backyard, along with the overall neatness combine to make a true ‘hero shot’ that will stand out from the other Contra Costa County realty listings. That same look (over and above the one in the photographer’s viewfinder) can also be counted upon to draw the attention of potential buyers who happen to be just driving by.

It’s not surprising, either, that curb appeal also affects the value and salability of realty listings. A study by the University of Washington found that “mature trees in a well-landscaped yard can increase the value of a house by 7% – 19%.” On the other hand, overgrown trees that obscure the view of the home can delay its sale.

The curb appeal of homes almost defines a neighborhood’s appeal, and vice versa. Any home that is well kept improves the image of the rest of the houses on any street. In the same way, a home with a neglected look can bring down the general appeal of the entire neighborhood. You already know what it’s like to drive by a street lined with houses that are all beautifully maintained. Now that’s the kind of place where you would definitely want to live!

If you are giving serious consideration to selling your Walnut Creek, Lafayette, Concord, San Ramon, Pleasant Hill or Danville home, call me anytime for a “curb appeal” consultation. Usually, just a few easy steps are all it takes to improve that vital first impression!

Want to buy Michael Jordan’s or Anderson Cooper’s home-Call me and I’ll show you how.

Anderson Cooper’s apartment  completely transformed into a sleek bachelor pad, is a former manufacturing space by the talk-show host and CNN news anchor. According to property records, Cooper bought the home in 2005 for $2.48 million. With his renovations completed and recently listed for sale, the two-floor penthouse is for sale in the Garment District for $3.75 million.

Click here for info on Michael Jordan’s home for sale.

Stop!!! Before you apply those special touches or start that remodeling project to your home…Read this!!

10 home remodels that turn off buyers

By Bill Briggs of SwitchYard Media


Hey, it’s your castle. You have the right to pack your palace with all the domestic toys you can afford.

Of course, if and when you decide to sell, these novelties may fail to return your original investment or make your place harder to unload.

For now, bask in your baubles. But here are 10 home projects that may someday induce a cringe from your real-estate agent and potential buyers.


If you have any doubt, call me first and I will let you know if what you have in mind will be worth your while.

Remember,  Ask Patti at  www.Ask4Patticom


Welcome to Patti’s Page

Welcome to my first Blog on the Real Estate Website. Please check back on a regular basis and see what pearls of wisdom you might find regarding my favorite profession…Real Estate. You will find information about homes, activites, events and more in the local communites  of Walnut Creek, Concord, Pleasant Hill, Pinole, Vallejo, Benicia, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Martinez, Antioch, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon, Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore.