Author Archive

Mold, Oh Mold, Oh Crazy Mold

said on May 22nd, 2013 filed under: Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

MOLD 101

Mold is everywhere.  It’s in every breath you take and in every breath you will take for the rest of your life.  Mold is in every house you have ever lived in or will live in.  There will always be mold spores floating around your home.  How did they get there?  You brought them in, on your shoes, your clothes, your hair, your food. They blew in on that delightful fresh breeze through your open window.

When should you be alarmed about mold in your house?

  • If it is present at extremely high levels.
  •  If you or the members of your household are ultra sensitive or hyper allergic to it.
  •  If it is a species of dangerous mold.

Dangerous mold.  There are a couple of dangerous molds, but they are surprisingly rare.  I have only come across one verified instance in my real estate career.  I am talking about the dreaded stachybotrys, or misleading “black mold.”  I say misleading because most species of mold are black.

Where does dangerous mold grow?  A warm place where there is a continuous supply of moisture, a dripping pipe inside a wall, or a low spot under a house where water accumulates and stays there all year round, the attic where an unconnected bathroom exhaust pumps hot, wet air every day.

When should you have a test performed to determine the mold levels in your house?

  • Test when an expert tells you to test.  I am not an expert.
  • Test when you see or smell suspicious black stuff.

Who do you call?  You call a professional environmental testing company, and my preference is to call one that does NOT bid on the remediation of their own findings, and which does not recommend a remediation crew.  No conflicts of interest.

What does the testing company do?  Their main tests compare two or more air samples.  They take an air sample from outdoors near the house to set a baseline for the immediate environment.  Then they take one or more air samples inside the house for comparison.  The outside sample and the inside sample(s) should be similar.  If “suspicious stuff” has been pointed out, they may also take a physical swab for identification.

Air samples and physical samples go back to a lab for analysis.  A rather lengthy report is generated that usually includes:

  • descriptions and levels of the fungal species present
  • the testing company’s recommendation for remediation protocols.

If remediation is recommended, the testing company will return (at additional cost) to re-test.

How much does the testing cost?  Here in northern California, the environmental testing company I use charges $200 for the visit plus $100 for each sample, of which there are a minimum of two.  If you want to add the basement, another $100.  The attic?  Another $100.  Two swabs?  $200 more dollars.

You will spend $400 for the simplest two-sample procedure that answers two questions:

  • Is there too much mold in the air of my house compared to established norms?
  • What kind of mold is it?

The testing procedure is surprisingly quick.  I can usually get the Sacramento-based inspector out within 48 hours, get a verbal report on the phone the next day, and the writing report from the lab on the following day.

OK, students.  There is going to be a test. Put away your blogs and websites.  Take out a piece of real paper and a pencil.  STOP!  DON’T CHEW ON THAT PENCIL!  DON’T YOU KNOW THERE’S MOLD ON THAT PENCIL?

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Upcoming Local Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca ~ Larry Diehl & Friends Acoustic Concert

said on May 20th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Cultural Events, Lake of the Pines, Localism

Another Upcoming Local Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca ~ Larry Diehl & Friends Acoustic Concert is coming May 31, 2013 at 7:30 p.m.

This event will take place at the Auburn Placer Performing Arts Center at the State Theatre. continue reading…

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Buyer, Thou Shall Not . . .

said on May 15th, 2013 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

There are 5 Absolute Do Not’s When Purchasing A House. The 5 Absolute Do Not’s When Purchasing A House below are so important that anyone one of them can easily bring a Loan Approval and Closing to a screeching halt. The 5 Absolute Do Not’s When Purchasing A House are:

  • DO NOT go out and buy a new car, or furniture or ANY other large purchase. The new payment could disqualify you from being able to qualify for the mortgage.
  • DO NOT stop making payments on your bills such as credit cards, student loans, car payments, rent, utilities, etc.
  • DO NOT apply for new credit cards while your mortgage is being approved. This could lower your credit score, and if your credit is checked again before the Closing you may no longer qualify.
  • DO NOT make large deposits or withdrawals that you cannot document.
  • DO NOT quit your job, even if it is for a better one. A change in jobs will mean that you will have to produce 30 days      worth of paystubs for the new job, and this could delay your Closing.

When purchasing a home, if there is ANY doubt on whether to do something or not, CALL your Loan Originator and ASK. The few minutes that it takes to make a quick simple phone call, could save hours of delays and problems later on . . .

or worse . . .

the mortgage being denied.

(This article is slightly shortened form is re-blogged from an ActiveRain post by George Suoto.  Here is the link to his original article.)

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Upcoming Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca. ~ Auburn Spring Home Show

said on May 15th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Gardening, Lake of the Pines, Localism

Upcoming Event Near Lake of the Pines, Auburn Ca. ~ Auburn Spring Home Show is coming this weekend May 17th – 19th 2013. This event takes place at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. continue reading…

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Why I Love Lake of the Pines

said on May 13th, 2013 filed under: Lake of the Pines


Thanks to my Pal Cheryl Taylor Tune for this exquisite photo from her deck.  My house is just across the lake, down that quiet cove you see in the distance.  People ask me, “what’s the best thing about living on the lake?”  My answer, “it gives me peace of mind.”

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Selling Homes at Lake of the Pines, CA

said on May 12th, 2013 filed under: Lake of the Pines

Selling a home at Lake of the Pines, CA.

LSS John



How sweet it is!  Ralph and Alice Cramden celebrate the sale of their home on Lakeshore South.  (No, it’s not really, Ralph and Alice from the Honeymooners.  It’s John and Ginger Dickey on their way to a new adventure nearer their family.)

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Rent It or Flip It?

said on May 9th, 2013 filed under: Localism

Rent it or flip it?

Last year the answer to this investor question was simple.  Rent itMy investor clients would buy cheap foreclosures, fix them up a bit, and rent them for 10+% cash-on-cash return.

This year the small investor environment has changed Prices have gone up; those cheap “fixers” have mostly disappeared.  We can still find properties that return a more modest 5%-7% but now, because home prices are rising and the inventory is low, you should be looking at the advantages of taking short-term profits by buying, fixing, and re-selling as soon as possible.

What should you consider as you make the decision, rent it or flip it?

  • Short-term profits vs. long-term profits
  • Risk of a market downturn if we hold and rent
  • Tax consequences of each strategy (a topic unto itself)
  • Holding costs during remodel
  • Landlord skills vs. remodel skills
  • Fun.  Yes, fun.  Which is more fun?
  • Use of profit.

What does that mean?  Use of profit.  Suppose you decide to flip the property, and after all costs (buying, holding, remodeling, selling, taxes), you net a modest $35,000 on a little ranch home flip.   I give you a check for $35,000.  After taxes.  Net.  Profit.  $35,000.  So what?  What are you going to do with it?

  • Pay bills?
  • Buy another “flipper” and do it again?
  • Put it in the bank? (No!)
  • Go to Bali for 6 months (My vote!)


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Lake of the Pines Custom Home for Sale

said on May 7th, 2013 filed under: Lake of the Pines, Localism

Lake of the Pines custom home for sale.

Woodhaven front black 1 small

This one is a rarity for the gated northern California community– a newer-built home.



Completed in 2005, this lovely custom home is on the quiet end of the best street at Lake of the Pines, Woodhaven Place.  How can I call it “the best street?”  Well. this is my blog so I can do whatever I want, but that bit of snippery aside, Woodhaven Place really is pretty, quiet, and with little traffic.  It’s one of those lollipop streets, a short stick with a loop at the end.  This home is on the loop.  Some of the coolest people live on Woodhaven.  CJ and me, for example.

lvg room7

This home is a perfect blend of beauty and function with a superior floorplan and no wasted space. Not too big, not too small.  The master and convenient office are both on the main floor with no steps from the driveway or garage.


The modern kitchen is designed for someone who loves to cook.


Modern bathroom.

master bath4

The great room features doors to the balcony, fireplace, and high ceilings.


Downstairs has 2 bedrooms & full bath.

lvg room

New fixtures, fans, lights and built-in bookcases throughout.


This is an exceptional property in an extraordinary location.

How much?  I knew you were going to ask that.


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Lake of the Pines High School – Auburn, Ca Bear River High

said on May 6th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Lake of the Pines, Localism, Neighborhood Profiles, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Lake of the Pines High School – Auburn, Ca Bear River High School is located near the community of Lake of the Pines at 11130 Magnolia Road Grass Valley, CA 95949 (530) 268-3700. continue reading…

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Sara Watkins in Grass Valley, CA

said on May 3rd, 2013 filed under: Cultural Events, Grass Valley, Localism

Sara Watkins will perform in Grass valley at the Center for the Arts on Saturday, May 11.


I have my tickets!  Do you have yours?  Still some left when I bought mine today.

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