Archive for the 'Real Estate Nuts and Bolts' Category

Granny Units in Auburn, California

said on May 7th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts, Water Wells, Septic Systems, Sewers, Electric Power

Put Granny in a pumpkin shell

And there you keep her, very well

Here, in bullet form, are the main rules for building a “granny” unit (or house, or flat) in Auburn, California, in fact, throughout Placer County, California.

Officially these units are known as  “secondary dwellings” and the rules are found in Placer County bulletin 17.56.200

The maximum floor area of the granny is based on the size of the lot:

less than 1 acre

  • 640 square feet

1 acre to 2.29 acres

  • 840 square feet

2.3 to 4.59 acres

  • 1,000 square feet

4.6 acres or more

  • 1,200 square feet

You can see that the maximum size for a granny is 1,200 square feet.  Period.  You can  put a granny unit  on a parcel smaller than 1 acre, but it must be attached to the primary unit or integrated within a detached accessory building, typically a garage.

The granny may be attached to garage as long as the granny has its own separate entrance.

You can add an additional 25% to the granny as a covered porch open on at least two sides.

The granny must be architecturally compatible with the primary residence.

Most grannies require two off-street parking spaces.

Either the primary property or the granny must be occupied by the owner of the property.  (Yeah, and how does anyone enforce this after the property has changed hands?  Deed restrictions, I guess, but probably not noticed unless a neighbor complains because both dwellings have been rented to “undesirables.”)

What is the main obstacle to adding a granny to an existing residence?  Poop.  That’s right, I said poop, or more specifically, getting rid of poop and other sewage which includes everything that you wash or flush down your drains.

If the property is already hooked up to a sewer line, you may find the permit process pretty easy.  Just tap into the existing line . . . and, of course, pay the county some more money, up front and on-going.

If the property is on it’s own septic system (septic tank, leach field and all that) you may have real problems.  In fact, you may be denied a permit.  Most of the time, homes are built with just enough septic capacity for the necessary original permit.  Such and such size septic tank, and such and so linear feet of leach line, plus enough approved space for a “repair field.”

Repair field?  This is suitable undeveloped space large enough to install another entire leach field if the original leach field fails.

If you add a granny, you are going to have to increase the capacity of the existing septic system, or (hold your breath) install an additional new septic system with it’s own tank, leach field and repair field.  This will require new percolation and mantle tests, a new septic system design, and installation.   Thousands of dollars.  How many thousands?  If you are very lucky, $10,000 to $12,000, but you better be ready to pay more.

Here’s the main point: 

If you are buying a home with the intent of adding a cozy little nest for granny, the very first thing you need to learn is whether you will be allowed to  obtain a septic/sewer permit for the second dwelling . . .  and how much that is going to cost you.  Learn this most vital fact before you close the transaction.





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Auburn Real Estate, First Quarter Comparisons, 2011 to 2012

said on May 5th, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Localism, Negotiating, Neighborhood Profiles, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Here is the analysis of Auburn, California real estate comparing the first quarter of 2011 with the first quarter of 2012.  For this study I have used only residential homes (one or two dwellings per parcel) and excluded raw land, commercial property, condominiums, and multi-units (duplexes, apartments, etc.).  I selected Auburn, Southwest of Auburn, Meadow Vista, and Christian Valley as the geographic areas for the comparison. I excluded the non-incorporated areas of Auburn that are north of the Bear River in Nevada County, thereby eliminating “South County” and Lake of the Pines.  The data was obtained from the Metrolist Multiple Listing Service.


Here is the lowest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2011.

This property near downtown Auburn on Electric Street was listed for $79,900 and sold for $69,900 after being on the market for 85 days.  It s0ld for 87% of the asking price.  At 665 square feet it sold for $105 per square foot.

Here is the highest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2011.

For the past couple of years, the priciest homes in the Auburn area have been located in the Winchester Country Club near Meadow Vista.  This home was put on the market at $1,387,500 then reduced to $1,245,000 and sold for $1,165,000.  It was on the market for 59 days and sold for 94% of the listing price.  At 4142 square feet it sold for $281 per square foot.


Here is the lowest priced house sold in the first quarter of 2012.

This property out on Mount Vernon Road  was listed for $59,900 and sold for $65,000 after being on the market for 25 days.  It s0ld for $5,100 above asking price.  At 1104 square feet it sold for $59 per square foot.

Here is the highest priced home sold in the first quarter of 2012.


As in the previous year, the priciest home in the Auburn area was located in the Winchester Country Club near Meadow Vista.  This home was put on the market at $899,900 and sold in 3 days for $900,000, a whopping $100 above asking price.  At 5288 square feet it sold for $170 per square foot



2011 number of houses sold     123

2012 number of houses sold     137

2011 average days on market     121

2012 average days on market     82

2011 average price per quare foot     $143

2012 average price per quare foot     $144

2011 %selling price/listing price     96.49%

2012 %selling price/listing price     97.18%

2011 average original price     $340,326

2012 average original price     $320,755

2011 average listing price     $309,455

2012 average listing price     $3o6,871

2011 average sale price     $298,610

2012 average sale price     $298,212

2011 median sale price     $259,500

2012 median sale price     $263,000



Houses sold a bit quicker in 2012 than in 2011, and a few more houses sold first quarter of this year than in 2011, but the cost of home buying was virtually unchanged.  You would have trouble finding a “flatter” market.  Inventory remains low, and lower-end houses priced at market value are snapped up quickly by first-time homebuyers and investors.  Interest rates have fallen even lower which makes houses more affordable, but lending requirements have tightened, knocking some marginally qualified buyers out of the market.




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How to Buy Your First Home in 18 Steps

said on May 4th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

If you have never bought a home, or if your purchase was a long time ago,  it would help you to look at the typical sequence of events.  I have devised this simple “bullet” list of 18 actions in the order that they usually occur in California:

Buyer Process

Meet with Your Agent to Set Goals and Strategy

Meet with Your Lender  to Get Pre-Approval Letter

Search for Homes

Make an Offer to Purchase

Negotiate the Terms

Accept the offer to Purchase

Deposit the Earnest Money (minimum 1% of Purchase Price)

Order the Appraisal (typically your lender does this on your behalf)

Conduct Inspections

Review all Disclosures from Seller and 3rd Party Agents

Request Repairs if appropriate

Obtain Insurance Commitment

Obtain Mortgage Commitment

Remove Contingencies

Review and Approve Settlement Calculations

Close on Property

Take Possession of Your New Home

Live Happily Ever After

In some states title insurance and escrow are handled in a different manner, in fact, in Southern California, title and escrow are different companies.  In some states lawyers handle matters relating to the transfer of title.  But, the list above is a logical and typical sequence for almost anywhere you buy a home.

If you go back to the top of the list, you see that the first item is to hire a real estate agent to guide you through this process.  There are lots of different opinions about hiring real estate agents.  “How to Hire a Real Estate Agent for Dummies,”  and so on.  Most agents have impressive presentations with lots of bells and whistles.  Whoo Hoo!  But if I had to zero in on one single quality you should look for when hiring an agent it would be this:

Hire a real estate agent who listens to you, really listens to you, deeply, with complete focus and concentration.

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FREE Real Estate Class: Selling Your Home

said on May 2nd, 2012 filed under: Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Bob Jenkins will be presenting a FREE real estate class at Generations Health Club, 22824 Industrial Place, just off West Hacienda near the Lake of the Pines, California main gate.  The class will feature a 40 minute lecture and a 20 minute Q&A session.

May 9, 2012 from 7-8 PM


Thieves welcome!  You will steal our trade secrets for selling your home at top dollar, quickly and with the least hassle.  Your will gain an insiders know-how for pricing your home, getting it ready, staging, marketing, showing it to best advantage, negotiating the price and terms, navigating escrow, and closing the transaction.  Topics will include:

  • How to NOT hire a real estate agent
  • How to NOT sell your house
  • Accurate pricing
  • Top five ways to prepare your home for less than $1,000
  • Top five ways to prepare your home for less than $5,000

Trade secrets to REALLY sell your house

Whether (or not) you are planning to buy or sell real estate very soon, or sometime far down the line, I bet you know someone who needs this valuable information right now.  Perhaps you need to sell and move closer to friends or loved ones?  Perhaps you have friends or loved ones you would like to move closer to you?  Perhaps it is time for you to buy or sell a second home or an investment property?

Contact us today to reserve your spot at 530-906-1023 or 530-906-4715.



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Cheap Homes in Auburn, California? Gone, Baby, Gone.

said on April 3rd, 2012 filed under: Auburn, Localism, Negotiating, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

If you were hoping to buy a ticket on the Cheap Home Cruise of Auburn, California, you may be left standing on the dock, because, baby, that ship is putting out to sea.

Four days ago, a “nice enough” little house came on the Auburn real estate market.  It was on the smallish side, about 1300 square feet.  The kitchen had to be redone because you couldn’t open the fridge door without it slamming into the range, nor open the back door without it slamming into the sink.  Totally dysfunctional.  Modest neighborhood, nothing special.  About the best you could say about this house was that it was “kind of cute” and “in pretty good condition.”

By the end of the second day, the listing agent had 28 offers.  TWENTY EIGHT offers.  So overwhelmed, the seller (a bank!) ordered him to put the house in “pending” status just to stop the feeding frenzy.  To the 28 hopeful buyers, the listing agent sent those dreaded words, “highest and best offer by 5PM today.”  No second chance.  Do or die.

My clients came back with an all-cash offer $5,000 above asking price.  We never stood a chance.  The final number won’t be known until escrow closes, but I have been able to learn, through the fine art of real estate espionage, that the winning offer was at least $75,000.  Above asking price.  Yes, you read that right, $75,000 ABOVE ASKING PRICE.

So what did you learn from this fiasco?

The real estate market, at least the market in Auburn, California, is changing rapidly.  No, that’s not quite right, the market has already shifted dramatically.  You are just learning about it now.


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Mold Mold Mold Mold Mold Mold

said on March 13th, 2012 filed under: Lake of the Pines, Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Mold.   The “M” word.  The four-letter word real estate agents are never to say, because we’re not experts, right?  We don’t really know it’s mold, do we?  There’s so much liability associated with mold, and we need to cover our ass, capiche?

But I’ll tell you about the best $385 I ever spent.  We’ll, my client actually spent it, but I talked him into it.  Here’s the story.

After several months of searching, and two failed offers, we finally found the perfect home for his multi-generational family.  He could afford it, and, most importantly, there was continue reading…

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How to NOT Sell Your Home

said on February 4th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts, Whimsy

Sixteen Ways to Make Sure
Your House Will NOT Sell

16. List it for more than its true value.

15. List it as a 4 bedroom instead of a 3. When the buyers get there… SURPRISE!  Only 3!

14. Put a tenant in it to make sure it has that “lived in look” and to assure that potential buyers feel as uncomfortable as possible when they come for a visit.

13. Make sure every flat surface is cluttered with little things.  If you run out of surface area, stuff the rest of the clutter inside your closets and cabinets.

12. Leave your dog to run loose during showings.

11. Make it as difficult as possible for the buyers’ agent to show the property by requiring an “appointment with the owner” or “48 hours advance notice.”

10. Stay home, follow the buyers around, tell them all the reasons you love living there.

9. Stay home, follow the buyers around, tell them all the reasons you hate living there.

8. Stay home, follow the buyers around, ask them to “please excuse the mess.”  Go on to explain just how hard it is to remove all of the black mold and dry rot, but you’re almost there.

7. Stay home for the showing, put on your helmet made out of tin foil, and sit on the couch and stare at the TV the entire time without moving or blinking.

6. Demonstrate that you are environmentally sensitive and frugal as well.  Turn OFF all the lights, close the blinds, and draw the curtains.  Really dark curtains are best.

5. Do NOT  have your windows cleaned.  Clean, sparkling windows let in too much light.

4. Boil a few dozen eggs so the entire house smells like farts.  Frying fish is an acceptable substitute.  In fact, any strong and obnoxious smell is helpful.  The best smell?  Pet odor.  Make sure your cat’s litter box is in plain sight and never empty it. Do NOT wash your dog.

3. Leave a note on the table that says to be careful in bedroom 3, but don’t leave a reason why.

2. Have your friends or your kids hide in the closets and SCREAM each time a buyer opens the closet door.

1. Draw three chalk outlines of bodies on the living room carpet. Use police crime scene tape to seal off the room.


(Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are jokes.  Also number 7, I hope.  Thanks to the Christiansen Team from Fort Wayne Indiana for the idea and for several of the actual items on this list.)

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LOW Downpayment and NO Downpayment Loans

said on January 19th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts, VA Loans

Do LOW downpayment and NO downpayment loans still exist?


Here are five types of loans, especially useful to (a) first-time buyers and (b) buyers who are planning to occupy the home.  Typically, these loans are not for investors, speculators, and “second home” purchasers.  Let’s base our comparison on a $250,000 purchase at 4% interest on a 30 year fixed rate loan.

1.   USDA loans.  No money down.  Say what?  No money down!  But there’s a catch.  You knew that didn’t you?  USDA loan are available to purchase properties in “rural” areas.  That works just fine for CJ and me because almost every home in our bucolic Nevada County qualifies for USDA loans.  And get this, the seller can pay continue reading…

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5 Reasons We Don’t Put Flyers Outside Your Home

said on January 17th, 2012 filed under: Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Actually, we will put flyers outside if you, the sellers, insist.  We don’t want to argue with you.

But . . . in a January, 2012 internet review of this topic by 90 professional realtors from around the country, the overwhelming majority of them discouraged the use
of outside flyers.  Here are the five main reasons:

1.            It’s a waste of paper and resources

2.            Outside flyers never really sell a house

3.            Kids, nosey neighbors, and looky-loos take them

4.            They generate litter

5.            Most important, flyers actually provide a means by which buyers disqualify the home without ever coming inside to see how exceptional your home is, even if it doesn’t exactly fit   their pre-conceived criteria, notions which they might be compelled to change once they saw the beauty of your place.

If we do use outside flyers:

We will advertise our other listings on the reverse side.  If the other listings are similar to your property, that’s even better.  This tactic may sound counter-intuitive, because, at first glance, it seems like we are diverting attention away from your house and toward other houses the potential buyer might like more than yours.  If one of the other houses, however, more closely fits the potential buyer, they are going to disqualify your house anyway.  So what’s the benefit to you?  Those other houses have your house advertised on the reverse side of their flyer!  Your house is being exposed, on different properties, to real buyers looking for a home in your area.

We will use QR codes, 24/7 Hotlines, SMS text links, or URLS to direct potential buyers to the detailed information they need.  What detailed information will they most want
to see?  The price, of course!  It’s not on the flyer.  When they access your information we will also capture their phone number or email address so we can call them back and follow up.

Like magic.

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The 4 Hidden and the 4 Normal Costs of Closing a REAL Estate Transaction

said on November 25th, 2011 filed under: Negotiating, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

When you are trying to complete a real estate transaction, you should anticipate 4 hidden expenses that are not “normal” closing costs. Normal closing costs means the money you actually bring to the closing table in order to conclude your purchase.  The 4 additional hidden expenses are:

  • moving costs
  • fix-up costs
  • pre-paid property taxes
  • pre-paid insurance premiums

One way or another, you are going to have to whip out your checkbook, or call Uncle Bob, one more time, for some extra dough.  These hidden expenses are going to fall on you like continue reading…

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