Day 30: Go Tiny or Go Home

We sure do like big things in this country, don’t we?

Big cars.

Big houses.

Big macs…

But, hidden among the bigness that spans our nation as far as the eye can see, there is a growing movement toward tinyTiny houses to be exact. They are multiplying like rabbits all across the nation. What could be the motivation behind this movement that seems to be so counter-intuitive in the land of Super Size Me?

This infographic, taken from www.thetinylife.com, does a great job of explaining it.

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From financial freedom to an escape from materialism, there are many draws to the tiny house lifestyle. Guess which city just happens to be the first in the nation to approve tiny homes on wheels as permanent residences?

Go on…take a guess. That’s right, FRESNO!

Well, folks, it looks like this movement is legit. And right here in our fair city is the leading west coast manufacturer of tiny homes, California Tiny House. Owned and operated by a father-son duo, Pat and Nick Mosely, California Tiny House custom builds your tiny dream house on wheels. You can park it in your own backyard and rent out your main house. You can buy some land on the outskirts and live in nature. You can travel across the country, staying in RV parks along your route. The road is your oyster in one of these babies. Like a turtle…wherever you go, your house goes with you.

I had the good fortune to tour the California Tiny House facility just this morning, and what a treat it was to actually walk around in tiny houses just like the ones you see on television shows such as FYI’s Tiny House Nation and HGTV’s Tiny House Builders. It was so cool! Pat and Nick gave a fact-filled presentation about all the awesome features of the tiny houses they build. They can pretty much do anything, as long as the design adheres to ANSI RV standards for safety. So, basically, you can contact these guys, tell them your dream tiny house features and they build it! Each build is entirely unique and customized to the customer’s wishes.

Photo Source: California Tiny House Build Photos

 

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Hey! I know that guy

 

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Photo Source:  Taken on-site by me at California Tiny House

Though tiny houses can vary in size, these mobile houses come in three size options:

8’6″ X 18′ (10,000lb trailer)  Starting price – $19.5 K  

8’6″ X 20’ (10,000lb trailer)  Starting price – $ 21.5 K 

¹8’6” X 24’ (12-14,000lb trailer with dropped axles)  Starting price – $ 28 K ¹

Pat and Nick said their most expensive build to date was just over $100k, but most average tiny houses cost $65k-$75k. There really is no upper limt to how incredible these houses can be. The price goes up from base on cost of materials and complexity of the build. The houses I saw today were two bedroom, one bathroom, with kitchenette and laundry. Every square inch is turned into usable space. Even the kitchen sink doubles as extra counter surface with the removable cutting board made to fit right over the basin! Isn’t it amazing to consider how much you can actually squeeze into ~300 sf when you put your mind to it? There are so many cool features to these houses that I could easily write another 1000 words on the topic. I will suggest, instead, visiting the California Tiny House website, Facebook, or Instagram to learn more.  I bet you could even get Nick or Pat on the phone to personally answer your questions as well!

I’d would love feedback. Talk to me about tiny houses. Could you live in one?

Cheers!

Erica

 

¹Source: http://www.californiatinyhouse.com/californiastarter/

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Day 29: A Tale of Two Condos

Every once in a while a great investment opportunity surfaces, and if you are looking at just the right time (or have a Realtor looking on your behalf), you might be able to grab one.  A couple of days ago, I received a lead about someone wanting to see a condo in South East Fresno.  I cringed a bit when I looked up the location, only because that part of town has a reputation for being a little rougher than most.  The condo complex is fairly close to Fresno Pacific University, though, so I figured it might be a nice mix of owners, long-term renters, and students in temporary housing while attending college.

Upon researching the listing, I discovered that there were actually a handful of units for sale in the complex. In anticipation of my client wanting to see a variety of investment options, I pulled detail sheets on all of them.  It never hurts to be over prepared! Since safety always comes first, I informed my husband and a couple of people in the office where I would be and headed out to meet my client.

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I really did not have high expectations for this condo, given its price point. Much to my surprise, the nicely landscaped grounds and well-maintained common areas were a welcome sight. There were two large swimming pools with spa, tennis courts, and a large green park for children to play. The location of the condo was tucked away from the center on a private corner lot with the backyard along Lane Ave. The inside also did not disappoint. It had been recently renovated with new carpet, paint, appliances, and custom tile in the bathroom. It also featured a recently built rustic raw wood mantle framing the fireplace. As an added bonus, there was an indoor laundry room, which is a huge improvement over standard apartment units with centralized laundry.

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Custom tile and mantle
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New kitchen appliances
“Lovely 2 BD. 1 BA. Ranchwood Condominium. Good investment whether to live in or to hold. This ground level home has been updated with fresh paint and newer appliances.Complex is gated at night and has many amenities to include 2 pools, club house, tennis, volleyball court, green area, covered parking and a lot of mature trees. 24 hour security. Central air & heat & washer and dryer. Walking distance to shopping, Fresno Pacific University, and public transportation. Why rent when you can own?”

Luckily for my client, the offer that had been made on the unit earlier in the day ended up falling through making it available to her, should she choose to make this her next investment property. I wish the tale ended there because she liked the condo a whole lot. So much so, that I got the impression we might submit an offer that night. Alas, the saga continued on to another unit in the complex. This is perfectly fine, of course, because it would be awful for a buyer to feel like she left something on the table. The other unit she wanted to see was occupied by a tenant and the listing indicated that a 24-hour notice was required before showing it. I figured it was worth a shot to see if we could see it that night since we were already there and all. Luckily again, we were able to get in!

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The floor plans of each were very comparable.  Both have a living room, kitchen, laundry room, and two bedrooms.  The main difference between the two is the second bathroom in #2 and wood laminate flooring, which gave it a very modern and sleek look. Condo 2 was near the pool and very much central within the complex, making it less private. Overall, I was quite impressed by the complex and both units.  I think either would make a good choice for income producing rental property. No decisions were made after the showings, but I have high hopes of putting one of these condos into escrow soon!

Cheers!

Erica

 

 

Day 28: How’s the Market?

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Real estate professionals are often asked the question “how’s the market?” In our current economy, the answer is a resounding it depends. As of the date of this post, in the Fresno/Clovis area, there are approximately 1,500 single family homes for sale. On average, a house listed for sale in our county will sell in 40 days.¹ The answer to “how’s the market” is that it depends entirely upon whether you are a buyer or a seller.

What that means in everyday language is that we are currently in a Seller’s Market. Houses are staying on the market fewer days and commanding a higher asking price to boot. This is awesome for anyone selling a house. It is highly likely that a seller would receive multiple offers and possibly even one for higher than the asking price. For buyers, on the other hand, writing an offer that will be accepted can be tricky. As a buyer in a fast moving market, where most sellers will receive competing offers, it is super important to keep in mind a few helpful hints.

If you heed these rules, you can score the house of your dreams…even in a seller’s market!

  • Shop during the week. Open houses are typically held on the weekends. This is also when most offers are made. If you can be flexible with your time and tour houses during the week, you may be able to get an offer in the seller’s hands before anyone else even sees the house.
  • Have a loan pre-approval letter from a local mortgage lender ready to submit with your offer. A seller will usually be more likely to accept an offer if they know you can easily and quickly remove the loan contingency. Working with a local lender means your loan representative can be highly responsive to requests for documentation and will be available in the same time zone.
  • Hand over a higher than normal deposit along with your offer. It shows you have considerable skin in the game and you’ll have to pony up the cash in escrow anyway. Writing a bigger check up front is like dangling a big juicy carrot in the seller’s face.
  • Don’t ask for any extras. It can be tempting to write up an offer that is loaded with wish list items. A portion of the closing costs, repairs-repairs-repairs, that 80″ flat screen tv you saw hanging above the mantle… Forget it. Be prepared to do the repair work on your own and pay for every penny of your closing costs. If a seller has two full price offers to consider, you better believe he will select the one that asks for the least amount of extra items and work.
  • Don’t lowball your offer. Look at houses in your comfortable price range and pay what they are asking. This isn’t the time to shop $30k over your loan pre-approval and submit a lowball offer with fingers crossed. It’s a bad strategy right now. In fact, it could be prudent to shop slightly below your maximum price and offer high!
  • Use a Realtor. Let a professional do the negotiating for you. Things are moving fast right now and your Realtor will be able to submit paperwork in the proper timelines and effectively communicate with the other parties on your behalf. You won’t gain anything but stress by going it alone. We are here to help, so please let us.

Now let’s get down to business and find your dream home! Seller’s market or not, there are tons of awesome houses out there and I know I can find the right one for you.

 

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Coventry Ave

 

“Beautifully maintained 2 story home on a spacious cul de sac lot. One bedroom with a bathroom is isolated downstairs. Loft area as a great bonus room. Spacious kitchen with a breakfast bar and eating area, opens to the family room, with a fireplace. Separate living room, formal dining room. Covered patio, shed, mature landscaping. 3 car garage with storage, shed. Unobstructed mountain views. Too many amenities to mention. Must see to appreciate!”

The house I visited for this post is in Clovis near Barstow and Temperance. It is a larger home with 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, loft, formal dining room, and a nice sized backyard. This was an open house, so even though it is still occupied by the owners, I had the opportunity to look around and take some pictures. You’ll see the occupant’s furniture and personal belongings in here, but try to picture it with your own sofa and bedroom set instead. Then let me know if you want to make this gorgeous house your next home.

Cheers!

Erica

¹Source: http://www.realtor.com/local/Fresno_CA

Day 26: Where do I start?

I spent time today with a young family trying to purchase their first home. We visited a beautiful home in Sunnyside that would be the perfect starter home for them. It is 100% to be expected that first-time homebuyers have lots of questions about navigating such an enormous purchase. These folks, however, truly did not seem prepared for what to expect. Naturally, that is where a real estate professional steps in to fill in the gaps left by some lenders who may not fully educate their clients, which I did. After much debate, this couple and their eight-week-old baby left to consider whether or not to make an offer on the house. I left as well, but with consideration of a much larger issue on my mind.

It is such a shame that any potential buyer should leave their lender’s office without a crystal clear picture of what they can do and what comes next. There are myriad moving parts in the game of real estate and just as many critical players. The lender, agent, escrow officer, buyer, and seller, to name a few, all have important roles to play to complete the deal. When one of the players does not fulfill his or her respective obligation, everything comes to a screeching halt. The deal I highlighted above stalled out at the lender phase. My buyers thought they understood what they could do, but ended up realizing that some questions had not been answered during the loan pre-approval process.

In an effort to reduce problems of this nature, many agents like to refer clients to a local lender with whom they have a solid professional relationship. I would like to introduce one such lender, Susan Campise of California Home Loans-Fresno. Susan is a seasoned mortgage consultant who consistently goes above and beyond to help Central Valley home buyers reach their real estate goals. If you are about to embark on a house search or if you simply want a local lender who will be responsive to your needs, Susan will go the distance to educate you every step of the way. There are lots of choices in lenders out there, but a referral from your trusted Realtor can ensure you are on the right track from pre-approval through getting the keys to your new home. Tell her I sent you!

Loan Checklist

Loan Document checklist

So, on to the house!

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“Clovis Schools!!! Perfect for first time home buyers recently remodeled and priced to sell, this house won’t last. Newer granite countertops and newer floor coverings throughout. This home is centered near shops and easily accessible to freeway. Spacious backyard with crystal clear pool ready for entertaining.”

This little gem is tucked away on a quiet street north-east of Kings Canyon Ave. and Fowler Ave. From the outside, it appears to be your average 1990’s tract home, but upon entering, I discovered that it has been completely remodeled and modernized. The kitchen has beautiful granite countertops and upgraded cabinetry. There currently isn’t a dishwasher or range/oven, but brand new ones will be installed prior to the close of escrow. The wood laminate flooring is a lovely knotty maple pattern that coordinates well with the freshly painted walls throughout and plush carpet in the bedrooms. The bathrooms were not forgotten during the upgrades with granite and cabinetry matching the kitchen. Despite being 25 years old, this house has a completely modern feel. The spacious backyard has a pergola patio cover and very clean in-ground swimming pool. There is still lots of yard remaining around the pool as well. Perfect for a family to play and lounge.

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I really hope my sweet little family from today decides to make an offer on this one.  It’s a great location and perfect size for a growing family.  With all of the updating, modern features, and an established backyard, it rivals new home construction in the area at a fraction of the price. I don’t expect this one to be available much longer at all.

Cheers!

Erica