I Am Honored To Receive This Award

I am honored to receive the Better Homes and Gardens/Reliance Partners Platinum Award for the 2022 calendar year. This means I was one of our top producers and had a successful year selling homes, all thanks to my clients, referrals, and some hard work.

This week, I attended the awards lunch and had a great time with all my amazing colleagues. None of this would be possible without you – my wonderful clients! Thank you for entrusting your homes (and home searches) to me. Here’s to many more years of success!

Before & After: 2227 La Salle

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a house that had just been listed (and then quickly went pending) in Walnut Creek. I wanted to show you all how amazing (and quickly) we made some updates and why it helped maximize their home’s value when they decided to sell. We had about four weeks to get all the work done.

The seller was out of town for two weeks, so I coordinated the entire project – my background in project management came in handy. We painted the interior and patched and painted parts of the exterior, painted the kitchen and put in new handles and fixtures throughout, new flooring and placement of lights in the bathrooms, and spruced up the yard. About $20k was spent on getting the home ready and really most of it was deferred updating as it was pretty much the same as when he bought it in 2011.

Here are the side-by-side pictures of 2227 La Salle in Walnut Creek, before and after renovation:

As you can see, with a bit of paint, effort, and new fixtures, the space was completely transformed. The previous owners remodeled the kitchen and we just modernized it a bit, even minor touch-ups made a huge difference.

It’s really amazing what a nice, light paint color, new lighting, and some modern fixtures can do to a home. Not to mention some excellent staging for the photos! The seller definitely put money and intention into renovating before selling and the transformation was well worth it! We went into contract 6 days after listing. If you want somebody to manage the process of getting your home ready to sell, give me a call at (925) 899-7123.

Just Listed & Now Pending: 2227 La Salle Dr. in Walnut Creek

Only seven days on the market, and this 4-bedroom, 2-bathroom, 1,888-square foot, single-story home in the desirable Carriage Square neighborhood just went pending! Built in 1963 with a current refresh, this home is ideally located, just a few minutes from the Highway 680 entrance and BART, and minutes to Bancroft Elementary School.

You can also walk to the Countrywood Shopping Center easily from this location – the convenience is really unbeatable! The home boasts an open and inviting floor plan flowing seamlessly from the eat-in kitchen to the spacious family room. Upgrades include dual-pane windows, granite countertops, and hardwood floors.

The bedrooms are large and have ample closet space, offering plenty of room for storage. The interior and exterior have both been freshly painted and the bathrooms have new fixtures and LTV flooring. But wait…there’s more! The backyard offers a fantastic space to enjoy summer evenings with its spacious patio.

All in all, you can’t beat the combination of location, tasteful upgrades, and warm and inviting atmosphere this home offers. It is the perfect place to call home.

A New Listing In Concord (That Went Pending Today) – 1 Week On The Market With 9 Offers!

This exquisite Seven Oaks property is a splendid single-story rancher, nestled at the end of a peaceful court, surrounded by the verdant hills of Mount Diablo. Boasting an open floor plan with 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, this home is a gem!

As you step into the spacious entryway, you are greeted by an inviting ambiance that draws you in. The living room, with its vaulted wood-beamed ceiling, exudes warmth and character. The home features hardwood floors and fresh paint on the interior walls, while the living room and bedrooms are adorned with new carpeting.

The primary bedroom suite is a true haven, offering ample space and comfort. The sliding glass door opens to the backyard, creating a seamless connection with nature. The remodeled bathroom features modern amenities and fixtures that add to the comfort of the home.

The formal dining area adds a touch of sophistication. The kitchen/family room combo is perfect for entertaining guests, with easy access to the wrap-around deck, pool with waterfalls, spa, and a cozy fire pit. The drought-resistant landscaping adds to the overall charm of this serene setting, creating an idyllic retreat that you will be proud to call home.

Just Sold: 433 Sutcliffe Place

The buyers at 433 Sutcliffe Place were renting just three doors away, and now they’re moving into a dream home! One of the buyers is from Scotland and the other is from Singapore, so the buying process can be a bit scary in a new country. I’m so glad it worked out for them. We had 5 offers and it sold for $1,800,000. However 2 of the offers were at $1,825,000, but the sellers took this offer because I happened to meet them at the open house and wrote an offer for them, reducing the commission 1%.

It is a meticulously-kept traditional home in Northgate with a formal living room, vaulted wood ceilings, and a dining area with a large, light-filled window. An eat-in kitchen was updated in 2006 and is located next to the family room with French doors out to the back patio. Speaking of the backyard, it comes complete with a putting green, refinished pool, pond with waterfall, and patio seating (all in the backdrop of Mt. Diablo!).

Nice extra perks include a built-in gas grill in the backyard (natural gas is piped in), a new gas stove in the kitchen, owned solar, and a large potting shed with electricity in the side yard. Downstairs boasts one bedroom and a full bath while upstairs has four bedrooms, a spacious primary bathroom, and a walk-in closet. It is the perfect home for entertaining!

The buyers got this immaculate home from sellers who had lived there for more than 45 years. The owners were very handy, so the place looks amazing and no repairs were needed. The sellers downsized to a new single-story construction in Martinez to be closer to their grown kids and grandchildren.

Does Size Matter? How Homes Have Changed

Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending posted a blog recently about how home sizes have changed over the years, and I found a lot of the information interesting. See a short recap below, with my thoughts at the end!

In 1974, the median home price was around $36,000; today it is around $467,000. So, the median home price is almost 13 times higher than in 1974 – which is a bit disconcerting, granted, as home prices have outpaced inflation. BUT, homes have also increased in size by an average of well over 60%.

Here are two articles illuminating this:

  1. American Homes Have Changed Much Over the Years
  2. Average Size of U.S. Home Decade by Decade

Both articles are a bit dated, but they beautifully illustrate the growth trend, and houses have only grown larger since the articles were written. And size alone does not begin to account for how much nicer houses are in general nowadays with better windows, appliances, insulation, layouts, storage, and construction materials in general.

So, when we account for the massive increase in size and quality of homes they are probably right on par with inflation, and probably not much to worry about either.

Kristin’s take: Homes have become a central part of our lives. We work from home. Our kids have play dates here, instead of going out into the fields to play as I did as a child. Parents want space to entertain. Our homes have become more than just where we eat and sleep – they are truly spaces in which we live!

I also wanted to point out in the first link above (American Homes Have Changed Much Over the Years), that it’s really interesting to see the evolution of which colors of appliances are popular. For example, in the 50s, it was canary yellow and petal pink. In the 70s, it migrated to avocado and harvest gold. The 80s and 90s saw shades (almond, beige, black), before giving way to stainless steel as we know and love it now!

My Bathroom Remodel!

You could have probably guessed that, as a realtor, I take pride in my own home! I recently had one of my bathrooms renovated and I can’t help but share the results with you. I am so thrilled about how it turned out! Check out some “before” pictures here:

And the “after” video here:

This was done by Wolf Construction, it took about two weeks. I hired for 1 hour one of my stagers designers who has an Architecture degree from Cal. She recommended and sourced some fixtures and move the shower, I had been trying to configure it differently, but did not think about putting it where the window was. I slapped my hand to my head because I have seen so many homes with a shower and a window. My home is on a slab so they had dig into the slap to change the drains into the sewer for the shower and toilet. Of course this add another $3000 more to my budget, but I am so happy I did. The old bathroom was that way since we bought it in 1999, I painted it a bright yellow because it was so depressing. I had sourced and purchased the materials from General Plumbing, Granite Expo for the vanity, Floor Decor for all the tile and Wayfair. The mirror was a Christmas gift from my friend Veronica. It ended up being about $8k more than anticipated. The glass shower from Valley Glass on Boulevard was double what it would have been a year before, but still cheaper by a couple $1000 than other competitors. Overall I am very happy, if you need any referrals or information give me a call 925.899.7123. Next project Kitchen, just need to save some money!

March Market Update

Watch the video below to get a Better Homes and Gardens monthly market update for March 2023!

I update my website with them each month with Concord, Martinez and Walnut Creek. Just go to Kristinlanham.com click on Walnut Creek Lifestyle Blogs and then videos. The market overall is heating up with multiple offers. Prices are still down from 2022, however we have very little inventory. The last couple of offers I have written each had 4 offers and went over asking. Give me a call if you want to chat about the market!

The Fed Does NOT Control Interest Rates

Take a look at this blog from Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending. It’s an interesting discussion about the Fed, interest rates, and how they both affect the housing market. I’ve added my two cents at the end, like usual!

The Fed raised “rates” last year at the fastest pace in history! There were 7 “rate” increases in total:

  • 0.25% in March
  • 0.50% in May
  • 0.75% in June
  • 0.75% in July
  • 0.75% in September
  • 0.75% in November
  • 0.50% in December
  • 0.25% in February

But, despite increases totaling 1.25% over November and December, 30-year mortgage rates fell almost 1.5% since January. You can see that the same thing happened in July; 30-year mortgage rates fell sharply after the large 0.75% increase in the Fed Funds Rate. Rates fell recently, not only in the face of two large increases in the Fed Funds Rate but also in the face of a lot of Fed bluster about more rate increases to come. So why, since February, have rates now increased again, you ask? They rose largely in response to strong retail sales and employment data, and the Fed’s comments in regard to that data.

As a reminder, the Fed primarily influences the short end of the yield curve, as it only controls the “Fed Funds Rate” or the overnight rate that banks charge each other to meet reserve requirements.

Long-term rates like the 10 Year Treasury and 30-year fixed-rate mortgages often move independently of the Fed, no matter what the Fed says or does. The 10-Year Treasury, for example, dropped as low as 3.37% today after hitting a high of 4.25% in October. And, as I mentioned above, mortgage rates have dropped almost 1.5% since October.

This is despite all of the predictions we saw and heard last year about mortgage rates hitting 8% to 10% this year. All of those people were listening to the Fed and NOT listening to people like Barry Habib and Jeff Snider who follow the data instead of the bluster. Mortgage rates respond to other factors, such as inflation and economic outlooks.

If inflation is coming down and the economy seems to be weakening, long-term rates will usually fall – irrespective of the Fed’s bluster. We all might all be wise to listen to the data guys and not to the Fed watchers. And, once again, the data guys, who have been correct all along, are predicting more rate decreases to come. Barry Habib in particular is now telling us that May 10th will be the “big day” – when we see a major drop in rates because of the way inflation data and year-over-year comparisons are shaking out.

KRISTIN’S TAKE: How I see this affecting buyers and sellers:

Sellers, you have lost equity from 2022, but overall values are higher than 2021. Price your open for today’s values, not last year’s. Houses that are priced accurately and are move-in ready, show well and are getting multiple offers. It may still sell close to list price, but it isn’t sitting for months and ultimately selling for less.

Buyers, consider a 2/1 rate buy-down paid by the seller to get you into the home with a lower rate for the next two years. If you believe rates will fall, then you can refinance; most lenders are offering 2-3 year free refi. If you wait until the rates go down, we will be back to multiple offers with no contingencies. I just spoke with an agent in Fremont who had a 1322 sq, ft home in a nice neighborhood price around $1.2M, it was remodeled, not a flip but had $8k+ of section 1 and some plumbing repairs. She had 60 offers and it was going in the $1.5M range. We still have a housing shortage.

975 Bluebell in Livermore

This townhome (built recently, in 2016) enticed my clients, Brian & Hae, to make an offer. They moved from the East Coast last year and got caught up in the crazy late 2021/early 2022 storm when multiple offers were the norm and prices were always going up. At that time, they ended up renting.

The price of this townhome was originally listed at $899,950 and proceeded to be marked down to $799,950 over the next 52 days. The sellers had bought it the previous year but decided to relocate to Elk Grove. We ended up offering $815,000 with a credit of $15,000 for a 2-1 rate buy-down. 

This was the discussion we had around buying: December was a great time to buy because there was no competition and I expected buyers to come out in January (since rates had decreased from the October high). Many lenders and economists anticipate a recession that will cause rates to drop more. If rates continue to decline, the likelihood of multiple offers increases. These buyers were savvy; they got into a home at a good time, did the buy-down for two years, and if rates go down during that time, they can refinance and not have to compete to get into a home. 

In January, we have already seen a huge uptick in mortgage applications. We still have a housing shortage and are starting to see multiple offers on well-priced homes and even 14-day closes. You can never time the market perfectly, and owning a home over time will always trump paying somebody else’s mortgage. 

Also, it’s important to listen to your agent, especially seasoned ones who pay attention to the market and have seen an array of ups and downs. Sometimes we really do know what we are talking about!