RE Money Magnifier

Value: Renovations, Improvements, and Appreciation

RE Money Magnifier

Many things can add value to a property. Most of these have something to do with improving or renovating the property in some way. However, a property can also increase in value due to appreciation, which is attributable to the improvements in the current real estate market conditions compared to conditions at the time of purchase. And all of these are different from the amount of value that the actual owner has in the property based on how much equity they have, but that’s a topic for another day.

handymanTaking care of deferred maintenance issues can add value to a home because those are items that the next owner will not need to take care of immediately or prior to being able to use the property. These can be expensive items such as roof or plumbing leaks, pest damage to support structures or decking, electrical wiring and fuse replacement in older homes, or they can be routine things such as replacement of smoke detectors to the new standard of 10 year battery life, installation of carbon monoxide detectors, landscape maintenance, or a coat of paint.Painter cartoon

If your home has no deferred maintenance issues, the next items a homeowner with an eye to improve their home’s value will want to address are renovations.  Homes older than 20 years are going to have been built with the latest styles of kitchen and bathroom design of their day, and by now those items are starting to look dated (or even antiquated).  Remodeling an outmoded layout in order to change room size and shape, as well as replacing cabinetry and/or appliances (the most common renovations), tubs and toilets, flooring and countertops, can add value to a home by bringing it into the new age; freshening and brightening its face and doing away with items that have become functionally obsolete or just outright eyesores.

Improvements are items added to the property since its purchase by the current owner to improve his or her enjoyment of it, or specifically to increase its value.  These include additions and upgrades. Adding appliances such as dishwashers, trash compactors, garbage disposals, ceiling fans or air conditioners where none existed previously; installing pools, home theater systems, water purification systems, grey water systems,
solar imagesolar panels, home control and security systems, backup generators, or upgrading driveways, landscaping, and windows will all add value and bring the home into the new millennium with finesse.

Finally, a home’s value can increase due to appreciation, as I mentioned before. This occurs when the market improves after you have purchased your home and the value of your home  goes up because all other comparable homes on the market are now selling for a higher price than when you purchased your property.

Great Mobile Home on it’s Own Land!

Make an appointment to see this gem today!

3715 Cedar Vista Drive, Murphys

3 Bedroom, 2 Bathroom – 1440 Square Feet on .42 Acres

Listed at $114,500

Get away from it all – just a few short miles from town!

3715 Cedar Vista Overhead Pic This home sits at the top of the street on a cul-de-sac in a peaceful neighborhood full of birdsong.HPIM8976

 Front and back decks are both covered.

HPIM8924 HPIM8917

HPIM8926Built-in cabinets in the dining area.



All 3 bedrooms have full closets. HPIM8942

HPIM8946 HPIM8947

Front bedroom has access to the living room, hall, and the front deck via a sliding door. HPIM8951


180 sq ft detached shop has power and a paved walkway from the house.

Additional 120 sq ft storage room attached to shop. HPIM8965
Covered Carport with room for two!


Scan this code with your smartphone for more information!3715 Cedar Vista QR Code

Manufactured, Mobile Home, or Stick-Built?

A lot of folks are confused about the difference between manufactured homes, mobile homes and stick-built homes.  Most of the differences have to do with the way these units are built: was it built on-site or prefabricated in a manufacturing plant and trucked to the building site?  Is it mounted on posts and piers, or is it affixed to a foundation?  Is it considered a house or a vehicle?  But some of the other differences can affect one’s ability to get a loan on the property, and others can prevent it altogether.

Here’s the simple explanation:


A stick-built home will appreciate over time.  It is built on-site, on a solid foundation (concrete slab or perimeter), and is considered a house.



Mobile HomeA mobile home is more of a “disposable” home (don’t be discouraged by that term, though, I’m talking decades here!), and is considered a vehicle, therefore it must be registered, and will depreciate as it ages.  They are constructed in their entirety off-site, trucked to their new location, and stabilized when they arrive.  Double-wide and larger mobile homes are affixed together at the new site, but other than that all sizes of these homes are completely constructed when they arrive, down to the flooring, siding, and rain gutters.  Generally they are mounted on posts and piers, although some are supported by other types of footing, brace and plate systems, and most have flat roofs.  Many counties throughout California do not allow mobile homes to be placed on just any property, however – these counties require mobile homes be contained in parks.  Calaveras County is fortunately not one of these, although there are a few mobile home parks located throughout the county, some for those residents who are 55 years old or older only, many of these type homes have been erected on acreages on their own here.  The chief plus on the side of mobile homes is that they tend to cost much less than their counterparts.



Manufactured HomeManufactured, or modular, homes are constructed off-site in sections and pieces, trucked to the construction site, and put together there.  They are still considered mobile homes as far as most lenders are concerned, but are permanent once constructed, unlike mobile homes which could conceivably be trucked to another location after being secured to an initial plot of land.  Manufactured homes are usually mounted to a regular foundation, such as a slab or concrete perimeter with a crawlspace or even a full basement.  These homes usually make premium use of the space provided by their square footage, with very user-friendly layouts and ample storage.  And their shelf life is considerably longer than traditional mobile homes because they tend to be constructed of higher quality materials.  Unfortunately, although they don’t depreciate at a head-spinning rate, they also don’t hold their value as well as a stick-built home, and they are hard to find loans for at this point in time.  Also, if there have been changes or additions made to the layout of the building after construction is finaled, be prepared to spend a lot of time looking for a lender willing to work with that particular property.

We’ve Got Rain!


Well it’s about time Old Man Winter came to visit!  We were seriously starting to take measures to ensure that our well didn’t run dry, as several have in Calaveras County lately.  The creek that runs through the north end of our property, a tributary of the Jesus Maria Creek, had been bone dry for almost 2/3rds of a year and we were starting to think that all the work our neighbor had done to improve the runoff of water on his property had been an exercise in futility.  Why create diversions and install giant French drains and culverts when there wasn’t any water to divert?  But now all that hard work has paid off for him, and we can relax about our well for a while.

We have some great local events coming up this week that will entertain you and delight your senses.  This Wednesday, February 12th, at 11am, Camps Restaurant in Angels Camp will host “88 Days… The Story of Mark Twain in the Mother Lode”.  This free event will hopefully inform and entertain folks about the life and times of famous author Samuel Clemens, who wrote “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”.

And then the next day, Thursday, February 13th, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, Murphys Historic Hotel will be hosting Wines of the World, with a chocolate and Port tasting being the focus of the evening.  There is a fee of $15/person for CWA members and $25/person for the general public.  Guests are welcome to dine in the hotel afterwards and will receive a $5 discount on their entrées if they do!

This Friday is Valentines Day, and there are lots of activities to participate in to celebrate the special day.  The Angels Camp Museum is having Love Fridays all month long, this week’s presentation will discuss “Love History (President Polk and the Gold Rush)”, and if you call ahead, they will have a brown bag lunch waiting for you at 1:00 pm when you arrive.  The cost is $12 for one presentation, or $45 if you decide to attend all four.  Zucca Wine Bar, Alchemy Market and Café, and Victoria Inn, all in Murphys, are having live music in the evening to entertain their diners, and Angels Camp Mercantile and Café is hosting a karaoke open mic night from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm.  The Hotel Leger in Mokelumne Hill is offering a special 6 course dinner with wine pairings for $85/couple, with seatings at 6:00 pm and 8:00 pm and is having an open mic night in the Whitewater Saloon starting at 9:00 pm.  And finally, Valley Springs will be celebrating the occasion with a family-oriented Valentine’s Day dance from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm, hosted by the Cowgirl Up Ranch at the Veterans Hall at 189 Pine Street in Valley Springs.  The cost is $10/person while students and youngsters 6 and under get in for free!

So if you happen to find yourself up in the Calaveras foothills this week, I hope you get the chance to attend one or more of these activities and that you have a wonderful, enjoyable, love-filled Valentine’s Day week!

Happy New Year!

Winter Sierras

Happy New Year from the Sierra Foothills!!!

I hope that 2014 finds you all in good health and hopeful demeanor!  Things are looking decent still on the real estate front; perhaps it’s not quite the picture of health, but it’s definitely of hopeful demeanor.  Mortgage interest rates are still creeping up, as are property values, and to hopefully curtail the increase in monthly payments that will develop as a result, the Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMs) are slowly increasing in popularity again, albeit with more limitations and regulations than their predecessors (which tended to allow payments of less than interest-only in some cases for a period of time before exploding into payments most folks couldn’t afford).  The coming year is going to see looser lending standards than those caused by the housing bubble in the past several years, so this type of loan is going to keep increasing in popularity as folks suffer from sticker shock when they realize their monthly payments could be hundreds of dollars more than they’d have been if they had bought this house a few months ago.

As far as the Sierra Foothills are concerned, there are currently about 360 homes for sale in Calaveras County and about the same number of parcels of vacant land available for purchase, ranging in price from $7,000 to almost $3 million, so there is bound to be something available for every buyer who is interested in owning a piece of the Motherlode.  And the market suggests that more and more properties will be coming on the market this year, so that pool is likely to widen as the year progresses.

I know we’d all like to see a little more rain (and snow!) on the horizon, too.  It seems like the streams and creeks should be flowing at full speed and the lakes and ponds should be nearing capacity by now… But they’re not.  There should be snow on the mountain for the skiers, snow boarders, snowshoe-ers, and snowmobile-ers to enjoy.  Instead, Bear Valley Ski Resort is reporting a whole 10″ of snow so far this year.  It’s so thin in spots that you can see the dirt!  And Lake Melones is the lowest I’ve ever seen it.  That’s not going to help the fishing and boating industries up here come Spring if we don’t get some of the wet stuff soon.  Let’s just all remain hopeful!

Winter is Coming!

photo courtesy of

Boy, are we about to get it!  Temperatures have been low all week – in the 40s and 50s in the daytime and waaaaaay below freezing at night for the last few days.  But tomorrow will pack the biggest wallop yet, according to the weatherman.  We’re supposed to get snow down to the 1000′ level, which may put a damper on the Murphys Christmas Open House festivities.  But never fear, there is another celebration of winter coming – the 4th annual Winter Wonderland at Calaveras Big Trees State Park!

Make sure you save December 27th from 11 am to 3 pm for fun in the snow in Big Trees State Park.  $12.50 for adults and $8.50 for kids under 12 pays your way to holiday fun in Calaveras County.  Take a scenic ride in an open wagon through the majestic forest of giant ancient trees, watch your kid create a craft project, enjoy some refreshments like hot apple cider, cocoa and cookies, listen to some lively music, and revel in the great outdoors!

See you there!

Christmas Open House in Murphys


Christmas Open House in MurphysOr Holiday Open House, whichever you prefer.  It’s the time of year when the chill wind of winter is breathing right down Main Street in Murphys, when shopkeepers keep their doors open after dark to welcome visitors in from the cold with seasonal greetings and warm smiles.  It’s the time for folks to bundle up their little ones in fluffy coats, hats and scarves, and fellowship with friends and neighbors as they wander around and through the downtown area, sipping mulled wine, coffee or cocoa with gloved hands as their frozen breath hovers before them.

Personally, this is my favorite local activity in which to participate.  It is held on the first Friday in December every year without fail.  We typically begin our trek at Murphys Realty at the corner of Highway 4 and Big Trees Rd. (at the stop light) right around 5 pm.  The office is usually bustling with activity and chock full of treats and hors d’oeuvres at that time.  We chat and visit for a while, munching on pecan cookies or chips, veggies and dip, then meet up with friends and/or family and head down Big Trees Road toward Main Street.  Once we get there, our hands and ears are already starting to numb up, but that’s nothing some mittens and a scarf can’t fix.  The event is free to the public, and Main Street is closed to vehicle traffic starting just after 5 pm to allow for pedestrians only.  Santa leads a children’s parade down Main Street starting at 5:30 to kick off the festivities.  After the parade, Santa lights the town Christmas tree, then he and Mrs. Claus can usually be found for a while at the Native Sons Hall, posing for pictures with the kids and enjoying the company of those who stop by to say Hi.

As you wander down toward the Murphys Hotel, the sweet sound of caroling voices and aroma of chestnuts truly roasting over an open fire blends with the chilly nip of the air to create a memory capable of being recalled for years to come.  Stop in to this or that shop to say hi and see what sort of treats await your taste buds.  Laugh out loud as you watch the antics of the costumed canines in their jingling harnesses and Santa caps cavorting through town with their masters.  Maybe even dress your own pooch for the occasion and bring him or her along too!

I hope you plan on joining us for the Holiday Open House this year on December 6th at 5 pm, and in years to come – the more the merrier!  :)


Christmas Open House in Murphys


Financing Your New Home


Are you diligently searching the breadth and width of the internet on a daily basis for your dream home? Are you looking for just the right investment property to use as your 2nd home or vacation cabin? Want to find the perfect place to use as an income rental? Unless you’re independently wealthy, recently won a huge lottery prize, or received a substantial inheritance, chances are you are going to need (and for tax purposes, you may actually WANT) to have your new property financed.

There are many different types of financing available; depending on your needs, the type of property you are purchasing, and how much you have saved up already to apply to your down payment and closing costs. And I’ll be the first to admit that I am absolutely NOT an expert about how you should finance your purchase, but there are several local lenders who I can call that are. (Give me a call if you are looking for one, I’d be happy to provide you with a list of lender’s numbers!)

The important thing to note is that when you do find the property of your dreams, for whatever purpose you intend it to be used, you are going to want to have ALREADY spoken to several lenders about what they will qualify you to buy and what sort of rates they can offer you! The one you decide to use will likely fill out an application over the phone, or have you do so online for the purpose of providing you with a prequalification letter, which gives you an idea of what price range in which you’ll be able to shop for that dream property.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Then, when the time comes to submit your offer, you’ll be able to have the lender update your “prequal” letter to be specific to that property, and submit it to the seller with your offer. Offers that arrive with financing documentation attached have a much stronger chance of being accepted!

Let’s Go on a Picnic!

Hiking through the natural beauty of Calaveras County’s recreational areas can be much more rewarding when it’s capped off with a picnic, and Calaveras County offers lots of fantastic picnic areas – some that don’t even require a hike to reach!

Lake White Pines 10-18-11
One of my favorites has always been Lake White Pines Park, just outside of Arnold at the end of Blagen Road, at about 4000 feet elevation. The locals will be quick to point out that the community of White Pines is NOT Arnold, but everyone is welcome to visit and enjoy the scenery and amenities. The lake has two paved parking areas, one near the playground and bar-b-que area, and one beside the lake’s beach, across from the Moose Lodge. 2013-10-31_08-47-32_392There are no motorized water vehicles allowed on the lake, so kids with rafts, folks with kayaks and canoes, fishermen, and those just wanting a brisk swim can relax in the knowledge that they need not be concerned about loud motors and big wakes disturbing their peace. There are lots of picnic tables all over the park, so finding a good spot is an easy task. And after you’ve enjoyed your repast, you’ll be pleased to note that there is a well defined trail that circumnavigates the lake upon which you can walk off your meal. The Sierra Nevada Logging Museum is located off to the side of the lake, near the dam end, as well. 2013-10-31_08-47-18_454Make sure to allot yourself some time to peruse the historical displays and learn a little about the area at the same time.
Lake White Pines

Another great picnic spot is located at the bottom end of the mile-long Natural Bridges hike down from the parking area on Parrotts Ferry Road, about 4 miles south of Highway 4.
Upper Natural Bridge Trail
Along the route of the hike, you’ll pass over one of the original roads built in the area, where you’ll see retaining walls of piled flat rock which were built over 100 years ago by miners peeking out from under the overgrown local flora. At the end of the trail is another trailhead which leads to the top end of the naturally formed rock bridge, from which you can actually swim through the limestone cave to the bottom end. At that end, enormous granite slabs form a natural flat area perfect for picnicking, although there are also numerous picnic tables along the trail as well. Just remember not to eat too much, as the route back to the parking area is all uphill!

The last great picnic area I’d like to highlight today is a bit more remote than the others, and can include a hike along the Stanislaus River or not, depending on your mood. The Wakaluu Hep Yoo (Wild River) Campground at the north side of Sourgrass Bridge on Board’s Crossing Road, several miles south of Highway 4, is just across the bridge from a fantastic picnicking, 4 wheeling, fishing and hiking area known as the Sourgrass Day Use Area. From the parking lot there, you can have a lovely picnic at one of many tables set up for that purpose just along the south shore of the river, or you can hike up the trail that runs parallel to the river and find a more secluded area to enjoy your meal. A couple of miles downstream is the Board’s Crossing campgrounds with 5 campsites, which aren’t maintained by the state but do have portable toilets for visitor’s use. Remember to pack your trash at the end of your visit so that folks who come after you can also enjoy the natural beauty of the area.

These are three of my favorites out of literally 100s of great places throughout the county with wonderful picnic spots, and I will attempt in future posts to highlight more of them for you to explore and enjoy!

Grape Stomp is Coming!

Folks competing in the Grape Stomp
Folks competing in the Grape Stomp

One of the most entertaining street faire/festivals held in our area is coming next weekend, and it’s celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, so it’s sure to be a fun time for all – it’s the Calaveras Grape Stomp!  Attendees are encouraged to join in the fun by climbing into wine barrels in pairs, a Mucker (or Swabber) and a Stomper, to squash the most juice out of their portion of grapes.  Most of the participants come in costume, so if you want to join in, make sure to show your team spirit! The big winners at the end of the day collect special prizes for their efforts.  There are also auctions held, both silent and call, that offer terrific deals on wine, ski, beauty, and dining packages throughout Calaveras County.  A huge draw for the crowds besides the grape stomping activities held in Murphys beautiful community park is the Street Faire.  Main Street is closed off to vehicle traffic and booths line both sides of the street, offering everything from culinary treats to jewelry to artwork to clothing to (of course) wine!


So check it out: or

and mark your calendars: Saturday, October 5th, 2013

and come visit Calaveras County for a great time!

Get Your Feet Wet!
Get Your Feet Wet!

Welome, Friends!


Welcome to Calaveras County and Beyond!

Whether you’re a first time home buyer, relocating for a job or to be close to family, or an experienced investor, you’ll find useful information about how to choose the “right” property, as well as useful tips to use when making an offer, negotiating, financing (including determining workable mortgage rates), moving, and everything involved in making an informed home buying decision in today’s market.

If you currently own property in Calaveras County and are thinking about selling it, this site contains information about preparing your home for sale, selecting the right agent for you, why it’s important to use a Realtor®, pricing your home appropriately and marketing it effectively, and going through the inspection and escrow processes.  Please contact me today – I would be happy to perform a Market Analysis for your property to give you a better idea of what it’s worth in today’s market!

When you find yourself in Calaveras County, please make sure to avail yourself of all the amazing places and activities our wonderful county has to offer, from wine tasting to spelunking, from shopping in stores with eclectic tastes to kayaking the lakes and rivers, from an array of fantastic restaurants to suit every taste and style to hiking amongst the Big Trees, fishing, skiing (both water and snow!), biking, boating, horseback riding, and camping, from family-friendly events to just hanging out in the fresh air and taking in the scenery.  We truly have a wonderland for your senses up here in the Sierra foothills, and I’ll endeavor to bring these activities, events, and celebrations to your attention in time to allow for your participation and enjoyment of them as well!

Please use my website as a continued resource, and if you need more information on anything, please feel free to call or email me. My contact information is listed on the About page.

Thanks for visiting!  Please come back soon, and often!  :)