Vacaville and Solano County Real Estate Blog

May 31, 2015

The Real Value of Green Home Features

Green home features are becoming increasingly popular with buyers, but no universal standard exists to help buyers, lenders, appraisers and sellers understand the financial value these features can bring to a home. To address this concern, the U.S. Department of Energy is partnering with the National Association of Realtors to bring more clarity to the monetary value of being green.

Some parts of the country are already assessing green homes and adding their findings to the MLS. The Department of Energy plans to take these local efforts and coordinate them into a more universal system, which is great news for everyone looking to gain more knowledge about the market for green homes. For more information about this program, which was announced earlier this week, visit the announcement at RealtorMag, the story in The Washington Post, or the Energy.gov article

May 30, 2015

Solano Water Rebates

Solano County homeowners are eligible for up to three different rebate programs to help curb water usage and efficiently make use of our local resources. Here's a look at how you can qualify.

High-Efficiency Washer Rebates

The Solano County Water Agency is partnering with PG&E to offer a combined rebate of $150 to qualified Solano water customers who purchase qualifying machines. Terms and conditions can be found at www.waterenergysavings.com

Water-Efficient Landscaping Rebates

Homeowners who remove their lawns can receive a cash rebate of $1 per square foot, up to $1000, for replacing grass with more efficient landscaping. Details can be found here; please note - this is not a retroactive program. Participants must get approval for their project before removing their lawns, in order to qualify for this program. Read here for terms and conditions.

Smart Irrigation Controller Rebates

This program provides rebates of $300, $700 or $1000 for installing smart controllers to irrigate existing landscaping. While it is currently out of funding, interested parties can call the program at 800-366-6995 for details on eligibility should more funding become available. 

For more ideas on how you can make your home water-efficient, visit the water agency's indoor tips page, outdoor tips page and list of other useful resources. 

 

May 28, 2015

Explore Solano County Waterways on World Environment Day

A kayaking trip and a cleanup event are just two activities planned in Solano County during World Environment Day, which is celebrated in June.

Coordinated by the Solano Land Trust, whose mission is to permanently protect natural areas, working farms and ranchlands in Solano County, and to connect the community to these lands, a fee-based docent-guided kayaking trip will be available through Suisun Marsh for $10 per boat. The trip will offer participants a view of Rush Ranch from the water and explain why the waterway is both famous and important to the local area. The excursion will launch from the Suisun City waterfront at 3:30 pm on June 7 and all proceeds go to the work of the Solano Land Trust. Participants must pre-register, as there is a space limit of 10 kayaks or canoes - no motorized boats are permitted on this outing.

Lake Berryessa will take part in its 5th celebration of World Environment Day on June 7 with a lakeshore cleanup from 9:30 am until Noon. A picnic lunch will be provided for volunteers. With Lake Berryessa water levels at 65 percent capacity and four feet lower than this time last year, organizers believe this is a good time to retrieve any litter that may be surfacing from lower water levels. Participants must wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots and are encouraged to bring work gloves. Participants should register by May 31 to sign up for the lunch and to get a free World Environment Day shirt for helping out. 

To register your own activity for local groups to find, visit the United Nations Environment Programme site.

May 27, 2015

Local Artists Showcased at Vacaville Museum

As part of a buzz-worthy fundraising project for the Vacaville Museum, you may have seen large fiberglass jackrabbits in and around businesses all over Vacaville. The We Know Jack project is stepping into full swing in June, and features a special exhibit at the Vacaville Museum for those who want to see more works by the local artists commissioned to design each of the Jacks

To participate in these events, visitors and members of the community can go visit each of the Jacks in and around Vacaville, attend Jacks in the Courtyard at the Museum on May 30 - where all 25 will be available side-by-side for viewing and voting on the community's favorite, or take part in special fundraising events. These include visiting the Vacaville Museum from June 2 to June 18 to see the Jacks in the Museum, or through July 5 to see Beyond the Rabbit, an exhibit featuring the art of "We Know Jack" artists, and the chance for the public to buy their works. A longer story on the exhibit is available online through Vacaville Magazine.

For those who want the chance to own a Jack of their own, tickets are on sale for a live auction event called Hit the Road Jack on June 20. All funds raised benefit the Vacaville Museum.  

May 26, 2015

Celebrate Vacaville!

There are many things to celebrate about our area, and Celebrate Vacaville! is an annual event that captures the spirit of local business and community each year. This year's event will take place on Thursday, May 28 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Creekwalk at Andrews Park in Downtown Vacaville.

If you are new to the area, this is a great way to get to know local businesses and organizations, many of which will have informational booths at the event. Participating businesses are members of the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce. In addition to these meet and greet opportunities, the event will be filled with food vendors and music.  

While you're in Downtown Vacaville, take some time to check out the local merchants, event spaces and restaurants. Downtown Vacaville is home to a variety of cuisines, services and retail stores, including fine art, fashion and frozen yogurt.

If you are looking to purchase a home in Vacaville, and enjoy the idea of walking or biking into Downtown Vacaville for community events, the farmer's market, shopping, live music and more, my team and I can help you pinpoint nearby neighborhoods that offer the types of properties and lifestyle you desire. Contact us at 707-249-8688 to get started. 

May 21, 2015

The Economics of 'Eco' Home Features

Adding 'eco' home features makes environmental sense, but they vary on how much green they'll return to your pocket when you go to sell. The Wall Street Journal reported on which 'green' features will give you the most financial return on your investment.

The Appraisal Journal recently published a multi-year study to determine the relationship between a home's environmental features and its selling price. The study was conducted by the University of Texas at San Antonio, so specific results may be more applicable to that market. However, the findings can be useful for all sellers because they show that environmental features do influence buyers' decisions to some extent.

Results from this study show that green designations like LEED certification can boost a home's sales price by 0.7% compared with comparable homes that do not have such certification. Additionally, homes advertising specific green features like low-flow toilets and enhanced air-filtration can benefit from a price increase of 1.7%. Better still, homes listed on the MLS as having energy efficient features like dual pane windows and high efficiency HVAC systems sold for 5.8% more than comparable homes without these features during the study period.

Not all environmental improvements get such a return, however. Here's a look at the impact of some additional features on sales price, from least influential to most. 

Mechanical fresh air: -3.9% return

Energy Star appliances: -1.7% return

Energy efficient doors: -1.6% return

Solar/wind power: -0.3% return

Rain/freeze sensors: +1.8% return 

Ceiling fans: +2.1% return

Energy efficient windows: +3.8% return

Rainwater catchment: +7.7% return

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Solano County, CA or the surrounding areas, my team and I can help you market your property to attract interest, or help you find a home that features environmental upgrades like those mentioned here. Contact us at 707-249-8688 to get started. We look forward to helping you meet your real estate goals. 

May 20, 2015

Housing Trends for 2015

Here's a quick look at some of the trends buyers can expect to see in 2015. For the full list of predictions, see REALTORMag

1. The color coral. Color is an easy way for sellers to spruce up a home and make it feel current; expect to see this color on accent walls and in other pops of decor. 

2. Open floor plans. This is a trend that will continue in new construction, making its way into condo design and more single-family homes in the suburbs. Expect more windows to expand the indoor-outdoor open space feeling.

3. Pre-made blueprints. Buyers who want a custom feel without a custom budget can find design plans for every type of site, city code, budget and climate from house plan companies. Options include multiple master suites and energy-efficient designs. Expect to find smaller footprints; more 2,300 square foot plans, for example, vs. the 3,500 square foot designs that were popular a few years ago.

4. Quartzite counters. As indestructible as manmade quartz, quartzite appeals to homeowners seeking natural stone, like granite, but without the maintenance granite requires.

5. Porcelain floors. Made to look like wood, but more durable and less expensive, porcelain is showing up in high traffic areas like hallways, as well as areas exposed to moisture, like bathrooms. 

6. Specialized storage. Storage options in this category are things like large walk-in closets and super-sized pantries with room for extra appliances and prep space, or even a dedicated space for gift-wrapping. 

7. Upgraded garages and mudrooms. Pet-washing stations are gaining popularity, as are temperature-controlled and highly designed spaces. 

8. Water conservation features. Especially in California, rainwater collection and graywater systems are gaining popularity. Also expect to see weather-controlled watering systems, drought-tolerant plants, alternative grass options and water saving appliances and devices, such as shower heads and faucets. 

9. Outdoor living upgrades. Outdoor showers near swimming pools, outdoor dog grooming stations - expect to see indoor features continue to move outside as more buyers look for outdoor living options in their homes.

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Solano County or the surrounding area, contact me and my team at 707-249-8688. We have a deep understanding of the local market and look forward to helping you market your property or find your next home. 

May 19, 2015

Where to Hike in Solano County

Spring, with its mild weather and foliage in bloom, is a great time to get out and enjoy Solano County hiking trails. Visit Vacaville has compiled a list of the top six trails in the area around Vacaville. What's your favorite spot?

Pena Adobe/Lagoon Valley (Pena Adobe Road, near Interstate 80, Vacaville) - 470 acres of natural space, including steep hikes and flat, easy walking trails. The park also offers a shaded Redwood grove for picnics and an off-leash dog park. Leashed dogs are welcome on all trails. 

Putah Creek Wildlife Area (State Highway 128, 7 miles past Winters) - 673 acres of trails ranging from moderate to strenuous, including a loop with views of Lake Berryessa. Some trails are suitable for kids and dogs, but check your route first; some are too steep to safely navigate for anyone but adult hikers. A day-use fee is requested.

Rockville Hills Regional Park (Rockville Road, Fairfield) - 600 acres of grassland and woodland with more than 20 trails, and beautiful views of the surrounding area. The park does have an entrance fee of $3 per person and $1 per dog. 

Skyline Wilderness Park (2201 Imola Ave, Napa) - This park is worth the drive, offering great views of the valley. A day-use fee for each vehicle includes a copy of the park map. Reaching the summit may be a challenge best geared toward kids and adults.

Lake Solano (8685 Pleasants Valley Road, Winters) - Great for families with small children, the little hikes include views of peacocks and access to beginner trails

Browns Valley (Unmarked trails, open space, Vacaville) - These public lands provide sweeping views of Vacaville. Find access by taking Browns Valley Parkway, then taking a left on Wrentham Drive, left on Rambleton Drive and look for entry spots to walk up into the hills. Similar trails and entrance points can be found across town at the end of Alamo Drive, too, where it ends in North Vacaville. 

May 1, 2015

Trees and the Home Purchase

In observance of National Arbor Day, which takes place in April each year, the National Association of Realtors surveyed home buyers on the importance of trees on a property in making a purchase decision. The results were released in an infographic called National Arbor Day: Trees and the Home Purchase. Here is an overview of what they found.

The Importance of Trees

  • 18% of repeat buyers, and 25% of buyers purchasing a new home said being on a property with lots of trees was a very important factor
  • 20% of single males and 18% of married couples said finding a home with many trees was very important during their home search

The Importance of Parks/Green Space/Recreation Opportunities 

  • 23% of recent buyers said convenience to parks or recreational facilities was an influencing factor in choosing a neighborhood
  • Proximity to parks and recreational facilities had the most influence on recent buyers age 34 and under (28%), and age 35 to 49 (24%)

What does this mean for you? If you are looking to sell your house, playing up the prominence of trees in your yard, or the walking distance from your property to parks and recreational facilities, may help your home attract potential buyers. My team and I can help you market your property with its best foot forward.

If you are a buyer searching for such amenities, you can benefit from the local expertise my team and I provide. We know Solano County neighborhoods inside and out, and can help you find the right home for you needs with access to trees, parks and other recreation. 

Give us a call at 707-249-8688 to get started. We look forward to helping you meet your real estate goals. 

April 30, 2015

Downtown Vacaville Wine Stroll

The Downtown Vacaville Wine Stroll, one of the most anticipated events downtown each year, is scheduled to return on May 2 in Town Square. The event will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. 

Participants will start in Town Square to pick up a souvenir glass at $15 for 6 tastings, along with a map of downtown businesses providing tasting locations. Select wines from Silver Oak, Caymus and Vezer Family Vineyards will also be featured at $15 per glass. Live music by Rocky & The Revelletes will accompany the stroll from  6 to 8 p.m.

The Downtown Vacaville merchants are also sponsoring Town Square Music Night, taking place every Friday in May from 6 to 9 p.m., beginning May 1. The Time Bandits will open the series. These live music nights are free of charge, so visitors are encouraged to enjoy a meal at one of the downtown restaurants, then come enjoy the show!

Wine Stroll