Category Archives: Real Estate

Buying an Older Home in Sacramento? Things you may want to consider.

I’ve owned three primary residences and they were all built before 1940.  The first home I bought in East Sac. was built in 1937; the second was in Midtown/Boulevard Park, built in 1905; the third in Curtis Park, built in 1924.  Most people who seek out an older home may love the neighborhoods, or the charm, detail and craftsmanship an older home has to offer.  However, when it comes to buying an older home there are certain things you may want to consider ahead of time.


Many love the idea of owning a home, but no one loves the maintenance.  An older home may require a bit more maintenance, or as my current neighbor says, “You’ve gotta keep tuning them up!”   Roofs, water heaters, and windows all need maintenance and potential replace, however, older homes can have larger structural issues in addition to all the normal items.  Many home inspectors carry a marble in their tool kit to check if floors are level.  Many older homes have settling foundations, giving way to wonky floors.  I’ve been in some houses that make you dizzy.  Some floors crown in the middle as a result of settling foundations, while others have a slope to the corners.


The marble trick works well to determine the level of a home.  Also look for cracking tiles and sloping stair cases and door jambs.  Many times it’s just part of the home’s charm, while other times it can mean major renovations are needed ( = $$$$).  My Midtown home has a brick foundation which made me a bit nervous when I bought it.  My father, who was a contractor said, “Well, it’s been here over 100 years… I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”  While there have been no issues, advise:  Find a contractor who specializes in foundations.  I now know a few – call me if you need a recommendation.

Victorian Homes

There’s nothing quite like a “painted lady” or Queen Anne Victorian.  While many would say these homes are worth every penny due to their beauty, beware of the costs to


maintain this charm.  The exterior especially on this homes commands attention and tune up.  Due to the intricate details, spindles, railing, gingerbread shingles, etc., regular painting in order to protect is a must.  Without fresh paint, these homes just look tired and sad, many times costing tens of thousands of dollars in dry rot repair alone.  Also, sometimes these require an artist’s touch to paint right – no spray job will do!

Recommendation:  Get a paint bid ahead of time, so you know what you will be in for later.  Also, always get a pest/termite inspection to determine the amount of dry rot and if there are pest that like to eat old wood.

Brick Homes

These older homes have a unique look and quality that make them stand out.  I personally love brick homes and almost bought one in McKinley Park, but backed out

brick house2

when I found out that one of the archways was failing and would have cost upwards of $50K to fix.  One upside of a brick home, only the trim needs painting and bricks don’t get termites!

Recommendation:  Have a mason/brick specialist inspect the brick work before buying.

Old Home Plumbing

Over the decades plumbing has changed quite a bit.  Fresh water pipes can be a concern, especially if you are seeing rust in the water – have the water tested or bank on replacing the pipes.  Also a major concern is the sewer line – the larger pipe which all of the homes waste drains into.  My oldest house originally had a cistern and a leach field (waste just flowing into the yard, percolating through the soil, and eventually composting) – the City of Sacramento didn’t have public plumbing in this suburbs back in the early 1900’s.  How do I know this you ask?  I had to replace this sewer line can saw that it ran through an old brick well-looking thing (uphill) for a few feet!  This pipe was the classic clay, with bell connectors every 3-4 feet.  This piping is notorious for root invasion through the joints, which is what happened to mine.  These days most the sewer line pipes are ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene – I had to look it up) or PVC – strong, sturdy and hard to break.  I believe that cast iron is still used  at time, mainly in commercial applications.  One of the worst pipes, used until the 1970’s,is called Orangeburg (fiber conduit), known for collapsing and letting in tree roots.

Recommendation:  Have your sewer pipes inspected by a plumbing company, who will run a camera down the pipe and determine the health of your sewer line before you purchase a home.  This small expense could save you thousands of dollars down the road.  It’s an easy negotiation when you can show the seller a video of their pipes with tree roots and all.

On the up side, many older homes were built by artisans and master carpenters, who took their time, fit things together, and were proud of their trade.  Much of the materials stand the test of time – we still have the original windows and hardwood floors!  Also, the wood used in construction many times was old growth redwood – it’s so hard that termite don’t even bother.  Many new homes today are built on the fly, using the cheapest materials, and slapped together by “schlocky butchers” (as my dad would say) – May be defined by the saying, “A little caulk and a little paint, makes a carpenter what he ain’t!”


I have a great home inspector that knows old homes – this is what you want, in addition to a great agent that can guide you through the pitfall and lead you to the promise land.

As I said, I love older homes and would love to assist/represent you on your next home purchase or sale.

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker – 916.595-7900

Specializing in Residential Sales and Property Management




Foodie Friday – One place that’ll make you sweat (in a good way)



White wine and spicy foods makes my mount water just thinking about it.  Thai and Indian are some of our favorites.  We have some friends in Natomas.  They told us they had a go-to spot around the corner, so they grabbed the food, and we brought the wine.  The wine was nothing to brag about, but that’s the thing, it can be a mediocre wine, but with Tikka Masala, you will want to find a Bollywood playlist and start dancing.  I must admit, I love spicy food, but my body is also well calibrated because I now start sweating when the spice hits–a natural air conditioner of sorts.  Oh, and we ordered the medium spice!


Curry Corner is the place, filled with locals from Natomas and perhaps India?  This tends to be a good sign.  Kinda like when going to Chinese food and the restaurant is filled with white people… not a good sign.  The smells and tastes of Indian cuisine take me back a few years, when I had the privilege of traveling to North East India with my father.  If you have a hankering for Indian food and are in or near Natomas… hit it!  And don’t forget the white wine.


I have some older clients looking for a home in Arden Park, so I took them to lunch at “Z Grill.” – That’s what call it and leave off the “e” because that’s how I spell “grill!”  It was perfect, as there is a mix of business and older folks here during the lunch rush.  I wanted to them to get a taste of the nearby flavor.  Z Grill is a mainstay, close to my office, client lunch and happy hour are a frequent occurrence.  They have a great selection of appetizers and small plates.  For lunch they are known for their steak sandwich, which is what I order most of the time, unless I’m feeling like being healthy and grabbing a salad (which are also delicious – beet salad, mmmmm!).  This time they had an interesting mushroom and cheese salad as a side – sounded funky, but turned out to be unique to me and something I might order again.  If you want a solid meal with classic American flare, this is the place for lunch or dinner.  You might even dress up a bit in the evening or for a special occasion – they have an extensive wine list too.


I may have mentioned that I cook at least twice a week when my wife takes my son to his parkour class (shout out to The Haven / The Way PK!).  I try to have dinner ready when they get home.  I can’t take all the credit since my wife does most all of the shopping and planning of meals.  In fact, I am so thankful and appreciative that she does these tasks and takes care of the family so well and keeps us heathy (and I also know she may read this, which will make her smile!).

Tuesday I make a seared yellow fin tuna with asparagus and sourdough toast for the boys.  Trying to continue to cut back on the carbs.

Thursday I BBQ’d chicken that had already been marinating in an Asian sauce – maybe more like Teriyaki.  I roasted a bunch of brusell sprouts with bacon and whipped up some Batsmati rice.  Tip – sometimes following the recipe and suggestions on the package is the best way to go.  This rice pack had a few ways to prepare it.  I sauteed it first with some garlic and then simmered it in vegetable broth, finishing the rice with a lemon zest.   Everyone seemed to love it.


[looks like slop, but the family was licking the plate! Oh and my wife put some Kim chi on her plate too].

What are some of your favorites you’ve prepared at home lately?


I love one of our new routines… take son to Jiu Jitsu, wife and I got get a beer and talk (mini date!).  This week we dropped into Sactown Union Brewery. I knew where it is because I’ve been before, but if you haven’t, it’s kind of a funky location.  Beyond that, I do enjoy a few of their beers.  Since IPA’s have gone over the top, in my opinion… What I mean is, the just keep going up, up ,up in the bitterness department and sometime booziness too.  Now people are brewing hoppy pale ales and ambers and even pilsners, and it comes as refreshment [to us all, except for those who just can’t get enough hops and IBUs).  Kolsh too has made a comeback as a light, thirst quenching beer, and Sactown Union has a decent one.  I also like their Centennial Falcon (Pale Ale with Centennial hops).


Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential sales and property management


Listen Up! You Cannot Go Wrong with this Skill Improvement

Client Review:

We loved working with Keith to buy our home in Sacramento. He asked us really good questions that we didn’t even know to think about to help select homes that would be a good fit. Everything about the process felt low-stress and positive. He even helped us write a letter to a seller that got us our home! He has a lot of knowledge and is just a kind, friendly, fun person – we highly recommend him as a realtor. Also, he has a truck, so he can totally help you move. Tell your friends!

Christine Fischer



Agents, listen up… Hot tip… people like to be listened to.  We all know this, but it’s easy to get caught up in the, let-me-tell-you-how-much-I-know role.  You learn so much by listening.  And, studies show that people think you are smarter when you listen attentively.  You will help your clients by doing more listening that talking.  Be careful not to assert you opinions when unsolicited.  Believe me, I’ve learn through my own failings.  You are representing them and their desires after all, not yours.


Me:  Can you believe the color they painted this house!?!  Isn’t it horrid!

Buyer:  Well… Um… pink is our favorite color.


Better approach:  What do you think of the color of the house?

Buyer:  Oh man, it’s horrid – that’s the first change we will make!

Me:  Well, I guess there’s a color for everyone.

This is an easy one, but there many more examples of how I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth with assumptions and just blurting out opinions and said dumb when NOT listening.

Beyond colors and preferences, like my clients, the Fischers and most all others, don’t do this every day and need someone to foresee the potential pitfalls , or point out blind spots.  For instance, “I noticed this house doesn’t have a dining area and I know you love to entertain… does that bother you or affect your opinion of this house?”  Client:  Oh wow, we didn’t even see that, we were too busy staring at the shiny counter tops and the period light fixtures.”

Since I have a pretty high view of my family, one secret I employ is to view my clients like family.  I ask myself questions along the way too, for instance, “Would I want my mom living in this neighborhood?”  Or, I remember a young, investor client of mine wanted to purchase a duplex across from a very dangerous apartment complex, known for gang violence.  I had to ask him, “Are you okay with your tenants calling to complain about gun shots in the middle of the night and constant drug dealing in front of this property?  As your advocate,  I don’t feel comfortable with you buying this property.”  This in particular client said, “Thanks for your concern… I really appreciate it, but I don’t care about that stuff – It’s a great deal!”  Good reminder – you are your client’s advocate and have a fiduciary duty to them, but what you’d do, isn’t always what your client wants.  So don’t assume!   It might be a good thing to review the definition of “fiduciary duty” from time to time to put things into perspective.    It’s simply, “The highest standard of care,” putting their wants and desire ahead of your own.

By the way, I have found my wife loves it when I listen and so do my kids!  We cannot go wrong by growing and improving in this area of our lives.

Keeping growing!

Keith Klassen – Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in Residential Real Estate Sales & Property Management


Haunted by the Alhambra

alhambra two

Ever since I moved to Sacramento in 1999 and learned that there use to be a grand theater where Safeway stands on Alhambra Blvd, I’ve been fascinated by its history and so wished it were still around.  Maybe this is why I also love going to the Crest and Tower theaters (even though the new XD theaters are so dang comfy!).  Here’s an article about two guys who put together a documentary about what made the Alhambra so special.  Go check it out.  I wish them the very best and am thankful they embarked on this journey!

alhambra one


Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in Residential Real Estate Sales & Property Management


“Popcorn Ceilings” – To Scrape or Not to Scrape?

LESSONS I’VE LEARNED IN SACRAMENTO REAL ESTATE – When a home contains “Popcorn Ceilings” many agent and buyers are aware, unsure, and at times uninformed.

pexels-photo-802055.jpeg  PLUS  CeilingImage1

EQUALS pexels-photo-278312.jpeg

Any agent who’s been selling homes for a while has shown homes that have acoustic ceilings, usually found in homes built in the late 1930’s through the 1980’s.  I’ve had clients who would walk into a home and say, “Oh darn…, popcorn ceilings!” as if to say, cross this one off the list.  Or they turn to me, as their agent and ask, “How hard/expensive is it to remove the ‘cottage cheese’?”  Some hate the look of it, while others are very concerned about its content.  The product that was used to create these acoustic ceilings had asbestos in it, until 1978 when it was banned by the Clean Air Act in the U.S.  What’s the big deal about asbestos?  If you are not aware, asbestos has been shown to cause lung cancer and pose other health risks when inhaled.  So the adage was always, don’t eat it, scrap it, or let you kids kick a ball into the ceiling to make it rain “popcorn.”  Many people just paint right over it as to contain its dust and make it more of a solid.  I had one client who loved everything about a home, even so far as to make and offer and get it accepted, except for the popcorn ceiling. They were terrified about the possibility of it containing asbestos and harming their children.  I tried to make the case that since the house was built in the mid-80’s, there was a high unlikelihood of the ceilings containing asbestos due to it being banned in 1978.  My argument didn’t work.   As a result, I had to step up my game.  I called one of the best known outfits in town that take out popcorn ceilings.  They explained to me that they don’t even test the substance if they house is newer than 1980.  I thought this would certainly close the deal, putting fears to rest with the buyer…  Nope.  As research has shown, larger companies who manufactured this product were allowed to expend their inventory, so as to not put fiscal constraints on the companies due to the law change in 1978. So there is still a very slight chance that some ginormous, asbestos-filled warehouse doled out the last of its supply in 1984.  I had to, yet again, take to another level.  There is a company in Sacramento that does quick, inexpensive testing of acoustic ceilings to see if they contain asbestos.  The seller allowed me to scrap some ceiling matter from a closet ceiling, into a zip lock bag, so we could have it tested.  The result…. NO ASBESTOS found,  and deal closed!

Lesson learned:  See potential roadblocks as growing, learning experiences.  Keep digging and working on behalf for your clients – never give up!  The more eager I can be to keep elevating and being educated, the better for my client and myself.

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in Residential Sales & Property Management



Midtown Sacramento CA – 4 plex for Sale

I’m excited to present this classic four unit income property.  As you may know, rents have gone a little crazy in Midtown, unfortunate for renters, but income property owners are loving it.  With the advent of Golden 1 arena, gobs of new restaurants opening every month, and the coming of the railyard build-out, this building is still a winner now and in the future!Flyer

Please contact me if you have interest.

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential real estate sales and property management



5 Star Review

Keith Klassen is smart and professional.  No matter what the circumstances, he manages his attitude and stays solution oriented.  Because of this, we came up with great solutions together. 

Mari Paul (Buyer, Seller, Property Management Client)




Many income/investment properties are purchased with the idea in mind that they will be fixed up and improved over time.  This is a great idea… let the property pay for itself.  However, this doesn’t always happen, especially when the property is just breaking even or not cash flowing as expected.  Perhaps this also points to a reality check when figuring out expenses, deferred maintenance, and a realistic slush funds for unexpected costs at the time of purchase – by the way, this is something I enjoy helping newer investors figure out. When that big ticket item comes up, like when a new roof is needed, or rotting widows need replacement, it could be time to encourage an owner to sell, or for you to walk away from the property management position.  I have found that owners who are not able to maintain their properties to a minimum standard can put the property manager’s neck on the line (i.e., lawsuit waiting to happen), or just create an unmanageable situation.

broken window

Here’s a story of how the house of cards can fall over.  The tenant calls to say that several of the old windows won’t stay up any longer – of course the owner was going to install new windows as a first priority.  The tenant says that it’d be nice to fix them, but they understand and it’s not a big deal because they can just put a stick or a book in the window to hold it up.  The owner says, “Oh good, because I don’t have the money to fix it anyway.”  Several months later the tenant calls to say that the window slammed shut and the glass cracked.  The owners says, “Can they survive with a cracked glass for a while?  … Until we get new windows, or just until I get some money together to fix it?  Maybe they can put some tape on the glass?”  The tenant is not super happy, but puts some tape on the window.  Six months later the tenant says, “I’m starting to notice some mildew, or maybe mold in the bathroom where the window was cracked.”  As it turns out, the roof was on its last leg, the windows were rotting, and many other items had been on a list to renovate over time…

The owner ended up having to give the tenants notice to move and give them free rent due to the mold (and pray there were no health issues as a result).  When the owner finally decided to sell after doing some hodge-podge fix-its, they still took a big loss on the sales price due to all the put-off maintenance issue that later became health issues.

While I had to threaten to cancel our management agreement due to the owner’s inability to take action to make the needed repairs, I ended up being able to navigate us through the fog of it all without things escalating and ending in litigation.  Eventually I listed, sold the property, and eventually wash my hands of the situation.  Remember, distressed properties a lot of times equal distressed owners.  If I had to do it again, I would have taken action faster, and not hung around as long, cancelling the management agreement or encouraging the tenant move-out and sell sooner.  What happens when everything starts sliding down hill, the property manager gets taken down by all parties (who used to love you and high five you for being so great).  This also obviously will kill the listing/sale opportunity. Fortunately on this one, I still walked away with a high five.

high 5

Have you had any mold or deferred maintenance scares, whether as an landlord, seller, or agent/PM?

Cheers to learning new lessons,

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential sales and property management