Category Archives: Valuable Information

Foodie Friday

Most every weekend (or at least once a week) my wife and I, or the whole family goes out to eat.  We both also like to cook and experiment with new recipes and culinary delights.  Some of these are quick and easy meals when we are rushed.  Others, are more elaborate.

First the review of places we dined at last week.  Disclaimer, this was a heavy week due to our 17 year anniversary (yay for us!).pexels-photo-323682.jpeg

Last weekend we hit a home run with 4 different spots.  My wife and I started at Magpie, one of our favorites… only good experiences there, from the food, to the staff and drinks.  We’ve been going there since it was a catering spot on R St.  One time we sat at the bar mesmerized by the wall of interesting liquors.  My wife said aloud, “I wonder what the difference is between those two gins?”  magpieNext things we knew the bar tender served us two complimentary gimlets with those two gins, to compare and contrast!  When has that happened to you?  We love the steak tar-tare, as well as the clams and fries.  This time we also tried the special, which consisted of thick pasta noodles and foraged mushrooms from some local dude that picks them after it rains and sells them to local eateries.  I know, sounds kind of sketchy… we had to try it.  The mushrooms were like eating a steak… translation = delish!

Since it was 2nd Saturday, we hit the Arthouse to catch some local art and meet up with some friends.  Of course we had to pop in to The Fox and Goose for a quickie, or as my friend John said, “We need to wet the whistle before viewing the art.”  Always a great brunch joint too – can anyone say, “Ollalieberry scones with crème fresh!”  I think we stopped going there so much only because the line is usually out the door and I can’t stand a hundred cranky people standing around staring at their phone (call me a curmudgeon, I don’t’ care and stay off my grass ya rotten kids!).

After viewing art, we almost landed at Bottles and Barlow… huge crowd, so we kept walking, but first enjoyed a rambunctious New Orleans style marching band out front.  B and B is known for cutting hair and serving drinks in the day time – another great hipster invention.  And since I do my own hair…well… it’s one advantage of being bald.

Hot Italian was the next stop for a little appetizer and libation.  We’ve been there multiple times, and it just seems to be losing its novelty and luster– does anyone else agree?  Nothing is really bad about the place, in fact, I love their brick oven pizza.  The server must have been new, I give her grace… pexels-photo-240222.jpegI was once a server too.  The bar tender was way too cool to be bothered by my questions, but still managed to make me a Boulevardier – similar drink to my friend’s home spun Manhattan with Aperol, but made with Campari.  Or he said it’s a Negroni with whiskey.  At least that’s what I gathered – definitely do your own homework on this one.  As 10pm rolled around, they started putting chairs on the tables and looking at their watches.  Um, isn’t it Saturday night?!?!  Another bad sign for Hot Italian… getting colder by the minute.  You know when they say, “Take your time…” yet ask you to lift your feet as they sweep the floor, it’s time to bounce!

Karma Brew was our last stop – at least some place in Sacramento stays open til 2am – karma brew

yes, this is what cities do (even if I’m usually in bed by 10pm).  If you have not been here before and like beer or their yummy home-spun sangria (with secret unknown spices), it’s worth a visit.  Funky and eclectic, with a good selection of beers to match the décor.

Fun evening!  Thanks to the friends who joined  us on the adventure.

What new, or old places have you been lately?

AT HOME

This week, I made paella.  It’s not the first time (as this is one of my favs), but it’s the first time it didn’t work out too well.  [picture below is not my paella – ha ha]Spanish-Seafood-Paella-Recipe-10.jpg

I tried a different “traditional Spanish Paella” recipe and under cooked the rice – bleh.  All that precious saffron down the drain.  If you didn’t know, saffron is the magic of paella – threads picked from the flower of a type of Orchid – Also known as the most costly spice in the world.  My son, Drew, said, “Are there hard chunks of corn in this?”  Not a good sign.  Anyone have a paella recipe they like?  If you are not into making it at home, I do like Tapa the World’s paella.  Check it out.

What are you’re go-to recipes?

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker (Wanna-be-Foodie) – 916.595.7900

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Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Selma, & the Intersection of Real Estate

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Earlier this week we celebrated MLK day!  In the past we’ve gone on the local march or have talked to our kids about the meaning of Dr. King’s life.  This year we watched Selma, a movie that seemed to slip by when in the theaters when it first came out.  While watching we said to each other, “Why did we miss this movie?  It’s pretty fantastic!” There were many great actors that delivered moving performances and, of course, the message was tear jerking.   We discussed many of the themes and ruminated on how some things have changed and how many things have not.

One of many scenes that got me riled up showed an African American woman, a qualified voter, being denied access to her  legal right to vote.  It was not done with force, rather manipulating the system.  The woman was given a completely unfair quiz, which no one could pass, denying her access. – I had not heard that this was a method used to keep people from voting.  This led me to do a bit more reading and stumbled across a fantastic and informative read by Emilye Crosby – please take the time to read it HERE.  This provocative article, The Selma Voting Rights Struggle: 15 Points from Bottom-Up History and Why It Matters Today, goes in depth on the way that African Americans were prevented from exercising their freedom and right to vote.

The movie and article caused me to remember some of my public administration education, as well as a recent podcast I listened to on how the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and their policy’s segregated America. [Please listen to the podcast HERE – A Forgotten History of How The U.S. Government Segregated America.]  Most know, or have heard about the concepts of redlining and blockbusting, but it’s interesting to note that FHA put into place policy that kept African Americans from purchasing homes in the suburbs, claiming that if non-whites bought homes in these new developments, the values would go down (even thought that was never substantiated), and then the FHA could not insure these loans.  Today most think of FHA as a program that helps buyers, not hinders them.  Many Realtors are privy to CC&R’s when selling a home in older neighborhoods that hearken back to this era (1930’s), stating “no coloreds allowed [etc.],” and we might say aloud, “Can you believe that actually happened!”  Today it may be unthinkable to have this kind of overt discriminatory policies, yet we are still feeling the effects today.  Even though the 1968 Fair Housing Act over turned these policies, the author being interviewed (Richard Rothstein) says, in essence, it was too late.  …it’s an empty promise because those homes are no longer affordable to the families that could’ve afforded them when whites were buying into those suburbs and gaining the equity and the wealth that followed from that.

The white families sent their children to college with their home equities; they were able to take care of their parents in old age and not depend on their children. They’re able to bequeath wealth to their children. None of those advantages accrued to African-Americans, who for the most part were prohibited from buying homes in those suburbs.

As a husband and father, and member of a diverse community, I am moved to continue to ask what I can do today and this year?  How does my lack of actions and my cultural ideology keep others enslaved?  How can I not just be what the Reverend King called, “A white moderate “and, “a great stumbling block”?

Dr. King, “Letter From Birmingham Jail”
“I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”[underlining mine for emphasis]

Think on these things…

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

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Real Estate Growth in Sacramento

 

I found this little article and video on McKinley Village interesting – Let’s go take a look!

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Best,

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker

916.595.7900

Raising Rents – Property Management – Quick Tip

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In a past blog post we explored the benefits and disadvantages of keeping a tenant while trying to sell.  As noted in that post, most know that a 60 day notice must be served when  tenant has lived at the property for over a year (12 months), when not on a lease.  If on lease, then the lease trumps all, except cash of course.  This is another discussion, but a tenant can always agree to move if paid to do so – many know the phrase from the bank owned property days, “cash for keys.”  This question was asked recently, “When a tenant is not on a lease, they’ve lived there for over a year, and I want to raise the rent… do I have to give them a 60 day notice?  Or will a 30 day notice do?”

Answer:  If the increase is less then 10% of the rent, then  30 day notice will suffice.  If the increase is more than 10%, then a 60 days notice is needed.

Rents are going up in Sacramento and there is always a decision to be made between keeping up with rents vs. keeping a tenant.  If you do not raise rents a little bit over time, the shock of a one time, big raise will certainly drive a tenant out.  Other would argue that a good tenant is hard to find and is worth keeping, even if it means leaving their rents low.  I find including a note with the rent increase stating how much you love them as tenant… how you want to keep up the maintenance, and how expenses have risen… this seems to take some of the sting away.  I do believe in keeping good tenants, and surely the cost of re-renting, the cost of making the place ready to rent, and potential vacancy may not be worth the extra $30-50/mo.?

What’s your strategy and experience in raising rents?

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Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker

Klassen & Associates / 916.595.7900

 

Wind-Water Knowledge in Real Estate

I’ve had several clients in the past that caused me to think more seriously about feng shui and pushed me to get a bit more educated on the topic.  This was especially the case when we would find, what I thought was the perfect home, yet the responses were, “Yeah, but it’s located on a ‘T’,” or “I really wish you could see the fireplace when you walk in,” or simply, “There’s not enough natural light.”  I understood people like natural like, but some of the other comments left me scratching my head.  I began to ask more questions and do some simple research.  Each one of these items and more stop the flow of the home for me have gotten in the way of a home sale.  Some things can be corrected with simply measures, while other items are almost impossible to over-come.   Here are some basic examples I’ve come across and a few links at the bottom of the page to guide you deeper.

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The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.  While a fad to some or superstition to others, feng shui has been popularized among people with money and hipsters alike, others take it more seriously, as a deeply rooted practice and way of being.

Colors are important, which can also be easily changed.  The placement of color in specific areas of your home can enhance your mood and demeanor.  Others would say that colors attract or magnify the energies of your life.  For example, certain colors in the bedroom can spice up one’s love life (or maybe just picking up dirty clothes would help!  My wife gets turned on when I clean the bathroom – ha ha).  Green is known to be the color of health and family – it makes sense to add plants to the living/family room of your home.

Flow and Organization – If a home is built a certain way not conducive to good flow, this may be hard to overcome, while arranging one’s furniture in a congruent, life-given way can be an easy enhancement.  The same goes for getting rid of clutter and cleaning – this a personal decision that takes just a little effort.  Entries and exits are important in feng shui.  Attracting good energies and blocking negative forces is key.  Open up the entryway for the good to flow in.   Some guru’s attest that a toilet lid must be kept down!  This “waterway” can suck positivity out of a home.  Fireplaces that can be seen from the entry encourage prosperity to leave one’s home, or be sucked out of one’s life (so I’m told).

The direction the house faces or is oriented is key … I’ve heard East is good.  But another friend said that the entrance to the North is better, due the sun exposure.

Numbers seem to be important.  Eights are good.  I know some agents price their listings with $_____, 888 at the end.  I’ve had buyers tell me to write the offer with 8’s (for good luck).  Someone told me that if the last two digits of the address adds up to eight, that’s good too.

Corners – I’ve heard that sharp corners are not good, say when it comes to small eating tables.  Some don’t like corner houses.  Homes located on a “T” are definitely bad feng shui.  Practically speaking, cars can run into a home easier in this case (nothing that some scrubs/trees or a few blockades won’t fix).  We had a neighbor whose parents warned them about bad spirits entering into their home since they lived on a “T.”  The fix was simply to hang a small crystal (like you’d see on an old chandelier) from a string at the entrance, as well as a small mirror and this did the trick.  When I asked why these objects, they said that this confused and repelled the bad spirits.

Death – Dead plants, trash around the house, a cluttered table, and dead people… many buyer’s have a hard time seeing through a mess, and many more clients buying a home want nothing to do with a property where a death has taken place – Some just want to know that it was peaceful, or not violent.  Whereas, I had an investor client who was not happy (or just not alarmed) to find out that a gang shooting had taken place at the house they were purchasing!  Really?  This became a negotiating tool for a deep discount.  A friend of mine had a dying tree in front of this home.  His father sternly told him, “Get rid of it… it’s blocking your wealth!”  He swears that they very next day his stock portfolio began to soar!

Whether your desire is to gain deeper soul-strength or just have a better flow in your home, I hope you found some inspiration, creativity and practical help in this post.  I’d love to hear some of your stories on how feng shui has affected your life.

Here’s some links to explore future.

http://fengshui.about.com/od/glossaryofterms/ss/Feng-Shui-Basics-Create-Good-Feng-Shui-Home.htm

http://inhabitat.com/9-simple-tips-to-feng-shui-your-home/

http://inhabitat.com/feng-shui-101-getting-started-with-the-basics-of-feng-shui/

 

Cheers,

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Keith Klassen, Broker

Klassen & Associates

916.595.7900

Focus: The New Currency

out-of-focus-1197396Most of us are completely distracted on a day-to-day basis, and for good reasons.  There are so many options for eating and entertainment, new restaurants and things to do abound.  In Sacramento, CA we live surrounded by beauty, history, rivers, and a quick ride to the coast or Lake Tahoe.  We have more contact and connection opportunities via social network than every before.  As a father of two boys, now 11 and 13 years old, my wife and I give much thought to this idea of focus – being present and not distracted; Being attentive and giving attention.  I fail miserably at times, nodding to my son’s/wife’s questions while doing some work or reading, only to ask, “What did say?” And maybe acknowledging, “Uh, I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening/paying attention.” Specifically in the realm of technology, distraction lurks.  Many forms of technology can be wonderful tools and has made our lives better on so may fronts.  I cut myself some slack here – 10 thousand songs in my pocket and a world of information at my finger tips.  How can we not be distracted!  Technology clearly has an addictive quality that can work against our productivity, our relationships, our attentiveness.  focussed-1434495

I was stunned by a TED talk (a bit older now) that highlights studies showing how technology (including primarily video games and pornography) have become an addiction.  He makes the point that boys, in particular, are not maturing and intimacy is lacking.  Watch the clip.  It’s less than 5 minutes.  “What’s the solution?”  Zimbardo asks, “… not my job.  I’m here to alarm…”

I too have no solutions, but I have a few thoughts.  I’m a guy.  I have two boys.  My boys play video games, and I partake at times.  I have a computer, laptop, iPad, iPhone…  I’m concerned.

  1. We constantly monitor the tension between the glorious internet age and restricted use – that goes for all of us, not just the kids.  Talk to me in 10 years to see how I actually did, but we are big fans of open dialogue, family meals, lots of questions back and forth, and articulated freedom with discussed consequences.  One difficulty is that I use technology in my work, so to the boys it looks like I’m playing or just glued to technology – sometimes both… sometimes it’s hard to distinguish.
  2. Frequently and intentionally unplug – kinda obvious, but hard to do.  I went camping this past weekend and found myself checking email and Facebook while relaxing in the tent.  If it’s pressing work, I attempt to get back-up help – I’ve used a virtual assistant, or a called on other associates to fill in.  I let current clients know that I’m checking out before I leave (auto response emails are good for this and specific voice messages).  Also when I’ve really checked out, like when I went to India for a few weeks last year, I get someone to be on call for me to handle any emergency business.  In little ways, I leave my phone at home or in the car when we go to dinner (I know… no selfies or pics of the food!).  It’s like the old days (and still) when I knew if I didn’t sit with my back to the TV at the restaurant, I wouldn’t listen to my wife as well.  We try to have meals together as a family with no technology.
  3. Professionally / Business-wise-Boundaries. Being self-employed, I’m the only one breathing down my own neck – no boss to reprimand me, no parent to give me a time out.  It’s easy to see why those who are self-employed are always on the clock.  More work, can equal a bigger payday.  The infamous “carrot” always looms large.  However, mental health and focus may be the bigger, future payoff?  Small disciplines – I’m a big fan of turning my ringer off when I’m with a client.  I have to be “all there.”  I can’t just nod and pretend like I’m listening.  I intentionally make eye contact;  Ask lots of questions; Listen well; Have fun.  Relational, non-sexual intimacy, I find is the bedrock of great business relationship and cultivating a referral business.  I definitely time-block to get a ton done in a few hours, then take a break and don’t feel guilty doing so.  Just as I try to limit business on off hours and on weekends, I limit non-related screen time and technology during business time.
  4. Non-Tech Hobbies – I find that when my boys are playing hard, building something, engaged in a game, creating art, reading, etc…. the urge for screen time goes away.  As parents, we have friends over, play board games together, go for walks, bike ride, eat out, play sports, create and build together… Physical activity is the key for me.  Practicing consistency in friendships and family give me opportunity to test and develop greater focus.
  5. Meditation – While I’m no guru, times of silence, deep breathing, some sort of centering, even minutes before engaging with family or a client goes a long way toward attentiveness.

Ahhhh, it’s a constant battle, but feels so good when we get intimate, centered, and fully engage.

What are your areas of struggle and victory in this area of focus, technology, family?  This is where we help each other.  Please share.

Cheers,

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

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Love Letter to Seller – Does it Make a Difference?

Does it make a difference for a buyer to write and include a personal letter with an offer?  I jokingly call them love letters, because they can ooze with emotion and sometimes be kinda cheesy.

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Over the years, working with home buyers, I’ve been an advocate for the buyer writing a personal letter to the owner.  One might wonder if this even makes a difference?  I got my real estate license in 2005 and wrote my first offer on the house I’m living in today.  During those days, buying a home was extremely competitive and the prices were going through the roof.  A buyer had to do whatever they could to get an offer accepted.  So, I too wrote a “letter from the heart” on my first deal as a licensed agent.  It was flowery, heart-warming, and true – we loved the house (and still do!).  The seller subsequently told us that this separated our offer from the others, especially the part where you said, “[your child] immediately ran into the back yard and jumped on the play structure.”  Hmmm, I instantly learned, there’s something to this letter writing thing.

Subsequently, I’ve had many of the same experiences with other clients.  Just recently I listed a home where we received 3 offers.  One of them included a personal letter.  To my surprise the seller said, “I know that this one is lower in price, and you might think we are crazy, but we just love this buyer’s story and want to go with that offer!”

Try this with an investment property and the owner may laugh out loud.  I’ve actually had investor sellers tell me to not show them the personal letters because they didn’t want to be influences by their emotions.  This statement nails it on the head… We are humans with emotions.  Even though every seller wants the most money out of their sale, there is always the human element and emotions involved.

“What should I say in the letter?” is the next questions I get.  While I enjoy writing, not everyone is as confident with their prose.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Make it short and to the point – most people don’t want to read several pages on your life and journey of buying a home. Several paragraphs get the job done.
  • With that said, introduce yourself. Briefly say who you are and maybe something interesting that relates to the home.  Example:  We love the river and are so glad it’s in walking distance! OR,  This home is close enough for me to bike to work – this is so relieving since I’ve been commuting by car for 8 years, an hour each way! OR, I’ve always loved trains and always wanted to live next to the railroad tracks [I kid you not, I actually heard someone say this!]
  • You may even want to start by complimenting the owner in some way, without being heavy handed. Example:  When we walked into the house, we immediately knew this was the one for us!  Purple is our favorite color and we absolutely love the stenciled lettering above the bed, that reads, “YOU ARE AWESOME!”  The deal was done when we saw the bidet in the bathroom – ahhh to be back in Paris again!  Okay, I’m trying to be funny here and this is an example of heavy-handedness, but you get the point.   When done appropriately, a little flattery goes a long way.  How about this:  We love your sense of style and can tell you really cared for this house.
  • Briefly talk about how this house fits you. Do you have a family that you will raise here and enjoy it for years to come?  Is your elderly mom going to live with you and the downstairs bedroom is perfect?  Are you single, and this downtown loft is a “babe magnet?”  [okay don’t say that].
  • End with a “thank you for considering our offer.  And, we look forward to a smooth transaction.

What else would you include or omit?  Do you have success stories of your own, or maybe a reason why not to include a personal letter?  Your stories and feedback are always welcome.

Cheers!

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900