“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.

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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

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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

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Foodie Friday – Weekend Get-Away / Out of town recommendation

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A few years ago some friends of ours were telling us about their wonderful weekend-wine-tasting-get-away to Murphys CA.  They invited us along and now it’s become a yearly tradition.  While I love exploring and flying by the seat of pants when traveling, sometimes I wish someone would just give me an itinerary to follow with the best places to go, from tried and true experiences.  That’s what I’m doing for you here.  Granted, everyone’s pallet is unique, but it’s hard to go wrong in Murphy’s with the selection of wineries/tasting rooms and food choices.  Murphys is an old mining town above Angels Camp and below Arnold.  My wife grew up in Angels (as they call it), so it’s good to make this pilgrimage and also wander around Angels if we have time on the way up to Murphys.  As you may know, Angels Camp is home of the annual frog jumping contest, which Mark Twain made famous in some of his writings.  Murphys, however, is the home to over two dozen family-owned wineries, which most have tasting rooms all on one street!   Here’s the run down and basic plan to follow:

IRON STONE VINEYARD

Since this one is not on the main street, it’s a great place to start.  They have a solid selection of reasonably priced wines and a café for a great lunch on a sunny balcony.  Iron Stone also has a great concert venue amphitheater with a fun line up.  I think there is some special treatment if you belong to their club (like a buffet and wine service before the concert?).

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After Iron Stone, I recommend just starting out at one end of town, walk down the stret, and check out whatever looks good along the way.  There are a bunch of fun shops and restaurants if you need another snack (There’s a great pizza place, an antique hardware store, and a fun outdoor adventure shop I like).  Also a creek runs through town where they built a local park next to it.  In the summer, the kids and play in the water, or it’s relaxing to get a bottle of wine and have a picnic.

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This trip our friend got a head start and went to Lavender Ridge winery.  I’ve always thought their wine is just okay.   However, they will win you over when they start pairing cheeses, honeys, and other treats (which they sell) with their wine – some say that drinking wine by itself is a very American thing to do.  Or, rather, one should always have food with wine to bring out it’s essence (thoughts?).  Our next step was Newson Harlow, one of my wife’s favorites.  Some of their higher end wine is pretty good.  We walked away with a bottle of their zin and petite syrah.  The year before, the wives even got conned into buying matching baseball caps!  Things we do (and buy) when wine tasting.

Next we hit up a place called Kola Farms.  This is a new hipster winery.  The staff don’t know much about the wines, but they like to have fun…. so I guess you could say, we had fun.  They recommended our next stop, so props to them for sending us to Frog’s Tooth.  This is a newer spot which I’m so glad we found.  It’s a block off of the beaten path, so you may miss it if you don’t venture up the side street.  For us, this was a winner!  They have a young, ambitious wine maker and friendly staff.  We bought a bunch of their wine… I hope it’s as good when we open it months from now with a clear head – ha ha ha.

 

[There my wife getting friendly with the winemaker – mmmm hmmm .  I’m like, “Can I get a discount?]

Seems like 3-4 wineries is the magic number for not passing out, if paced, with snacks along the way.  We had a dinner reservation at 7:30pm, so we had a few hours to kill.  The tradition has been to run back to the hotel and get some “rest” in one form or other, so we could be fresh for dinner.   The restaurant, Grounds, has become our favorite go-to dinner spot (and next morning breakfast spot).  They have a great selection of menu items from steak, pasta, seafood, and eggs benedict in the AM).  This year we shared a bunch of small plates and entrees – The brussel sprouts were cooked perfectly!  We highly enjoyed the mussels and French bread for dipping in the spicy sauce.  And, I couldn’t get enough of the mushroom risotto.  We had to have some coffee to ramp up for an evening of fun.

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[Char being silly at dinner – RIP Bowie!]

After dinner there are a few options, but not many.  Only the Murphys Hotel and a few other newer spot stay open late.  The Hotel is a blast from the past  – the kind of saloon where you could imagine miners and cowboys getting into fights, breaking chairs over each other’s heads…  Now, it’s just a fun place to mingle with the local and meet some other out-of-towners.  Everyone is friendly and the ladies love to dance, dance, dance.

 

[Then and now]

If you’ve been to Murphys, or go soon, let me know your favorites, or how you liked your visit.

Cheers,

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in Residential Sales and Property Management (Sacramento, CA & maybe soon in Murphys)

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LESSONS LEARNED IN REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY MANAGEMENT – How to manage & sell a dump.

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)

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HOW TO HANDLE SOME OF THE ROAD BUMPS THAT GO ALONG WITH MANAGING AND SELLING A RUN-DOWN PROPERTY (Part 1)

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.

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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.

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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

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Foodie Friday – Solid Sacramento Regulars (plus a tap house mention)

CAPITAL TAP ROOM (“Cap Tap”)

Quick beer review for ya.   I’ve gotta say right off the bat, I’m spoiled (we’re spoiled in Sacramento).  So much darn good beer… breweries everywhere… great beers at a corners store!

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Cap Tap does have a great roster with new beers weekly, or maybe even daily?  Check their website – they list what is currently on tap.  I like the rotating variety offered.  With that said, I’m not just spoiled with good beer, I’m also spoiled by great experiences and places that draw me in.  This is the one thing that always gets me… While they have friendly staff, I’m not in love with the interior of the location.  I like that they have refrigerators full of some solid and eclectic beers to buy and take out.  The seating area is a bit claustrophobic to me.  If there are more than 5 people near the bar, it’s uncomfortable.  On a mild spring day, the patio is where you want to be.  This place is near my office, so I can’t complain, and I’m there often.   Keep good company and you won’t be disappointed.

LOWBRAU (pronounced Low Brow)

Another primarily beer haunt and favorite of my wife, yet we brought the kids this time.  Saturday evening we tried to take our kids and one of their friends to a Stranger Things art show.  When we got there, the line was out the door and around the block.  In retrospect, it was probably worth the wait?  But with teenagers that are always dying of hunger, we had to go grab some grub.  First we went to the Tank House – always a winner (will write about it next time I go), but they were bustling with a wait.  We headed to Lowbrau, knowing we could find a seat and slide in to one of their communal bierhalle tables.  The boys got the special house-made root beer (very hipster of them to do this – oh but they have $1 refills … what a bargain). The kids also got some sausages on pretzel buns, with a side of duck fat fries.  Warning!!!  Very addictive, especially for kids.  “Why are these fries so good!?” they exclaimed – ha ha ha.  Ahhhh, the secret of duck fat my sons.

[had to bleep out face to to make his parents laugh, and so they don’t sue me; And there’s my youngest dreaming of playing Xbox instead of having to go to a dumb restaurant]

And of course my wife and I had to get a side of … you guessed it, duck fries, but loaded with some fancy relish stuff on top.  I don’t know what it was, but I loved it!  Oh, and a couple German beers to compliment the duck fat.  Did I say “duck fat” – yeah, you should try those fries if you get a chance.  Oh and did I mention the cool sausage display.

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LA FIESTA

Sunday go-to spot for our family…

  • Reasonably priced
  • Fast service! There have been times when we’ve ordered and gone to fill our drinks and get chips and the food is being delivered – yeah, we hadn’t even sat down yet!
  • Chips and salsa bar – I’m a sucker for chips and salsa
  • Flavor is on point!

Kids get burritos.  I usually rock some street tacos that are always a solid choice.  However, if you love shrimp, their shrimp burrito has a ridiculous amount in it!  My wife usually gets a vegetarian burrito, cuz they are healthy – ha ha ha, yeah right!  The locals always seem to be eating menudo or ceviche – got to try it sometime soon.

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AT HOME

Nothing too special this week, but a go-to dish that is filling and flavorful.  When sugar and carbs are on the no-no list (I just try to avoid them, but am addicted to sugar an carbs like everyone else), this breakfast/anytime-meal is your friend.  A simple omelet with delicious and nutritious ingredients.  I find myself using garlic and onion for the base of so many dishes, including this one.  Science says that if you leave the garlic to rest 8-10 minutes after mincing, it has more nutritional value (crazy and I don’t know why, AND, I don’t always do this – ha ha).

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Mince some garlic and onion (red, yellow, white, green – whatever you like or have on hand) and sauté for a few minutes.  I absolutely love mushrooms too – kind of a substitute for meat if I’m feeling that I’ve consumed tons of meat lately.  Toss in mushrooms and any other veggies you have (tomatoes, zucchini, bell pepper, etc.).  Meanwhile, I beat two eggs for the omelet base going in a separate pan (slick it down with some spray oil so it doesn’t stick).  Add cheese – again, I sometimes don’t even use cheese if I’m really trying to cut back, but it sure is tasty!  Throw some spinach in the other pan toward the end of the saute and let it wilt, then drop it on the egg base… salt and pepper and sometimes add a dash of siracha chili (aka rooster sauce).  Don’t forget the avocado, I put a half avo cubed on top for some good fat – Boom!  Healthy and delicious.

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker/AKA wanna be chef/Epicurean   – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential sales and property management (eating and drinking)

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A Property Manager’s Nightmare – There’s a Rat in My Kitchen… What am I gonna do?

Sorry to all you UB40 fans, this is actually a blog post about rats in kitchens and how to get rid of them.  Fun Fact: New York City has more rats than people.  And some estimate say that there are 5 rats to every one person in NYC!  Yikes – that’s about 42.5 million rats!  Make me want to vacation there this summer.  I’m not sure what the statistics are in Sacramento, CA, but if you own a home in Sacramento, especially in the older areas, or conduct property management, you know that rats, mice, and rodents in general (yes, birds, bats and squirrels too!), like to get in your attic and sometimes your house!  Here’s some advice based on my experience, but please, please, please consult a professional for a second opinion.

 

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I actually had some friends (just out of college-dudes) who lived in a house off of P st, where they said that they regularly would see a huge rat (picture small dog) perched on their stove in the middle of the night (probably eating left over pizza scraps) – eeeeew… yuck!

FIRST… Clean your house!   Don’t leave food scraps out for rodents to come in and feed on.  I know, this is sometimes hard with kids and a busy life.   I have tenants calling me to say that they see mouse droppings in their kitchen cabinets.  When I visit their home… yep, filthy with food scraps all over the countertops – think left over KFC chicken bones.  Hmmmmmm!  Also, I find that they like our compost.  Even when it’s covered, they will dig under to get in.  I have to put some kind of barrier in the dirt to prevent them from getting in.  Anyone have success with this?  I digress… clean your house, especially of food products laying around.  By the way, spiders love dust and dirty houses (maybe that way we have so many spiiiiiider in my…. Wait a minute!).

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TWO – Look for voids, holes, and entry ways, where the critters can get in.  Look everywhere, whether it be through the walls, basement, or especially the attic.  These all have to be sealed to prevent rodents and pests from coming in.  This is the stuff that no one wants to do, and what keeps pest companies in business.  Get some foam. … Get some mesh…  Cover and plug the entry ways.  I’ve heard that once a squirrel take up residence in the attic, it’s very difficult to get them to leave, especially if they start nesting.  This is some serious business to attend to – go do it now!

THREE – Cut back tree branches and limbs away from the house, including ivy.  These are natural ladders you are giving the rodents to climb up.  Might as well put a “welcome” sign in the attic inviting them to come and make a nest, or at the very least, “come and have relay races on the roof” while you try to sleep.   Also, we had a bunch of ivy growing over a fence in our yard and at night there was something always shaking in there and making it’s way through the natural layer of protection the ivy gave.  I cut it all back, as it also destroys wood.  Plus, trimming trees and ivy off of a house and roof saves your siding and roofing – some insurance companies require this be done before they insure the home.

 

FOUR – Buy a pellet gun.  Ok, that’s just the kid in me… scratch that, unless you live in the country and can get away with firing it safely.

FIVE– If they are in the attic, buy some traps.  Larger ones for larger rodents.  A friend of mine gave me this advice for bait:  Chew up some bubble gum for the stickiness and the sugar.  Cover it with peanut butter and stick it to the bait spot on the trap.  This ensures that the trap will spring.  I’m trying it now… will let you know how it turns out.

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Also, do not use poison in the attic, unless you want a sticking, rotting, rodent carcass wafting through your home!  Use poisons outside.  I like the ones where dogs and kids cannot get into them.  Also they make ones that are refillable.

Bottom line, unless you buy a rat at a pet store and think that’s cool, no one like rats in their house, especially their kitchen.  Let me know you 2 cents and what has worked for you.

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential sales and property management.

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Foodie Friday – New Sacramento Venue / Home Delights

PUNCH BOWL SOCIAL

Last weekend we did a little b-day celebrating… we were going to cash in a gift card for Frank Fat’s, but felt guilty that we leave the kids home too often (now that they are old enough and do not need a sitter).  So we decided to check out a newer joint called Punch Bowl Social.  It’s located adjacent to Golden 1 arena, aka DOCO (“Downtown Commons – yeah, yeah, yeah – I guess they really needed to change the image of a dying shopping mall from the 90’s).

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I’m happy to see change is in the works.  I got a reservation after reading about long waits.  We did a late afternoon, early evening  dinner, hoping to get some gaming in after we ate.  If you have not heard about this place… it’s kinda like Chucky Cheese for grown-ups.  We’ll maybe a little better than that – no creepy characters singing on stage.  Here are the features per their website – Include: 8 bowling lanes, VR, 2 bocce courts, shuffleboard, 80’s arcade, billiards, giant scrablle, 2 karaoke rooms, bonzini, foosball, photo booth.  This place is a cool concept,  which they’ve repeated in many larger cities all over the country.  They tout themselves as “Where scratch kitchen meets crafted bevs.”  We tried the lobster fried to start, which were mighty good!  My wife was actually surprise by the amount of lobster included (know how that goes… “where’s the lobster!” or fill in the blank where expensive item is included in an appetizer).  We did take our kids (12 & 14 yr. olds), so we ordered a bucket of fried chicken, which came with some biscuits and coleslaw.  In retrospect, we should have all ordered separately to give the menu a fair shake.

My oldest, who has become a food connoisseur, said, “This chicken is okay… a bit dry… I tend to like the exterior of the chicken at South better.”[South is a restaurant near Southside Park, featuring southern food, and damn good chicken].  And my response, “When you’ve had the best, you may be continually disappointed in life if you can’t roll with the punches [of mediocre fried chicken].”  After dinner we wandered around a bit, most all of the games were occupied and the boys were poo-pooing bowling.  My recommendation:  Get a reservation.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Go with adults and just have cocktails and chill.  Wait for a game everyone wants to play.  That’s my plan for next time – sorry kids, we will take you somewhere else.

IRON  – Sunday-Funday!

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My parents were in town and wanted to go to brunch.  We got a nearby reservation at Iron (Grill).  We’ve been once before just for appetizers and cocktails, and now have some brunch experience.  This place definitely flies under the radar.  Check it out.

DAD’S KITCHEN

I happened to be home Tuesday, which was also my birthday, and my oldest son had a minimum day.  I surprised him and said, “Let’s go to Dad’s for my birthday!”  It’s walking distance to our house and if you go a little before/after the lunch/dinner rush, you will beat the crowds.  They let us sit at the bar!  Good food and good memories were made.  They usually have a pretty good selection of beers on tap too!.  Nowadays, any chance I get to have some special, alone time with the boys, I take it.  Oh, bring your quarters… they have pinball machines.

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Where have you dined recently that is noteworthy for their food?  Or where you loved the atmosphere?

AT HOME

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This week again was a special week due to my birthday.  My wife made me ribeye steak with a herb butter topper and a chopped salad (if you have a Costco membership, they have a good buy on rib eye).  She heated a cast iron skillet in the over at 500 degrees, then seared the meat on both sides at a super-hot temperature, then finished it in the over until medium rare.  It came out perfect, especially with the herb butter on top.  I think she used garlic, rosemary, thyme, and parsley?  Also we opened a bottle of Mourvedre, which we purchased on our last trip to the foot hills from a winery called Fate.  The big test is always to see if it pairs well with food.  So many times a wine might taste great alone, but then is a bit disappointing with food.  Or, maybe more the opposite… trying a wine without food may be a disservice to the wine?

 

I’m spoiled to have a such a great wife, who is a fantastic cook and cares for our health!  For whatever reason, we had a back-to-back awesome dinner night.  The next evening  my wife baked some lovely salmon with fresh veggie.  She also picked up some shredded crab and sushi grade salmon, which I used to make hand rolls out of, plus our favorite, lomi-lomi salmon.  Our version of this is nigiri salmon, thinly sliced onions, chili oil, and a dash of soy sauce.  I added some togarahsi for a little extra flavor.

Anything special happen in your kitchen this week?  Would love to hear.

Cheers!

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

Specializing in residential sales and property management.

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Adding Value to a Home & to Your Life

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Many have asked me about what adds value to a home when it comes to backyards.  Most people know that a $60K pool will usually not add $60K in value to a home.  In some cases, it can even be a liability, or it highly depends on where the home is located and what is expected in that area of town.   What about fancy landscaping? When it comes to property management, many savvy investors love a yard that has little to no maintenance, saving on landscaping expenses.  Flippers many times just leave a yard like a blank canvas, putting money into the front yard and curb appeal.  When it comes to one’s personal residence, much of the value can be seen in the intrinsic joy a yard brings and the usability for the owner.  I had one client that wanted to make sure the backyard faced a certain direction., was not sloping and had certain feng shui characteristics.  Another wanted to make sure the sun came across the yard in a perfect path for their love of gardening, so she could grow the best produce.  One client had to have a space for pexels-photo-715134.jpega Japanese Maple.  Others are in love with having a fire pit, or an outdoor eating area.  Recently I sold a home where an appraiser called and was curious as to why it sold for $11,000 over asking, relative to other similar homes?  I believe it was due to the high-end landscaping, custom lighting, a water feature, perfected irrigation and watering system, etc.  This stuff is also very expensive and sometimes costly to maintain, but definitely added value to this homes selling price.  What I’m getting at, many times an addition of this or that it’s not a value add to others (or a buyer), but it adds tremendously to your life and perhaps family.  And, if done with some forethought, you may be able to accomplish both.

My backyard has gone through some serious renovation over the last few years, and I can now write this post without feeling shame for having a half finished, project-of-a-backyard.  The first dilemma for many, to hire a professional, or do it yourself.  I tend to be a glutton for punishment, so I took on the “art project,” as I like to call it.  The term gives me room for error – ha ha ha.  Whether it’s a financial thing, or you want to tap into your creative juices, there are so many things to consider before undertaking a project like this.  I found that it can be like pulling a thread… one thing leads to the next… things you have not even considered, whether it be drainage, lighting, plumbing (gas for a grill and water coming in and going out); electrical outlets, furniture, BBQ, shade, space and functionality – the list can be endless.  Again, remember the term, “art project” if you’re a DYI’er.

 

First of all our yard is postage stamp sized –  No football game or kicking the soccer ball around there.  We tried to tend the landscaping that there when we purchased the home, but it either died or became over grown with weeds and ivy coming over the fence.  We’ve tried to plant a garden, but it just does not get enough sun.

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The water feature broke and we just stopped going out there except to dump food scraps into the compost.  With a dog chasing squirrels, rats living in the ivy, and kids in Jr. High, we decided that we needed a 5th Space, or outdoor room – a place to host; an extension of our kitchen; an outdoor living area; a place where our kids and their friends would want to hang out.  This, for us, has added tremendous value to our family’s life and to the value of our home.  During our Christmas party we found a group of people sitting by the fire until late night … mission accomplished!

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I only posted a handful of pictures – let me know if you are interested in seeing more, or any of the particulars of the concrete counters, or brew pub inspired metal fence, or what I choose cinder block over metal, etc.?  I’m happy to share more pics or thoughts on construction, err, artwork.

In addition, check out this cool article from our friends over at Houzz.com – 30 Creative Backyard retreats. I do dream of a little office, or chill spot, or retreat in the backyard – maybe I will convert our garage/carriage house.  These pictures get my juices flowing.  How bout you?  Which one is your favorite?

[See my backyard pics below]

Keith Klassen, Real Estate Broker – 916.595.7900

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Backyard pictures…

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Excavating and Forming base for cabinet

I managed to get a little help from my oldest

Got some free brick on Next Door

Used a pasta faucet, attached to a funky post I found in the alley.  Built the forms for the counter tops, even thought it looks like I poured in place.

Grabbed the wood siding from someone down the street that was throwing it away

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Drought tolerant lawn, errrrrr, fake grass!

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Fence inspired by Moonraker brewery

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View from our bedroom balcony… 9/10ths complete!

Dart boards are fun!

Foodie Friday – Local Sacramento Eats / Spanish Flavor at Home

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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