Wine Country Real Estate

Real Estate News


March 15, 2013 -

"Buyer traffic is 40 percent above a year ago, so there is plenty of demand but insufficient inventory to improve sales more strongly," says NAR's chief economist.



March 8, 2013 -

Rate Movement


March 5, 2013 - Sales of residential properties are back to the highs experienced at the expiration of the Home Buyers Tax Credit in April 2010. One of the reasons for this surge in purchasing is that young…


5 Reasons You Should Buy a Home NOW!

February 4, 2013 - Many potential buyers are waiting until they can be 100% sure the real estate market has fully recovered before making the move to purchase a home. Here are five reasons why waiting might no…



Housing Affordability Continues to Rise

June 14, 2012

California housing affordability continues to rise in the first quarter of 2012 LOS ANGELES (May 14) – Housing affordability in California set a new record high in first quarter 2012 rising to 56 percent, the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (C.A.R.) reported today. The increase can be attributed to record-low interest rates and stabilization in home [...]


Read the full article →


June 6, 2012

The market is starting to move and lots of folks are getting great new homes. Do not miss this great opportunity to own a new home or investment property.  Contact your Realtor today!




Top 5 Predictions For 2012!

Happy New Year!  Wow what a ride 2011 was…so many changes in our community, globally, and in the real estate industry.   With the New Year comes a new opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future with fresh eyes and a new perspective.  As we experience new challenges so many opportunities are presented.  

This New Year brings many new and interesting opportunities, especially in the Real Estate market. Some predictions for Real Estate in 2012, no we do not have a crystal ball, but here are a few of our  thoughts:  

1.    The real estate market will continue to improve: Improve means more confidence, more activity and more sales. Our definition does not include increasing prices or a return to 2005 pricing.

 2.    Real estate will be seen as the “other Gold”: Many will come to real estate in rare and  beautiful places, like the Napa & Sonoma Valleys!

  3.    NEXT! Continues to be the favorite word of Buyers in 2012: Emotion has left the real estate market and will remain missing for at least the next year or so.

 4.     Second home sales will continue to do better than primary ones in 2012: Boomers will only deny themselves of what they want for so long. 

5.     2012 may be the best year to move on with your life: Prices are stabilizing, interest rates will start to creep upwards, all segments of the market, residential, development/building and commercial are moving ever so slightly forward.
We are so fortunate to live in the beautiful Napa Valley!  We love what we do and are happy to be working with so many wonderful people.  Developing new relationships and nurturing existing ones is the heart of our success.  May 2012 bring you health, happiness and prosperity.



January 6, 2012

Position Yourself to Qualify for a Loan

Below are some keys points from a recent NY Times article that was forwarded to me from our California Association of Realtors team. With the ability to purchase a home at all time highs, a surplus of money to lend, why are so many people having a hard time obtaining a loan? There are a number of reasons depending on the individual situation but below are some basics that may help you prepare and understand the process a little better.

home red

photo credit: nikcname

Triggers for rejection
Last year, more than two million people were turned down for homes, according to federal data, often because the applicants didn’t meet certain lender requirements or because their applications were incomplete or otherwise problematic.  With lenders’ underwriting criteria becoming more rigorous in recent years, it’s important buyers know the most common triggers for mortgage-loan rejection.

Making sense of the story

  • Insufficient income: Lenders want to be sure borrowers can afford to make the mortgage payments.  Lenders typically look for at least a two-year track record of income, which could hurt those who have changed jobs recently.
  • Cloudy financial picture: Generally, total debt payments, including the mortgage, cannot exceed 45 to 50 percent of a borrower’s adjusted gross monthly income.  Overtime and bonuses are included only if the borrower has worked for the same employer at least two years, and has a history of receiving them.
  • Poor credit: Lenders typically reject applicants with FICO scores below 620.
  • Low appraisal: One of the predominant reasons buyers are turned down for home loans is because the appraisal on the property is too low.  A buyer may think he or she is purchasing a house worth $800,000, but if the appraisal comes in less than that, the lender will not loan the borrower the money.
  • Property problems: Sometimes issues turn up within a house, like a major repair or safety issue that needs to be addressed, before an application can be approved.
  • Information mix-ups: Approximately 12 percent of new mortgage applications were denied because of unverifiable information or incomplete credit applications, according to the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council.


Don’t Take Someone’s Word When It Comes to Property Boundaries

I can tell you from experience I have seen some pretty ugly situations come up over the last twenty two years when it comes to property boundaries, including a home that was located on the adjoining neighbor’s property. Here’s a little advice – 1)When in doubt have a surveyor involved in the process and 2) Read your preliminary title report carefully – look for easements, property setbacks if you are changing the footprint at all in the future, passed lot line adjustments and property maps. When it comes to property lines ask the necessary questions and make sure you get all of the answers prior to moving forward in the transaction. Stephen K Smith, Prospect Mortgage, forwarded some key points to consider whenever the discussion about property boundaries is mentioned.     

Line Fence.....pola
Creative Commons License photo credit: noseforpics..

Property Boundaries

Fences should not be considered an indication of property boundaries. Legal property boundaries are demarcated by surveyor pins or stakes. These are typically 1/2″ to 3/4″ round iron pipes flush or buried slightly below land surface. Newer pins might have yellow or orange caps that indicate the surveyor’s license number.

Locating property lines can be challenging. Older surveyor pins tend to erode. Older property markers could be metal posts, rebar, pipes or car axles. Those having difficulty locating their surveyor pins, also called corner pins, should contact their city or county government and get a copy of their plat map.

Land Grant Map

photo credit: Marxchivist

A plat map will identify each specific lot located in a subdivision — as well as the shape and dimension of the lot — and where the
surveyor pins are located.

If a plat map is not available, or no pins are found, the next step is to contact a registered land surveyor to locate the property lines and set new surveyor pins. The boundary surveyor will thoroughly research city and county records relating to the land and all adjacent property. After research, the field work begins, reconciling the research with the onsite analysis on the property to determine the final boundary lines.

Boundary surveys might also include property improvements, fences, power lines and any encroachments crossing the property lines. Costs of a boundary survey can vary depending on property size, terrain, vegetation, location and season.

A survey is strongly recommended before subdividing, improving or building on land. Building beyond property lines could result in being forced to alter or remove a structure, fines and lawsuits.

There is Opportunity in Every Real Estate Cycle

Below is an excerpt from a recent Los Angeles Times article that actually pointed out some good news for many people who currently own property or want to buy property in the near future. With all the focus on the negative trends in the current real estate market it is sometime hard to see many of the opportunities available to us.

Los Angeles Times

Refinancing now could be better than waiting for mortgage rates to drop further

Mortgage rates on 30-year, fixed rate loans are hovering near the lowest level on record since 1951. While some home buyers are putting their home purchases on hold hoping rates will go even lower, many industry experts are advising homeowners with rates in the upper 4 percent range to refinance.


• Homeowners with rates in the upper four percent range are likely to benefit from refinancing, according to Peter Ogilvie, president of First Residential Mortgage Corp. in Santa Cruz, Calif. He says refinancing to a lower rate often produces monthly savings, as long as the borrower can qualify under today’s industry credit guidelines and loan-to-value underwriting standards.

• Some homeowners also may be good candidates for no-cost refinancing, where the title, escrow, and lender closing charges either are added to the mortgage principal balance or paid for over time with a slightly higher rate. The upsides to this option are reduced monthly payments, improved cash flow, and no outset of dollars at settlement.

• Borrowers who want to become debt-free faster and can afford it, ought to consider refinancing out of a 30-year term loan into a 15-year term. Fifteen-year mortgages carry lower rates than 30-year loans, but their faster amortization schedules require higher monthly payments.

• When considering whether refinancing is the best option, consumers are advised to take into account all of the fees associated with the refinance and decide if the money saved is worth the cost of the refinance.


Effective September 29, 2010, the City of Napa will have a new flood map. When the new maps are adopted, flood insurance requirements will change. The new map reassigns 1,336 homes from zones designated Special Flood Hazard Areas. The updated map also re-zones 537 homes from low/moderate-risk to high risk Special Flood Hazard Areas. Most of the homes are located along the newly identified Salvador Creek hazard area in north Napa. Read the entire article.

Lending Guidelines Change – Consumers Go from Qualified to Unqualified

There have been many changes over the last few years in regard to real estate financing and for the most part the changes have been good. The trouble in today’s lending world is change is ongoing so a person who qualified for financing thirty days ago may not qualify today. Attached are some simple Do’s and Don’ts that have caused havoc with many borrowers recently.


For additional news and resources we suggest visiting the following websites:

North Bay Biz: a business publication covering the North Bay Area.

The North Bay Business Journal: focusing on key industries in Napa, Sonoma, and Marin Counties

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