Now that the hubbub of the holidays is past it’s time to dust off last year’s resolutions and change the date, again. You know the drill, get 45 30 minutes of exercise at least 4 days a week, keep tax receipts organized, clear out clothes I never wear from the closet, and eat more salads and less chocolate. Now that I keep the list on the computer it’s much easier the change the dates. Can’t the computer do that for me automatically?

Carlos and I attended a fund raiser dinner/dance for the Mentor Me program on New Years Eve. I hope they met their goals because it is such an excellent program. After dinner I danced him silly. It didn’t take much. I think the cha cha pushed him over the edge. Our table mates included Armando and Sandy Zimmermann (an inspirational force for beginning the Mentor Me program).

Since congress managed to avoid doing a Thelma and Louise over the fiscal cliff, the economy should be looking more positive this year. With the continuing amazingly low interest rates anyone seriously looking for a home should consider getting their finances in order and check out what’s available. That’s something I can help you with. On the flip side, if you’ve been sitting on fence about selling your home, the combination of limited inventory and willing and able buyers may make this just the right time for you to make your move.

The recent flurry of rain storms raised the creek’s level by several feet at one point. No flooding except for the blackberry thicket on the banks, but it was pretty exciting. We keep a close watch on it every time rain is predicted. I know the reservoirs need the water and this summer we’ll be glad for the snow pack, oh, that reminds me, I’ll add keeping the gutters clear to Carlos’s resolution list.

Frosty mornings make it so very hard to leave the warmth of the comforter. The sound of water rushing in the creek and the morning sun bathing the sycamore with a pinkish golden glow give me plenty of reason to contemplate the day for a few minutes more while sipping morning coffee. But then Bitsy the dog, starts barking at the Blue Jays finishing off the cat’s food on the back porch and I know it time to snap into action for another day in our wonderful wine country.

If you have any questions about buying or selling real estate, how to get around New Year resolutions, how to stop a dog from barking at Blue (Steller) Jays and bushy tail grey squirrels, feel free to give me a call.
 


Our go-to spot for breakfast in Glen Ellen is the Garden Court Café. The star of the show is definitely Rosemarie. She and her husband Nick have owned the cafe, which is open for breakfast and lunch (including Mondays ((so locals would have someplace for breakfast on Monday mornings)) but not Tuesdays) for the last 5 years. 
I sometimes buy some of their homemade jam to take home (I find most commercial jams too sweet for my taste) and even manage a loaf of their homemade wholewheat and sourdough. I am also a fan of their scones. The display counter is always full of way too tempting baked goods. Since both Nick and Rosemarie love to bake, I can hardly wait to try each of their versions of cornbread. On weekdays it seems that locals mostly fill the place. Weekends it’s a popular stop for bicyclists, city dwellers who have second homes in the area and people up for a weekend of wine tasting.
When you are in Glen Ellen be sure to stop in for a hearty, tasty, family-friendly meal.

 

Sonoma country home. Almost an acre with a country feeling close to town. Two bedroom cottage needing your vision. Large living room fireplace. Detached garage/workshop. Outbuildings. Horse paddock at front of property.

Offered at $399,000 |  MLS 21227462


Vintage building with visibility and access from historic Sonoma Plaza. Currently housing a popular art gallery, it also includes a charming residential living space on the Church Street side along with private covered patio.

Offered at $880,000 MLS 21208614


I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a calming influence on selling my home and buying another—all within one month!  

Your pricing of my home was perfect to bring in some fabulous offers, your dealings with the other agents professional and timely.  You always responded to me and my concerns, and offered encouragement and hand-holding when I needed it.  

You are great to work with, Sheila, and I will refer others with no hesitation! Thanks again!

Sincerely, Carol Kelley



Lender Column
WHAT’S WORKING

With the start of a new year upon us, I wanted to put down a number of important information points related to the housing market. —Michael

MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION SURVIVES 
The mortgage interest deduction seemed to be on the chopping block as politicians worked on reducing the deficit.  But the deduction survives.  The mortgage interest deduction allows homeowners to deduct interest on their primary homes and an additional residence which can include a vacation home or even a boat.  Deductions are also available for interest on home equity loans and the premiums on private mortgage insurance (PMI).  Housing groups fought very hard to retain the deduction as it’s viewed as critical to the recovery taking place in the housing market.

PROHIBITION ON TAXING FORGIVEN DEBT SURVIVES 
This is a big win when it comes to the housing market recovery.  The prohibition on taxing forgiven debt was enacted several years ago in response to the foreclosure epidemic.  It was set to expire on 12/31/12.  Under old tax rules creditors had to report forgiven debt to the IRS including unpaid mortgage debt when a short sale is approved or any deficiency resulting from a foreclosure sale.  This debt would then be taxable as ordinary income, thus discouraging homeowners from considering short sales and increasing the financial hardship imposed by foreclosure.

DON’T EXPECT A BUYERS MARKET
There have been many stories over the past few years about the struggling real estate market, with sellers slashing prices in order to sell their homes.  But in most areas of the country, those days are gone.  We are now in a period of recovery and rising home values, and many housing markets have transformed into buyers’ markets from sellers’ markets.  Don’t expect to make a ‘low ball’ offer and have any real chance of getting your offer accepted.

EXPECT A THOROUGH INVESTIGATION FROM YOUR LENDER
The old days of reduced documentation are long gone (no matter how big your salary is or how much money you have in the bank).  Be fully prepared to provide a large pile of paperwork, and be prepared for underwriters to ask for things that don’t seem at all logical or pertinent to the transaction.  Always remember to provide everything that is asked for without argument – it will make the whole process much smoother!

FHA LOAN INSURANCE IS SCHEDULED TO RISE THIS YEAR 
FHA loans are extremely popular among first time home buyers.  But these loans required borrowers to pay an Upfront Mortgage Insurance Premium, as well as an annual premium.  The annual premium (paid monthly) is scheduled to go up soon.

MORTGAGE RATES TO REMAIN LOW
Mortgage rates are predicted to stay low in 2013.  Freddie Mac predicts the average rate for a 30 year mortgage will remain below 4% for the first half of 2013.

Michael Madsen, Senior Loan Officer, Stearns Lending, Cell 707.481-2844, mmadsen@stearns.com

SNEAK PREVIEWS
 

Sonoma Valley View This charming 2bd/2.5ba home offers two master suites upstairs, one with a deck and views of the mountains, as well as a loft area perfect for your media room. Fabulous cook’s kitchen with hardwood floors, wolf range, granite counters including island with sink, and large walk-in pantry. The great room features a fireplace and french doors to the private rear deck with hot tub.



Build your dream home and/or barn in Sonoma. Within minutes to Sonoma Plaza, this 5.1 acre parcel has a 5 bedroom mound septic system already installed. With vineyard and mountain views, your possibilities are unlimited.