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Sonoma County’s Spring 2020 Market

Local real estate market facing unprecedented times PHOTO ROLLIE ATKINSON

NEW SHELTER, NEW PLACE — Sonoma County’s need for more housing is another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic and current public health emergency. Eventually projects like Portello, located in Windsor, will return to an active market. This project will include 89 homes with nine different floor plans in a wide choice of prices. For a virtual tour, visit JKBWINDSOR.COM. has been conducted in “virtual” communications remodel experts like LEFF Construction report a for decades. It’s not business as usual, by any fair volume of client talks and planning. What means, but the biggest thing missing right now is better motivation is there than to be cooped up the personal handshakes at the end of a closed with extra time to survey existing floorplans and deal. begin to wonder, “what if ?” Sonoma County properties are part of the Elaine Lucia, marketing director for LEFF Construction said the staff is staying connected national and international market where By Rollie Atkinson with lots of ZOOM meetings and conference calls. investments also include business acquisitions, Sonoma West Staff “The most important aspect for safely keeping the bond investments and stock market trading. business going, our employees working, and our When all those investment opportunities fill up ow do you buy or sell a house when with uncertainty and volatility, lots of people turn clients serviced is constant communication,” she everyone is under orders to “shelter in to the security of real estate. said. “I honestly don’t think our team has felt place” to avoid personal contact during the There were 208 individual home sales recorded closer together than we are now as we go through public health emergency from the COVID-19 in January, just before the caronavirus news his crisis.” Before the pandemic alerts, local pandemic? This crisis is having multiple impacts began hitting the front page of local newspapers. builders already were in emergency status, on all individuals, households, local businesses catching up from projects impacted from the two Selling prices remained stable and the median and industries but consider being a real estate wildfires in 2017 and 2019, plus the demand housing price was $662,500, according to local professional where the market is basically offeverywhere to build new housing units to address MLS surveys. limits to everyone. California’s housing shortage and affordability It also seems that people shuttered in their As it turns out, there was the usual amount of homes are floating ideas about future home problems. mid-winter transaction being settled and recorded improvement projects and property prior to the March 17 order to “shelter in place.” enhancements. Several general contractors and See Market Page 4 And, a big portion of today’s real estate industry

COVID-19 pandemic is limiting activity and transactions



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DRE# 01486075


Market Continued from page one “At LEFF we were getting a lot of requests the past two years for ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) so families could house their elderly parents, adult children and grandchildren all together,” said Lucia. Depending on how the question, “how’s business,” is framed there are several varieties of responses. One realtor answered: D.O.A. (‘dead on arrival”), while another. Another local agent said his latest listing in Monte Rio scored a contract just last week. “There are more people trying to move from the cities and acquire a second home, as an income property, or as a possible primary residence if need be,” said Eoin O’Brien, of the Berkshire Hathaway office in Guerneville. All real estate offices, title companies and mortgage lenders are employing electronic transfers of documents and signatures. “For the moment real estate is still a great place to invest especially seeing how much stocks have dropped. But loss of income will definitely have an effect on the market. It all depends on how soon we can contain COVID-

19,” said O’Brien. But the industry is under special restrictions during the Shelter In Place time period and California declaration of a public health emergency. “Because it is morally and ethically wrong to subject our buyers and sellers to exposure most of our “new” listings are being placed in the MLS into the “Coming Soon” category for other agents and brokers to see,” commented Cloverdale real estate broker Ron Pavelka. “This in turn does not place the property into Days on Market (DOM) that can adversely affect a property in the eyes of the public and agents/brokers. In fact our local MLS has extended the time from for Coming Soon to mirror the potential of the prolonged SIP based on the virus.” Pavelka is a veteran of the Sonoma County real estate industry and has witnessed and participated in many changing market conditions and recent natural disasters. “The bottom line is that we are in the same boat as other service and hospitality people — no income for the foreseeable future,” he said. According to MLS statistics there were no home sales in the Cloverdale market in December.

HOUSE & Home April 2020 A special supplement to the April 2, 2020 edition of:

The Healdsburg Tribune The Windsor Times

Michael Laird, a realtor with W Real Estate also expressed that “safety” for all his clients and coworkers has become job number on. “My main goal is to help my clients stay safe and offer to help them however I can. We need to all stay safe and keep a positive attitude as we get through this together, he said. He said buyers and sellers he was working with have “put things on hold. “Social distancing is the key. Every day we get guidance from the California Association of Realtors concerning what we are allowed or not allowed to do assisting our clients, said Laird. Most area agents, title company and mortgage lender professionals are now working from home or out of the office and applying policies that limit face to face interactions, he said. “Interest rates remain historically low but, have been moving up and down keeping us all on our toes,” he also said. As of presstime for HOUSE & Home, the ink was still very wet on the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ (CARES Act) signed by President Donald Trump on March 27. The Act includes several programs of assistance and loans for

Photo Rollie Atkinson

VIRTUAL — The current real estate market is “all virtual” with no handshakes allowed.

homeowners, landlords and tenants. Much of this support will be filtered through local banks in Small Business Administration programs. Local residents should be prepared to obtain information in the coming days or weeks from their local bank office.




Print & Digital Content and Layout: Rollie Atkinson, Jim Schaefer, Maci Martell Advertising & Sales: Teresa Elward, Carol Rands, Brad Schmaltz, Laura Tew Office & Administration: Jan Todd All contents are copyrighted by ©Sonoma West Publishers, Inc. PO Box 518, Healdsburg, CA 95448


Store Hours: Mon-Fri 9am-5pm; Sat 10am-2pm www.healdsburgpool.com 14A Healdsburg Ave. • Healdsburg • 707.433.6451 HOUSE & Home

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Sonoma County’s Energy and Sustainability Division announces financing program expansion he Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division is proud to announce an exciting expansion to the county’s Energy Independence Program. Originally debuting in 2009, the program has helped fund thousands of projects and has been instrumental in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expanding county-wide job creation. Initially, the program allowed property owners to finance energy efficiency and water conservation-related improvements through the property tax system as an assessment. The expansion brings the ability to finance seismic strengthening and wildfire safety through the same means.


Q: What types of improvements can you finance? A: Class A roofing, windows, ember resistant siding, gutters, eaves, vents, earthquake brace and bolt to name a few. Things like HVAC, Solar Systems, battery back-ups have been financed since 2009. These added measures bring the eligible list to over 100 hundred improvements. Q: Is this for residential and commercial properties? A: The financing is available for any property in Sonoma County. However, non-profit, tax-exempt properties may have additional considerations.

Q: How does the program work? A: The financing is based on the current market property value. You can borrow up to 10%. Since the financing is property-based, there is no income or credit qualifying. You need to be current on any mortgages and property taxes. Financing is a fixed rate with a choice of a 10 or 20-year term. Q: What makes this different than traditional financing?

Benefits of property improvement financing:


About the Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division: The Energy and Sustainability Division was established in 2006 as part of the Sonoma County General Services Department to advance efficient and sustainable government, residential, and business practices in Sonoma Q: How can I learn more or County. start an application? About Sonoma County: The A: Visit the website at County of Sonoma is comprised of sonomacountyenergy.org/financing 25 departments and agencies that or call (707) 565-6470. provide a full range of services to the community. It encompasses over 1600 square miles and is home to almost 500,000 residents. Sonoma County government has a history of providing excellent and responsive public service while operating under sound fiscal principles. A: Because it’s based on the property, your financial situation or portfolio are not considered. This type of “off-the-books” financing is appealing to both residential and commercial property owners because it doesn’t compromise their ability to borrow personally.


Residential and Non-Residential properties


10 or 20-year terms available


Over 100 eligible improvements


Property located in Sonoma County


No income or credit qualification



Property-based financing

Permanent energy, water, wildfire safety and seismic strengthening improvements


Finance up to 10% of your current market value


Fixed interest rate

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Are you anxious about the economy? New survey reveals your next steps The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown of major segments of the economy has thrust us into a historic recession. Roughly three quarters of respondents said an economic downturn would affect their household, with more than a third projecting it would have a major impact. Experts agree that developing and sticking with a prudent, long-term financial plan is key to protecting yourself against market swings, and the survey findings underscored the value of partnering with a financial advisor before and during a recession. Sixty-seven percent of respondents who are working with a financial advisor said they would feel prepared if a recession began in the next 12 months, compared to 38 percent of those not working with an advisor. In addition, 77 percent of people working with an advisor said they are confident their advisor would successfully manage their finances through a down market.

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional can help you bring all of the pieces of your financial life together and provide confidence that your finances can withstand the pressures of an economic downturn. Of the survey respondents who work with a CFP professional, 73 percent reported feeling more prepared for a potential recession now than they did in 2008, during the Great Recession. Trained to give you a “big picture” view of financial solutions and develop a plan that is tailored to your specific goals and interests, a CFP professional will help you set longand short-term goals and will periodically review and adjust your financial plan as needed to ensure you stay on track to reach those goals. A CFP professional will also help you understand the implications of your financial choices, providing competent and ethical advice that supports sound financial decisionmaking and avoids impulsive actions. Partnering with a financial advisor may be one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from feeling the effects of a dramatic market declined.

Photo courtesy State Point 

OUTLOOK — While no one was expecting the COVID-19 pandemic to hit in 2020, very few households were prepared for any economic challenges.

— (StatePoint)

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Top ways to lighten your workplace at home Many people have found themselves working from home. Whether setting up shop at the kitchen table or creating a complete home office, here are simple hacks to make your new work environment comfortable and productive. No matter which room becomes your workspace, proper lighting plays a key role in avoiding fatigue, eye strain and other discomforts. Begin by defining your workspace. Setting up on the kitchen or dining table can work — temporarily. The upside is that it’s quick and easy. But these rooms are typically high-traffic areas, leading to distractions. Plus, you might have to pack up work at mealtimes. Instead, repurpose a small table and chair and place it in an out-of-the-way spot, such as a stairwell or bedroom corner. Next, think about lighting. Layering light is a basic technique that should be used in every room, but especially home offices. Balance the lighting for different times of day. Natural light for day, layered light for afternoon and task lighting at night. There are three layers of light to consider: ambient or general light, task lighting and decorative or accent lighting. Select a location with a good source of ambient light. Natural light is ideal: it diffuses throughout the space, bouncing off walls and ceilings to cut down on glare that can reflect on the computer monitor and the shiny desk surface. When selecting ambient light sources, the goal is to illuminate the entire space without creating undue glare and contrast, which can lead to

headaches and eye strain. If possible, avoid using overhead ceiling fixtures as the primary source of lighting. If that’s the only option, use a dimmer switch to vary light levels as needed. Positioning your workspace correctly also helps. For rooms with natural light, place your desk perpendicular to the window, ideally facing north or south so that sunlight doesn’t cast shadows at certain times of the day. If an overhead fixture is the only light source, situate your workstation so that the light shines from behind it. Make sure your home office suits your performance under particular lighting conditions. • Don’t set your monitor in front of the window; the bright background light shining behind the screen causes eye strain. • Place your chair at least arm’s length from the screen so that it can be seen without reading glasses or squinting. • Add LED tape lighting behind your monitor or under a desk for diffused light. • Use solar shades to soften lighting and lessen heat. After setting up a glare-free workstation, add task lighting. Use dedicated light sources such as desk lamps for tasks like paperwork and filing. Place direct task lights on the opposite side of the hand you write with to avoid casting shadows onto your work. Finally, add accent lighting for visual appeal. Frame your workspace with desk lamps or install a permanent fixture on a dimmer switch, such as a pendant hung directly over the desk.

Photo courtesy StatePoint 

HOME OffICE — Balanced, ambient light makes for a productive work environment and avoids fatigue.

Wall sconces can throw light on decorative objects in the room. Lighting can make or break a home office. Be sure to set yourself up for maximum productivity and comfort. — (StatePoint)

Make a move toward a more healthy, comfortable and energy efficient home.


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Outdoor cleaning tips that could save thousands The sounds of birds chirping, longer daylight hours, and budding trees and flowers are early signs that warmer weather and spring are on the way. That means more time outside to enjoy nature, but it’s also a sign it might be time for a little spring cleaning. Cold temperatures and winter rains can have a big effect on houses and landscaping, so now’s the time to check for potential home repairs and maintenance. Spring cleaning isn’t just about getting rid of belongings you no longer want or need — it’s also a time to get your home in tip-top shape so you can enjoy it throughout the rest of the year." Here are four tips recommended to welcome the new season and save some money down the road. 1. Clean your gutters. Gutters collect debris over time, especially when rain, snow and wind causes twigs, pine needles and leaves to settle on your roof and in your rain gutters. Accumulated debris can create blockages that direct water into the home or, in areas without much precipitation, can act as kindling in the event of a fire. Buildup also allows mildew and mold to develop, which can slowly decay a home’s exterior and roof. Preventable damage like mold or

mildew that develops and rots a home’s exterior isn’t covered by homeowners insurance. It’s important to routinely clean out gutters — even if you have gutter guards installed, they don’t completely protect against debris building up eventually. An hour or two spent cleaning or checking your gutters is time well spent compared to the alternative. 2. Trim branches and remove dangerous trees. Thunderstorm frequency picks up in summer months, and high winds can occur year round, so it’s best to get a jump on tree maintenance in early spring. Regularly trimming tree branches reduces their chance of breaking during a storm, which could cause power outages or property damage. Properly trimmed branches present a lower risk of falling onto your home, power lines or possibly injuring someone on your property. Also, in areas that are prone to wildfires, trimmed trees create a buffer zone to help lower the chances of flames easily jumping onto your roof. Consider having the trees on your property inspected by an arborist to determine their health and have diseased trees removed before they topple over unexpectedly. Removal costs vary depending on height and

difficulty, but range from $100 to around $1,800. These preventative costs are not covered by your homeowners policy, but can be a wise investment that saves you time, money and anxiety. 3. Watch out for service lines. Homeowners who want to plant gardens, trees or install additional landscape features to enhance their outdoor living space should be aware of potential underground utility lines. Most service lines — a network of exterior, underground utility lines or pipes that supply a home with electricity, gas, water and sewer functions - are only buried a few inches beneath the ground. Accidentally hitting one when digging can result in loss of service, expensive repairs or a serious injury. If a break to a service line happens on a homeowner’s property, special machinery may be needed to excavate pipes from beneath the ground, which may require digging under your home, garden or driveway. The homeowner is responsible for repair or replacement costs, and this damage can be inconvenient, expensive and isn’t covered by a standard homeowners insurance policy. The average cost to repair a break to a service line is about $5,000 and most Americans wouldn’t welcome

Photo courtesy BPT 

DO IT NOW — Consider ‘Shelter in Place’ a great opportunity to catch up on home maintenance chores. 

such a large surprise bill. Homeowners should definitely consider purchasing an endorsement to their insurance policy to protect against losses of this nature. Mercury offers this coverage as an addition to our home insurance policy and it costs as little as $8 a year, depending on the home’s age. To be safe, homeowners should call See Outdoor Cleaning Page 10






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Managing kids’ screen time while sheltering Navigating digital devices during shelter in place

• Addictive behaviors, and even violent tendencies. • Vision problems. • An increased risk of obesity. With all that said, here are a few With many kids out of school and ways to manage your children’s spending most of their time at home, screen time: finding ways to fill the time is • Create a routine. Post a schedule essential. As most parents know, it each morning in a place that’s easy can be tempting to allow children to for kids to see. Include such items as pass some of the extra hours using doing chores, reading books, digital devices, however, research practicing an instrument, creating shows that managing screen time is artwork, playing in the backyard and vital for developing minds. any other activity that will help When used in moderation and ensure chunks of the day are spent under parental supervision, devices away from screens doing something of course can be incredibly powerful productive. learning and communication tools, • Talk. Be extra proactive about and in many cases, they will be vital starting conversations with your to kids’ continued academic progress kids. Check in with them about while campuses are closed. However, progress on assigned homework. Ask people aren’t meant to spend all their them how they are feeling. Children time in front of screens, especially are used to being surrounded by kids. Excessive screen time can lead fellow students and teachers all day, to: so be sure to give them opportunities • Impaired mental and physical to practice social skills. well-being. • Use tech tools. Every parent • A loss of quality sleep. knows the struggle of limiting • Impeded impulse control — for device use. But new tech tools can kids, impulse control is already hard help you make rules that stick. enough! Many choices are available on the • Poor communication skills internet, at Apple’s App Store and (nonverbal cues are learned in facefrom advice from neighbors or local to-face interaction, not through educators. device-to-device communication). You may be spending more time

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together as a family these days, which makes this a key opportunity to be a good role model when it comes to proper device use. For example, if you don’t want your child to use their device in the middle of dinner, hold yourself to the same rule. — (StatePoint)

Continued from page 9 811 before digging so the utility companies can send a locator to mark the approximate locations of underground service lines. 4. Service your air conditioning unit. Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems is essential to ensure the equipment is in proper working order, which can save money on energy bills, as well as protect against expensive repair and replacement costs. No one wants to unexpectedly find themselves living in a sauna during the dog days of summer, so the start of spring is a great time to have your air conditioner inspected. You should also change your air filter to make sure it’s operating at its highest efficiency, so when that heat wave hits you’ll be nice and cool inside your home. Have a professional inspect your HVAC unit to make sure its exterior condenser coil and compressor are clean and free from blockages — the average cost for an inspection is about $300. Your home will bring you security and joy for many years to come. Taking the time to maintain it is well worth the investment. — (BPT)

John Parry and Laura Goldman, Owners of Solar Works and Mark Reece, Owner of Benedetti Tires.

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Photo courtesy monkeybusinessimages 

HOME NOT ALONE — Parents need to model good screen time habits.

Outdoor Cleaning

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ealdsburg Floor Coverings is a local, full-service floor covering store that provides you with quality materials, people you can trust and a price that is fair. The employee-owned company sells and installs almost every floor covering imaginable — both residential and commercial — including carpet, hardwood, laminate, linoleum, ceramic and porcelain tile, vinyl tiles and plank. Locally owned for over 16 years, Healdsburg Floor Covering’s newly remodeled showroom includes many new products as well as an expanded tile selection while providing a comfortable, friendly atmosphere that exemplifies their way of doing business: “Big Enough to Serve You, Small Enough to Care.” They are also active in their communities, supporting local organizations and giving back with their time and energy. Healdsburg Floor Coverings prides itself on customer satisfaction. They run an efficient operation that allows them to price competitively. The owners, George, Tim and Travis, are in the showroom, and they can beat or match the bids from the big box stores plus their commitment to quality is superior. Shop local and shop Healdsburg Floor Coverings, open Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


1423 Grove Street • Healdsburg • 433-8008 • www.healdsburgfloors.com HOUSE & Home

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financing Improvements made affordable Make a move towards a more energy efficient and resilient building with our Property Improvement Financing.

Benefits: Q Q Q Q Q

10 or 20 year terms Fixed “simple” interest rate Property-based financing No income or credit qualifications Finance up to 10% of your current market value

Over 100 Eligible Improvements Including: Q Q Q Q Q

Battery storage and solar Fire resistant Roofing, Siding and Decking Seismic strengthening Energy efficient ient HV VA AC And more...

ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY DIVISION 2300 Center enter D Dr., r., Ste Ste A105 A A1105 2 300 County County C Santa 95403 S anta Rosa, Rosa, CA CA 95403 GSEnergy@sonoma-county.org G SEnergy@sonoma-county.org




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House & Home Spring 2020  

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