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4th Issue - Early Fall 2017

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Welcome Back!

Thanks for a great 2017!  I 'm one of the top 10% agents in Marin County. I help clients buy and sell homes in Marin, Napa, Sonoma, San Francisco... practically anywhere.
 
How is the market? The median price of a single family home in Marin County hit $1,215,000 in August.  "Ouch!" for first-time home buyers!  August was a busy month but with substantially fewer homes selling than August of last year (178 vs. 235). Currently there are nearly 350 homes on the market.  The fall is typically a robust selling time; homes do sell into the end of the year, so it’s not too late to sell in 2017.  Buyers, mostly downsizers and relocators, are out looking.
 
Interest rates are still low – hovering around 3.5% for a 30 year fixed rate.  The economy is humming along nicely.  Look at your stock portfolio.  I think you will be pleased with the growth of your investments this year.  The economists I follow expect the strong economy to continue into 2018 and interest rates to remain low.

Are you worried about selling your home due to the capital gains you might incur?  Remember, if your home has been your primary residence for at least 2 years of the 5 years before the sale and you are married, the IRS will give you a $500,000 deduction off your profit. If you are single you get $250,000.  Use your receipts to add to your cost basis. These can include remodeling costs, architect fees, new landscaping, pool/spa, new driveway, upgraded appliances, etc.  Even certain marketing and closing costs when you sell can be added to your basis calculation. Your tax liability may be quite minimal.  Go to
IRS.gov, Publication 523 for more information, and of course talk to your accountant.

Read on and enjoy. As always, my Kronicle includes a mix of home-related and "non-real estate" tips and tidbits. I hope you enjoy them. I always "road-test" all of my tips. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you need referrals to tradespeople or any help. HAVE A WONDERFUL FALL!


~ Katie 

Home Prices Per Square Foot: 2017 vs 2016

I prefer to look at the Average Cost Per Square Foot rather than the Average Sales Price or Median Sales Price when studying growth trends. Fairfax and Larkspur continue to be the leaders in terms of growth in sales price over the last two years. Bottom line - real estate prices continue to rise in Marin due to strong demand and low inventory.
 
Marin Cities Average Price per Sq Ft
2017
Average Price per Sq Ft 2016
Belvedere $1,113 $1,052
Corte Madera $771 $781
Fairfax $630 $537
Greenbrae $812 $773
Kentfield $773 $889
Larkspur $954 $869
Mill Valley $758 $798
Novato $480 $443
Ross $1,079 $1,038
San Anselmo $716 $684
San Rafael $580 $576
Sausalito $897 $849
Tiburon $951 $934
ALL MARIN $666 $670
 
Source: BAREIS MLS. Note: Total square footage is most often calculated on GROSS LIVING AREA only - unfinished basements and garages are not included.
Home and Garden - Special Fall Section

Is Your Home Ready for Winter?

 

Be smart and schedule your service people NOW to check a number of your systems before winter begins - it looks like it may be here sooner than later!
 
First on the list should be your ROOF! Last year I had my roof inspected for the first time in 10 years. The roofer recommended replacing all 10 pipe jacks (also called boot jacks) because the bases or gaskets are made of neoprene, a form of plastic that deteriorates over time. When the seals are compromised, the jacks leak. When you look at your roof, the pipe jacks are those pipes sticking up from the roof providing exhaust from a bathroom or kitchen fan. If your roof is over 10 years old you should consider having the pipe jacks inspected. Here is an image of what a pipe jack looks like:
 

The neoprene is replaced with galvanized metal to prevent leaks. During the roof inspection my roofer also found a small roofing nail that had popped up. It was a sure source for a leak. He repaired it with a roof patch. Total cost for all roof work: $1,100. 
Furnace Check: Either you or a company you trust should check your furnace to be sure it operates properly. Change the filter and label the new one with the date it was inserted. I have my HVAC inspector crawl under the house to check the ductwork to be sure the ducts are all connected to the heating vents. Disconnected ducts cause valuable heat to be lost.

Gutters: Have your gardener or gutter cleaning service blow the leaves and dirt from your gutters. Or do it yourself, if you are so inclined and don't mind heights. Be sure to keep them clean during winter, and don't forget to change the downspout leaf guards.

Important Fall Checklist

 
I like to use the end of Daylight Savings (see "Fall Back", below) as a reminder to take care of a number of important annual or semi-annual tasks, such as:
  • Change the batteries in all of your smoke detectors; use 10 year batteries;
  • Schedule an appointment to have your gutters cleaned out:
  • Check the trees on your property to make sure that any branches overhanging your home are trimmed back;
  • Turn your irrigation system down (or off) depending on the weather.

Earthquake Season?

Fall tends to be the time we think about earthquakes. The Bay Area seems to have lucked out with no recent natural disasters, but let's not be greedy. Be sure to store in your home or garage at least 1 gallon of water per household member per day in large containers labeled with date. Canned goods and other non-perishable foods should be readily available. Consider having a hand-cranked radio and flashlights with extra batteries on hand. These, among many other household supplies for natural disasters can be obtained at the Disaster Supply Center (formerly Earthquake Supply Center) on Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael. I also suggest keeping a supply of cash and important household papers easily accessible. I have mine stored in a plastic zipper case. It's a good idea to keep an emergency earthquake kit in each car (these are also available at the Disaster Supply Center). Click here to download an Emergency Supply List.

It's crucial to have a family emergency plan - make sure your children and family members know of a central meeting spot in case they don't live with you. Designate an out-of-state friend or relative to be the person everyone contacts to report their whereabouts. Also wise to have an emergency plan for your pets. Better safe than sorry!

Fall Back!

It's that time again... on November 5th we will all need to set our clocks back one hour. Yes, that means the days will be shorter. But it also means that we will get an extra hour! So think about doing something rewarding for yourself during that hour... read a book, go for a walk, or call a friend that you haven't seen in awhile...

Gadgets Galore

Just Zip It!
No More Clogged Drains!

 
Zip It is an inexpensive plastic device that unclogs kitchen, sink and bathtub drains. A Zip It costs less than $5 at any hardware store, and it really works by yanking out hair, dirt, or whatever is stuck in the drain. No need for Drano or harsh chemicals. Add one to your holiday stockings and your family members will thank you.

Best Sponge Ever
No More Smelly Sponges!

No one likes smelly sponges! After a short while, sponges smell, spread bacteria and just get gross. I used to have to toss mine frequently, but no more, thanks the the Kuhn Rikon Stay Clean Silicone Sponge. It doesn't absorb odors and is long lasting. Available in many colors at Sur La Table, Amazon and elsewhere. Approximately $8. Another practical stocking stuffer!



Did You Know...?

Unusual Items for Your Dishwasher

 
Who would have thought you could wash baseball caps in a dishwasher? Well, apparently you can, if you put them in the top rack with little or no soap. Other dishwasher safe items include flip flops and rubber boots, household tools, tweezers and nail clippers, BBQ grills if they fit, house keys, sponges, small toys, contact lens cases, cup holders from the car... the list goes on. NOTE: Dishwasher should be empty (except for the items) and very clean. Run with hot water and a small amount of soap to clean it first. Be sure to clean out the filter first.

For more ideas and details, click HERE.
My Favorite Stores and Services

Sprouts Farmer's Market

 
 
These markets are located all over the Bay Area. Some people refer to them as "lower priced Whole Foods". I think they fill a niche between Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I love their organic bins filled with raw almonds (often $4.99/pound), cashews, nuts and a variety of grains. Although their produce section can be somewhat limited, some of their organic fruits and vegetables are well priced - especially melons. You'll want to spend time browsing their extensive section of natural and organic beauty products, sunscreens, vitamins and supplements. Often these products are marked down 25% - check the store website.

 



 

JET.COM


Are you looking for an alternative to Amazon? Look no further than Jet.com, a direct challenger in the eCommerce arena. Owned by Walmart, Jet.com is a site where you can buy your staple goods, toiletries, diapers, etc. often at prices lower than Amazon. Their prices drop in many cases, allowing you to get an additional discount. Fast shipping too!. For more information on how Jet.com works, go to their FAQ section.

 

Catch the Wave!

Blue Wave is a new, eco-friendly (recycled water, biodegradable soaps and waxes) drive-through carwash located on Francisco Blvd. East in San Rafael. It's fast, inexpensive and really fun! In less than two minutes, your car will be squeaky clean... then drive it over to the do-it-yourself vacuum bays to clean up your floors and mats. Be careful not to leave any cash or valuables around; the vacuums have uber suction power! Helpful hint: As of now, towels aren't available to catch those extra drips, so be sure to bring your own. Click here to find out more about this innovative new business.
A Fall Recipe to Warm Your Heart


Fall Cheddar Corn Chowder
Everyone loves the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. This deliciously satisfying soup recipe from one of her books was recommended to me by a friend, who served it as an annual Halloween pre-trick-or-treating meal for her kids. Also perfect for a hearty lunch, along with a crusty loaf of Country Levain from San Anselmo-based M.H. Bread and Butter. 
  • 8 ounces bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil
  • 6 cups chopped yellow onions (4 large onions)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 12 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 6 cups medium-diced white boiling potatoes, unpeeled (2 pounds)
  • 10 cups corn kernels, fresh (10 ears) or frozen (3 pounds)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 1/2 pound sharp white Cheddar cheese, grated

In a large stockpot on medium-high heat, cook the bacon and olive oil until the bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and butter to the fat, and cook for 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, and turmeric and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chicken stock and potatoes, bring to a boil, and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels off the cobs and blanch the kernels for 3 minutes in boiling salted water. Drain. (If using frozen corn, you can skip this step.) Add the corn to the soup, then add the half-and-half and Cheddar. Cook for 5 more minutes, until the cheese is melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a garnish of bacon.


Source: Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten, Copyright 1999

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