Sacramento Area Real Estate News, Market Trends, and Living in Sacto

Sacramento factors into the history of California going back to the Gold Rush days.  Its history is long and storied and often ignored by our SoCal neighbors, but the Pandemic created another opportunity for the Sacramento Valley to flourish even more.  Housing prices in the Sacramento Valley have long been affordable and with its proximity to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, the growth of tech workers migrating has only increased with an opportunity for them to work remotely permanently. The cost of living and affordable housing draw people in but the people and lifestyle encourage people to feel they belong.  There's a friendliness here that's pervasive.  Open spaces, views of the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevadas beckon a day tripper.  Miles of bike and walking trails, parks, shopping, restaurants and history at the confluence of our two major rivers - the American River and the Sacramento River meet in Old Town Sacramento.  This is also the Capital of California with a beautiful State Capital building.  The business community has grown to include tech companies and being that Sacramento is part of the California food ecosystem that feeds the world, the restaurant scene has promoted that fresh Farm to Fork connection.

Real Estate here in the Sacramento Region has many flavors.  There's trendy mid-town, East Sacramento old money with stately homes and broad streets with leafy canopies, Carmichael which nests in the curve of the American River along the bike trails, the suburban communities that border Folsom Lake:  Roseville, Rocklin, Folsom, and El Dorado Hills.  The foothills with towns like Loomis, Auburn, Grass Valley, and Cameron Park that tend toward a bit more land and take you further onto the shoulders of the Sierra Nevadas.

July 30, 2021

VA Loans even in this market!

2021 Guide to VA Loans:

7 Tips for Northern California Veterans


by Guest blogger Wally at

Devoting one’s life to serving your country is a very proud and important deed for a U.S. citizen. Although hazardous and often treacherous, the road of a U.S. armed forces member is adequately rewarded with a surplus of benefits, including government-backed VA Home Loans, which allows private lenders to offer eligible members a better deal for their homes.


VA loans distinguish themselves from conventional home loans due to generally lower interest rates and credit score requirements for those who apply. VA loans also do not require down payments, and although they still require closing costs, these are typically lower than your average home loan closing costs.


While there will be some additional hoops to jump through, the specialists at Jane Gray Real Estate are prepared to walk you through every step of the process to make sure our active-duty and veterans receive the lowest rates for their Northern California homes.


What is a VA Loan and How Does One Qualify?

A VA loan is Department of Veteran Affairs-backed mortgage loan issues by private lenders such as banks or local lenders. They are available only to active-duty military personnel, veterans, and eligible spouses.


It is estimated that around 6% of total active-duty and eligible service members, including veterans, used their VA loan benefits during 2020.


Many veterans relinquish their benefits due to general unawareness about the application process and too much red tape. Due to the VA’s stricter requirements for home safety, also known as the Minimum Property Requirements, many eligible members opt not to go through the VA in order to acquire the home they want and not necessarily one the VA would approve.


Here are other VA home loan requirements: working HVAC units, electric, and sewage systems, roofing that is adept and in full working condition, free of pests, proper ventilation across attics or other crawl spaces, and reachable from an accessible street.


There are certain criteria a property must meet in order to be considered for the VA program, such as not being a second home, rental or vacation home, additionally, condominiums might have to be pre-approved by the VA as a whole before veterans or service members can apply for a home there.


To begin pre-qualification for a VA loan, eligible members must first obtain their COE, or DD Form 214. You can also request it directly from the VA’s eBenefits Website.


Reasons to Use a VA Loan for Properties in Rocklin, Lincoln, or Sacramento

There are several perks to utilizing a VA loan to buy your property. Some of the main advantages of VA loans are the ability to forgo private mortgage insurance (PMI), as well as lower closing costs and better rate of approval despite higher debt.


Private mortgage insurance can cost anywhere from 0.5% to 1.0% of the cost of your home, added to your monthly payments, so this benefit alone is enough to save borrowers thousands of dollars in the long term.


Waiving your down payment is also a great way to save money on closing costs or another way to keep some extra cash on you after you move. Lenders still recommend putting up to 20% or more of the total value of your home upon signing, and although this requirement is waived for VA home loans, the more money you can put down, the faster you’ll be able to pay off your mortgage. Knowing how much house you can afford will also help you develop a realistic budget for you and your family.


Your Credit Score in Regards to VA Loans

Another amazing perk of VA loans is that lenders can be flexible with regards to your credit score. While interest rates are generally lower for VA loans than for conventional ones, being backed by the federal government also gives lenders the ability to charge competitive rates.


Due to the ongoing pandemic, the three major credit bureaus are now offering free access to your credit reports through their websites, giving you a practical understanding of your financial situation, as well as an overview of your credit profile that your chosen lender will use to set your rates.


Seven Tips for Veterans Considering the VA Loan Program


Here are 7 summarized VA Loan tips to consider before applying for a home mortgage loan through the program.


  1. Start the mortgage process without the Certificate of Eligibility (COE)
    1. Begin to shop around for a lender and request a pre-approval certificate before requesting the COE since this is verified later in the application process.


  1. Pay attention to your credit score
    1. Although lenders are more flexible under the VA program, your score still has an impact on your final offer.
    2. Make sure to prepare for the process of acquiring a home by paying off any outstanding debt and clearing negative items from your credit reports.


  1. Don’t forget closing costs
    1. A common misconception is that VA loans don’t require closing costs - do not fall for this!
    2. You are still responsible for certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as mortgage fees, real estate fees, and appraisals.
    3. The VA funding fee ranges between 0.5% - 3.60% and can only be waived by meeting certain criteria.


  1. Shop for better rates
    1. Take ample time to browse through available lenders and find the best rate and terms.


  1. Find an experienced VA real estate agent
    1. Finding an agent that is familiar with the VA loan process will make it all that much easier for you.


  1. Choose a VA-approved property
    1. Certain properties like condominiums need to be verified beforehand by the VA in order to meet their safety requirements.
    2. Secondary homes, rental homes, or vacation homes are not approved under the program.
    3. The benefit is reusable under some circumstances.


  1. Make plans to move in promptly
    1. One requirement of the VA is that the service member (or his family) must make plans to move into the property within 60 days of closing the deal.



How to Find the Best VA Loan in Northern California area

Although the federal government backs up all approved VA loans, they’re not the ones you’re borrowing the money from. Since taking out a VA loan still needs to go through a traditional bank or mortgage institution, it would be helpful to find a real estate agent familiar with the VA process before getting started. And as with any government loan program, there’s always a little more paperwork waiting for you. Luckily, the Jane Gray Real Estate team can walk you through the entire process without hassle and comes prepared with a list of chosen lenders who have proven to be reliable for Northern California military veterans and active service members. Together, we can find the proper licensed VA mortgage lender to ensure we find the right house for you.

April 29, 2021

The Big Picture at 30k feet and a Day on the Ground

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The Big Picture at 30k feet and a Day on the Ground

It looks so peaceful way up high.  Only the BIG themes grab your attention because you aren't seeing it from the sidewalk.

I'm asked multiple times a day why there's such a shortage of inventory and in a nutshell, we've never recovered a healthy inventory since the last downturn.  Construction never came back to produce the number of homes needed to house both homeowners and renters.  Exacerbating all this is the Pandemic, but I think it's interesting to look at some of the big economic themes with the micro effects that even surprise me at times.

With a lack of inventory, the price increases with increased demand.  It should be noted that strong price appreciation we're seeing and feeling is worldwide.  China's prices are up 19%.  Canada's are up 17%.  Europe's are up 6-9%.  The US prices are up 9.2% while US inventory levels dropped 24% below 2019 levels as homeowners delayed selling.  

The High Up
  1. There's a sizable number of homes in forbearance (2.5M).  So it seems logical to draw a conclusion that those homes are going to create a glut of inventory and flood the market so that prices drop, BUT consider that if every one of those homes hit the market, there would be just four months of inventory which is pretty close to a balanced market. 
  2. Today's construction is not meeting the current demand.
  3. Multiple Offers and Over Asking Prices are still with us.

The Low Down
  1. The reality is that almost every one of the homes in forbearance has gained equity since the start of the pandemic and therefore, they won't have to short sell but rather the owners will have a choice to sell for a profit or begin repayment.  Another KEY to the difference between the last meltdown and now is lending practices were slipshod and now they actually pre-approve on more than a pulse and in fact, there's a lot more rigor around qualifying anyone these days.
  2. Construction costs have increased substantially.  1000 Board Units (a unit of measure for lumber pricing) sold for $278 pre-COVID and $1,300 yesterday.
  3. For each multiple offer, there's a buyer.  The really interesting thing is who these buyers are.  I've seen an enormous increase in the number of first time home buyers.  Why?
Interest rates.  Anyone with an interest rate lower than 3.5% will be sitting in a great position in another 5 years not to mention today.  First time homebuyers get this and want in.  Why should they pay someone else's mortgage when they can pay their own and build equity faster because 97% of their payment is principal?  There's a great opportunity to pay off PMI (private mortgage insurance) and have a monthly housing payment that's not just affordable but their very own.  In fact, because interest rates will rise in the future, many people are trying to buy that forever home and lock in an interest rate that won't last forever.  The rates will inevitably increase as inflation increases and when the Fed stops buying mortgage backed securities.

On the Ground

I have a listing that went on the market last week and it's an auction property with a starting price that's very low:  the crowds to see the house represented mostly first time home buyers.  The open house started like any pre-covid one as I put signs out and drove up to the house.  As I was grabbing my things out of my car, the first 3 cars pulled up and then another just as I was walking in. Because of COVID policies, I was only able to allow one group in at a time and so the people pooled out on the lawn and spilled onto the sidewalk  As a person stepped inside, they signed in with covid compliance forms and learned about the features of the home.  All the while, the crowd outside grew.  These buyers were hungry for the opportunity to own.  Some had agents, some had only a Zillow app and admitted that they knew next to nothing about buying, but all were excited to participate in the hunt for a home to call their own.  A large majority of these buyers had budgets in the $300k's and the inventory to support that is slim and dwindling quickly.

Another house I got on the market last week had 20 offers. We countered the two top offers and we went with the highest net to the seller, but within an hour of the buyers accepting the offer, they sent a cancellation of contract.  Buyer remorse or did they find another house they liked better?  The second buyer was ecstatic to be the accepted offer as he had lost out on so many prior to that one.  His agent said, "Jane, you made my day!"  I love that feeling.  When my buyers and sellers win, we all win.  The road to get from the sidewalk to the door isn't always easy.  It's rare in this market where a buyer is going to score a home on their first try so success feels like a grand accomplishment.

There's a massive shortage of inventory.  Would YOU consider selling?  As a seller, you benefit from superlative price points and buyers benefit by buying into the market with a very low interest rate.  Let the good times roll!  Just remember, that it's one act in a larger play.  The sidewalks get rolled up when the music fades and the interest rates go up.  

Call me.  Let's talk about the possibilities.

For all you investors out there, there's another problematic area and that is the laws governing tenant rights during the Pandemic which has had the effect of hurting some smaller investors.  Here's a timely blog post by a great local law firm dealing with real estate - I've met two great attorneys there:  Keith Dunnagan and Matthew Kirkpatrick.  They are a great resource for all things related to real estate law.  This blog is about the practice of Cash for Keys.  Click the photo to go the BPE Website blogpost.

Have a great weekend!

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Posted in Market Updates
July 31, 2017

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We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

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