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Napa Valley Real Estate Q&A : Winter 2012

Q: I’m buying a house and my agent says that the seller wants me to remove my contingencies. How do I do that?

A: Most real estate contracts contain numerous contingencies, mostly in favor of the buyer, revolving around things like investigation of the property condition and obtaining financing for the purchase. If the buyer is unable to obtain financing or disapproves of the condition of the property, then the buyer can usually cancel the purchase agreement without penalty and have their good faith deposit returned. If, on the other hand, the buyer is satisfied with the property condition or has received final loan approval, then the buyer acts to remove these contingencies so that they can no longer be claimed as a reason to cancel the contract. How you do this depends on the terms of the contingency removal provisions in your contract.

There are two general ways that contracts provide for contingency removal: active removal and passive removal. With the active method the contingency period usually stays open (even if the stated time period has lapsed) until the buyer removes the contingency in writing or the seller provides the buyer with a written notice to perform (the CAR purchase agreement provides for this method). With the passive method the contingency is deemed removed when the contingency period lapses unless the buyer objects or cancels the contract prior to the lapse (this is the usual method provided for in REO agreements). So one method of removal requires an affirmative act and the other does not. It is essential that you read your purchase agreement and consult with your agent to determine which method applies in your situation.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.


Q: I negotiated a 3% closing cost credit from the seller and want to know what closing costs can be covered by the credit?

A: A closing cost can be used for all recurring (interest, taxes and insurance) and nonrecurring (i.e: appraisal, title and escrow) closing costs associated with the purchase of your property. If the actual closing costs are less than the seller credit, the subject credit will be reduced to the amount of the true closing cost.

For answers to your questions about home loans, contact Mortgage Solutions, Inc., (707) 259-5272.


Q: I just received an offer on my house and the buyer is requesting that I fill out a new Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS) even though I have already filled one out. Why can’t we use the TDS that I filled out when I put my house on the market?

A: State Senate Bill 837, which was signed into law last year, mandated some changes in the TDS that took effect on January 1, 2012. Real property sales which close escrow after the effective date should use the newly revised form. The revisions include a checkbox for a seller to disclose whether the property has water-conserving plumbing fixtures such as low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets. The revision also informs the buyer that by January 1, 2017, a single family residence built on or before January 1, 1994, must generally be equipped with water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Further, if the residence is altered or improved on or after January 1, 2014, the installation of waterconserving plumbing fixtures must be a condition of final permit approval. I suggest that you double check with your listing agent to determine whether you have completed the revised form and whether the buyer’s request that you fill out a new TDS stems from this change in the law.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.

Q: Are there any government aided programs to help first time homebuyers’ in Napa?

A: Both Napa County and The City of Napa have homebuyer assistance programs for qualified buyers. The programs can vary depending on the availability of funds. We suggest you contact the County and Napa housing divisions directly regarding the qualification requirements and current availability of funds. If you are interested in attending a seminar regarding the homebuyer’s assistance programs, Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley will be hosting a seminar featuring both The City of Napa and the County’s housing departments on Wednesday, March 7th at 7:00pm at our Napa office located at 1775 Lincoln Avenue. For more information, please call    (707) 249-1600     or visit www.silverado-property.com

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.


Q: When I sell my home I don’t want to be responsible to the buyer for any repairs. How do I sell my property “As-Is”?

A: You can certainly sell your property As-Is but there are a number of qualifications and pitfalls that you need to be aware of. The term “As-Is” is normally used to denote the purchase of a property in its present physical condition with no liability on the part of the seller to make repairs or upgrades to the property as a condition of the sale. However it all depends on how your contract reads.

Not all purchase agreements are created equal. For example the California Association of Realtors purchase agreement provides that the property is to be sold in its present physical condition, but another publisher’s standard purchase agreement states that the seller agrees to deliver the property with its major systems (e.g. electrical, plumbing) in working order, its roof free of leaks and all windows and shower enclosures in good repair. In the latter case you would need to use an As-Is addendum to the purchase agreement.

Even if you have an As-Is agreement, the purchase contract will usually provide the buyer with the right to investigate the condition of the property as a contingency of the purchase. Further the seller must disclose known defects, maintain the property during escrow, and California law obliges sellers to attend to certain items such as smoke detectors and water heaters. Therefore it is important to consult with a real estate professional or legal counsel to insure that your purchase agreement meets your needs and that you are complying with relevant laws.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.


Q: We read that the government once again adjusted FHA and VA limits for Napa County, could you please comment on the changes?

A: Congress did indeed recently pass legislation that adjusted both FHA and VA loan limits throughout Napa County. For a single family residence, the new FHA loan limit in Napa County is $729,750 through December 31, 2013. In regards to VA loans, the loan limit for the Napa County was decreased from $530,000 to $460,000, effective January 1, 2012.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.  .

Q: I have been trying to buy a home and find myself in many multiple offer situations. How can I be sure that the terms of my offer aren’t divulged to my competitors?

A: While your agent, as your fiduciary, probably has a duty to keep confidential the terms of your offer except as necessary to present your offer to the seller, the seller and the seller’s agent usually do not owe you the same duty of confidentiality. In other words, the seller can shop your offer. Policies differ from broker to broker on how this sensitive issue is handled, so before you write your offer make sure that your agent determines what the listing broker’s policy will be regarding the confidentiality of your offered terms. You also may consider requiring the seller and seller’s agent to sign a confidentiality agreement with you prior to presenting your offer. The California Association of Realtors prints a simple confidentiality agreement which prohibits all parties from disclosing the price and terms of an offer (and even the buyer’s name) to anyone else prior to, during the pendency of, or after completion of the transaction except as required by law or MLS rules. If you plan on using a confidentiality agreement, make sure it is signed by the seller and seller’s agent before the offer is presented.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.

Q: How do the new loan limits affect our potential purchase of a home?

A: Effective October 1, 2011, FHA reduced the maximum FHA loan limits from $729,270 to $592,250. Therefore, assuming that you elect to put down the minimum FHA required down payment of 3.5%, the maximum sales price using FHA financing in Napa County would be $613,730. Be advised that a borrower can always elect to increase their down payment and purchase a home in excess of the aforementioned figure.

Call Karen Magliocco of Coldwell Banker Napa Valley  (707) 249-1600  with your real estate questions.

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St Helena Real Estate Vacation Homes

ST. HELENA — Short-term rentals that have flown under the radar for years soon will be able to operate legally, with the St. Helena City Council voting 4-1 this week to approve new regulations allowing city staff to issue up to 25 vacation rental permits.

The permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but they won’t be available right away. The council will have to formally adopt the new ordinance at its April 10 meeting, followed by a 30-day period before it takes effect. City staff will announce when permit applications will be accepted.

The city started looking at the issue last year, after operators of legal bed-and-breakfasts complained that illegal operations were doing business without paying applicable taxes. Given the choice of cracking down on vacation rentals or strictly regulating them, the council chose the latter option.

“We’ve had this problem in our city for a long time, and this is a very good ordinance to address that problem and also raise more revenue for our city,” said Councilmember Peter White.

Councilmember Catarina Sanchez cast the sole dissenting vote. She said the regulations would take 25 units out of the city’s housing stock, drive up housing prices, and “affect the culture of our community” by allowing commercial enterprise in residential neighborhoods.

That last concern was echoed by Diane Dillon, a member of the Napa County Board of Supervisors who said she was speaking as a St. Helena citizen, not a supervisor.

“I’m concerned that this is a significant change for the city of St. Helena to allow more commercial uses in residential areas,” Dillon said. “That’s a little bit of a sea change there, and I have concerns that the residents of St. Helena might not really understand the full impacts of this.”

Dillon also brought to the city’s attention that only operations offering four rooms or more are subject to the countywide 2-percent assessment for the Tourism Improvement District, so the ordinance can’t force vacation rentals to pay that assessment. The city changed the ordinance so it only requires vacation rentals to pay the 12-percent Transient Occupancy Tax.

City councilmembers said they’ll revisit the ordinance in a year to see how it’s working. Applicants who obtain a permit during the first year will have to abide by any changes the council deems necessary after their review.

The Planning Commission spent hours mulling the details of the ordinance. The council kept some of the commission’s recommendations, but made a few changes.

One change involved how neighbors are involved in the initial application process. The Planning Commission recommended that applicants should get the written approval of 70 percent of their neighbors — anything lower than that threshold would trigger a hearing before the commission.

But the council decided to go with their original scheme: a Planning Commission hearing will only be required if 30 percent of neighbors object to the application.

Applicants will also have to give neighbors contact information for someone who can respond to complaints within 30 minutes.

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Where Are Home Prices Heading in the Napa Valley?

The question at the top of Napa Valley homebuyers and Napa sellers is familiar: where are home prices heading? Realistically, the truth this 1st quarter of 2012 is the same as always: it is no less r

isky to predict the real estate market than it is to predict the stock market.


Nonetheless, keeping up with national trends and the media chatter means staying abreast of the factors that ultimately affect Napa home prices. And a few smiles are appearing on the faces of those who have waited a very long time to read any good news.
The backdrop was not pretty. No one could miss the majority of last month’s End Of Year headlines. Last year finished with reports of a steeper-than-expected drop in home prices in November despite a steady rise in consumer confidence.  In fact, Reuters reported that prices in 20 metro areas dropped 0.7 percent for the second month in row, which was 0.2 percent greater for November than economists had predicted.
But increasingly, spots of optimism are appearing in the national press. The Wall Street Journal recently quoted Capital Economics’ economist Paul Dale’s comments on the 5% month-over-month gain in December. To Dale, “it is clear that a housing recovery is now well underway.” Then, by the start of February 2012, Nielsen reported that consumer confidence had jumped six points to 83.


Another measure that seems to argue for a strengthening future is the inventory of previously owned homes. At the end of the year, 2.38 million homes were listed. That is the equivalent of a 6.2 months’ supply — within hailing distance of the 6 months that is considered a healthy level.


Adding to that view is The National Association of Home Builders/First American Market Index which shows that the number of improving local markets doubled from December 2011 to January 2012. Even keeping in mind where these markets had started from, the direction is the right one.


The National Association of Realtors is not alone in pointing out the special opportunities that now exist for both buyers and sellers. First-time buyers know that today they stand to benefit by purchasing at record lows. Move-up buyers are more able to take a price hit on the homes they are selling because of the low prices and substantial interest rate savings at the other end of the transaction.


Of course, home prices are only one factor in a sale, as are the compensating intangibles like comfort and lifestyle.  If you are thinking of buying or selling a Napa real estate property, call me today for a complimentary consultation.

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Silverado Country Club Resort Real Estate Q&A


Frequently asked questions about Silverado Country Club Real Estate


1. How many homes are in Silverado Country Club?

There are 539 homes in Silverado Country Club. 

2. How many condominiums are in Silverado Country Club?

There are 547 condominiums in Silverado Country Club. There are 358 Clubhouse/Cottage units, 48 Creekside units, 72 Fairways units, 38 Silverado Oaks units and 31 Grove units. 

3. What are the amenities included for all homeowners at Silverado Country Club?

Unless the homeowner has a club membership, there are no amenities included for all property owners except the Silverado Property Owners Association (SPOA), individual Condo Associations with conveniently located swimming pools, and a controlled environment (CC&Rs). Club membership includes golf, driving range, tennis, swimming pools, members clubhouse, social activities, discounts at the restaurants, the golf pro shop and the spa. 

4. How does one obtain a golf membership at Silverado Country Club?

All properties located within the Silverado Residential Community are eligible for club membership.If the current property owner has an active club membership the membership can be transferred to a new property owner(buyer). The fee to transfer the membership is $40,000. The buyer traditionally pays the transfer fee, but it can be negotiated.If there is not an active membership linked to the property,the property owner or buyer may join by paying an initiation fee, which is $90,000. 

5. What are the monthly membership charges?

Monthly resident dues change every January . Food & Beverage quarterly minimum per quarter.

6. If I decide to rent my condominium, is there an onsite rental program?

Yes, Silverado Country Club manages the condominiums. The company retains 50% of the income generated. 

7.What is the range of rents for a condominium?

There are several variables that affect the rental income of a property ? rating of the unit, location and personal use of the property. 

8.What are some of the social activities at Silverado Country Club?

Parties, special functions, golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, family activities, holiday parties for children/grandchildren, dinners at the Member?s Clubhouse and MAD (Member?s Appreciation Day). There are 125 social memberships at Silverado Country Club.

9.How many golf members are there at Silverado Country Club?

There are 600 golf memberships at Silverado Country Club. 

10.How do I get more information about Silverado Country Club?

Contact Karen Magliocco at (707) 249-1600 or (707) 258-5218. We can answer all your questions related to property at Silverado Country Club! 

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Finding the Best Properties for Sale in Napa Valley & St Helena


Statistics shows that at least 88% of buyers make use of the Internet when they search for properties for sale.  This is the most convenient source of information for most Napa Valley buyers. A great website provides them with the most up-to-date listing information, price alerts, and market statistics. Real estate agencies and most individual agents have their own websites with ample photos, listing particulars, area information, etc.

The Napa Register or Magazines

This may seem a bit out of date but good ‘ole fashioned print ads can still be a great source for buyers getting a feel for the current market.  Check the real estate classified section of any of Napa Valley & St Helena publications and you will find an abundance of properties for sale. Most of these ads have beautiful color photos meant to draw you in – so let them!  (Then re-check the listing online.)  If nothing else, viewing the classified ads can help you get a snapshot view of the winter Napa Valley St Helena market – and can help you determine what listing agents or agencies are the most active in your target location.


Napa Real Estate Agent/ Offices

I may be a bit biased here, but this last tip is the most sure-fire of all: finding the right agent.  Establishing a relationship with a well-networked real estate agent will make your search for Napa properties for sale easier, smoother, and vastly more productive. A well-informed agent is your singular best asset during the home hunt.  He or she can explain and answer all your questions about the properties for sale you see online or in the paper, can give you the inside scoop on the neighborhood, the comparables, the potential resale or long term value.  The right agent will have seen hundreds – likely thousands – of homes in Napa.  Putting that experience and market insight to work for you couldn’t be easier: I’m right here!


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Should It Be a New or Pre-Owned Home in Napa?

Should It Be a New or Pre-Owned Home?

February’s typical Napa homebuyer assumes that buying a pre-owned residence saves money. And in fact, most often that is true. Buyers rightly expect that pre-owned houses are more affordable than comparable new homes for sale.  But what about the buyer who can qualify for a slightly higher mortgage? Would it be a better idea for them to also consider new homes for sale rather than to simply fixate on the immediate cash savings that go along with buying an older property?

The fact is, there are both benefits and drawbacks that deserve looking at no matter which choice you wind up making.

One practical advantage to buying a new homes for sale in Napa is that you know you and your family will be living in a house built to conform to the latest standards in materials and construction. Napa building codes are continually adopting advances in energy efficiency and materials sustainability. They automatically reflect the community’s experience with construction techniques: what works and what doesn’t; what lasts longest; what’s safe. With contractors and inspectors both working the insure that new homes for sale are built to code, the result is an extra dose of peace of mind when it comes to the durability you can expect in a new Napa home.

Another advantage to buying a newly built Napa house is the pleasure and convenience of living in a home with brand new features.  No time-consuming and costly remodeling will be needed to obtain the extra pride of ownership that go with a sparkling new kitchen and bathrooms boasting the latest fixtures. And it’s often the case that newly-built homes for sale better reflect today’s lifestyle patterns. Twenty-first century floor plans apportion space in ways that agree with most people’s living preferences, so new homes for sale in today’s market are more likely to accommodate modern entertainment systems (just as they frequently leave less space for gigantic dining room tables).

In contrast, one disadvantage to purchasing some of the new homes for sale can be a tradeoff in lot size. Though not always the case, older developments sometimes reflect an earlier era which accommodated smaller populations featuring less crowded landscapes.

Of course it’s your budget that will largely determine which combination of neighborhood and new or pre-owned home that will make the best fit for you and your family. The wisdom of planning carefully before investing hard-earned money in any property goes without saying. Since you are looking forward to many years of occupancy in either a pre-existing or new home for sale, I hope you will contact me for a consultation. I know Napa Valley Real Estate and can help you sort out the choices that are available right now.