Down the Home Stretch: The Closing Process Explained.

Now that you’ve negotiated a contract, done your inspections and secured your loan, are you wondering what’s next?

Tune in to today’s show 9:00-10:00Am on 1350 AM or 103.5 FM KSRO. Streaming live at

Mike and Allison will be discussing the process as you head to the closing table.

Follow along as we dig a little deeper into part one of Mike’s Press Democrat 2 part series “Down the Home Stretch.”

On Today’s Show – County Clerk, Recorder, Assessor, Bill Rousseau: Sonoma County Property Tax Assessments 2014, The Good and the Bad News, and The Appeal Process….

On today’s show we’ll be talking about the good (Home Equity is up) and the bad (Property Taxes are up) …and discussing the Sonoma County appeals process if you feel your property’s assessed value is off.

Not sure what your assessed value is?

Don’t agree with your Assessed Value?

In California, Proposition 13 baseline year is a major factor in DETERMINING your Property Taxes. Had your property re-assessed, and lowered in the down-market (Prop 8)? Remember, it can go UP quicker than if it is Prop 13 only! We have the man who can explain all of this with clarity on the show THIS Sunday, November 16, 2014–Bill Rousseau–County Clear, Recorder and Assessor! The graph below is a “Follow-Along” for all of our listeners!

Remember, if your real estate was "re-assessed" due to an appeal or general assessment, and it is UNDER your "base-line" Prop 13 value, it will go UP faster than Prop 13's max 2% yearly increase.


Bill will answer ALL of your questions regarding Sonoma County Property Tax issues.

This week on the show we are delighted to have William (Bill)  Rousseau, Clerk Recorder Assessor for Sonoma County on the air with us. We’ll discuss the current state of property tax assessments, Proposition 13 AND Proposition 8 and how both inter-play in property taxes on YOUR home. Also discussed will be the once a “lifetime” proposition which allows you to transfer your old Prop 13 baseline to another property within the county. See you then!   707-565-1888


Buying Country Property or “What did I just step in?”

Here in Sonoma County,Calfornia, “The Wine Country” folks are snapping up “Country” properties. Country could be defined as 2+ acres of land (0.8084 Hectares), using an “on-site” waste disposal system or “Septic Tank” and drawing water from an “on-site” well. Here’s the first part of my 4 part series which appeared in our local newspaper, “The Press Democrat”. I write a column approximately twice a month. Enjoy!

West County Country

Buying “Country Property” So you want to raise some chickens and things? Pt I


In my last column two columns we have been discussed writing a lean and mean offer that will stand-out from all others in a “Multiple-offer’ situation.  I gave techniques on writing offers with a minimum of inspections (all according to the buyer’s level of sophistication and comfort level) in order to make your OFFER “cleaner” and more attractive to a Seller. However, those techniques concerned a “town or city” property on public sewer and water on a subdivision lot (3500 to 6000 sqft). Now I want to explore the complexities of purchasing a “country property” replete with multiple acres of land (an acre is 43560sqft), septic systems, well water,  permitting issues for older buildings or additional “units”,  property line disputes and possible toxic issues. And you thought buying a “town” property was tough and complex.

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Real Haunted Houses, Unusual deaths in Homes! –Scary real estate tales to tell!

Join Allison and I as we talk about scary moments in our Real Estate careers! Pet Cemetery, Hunted Houses in real life, how to disclose these issues.  Do you have a body buried at home? Some older pioneer homes have a few graves on the property. Folks who have died at home? Ghosts and Goblins got you down? Tune in as the Real Estate Hour talks disclosures and real life hauntings!

This is one of Allison's favorite holidays--Halloween!

This is one of Allison’s favorite holidays–Halloween!

Mike Kelly’s Press Democrat Columns PLUS the latest on “Affordabiity in the Bay Area”

I’ve put together all of my popular Press Democrat real estate columns into one “Drop Box” folder including my latest on the real estate “Affordability” issue.

Lack of Affordability means a shrinking Real Estate Dollar!

Lack of Affordability means a shrinking Real Estate Dollar!

Many think our affordability has disappeared by looking at the long-term average in California we are about “average”. Now San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties are horribly askew with affordability indexes in the Teens but we are comfortably residing at 29%. This means that only 29% of our population can afford the median priced home at the median INCOME for the county (now around $58,000). Solano is the big affordability champ with an index of 52%. San Francisco is at 14%. But you probably just KNEW that. Click the link below to go to my Press Democrat Column DropBox folder. Enjoy! They are there for you to gather knowledge about the real estate market. We LOVE smart, savvy Buyers and Sellers.

Here’s the Link:

Interesting Forbes Story on what they’re calling; The Next Housing Crisis

Disturbing News on Santa Rosa’s Housing Stock!


The Napa earthquake showed us all, in graphic detail,  what happens when homes are NOT retrofitted for earthquake safety. Here in Sonoma County we have many homes built in the late 1800′s through the 1940′s. The issue with this is “cripple walls”. These walls were used extensively in building during these years. Below is a diagram showing what they look like and what happens during a severe earthquake. The “ladder” type wood under the foundation are the cripple walls. The house has literally “Tipped” off of its foundation.  Here is a breakdown of how many homes may have this construction characteristic JUST in Santa Rosa! Remember, the hardest hit area in the last “BIG ONE” of 1906 was Santa Rosa.

Year Built:                       Amount of Homes

1900-1910                     509

1911-1920                     561

1921-1930                     854

1931-1935                    288 (great depression)

1936-1940                    796

1941-1945                    572

That’s 3, 580 homes which could suffer severe damage in a 6+ sized earthquake.  However, we do have simple remedies to this issue. One is to retrofit the cripple walls with “sheer” walls of 3/4 inch plywood. Also, you can bolt the foundation sole plate down, install brackets which hold the home together as a unit. But DON’T delay!!

Diagram of a house resting on cripple walls and the failure of these walls to support the house.

Diagram of a house resting on cripple walls and the failure of these walls to support the house.

Cripple walls fail and literally "tip" the house off of its foundation.

Cripple walls fail and literally “tip” the house off of its foundation.

South Napa Earthquake–ShakeMap–What next for Napa Valley Realtors and their Clients?

Showings the severity of the shaking.

Showings the severity of the shaking.

Major decisions for our Napa Valley Realtors and the clients they represent–In the Yountville, American Canyon and town of Napa some 120 properties are IN ESCROW, another 275 are “Active” or for sale. Approx. 25 are “Pending” sales usually indicative of an imminent closing date–what to do next? Another issue–LENDERS–what are THEY going to require? Re-inspections? New Appraisals? How does a seller indemnify any future damage caused by this quake? FEMA states damage may appear weeks after the quake. What about a multiple contract scenario? We are seeing escrows linked to other sales in other areas. Now the chain is broken. Uggghh! My sympathies go out to my brethren in Napa!

Listen to Mike and Allison on "The Real Estate Hour", Sundays, 9 to 10am PST, KSRO, 1350AM or 103.5 FM and