Newsletter April 2019




The Petaluma Argus-Courier People's Choice award of 2019 is in the FINAL ROUND of voting and Timo is in the FINALS for Best Realtor of Petaluma! We have a wonderful community with great local business owners. Click here to Vote for Timo and your favorite restaurant, dentist, CPA, veterinarian, etc. bY APRIL 21, 2019 



The repressed demand of people wanting to buy a home in the Petaluma area has woken up a sleepy winter real estate market with a kick-start in the advent of Spring. Ask any seasoned real estate professional in the area what he or she predicts for the Spring/Summer 2019 home pricing and sales arena and you'll likely hear the same response. Though the past six months have been extremely unpredictable, with record low inventory and home sales, the rush of properties coming on to the market in March and April has brought with it a renewed flurry of activity and, when pricing is realistic, a return to the multiple offer scenario which is good for sellers and not so great for buyers.  

"It's back to the drawing board for buyers looking to strategize on best buys in the Petaluma/Penngrove area," says Timo. "When you're up against a bunch of buyers making offers on the same hot property, it's vital to have the stellar representation of an agent who knows how far you should go in a bidding war."

Just when local buyers were beginning to feel that they had the upper hand with soaring home prices stabilizing, the housing shortage throughout Sonoma County has especially pushed entry level homes up another notch, making it a challenge to get into the market. "I've been working with several first time buyers this past year," says Timo. "It is so rewarding to identify their housing needs and to fully utilize my extensive market knowledge and negotiating skills to secure homes for families, young couples and individuals, including seniors, who otherwise had feared they were priced out." 

When faced with rising prices, buyers are being forced to take a leap of faith that their property purchase will be a wise investment. One of the big questions asked is are we currently in a boom in Sonoma County and when will it burst? "The best way to overcome concern over the housing market cycle is to buy a home for the longer term," says Timo. "I advise all of my clients to settle on a home that is readily affordable to them, ideally securing a long-term, fixed-rate, low interest loan." 

Timo's client base consists of people who want to be a part of the local community. "It's an entirely different deal when folk are looking to make the Petaluma area their home, the place to raise kids and grandkids. "I feel that this bodes well for real estate values given that housing prices in neighboring Marin County and in San Francisco are amongst the highest on the planet," he says. "With minimum new construction in southern Sonoma County, it's vital that we work to secure our roots in the area now if we plan on sticking around." 

It is not difficult to picture what a flood of newly minted wealth from an anticipated 2019 next round of IPOs in San Francisco headquartered companies such as Airbnb, Lyft, Pinterest, Postmates, Slack and Uber will have on the Bay Area real estate market. "While the city itself will be most affected by an unprecedented next wave of multi-millionaires, many existing city and Marin County homeowners will likely capitalize by putting their homes on the market. And where will they go?"

The trickle down effect will undoubtedly impact Sonoma Wine Country with weekend tourism to our downtowns, tasting rooms and eateries. Given that the long-awaited freeway expansion is finally shaping up, it's hard to imagine that housing prices in Petaluma and other closest communities with commute access will not be impacted. "This may well put extra pressure on buyers with home values rising in Petaluma, as a result," says Timo. "We're certainly going to have to come up with more creative ways to build the affordable housing that is already so badly needed," says Timo. "Those few empty parcels we see within Petaluma's City limits are gold. Housing is one of the most pressing and important issues facing our community today."

According to Bay Area Market Reports: "Going back thousands or even tens of thousands of years, human beings have tried to predict the future, and whether using priests, oracles, astrologers, pundits, economists, analysts or "experts" of every stripe - and currently having their "authoritative" forecasts headlined every day in the media - we show no aptitude as a species for having the ability to do so with any accuracy."

"Maybe we're not able to fully foretell what's going to happen with the real estate market in the next few years, but it's my best bet that sitting back and waiting is not going to put anyone in a stronger position," says Timo."I'm ready when you are to strategize your real estate plans, your friends and family's future housing needs in the Petaluma, whether they're immediate or sometime down the pipeline."

Thinking of making a move, or know someone who is? Call Timo today for a no-pressure appointment, in person, or by phone — 707 477 8396.

For more information on Petaluma's Regional Housing Plan Debate Click Here - "Petaluma Debates Regional Housing Plan"



Spring fever is upon us after months of record rainfall in Sonoma County. What better way to celebrate the change of season than by taking on an outdoor project that will pay a little time and effort forward for months to come? Raised planters are the way to go for growing our own, whether you're a weekend garden warrior or a fully-fledged backyard farmer. We're lucky to be able to grow just about everything here in Petaluma, except for bananas and blueberries, so why spend top dollar in the store for salad greens and veggies when we have all the tools at hand to feed ourselves, our friends and families with the best of the west, in our own backyards? Give it some thought. As with any project, it pays to think through your garden project before you buy your seeds or transplants. Making the garden too large to manage is one of the most common mistakes of enthusiastic, first-time gardeners. Here are some tips for a successful new garden.

1.     Choose a Good Location   

2.     Start Small

3.     Pay Attention to Your Soil  

4.     Grow What You Love

5.     Keep Your Tools Simple

Warm weather produce-starters such as salad greens, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, strawberries and squash are ready and waiting to be planted now the chance of frost has passed. Give them a space to grow where the gophers can't get them by building a simple 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed or two. Raised beds sidestep the issue of tricky soil. By bringing in a healthy, organic mix of soil and compost, nutrient contents, drainage, PH and organic matter will boost your garden's growth. We suggest lining with gopher wire and covering structures with bird netting as an essential investment in your crop. Set up irrigation before picking out and planting your summer crop. Protective hoops of PVC pipe hold bird netting in place, especially useful when tender young starts are getting established. Build your beds to a height that are comfortable for you and help to prevent gardening strains and aches and pains. For framing construction details we looked to Sunset Magazine's trusted Home & Garden Do It Yourself section — click here for a step-by-step guide to RAISED GARDEN BED 



 April calls for Spring greens and fresh, easy recipes that bring the taste of the outdoors in. Here's our tasty alternative to the popular smashed avocado on toast.

  •    1 garlic clove, peeled and quartered
  •    1/4 cup fresh parsley
  •    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, extra for toast
  •    Kosher salt
  •    2 cups shelled fresh peas
  •    2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  •    1/2 tablespoon finely chopped Meyer lemon peel, divided
  •    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •    1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, extra for serving
  •    Freshly ground black pepper
  •    12 slices Della Fattoria or favorite local rustic bread, toasted

Combine garlic, parsley, 1 tablespoon of oil, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add peas and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes for fresh peas. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Transfer pea mixture to a food processor; pulse until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a medium bowl; mix in chives, 1/4 tablespoon lemon peel, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Stir in reserved cooking liquid by tablespoonfuls until mixture is still thick but spreadable. Season pea mash with salt, black pepper, and more lemon juice, if desired.

Drizzle toast with oil; top with pea mash, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon lemon peel and more red pepper, and drizzle with more oil.

Pea mash may be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Newsletter March 2019



When is the best Time to Buy or Sell a Rental Property?

Looking to buy a rental property, or off-load a rental home or income property? The million dollar, or, likely, several million dollar question for Sonoma County property buyers and sellers is how best to time a property hunt, sale and transaction?

Although there are fewer potential income properties on the market in the first quarter of the year, there's also a lot less buyers ready to pounce, making the ratio of inventory to sales in the buyer's favor. "If you're contemplating an income property purchase, start searching now," says Timo. "Competition typically ramps up by late Spring/early Summer, so let's get ahead of the crowd in identifying properties that fit the bill while everyone else is binge-watching the last of their favorite Netflix series".

Fewer buyers lowers your risk of competing in a bidding war with all-cash, multiple offers and over asking prices come June and July. If you've been on the fence as to when to jump into the rental property market, it is important to note that: "Despite growth in home and other property prices being predicted to slow somewhat in 2019," says Timo "it's unlikely we'll see any drop in prices in the Petaluma area. In fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) expects median existing-home sales price to climb up 3.1% this year from last year's figures." Shopping for properties in March and April allows you to see houses under cooler climate stress before you commit to taking on any challenges as a landlord. Experts predict mortgage rates will rise by the end of 2019. Now is a great time to lock in a lower mortgage rate that may save you thousands of dollars over your loan's lifespan. If you are contemplating selling a rental property in your real estate portfolio, whether to liquidate assets or to reinvest, making a call or arranging a sit down with Timo for a thorough assessment of your options should be your first move. 

"Could the money you've invested in your income property be earning you higher returns elsewhere?" asks Timo. "Do you need the money right now, or will you soon?" These are the critical questions to consider when timing the sale of a rental house or income property. "My next key question, after you've talked things through with your CPA, is could you realize a significant tax benefit from selling a property or is it more, or less beneficial to hold or purchase another property?" says Timo.

Under Section 1031 of the tax code, also known as a like-kind exchange, sellers avoid paying capital gains taxes on income from rental property sales as long as they purchase another property of equal or greater value within 180 days.

"There are lots of detailed rules involved with a 1031 transaction," says Timo. "Working with an experienced real estate professional is key." The rental property market in Petaluma and southern Sonoma County continues to be a viable investment given a widely reported housing shortage. "Depending on your unique circumstances, buying or selling a rental property in this desirable part of the North Bay remains a good option for investors."

For whatever reason, sellers who choose to off-load an income-producing property and pay taxes on the capital gains without a like-kind exchange, depending upon taxable income, should anticipate a significant tax bite of up to 20%. "The easiest way to defer these capital gains taxes is to swap one property for another, or others," says Timo. "The main stipulation is that the swap must be for rental properties only, personal homes or vacation homes don't count." It's all about the timing with a 1031 exchange. If you have one to sell, you'll be given 45 days from the date of sale to identify potential properties with which to close on within the 180 day time frame, or sooner, if your tax return is due. Miss the deadline, then you'll all of the capital gains taxes come due. Another option for rental property owners to avoid some of the capital gains tax on a property they've owned for three years or more is to move into the home as a primary residence for an additional two full years. "Positioning your ducks in a row is all-important when buying or selling rental income property," says Timo. "If you're thinking of buying or selling a rental property in the near future, let's start strategizing now. "



March calls for comfort foods as chilly weather lingers. Here's a tasty alternative to corn beef and cabbage for St. Patrick's Day or any day this month!

  •  6 tablespoons plus ½ cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2½ pounds boneless, skinless, trimmed chicken thighs 
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 pieces bacon, chopped
  • 1⅔ Lagunitas Brewing Company's Imperial Stout Ale
  • 1 pound carrots, chopped  
  • 8 ounces Cremini mushrooms, halved 
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons thyme
  • 1 cup organic chicken broth
  • 2 cups of green peas  

Combine 6 tablespoons flour with ½ teaspoon of salt and pepper in a wide bowl. Dredge chicken thighs in the mixture, coating completely; transfer to a plate. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until well browned, 2 to 4 minutes per side; transferring to a 5- to 6-quart Dutch Oven or casserole dish. Reduce heat to medium and repeat with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and chicken thighs. Arrange the chicken in an even layer in the Dutch Oven or casserole dish. Add bacon to the pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup flour over the heated bacon and stir into meat and melted fat for a couple of minutes. Add stout and use a wooden spoon to scrape up browning from the bottom of the pan. Pour mixture over the chicken. Add carrots, mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme, spreading in an even layer over the chicken. Pour broth over the top. Cover and cook until the chicken is falling-apart tender, four to six hours on a low oven heat. Add in fresh peas an hour before removing the dish from the oven. Season with salt and pepper.



Kick-start your spring-cleaning plans with an interior refresh of some new paint hues. And contrary to popular belief, your paint job will dry faster in the winter/early spring months compared to summertime. Cold and crisp days allow for your paint to dry quicker than on hotter, more humid days, though you will have to open your windows at least a little to ventilate the room.

Whether you are hiring professional painters or planning on a nifty DIY interior paint job, check out our curated Sonoma County selection of 2019's top color trends:


“While nature is a common inspiration for home décor, in 2019 we will see a shift from oversized botanicals to the woodlands, with mushroom grays and fern-inspired colors," says Sue Wadden, director of color marketing at Sherwin Williams. "Their earthy color–gray blended with warm brown–gives off an old world, naturalist feel."  

Click here for Shiitake, Sherwin Williams



Put Pantone's 2019 color of the year – Living Coral – on your radar. According to interior designer Carolyn Pressly, as featured in Elle Decor: "We’ll be seeing more hopeful and optimistic colors in the home, as evidenced by the recent selection of living coral, Pantone’s color of the year. Instead of using coral literally, you can separate it into its orange and pink counterparts." The mood instantly becomes energizing and uplifting, something we could all benefit from.

Click here for Coral Reef, Sherwin Williams


According to interior designer Becky Shea, hunter greens are a great choice for 2019. "Hunter green holds a sultry and worldly value to it, it's intrinsic in nature and all of life. It's timeless in every respect, and works beautifully with natural elements and neutral tones. What we also love about this color is how seamlessly it transitions between millwork, walls, furniture and accessories. Its gender neutrality also holds a special place in my heart, there's no definition of a home feeling more masculine or feminine; it's the perfect balance of each," she says.

Click here for Hunter Green, Benjamin Moore


Currently, I’m in love with the deep saturated colors," says interior designer Keita Turner: "Beau Green, Kendall Charcoal, Hale Navy and Hunter Green. These darker moody colors are perfect for custom built-ins and kitchen cabinetry. I would ideally use them in a room with an abundance of natural light."

Click here for Hale Navy, Benjamin Moore


Pale pinks are being seen more this year due to their neutral properties and compatibility with other shades. Interior designer Barbara Schmidt explains: "Monochromatic colorways will be popular in 2019, mixed with an abundance of white or lemon yellow for the ideal look."  

Click here for Pale Pink Satin, Benjamin Moore


We're expecting to see more blues with a softened mistiness and haze. This moody blue has a calming grey undertone that promotes a serene energy in the home. Blues benefit from a touch of purple to free our thinking, with hints of gray to ground.

Click here for Seattle Haze, Valspar


There is nothing more classic than an all white palette. And while pure white is a winner with many homeowners and designers, 2019 is the year of “almost-whites.” These shades offer subtle nuances that adapt to different lighting, furniture, and surrounding colors. For those who crave a minimalist palette that still feels dynamic, an almost-white shade is the foolproof choice.

Click here for Decorator's White, Benjamin Moore

Newsletter February 2019


The Winds of Change Are Brewing In The Southern Sonoma County Real Estate Market By Frances Rivetti

The winds of change are brewing in the Southern Sonoma County real estate market as affordability challenges and buyers fatigue continue to soften the steady median price increases of the past four to five years and create a saner market.

And buyers and sellers are unsure of what 2019 and 2020 may hold for home sales.

"We've seen a period of rapid climb in residential prices during the economic recovery of the last few years and what's been happening since late summer 2018 is a return to a more sustainable housing market in this still, highly desirable region of the North Bay," says Timo.

Lending standards are much higher after the major debacle just over one decade ago in December 2008 when the sub-prime mortgage crisis reached fever pitch. Home values across the United States were recorded as having dropped by an average of 18% causing some four million recession-strapped American homeowners to foreclose.

"Throughout my 20 plus years in real estate I have always guided my clients to purchase a home to enjoy life, not primarily to make a fast profit," says Timo. "If you're in it for the long term, either as a primary home owner or as a rental property owner, buy and borrow responsibly and you're still making a solid investment in the Petaluma/Penngrove/Rohnert Park area today."

According to MLS statistics for the Bay Area in general, some 80% of homes listed in September/October of 2018 saw a price reduction after sitting on the market prior to recorded sale. "Sellers have been reluctant to take on board the fact the days of the infamous bidding wars with multiple offers are largely over for now," says Timo.

On the other hand, buyers have grown tired of overpaying in the aforementioned bidding wars and may expect a lot more leverage going forward into the next couple of years.

"I expect to see prices staying more or less where they are and appreciation slowing to a more steady rate," says Timo. "Unless interest rates go through the roof, I don't think we will see housing prices dropping dramatically in Southern Sonoma County, where, as we all know, there is a serious housing shortage. Sellers will have to adapt to pricing their home to sell and to be prepared for a listing that sits on the market more than a few days."

Millennials are coming of age, growing their families and looking to buy into the limited entry-level inventory, which makes for the fiercest competition in this particularly important housing segment in the Petaluma area, where the median home price was recorded at $695,000 in December 2018. expects U.S. Millennial will account for 45% of mortgages with 37% going to Gen Xers and 17% to baby boomers in 2019.

"At the other end of the housing chain, many of my Baby Boomer clients are deciding whether to downsize now, or sometime in the future, or, instead, to make modifications to their properties to age in place," says Timo. "With limited inventory in the area for downsizing, it is all the more vital for clients to have their ducks in a row." If you are looking to downsize in the next few years, Timo recommends you sit down with an accountant/and or financial advisor and mortgage broker to maximize retirement income and establish a strategy for housing, mobility, health and financial needs. "Once you have a solid plan in place, it's time for us to start investigating this still very competitive local market together."

The old-fashioned, personal touch is all-important to Timo when it comes to working with established and new clients. "Going forward into the housing market of 2019 and 2020, online search engines, virtual tours and social media continues to grow, though, for me, face to face, personalized and experienced service is every bit as vital as staying on top of the technical tools."

"With a slower price appreciation across the board, incomes finally have a chance to catch up," says Timo. "Ultimately it's a good thing."

Call Timo with any real estate questions at 707-477-8397 or email him at


Roasted Sonoma County Cauliflower Soup

Don't let the winter blues get you down. February is the perfect month for savoring winter warming soups stews and casseroles by candlelight. Winter vegetables such as kale and chard, beets, squash and sprouts are in abundance on farm stands and in our back yard gardens, as are radishes, cauliflower and cabbage and our favorite, juicy mandarin oranges, served with freshly cracked walnuts. Seafood is a plenty, be it oysters, Dungeness crab, salmon, scallops. Spring's bounty is on its way, but February's offerings are equally enticing. Comfort food does not have to be overly time consuming. So, invite a friend or two to join you at table and crank up the stove . . .

  •    1 head cauliflower 
  •    4 garlic cloves 
  •    Quarter of a finely chopped onion
  •    4 tablespoons olive oil
  •    1 teaspoon salt
  •    1/2 teaspoon ground blk pepper
  •    2 tablespoons butter
  •    2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  •    4 cups organic chicken broth
  •    1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  •    1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •    1/4 teaspoon cayenne  pepper 


1.      Preheat oven to 450 Degrees F. Chop cauliflower and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper, toss and lay the cauliflower on an oiled baking tray with garlic cloves. Roast for a half an hour until golden brown, stirring half way through.

2.      Sauté onion in a little olive oil in a small frying pan.

3.      Melt butter in a soup pot or Dutch oven over a steady heat. Sprinkle in flour and stir. Reduce heat and gradually whisk in chicken broth, thyme, nutmeg and cayenne pepper. Add cauliflower, onion and garlic and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes or until thickened.

4.      Puree with an immersion blender. Pour back into pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

cLICK hERE TO Pair Soup with the Perfect Petaluma Gap Vintage ...

February Home Trends By Frances Rivetti

Why wait until Spring to take on a new color scheme or to transform your living space to better suit your spirits?

Interior designers predict a continued move away from all-white kitchens in 2019, with saturated colors such as dark green making statements on partial cabinets and walls with wallpaper motifs and the modern take on the classic floral making a big comeback, especially in small spaces. Look o graphic tiles for pop and punch. Expect to see darker counter tops making a comeback.

Warm up a room with beautiful plants and containers for an instant boost.

According to Elle Decor, everything you invest in for the home should have a purpose. Yes, it's the time of to ditch any unnecessary clutter that has built up over the fall and winter months.  “For 2019, there is greater interest in biophilia–emphasizing the relationship between humankind and nature, and the connections between the two. Natural, organic materials–such as wood floors, stone, and daylight and plant life–remind us of the exterior and brings the outside and nature, in. We are machine- and technology-driven society, but nostalgic about past processes and handiwork, so opportunities for custom Millwork and crafted materials are very important.”—Angie Lee of FXCollaborative.

Blush, dusty pink and bronze are big on the interior color scene for 2019 along with light colored walls, perhaps a move away from the cooler, grey tone neutrals. 

Bold, dark, sultry bathrooms are apparently IN - evoking the spa experience 

Contact Us for Previous Monthly Newsletters & Recipes if it isn't shown on our website.