Although housing prices have steadily increased during the pandemic, salaries for most folk have not. If you already have a place of your own in the Petaluma area, you’re most likely thankful that you’re not buying into the market right now. The popular line that everyone is leaving is misleading since so many are opting to stay and lots more people are circling any available property listings.
Staying afloat in more pricey urban areas has become a stressful and life draining challenge, hence we’re seeing a continued heavy draw of eclectic homebuyers to the Petaluma area. “The perks of a move to Petaluma are many,” says Timo. City dwellers are swarming Petaluma and its more rural parts in search of housing, open space and peace of mind during this extraordinarily challenging time.”
Modern day migrations into the area prove that people of all ages are fully prepared to trade in the proximity and amenities of a more urban life for the reassuring tranquility of a smaller, slower-paced countrified community.
Remote working has relieved the day-to-day grind and fatigue of commutes. Cost of living in general proves to be more affordable in Sonoma County than San Francisco or the Peninsula as more and more people continue to opt to work from home, saving on gas and travel expenses.
Our local café, restaurant, boutique and bar scene with its many outdoor areas has attracted lots of new visitors throughout the pandemic, many of whom decide to take a closer look at homes in the area. It’s not surprising that most folk who get to know the Petaluma area, opt to stay.
“Hiking, beach access, live music, movie theater, wine country, terrific schools, we have it all,” says Timo. “Our historic downtown and lively arts community is another big draw with creative folk from Marin, the East Bay, SF and beyond.”
Climate-wise, the Petaluma area is considerably cooler than neighboring Sonoma, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg.
Farmers markets, farm shops and CSA deliveries make for day-to-day life in the tastiest little place on earth when it comes to easy access to seasonal abundance of fruits, vegetables, grass-raised meat, organic dairy products, fresh fish and vegan alternatives.
“Petaluma sells itself on lifestyle,” says Timo. “Buyers want in and though there aren’t many deals to be found these days, the value is here.”
More than ever it’s important to have a seasoned real estate professional on your team when it comes to savvy buying and selling in the Petaluma area. Don’t hesitate to give Timo a call on 707 477 8396 if you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling.
We asked local friends and neighbors what they love best about living in Petaluma right now. Here are some of their responses:
“Although Petaluma is growing it still has a small town feel to it. Folks do look after one another, whether in business or what happens in the community.” — BM
“Small town aspect & friendly people. Plus, the river.” — LC
“LOVE all of the amazing restaurants, and the parklets that came as a result of COVID — we have amazing outdoor dining here! I also love our clothing and shoe stores. I don’t miss shopping in the city at all.” — BM
“Small town feel, big city culture.” — AM
“The sense of community. The identity of the downtown core. The artisan winemakers and spirit makers and the Shuckery and Street Social. There is a really good healthy mix of sustainability, smart growth and omg the new peninsula park!” — DCG
“Our leadership cares deeply about the many layers of our town, electing a thoughtful, wide lens vision regarding growth and sustainability. I love how Petaluma is perfectly located, bringing an urban feel into a rural history, a living farm to table experience. Also, our vibrant downtown draws a diverse community, enriching us with new possibilities of what community means!” — EG
“Surrounded by pastures, river and rural life. You can be in open spaces in mere moments.” — TG
“The friendly, inclusive people,” — SP
“I love that my girls get to ride horses and experience a little of farm life while living in the city! Also, I love our friends and the community that we live in.” — SHB
“People are more interested in who you are and what you can contribute than how much money you have.” — JR
“Walking down the street and coming across chickens just pecking in someone’s front yard.” — AFC
“Small town feel with a whole lotta soul!” — MM
What's something exciting your business offers? Say it here.
Fall is in the air and we’re starting to look closer at the indoor elements of our homes. Paint is the easiest fix for sprucing up our living spaces for the cozy, winter months. Sherwin-Williams has just revealed its annual color trend predictions for the coming year.
According to Elle Décor, the popular paint company has identified four distinct color palettes for 2022 with the catchy acronym MODE: the earthy Method group, a moodier Opus collection, the light-and-bright Dreamland, and the retro Ephemera. These 40 hues tell an intriguing story of “sustainability, deep and spiritual maximalism, the connection between technology and mindfulness, and nostalgia for the 1960s–1980s.”
Think blush pinks, dark blues, and terra-cottas—but with unexpected jolts. The Method palette showcases a spectrum of warm, nature-inspired tones, enlivened with the electric Chartreuse. Dreamland features a familiar pale pink and barely-there lavender, but also an attention-grabbing berry named Dynamo.
And even though Memphis and postmodernism design continue to remain all the rage, Sherwin-Williams looks back to classic midcentury design in the Ephemera collection with the mossy Basque Green, deep teal Cascades, and bright coral Rejuvenate.
· 1 butternut squash peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
· 2 tbsp olive oil
· sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
· 8 oz tub ricotta
· a few sage leaves, finely chopped
· good grating of nutmeg
· zest and juice ½ lemon
· 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
· 8 oz pine nuts
Heat oven to 375 F. Place the squash on a baking tray. Toss in half the oil, season and spread out into a single layer (you may need 2 baking trays). Roast for 30-35 mins or until tender. Meanwhile, place a large rectangle of baking parchment on a baking tray. Unroll the pastry and lay it on top. Score a 1cm border with the tip of a knife and prick the inside part all over with a fork. Bake in the oven for 15 mins.
Mix the ricotta, sage, nutmeg, lemon zest and plenty of seasoning in a bowl. Once the pastry and squash are cooked, remove from the oven. Gently press the center of the pastry case down with the back of a spoon. Spread the ricotta mix into the center. Sprinkle on squash. Bake for a further 10-15 mins until the pastry is golden and crisp. Mix lemon juice, arugula, chili, pine nuts and 1 tbsp oil. Scatter half over the tart and serve the remains on the side.
California’s housing market continues to drive the show in the state and Sonoma County region’s economic recovery from the pandemic crunch. And according to the California Association of Realtors and industry watchdogs, it was COVID-19 that caused the housing market to punch above its weight in leading a record drive that is most likely to continue at a similar pace into next year.
“Now that things have opened up considerably, we’re able to travel more, socialize outside, return to many of our pre-crisis activities in the Petaluma area, the market has only marginally normalized,” says Timo.
“Housing shortage has become even more of an impact in this area during the past year and a half and it continues to foster a supply and demand issue. As a result, communities such as Petaluma, Penngrove and other Sonoma County neighbors are not about to experience any significant drop in interest from homebuyers moving into the area as people continue to establish more permanent work-from-home lifestyles.”
In an era when home also means office, school, gym, bar . . . demand for the ideal family-home has become fierce in the Petaluma area, where most all accepted offers have gone for over asking price in the past year or so.
As a result, the median home price in Petaluma is currently in the mid $800,000s, around $30,000 higher than the state average median of $820,000. “We’ve seen a lot of people moving out of state,” says Timo, “but what’s happening on a bigger, less reported scale is folk moving into the Bay Area and especially into cities such as Petaluma and Santa Rosa. Resort markets may have boomed, but so have plenty of other areas such as Petaluma, where the quality of life is considered to be great.”
Petaluma is proving super attractive to people who are able to work from home and avoid the commute. “Higher income earners have been much more insulated from the financial stress of the pandemic and paired with historical low interest rates, we’re seeing record numbers of longtime renters and first-time buyers decide to enter the home market once they figure out what they’re able to qualify for.”
Even though we were in the midst of an economic and social health crisis, this massive cultural shift only further bolstered demand for homes, creating an historic surge that began in May of last year.
“We still have a huge home ownership gap in the area,” says Timo “until more units are completed within Petaluma’s urban boundary, there will continue to be a steady stream of demand for housing in town.”
“If prices soften any in this area it will be more to do with interest rates,” says Timo, “though even then, industry and finance experts do not expect a heavy hike, not likely above 3%. Our local market is most certainly to remain robust and extremely solid compared to pre-pandemic levels.”
California Association of Realtors says that we’re still head and shoulders above where we’ve been in terms of home sales and values in the past decade, though in some regions, the market has become only slightly less intense than in 2020.
“I really don’t see much changing locally,” says Timo. It’s a great time to sell, especially. Don’t wait for prices to drop significantly if you’re on the buying end. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, or know someone who is, give Timo a call on 707 477 8396 today.
On the flip side of sellers banking the big bucks on cashing out of the region, there is good news for borrowers who fell behind on their mortgages during the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to face economic hardship. Help is on its way from a new Biden administration program — a bid to prevent a sharp rise in foreclosures over the coming months.
“According to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal, the program will allow borrowers with loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration and other federal agencies to extend the length of their mortgages, locking in lower monthly principal and interest payments,” says Timo. An estimated 75% of new home loans are backed by the federal government.
These changes are aimed at homeowners who took advantage of so-called forbearance programs that allowed them to skip monthly payments for up to 18 months, but who can’t resume making those normal payments as that relief begins to expire.
Just as a national foreclosure ban extension has expired, borrowers who entered into forbearance plans early in the pandemic will start to exit those plans in September and October, when Black Knight forecasts that about a million borrowers will still be seriously delinquent.
This new program is the latest move by the current government to prevent a repeat of the wave of foreclosures that followed the 2008-09 financial crisis. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has completed rules that restrict mortgage lenders from foreclosing on a property this year without first contacting homeowners to see if they qualify for a lower interest rate or some other loan change that makes it easier to repay.
The changes aim to reduce monthly payments by up to about 25%, an administration official said, adding they are designed to align with modification options already offered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-controlled mortgage companies.
Many of the borrowers who are still postponing payments have FHA loans and typically have lower incomes and make smaller down payments than people with other government-backed loans, such as those guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Job losses during the pandemic have disproportionately affected low-wage workers, including employees of restaurants, hotels and shopping malls devastated by the stay-at-home economy.
Research since the 2008-09 financial crisis has found that deferring mortgage payments, reducing interest rates or extending the term of mortgages—and thus reducing the monthly payments—are effective ways to aid homeowners short on cash.
As we head into the hotter summer months and fall, Master Gardeners of Sonoma County will hold a webinar on August 9th, to help us all with practical tips and recommendations for our food gardens and landscaping. Click here to register for this zoom talk.
The local experts will address some of the following questions: How to create a watering budget? How much should we water? Can we plan for winter/fall vegetable garden? Watering trees and shrubs, how much and when? Where can we find information on restrictions and watering? How to plan for next year? How to adjust the seasonal watering needs of our landscape and food gardens.
Bring your questions to the panel of Master Gardeners who will have two presentations one on food gardening and one on landscape gardening.
There are many resources available online to help us navigate the drought. Click here for more info on August in Sonoma County.
· Freshly picked blackberries, plus extra for the topping
· 3 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar
· Zest and juice of ½ a Meyer lemon
· 250ml heavy cream
Tip the blackberries into a pan with 2 tbsp. confectioner’s sugar, plus the lemon zest and juice. Simmer until syrupy, then leave to cool. Chill for a few hours.
Whip the heavy cream then swirl through most of the blackberry sauce. Serve in glasses with extra sauce and fresh blackberries on top.
The big question on everyone’s mind this summer in Sonoma County is whether or not this is a good time to buy or sell,” says Timo “and if you’re in the buyer’s market, is it still possible to get in on the multiple over asking price offers?”
It appears unlikely that prices are about to drop any time soon in the south county especially given the record pace of demand. "I’ve been delighted to call several clients over the past few weeks with news of accepted offers in some of the most competitive neighborhoods in the county,” says Timo. “It’s more vital than ever for prospective homebuyers to have all their ducks in a row, be patient, strategic and work with an established, experienced negotiator who knows the local market inside out.”
The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) increased slightly in the first week of June but remained below the 3% threshold. Despite market concerns about rising inflation in recent weeks as the economy continues to recover, the average 30-year FRM compiled by Freddie Mac has remained at or below 3% for the past seven weeks.
And yet, with demand continuing to way outpace supply, according to the California Association of Realtors and a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, many consumers are feeling the mounting stress of homebuying this summer.
“It’s certainly a crazy time to be looking at homes, even as we come through the easing of pandemic restrictions,” says Timo. “My clients know that I love nothing better than a challenge and thinking out of the box when coming up with an action plan to make their home buying dreams a reality. It can be done, despite the off-putting news of pricing and competition.”
Still, as housing affordability deteriorated further and supply shortage remained an issue, homebuyers’ sentiment declined to the lowest point in 32 months, according to the C.A.R. Housing Sentiment Survey.
With California setting another record median price in April 2021 and the corresponding mortgage payment increasing more than 30% from a year ago, according to CAR it’s not surprising that many potential homebuyers are feeling more pessimistic about the homebuying conditions. Meanwhile, 72% of all respondents believe it is a good time to sell, an all-time high since the survey launched in September 2018.
“Working with clients who are cashing in and relocating out of the area has been a big part of my portfolio over the past year or so,” says Timo. “It’s an interesting time in real estate and I take great pride in making sure that any move is as seamless as possible, whether out of state or down the street.”
Thinking of selling (or buying) sometime in the next few months, year or two? Don’t hesitate to call Timo today.
It may take several offers to secure an acceptance on a home purchase in Sonoma County this summer, but it’s not impossible. Timo is delighted to have opened several new escrows with mid-range buyers in the past couple of months.
Reports such as this one in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat drive home the importance of working with a skilled and reputable agent.
Watering your garden is essential during hot, dry weather, we all know that, but watering correctly is the most important. Source heat tolerant plants if planting anew.
Water in the morning and/or early evening to avoid water evaporating before it gets to the roots.
Try to water deeply two or three times a week with a drop irrigation system or soaker hose. If using an overhead sprinkler or hand watering, do it in the cool early or later hours. Plants cease flowering and may suffer sunburn and turn white in excessive heat, this includes veggies such as peppers and tomatoes.
Try to give plants some sunlight but not full sunlight before planting to buildup a base to sun exposure. Once a plant has suffered sunburn, best thing to do is give it some shade with patio umbrellas, garden fabric and shade sails during the hottest part of the day until it grows new leaves.
Too much watering can do a lot of damage. Heat and sun exposure lead to leaf wilt when a plant releases too much moisture to protect itself in high heat. Resist over watering and feel the soil for moisture before doing so which will avoid root rot or fungal disease. If a plant is continuously overwatered it may deprive its roots of oxygen and promote fungi growth in the soil. Wait until the sun goes down and look to see if your plant bounces back.
Consider adding 4-6 inches of mulch to insulate the plant’s roots from heat and cold and keep the soil moist. Straw, pine leaves, grass clippings will do.
Look after yourself with appropriate sun protection when you garden, including staying hydrated, using sun protection lip balm as well as sunscreen and wearing a hat.
Clean mushrooms with a brush or in a salad spinner with cold water. Empty the dirty water, and quickly but gently spin dry. Arrange mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and season with 1teaspoon salt and pepper. Refrigerate uncovered, at least 6hours Heat one chimney of charcoal until flames subside and coals are lightly covered in ash. Arrange coals for two-zone cooking: Bank coals along half of bottom grate of charcoal grill. Place applewood log along edge of coals. Place cooking grate over coals; open bottom and top vents of grill. Close grill lid, and heat to medium-high (400°F to450°F).
Toss with oil, and arrange in a single layer on oiled grates over direct heat .Grill, uncovered, turning occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, deeply caramelized on the surface, and crispy in some areas, 10to 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Season with remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
Place crème fraîche in a shallow heatproof metal pan or ceramic dish, such as a small cake pan and place on cool side of grill. Working quickly, add juniper berries to hot coals, and cover grill with open lid vents over crème fraîche. Smoke crème fraîche until melted and light brown on surface, about 5 minutes. Toss greens with lemon juice. Divide crème fraîche among plates, and scatter mushrooms over crème fraîche. Drizzle each plate with 1/4teaspoon honey, and top loosely with greens.
May is the time during this extremely dry year
to prepare for potential wildfire and
protecting our homes.
There are three ways homes in the region can
be exposed to wildfire: direct flames from a
wildfire or burning neighboring home; radiant
heat from nearby burning plants or structures
and flying embers.
Flying embers from a wildfire can destroy
homes up to several miles away, as we’ve
sadly seen here in Sonoma County during past
devastating wildfire seasons and are
responsible for the destruction of most homes
during a wildfire.
Taking the necessary measures to harden (prepare) your home can help increase its likelihood of survival when wildfire strikes. Clearly not all of the remodel suggestions
are time practical for this year, but if you have the means, it is a good idea to be aware of the kind of work you could be planning for in the future to make your home more fireproof. We turned to readyforwildfire.org for the info for this article.
The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. Homes with wood or shingle roofs are at high risk of being destroyed during a wildfire.
· Consider re-roofing in the future with materials such as composition, metal, clay or tile. Block any spaces between roof decking and covering to prevent embers from catching.
· Remove accumulated vegetative debris from the roof.
Vents on homes create openings for flying embers.
·Cover all vent openings with 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch metal mesh. Do not use fiber glass or plastic mesh because they can melt and burn.
·Use Ember and flame-resistant vents (WUI vents).
Eaves and Soffits:
Eaves should be boxed in (soffited-eave design) and protected with ignition-resistant* or non-combustible materials.
Heat from a wildfire can cause windows to break even before the home is on fire. This allows burning embers to enter and start fires inside. Single-paned and large windows are particularly vulnerable.
·Install dual-paned windows with one pane of tempered glass to reduce the chance of breakage in a fire.
·Consider limiting the size/ number of windows facing large areas of vegetation.
·Install screens in all usable windows to increase ember resistance and decrease radiant heat exposure
Wood products, such as boards, panels or shingles, are common siding materials. However, they are flammable and not good choices for fire-prone areas.
·Consider remodeling your walls with ignition resistant* building materials, such as stucco, fiber cement wall siding, fire retardant, treated wood, or other approved materials. This is especially important when neighboring homes are within 30-feet of the home.
·Be sure to extend materials from the foundation to the roof.
·Smaller spaces, such as the roof-to-wall area, should have their siding replaced with a noncombustible material.
Surfaces within 10 feet of the building should be built with ignition-resistant*,non-combustible, or other approved materials.
·Create an ember-resistant zone around and under all decks and make sure that all combustible items are removed from underneath your deck.
·If a deck overhangs a slope, create and maintain defensible space downslope from the deck to reduce the chances of flames reaching the underside of the deck.
For the full article and more suggestions go to
This summer is time to rethink how we garden here in Sonoma County, so that we’ll all be doing our part to fight the climate crisis going forward. Let’s lessen our carbon footprint and conserve water at the same time.
If you have a small or medium-sized garden, switch to hand-watering your veggies rather than using an overhead sprinkler system, applying the water near the base of the plant slowly to allow time for it to absorb into the soil near the roots. Alternatively, consider installing drip irrigation if you don’t already have it in place, a type of micro-irrigation that helps maintain ideal moisture levels by allowing water to drip slowly and directly to the roots of plants.
Less frequent, deep watering also encourages deeper root growth to areas where the soil stays moist longer,”
according to the Cornell Cooperative Extension. “If more water is determined to be necessary at a specific time and location, be sure to use no more than is needed and minimize your use of potable water.”
Frequent droughts like we’re seeing have a tendency to kill off the vital living soil eco-systems necessary to grow our healthy backyard crops – in addition to the fact that plants can’t grow without water either. If you fortify your soil against climate change-related weather challenges, you’ll be increasing its fertility and productivity all the while improving your plants’ resistance to pests and disease by training your eye on “soil organic matter.”
Frequent droughts like we’re seeing have a tendency to kill off the vital living soil eco-systems necessary to grow our healthy backyard crops – in addition to the fact that plants can’t grow without water either. If you fortify your soil against climate change-related weather challenges, you’ll be increasing its fertility and productivity all the while improving your plants’ resistance to pests and disease by training your eye on “soil organic matter.” Healthy soil rich in organic matter sequesters carbon and stores water like a sponge, helping it mitigate climate impacts such as heavy rainfall and short-term drought by keeping the right amount of water where your plants need it –in the ground around its roots, an area called the “rhizosphere.”
It also adds nutrients to your foods as all that organic matter breaks down. So, it’s important to remember to keep your plants happy by feeding their soil organic matter regularly with compost and by growing cover crops. A low- or no-till approach to gardening plays a big role in building the soil organic matter by not wrecking the soil ecosystem.
At its most basic, no-till gardening is the practice of growing produce without disturbing the soil through tillage or plowing. In addition to locking up more carbon in the soil, this approach dramatically cuts back on fossil-fuel use in gardening.
As soil organic carbon levels increase through reduced tillage, so does the amount of nutrients that the soil can hold, meaning gardeners have less need for synthetic fertilizers. Add organic matter twice a year to your garden and mulch. Choose crops suitable for growth under arid or drought conditions and harvest your crops on time. There are numerous easy-to-use hand tools that can help make gardening a clean, exhaust-free breeze. Consider adding a broad fork to your shed, which will lightly aerate the soil and improve drainage while leaving the soil layers intact, preserving the soil structure and the living ecosystems necessary for your plants to thrive.
Timo and Renee are delighted to announce that Lori Lafranchi has joined the Rivetti Team as our much-welcomed Associate Agent at RE/MAX Gold.
Lori is a third-generation Petaluman who takes great pride in sharing the rich history and heritage of the area with newcomers and locals alike.
“I grew up here,” says Lori. “My family and friends are here. Petaluma is no longer the sleepy little town of my youth. It’s exciting and desirable!”
A keen interior designer and landscaper, hiker, baker and pickle ball player, Lori loves nothing more than being outdoors in her free time. She has been working as a real estate agent in Petaluma for the past few years after selling her successful court reporting agency in Santa Rosa to a national firm in 2016.
Lori, who is looking forward to the camaraderie and support that comes with working with an established real estate team.
Lori is married to a retired firefighter who loves to travel and adventure with her. She has one son, who lives and works locally.
“My favorite thing about real estate is the relationships I’ve built with clients whom I now call friends,” says Lori. “Number two is readying a house for market. Number three, calling the clients and telling them the house is theirs.”
“Lori is a great fit for the Rivetti Team, she’s highly approachable, personable, organized and loves Petaluma, its people and the real estate business.
We’re all very happy to welcome her on board.”
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Add butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then lemon zest and vanilla until combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg and baking powder &whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture and mix until just combined. Gently fold berries into batter & spread batter in pan. Sprinkle lightly with more granulated sugar. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until top is golden and cake is cooked through.
Allow cake to cool, turn out from pan, then sprinkle with optional cinnamon &confectioners’ sugar.
Timo enjoys connecting clients and their friends and family with great RE/MAX agents around the state and country.
“More and more, I’m looking at matching the right agent with a client’s needs when they or someone they know is moving out of this area. Don’t hesitate to give me a call for a referral to an agent that will work best for you, wherever it is that you’re relocating out of town or state”
Timo Rivetti, with RE/MAX Petaluma, was awarded the prestigious RE/MAX Titan Club Award for 2020, which honors high-achieving real estate professionals across the United States for their service to buyers and/or sellers during the past year.
"Timo’s tireless dedication to serving his clients, consumers and community has allowed him to achieve this prestigious and elite honor,” said Broker/Owner of RE/MAX GOLD Andrew James. “Being recognized as a Titan Club member is a significant accomplishment and we’re extremely proud that Timo continues to raise the bar in California real estate.”
“I’m extremely proud to have been named the number one agent for RE/MAX GOLD in the North Bay,” says Timo. “I couldn’t have done this without my fantastic executive team assistant, Realtor, Renee' Waters.”
“Our clients, friends and neighbors have been absolutely the best with entrusting their repeat real estate business needs and so many excellent referrals over this past particularly challenging pandemic year. It has been our pleasure serving you all.”
Created in 2015, the Titan Club Award was presented to less than one percent of all active RE/MAX agents in the country for their performance last year.
“It’s been a pleasure working from the 2nd Street Theatre Square RE/MAX GOLD offices whenever possible during the past year and I’d like to especially thank Dianne Ledou in the front office for maintaining a safe, welcoming environment, appropriately screened for clients who have required in-person meetings during this time,” says Timo.
“For those who are out and about in west Petaluma on a daily basis, you’ll have probably seen me on my morning rounds, walking my dog, Rosie, to the office and back and to many of my showings. I can’t imagine a better place to live and work than Petaluma and surrounding communities.”
As the warmer months approach, sellers continue to ready their Sonoma County homes for the market. Many are cashing in, following friends, neighbors and family members to less expensive areas,” says Timo. “Others are downsizing or finding other ways to utilize their equity.”
“Across the board, county-wide, from Petaluma to Sonoma to the coast and to the north, demand from homebuyers is
significantly outpacing supply, keeping inventory to record lows,” Timo says.
“It’s a good thing for sellers, though makes house hunting and affordability challenging for buyers.”
Timo is dedicated to working with every client’s specific needs. If you or someone you know dreams of owning property in the Petaluma area, there’s nothing Timo values more in his work than making that vision a reality. “2021 is all about figuring out how to sort through the complex housing shortage and get people what they want, need and can afford.”
And if you’re thinking of selling, don’t hesitate to give Timo a call to talk about timing and strategy now or at some time in the future.
Look here for an article the local housing market in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat ...
Water is a precious and limited resource, especially here in drought-prone Northern California. Water conservation and the efficient use of our region’s water supply is a major priority for Sonoma County as summer approaches.
In coordination with the Association of California Water Agencies, the Save Our Water program helps Californians learn ways to save water at home to reduce the effects of drought.
Even the simplest changes to daily routines will have a significant impact. By making conservation a way of life, let’s save water together, minimize water waste, rebuild our underground aquifers, prepare for the uncertainties of climate change and minimize the harmful effects of drought.
We all must embrace wise water use as a daily habit. Let’s start by following the water conservation tips below, and visit Save Our Water for more tips, tools, and incentives – including rebates. Water conservation tips are also available at the Sonoma Marin Water Saving Partnership website,
View photos of past CA State Fair water-wise garden exhibits for ideas on how to create your own low-water use landscape at ... https://bit.ly/2PY0jzD
Indoor Conservation Tips:
Outdoor Conservation Tips:
Pulse the solid ingredients. Add garlic and pine nuts to a food processor. Pulse. Then add the cheese, salt, and pepper, and pulse again. Next, add the raw kale leaves and lemon juice. Process until all the ingredients are well-combined. Then, add the oil. With the blade running, pour the oil into the food processor. Process until oil is completely incorporated. Season to taste. Add to your favorite pasta with cooked peas, asparagus and/or zucchini
More people are decamping the State of California than are moving in, according to recent news reports on the rapidly changing face of the California Dream. And yet, home
sales are booming with a redistribution of others moving in.
“I’ve never known a quarter like it for the number of clients who have or are selling up, taking their money and running,” says Timo. “The last quarter has been unprecedented
amongst my client base and it’s not just retirement boomers.”
Many families within Timo’s client base in all different stages of their lives are questioning the sustainable affordability of Sonoma County and how to make a go of it
on median salaries and fixed incomes, especially with added pandemic pressures on parents with school aged kids. And yet, as one active Petaluman points out: “We’re happy to see so many new young families around town. It’s stroller city here again.”
“Property taxes are a big part of the equation,” says Timo. “Although my clients who have left are telling me that home prices in desirable new destinations of choice are no
longer the bargains they had envisaged.”
Wherever you’re thinking of moving to the house next door, or packing up the wagon and heading north, east, or south (or maybe west, if it’s to the beach), don’t hesitate to
give Timo a call to discuss the pros and cons for your situation at 707. 477. 8396
Certainly, here in Petaluma, we are experiencing an influx of homebuyers from elsewhere in the greater Bay Area, particularly, San Francisco, the Peninsula and the East Bay. These buyers, who are comfortable paying our local housing prices are largely seeking a quieter, more rural lifestyle and the renowned community-mindedness that Petaluma provides.
We asked friends and neighbors in our community for their input on this compelling subject. It’s important to weigh up all the options when considering a move out of state and it helps to hear from others and their experiences. It’s also been good to hear from those who are committed to their Sonoma County home base. Here is a selection of local response:
“The opportunity to lose the tether to an office and to be able to work anywhere is tempered by recent weather dynamics and political climate outside of California. Staying in CA is more likely if we move.” — Adrian.
“We just bought a travel trailer instead, love CA and Petaluma too much to leave. And our little trailer will get us out on smokey days.” — Linda
“Friends of mine moved to Montana because they were tired of the fires and CA taxes. They were able to sell their home and purchase a new one without a mortgage. Personally, I love Sonoma County, the people and the proximity to beach and mountains.” — Margi.
“We have lost 10 friends to surrounding states. Most left because the price of retiring. We stay because we are both natives and because our only kid is in the Bay Area.”
“I am interested in moving in regards to climate change and landing somewhere where my son might like to inherit a place of more safety when I’m gone. In the USA or not. Ireland is on the list.” — Kathleen.
“Besides costs and politics we live in paradise and I just couldn’t do it. Never say never though.” — Stacy.
“We have several friends who have left/are planning to leave. Taxes, house prices, the ability to retire, being near grandkids, etc, seem to be the reasons. We’re here for the long run. It’s important for me to be near my doctors and we couldn’t leave the coast, I don’t think.” — Denise.
“Now that I’m a single woman, retired, it’s very difficult after living here all my life ,owning a company that I helped build in Petaluma, to leave my home and family for a more affordable area. I just hope all the people moving here and running up the housing market, the non-stop building, infrastructure, will remember that Petaluma was founded in 1858 and its history is its most valuable aspect.” — Julie.
“Not even thinking of leaving. I tried Hawaii and was glad to be back home. As we get older community means a lot more.” — Jennifer.
“I wouldn’t leave Petaluma and its people even though we have a house at beautiful Lake Como. My great grandmother was born at Haystack Landing while her father was working on the railroad. My roots are too deep to leave.’ — Sharon.
“We have purchased a lot and will build in Nevada . . . builders are so busy, it may take two years! CA is overwhelming Nevada!” — Ronda.
“Palm Springs, bigger bang for your buck, large gay community, close enough to LA for culture and San Diego to escape the hot summers for a few months.” — Robert.
“I’ve driven through the valley twice in the past week and the views and vistas are so breathtaking with the fruit trees and mustard fields in bloom! I feel lucky to live in such a place.” — Susan.
“We retired to Arizona. I love California, I miss it and I visit quite a bit but it’s not affordable for retirement, or young couples.” — Michelle.
“Petaluma was my home for 40 years but it was too far away from my family in Ojai. I miss many things about my life in Petaluma, but especially my friends.” — Julie.
“Advice from a tax accountant who has seen many leave and then return — don’t sell your house until you are sure the next place suits you. You will find it hard to return without a place to land. Rent your house out for up to three years without losing your homeowners exemption.” — Susana.
“Our solution: 6 months on a canal boat in France, back home to Petaluma and our kids in Washington state and Colorado. We’ve been here 30 years, lucky to have bought a home when they were affordable, now paid for. It’s a good anchor for us here to rotate around.” — Janis.
“I’m not sure I could ever be far from the CA coastal redwoods that truly heal my soul. We love to go on weekend drives all over Sonoma and surrounding counties and every single drive, we drink in the beauty of this area. We love the amazing food and wine. For good or bad, we like being with mostly like-minded people who believe in climate change and the sense that we all do well when we all do well. For me, the cost of living is the trade and I have no faith that climate change isn’t going to begin exacting harsh events upon other places like our fires here. It’s a pick your poison kind of thing and my poison is California. This is our home.” — Becky.
“I hope we can showcase our river/slough more in the future. Most people who live here feel lucky and happy to live here, that creates a great vibe.” — Longtime Petaluman.
“It has been a perfect fit for us, close to beach, redwoods, mountains, wine country and several cities. I doubt we will ever move. We travel a lot and there are many lovely places in the world, but despite the traffic and high cost of living and now the increased fires, we are always so happy to come home.” — V
“Every single day of this life I am elated to live here! #1 favorite reason is the overwhelming and inspirational beauty. Other places are lovely, but it’s rare that you can drive and drive and only see more gorgeousness. We’re filthy rich with the stuff and it fills my soul completely.” — Elise.
1.Start feeding your roses with rose fertilizer as they begin their growing season with stem growth and foliage returning. Create an ecosystem within your rose garden that attracts beneficial insects that will ear aphids and other pests.
2.Add cool-season and later-blooming annuals to hanging baskets, containers and window boxes.
3.Get your spring-planted bulbs in the ground throughout March by digging holes in well-draining, nutrient rich soil two to three times as deep as the bulb height. dahlia’s require deeper, six inch plantings. If the weather remains dry, water once a week.
4.Plant citrus trees while the weather is still cool enough for roots to establish quickly. Select a location with full sun and well, draining, nutrient-rich soil. Semi-dwarf trees are great for backyards.
5.Cut back perennials and ornamental grasses if you haven’t already, add a slow-release fertilizer and a generous layer of compost.
6.Weed early and frequently before weeds develop seeds. Weed early in the morning while soil is moist.
7.Refresh raised beds with compost and fertilizer.
Switch out the pasta this month for fresh, green asparagus spears ...
Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Cook pancetta in its own fat until crisp, around five minutes. Drain off excess fat. Add asparagus and two tablespoons of water. Cook over medium/high heat around four minutes until the veggie spears are crisp tender. Remove skillet from heat before adding in egg yolks and butter. Return to heat and toss the asparagus until the butter is melted. Add in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.
This Spring, Californians will begin to see the effects of the complex property tax Prop 19, which was passed at the ballot box last November. Those who are able to take advantage of the new law are Californians over the age of 55 as well as the severely disabled and homeowners whose property has been substantially damaged due to wildfire or other natural disaster.
Prop 19 goes into effect on April 1, 2021, making three significant changes to the way that property taxes are calculated in the sale of a principal residence and the purchase of a new primary residence.
Sellers in the groups mentioned above are able to transfer the tax basis on their primary residence to a replacement property anyway in the state of California regardless of value.
Prior to the passage of Prop 19, inter-county transfers were carried out on a more limited basis and the transfer was required to have been to a property of equal or lesser value.
“Some adjustments will be made if there placement property is of greater value,” says Timo. “But not to the extent the tax base would have been modified prior to Prop 19 passing.”
The good news is that sellers in these groups may take advantage of this benefit up to three times, as opposed to only once, previously. Those who have lost homes to wildfires and other natural disasters have no limitations on how many times they wish to transfer the tax basis on their primary residence.
If you’ve already done this once, then you must wait until after April 1st to do so again,” says Timo. “ According to the California Association of Realtors, as long as either the sale of an existing home or the purchase of a new one takes place after April 1st of this year, then the transaction will be eligible for Prop 19 benefits to these specific groups.” Both transactions should be completed within two years of each other, although these exact specifications are yet to be fully legally resolved
“You may purchase a replacement property before selling your primary residence if you fit these requirements,” says Timo. It’s important to know that Prop 19 takes away some tax benefits for intergenerational family transfers, beginning February 16th, 2021. The only time such a transfer is not subject to a tax reassessment is when a primary residence is transferred to a child or grandchild and that person continues to use the house as a family home.
“Even in such a situation,” says Timo. “If the difference between taxable value and actual value is more than $1 million, some upward adjustment of the taxable value will be imposed.”
If you should inherit a family property in California and choose not to use it as your primary residence, the property tax basis will be reassessed. “Property inheritance is unique to each family,” says Timo. “Before making any decisions, first consult with your own tax attorney should the situation of an intergenerational transfer be imminent or arise.”
Timing of a sale takes expert Real Estate planning and your tax advisor provides the starting point in getting your ducks in a row. “Prop 19 is making it all the more enticing for my over 55 client-base to sell up and make a move to another part of the state,” says Timo. “I’m already seeing this incentive kicking in as sellers capitalize on the current hot market in the Petaluma area.”
To find out more about Prop 19 visit The California State Board of Equalization Website for comparison charts & frequently asked questions https://www.boe.ca.gov/prop19/
Shop "Petaluma Gift cards" ... what a great idea by the Visit Petaluma team to boost support and sales in our local small businesses, salons, spas, stores and cafes. If you're a vendor and you'd like to join the program there's still time
How it Works:
Select the value of your "Shop Petaluma e-gift card". Choose your recipient(family, friends, team members) and send via email or text message. The recipient can use that value to purchase at participating gift card merchants.
Go to southernsonomacountrylife.com for more information and a list of participating businesses.
Last year’s record for Sonoma County’s median home price was recorded at$1,122.500 in . . . wait for it . . . Bodega Bay no less. Coastal properties in Sonoma County remain at an all-time sticker price high, despite many of the homes in low-laying areas being considered vulnerable to sea level rise.
“Unlike what we’re now seeing in fire zones, when it comes to home financing and insurance, coastal properties remain largely viable in the eyes of banks and insurance companies,” says Timo. “There’s a big demand for second homes along the Pacific coastline,” adds Timo.
“It is interesting from a real estate perspective that climate change and scientific awareness of sea level rise is not appearing to put many byers off, especially during this pandemic period as people look to the beauty and tranquility of the beach for rest, relaxation and respite.”
And the Sonoma Coast may be one of the best bets for avoiding the worst of the sea level threat to Bay Area seashore properties in general, in the coming decades.
To quote the California Association of Realtors article On Rising Tides in its Jan/Feb 2021 magazine: “In the 21st Century, the Pacific Ocean may prove to be more of a threat than an attraction. . . Properties are being bought and sold today that could be underwater within the life span of a 30-year mortgage —that’s literally underwater, not underwater on mortgages.”
Many coastal communities are changing their general plans as a result to scientific studies, including zoning and building regulations to deal with expected sea level rise.
However, “California is not expected to be hit first or worst by rising sea levels, ”writes Tony Boasotti in the California Real Estate Magazine. “That honor goes to Florida.” Here along the Sonoma Coast, the topography means most coastal development took place or is happening at least a few feet above sea level.
Still, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, by 2100, around 110,000properties to the south in coastal areas of San Rafael, San Francisco, San Mateo and Palo Alto will be at risk. “It’s not surprising that our Sonoma Coastal properties are considered amongst the best of the west,” says Timo.
“Though it’s important to know if you’re thinking of buying out at the coast what the scientists are saying about rising sea levels given the specific geographic areas you’re looking at.”
According to a report in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the average county median home price for 2020 was recorded at $700,000. Penngrove scored second highest median home price after Bodega Bay, at a whopping $1,090,00 whereas Petaluma’s median home price came in above the average, at $797,000, almost one hundred thousand over the county average and $14,000 over neighboring Sonoma’s median home price.
Healdsburg, Sebastopol, Sea Ranch and Kenwood topped Petaluma last year but not Penngrove in the median price range. “This tells me that rural and private is where it’s at for the higher priced properties in Sonoma County,” says Timo. “Large, sprawling luxury estates push up the median home price in areas that boast more of these types of exclusive homes.”
The real estate community considers the rush of Bay Area homebuyers exiting urban neighborhoods for suburban life in Sonoma County as the number one reason for a seven-year record in home sales in the region.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the curry paste and onions together over a medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring. Add the parsnips, lentils and apple pieces. Pour over the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat slightly and cook for 30 mins, stirring occasionally, until the parsnips are very soft and the lentils mushy. Remove from the heat and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. (Or leave to cool for a few minutes, then blend in a food processor.)
Adjust the seasoning to taste. Heat through gently, then ladle into deep bowls. Serve with natural yogurt and garnish with fresh coriander, if you like.
While we’d love to have gathered for a holiday toast with all of our many wonderful buyers and sellers of 2020 and past years, a hearty online thankyou and cheers must suffice until it's safe for us to clink glasses in person once again.
Timo, Frances and Renee wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy New Year.
“May we see some sort of return to normalcy this year,” says Timo. “In the meantime, I look forward to keeping in touch in 2021. ”
Housing market forecasts for 2021may well be one of the few aspects of life that we’re even remotely able to predict at the time. Despite the general economic certainty surrounding the most recent surge of the pandemic, home buyers in the local area continue to appear eager to snap up any property that hits the market.
Housing inventory and mortgage rates remain at historic lows as we enter into this dramatic new year. The rise in remote work continues to spark a strong interest in Sonoma County and the scarcity of suitable land for construction in the south county means the housing supply in 2021 will likely be scarcely able to compete with ongoing rising demand.
“This is a recipe for continued reasonable elevation of home prices for the short-term at least,” says Timo. “It’s difficult for first-time buyers in the area but not impossible. Industry experts believe the housing market will remain strong and is set to break more records in 2021.”
Several national surveys indicate home buyers remain as eager as ever to secure more suitable housing for their specific needs in 2021. In fact, robust growth is expected this year for housing sales, rent and home prices alike.
“It’s a seller's real estate market,” says Timo. “Mortgage rates are expected to remain low and possibly even go a little lower in 2021, which will likely keep home purchasers highly active. This is also good news for current homeowners(borrowers) who may opt to refinance at today’s rates to cut their monthly mortgage payments.”
To help borrowers at risk of losing their home due to the coronavirus national emergency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) have extended moratoriums on single-family foreclosures and real estate owned (REO) evictions until at least January 31, 2021, giving relief to more than 28 million homeowners with an Enterprise-backed mortgage.
Per the last three extensions, the FHFA says it will continue to monitor the effect of coronavirus on the mortgage industry and update its policies as needed.
“We generally expect to see a slight decline in demand and an increase in time on the market with home sales around Thanksgiving and through the holidays,” says Timo. “But this seasonal slowdown never happened. Buyers and sellers are continuing to connect.”
“Typically, during the winter season, sales and prices rise at a significantly slower pace than during spring or summer,” says Timo. “But with supply and demand being what it is currently, I don’t expect to see any stagnation in the market this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2021, consider the earlier the better for beating the competition.”
There has been a surge in Greater Bay Area residents selling their homes and moving to Sonoma County since the start of the pandemic making property prices in San Francisco and the more expensive zip codes hit a ceiling.
“It would be great if people were able to afford to buy homes in areas who otherwise might not have had a chance to get a foot in the door,” says Timo.
“But for those of us in the North Bay, it’s going to be a challenge for folk who were born and raised here to be able to afford to stay. That’s where a strong, experienced real estate professional who is able to strategize and negotiate is essential.”
The challenge of finding the perfect fit for homebuyers of all price points. “It’s every bit as rewarding to figure out the logistics of securing the right starter home for a first-time buyer as it is to identify a one-of-a-kind estate or family compound.”
When there are multiple buyers in line with offers on a prime property, homebuyers’ representation is key. “Sellers have many logistics to consider and market timing finesse is all-important,” adds Timo. “It’s a lot like assembling a complex puzzle and I enjoy nothing more than helping my sellers to carefully put all the many pieces together.”
The pandemic protocol has worked remarkably well throughout a robust selling cycle. “Don’t be put off buying or selling if that’s what you need to be doing,” says Timo. “Give me a call today to strategize your specific needs.”
As most of us spent far more time indoors last year than ever before, not only were we craving more comfort — we reimagined our spaces to meet the demands of our new lifestyles.
Whether this called for creating a functional home office or classroom in our kitchen, designing a living room for Zoom and remote learning, or pinpointing a smart pantry organizing solution, just about every area of our homes likely required some kind of a refresh.
Find out what may be expected from the world of design, including chic paint colors, durable fabrics, indoor plants, smart lighting and more by clicking through Good Housekeeping’s gallery for 2021.
According to Homes and Gardens, Pantone has taken the unusual step of naming two colors as its shades of the year: Illuminating, a zingy yellow, and Ultimate Yellow, a pale gray.
'The selection of two independent colors highlight how different elements come together to express a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting, conveying the idea that it’s not about one color or one person, it’s about more than one,' says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.
Capturing relaxing poolside and beach getaways, aqua and inky blues offer a calm, contemporary look. Benjamin Moore's Color of the Year 2021reflects this shift towards tranquil, yet modern interiors with Aegean Teal, a color that is known for its association with peace, calm and comfort.
Ocean blues are a key color trend for the year. Varying from deep inky tones through to soft aquas, blue is the perfect color for creating a tranquil home.
Curate your own interior identity by adding personal touches to your room. Maximalism is having a major moment as we seek to curate our homes.
After a decade of minimalism there’s a return to highly decorative and personal interiors. We are evolving our homes as spaces to be fulfilling, memorable and cabinets of curiosities.
Homeowners are styling their interiors to tell a story, layering old with new to create exciting interior stories. Every piece in a home makes a statement either through the silhouette, fabric choice, color or unique backstory. It also reflects a growing interest in furniture, plants and objects acting as souvenirs of our lives.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic, season generously with salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and starting to brown. Stir in 1/4 cup of harissa and
tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in cumin and paprika, then add 2 1/2 cups of water and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a 6-quart slow cooker along with the dried beans, carrots, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, lemon zest and lemon juice. Add 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 1/2 cups of water. Cover and cook on high until the beans are tender, about 6 hours.
Meanwhile, in a small nonstick skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the turmeric and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it dissolves. Transfer to a medium bowl and let cool slightly 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the yogurt until smooth. Season with salt.
Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the stew. Just before serving, stir in the thyme leaves, chopped parsley and the remaining 3tablespoons of harissa; season with salt. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the preserved lemon and parsley leaves. Serve, passing the turmeric yogurt at the table.
We hope you enjoy our monthly newsletters with current Real Estate updates and tips, the Household design and organization ideas and monthly recipe. Feel free to check out past months newsletters for more great content.