Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why luxury real estate is booming in Sacramento!

As Sacramento real estate prices remain as hot as the summer temperatures, a certain segment of the market stands out more than any other: luxury homes. In fact, luxury real estate is booming in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado counties, with skyrocketing sales volume and price appreciation numbers that would be considered solid for a year, yet alone a couple of months.

Far from the overinflated high-end prices during the real estate bubble a decade ago, strong financials and market causation serve as a strong foundation for luxury homes in the region. 

We’ll share plenty of data that show how the luxury home market is booming, but first, let’s examine some of the underlying reasons for the strong showing: 

The Sacramento area is exhibiting favorable financials, with steady job growth and a noticeable boost of energy from downtown revitalization and the new arena. Interest rates still near historical lows, with buyer demand remaining high, exerting upward pressure on prices. However, there are far more homebuyers than sellers – and that’s even more pronounced in the luxury market, where it’s estimated there are four buyers to every one home for sale! 

But there are two more interesting factors that are driving the top of the price range in the area. Bay Area residents are jumping into the Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado markets like never before, scooping up luxury homes at a high rate. 

Sacramento also has more move-up buyers, as steady equity gains over the last five years have allowed more people to sell their homes and springboard to a more expensive or luxury homes.

Here are 25 more data points that show how luxury real estate is booming in Sacramento:

1. While the definition of a luxury home may waver based on the area of the country we’re looking at and the home prices in that area, a luxury home in the Sacramento region (Sacramento, El Dorado, and Placer County) is typically classified as $900,000 or more. 

2. If we examine all luxury homes sold in the second quarter (Q2) of 2016, the average sale price was a generous $1.219 million.

3. Trendgraphix Inc. tracked the 177 luxury homes that sold in the greater Sacramento area during Q2 of 2016. 

4. They found that 177 luxury home sales was an increase of 5% from the same Q2 of 2015, and up a whopping 74% from Q1 of 2016.

5. In the same four-county Sacramento region, 101 luxury homes sold in from January to March of this year (Q1), which represents a 65 percent increase in volume from Q1 of 2015. 

6. During Q1 of 2016 there were 52 single-family luxury home sales that closed this year, compared to only 32 luxury transactions in Q1 of 2015.

7. 34 single family homes sold for between $1 million and $2,499,999 in Q1 of 2016, which was a significantly 80% increase in sales volume compared to Q1 of 2015 when only 19 sold.

8. In the same period this year there were 12 luxury homes that sold for $2.5 million to $4,999,999, close to double the number from the 7 sold in Q1 of 2015.

9. Luxury homes are hitting the market like never before. The current average list price of luxury homes in the Sacramento region during Q1 was a sizable $1,507,000. 

10. Closed sales for luxury homes in that same period averaged $1,212,000, which is well above the $900,000 entry point we set to be considered a luxury home.

11. But that price range dominates the luxury market, with 87% of all luxury homes sales in Q1 sold for $900,000 to $1.5 million. 

12. The uptick in luxury home sales actually started during Q4 of 2015, with a huge spike in high-end real estate transactions at a time of year when home sales are typically very slow.
13. If we set Sacramento County aside for a moment and just look at El Dorado and Placer Counties, what does the luxury home market look like? 

14. El Dorado County saw 344 escrows closed in June, which was a 10.6% increase from June of 2015. The median sale price in El Dorado was $425,000 in June, which was a healthy 11.3% increase from the previous year.

15. In Placer County, 798 real estate sales closed in June, which was almost identical to the number in June 2015, though the median price went up 5.9% to $423,000.

16. Sacramento County reported 2,090 closed escrows in June, a modest 3.1% increase from June of 2015. But home prices saw a big boost, jumping 10.7% year over year to a median price of $310,000.

17. Breaking down the market by zip code, here are the areas that registered a median price increase in the past year of:

More than 25%:

+15% to +25%:

18. In many ways, the data on home sales in the luxury market mirrors trends in home prices in among all homes in Sacramento. For example, current median resale prices in Sacramento County hit an average of $310,000 in June. That’s a change of +$5,000 from only a month earlier in May and a jump of +$30,000 from June of 2015. 

19. Sales volume rose 3% during that same period to 2,090 single-family resale homes closing, which was the highest volume in eight years.

20. The $310,000 benchmark the highest level in almost nine years, since August of 2007 when prices hit $314,000.

21. (For reference, the highest point for Sacramento home prices was $374,000 in August of 2005.)

22. Like we mentioned, rising home prices in the Bay Area are starting to significantly influence luxury home sales in the Sacramento region. With a median sale price of $643,200 as of March of 2016, an inexplicable 5.5% jump from only one month earlier, affordability is beyond reach for many people. And that door is completely closed for a good portion of people in San Francisco where the median sale price in March was $1.13 million, up 5.7 percent from a year earlier.

23. With home prices like that, it makes perfect sense for some Bay Area residents to start buying in Sacramento, whether as an investment, in semi-retirement, or to make the reverse commute. Data shows that the high home prices in the Bay does create “spillover” into the luxury real estate market in Sacramento, Placer, and El Dorado.

24. Not surprisingly, the high-end home sale numbers from North Lake Tahoe/Truckee often represent the top range of home prices in El Dorado and Placer County. 

25. In fact, single-family luxury homes sold at a 62% higher volume in Q1 2016 than a year earlier. Home prices typically go over a million dollars in that region, and the most expensive home sold in the whole region was a $7.18 million six-bedroom home with more than 6,000 square feet!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016 is coming to Sacramento in a big way, so here are 15 facts about the world's largest e-tailer.

The Sacramento region got some good news last week when online book retailer and superstore, announced plans to open a fulfillment center in Sacramento, creating over 1,000 jobs.

The fourth such fulfillment center in California, Amazon’s new 855,000 square foot location is expected to open sometime next year in Metro Air Park, a business development near Sacramento International Airport.

Amazon will use the fulfillment center to pick, pack, and ship smaller customer orders with items like books, toys, electronics and other merchandise. While it’s being reported as’s first foray into Sacramento, the company actually opened a small distribution hub last year last on Ramona Avenue, just south of California State University.

Although details haven’t been finalized, many of Amazon’s other fulfillment centers pay about $14 hourly for warehouse workers, but also are highly valued for their benefits and perks. full-time employees receive healthcare, 401(k) and company stock options, maternity and parental leave benefits, and the possibility of tuition payments for continuing education.

According to Roberta MacGlashan, Chair of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, “Amazon coming to Sacramento represents a big step forward as our community continues to grow. We have seen Amazon be a positive influence elsewhere in the state, and we are pleased that Amazon has chosen to invest in this region as well.”

To celebrate the arrival of one of Sacramento’s latest and greatest employers, we’ve put together 15 fun facts about

1. According to, is worth $292.6 billion with $107 billion in revenue last year.

2. Amazon currently ranks #237 on Forbes’ list of biggest public companies in the world. Forbes also ranks as the #12 most valuable brand on the globe, and is listed as the #5 top domain on the entire worldwide web!

3. They employ 230,800 people around the globe but their headquarters is in Seattle, Washington, where 20,000 employees work in their unique urban campus. (20% of employees there live so close they can walk to work!)

4. Amazon was founded in 1994 by iconoclast and quirky genius Jeff Bezos. Like his contemporaries Gates and Jobs, Bezos started the huge e-tailer from his garage as a book retailer, selling the company’s book, Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought.

5. The company that’s now a household name was almost called "Cadabra!" Short for "Abracadabra,” that name was a frontrunner until Bezos vetoed it because he misheard it as "cadaver!"

6. Reportedly, Bezos like the name “Amazon” because it suggested a huge scale, like the Amazon rainforest, and it also listed very well alphabetically.

7. Sticking with Bezos’ obsession with alphabetization, the logo depicts a smile from A to Z, indicating their range of sending the entire alphabet of books anywhere in the world.

8. Storing, cataloging, and shipping all of those books takes a whole lot of space, and Amazon's warehouses have more square footage than 700 Madison Square Gardens!

9. As of 2014, has 32.8 million books for sale, including 22.9 million paperbacks, 8.1 hardcovers, and 1.2 million eBooks, and other formats.

10. As one of the world’s biggest online stores, innovative tech the critical focus of Amazon, though it doesn’t always work. In fact, when Amazon’s servers went down for about 40 minutes in 2013, the company reportedly lost $117,000 per minute, adding up to $4.72 million in lost sales.

11. Believe it or not, Amazon has been maligned (and misunderstood) as a company that doesn’t actually turn a profit every year. In fact, Amazon often reports losses! But stockholders still buy up the company in droves because they understand that Amazon is constantly reinvesting in acquiring other valuable companies, opening new fulfillment centers, expanding their market share, and growing their invaluable web platform.

12. All Amazon employees are required to spend two days every year working as a customer service agent, which gives them a better understanding of customer needs, wants, and issues on the front lines, and therefore re-centering their view on customer service.

13. But Bezos is also notoriously cheap. Unlike many of the high-perk tech companies like Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Amazon’s employee cafeteria isn’t subsidized by the firm, light bulbs have been taken out of vending machines to save electricity, and new hires have to return their tech items and orientation packet if/when they leave the company! Bezos even tried to save the company money by instructing his programmers to buy wooden doors and lay them flat on sawhorses or 4 x4’s for cheap homemade desks!

14. There’s no denying that Bezos has an interesting leadership style, as he encourages dissenting opinions and feather ruffling among his staff, managers, and executives, culminating in “an adversarial atmosphere with almost constant friction,” in his own words. In fact, Amazon’s hiring principles read, “Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing.”

15. Even meetings at are done differently, encouraging efficiency and production by banning Power Point presentations, replacing them with up to 30-minute silent reading sessions, and assembling small teams that are limited to the number of people that can be fed by only two pizzas!

For more information or you wanted to apply for a career with in Sacramento, go to

Friday, July 22, 2016

10 Cool Cars That Will Hit The Road in 2017!

Your home says a lot about you, but perhaps nothing expresses your personality and lifestyle more than what you drive. No matter if you’re driving for work, just taking the kids to school, or getting on the track on the weekends, owning a beautiful automobile that turns heads is a daily source of pride. So we took a look at the new models that are being released by the end of 2016 or 2017 and hand picked 10 very different cars with very different price tags, styles, and functionality to are with you - with price tags from the low 30's to over 200 grand. But the one thing they all have in common is that people will say, “Cool!” as you drive by!

1. BMW M2
The new MBW M2 will be a lighter and more agile model of the beloved M3, expected to be released in 2017 and available as a sporty 2-Series coupe or convertible. With a twin-turbocharged engine delivering around 400 horsepower, this Beamer will really move in style, with its $52,900 MSRP considered reasonable for a mid-range luxury car. You can't go wrong with a Beamer, and the M2 backs that up!

2. Tesla Model S
Late 2017 will see the release of Tesla’s all-electric sports sedan, the Model S. It's definitely in the luxury car range with a price of $71,000 up to just shy of $110,000, but features an astounding 294 mile range before it needs to be recharged or the battery pack swapped out. Elon Musk is really pushing the envelope with the Model S, as it can go from 0-60 in only 2.78 seconds with 532 horsepower, but still gets more than 90 miles per gallon. Wow! 

3. Audi R8
When automotive journalists call you “the less exciting Lamborghini,” you should probably take it as a huge compliment, especially since the sexy and sleek R8 will be available for $170,000 instead of Lamborghini prices. You won’t be sacrificing much, as Audi equipped this 2017 concept release with a sizzling V10 and electric clutch, making shifting so smooth it purrs. Many high-end car lovers will still opt for the nearly identical Lamborghini Huracan because of bragging rights, but the Audi R8 holds its own for those who want something different.

4. Lincoln Continental
While Lincoln has been lagging in sales and popularity in recent years, Ford’s Luxury Brand wowed the crowd at the 2015 New York Auto Show with a full-size model concept car. Well, that future is here, as the new Lincoln Continental will blend traditional elements we love in Lincolns with a luxurious modern design. Expected to hit showrooms by 2017, the 305-400 horsepower Continental will look to revive the brand’s resurgence at a starting price tag of only $44,560 (up to $62,000 for the Black Label model.)

5. Acura NSX
It may have taken Acura a long time to roll out this concept car since it was introduced in 2012, but it was worth the wait, with a turbocharged V-6 working in conjunction with a hybrid electric motor for each front wheel! 

The NSX will debut in late 2016 or early 2017 with a sticker price of around $150,000.

6. Mercedes S-CLass Coupe
We may be familiar with Mercedes-Benz’ S-Class coupes since their release in 2014, but the 2016/17 S-CLASS COUPE will be based on a brand new design platform, featuring a modern streamlined body style with full-LED headlamps, classic grille, sport slimmer taillights and 19-inch alloy wheels. The interior will have an equally impressive upgrade with hand crafted leather upholstery, an expanded cabin, and dazzling tech enhancements like a 12.3-inch entertainment screen, navigation system, 13-speaker sound system, Bluetooth audio, USB ports & phone connectivity, and rearview camera – all for a $121,550 MSRP.

7. Ford GT
It’s hard not get excited about the 2017 Ford GT, a super car with an twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine that delivers a riveting 600 horsepower! Unfortunately, you’ll pay handsomely for each and every one of those stallions, as 2017’s GT will have a $350,000 price tag, the highest yet for the venerable American car company. But for those who want to stand out (and zoom by) the sleek and low-sitting design is a stylish departure from Ford’s muscle car past…and well worth it

8. Chevrolet Bolt
Leaving other electric cars with limited range in the rearview mirror, Chevrolet’s 2017 Bolt will boast a range of over 200 miles before it needs a charge. It takes a full charge in only 9 hours and boots a rounded, aerodynamic and lightweight body style with a surprisingly comfortable interior with all of the tech you need, and only for around $30,000.

9. Jaguar F-Pace
Jaguar’s first cross over SUV still has “the DNA of a sports car” and should become Jaguar’s most popular model fairly quickly considering an anticipated starting price of $42,390, up to $48,000 The Jaguar F-Pace is the Prestige loaded model. Its 180hp Diesel V6still boasts over 370 horsepower, but this time in a comfortable SUV with a respectable 33.5 ft³ cargo area. The Jaguar brand is synonymous with luxury, and now it looks like the F-Pace will be a successful crossover based on Car and Driver’s 5/5 rating, Edumunds; 4.4/5, and The Car Connections; 5/5.

10. Ford Fusion Energi 
Ford will continue it’s bold and aggressive reinvention with the very affordable Fusion Energi, coming in at $33,120 starting and $41,000 for the Platinum edition. The Fusion Energi blends Ford’s comfort and clean lines with plug-in electric efficiency, featuring a hybrid lithium-ion battery that easily plugs in, teaming up with its 141-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for a total of 188 horsepower. It has a new and improved grill, trim, LED lights, and redesigned 17-inch wheels, and upgraded nav and interior display tech, but the best feature is still its stellar fuel efficiency of 95 MPG city and 81 MPG highway.

If you want to see 10 more cool cars that are set to be released in 2017, stay tuned for part two of this blog.

We’d LOVE your input so comment here or on social media if you’d like to suggest a car!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Pros and Cons of 7 Common Kitchen Countertops

When you walk into someone’s kitchen what’s the first thing you notice? It’s probably not their cabinets, flooring, or even the quality of their appliances, but the countertops that jump out at you. In fact, the right countertops can make – or break – the aesthetic of a kitchen, and there are subtle differences in look, durability, installation, upkeep, and yes, price, for each of the many options you have available when planning your countertop.

In this blog, we’ll cover the pros, cons, and cost of the seven most common countertop materials, and look for part two where we cover nontraditional, modern, and luxury countertop materials.

1. Granite
Each slab of granite is uniquely “mottled,” adding a natural personality of colors and patterns to your kitchen counters.
Granite is incredibly durable, resistant to heat, cuts, and scratches. It also won’t stain from liquids or items spilled on it as long as its sealed periodically, and you can cut with the sharpest knife right on granite without harming it.

Like we mentioned, granite can stain if it’s not regularly sealed, and the edges can nick or crack over time or if not installed correctly. Since it’s so heavy, DIY granite countertops might not be a good idea, and it should only sit on heavyweight supportive cabinets. Since each piece is unique, it also can be impossible to find a perfectly matching replacement slab down the road.

Cost: $50 to $100 per square foot installed

2. Solid Surfacing
If you’re wondering what solid surfacing is, you’re not alone, as most people know it by one of its brand names, Corian, though all solid surfacing is made from acrylic and polyester composites.

Solid surfacing may look like solid stone but it’s nonporous, which means you’ll never need to seal it and no special cleaning or maintenance is required. Since it’s an engineered material, you can choose from almost endless color and pattern options, and installation is seamless with no grout lines or cracks.

Hot items like cooking pots or pans can burn solid surfacing, and sharp knives will damage it. The good news is that those imperfections can be sanded out for simple repairs.

Cost: $35 to $100 per square foot, installed

3. Quartz
Also called engineered quartz or engineered stone, modern quartz is one of the hottest new countertop materials, a mix of quartz chips, mineral and resin that’s tinted in aesthetically stunning color variations.

While it may look like a natural stone, quartz is engineered, which means it’s available in many different colors and patterns, but still is incredibly durable, as hot pots, serrated knives, abrasive pads, and most stains won’t affect quartz.

Cons: Since it’s manufactured, quartz tends to look uniform (unlike granite or natural stone), and can get pretty pricey, though it’s worth it.

Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

4. Marble
Marble is one of the most high-end countertops you can find, and traditionally used in many luxury homes, though it does come at a premium.

Marble looks and feels glamorous, almost glowing with luminescence in the right light with unique veining. It’s generally durable and resistant to heat, and bakers and pastry chefs love the fact that it always stays cool.

Marble is prone to nicks and scratches, though some see that as patina that adds character. Still, those imperfections can be polished out. Marble also needs to be resealed regularly, as it’s relatively porous so susceptible to stains. .

Cost: $40 to $100 per square foot, installed

5. Tile
This was the most popular economical countertop material from the 1960s through the 1990s, and still today, many people opt for tile countertops.

Ceramic and porcelain tiles come in many colors, surfaces, and styles, from small and shiny rounded modern glass-like tiles to large and flat natural Italian stone tiles.  Tiles are one of the most inexpensive countertops options, and easy to add as a “modular” design, allowing homeowners to mix and match. Most tiles are also durable, resistant to scratching, staining and heat. If they are damaged, it’s easy to replace one tile.

Cons: Tiles are usually labor intensive to install, and some people don’t care to have a grid of grout lines on their kitchen counter, which can hold dirt, stains, bacteria, and other substances, as well as presenting an uneven cutting surface.

Cost: $10 to $80 per square foot, installed

6. Laminate
Laminate has been a kitchen counter stalwart for many decades, and sometimes is perceived as cheap, though today’s laminate countertops are equally modern, diverse, and practical.

Sometimes called Formica after the brand name, laminate counters are made of paper blended with resins and fused to particleboard, and therefore one of your least expensive countertop options. These days, they also come in a wide spectrum of colors, faux patterns, and styles, and can be laser measured and cut to fit any counter surface seamlessly. Laminate materials are far more stain and heat resistant than their predecessors. It’s also lightweight, and because of the combination of these options (and especially the low cost), laminate is a favorite in rental properties.

Laminate countertops are still easily damaged by sharp knives or cuts, and abrasives like steel wool can also do damage. Laminate is also difficult to repair without replacing a whole section (and leaving a seam) or the whole counter top. Over time, layers can peel if left wet, and you also can’t use laminate with undermount sinks.

Cost: $10 to $40 per square foot, installed

7. Soapstone
While not nearly common as granite, soapstone offers similar natural beauty and some characteristics in common but with a softer surface.

It resists heat well, and also repels stains, chemicals and bacteria, making it a durable countertop surface for high-use kitchens (they often use soapstone in chemical laboratories.) Soapstone also ages well, growing richer in color and texture.

Soapstone does ding, scratch and nick fairly easily, but those can be sanded out with super fine paper and then recoated with mineral oil for simple repairs. While it does resist some stains, it has been known to absorb others, so spills should be cleaned quickly, and it should be finished with oil periodically.

Cost: $70 to $100 per square foot, installed