There is an interesting relationship between a broker and a licensee.  Their perspectives are curiously shaking-hands-by-beneath-b1ue-skiesskewed in different directions, even though their goals appear to be the same.

An agent’s career is all about promoting themselves and being responsible to their clients needs.  Their days are filled with the day-to-day concerns of showing property, holding open houses, writing and negotiating contracts and attending inspections of every kind.  When they aren’t working on specific escrows, sellers or buyers, they are dedicating their efforts towards making sure their name is out there prominently in the public arena.  The one thing that an agent is not concerned about is being certain that their broker is happy and content.

A broker’s concerns couldn’t be more different.  A broker is concerned with the day-to-day issues of legal updates, contract reviews, the solving of their agent’s problems.  A broker’s responsibilities are to their agents.  Education, technology and the most up-to-date information is pivotal in making certain their agents are as equipped as possible to deal with the daily issues they face.  The one thing that a broker is concerned about over everything else is that their agents are happy and content.

So, who is responsible for your success?  Both of you.  An agent is an independent contractor.  This means they are responsible for how intelligently they conduct their business.  Part of the choice they make is selecting a broker who reflects the kind of business model that is most like their own.  The broker then is responsible for giving the agent the kind of atmosphere that can promote the very best in what the agent has to offer.

So, next time an agent grumbles because a broker isn’t giving him/her business, they should think long and hard…who is responsible for their business?  Are they really looking for someone to blame for not doing their best? And the next time a broker is disappointed in the production of an agent, maybe they should think long and hard…is the broker giving the agent the best atmosphere for success?

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www.PaulaSwayne.com

Photo from Flickr by Beneath blue skies

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We have, for the past several years, been advocates of preparing a home for a maximum sales price.  We remodeltook a buyers view and weighed what improvements and changes were needed in order to have a quick, yet profitable sale.  These updates quite often included paint, flooring, new light fixtures, maybe a kitchen or bath update, landscaping, etc.  It was never questioned as to whether these things would gain the seller a better listing and sales price….until now.

A new fact must be added to the scale.  Time.  Yes, there are still things we should do to maximize the sales price.  Paint? Absolutely.  Replace stained or worn carpet? No doubt.  Update kitchens and baths…maybe.  In a day when sales prices are dropping by 20% and 30% or more, we need to weigh how long it will take to complete these updates against the continuing drop in sales prices.  Upgrades that take a week or two are certainly a positive move.  Upgrades that take a month or two?  Probably not.

We must no longer assume that all upgrades are a good idea when preparing a home for the market.  We are not doing our sellers any favors by continuing business as usual…because our business is not “usual” any more.  Next time your seller asks what they should do, think long and hard about the time element…it could make a significant difference.
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www.PaulaSwayne.com

The Sacramento County Tax Assessor, Ken Steiger, spoke to the Finance Forum of the Sacramento Association of Realtors this week.   In it, he spoke of 10 things every property owner should know about their property assessment and taxes.  I thought it would be a great list to share with fellow Sacramentans.

  • Land and Improvements can only be reassessed if there has been a change in ownership, new construction or a decline in value.
  • If you are an owner occupant you may qualify for a homeowners exemption on your property.  This is currently a $7000 reduction ($70 savings per year) reduction from the assessed value of your home.  This can be checked on your tax bill to find out if the property has one.
  • Remodels or repair and replacement of existing items on your property do not cause reassessment unless you have renovated the building to the extent it becomes substantially equivalent to a new building.  Additions are assessed at fair market value.
  • Refinancing does not cause a reassessment of the property.
  • Any transfer between spouses will not cause a reassessment of the property.
  • Declines in value of the property resulting from a natural cause (fire, flood, earthquake) or market declines can reduce your property assessment temporarily until the condition is remedied.  Requests and/or applications for reduction can be made with the County Assessor. *You can do this yourself…don’t buy into the offers of doing it for you for a fee!)
  • Supplemental Assessments occur whenever a change in ownership or new construction occurs.  These are sent separately from your annual October bill.  Since they are not paid automatically through your impound account, be certain to either pay it yourself or contact your lender to see if there is enough in the impound account for them to pay it.
  • Transfers of title between parents and children, or in certain circumstances Grandparents and Grandchildren, may be excluded from reassessment if an application is filed with the County Assessor and certain conditions are met.  Each individual owner can transfer property up to 1 million dollars worth of assessed value in addition to their primary residence to their children/grandchildren.  In these uncertain times of government budgets, check with your CPA or the Sacramento County Assessor to find out if these numbers are current.
  • If one owner of your residence is 55 or older, and you purchase a residence of equal or lesser market value within the same county (there are some other counties who honor this…check to find out the counties that cooperate), you may transfer your old property tax base to your new property, if an application is filed with the County Assessor and certain conditions are met.
  • If you have a concern that your property is assessed too high, you can contact your County Assessor’s office to try to resolve the issue.  If this doesn’t bring the results you want, you can file an appeal with your Assessment Appeals Board under the County Board of Supervisors.  You must file the appeal within 60 days of the date the bill or notice was sent, or for the annual main roll bill, between July 1st and November 30th of each year.

Now, if you have further questions, the Sacramento County Tax Assessor’s office has an award winning website at www.saccounty.net/assessor.  Feel free to check it out!

www.PaulaSwayne.com

VISIT YOUR CEMETARY TODAY!

February 22, 2009

I have driven by the cemetary in Land Park daily.  I was always curious, but had never visited…until today!  First, let me clarify.  What appears to be a single, very large cemetary on the corner of Riverside Boulevard and Broadway is actually 3.  The furthest south is the Odd Fellows Lawn Cemetary. Then there is the Masonic Temple Cemetary.  And finally, the one furthest north that I could actually visit…the Sacramento Historic City Cemetary.  It might sound a bit odd, but it was very interesting.  Most of the people who died back in the 1800’s seemed to live to the ripe old age of 45ish.  There were too many babies.  Many headstones were so weathered that they really couldn’t be read anymore.  However, there were many that could be read, and I thought I would share a little of what they taught me.

 

 

John A. Sutter Jr. (1826-1897)
His father is famous in Sacramento history as the man who built Sutter’s Fort and established New Helvetia.  However, it was his son who, in 1848, planned and founded the City of Sacramento.  A disagreement between father and son over the development of Sacramento initiated John Jr. to leave and in 1897, he died in Acapulco, Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hardin Bigelow (1809 – 1850)
Bigelow arrived in San Francisco on the first ship to reach California from the East Coast.  This Mail Steamer brought with it miners to the Gold Fields.  Sacramento’s first levee system was built by Bigelow.  He also was Sacramento’s first elected mayor in 1850.

 

 

 

 

Newton Booth (1825-1892)
Booth was the ultimate statesman.  He was a lawyer, merchant and politician.  In 1862 he was elected State Senator, United States Senator in 1873.  Booth and Company was located on Front Street between J & K.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Wooden Headboard (Circa 1876)
Although wooden headboards numbered in the thousands, this is one of the very few that remain.  If you look closely, you can barely see the remains of carving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Hopkins (1815-1878)
Hopkins was a Forty-Niner, one of railroad’s legendary “big Four” and was the Treasurer of the Central Pacific Railroad.  This tomb dominates the cemetary, made with granite weighing 350 tons.  Hopkins died before this tomb was completed, so was buried in San Francisco in 1878 and then moved to this tomb in 1880.

 

 

 

 

Albert Maver Winn (1810 – 1883)
Winn was selected as President when he was elected to Sacramento’s first City Council in 1849.  In 1875 he founded the Native Sons of the Golden West.  This monument is the tallest in the cemetary.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Stephen Hamilton (1797 – 1850)
William was the youngest son of Alexander Hamilton and the first Treasurer of the United States.  He came to California in 1849 and died here 1850.  Hamilton has the travel bug, dying in 1850, was exhumed in 1877 and again in 1889 and was buried three times in three different locations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Jamaes T. Homans USN (1805 – 1849)
Captain Homans was initially buried in Tier grounds in the front of the cemetary before being moved by his wife so his son and he could be close together.  This is the earliest known burial in the City Cemetary.  As you can see, it was broken in half at one time and has been repaired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historic Volunteer Firemen’s Plot and Bell
This memorial celebrates the fact that Sacramento has the honor of forming the first Volunteer Fire Company in California (1850).  These volunteers served until 1872, when a paid department was developed.  This bell you see here was cast in 1859 in Sheffield, England, came around the Horn and was placed in service in 1863.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, I found this memorial…a time capsule buried in 1988. I will let you know what is in it in 2088! Okay…maybe my grandchildren will let you know!

 

 

www.PaulaSwayne.com

 

There are special places in this world that despite their age or maybe because of it, feel like home. Such is the atmosphere of College Cyclery in Sacramento’s Land Park.

This neighborhood icon has been calling Land Park and Curtis Park home since 1935.  The building was originally constructed as a Piggly Wiggly Market in 1921.  Safeway came into the picture, buying out Piggly Wiggly in 1927, continuing to operate it a a market until 1935.

Mr. Carol Melvin inspired the beginning of College Hardware and Cyclery in 1935.  A little after World War II, the hardware business was phased out to concentrate on the bicycle business, both in sales and repair.  Under Mr. Melvin’s ownership, College Cyclery had a great run until he finally retired in 1987.

Chuck and Lorene Meyer then took up the neighborhood shop and continued its great service and reputation until they sold it to their daughter and son-in-law, Allison and Terry Cox,  in 2006. 

College Cyclery has supported the enjoyment of cycling through several avenues.  They are working with  BIKESKILLS to promote and build cycling skills parks in the area. Through these efforts, they hope to give the community a place to practice biking in a safe environment.  In the same vein, they hold seminars on safe cycling and sponsor competitive youth BMX team racing at many American Bicycle Association events. 

From young to old, from experienced to the novice, College Cyclery has been our resource for many decades and we look forward to many more!

 

Some things have never changed, including the sputtering neon sign.  Bicycles have always been on display…the only changes are whatever is the current trend in cycling.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, there are plenty of display cases and bicycles EVERYWHERE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then there are a few attention getters…like this bicycle that took too long of rest between rides. A tree took a liking to it and grew completely around it! 

The photo below is of quite possibly the longest bicycle I have ever seen – do you see four seats and handlebars?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, if you are ever in the Land Park or Curtis Park area, don’t miss this wonderful place.  If you want to learn more, their website is www.collegecyclery.biz .

http://www.PaulaSwayne.com

Due to the ongoing struggles of this neighborhood and its associaitons, it has become a little confusing as to when the meetings are and what they are covering.  I thought I would post this in order to clarify the dates and topics.

February 2nd at 7:00PM
Holy Spirit School, 3920 West Land Park Drive
Land Park Community Association
This meeting is to discuss the present issues facing the board.

February 4th at 6:30PM
Holy Spirit School, 3920 West Land Park Drive
Land Park RenaissanceTownhall Meeting
This meeting is to learn more about the proposed amendments to the bylaws.

February 11th at 6:30
Holy Spirit School, 3920 West Land Park Drive
Land Park Community Association Membership meeting
This meeting will be to consider the 4 amendments to the bylaws introduced by the Renaissance committee.

Hopefully this will be helpful.

  

The Land Park Community Association was created with a noble cause.  In

response to the “Sacramento Zoo’s Master Plan 2002″ a community gathering was organized.  Residents of this unique and quality neighborhood gathered in a common concern.  The Master Plan 2002 had some changes that would dramatically alter the “flavor” of our 144 acre William Land Park.  A two story administration building was to be added behind Fairytale Town.  A pedestrian bridge was to be spanned over Land Park Drive between the Sacrament Zoo and Fairytale Town.  There was even mention of a two story parking structure where the soccer fields are.  I was proud to be a founding member of what was to be later named the “Land Park Community Association”.  We succeeded in creating a wonderful, updated Zoo without negatively affecting the park. After a couple of years as treasurer, I passed the torch to another deserving resident.

The association has accomplished much in the 20+ years since it’s inception.  Land Park and the surrounding businesses have become much more pedestrian friendly.  Due to the willing volunteers, trees have been planted, park residents (squirrel, ducks, geese and fish) have a better quality of life and our major thoroughfare medians are beautiful.  They helped orchestrate the proper reconversion of 21st Street and Freeport Boulevard to two-way streets. We enjoy such events as the community Easter Egg Hunt and the “Taste of Land Park”…a wine and food extravaganza. The members are passionate and dedicated.  Several of them have given a better part of their free time to the association over many years.

The association has also taken on issues that were not as readily approved of by the neighborhood.  They took on McDonalds, forced construction that did not include a drive through which ultimately put the new McDonalds out of business.  They challenged the designs of a myriad of local buildings including Oto’s, Target and the Jamba Juice/Walgreens/Starbucks development.  The result was increased costs and delays to Oto’s, a delay in the construction of the brand new Target to the point that the plans have been suspended, and a second story to Jamba Juice that makes no sense whatsoever.  Most developers are now wary to initiate new developments in the Land Park area as a result of this history.

The association is now at a crossroads.  One faction veers towards the status quo, taking on issues as they arise and continuing the existing organization of the association.  The other faction veers toward change in such avenues as terms limits, expanding the association board numbers and opening up the nominating process to become a board member. Unfortunately, both groups appear to be adopting a “my-way-or-the-highway” approach, both in communication and basic premises.  There is no two-way communication.  The association has been split by two warring factions.

The tragedy of all of this is that both factions have valid ideas.  Combined, they have promise.  This board has the potential to be better than it ever has been.  Sadly, when it became personal, it went beyond any possibility of reparation.  The dislike these people have for each other is palpable at every meeting.  The respect and attention for the concerns of the public are no longer part of the agenda.  Opportunities for criticism of opposing board members seem to be more important than the needs of the community.

What, then is to be done? Hope may be in the form of a new, fresh association that creates itself from the lessons of this board.  Term limits and an increased number of board members are necessary to a continuum of new and free-flowing ideas.  An understanding of the role and limits the association should play in relation to the community is critical.  This neighborhood deserves an association that they can be proud of…one that can be touted to newcomers to the neighborhood, to the city council and to local businesses as being friendly and open.  Residents should want to not only attend the monthly meetings, but be a part of the board.  We are at a crossroads…which path will we take?