If the experts are correct, the much-needed El Niño is on the way.  After years of dry weather, two things property owners have largely ignored are their roofs and property drainage. Don’t get caught with a leaky roof and plugged drains, evaluate your home now.  Roofing contractors already have long wait lists, and getting on a roofer’s schedule is no easy task. While you are waiting for that new roof, there are things you can do to prepare your property for wet weather. Take advantage of these recent light rains and look at areas of your property with pooling water and see if you can redirect the water to cleared drains. Check your gutters and downspouts—something as simple as keeping them clear of debris and placing devices to direct the water away from your home’s foundation will do wonders. Also watch your trees. As the ground softens the trees that have been starved of water for years may have a weak root structure, and blow over in a heavy wind.  If you have a tree that is of concern, have an arborist come take a look before the big storms hit.

The above tasks are things everyone should do, especially those looking to sell their home in the coming months. As a professional realtor, I tell my buyers that the best time to purchase a home is in the winter. Buyers, and the professional inspectors they hire, will have a better chance of seeing the real condition a home is in when it is raining, muddy and miserable outside. Does the backyard flood?  Are there stains in the sheetrock inside, indicating hidden leaks? Are there clear, safe paths from the driveway to the front door, or the back door to the trash cans in the alley, that will allow the occupant to come in from the rain and not track dirt and mud in from the outdoors? These are the things a buyer will look for and sellers will greatly improve their chances of selling their home in the winter months if they address these concerns before putting their home on the market. Sellers should get that pest or roof inspection before listing the home, so they know exactly where they stand. Spending a few dollars to fix the problem before the buyer is in contract will leave you in a much stronger position to negotiate.  Also, if you intend to list your home in November and December, don’t be afraid to decorate for the holidays. Showing a potential buyer that your house is a beloved home with festive holiday decorations is a real selling point. Don’t go overboard, as with all staging, less is more.  

Buyers and sellers should understand the market and what to expect. Benicia has had a tremendous year of equity growth, but with a wet winter on the horizon, one should expect the market to slow. In general, folks do not like to move in the rain, or during the holiday season, but there are always those who need to move, and buyers and sellers should not be afraid to list or buy just because it’s wet outside. Moreover, there have been some changes to the lending process this year that will likely lengthen escrows, at least in the short term. You may have heard the acronym TRID thrown around lately.

What is TRID?

TRID is the new TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosure:

• The Loan Estimate replaces the initial Truth-in-Lending disclosure & Good Faith Estimate for most closed-end mortgage loans.

• The Closing Disclosure replaces the final Truth-in-Lending disclosure & HUD-1 Settlement Statement for most closed-end mortgage loans.

For the most part, this change is not something to worry too much about.  Your lender and realtor will help you through the process and explain how these changes will affect your specific transaction.  The big take away, at least initially, is that the 30-day escrow standard may be extended to 45 days.  As the process is perfected this delay may not be a permanent reality.

Benicia is a wonderful place to live, and I must admit that I long to see those hills turning green from the rain, I just don’t want to spend too much “green” fixing damage to my home from a leaky roof or a clogged storm drain, and I am sure you feel the same way.

Benicia home sales data through Nov. 3, 2015

Single-family homes
Single-family homes sold: 262
Avg sale price: $566,924
Avg days on market: 53
Avg $/sq ft: $290
Avg sq ft: 2069

Single family homes + condos
Homes + condos sold: 352
Avg sale price: $501,710
Avg Days on market: 55
Avg sq ft: 1841
Avg $/sq ft: $284