Get Dialed In on Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends

By Terry Bremer Allison, JD, REALTOR®, CNE
Manager, Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley

Ah! Spring! Sunshine! Buds on the vines, blossoms in the garden, and time for annual publication of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report.
Every year NAR surveys a random sample of American consumers who have participated in home sales transactions. The 2017 report just released is based data gleaned from surveys of buyers who purchased homes between July 2015 and June 2016, and their respective income data from 2015. More than 93,000 home buyers received the study’s 132-question instrument and the adjusted response rate was 5.9 percent.
By way of definition, the generational cohorts for the survey were defined as follows: Younger Millennials (ages 26 and under); Older Millennials (ages 27 to 36); Generation X (ages 37 to 51); Younger Boomers (ages 52 to 61); Older Boomers (ages 62 to 70); and, the Silent Generation (ages 71 and above).
Gen X-er’s, Not Just Millennials, Face Home Buying Challenges
We frequently read or hear about the challenges facing many Millennials seeking to climb on the property ladder: student loan debt, poor credit history, lack of down payment funds, and unemployment or under-employment with insufficient income to afford rent, let alone a house payment. The newest NAR survey sheds light on Generation X consumers who delayed buying because they, like Millennials, had debt, but they also had little or no equity in the homes they owned. Gen X homeowners were the most likely among the generations surveyed to have previously sold a distressed property. They reported that they had significant student load debt, an average of $30,000, and they stated that they would have liked to sell their home sooner but they couldn’t because the house was worth less than their mortgage balance.
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun summarized the situation faced by numerous Gen X households: they bought their first home, started a family, and entered the middle part of their careers only to be shaken by job losses, falling home values, and overall economic uncertainty during and after the Great Recession. Yun went on to say, “Gen X sellers’ median tenure in their previous home was 10 years, which puts many of them selling a property they bought right around the time home values were on the precipice of declining. Fortunately, the much stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have helped a growing number to build enough equity to finally sell and trade up to a larger home. More Gen X sellers are expected this year and are definitely needed to ease the inventory shortages in much of the country.”
Sellers Who Bought 10 Years Ago Could Be Pleasantly Surprised
The Sonoma Valley and Napa Valley are two areas facing extreme inventory shortages at many popular price points. Based on the NAR study data, perhaps we need to reach out to the sellers who bought at the height of the market and share with them the good news that their houses today likely are worth more than the prices they paid, provided, of course, that they didn’t use their property as an ATM machine in the interim, pulling out equity via refinancing or home equity lines of credit. We need to do something to break the log jam of no inventory of previously owned homes to sell and no place local for the Gen X sellers, or any other sellers, to purchase as replacement property.
As expected, the NAR survey results showed that Millennials were the largest group of recent buyers, 34 percent, for the fourth consecutive year, but their share was down from last year when it registered at 35 percent. Gen X buyers in the survey tallied 28 percent, Baby Boomers comprised 30 percent of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 8 percent.
Multi-generational Homes Fit Needs of Boomers with Boomerang Kids
Another familiar theme seen within survey results this year was that of Baby Boomer parents, especially middle-aged Younger Boomers, purchasing “multi-generational” homes because their young adult children had either moved back home or had never moved out. With residential rents at all-time high levels, student loan debt repayment requirements, and low entry-level salaries, young people must share housing with multiple roommates or live at home with the folks.
Survey results showed that about two-thirds of the Millennial respondents were married, and nearly half of them had at least one child. The more children in Millennial households, the more space the families require, and to obtain affordable additional space, the Millennials who purchased as a couple in an urban area, now are looking to buy replacement homes outside big cities. The survey showed that only 15 percent of Millennial buyers bought in an urban area, which is down from 17 percent last year and 21 percent two years ago.
Anecdotally, our agents get many calls from Millennials who want to move back home to the wine country valleys where they grew up, because they want to raise their own children in Sonoma or Napa, with a familiar quality of life and lifestyle. What and where can they purchase if there’s no housing stock inventory expansion? It’s time for the equity rich home owners, be they Gen X or Boomers or members of the Silent Generation, to step up and get moving on the property ladder to replacement homes that fit their current needs, making room for the up and comers.

How’s Your Repair, Replace or Remodel ROI?

By Terry Bremer Allison, JD, REALTOR®, CNE
Manager, Coldwell Banker Brokers of the Valley

In our profession, we admit it.  We like to look at “house porn,” browsing the weekly RE tab in the Sonoma Index Tribune andthe RE section of the Sunday edition of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Truth be told, we also enjoy flipping through the pages of a Restoration Hardware catalog.  If you could see us on vacation in other countries or even on a day trip to ski near Lake Tahoe, we pick up and pour over the real estate publications in other markets.  It’s just what we do.

And there’s one more:  an annual ritual for many real estate professionals begins with their eager anticipation of the January publication of Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost vs. Valuereport.

Last week, we drilled down into the 2017 Cost vs. Value report, perusing the national and regional costs and ROI (return on investment) for 29 popular home improvement projects.  If you’re curious, go to to access the full report.  Smart listing agents use this data to help sellers make decisions about getting their properties ready for market.

Learn Which Projects Pay Off

We know that spending money on a listing to attract buyers and achieve top dollar from the sales transaction requires some careful research and dialed-in knowledge of the current local market.  As listing agents, we strive to make sure that our sellers do not overspend on pre-sale improvements.

By way of background, the Remodeling 2017 Cost vs. Value report is based on input from licensed real estate agents across America.  According to Remodeling editor-in-chief Craig Webb, “I think that this year’s Cost vs. Value report actually reflects the general optimism that both remodelers and REALTORS® have about the state of the housing economy. . . prospects are good for everyone involved in the process the consumer, the remodeler and the REALTOR®.”

Generally, across America, some less costly and seemingly subtle changes are producing the biggest bang for the seller’s buck.  The national leader with 107 percent return was attic insulation, followed by entry door replacement at 90.7 percentacross all states.  Remodeling compared these minor improvements to painting with “greige,” the color blend of gray and beige that is a subtle, but extremely popular, color.

In the Pacific region, attic insulation produced a nearly 123 percent ROI and steel entry door replacement yielded a 101.3 percent return, followed by replacement with a fiberglass entry door at 96.4 percent.  Closer to home, in the Santa Rosa, CA market, the leading mid-range curb appeal improvement was installation of manufactured stone veneer, producing a 125.7 percent ROI.  Top of the chart upscale improvement projects in Santa Rosa were a master suite addition that had ROI of 118 percent and installation of a grand entrance, including a fiberglass door, which produced 106.1 percent ROI.

Curb Appeal Enhancements Get Top Rewards

Survey results indicate that projects that enhanced curb appeal produced greater returns than interior home improvements.  For instance, upscale garage door replacements yielded 85 percent ROI and mid-range garage doors recaptured nearly 77 percent of their cost.  In the Santa Rosa market, sellers who replaced a mid-range garage door recaptured 85 percent of their investment and those who installed an upscale garage door recouped 98.2 percent.

Overall, the real estate professionals whose opinions were surveyed by Remodeling ranked highest those projects that involved total replacement, for example, windows and doors.  What sellers-to-be should note:  a worn, broken or seriously outdated door needs to be replaced, even if the return is not dollar for dollar.  The same applies for drafty, old single-pane windows.  Not only do doors and windows boost curb appeal, they create the impression of a well-kept home, and they can conserve energy, which is important to cost-conscious buyers.

Some Projects Don’t Add the Value You’d Expect

At the opposite end of the cost versus value chart for Santa Rosa, it is interesting to note that a mid-range project to replace siding yields only 55.5 percent ROI, a major kitchen remodel has 63.4 percent return on investment, and addition of a wooden deck produces ROI of 63.9 percent.  By way of contrast, the ROI for an upscale deck addition using composite material is 65 percent.

When it comes to bathrooms, in the Santa Rosa market, the ROI for a mid-range addition is 76.5 percent and a mid-range remodel is close at 75.1 percent ROI.  With regard to upscale bathroom improvements in Santa Rosa, the cost recouped for a bathroom remodel was 99.9 percent and a bathroom edition yielded 80.2% ROI.  It’s interesting to note, that in the Santa Rosa market, the upscale universal design bathroom made the list of top improvements, possibly as a result of baby boomers who are aging and don’t want to move.  Instead, they are revising their bathrooms with features including a walk-in shower, support bars and grab handles and even wheel-chair accessible sinks.   While providing safety and accommodation of the older homeowner’s changing needs, the ROI for the average universal design bathroom only tips the scale at 44.7 percent of cost.

There are many factors to consider when prepping a property for sale.  All potential home sellers need some expert guidance to make strategic and cost-effective choices to replace, repair orremodel.  A trusted REALTOR® is the best source of local market information and resources.



Duckhorn Vineyards

A wonderful up Valley option for wine tasting. Duckhorn is a well known winery with high quality wines, great staff and a gorgeous view of the Valley. This winery is all around a fantastic experience.

For more information on Duckhorn contact-

Oxbow Public Market

The Oxbow has become a staple in The Napa Valley. It is a wonderful indoor type market that has everything you are looking for. There are Lots of little shops, and Restaurants. This is a great place to grab a beer and get dessert with the family. There are options for everyone at the Oxbow.

For information about The Oxbow contact-

Ristorante Allegria

If you are looking for a fine dining experience in the middle of downtown Napa, we would recommend Allegria.  you can have a candle lit dinner and listen to music while enjoying some fantastic cuisine.

For more information contact-

Napa Tourist Info Center

If this is your first time to The Napa Valley we recommend you check out our Visitors Center. There is a plethora of information about our lovely valley. There is information about all upcoming events and festivities. There are maps and fliers available and the staff there is extremely welcoming and helpful.

For more information contact-

Napa Ballroom Dancers

If you are looking for something new and different to do on a Saturday night this might be of interest to you.  One Saturday night a month a dance event is held at the Senior Center or another specified location. Each month a new dance is taught and Beer and Wine are served with the festivities. Walk ins are welcome. This is an event that could be enjoyed by all ages.

For more information contact-

Napa Palisades Saloon in Downtown Napa

We went to Palisades this past weekend to watch a game on all their tv’s and enjoyed the atmosphere and wide selection of beers they have on tap.  They have recently added liquor as well to their bar.

The lamb burger at the Saloon in Downtown Napa is one of our favorites.  Great local spot or a place to relax and enjoy.

For more information, click on the following link:


Risk Management Tips to Keep Sellers and Their Homes Safe

There are lots of necessary “distractions” for a seller whose home is on the market.  Keeping the house and yard in good order, maintaining maximum curb appeal, eliminating unpleasant odors, and minimizing clutter are just a few of the essential tasks that require daily attention.  It’s all about making that first impression the best impression with prospective buyers.

But what about prospective “bad guys” — thieves, vandals and other criminally inclined people who pay attention to homes that just may have doors open for public showings?  Simply put, a seller needs to be a proactive partner with his/her listing agent to keep the property as safe as possible while it’s listed for sale.

Apply the suggestions below to enhance the safety and security of your real estate when it is on the market:

  • Whether your property is vacant or occupied, keep the exterior and grounds in the best condition possible.  Avoid the appearances of neglect as evidenced by un-mowed lawns, browned-out grass, un-watered plantings, fallen tree branches, unraked leaves, and continued display of out-of-season holiday decorations.  The appearance of neglect and abandonment can signal an easy target for thieves, vandals and even squatters.


  • Use the power of lighting.  It’s a basic fact that the bad guys don’t want to be seen.  A well-lit house during hours of darkness, whether occupied or not, deters burglars who don’t want attention and don’t want to be seen or identified by observant neighbors.  Automating your lighting systems with timers or motion detectors and using the various new smart-home app’s can make timely lighting for safety easy to accomplish.  Just remember, don’t leave the exterior lights burning ‘round the clock unless you want to send a message that the occupant is away for an extended period of time.


  • Know your neighbors and make them aware that your property is coming on the market.  Invite them over (who knows, they may have a friend or family member who should or could buy your home), and introduce them to your REALTOR®.  A friendly neighbor will be more inclined to observe and report strangers’ comings and goings while you’re away.


  • Be honest and assess your home’s vulnerability.  How would you get in if you lost your keys?  If the answer is to remove the screen and push up the open window in the powder room or to climb over the fence and open that dining room slider, the one with the broken latch, you need to add these two items to your pre-sale “honey-do” list of repairs.  Keep in mind that there could be some visitors at open houses who are there to “case the joint.”  Not only will they note broken locks and warped doors that don’t shut all the way, they can surreptitiously unlock and unlatch doors and windows for their own devious uses at a later time.  Sellers and their listing agents need to agree to a list of those locks and latches that need to be secured after every showing and every open house.  As a general practice, most real estate professionals are trained to pay close attention to what is unlocked and relocked during and after a showing, as well as to keep an eye on the behavior and movements of prospective buyers who are looking at the property.  That’s the theory; in reality, it can be difficult to keep multiple buyers together and under close observation during the entire showing process.  Consistent lock-up practices are essential.


  • In the words of “Captain Obvious,” you must lock your doors.  A recent FBI Crime Report found that in 30 percent of home burglaries, the criminals got into the home through an unlocked door or window; 34 percent came in through the front door; and, 22 percent entered via the back door.  So, even if your home is situated in Sonoma Valley, to be safe and secure, you need to break with tradition and lock your doors.


  •  At the risk of making your home look like a high-security prison, one other consideration might be installation of a home security system or even a camera such as “Ring,” a doorbell with video surveillance capability that allows homeowners to view whomever is outside the front door via the owner’s smartphone. There may be a local requirement for posting a warning that visitors may be photographed via video camera, but even small warning signs about monitored alarm systems on the premises may achieve the same results without the cameras or alarm equipment installed.


  •  Before your home is shown for sale, it’s time for you to store your valuables out of sight:  your “good” jewelry should not be displayed on that little metal tree on top of your dresser and your prescription medications (especially pain pills, sleeping pills and yes, even the Viagra) need to be stored, and probably not in the medicine cabinet.  If there are any other valuable items of personal property in plain view, such as china, crystal, silverware, art, collectibles, irreplaceable trophies, etc., consider packing them and moving them into a storage unit temporarily.  They will be ready to relocate to your new place and you’ll be happy to see them rather than sad to have had them go “missing.”

Careful planning, including the approaches and strategies described above, can help to ensure that the sale of one of the larger assets held in most people’s personal portfolio can be completed without disappointment and loss.   If you’re about to sell, ask your real estate professional about the many other tools available to protect your property and keep you safe while your home is on the market.

5-Time Winner of North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work

NAPA — Coldwell Banker is more than just a workplace. With offices in Napa, St. Helena and Sonoma, the company’s 130 licensed real estate professionals and 39 support staff are a cohesive team always putting the client’s interests first.

“Everyone works hard to get results clients expect, and play hard at bocce ball and golf tournaments, bus trips to Giant’s games, casino nights, Taco Tuesdays, wine and cheese socials and more,” according to General Manager Robin Rose and Owner Carolyn Roberts.

Employees say, “Our people are collaborators. We work well together and are ready to help one another — even in our competitive market. You don’t find that very often! People are happy to come to work…and that only starts at the top.”




Staff members praise smart leadership, and an open door policy, as key to being the best place to work. Managers go the extra mile to keep the team constantly moving forward with technology and training, exhibiting attributes such as selflessness, integrity, expertise and talent. They keep workers in the forefront of information on market trends and changes.

“It’s great to work for the #1 real estate firm in Napa with some of the best agents in the valley. People here are professional, kind to one another and love their jobs. Some 40 percent of employees have worked here over 10 years.”

Flex schedules encourage parents to volunteer in classrooms and children, dogs — young and old alike — all feel comfortable when visiting the office.