Saturday, May 30, 2009

Grand Canyon Expedition

This is Megan blogging - I am Katie's sister. She has given me the keys to her blog while she is away. If you didn't catch the last paragraph of her last post - she is going rafting down the Grand Canyon for the next three weeks!

The first check-in from Katie came on Wednesday (also, her birthday) as Katie and Brad began their journey driving across the great state of Nevada to get to Las Vegas for the night. What a way to spend a birthday! After several days of traveling to the Grand Canyon, packing and repacking, meeting up with their group, they will hit the water Saturday morning. From then on, no cell coverage for 16 days! Could you do it? No way!- er, I mean, I'm not sure I could.

Katie has emailed a schedule and a couple updates before she left - and this has been my favorite update so far:
"Supposedly there will be a phone in Phantom Ranch on the river on the 6th or 7th day of our trip. If so, I will call mom and dad and they can let everyone know how it’s going. Don’t be alarmed if I don’t call on the 6th or 7th day as sometimes that phone is out of order. It is in the middle of nowhere so it may not work. Or sometimes there is not room for all of the boats to park there so we would have to pass it by. "

Hard core, is all I can say.

To better familiarize myself with where my sister is going to be for the next several weeks, I found a couple educational and cool sites you should check out - something we should all know about one of our own national greats!

> Fly-through Grand Canyon Animation
> Virtual Tour Map of Grand Canyon National Park
(click on the upper right red dot - Lees Ferry - where Katie and Brad will begin their adventure) I should also add - Brad is a certified boat guide on the Grand Canyon. I am probably not listing his certification correctly, but whatever it is officially called, it makes us all feel better that he has earned a living in recent history taking people down the Grand Canyon in flotation devices - he knows what he's doing : ).

So while Katie is gone, I will be the guest blogger, and will pass on any updates I get from her. I also have a few Tahoe-related topics to share too.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend is here!

I have spent the last week looking at real estate in this area. Literally every day I have seen anywhere from 5-20 homes (per day) and the values out there are just amazing.

There are a lot of options in every neighborhood, the prices are incredibly low and the sellers are very motivated. I wish that I would have waited three or four years longer to buy my house, that is for sure. And the lending market has loosened up. A garage full of cash just to buy real estate would be useful right now.

My favorite tour this week was the west shore Tahoe lakefront tour. My colleague and I saw over 20 lakefront properties just on the west shore on Wednesday, and I am here to tell you that there are some deals to be had. It was a perfect experience to have right before the busy weekend. So even if you are just mildly interested in property, take some time when you are here and just look...I promise you will be pleasantly surprised.

The boats are out, the decks at the restaurants are open, summer is here! There are a lot of events going on this Memorial Day weekend, make sure to click some of the links on my page to view event calendars, etc...If you are out on the lake or running around, please go to Sunnyside and sit on the most gorgeous deck in Tahoe and have a Mai Tai for me.

Now...get this. I will be leaving on Wednesday to go rafting down the Grand Canyon for 16 days. (Yes...I will be rafting and camping for 16 days...). My sister Megan will be my guest blogger, I am sure that she will come up with some fun topics, so check in! Megan lives in the Bay Area and I think she will be giving some insight on her favorite things to do when she visits me!

I can assure you that I will have some great stories and photos upon my return. It's a rough life. But someone must do it. Seize the day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Top Fifteen - Tahoe events to put on your calendar this summer

There is a wide array of things to do in Tahoe in the summer. This post will address some events that you shouldn't miss if you are here...some of them you need to buy tickets in advance so make sure you stay on top of it.

1. The Concours d' Elegance Wooden Boat Show

June 19th -21st The premier wooden boat show in North America will now be the opening boating event of the summer, and the true kick-off to the wooden boating season on Lake Tahoe. This is one of the most popular summer events at the Lake. Tickets are on sale now.

2. 4th Of July Fireworks
North Shore Fire Works Schedule:
Kings Beach - TBA
Squaw Valley - TBA
Tahoe City - 9PM
Truckee (Donner Lake) - 9PM
Incline Village - TBA
West Shore Lake Tahoe - TBA

3. Edgewood Celebrity Golf Tournament
July 14-19 South Lake Tahoe

This event is a blast. You can take your boat right up to the course and watch the action from the beach.

4. Lake Tahoe Music Festival
Ongoing throughout the summer
Enjoy a variety of musical talent in some gorgeous venues all around the N. Tahoe area. Tickets are already onsale.

5. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Ongoing throughout the summer
The venue is absolutely breathtaking and the performances such as "Much Ado About Nothing" and "Measure for Measure" will be featured this summer. Don't miss out on this. Tickets already on sale.

6. Tour de Nez
June 17-21 Try to watch part of the race or take part in some of the activities and parties surrounding these bike race events. Fun for all.

7. Northstar Beerfest
July 11 What could be better on a warm Tahoe summer day than Beer and Bluegrass??

8. Donner Lake Triathlon
July 19 Part of the Big Blue Adventure Series, this event is popular for locals and out of towners alike. If you are not up for the full race, try the sprint triathlon. Get ready for some great scenery and a fun day.

9. Art, Wine, and Music Festival at Squaw
July 19-20 Not ready for the triathlon? This is a good alternative. Art, wine and a gorgeous setting. Lodging packages are available.

10. Huey Lewis and the News
July 25 Part of the Lake Tahoe Music Festival, this concert should be a hit. The venue at Old Greenwood is fabulous for adults and kids alike. Plus, hasn't it been too long since you have heard "Power of Love"?

11. Community Sale at Northstar
August 8 Come eat and shop for a good cause. The Community Sale benefits the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. Live music, BBQ, kid art, and a raffle will be just part of the fun. Check out the website for more details and info if you would like to donate items to the Sale.

12. Brews, Jazz and Funk at Squaw
August 17-18 This is a a really fun event that benefits the Humane Society for Truckee-Tahoe. The music is groovy and the beer is great!

13. XTerra Triathlon
August 29 For all of you endorphin junkies...this is your ticket to one of the prettiest courses you have ever raced on...start training now!!

14. Alpen Wine Fest
August 31 This event sponsors the Huega Center for MS, and is in its 20th year! Over 30 Northern California vineyards will be represented. Come enjoy the good life.

15. Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Fest at Northstar
September 5-7 Come enjoy four full days of food, wine and festivals, grape stomp, wine walks, seminars, cooking demonstrations, grand tasting, culinary competitions, mountain chef cook off and more!

These are some of my favorite events of the summer. Keep your eye on local calendars for weekly specials, free concerts, and happenings. I recommend

Golf Course Update-
This is exciting stuff... some of the first courses are opening this Saturday, Old Greenwood and Gray's Crossing. Thanks to some rain and sun, the fairways are lush and the greens look great.

Weather Vane Brad says-
The weather in Tahoe doesn't change much from here until September/October. It just gets a little warmer and more fabulous.

But, don't despair. Brad is good for other things. Like strange and fun facts...
I asked him the other day, "What is the difference between a raven and a crow?" Apparently ravens are much larger than crows and have black eyes. Ravens also have a much more complicated vocabulary. Crows just "caw". And, if you see a black bird in the Tahoe area, it is most likely a raven. Not many crows here. Who knew??

Friday, May 1, 2009

Avoiding the "Money Pit"...

When my friends or clients and I go to look at homes together at the beginning of the buying process, we take a few hours one day and peruse a handful of homes. In the first visit, my clients' positive and negative impressions are usually a result of the "feel" of the home. Good space vs. bad space. Good layout vs. fragmented. Visual appeal vs. eyesore. Quality materials vs. cheap finishes. Light vs. dark.

Let me tell you some things that I look for on the first visit to a home during a quick 10-15 minute showing. Most of these items are easy to see in plain view. Of course, a professional home inspector is absolutely necessary before buying a home. These are just some little tidbits that may tip off some underlying problems, signals that there will be additional costs that may need to be addressed, or factors that may play in to the long term ongoing costs of home ownership.

Let's start outside...

1. Curb appeal- Is the home consistent in architecture/design with others in the neighborhood, or does it stand out? Does it look well maintained and inviting?

2. Driveway- We live in an area where it snows quite a bit. Heavy, wet, walls of snow. Most folks opt for a snow removal service (contracts $400-$800+/year depending on length and slope) or a snowblower ($2500 for a good one).

3. Landscaping-Is there any? Will the new owner maintain? Have defensible space measures already been taken care of? Will a landscaping service need to be hired? Landscaping can be very costly if you start from scratch or if the previous owner has not maintained their sprinkler lines, etc...Also be aware that strict BMP and defensible space ordinances exist, especially down by Lake Tahoe and get educated on them.

4. Home exterior/Fences-Does the home need to be stained or painted? Are the fences in good shape? This is a big deal if you have to shell out for this cost right away. The winters in Tahoe add wear and tear to the exterior and a paint/stain job may not last as long as you would think.

5. Roof/drainage-Sometimes hard to see, look for tiles that have fallen off, broken gutters, and in the winter, ice dams. Is there a snowmelt system on the roof? Where does the water drain from the gutters? Roof replacement and ice dam prevention can be very costly.

6. Windows-This is an interior and exterior issue. What type of windows were used? Are they double paned? Appropriate for a cold weather climate? Replacing windows is very expensive. Also good windows will reduce your overall energy costs.

Let's head inside for a quick tour:

1. Walls-Are there cracks in the walls? Any bubbling of paint or areas that look patched or repaired? If so, you may have water issues which are NO FUN. Subsidence (shifting of the soil under the home) is a big deal and causes cracks on walls near windows and doors. Also shifting will often cause doors to stick or be very loose. Stains on the walls or ceilings may indicate a leak in a bathroom or a roof leak. All costly repairs and potentially ongoing issues.

2. Smells-Is there a strange smell in the house? If nobody has been there in awhile, it may just be stale air. But be aware of strong rotten or musty smells. Could be plumbing problems or mold! An inspection would likely uncover both issues.

3. Kitchen and Bathrooms-Look at the tiles. Check for cracks, loose grout, signs of mold. Kitchens and bathrooms are very expensive to remodel. And, they are the most "used" parts of the home.

4. The bones-Is the space and layout of the home good? Does it have enough storage? Are the room sizes and configurations adequate for your needs? If you do need to remodel in the future, in most cases it is more efficient to change the space you have instead of add on or expand. Permits for additions are a pain and the process can be very pricey.

5.Beyond the walls-Try to identify what type of systems are in the home for heat, air conditioning, water heating, etc...The efficiency of these systems will determine how much you pay for energy in your home. These are big ticket items to replace and repair as well.

6.Flooring-What is the condition of the carpet/hardwood? Look at the trim around the walls/doors. Is the carpet fraying or loose on the stairs? Have any floor boards popped up? Replacing carpet is not a big deal. Hardwood floors are more expensive to repair/replace. You just want to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Looking for a new home is a very involved process, but it doesn't have to be hard work. All the information to make good decisions is out there. The catch is to not get too emotionally attached to the "idea" of a property before you see the full picture and what lies underneath. Asking the right questions and working with an educated Realtor that you trust as your advocate will insure that your bases are covered.

And, of course, don't forget to have fun!