January 31, 2016

Much has been written about the housing market of the last decade, but many still have trouble understanding where we are now as opposed to then.  This is just a microcosm look at one home model built in the Wildwood area of Thousand Oaks, California.house_money_pile_shutterstock_83573653

The tract is Wildflower built between the years 1976 and 1979.  The model, a two-story, four-bedroom, three-bath home of 2,150 square feet, is called Plan 400 or Wild Rose.  This model made up about 30% of the tract which was comprised of four models and has proved very popular with a downstairs bedroom and full bath plus an indoor laundry.  Highs and lows reflect differences in locations within the tract and the degree of improvements made to individual homes.  Since this snapshot is dealing with one model, the median and average prices are very close.  The market still needs to increase over 10% to reach 2005 levels.


Year Low Medium Average High # of
2003    465,000    514,000   505,600    525,000 5
2004    615,000    672,500   707,167    835,000 6
2005    750,000    760,000   765,360    789,900 5
2006    725,000    746,000   746,750    770,000 4
2007    612,000    690,000   690,167    750,000 6
2008    505,000    587,000   568,400    635,000 5
2009    569,000    597,000   588,667    600,000 3
2010    600,000    602,500   602,500    605,000 2
2011    550,000    590,000   618,333    715,000 3
2012    515,000    535,000   535,000    555,000 2
2013    620,000    629,000   638,250    675,000 5
2014    612,000    616,000   616,000    620,000 2
2015    620,000    679,250   687,125    770,000 4

March 21, 2015

Water Heater 1Effective April 16, 2015, higher energy factor ratings will be required by the National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) on virtually all residential gas, electric, oil and tankless water heaters.

For homeowners, these changes will ultimately result in a better, more efficient product with lower operating costs, but the upgrades come with some cost. Changing the capacity and insulation factor of the water heater increases overall size of the unit. If your water heater is installed in a tight space now, there is a good chance that the new models will not just slide into place. This might mean relocating the water heater to a new location or retrofitting the current space to accommodate the upgraded model. Upgrading the venting to the new standards also affects replacement; expect increased installation times to adapt current venting to new EF requirements. The addition of the new electronics could result in increased maintenance costs due to increased complexity of design. Expect a few extra visits to fine-tune the water heater for optimum performance and possibly working out the bugs in new technologies.

When products become more complex, it is less likely that they will be purchased and installed by the do-it-yourself consumer. Also, some homeowners may now take notice of tankless technology as it already incorporates the demands of the new NAECA guidelines. The units are wall-hung, meaning that they will readily fit into tight spaces that cannot accommodate the new and larger tank water heaters.

 Rich and Jan McMillen

March 16, 2015

• Small changes can make a big difference. Tour your home and make a punch list of all the little items needing repaired (e.g. broken or missing faceplates on outlets and switches) or could be updated (e.g. changing the outdated color of the family room or ratty towels in the guest bathroom). Then, start tackling them one at a time. You’ll feel a sense of pride when finishing each task and you’ll also feel better about your refreshed home.
• Make a major improvement. Remember a home should always be a work in process so update the kitchen countertops, change out that nasty shower stall, replace those 40-year-old cloudy windows with energy-efficient dual-pane ones, or add central air conditioning . If not now, when?
• Surprise by design. Change you child’s nursery to reflect the princess she has become or the superhero he wishes to be!
• Stop and smell the roses or some other flowery delight. Plants and flowers are known mood lifters. Attractive landscaping is key for adding curb appeal to your home and is a gift to your neighbors too. Bring nature inside as well to improve air quality and to treat yourself to spring all year long.
• Light up your home. Update light fixtures starting with outdated chandeliers in the entry and dining room. Install recessed lighting in living rooms, family rooms and kitchens to increase your home’s value.
• Reclaim your garage. Jerry Seinfeld quipped that once items move to the garage, they never make it back into the house. So take some time to decide between donating that old couch to an organization that could make good use of it or sending it to the landfill.
• Learn a new skill. YouTube videos can teach you how to lay tile in a bathroom and install a closet organizer in a home office. A well done Do It Yourself project will bond you to your home.
• Rekindle the romance with your home. Your most valuable asset and the place you spend the majority of your time is probably your home. Treat it with love.


Rich and Jan McMillen