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Nevada County Market Observations, November 2020

Nevada County Housing Market Observations

November 2020

Lack of inventory in Nevada County continues.

Numbers are consistent with previous months, 520 houses for sale October 2019 vs 286 houses for sale October 2020, 45% lower year to year. Houses sold are up 25%, 157 Oct last year, 157 houses sold this October. 

Inventory reduction is from 4.2 months of inventory last October to 1.8 months of inventory this October.

A very strong SELLER’S MARKET continues, especially considering Nevada County’s attractiveness as one of the premier work-from-home communities, and media outlets have taken notice.

Average SOLD price per square foot is up 13.7% year to year ($234 vs $266. Average price sold is up 14.6%, from $435,000 to $570,000. Higher list prices are prevailing.

Nevada County continues to be strongly attractive to buyers looking for safer havens.

Especially coupled with the myriad lifestyle opportunities and community connections the foothills offer. Days on market has fallen 48%, from 75 days last year in October to 39 days in October this year. Buyers are energized to jump on good, well-priced houses especially given our current low inventory environment.

We continue to see a slight slowing of the market in our own area, likely due to national elections coupled with the coming holidays. That said, good houses are still commanding significant attention from buyers and garnering strong offers. While prices are climbing, appraisals tend to lag the market a bit, so some circumspection in pricing is smart.

Don’t hesitate to call us for evaluations of your home’s value or to tour homes on the market you have an interest in. We are here for you, and Alisa (almost) always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871.

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Johnson’s Sierra Lifestyle Team Adds Instagram expertise to support client listings!

Social Media has many benefits, especially for businesses.

It is a tool that many people tend to overlook. Having a good social media presence is especially important as we move further and further into a world dependent on technology. Perhaps the best way to get business is by word of mouth and advertising, social media combines those. When a business posts something on social media, not only is it being spread to more people than you can reach with typical advertising, but it also creates a personal connection between the business and the consumer making them more likely to pick that business over any other. Social media can help businesses grow immensely in size, and reach new younger customers that are essential to keeping a business alive. Overall, Social Media is only a positive for businesses looking to grow, reach more customers, and to create more personal connections with customers.

The Sierra Lifestyle Team utilizes our robust Social Media skills to benefit the sale of your home, reaching thousands of qualified buyers on Facebook.

We don’t rest on our laurels…and are pleased to announce a new INSTAGRAM manager, Karissa Johnson. Karissa will head up our new Instagram program to highlight your properties to thousands of interested buyers, giving you significant new exposure to interested real estate buyers.   

Brought to you by Johnson’s Sierra Lifestyle Team! 

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Nevada County Market Observations

Nevada County Market Observations

Market Observations

August 2020

Lack of inventory in Nevada County continues to be a feature of the current real estate market.

621 houses for sale July 2019 vs 297 houses for sale July 2020, a significant 52.6% decline. That’s a reduction from 4.3 months of inventory to 1.3 months of inventory, a very strong SELLER’S MARKET.

THE average SOLD price per square foot is up 6.7% year to year ($255 vs $239). Average price sold is up 13.4%, from $493,000 to $559,000. Higher list prices are prevailing.

Units PENDING are up 86.3%. While Nevada County has long been a magnet for buyers from the SF Bay Area, and to a lesser extent, the Los Angeles region, we believe the relative safety of our area continues to drive interest and sales. The pending numbers support that.

If you are contemplating selling a property, we have rarely seen a better time!

Don’t hesitate to call us for evaluations of your home’s value or to tour homes on the market you have interest in. We are here for you, and Alisa always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871.

Fed ‘Not Even Thinking’ About Raising Rates, Real Estate on the Rebound

By Liz Dominguez

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) met this week, leaving interest rates near zero to help buoy an economy heavily hit by the current health crisis.

“The path forward for the economy is extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in keeping the virus in check,” Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell said in a statement, adding that the “pace of recovery looks like it has slowed,” as more states continue to battle a second wave of increasing coronavirus cases.

The Fed will continue to monitor the markets but, as of now, is not “even thinking about” raising rates and will keep rates low “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events.”

Recent data shows just how much the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the economy. According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. GDP (gross domestic product) fell 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year—on an annualized basis, GDP fell at a rate of 32.9 percent.

“As expected, economic activity collapsed in the second quarter due to the total virus-lockdown in April and only partial re-openings in May. The GDP contraction of 33 percent on an annualized basis is the steepest ever experienced in the U.S.,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist, National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). “Even with the stimulus and enhanced unemployment benefits, consumer spending collapsed by a massive 35 percent. Business spending also collapsed by 27 percent. Even residential investments—comprising of home sales, home building and remodeling activity—dropped by nearly 40 percent.

“This morning’s advance report on second quarter GDP showed that the economy contracted 32.9 percent—the largest single quarter drop on record—as COVID-19-driven business closures and restrictions on in-person activity sharply reduced consumer spending and business investment,” said Joel Kan, AVP of Economic and Industry Forecasting, Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). “In recent weeks, housing demand has rebounded sharply, and we expect the rest of the economy to recover in the second half of the year.

Third quarter data should be more optimistic as states began reopening amid a decline in COVID cases.

“The good news is that this data is backward-looking. Third quarter data will show a massive increase. Personal savings rates are the highest ever, with massive deposits at banks,” said Yun. “There will be an unleashing of spending in the upcoming months as economies open further. Home sales have already been rising strongly and will continue to do so. GDP growth in the third quarter could be as high as 30 percent. Note: This data will come out three days before the November election.”

However, with the last few weeks showing deterioration across various states, the economic rebound could slow. Unemployment filings totaled 1.43 million last week, according to the Labor Department—the second weekly increase.

“The adverse impacts to the job market and hardships for many households may persist—especially if virus cases continue to rise in several parts of the country,” said Kan. “There are still many workers who have not returned to work, households in need of mortgage or rent forbearance, and an overall sense of uncertainty ahead. We expect the Federal Reserve to keep rates low, and monetary policy supportive, until there are clearer signs of an economic recovery.”

An upside to the Fed’s near-zero lock-in? Fed rates can indirectly influence mortgage interest rates, which just decreased slightly according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®).

“It’s Groundhog Day in the mortgage market as rates continue to remain near historic lows, driving purchase demand over 20 percent above a year ago,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Real estate is one of the bright spots in the economy, with strong demand and modest slowdown in home prices heading into the late summer. Home sales should remain strong the next few months into the early fall.”

Here’s the breakdown:

– 30-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Averaged 2.99 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending July 30, 2020, down slightly from 3.01 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.75 percent.

– 15-Year Fixed-Rate Mortgage: Averaged 2.51 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.54 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.20 percent.

– 5-Year Treasury-Indexed Hybrid Adjustable-Rate Mortgage (ARM): Averaged 2.94 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.09 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.46 percent.

“We expect that the Fed may strengthen their forward guidance on the future path of interest rates at their September meeting, providing more explicit signals as to which factors could lead them to eventually raise short-term rates,” said Mike Fratantoni, SVP and chief economist of MBA. “In the meantime, we expect mortgage rates will stay near all-time lows. These record-low mortgage rates will continue to provide stimulus to homeowners who refinance and lower their monthly payments, while also boosting homebuyer demand and their purchasing power.”

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. 

Gardening in the Foothills

Gardening in the Foothills

Planting Seeds! Spring Is Sprung – Time to Get Busy Outside…

From Our Friends At The Sierra Club Magazine-

As an urban farmer for the past 20 years, I have seen interest in urban farming wax and wane. During economic good times, it’s often treated as a novelty—“Oh look, this lady has goats in her backyard. How cute!” During, say, a recession or a pandemic, though, the thought process shifts: “Look, this lady has goats in her backyard. Let’s get some too!”

Going to the grocery store in the time of COVID-19 feels like an act of desperation. What if you could cut down on hours spent braving masked lines and spend more time traipsing through your own safe backyard to pick some kale for dinner? I’ve always found that growing my own food feels liberating, but these days, it feels urgent. 

Much to my chagrin, over the course of good economic years, I got rid of my rabbits, then my goats, then my chickens, and finally, two years ago, my garden. When I moved into a North Oakland duplex with a concrete driveway and wild backyard, I didn’t even try to grow stuff at my new house. I figured I could just buy eggs and vegetables. 

Then the coronavirus hit

Sheltering in place, I could suddenly see all the possibilities around me for gardening; it rekindled that spark to grow my own food again. Following are nine ways to get your COVID-19 victory garden off the ground. 

Watch the sunlight

Your most important consideration? How many hours of direct sunlight your garden will get. To get a good yield from tomatoes, kale, zucchini, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, you will need at least six hours of direct sun on your plants. Firing up my new COVID garden, I spent a few days taking note of where the longest stretches of sunlight hit the driveway. Then I placed raised beds—horse stock tanks, drilled with holes on the bottom and filled with potting soil—in those areas. 

Some crops don’t mind fewer hours of sunlight: lettuce, herbs like parsley and mint, spinach, and beets greens. But these plants still require at least four hours of sunlight. So I planted a few stock tanks with lettuce and herbs in a shadier corner of my yard.

My point is, before you dig or place raised beds, watch the sun move across your property—and this includes porches, balconies, and windowsills—for a few days. If there’s a sunny spot, think about how you can plant something there.

Expand your vegetable bed options

If you have a backyard with plentiful sun, and you know the soil is free of lead, I recommend you start in-ground beds—it’s how we tamed our wild backyard. I took pieces of wood and staked each corner to make three three-foot-wide, 10-foot-long beds. Then I dug into the bed-to-be, turning over soil and pulling out weeds and other debris so that the bed was simply fluffy-looking soil. Then I added three to four inches of finished compost to each bed and worked it into the bed with a broadfork. My soil looked pretty dark and rich, with plenty of earthworms—a good sign. But if your soil is sandy or pale, you will need to add more compost. 


Lead in soil is one of the biggest problems facing urban agriculture—leafy greens and root crops uptake heavy metals in the soil into their tissues, so if you grow these vegetables in heavily leaded soil, you may be eating lead in your salad. Currently, the soil labs that test for heavy metals are closed, so if you haven’t tested your soil and want to grow leafy greens and roof crops, you are better off building raised container beds. 

Growing in large containers: 

If tilling up a backyard isn’t possible, there are other options for making beds. Be sure they’re at least 18 inches tall (deep-rooted crops like tomatoes need that much space) and use a mix of compost and potting soil that has good drainage. If you build beds out of lumber, use two-inch-wide solid wood, redwood if you want them to last. Another quicker option is to use stock tanks. The best ones for planting are made of galvanized metal, four to six feet long and three feet deep. Be sure to drill drainage holes at the bottom of these with a 3/8 drill bit. Add sand, rocks, or busted up pottery to the bottom to aid drainage. If stock tanks are sold out in your region, get a few galvanized metal trash cans. One trash can is great for growing one full-size tomato plant, four kale plants, or a medley of herbs. When gathered together, the trash cans can even look beautiful. Oscar-the-Grouch chic!   

Small containers:

On windowsills, you can grow herbs like cilantro, mint, bunching onions, and basil in pots. Your pot size will be dictated by your windowsill size; most sills can hold a four-inch pot. Choose pots with drainage holes, and fill with potting soil. (I’ve also seen people use those red plastic beer cups to great effect, with a hole stabbed in the bottom.) Be sure to put a drip catcher under your pot. If your windowsill is especially hot, you might need to water daily. Snip the herbs as they grow. Another option is to set up a table at a south-facing window and arrange plants to grow there. 

On balconies, you can use larger-sized containers. You can usually find free five- or 15-gallon black plastic nursery containers. If beauty is important to you, used glazed pots. Half wine barrels are also rustic and cute. People tend to want to crowd lots of plants into one container, but for a five-gallon pot, plant only one cherry tomato, or three herb plants, or one zucchini. These will need to be watered regularly—during a hot summer, that means at least every other day. 

Grow what gives a good yield

To get the most nutrition out of your garden beds, I recommend growing greens, lettuces, herbs, and bunching onions all year round. These crops allow for multiple harvests over time and can be planted from seed. If you have extra room and loose soil, plant carrot and beet seeds. In the summer, the most productive vegetables are tomatoes, zucchini, and pole beans. For a family of four, I would suggest planting at least three tomato plants—one cherry, one a “canner” like Roma or early girls, one beefsteak or another slicer for eating fresh on salads. That same family would do well to have two zucchini plants and two cucumber plants. With beans you’ll want to “succession plant”—plant first seeds April 30, another patch May 15, another row May 30, and so on, so you’ll have beans to harvest all summer long. Don’t bother with garlic, corn (unless culturally significant), onions, leeks, or cabbages. These tend to take a long time to grow and are readily available at the store. If you have extra space, try growing pumpkins and winter squash.

Plant potatoes!

To reap calories and a sense of fullness during these challenging times, go for potatoes. You can just use store-bought ones: cut into halves or quarters and wait for five days until the wetness calluses over. Then plant into trenches and cover shallowly. Continue to mound soil around the plant as it sprouts up. I’ve even planted potatoes in stacks of milk crates lined with newspaper and covered with potting soil. The potato plant grows out of the holes in the milk crate and makes a nest of potatoes in the milk crate. Not huge yields, but something. 

Grow berries

If your goal is to eat more fruit this pandemic, you’re better off planting berry bushes, not fruit trees. Raspberries and strawberries planted right now will give you quite a few berries by the fall. But choose wisely—blueberries are usually a disappointment in terms of yield and require tons of water. Fruit trees won’t provide fruit for the first three years, but in the event that pandemics become a regular thing, and/or food scarcity increases over the next few years, it might be a smart idea to plant a few fruiting trees. 

Get adventurous with seed variety

Thanks to a sudden surge in veggie gardening, seeds are already getting difficult to secure—a number of seed companies are scrambling to meet demand. Be patient; they will get you your seeds eventually. And pro tip: Don’t be picky when you order. Try purple pole beans if they don’t have Kentucky wonders. If they’re out of standard-shape zucchini seeds, go for the pattypan zucchini. Also, I have noticed that Asian vegetables tend to have better germination; plus they simply grow faster. Try Chinese cabbage, bok choy, or gunsho choi sum, an amazing-tasting Asian broccoli. 

Also, many regional seed banks are stepping up and getting seeds into the communities they serve. Look into your local seed bank for a possible seed hook up. 

Buy starts for warm-season crops

I like to buy starts for things like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. These are hot-weather crops that need to be started in a greenhouse to really thrive. Luckily, most areas have local plant propagators who sell to hardware stores, farmers’ markets, and nurseries. You are better off planting seeds for crops like beans, peas, squash, and cucumbers directly into the ground.

Know that seed-saving is advanced

Seed-saving, while amazing, takes a lot of time, and takes up garden space too. The original plant must be an open-pollinated variety—you won’t have success growing crops from seed from hybrid plants. But there are some easy crops to save seed from: cilantro, parsley, peas, and beans. If you’ve got an open-pollinated variety of tomatoes (most heirlooms are), you can save seed from them in the fall. 

Don’t skip the flowers

Given the times, we might be inclined to skip the flowers and solely grow edibles. But I would argue that flowers are just as important as food crops. First of all, they provide food for our pollinators—and since we need these insects to pollinate our edible crops, why not entice them into your garden? Top pollinator attractors include borage, sunflowers, and lacy phacelia. Second, some flowers act as companion plants—marigolds, for example, ward off nasty nematodes in the roots of tomato plants. 

Finally, beauty is important for our mental health

So plant some cosmos or sweet pea seeds, sunflowers, or bachelor buttons this spring. A simple bouquet of home-grown flowers on your kitchen table is a reminder that the earth loves us and that we are of this earth. In these trying times, this might be the most important truth to keep in mind.  

As always, Johnson’s Sierra Lifestyle Team is here for you

Our web site is full of information for you whether you are looking to buy real estate, sell real estate or looking for information about the community, https://sierralifestyleteam.com/.


Nevada County Green Waste Disposal

Nevada County Green Waste Disposal


The 2020 Free Residential Green Waste Event is scheduled for May 17 – June 27, 2020.

The COVID-19 pandemic has required stay-at-home orders, but we can still prepare for wildfire. Now is the time for residents to spend time improving defensible space around homes and property lines.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, and the County of Nevada Office of Emergency Services are committed to the health and safety of the residents of Nevada County. We’ve partnered to dramatically expand the 2020 Free Residential Green Waste Event to not only reduce the risk of wildfire, but also to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19.

To stretch our funding as far as possible, we’re chipping and grinding collected waste, and offering that material on Fridays and Saturdays to the public from Rise Gold and Penn Valley Rodeo Grounds sites only. While this material cannot be placed within the first 30 ft. of your home, it is still useful in weed suppression, moisture retention, soil enrichment and erosion control. Please note that to reduce the spread of invasive species, we cannot accept any loads with blackberry, Scotch broom, or poison oak. These items may be taken to the Waste Management Transfer Station or to the Tahoe Truckee Sierrra Disposal site. Root balls, large diameter limbs, and trash cannot be accepted, either.

The Western Nevada County drop sites will be open from 9am – 3pm Sunday – Tuesday from May 17 – June 27 at the following locations:

Rise Gold, Grass Valley 12625 Brunswick Road, Grass Valley, CA

Penn Valley Rodeo Grounds: 10531 Spenceville Rd, Grass Valley, CA

NID Alta Sierrra Reservoir Site 12057 Francis Drive, Grass Valley, CA

We are grateful to these organizations, and to the Alta Sierra Property Owners Association, for their generosity and commitment to the safety and well-being of the community!

Measures are being taken to ensure the collection of green waste is “no-contact.” We will offer specialized training for staff and volunteers and will prepare collection sites to ensure social distancing for the safety of the residents who participate. Volunteers interested in directing traffic and screening materials can sign up for any of our three sites. In order to reduce the number of people on site, please consider volunteering for multiple days of a weekend. Family groups are also encouraged to volunteer together.

Click to volunteer in Alta Sierra
Click to volunteer in Penn Valley
Click to volunteer in Grass Valley
Click to volunteer in Truckee (TBD)

For any questions regarding our 2020 Free Residential Green Waste event, please contact the Fire Safe Council’s Programs Manager, Julie Siegenthaler at (530) 272-1122 x 120, or via email programs@areyoufiresafe.com.


For Town of Truckee residents 6-yards of free green waste disposal is available at Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal during the following dates and times: If material is transported in bags, the bags must be emptied on site by the hauler. To facilitate unloading, position a tarp on the bottom of the truck bed or trailer before loading the material. Don’t forget to cover the load for safe hauling.

8 a.m.-4 p.m. May 1– October 31   
Monday – Saturday

Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal–Currently closed due to COVID-19
Hwy 89 & Cabin Creek Rd. Truckee, CA 96161 (530) 583-7800 

 To take advantage of the free drop-off, residents are required to bring proof of residency. 


Waste Management Drop-Off
Take green waste to local disposal vendors year-round. Standard disposal rates apply.

McCourtney Road Transfer–Currently, open to the public by appointment only.  
14741 Wolf Mountain Rd. Grass Valley, CA (530) 274-0120 Wednesday – Sunday, 8:00am-3:30pm-

Residential Curbside Pick-Up
Make regular maintenance part of your routine. Both Waste Management and Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal offer 64 and 96-gallon containers for year-round curbside pick-up. 

This is a wonderful program put together by a  number of county agencies and Alta Sierra Property Owners Assn. Take advantage of all that clearing you are doing for FREE disposal!