Environmental Sustainability in Nevada County

Environmental Sustainability in Nevada County

TREX Stretchable Plastics Recycling Program November 2021 – April 2022

Nevada City Rotary

Nevada City Rotary Club’s Environmental Sustainability Committee has initiated a pilot recycling program aimed at collecting plastic bags, shrink wrap, and similar plastic film that Waste Management does not pick up.

We are doing this in cooperation with the TREX company, which turns the returned plastic film into outdoor decking, fencing, benches and other outdoor furniture   https://recycle.trex.com(link is external).  Our hope is to provide a means for people to dispose of a form of plastic that until now has not been able to be recycled in our county, and typically ends up in landfills, further contributing to pollution and carbonization of the atmosphere.

Trex melts the plastics and combines them with other recyclables in their materials process. Here is a video from Trex on what they collect and their materials process-Trex Eco-Friendly Decking.

Look for bins in various locations around the area including Briar Patch, B&C True Value Hardware, Madelyn Helling Library, Nevada City and Grass Valley CoHousing and other locations to be added.

We are also collecting from AJA Video Systems. Nevada City Rotary team members are monitoring the bins and gather the materials on a regular cycle that have been deposited. SaveMart Grocery in Grass Valley is an established TREX partner collection their own store, as well as customer plastics. They have agreed to bail our collections and deliver them to TREX.

Environmental Sustainability Committee

Nevada City Rotary is proud to form our Club/s Environmental Sustainability Committee in conjunction with The Rotary Foundation’s official launch of the Focus on Supporting the Environment(link is external).



Christmas Lights In Alta Sierra

Christmas Lights In Alta Sierra

Light up Alta Sierra, 2021 🎄

by Alisa Johnson

Pack up your car with hot cocoa, a few blankets and take a ride around Alta Sierra and enjoy the light displays. Thank you to all who provided streets for this list. I hope you enjoy your night out looking at lights.





Please know the route is just a resource. Feel free to make your own route or use your favorite mapping app along the way. Click on the images and save or download the PDF here AS_Christmas Lights 2021.

Hope you enjoy this and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy 2022.


What Homeowners Should Know About Solar Panels

What Homeowners Should Know About Solar Panels

Increasing energy costs are spurring more homeowners to go solar, but an abundance of choices in the field can make the decision daunting. Help homeowners weigh the options with these five considerations.


by Barbara Ballinger

Key Takeaways:

  • More efficient and lighter solar modules help to lower energy bills.
  • Experienced installers and module manufacturers recommend how many panels a roof needs based on how much power residents use and other factors.
  • Federal tax credits are still available.          

Installing solar panels or modules to convert sunlight into electricity and conserve energy is not a new concept. Back in 1954, researchers at Bell Laboratories demonstrated the first practical silicon solar cell.

But solar power has been heating up over the last 10 years, with a 50% average annual growth rate in the U.S., according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. This is due, in part, to the Solar Investment Tax Credit put in place in 2006 that now reimburses 26% of the cost for solar systems on residential and commercial properties. Other factors have also played a role, including low interest rates. Homeowners can bundle the cost of panels into their mortgage, says Amy Tovel, marketing manager of Ichijo USA, a company that installs modules on many Pacific Northwest homes.

©MN Custom Homes 

Many homeowners are becoming more energy conscious, says architect Nathan Kipnis, FAIA, LEED AP, whose Kipnis Architecture + Planning offices are in Chicago and Boulder, Colo. It’s rare for one of his company’s major projects not to include solar panels or wiring for installation later, largely because of increasing efficiency, he says.

Still another reason is that more areas are enacting mandates. California regulators recently voted to require builders to include solar power and battery storage in new commercial and high-rise residential projects, as of Jan. 1, 2023.

The state of Washington now requires new homes to have energy credits, as of Feb. 1, 2021, and solar panels represent one option to attain them. Homes greater than 5,000 square feet require additional credit. To meet those criteria, MN Custom Homes doubles the amount of solar panels for its larger homes, says vice president Ben Brittingham.

What About Those Federal Credits?

The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy has shifted numbers, so it’s important for homeowners and the professionals they work with to stay abreast. Before the Biden administration took office, the Federal Solar ITC was scheduled to be reduced to 22% in 2021.

However, In December 2020, Congress passed an extension of the ITC to provide a 26% tax credit for systems installed in 2020-2022, and 22% for systems installed next year in 2023. (Systems installed before December 31, 2019, were eligible for a 30% tax credit.) The tax credit expires starting in 2024 unless Congress renews it.

Lastly, the panels have become less of an eyesore due to improved aesthetics, whether on a roof or in a yard stationed on the ground—sometimes preferred due to the absence of trees—says Suvi Sharma, founder and director of Solaria Corp., a Fremont, Calif.-based solar manufacturer focused on the residential market.

But as the field grows crowded with manufacturers and installers touting longer-lasting solar systems with greater efficiency and less cost, deciding which one to choose requires research.

“The promises some companies make are wildly flowing,” cautions Madison, Conn.-based architect Duo Dickinson. Another caveat is the cost fluctuation of panels due to tariffs on imports, now at 18%. Though these are set to expire next February, China remains a top location for manufacturers.

But home buyers seeking a new home may not have to make choices as more developers and builders incorporate solar during construction.  

That’s the case with Pearl Homes’ new community, Hunters Point, in Cortez, Fla. Owner Marshall Gobuty wanted to construct the first NetZero LEED certified community in the U.S. “Anybody can build a house but not everybody can reduce the carbon footprint,” Gobuty says, adding, “Our goal is to build homes that generate more power than they consume.”

©Pearl Homes 

Hunters Point home rendering. 

When completed by early 2022, all 86 homes, averaging 3,300 square feet, will have roof panels, WaterSense plumbing and fixtures, and GE EnergyStar appliances. Though the company is still deciding which panels to use, they are going with installer my-RESI out of Millstone Township, N.J., and sonnen’s ecoLinx energy storage system, which Gobuty believes offers the most efficient, safest battery, and a 25-year warranty. Homeowners will pay a fixed fee to the HOA for a set amount of power and backup.

©Go Solar Group 

But homeowners should be aware that having solar power doesn’t eliminate an electric bill since there’s still a fee to be connected to the grid, says James O’Connor, director of marketing for Salt Lake City-based installer, Go Solar Group.

Here’s what home buyers who are working with a builder or architect on a new home—or retrofitting an existing home—should consider when choosing components from various providers to make solar work.  

  1. Roof and house orientation.

How much surface solar modules cover on a roof or how big the installation is on the ground makes a difference in the amount of energy produced. Generally, they are placed facing south or west to be exposed to the most sunlight, optimizing power, says Dickinson. Pearl Homes’ will cover 88% to 92% of a roof surface. Covering 100% may produce more power than occupants can use.

  1. Panels.

In recent years, panels have become more efficient, thinner, and better looking, thanks to monocrystalline designs that use a single photovoltaic cell rather than several cells that the older polycrystalline designs relied on. As a result, the updated panels can occupy less roof space because they pack in more power, O’Connor says.

Questions to Ask

To help your clients make the best decision, share these questions for vetting solar companies.

  • Is my roof designed so it can accept panels?
  • Does it face the right direction for optimal efficiency?
  • How much of the roof surface needs to be covered, or how many panels are needed?
  • Is the roof in good shape for panel installation or should it first be replaced?
  • Does my community have restrictions about aesthetics, such as not allowing panels on a house in an historic district or visible from the street?
  • What are the pros and cons of leasing or buying panels?
  • How long has your company been in business and how many installations do you regularly do? What accreditations do you have? Are you NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified?
  • If we’re not ready to install solar yet, is it worthwhile to prewire to save on costs later?
  • What warranties do you offer and for how long?
  • What, if any, snafus can happen when going solar?

The number of panels installed is generally based on the amount of electricity occupants use, which is why an installer often asks for 12 months of electric bills, says Mike Koehler, vice president and solar business developer for Gardner Capital, St. Louis.

If the next owner of a solar powered house uses more electricity, they might request a larger array, he says.

What this means for a homeowner who chooses a newer 400W panel, for example, versus older 370W panel, is that they may only need to install 38 panels instead of 41 and save about 33 square feet of roof space, Koehler says. And because the 400W panel is more efficient, it will generate more electricity, he says.

Installers also need to know local ordinances. For example, Evanston, Ill., doesn’t allow panels to stick up past a roof’s ridge line or be visible from the street if the roof is flat, says Kipnis. They also need to know local utility rules since some will buy back excess power, Koehler says. Rocky Mountain Power, which services most Utah customers, gives credit for excess energy, says Scott Cramer, president of Go Solar Group.  

  1. Batteries.

Extra energy can be stored in batteries. Different solar panel manufacturers prefer different battery companies. For example, Solaria buys batteries from Sonnen, Sharma says.

  1. Installers.

Installation costs have dropped as more installers have entered the niche and become more experienced, says O’Connor. Besides the modules and batteries, homeowners who go solar need an inverter to hold panels, wiring in place, and a meter. Sharma suggests homeowners ask installers which modules they use, the price of each panel, number needed, what they look like, how much shipping to the site will be, and if permits are needed.

  1. Costs and return on investment.

A typical panel system might run between $15,000 and $25,000, which includes ancillary equipment and labor, Koehler says. Yearly savings vary greatly depending on the utility and if it offers incentives, he says. The good news is that a typical warranty lasts a long time; Solaria’s is 25 years, Sharma says.

How much money is saved also depends on how a purchase is made. “If someone pays out of pocket, it may take seven to 10 years for a payback, but if someone leases the system, the savings will be less per month, but the homeowner has no upfront investment,” Koehler says. 

One caveat relates to whether a solar system will increase a home’s value. One study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that the panels are viewed as upgrades and home buyers have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for an average-sized solar system. Additionally, the homes sell faster than those without solar. 


Brittingham of MN Custom Homes thinks that the ethical rather than financial reasons are becoming a bigger buyer incentive. “A return on investment is still longer term since there are still big out-of-pocket expenses,” he says.

Another caveat is that not all homeowners benefit equally from having a solar system. Those who live in a house with a lot of trees that block sunlight will see less benefit, as will those who already use little electricity or have inexpensive electricity.


Barbara Ballinger

Barbara Ballinger is a freelance writer and the author of several books on real estate, architecture, and remodeling, including The Kitchen Bible: Designing the Perfect Culinary Space (Images Publishing, 2014). Barbara’s most recent book is The Garden Bible: Designing Your Perfect Outdoor Space, co-authored with Michael Glassman (Images, 2015).


Dulce de Leche Icebox Cake

Dulce de Leche Icebox Cake

By Laurie Ellen Pellicano
  • YIELD 8 to 10 servings
  • TIME 30 minutes, plus 6 hours’ chilling


Joel Goldberg for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

Icebox cake, so named because it sets in the fridge or freezer, comes together with a little mixing and stacking.

All it needs after that is time to chill, making it ideal for hot days. This version combines store-bought sandwich cookies with dulce de leche whipped cream for a cookies-and-cream meets salted caramel flavor. If you’d like, garnish with crumbled cookies.


  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  •  cup store-bought or homemade dulce de leche
  • 1 (10-ounce) pack (about 40) thin chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)


Ingredient Substitution Guide


  1. Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with a double layer of plastic wrap, pressing it into the corners and leaving several inches of overhang on each side.
  2. In a large bowl and with an electric mixer, beat together the heavy cream, crème fraîche and salt on medium-high until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 cups of the whipped cream to a medium bowl and stir in the sugar. Add the dulce de leche to the remaining whipped cream in the large bowl and beat on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes until stiff peaks form. Season to taste with more salt.
  3. Using a spoon, flick small dollops of both cream mixtures across the bottom and sides of your lined pan. Using a spatula, smooth it into a ¼-inch layer along the edges and bottom.
  4. Cover the bottom with 8 cookies, gently pressing them into the cream. Flick more small dollops of both cream mixtures across the surface of the cookies, then smooth the surface.
  5. Press a row of cookies upright along the long edge of the pan. Generously scoop the whipped creams using the cookies, alternating flavors, and press them upright against the vertical row. Continue forming rows until the pan is full. Tap the pan against the counter to settle the cookies into the cream. Cover the cookies by flicking the remaining cream across the surface, then smooth it out.
  6. Enclose the loaf in the plastic overhang and freeze until completely firm, at least 6 hours. The cake will keep frozen for up to 1 month. To serve, unwrap the top of the loaf, invert the loaf onto a platter, remove the pan and plastic and slice with a serrated knife.





Court Says Sending Email Can Create Binding Contract

Court Says Sending Email Can Create Binding Contract

October 4, 2021

Be careful before you press send—what you write in that email could be legally binding, as held by a New York state appellate court in July.

The case involved settlement negotiations that occurred over an email exchange between two attorneys. The attorneys were negotiating a settlement and one of the messages contained a certain dollar amount for settlement. That email contained a standard signature block but did not include the attorney’s typed signature. The other attorney confirmed the agreement.

A trial court ruled that the email exchange did not create a binding agreement because the sender did not type their name in the email message. Previous cases have stated that as well.

But on appeal, a higher court reversed that ruling.

“This case means that pressing ‘send’ on an email is now potentially equivalent to signing a piece of paper containing whatever statements appeared in the email,” Forbes.com columnist Joshua Stein reports on the case. “An actual typed signature is not necessary.”

The court also ruled that for an email to bind parties, it must summarize all “material” terms of the deal. In this case, that constituted the amount of money to be paid.

Senders may want to make it clear in writing that your email does not intend to create any form of a binding agreement.

Many standard email disclaimers state that automatically on every message. But still, even with a disclaimer in place, watch your messaging before you press send, Stein cautions.


Yes, Sending an Email Can Create a Binding Contract,” Forbes.com (Sept. 28, 2021) and NYcourts.gov


Careful with those emails!




Low Appraisals Stall 23% of Home Sales

Low Appraisals Stall 23% of Home Sales


October 2021

Home buyers are bidding up home prices as they compete for homes.

But appraisals don’t always agree with the offer the seller finally accepts. Some homes are appraised below the agreed-upon sales price, which could upend a deal.

Twenty-three percent of contracts were delayed due to appraisal issues, according to the latest REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, based on a survey of real estate professionals’ transactions. About 12% of transactions were then terminated due to appraisal issues.

“I don’t remember any time where the frequency of buyers being willing to pay so much more than the market data was this high,” Shawn Telford, chief appraiser at CoreLogic, told The Wall Street Journal.

Many buyers are stretching their budgets to win a bidding war.

But mortgage lenders will usually only offer a loan amount for the appraised value of a home. When a home appraises too low, parties must come back to the negotiation table. Sellers may need to agree to lower the price or buyers may have to come up with more money on their own. If all else fails, the deal may fall through.

Appraisers usually factor in recent closed and pending sales to determine the value of a home.

But a sale can close in a month or two after going under contract. In a fast-moving market, some home sellers complain that appraisals aren’t keeping pace.

Appraisers told The Wall Street Journal that they have a thorough assessment for valuating a home that goes beyond what just a buyer is willing to pay during a bidding war.

They want to protect buyers from overpaying, Joan Trice, president of the Collateral Risk Network, told the Journal. The Collateral Risk Network is an organization for both appraisers and lenders.

“In a frenzied market, it is harder to nail down what value is,” Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel Inc., an appraisal firm, told The Wall Street Journal. “Just because the appraiser doesn’t agree with the purchase price, whatever the reason, doesn’t mean they’re wrong.”

Some buyers are waiving appraisals to make their offer in a bidding war stand out even more to a home seller.

But that is lessening somewhat: Twenty-five percent of buyers waived their appraisal contingency clause in August, down slightly from 27% in July.

Source: Soaring Home Prices Are Roiling Appraisals and Upending Sales,” The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 10, 2021) [Log-in required.] and “REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey: August 2021,” National Association of REALTROS®

On the other hand, the highest premiums on home purchases are found on May 23 and May 27, both at 17.4%; May 20 at 16.6%; May 16 at 15.6%; and May 19 at 15.4%.





Don’t hesitate to call The Sierra Lifestyle Team 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 (almost) always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871.

Market Update Nevada County September 2021

Market Update Nevada County September 2021

Market Observations

Market Update Nevada County September 2021


September 2021 is a Seller’s market*

Home For Sale in September 2021: 271 units.
• Up 17.3% compared to last month
• 0% compared to last year

Home Closed in September 2021: 125 units.
• Down 10.1% compared to last month
• Down 35.9% compared to last year

Home Placed under Contract in September 2021: 145 units.
• Up 5.8% compared to last month
• Down 2% compared to last year

*Buyer’s market: more than 6 months of inventory based on closed sales
Seller’s market: less than 3 months of inventory based on closed sales
Neutral market: 3 – 6 months of inventory based on closed sales

September 2021 Average Sold Price per Square Footage is Appreciating*

Average Sold Price per Square Footage in September 2021: $309
• Up 1.3% compared to last month
• Up 17.5% compared to last year

*Based on 6 month trend – Appreciating/Depreciating/Neutral

September 2021 Average Continuous Days on Market trend Remains Steady*

Continuous Days on Market in September 2021: 28
• Up 16.7% compared to last month
• Down 48.1% compared to last year

September 2021 Sold/Original List Price Ratio is Falling*

Sold/Original List Price % in September 2021:98%
• Down 1% compared to last month
• 0% compared to last year

*Based on 6 month trend – Rising/Falling/Remains Steady

September 2021 Average For Sale Price is Depreciating*

Average For Sale Price (in thousand) in September 2021: $731
• Down 0.1% compared to last month
• Down 0.9% compared to last year

September 2021 Average Sold Price is Neutral*

Average Sold Price (in thousand) in September 2021:$627
• Up 3.6% compared to last month
• Up 9.8% compared to last year

*Based on 6 month trend – Appreciating/Depreciating/Neutral

September 2021 is a Seller’s market*

Months of Inventory based on Closed Sales in September 2021: 2.2
• Up 30.1% compared to last month
• Up 57.6% compared to last year

*Buyer’s market: more than 6 months of inventory based on closed sales
Seller’s market: less than 3 months of inventory based on closed sales
Neutral market: 3 – 6 months of inventory based on closed sales


Don’t hesitate to call The Sierra Lifestyle Team 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 (almost) always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871





Still time to grab fresh peaches from the growers. This recipe has a trick, is easy…and so good!


Peach Cobbler 


Original Boat Street Café owner Susan Kaplan handed this recipe down to me when I took the reins, and although it’s changed over the years, it’s still a favorite.

The method is a bit unusual: I dress unpeeled juicy peaches with lemon zest, then smear the batter on top, followed by a dousing of sugar and a bit of hot water. The result is a delicate crackly crust unrivaled in the world of cobblers. Use the same crust to top summer berries, if you prefer.


8 servings


30 minutes


1 hour 40 Minutes


    • 10 large peaches (about 4½ pounds), unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
    • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 cups sugar, divided
    • 1½ cups (about 192 grams) all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¾ cup whole milk
    • ½ cup hot tap water
    • Heavy cream, for serving



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    1. Put the peaches in a 9-by-13-inch (or similar) baking pan or gratin dish. Pat the peaches into a roughly even layer, then, using a zester or a Microplane, zest the lemon evenly over the fruit and squeeze the lemon juice evenly over the top.
    2. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and 1½ cups of the sugar on medium speed until sandy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat again for another 30 seconds, until all the flour is incorporated and the mixture is evenly crumbly. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add in the milk. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    3. Plop the batter in 6 large blobs over the top of the peaches. With an offset spatula or small knife, carefully spread the batter evenly over the fruit, so it’s no more than about ½ inch thick in any one place.
    4. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup sugar directly over the batter. Drizzle the hot water evenly over the sugar, using it to melt the sugar into the topping. (Use it all. It’s a strange method, but it works.)
    5. Bake the cobbler for 70 to 80 minutes, or until the top is browned and cracked. (A toothpick inserted into the topping should come out dry—be sure to check in a few places.)
    6. Let the cobbler sit for about a half an hour to firm up before serving warm in big bowls, with heavy cream poured on top.



Uncovering Identity Theft in Mortgage Reviews

Uncovering Identity Theft in Mortgage Reviews

Lenders Uncovering Identity Theft in Mortgage Reviews – Protect Yourself!

August 10, 2021

About 14.4 million adults are victims of identity theft each year.

But many may not even realize it until they try to qualify for lending. A financial review by a lender may be tripped up if their identity has been taken, and their homebuying dreams could quickly be taken from them.

“Identity theft is on the rise, and if you don’t pay attention, you could have a harsh awakening when applying for a mortgage to purchase a home,” cybersecurity expert Sandra Estok, author of the “Happily Ever Cyber!” book series, told realtor.com®.

Identity theft can take many forms.

Some criminals steal a Social Security number and then use it to open credit cards or loans in the person’s name. That can ruin a credit score, needed to qualify for a mortgage.

Home buyers should do advance work in ensuring their finances are up to par and have not been hacked, experts say.

“One proactive step to take before putting in an offer, or even before you consider looking at homes, is to review your credit report at annualcreditreport.com or directly with all three major bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion,” Estok told realtor.com®. “Each of these companies maintains a separate report that can give you clues if something doesn’t add up.”

Check bank statements too. Credit card companies offer enrollment in fraud detection programs as well. Often, there is a 60-day window to report any suspicious activity in an account. After that, you may be on the hook for any amounts stolen from your accounts.

Estok also suggests visiting haveibeenpwned.com to check whether your email address or phone number has been part of a data breach. If so, change your passwords immediately.


Could Identity Theft Keep You From Buying a House?” realtor.com® (Aug. 9, 2021)



Survey: Bidding Wars Aren’t the Big Problem Anymore

August 9, 2021

Many would-be home buyers say they aren’t having much luck in finding a home.

Sixty-six percent of buyers who were actively engaged in searching for a home in the second quarter say they’ve spent three months looking without success.

In the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of this year, active house hunters blamed being outbid by other offers as the most common reason for their inability to make a purchase.

But the top reason changed in the second quarter: More would-be buyers said that high home prices are sidelining them lately, according to The Housing Trends Report, a survey from the National Association of Home Builders.

Thirty-nine percent of active buyers surveyed said the inability to find an affordably priced home was the main reason they couldn’t buy.

Forty-three percent of surveyed buyers said if they continue to be unsuccessful, they will expand their search area while shopping for a home.

Forty-two percent will remain persistent and continue looking for the “right” home in the same location.

Overall, most long-term house hunters aren’t willing to give up. The share who are likely to put off their home search until next year or later has declined over the last two quarters, dropping to 20% in the second quarter.

Home buyers continue to search for the right home, even if it takes more than three months to finally find one in their price point.


High Prices Are (Again) Most Common Reason Active Buyers Can’t Buy,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Aug. 3, 2021)

Don’t hesitate to call the Sierra Lifestyle Team 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.

Consumers Still Overestimate Down Payment Requirements

Consumers Still Overestimate Down Payment Requirements


July 2021

The majority of consumers continue to mistakenly believe they need at least a 20% down payment to purchase a home,but the truth is the average down payment among all buyers is just 12%, according to National Association of REALTORS® data.

Younger buyers tend to put down the least: For example, those between the ages of 22 and 30 put down an average of 6%, and those between the ages of 31 and 40 make an average 10% down payment.

Financial experts often say a 20% down payment is ideal because it helps borrowers qualify for a mortgage and avoid the extra costs of private mortgage insurance.

But it’s not always practical advice, especially as affordability dwindles. For example, a 20% down payment on an entry-level single-family home in the Los Angeles area could be between $200,000 and $400,000.

Several conventional lenders allow buyers to purchase a home with a down payment as low as 3%, while some government-backed programs like through the VA issue loans with no money down.

Borrowers may find such options through FHA, USDA, or VA loans as well as down payment assistance programs.

5 Mortgage Trends to Watch


Young adults, in particular, may be missing out on key information to move forward in the housing market.

Two out of three recently surveyed say they are waiting for lower mortgage rates before starting the homebuying process, according to a survey of 1,000 millennials (ages 25 to 40) conducted by Lombardo Homes. However, economists have largely predicted that mortgage rates will edge upwards in the coming weeks. Further, one in four millennials underestimated their buying potential by $150,000 or more, the study finds.

Also, 59% of consumers say they did not know that the seller pays the real estate agents’ commission, the Lombardo Homes survey shows. Respondents also expressed confusion about many real estate terms, such as earnest money, FRM (fixed-rate mortgage), and PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance).

Real estate pros can educate buyers on common terms and financing resources.

After all, home buyers of all ages are more likely to contact a real estate agent before a mortgage lender when they begin the homebuying process, according to NAR’s 2021 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends report.

Source: Most Would-Be Home Buyers Are Wrong About the Down Payment They’ll Need,” The Ascent/Motley Fool (July 11, 2021)


Don’t hesitate to call the Sierra Lifestyle Team 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 (almost) always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871.