Market Update June 2021

Market Update June 2021

June Market Update

Bryan Lynch
Certified Real Estate Appraiser


What a wild 2021 it has been!

I wanted to however give a quick update. It has been business as usual completing both lender and private appraisals. With private work I have been forced to stagger multiple weeks out to keep up with lender demand. While lender demand gets all the headlines, I am continuing to maintain private work demand.


Market Overview: 

As far as the market goes, we all know the story. Low inventory, excess buyer demand, multiple bids above list price, waived appraisals (at times!). I imagine it’s not easy for many buyers losing offer after offer. I’ve heard some buyers deciding to take a breather and wait. Maybe that is a good idea. The one thing I know is every cycle changes. We don’t know exactly when but it does.

Lenders are increasing fees and offering rush fees. Lenders have recognized demand and are regularly quoting higher fees to appraisers. This has likely increased the assignment acceptance by an appraiser vs. unassigned orders for weeks. I will always prioritize my primary lender clients, but when solicited by other lenders, I have noticed higher fee quotes at times.

I’m always available for questions or discussion about the market. Feel free to reach out.

Bryan Lynch
Certified Real Estate Appraiser

Office: 530-878-1688
Roseville Office : Auburn Office


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.


Check Out the Top 10 Buyer Priorities in a House

June 17, 2021

Extra space for extended family and pets and a home office have risen to the top of wish lists among house hunters. And that desire for more space is driving many home buyers’ decision to purchase a new home in the coming year, according to a new realtor.com® survey of 1,200 home shoppers.

Also, the eagerness for greater outdoor space is prompting terms like “fenced yard,” “acres,” “backyard,” “front porch,” “garage,” and “three-car garage” to see an increase in realtor.com® searches over the past year. Since more households became pet owners during the pandemic, the term “pet friendly” has also significantly increased in searches.

“The COVID pandemic ushered in a new way of thinking about what home means, and that is influencing much of what today’s home shoppers are looking for,” says George Raitu, realtor.com®’s senior economist. “Garages, large backyards, and space for pets always rank high on buyers’ wish lists, but those features have grown in importance. The survey results highlight that the pandemic has elevated our relationship with family as well as the need for our home to serve multiple purposes, especially the ability to work remotely. As a result, we are placing a premium on the need to accommodate extended family, and features like a home office and broadband internet.”

Buyers reported that the following 10 home features have become a priority as a result of the pandemic:

  • Quiet location: 28%
  • Updated kitchen: 25%
  • Garage: 24%
  • Large backyard: 24%
  • Outdoor living area: 20%
  • Space for pets: 18%
  • Updated bathrooms: 19%
  • Home office: 17%
  • Broadband internet capabilities: 17%
  • Open floor plan: 16%

What Will Homes Look Like in a Post-Pandemic World?

What’s more, 65% of buyers surveyed said they were considering their extended family when they shopped for a home.

Nearly a quarter said they planned to buy near family members. One-fifth of respondents said they would have extended family living with them full-time. Thirty percent said their new home would need to accommodate extended family staying with them part-time or visiting.

On the other hand, some home items have seen a decrease in importance since the pandemic—notably the need for a short commute time.

Also, a home with smaller square footage is also in less demand since the pandemic, the survey showed.

“Remodeled” homes dropped 88% year-to-date through May. “It appears that motivated buyers are making concessions in their home search” as home prices rise, the report notes. Fewer searches are occurring for otherwise popular features such as granite countertops (down 58%), theater/media rooms (down 65%), and bars (down 52%).

Buyers may be getting more realistic heading into the housing market, knowing that they might not be able to get everything on their wish list.

When they were asked to select which features they’d be willing to sacrifice if they had to reduce their budget, the following home amenities would be among the first to go:

  • Pool/spa: 24%
  • Man cave: 24%
  • Guest house: 23%
  • Mother-in-law suite: 23%
  • New construction: 22%
  • Solar panels: 21%
  • Finished basement: 20%
  • Home office: 18%
  • Large backyard: 17%
  • Guest room: 17%




Some Buy ‘Second Home’ Before Primary Residence

Some Buy ‘Second Home’ Before Primary Residence


April 14, 2021

Buying what is considered a second home before purchasing the more conventional first is beginning to appeal to some renters.

Those in metro areas are watching the red hot housing market and may be interested in a place of their own. With remote work trending, they can take advantage of the opportunity to spread out and buy a small getaway home with a vacation-first mentality, Apartment Therapy reports.

These second-home buyers may be drawn to country cottages or mountain cabins while they continue to rent apartments in the city.

They may search for their second home in a less competitive market than their current one, too.

© Cheryl Casey – Fotolia.com

Jamie Manning, founder of the real estate blog Exposed Brick DC, told Apartment Therapy that she and her husband didn’t expect to purchase a vacation home in Charlottesville, Va., before ever buying their first property in the Washington, D.C., area. “[We] see this as a true second home, somewhere we can spend weekends and possibly work remotely during the week,” Manning told the publication. “This idea had been on our radar because real estate costs are so high in D.C. that we felt buying here may not be realistic. We have been diligent and saved and were anxious to make some kind of real estate investment. We were craving a change of scenery and a different pace of life.”


Low interest rates may be attracting some renters to the thought of buying, but they may be priced out of their own area as many markets have seen escalating home prices over the past year.

A second home could offer these first timers a financial benefit and investment while they continue to rent in the city, financial analysts say. For example, Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant, says that you can deduct mortgage interest on a vacation home similarly to a primary residence and deduct property taxes up to the cap. Some buyers may also decide to rent out their secondary home as a form of supplemental income.

“A lot of people were excited to purchase getaways during the pandemic because of limited travel options,” John Coleman, a real estate pro who works with many first-time home buyers, told Apartment Therapy. “Buying and renting out on Airbnb has been very lucrative for some, and it will be interesting to see if that can hold up moving forward.”


Buying a ‘Second Home’ First Might Be the Best Real Estate Move of 2021,” Apartment Therapy (April 13, 2021) and “Should You Buy a Second Home as Your First Home?” The Mortgage Source (2021)


Another driver of interest in Nevada County…Just need MORE inventory!

Camping in Northern CA

Camping in Northern CA

By Julie Cleek

Camping in Northern California has become one of the most popular areas to bring your RV, family, and pets to camp.

A few exceptional places I would like to highlight are Fort Bragg, CA, Tahoe National Forest, and Dillon’s Beach.

Westport Beach


Fort Bragg,CA

Fort Bragg has many different camping options, but a great place to choose is Westport Beach RV Park and Campground. This park is located in Mendocino County and it offers Cottages, cabins, full hookup RV sites, and tent camping as well. It has a 4.4-star overall rating with amenities such as volleyball and horseshoe courts, a kids playground, and private beach. The average price for an RV site is only $65 per night and it is only 19 miles from the famous Glass Beach attraction.




Meeks Bay


Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe National Forest is one of the most beautiful places in CA. Lake Tahoe is a large freshwater lake in Northern California that is home to winter sports, summer outdoor recreation, and scenery enjoyed throughout the year. Meeks Bay Resort and Marina Campground offers full RV hookups and tent sites with waterfront sites so popular that many are reserved more than a year in advance. The average RV site cost depends on the season and ranges from $45-65 per night. The resort is proud of its overall star rating of 4.1. 




Dillon’s Beach

A great place to camp on Dillon’s Beach is Lawson’s Landing RV Park. Lawson’s Landing is a Year-Round boating and fishing resort and is situated at the mouth of Tomales Bay, California which is 50 miles north of San Francisco. They also have a 4.1 overall star rating and their campsites range from $45-60 per night. To the west of the campground, they offer over 1 mile of ocean beach with clamming, fishing, boat launching, and boat rentals. In addition, they also offer Tomales Dunes which are some of the last mobile dune systems left along the California coast. 

Dillon’s Beach

If you are looking for places to camp in Northern California, then look no longer! These options are some of the best choices around,  and you won’t be disappointed!



Let’s Get Fire Safe!

Let’s Get Fire Safe!

From MyNevadaCounty.com – Let’s Get Fire Safe!

Free Green Waste Disposal and Mulch Opportunities Return to Nevada County in May & June


Residents are encouraged to start staging green waste now to take full advantage of a shorter schedule.


Nevada County, April 13, 2021 — Once again, the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services is pleased to announce the return of the free green waste drop-off and mulch pick-up program.

Details were shared today when County Supervisors voted to approve a contract with the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County to manage this year’s program. Fewer grant dollars, as a result of challenges presented by the pandemic, means a shorter schedule, so residents are encouraged to get to work now to make the most of the popular program. “Now is the time to fully engage with the ‘Ready’ portion of the ‘Ready, Set, Go!’ preparedness strategy. This means using every opportunity and tool available to create defensible space from safe burn piles, the transfer station, the Fire Safe Council’s chipping program, curbside pickup or renting large green waste dumpsters, and even natures tractors, goats,” says Nevada County Office of Emergency Services Program Manager, Paul Cummings. “The 2021 Ready, Set, Go! Handbook will start hitting mailboxes in early May, but wildfire preparedness really does need to be a year-round effort,” he adds.

“Year one we hauled away over 500 tons of green waste in a few weekends. Last year, even while we were still figuring out the impacts of the pandemic, we collected more than 5,000 tons. This year we expect to be just as safe and successful with the support of key partnerships,” says Fire Safe Council Executive Director, Jamie Jones.

In Eastern Nevada County, Truckee Fire Protection District has committed to donating personnel and equipment to load and compact green waste each day, while Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal will pick up full dumpsters and return them empty. Truckee Fire Protection District Chief Seline says “Our staff were out last year for each of the events and had a chance to talk to folks who were sincerely grateful this program was taking place. We are already seeing low humidity levels and predictions for a long, dry fire season. I hope folks take full advantage of this free service.”

Town of Truckee is also partnering to offer financial support for free drop-off days. “This effort fits squarely in line with our Keep Truckee Green sustainability, solid waste, and resiliency program. Events like this help facilitate land stewardship through defensible space development and understory thinning, two tools that will help us build resiliency to wildfire, which has become a reality with climate change,” says Erica Mertens, Administrative Analyst for the Town of Truckee.

Safety measures will be implemented to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and participants should be prepared to comply with all guidelines. Additional details may be found at ReadyNevadaCounty.org/greenwaste. 

Western Nevada County Free Residential Green Waste Disposal
May 21-24 & June 11-14, 2021
Friday–Monday │7:00am-3:00pm,
12625 Brunswick Rd, Grass Valley, CA 

Western Nevada County Free Mulch Pick Up 
May 28-29 & June 18-19
Friday & Saturday │ 8:00am-3:00pm,
12625 Brunswick Rd, Grass Valley, CA 

Eastern Nevada County Free Residential Green Waste Disposal 
May 14, June 4, & June 25
Fridays │8:00am-2:00pm
Truckee Rodeo Grounds
10695 Brockway Rd, Truckee, CA 96161

Accepted items: residential green waste, biomass consisting of all tree and plant trimmings, weeds, leaves, branches, and items less than six inches in diameter.

Prohibited items: commercial green waste, Scotch broom, poison oak, blackberry, items with a diameter greater than six inches, tree stumps, root balls, treated wood, household waste, or trash.


Nevada County Market Observations

Nevada County Market Observations

April 2021

It will come as no surprise to market watchers, and especially buyers, that lack of inventory in Nevada County continues. We see conditions nationally mirror Nevada County. Numbers are consistent with previous months. 359 houses for sale March 2020 vs 166 houses for sale March 2021, 53.8% lower year to year. Houses sold are up 21.5%, 156 Mar last year, 123 houses sold this January. 

Inventory reduction is from 2.9 months of inventory last January to 1.2 months of inventory this January, down 58,2%. A VERY, VERY STRONG SELLER’S MARKET continues, especially considering Nevada County’s attractiveness as one of the premier work-from-home communities.

The average SOLD price per square foot is up 21.9% year to year ($236 vs $293). Average price sold is up 14.6%, from $472,000 to $608,000 up 28.5%.  Higher list prices continue, driven by lack of inventory. 

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 24%, from 62 days last March to 54 days in March this year. Buyers are energized to immediately jump on good, well-priced houses especially given our current low inventory environment.

Buyer activity continues to be robust, with multiple offers often over ask. 

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 (almost) always answers her cell phone, 530-559-4871.


Hungry?  Here’s some essence of Spring!

Herbed Spring Salad With Egg and Walnuts

By David Tanis
  • YIELD4 servings
  • TIME20 minutes


David Malosh for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Simon Andrews.

This bright, herby, fresh-tasting salad makes a very nice accompaniment to a pan-fried breaded pork chop. Cooked beets (preferably golden) thinly sliced radishes, celery and turnips are dressed, then tossed with a mixture of zesty salad greens — use a combination of watercress, dandelion, curly endive, escarole, radicchio, mizuna, spinach, or red sorrel leaves. The components can be prepared in advance, but wait until the last minute before dressing and serving.

Featured in: A Stirring Spring Menu, Fit For A Celebration





  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon grated garlic (from 2 small cloves)
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • ¼ cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil


  • 6 ounces/4 cups lightly packed watercress or, preferably, a mixture of zesty salad greens
  • 3 medium golden beets, cooked, peeled and cut in wedges
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red radish (6 to 8 medium radishes)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced turnip (or use small kohlrabi or watermelon radish)
  • ½ cup thinly sliced celery heart, plus tender leaves (from the center of 1 celery head)
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
  • 4 (7-minute) boiled eggs
  • 1 cup toasted walnut halves


Nevada County Walking Trails

Nevada County Walking Trails

by Mary Cornell

Whether you are an avid hiker or a daily walker there is no shortage of amazing trails and places to walk in Nevada County!

Being a walker myself, some walks that include my dogs, other days a friend or two, or just a solitary walk to get my thoughts together, walking is a great way to stay healthy, strong, and stress-free.

Wolf Creek Trail Map

Wolf Creek Trail Map Courtesy Bear Yuba Land Trust

One of our latest trails in Grass Valley that has opened within the past two years is Wolf Creek Trail. It is convenient, close to town, paved, and is wheelchair, and stroller-friendly. Meandering along the Wolf Creek and amid the North Star Mine, it has not only beauty but history. There are 4 trailheads for this trail. One is off of the mine museum’s parking lot, one-off Freeman lane by the Animal Shelter, one-off Freeman Ln, with a path down our “sinkhole” and the other at the Wolf Creek group housing. 

I love to walk my dogs at The Nevada County Fairgrounds or around the Lyons’ lake. The fairgrounds are open again for dog walkers, the walk is level, paved and they provide doggie bags. I love that the fairgrounds encourage us, dog walkers, with even a bowl of water for our furry friends.

The Empire Mine State Park trails are awesome, as there are many trails to take, and are popular not only for walkers and joggers but also for horses. Many ways to enter this area and one time we even got lost and came up on Highway 174 without knowing where we were!


There is a trail that comes off of Litton Rd in Grass Valley that meanders up crosses Sierra College Blvd, up around the high school, and ends up at Eskaton off of Ridge Rd. That is a fun, short, and surprising walk.


There are many trails that run alongside a NID ditch (Nevada Irrigation District).

One of the longest and most beautiful is the one that starts at Gracie and ends up at Red Dog in Nevada City. This trail is 4 miles if you take it and double back to the car. It’s level and calming as you walk near water the whole time.

Hirschman’s Pond is just a short scenic walk, starting off of Cement Hill Dr in Nevada City. I love the rock outcropping and the serenity of the pond. You can continue past the pond and walk another couple of miles on this trail, but it does run near the highway for a while, so you have some road noise.

The Independence Trail was once a stunning and awesome path leading to a waterfall and creek where salamanders are abundant. The trail had been built through and using the wooden flumes that were once there for the gold miners to direct the water floor. Unfortunately, in 2020 the fire that swept through also destroyed the flumes and walking bridges.

The Deer Creek Tribute Trail in Nevada City is a little more challenging but well worth it! The trail memorializes the early contributions of the native Chinese people. It’s complete with the Chinese Tribute bridge that highlights the walk.

Alta Sierra has a trailhead at the corner of Dog Bar and Alta Sierra Dr. It is a short uphill trail that crosses the NID ditch, skirts the golf course, and has an amazing large tree that is unique and makes a great photoshoot. If you’ve walked the trail, I’m sure you know the one!

If you head on down the hill towards Penn Valley, you will find the Buttermilk Bend Trail at the Yuba River near Bridgeport. This is a great springtime hike, as there are beautiful wildflowers all around and labeled for you to see their names. It rambles above and follows the beautiful Yuba River. It is a breathtaking hike.

Further down the road on the way to Beale’s Airforce Base, there is a trail leading to Fairy Falls. This trail is best taken in the spring as you are walking through large open fields among the cows and very little shade. Finally getting to the waterfall, you will find it a great spot to picnic.

These are just a very few of the great hikes and walks in Nevada County that I have enjoyed. There are plenty more that I’ve yet to mention!

So get out there, explore our beautiful Gold Country and breathe the mountain air!



Weary Homeowners Create Kid-Friendly Spaces

Weary Homeowners Create Kid-Friendly Spaces

Many families are struggling to find room for their children to attend remote school, play, and sleep peacefully. That has some parents seeking new layouts and furnishings to help keep home life humming smoothly.

 by Barbara Ballinger

3 Takeaways

  • Due to COVID-19, many parents prefer houses that don’t need time-consuming, complex remodeling.
  • Create zones within rooms that can adapt to different needs, such as sleep, play, and study.
  • Select child-proof furnishings that hold up to wear and tear.

Years ago, children’s bedrooms were the focus of the younger generation’s home life. That’s where they slept, played, and did homework.

But at some point, kids’ toys started spreading out to the living room and their homework ended up on the kitchen or dining room table. Now, the pandemic has exacerbated these trends and made houses seem much smaller.

The result is more parents looking to experts on how to reorganize existing rooms, especially for young children who may not be able to verbalize their needs and anxieties. Many buyers are seeking different types of room arrangements since they don’t know when the pandemic will end, or if another will arise. Many also represent a variety of family compositions, including single parents, adult children, or three-generational households.

“We need greater flexibility to adapt,” says architect Marissa Kasdan, director of design at KTGY Architecture + Planning’s R+D Studio’s Tyson, Va., office.

Designers, architects, real estate salespeople, and child psychologists are sharing advice on how to furnish children’s bedrooms and a home’s communal spaces to meet everybody’s needs. But Chicago-area designer Paula Winter of Paula Winter Design offers one important caveat: “It’s helpful to consider your child’s personality,” she says. “Some want to be more alone, and others like being around others.”


Most experts on children believe the prime purpose of a bedroom should be sleeping. Screens should be kept out of the bedroom so that sleep is not disturbed.

“We recommend that studying and playing are kept outside the bedroom, if possible,” says Lisa Medalie, PsyD, DBSM, founder of DrLullaby, Digital Sleep Solutions for Sleep Problems in Children in Chicago. “When kids are doing homework or playing in the bedroom, these are competing cues and triggers. Kids are likely to be tempted to play, resistant to bedtime, or think about school when such activities persist in the bedroom,” she says. 

But not every family has separate rooms where children can pursue non-sleep tasks. Lisa Cini, a senior living and multigenerational expert and author of Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigenerational Living (iUniverse), advocates for setting up zones. “Parents can think of the bedroom almost like a kindergarten room with spaces for naps and sleep, play, and learning, so all are distinct,” she says.

Winter agrees on the benefit of zones, which may repeat certain functions. For example, in some bedrooms, she includes several places to sit—to work at a desk, read in a chair, congregate with friends on the floor or at a window seat.

©Modsy  Living room design by Modsy.

Areas can be visually and physically separated with a different floor surface such as tile and an area rug, standing screen, movable wall, pocket door, curtain, low bookcase, or even pretend teepee. A desk or table can be positioned to minimize distractions, says Alessandra Wood, vice president of style at San Francisco-based Modsy, an online design service, which surveyed parents to learn the effects of how COVID-19 influences ways families use their homes.

If the square footage in a bedroom doesn’t permit different zones, sometimes an extra or oversized closet can be converted into a homework center. It can be an easy DIY project with lumber planks for a desk and bookshelves, a child-sized adjustable chair that “grows” as the child does, good task and recessed lighting, and a file cabinet or rolling cart to organize supplies.

The good news is that most children’s furniture is on the small scale, so rooms don’t have to be large to accommodate multiple functions. Some furnishings can also be concealed, such as a Murphy or trundle bed.

Living Spaces

©Modsy  Dining room design by Modsy.

Even before the pandemic began, parents with children have looked for homes with a variety of shared spaces that better fit their individual needs.

The death of the open floor plan: One casualty of buyers’ current needs may be the open plan because it fails to mitigate noise and distractions. “Open layouts are not for all anymore. Many want to go back to a separate dining and living room or a small family room off the kitchen,” says Sandra Cuba with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty in Winter Park, Fla.

Instead, there’s increased interest in having a “flex” room that can function differently for each family’s needs.

Separate different child areas: Chicago-based Lexington Homes designed one townhouse model for its Lexington Trace development in Warrenville, Ill., with a finished lower level with natural light that could work as a children’s e-learning area or playroom. An optional half-bathroom can be added. When the pandemic ends or children are grown, it can be converted into a movie theater, home gym, or home office, says principal Jeff Benach.


©Lexington Homes  Children’s room design by Lexington Homes.

Other parents and design professionals are looking to attics and spaces above a garage or in a basement, if available, for the same learning purposes, especially when children are older and can be left alone, says Usha Subramaniam, a real estate salesperson with Compass in suburban Westchester, N.Y.

The trend has even given rise to a new professional niche. Orlando-based designer Lauren Nolan focuses on installing at-home classrooms through her business, Childhood & Home. She likes to create cheerful, calm, and eco-conscious study spaces with designated areas for technology, play, and arts and crafts.

Working together: Not all parents want to have their children out of sight, says Chicago real estate salesperson Jennifer Ames of Engel & Volkers. “They want the capacity to supervise and keep an eye on them while they’re on Zoom,” she says. Designing a multipurpose shared space for school, work, and leisure is no small design task! says Winter.

©Lauren Nolan  Home classroom design by Lauren Nolan.


The Chicago-based Belgravia Group has developed one layout in its new condos at Triangle Square in East Bucktown that places a flex space adjacent to and within view of other rooms, says Elizabeth Brooks, executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Some parents also favor layouts with multiple rooms where kids can pursue different activities—some messy, some quiet.

Architect Eddie Maestri of Maestri Studio in Dallas went this route in remodeling his own family’s new house. “The boys usually want to be where we are,” he says. Now his 8-year-old twins have several rooms to choose from, including some designated for screen time which is off limits in their bedrooms, Maestri says.

KTGY Architecture + Planning has also followed this approach with its new “City Home” model. Designed for urban areas, the plan offers two spaces that might be used for work or school at home, but are flexible for alternative long-term functions, says Kasdan. “We are finding that flexibility is key with all of our designs as residents use their homes in new and varied ways,” she says.


©KTGY Architecture + Planning  Flexible children’s space by KTGY Architecture + Planning.

Since having adequate storage can be a problem, the City Home also includes extra storage within the unit and more in a nearby corridor on each building level.

Choose proper materials and designs: Parents and designers are wise to select child-proof furnishings that hold up to wear and tear, dirty hands and feet, rough play, and spills. For example, Winter suggests sturdy fabrics, upholstery treated with stain repellent treatments (safe for children and pets and for busy families) or built-in stain-resistant upholstery, sectional sofas that can be separated, tables that can be easily cleaned or worked on (solid surface materials or laminates), and ones with no sharp corners.

It’s also helpful to have extra seating, which should be selected based on age-appropriate designs and their function, Winter says. This might include benches or poufs, coffee tables that raise to dining height, as well as bins, containers, see-through bags, and recycled packing boxes to organize toys, games, books, and more.



Create a Sleep Sanctuary

Sleep is key for mood stability, focus, and health.

To make a bedroom function best for sleep, Dr. Lisa Medalie, a Chicago-based child psychologist, says remove all screens and electronics from the bedroom. From her experience using sleep tracking devices called “actiwatches,” children often sneak into devices at night if they have access. “It is not worth the temptation. Children are not yet ready to be responsible for inhibiting the desire to watch videos, play games, and talk with friends,” says Medalie, creator of a sleep app, “DrLullaby.” To make a bedroom more appealing, Medalie says let children be involved in picking decorations so it feels like their space. Use room darkening shades and white noise to block extraneous sounds and light. She also says using a nightlight or “bedtime buddy” will improve comfort and ease their nighttime fears.

Converted Garages and Sheds

Cuba has clients who bought a smaller house and converted the garage with air conditioning into a virtual office for one parent who now teaches from home. “It has allowed her to have a quiet, organized place to focus on her students and her own two kids to use their bedrooms,” Cuba says. Subramaniam has clients in her Westchester, N.Y. market who have added sheds to their property so they could have a quiet space away from the kids, she says.

Outdoor Areas

Though not all climates permit use of an outdoor space all year, many families can install an awning or bring in a patio heater to extend use of the area. And they can outfit a space for active play with simple additions, such as a jump rope, zipline, tree swing, hopscotch board, and kid-sized table and chairs. Last summer, Cuba found that more buyers clamored for a bigger addition—a swimming pool.

Remodeling expert and speaker Dan DiClerico installed a NanaWall to open the back of his Brooklyn house to the outdoors. During the first wave of the pandemic, their backyard became his kids’ refuge to do homework, enjoy open-air playdates, have family meals, play sports, and store favorite toys and sports equipment.

Once the pandemic is over, many experts predict homeowners will continue to want their homes more flexible as needs keep changing. Plus, many predict remote work is here to stay for a significant percentage of the American workforce. “These ideas aren’t likely to go out of style,” Subramaniam says.

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).


Russian Salad Recipe

Russian Salad Recipe

Russian Salad

Recipe from Vladimir Ocokoljic
Adapted by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • YIELD 6 1/2 cups (about 12 servings)
  • TIME 1 hour

Heami Lee for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.

Basically a vegetable-studded potato salad with mayonnaise, Russian salad is hugely popular all over the world for family gatherings and festive events. It’s a beloved, traditional party dish riffed on almost everywhere but my own home: I’d only ever seen pasty, congealed versions I would never wish to eat until I tried this one from Vladimir Ocokoljic, served at his Serbian restaurant Kafana in New York City. While not quite as demanding as his aunt back in Belgrade, who used to slice even the peas in half, Mr. Ocokoljic insists on the tiny dice (each ingredient should match the size of a pea) and emphatically dislikes any sweet pickles (only gherkins or cornichons are a fit), making the finished dish delicate, luscious and savory. Whisking pickle brine into the mayonnaise creates a liquidy slurry, loose enough to dress the salad without its becoming smushed and gluey. —Gabrielle Hamilton 


  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 medium yellow potatoes (about 1 pound), washed
  • 5 thin carrots (about 1/2 pound), washed
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 4 large eggs, fridge-cold
  • 3 ½ ounces boiled ham
  • 1 cup drained cornichons and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of their brine
  • 1 scant cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise



  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season with salt.
  2. Add whole potatoes to the boiling water, and cook 15 minutes. Add whole carrots to the cooking potatoes, and cook both another 10 minutes. Remove potatoes and carrots with a spider when easily pierced with a cake tester or a very thin knife blade, and set aside in a bowl.
  3. Add frozen peas to boiling water, and using the spider, remove them to a separate bowl as they float, until all peas have floated and been transferred to the bowl.
  4. Gently add the eggs, and allow to boil 10 minutes.
  5. While the eggs cook, peel the potatoes and carrots under cold running water by rubbing them gently with your fingers. Rinse the peas under cold running water to cool.
  6. Once the eggs are cooked, drain them, and peel under cold running water.
  7. Neatly dice the potatoes, carrots, ham, eggs and cornichons to the same approximate (and rather small) size as the peas, aiming for uniformity. Gently toss them all together in a large bowl.
  8. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise with the cornichon brine, and pour over the salad. Toss gently with rubber spatula or using your fingers until the salad is well coated. Season with several hearty grinds of black pepper.
  9. Refrigerate overnight, and serve cold


Market Observations February 2021

Market Observations February 2021

Nevada County Market Observations-February 2021

Lack of inventory in Nevada County continues.

Numbers are consistent with previous months. 339 houses for sale January 2020 vs 163 houses for sale January 2021, 51.9% lower year to year. Houses sold are up 26.5%, 163 Jan last year, 104 houses sold this January. 

Inventory reduction is from 4.4 months of inventory last January to 1.6 months of inventory this January.

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

The average SOLD price per square foot is up 23.3% year to year ($224 vs $274). Average price sold is up 14.6%, from $433,000 to $564,000.

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 have fallen 38%, from 91 days last January to 57 days in January this year. Buyers are energized to jump on good, well-priced houses especially given our current low inventory environment.

The market is rebounding from slower buyer activity over the holidays and elections.

We are seeing robust buyer activity. Good houses are attracting 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.


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.

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!


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.

Nevada County Market Observations

Easy Property Fixes to Prompt a Quick Sale

Easy Property Fixes to Prompt a Quick Sale


Small upgrades and aesthetic swaps can make all the difference in drawing buyers to a home.

by Danielle Braff

Key takeaways:

  • Instead of replacing outdated furnishings, consider paring down decorative distractions to show off the natural attributes of a well-structured space.
  • Focus on flourishes in common, small hardware such as doorknobs and handles on kitchen cabinetry.
  • If there are significant property defects, play up the home’s backstory to redirect attention to a positive talking point.

Despite the thought and preparation that goes into listing a home, the two biggest hurdles to the sale are property photos, which should motivate buyers to request an in-person tour, and the showing, which needs to justify the photos, says Kenny Dahill, CEO and co-founder of Burbz Co., an à la carte property manager platform. Your sellers could do expensive home improvements like a kitchen renovation or a room addition. But how can they complete a project of similar impact without spending thousands? And after the work is done, how do you promote your listing’s new look?

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Remodeling Impact report shows the following are the projects with the highest ROI:

  • New roofing: 107%
  • New hardwood floors: 106%
  • Refinished hardwood floors: 100%

But there are even easier tricks to get houses looking snazzy without spending too much time or money.

Focus on Spaces and Fixtures

Sometimes less is more, says Tamika Todd, a Bermuda-based broker with Platinum Realty.

Todd had a rental listing laden with outdated finish work and furnishings, including 1960s wall tiles and heavy drapery. She suggested that her client open up the space by removing the furnishings so the room contained only a bed, a small desk, and a chair. This helped highlight the depth of the 17-by-17-foot room and the ceiling height of the 750-square-foot loft-style unit. Todd showed the space with sheer curtains, neutral-colored walls, and open windows.

“The transformation definitely made the owner say ‘wow,’ along with every person who viewed it thereafter. It allowed prospects to see the size of the unit and to visualize living in the space without being distracted by the owner’s personal preferences,” Todd says. The owner of the rental originally wanted $1,500 per month in rent, but Todd listed it for $1,700 after the refresh of the unit and received five lease requests.

If your listing has other apparent physical issues that can’t be staged and must be disclosed, amplify the story behind the property to redirect buyers’ attention, Todd suggests.

Talk about the family whose children climbed the trees in the backyard, who witnessed a surprise proposal while hosting a family dinner by candlelight, or who welcomed aging parents to join the household. Ideally, you’ll capture these stories on video from the people who lived them and share with potential buyers ahead of their visit to the home, Todd says. “You will find that the people who view the property in person start to feel the story come alive and envision themselves in the space with their own dreams.”

One small, more tangible fix Todd often makes is replacing doorknobs, which are often overlooked.

But when chosen correctly, they can attract the eye of a buyer. “Imagine an entry door with a new coat of paint that already catches the eye but stands out even more with a just-as-eye-catching doorknob feature,” she says. For these, she selects ornate, modern doorknobs, or those that are traditional with a hint of flair, to spark intrigue and beckon buyers to wonder what’s inside. Todd instructs her listing photographer to get detail shots of the doorknob so house hunters searching online can see the thoughtfulness put into the welcoming feature of the home.

Swapping out light fixtures and other hardware, such as cabinet handles, is the first step Erik Wright, owner of New Horizon Home Buyers, a real estate investment company in Chattanooga, Tenn., takes before flipping a home.

The replacement fixtures and hardware you choose depends on trends in your market. Wright prefers simple, quality light fixtures throughout the home, with just one or two standouts, like a chandelier in an entryway or above the dining table. “Homes in my area usually do well with farmhouse chic or industrial-style fixtures,” Wright says. “Darker metal fixtures that use Edison-style bulbs are some of my favorites.”

If the floors need work, Wright selects an easy-to-install flooring option.

His favorite is luxury vinyl plank. “It looks like beautiful hardwood floors while also being much more durable and resistant to water,” Wright says. Once the floor is replaced, Wright makes sure to add “brand-new flooring” to the listing description.

Upgrades and No-Nos

Christina McCaffrey, CRS, broker-owner of Triangle Trusted Realty in Willow Springs, N.C., suggests a surprising property upgrade to her clients: She encourages adding a fence. “It’s a major expense, even if you’re doing the work yourself, but it will be a great asset when you go to sell,” she says. “Homes that have fenced yards tend to sell quickly, and the look is appealing because it makes the yard look bigger.”

In the kitchen, painting the cabinets can do wonders.

And if you have older appliances, it’s worth it to swap them out for stainless steel, McCaffrey says. White cabinetry is the preferred look in her area, so she aims for clean and sleek in her kitchens. Swapping out the faucets and adding in solid-surface countertops will also help if clients don’t have the latest look. “An older appliance will make a house look shabby,” McCaffrey says. “You only have one opportunity to ‘wow’ the buyer, so you should think about replacing the worn-out dishwasher with a new stainless one.”

In her market, she says, demand for these items is high, so most sellers recoup the cost of the replacements. However, some fixes shouldn’t be advertised, says Ricardo Mello, co-founder and managing partner at Manhattan Miami, a luxury residential real estate agency with offices in New York and Miami. The first thing buyers see when viewing a listing is the outside of the home, so curb appeal is a big deal. You don’t need to hire a landscaper to make your listing’s outdoor areas shine; small things, such as refreshing mulch, planting seasonal flowers, keeping on top of lawn maintenance, and adding a new doormat, can make an excellent first impression, Mello says.

“I find that making sure these are taken care of definitely results in a better overall impression in photos, which translates to more people opting to view the home in person,” Mello says.

“These small changes aren’t something I’d advertise in a listing. I want potential buyers to have the impression that this home has been well cared for versus quickly updated to be on the market.”