Monthly Archives: February 2011

Scenic Drives in and around the Gold Country and Central Valley

If you have been following the weather reports lately it appears that old man winter just doesn’t want to let up. At some point in the next couple of months we should begin to see more of the sunshine and then spring fever will be in the air. I found an interesting article that points to a number of counties that are within 1-2 hours of us and I thought I would share some of the features and events that they offer. In addition I listed the coresponding county web site that will help you if you are ready to get out of the house and do a little exploring once the weather improves.

El Dorado County sits along the Highway 50 corridor just east of Sacramento and encompasses the Sierra Nevada foothills into the high country around Lake Tahoe. Since it is in the heart of Gold Country, you will find the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, Gold Bug Park and a number of popular year round excursions. There are a number of trails and farm tours, river rafting tours, museums, and downtown Placerville boasts of a number of art shows, street fairs, and car shows. Most people don’t realize that South Lake Tahoe is a part of El Dorado County and there is plenty to do there. Since I live right here in El Dorado County, I have a number of favorite links that I have listed on this web site and you can find those by clicking on the “favorite links” tab at the top of the page.  You can also visit the El Dorado County web site at;

Amador County is also in the heart of Gold Country. As you visit this county, along Highway 49 you will find a number of old towns (i.e. Plymouth, Ione, Amador City, Sutter Creek, Jackson) that as you travel through them  you feel like you have wandered through a collection of old Western movie sets. You can shop for antiques, eat at any number of wonderful restaurants, tour a gold mine, or just take in some of the beautiful scenery. Their web site is

Calaveras County is home to the historic gold rush towns of Angels Camp and Murphy’s. This area is home to the famous Calaveras County Frog Jumping Jubilee and Calaveras Big Trees State Park where you will find some of the most beautiful sequoia trees in the world. There are too many features to mention here and you can find everything you need on their web site,

Tuolumne County is home to the prestigious Yosemite National Park which boasts of rugged undefiled landscapes that words cannot describe. The sheer beauty, as well as the historical and cultural features brings visitors from across the globe. This county is also home to some other beautiful towns and Historic Parks such as; Columbia State Historic Park, Jamestown, Sonora, Twain Harte and Groveland. The best way to find out about Tuolumne County is it visit their web site;

Placer County rests along Interstate 80 and runs from the outskirts of Sacramento all the way up to the High Sierra. This area is also known as gold country, horse country, orchard country, ski country and a wide range of recreational treasures including American River Canyon and Auburn State Recreation Area. Their web site is;

 Nevada County is home to the foothill communities of Nevada City and Grass Valley with a reputation of some of the best fall colors in Northern California. Some of the signature events in this county are the Victorian Christmas in Nevada City and the Cornish Christmas in Grass Valley. There are a number of year round activities and events to consider. Their web sites are; and

Yolo County is home to one of the state’s largest University of California campuses (UC Davis) and a number of popular farmer’s markets, agricultural museums and the Sacramento River Train. You can find out a number of things to do by visiting their web site;

I trust that this will help you on your journey throughout the Northern California region and perhaps we might even see each other on an excursion or two.


A Few New Real Estate Laws To Know About

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (SB 183 – effective January 1, 2011) requires a carbon monoxide detection device to be installed in any existing dwelling “intended for human occupancy” that has a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or attached garage. These devices need to be installed in existing single family dwelling units on or before July 1, 2011 and all other dwellings on or before January 1, 2013. You can find additional information regarding carbon monoxide by visiting this web site; For those who are considering selling their homes, you should prepare to comply with this new regulation.

Foreclosure Sale Purchaser (SB 1427 – effective January 1, 2011) requires a purchaser of property at a foreclosure or trustee sale to “maintain” vacant residential real estate property. The requirement is to care for the exterior of the property in such a way that it does not diminish the value of the surrounding properties. This also includes taking action to prevent squatters or trespassers from remaining on the property, preventing mosquito larvae from growing in standing water, or other conditions that might be considered a public nuisance. If the person or entity fails to maintain the property then significant civil penalties may apply. The law does allow for the violation to be corrected before a fine or penalty is issued, but if the violation threatens public health or safety then the notice requirement may not apply. If you feel that a property meets this requirement, contact your local authorities to have them look into the matter. It seems to be prudent to keep our neighborhoods in good condition.

Adverse possession (AB 1684 – effective January 1, 2011) is a law that has been in effect for some time which requires a person who is claiming a right to title in a property by adverse possession to show they have occupied and claimed the property for 5 years continuously and to have paid all the state, county, or municipal taxes on the land. This new law (AB 1684) requires the taxes to be paid in a timely manner as established by the certified records of the county tax collector. There are always unique nuances to this law and it is wise to consult a professional to ensure your interests are protected.

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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in Real Estate News


Happy President’s Day!

Why do we celebrate President’s Day?

To honor the office of the man elected by the the people of the United States who takes an oath to protect and defend our United States Constitution.

Fun Facts about the Presidency

Chances are you know that Barack Obama is the 44th president. But did you know he’s only the 43rd person to hold the office? That’s because Grover Cleveland was elected to two non-consecutive terms as president – so he’s listed as the 22nd and the 24th president. As a result, the number of people who held office is actually one less than the number of presidents the United States has had.

That’s just one of many fun presidential facts behind the story of America’s presidents. In honor of Presidents’ Day this week, here are some tidbits and oddities about the men who have led our country.

First president to live in the White House?

Officially, John Adams became the first president to live in the presidential residence that we know as the White House. However, when he moved into the residence during 1800, it wasn’t called the White House. Instead, it was referred to as the President’s Palace, the President’s House, or the Executive Mansion. The first president to live in the “White House” was Theodore Roosevelt, who gave the residence its official name in 1901.

Tallest president?

The tallest president of the United States was Abraham Lincoln, who stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall. Conversely, the shortest president was James Madison, who was only 5 feet, 4 inches tall – an entire foot shorter than Lincoln.

First president to be born as a US citizen?

Martin Van Buren was the first president to be born as a citizen of the newly created United States of America. The seven presidents prior to Van Buren (Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, and Jackson) were considered British subjects. Incidentally, William Henry Harrison, who took office immediately after Van Buren was also born as a British subject. It’s also interesting to note that Abraham Lincoln was the first president born outside of the original colonies. Herbert Hoover was the first president born west of the Mississippi River. And, finally, Richard Nixon was the first and only president born in California.

Youngest president?

This is another tricky one. Theodore Roosevelt was actually the youngest president of the United States. He was only 42 years old when he took office; however, he became president after William McKinley died in office. John F. Kennedy was the youngest president ever “elected” to office. He was only 43 years old when he was elected president in November of 1960. So depending on how you interpret the question, either answer could be correct. On the flip side, Ronald Reagan was the oldest president. He was 69 when he took office and 77 when he left.

 First president to appear on television?

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to appear on TV. The appearance took place during the opening ceremonies of the World’s Fair in 1939. John F. Kennedy, however, was the first president to give a live television news conference. Warren G. Harding and Rutherford B. Hayes had famous firsts of their own. Harding was the first president to address the nation via radio, and Hayes was the first president to have a telephone in the White House.

Born on July 4th?

The only president to be born on the Fourth of July was Calvin Coolidge, who was born on July 4, 1872. However, three presidents died on this national holiday. Both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826. And James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.

Lost the popular vote, but was still elected president?

John Quincy Adams was actually voted into office by the House in 1824 after the general election failed to produce a majority of the electoral votes. In addition, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876, Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and most recently George W. Bush in 2000 also took office despite losing the popular vote.

Graduated from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis?

The only president to graduate from the US Naval Academy in Annapolis was Jimmy Carter, who graduated in 1946 and then served in the nuclear submarine program. Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight D. Eisenhower both graduated from West Point. Woodrow Wilson, on the other hand, was the only president who had a Ph.D. He received a doctorate in political science from Johns Hopkins University in 1886.

Served in the US Congress after leaving office?

Andrew Johnson and John Quincy Adams were the only two former presidents to serve in the US Congress after leaving office. Johnson served in the Senate, and Adams served in the House. John Tyler did not serve in the US Congress, but he did serve as a delegate to the provisional Congress of the Confederacy after the outbreak of the Civil War. On the other hand, William Howard Taft is the only president to serve as chief justice of the US Supreme Court. After leaving the White House, he became a professor of constitutional law at Yale and was later appointed chief justice in 1921.

 Excerpts from an article on “Fun Facts about the Presidency”

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Posted by on February 21, 2011 in Other


Hot 2011 Real Estate News – Part II

There is a great deal of buzzing going on right now as to the impact of the lifting of the government mandated moratorium on foreclosures. You may recall that back in November and December of 2010 the government issued another moratorium on most foreclosures with the hope of shifting some of those mortgages, homeowners and lien holders into a loan modification program. The hope was that the slowdown in foreclosures and the attempt at modifying some of these mortgages would somehow help keep people in their homes and help in the overall economic recovery. You will receive a number of different opinions as to its success or failure and just wait for the elections of 2012 to see the various spins that you will hear on the subject.

 Now that this moratorium has been lifted, these lending institutions have been busy with the foreclosure process and are moving towards liquidating those assets. With this comes the fear of increased inventory in our local real estate markets and the potential for a slowing of the overall recovery. No one really knows how much inventory will actually hit the open market and some local markets may not be affected at all. I think we should be realistic that there will be some impact but at the same time I continue to remain cautiously optimistic with the forecasts that I read and follow.

One thing that I can say with complete certainty is that; this increased inventory will bring a number of opportunities both in the immediate and also in the long term. In the immediate future there will be a number of deals to be had for those with the resources to make that happen. These buying opportunities will be one way in which the recovery process will begin and although it will be painful for some, the end result will move us toward a shrinking supply of homes. Those who have the ability to hold on to their home will continue to wait, they will continue to hunker down and save. Most of the sales will be the bank owned homes (REO’s) and short sales. This will pretty much be a repeat of what we experienced in 2010. I don’t see that it will cause a dramatic reduction in home prices (on the high side perhaps an additional 10%), nor do I see it as a further implosion of the Real Estate market. I believe that the actual demand for houses will outpace the supply in the not so near future from the simple reality that housing starts (new construction) remains so low. As the population increases (and it is) there will just be no way to meet the demand as new construction is way behind the curve and as such the existing housing supply will begin to decrease. When this happens we will begin to see house prices rise at approximately 4% to 6% per year and in some markets ever greater than that.

 It is even possible we will start to see the supply of homes level out or even decrease toward the later part of 2011. With a spurious 2012 election year on the horizon; we may also see a number of new political promises that will be pitches as incentives and opportunities that will help to create this new demand for housing. I think it was Will Rogers who back in the 1930’s said; “Buy land, they aren’t making any more of it”. Perhaps we need a reminder that real estate remains a good investment and even though we have experienced some significant loss in property values these past several years; the potential is there for better times in the not too distant future.

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Mike Southwick

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Posted by on February 13, 2011 in Real Estate News


A School Bus and the American Dream

I was driving into my Real Estate office this morning and there was a school bus in front of me that made a stop to pick up a child for school. The driver of the bus put out her stop sign and I and the cars behind me patiently waited for the child to board the bus and for the driver to detract the stop sign and proceed. As I watched, the mother of the child stood at the curb with a smile as she watched her daughter leave for the school on the bus. For a moment I pondered this simple little American way of life in which this sort of thing goes on day in and day out throughout our various communities. My heart was actually touched as the mother watched her daughter board the bus. It was her smile that told me she was comfortable and trusting that all would be well until her daughter returned later that afternoon and the process would be repeated again and again.

I realize this is a rather simple story and you might be saying; “What does this have to do with the American Dream and frankly, what actually is the American Dream”? For me this story represents a little piece of what makes our country what it is and it helps me to see that it is our local communities and those people in the community that make us unique. There are just certain things that we often take for granted, many of them simple things, and for me this school bus moment served as a reminder that although some things change, it is nice to see that some things don’t.

There is something else that is important to Americans and that is the value of home ownership and many define that it is the core of the American Dream. I recently read an article from the Realtor House and Home magazine in which they quote Martha Stewart who says; “Our families and our homes are the center of American life. And everything we do is to make those homes – and the lives in them – more beautiful, more comfortable, more functional, and more full of life and light and joy for those we love. At the end of the day, that is the American Dream. All the rest is just window dressing”. This really hits home to me as I think we as Americans need to take a good deep breath and recognize that what we have in home ownership and everything associated with that actually provides good stability to our communities and our very way of life. A recent National Association of Realtors poll shows that both owners and renters cited financial security as the most important factor in achieving the American Dream. When asked if owning a home was a better financial decision than renting, the results were overwhelmingly positive from both groups (96% of the homeowners said yes, and 71% of renters also agreed). The NAR-Harris poll also shows that young adults (ages 18-29) are just as committed to becoming home owners as was the case with their parents and grandparents. In fact 3 out of 4 of the young adult who participated in the poll state that owning a home provides a healthy, stable environment for raising a family and more than two thirds say owning contributes to their long term financial goals as well as the fact that it just makes good sense.

If you need assistance in pursuing the idea of home ownership, then please call me. I have helped many people realize a piece of the American Dream and I would love to help you also.

Written by:
Mike Southwick

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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Real Estate News


New IRS rules for Rental Property

A new law has gone into effect starting this year (2011) in which anyone who has a single or multiple rental units will need to track all vendors that do a minimum of $600 worth of work for you. This is nothing new for large property owners but it now applies to those who have as few as one rental.

There are a few exceptions to the requirement, such as; would gathering the information create a hardship or a burden for you, or the income from the rental doesn’t meet the minimum threshold requirements. Be careful in misinterpreting these exceptions and be sure to speak with your tax advisor before assuming that you do not need to comply with this new law.

Basically if you own a rental you will need to obtain the vendors name, address, social security number or tax identification number and also keep record of the income that you paid them for the year. You will in turn have to issue a 1099 indicating the amount that you paid that vendor and all vendors that did work for you. The new law is called the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (H.R. 5297) and it applies to all rental property owners no matter how small; as they are considered to be “conducting a trade or business” and the 1099 reporting requirement now applies to them.

You should already be tracking the payments that you are making to vendors in 2011 as you will need to send the vendor or vendors their 1099 in early 2012. There will no doubt be more guidelines issued by the IRS which is why you should discuss this further with your tax advisor. The requirement applies to all independent contractors who provide services to you and receive a cumulative amount of $600 or more in a calendar year.

As always, I am available to discuss any questions you may have about real estate. If you are interested in buying or selling real estate anywhere in California, I can help you.

Written by:
Mike Southwick
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Posted by on February 10, 2011 in Real Estate News


Century 21 Select Real Estate – Placerville & Pollock Pines

I manage this office and it is located at

49 Placerville Drive

Placerville, CA 95667

 I also manage this office and its address is:

6584 Ridgeway Drive
Pollock Pines, CA 95726