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New App Attempts to Match Roommates

 a roommate notes 18 Dear roommate, sometimes youre a pain (27 photos)

Photo courtesy of http://theberry.com/2010/09/24/dear-roommate-sometimes-youre-a-pain-27-photos/

A new mobile app is trying to link housemates together, stealing some cues from how dating websites make connections. MatchPad attempts to pair renters based on their projected compatibility.

Read more: 5 Million Households Lost to Roomie Trend

The site matches based on budget for rent, location preferences, and lifestyle choices. It asks users to rate themselves in areas such as how extroverted, detail-oriented, and controlling they are, in addition to their overall cleanliness. It then ranks potential roommates for the person using a compatibility scale of “great” to “OK.”  Users can connect via private messages with potential roommates to investigate further for compatibility.

So far, more than 3,000 users have created accounts on the website since it launched in September, beginning with the New York City market. The app will be available on Android and iOS platforms in January.

MatchPad has a special section designated for real estate professionals, offering qualified leads based on location and budget.

But can a roommate-compatibility app work? Some companies—such as the dating site OKCupid—have tested this idea in the past, but the idea failed to gain traction.

“That is partly because when selecting someone to live with, even more than when picking someone to date, users tend to be choosy,” a New York Times article notes. “After all, a bad first date lasts a couple of hours; a bad roommate pairing could last a year.”

Source: “Helping Felix Avoid Oscar,” The New York Times (Nov. 20, 2014)

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Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley Elks Team up for a Canned Food Drive

Donate a can of food on Sunday, November 30, and receive $1 off admission

The Nevada County Fairgrounds and Grass Valley Elks are teaming up for a canned food drive to help feed those in need in Nevada County.

Bring a can of food (or two or three) to the Country Christmas Faire on Sunday, November 30, and the Fairgrounds will give you a coupon for $1 off general admission to the Christmas Faire on that day (one coupon per person). Volunteers from Grass Valley Elks will collect the cans at the food collection bins at the Fairgrounds from 10 am – 4 pm at Gates 1, 3 and 5, which is also where you’ll receive your coupon.  All food donated will help feed those in need in Nevada County.

The Country Christmas Faire is happening Thanksgiving weekend, November 28, 29 and 30 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Hours are 10 am – 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10 am – 4 pm on Sunday. Cost is $4, and free to children under 12.  Parking is free.

Visit www.NevadaCountyFair.com for information or call (530) 273-6217.

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Nevada County Fairgrounds’ CEO to be Inducted into Western Fairs Association’s Hall of Fame

Sandy Woods

Sandy Woods

Western Fairs Association (WFA) announced this week that they will induct Sandy Woods, Chief Executive Officer of the Nevada County Fairgrounds, into the Western Fairs Association’s Hall of Fame at its upcoming convention in Reno.

The WFA Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made substantial contributions to the Fair industry through leadership, education, legislation and outstanding service.

Woods is being recognized for her contributions to the Fair industry, including her work at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. She has worked at the Nevada County Fairgrounds since 1995, where she started as Deputy Manager, and has served as the CEO since 2009. Additionally, Woods has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Western Fairs Association since 2005, and served as the WFA Board President in 2012. She is currently Chair of the California Fairs Alliance, which provides advocacy and resource development for the network of California fairs.

“Sandy’s service as an Officer, and as the President of the Western Fairs, set a new bar for leadership,” noted WFA Executive Director Stephen Chamber. “Her continuing role as the Chair of the California Fairs Alliance has helped California’s 78 fairs move through the difficult challenges driven by the Great Recession. Celebrating her service will be the highlight of our January Convention.”

Prior to her work at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, Woods worked as the Controller/CFO for MasterCard for the western United States. She also has an extensive background and career in international agriculture.  Upon moving to Nevada County, she became the general manager of the Nevada City Winery and remains a director at the Winery. She is also a past director of the Nevada County Fairgrounds Foundation, as well as a member of the Foothill Lions Club.

“The Hall of Fame Board of Governors did an outstanding job,” said WFA President Pat Kress. “Sandy defines commitment and service to the fair community. She has worked tirelessly on behalf of the California fair network. She is a great addition to the WFA Hall of Fame.”

The Western Fairs Association is a non-profit trade association serving the Fair industry throughout the Western United States and Canada. WFA serves fair-related businesses, fair management, fair board directors, festivals, and industry associations.

Woods’ induction will take place in January at WFA’s industry awards celebration in Reno.

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Country Christmas Fair at Nevada County Fairgrounds

 

Red Barn Craft Company Booth (corner of Main St)

Red Barn Craft Company Booth (corner of Main St)

Mark your calendar for the 30th annual Country Christmas Faire at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley on November 28, 29 and 30. Rated as one of the top handcrafted shows in Northern California, the Country Christmas Faire features unique gifts and crafts from top artisans from across the state, as well as from Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, and New York.

Exhibit buildings will be filled during the Thanksgiving weekend, giving shoppers a chance to start their holiday shopping with quality hand-made holiday items, ornaments, jewelry, wooden crafts, soaps and lotions, hand-woven baskets, stained glass, candles, beadwork, and dozens of other unique gifts.

Visitors to the Faire will enjoy strolling live entertainment, festival foods, the magical Gingerbread House exhibit, errand elves, and a community bon-fire. Wagon rides around the Fairgrounds will be offered; and Victorian singers, the bell ringing RiverBells, and the Sierra Symphony quartet will perform throughout the event.

Santa will be available each day until an hour before the event closes, so bring your camera to capture that special photo with Santa. Free babysitting will be offered by Girl Scouts of the Northern Mines Service Unit, so parents can drop off their children while they enjoy holiday shopping.  Errand Elves from Clear Creek School will be available to assist shoppers throughout the event.

On Sunday of the Faire, the Nevada County Fairgrounds will partner with Grass Valley Elks for a canned Food Drive. Bring a can of food on Sunday, November 30, from 10 am to 4 pm, and receive $1 off Sunday’s admission price (one coupon per person). All food donated will help feed those in need in Nevada County.

The Country Christmas Faire begins Friday, November 28, and runs through Sunday,

November 30. Admission is $4 for adults, and children 12 and under are free. Parking is free. The hours are 10 am – 5 pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10 am – 4 pm on Sunday.

The Nevada County Fairgrounds is located at 11228 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley, 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, off Highway 49. For more information, visit the Fairgrounds’ web site at NevadaCountyFair.com or call (530) 273-6217.

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Five Real Estate Predictions for 2015

Photo courtesy of http://colossalplanet.com/strange-funny-houses/

Photo courtesy of http://colossalplanet.com/strange-funny-houses/

Expect the home-purchase market to strengthen along with the economy in 2015, according to Freddie Mac‘s U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook for November.

“The good news for 2015 is that the U.S. economy appears well-poised to sustain about a 3 percent growth rate in 2015 — only the second year in the past decade with growth at that pace or better,” says Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Governmental fiscal drag has turned into fiscal stimulus; lower energy costs support consumer spending and business investment; further easing of credit conditions for business and real estate lending support commerce and development; and consumers are more upbeat and businesses are more confident, all of which portend faster economic growth in 2015. And with that, the economy will produce more and better-paying jobs, providing the financial wherewithal to support household formations and housing activity.”

Freddie Mac economists have made the following projections in housing for the new year:

  1. Mortgage rates: Interest rates will likely be on the rise next year. In recent weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has dipped below 4 percent. But by next year, Freddie projects mortgage rates to average 4.6 percent and inch up to 5 percent by the end of the year.
  2. Home prices: By the time 2014 wraps up, home appreciation will likely have slowed to 4.5 percent this year from 9.3 percent last year. Appreciation is expected to drop further to an average 3 percent in 2015. “Continued house-price appreciation and rising mortgage rates will dampen affordability for home buyers,” according to Freddie economists. “Historically speaking, that’s moving from ‘very high’ levels of affordability to ‘high’ levels of affordability.”
  3. Housing starts: Homebuilding is expected to ramp up in the new year, projected to rise by 20 percent from this year. That will likely help total home sales to climb by about 5 percent, reaching the best sales pace in eight years.
  4. Single-family originations: Mortgage originations of single-family homes will likely slip by an additional 8 percent, which can be attributed to a steep drop in refinancing volume. Refinancings are expected to make up only 23 percent of originations in 2015; they had been making up more than half in recent years.
  5. Multi-family mortgage originations: Mortgage originations for the multi-family sector have surged about 60 percent between 2011 and 2014. Increases are expected to continue in 2015, projected to rise about 14 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Former Professional Football Player Opens the Fade Factory Barbershop

Chad Elliott Owner of Fade Factory Barbershop - Photo by John O'Dell

Chad Elliott Owner of Fade Factory Barbershop – Photo by John O’Dell

“The Fade Factory Barbershop recently opened its doors by well known football player Chad Elliott.  Chad played at Nevada Union, Grant High School, Arizona State University, Syracuse University and thirteen years in the Indoor Football League.  The  hip, new sports themed barbershop is located across the street from Maria’s Restaurant in downtown Grass Valley.

“Not too many shops in town cater to the younger generation and that’s something we’re really trying to lock down,” Chad said.  “When I moved back home (after a 13 year professional football career), I noticed that there was a high demand for a specialized shop that focused on Fades, Tapers, Line-ups, Pompadours, Gentlemen’s cuts, and designs. This town really didn’t have anything like that before we opened up.”

The Fade Factory surely doesn’t look like your typical Grass Valley Barbershop either.  As soon as you walk in you can notice a difference. “The overall feeling of our shop was important to me. I didn’t want it to be boring or stale. I wanted it to be a place where people can come in to have fun, socialize, relax, and actually enjoy their wait times,”

Chad explained. “We painted our walls black and red, we have flat screen TV’s that are constantly playing NFL, College, and NBA games, we listen to music, and we try to present a positive laid back environment.”   So far the business and feedback have been great too.  Working downstairs from Chad, I noticed right away a steady stream of customers coming in and out for his famous fades.

Photo by John O'Dell

Photo by John O’Dell

“We opened less than a month ago and we already have a ton of returning clients, including working with Cheris House Youth Center,. People really seem to  like  the atmosphere.”

As for any other barbershops in town, they may want to take notice. This shop is fresh, fun, new, and exciting. If you like sports, good conversation, free WIFI, music, a great haircut, and a relaxed environment it may be time to switch shops and come check out The Fade Factory.

Photo by John O'Dell

Photo by John O’Dell

When I asked Chad if there was anything else he wanted people to know about his shop he replied, “We are really the only shop in town that stays open on Sunday and Mondays. People need to know that if they need a cut, we are generally open. I also like to give back to the community so I give a 20% discount to all law enforcement and firefighters.”

Chad also reminded us that he encourages parents to bring their kids in for fun designs, sharp cuts, and a clean Christian environment. The Fade Factory seems to be taking off. Check it out.

Call to make an appointment 209-910-8791
Located at 231 E. Main Street
Grass Valley, CA 95945

The official website and hours can be found here: The Fade Factory
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Creepiest Home Tours Ever

Picture courtesy of  http://joyreactor.com/post/788368

Picture courtesy of http://joyreactor.com/post/788368

When you work in real estate, you don’t come across haunted houses only on Halloween. When touring properties for sale any time of the year, practitioners and their clients never know what they’ll scare up. Foreclosures in particular, some pros say, often account for the oddest showings, but other types of homes lend some surprises, too.

The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted some of the creepiest retellings of showings by real estate professionals. Here are a few.

House of the Dead

Phil Faranda, a broker with J. Philip Real Estate in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., recalls stepping into a home that contained floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and numerous vases. Then, on the second floor, he spotted a sign that read: “World’s Greatest Mortician.”

“Either it was the craziest coincidence that the owner liked to collect vases and was a mortician, or we were in a mausoleum,” Faranda told the Journal.

Animal House

The last thing Tonya Nelson expected in a new townhome was a reptile-infested basement, says the Redfin agent based in Arlington and Alexandria, Va. But when she and her buyers walked into the basement, they saw bright fluorescent lights with 10 large reptile aquariums filled with frogs, snakes, and alligators.

Odd Stares

Jordan Clarke felt like there were people in every corner of the house watching him. That might have even been less creepy than the fact that those “people” were mannequins staring blankly at him from every angle. The house obviously belonged to a seamstress, says Clarke, a Redfin agent in San Diego. But it was startling nevertheless to see mannequins lurking in every corner of the home.

“You walk in and get that sense that something is staring at you,” he said. “This has probably happened a half-dozen times now. I had one client scream briefly.”

Foreclosed Nightmare

Colette Barnett, an Atlanta-based Redfin agent, may have an expanded definition of “dilapidated” after seeing one foreclosed home. A porch was upheld by cinder blocks with caution tape around it; the stairs were crooked; a garden window was caved in; tiles were falling off the shower; and a huge patch of black mold outlined the basement wall.

 

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The Crocodile Man and the famous Crocodile Poncho

Rather than trying to tame wild stallions, fearless Costa Rican fisherman Chito prefers a playful wrestle in the water with his best pal Pocho – a deadly 17ft crocodile. The 52-year-old daredevil draws gasps of amazement from onlookers by wading chest-deep into the water, then whistling for his 980lb buddy – and giving him an affectionate hug. Crazy Chito says: “Poncho is my best friend. This is a very dangerous routine but we have a good relationship. He will look me in the eye and not attack me. It is too dangerous for anyone else to come in the water. It is only ever the two of us.”

Chito made friends with the croc after finding him with a gunshot wound on the banks of the Central American state’s Parismina river 20 years ago. He had been shot in the left eye by a cattle farmer and was close to death. But Chito enlisted the help of several pals to load the massive reptile into his boat. He says: “When I found Poncho in the river he was dying, so I brought him into my house. He was very skinny, weighing only around 150lb I gave him chicken and fish and medicine for six months to help him recover. I stayed by Poncho’s side while he was ill, sleeping next to him at night. I just wanted him to feel that somebody loved him, that not all humans are bad. It meant a lot of sacrifice. I had to be there every day. I love all animals – especially ones that have suffered.”

It took years before Chito felt that Poncho had bonded with him enough to get closer to the animal. He says: “After a decade I started to work with him. At first it was slow, slow. I played with him a bit, slowly doing more. Then I found out that when I called his name he would come over to me.”

Read more
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Vant to Invest In Count Dracula’s Home

Castle

Credit: TopTenRealEstateDeals.com

Got quirky buyers looking for a unique home? How about investing in one of the most popular horror stories of all time?

Bran Castle is nestled in the heart of the mountains in Romania (formerly Transylvania).  Carved out of the rock, Bran was home to queens, kings, and knights.

According to legend, Bran Castle was also home the notorious monster, Count Dracula. The property supposedly inspired Bram Stoker to write the celebrated novel about the blood-sucking monster in 1897. Truth be told, the actual residence of Vlad Tepes or “Vlad the Impaler” is a couple of miles from Bran, and in ruins. However, over half a million visitors a year come to see this horror home associated with a vicious and vindictive ruler who was said to have put his enemies on sharpened spikes as a message to others.

The current owners have painstakingly restored the castle and are looking to sell the former customs house associated with the vicious ruler to a private buyer who is willing to invest in it as a major tourist attraction. It’s on the market now for forty-seven million pounds ($78 million USD).

Source: “2014 Haunted Homes You Can Buy,” TopTenRealEstateDeals.com (October 2014).

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Dramatic Easing of Mortgage Standards

 

Photo courtesy of  ims.net

Photo courtesy of ims.net

Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt on Monday announced plans to expand home buyers’ access to mortgages by loosening up lending standards.

During the Mortgage Bankers Association‘s annual conference, Watt said FHFA will release guidelines “in the coming weeks” to allow increased lending to borrowers with down payments as low as 3 percent. FHFA, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also will help lenders who sell loans to the mortgage giants by easing standards on borrowers who don’t have perfect credit profiles. The move is expected to help open up the credit box to first-time buyers, self-employed borrowers, borrowers who have had recent job switches, and borrowers who faced financial hardship during the recession.

Watt said on Monday that Fannie and Freddie would not force repurchases from lenders of mortgages that are later found to have minor flaws in them, as long as borrowers have kept up with their mortgage payments for 36 months. Watt also said that lenders wouldn’t be forced to buy back bad loans if flaws were later discovered in the reporting of borrowers’ finances, debt loads, and down payments — as long as the borrowers would have qualified for the loans had the information been accurate.

“Minor, immaterial loan defects should not automatically trigger a repurchase request,” says David Stevens, CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. “As a result, lenders will be more confident in offering mortgages to qualified borrowers.”

FHFA said it will clarify to lenders when it will force buy-back loans that were issued based on inaccurate information. FHFA acknowledges that it failed to provide lenders with enough clarity in the past. That caused lenders to get cautious with lending after facing a flood of high-dollar settlements from loans they issued that later turned sour.

“We know that this issue has contributed to lenders imposing credit overlays that drive up the cost of lending and also restrict lending to borrowers with less than perfect credit scores or with less conventional financial situations,” Watt said. Addressing such issues are “critical to ensuring that there is liquidity in the housing-finance market and to providing access to credit for borrowers.”

Source: “Regulator Unveils Plan to Spur Lending by Fannie, Freddie,” Los Angeles Times (Oct. 20, 2014) and “Fannie-Freddie Clarify Buyback Rules in Bid to Ease Credit,” Bloomberg (Oct. 20, 2014)

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