Reno, Welcome to 2019 – The Year of the Buyer

The holidays are  in the rear view and many homeowners are feeling the pinch of the swinging market, especially if they currently have their home on the market or are thinking about listing.  This nervousness is understandable, after all the last few years most regions have enjoyed rising prices and many homeowners finally managed to get out from being “under water.” For homeowners who managed to hold on to their real estate through the recession or those who bought during the “fire sale” days of 2009-2013 they saw some nice equity gains. Sadly for many sellers the days of furious appreciation may be behind us as we saw the market take a swing in favor of the buyer mid-way through 2018.  However, Reno home buyers may be in for a bit of a relief.



2019 – Reno Home Buyers Alert!

Due to our consumer-friendly commission model, we carry a decent inventory of homes for sale at any given time. Last summer we noticed that many of our listings that we took in June were not getting much activity. This was a major change from the listings that hit the market in March or April. Spring proved to be the last feeding frenzy of 2018. In spring, the moment a home went live in the MLS, it immediately had multiple buyers looking at it. Sadly for summertime sellers, everything came to a crawl with little to no showings. Also, if and when an offer was submitted it was significantly lower than asking price. It seemed that over night, buyers lost the appetite to submit offers at or above asking. Gone were the days of crazy competitive multiple offers. Many sellers who had expectations of getting their asking price were hugely disappointed by the lack of activity and insulted by the offers.


The reality of all markets including real estate, is that sometimes a correction is in order.  Buyers simply can’t keep up with the rising prices.  In Reno, much of this inability to keep up is driven by the relatively low wages earned by the residents.  The household median in Northern Nevada is $50,000-$65,000.  This range has not moved much in the last 10 years, while home prices have continued to go up after the recession.  What this means for the average buyer in Reno is that the dream of ownership remains unattainable when average home price continues to outpace income.

Compounding this problem have been rising mortgage interest rates.  While rates are still low, they have climbed steadily over the past 12 months.  The result of growing interest rates is that affordability diminishes.  As rate goes up, buyers find themselves being able to afford “less house.”  Their preferred monthly payment amount remains the same but the amount of money spent on loan interest increases forcing the buyers to consider a lower-priced home.  Therefore buyers who were in the market for a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home in a Northwest Reno neighborhood for $350,000 found themselves needing to consider a smaller home or maybe a condominium, or perhaps a different area, to be able to stay within their budget.  Some sellers saw this trend and chose to wait for a buyer who was more flexible on price. Others chose to price their home lower or reduced the asking price in order to appeal to more buyers.


As we head into 2019 it appears that the trend of stagnating (or even reduced) home prices and increasing interest rates is here to stay.  This may be worrisome to some home owners, but considering that we have had double digit annual appreciation over the last four years, occasional small corrections are healthy for the economy. Without these corrections the alternative is what we saw during 2008-2012. No one wants to revisit those difficult days. For the buyers who have been feeling priced out and nervous about missing out on the American dream, don’t fret, there should be plenty of great buying opportunities in the Reno area in 2019.


As you set out on your home selling or buying journey, don’t forget to check out our full-service-on-a-budget commission model for sellers and buyers.  Transacting real estate shouldn’t be cumbersome or expensive. At Home NV, we make sure that each of our clients is happily satisfied with the process and the value.

From our family to yours, here’s to a happy, healthy, and a prosperous New Year!

Map and List of Yard Sale Homes 2018 – Saturday, June 2nd

On your mark… Get set… SHOP!

We have a printer-friendly map and an interactive map showing the list of homes participating in the Sixth Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest. You can also stop by our office at 321 S Arlington Ave and pick up a hard copy.

First, some basic rules of engagement:

  • Please respect the start/stop times of each sale. Do not knock on doors of homes on the list if their items are not displayed.
  • Please be courteous to neighbors: do not block driveways, observe traffic rules, and watch for pedestrians.
  • Play nice with other shoppers. There is plenty of great stuff for sale please no fighting over merchandise.
  • Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand. The nearest ATM is Wells Fargo (Arlington/California)
  • There is quite a bit of construction on and around California Avenue. Please drive safely.
  • Have fun!

Printer-friendly Map

Download a printer-friendly version of the map and list of participating homes here. (PDF)

Interactive Map

View an interactive map of the Sixth Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest.

5 Must-knows for Reno Home Buyers

So you’ve decided to buy a home in Reno – or some other fun spot in Northern Nevada.  Now you’re wondering about all of the things that you’ve heard homeowners talk about (sometimes not in the most flattering terms) that make living and owning a home in the Truckee Meadows a bit different than some other places. We feel ya, buying a home seems like a daunting task let alone if it has some bells and whistles you’re not familiar with. We put together a list that can help to answer your questions about some features you may encounter in your home search.  Of course, if there is anything we didn’t touch on or you need additional information feel free to give us a call. We promise to get you on your way to being one of the many happy (and informed) Reno home buyers.

Septic Tanks

Most people haven’t had a reason to know anything about septic systems because, lets face it, we don’t like to think about plumbing. In most urban and suburban developments the home’s plumbing connects to the main sewer line which takes it through the public sewer system to a wastewater treatment facility.  Homeowners connected to the public sewer system pay a fee to the city or county for removing the waste from the home.

While many homes in Washoe County are connected to sewer, there are pockets of homes still using a septic system.  The way that septic tanks work is by breaking down the waste in two separate compartments. Then the tanks release the processed liquid back into a leach field.  You can learn more about septic tank design here.  

Just like all systems in the home, septic tanks require regular maintenance. The tank should be inspected every year and pumped as needed. Depending on the size of the tank and the number of people using it, consider pumping the tank every 3 to 5 years.  Also, if City sewer is nearby, some Reno home buyers choose to pay the municipality to connect to the public sewer. The cost is in the thousands for this connection.  For additional questions about septic tanks check out this handy FAQ


Similar to the septic tank, which is not connected to municipal systems, a property with a producing well is not usually connected to water provided to by the City or County.

Most homes in Reno are not on a well though there are parts of the area where the water source for the homes is a well located on the property.  North Valleys, Virginia City, and Washoe Valley are some places where you may find homes with active wells. Just like septic tanks, its advised that a professional inspect the well annually.  The well owner should contact a technician as soon as evidence of any problems arise.  Check this out  to learn about well basics as well as maintenance.  In additional to annual inspections, it is important to test the well water. This ensures that the water chemistry is safe for drinking.  There are several good resources online regarding water testing but this one is our go-to.

Heating Type

While a large part of Washoe County homes utilize natural gas for heat, it is not uncommon to come across properties still on oil or propane systems. Reno home buyers will find that properties which were built prior to 1970’s may still be using oil to heat the homes.  The primary difference between natural gas and other types of heat is the cost.  Oil is about twice as expensive as gas, sometimes more depending on supply and demand.  Since the early 2000’s heating oil has averaged 30% to 50% more than gas.  Many homeowners choose to convert their property to natural gas.

Conversions are usually costly because you would need to pay for new equipment . Then you would pay the utility company to hook up to the gas line.  Many owners converted to gas because the savings of heating with gas add up.  The breakeven point is usually 5 to 7 years.  You can learn more about converting to natural gas here.  If you are thinking of buying a home with oil heat you can read more here.

Wood Burning Stove

In Washoe County wood burning stoves and fireplaces are highly regulated because they are significant contributors to pollution.  Before purchasing a home with a freestanding or built-in wood and pellet stoves, a licensed inspector needs to certify the unit prior to close of escrow or upon transfer of the property, to verify that the units meet local air quality health requirements. If the inspector cannot certify a free-standing stove, the seller must remove it from the property prior to close of escrow.

Informed Reno home buyers know that certifications are not required for standard masonry, manufactured zero clearance or gas log fireplaces. To learn more about this visit the county site.


Radon Gas

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, comes from the ground and can enter homes and accumulate to elevated concentrations. At elevated concentrations, the odorless, colorless gas can raise the risk of lung cancer for unsuspecting homeowners.  The radon risk in Nevada is higher than average.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona has issued a warning to the American public about the dangers of radon gas. “Indoor radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States and breathing it over prolonged periods can present a significant health risk to families,” Dr. Carmona advised. “It’s important to know that this threat is completely preventable. A simple test detects radon and the fix is through well-established venting techniques.”

Washoe County in collaboration with University of Nevada Cooperative Extension provides test kits to determine if the home has radon.  You can get a kit by visiting UNR’s site. Some zip codes (see map) in Washoe County have a higher percentage of homes which test positive for radon. Reno home buyers concerned that their prospective property may have radon gas, should have it tested prior to purchase.

Times have changed, consumers are savvy and expect a new way of thinking. Why pay more for full service real estate when you can save thousands?
Times have changed, consumers are savvy and expect a new way of thinking. Why pay more for full service real estate when you can save thousands?

Are Realtors Charging Too Much?

In the early days of my real estate career, I was fortunate enough to have a mentor who had been in the industry for over 35 years. His name was Rick. This guy was the real deal. He’s seen it all and there wasn’t a business question he didn’t have an answer for. My favorite part of being coached by him were all of his hard-to-believe stories from the trenches, of course now that I have 15 years under my belt, I have my own crazy industry tales as well, but that’s a topic for a different post.

The story that has lingered in my mind all these years was one where Rick sold a house for a Seiko watch as his compensation.

Life Happens!

It was back in the early 1990’s and this seller, Steve, was dealing with a series of difficult circumstances. First there was the sudden death of his spouse, then a tree fell onto the home during a windstorm causing major damage, and then there was the life-altering car accident confining Steve to a wheelchair. Steve was quickly depleting his savings since he was unable to return to his previous job in construction. Steve felt that his only viable option was to sell the home and move-in with his parents.

He called a few real estate companies in the area and explained his misfortune. After paying to have the damage repaired on the home from the fallen tree, Steve had $2000 in his savings account and if he sold the home for what he felt was the market price, it would be barely enough to pay off the loan.

All of the agents with whom he met were sympathetic to his predicament but weren’t able to help him with the sale of his home because there wasn’t money in the transaction to compensate the agents. Thinking he was going to lose his home to foreclosure, Steve decided to visit a small new real estate company that just opened up across town. Rick was just finishing up with a client, when Steve came in. As the two started to talk, Rick could see that Steve was struggling to get his words out and that it was incredibly tough for this former high school jock turned construction guy, to ask for help. Steve explained that all he could pay to sell his home was $2000.

Helping People Realize Their Real Estate Dreams

Rick, who started in the business because he wanted to help people realize their real estate dreams, saw Steve living a nightmare. Rick agreed to take the listing for free and said he may have a buyer who would be interested in seeing it. A few days later, Rick showed the home to a few buyers who had been looking in the area. One of the families loved the home and bought it!

Steve was elated and Rick was proud to have helped take this enormous burden off Steve’s shoulders. Several months after escrow closed, Rick received a small package in the mail. It was an older model Seiko watch with a note from Steve. According to the note, the watch belonged to his brother who died in the line of duty. Steve wanted Rick to have it because he felt that much like his brother, Rick was a hero. Of course, Rick tried to give the watch back to Steve as he never thought of himself as anyone special, just a guy doing the right thing, but Steve wouldn’t hear of it.

Over the years, as Rick grew his agency and expanded to bigger office space, the watch moved with him. It always had a designated place on his busy desk to remind him of his purpose of getting into the business in the first place.

Taking a Page from the Past and A Step into the Future

This story has in many ways influenced my own real estate career and the way I believe real estate agents should work with clients. While I am not a proponent of cutting anyone’s wages, I am a staunch believer that compensation should be commensurate with the work performed.

Thirty years ago, before, Zillow, Trulia, and plethora of other real estate sites empowered the consumer to start their search on their own, the job of an agent was quite laborious and required many more steps. When representing a buyer, the agent would have to manually go over MLS printouts that were faxed (high tech back then) to brokerages, write contracts by hand on carbon copy forms, obtain signatures from the client in person and oftentimes drive the documents to the escrow office, and this doesn’t even begin to address the need to use land lines and pay phones to communicate with clients and other agents. Cell phones, scanners, and email was just in their infancy and the idea that documents would one day be signed and sent without having to touch a piece of paper sounded like sci-fi.

The reality is that agents today can do more of their work remotely, and work with more clients at one time, earning more money as a result.

Why then, if technology has liberated the agent from much of the mundane tasks and allowed us to help more clients at any given time, are we still working under the old compensation structure? If the way we work has, in many ways, becomes simplified, shouldn’t we be reassessing what we charge the client?

In taking a page from Rick’s book, Home NV was founded with the idea that we always do the right thing. With this in mind, our team has developed internal systems that allow us to save our clients thousands of dollars by identifying efficiencies and streamlining the process. We believe that by harnessing the power of technology we can stay competitive and transparent while providing unbeatable customer service.

So here’s to you Rick, little did you know all those years ago, that your Seiko watch story would be the inspiration to a whole new way of selling real estate!

Map and List of Yard Sale Homes 2017 – Saturday, June 3rd

It’s time to shop!

We have a printer-friendly map and an interactive map showing the list of homes participating in the Fifth Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest.

First, some basic rules of engagement:

  • Please respect the start/stop times of each sale. Do not knock on doors of homes on the list if their items are not displayed.
  • Please be courteous to neighbors: do not block driveways, observe traffic rules, and watch for pedestrians.
  • Play nice with other shoppers. There is plenty of great stuff for sale please no fighting over merchandise.
  • Make sure you have plenty of cash on hand. The nearest ATM is Wells Fargo (Arlington/California)
  • Have fun!

Printer-friendly Map

Download a printer-friendly version of the map and list of participating homes here. (PDF)

Interactive Map

View an interactive map of the Fifth Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest.

FSBO story – continued

Sometimes selling a home for sale by owner is a tempting proposition. This option does not always work the way sellers think it should.

Sometimes selling a home for sale by owner is a tempting proposition. This option does not always work the way sellers think it should.

A knock at the door

This escrow had sucked up a lot of time, the traditional “selling season” was now over and I was very disappointed and disenchanted with the FSBO process.  I was looking over the cards of the Realtors who came to preview my home all those months ago when someone knocked on the door. I answered and was greeted by a Realtor who was stopping by to invite me to the open house he was holding a few streets over that coming weekend.  He handed me a flyer, shook my hand and left.  “What? No sales pitch?”

I stopped by the open house and visited with the agent.  He remembered me, but at no point brought up my FSBO.  Instead he showed me the listing he was selling and told me how much he enjoys selling homes in my neighborhood.  I left knowing that the house I just looked at would sell because it had the right person working to sell it. I realized that with my limited knowledge of how to do a FSBO I would probably miss the right buyer and end up with less money.

You’re hired!

I called the agent from the open house and invited him to preview my home.  He came by on time and prepared to take notes.  I received his undivided attention, he never once looking at his phone or his watch.  He asked relevant questions and spent very little time touting his accolades.  When I asked about compensation he gave me a few options I could choose rather than a percentage.  All in all this was my guy.  By the end of the meeting I signed the listing documents and breathed a sigh of relief.

A full price offer

The house went on the MLS the week before Thanksgiving.  I knew this was less than ideal and was prepared to wait until after the holidays to find the buyer but what could I do, I needed to sell and I was the reason for wasting so much time with the FSBO.  I had 2 showings that week and my agent talked me into letting him do an Open House.  The day after Turkey day, aka Black Friday I got a call from my Realtor.  His words were “I know it’s the middle of a holiday weekend but I just received a full price offer on your house.”  I couldn’t believe my ears – I thought I was still in food coma so I asked him to repeat.  Much to my surprise he repeated the same words – “full price offer!!”

The escrow

We opened escrow the Monday after Thanksgiving.  I was dreading this process because I had a miserable experience last time I was in escrow.  And while I knew that I now had an agent who had my best interests in mind the buyer also had an agent who was working to get the buyer the best deal.  Inspections and appraisals came and went.  I agreed to repair a few minor issue and (with my agent’s suggestion) to pay for a home warranty policy.  The seller agreed.  All contingencies were removed and finally it was the day to sign “the docs” and close escrow.  I couldn’t believe it was really going to be over and right before Christmas! Merry Christmas to me!

Talk to a Realtor before rushing out to buy the FSBO sign

Talk to a Realtor before rushing out to buy the FSBO sign

The moral of the story – FSBO may not be the best option

I really wanted to prove that I could sell my home FSBO.  It was a challenge I was definitely up to.  The biggest reason to sell DIY was financially motivated – I fully believed that I could do as good of a job as a Realtor in selling my home. And why not?! It was my home, one I knew so much about, and who better to sell it than me? I didn’t have other homes I was selling (as most of the Realtors do) so I wouldn’t be distracted, and  I would respond to all calls asap and hold my own Open Houses as often as I wanted to.  And… I would save up to 6% of the sales price by doing it all myself.

Clearly I was mistaken.  What I learned was that there is the right agent for every seller and sometimes you may need to talk to several Realtors before you find the right one.

Pay it forward 

As I walked out of the escrow office after signing what felt like thousands of pages, I thought that this was the best gift I could have asked for. However, as it turned out, the bigger (and better) part of my FSBO experience was that I was so inspired by the Realtor who helped me to sell my home that I enrolled in real estate licensing courses, sat for the exam and past the Real Estate Brokers test.

The day I received my Real Estate license in the mail I made a promise to myself and all my future clients: Just like the Realtor who helped me I too would pull out all the stops when it came to serving my clients. Whether that meant working during the holidays, knocking on doors in hopes finding a seller willing to sell to my buyer, or simply listening to a frustrated and frazzled FSBO owner and calming their anxiety I would be there – every step of the way.  I am proud to say that through my many years in the industry I have stayed true to this promise and hope that one day I too may inspire someone to join this industry simply for the love of helping others.

My FSBO Story


Getting your home ready to sell as a FSBO could be a daunting feat.

To FSBO or not to FSBO

If you’ve ever considered eliminating the real estate agent out of the home selling process you’ve probably found yourself looking into resources available to help you with the For Sale By Owner (FSBO) process.  You started by searching the web, reading articles, and visiting sites whose main purpose is to convince you that agents are overpaid and really you can just DIY – do it yourself (provided that you sign up to the website’s service, pay money, and hope for the best).

I know this process a little too well because, many years ago, before I got my real estate license, I too had a property I tried to sell FSBO.  I figured it really can’t be that complicated – get my house into the perfect sell-able condition, throw some ads on the Internet, run some flyers at the local Kinkos, stick a lawn sign in front of the house and wait for the bidding wars to commence.  Right? WRONG! Nothing could have prepared me for the events that came next.

Agents REALLY want to help with FSBO’s

Almost immediately after getting the lawn sign installed in the yard I had a call from a local real estate agent.  She wanted to know how much I was asking for the home and if I would consider paying an agent if they bring a buyer.  Feeling pretty optimistic that I would find the buyer on my own, but not wanting to be disagreeable, I informed her that I would be willing to pay 2% commission.  I knew the market was hot, the inventory was extremely low, and if she found a buyer 2% would be a fair compensation (IMHO).  She asked if she could preview my home and set an appointment for the following day.

Little did I know that before I would even get a chance to show the home to this Realtor there would be another 14 phone calls that all were identical to this one.  I finally decided that rather than having 14 different appointments I would just have them all over at the same time and show the home at once. The next day, when the Realtors came to look at the home they all “pitched” me on listing the home with them.  Some of them even used scare tactics: “you really should work with a Realtor since there is a lot of law you need to know when selling a home, and you don’t want to get sued.” I wasn’t fazed by fear-mongering but I was rather annoyed because it seemed that they only came by the house to offer their services not because they actually had any buyers.  This experience convinced me further that I was NOT going to work with an agent!


There are some shysters out there

The phone kept ringing – I knew I was on to something! People were interested – some even talked about submitting an offer! I was happy knowing that I was on the right track.  One day I got a letter from someone claiming that they were a relative of one of my neighbors and was interested in purchasing my home.  I was thrilled! Of course it makes sense that relatives want to live near each other and the home was in a very charming neighborhood.  I contacted the “buyer” we set a time for him to preview the home.  When the day came he canceled blaming a sudden business trip.  We rescheduled but something came up again.  He finally told me that he would send a friend who was familiar with the area to view the home.  I thought this was odd but he seemed genuine so I agreed.

The game goes on

The “friend” came to the house and spent a long time looking around and taking photos with his camera (this was before smart phones). He didn’t ask a lot of questions about the house which I chalked up to the fact that he is not the one buying the home.  When I touched base with the “buyer” but he indicated he was quite busy and would call me when he had a bit more time.  I didn’t hear from him for about a week when he called me right before a three-day weekend.

The buyer wanted to come over that Saturday to look at the home and talk in person. I explained to him that I would be out of town but would be happy to meet him right after the long weekend.  We set a time and I left for my mini-vacation to visit family.  About half-way through the weekend I received a call from my neighbor asking me if I hired movers to be at my house.  Movers?!? I told the neighbor to call the police because clearly this is a robbery in progress.  By the time the police arrived the moving van was gone.  Fortunately the neighbor took down the license plate before they left and the cops caught up with it a few hours later. Needless to say my “buyer” never made it to our appointment.  Perhaps he was unable to post bail?

Low-ballers are annoying

After this treacherous experience I was a bit more gun shy but still determined to sell the home FSBO.  I continued to receive calls but was apprehensive about letting people into my home which obviously makes it a little challenging to sell.  Over the course of the next month I received 3 offers.  They were ALL way under my asking price. If I accepted any of them I would be netting less than if I had hired a Realtor and paid 6% commission.  I countered the offers but the buyers all walked.

Finally an offer I could live with

After the home was on the market for 70 days I received an offer from a buyer represented by an agent.  It wasn’t the best offer: several contingencies, a small down payment, a lower than asking price, and a 2% commission.  I agreed because I just wanted the process to be over.  Escrow was opened. Inspections and appraisal were performed.  The items called out on the inspection were minor but the buyer wanted them all done.  The buyer’s property that needed to sell in order for her to purchase my place fell out of escrow as I was finishing up the repairs.  The agent called to let me know that they are going to relist my buyer’s home.  At this point I’d had enough! I pulled the plug, refunded the earnest money from escrow and walked away.

3rd Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest is this Saturday, May 30

As you may have already read in the news, it’s almost here!
Get Ready! Get set! Shop!!

What you need to know about shopping at the 3rd Annual Community Yard Sale of Old Southwest:

  1. There are 40 homes participating – each home holds their own yard sale.
    Yard Sale
  2. We have the list of homes that will host yard sales and will make it public after 11:00 PM Friday 5/29 here at  If you would like to have the list emailed to you feel free to request the list via email: (keep in mind the list will not be emailed until after 11PM  on Friday).  If this tech stuff is intimidating we will be in front of our office at 321 S Arlington Ave, Reno after 7:30 AM on Saturday handing out paper lists with maps.
  3. Please be polite and respect the start time of the sale.  It is 8AM (not earlier!)
  4. Some participants have elected to host their yard sales past noon.  Please read the list of homes closely as it will have start/stop times of each yard sale.
  5. Be social and have fun!

3rd Annual Community Shred-A-Thon — The Biggest One Yet!

Happy Earth Day! Every year on the Saturday after Tax Day, Home NV Real Estate hosts a document shredding event known as the Shred-A-Thon.  This year marked the 3rd Annual Shred-A-Thon and it was an enormous success!

Reno shred a thonOn Saturday April 18, hundreds of local residents came out to Home NV’s offices on South Arlington Avenue to safely shred their sensitive documents on site.  The shredding truck from American Document Destruction ran non-stop ripping, tearing, and shredding documents from 11AM to 2PM.  The truck’s capacity is 500 cubic feet and local residents filled over 400 of those cubic feet with their unwanted bank statements, medical records, canceled checks and outdated tax documents.  This is about 10,000 pounds of paper that has been recycled.

By recycling 10,000 pounds, Home NV and the local residents helped save:

  • Shred a thone85 trees
  • 35,000 gallons of water
  • 2,000 kilowatts of energy
  • 450 cubic feet of landfill
  • 500 gallons of fuel

In addition to providing a safe way to destroy documents and help the environment, Home NV Real Estate also raised nearly $700 for Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful — a local non-profit which focuses on clean-up efforts of local public spaces and the Truckee River.  Home NV is very proud to be an active member in the Reno/Sparks community.  Next year’s Shred-A-Thon is scheduled for 4/23/2016, so mark your calendars!