Death Of The McMansion

McMansion 1

By Shane Thompson, Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage, Roseville, CA

In the years leading up to the housing bust of 2008 the average size of homes being built and sold went up substantially. From the year 2000 to 2007 the average home size within the Western United States went up by more than 12% in gross living area. If you were to extract data for only the Greater Tri-Counties Area (Placer, Sacramento, El Dorado) this numeric value would be closer to 23%. This is a huge number and the driving force behind it was consumer confidence coupled with access to easily obtainable high loan-to-value ratio purchase funding. People felt good about buying big too. It was an ego boost for some who were walking into large-scale tract homes with price tags in some cases breaching the million dollar mark. For some buying big was a symbol of success.

Before I get too far ahead of myself let’s discuss the term McMansion. McMansion refers to homes that are considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity. They don’t adhere to design characteristics of any particular style and usually consist of less expensive building materials. It is common to see these homes clad in siding or stucco. For builders this was great because their construction cost was reasonably low while the per unit selling price was high. These were nothing like design appropriate custom-built homes outside of the fact that they were large and had many upper-end surface treatments on the interior to give them a more luxurious appearance. During the early 2000’s I can remember seeing many McMansion style tract developments go up that were situated closely to custom home developments where the average selling price was already high. This provided the developer with comparable sales figures for their project.

In today’s real estate environment there are much fewer buyers who are out shopping for high budget real estate. The reason for this results from tighter lending pr20248299-161024actices, average household assets, and trending consumer budgeting practices. That being said we have seen a substantial drop in the average home size being built and purchased today. Many of today’s developments are now multi-family style communities such as courtyard homes, town-home projects, and small to moderately sized detached single family homes. These developments are much more affordable for buyers and builders can turn each unit fairly quickly due to the lower final selling prices.

Many families are on a mission to find financial freedom. The latest recession was a wake up call that shed light on just how unstable things like employment, income, and investment based retirement assets can be. That said we are seeing a huge wave of buyers who are seeking to downsize. We are not just talking about retirees here either. Many young families are downsizing to manage tighter budgets allowing them more financial freedom. This is a huge trend right now that may be here to stay.

It was almost certain from the start that the architecturally non-conforming jumbo tract homes would die out like the dinosaurs. They only filled a niche when money came easy and homes couldn’t be built fast enough. Will their time come again? Who knows, but I don’t think it will be any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, these homes still sell, but the number of buyer prospects are so much lower now that it has really discouraged a lot of builders from building these developments in our area. A bigger footprint means more land is needed to build each unit. Being that a developers goal is to make money another project type would almost certainly be more advantageous.


If you have questions about a particular housing development or anything relating to the purchase or sale of real estate feel free to contact the author directly at:  (916)223-8119 or

Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage is licensed by the CA BRE – ID 01803537


What You Need To Know About Selling Your Home In Winter!


by Shane Thompson, Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage, Roseville, California

Looking to sell your home this winter? You may be surprised to hear that in a recent study it was determined that more homes listed in the winter months (December 21 – March 19) sell for over the listing price and in a shorter duration of time than those listed in the spring or summer selling seasons. The main reason for this is due to the fact that there is a lot more competition in the warmer months of the year. If you are ready to take the next step in prepping your home for a winter sale then here are a couple tips on how you can increase buyer appeal during these colder months.

Festive Decor

Who doesn’t like holiday décor? With one of the biggest holidays of the year landing in the winter season it would only make sense to decorate appropriately. Holiday spirit can be infectious and with the right planning you can produce some of the jolliest buyer prospects. When doing seasonal decorating we suggest that you keep it simple and clean. A cluttered home will have the opposite effect of what you are trying to achieve. Some people are just natural born decorators and I have seen some amazing things done with properties that would otherwise lack luster in the real estate market. If you aren’t one of these people then worry not because there are plenty of people out there who do seasonal decorating for a small and very reasonablent_home1e fee.

The biggest topic of controversy when it comes to decorating for the holidays is whether religion has been brought into the décor and the effects that it may or may not have on a percentage of the buyer prospects. This is a very sensitive issue and I will do my best to address this utilizing factual statistics rather than personal opinion. According to a poll taken by ABC News 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. The remaining 17% had other religious beliefs or none at all. Without any direct reference to religion I think it is safe to say that holiday décor is desirable by most and may result in more smiles from your buyer prospects. We hope that this information arms you with the information needed to make an educated decision on the matter.

Seasonal Outdoor Living

Winter can kill what might ordinarily be a beautiful backyard scene. With spring comes colorful flowers, bright green lawns, and trees with leaves. Many sellers wait to sell their homes until spring for just this reason. There is a simple solution though that will make your backyard stand out as a space to enjoy during all seasons. If your landscape does not include enough evergreen plant material then we suggest that you incorporated some of this into the landscape. Evergreen shrubs and trees will stay green year round and make for an appealing landscape throughout the entire year. Quality landscaping should have a balance between the number of evergreen shrubs and flowering perennials so that there is always something beautiful to look at.

Add the element of fire! Who doesn’t love a good fire on a cool winter evening? Fire pits can be purchased fairly inexpensively nowadays and come in a variety of styles and colors. A couple of chairs and a fire pit will go a long way for those trying to draw people into their backyard. If yoakland-living-firepit-tableou don’t have a special place on the patio for this then make one elsewhere within the backyard landscape. The best part about this item is that you can take it with you upon move out!

Outdoor furniture with heating lamps is also a great way to appeal to those winter buyers. If it appears that you are spending time in your backyard during the cooler months then buyer prospects will picture themselves doing the same. Because nicely landscaped backyards with patios appeal to such a large percentage of buyers it is important that you don’t skip over this item when staging your home for sale.

Scents of the Season

Winter is a time for baking and hot chocolate. Who doesn’t love walking into a home that smells good? If baking a fresh batch of cookies isn’t your thing then something as simple as a scented candle will go a long way. Nowadays there are hundreds of scents to choose from when candle shopping. Pick up something that looks good and goes with your décor. Give it a light approximately 20 – 30 minutes prior to any showing of your property. We are certain that your buyer prospects will melt over the pleasing scent and most likely spend more time in your home during their visit.


For more information about home improvements or buying and selling real estate feel free to contact the author directly at:  or by phone at:  (916) 223-8119.

Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage is licensed by the California BRE – ID 01803537


What Value Does That Swimming Pool Bring To Your California Based Home?


by Shane Thompson, Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage, Roseville, California

We are constantly getting inquiries on whether or not the installation of a swimming pool would be a good investment for their California-based home. With some areas of California such as Central Northern California where temperatures can reach well over 100 degrees in the summer months the idea of a swimming pool might be very attractive. The question most want to know is whether or not they are going to take a bath in shelling out the initial cost to have a pool installed.

As the housing market continues to gain traction we are seeing contractor costs rising. It is not uncommon today for a consumer to spend anywhere from $30,000 – $42,000 for a fairly simple in-ground gunite style swimming pool. Gunite is also called Shotcrete and refers to a concrete type material that is shot through a hose in construction of the pool. If you are considering another type of pool installation such as vinyl liner (colorized chlorinated PVC thermoplastic) or fiberglass you can expect costs today to be anywhere from $20,000 – $30,000. Keep in mind that these figures don’t take into consideration additional costs that can be realized for things such as more complicated excavations or topography challenges.

Our first recommendation to a home owner is that if they want a swimming pool and they plan to live in the home for at least five years then go for it. A pool should be installed for its enjoyment and not the resale value. Yes, they are expensive, and yes, there can be a lot of upkeep. Make sure to account for the fact that maintenance cost can creep up on you if you haven’t budgeted for this. Pools require chemicals, periodic equipment replacement, and replastering. Some of these costs can be shocking so we recommend that you do your homework before signing an installation contract.

As far as what your return on this investment might be it ultimately depends upon what type of pool you install and whether your neighbors have similar improvements. In our real estate market up in Northern California we have found that a vinyl lined or fiberglass
pool does not carry the same weight as a gunite pool when it comes to buyer appeal. With that being said we recommend that you try to go the gunite route if your budget permits. In general we are seeing returns of 25 – 30% on gunite pools in our area however this
number can change drastically based on total installation costs and whether or not neighboring homes are receiving similar improvements.

A home we sold only a couple of years back had a gunite pool with an Pool Fountainsestimated build cost of around $250,000. This was a very elaborate pool to say the least. Because it was installed on the large lot of a tract home where it was uncommon to see this level of improvement the seller was not able to recoup but a very small fraction of his initial build costs. The point here is to look at what your neighbors have done and build accordingly. Customize the build to your taste but be aware that as the price goes up your returns go down.

Now when it comes to high-end homes such as luxury property it is almost a given that these homes will have a pool of some sort. If they don’t they have lost a share of the buyer market since most in our area will expect this feature. If you are selling in Northern California there is absolutely no doubt that we have more buyers looking for homes with pools than without. That being said, if you have a home that is clean and in good condition with a swimming pool you are probably going to get a fair amount of interest from prospective buyers. This can result in more offers and a faster selling time which almost always results in more money.

In closing I would like to add that if you think you might list your home for sale within the next couple of years rethink the idea of installing a pool. Paying $40,000 to get $12,000 or so in return doesn’t seem like such a good financial strategy. Make sure you are going to have some time to enjoy this investment before you move forward with installation. Sometimes your best bet is finding your dream home with the pool already installed. You are only paying a fraction of the cost for this feature if you do it this way. That’s the best return on your investment when it comes to pools. Either way, we encourage you to explore and have fun with the project.

For more information about home improvements or buying and selling real estate feel free to contact the author directly at:  (916) 223-8119.

Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage is licensed by the California BRE – ID 01803537

Why Backyards Bring Huge Returns on Your Real Estate Investment

Rear Yard 1 - 31 Townsend Ct

by Shane Thompson, Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage, Roseville, California

In a recent study it was shown that prospective buyers were willing to pay up to 11.3% more for a home with a nicely landscaped rear yard. To put this in perspective, this equates to a little more than $45,000 on a $400,000 home. Curb appeal is great but the backyard is where homeowners are going to spend a lot of their time entertaining and relaxing. Some yards are more elaborate than others and not all improvements will yield the best returns, however it is important to look at not only the return value but the market desirability of each feature. Below we have constructed a list of what buyers are looking for within our local real estate market and the value they place on your home.


Maturing trees will yield the highest return on investment for a homeowner. They offer texture, depth, and most importantly shade! Properly located trees can reduce a homeowners energy costs. More important than the trees though is the master plan for how the trees will tie in with the existing landscape while allowing adequate room for growth. If you don’t intend on hiring a professional landscaper to do all the work at least invest in a professionally drafted plan from a landscape architect. This is a small investment compared to having a professional landscaper do all the work and the finished product will appear as if more money was spent on hiring a professional installation crew.

Native Plants

A landscape featuring many native plant varieties will add color and interest to an otherwise bland looking yard and require less watering than materials such as sod. We recommend using a variety of materials that will bloom at different times throughout the year as well as some evergreens that will hold their foliage year round. This gives the homeowner something nice to look at during the cold winter months as well as a consistent splash of color during the warmer season. A good master plan may incorporate raised planting beds, a dry creek, boulders, or mounding to add more dimension to your landscape. Plants can be relatively inexpensive to purchase and usually yield no less than double their purchase value when the home is sold.

Outdoor Lighting

In a survey 41% of home buyers said that outdoor landscape lighting was an essential item. Additionally, another 49% said it was not a necessity but a very desirable item. An outdoor lighting system is great for lighting up walkways and highlighting some of your landscaping materials when they would not otherwise be visible due to darkness. Some have used them to light up water features or dry creeks and the effect is nothing less than awesome! We like the idea that you can extend the hours in which you use your backyard by adding this ambiance enhancing feature.

The solar powered systems are a very easy to install product that your average homeowner can install themselves. The low wattage hard wired systems on the other hand can be very costly and require a little more effort to install. There are professional landscape lighting companies that specialize in the system layout and installation of this product however they can be pretty pricey. We are not able to put a number on what a homeowners return on this item would be due to the substantial variance in what the systems can cost. However one thing is very clear, buyers like outdoor lighting systems!

Patios & Decking

When buyers look at a rear yard they are looking for a place to park their barbecue. The lack of a patio or deck in a rear yard area without doubt hurts a homes value. Many buyers love the look and feel of a nicely constructed wood deck, however, for some there are concerns over maintenance cost. A concrete patio offers a low maintenance option and they can be constructed in a number of ways to improve their appeal. In addition to all of the different methods of construction they can also be colored and sealed. The investment on a patio or deck may not get you a dollar for dollar return, however, we are confident that it will be the reason why your home sells before other like kind homes on the market that do not have this feature.

Outdoor Living Areas

Have you ever heard of the term stay-cation? Backyards are becoming more than just an area to let the pets run around and occasionally light up the barbecue. The latest trend has been outdoor living areas. Some are as simple as a nicely constructed covered patio with outdoor furnishings such as couches, loungers, and tables. Otheoutdoor living area 2rs may include a full open air room with nice furnishings, a fireplace, ceiling fans, flat panel TV’s, and even a full service outdoor kitchen. These can be extremely pricey though! The desirability for these by the public is very high, however, not everyone can afford or are willing to pay for them. If you are interested in creating one of these we suggest that you set a budget that is no more than 3% of your homes current market value. If your home is currently valued at over $1,000,000 then you may need to extend the budget range a bit if you don’t already have one of these in place, since many within this price range will almost certainly expect a decent outdoor living area to be established.

Backyard Farms

Well, short of a tractor, the day of having just a single wooden garden box has quickly spread into something much bigger. And many consumers are digging it! Today it is not uncommon to see three or more large garden boxes full of organically grown vegetables and herbs. We are also seeing more and more fruit producing trees integrated into backyard landscapes. Due to public awareness on the health benefits and cost of organic produce we are seeing more and more families resort to creating their own backyard farm. Even if you have never planted or managed a growing garden before the idea of eating something that you grew yourself is appealing. I know we have this item at the bottom of our list but let’s clear the air about one thing. Well constructed gardens are desirable and for being so low in cost to construct they can yield a very nice return on the investment. Depending upon the size of your yard we recommend giving these their own defined space so that it is not the focal point of your landscape but a benefit of the overall yard.


For more information about home improvements or buying and selling real estate feel free to contact the author directly at:  or by phone at:  (916) 223-8119.

Asset Vu Real Estate Brokerage is licensed by the California BRE – ID 01803537