How do I avoid losing my earnest money deposit?

With any offer, you will make an Earnest Money Deposit. This is about 2%-3%of your purchase price. Without this money “at risk” you don’t have a contract. 

This isn’t as scary as it sounds

We understand that you might be worried about risking your money. But as long as we stay within the rules of the contract, the Earnest Money Deposit is almost never at risk.

If you cancel the contract, but follow the rules for how this is done, the seller has no claim to your earnest money, and it should be returned so you can use it on the next offer.

You’re not required to buy the home

The earnest money can be forfeited to the seller if we break the rules of the contract. But as long as we follow the rules of the contract, you don’t have to buy.

A general rule is that you don’t have to buy the house if something is wrong with it, but your inspection period is limited. Download this guide to understand the types of home inspections that are available  and which ones are most commonly used. 

Once we get closer to making an offer, we’ll make sure you understand how this works.

Action steps

We’ve created a Steps to Escrow Infographic to help you understand the process.

From the moment the seller accepts your offer to the day we hand you your keys, this one-page visual guide gives you everything you need to know about escrow at a glance.

Print out this infographic to understand each step and know what to do and when.



Ready to make an offer?  How to make an offer the seller can’t resist

Want to see some gorgeous houses in Vallejo? Schedule a day to look at homes



How To Be Sure My Listing Is Seen By The Most Buyers

Shot of a group of businesspeople high fiving while sitting in a meeting

Shot of a group of businesspeople high fiving while sitting in a meeting

Once your listing is published, it will be routed to hundreds of websites all over the internet. 

But we want your listing to get far more views, which is why we promote it with video ads on Facebook and Instagram. 

Users scroll past most ads, so Vallejo Historic Homes creates the best video ads in Vallejo. We carefully construct your ad to stop people from scrolling.

We format your video to be Facebook and Instagram compliant

This is not just a virtual tour–more importantly–it’s a social media ad. 

We put captions in all of our videos because users might have their volume off. 

These ads can pull thousands of unique buyers to your listing. This is the most powerful marketing technique we use, but it has to be done right

Optimize your listing all over the internet

Syndicates like Zillow, Redfin, etc. aren’t there to sell your home, they’re competing with each other to sell their services. 

When a listing is optimized on one syndicate, changes don’t show up on their competitor’s page.

We want to have your listing noticed by more buyers, which is why we optimize for each major syndicate individual. 

Leverage our local connections so more buyers see your listing

In addition to your listing showing up all over the web, we promote it on Vallejo Historic Homes.

We also keep a list of buyers who have explicitly expressed an interest in buying a historic home in Vallejo, and we email your listing to all of these subscribers.

We have great relationships with other agents in town and we make sure they notice your listing too. 

Finally, we post your listing on our own social media channels. 

Historic homes deserve epic marketing, and we do all this for every property we sell.

You can see the entire listing process with the Seller Road Map Infographic. 

This step-by-step infographic illustrates the sales process from prepping your house to accepting an offer.

Feel confident. Print this infographic to know what to do and when at a glance.



Action steps

If you need help prepping your home for sale, Download this checklist.

To understand your profit after the sale, Download our Estimate of Seller’s Proceeds.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Get the Guide to a Stress Free Home Sale

Understanding Your
Credit Score

Woman is worried about her credit score

Why your credit score may be higher than Credit Karma thinks

The way that a credit score is calculated for a home purchase is different than for consumer debt.

The score for a mortgage is probably higher.

When you spend money with a credit card, you are using unsecured debt. You’re usually buying things that a bank can’t take back, like dinner.

When you buy a home, the home itself becomes a high value asset that specifically relates to the debt. This is called secured debt.

As a result of this security, your credit score will usually be higher when you want to purchase a home.

What happens if your credit is too low? 

Depending on how much time you have, we have ways to clean up your credit score. If your home purchase is a few months away, we can usually improve your credit. 

Even if your credit has serious problems, we want you to have your dream home. We can help you get on the path to home ownership.

Don’t mess up your good credit by making this simple mistake

If you are planning to purchase a home, don’t open any new charge accounts or lines of credit. Don’t co-sign anything. Don’t buy a car or get a credit card from Target. 

Even seemingly small lines of credit can have big effects on your ability to qualify for a home loan. 

If they say “it is only a soft hit,” don’t believe them. Don’t let anyone access your credit at all.

If you still have questions about not opening new lines of credit, you need to talk to your lender and get specific instructions.

Action steps

Find out how much you can borrow. , Get pre-approved as soon as possible.

to understand your 3 biggest expenses, Download this simple worksheet.

The 10 Steps To Selling A Home

Attractive Middle-aged Couple In Front Of Their House

Attractive Middle-aged Couple In Front Of Their House

We want you to know what is happening during your sale and what it means. 

If you’re wondering how much you will make from selling your home, this worksheet will help you get an estimate.

Here is an overview of the 10 steps to selling a home. 

Prepping your home for sale

The main goal of the prep stage is to arrange your home so buyers relax as they walk through. We need them to say, “I feel good here!”

Prepping a home for sale can also increase the list price. This can include making small repairs before the sale, doing a yard clean-up, or getting rid of clutter.

Also, during the prep stage we research the history of your home, including past appraisals and public and private records. We are looking for clues that could make the home more valuable. 

It is critical to have your historic home ready for photos and video. This is your one big sale. With hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, we make sure everything is right.

We have a checklist to guide you through this process, and of course we will always be available to help.

If you are looking for something you can do this weekend, check out 3 DIY Projects for Sellers With Huge ROI. Or if you want a step-by-step explanation of the whole process check out Prepping Your Home For Sale.

Marketing for success

Marketing without a plan is a recipe for mediocrity.

High dynamic range photos, a 3D tour, and video tours are just the start. A listing done right needs a message to pull all the marketing together and explain the benefits to the buyer.

Lucky for us, your historic home is unique and has qualities that few other homes have. Our job is to tell the story of how fulfilling it will be to own your home. 

Doing this makes your home more exclusive and special.

Video has overtaken all other forms of real estate marketing. This is why we use scripted videos to make your home stand out.

Marketing for success tells the story of how amazing your home is. 

If you want to see how we have done this for other sellers, please check out Examples of Marketing that Works. 


A high quality listing promoted by paid social media ads is the key to attracting a larger pool of buyers. 

We created our Historic Home Marketing Plan to identify specific qualities that make historic homes stand out and then attract buyers who want those qualities. 

There are a limited number of buyers in your price range. We need to make sure they don’t just look at your listing. We need to inspire them to come and see your home. 

Your listing starts on the MLS, but it is placed far and wide. It appears on hundreds of websites like, Zillow, and Redfin. 

But the listing is merely the beginning. 

To get your listing seen, we promote it on social media with paid ad campaigns. If you want to know more, check out this article

You can also see the entire listing process with the Seller Road Map Infographic. 

This step-by-step infographic illustrates the sales process from prepping your house to accepting an offer.

Feel confident. Print this infographic to know what to do and when at a glance.



Accepting an offer

When a buyer is ready, they will send their offer. Most sellers are surprised to find that the offer turns into the contract. 

We may counter back and forth, to define the rules for the sale, but once negotiations are complete, the accepted offer becomes the contract to purchase. 

The transaction process which follows is complex and technical. We understand that it is often hard to keep track of the steps and what they mean for you. 

This is why the transaction process is usually the most stressful part of selling a home. We found when sellers know more about the process, they feel less worry.

To make this easier for you, we created our Step-By-Step Communication Guarantee. You will know what is happening every step of the way. 

When you are confident about the next steps, you will sleep better at night and make better decisions.  

You can read more about our Step-By-Step Communication Guarantee here.


Escrow doesn’t have to be a mystery. Think of it as Paypal for real estate.

If you purchased ski gear from someone in Minnesota, you wouldn’t expect that person to ship the gear until you made the payment. And you probably aren’t going to pay before receiving the goods.

Enter Paypal, a neutral third party that coordinates and guarantees the transaction. Real estate sales have the same problem, only the dollar amounts are higher. 

Escrow is a neutral third party. A buyer wants a legal deed and you want your money. Escrow coordinates the transaction and provides assurance that your sale is legal. 

For a great reference, download the Steps to Escrow Infographic

From the moment you accept an offer to the day you get paid, this one-page visual guide gives you everything you need to know about the process at a glance.

Print this infographic to understand each step and know what to do and when.


Per the contract, the buyer has a set amount of time (often 17 days) to inspect the property and then accept it as-is or reject it. The buyer can also request repairs or other concessions.

You are under no obligation to fulfill these requests. However, if the repairs or concessions are reasonable, most sellers prefer to negotiate to keep the deal together.

The inspections period ends when the buyer signs the inspections contingency, which removes their right to reject the property based on anything relating to the property itself. 


The appraisal is an opinion of value by a person licensed to do so. Appraisers follow rules to create the appraisal. The rules are different depending on the type of loan a buyer uses. 

Buyers usually have the contractual right to exit the purchase agreement without penalty if the appraisal comes in lower than the contract price (an appraisal contingency).

If there is an appraisal contingency and the appraisal comes in at or above the purchase price, the buyer can’t exit the agreement without penalty. 

The bank will only lend on the appraised value. So if the appraisal comes in low, either the price must be reduced or the buyer will have to pay more upfront. 

The appraisal period ends once the buyer signs the appraisal contingency, removing their right to exit the purchase because of a low valuation.


Underwriting is the final step in the buyer’s loan approval. 

The underwriter, who is usually a neutral third party, will examine the buyers documentation and the purchase agreement to make sure everything meets the rules of the loan.

Once this final approval is given, the loan is essentially locked in. The approval is often conditional, requiring some additional documentation. If that documentation can be submitted, then approval has already been granted. If not, the entire process may start over.

This can be nerve-wracking. 

Once a lender has the underwriting complete everyone is all smiles. The lender moves to fund the loan and we move to close the deal.

This part of the process ends with the buyer signing the loan contingency. 


Escrow will calculate how much money is owed each of the parties in the transaction (including property taxes, mortgage payoff, commissions, and concessions). Escrow will also create the documents that finalize the transaction.

Both the buyer and seller will sign. Hang on, we are almost there!


Usually within a day of signing, the loan will fund, and escrow will record the transaction with the county.

The buyer receives their deed. You receive your money.

Buyers usually take possession on the day the sale records. If you need more time in your home, there are ways to arrange this.

Action Steps

Get organized to prepare your home for sale. Download this checklist.

Take the uncertainty out of selling your home. Unlock the Seller Toolbox.

If you would like to talk about your specific needs, Click here to set up a Zoom meeting.





4 Reasons You Need To Get Pre-Approved

cheering for my pre-approval

Pre-approval tells you the exact dollar amount that you can borrow. This is powerful knowledge.

It usually only takes 40 minutes to fill out an application and upload the documents. You can do this from your phone. 


Here are 4 big reasons to pre-approve as soon as possible.

If you wait, you could miss out

If you’re not pre-approved, some sellers won’t allow you to see their property. 

Sellers want to know buyers have the ability to purchase. Also an offer without a pre-approval letter from a lender will not be taken seriously.

You may find a home you really like, but if you are not pre-approved, you might miss your chance. This can be a frustrating experience. We don’t want this to happen to you.

Don’t stress yourself out 

By narrowing your search, and increasing your chance of acceptance, pre-approval saves you time and reduces stress.

We work with you to help you pre-approve as soon as possible. This is the best way to find your next home.

Search for a home with confidence

You will feel great once a lender has crunched the numbers and determined what you can afford. Pre-approval gives you the freedom to search with confidence.

Pre-approval says, “It’s Okay. You’ve got this.” 

Find problems before they become your problems

Finding problems with your income and credit early in your home buying experience often means they can be corrected before your purchase. 

The pre-approval process will find these issues before they get in your way.

Waiting to pre-approve is one of the big mistakes home buyers make. Don’t worry. We are here to help. We work with you to get you pre-approved as soon as possible.

Need to know more about what you can afford? You can search for a home with confidence once you’ve estimated how much money you will need up front to buy a home. Download this simple worksheet to understand your three biggest expenses.

We have created a Buyer Road Map Infographic to help you get a sense of the next steps.

This step-by-step infographic takes you through the process of finding a home, financing, and making an offer.

Start with “Just Looking” and follow the roadmap to the seller accepting your offer.

Print out this infographic to see exactly what to do and when to do it at a single glance.

Six Mistakes Historic Home Sellers Make

Woman going through bills, looking worried

Woman going through bills, looking worried

Selling your home is one of the biggest and most complicated transactions you will make in your lifetime. 

Mistakes can be expensive. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when you sell your Historic Home. 

Missing your spotlight

Once your listing has been active for a few weeks, your home will no longer be perceived as the new thing. Buyers will move on and chase down the latest shiny object.

The first week or two after your home comes on the market, there will be a lot of interest. This is your spotlight. Even if we don’t find the buyer right away, we need to use this time to attract as much attention as possible. 

This means that your historic home must be ready and looking its best. 

We understand that our clients don’t always know what to do or where to start. Prepping a home for sale takes organization. 

For an example of how we guide you through this process, please click here to download a copy of our Prepping Your Home For Sale Checklist.

If you really want to get the full advantage of your spotlight, it takes about a month to prep a historic home, but it can and sometimes should take longer.

Remember we are here to help.

Here’s what we typically do to get your historic home prepared

Selling before you’re ready

It’s OK if you feel hesitant to sell your historic home. It is a big life change. 

Some of the most stressful events of our lives also happen in conjunction with the sale of a home. It’s important to acknowledge and address our feelings.

In addition to the emotional challenges, we know you have logistical questions. Like how to buy a replacement home or time a move out of state. 

We are committed to your success. We know you need answers and we are ready to help. We want you to sleep well at night. 

To help you through this difficult time, we have created a Guide to a Stress-Free Home Sale

Hiring the wrong Realtor

Nearly every Realtor offers the same basic services to sell homes. 

Vallejo Historic Homes specializes in dealing with the unique challenges and opportunities of historic properties.

There are marketing techniques that only work with historic homes. Because of their rare characteristics, historic homes offer potential for us to find or create value. 

A standard listing focusing on the square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms ignores the benefits historic home buyers want. 

Every situation is different, and the Realtor who is a good fit for one deal may not be a good fit for listing your historic home. 

We have 3 unique guarantees to give you insight into whether we are a good fit for you.

  1. Our Step-By-Step Communication Guarantee is designed to reduce your stress by making sure you understand what is happening and what it means at all times. 
  2. We created our Historic Home Marketing Plan to ensure that your historic home receives marketing designed to highlight its unique value.
  3. Best Marketing in Vallejo Guarantee. The homes we sell are historic, but we sell them using cutting-edge technology. 

These guarantees are more than promises. They are business systems we have created to help homeowners like you succeed. 

If you want to discuss how these business systems sell your home and reduce your stress, please schedule a Zoom call

Incorrect pricing

Many factors go into the price of a home. 

One of the most common mistakes sellers make is getting the price wrong. 

It is important that your home sells well. It is important that you succeed. 

We have a “boots on the ground” approach to what historic home buyers are looking for in the Vallejo market.

We know what the Vallejo historic home market is doing. 

We go to great lengths to find the right price for our sellers. 

If you want a better understanding of what is happening in the Vallejo historic homes market, check out our monthly Just Sold Report. This is one of the easiest ways to get a sense of your home’s value.

Failing to be realistic about inspections

There’s a chance an inspection will turn up something a buyer doesn’t like. We can’t prevent this, but knowing about issues with your home ahead of time makes your negotiating position stronger.

We want to put you in a better position. This is why we may want to do a pest inspection before we list a home. It is inexpensive, and it can save money by letting us fix issues before you are in contract.

There are different strategies around whether to do the building, roof or foundation inspections. Those choices mostly depend on the property itself. We believe it is best to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Knowing what is wrong and disclosing it before getting into contract can prevent a deal from derailing. When buyers find problems on their own, they can seem bigger than they really are.  

If some type of seller concession becomes necessary, we want to be prepared. This brings us to the final mistake that sellers make. 

Being inflexible

There will always be issues that can jeopardize your deal. Our solution is to be prepared, creative and flexible. 

We find there’s usually an option that will please both parties, or at least be acceptable.

With transactions this complex, there is almost always something easy for you to offer which is tempting to the other side. 

We look for ways to negotiate contract changes that are beneficial to all parties. Negotiation solves what is wrong, and can make your deal better. 

This is the reason we start our transactions with a list of our clients’ desires and wishes.

You want to give the buyer what they need, but we focus on your needs, too. 

Imagine you don’t have enough time to organize your move. We could negotiate with the buyer to rent your home for two weeks after the sale, giving you more time and reducing your stress. 

We find creative ways to negotiate as we go. We’re committed to getting you across the finish line.

Selling your historic home is complex, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating or stressful.

If you would like to know more, we recommend the Guide to a Stress Free Historic Home Sale.

You can see the entire listing process with the Seller Road Map Infographic. 

This step-by-step infographic illustrates the sales process from prepping your house to accepting an offer.

Feel confident. Print this infographic to know what to do and when at a glance.



Action Steps

How much you will make after the sale? Download our worksheet Estimate of Seller Proceeds

If you’re ready to list your home, Download the Prepping Your Home for Sale Checklist.

If you would like to discuss the specific details of your situation, schedule a Zoom meeting.  



The 8 Most Common Buyer Questions & Answers

Questions and answers for home buyers.

I clearly remember the uncertainty I felt when I bought my first home. The fears and worries were the same when I bought my second home.

I didn’t have anyone to help me understand what was going on and what it meant.

My name is Chris Jacobson. I created Vallejo Historic Homes with the goal of taking the stress and uncertainty out of your home buying process.

I want you to feel confident with your home purchase. I know you need answers. Here are answers to the 8 most-asked buyer questions.

How much money do I need?

The real answer is… it depends. There are a lot of ways to make your purchase work. The two big expenses are down payment and closing costs. 

You can search for a home with confidence once you’ve estimated how much money you will need up front to buy a home. Download this simple worksheet to understand your three biggest expenses.

How do I avoid losing my money?

With any offer you will need to make an earnest money deposit. This is about 2% of your purchase price. 

I know that sounds scary, but it isn’t as risky as it sounds. 

The money can be forfeited to the seller if you break the rules of the contract. As long as we follow the rules, your earnest money isn’t at risk. 

Remember, you’re not required to actually buy the home, you just have to follow the rules of the contract. Once we get closer to making an offer, we can discuss exactly how this works.

What if I don’t have great credit?

Most people have an idea of what their consumer credit score is. However, when buying a home you will use secured credit and the score is generally better.

Pre-approval will uncover credit problems. If you have those, we have people on our team who can help you solve them. 

Don’t let credit fears hold you back.

How will I know there is nothing wrong with the house?

We will have time to investigate the home (usually 17 days). 

Download this brief guide to understand the types of home inspections that are available and which ones are most commonly used.

If the inspection finds something is wrong, we can request the seller make a repair, or give a closing cost credit. You don’t have to buy the house if something is wrong with it.

At what point am I locked into the deal? 

You are generally not locked into the purchase until later in the contract, after you have had time to be sure you want the home.

The rules of the contract include time-based contingencies, which are your way to exit the contract without penalty. As you “release” each contingency, or pass certain deadlines, you become more committed to purchasing the home. 

We’ve created a Steps to Escrow Infographic to help you understand the process.

From the moment the seller accepts your offer to the day we hand you your keys, this one-page visual guide gives you everything you need to know about escrow at a glance.

Print out this infographic to understand each step and know what to do and when.



Once we get into contract, we will work together to stay on track. If necessary, we can terminate the contract before we pass any deadlines that would lock you into the deal.


How much home can I afford?

There are many variables regarding how much you can afford to buy. To understand your three biggest expenses, we recommend this simple worksheet.

How much you can borrow is largely determined by the pre-approval process. One of the biggest mistakes we see buyers make is failing to promptly get pre-approved. 

A pre-approval is easier than it sounds. If you want to start today, click here to get pre-approved.

How can I be sure I don’t overspend?

There is going to be an official appraisal for the lender to feel confident about the value of the home. If the lender feels confident, you can too.

You will receive a copy of the appraisal, which is largely based on the sale of similar homes with similar features.

You won’t overspend, because the lender will not lend more than the home is worth.

How do I find the right property?

You can discover what you need and want in a home by comparing the homes you like. Download this simple organizer to view the pros and cons of each home in one place. 

It is a part of our business process to help you define a target home both in terms of what you want and what you can afford. 

Once we have this target, it becomes surprisingly simple to find you the right home.

We created a Targeting Worksheet to help you get started. Click here to begin.

Do you still need answers?

We created a Buyer Road Map Infographic  to help you find the answers you need.

This simple road map takes you through the process of finding a home, financing, and making an offer.

Start with “Just Looking” and follow the roadmap to the seller accepting your offer. Print out this infographic to see exactly what to do and when to do it at a single glance.



If you still have questions, check out 30 Buyer Questions Answered, or reach out to us directly

14 Steps to Prepping Your Home for Sale

Realtor Showing Mature Couple Around Home for sale

Realtor Showing Mature Couple Around Home for sale

Think like a buyer (you will need to abandon all reason) 

Sellers are grounded in the rational dollars and cents world of making a sale.

Homebuyers are buying to live in their ideal world. 

Buyers are thinking about the Instagram posts they will make while doing “Historic Homeowner stuff.” It is important you catch their imagination and give them some reasons to indulge.

They are imagining drinking their coffee on the front porch, reading or soaking for hours in the clawfoot tub listening to jazz, or finally learning to cook so they can use that big beautiful kitchen!

Get organized with these steps to prepare your home for sale. 

Buyers see the life they want to live. If you have set your home up correctly buyers will project their ideal life onto your home. 

Remove your personal items

We want buyers to relax and feel good as they walk through your home. If they don’t relax they will not be able to see themselves owning your home.

The more of your personal belongings buyers see as they walk through your home, the more uncomfortable they become, feeling they are intruding upon your personal space. 

If you are committed to selling your home, you should start by packing up all your personal items.

Remove your family photos, trophies, and collectibles. Anything that has to do with a hobby needs to be out of sight. 

Download this room-by-room guide to objectively evaluate every room and make your home attractive to buyers.

Give them 15 minutes

Even though buying a home is one of the most expensive transactions most people will ever make, many buyers offer after a 15-minute walkthrough. 

This is an amazing concept. Logic is not a factor. Buyers are primarily working off emotion.

Try to understand the psychology of a buyer. In that short 15-minute walkthrough they need to feel that the home has what they need. We need to give them the space to have this feeling. 

Removing some furniture can make a room feel bigger. Packing half your clothes and clearing the floors will make your closet look spacious.

It seems crazy, but buyers often feel like there is no room for their stuff when they are in a cluttered home. Clear your counters, pack up half the bookshelves, and keep the areas around the sinks clear.

It is fine to have boxes and other items piled up in the garage or a spare bedroom. Buyers will understand that you are leaving. 

The bottom line is they have to feel your home is their home. If they don’t they will never offer. 

Boost your curb appeal

Everyone will see the outside of your home first. (Teleportation has not yet been invented.)

Many buyers will drive by your home to find out if they even want to schedule an appointment. They will decide when they look at your home from the curb. 

Put some care into the general appearance of your yard and the front of your house. You may not get a second chance at a first impression.

If you’ve got the time and the energy, download the Total Yard Clean Checklist  to make the outside of your home look as inviting as what’s inside. 

If you’re not ready to dive into the deep end yet, we don’t want this to stress you out. That’s why we created 9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Get your story straight (check the records)

We check the public records for your home well before we list, as a part of our Historic Home Marketing Plan. The buyers will also do this, and we want to know what they will find.

We also dig a bit deeper because we are looking for a way to explain the value of your historic home. 

We look at public records, title information, and permits. We will review any past appraisals you may have. We have access to historic maps of Vallejo going back to the 1800s showing structure descriptions and shapes.

We look at all of this to find the story of your home and hopefully to find a bit of extra value. In the past we’ve uncovered extra square footage or other hidden information that immediately impacted the value of the home.

Get the Road Map

See the entire listing process with the Seller Road Map Infographic. 

This step-by-step infographic illustrates the sales process from prepping your house to accepting an offer.

Feel confident. Print this infographic to know what to do and when at a glance.

What are the inspectors likely to find?

We don’t necessarily need to fix everything before a sale. But we do need to identify what is wrong, and whether we are likely to create a better sale price by fixing an issue. 

For example, it is often best to address significant dry rot before listing. If you don’t, you could end up with a lower sale price or spend more than necessary to fix it fast at the last minute.

On the other hand, cracked paint may not be a serious issue, especially if the buyer might repaint in a different color.

It is a good idea to make a list of things around your home that are wrong before you decide what to repair. We will help do this as a part of prepping your home for sale. 

Find where you sit in the market (position)

It is important to have an idea of what your home is worth and where that value sits in the overall Vallejo market (your position). You can request a valuation here

As a part of our Historic Home Marketing Plan, we determine how many homes sold for more than your home’s value in the last few months, and how many sold for less.

Knowing this information helps us to position your home and get a good estimate of how many buyers we can expect to be interested

If your home is near the top of the market, it may take longer to find a buyer. If the value of your home is in the middle of the market, you will probably have an easier time creating competition.

Finding your place in the market can determine a lot of our marketing strategy. This is an important part of our Historic Home Marketing Plan

Do some of the minor repairs

Take an afternoon and do some minor repairs. Tighten up doorknobs, cabinet hinges and other hardware. Whatever your skill level, there are things you can do. You will feel better getting started.

If you hire a handyman to take care of bigger projects, you may want to be the assistant and help the project along. The same goes for hiring a painter.

Selling a home can be a stressful process. You will feel better once you get a little hands-on experience.

A proper cleaning

Historic homes have been around for a long time and often need a bit of extra care to really shine. 

Your home doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to look and feel clean. This is a higher priority than minor repairs and décor.

Odors are a big turn-off to buyers. Pay attention if you have pets.

Strong odors can reduce the sale price on your home by tens of thousands of dollars. There are special products and techniques for removing strong odors.

Grout often needs a good cleaning. This relatively inexpensive task can really help a bathroom or kitchen shine. 

Soap scum makes clean bathrooms look dirty, but these hard water stains are easy to remove with the right products. The same is true for haze on wood floors or dark colored tile. 

not sure where to start? Download this room-by-room guide to objectively evaluate every room and make your home attractive to buyers.

Think about lighting

The brightness and color temperature of your lighting are important. How your home is lit has a big impact on the way buyers feel as they walk through. 

Even though many people want to live in a home with softer, dimmer lighting, they often don’t want to buy a home like that. 

When rooms are not sufficiently bright, buyers often feel like the sellers are trying to hide something.

Lumens are a measurement of brightness. Generally, rooms should have at least 3000 lumens. Large rooms and rooms with higher ceilings need a lot more.

We suggest you err on the side of being too bright.

There is a difference between the brightness of a room and the color of the light. The color is often described as the “temperature” of the light, and is measured in Kelvins.

Warm light is 3000-4000 Kelvin on the visible light spectrum. It helps to give a home (and the people in it) a “rosy glow”. 

It is a good idea to make sure the color spectrum of your light bulbs matches the room. In general, use warm light. Most buyers feel better in warm light, and will feel that the home is nicer. 

The main exception is in the kitchen and bathrooms. These are rooms where people want to see a lot of detail, and full spectrum “daylight” bulbs are best. These will usually be 5000 Kelvin and up. 

Remember that brightness and temperature are separate things. Light can be bright even when it is warm. Make sure your rooms are bright enough for a buyer to see everything well. 

A little outdoor lighting goes a long way. Even a set of “warm white” LED Christmas lights hung somewhere near the patio or deck can create a big change in feel.

Outdoor lighting can also make a big difference to your curb appeal.

Take stock of your lighting and see what improvements you can make to it. You can easily buy LED bulbs in bulk, but remember that not all LEDs are dimmable.

Lighting doesn’t need to be perfect, but small adjustments can make a big difference. 

Spruce up your windows

Windows are a defining feature for many historic homes. It’s well worth giving them some serious attention. 

Washing your windows is a good start, but you can take it a step further. A bit of fresh paint or stain goes a long way to making your historic windows look their best.

Small problems can seem much bigger to a buyer. If you have a window that is sticky or painted shut, these are easy problems to solve. We’ve made a video for each of these problems:

Here is a video on how to lubricate sticky windows

Here is a video on how to open painted shut windows

Highlight the unique aspects of your home

Buyers of historic homes often say they “want a unique home” or “they want something special”.

Lucky for you, your historic home is special. It is a part of our business process to enhance your sale by finding the unique aspects of your property.

But knowing your home is unique isn’t enough. We want to understand the benefits of your unique home. Why is it so great to live there? 

Can you describe how your home makes you feel? What is it you love and why?

Tall ceilings give a sense of space. Moldings, trim and other classic details can make a home feel timeless. A view or a private back yard can boost desirability. 

To market your home effectively we identify and highlight the unique aspects of your home. 

If you would like to begin defining how and why your home is unique, please download our worksheet for Finding Your Home’s Hidden Value.

Address your biggest fear for why your home won’t sell

Nearly every seller has at least one secret fear for why their home won’t sell. We must address these fears.

Your home will sell better when you feel confident and ready to make the decisions needed to move forward with your life. 

Write your fears down. Put them in order starting with your biggest worry.

Together we will find a solution. 

Putting your fears, concerns, and ideas into words will remove a lot of your fear. We recommend taking the Historic Home Seller’s Quiz as a quick way to relieve stress.

Get the Toolbox

Unlock the Seller Toolbox to take uncertainty out of selling your home. You won’t need to guess what to do next.

The toolbox links each step to the tools you need in the right order, right up to the day you get paid. Verify your email to gain access.



Marketing that works

Not all marketing is created equal. If you have a special home, you need marketing designed to help you succeed. 

We create a marketing plan for every historic home we sell. We do this because we know that it works. 

How you prep your home for sale will be partially determined by how we market your home. Marketing is so important that we consider it an essential step to prepping your home for sale.

Action steps

Ready to start? Download the Prepping Your Home for Sale Checklist

Click here to see Examples of Marketing that Works.

Want every tool and worksheet in one place? Download the Seller Toolbox.

If you have questions, we are happy to Set up a short Zoom meeting.

How Much Can I
Afford To Buy?

The uncertainty around how much we

Many buyers think they need to save for a home, then are surprised to find they already have the resources to make the purchase. Below are some ideas to help you feel confident that you are ready. 

How much do I need for my down payment?

There is no precise formula for down payments. There are many variables, including the different requirements for different types of loans. 

To help you out, we created this simple worksheet to understand your three biggest expenses, including the down payment. You can search for a home with confidence once you’ve estimated how much money you will need up front.

If you’re close to having enough, it is best to start your search. You can save money while you search for a home, and as your deal is coming together. 

What funds can I use for my down payment? 

You can’t use someone else’s money for your down payment. Before the loan closes, you will have to prove the money is yours.

This money needs to be “seasoned,” meaning it has been in your bank account for a few months. There are rules about using money from the sale of stock, drawing funds from a retirement account, and many others.

Buyers often find these rules confusing and frustrating, but we’re here to help. Use this worksheet to find out how much of your assets are technically available for a down payment.

We are interested in helping you succeed. If you have questions about which funds can be used for a down payment, please reach out

How much can I afford to pay per month?

Before you think of how much to spend on a home, get pre-approved. This tells you how much you can borrow for a home purchase.  Once you have this number and you know how much you can pay up front, it is easy to estimate your monthly payment.

One of the biggest mistakes we see buyers making is waiting to pre-approve. We recommend you make pre-approval one of the first things you do.

Should I make a larger down payment? 

There are advantages to putting down more than the minimum.

When a down payment is less than 20%, mortgage insurance can add around $300 to your monthly payment. 

If you have the 20%, you will probably want to use it. A larger down payment will decrease your loan amount and probably your interest rate. 

Using a renovation loan

There are many types of loans. They all have their own rules. Some of these loans offer great opportunities for veterans, families with lower income, investors, small business owners and others. 

Historic homes often need repairs. Using a renovation loan, you can borrow the money for the repairs and the purchase with one loan. Most renovation loans only require a 3.5% down payment.

This is a way to purchase a property with a problem and create a solution that builds equity. Financing repairs will increase your down payment a little bit, but it is a great way to reduce the total amount you need for the home.

Many agents and sellers shy away from renovation lending because these deals often fail. If you need this type of loan we can guide you through the process. 

We have a team of lenders, contractors and consultants, and we have the experience to get your purchase done. 

Action Steps

Compare the homes you like. Download this simple organizer.

Identify the home you’re searching for. Use this worksheet.

While you find your target, Get pre-approved.

To get an idea of what’s available, Schedule a day to look at homes.

When Is The Best Time To Sell My Historic Home?

Mature couple doing some calculations

Mature couple doing some calculations

We recommend you sell when the time is right for you. 

If it makes sense to sell because of where you are at in your life, then it is probably the best time.

Many sellers want to know how much money they can expect from their home sale. This worksheet will help you get an estimate.

When making the decision to sell, it helps to understand what is going on in the Vallejo Historic Home market. 

If you need a detailed monthly analysis sent straight to your email, please subscribe to the Just Sold report.

Here are a few other factors to consider.

Seasonal Demand

Many people prefer to buy and move when the weather is warm and dry, and the days are longer. 

Because of this, demand and prices for homes are typically higher from April to October. Unique Historic Homes do even better when there are more buyers.

If your timeline is flexible, we usually recommend you list your home between March and August to take advantage of this activity. 

When waiting to list can pay off

Since historic homes are unique, it can be hard to find a comparable sale, or comp, which is usually the best way to determine the home’s value. 

Sometimes there are situations when waiting for the right comp can help.

We had a client who owned a very small historic home and was looking to sell. There weren’t any recent sales for homes like his.

We knew it would be hard to get a good comp, so we had the home appraised. The value was too low and the owner decided to wait to sell. 

But then the comp emerged

The next year, two homes of nearly the same size a few blocks away were sold weeks apart at prices far above what our seller could have earned. 

Those homes were nicer, which accounted for the higher prices. We promptly listed our client’s home, and sold it for about 35% more than the appraised value just a year earlier.

This was a rare and unusual situation, specifically because the home was rare and unusual, as historic homes tend to be. 

We are happy to help you find comps for your historic home. If you need help, please reach out to us, or use our comp tool to get a general idea. 

The final price is often determined by the appraisal      

Buyers will offer based on comparable recent sales, and appraisers will find value using similar methods. 

The final sales price often comes down to the appraised value. Historic homes have some advantages here. 

Historic homes are often unique enough that appraisers can use different rules, which can lead to higher valuations. 

If you want to know more about how your historic home may appraise, please reach out

Avoiding a bad comp

We have absolutely seen situations where a recent sale similar in size and description made a bad comp. 

This is more common with historic homes because the condition of these homes can vary widely. 

Imagine if there was a sale similar to your home but with badly needed renovations, which sold for a lower price. That sale could significantly lower the value of your home. 

We want the full value for your home. There are times when we will recommend you wait a few months for a bad comp to go away.

Get the Road Map

You can see the entire listing process with the Seller Road Map Infographic. 

This step-by-step infographic illustrates the sales process from prepping your house to accepting an offer.

Feel confident. Print this infographic to know what to do and when at a glance.



Taking the time to get your property ready

If you want to sell your car, you clean it first. The same is true for a home, only it’s a lot more involved. 

Most sellers will get a better price if they take the time to prep their home for sale. We have a step-by-step guide to help. 

If you want a quick overview about the steps involved in preparing your home, please check out this article: 14 steps to Prepping Your Home for Sale

When you are not buying a replacement home

When home prices are high in Vallejo, they tend to be high all over the Bay Area. Local real estate markets tend to move up and down in lockstep. So waiting to sell usually doesn’t make much difference if you’re planning to buy a new home in the area. 

However, if you are not buying a local replacement home, or not buying another home at all, then waiting for a higher price may pay off. 

We have had sellers who were leaving the state or who were planning on renting after they sold. In these cases it can make sense to try and time your sale, and we are willing to help.

Action Steps

Get monthly statistics and analysis sent straight to your email. Subscribe to the Just Sold Report

To calculate the profit you will make selling your home, download our Estimate of Seller Proceeds.

For easy-to-follow steps to prepare your home for sale, Download this checklist.