Archive for Featured Posts

How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Your Home

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

How to Improve Energy Efficiency in Your Home

by Angela Alupoaie

Energy efficiency is both beneficial for the environment as well as your wallet, so why not try to reduce your energy bill and usage with a couple easy steps?

Most of us are aware of the common and most recommended ways to save energy, such as using compact fluorescent light bulbs and purchasing Energy Star appliances for your home. Though these purchases are still energy efficient, some may be outdated. Everyone could use a friendly reminder about up-to-date energy efficiency options, so let’s look at two that are relevant to us in 2014.

Lighting: Changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFL) has been one of the more common energy saving practices. However, it seems to be a little outdated with the LED light bulbs shining their way to the top. The reason for this is that CFL bulbs contain mercury and take a while to warm up and shine to their full potential, while LED lights provide their full brightness immediately upon being turned on, contain no mercury, no heat build-up, and can last up to 50,000 hours (or 10x) longer than incandescent and CFL bulbs. LED lighting is a great option if you’re looking to replace some old fluorescent light bulbs around the house.

Keeping Cool: During hot summer days, electricity bills can sky rocket just from using your air conditioning. For those who are fortunate enough to have cooler nights, a whole house fan could save your wallet. By turning it on, and opening up a few windows, cool air from the outside will be sucked in to the house while the hot air gets pushed out. It instantly cools the house down after just a few minutes of usage, and doesn’t have to remain on all the time like the air conditioning.

When using air conditioning, consider leaving your unit on “auto” so that it is not continuously running. If you’re looking into purchasing a new air conditioning unit, purchasing an Energy Star unit is the best choice. Make sure when you are using the air conditioning, all windows are closed and properly sealed so that you can minimize the amount of cool air leaving the home. Open up all the interior doors throughout the home so proper circulation of the cool air can flow from room to room.

These tips will help you save and cool down the home faster. There are many ways you can maintain a more energy efficient home. What tips have you heard for improving energy efficiency? Leave us a comment!

Why Choose a New Home? Infographic

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home right now, you may be wondering whether you should give serious consideration to purchasing a new home instead of a resale home. Since new homes are generally believed to have a slightly higher price tag than resale homes, are the benefits of a new home purchase really worth the extra cost? Here are a few compelling reasons for you to consider a new home purchase:

What Amenities Are Luxury Home Buyers Most Interested In?

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

What amenities are most desired by home buyers who plan to spend more than $500,000 on their home? That was a question recently posed in a National Association of Home Builders’ study. Below is a graphic showing the percentage of buyers who rated each amenity as a strong preference.

What about you? Which of these amenities is most desirable to you? What amenity wasn’t on this list that surprised you? Leave your feedback in the comments section!


Home Staging on a Budget

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Home Staging on a Budget

It’s no secret that home staging is a key component to selling a home quickly and for top value. But what if you don’t have the budget to hire a professional home stager? Here are some simple tips to help you stage a home attractively:

Choose Wisely
If you cannot afford to stage your whole home, why not focus on key areas? What areas of the home do you think will dominate the prospective buyer’s attention? Parts of your home that are the most likely to appeal to buyers can be given special attention to enhance their appeal. On the other hand, areas of your home that may be seen as less appealing may benefit greatly from some simple decorative staging.

Keep It Fresh
Oftentimes it’s the simplest things that make a house feel like a home. Having fresh flowers in an attractive vase is one of the most basic but effective ways to create a warm, inviting feel in your home. While your home is on the market, plan on always having fresh flowers on display.

Be Inconspicuous
Potential buyers need to be able to easily imagine themselves living in your home, making it their own. This will be harder for them to do if they see a lot of personal items everywhere they look. When they see walls covered with pictures of your family, they think of it as your home, not their own. Make it easy for them by keeping personal touches to an absolute minimum.

Cleanliness is Next to…
The simplest but inarguably most important advice you can follow when preparing your home for visiting buyers is to keep it as clean and decluttered as possible. This will undoubtedly require a lot of vigilance, since we all know how difficult it can be to keep our homes clean when we have guests filtering in and out constantly, as will likely be the case once your home goes on the market. But your diligent efforts to keep your home neat and tidy will surely pay dividends.

Virtual Reality
Technology has made it possible to stage a vacant home without purchasing a single item! Many companies now offer virtual staging services that digitally stage your home. The photos they create can then be used in both print and online marketing for your home. These photos can really help a buyer visualize the possibilities for design and decoration that are possible in your currently vacant home.

Need advice about preparing your home for market? Our agents are happy to help! Leave a reply in the comments section or write us at with any questions you have.

Why Sacramento is a Great Place to Call Home

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

Why Sacramento is a Great Place to Call Home

Home prices are rising in many markets all across the United States right now, but few places are seeing as much growth (and resulting attention) as Sacramento.  Long-time Sacramento residents find this no surprise since they’ve long known what a special place their city is. But what are some other reasons for considering this fine city as your home? If you’re considering moving to Sacramento, or you are currently renting here but are considering putting down more permanent roots, what are some reasons why the Greater Sacramento region is such a great choice? Here are a just a few quick takes on why we love this city:

  • Family Fun – Sacramento has a lot of recreational activities to offer the many families living in the region. Between the multitude of parks, museums, sports venues, and other special annual events, there is no shortage of things to do all year long!
  • Parks – Did you know that Sacramento was recently ranked number 2 in the nation for best parks by the Trust for Public Land organization? Sacramento has been praised for its easily accessible, roomy and well-equipped parks. Local favorites include McKinley Park in East Sacramento, William Land Park in the Land Park neighborhood, and downtown’s Capitol Park. Why not visit these parks and see for yourselves why they are so beloved by Sacramento residents?
  • Dining – One of Sacramento’s hidden gems is its restaurant scene, particularly in the downtown area. Our restaurants offer diverse choices for “foodies” and rival larger cities in areas of quality, variety, and price. Sacramento also offers a lot of great options for those that like eating local and organic food.
  • Travel – Sacramento is a great place to live if you like to get away for the weekend – Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite, Napa, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and many other great vacation destinations are all within just a few hours’ drive from Sacramento.
  • Education – Sacramento is home to many excellent schools, including some top performers on the Academic Performance Index. The Greater Sacramento area boasts well-regarded universities and colleges, including Sacramento State University and the University of California Davis.    

Even with the current rise in prices, Sacramento is still considered an affordable place to live. And for all the reasons above (and for many more which didn’t even mention), we think Sacramento is a great place to call home!

If you are interested in purchasing a home in Sacramento, we’d be happy to help you in your search. Please let us know how we can help!

Why Choose a New Home?

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Why Choose a New Home?

Earlier this month the Sacramento Bee featured a story detailing home builders’ plans to construct upwards of 10,000 new homes in the Folsom region within the next several years. Just a few days later that same journal ran a story highlighting the forecast for major new home growth all over the Sacramento region. Similar types of stories are popping up in markets all over the nation right now. So it seems it’s now safe to say without hesitation: It’s official – the new home renaissance has begun!

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home right now, you may be wondering whether you should give serious consideration to purchasing a new home instead of a resale home. Since new homes are generally believed to have a slightly higher price tag than resale homes, are the benefits of a new home purchase really worth the extra cost? Here are a few compelling reasons for you to consider a new home purchase:


This a huge advantage of purchasing a new home vs. a resale home. When you move into an older home, what you see is what you get. While it’s true that you can make simple esthetic changes such as paint schemes, etc., to fit your preferences, doing this is often both costly, time-consuming, and a hassle. And the majority of changes you might be inclined to make will require a lot more than just a simple bucket of paint and a paintbrush. The costs incurred to make significant improvements in the esthetics, layout, or individual features of your home can really add up. By contrast, when you purchase a new home you will be able to make many of these choices before you ever get the keys to your new home in your hands.

Lower utility costs

Older homes have older appliances and older electrical systems. They can often be poorly insulated, leading to higher utility costs. Frequently, when someone buys an older resale home, the first thing they will be advised to do is purchase new windows and newer energy-efficient appliances to keep utility costs under control. New home builders are aware of what a concern high energy costs are to homeowners and they build their homes with careful attention to energy efficiency. The resulting decrease in utility prices can be quite considerable.

Fitted to modern lifestyles

The home features that many homeowners prefer, and often even require, have changed significantly in recent years. Advances in technology, shifting socio-economic factors, and increased urbanization all play a role in determining what kinds of homes modern families are seeking. New homes are built to be more adaptable and more in tune with what the current generation of homeowners need. This can be a powerful factor in determining what kind of home you purchase.

Be the first!

Last but not least, there is the simple, but not insignificant pleasure of being the first to “inaugurate” your new home. There is just something special about owning something as meaningful as your own home right from its very inception. A new home gives you and your family the opportunity to write your own history in every square inch – something that is truly priceless!

The Advantage Group is currently selling homes in a variety of communities in the Greater Sacramento Region. Check out our New Home Communities page for more information!

Real Estate 101: The Final Walk-Through

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Real Estate 101: The Final Walk-Through

So you’ve finally come to the finish line of the home buying process. You are just a few days away from closing and getting the keys to your new home in your hot little hands. You are more ready than ever to move in and start your new life. But there’s one last step in the process before you close the deal – the final walk-through. Why is this step so important? How can you maximize the value of your final walk-through? Here are a few tips to guide you through this last step of the home buying process:

Verify that all repairs were performed. This step is important for both buyers and sellers. The final walk-through gives us a chance to make sure that no repairs were forgotten or left incomplete, so carefully check that each and every repair that was agreed upon was performed. Resist the temptation to avoid checking on repairs that are challenging to access – for instance, areas in the basement, attic, or crawl spaces. This process will benefit not only the buyer but also the seller – verifying that all repairs were performed protects the seller from any post-escrow legal issues. Bonus tip: If repairs were performed by a contractor, obtain their contact information from the seller. This can be useful if future issues arise related to the repairs they performed.

Check for any major problems that could’ve arisen since the home inspection. While it may be unlikely, it’s possible that new problems have arisen since your home inspection was performed. Check for any problems that could mean major repair work, especially paying attention to anything that can leak – toilets, dishwasher, shower, etc.

Take your time and be thorough. Sometimes even the things you think of as minor may be the most expensive to repair. So give yourself plenty of time for the walk-through and make sure to give attention to every area of the home. Bonus tip: Make sure the final walk-through is not scheduled too far in advance of the closing date. Ideally, your walk-through should be scheduled for 24-48 hours before closing.

Be reasonable. Almost every home will have flaws and it may become clear during your final walk-through that some minor repairs will be necessary. Think carefully about whether or not the repair in question is important enough to  you to potentially jeopardize the closing of the deal.

If you have concerns during your final walk-through, now is that time to address them because it will be too late once the keys are in your hand! In all the excitement of closing your real estate deal, it may be tempting to rush through this important last step. Resist that temptation! The final walk-through is an important part of the home buying process that deserves your full attention.

Have questions about walk-throughs or any other aspect of the real estate process? Our agents are here to help! Contact us at with any questions you have and we will be happy to assist you promptly.

The Blackstone Mystery – Questions Answered

Monday, April 15th, 2013

The Blackstone Mystery – Questions Answered

Lately it seems you’d have to be hiding under a rock not to hear something about the mysterious Blackstone and all the real estate they’ve been scooping up in recent months. What are Blackstone’s objectives? How are they affecting the current real estate market? And what is behind their recent slow down in purchases? These questions and many more were recently addressed in an excellent article by Sacramento Real Estate Appraiser Ryan Lundquist. The following are some particularly noteworthy excerpts, shared with Ryan’s permission:

The Local Market: Blackstone has been targeting cities throughout the country, and their presence has definitely been felt in the Sacramento area since they began buying tenaciously last August. Let’s take a look at some stats and areas of focus to help understand what they are doing locally.

Blackstone activity in the Sacramento real estate market - by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Has Blackstone Been Slowing Down? Blackstone appears to have slowed down a bit over the past few months compared to the previous quarter. Their 96 purchases under $200,000 in Sacramento County on MLS during 2013 represent 4% of all sales under $200,000, which translates to 8% of all cash purchases under $200,000. Previously Blackstone had 324 purchases under $200,000 from August 2012 to December 31, 2012, which was almost 13% of cash sales for the time period. Blackstone has been a big player in the market, though ultimately they are really only one piece of the investor pie since 53% of all sales under $200,000 last quarter were cash deals. However, we must ask of course whether their recent slow down is a result of strategy or a lack of inventory. That is the critical question.

Blackstone Purchases in Sacramento County - Graph by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

Blackstone’s Strategy: As you can see, over 80% of Blackstone’s purchases have been under $200,000. It seems they have been primarily focused on the first-time buyer market, and they’ve purchased traditional sales, flipped properties, foreclosures, short sales, private sales, trustees sales, non-performing loans directly from banks and really whatever they can get their hands on. They are buying as “THR California LP”, and Tax Records indicates they have purchased 548 properties since August 2012. However, some local media outlets state they have picked up over 1000 homes since last year. That could definitely be the case since there may very well be many private sales off the books, but since Tax Records only shows 548, I’ll stick with that and consider it a representative sample.

(Ryan updated his blog shortly after his original post with this message: “I talked with a Sacramento Bee Reporter about their data that shows Blackstone has purchased 1000+ properties since August. The Bee reporter stated that Blackstone confirmed this number and his search of the Sacramento County Recorder also confirms this number (it is very tedious to do this search – I didn’t confirm). All things considered, it looks like only about half of Blackstone’s sales are recording in Tax Records for whatever reason. I am only using Tax Records because that is what I can control best. Nonetheless, despite a difference in numbers in my post, the data in Tax Records still appears representative of the overall trends when comparing the data in this post with The Sac Bee data. The SacBee also reported a huge downtrend in 2013 so far.”)

What are the implications of this data? How can both real estate professionals and potential home buyers use this information to their benefit? Read more from Ryan’s article here for some practical suggestions.

What are your thoughts about Blackstone and the effect they are having on the real estate market in your neck of the woods? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

Builder Spotlight: Premier United Communities

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Builder Spotlight: Premier United Communities

New home builders have faced a rocky road to economic recovery in recent years. Even now, with the housing market in a greatly improved state, builders face many obstacles – diminishing supply of lots and land, shortages of workers and building materials, and a tougher regulatory climate. And yet with all these challenges, new homes are getting built and sold here in Sacramento and are proving a key to our economic recovery.

This week on the blog we’d like to put a spotlight on one local builder making a huge positive impact in Sacramento – Premier United Communities. Premier United currently has two new home communities open in the greater Sacramento region – Stone Harbor in West Sacramento and West Colonial Estates in Roseville. The homes in these communities, and other recently closed communities, have either completely or nearly completely sold out and have done so with remarkable speed. Additionally, Premier United will open other new home communities this year in Carmichael, Granite Bay, and Lincoln.

The key to Premier United’s recent successes is based on more than just great locations and high quality homes. Their approach to building homes is based on a true partnership with the home buyers. Collaboration with buyers, being in tune with what they want out of their homes and communities, is a crucial part of their business. In this, they provide a great reminder for all of us in the real estate community that being in tune with our clients, listening and communicating freely, is absolutely essential to success.

If you’d like to learn more about Premier United Communities, please visit their official site: