Friday, July 20, 2018

FAQ: What are Liquidated Damages

Liquidated Damages Explained



Introduction 

Real estate transactions sometimes fail; that’s a fact of life. When they do, the parties face the potentially bewildering task of figuring out who might be at fault and whether either has recourse against the other. The resolution of contract disputes can be quite complex.

Liquidated damages clauses can eliminate some of this complexity. When made a part of a real property purchase contract, a liquidated damages clause enables a buyer and seller to agree up front, before problems arise, the amount of monetary damages a party will be entitled to in the event the other party fails to perform properly (i.e., if the other party "breaches" or "defaults on" the contract).

While liquidated damages clauses can be used in many different ways, this legal memorandum only addresses clauses liquidating damages to a seller in the event of a buyer’s breach of a real property purchase contract—the most common type of liquidated damages clause used in the real estate industry. Liquidated damages clauses liquidating damages to a buyer in the event of a seller’s breach, in leases, or in other types of contracts may be subject to different rules, and generally should not be used without first consulting with an attorney.

Q 1. What does the typical liquidated damages clause in a real property purchase contract say?

A. Liquidated damages clauses in real property purchase contracts can be drafted in a wide variety of ways. However, most such clauses provide that, if the buyer fails to complete the purchase as a result of his or her default, the seller is entitled to the buyer's deposit as compensation for the buyer’s breach. While a liquidated damages clause can, in many cases, identify an amount of money other than the buyer's deposit as liquidated damages, the buyer's deposit is the most commonly used benchmark.

Screen shot of Liquidated Damages paragraph in a 2017 CAR purchase agreement


Q 2. Must a liquidated damages clause comply with any special legal requirements to be deemed enforceable?

A. Yes. A liquidated damages clause liquidating damages to a seller in the event of a buyer's breach of a real property purchase contract is presumptively valid if:

The amount of money identified as liquidated damages is not excessive (see Question 3); and
The clause satisfies certain formatting requirements (see Question 4). 1
Contracts for the sale of subdivision interests regulated by California's Subdivided Lands Act (generally new subdivisions of five or more parcels) must comply with certain additional requirements, as discussed below.

Q 3. Are there any limits on how much money a seller can safely collect from a buyer as liquidated damages?

A. To be deemed valid, a liquidated damages clause in a real property purchase contract liquidating damages to a seller should reflect a "reasonable estimate" of the actual loss that the seller would suffer in the event of a buyer's breach. 2 While the "reasonableness" of a liquidated damages clause depends on many factors, the basic objective of the law is that sellers not use liquidated damages clauses to "punish" buyers unfairly, or to make a large profit over and above their actual financial injury.

An additional, more specific rule applies if the real property being sold is a dwelling containing not more than four residential units, one of which the buyer intends, at the time the purchase contract is made, to occupy as a principal residence. In these types of transactions, a liquidated damages clause identifying all or part of a buyer's deposit as liquidated damages will be presumed reasonable if the amount actually paid pursuant to the clause does not exceed more than 3% of the property's selling price. A party challenging the validity of such a clause (typically the buyer) would have the burden of proving that the amount identified is unreasonable. Conversely, if the amount actually paid exceeds 3% of the selling price, the liquidated damages clause is presumed to be unreasonable, and the party seeking the damages (typically the seller) might have to prove that the amount identified is reasonable.3

Parties to residential real property purchase contracts usually should not agree to a liquidated damages clause that identifies more than 3%of the selling price as liquidated damages without discussing the matter with an attorney. For this reason, liquidated damages clauses in many preprinted real property purchase contracts, including those published by C.A.R., automatically limit liquidated damages to 3% of a residential property’s selling price, to prevent buyers and sellers from inadvertently agreeing to a potentially excessive amount of liquidated damages.

For sales of subdivision interests regulated by California's Subdivided Lands Act, the law specifically limits the liquidated damages a subdivider can collect from a defaulting buyer to the amount of purchase money advanced by the buyer toward the purchase of the property.4

Q 4. Does a liquidated damages clause have to be in any special format?

A. To be deemed valid, a liquidated damages clause in a real property purchase contract liquidating damages to a seller should conform to the following formatting requirements:

If the contract is preprinted, the clause must be in at least 10-point bold type, or contrasting red print in at least 8-point bold type.
The clause must be separately signed by each party to the contract. 5
Liquidated damages clauses in C.A.R.'s purchase agreements conform to all applicable formatting requirements.

Q 5. What is the potential benefit of a liquidated damages clause in a real property purchase contract?

A. A liquidated damages clause provides a buyer and seller with a degree of certainty; they know at the beginning of their transaction the amount of money the buyer might forfeit, and the amount the seller might recover, in the event the buyer breaches the contract. Fixing the amount of the seller's recovery in advance may make it easier to resolve subsequent disputes between the buyer and the seller.

Q 6. Given the benefits of liquidated damages clauses, shouldn't buyers and sellers always insist on one?

A. Not necessarily. A liquidated damages clause is an estimate of the damages a seller might be entitled to in the event a buyer were to breach a contract. This estimate could differ significantly from the actual damages ultimately suffered by a seller.

For example, assume that a buyer’s deposit was $5,000, but the actual financial loss to the seller when that buyer wrongfully failed to perform ended up being $7,000. In this case, a liquidated damages clause fixing the seller’s recovery at $5,000 would probably preclude the seller from recovering the additional $2,000 of damages. Here, the seller might regret having agreed to liquidated damages. On the other hand, assume that the actual financial loss to the seller ended up being only $4,000. In this case, a liquidated damages clause could result in the buyer forfeiting more than the seller’s actual damages, and the buyer might regret having agreed to liquidated damages.

Q 7. Should a REALTOR® advise a client whether or not to agree to a liquidated damages clause?

A. No. As illustrated in the previous question, the decision to agree or not agree to a liquidated damages clause may depend on a combination of legal and economic factors, along with a client's own personal concerns. Though many REALTORS®' clients decide to agree to liquidated damages clauses, a client with serious questions regarding such a clause should consider discussing the matter with an attorney if needed.

Q 8. Does a liquidated damages clause automatically entitle the seller to the buyer's deposit if a transaction does not close?

A. No. As already stated, a liquidated damages clause only determines the amount of money a seller can recover from a buyer, and then only if the seller can prove that the buyer breached the contract. A buyer may fail to close a transaction for a variety of acceptable reasons (e.g., where the buyer's obligation to purchase was contingent on the buyer obtaining financing, and the buyer could not reasonably obtain financing). To recover liquidated damages, the seller generally must prove in court or arbitration that the buyer's failure to close the transaction was wrongful.

A limited exception exists for certain sales of subdivision interests regulated by California's Subdivided Lands Act. A subdivider’s contract may include a procedure whereby an escrow holder is authorized to release a buyer's deposit to the subdivider pursuant to a liquidated damages clause if the subdivider provides a specified notice to the escrow holder and buyer declaring the buyer to be in default, and the buyer does not object to the subdivider’s notice.6

Q 9. If a buyer and seller disagree as to whether the buyer breached a contract, can the seller refuse to release the buyer’s funds being held in escrow?

A. Generally, a prudent seller will instruct an escrow holder not to release escrowed funds to a buyer only if he or she has a good faith belief that the buyer breached the contract. Without such good faith belief, the seller runs the risk that the buyer will institute a lawsuit or arbitration, not just to recover the escrowed funds, but also to recover penalties or damages from the seller.

If the subject property is real property containing one to four residential units, one of which, at the time the escrow was created, the buyer intended to occupy, an additional, more specific rule applies. This rule provides that, unless the seller is withholding the buyer's funds pursuant to a good faith dispute with the buyer, the seller's failure to authorize the release of the funds within 30 days following a written demand from the buyer may subject the seller to a penalty equal to three times the amount of the undisputed funds (but not less than $100 nor more than $1,000), in addition to reasonable attorney's fees. A "good faith dispute" is defined, in part, as a reasonable belief of one's legal entitlement to withhold the escrowed funds.7

If the property is part of a subdivision regulated by California's Subdivided Lands Act and the escrow does not close on or before the mutually agreed closing date, any portion of the buyer's deposit(s) not being claimed as liquidated damages by the subdivider must be returned to the buyer within 15 days after the agreed closing date. This obligation must be stated specifically in the subdivider’s contract.8

Q 10. If a buyer and seller disagree as to whether the buyer breached a contract, can an escrow holder honor a buyer's request to release his or her funds?

A. Once a buyer and seller have properly executed escrow instructions to an escrow holder, the escrow holder generally will not release funds to a buyer over a seller’s objection unless so ordered pursuant to litigation or arbitration proceedings.

Q 11. Could a seller collect monetary damages from a buyer for breaching a real property purchase contract that did not contain a liquidated damages clause?

A. Yes. The fact that a real property purchase contract does not contain a liquidated damages clause does not mean that a buyer could escape liability for failing to perform. It simply means that the amount of damages the seller could recover would not have been pre-negotiated, and therefore the seller might have to prove, in court or arbitration, the amount of his or her actual monetary injury. Establishing the financial loss resulting from a breach of contract can be a complex process, and may require the presentation of evidence in court or arbitration. Generally, a seller will need the assistance of an attorney to properly calculate the actual damages he or she has sustained in a failed real estate transaction.

Q 12. If a buyer and seller agree to a liquidated damages clause, are the seller's remedies limited to pursuing liquidated damages, or could the seller pursue other legal remedies, such as specific performance?

A. Monetary damages represent only one type of legal remedy available to a seller. There are other types of legal remedies that a seller can pursue when a buyer breaches a contract, including specific performance (a type of legal action to compel a party to a contract to complete his or her performance under the contract). Typically, a liquidated damages clause only limits the amount of monetary damages a seller can collect as compensation for a buyer's breach of contract; it does not by itself prevent the seller from pursuing an action for specific performance.9

For sales of subdivision interests regulated by California’s Subdivided Lands Act, the California Department of Real Estate (DRE) publishes a sample liquidated damages clause which includes language limiting the subdivider’s remedies to liquidated damages.10  Because the DRE enforces the Subdivided Lands Act, the provisions of its sample liquidated damages clause may provide subdividers with guidance in drafting enforceable liquidated damages clauses.

Q 13. The previous question suggests that sellers can often choose from amongst various legal remedies when a buyer defaults. Which is the best legal remedy?

A. Choosing an appropriate legal remedy usually depends on many different factors, including the extent of one's injury, the complexity of pursuing a particular remedy, and potential legal costs. For example, an action for specific performance, to compel a buyer to complete his or her contractual obligations, is generally much more complex than an action to recover liquidated damages, may be more difficult to win, and maybe more costly than an action to recover liquidated damages. A seller who is interested in exploring the benefits and detriments associated with different legal remedies generally should consult an attorney.

Q 14.  If a buyer makes more than one deposit pursuant to a purchase contract, will a liquidated damages clause entitle a seller to all of the buyer's deposits if the buyer defaults?

A. Not necessarily. If the real property being sold is a dwelling containing not more than four residential units, one of which the buyer intends, at the time the purchase contract is made,to occupy as a principal residence, each payment that is to constitute liquidated damages to the seller must be supported by a separately signed or initialed, properly formatted liquidated damages clause. In addition, the total of all such deposits would be used in determining whether the clause exceeds the "3% presumption" discussed in Question 3.11 In limited cases, an increased deposit may be available to a seller as liquidated damages despite the failure of the parties to execute a separate liquidated damages clause, but generally only where there is other evidence that the parties were aware that the increased deposit would be subject to a liquidated damages clause.12

C.A.R. publishes Receipt for Increased Deposit/Liquidated Damages (C.A.R. Form RID), which allows the parties to a real property purchase contract to agree to multiple liquidated damages clauses covering multiple deposits.

Q 15. What would happen if fewer than all parties initialed a liquidated damages clause?

A. Because liquidated damages clauses are optional, it is important that contracting parties clearly indicate in their contract whether or not they intend to be bound by a liquidated damages clause. If some, but not all, parties initial a liquidated damages clause, it can be difficult to determine whether they intended to be bound by the clause, or whether they intended to enter into a contract at all. Some purchase contracts attempt to prevent such ambiguities by specifically stating that the contract is not binding until all parties reach an agreement to initial or not initial the liquidated damages clause. C.A.R.'s purchase agreements typically include language to this effect.

In the absence of such contractual language, the enforceability of the clause would be subject to interpretation by the courts. In one case, a California appellate court ruled that a liquidated damages clause, though not properly executed, was enforceable or voidable at the buyer’s option, but not the seller's option.13   Various factors can affect the outcome of lawsuits, making it possible for different courts to reach different conclusions on similar facts. For this reason, contracting parties generally should not rely on court opinions as justification for leaving ambiguities in a contract.

Q 16.  Is a "nonrefundable deposit" clause the same as a liquidated damages clause?

A. No. A nonrefundable deposit clause typically provides that the buyer must forfeit his or her deposit to the seller even if the buyer has a valid reason for not closing the transaction. By comparison, a liquidated damages clause entitles a seller to the buyer’s deposit only if the buyer breaches the contract (see Question 8). It can be difficult to draft an enforceable nonrefundable deposit clause; only an attorney should attempt this.

This legal article is just one of the many legal publications and services offered by C.A.R. to its members.

Readers who require specific advice should consult an attorney.

The information contained in this article was obtained from:

California Association of REALTORS®
525 South Virgil Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90020

The information contained herein is believed accurate. It is intended to provide general answers to general questions and is not intended as a substitute for individual legal advice. Advice in specific situations may differ depending upon a wide variety of factors. Therefore, readers with specific legal questions should seek the advice of an attorney.


Inflatable, floating playground

Spring Lake's latest attraction: Floating playground

Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Spring Lake's floating playground


The Spring Lake lagoon is now open for public swimming.  This lifeguard protected swimming lagoon is the perfect place to spend a hot Rincon Valley day.  

The lagoon is surrounded by 360° of sandy beach.  There is plenty of room for kids to play, with additional room for lap swimming in the center of the lake.  The beachside cafĂ© & boat rentals make this an easy place to spend the day.  

Last year an inflatable “playground” was added and has been the hit of the lagoon.  The playground consists of a network of linked slides, bridges, climbing walls, balance beams and a trampoline all floating in the lagoon.

When:  11 am – 6 pm Memorial Day – Labor Day
Where: Spring Lake swimming lagoon 393 Violetti Rd Santa Rosa
Cost:  $7 parking fee.  Walk-ins free
Inflatable playground $10 per hour






I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Rincon Valley's Spring Lake

Photo by: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Spring Lake Park entrance off Violetti Rd

Rincon Valley has one of the BEST parks in Santa Rosa!  If you are trying to decide what part of Santa Rosa to move to, this article will give you one more reason to want to live in Rincon Valley.  

Spring Lake is a 320-acre county regional park located in eastern Santa Rosa between Summerfield Rd. and Montgomery Drive.  Spring Lake was originally built in 1961 as part of global flood control program for Rincon Valley, Bennett Valley, and downtown Santa Rosa.  In 1974 Spring Lake was further developed into what is now one of Sonoma County's most used parks. Spring Lake really is your "one-stop" park.  
Photo by: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Spring Lake's major purpose is to prevent flooding in downtown Santa Rosa


Spring Lake: is the parks services biggest attraction.  The 72-acre lake which (except during extreme drought) is usually full year round is a great place to boat, fish, kayak, paddle board, and bird watch.  There is a 2.3-mile paved trail that circles that lake, great for walking, biking, and jogging.   The trail is wheelchair accessible.  Boats are available to rent at the lake.  No swimming or gas-powered engines are allowed in/on the lake. 

Boating: Sailing, kayak, stand up paddleboard, and small boats with electric motors may use the lake.  A boat ramp can be accessed off the Newanga entrance at a cost of $4 per boat.  Kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and peddle boats can be rented during the summer months near the Violetti entrance.  No swimming is allowed in the lake. 

Fishing:  Big mouth bass, Sunfish, Catfish, and other fish can be caught in the lake.  Fishing poles can be rented from the concessionaire off Violetti Rd.  A fishing license is required.

The Lagoon:  The swimming lagoon is a 3-acre spring fed swimming area adjacent to Spring Lake.  The swimming lagoon is open to the public Memorial Day thru Labor Day.  It is surrounded by a sandy beach with lots of manicured lawn and mature trees to sit under on a hot day.   Picnic tables and some barbecue pits are available for use.  It's the perfect place to escape hot summer days.  The lagoon is lifeguard protected.  Recently an inflatable playground was added to one end of the lagoon where kids can play for an additional fee.  Inner tubes can be rented at the concessionaire stand.
Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
New to Spring Lake is the floating inflatable playground


Picnicking & barbeque:  There are 200 picnic tables throughout Spring Lake including 5 group sites that are wheelchair accessible. Some sites have barbeque's

Snacks and full meals can be bought at the Otter Cafe
The Otter Cafe:  Serves affordable lunch and dinner items, along with snacks and beer & wine.  There is an outdoor seating area with lounge chairs and tables where patrons of the cafe can sit and look over the lagoon. 



Camping: Spring Lake offers camping with 31 sites that can be reserved.  RV's, trailers, and tent camping are popular.  There are 3 cabins that have recently been added and a site for group camping that can accommodate up to 75 people.  Camping is accessible from the Newanga entrance.  Camping is daily Memorial Day-Labor Day, and weekends and holidays only during the rest of the year

Hiking/walking/jogging/biking: There are 10 miles of hiking and biking trails around Spring Lake.  There is one main 2.3-mile paved trail that circles the lake.  
Photo by: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
A 2.3 mi. walking/jogging path cirles Spring Lake


Environmental Discovery Center: The Environmental Discovery Center is a hands-on interactive science museum designed for elementary school-aged children.  Open Wed-Sun, 12 to 5 pm.  Access the Discovery Center from the Violetti entrance.

Summer Camp: Spring Lake is host to many kid's summer camps through both the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County Parks.  Visit their websites to see what is available.

Other Events: Sonoma County Parks hold other events at Spring Lake such as:

Photo by: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
The annual "Water Bark"
Water Bark
REI equipment boat trials
Fishing lessons
Intro to SUP
Science Saturdays
Paddle Board Yoga
Event Calendar



Where: Spring Lake

South entrance 5585 Newanga Ave Santa Rosa (camping, boat ramp, Horse trailers)
North entrance 393 Violetti Road Santa Rosa

When: Park is open year round 7 am - sunset
Swimming lagoon & Otter Cafe Memorial Day-Labor Day

Cost:
$7 per car
$4 per boat
Both are free with park membership.
Park Membership: $69
Dogs: yes with some restrictions see park web page for more info Ranger: 707.539.8092

More info:  Spring Lake









I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Hood Mountain Regional Park

Hood Mountain is one of Rincon Valley's hidden treasures

Bagel and Jerry pose patiently by the North Entrance sign
Rincon Valley's Hood Mountain Regional Park is a wonderful 1,750-acre protected wildlife park on the east side of Santa Rosa.  There are no attractions at this park other than hiking and wildlife.  Don't come to this park if you are looking for playgrounds or places to swim.  This is strictly for getting away and enjoying nature.

The park is in the Mayacama Mountain Range and runs east/west on the north side of Hwy 12.  There are 2 entrances, one at 3000 Los Alamos Road, and the other at 1450 Pythian Road.  Each entrance access' different trails so have an idea of what trail you want to hike then pick the appropriate entrance.  



Photo by: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Mayacama Mountains as seen from Hwy 12 
The Los Alamos entrance accesses the Hood Mountain Trial which is a fire road that leads to other trails that branch off it.  There are moderate hills on the Hood Mountain Trail.

Gwen hikes to the Grandmother Tree
One of my favorite hikes on this side of the park is the hike to the Grandmother tree.  Here is a link to this hike:  Grandmother tree


From the Pythian entrance (1450 Pythian Rd), expect a tough 1/4 mile hike up a steep paved road before you come to any trails.  Once you hit the trailhead for Lower Johnson, the hike becomes less of a workout and more of a walk in the woods.  One of my regular hikes is to hike to Merganser Pond, about 1 mile, then doing the Valley View Loop Trial, an additional 1 mile, and back to the parking lot for a total hike of 3+ miles.  This is an intermediate hike with steep elevation.

Sonoma County Regional Parks recently established 2 environmental campgrounds at Merganser Pond that are "hike-in" only.  There are 3 sites and only 4 people per site are allowed. 

There is no running water to the campground, however, there is a creek nearby where water can be collected then filtered for cooking.  There is a porta-potty near the campground.  Contact Sonoma County Regional Parks for more details about reserving these campsites.

Two of Sonoma County's pinnacle hikes are at Hood Mountain Regional Park.  

#1  is the hike to Gun Site Rock.  This is an advanced hike for athletic people who can handle the 1700' elevation ascent to the summit of Hood Mountain and then the descent back to the parking lot.  Count on this being a 4-hour strenuous hike.
Panoramic view of "The Valley of the Moon" from Gun Site Rock

Hikers pass wildflowers on the Goodspeed Trail
#2 is a one-way hike from Sugarloaf SP, to Hood Mountain Parking lot on Pythian with an optional drop-in at Gun Site Rock.  This is an advanced hike for people who are athletic and can handle the steep uneven terrain.  This hike requires setting up a shuttle or utilizing the once monthly shuttle offered by the Friends of Sugarloaf. Hikers use the Goodspeed Trail for the trip to the summit.  For more shuttle info click: Shuttle



Hood Mountain Regional Park rules:
Parking: $7
Dogs: yes on 6' or less leash
Hours: 7 am - sunset
Emergencies: 911
Non-emergencies:
Sonoma County Regional Parks: 707.565.2041
Spring Lake Ranger Station 707.539.8092









I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Sunday, July 15, 2018

5 things to THIS Friday (7/20)

Don't wait till Saturday to start your weekend!  Here are 5 things you can do Friday evening after work.


Rincon Valley Dog Park Social

Come socialize with other dog owners and enjoy a bite or drink while watching Fido make new friends

Where: Rincon Valley Community Dog Park
              5108 Badger Rd (or next to the library on Montecito Blvd)

When: Friday 7/20 5pm - 8pm

Cost: Free but it's recommended that if you want to share in the buffet, you bring a dish to share

Why: Great opportunity to get out with your dog, meet local R.V. people.  It's easy, close by, and food and beverages are an important part of the event.  

Funky Friday

This week enjoy the Dylan Black Project 
Where: Lawn fronting the Historic Hood House
389 Casa Manana Rd Santa Rosa (just past St. Francis Winery

When: Friday evening 7/20 5:30 - 10 (show starts at 7pm)

Cost: $10

More info: Funky

Why: Great bands, quality food trucks, chill atmosphere, convenient, beautiful setting & weather.


St Anne's Crossing Winery Concert

This Friday enjoy "Fresh Air" playing Folk/Americana

Where: St Anne's Crossing 8450 Sonoma Hwy Kenwood

When: Friday 7/20 6pm - 8 pm

Cost: Free lawn seating 

More info: St Annes

Why: Beautiful vineyard setting in Kenwood.  Intimate concert venue.  Wonderful wines available for purchase



Cloverdale Friday Night Live

This week: Diego's Umbrella

Where: Cloverdale Downtown Plaza

When: Friday 7/20 6:30pm - ?

Cost:  Free

More info:  Friday Night Live

Why: Hot weather, nice food selection from the farmer's market that runs concurrently.  Unusual bands you won't hear in Santa Rosa

Sebastiani Winery Friday Night Concert Series

Poyntlyss Sistars play this Friday
When:  Friday, July 20 6:00 - 9:00

Where:  Sebastiani Winery 
              389 Fourth St E. Sonoma

Cost: Free

More info: Sebastiani

Why: Nice acoustics inside the tasting room.  Wine available for purchase by the glass or bottle.  Grab dinner in downtown Sonoma before or after the show.



I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Survey of Rincon Valley Homes sold in May 2018



Homes listed correspond with pins on map



Below is a graph of statistical information for the above listed home sales:
Click anywhere on graph to enlarge it




I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Mortgage rate survey from Freddie Mac

30yr fixed up slightly from June



Source: Freddie Mac

Although rates increased slightly from the lows in June, at 4.53, rates are still attractive.  Rates are still below the 2018 high of 4.66% in May 2018





I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Annadel State Park



Rincon Valley's Trione-Annadel State Park


Annadel State Park, located at 6201 Channel Drive Santa Rosa, is the highlight of parks in Rincon Valley, perhaps in the entire county. The park is 5,100 acres of rolling valley woodland.  Wildlife is abundant in this mostly undeveloped park. There are 40 miles of trails and fire roads to explore by foot, bike, or horse.
Photo: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Hikers, joggers, and bicyclists take a break at Lake Isajo

Annadel is a state park and a $10 parking fee is required, however, there are numerous places to park for free and walk in.  The trailhead for Cobblestone is one of the more popular places to park for free.  Other entrances to the park include neighborhood entrances near Stonehedge, Park Trail and Carissa in Bennett Valley.  Paid parking can found on Channel Drive or Lawndale Road.   Window smash vehicle burglaries are occassionally a problem so make sure valuables are out of sight.

A visitor’s center and ranger station are located at the main entrance on Channel Drive.  Maps are free and located in a display next to where you would pay for parking.

Other than the visitor center, there is no formal buildings or things to do other than go for beautiful hikes and rides.  One of my favorite things to do is go up to Lake Isanjo either on foot or mountain bike and go for a swim.  This is an unprotected lake with NO lifeguard.  Swimming is allowed at your own risk.  The cement dam makes for a perfect entry and exit to and from the water. There are picnic tables and one bathroom near Lake Isanjo, along with a bathroom at the top of Two Quarry Trail. Several honor bike repair stations are scattered along the trails throughout the park.


Alex Chudacolf makes his way down Orchard
I love mountain biking at Annadel.  If you are a beginning mountain biker, a nice ride starts at Spring Lake, rides up the Canyon Trail to  Lake Isanjo.  The easiest way back is to double back on the Canyon Trail, but if you want something more challenging, the Spring Creek Trail is a bit more technical and not for beginners

For advanced mountain bikers, going up the Marsh Trail to Ledson Marsh and returning on the South Burma Trail is a popular ride.

I’ve been coming to Annadel Park for 20 years and have seen coyote, mountain lions, deer, rabbits, turkeys, raccoons, skunks and more.  It is a great place to bird watch or take nature photography. I routinely see rattlesnakes so pay attention with your eyes and ears.  

I recommend you not hike in the park unless you have a map with you.  It is very big, and hikers and mountain bikers get lost there all the time.  You need to either bring a map or be sure to get one at the visitor’s center when you enter the park.

Here’s a link to the park map: Annadel

Annadel State Park rules:
Day use only, no camping
Parking fee: $10
No drones or unmanned aircraft
No dogs
No electric assisted bicycles (they are considered motor vehicles)
No riding off trail
Drinkable water at the visitor center and Warren Richardson trailhead.  All other water found at the park is not potable
A fishing license is req at Isanjo Lake 16 years and older
All trail users must yield to horses
No fires or camp stoves








I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633


Rincon Valley

Living in Santa Rosa's Rincon Valley

Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Mayacama Mountains border the north side of Rincon Valley

Santa Rosa is a medium sized city in Northern California.  Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County which is known for producing world-class wines.  Napa County and Sonoma County are jointly known as "The Wine Country".

Santa Rosa has about 170,000 people and is perfectly divided by two highways that intersect in the center of town, dividing Santa Rosa into four almost equal quarters.  US 101 which travels north and south and divides the town into East and West Santa Rosa.  Hwy 12, which runs east to west divides the town into North and South.

Northeast Santa Rosa has a number of established neighborhoods; Fountaingrove, Hidden Valley, Junior College, Proctor Terrace, Montgomery Village, Oakmont, Skyhawk, and Rincon Valley.

Landmarks:

Rincon Valley is most notably known for the big white cross on its northern hillside high above Skyhawk.   Created in 1981 by a retired San Francisco Police Lieutenant and war veteran, it has been the welcome symbol of Rincon Valley for decades.
Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
The white cross is a familiar sight in Rincon Valley


Living:

Rincon Valley, which makes up most of the 95409 zip code has about 27,000 residents living in about 17,000 homes and/or apartments.  36% of the residents are renters (46% is state av.) Rincon Valley is approx. 38 sq. miles with 709 residents per sq mi (low density).  It sits between 2 ranges of hills and is made up of mostly older homes.  If you had to describe an average home, it would be a 1970's single level ranch style home on a 6000 sq ft lot although there is quite a variety of homes, newer and older.  2018 property values (2nd Q 2018 95409 SFR):
  • Median-priced home   $720,000
  • Average-priced home $803.730

Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
One of my favorite Rincon Valley developments the Brush Creek Villas

Planned Unit Developments (PUD's):

There are a number of affordable townhomes, and condominiums for first-time homeowners, people downsizing, and others who do not need a more expensive home.  For those people, I frequently direct them to the following developments:

  • Wild Oak
  • Schoolhouse Creek
  • Villa Los Alamos
  • Brush Creek Villas
  • The Cascades
  • Mission Lake

Demography:


The average age is 51 years old.  The average income is approx. $67,500+, slightly lower than the state average.  This paragraph was written for statistical purposes only. Information was obtained from City-data and can be found at City-Data.

Rincon Valley residents (over 25 years old) education achievement:
  • High school or higher: 95.5%
  • Bachelor's degree or higher: 46.3%
  • Graduate or professional degree: 19.6%
  • Unemployed: 3.8%
  • Mean travel time to work (commute): 24.4 minutes
Photo by: Jim Cheney Broker/owner of Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Locals listen to Band Camp at St Francis Winery while waiting for the evening movie to start


Photo: Jim Cheney, Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Tracks and an old rail car are all that remain at this Annadel quarry

History:


Rincon Valley historically was known for agriculture specifically cherry, and walnut trees. Currently, it has a nice variety of historic buildings and places.  Mining was a major industry in the 1800's.  Evidence of turn-of-the-century mining is still around.  From the Stone House on Hwy 12 to the Melitta Inn on Melita Rd, residents live among the history of our county without even knowing it.  Stone pavers from the hills in Rincon Valley made up San Francisco streets and buildings.  For those who know where to look, the historic quarries in Rincon Valley can still be found.

State Parks:

There are 2 California State Parks in Rincon Valley and a 3rd about 20 minutes down Hwy 12.  Annadel State Park and Sugarloaf State Park are two of our park highlights.  Annadel is one of the best places to mountain bike north of Marin.  Sugarloaf has one of highest mountain peaks in Sonoma County with views looking to San Francisco with ample camping.  Jack London State Park is technically in Glen Ellen but is only a 15-minute drive down Hwy 12.  Its highlights are London's ranch, the ruins of Jack London's Wolf House, and the cottage he and his wife Charmian lived in.
Photo: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner of Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
Lake Isanjo, the treasure of Annadel

County Parks:


Rincon Valley has 2 outstanding county parks:
Both are very different.  Spring Lake was originally developed in the 1960's to serve as a flood control project for the City of Santa Rosa.  It has continued to develop into one of the busiest parks in the regional park system.  Some of the activities there are:

Fishing
Boating
Walking
Jogging
Swimming
Par course
Camping
and more...

Hood Mountain is quite the opposite.  Some hiking trails and a couple of environmental campgrounds, but otherwise it's all nature.
Photo: Jim Cheney Broker/Owner Saint Francis Properties "Your Rincon Valley Realtor"
A hiker passes wildflowers on the Grandmother Tree trail in Hood Mt Regional Park

Elementary Education:

Most of the elementary schools are highly thought of in Rincon Valley, Austin Creek, Madrone, Whited, Sequoia, and Binkley.  The elementary schools fall under the authority of the Rincon Valley Unified School District.  

High School:
The high school, Maria Carrillo, is only a few years old and sits on the outskirts of Rincon Valley with beautiful views of the surrounding hills. There are a number of private elementary, charter and high schools.

Churches:

Rincon Valley has a handful of churches all within a short drive.  Lutheran, Catholic, Latter Day Saints are just a few of the 10 churches located in this part of town.  There is something for everybody looking for a place to worship.  

Businesses:

One of the nice things about Rincon Valley is that the businesses are smaller, and mostly family owned.  There are no big "box stores".  I believe the largest "chain" store is Safeway in the St. Francis Shopping Center.  Rincon Valley is serviced by two small to medium sized shopping centers, St. Francis, Monticeto.  In each, the anchor tenant is the supermarket.  Both are full of the usual businesses, barbers, hardware, ice cream, pizza, cleaners, etc. There are quaint, local services such as Rincon Valley Yard and Garden, Oliver's Market, and the Trail House.

Entertainment:

There are lots of things to do in and near Rincon Valley:
Wine Country Polo
Funky Friday
Montgomery Village Concerts Series
Dog-Friendly Wineries
Rincon Valley Dog Park Social
Swimming Lagoon
Vineyard Dog Walks

Thinking of relocating to the Northbay?  Consider Rincon Valley.  Rincon Valley is a beautiful place to live. It offers most services a person would want with a small town atmosphere.





I love living in Rincon Valley!  I've lived here since 1995 and can't imagine living in a better North Bay community.  Call me today if you're interested in buying a home in Rincon Valley, or if you'd like to list your Rincon Valley home for sale.  

Jim Cheney, Your Rincon Valley Realtor
  • Jim Cheney, Broker
  • Saint Francis Property
  • Jim@StFrancisProperty.com
  • (707) 494-1055
  • Rincon Valley - Santa Rosa
  • Your Rincon Valley Realtor
    DRE# 01368633