Roadmap with Irina - December 2021

Roadmap with Irina - December 2021


Hi <<First Name>>, 

This month I am very late with my newsletter. Usually, I send it out in the middle of the month, but today is December 29 and I am just starting to write it. December was a bit crazy but very productive for me, so I implore you please forgive my lateness here.

Since December is not officially over, let's see how the November market looked like. The trend of declining inventory and increasing sale prices continued in November. The median sale price for single-family homes was slightly higher compared to October of this year - $1.65 mil vs $1.62 mil - and 20.6% higher compared to November 2020. The median sale price for condos and townhouses in November 2021 went up 10% compared to the same month last year. Months to Sell columns for both houses and condos show that all available homes will be sold out within 2 weeks. Please note that the number of closed transactions every year was greater than the number of new listings on the market. This clearly indicates that past few years we were in a seller’s market.    

The market remained hot. Most houses received multiple offers, and sellers decided not to counter because they’ve got way better prices than they expected. Usually, the holiday season slows the real estate market, but we haven’t seen any signs of decreased activity in November. So many homes were sold on Thanksgiving week. Not all buyers celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or other traditional holidays, so for them, it’s another day off that they can go out, look at houses and submit offers. Also, many buyers cashed out their stocks by the end of the year, so they have more cash and can make very aggressive offers.

I will continue to watch the market and share my observations with you. Let me know if you want to know more or have any questions about the market. If you know someone who might need my help, please introduce me to them. It is never too early to get ready.


When we think of New Year’s resolutions, we normally think about ourselves—diet, exercise, daily habits, and other personal items. Of course, for most people, the biggest asset is the home, so adding value there has the biggest financial impact. However, it can be intimidating to consider a home improvement project, both from a monetary and logistical standpoint. The good news is that there are many ways to increase your home’s bottom line without breaking the bank. Here are ten things you should do in 2021 to make your home more beautiful, more valuable, and more pleasant to live in. The best part? All of these require minimal financial outlay while offering maximum return on investment.

1.   Add some curb appeal
You may think that the most profitable home improvements are those you make in the kitchen and bathrooms. In reality, however, year after year, the biggest bang for your remodeling buck comes from replacing the front door and sprucing up the home’s facade. While you may need some help hanging the door, you can add new house numbers, a new mailbox, and new hardware yourself, quickly and inexpensively.

2.   Tick off that honey-do list
Deferred maintenance is one of the biggest budget-busters homeowners face. As small tasks become big ones and things left undone begin to multiply, the remedy can often mean a major home repair and an expensive lesson learned. If you’ve got an extensive list of small repairs, it’s time to tackle them once and for all. Set aside a day or two and knock them out all at once, or add an item to your calendar once a week until they are all complete.

3.   Create a maintenance schedule
Once you’re all caught up with your fix-it list, you’ll want to create a schedule for ongoing maintenance. This may be as simple as walking the property both indoors and out once a month to check for peeling paint, standing water, or other minor warning signs of trouble. In addition, preschedule a spring and fall inspection and maintenance appointment for your systems, including HVAC, irrigation systems, and gutters.

4.   Get your lawn in shape
Yet another way to add major curb appeal on a tiny budget is by ensuring that your lawn is in top condition. If you frequently fall behind on lawn care, you may want to enlist the help of a landscaping service to get your greenspaces back in shape and keep them looking their best.

5.   Invest in new greenery
Yet another way to affordably improve the look of your home is with new plants and trees. Create planting beds, add tubs of seasonal flowers at the front door, or plant a fast-growing tree to provide shade and insulation to a sunny spot. Remember to favor plants that are native to your area in order to reduce time, money, and environmental impact related to fertilizer, water, and pest control.

6.   Invest in smart upgrades
Smart home improvements not only add value to your home at resale time—they pay for themselves in energy savings and convenience as well. Consider a fully integrated smart home system or start out small with a smart thermostat, doorbell, or door lock. Resolve to add a new smart upgrade to your system each season in order to gradually and affordably transform the way your home works.

7.   Conduct an energy audit
Consult your utility provider about an energy audit to find out what changes or improvements you can make to your home that will increase its energy efficiency. You may find that you’re losing a lot of money to leaky window frames and drafty doorways when a little caulk and sealant would make a world of difference.

8.   Add a fresh coat of paint
One of the most affordable ways to transform a room—or your whole home—is with a brand new paint color. Start small by sprucing up your favorite room or go bigger by transforming your kitchen through painted cabinetry. You’re only limited by your time and your imagination.

9.   Update finishes and fixtures
One of the easiest ways to date a home’s interior is through outmoded light fixtures, switch plates, cabinet pulls, and other small finishes. The good news is that these are also among the most affordable changes you can make, and they are easy to DIY. Start small with drawer and cabinet hardware in kitchens and baths, then move up to freshly updated switch plates and outlet covers. Consider interior door hardware in a contemporary style, then have your handyman hang updated light fixtures and install new plumbing fixtures for the finishing touch.

10.   Consult with your real estate professional
Your most important 2021 resolution should be to have a cup of coffee with a real estate professional, either socially distanced at your local coffee shop or via Zoom. They will be able to walk you through the design trends that everyone is clamoring for right now so that you can make a more informed decision about where to spend your home improvement dollars.

In addition, you may want to ask for a referral to your agent’s most trusted home inspector. This will allow you to have a professional come in and view your home with a fresh set of eyes, and identify repairs and improvements that are needed. In addition, your home inspector can help you categorize your updates into those that are urgently needed and those that can wait a few months or even years.
As I mentioned before, the month of December was very busy for me. In fact, I never had so many important things going on at the same time before.

I have two renovations going on. One is my precious 2bed/2bath condo that we own and are thinking of selling soon. You might’ve seen the video and pictures of it on social media. This place was completely trashed by the tenants that I was ‘lucky’ to get together with the property a couple of years ago. A great contractors’ crew has been relentlessly working on the condo for the last 6 weeks, turning it from a junkyard to a beautiful place again. The work is almost done, so stay tuned; I will share pictures of the end result soon.

Another renovation is still going on in our own house – we are finally replacing all carpet with hardwood floors and painting the whole house. Every other day we have to move furniture from room to room to make space for the contractors’ work. The first floor and half of the stairs are done, and we are hoping to finish the rest by the end of this year. Yes, it is exhausting to move our stuff, navigate through boxes and piles of things every day, all while working from home and wrapping up the year; but you know me, I love renovation and feel very happy to see the progress every day.

We also just bought a vacation house in Monterey! We are very excited and looking forward to spending our free time there with family and friends. There will be another renovation in this house, but as I said, I love making properties better, so I cannot wait to start working there.

We took a break from our busy lives and went to Tahoe for a few days. This is a family tradition to see the snow and to remind ourselves that we are originally from Siberia and used to wear jackets and fur coats 7 months a year. We stayed at Cornelian Bay with extended family and friends having great time and enjoying the weather, tons of snow, and mulled wine. As with many other people, we got stuck there due to the weather and we had to spend a night in Reno, but we safely drove home the next day through smaller open roads. I bet our tradition will be broken next year when we will happily stay for Christmas in our new Monterey house. If you ask me, the location plays little role in our vacations – the people you are with are most important in any getaway.

I started a new coaching program that will help me to develop my business and most importantly, will help me to work on my own values and strengths. I love my coach and classmates! There is so much to learn and do, but in the end, hope to live a more well-balanced life. I hope you and all my clients will see the better version of me very soon. 😊

I worked hard as I usually do. I met new people who became my new clients, closed a couple of transactions, sold houses, learned new purchase contract forms, helped a past client and a good friend to rent out his property for the first time, and did much more work than I cannot now recall. I also spent some time driving around and visiting my past clients and good friends. It is always great to see them again, to catch up on the recent news, and to hear about changes they did and how they love their homes. If you haven’t seen me recently, please know that I am not ignoring you, I miss you too and looking for spare time to reconnect with you again. Give me a buzz and let’s get together for a coffee or glass of wine. I would love to see you!

Wrapping up the year, I would like to thank you for all your support, trust, introductions, talents, opportunities that you gave me! Without you, I wouldn’t have had such a great time in 2021. I hope that I made your year a bit relaxed and fun too. I am always here for you in case you need anything. I love you all! Let’s make wonderful things in the next year!
Always yours,
Copyright © 2021 Sereno Group, All rights reserved.

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Work With Irina

Working mainly by referrals, I do my best to provide excellent real estate services to my clients, always exceeding their expectations. Whether they are buying or selling, I walk them through every transaction step, making it transparent and smooth. My relationships are always based on open communication, loyalty, and true commitment.

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