Posted by: msundermier | October 30, 2018

Want to Pay Less in Taxes? Let us help!

Business man pointing the text Time for TaxesMost California homeowners received their property tax bill in recent weeks. Many of us just file it away without looking since most of us have our mortgage company pay the tax bill. If you do this, you may end up paying more for property taxes than you should without even knowing it!                                                        Let me explain.


Every year the county assessor’s office determines the assessed values of properties from which to calculate your property tax bill. California has many state laws, most notably Proposition 13, that skew one’s assessed value. Thus, the assessed value is often lower than true market value. Occasionally, the assessor’s office gets it wrong and assesses your home for MORE than the market value, resulting in you paying more taxes than you should.

time_managementAll counties have an appeals process to reconsider your assessed value, but there is a window of time to file the appeal. Sacramento County, for example, requires the appeal to be received before November 30.

I am offering a free service to my clients to help with the appeals process. If you believe your assessed value is unfairly high (check your tax bill or a link like this one), give us a call or a click and we will research comparable sales to your home to help make a valid argument to the assessor’s office. Doing so could save you hundreds on your property tax bill.

Posted by: msundermier | October 15, 2018

Team Member Spotlight – Chris McGann

Adding Chris to our team was one of the most significant business decisions in our company’s development.  Prior to Chris, Lisa & I were solely responsible for all sales tasks, putting us financially at risk if either of us were to  have a dry spell, and certainly putting us on a path to professional burn out!
He was the first member who was brought in to help with originating loans and selling real estate. With Chris’ extensive customer service history combined with our experience and mentorship, we knew we would have a rising All-Star in no time.

Chris has become one of the most versatile and invaluable members of the team over the years, as there’s rarely a situation where he’s not a part of the solution.  Check out Chris’ bio below to get to know him a bit more.

Chris McGann

Mortgage Consultant / REALTOR®

DRE #01941980 / NMLS #1104055


I am lucky enough to be involved in one of the biggest decisions my clients make in their lives. It’s an opportunity I don’t take lightly. My clients trust me to help them achieve their real estate goals, and in turn I trust my clients to fuel my business through referrals. Being both a licensed REALTOR® and mortgage broker for my entire career, I have taken the approach of offering both services. My clients and I find the combination of services to be more efficient, effective, and enjoyable than the compartmentalized approach.  I often serve in one capacity on a transaction, but my knowledge of both skill sets allows me to do my job better and make my counterparts’ job easier resulting in a smoother transaction. Buying a home or refinancing a mortgage can be an emotional process. Home is a feeling not a place, and it’s one of the best feelings in the world! Being able to share in that feeling is my favorite part of the job. 

I’ve called Sacramento home for nearly my entire life, and it’s now where my wife, Lisa, and I have decided to start our family. We purchased our first home in Carmichael – a fixer in need of some updating – and have enjoyed (for the most part) working to make it our dream home. 

Outside the office, traveling to new places with our son—Jackson (3 months), a curious & excitable little spirit who reminds us to have a fresh perspective towards life –is a passion of ours. We also enjoy challenging ourselves by training for half marathons (usually one a year), and spending time with family that is spread out across California. Our home has become the default gathering spot for hosting holidays and get togethers.


Posted by: msundermier | October 4, 2018

I Hate to Talk Politics Again, But…

In early 2017, I wrote a post about my hesitation, but ultimate need, to lace politics into an economic discussion in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.  It was one of the most popular posts of the year on my blog!

There is another current issue that requires tip-toeing on a new political subject. Since the headlines surrounding the pending Supreme Court Nomination of Brett Kavanagh simultaneously touches on all of the main taboo topics (sex, religion & politics), I’m not going to touch any of that with a 10 foot pole!

Instead, there are state-level political issues on the upcoming ballot that have the potential to significantly influence our local real estate market.  I feel fairly strongly about these matters, and hope that I can educate you of the issues, and incline you to vote “Yes on 5” and “No on 10” this November.

Yes on 5

California is facing a housing crisis – and it’s getting worse. Put simply: there’s not enough homes.  This is the largest single factor that has contributed to home prices nearly doubling in the last 6 years. Presently, too many potential homeowners and renters are simply priced out of the market. This November, two propositions meant to combat this crisis are on the ballot, and I believe one will make matters worse if passed.  Together, we can take decisive action to protect home ownership and private property rights in California.

The first is Prop 5, an initiative that will allow seniors, the disabled and victims of natural disasters to move to a home better suited to their needs without facing drastically higher property taxes.  It’s essentially an expansion of Propositions 60 & 90, current California laws that allow homeowners over 55 to move and avoid property tax reassessment.  Here’s how Prop 5 will work:

  • Seniors often live in homes that no longer meet their needs because their homes may be too big or too far from family. If these homeowners want to downsize or move closer to their children, they could face a doubling or tripling of their property taxes, or what’s being called a moving penalty.
  • Proposition 5 provides appropriate relief by allowing those eligible the ability to transfer their current property tax base to the purchase of another home in any of California’s 58 counties. Current rules only allow seniors to transfer their tax base if they buy a less-expensive home in the same county, but Proposition 5 will make more folks and more situations eligible for this tax relief, resulting in more homes to be sold and available for purchase, particularly older, smaller, more affordable homes. The new property tax for that individual would be based on their original home’s assessment, in addition to an adjustment consisting of the difference in value between the sale price of the original home and the sale price of the new home.
  • Proposition 5 would provide respect to seniors (many on fixed incomes), the disabled and disaster victims by allowing them the flexibility to move to a more suitable home. Right now, too many feel locked in place. 
  • This will help boost the housing inventory in existing neighborhoods as older homeowners move from their single-family homes that no longer meet their needs and free up housing for the next generation.

The other measure of concern on the November ballot is Prop 10, the so-called “Affordable Housing Act,” that would actually make the housing crisis worse by repealing the long-standing Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act, eventually allowing local governments to impose draconian rent control measures.  While on the surface rent control may appear to be a way to reduce housing costs for lower-income residents, it ultimately will have the opposite impact.

Here’s why Californians should vote NO on Prop 10:

  • Proposition 10 will reduce availability of affordable and middle-class housing. Academic experts from the University of Southern California, U.C. Berkeley and Stanford agree that it would drive up rents, while discouraging new construction and reduce the availability of affordable and middle-class housing. Even the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst has found that passage of Proposition 10 would both discourage new construction and result in existing rental units being taken off the market, reducing availability of rental housing.
  • Proposition 10 will increase the cost of existing housing. Proposition 10 will cause homeowners to sell or convert rental properties into other more profitable uses, such as short-term vacation listing services like Airbnb. That would increase the cost of existing housing and make it even harder for renters to find affordable housing.
  • Proposition 10 will cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year, reducing revenues available for education and public safety. The Legislative Analyst also said that Proposition 10 would likely reduce the value of rental properties and single-family homes, driving down local property tax revenues by up to hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Driving down home values will hurt middle-class families and will also reduce the funding available for vital services like schools, public safety, road repairs, education, and fire safety.noprop10
  • Proposition 10 will eliminate homeowner protections. Proposition 10 repeals protections homeowners have enjoyed for over 20 years, and lets the government dictate pricing for privately owned single-family homes, controlling how much homeowners can charge to rent out their home – or even just a room.
  • Proposition 10 might even lead to bureaucrats imposing oppressive surcharges when an owner takes a home off the rental market and chooses to occupy it.

Please vote YES on Prop 5 and NO on Prop 10 on November 6th.  I’m happy to chat about these matters further in the weeks ahead. Either leave a comment here or give me a call.

For more information:

Prop 5:

Prop 10:

Posted by: msundermier | August 28, 2018

Check Out Our New Team Video!

Building a trustworthy team at The Blue Waters Group has been one of the most gratifying accomplishments in my life.  Each team member brings something unique when serving our clients.  They are all special people, and I truly could not care for you and those you refer without them.
We’ve recently created a team video that tells the story of our team and our collective ability to help you.  You may already know the names of our teammates, but we want you to see their faces and feel their personalities; to have a connection with them.  We thought it a little cumbersome to go knocking on each of your front doors & introduce them in person, so making a team video was the next-best thing!
Over the years, you’ve trusted me to help you in your mortgage and real estate affairs.  As such, you’ve also placed your trust in our team.  They do more than support me behind the scenes; each one of them in their areas of strength are able to fill my shoes when necessary.  Its time I bring them into the spotlight and show them off to you.
In addition to monthly spotlights on our group, our team video (click video below) will surely further your understanding and appreciation of our team’s talents, and ultimately compel you to return & refer us for mortgage and real estate needs.


Posted by: msundermier | August 27, 2018

Team Member Spotlight – Jennifer Perry

We are so fortunate Jennifer is a part of our team.  You’ve likely worked with her during a recent transaction, as she acts as both a Loan Processor & Transaction Coordinator.
She’s sweet as can be with all of our clients, and is also incredibly determined with underwriters and other vendors when going to bat for you during transactions.
Below is her bio so you can get to know our Jennifer a bit more.

Jennifer Perry

Senior Loan Processor & Transaction Coordinator

I have had the pleasure of working in this industry for many years, and have always loved the fast pace and unpredictability of this chosen career.  I have been a Mortgage Loan Processor for more than 12 years and have become a certified Transaction Coordinator for Real Estate since joining The Blue Waters Group almost 2 years ago.  

I have a wonderful husband, Trevor and two amazing boys, Bryce and Chad.  After having the opportunity to work from home while I raised my sweet sons, I was anxious to get back to the work place.  I was patiently searching for the perfect work family, and have been blessed to have found that with Matt and Lisa.  The “Team” environment that they have created, is such a peaceful, supportive, and wonderful place to be and I could not be happier.

Currently I am studying to obtain my Real Estate and Loan Originator’s license in order to further advance my career and continue my passion in helping current homeowner’s and future homeowners with obtaining their financial dreams!   

Posted by: msundermier | August 27, 2018

Showcase Video – 335 Shockley, Auburn

We were honored to recently list and sell this incredible home in the Auburn foothills.  Special properties deserve special marketing; here is a video we shot, edited, and produced all in-house.  Check it out; and remember we can offer this level of professional marketing when helping you sell your home.

Posted by: msundermier | August 9, 2018

A Message From the Middle of Nowhere!

Last month, Mary & I participated in a sailing race to Hawaii with my brother and sister-in-law.  It was an incredible experience that we soon won’t forget.  Like so many times when boating, I found a parallel to my work life that I felt worthy to share.  So, I turned on the video camera just after sunrise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and shot this video for you.

Now in its 20th race, the Pacific Cup is known as “the FUN race to Hawaii.”  We joined the Cruising Division, making the race more of a recreational flotilla than a cut-throat race to Oahu.  It took us 14 days to get there.  We didn’t get there first, but we were far from last.

My brother (Andy) & sister-in-law (Tessa) spent the better part of a year preparing their boat for this excursion.  We experienced very little in the way of mechanical problems, largely due to their diligent planning and hard work.

As it was their boat, Andy and Tessa were the captains.  They spend a ton of time sailing their boat, and know the boat well.  Mary and I were essentially crew.  We could handle the basics, but if a problem arose we often couldn’t handle it on our own.

We had smooth sailing conditions for the most part, but half-way through our journey we encountered some challenges.  In one case, the auto-pilot stopped working in the middle of the night while I was on watch.  Try as I might, I couldn’t fix the issue.  Ultimately, I had to wake up Tessa, who quickly identified the problem and got things straightened out.

It was frustrating for me to admit, but we were dependent on Andy and Tessa for many things.  It reminded me of when Lisa and I started The Blue Waters Group with one part-time employee.  Most of our company tasks required our attention.  It was exhausting, and ultimately unsustainable.

Thankfully, we have grown our “crew” at work and now are a team of 9.  Many of our employees know our business inside and out, and help clients in the same fashion as Lisa and me.  That type of competency only comes from experience, and we are fortunate to have had very little turnover in our team members as we’ve grown.  We are so grateful of our collective, capable group and I want to put them in the spotlight.

Over the next few months, we are going to showcase our crew members here on  I want you to get to know them.  If you’ve worked with us over the years odds are you know some of them, but some may be new faces to you.

I learned early in our business that I cannot help you all on my own.  I need help, and am so thankful for our working family that not only help deliver the high level of service you’ve come to expect from us, but also allow me to take time off to adventure with my family while confidently knowing you’ll still be well taken care of during my absence.

Thank you for trusting my team and me over the years & I look forward to showing off my crew to you in the coming months.

Posted by: msundermier | June 20, 2018

New Homes South of 50 Finally For Sale!

The first homes in Folsom Ranch, the new development south of Hwy 50, will go on sale this Thursday. This is a momentous occasion for the city of Folsom, as planning for this began nearly 20 years ago.  The city is also presently finalizing its General Plan, the first update since 1988.  Folsom is certainly looking to the future, and as a local REALTOR I’ve been keeping my eye on these story-lines for some time.


Area residents have mixed feelings about Folsom Ranch, as it is a stark indication of urban sprawl and population growth.  The total development, which includes nearly 12,000 new residential units and also devote 30% of the land to open space, will surely change Folsom and the surrounding communities.  But how exactly remains to be seen.

Will traffic become maddeningly congested with 40,000 new residents?  Will more employers flock to the area as a means of recruiting talent in a lower-cost alternative to the Bay Area?  Will home values suffer as builders saturate the market with hundreds of homes for sale?

Again, the impacts are uncertain.  For now, here’s what I can tell you…Taylor Morrison is opening their sales trailer this Thursday to sell their first community in Folsom Ranch, called Azure.  The model homes won’t be built until September, but deposits will be taken and contracts signed immediately.  Pricing will begin in the high 400,000s.

Our team is able to help you purchase and finance these and other new homes built in Folsom Ranch.  If you’d like more information about the floor plans, the community, or the Folsom Ranch development at large, please give me a call.  As a life-long Folsom resident, I’m excited about the changes ahead for our city and feel fortunate to be in a position to help educate my neighbors of our city’s future.


For the last 4 months, interest rates have been on the rise.  Beginning with tax reform in December, the markets have anticipated higher inflation, stock prices, and ultimately mortgage rates.  Furthermore, the number of homes for sale in most areas have been increasing as well.  In the Sacramento area, March saw a 21.7% increase in the number of homes for sale compared to the same month a year ago.For the last several years, most market experts have been saying home values will keep rising until interest rates and inventory rise.  Now that the latter has begun, it would make sense that home values may begin to fall, right?

For the last several years, most market experts have been saying home values will keep rising until interest rates and inventory rise.  Now that the latter has begun, it would make sense that home values may begin to fall, right?

Not so fast.  While rising interest rates and inventory are putting downward pressure on home values, there are stronger pressures pushing them up.  The most significant relate to building new homes.


Simply put, California is not building enough new homes (check this article out).  Compared to the peak in 2005 when California builders erected 150,000 new single-family homes, 2017 saw 58,000 new units built.  This is a significant increase compared to prior years, but still not enough to keep up with California population and housing demand.

One reason builders may not be building at the pace necessary is the cost to construct new homes (watch this CNBC video released shortly after the metal tariffs were imposed by the US government in March).  From lumber and metals to labor and regulation, nearly all costs associated with construction have seen significant increases.  These additional costs are anticipated to be passed onto buyers of new homes, which in turn keeps prices higher of resale homes as well.  Other builders may decide to not build at all, or build larger homes rather than starter homes that tend to have thinner margins.

The stats support there is no home-price slow-down in sight.  The average sales price in Sacramento just reached over $400K, a 5%+ increase just since the beginning of the year.  Anticipate home prices continuing their march upward in spite of higher interest rates and inventory.  The march won’t last forever, but there are no signs of it stopping any time soon.

Posted by: msundermier | January 9, 2018

Should You Finance Energy Efficient Upgrades? UPDATED 2018

Energy efficient upgrades to a home can add value, lower your utility bills, and make you a “greener” citizen of the Earth. There are now a number of finance alternatives that have made these updates more accessible than ever before.


For example, you can lease solar systems and offset the monthly lease payment with the energy savings produced. You can also borrow money to install energy saving appliances, and have the loan payments added to your property tax bill. With all of these new finance alternatives, it has helped many homeowners who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to install these updates with their own savings.

But are these new finance options truly helping homeowners? We have spoken to a number of clients who weren’t aware of some of the fine print of these finance schemes, specifically how these lease and loan options create a lien on their property that make it difficult or even impossible to refinance their homes.  Furthermore, changing income tax laws impact many of these finance alternatives.  PACE loans, for example, are liens buried into the property’s tax bill, but many California homeowners may find their property taxes not as tax-deductible as in years past.

Most folks recognize that they are going to pay interest if they borrow money from a solar or utility company, but what does not appear to be commonly understood is that these loans and leases are recorded against the property.

We have worked to help several clients refinance to a lower interest rate and save money on their mortgage payment. During the underwriting process, we discover an additional lien resulting from a solar, window, HVAC, or other energy efficiency update. This secondary lien must either be paid off or give permission for the mortgage to be refinanced. Many times, the client either doesn’t want to or can’t pay off the loan, and the energy efficiency loan won’t allow the refinance to proceed. The refinance attempt ultimately fails. Ironically, the act to save money through energy efficient updates ends up handcuffing the client to a higher mortgage interest rate loan, thus losing more money to interest than what is being saved in lower utility costs.

Not all loan and lease terms are the same amongst the various options and vendors. And in some cases it probably makes sense to obtain one of these loans and live with the potential down sides.   Simply be sure you know the fine print. Solar and other outfits are pushing these available financing options hard on homeowners, but there are more traditional finance options available that you may want to consider as well. A cash-out refinance, home equity line of credit, home improvement loan, or other form of traditional mortgage financing may make sense as well. As always, we are happy to discuss what options you may have and objectively point out the pros and cons of each.

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