09 Jun

How to Compete in the Sacramento Housing Bidding War

You’ve heard the horror stories – bidding wars with dozens of other home-shoppers – and seen the headlines where a buyer pays $100,000 or more over the asking price for a home. Yeah, it’s a crazy, super-competitive housing market.

A couple of quick home buying facts and figures in the Sacramento region just to increase your anxiety:

  • Almost three of every four homes sold face bidding wars.
  • Two of every three homes sold for more than the asking price.
  • Homes are selling at a record-setting pacesix days in Sacramento County; five days in Placer County.
  • Home prices are up 23% from a year ago to a record $625,000 in Placer County and $490,000 in Sacramento County.

But even amid all of the craziness and record prices, buying a home now and taking advantage of the near-record-low mortgage rates likely makes more financial sense than purchasing down the road when rates are higher, says Brandon Haefele, CEO and President of Catalyst Mortgage in Roseville. Plus, there are some tax advantages of owning a home compared to renting.

So, how can you compete and increase the chances of being the winner in a bidding war without going crazy?


  • Be honest with yourself and know how much house you can afford, based on your down payment – and know the total monthly cost of owning a home, including the mortgage, property taxes and homeowners’ insurance.
  • Get pre-qualified (your creditworthiness) and pre-approved for a mortgage. Then you know your budget and how much house you can comfortably afford – or any potential trouble.
  • Establish a list of must-haves – like four bedrooms – and the nice-to-haves but can live without or add later, such as wood floors or a fully landscaped backyard.


  • Cash is often king, but only 15%-20% of homes are all-cash deals.
  • So, for the rest of us, a bigger down payment – for example increasing from 20% to 40% — will attract more attention.
  • Write a letter to the homeowners, listing the things you love about their house (everyone likes compliments and a connection).
  • If possible, reduce the time frame on the inspection, appraisal and loans. Be flexible on the closing date (the homeowners may be buying another home as well).
  • When you make an offer, don’t haggle over relatively minor repairs like a cracked window or chipped tile. However, DO NOT ignore major repairs, like a broken air conditioner or roof damage.
  • Perhaps the most important advice from real estate experts – don’t become too emotional about a house and overpay. If you spend too much, even with near-record-low mortgage rates, the house of your dreams will eventually become a financial nightmare.

Congratulations. You had the winning bid and can move into the home. A few things to keep in mind about owning a home but are often forgotten, and to take into consideration when budgeting.


  • If you buy a home in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association (HOA), consider the monthly cost.
  • Ask any homeowner, and they will say things happen – and never at a good time. A broken garbage disposal, a leaky water heater or a garage door that comes off the track and bends like a soda can. A good rule of thumb is to set aside about $1 to $2 per square foot – or about $170 per month for a 2,000 square-foot home. Of course, costs depend on the age and condition of the house.
  • If you have ambitious plans to buy and then do some home-improvement projects, remember the cost will likely be much more than you planned – and likely take more time than you want. For example, replacing an entry door can cost $2,000, while replacing windows can top $22,000, according to Remodeling magazine’s West Coast report.
06 Nov

Feeding Local Families

Feeding Local Families
For more than a decade, Catalyst Mortgage’s Feeding Local Families program has been providing holiday meals for food insecure families in the Sacramento region. Our partnership with KCRA resulted in nearly $25,000 in donations to the Sacramento Food Bank. However, food insecurity is not a seasonal concern, but a year round issue that impacts more than 215,000 residents of the Greater Sacramento region. To meet the growing need, Catalyst Mortgage is expanding Feeding Local Families to a year round effort with a donation of $250 to the Sacramento Food Bank for every loan closed.  Each donation will provide meals for $1,250 neighbors in need. We believe that when we’re doing well, it’s our responsibility to do good for the community.  Together, we can make a difference. To learn more about the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services visit https://www.sacramentofoodbank.org/

05 Jun

Don’t Buy the Hype – Learn About Your Mortgage Company

Catalyst Mortgage’s Credo is to fight for our client’s best interest. We do business differently than other lenders. We work with our clients to find the best mortgage solution for them, and we know that mortgages are not one-size-fits-all. Brandon Haefele, CEO of Catalyst Mortgage, sums up his thoughts and concerns on why it is important for consumers to shop around and get to know their mortgage lender.