Solano County In A Nutshell
If you’re looking to buy Solano county real estate and join the other 424,788 people that call Solano county home, then you’re in the right place. “The Official Guide To Buying Solano County Real Estate” will help you effortlessly navigate the waters of home ownership as though you’re a ferry boat docked at the Mare Island terminal.
WARNING: This article, while helpful, may contain a large number of puns and analogies that are specific to Solano county, and recognizable to its residents.
We are not realtors. We do not sell homes. We are not lenders. Why are we making this guide? Because we work closely with our real estate partners to make sure people are well educated on the entire process. From getting prequalified, to selecting a realtor, to getting home insurance, we want you to be well informed
MEET THE LOCAL REAL ESTATE PRO’S
Favorite local restaurant: Rose Garden in Vacaville – Thai Food
Favorite hangout: Luigi’s in Fairfield – GREAT sandwiches and a nice selection of fine craft beers if your into that thing!
In real estate since: 1991
Favorite local restaurant: FUJI BOAT Vacaville
Favorite hangout: My Back Yard
In real estate since: 1991
Favorite local restaurant: Backdoor Bistro
Favorite hangout: The dog park at Lagoon Valley Park
In real estate since: 1997
Favorite local restaurant: Athenian Grill
Favorite hangout: Benicia waterfront
In real estate since: 1988
Favorite local restaurant: Merchant and Main for lunch, dinner or happy hour.
Favorite hangout: Pena Adobe in the sunshine OR 6 flags with my kids/family.
In real estate since: 2003
Favorite local restaurant: El Tejaban taqueria
Favorite hangout: Berryessa Brewing company
In real estate since: 2013
Currently listening to: Run the Jewels
<script src=”https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/ra5g02cfoz.jsonp” async></script><script src=”https://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js” async></script><div class=”wistia_responsive_padding” style=”padding:56.25% 0 0 0;position:relative;”><div class=”wistia_responsive_wrapper” style=”height:100%;left:0;position:absolute;top:0;width:100%;”><div class=”wistia_embed wistia_async_ra5g02cfoz videoFoam=true” style=”height:100%;width:100%”> </div></div></div>
The County serves seven jurisdictions – Benicia , Dixon , Fairfield , Rio Vista, Suisun City , Vacaville and Vallejo – in addition to the unincorporated areas. These seven towns are all extremely unique. Although they are only a few miles apart, they all are so incredibly different. From the classic architectural styles of Vallejo and Benicia, to the agricultural farms of Dixon, all the way to the shopping and entertainment scenes of Vacaville. Solano county residents enjoy many diverse interests and styles within our county boarders.
But why do people choose to live here? What makes owning a home here so great? I sat down with a handful of local experts to find out these answers and more. Our hope is that this will help you. Perhaps you’re looking to buy a home here , maybe you’re moving from the Sacramento or San Francisco bay area regions and you need a few pointers. Or perhaps you’ve grown up here, you know our towns like the back of your hand, but you’re a first-time home buyer. These tools and tips should help you in your process of buying Solano county real estate.
Why Do People Choose Solano county?
In interviewing local realtors and lenders, they all had various reasons, but there was a unanimous consensus on one thing: LOCATION.
You’ve heard the old real estate phrase “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION”? Well Solano county real estate has it! Our county is centered between the Sacramento Capital, and the San Francisco bay area. Depending on traffic (another topic for another blog) You can reach either destination in roughly 30-45 minutes. This makes it a perfect bedroom community for that person who needs to commute to work.
However, being able to get to work isn’t the only thing that matters, we also enjoy a vast array of leisure activities. Solano county residents are also 30-45 minutes away from enjoying the sights, sounds, and pleasures of the Napa Valley region. If wine tasting and delicious French food is your guilty pleasure, then you can simply jump onto Highway 12 and ride into Napa, St Helena, and Calistoga. If you’d rather spend your weekend hitting the slopes, or enjoying the lake, then you can drive in the opposite direction and head to Lake Tahoe. You’re also not too far away from Dillon’s Beach. (closest ocean beach)
As Sarah Madsen from Caliber Home Loans accurately described it, “you’re just sitting in this gem, right in the middle of everything.” Or as Fidel Moralez from Windermere Hulsey and Associates calls it, “Solano county is the gateway.”
What about what’s actually in Solano county? What can residents do here instead of driving away to see?
If you’re like me and have a small, young family, there are so many great things to do here. Solano county offers a wide range of family activities and great places to eat and relax.
If you drive through Vacaville and Fairfield, you’ll notice long rolling hills that are currently covered in emerald green grass this time of year from the winter rains. Nestled within these hills is Pena Adobe Park.
Pena Adobe offers the best local, easy to climb hiking trails. You can venture all the way up to the top of the towers and take a random selfie to show all your social media followers just how dedicated to fitness you are. From the top, you can see nearly the entire county. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for some fantastic views
The park also is home to a local off leash dog park and a large pond that is great if your kids like to feed the ducks as much as my kids do. The park is easy to get to, there is plenty of parking, and it’s a great place to take your drone to if you’re into that sort of thing for test flights.
Take a picnic basket, a blanket, your four legged friends and perhaps some binoculars and spend a few hours here watching all of the birds and animals that live here. It’s a great way to spend a Saturday between the months of March – July.
My trip to Pena Adobe Park
If you’re a weekend warrior and enjoy having your boat out on the water, then you can enjoy Lake Berryessa in the summer months. The lake is an excellent place to take a swim and cool off in the warmer summer months. Its walking trails make it a great place to ride your bike. It’s a great place to fish, enjoy horseback riding, and even setup a tent and do some camping if you’re into “roughing it”.
Lake Berryessa is also home to the now famous “Glory Hole” A large man made spill drain that was long deemed useless due to the California drought, but is now attracting national attention due to the recent, ultra-wet Winter of 2017.
<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/cB0BKIm1EzM” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
Dining and Entertainment
When it comes to dining, very few places can top the great local options enjoyed near the Suisun Marina. From Babs Delta Diner (best breakfast), to the Athenian Grill (best lunch), to Cast Iron Bar and Grill (best dinner) you just can’t go wrong here. The environment and local vibe is awesome. There aren’t many things better than sitting out on the porch of one of these restaurants and enjoying the sun setting or rising over the water just past the long line of fishing boats.
Vallejo is home to a growing, vibrant art and music community. Local blues, R&B and rock bands can be heard on a nightly basis at places like the Empress Theatre. It is also home to a number of local art galleries like the Artiszen Cultural Arts Center, who’s website perfectly describes it’s purpose and mission: “Artiszen is a community space that reflects the unique diversity and talents of the city of Vallejo, CA, one that fosters creativity, community building and an appreciation for the arts. We believe that every individual can play a part in the creation of a safe, healthy, and inspiring community”
Vallejo is also home to my favorite, local “date night” restaurant, “Front Room at the Wharf” The rustic orange and blue industrial hues on the abandoned buildings of Mare Island make for an awesome dining experience.
It seems as if every weekend for nine months out of the year hosts some sort of local festival, or community gathering. From the Puerto Rican festival called “Festival de la Isla” to Fiesta Days, to the Dixon May Fair, there are an abundance of local weekend festivals and fairs for the entire family to enjoy.
You’d assume that with all that is going on, that the cost to live in Solano county must be outrageously expensive? However, as our team of realtors explained, Solano county is truly the least expensive of all the bay area counties when it comes to buying and owning a home.
With the median home price sitting at roughly $384k, it’s an affordable location with excellent school districts. You can feel secure raising your family here while commuting to work.
What Should First Time Home Buyers Know?
Again, as if they all were sitting in the same room listening to each other’s answers, the common theme and answer given from our real estate professionals was clear and unanimous.
WORK WITH LOCAL PEOPLE
Hire a local realtor.
Work with a local lender.
Utilize a local insurance professional.
Why? Why does this matter? Because these three great sources will be able to properly educate you on how the process works. They will be able to leverage other people in the process when it comes to things like inspections, or contractors. It may also be a determining factor in if your offer gets accepted. Local professionals will be able to steer you correctly through the process and be a better source of knowledge than if you were to use an out of area lender or realtor. Utilizing someone with years of local experience will save you a ton of heartache and stress.
Many people look to the internet for advice and resources (this blog article excluded) What ends up happening, is many people latch onto very poor advice. Or they get information that is not applicable to Solano county or their current situation. Many folks will utilize an online tool like Zillow.com to get an estimate of how much a home is worth, however, that information can be misleading most of the time.
Do yourself a favor, leverage the power and networks available to you locally by relying on trusted, experienced professionals.
Put your best foot forward!
If you’re a first-time home buyer, you have to make your best offer. Because of the lower price points here in Solano county, you might find yourself up against bigger investors looking to scoop up the properties, you might come against better loan offers such as conventional, or even VA loans thanks to our close proximity to Travis Air Force Base. These other buyers are more than likely coming to the table with bigger down payments. As a result, if you’re using an FHA loan to buy your home, a good idea might be to make a stronger offer. You might have to “pay to play” a little bit which means you might have to offer more money than someone else is willing to offer.
Eileen Stern from Remax Gold suggests writing a letter with your offer. Present your case as to why you want this home. Tell the story of you and your family and your quest to join the ranks of Solano county home owners. It could very well help your case in getting your particular offer accepted.
Avoid the Emotional Roller Coaster.
Buying a home is unlike so many other things we buy and sell. If you are looking for a pair of pants, it’s easy to go online and buy them. Amazon might even send them to you that very same day. If you’re looking to buy a car, you might do a little research online and then make an informed decision. Buying a home is different. The process can take months, or even years (my story). It’s not as though you can go online, search for a home, find one you really like, then place it in your “online shopping cart” for check out. While I love realtors, I firmly believe many of them would make excellent free-lance photographers in the way they take pictures of the homes they are listing.
You have to go and visit many houses, and often times you walk away disappointed that the images online don’t resemble what reality is when you walk through the threshold of the home. This can be very discouraging. After you have done this a dozen times it’s inevitable that you will begin to think “perhaps we can’t buy a home”. Remain patient! Avoid those emotional spikes that are so prevalent during the buying process.
My motto was always “never too high, never too low”. When I looked at homes. I knew what my price point was, and tried very hard not to get impulsive. Sit down with your realtor and formulate a game plan. Lay out all of the things that matter most to you and your family: backyard, nice kitchen, cul-de-sac, etc. Then stick to the script. Do not deviate from the path, and above all else, remain patient. Your perfect home is out there. It may not be ready yet, you might have to wait a few more months until it’s on the market, but don’t lose hope.
Get pre-qualified and stay within your range.
It’s vital that when you’re shopping for a home, you know how much you’re can spend, or are willing to spend. I was never the best at math, so I always made sure to consult with my local lender when getting pre-qualified. I was instructed on what range I should stay within in order to have the type of payment I needed.
It’s easy to walk into a home and fall in love with it immediately. Similar to test driving that car you know you can’t afford, you begin to rationalize it and think of all the ways you can buy it, even if it means you’re regulated to a hearty diet of Top Ramen for the next five years.
It’s best to know what you can afford for a mortgage payment prior to looking at homes and sticking to the plan.
Tell your realtor that they are not allowed to show you a home over that specific dollar amount, not unless they firmly believe that your lower offer will get considered. Setting up a game plan will save you a lot of time and crushed dreams when you realize you can’t buy the more expensive home.
You bought a home, now what?
Very few things have left me as fulfilled as when I became a home owner. I felt as though I was doing a great thing for my family. I was providing a sense of security and stability for my wife and children, and that made me happy.
Now that you’re a home owner, it’s going to be your responsibility to maintain that home. You will have to stay on top of things like your roof maintenance, and plumbing.
It’s your responsibility to properly insure it and protect the things that matter most to you. Here is where it’s crucial to deal with a local independent insurance agent. One that can advise you on the proper coverages, how home insurance claims work, and your responsibilities as a home owner.
Here at i80 Insurance, we specialize in finding great home insurance options for our Solano county residents. We focus on protecting the biggest investment in your life by shopping the market with A-rated carriers.
You’ve worked tremendously hard to buy a home. You’ve gone through a rigorous process, have probably heard more “no” than “yes” and come out the other side with keys in hand, ready to move in. Make sure you speak with a trusted independent agent to assist you in protecting this gem.
Speak with one of our trusted independent insurance professionals today for your complimentary home insurance quote