Benicia Ca and Vallejo Ca Real Estate Local Information
Home Mainteance 7 Things you should know
Posted By - - 1 day ago

Visit for more articles like this.


How Soon Can I Buy a Home After a Foreclosure or Short Sale
Posted - 1 day ago

Visit for more articles like this.


Homeowner Assistance Facts and Truths Seminar March 13
Posted - 2 days ago

A Homeowner Assistance Facts and Truths Seminar is being held March 23 at the Benicia Library 170 E L St. This is FREE and being hosted by Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific and Wells Fargo. The time is from 1-3PM. We would like RSVPs, however in today's busy world, if you can stop by.... please do so! There will be a short presentation and plenty of time for questions or one on one conversations.

Top Agents from Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific and Wells Fargo will be on hand, in addition an attorney from Gizzi and Reep LLC will be there. Learn about short sales, loan modifications and refinancing options. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mortgage payments please stop by. This is an opportunity to get the facts and get educated so you can make informed decisions for your future. Bankruptcy and foreclosure are NOT your only options!

Please RSVP to or call 707-749-6333 for more information.

Benicia Short Sale Help

Ideas to save Energy Costs
Posted - 2 days ago

Visit for more articles like this.


Where did all the Benicia Homes for Sale go?
Posted - 2 days ago 580 comments

Where did all the Benicia Homes for Sale go?  Unlike the rain we have been receiving the last several weeks, our local real estate has dried up for owners selling their homes.  The banks have slowed down their foreclosures and have been making an effort to modify or approve owners short selling their home. Owners with equity are holding tight and unless there is a need to move, are not putting their homes on the market.

Every day I review homes for sale in Benicia and the surrounding areas, for every home that is listed another one gets an accepted offer.  Our median price range has gone up since July and for the month of December 2012, it is $362,500 so far. (per BARIES MLS 12-29-12)

We listed a gorgeous home on a desirable court in Benicia with expansive hill and open space views for $539,950.  In two days it has been shown 5 times, and veiwed by other agents in the mls 170 times!

If you or even someone you know is the least bit interested in finding our the value of their home, now is the time!  Buyers are out in full force, the interest rates are low and expected to stay low.

It does not cost you a dime to get an evaluation for your home from my business partner and I.  Nor will we pressure you to sell your home.  We want our clients to be informed, educated and make the selling process transparent.  We are ready when our clients are ready to make the move.  After all it is all about our clients' needs!

What will the banks require in a Solono County short sale?
Posted - 2 days ago

What will the banks require in a Solano County short sale? Each bank is different, however there are some documents 90% of the banks will want to see before approving your short sale.

These include:
Most recent two paychecks
Most recent bank statements for savings and checking
IRA statements
Last 2 years of federal tax returns--signed by you
Hardship Letter stating why you need this to be approved (we have examples to share with you)
Letter of authorization for your Realtor to communicate with them (we provide to you)
Financial statement which some banks have their own or a generic one (we provide to you)
4506T (gives them the right to look at your tax returns even though you provide them..they are looking for any discrepancies!)

In addition Jenny and I will contact the banks for the most up to date requirement,  so your Solano County short sale approval can go smoothly. Often times we meet more than once with a homeowner underwater with their mortgage. Not only do they have to wrap their heads around "is this for me" they need to be educated on what solutions are out there.

There are different short sales in Solano County, could be a HAFA, could be Bank of America Cooperative, could be a fast track Wells experienced agent will know what they are and help you make the best decision.



Short Sale Help
Posted - 2 days ago

Do you need  Short Sale Help? Are you afraid to make a call to find out what an experienced Realtor can help you with? Are you worried that judgment will be passed just because you cannot keep up with your payments? Are you worried because you already know 10 Realtors? Do you just not want any Tom, Dick, Mary Realtor to really know how tough it is for you? We live in a small town and that in itself can make stressed out homeowners worry about what will the neighbors say. You need someone who will treat your situation with respect and confidentiality.

It is time to call and get Short Sale Help. Short Sales are not a transaction you may want your Realtor friend to cut his/her teeth on if they have never closed a short sale. Jenny and I are very proud of our successful track record the past three years. When other Realtors from other agencies call us for help, we know we are doing something right in the world of short sales.

There are some compelling reason to seek help right now....the Mortgage Debt Relief Act is ending in December. So far it has not been extended. This is huge for those of you occupy your homes and need to get out front under all the debt. This Act helps relieve the government bite of money on tax returns. This is very important and one reason you should speak to your Tax Professional.

You will find a myriad of information about short sales across the web. It has grown exponentially in the last year. We made a conscious decision to to offer Short Sale Help to our clients. Consequently the knowledge, training, and expertise gained by not giving up to get our short sales approved has made us successful in our community. There is good information and bad information, however when it gets down to the nitty gritty, you want to speak to someone who can quickly answer your questions or know how to get the answers. Even though the paper part of a transaction is similar, every bank is different, every loan is different. Just when we think we have it, it changes.

A short sale is different than a conventional transaction, is different than a foreclosed home (REO), is different than a probate is just plain different and complex and nerve wracking for sellers. Choose your agent wisley, one that will not give up, who knows how to navigate the processes put in place by the banks, who knows what they are doing. Just because someone has sold 100 REOS does not make them an experienced Benicia Short Sale Agent. Successfully closing Short Sale transactions do make an experienced Short Sale Agent. A agent who negotiates on your behalf, not some person in Timbuktu or a paper pusher on the "Team", a person who is on the front lines of getting the short sale closed......that is the Realtor you want. Someone who knows how you feel, who knows how to communicate, who can tell you what is going on with your short sale.

Enough said....Need Short Sale Help? Give us a call, text, or email, Jenny and I will sit down and talk to you about the process and alternatives for what is best for your future. Benicia may be our hometown, but we successfully close short sales in every other city in Solano County, Contra Costa County and Napa County.

Benicia Short Sale Help
Posted - 2 days ago
Get help from a Benicia Short Sale Agent today! It boggles my mind as to the amount of information out on the internet about short sales in Benicia. There were a few of us who have focused on helping homeowners who are upside down with their mortgage for the last 3 years. During that time there were many foreclosures going on and the banks were being obstinate about approving short sales.

Since then the Homes Affordable Foreclosure Alernatives was rolled out. We have the Mortgage Debt Relief Act to help with the tax consequences. We have the recent Department of Justice settlement with the big Five Lenders-Bank of America, Citimortgage, Ally, WellsFargo and Chase.

If you are underwater and need to move on, you need questions answered and solutions for your situation, now is the time to get help from a Benicia Short Sale Agent. It is important to speak with someone who actually closes short sale transactions. Every homeowner has their own unique circumstances and we treat each one with the dignity and knowledge this is hard for anyone to talk about. We do not make judgments and that is so important for homeowners to understand. Information is kept confidential at all times. The homeowner has enough to deal with emotionally in getting to the point of even thinking what can we do? We are here to help you!

My business partner, Jenny Castaneda, and I have worked with all the Big Five Banks plus local banks such as Patelco Credit Union and Travis Credit Union. Who else have we worked with? Astoria Federal, AHMSI, IndyMac, WAMU, HSBC, PNC, Greentree, GMAC to name a few. We have successfully closed over 50 short sale transactions.

As Benicia Short Sale Agents, we have given Short Sale Help to homeowners that had child support liens, tax liens, second and third loans, and how about this...we even negotiated with a tire company to release a lien so the home could be sold. We have been there for our clients every step of the way. We listen to them, keep them informed and when it is all done rejoice as now they can start that new chapter of life. Being burdened with a home underwater is not fun and there are Benicia Short Sale Agents ready to help you.

All it takes is a call or email to get answers from experienced and knowledgeable Short Sale Agents so you can make decisions that will help you move on.

Don't sit on the side like these Benicia Birds!
Posted - 2 days ago


Don't sit on the side like these Benicia Birds. They look like they are hunkered down for the long haul.

Benicia CA Real Estate is bustling the last few months.  Our inventory is ranging from 47-57 homes for sale.  That is a far cry from close to 100 last year and even higher.

Don't sit on the side! If you are a buyer, take the time to learn the neighborhoods and streets you like best. When a home comes up for sale, be ready to leave the nest and go for it!

Our prices are inching up ever so slightly. I predict we will not see huge jumps however, if you are interested in selling your home, now is the time to consider it. There is no inventory and buyers are making fantastic offers to close the transaction.

My business partner, Jenny Castaneda, and I are the top listing Realtors for Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific. We list homes and get them sold. We love all kinds of sellers; we specifically are a great resource for owners under water. Our marketing expertise, business acumen, and "down to earth and get it done" work ethic sets us apart

 Don't sit on the side like these Benicia Birds. It is time to fly and get the home of your dreams or move on to a new phase of your life if selling.

Food, Heat or House Payment
Posted - 2 days ago

Food, heat or house payment---what as agnoizing decision to have to even think about making.  Holidays are fast approaching and it is that time of year most people spend a little more. This puts even greater pressure on any sane adult. Make an early New Year's resolution, talk to a Benicia Short Sale agent. If you are upside down with your mortgage, the best Holiday gift you can give yourself is information and education on the steps you can take to be in charge of your future.

What if you are that person who has to choose between food for the family or maybe gas to heat your home now that winter is upon us or the house payment? 

You choose food and heat for your family.  Soon your lender will start calling and sending mail asking you to make your payment.  You might try to catch up by using your savings, your 401K plan, borrowing from family, borrowing from friends, anything to keep going.  You may lose sleep, refuse to talk to your lender, throw away the mail from your lender, cover your head and try not to think of what might happen.  It takes its toll on your physical and mental health, and also of those around you.

Make an early New Years Resolution, talk to a Benicia CA short sale agent.  Find out your options sooner than later. The Mortgage Debt Relief Act is set to expire the end of 2012. IF there is no way you can afford your payments now or in the future, take charge of your future NOW.  You will be glad you did!

Benicia Short Sale Sold and Listed Price Trends
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Short Sale Solds and Listed Price Trends indicate that what price a home is listed for and what the actual prices sold for are different.  This is a market report for the last 15 months. 


A Benicia Short Sale Realtor will know what it takes to market your home, and sell it for the highest dollar.  That is what your lender wants… get the highest dollar possible.  This is good for our market and helps to keep home prices from getting further depressed.


It is worth your while to seek the right information, most up-to-date information, and how a short sale affects your future.  A Benicia Short Sale may be the best way to see your way into the future.  It will be a long time before our home prices get anywhere close to what they were several years ago.  This is the ugly truth.


If you have questions about Short Sales, don’t hesitate to call or email a Benicia Short Sale Agent.

Published Sep. 2011
Location : Benicia

Avg Price For Sale & Sold    (Jun. 2010 - Aug. 2011)
Price Range: $0 - $3,249,999
SQFT Range: 0 - No Limit
All Residential Prop - Short Sale   Prepared for you by: Melanie Ross
Bedrooms: 0 - No Limit
Full Bathrooms: 0 - No Limit
Half Bathrooms: 0 - No Limit
Year Built: 0 - No Limit

  1 month 1 year 15 months
  July 11 Aug 11 % Change Aug 10 Aug 11 % Change June 10 Aug 11 % Change
Avg. Active Price 314 296 -5.7% 256 296 15.6% 255 296 16.1%
Avg. Sold Price 331 327 -1.2% 298 327 9.7% 380 327 -13.9%

All reports presented are based on data supplied by BAREIS MLS. Neither the Association nor its MLS guarantees or is in anyway responsible for its accuracy. Data maintained by the Association or its MLS may not reflect all real estate activities in the market. Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed.


Waters End Benicia Boom or Bust?
Posted - 2 days ago


Waters End can be seen as a boom or a bust depending on what side of the fence you stand. Waters End Benicia is a popular neighborhood to live in.  Shea and Centex Home Builders started this neighborhood in the early 2000's.

Most of the homes are two stories ranging in size from 3200 sq ft to over 4000 sq ft.  The single story homes never stay on the market long when they come for sale.

What have hurt this lovely neighborhood are homeowners who bought at the height of the market.  They paid upwards to a $1,000,000.  And now these homes are selling from the high $400's to high $500s (if they are lucky). For those homeowners who put hundreds of thousands of dollars down ( very few did this), majority of them are under water.  It is hard to see the future and when prices will rise to what they paid for their home.  This is the "bust" side.

The "boom" side is there is an opportunity for many buyers who have the credit to buy a gorgeous home in a choice neighborhood with fantastic schools and buy with some of the lowest mortgage rates ever.  

IF you are a homeowner and need to sell, a short sale may be the only way out for your future.  It is important you contact a Realtor who is experienced with short sales, knows your neighborhood and  will provide resources so you can make the best decision for you.  

If you are a buyer, keep your eyes wide open as homes in Waters End go quickly into contract.  Make your self available to view homes as they come on the market.  IF not you can lose out!

Benicia Real Estate Market Trends 8-2011
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Real Estate Single Family Homes sold is trended below for the past 15 months. The first report features the number of Benicia Homes for Sale VS Sold VS Pended (in contract but not sold yet).  The second report features Benicia Average Price for Sale and Sold

Our inventory of Single Family Homes in Benicia is less in the past few months which is good news for people who may think about selling.  Even though we are moving in to fall season, the serious buyers are always out there looking for their dream home.  With mortgage rates at all time lows, this is a great time to consider buying in Benicia!

 Benicia Results

What to ask Short Sale Realtors in Solano County
Posted - 2 days ago

What to ask Short Sale Realtors in Solano County?  Most consumers do not know what to ask when interviewing or seeking counseling from Realtors.  Some automatically assume every Realtor knows about Short Sales.  The reality is, most do not know anything and will discourage their buyers from looking at short sale homes for sale. Or Realtors who will not touch a troubled homeowner with a ten foot pole.  IF they cannot make a commission fast, why take on someone under water?

In Solano County that is a bad idea.  At least 50% of the homes for sale are short sales.  You can miss an opportunity to get the home of your dreams if you are looking to buy. As a homeowner who needs to sell you may be missing out on possible relocation money if you qualify for HAFA (Homes Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives).

What questions do you ask of your agent?  IF you are a seller, you ask how many short sales have they listed and sold? have they had any formal training other than the school of hard knocks? What resources do they use to keep on top of the latest laws put into place?  What do they know about SB931 and SB458?  Will the bank come after me?  Do I have to move right away?  How does a short sale affect my credit?  How long does it take to foreclose?  What is a notice of default?  How do I do a loan modification.  It can go on and on and on and if your agent cannot answer these questions within seconds move on to the next Realtor to interview.

IF you are a buyer you want to ask your agent to inquire if the home is in foreclosure, how many loans and who are they with? Has the listing agent any experience selling short sales?  When will the paperwork be submitted to the bank?  Is the listing agent in contact with the seller’s

Bottom line is you want to have the best when it comes to short sales.  Short sales are difficult to navigate both as a buyer and seller.  Having a knowledgeable and experienced Realtor will make all the difference in getting a transaction to close in Solano County.  

Remember ask the questions!!

HAFA Short Sales in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago
HAFA Short Sales in Benicia are being approved.  Short Sales in general are being approved, despite what the news is saying.  I believe the reason is that most Realtors do not have any experience with short sales.  This type of real estate transaction is not for the faint of heart and consequently go down hill quickly.

HAFA (Homes Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives) is a govermnent program that lenders had to opt into last year and will be done on December 30, 2012.  This allows for a foreclosure to be stopped and possible relocation money up to $3,000 to a borrower.  That is it in a nutshell, but the truth is.... it is bigger than a "bread box".

This is where it is very important a borrower, who is under water on their mortgage, speak with their trusted, experienced Realtor, an attorney and a tax professional.  You need to be informed and educated to the short sale process so you can make the best decision for you.  An experienced Realtor will walk you through the process, explain the different types of short sales.  An expereinced Realtor will have worked with the major banks and have proof that they have closed successful short sales.

A Realtor cannot accept any money in advance from a seller, cannot guarantee short sale approval, and if the transaction does not go through expect to be paid.  Realtors are not affiliated with the government when negotiating on behalf of the borrower.

There are businesses out there who say they can get you money back, really?   Run, don't walk to someone who does know short sales, particularly HAFA Short Sales and get a unbiased opinion.

HAFA Short Sales in Benicia are being approved!

Marche Benicia A French Marketplace on June 11th
Posted - 2 days ago

Marche Benicia, an outdoor marketplace is taking place on June 11th along downtown Benicia's shoreline promenade.  Sponsored by Benicia Main Street, this event was hugely popular last year.  Free admission to French music, wine garden, arts and crafts, entertainment and varied food vendors.

A hint of France from 11AM-4PM will keep anybody amused, entertained and full of good will.  Benicia hosts several events through out the year so put this on your calendar for a not to miss Saturday on June 11th.

After attending Marche Benicia, stroll down First Street and see what our local businesses have to offer.  Benicia has antiques, glass artists, jewelery, clothing, books, wine bars....we have a variety of stores to delight the most discriminating person.

Marche Benicia

Short Sale, Foreclosure or Conventional
Posted - 2 days ago

I can remember several years ago when the foreclosures starting coming out of the woodwork.  My business partner, Jenny, and I decided to go for it.  We did and have been successful with representing the best servicer in the country (in our opinion) Premier Asset Services, which is really Wells Fargo.

Jenny and I are firm believers in flexing with the real estate market in order to keep our business healthy.  Our Short Sale transactions have picked up where the foreclosure transactions have slowed down.  Many agents do not want to deal with foreclosures or try to negotiate with banks for short sales.  We tackle just about anything. It is always a treat to represent a conventional seller.  It seems so easy after dealing with short sales.

Let me say we are always proud to represent ANY new listing as it is an honor to sell anyone or any bank's home.  That is our business and we strive to market and sell the homes quickly and at the highest dollar with minimum stress.

We welcome all types of real estate transactions!

Change keeps us on our toes and I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with a variety of transactions, be it a Benicia  REO, Short Sale or Conventional Transaction!

Duncan Graham Park in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Duncan Graham Park in Benicia is a hidden jewel that not many people know about.  It is truly a neighborhood park surrounded by homes built in the 50's and 60's.

Duncan Graham Park


The large grassy area is perfect for running and jumping.  Maybe take a blanket and enjoy the sun.  There is a basketball court and playground equipment for young ones.  There are plenty of trees for shade.

Take Second street and turn on Hillcrest Avenue.  Follow Hillcrest where it intersects with Vista Grande.  The park is situated at the junction of three streets.  You cannot miss it.

Benicia has many beautiful parks that provide a respite from our hectic lives.  Old and young can burn off excess energy and get some Vitamin D from sunshine.



Duncan Graham Park

Overlook Park in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Overlook Park in Benicia is aptly named as you can see from the pictures.  This is one of many parks scattered among Benicia neighborhoods.  Overlook has meandering paths with benches to sit and ponder life.  There is plenty of grassy areas for playing tag or ball or soccer.  One is only limited by their creativity for an outdoor adventure.

Overlook Park

Overlook Park overlooks the Carquinez Straits, the major water way to Central California.  Huge tankers chug their way to bring goods to Sacramento and Stockton.  Tall fragrant eucalyptus trees frame the view and picnic tables are ready for food or games.  There is a play structure to burn the energy of young ones while adults can sit and meditate amongst the trees and views.

Overlook park is located in a neighborhood of homes built in the Southampton Hills in the late 70s and 80s.  Take East Second Street, turn on Seaview and follow Seaview all the way to the top.  Park is on the left.Overlook Park

Benicia Wildlife
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Wildlife is at again. While I was trying to come out of my morning fog, my husband leaped up, flailed his arms, his voice several octaves higher "a raccoon just walked by on the side of our house". Our Devil Dog, Toby, raced from window to window to door to door frantically looking for what Larry was yelling about. There is open space behind our house and across the street behind our neighbors.  We have deer, birds, and a occasional possum. This year I wrote about Benicia Wildlife-Oh Deer and OPEN OPEN OPEN The Feeder is Open for Benicia Birds but we have some new animals to add to the mix.

Today there were two raccoons, fat and sassy, moving quickly under our garden furniture toward the front of the house.  My husband went out the front and banged on the front fence.  I stood at the patio door on the side and watched one raccoon hightail back to the back.  Then another followed.

Across the street our 9 year neighbor boy was in his bedroom window grinning with glee at my husband.  He knows Larry can be funny but early in the morning in his jammy pants flailing his arms and yelling? At who??? Then a lady pulled up, as our neighbor runs the best day care around, and she looked bewildered and asked who was my husband shouting at?

By now the whole neighborhood was probably up.  And the fat, sassy raccoons rushed back to the open space.  I grabbed my camera but was not fast enough so you will just have to believe me!

Oh and now I am totally awake! Benicia Wildlife keeps us chuckling and enjoying a closeness to nature. I know those critters are out there!

Benicia Wildlife

Benicia is a great place to live, grow up and grow old!

Why can't I tell you everything about a short sale?
Posted - 2 days ago

Why can't you tell me everything about a short sale?  I can tell you what has to do with the real estate transaction part of a short sale but not tax or credit concerns.

Did you know that you, as a borrower/seller, need to speak with your tax adviser and an attorney about how a short sale can affect you?  I am a Realtor, not a tax accountant or an attorney. There will be tax consequences and credit consequences and they are different for each person who goes through a short sale.  Just like every person has different DNA, so does a short sale. 

It takes a village to complete a short sale. This is a matter of being informed and educated.  For a successful Short Sale, the seller needs to be involved and engaged.  If not, everyone is spinning their wheels for nothing.  An experienced Short Sale Realtor will go to the mat to get their seller the terms that work for best for the seller.  Along the way we assist and facilitate the transaction so you get the highest possible dollar for your home and can walk way knowing you did everything you could.

I wish I could tell you everything about a short sale, but the truth is I can't nor can anyone else.  Each short sale is different.  You need to consult your Realtor, your attorney and your tax professional to get the information you need.

Benicia Short Sales

Benicia Easter Egg Hunt
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Easter Egg Hunt is scheduled for April 24, 2011.  This is an annual event and sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.  The location is the Benicia City Park on the corner of First and Military Streets. 

Activities will begin around noon, but the "Benicia Easter Egg Hunt" starts at 1PM.  This free event is open to children between the ages of 2 and 10.  Some children come dressed to the nine with their Sunday best.  This is all about fun for the young ones.

Watch them scurry around searching for the most colorful egg with eyes wide open and delight in the "hunt".  In addition to the Egg Hunt, there will be face painting, candy giveaways, prizes and of course an appearance by the Easter Bunny.

My daughters are now grown, but I fondly remember the Benicia Easter Egg Hunts from previous years.  It is a wonderful way to get out, get some fresh air, and visit with others in our community.

Benicia Easter Egg Hunt

Water Wise Tips
Posted - 2 days ago

It helps to be Benicia Water Wise, even through there is no drought.  The State of California announced some time ago we have enough water.  We go through this every year with the officials measuring the snow pack up in the mountains.  That snow pack melts and eventually makes it way to the valleys and places beyond to help serve our state.

Even with that said, it is amazing how much water we use in our homes.  I realized this when we had a slab leak recently.  Holy Toledo, our water bills spiked and the gas bill was off the charts.  It was as much as a mortgage payment!!

How much water does one use when going about their daily activities?

Washing hands with the tap running...up to 45 gallons YIKES!  Wash and rinse in the sink-up to 5 gallons.

Benicia Water Wise

Brushing Teeth with tap running....10 gallons. YIKES! Wet brush, rinse briefly:1/2 gallon

Please be Benicia Water Wise even though there is no drought!

Benicia Education Run
Posted - 2 days ago

We had a great time paying it forward this week. This past Sunday my husband, my business partner, and I volunteered to help with the Benicia Education Run.  This is the 4th year they have held it.  There was a 10K, 5K and 1 mile fun run for the small kiddies.  The event raises needed funds to help our local schools because the state has slashed our budgets.

Jenny and I were at the turnaround for the 10K in the Benicia State Park and my husband was located in area to direct runners toward us.  There was over 1000 runners, however the 10K was much smaller.

The weather was perfect on the cool side but ideal for running.  It was a great way to spend the morning!

Benicia Education Run Volunteer         Benicia Education Run

Honey in Benicia Oh My!
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Bee Removal-Honey Any One?  We closed an REO listing in Benicia this last week.  There was a colony of bees in a small shed at one end of the property.  The way we found out was another agent held an open house.  He saw more than just a few bees buzzing around.

My business partner went on the quest to find a bee keeper.  We thought it would be easy peasy to get this accomplished.  She talked to pest control companies and bee keepers far and wide.  This was a bigger project than we could ever imagine. We did not want to kill them as they are good for the cycle of life and food.

No one wanted to touch it.  This was not just a hive, but an entire colony of bees.  Thousands and thousands of bees.  All engaged on the underside of the shed floor.  It took the bee lady several days to extract the bees and prepared the site so they would not re-inhabit.  She took the bees and gave them a new home.  Of course there will be stragglers but she did a great job and sent us pictures.

Aside from finally getting them removed, my eyes lit up with the thought of honey, gooey, golden honey dripping with goodness.  My mouth was watering.  UNTIL the bee lady educated us.

She said NO WAY would she give us the honey and for good reason.  She said we donot know what was on the ground or under the shed.  Could have been other pests with their little remains, could be poisonous sprays and contamination from other products in the shed.  WOW, I never thought about the production and how the environment could affect the end product.

The bees are safely removed to their new house, above ground in a more sanitary living environment and starting the honey production all over.  This time it really will be gooey and golden and good to eat!

Our Benicia Bee Removal was a success.  And the new homeowners are happy too!

Benicia Bee Removal


Most Expensive Home for Sale in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Homes for Sale what is the Most Expensive and the Least Expensive?

As of 4-10-2011 (BARIES), the Most Expensive home in Benicia is:

Most Expensive Home for Sale Benicia


1230 Columbus Pkwy has 4 bedrooms and 31/2 baths sitting high on a hill overlooking the Carquinez Staits. It is a"castle in the sky" on 2.76 acres.  Escape the hustle and the bustle to your private oasis yet if you need the urban life of San Francisco, hop on the freeway or take the ferry for the skyscrapers and nightlife.  This home is listed for $999,950.  Listing agents are Earl Miller, Jenny Castaneda, and yours truly (Melanie Ross) from Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific 


Least Expensive Home in Benicia as of 4-10-2011:

Least Expensive Home for Sale in Benicia



900 Cambridge #66 Benicia has one bedroom and one bath.  It is a condo located in the Highlands. The complex is nestled among tall trees, has a swimming pool, close to shopping and transportation.  Priced at $68,900 and Listed by Century 21 M and M.

Benicia is a great place to live, grow up and grow old!

Benicia Flowers and Sunshine
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia sunshine and flowers is a great combination.  Spring did a little tease to us about a week ago with temperatures in the 70's and up to 80.  Then the storm clouds gathered and it cooled down.  Now I realize for those of you in true winter states are laughing when I say "Brrrr to 45 degrees".  But, heck, I am sick of this rain and damp weather.  I want some sunshine for longer than one day.  I love where we live.  Benicia is small yet we are close to San Francisco.

We have had some nice days this past week.  Still not warm enough for me.  I want to wear a short sleeve shirt to walk in.  I want to bask in the sunshine to get my dose of Vitamin D, the doctor says I need.

There has been enough sunshine to get our bulbs blooming.  My husband is retired and loves to work in the yard.  I love to buy the plants, enjoy them and watch him plant them.

Our tulips ( my husband may take exception to the word "our") have been just spectacular.  Red, and yellow and stripes and oh so cheerful despite some of the cloudy weather.

Benicia Sunshine and Flowers make a great combination.   Hope you enjoy our tulips too!

Benicia Tulips

Benicia is a great place to live, grow up and grow old! 

Solano County Discount for Electric Mowers
Posted - 2 days ago

Solano Countyhas teamed up with Neuton Mowers to offer a discount on electric mowers.  These mowers help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Solano County is encouraging homeowners to turn in their gas powered mowers.

You have to act fast as this will not last forever and there may be limited vouchers.  Residents can register on line at or calling 800-463-4958 to reserve a rechargeable mower.  You will receive a voucher and instructions on how to turn in your gas-powered mowers at a participating recycler.

As a qualified resident, payment will be made with the manufacturer and a new mower delivered to their home.  Prices vary for the qualified mowers. Remember quantities are limited.  For more information you can call 800-287-3650. This opportunity started March 29th 2011.

Solano County Discounts

Benicia Goats Mowing the Weeds
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Goats, our local weed eaters, are visiting again.  Benicia is a great place to live, grow up and grow old.  We have hills that reach up to the sky from the Carquinez Straits.  Spring is my favorite time of year as the hills are turning green.  As the hills turn green, the weeds will grow.

The tall weeds can become a fire hazard in the summer and fall.  One economical way to keep the weeds down is to have goats roam the hills, systematically munching the tall weeds down.  Every year about this time, people will stop their cars, point to the hills, and watch the goats do their job.

The city has a goat herder come in with his goats and herding dogs to keep the Benicia Goats on track. This past Sunday my husband pointed out the goats grazing on the hill seen from our backyard.  We enjoyed the late afternoon watching the goats doing their job.  You could see the shepherd high on the hill and his dogs below keeping track of the goats.

The goats are eco-friendly and a less costly way of preparing for our fire season later on.  It also provides local entertainment for people of all ages.

Benicia Goats-our local weed eaters.  Get out this week and take a look!

Benicia Goats

Waters End Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Waters End Benicia is going green.  This is one of my favorite times of years as the hills turn a luscious color of green, not unlike Ireland, which I visited 10 years ago.  In addition to our hills turning green, Waters End Beniciabulbs planted last fall are up and blooming.  Waters End is a great place to live, grow up and grow old.  This is our newest neighborhood in Benicia, being built in the early 2000s and still getting built out.

Pick from Craftman or Contemporay architectural style, single story or two story. Homes are 4-5 bedrooms with 3-4 baths up to 4300 Sq Ft priced from the low $500K. Want a view of the hills?  Want to live near the Waters End Park?  Want open space behind you to see the deer roam and rabbits hop?

Want some urban life, San Francisco is 35 miles away.  Like to snow ski?  The ski resorts are 2 1/2 hours away.  How about sipping wine on a terrace overlooking the vineyards?  Napa Valley is 30 minutes away.


I like to think we have it all.  Waters End Benicia is the perfect place for you and your family.

Green In Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

 Benicia Greening what do those words meanBenicia Green Real EstateI am going on record that "Green' is the future of Benicia Real Estate.  I do not mean painting your home green or that the hills surrounding our lovely city are green in the spring.  I am speaking about being aware of how we use energy, how we can be environmentally sensitive of our city today and protect the clean air we all like to breathe.  No I am not a tree hugger. I realize it is baby steps for most people.

As a local Benicia Realtor my focus has been getting the job done.  However there is another side that gently nudges me every day.  How can I bring value to my clients beyond just selling their homes or finding the right home for our buyers.  Last year I completed two intensive courses sponsored by the National Association of Realtors to receive my designation of GREEN. 

GREEN does fascinate me.  It is the baby steps that count.  It is not about spending a ton of money.  It is about being aware.

So a tip for the day is: open the windows of your home at the same time, see where the breeze comes in naturally.  You may not be aware of the direction.  What a great and cheap way to get your home cooled off by just being aware of the wind direction.  And get some exercise by opening those windows.

Plant a tree so the leaves shade your home on the west side in the summer, and provide sunlight for warmth in the winter when the leaves have fallen.

Benicia Greening what do those words mean?  This weekend come visit our downtown for other special tips.  We are celebrating Benicia in Bloom

Benicia Going to the Birds!!
Posted - 2 days ago

Open Open Open the feeder is open for Benicia Birds, at least we wanted it to be! My husband and I have become our parents but we live in Benicia Ca.  My parents loved to watch birds.  My dad had a finch feeder right outside his window in London, Ohio.  It was a hoot to watch the finches clutch the feeder upside down and eat the thistle.  My step dad would take old bread and throw it out on the alley for the birds to eat in Columbus, Ohio.  He had some Blue Jay friends who loved his peanuts and the red Cardinals were beautiful. My mom would moan about all the bird poop.

Several Saturdays ago, when I actually took a day off, we went to Birds Unlimited in Pleasant Hill.  We decided to get a bird feeder for our backyard.  We have open space behind the fence and already get critters in the fields (read my blog Benicia Wildlife - Oh Deer)  We do not see many birds like the colorful ones in London and Columbus Ohio.  We do have sleek black birds some with red on the wings.  The brown birds, which I think are sparrows, timidly move amongst the black birds.  The hummingbirds will flit by and land on flowers in our neighbor's yard.

But we wanted finches, we wanted to laugh at their antics just like what we saw in Ohio.  Our first goal was to buy a finch feeder and we were not even sure if there were finches around Benicia.  That is how naive we are.  I do not admit any intelligence about birds but I sure can enjoy them! (outside)

We walked away with a finch feeder (yes we have finches in Benicia) and another bird feeder for the rest of the birds and a indestructible hummingbird feeder.  As soon as we got home, my husband filled the feeders up and hung them on a shepherd's hook. We placed the hummingbird feeder along the fence.  This was about 3PM.

All afternoon we sat with our noses pressed to the windows, saying OPEN, OPEN, OPEN the feeder is OPEN Benicia Bird Feederfor Benicia Birds

No birds swooped by to taste the delectable feast we put out. No finches flitted over to hang on the feeder just for them.  Boy were we disappointed.  The saleslady at Birds Unlimited said it may take a while.  Geez, couldn't they smell the aroma and see the fresh seeds and thistle we so attractively displayed?

We went to bed disappointed and were gone the next day.  However when we got home Sunday afternoon, lo and behold, the bird feeder was 1/3 gone!  But we did not see any birds.  and we waited with our noses pressed to the windows.  Hey, there is one, oh my goodness, now there are 30!!  And those blackbirds get mean with each other.

Still no finches, the birds we really, really, really wanted to see.  Several days later my husband texted me, we got finches! They found us!  They know we are OPEN for dinner in Benicia!  Since then we have enjoyed their antics although California ones do not eat upside down, none the less they are a source of enjoyment.

Benicia Birds

IF you want a great holdiay idea, think of a bird feeder!  OPEN, OPEN, OPEN The feeder is open for Benicia Birds!

Most Expensive and Least Expensive Home Sold in Benicia, CA
Posted - 2 days ago

What were Benicia's least expensive, most expensive, smallest and largest home sold in 2010?  It covers quite the range of homes.  Information compiled from BARIES (Bay Area Real Estate Information 1-13-11) please note the pictures below are the author's personal selection and not illustrative of the homes actually sold!



Least Expensive Home Sold-$95,000 3 bedroom 1 bath 89 Carolina Dr Benicia                                                                                                                                                   

Benicia Homes      

Most Expensive Home Sold-$874,500 4 bedroom 4 bath 1182 W K St Benicia   





Smallest Home Sold-$225,000 630 interior sq ft 160 Kuhland Alley Benicia




Largest Home Sold-$610,000 4380 interior sq ft 641 Stoneman Ct Benicia






HAFA Short Sales in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Short SalesHAFA Short Sales in Benicia means 1/2 of what?!?  It is so easy to throw out these acronyms when talking about short sales.  However the bottom line is what does it mean to a distressed homeowner with a mortgage they cannot pay for and the value of their home has dropped below what they can sell it for?

HAFA is Homes Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, a government program that lenders opted into as of April of 2010.  And bear in mind, if your loan is a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, they have their own short sale HAFA guidelines as of August of 2010. These are programs designed to assist distressed homeowners with homes upside down.  There are several types of HAFA Short Sales. A homeowner can request approval prior to putting the home up for sale, when the home is listed but has no offer and when an owner does have an offer and requests HAFA consideration.

PLUS as of February of 2011 (coming soon), there have been some major changes to the HAFA Short Sale program.  Some of the important changes include a home can be vacant and the rule of a payment has to be more than 31% of your gross income to qualify is now gone.  Consult an experienced, knowledgeable Certified HAFA Specialist-REALTOR for all the information.

With a HAFA Short Sale you can ask for a preapproval letter to sell your home short (less than what you owe the bank) and possibly get relocation money.  This is not a complex process but is one that attention to detail, perseverance and patience is a virtue. 

Not every distressed homeowner is eligible for HAFA, however please do not give up, as there is always the traditional short sale process.  Experienced, educated, and knowledgeable Short Sale REALTORS will be able to explain fully all the alternatives to you.  This is always the homeowners decision what path to follow.  When consulting a REALTOR for advice, ask questions of how many short sales have they personally completed, what extended training/education have they taken, what can you expect during the short sale process, etc.  An experienced REALTOR will be able to quickly answer your questions and give you options for your situation.

Remember not just short sales in Benicia but HAFA Short Sales in Benicia!

Short Sales in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Short Sales in Benicia are selling.  IF you are upside down in your mortgage, there is help out there for you.  Two of the most important steps you can take are to check out the Making Homes Affordable Website and calling your lender.  Please donot be afraid to ask for help.  

There are compassionate, knowledgable resources to provide alternatives, give you solutions, and explain in language you can understand what is happening.  And believe me, there are people in every walks of life from rich to poor who are experiencing the same haunting nightmares about losing their home or wondering what can I do. 

Please donot procrastinate.... call your lender or call your trusted REALTOR.  Get an unbiased opinion on what options you have when upside down in your home mortgage.  Short Sales in Benicia are working as an alternative for homeowners to move on with their lives. 

We have plenty of buyers and the interest rates are at an all time low.  Currently homes for sale in Benicia are ranging in price from $210K-$550K for a short sale, and REO/Foreclosure sale prices range from $169,900-$399,900 per BARIES 11-17-2011. Short Sales historically sell for higher prices than a foreclosed home. The banks are approving short sales every day. 

Please know there is help out there for you! 


Holiday Tour of Benicia Homes
Posted - 2 days ago

The Benicia Holiday Parlor Tour is taking place Saturday December 4th.  This tour of 6 private homes in Benicia, Ca starts at 1PM and ends at 5PM.  Until 7PM you can also visit the Commandant's Residence.  This event is cosponsored by the Soroptimist International of Benicia and the Benicia Historical Society.  

Here is an opportunity to take a peek at private homes all decked out with Holiday Decor for the annual Benicia Holiday Parlor Tour.  As a local REALTOR, I never get tired of seeing homes and to view them all "gussied up" (as my Dad would say) for the coming Holidays is a real treat you will not want to miss! One of the homes includes a Craftsman bungalow dating back to 1915. 

Tickets are limited and MUST be purchased in advance.  Cost is $25 per person.  For sale locations and tour rules call 707-745-3551 or visit

Did you know Benicia was the first capital of California?  Plan on visiting our Capitol Building in downtown Benicia that day too. 

When you need a break there are restaurants and shops along First Street that will please your palate and help you get a head start on some shopping.

Get a move on and secure your tickets NOW for the Benicia Holiday Parlor Tour!!

Downpayment Assistance Availaible for First Time Home Buyers
Posted - 2 days ago

Downpayment assistance is back for First Time Home Buyers who need extra help in purchasing their first home.  Several years ago I assisted First Time Home Buyers with purchasing a home using the CalHFA down payment assistance program.

What a great opportunity to get a home with as little as 1% down.  WOW!  Just think you could be in a new home by the New Year.

The program highlights are the following (as not everybody can get this assistance):

  • You must have a credit score of at least 620
  • Program is for single family homes and FHA approved condos (no multi units)
  • Buyer must provide 1% of the down payment from their own borrowing from mommy or daddy
  • Buyer can ask for up to 3% toward a seller contribution toward closing costs
  • There are limits to a qualifying buyers income, check out for more more information

Mortgage rates are at an all time low and so are home prices.  You can not get a better combination and add to the mix the ability to own your home for very little down......a dream come true.

Make your home buying dream come true this Holiday Season.  Check out the CALHFA downpayment assistance program by calling a trusted Mortgage Lender who works with this program.

Then call your trusted REALTOR to find your new home!


New Lowe's Store Coming To Vallejo SOON
Posted - 2 days ago

Lowe's is coming to Vallejo, CA!!  A brand new store located on Columbus Parkway and you cannot miss it.  Parking is abundant and there is easy access from the road.  At one end there will be a dedicated traffic light.

The signs are up "coming soon" and they are in the midst of hiring.  This will help our local economy by providing jobs and wonderful new place to shop. 

I know I am excited as their product selection is extensive and the garden department will be one of the largest around. 

Lowe's has a great program that teams up Realtors.  Get a 10% off purchase coupon through Melanie Ross. Lowe's also offers newsletters and project ideas.  Please contact Melanie Ross, Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific, about getting on Lowe's distribution list for all these free ideas.

Lowe's should be opening up just in time for the holidays and I know they will have all items we need to make our home look special for this season.


Help with Loan Modifications- We can help you!
Posted - 2 days ago

Many homeowners need loan modification help in Benicia, CaThey just do not know how to go about it.  Most distressed homeowners go to the Internet and search for any source of information they can.  OF course there will be advertisements and websites touting success rates for loan modifications.  The truly great aspect of the Internet is its anonymity.  Someone who is worried about making a mortgage payment now or in the future seeks unbiased facts.  They also want someone who is non judgmental about their feelings and situation.   

When the "rubber starts to meet the road", and you do need help with a loan modification in Benicia, Ca or any city you live in, please seek help from sources that are free and unbiased.  Help that is not going to collect $3500 and do something that can be done for free.  That $3500 is paying the "help" to process paper.

I suggest you check out the Making Home Affordable, this is a website that will provide you with a wealth of unbiased facts.  Also check out your mortgage website for loan modification.  The bank will let you know what is needed. Talk to your bank representative. Talk with your local Realtor who is experienced with helping distressed homeowners.  Many of us will assist you confidentially with dignity and at no cost.

The hard part for a loan modification and the steps you have to take next are the one that tax the distressed homeowner's mind.  This is not something that anyone else can do except for the homeowner.  It is pulling all the documentation together to send to the bank.  This can include your last two years of tax returns, most recent bank statements, a financial worksheet of your monthly expenses and income, and a hardship letter.  Each bank requires these items, sometimes less and sometimes more.  IF you are like me and I just recently refinanced our home, just getting all the documentation together is a hassle.  Some people are neat and tidy and can put their hands on it quickly, the majority are not and this can be seen as an arduous task to complete.

You have now spent considerable time gathering your documents, struggled with a hardship letter (which by the way an experienced Realtor can help you with) and are ready to send to the bank for your loan modification.  However it will cost an arm and a leg to mail or fax the package and your home fax machine will not handle faxing 50 pages of documentation.  and did you know there is a way to "package" your papers to make it easier for the bank to process?  Maybe get you an answer quicker?

This is not rocket science, however due diligence, being organized, and following up are keys to a successful loan modification process.  There is no guarantee the bank will approve your loan modification, but one of the strongest keys is to process the documents the way the bank requests and when they request it.

IF you are using a local experienced Realtor to help you with your loan modification in Benicia you are one step ahead and can know with confidence you are giving your best "shot" at getting a payment for your home that is more reasonable.  It is an opportunity you do not want to miss so you can live stress free in the home you want to live in.

Please know there is help out there for you at no cost.  I would rather see a homeowner live in their home and keep our neighborhoods stabilized.  At some point in time you may have to sell and it would be an honor to assist you when the time is right for YOU.  Until then, please contact Melanie Ross or your own trusted Realtor for unbiased facts about loan modifications.

Burgers, Brews and Bling in Benicia Dec 9th
Posted - 2 days ago

Guys....don"t miss out on this one of kind shopping opportunity in Downtown Benicia during the annual Burgers, Brews and Bling on Thursday December 9th.  Many of the local shops will be open and catering to those who need that special holiday gift for your loved ones.  This will take place all along First Street in downtown Benicia, CA.  Start early and leave late!  Times are from 6-9PM.

For the Bling, you might try The Jewelry Box-290 First St or A Jewel in the Sky at 919 First St.  We have many gift shops that also carry one of kind jewelry.  Take a peek at Piccolo 636 First St, Studio 41 An American Craft Gallery at 700 First St or Romancing the Home at 617 First St or Lindsay Art Glass at 109 East F St.  There are many unique shops to choose from and Bling does not have to be the only item you shop for.  We have art shops, antique shops, clothing, home furnishings, or how about new floors from Floors on First?  Hey I would love that kind of gift!!  One of my favorite clothing shops and they have beautiful accent jewelry to go with the outfits is Christina S at 370 First St. There are over 30 shops to choose from in our Downtown Benicia.

You know you will get  tired and hungry after all that shopping so try a burger at FrankenBurger 131 First S or they just opened FrankenStein at the same location.  So you can get a brew and a burger!  If you want something else The Chill, a Wine and Beer Bar is every popular or the Rellik Tavern at 726 First st.


Annual Teddy Bear Tea at the Camelia Tea Room in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

The first year we lived in Benicia CA (1996) our neighbor invited me and my twin daughters to the Teddy Bear Tea Party.  This year the Camelia Tea Room and Benicia Main Street Program are putting this "not to miss" Holiday tea party on November 28th and December 5th.  Tickets went fast in 1996 but Kathy got them for about 10 of us.  I had dresses made for myself and my twin daughters.  They were made of soft green suede like material and I must say we looked good together!  It was a special day where we dressed up for a fancy tea with fancy food. The Camilla Tea Room was decorated with holiday decorations, and smelled divine with all the goodies that were made for us.  We got to pick our tea to drink.  IF I remember right one of my daughters picked a peppermint flavor.  There were stories told and of course jolly old Santa made an appearance. The hosts encourage children to bring their favorite teddy bear to the tea too.

My daughters each selected a small tea cup ornament as a reminder of our special day.  This was over 15 years ago and the Teddy Bear Tea Party is still going on. The Camellia Tea Room is located at 828 First Street.  Their phone number is 707-746-5293.  There is limited space.  One year I waited out front in a line before the Tea Room opened to get tickets.  It was that popular!  Don't miss out, call today for your reservations.

For a memorable event your kids will not forget, plan to attend the Teddy Bear Tea Party in Benicia, CA either on November 28th or December 5th.



Benicia CA Short Sale Success Steps
Posted - 2 days ago

I swear my business partner, Jenny, has the magic touch for working with the lenders on our short sale listings in Benicia, CA.  We celebrate each step it takes to reach final approval from the bank for our sellers.

It seems like every Friday brings us a bonanza of short sale information from the lenders.  Today a short sale we have been working on for many months with Aurora, changed servicers to LBPS in August, gave us verbal acknowledgment with the terms and that the letter was coming next week.  That is always music to our ears, our sellers ears and the buyers ears!!

Also today we learned Wells Fargo ordered a BPO (broker price opinion-not a full appraisal but an opinion form another Realtor) for a Benicia Short Sale listing we just got in contract two weeks ago.  This is a short sale success step as we know they do not order this unless there is merit to the short sale to begin with.

Another short sale success step happened when the negotiator for a Vallejo, CA listing said we do not have to start all over again because a buyer walked last week.  Buyers are notorious for not hanging in there.  And we were sooooo close.  The negotiator said just send him a new offer.  Of course I have been spitting nail because it has taken them so long, however, my playing nice, I believe it bought us some brownie points in accomplishing what we need to when the next offer comes in and stay a possible foreclosure date.  This short sale is with a local credit union.

Our mantra with short sales is "take it a step at a time". When you take it a step at a time, the chances of a successful Benicia, CA Short Sales being closed go up exponentially!!

If you or someone you know is having trouble making a mortgage payment and need unbiased assistance, please call an experienced and educated Short Sale Realtor.  They can help turn your life around forever!


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Benicia CA Short Sale or Loan Modification-What does it take
Posted - 2 days ago

Recently my business partner, Jenny Castaneda, and I have been fielding questions about Benicia, CA loan modification and short sales.

We have counseled clients who are trying to obtain a loan modification and ones who have sent money to a businesses who "tout" they will do your loan modification for you.

First off...please know you DO NOT have to pay someone to do a loan modification.  It is not rocket science.  It does take tenacity and resiliency.  There are free counseling services through the government to assist you. 

The most cumbersome part is gathering the papers the bank wants to see.  Just like in a Benicia, Ca Short Sale the banks are asking for your latest pay check stubs, most recent bank statements, a completed financial form and a hardship letter. Keep a pad of paper by the phone and document every time you talk with the bank and who you talk to.  Keep a log of when you fax or send documents to the bank. This builds a case if the bank is not responding and you can refer back to when you spoke to them.  and by the way....when you do call, the rep almost always says "this call is being recorded and we may be attempting to collect a debt."  I have found that this can work to your advantage, especially when a rep says there is no record...point out you spoke to so and so on this date and by the way, if YOU check your archives of recorded messages you will hear what we talked about. 

The major difference between a loan modification and a short sale is the homeowner is trying to stay in their home and not sell it.  BUT the process is the same to get your bank's final approval to either modify your loan or to short sell it. 

We counsel our clients to talk to a CPA and attorney.  In the case of a loan modification having an attorney, CPA or even a trusted Realtor review the terms may highlight something you did not understand and might not want to do.  Always have another set of eyes to see the terms the bank is offering to you.  In a short sale there are tax consequences and depending on how the letter is written may be a bigger impact than you thought.  

Our mantra is "Be Informed, Be Educated, Take it one step at a time."  This is your home!!  Please do not hesitate to call Jenny or I about Benicia CA Short Sale Questions or Loan Modification questions. Need to know how to write a hardship letter? Don't know what a financial worksheet is or you need one? We are always happy to assist!


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Benicia CA Commandants Residence Back to its Glory!
Posted - 2 days ago 579 comments

Several weeks ago my twin daughters came home from Sonoma State University to help with a Girl Scout Function at Benicia's Commandants Residence.  I told them it will be a treat for them to see the home restored to its former glory. This is a majestic home that had gone downhill after a fire in 1979.  I actually remember going to a wedding back then (circa 1978) that was held there.  I remember how beautiful it was and dreamed of living in a place like this.  And dreaming is all I would ever do!! It was not til 1997 that we moved to Benicia, CA.  It was so sad to see the home look unloved and unkempt when we moved here.  However, the City of Benicia rallied and with grants and funds was able to restore the lovely mansion in the past several years.

The Commandant's Residenceis explained on the Chamber of Commerce as a "Historic Commanding Officer's Quarters(Previously known as the Commandant's Residence - Arsenal Building No. 28): Built in 1860 by Col. Julian McAllister, the two-story, 8883 sq.ft., 20-room Greek Revival mansion was used as a residence for the commander of the Benicia Arsenal, as well as the former home of poet Stephen Vicent Benet, whose father commanded the post from 1905 to 1911. The interior has intricate inlaid parquet flooring and elegant scrollwork and woodwork. The building, located at One Commandant's Lane, is listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings and is now owned by the City of Benicia. It was once leased as a restaurant, which later closed in 1979 after a kitchen fire. Closed for over 20 years, funds were raised for much-needed renovations and were completed in 2009, which includes handicap access, a new roof, air conditioning, phone/data lines, elevator, interior repairs, seismic upgrades, and exterior ornamental trim repairs by expert craftsmen. The City is looking to lease space in the building, for both permanent and temporary uses, compatible with community identity and community goals."

When I took pictures the other day of the outside, the mansion sparkled and gleamed with pride.  The grounds were manicured and you can tell it is ready to take its rightful place in the community!

Benicia Commandants

Benicia Commandants Residence


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Solano County Food Bank Drop Off
Posted - 2 days ago 552 comments

This is the 3rd year our Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific in Benicia, CA is a drop off for the Solano and Contra Costa Food Bank.  We have a barrel ready to receive your food donations for the upcoming winter months.  The winters can be especially difficult for people and families in need of nourishment.  The local Food Banks help to fill this need.

We are located at 900 First St in Benicia, CA.  Our office is open from 9AM-5PM every day.  You can often get in before or after those hours also.

Please remember when you are out doing your grocery shopping, please pick up an extra can and drop it off at Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific's Food Bank donation barrel.

Benicia, Ca Food Bank Drop OFf

Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Bank of American Halts Foreclosures what does it mean to you
Posted - 2 days ago

IF you live in Benicia, CA and have a Bank of America Mortgage and you are in the foreclosure process, did you know BofA has halted all foreclosures? in all 50 states?  Some of the other big name banks, like Chase and GMAC, have halted foreclosing on delinquent homeowners in 23 states but not expanded to Benicia, CA...yet.

What does this mean to you?  With a halt in this process you might have an opportunity to get out from under the mortgage debt by short selling your home.  You might have thought there is nothing more I can do, "just let the home go back to the bank."  Foreclosure damages your credit and damages it for a longer period of time than a short sale.

Why not find out what it would mean to short sale your Benicia CA home? Speak with an experienced Short Sale Realtor.  In a nut shell, a short sale is where you sell your home for less than what the mortgage balance is.  Did you know the ultimate goal when short selling your home is NO MONEY from you?  The bank pays the Realtors and will often pay delinquent real estate taxes and the normal/customary fees for selling a home.

Bank of America has a horrible reputation for how they handled short sales in the past.  I am not of that opinion.  Bank of America has and is continuing to streamline the process.  A short sale still takes time, you must have patience and resiliency. Most important is hire someone who can manage and negotiate with Bank of America to approve your short sale under the terms you agree to.

It is very important if you are considering a short sale to speak with your CPA about tax consequences and an attorney. 

If you live in Benicia CA and are underwater with your mortgage and sick of dealing with a mortgage you cannot continue to pay, please explore the option of short selling your home.  All it takes is time to learn, be informed, and take it one step at a time.

Benicia CA


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Vallejo, CA and Sonoma State University
Posted - 2 days ago

Vallejo, CA and Sonoma State University have something in common as of September 27th 2010.  There is a now a joint venture between Solano Community College's Vallejo campus and Sonoma State University where by local students can pursue a bachelor degree without leaving town.

Vallejo, CA is a hidden jewel for higher education.  In August 2010 I highlighted Vallejo CA's Best Kept College Secrets.

This agreement came about because of Measure G Bonds campaign, that students taking classes in the Solano College satellite campus in Vallejo could continue their studies to obtain a liberal arts bachelor degree from Sonoma State University.

My daughters currently attend Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park where the main campus is located.  They love Sonoma State.  Now more students can take advantage of a great educational opportunity in their Vallejo, CA backyard


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Benicia Community Park
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia Community Park is one park in our lovely city of Benicia, Ca that has a variety of uses.  It has a dog park, skate park, paths to jog, walk & bike around, ball fields for softball and baseball.  Benicia Community Parkhas picnic tables, play equipment for toddlers to older children.  You can spend a whole day there enjoying the activities or sitting and just watching the activities!

Many years ago when our twin daughters were young they loved to go here every day of the summer.  They called it the "concrete slide park".  The reason being is there is a huge slide cut out in the hill that is a kid magnet.  Also an adult magnet too!!.  My girls would spend hours going up and sliding down.  I have even seen some four legged children scooting down the slide.

Benicia, CA has many parks to choose from all over the city. I have featured Channing Circle Park,      Jack London Park, Benicia State Park, to name a few! Stop by and visit Benicia Community Park this week!  The weather is great, not too hot nor too cold!

Benicia Community Park

Benicia Community Park

Bneicia Community Parr


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Short Sale Questions
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia, CA homeowners have questions about short sales.  This week my business partner, Jenny, and I have been busy with listing presentations to distressed homeowners.  IF you are reading this, then you know the internet is full of advice, some sound and some absolutely bogus.

If you want to get straight answers, talk to a Benicia Realtor who has experience with helping homeowners with distressed properties.  Not someone who hands the paper off to an assistant to process or an outside firm.  Experienced means being engaged, knowing what recourse or non-recourse loans are, what a deficiency judgment is, knowing what your lender is requiring for a short sale or loan modification, and actually being the face the lender will negotiate with.  That is what we are paid to do!

That said, the biggest "AHA" for sellers this week was about the possible tax consequences of a short sale.  Most of the sellers we spoke with this week did not know about the possibility of getting a 1099 after a short sale.  We strongly urged them to seek their CPA's advice about the tax ramifications of short sales.  We also encourage sellers to talk to their attorney.  Information is king!

As Benicia Ca Short Sale Agents, what we do best is get your home sold for the highest price and work diligently to get the approval quickly so the buyer can move in.  There will always be Benicia Ca Short Sale questions asked and we encourage them!!  We love informed sellers who know the expectations in a short sale.

As of today (BARIES 9-30-10) there are 113 homes for sale in Benicia, CA.  21 are Foreclosures(REO) and 43 homes are short sales.  It is very important you select a Realtor who understands short sales and can navigate the transaction.  You won't be sorry and we have never had a client say they were sorry they waited for their short sale transaction to close.  They got the home of their dreams.

Benicia CA Short Sale questions are an important part of buying or selling a home.  Be informed and be educated!


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Benicia CA - Proud to be a California Main Street City!
Posted - 2 days ago

Benicia CA is proud to be a California Main Street City.  What does that mean? This is from Calfornia Main Street "In 1986, California joined a growing national movement to improve the quality of life in America's towns, cities and neighborhoods by reinvigorating the economic health of their historic Main Street central business districts. Developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation more than 25 years ago and administered by the non-profit National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Main Street Program has utilized a public-private partnership of private investment, local government support, and local non-profit assistance to revitalize historic commercial districts.  The locally-driven, grass roots, self-help "Main Street Approach" focuses on four points: organization, promotion, design, and economic restructuring."

Benicia is a vibrant city located on the Carquinez Straits, the water gateway to Central California.  Its rich history includes being the first Capitol of California, a stopping off point for gold seekers getting to the hills above Sacramento, a city full of artists working in all mediums, and a city I believe to be the "best place to live, grow up and grow old." 

The Benicia Main Street Program can found at the end of First Street located in the old Train Depot.  This location has stunning views of the water and hills in Contra Costa County.  I love to visit the office as it has gifts, brochures, and lists of activities that take place every year in our lovely city.  It is my one stop shop for See's Candy and holiday gifts for clients, family, and friends.  You can buy local gift certificates that can be used for shopping in Benicia.  What a great gift idea for those hard to buy for! 

Benicia Main Street

Downtown Benicia

Benicia Train Depot

Benicia Water View

With views like this, why wouldn't you want to live in Benicia, CA?



Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Can you find a better Waters End Home for Sale than this?
Posted - 2 days ago

We are pleased to announce a Benicia Home For Sale in Waters End Neighborhood in Benicia, CA.

507 Lansing Circle Benicia, CA For Sale at $599,000  For more information visit

Exquisite Shea Home in the Waters End Neighborhood of Benicia. Gleaming Cherry Wood floors welcome you home. This lovely home is in immaculate condition inside and out. Upgrades include but not limited to tile floors, granite counters, cherry cabinets, ceiling speakers in select rooms, custom tile in master bathroom, designer paint colors, plantation shutters and custom landscaping front, back and side yards.

The lush backyard provides shade with custom arbors, plants to attract hummingbirds, colorful flowers, and slate pavers wind from side yard to backyard.  Private outdoor dining patio off the casual dining area.  Greenery and pond complete the private patio setting. A great place to relax!

This home is located close the Waters End Park which has plenty of room for fun and just plain relaxing if you want a quick afternoon getaway.

San Francisco is 35 miles away and many homeowners choose to move to Benicia since it is close by and commutable.  For day trips Napa Wine Country is less than an hour away or go for a ski trip to Lake Tahoe for the day.

No matter what, know you can come home to a 507 Lansing Circle Benicia! 

507 Lansing Circle


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure

Want to Write a Benicia Short Sale Offer?
Posted - 2 days ago

When working with buyers who want to buy a  Short Sale, we have to have the "Short Sale Strategy Conversation".

Do you really lovvvvveeee this house? Do you want to know how to position an offer so the seller will accept your Benicia Short Sale offer?  There are some strategies that most buyers will not do and the other percentage of buyers who listen will get into contract.  The ones who continue to struggle to get a Short Sale offer accepted is based on many reasons, because their agent who has never sold a short sale told them, they read all over the Internet "how to get the best short sale bargain", they already know how to buy a house because the brother/neighbor/colleague told them how, you get the picture.

As a Benicia Short Sale buyer, you have to be committed and know this is the house for you.  Please don't drag your agent around still looking for that new favorite home.  Unless you can buy more than one house, hang in for at least 60 days to see if the bank approves the short sale.  Believe me the bank will come back quicker if they are not going to approve as they will quickly analyze all the papers the listing agent sent in to determine if the seller has a hardship.

Put some "skin" in the game, as we call it.  Offer to put some money into escrow and upon the short sale approval put the remainder of your initial deposit.  The seller really believes you want the house when this happens.  In addition you will get a preliminary title.  It will tell if there are any outstanding liens. 

For heaven sakes, give the listing agent some time to get takes at least 30 days to get a first response after the listing agent sends all 100 pages of Short Sale documentation for a Benicia Short Sale.  Then another 30-60 days to hopefully get the short sale letter.  In the short sale addendum please allow at least 60 days and the really assertive buyers say 90 days.  That means they are willing to stick it out. The agents should be communicating every week.  Usually the banks will inform us what stage they are in the process.  Communication is KING.  Your agent should be asking every week a status report.  As a Benicia Short Sale Listing Agent I communicate every week to 10 days with the buyers agent.  I want that buyer to stick with it. 

This strategy is not for the faint of heart but is for Benicia Short Sale Buyers who truly want to buy and say "I will stick it out to the end."   


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure

My Wallet is empty but my hands are full-Fine Art Craft Fair
Posted - 2 days ago

Ok Folks there are still a couple of shopping hours left.  It is almost 1PM here in Benicia, CA, and the  Benicia Fine Arts and Craft Fair is going on til 4PM.  I was up bright and early so I could have the pick of all the "litters".  By the time I strolled down the street from our Coldwel Banker Solano Pacific office, the event was in full swing. 

My arms were tired from lugging all my goodies back to my car. For the next couple of days I will feature some great finds.  And anyone out there reading this, please know you too can buy these items so stay tuned for the next couple of days for features about Walking Stics, Gourmet Treats, and Handbags.  You did not have to go to the fair as I will write about how to contact these vendors.

On my way back the other side, one of my favorite people, Jane Miller was showcasing her art. Jane has been a local well known painter of "Heart Art".  Many local Benicia Realtors including her husband Earl Miller (local Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific Realtor) give these colorful works of art to clients.  

Jane had something new and I was bowled over with the imagination to even think of this.  She and her mom have been crafting "Button Rings".  They have taken old buttons or earrings and fashioned very smart and unique rings.  The rings can fit most anybody's fingers as they can be adjusted.  IF anyone is watching TV, BIG rings are the rage.   Something new is made with something old.  Almost sounds like a wedding!! These one of kind rings are a wonderful and thoughtful gift to any lady of any age. 

Benicia Fine Arts and Craft Fair

Janes Rings


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Jack London Park in Benicia, CA
Posted - 2 days ago

My daughters enjoyed going from park to park in Benica, CA when they were young.  There seems like there is a park on every corner and major street. 

I have recently featured Channing Circle Park and Gateway Park.

Today I am featuring Jack London Park on the corner of Hastings Drive and Rose Drive.  This park was nicknamed the "White Park" by our family.  The reason why is when you see the pictures.  A modernistic park with white architectural elements.  It has wide expanse of grassy areas to play ball or catch.  A playground fit for kids of all ages.  Plus picnic tables and grills close by.  Plenty of parking is available.

If you have not had a chance to visit this park in Benicia, CA bring a picnic, the family, your neighbors, and anyone else for a great outing in our lovely city of Benicia!

Jack London Park Benicia,CA

Jack London Park


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Skillman Park in Benicia, CA
Posted - 2 days ago
Re-blogged 0 times

Benicia Parks-Skillman Park (edit/delete)

We have so many parks in Benicia. It is going to take me a few weeks to try and feature every one of them. I am slowly getting the task done. My daughters visited many of these parks when they were younger. Now that they are almost adults and fantastic babysitters, they can take their young charges to play. Skillman Park is located on Rose Drive. It has playground equipment, open grassy fields and a basketball court. Most evenings or weekend you can drive by and there are kids playing basketball. Sure beats mom and dad buying the hoop and tripping over it in driveway! Stop by and pay a visit to one of Benicia,Ca lovely parks!!

Skillman Park

Skillman Park


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

What's in YOUR DREAMS? Playground of Dreams in Benicia, CA
Posted - 2 days ago

We have our own Playground of Dreams in Benicia.  This local park is located behind the Benicia Fire Station on Military Street in Benicia.  Benicia, Ca is a wonderful place to live, grow up and grow old!

When my daughters were younger they nicknamed this park the "Wood Park".  With lots of nooks and crannies to hide and play imaginative games for hours, this was one of their favorite places to go on a Saturday morning.  There are plenty of picnic tables and grassy areas to relax.  About once a year the community comes together with volunteers to maintain the Playground of Dreams.

There seems to be a park on every corner....or almost!!  Please read about Jack London Park Here, Gateway Park Here, Channing Circle Park Here, and Skillman Park Here.

When you get a chance bring a picnic, plenty of sunscreen, and a high level of energy!

playground of dreams

playground of dreams benicia

playground of dreams benicia


playground of dreams benicia


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific

Call or Text Melanie - 707-319-2828

Visit for more information about Homes for Sale In Benicia, Vallejo, Green  Valley, and Napa. Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options.

"Local Expertise-National Exposure"

Benicia State Park
Posted - 2 days ago

We are fortunate in Benicia to have a state park in our midst.  It is always busy with walkers, runners, people on bikes and just plain strollers.  You can get as much exercise as you want as there is a 5 mile round trip trail.  There are the beautiful views of the Carquinez Straits and you might catch a tugboat bringing a freighter in along the straits.  On Thursday or Friday night the sailboats whisk along the water grabbing the ever present breezes that help keep us cool in Benicia.

At each end there is ample parking for a slight fee.  Some people choose to park outside the park and walk in.  There is water for drinking and to quench your pet's thirst.  For a break sit on a bench and dream a little dream.

At the end of the park closest to Columbus Parkway exit we have a new pedestrian bridge which provides access for those of us on near Rose Drive.  I just wrote about this pedistrian bridge opening up in another blog titled Benicia Pedestrian Walk Way Over HWY 780.

You don't have to go far to find an economical day adventure! Visit our Local Benicia State Park soon.

Benicia State Park

Benicia State Park

Benicia State Park

Benicia State Park


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".

Vallejo Sulphur Springs Mountains
Posted - 2 days ago

Several years ago there was a lovely home for sale in North Vallejo.  Out the backyard was a panoramic view of some rock outcroppings and rugged hills/mountains.  The agent who had the home for sale said she had a bet with her seller as to what was the name of those hills/mountains.

As my husband worked for the city of Vallejo for many years and knew everything, I called him.  His immediate answer was Sulphur Springs.  So the agent won her bet and advertised the home for sale with view of Sulphur Springs Mountains.

People hike the area and in the early evening you can see someone hand gliding from the peaks.  Columbus Parkway winds around the bottom of Sulphur Springs and there is a park called Blue Rock Springs close by.

We have some beautiful areas in Vallejo with many different microclimates.  This is one of them!

For informaiton about Vallejo and Vallejo Real Estate for Sale, visit



Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".


Benicia 9th Street Boat Launch
Posted - 2 days ago

In addtion to a lovely beach and park area at the end of 7th Street in Benicia, we also have boat launch.  It is free and plenty of parking. 

What a quick and easy acces to launch your boat and go for a cruise in the Carquinez Straits.  Or bring your fishing poles to catch tonight's dinner.  This facility is well paved with a newer dock along side it.  Bathroom facilites are available too.

So the next time you want a quick entrance to some water, try our local 9th Street Launch!!

7th street Boat Launch Benicia

For information about Benicia Real Estate, call Melanie Ross @707-319-2828 or visit her website

Benicia is a great place to live, grow up and grow old!



Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".


Benicia Pony Express
Posted - 2 days ago

Did you know the Pony Express rode in to Benicia?  There is a memorial marker at the end of First Street near the First Street Pier.  Take a stroll down First Street and visit the marker!  It stands proudly at the end of the pier.  What a great picture to take with you and the beautiful Carquinez Straits in the background.

benicia pony express

Benicia Carquinez Straits


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".

Benicia Pedestrian Walk Way over Hwy 780
Posted - 2 days ago

For those of us who live in the Southampton Hills of Benicia on the West side, we take our lives in our hands when we carefully walked a very narrow sidewalk across the bridge over HWY 780 near the CVS Pharmacy on the corner of Rose Dr and Columbus Parkway.

A new pedestrian crossing opened up to the public use today. This new bridge is well lit and will provide access for biker and hikers to Benicia State Park. The picture below was taken on Tuesday right before it was completed.  Today when I drove by all the constructions trucks and cones were removed.

No more dodging cars whizzing past you.  It will be a safe walkway that even high schoolers can get their exercise and walk to school. Keep your eyes out for a new way to get around Benicia!

Benicia Pedestrian Bridge over hwy 780

IF you are looking to sell your Benicia Home or looking to buy in our lovely city, Melanie Ross is an experienced Local Realtor who can guide you through the process in today's crazy market.  For more information visit


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".

Benicia Beaches
Posted - 2 days ago

A place to cool off in Benicia, CA.  Today was quite warm and tomorrow is supposed to be hotter. Benicia is not known for its beaches. Did you know we have one carved into a little cove off the Carquinez Straits?

It is located on 9th street and the cross street for access is West K and referred to as 9th Street Park.  There is not only a beach but picnic benches, playground, expansive grass area, and the ever important restroom facilities.  The views are wonderful, take a seat and just "dream a little dream."

Bring some food and drink and enjoy a lovely day at a Benicia Beach! Please be safe around the water as there are no lifeguards.

Benicia Beach

Benicia Beach 1

7th Street Park

For information about Benicia Real Estate, contact Melanie Ross.  Visit to find homes for sale.  As an experienced local Benicia Realtor, she knows the local real estate market and can help you find the home of your dreams!


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".

Ummm Good! Frankenburgers in Benicia
Posted - 2 days ago

Have you eaten at  Frankenburgers?  Located at the end of First Street in Benicia, this small intimate dining place has to be tried!  You walk up and order your custom burger or hot dog with a variety of cheeses on a home made bun with lots of veggies. They have a special sauce which tops it off!

My daughters love the sweet potato fries, crisp and sweet, they melt in your mouth.  Grab a table outside to watch the ships go by on the Carquinez Straits.  And stroll down First Street to work off those calories.

Next time you are in Benicia, hungry and want a quick bite visit Frankenburgers at the end of First Street.  You cannot miss their bright red sign.


For information about Benicia Homes For Sale visit  Melanie Ross is a local Benicia Realtor who loves where she lives!  Benicia is a great place to live, grow up, and grow old!


Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific


Visit for more information about Benicia Homes for Sale.  Melanie provides information and options to assist distressed homeowners in today's real estate market.  As an experienced Short Sale Realtor, she will thoroughly educate you on your options. Melanie is "Your Local Resource with National Exposure".

Short Sale Alphabet Soup
Posted - 3 days ago
Short Sale Alphabet Soup.....Ummm what am I thinking?!

I have purposefully chosen to work with Short Sale Homeowners and assisting buyers purchase short sale homes for sale in my real estate business.  Two important elements to a successful career in short sales is having experience and education.

The alphabet soup part comes from all the associations and education seminars and classes one can take to be better informed about the process.  I am one that likes classroom learning in addition to actually DOING IT!  That is the best of both worlds.  With education I learn all the newest rules the government is putting out so I can better assist my buyers and sellers.

7 years ago if you breathed you could get a transaction complete.  That is not the case in today's real estate transactions.  With the high number of distressed properties for sale you need someone who has experience and education.  Someone who knows the ropes, the ins and outs,  when to hold'em and when to fold'em.

My alphabet comes from being an Advanced CDPE (Certifed Distressed Property Expert), SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource), Certified HAFA Specialist (Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative Programs) and NASSPRO (National Association of Short Sale Professional).

I have a very deep and wide resource to go to when I donot have an answer. This is not an easy process, but one that takes diligence, communication, knowledge of the banks, negotiation skills, and most important experience.  I am glad I have the experience and education.  I can provde the very best for my clients.  This is what makes me successful in Benicia, Vallejo and the surrounding citites.  Next time ask your agent what experience and education he/she has completed.

I work at my client's pace and with distressed property owners you need to understand the what this means to you and your future.  Call or email me for more information..

Benicia Birds or Alfred Hitchcock The Birds
Posted - 3 days ago

The other day I look out my back window onto my little piece of Benicia Real Estate and see, what appears to be hundreds of birds(black some brown some with red wings tips) flocking toour backyard.  They swooped in with a rush and landed twittering and bumping into each other.  It did not take much to make them take flight all at the same time, once again bumping into each other as they flapped their wings and tried to appear as those air force planes flying in formation.

I thought they had left for greener yard, er, pastures as we do back to open space in Benicia. Yesterday morning down the street and round the corner, the "Birds" were touching down in a neighbor's front yard.

and I thought the other day was just a freak of nature......

Today as I am doing some work from my lazy girl chair, they appear again.  I swear it is something out of Alfred Hitchcock's "Birds", which was filmed near Bodega Bay, CA, but this Benicia, CA and my back yard not a school house where the blonde actress was scared.

I was not scared but entertained as they danced on the lawn and danced in the air.  Back and forth from the neighbor's back yard and back to ours. Swooping up and then making a sharp turn to the left and then the right.  With a clatter they landed on our tile roof. and this is not Christmas Eve, but I do know the sound of pattering bird feet!

An hour later there is peace and quiet in the backyard, just the butterflies, occasional hawk and of course a few straggling black birds and me resting in my lazy girl chair with my laptop.  I guess the stragglers did not get the message to move on.  And no one got attacked!  I wish I could have captured the flight but they all were flying so fast to catch up with each other.


Another Short Sale Closed!
Posted - 3 days ago
A smooth short sale transaction successfully concluded this past week.  We put a Vallejo home on the market the first of April.  It needed some love from a new owner but the basics were in place with a court location, newer roof, laminate floors, and updated kitchen.

This is the second HOME EQ short sale we have closed.  I love working with HOME EQ.  They are responsive to our inquiries and have the short sale process in place to proceed smoothly.

Our sellers accepted the offer on April 10th.  In time to get the Federal tax credit and closed on June 10th!!  and also may be eligible for the Califonia tax credit for first time home buyers.

If you have a HOME EQ loan and are upside down AND need to sell, contact me for information about doing a short sale.  I know what the lender needs and will help facilitate getting the best offer for your property and move on with your life. 

Many of the lenders have stepped up to make it easier for a distressed homeowner to complete the sale of their home.  Call me today for information or advice about your lender!

Short Sales Closed in Benicia, Ca and Green Valley, Ca!!
Posted - 3 days ago
Yabba Dabba Dooo is what I say every time we close a short sale transaction.  The past two weeks we closed two short sale transactions. 

Both of these started in January.  Every short sale is a nail biter going through the process, waiting for the bank to accept, getting inspections, getting appraisals, and handing off the keys to the new owners.

One of them came up $20K short for the appraisal.  OUCH, and our stomach sank.  You just pick your self up and go back to the negotiating table.

The banks for the most part realize already what the home is worth in the neighborhood and they have done their own calculations.  Who in today's world would agree to over pay for a home?  Not many, so as an agent we must go back to the table to finish the deal.

and we did!  Congratulations to the new owners in Benicia and Green Valley!

As a Certified Distressed Property Expert, I can hand walk you through the short sale transaction from a seller or buyer standpoint.  I make an effort to continuosly educate myself so I can better serve our clients.

Any Foreclosures Coming? A few!
Posted By - Melanie - 3 days ago 251 comments
The REO's (foreclosures) are very slowy trickling out to agents.  What we do see coming to my partner and I are foreclosures which are at the "higher end" of market value.

We have two lovely homes in pre-marketing from the bank we work with.  One is 4 bedroom 3 bath in Rodeo, CA with a sparkling pool for hot summers.  This home has granite counter and stainless steel appliances in the kitchen.  We can tell this home was loved at one time before the harsh reality of losing one's home took place.  The other home in pre-marketing is in Benicia,CA.  This home is located in a desirable neighborhood with 3 bedroom and 2 1/2 baths.  Neutral colors and a backyard fit for a party.

Pre-Marketing means we are getting the home ready to come on the market to be sold.  Normally it takes about 3-5 weeks once a home is vacated before it is listed for sale.

So if you are in the market for a lovely newer home in Rodeo or Benicia give me a call, text or email for more information.

SHHHHH...don't tell anyone else tho!

First Time Home Buyer, First Offer and it was accepted!!
Posted By - Melanie - 3 days ago
In today's market every buyer is struggling to get an offer accepted.  The first time home buyer's credit is an impetus to buy sooner than later.  The problem in our area is NO inventory.  We have less than 300 homes for sale in Vallejo and Benicia as of today (9/27/09) per our mls (BARIES). This time last year we had triple the number of homes to choose from.

A buyer sought me out after seeing veiwing my website and corresponding via email.  After much discussion, the hunt began for the perfect home.  The buyer was very involved with scouting out neighborhoods,  driving by potential homes at different times of the day.

When the buyer was ready to put an offer in for a bank owned home, it went pending so we could not even put pen to paper.  They were not discouraged and continued looking.  There was a home that was a little on the high side but not too much.  We went to look at it and the buyer fell in love with the potential.

Of course we were competing with two other offers.  I advised the client put forth a very clean offer, meaning do not ask for credits, only ask for normal and customary costs for the seller to pay, use conventional financing, and I wrote a buyer letter to the seller explaining why the seller should choose my buyer.

It happened!!  The seller chose our offer and we will be closing in October.  The success of this was in large part because of our buyer's attitude and willingness to listen to us.  The buyer was prepared with their financing, they did not expect the moon, could handle minor repairs, and they were focused on getting the offer accepted.

I told our client this is unusual in today's market place to get an offer accepted on the first house.  However I can say it was because of the team effort and the buyer's willingness to listen and take to heart what I was advising.

Short Sale Seller Success Tips
Posted By - Melanie Ross - 3 days ago

When a seller decides to sell their home and they owe more than what it can sell for, this is called a short sale

So what does it take from a seller?  You have already been spinning like clothes in a washing machine and probably have shed some tears and some cuss words.  In addition you are on a roller coaster wondering what steps to take.

My partner and I recommend talking to several professionals including a CPA for tax consequences, an attorney for legal aspects and experienced REALTORs who can sell your home.

When you are ready to take the step use the REALTOR who will work best for and with you.  From a seller standpoint, we need you to be in a position to quickly gather the needed financial documents the bank requires.  IF you dwaddle it prolongs what we can accomplish for you.  We also need the seller to contact the bank and tell them you are doing a short sale and give them the agent's name and contact information.  Even better is to fax the information to the bank.   We have found when a seller is vocal with the bank the process is shorter. 

Our main job is to get your home in contract with a viable buyer, and from that point on we will be in constant contact with your lenders pressing for a short sale approval and negotiating terms that are acceptable to you, the seller.  This is where a short sale takes the longest, getting the paperwork to the bank, getting assigned a negotiator, negotiating with the lender, getting approval and then the buyer starts their process of inspections, getting their loan tied up and then closing!!

When the day the home closes, many of our clients are breathing a sigh of relief, knowing it is over and they can go on with their life, planning for the future.

Please do not hesitate to call (707-319-2828) or email me or my partner Jenny Castaneda (707-592-4444) if you have any questions.  We are here to sell real estate, that is our job, whether it be a short sale or conventional sale or bank owned property.  We have the experience and know how for all your real estate needs.

Benicia Short Sales
Posted - 3 days ago
As of today 8/26/2009 our local mls (Bay Area Real Estate Information) indicates we have 88 single family homes and condos for sale in beautiful Benicia, CA.  

The number of short sales exceeds the bank owned (REOS) in our fair city.  There are 22 short sales and 15 foreclosures for sale.  We are seeing more conventional sellers, the ones who have equity in their home, putting their homes on the market.  There have been some lovely homes priced in the 400s-500s come up for sale in the past three weeks.

The interest rates are still reasonable, our schools are award winning, and living by the water is fantastic!  Come check Benicia, CA!!

Have the Short Sales taken over??
Posted - 3 days ago 578 comments
As of today 8/26/2009, our Bay Area Real Estate Information site indicated we have 208 single family homes and condos for sale in Vallejo, CA.  85 of them are short sales and 71 are foreclosures.  The good news is short sales are being approved.  It does take time so as a buyer, you need to have patience and your Realtor stay on top of it with the listing agent.  The short sale process is not refined and changes on a daily basis, however, we are finding some parts of the process are the same.  

No matter what the market is, there are always buyers and sellers, just because the dynamics of the transaction process changes, the need to find a home has not.  Patience is key and if you are a buyer be prepared to do what it takes to be a REAL BUYER.  Listen to your  agent carefully and be prepared to do what it takes to get a home that meets your needs.

REOS-Where are they?
Posted By - Melanie Ross, Coldwell Banker Solano Pacific - 3 days ago 544 comments

My partner and I have been listing bank owned properties (REO) for some time now in addition to short sales, conventional sales and assisting buyers.  We do not spread ourselves too thin by listing properties from the many, many asset companies out there. We stick with two asset companies and have been very pleased with their business model.  The asset managers work with the utmost professionalism.

This time last year we were swamped with foreclosures.  You will read about the ghost inventory of homes foreclosed upon, but not yet released to the listing agents.  We actually attended a direct lender's conference in May.  It was said to everyone there look for an influx of homes in the summer time.  Many REO agents are waiting for the slew of homes to come out to them.

It  has not happened yet.  Talk around the water cooler was  "It's coming, it's coming".  That initial anticipation has come and gone in the last two months. 

We have received several homes, one that was reassigned from another agent.  Not sure what that person did wrong, however, within two days of being listed, I got 8 offers.  The inventory is low yet the local newspapers are making some money publishing page after page after page of notice of trustee sales.  At some point it has to come out somewhere.  

We are constantly shifting with the changes in our industry.  Whether it be REOs, short sales, regular sellers,  first time home buyers, VA buyers, FHA buyers, Investors........we are about putting sellers together with buyers. Short Sales are getting through. Investors are finding incredible deals.  If the ghost inventory comes then we are ready, in the mean time we are not waiting around!  There is plenty to keep us busy!

Benicia, CA Real Estate and Vallejo, CA Real EstateChoose me to provide local expertise and national exposure.

Short Sale Help-Hopefully on its way!
Posted By - Melanie Ross - 3 days ago

I just received my CAR weekly news update plus I read an earlier email about what Obama is attempting to due for all the homeowners under water on their homes.

I say HURRAY!!  I sincerely hope that the servicing companies a homeowner calls trying to get a loan modification heeds this important news.

Homeowners---Push the envelope with your lender read this:

May 14, 2009 reprinted from C.A.R. News update: 

News Flash

Obama Administration Announces Financial Incentives and Uniform Process for Short Sales

  The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) today announced that the Obama Administration

has added new incentives and uniform procedures for short sales under its new Foreclosure Alternatives

Program (FAP), part of the administration's Making Homes Affordable plan.

Loan servicers may consider short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure for borrowers who do not qualify to

have their loans modified on a permanent basis under the Making Home Affordable Loan Modification


! Borrowers/homeowners qualify under the FAP if they meet minimum eligibility requirements for the

Home Affordable Modification program, but don't qualify for a modification or do not successfully

complete the three-month trial period. Before proceeding with a foreclosure, servicers must

determine if a short sale is appropriate.

! Incentives include: $1,000 for servicers for successful completion of a short sale or deed-in-lieu of

foreclosure; $1,500 for borrowers/homeowners to help with relocation expenses; and up to $1,000

toward the cost of paying junior lien holders to release their liens (one dollar from the government

for every $2 paid by the investors to the second lien holders).

! The program will include streamlined and standardized documents, including a Short Sale

Agreement and an Offer Acceptance Letter. The goal is to minimize complexity and increase use

of the short sale option.

! Servicers will independently establish both property value and minimum acceptable net return, in

accordance with investor requirements. The price may be determined based on an appraisal or

one or more broker price opinions (BPOs), issued no more than 120 days before the date of the

short sale agreement.

! In the Short Sale Agreement, servicers must give borrowers/homeowners at least 90 days to

market and sell the property, or up to one year, depending on market conditions. Property must be

listed with a licensed real estate professional with experience in the neighborhood. No foreclosure

may take place during the marketing period (at least 90 days) specified in the Short Sale


! The Short Sale Agreement must specify the reasonable and customary real estate commissions

and costs that may be deducted from the sales price. The servicer must agree not to negotiate a

lower commission after an offer has been received.

! Servicers may not charge fees to borrowers/homeowners for participating in the FAP.

! The program is in effect through 2012.

! Servicers have the option to require the borrower/homeowner to agree to deed the property to the

servicer in exchange for a release from the debt if the property does not sell within the time allowed

in the Short Sale Agreement (plus any extensions).

REMEMBER use an experienced Short Sale Realtor!!  We are having success with short sales and now is the time to put your home on the market, before the next wave of predicted foreclosures.