How to Buy a House in Napa Valley Wine Country
It's a dream of many wine lovers to own Napa real estate. The reason is simple, Napa Valley is a slice of paradise. Its unspoiled views, tight-knit community, quiet lifestyle and, of course, amazing wines make it a home of choice for many.
For some, owning a home in Napa can be a lifelong dream come true, and for good reason. The Napa lifestyle is rewarding and rich. However, owning Napa real estate is about more than just purchasing land; it’s about joining a community. When are making your new home purchase in Napa, you’ll want to understand both the home-buying process as well as the culture and community into which you’ll be entering.
Mike Bertolucci of Gates Estates Sotheby’s International Realty is a Napa real estate expert. He explains, "There is a real sense of community between the locals new and old, you're here because you want to be here. Napa Valley isn't the small town you can't wait to move out of, it's the small town you want to live in, raise your family in and ultimately retire in."
Decide What You Want and Need From Your Napa Real Estate Purchase
Before you start searching for that perfect dream house, you need to have a good understanding of what it is you want. It’s easy to feel a bit of sticker shock when looking at homes in the Napa area, but living there doesn’t have to be out of reach. There’s a wide range of home values in this beautiful community, ranging from $500,000 to $20 million.
If you’re not looking to own a vineyard, you will be able to find Napa real estate in the lower price ranges. However, if you’re looking to join the elite wine-making class and you have the capital to do so, you’ll be able to find options, as well.
Make sure you know how many rooms you need, the kind of layout you’d like, what your budget is, and what’s important to you in the way of accessibility and community. Don’t marry yourself to this plan and risk missing out on a great opportunity that doesn’t conform to your list, but at least use it as a starting point when you go to look for homes.
Choose a Neighborhood
As with any location, there are many different neighborhoods in the Napa Valley. If you’re looking for prestige, St. Helena is the most popular Napa real estate, equally favorable for its reputation and its mountaintop location. However, all that dazzle comes with a price tag, as well, so if you’re looking to start a bit smaller St. Helena might not be the right choice.
However, the downtown area of Napa, once considered a blue collar location, is quickly becoming a popular neighborhood in which to secure real estate. There are a number of quaint Victorian cottages in the downtown Napa area that provide proximity to the Napa lifestyle and affordability, as well. Fortunately, you will never be far from some of the best Napa wineries wherever you live in the valley.
Realtor Mike Bertolucci says, "Most of my clients coming into the Valley are looking for that vineyard view setting, the hilltop estate or the downtown walking distance home." So don't be surprised if you run into a fair amount of competition when looking for this type of Napa real estate!
Hire a Realtor
If you’re used to searching for homes by scouring listings and online real estate sites, you’ll have to adjust your methodology if you want to find the best properties and deals in Napa Valley. In this area, the only way to find the best deal and the most impressive home is to utilize a realty specialist.
Realtors have insider tips and information that help them get their clients the most desirable and attainable properties long before they ever hit the listings. There are many reputable Realtors in the Napa area who would be happy to help you find your perfect piece of Napa real estate. We are happy to recommend a realtor. Email us for options.
What About Financing
The financing options for your Napa real estate purchase depend on what you are buying. As Caroline McPherson of Perl Mortgage explains, "If you are buying a single family home with a small "hobbyist" vineyard, you will qualify for standard financing. If you are planning to run a commercial vineyard or farm, you should approach an agribusiness lender."
The agribusiness lender will want to know what the value of the vineyard is. You will need to find out if there are contracts for the grapes, whether the vines are healthy and put together some business projections. You should hire a qualified vineyard constant to help you with your due diligence.
Can I Rent Out My House
Many people who want to own Napa real estate are looking for a second home. Renting this out can be a way to generate income while you are away. With the number of wine lovers visiting the valley year round, renting isn't difficult.
However, you need to be aware of local restrictions on service like Air BnB. We asked Mike about the limitations on renting. Like many communities, Napa wants to maintain some control over short term rentals.
Mike explains, "Napa County has put restrictions on short-term rentals allowing multiple transactions per month. If someone was looking to purchase a home and basically put a "revolving door" on it with nightly rentals, you are more than likely going to run into trouble." So, do your due diligence on the local regulations before making a purchase.
Culture and Community
Once you’ve found your new home in Napa Valley, you’ll want to start engaging with the community. Hopefully, you’ve done this during the transition phase, but since you’re still new in town there are a few things you should keep in mind.
For one thing, people in Napa are extremely eco-friendly. The best way to make enemies and earn yourself a less-than-favorable reputation is to disrespect the environment. Make sure you treat the land with respect and commit to as green a lifestyle as possible. In Napa, it’s not only part of the culture, it’s a sign of respect.
Napa culture also consists of a deep sense of community and an appreciation for the little things in life. While business certainly has its place and many successful businesspeople call Napa home, it’s not the city - and they like it that way. Finally, don’t be a stranger; get involved in the community in order to enjoy the richest experience possible.
Napa is a wonderful place to purchase a home, whether you’re starting small or starting a vineyard. If has a lot to offer, and the community is warm, welcoming, and inclusive. If you’re good to the land and uphold the mores that the community holds dear you’ll find Napa to be a slice of paradise you’ll not soon want to leave. Of course, you’ll also have access to some of the best wines in the world. Great people, beautiful country, and amazing wine; what could be better?
Napa Real Estate Resource
Michael Bertolucci of Gates Estates Sothey's International Realty -
Michael is a native of Napa whose family has been in the Valley for over 100 years. Having grown up in the real estate industry, he decided to join the family business in 2003 and become a Realtor. Covering Napa and Sonoma counties, and able to assist with first-time home buyers, 1031 exchanges, vacation homes, estates, mobile homes, investment properties and vineyards, Michael's knowledge and expertise will help you obtain the perfect property.
Caroline McPherson of Perl Mortgage -
Caroline holds a BS in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to starting her career in the home finance industry, Caroline worked in both public and private accounting roles. She has her Real Estate Broker’s License and NMLS license. Caroline has a long history lending in California and understands its unique challenges.