With the second half of 2021 in full swing, I recently talked to a couple of real estate agents in Amador County about how real estate is doing with the first half of the year in the books. John Bonfiglio is a RE/MAX Gold agent with offices in Plymouth and Jackson, and Stephanie Thomas is an agent with Gold Country Modern Real Estate in Sutter Creek.
Bonfiglio and Thomas are longtime residents of Amador County. Bonfiglio visited the county for years before he bought a home in Jackson in 2001. Thomas is a lifelong resident who attended Pine Grove Elementary School and graduated from Amador High School. Each of them took different paths to find themselves as real estate agents in the county.
How They Got Here
Bonfiglio entered the real estate industry in 1992 and started working as an agent in Amador County soon after he moved to Jackson in 2001. Thomas took a different route that ended up enriching her real estate career. “Before I was in real estate, I was in landscaping and design,” she explained. “But life changes happened, and six years ago I decided that I didn’t want to sit in an office, and I wanted to get out and about.”
Fortunately, her family provided the career change she needed. “My sister in Marin owns Bay Area Modern Real Estate that she started 17 years ago,” she said. Thomas obtained her real estate license and came under the umbrella of her sister’s company, and now she runs Gold Country Modern Real Estate as a sister company (literally) that focuses primarily on Amador County.
Until last year, Bonfiglio had two offices: one in Plymouth and one in San Jose. His agency was growing steadily, and he brought on a partner, Michele Lane, in 2018. Like Bonfiglio, Lane visited the county for years before she bought a home here in 2018. “Then during the beginning of the pandemic,” Bonfiglio said, “we saw the opportunity to expand in the local area.”
That opportunity came when Jackson Bike Shop moved to Main Street Jackson, and Davenport Properties moved its second office at the corner of Highway 49 and 88 to the old Jackson Bike Shop space on Highway 88. Bonfiglio claimed the former Davenport Properties space and opened that new office in early 2021. Regarding recent Caltrans work on Highway 88 in front of his new office, he noted that “it is all finished now and both Jackson and Plymouth offices are open.”
The State of Real Estate
Bonfiglio said the market is strong in the county. Thomas was more pointed: “The real estate market is insane.”
Both had different reasons for their assessments. Bonfiglio pointed to the lack of housing. “We really could use a supply of new affordable housing in the county, both single-family and multi-family,” he said. “Rentals are very hard to come by as well.”
Thomas said there is a lot of movement in and out of the county. “A lot of local residents are moving out of state, especially to move closer to their families due to COVID-19,” she explained. At the same time, she added, “People from Bay Area and Sacramento are finding that they want the peace and tranquility in the area, have a yard, live off the land, and work from home.”
Though the real estate market can seem like a roller coaster with ups and downs, Thomas has adapted to it but said that it won’t stay that way forever. Bonfiglio noted that the coming end to the foreclosure moratorium could well be a development that changes the market but added that homeowners shouldn’t panic. “We are not expecting to see this cause a rash of foreclosures,” he said.
So, what happens if you may be impacted by the foreclosure moratorium ending? Aside from seeking professional assistance, Bonfiglio said they should take stock of their status and the environment. “Most homeowners have equity in their homes and can sell the property rather than lose it due to foreclosure,” he noted. “Banks really do not want to own real estate, and there are many processes in place to assist.”
And if you want to sell, Bonfiglio said that now is the time to take advantage of the market. What’s more, he said, “sellers are not always aware that they can make the sale of their home contingent upon finding a replacement home.”
Firmly in the Community
Bonfiglio and Thomas also stay involved in the community. RE/MAX Gold held a fundraiser on June 5 that offered a ride in a tethered RE/MAX balloon (which is also the company logo) at the Amador County Fairgrounds in exchange for a donation to the Amador Fire Protection District and the Jackson Fire Department. The event raised $2,200.
Gold Country Modern Real Estate produces a monthly newspaper that promotes local businesses, and Thomas gets involved in interesting ways. At the beginning of the public health emergency, she worked at the Jackson Raley’s store for 90 days in their e-cart division fulfilling orders. “I admired how they handled that,” she said, “and it made me appreciate real estate!”
Thomas added that she will continue to promote the county in any way she can. “I’m very proud of where I live,” she said, “and I don’t mind sharing it.”
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