Helen Luttemo came to the United States in 1997 and, like many other Swedes, she was planning to stay for three years. Fifteen years later, she still lives here, saying life in California was too good to be true. She lives in Marin County with her husband and two daughters.
Luttemo says the biggest difference between Sweden and the U.S. is the true openness and helpfulness people show. It feels like you are surrounded by people who just won the highest win on the lotto. She describes California as a place consisting of all the best ingredients: perfect weather, a well-working community and astonishing, nice people. Luttemo not only has experience living in these two countries, but she has lived on three continents and worked in 14 different countries.
Luttemo has been working as a realtor since 2004. When we started talking about her job and the housing market, I could hear in her voice how excited she was. "Working to help people find their new home is very rewarding and fun," Luttemo tells me. "Buying a new home is one of the most important things in your life. You not only pay for the house, you are also paying for the qualities of the surrounding area, like schools, weather and the community in general," Luttemo explains. These are all hidden factors that are included in housing prices today.

Five tough years for the housing market
When Luttemo started as a realtor the market was on the rise. In 2007 the market hit a downturn and the last five years have remained a struggle. Housing prices have gone down 25 percent. Luttemo explains how the American housing market is affected by Europe and how the bad financial economy affects American housing loans. When asking what the housing market will look like in five to 10 years, she says its impossible to know because there are too many things affecting it. Changing personal circumstances can also make the process of buying a home difficult and unpredictable. Even though the housing market is still in a downturn, there are fewer homes on the market. The reason for this, Luttemo says, might be the beneficial loan situation and that the market is still profitable for buyers.

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Key factors to consider when buying a home
One key factor Luttemo says is important to think about while in the process of buying a home, is working with a local realtor. Local realtors know the local housing market and the surrounding areas better than outside realtors. The most important key is to always make well-informed decisions. In your search for a new home, make sure to leave nothing out, she adds. Gather all the information you can, everything from interest rates to the details of every street corner.

Comeback at SACC-SF/SV
Luttemo joined the SACC-SF/SV board of directors in January 2012, but she is not new to the chamber. She was active as the executive director of the chamber for two years in 2000-02. She is very glad to be back with the chamber and is excited to see how much the chamber has developed and moved forward over the last few years. It is now offering more important and beneficial services and has a clear strategy and direction for the future. Luttemo believes she can contribute with past insight and a new perspective. I know what mistakes we have made in the past and what has worked well. I also have a strong professional network since I have been living in the Bay Area for so long, she says.

By: Louise Lindberg