Archive for the ‘East Bay’ Category

YES, you can sell and buy a home during shelter in place!


We have multiple options for marketing homes with shelter in place, and more options as rules relax. Virtual tours, both prerecorded professional and an agent walk through.
I attend online broker tours twice a week where properties and pricing and market conditions are discussed with in our local agent community.
Digital marketing presence has increased, and so have the number of homes being marketed within the brokerage community without ever going on the open market.

Contractors, stagers, gardeners and photographers are all now allowed to prepare homes for market in our local counties!


For buyers it’s more important than ever to speak with lenders and get your pre-approval process completed.
In this market, many listing agents are requiring a copy of a pre-approval before allowing the buyers agent to show their listing.

Many appraisers are currently not accessing the interior of the home, they do a drive by or a desk top review, consult the public records and call agents for information on recent sales and the subject property to help assess the value.
Some lenders are waiving appraisals.


Open houses in the East Bay are currently a thing of the past. Prior to showings most agents require waivers to be signed acknowledging risk factors due to COVID-19 and for the buyers to provide the signed disclosure cover along with a lender letter or proof of funds.

In other words, buyers need to be serious!


Know that pricing strategy has shifted dramatically. 
With limited availability to see homes buyers and agents want to focus on properties that are priced within the buyers capacity.
The majority of homes are being listed closer to what the sellers expect and will take, or they are declaring at least a bottom line and a range


The recent norm in the East Bay has been for sellers to provide inspections.
In competition buyers are still writing with few or no contingencies.
For the Oakland/Berkeley areas this is frequently the norm even during shelter in place. Inventory is low, there are serious buyers out there.
A decent percentage of homes are still getting multiple offers.


Regular legal updates and forms are being provided by the California association of Realtors to give principles options on how to address Corona virus related issues.
A variety of circumstances could adversely affect an escrow including financing, investigation and health related issues.
Many contracts are written allowing for potential delays.

Days on the Market…the chart below indicates a faster market than last year for homes going into contract.

Buyers should not expect to hang around and wait if they really want to get into contract!  “Transparent” pricing means sellers often take offers after a few days.



The chart below shows the April median price of SOLD homes almost unchanged.
median price


  • Sellers should consider if they are ready to sell now, dealing with what we know, or want to roll the dice and wait for the unknown.
  • They may want to consider their price range and location and overall desirability of their home.
  • The best homes in the highest demand locations tend to do well in any market.
  • Many resources but not all are now again available to help prepare homes for sale. Be prepared for safety related COVID disclosures and
    precautions and guidelines during the prep and sale period.
  • Most buyers in this market are expecting a discount in anticipation of future declines in value and the fact that an unsettled market carries additional risk.
  • Sellers will succeed if their expectations are closely aligned with the buyers.



  • Buyers should carefully consider whether it makes sense to move at this time.
  • Most importantly, they want to be rock solid financially and motivated to move. For some, the timing is good, they have the time to look and may already have a body of market knowledge behind them.
  • More than ever, buyers need an experienced realtor for advice. Listing agents want their sellers in contract with solid partners who can navigate through a potentially bumpy transaction.
  • Financing requires regular check ins. Underwriters can update guidelines. Buyers should have a safety net if their financing is in anyway borderline.
  • Do not expect to get into contract with an amazing deal!
    There are plenty of buyers with solid jobs who are ready to compete on little inventory and knowing they are not buying at the top of the market is reassuring to many.

As always, I’m happy to be a resource for those considering a move and to offer advice in the current environment! 

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spring rates limerick2


  • Rates are LOW!!   
  • Inventory is LOW!!

Yes, when we arrive at an open house buyers are often standing in line! 

This early in the season buyers should be prepared for some properties not to appraise. So make sure to run the numbers and figure out whether that will work for you or not if your appraisal comes in low.

Listing prices are still frequently very under value, and competition is often high.
We are seeing instances of low appraisals where buyers are willing to make up the difference because they want the property and it is worth it to them.

As a buyer, if you have waived the appraisal contingency  (not uncommon in this market) you do want to be mentally and financially prepared for this!!

As a seller, even if the buyer waived all their contingencies, best not to count your pennies until you have close escrow!

This is a great time of year to either be preparing a home for sale, or starting you search.
I’m always happy to speak with potential clients and see if I can assist with your move!


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So you’re considering purchasing property in the Oakland-Berkeley area and maybe renting out rooms (house hacking) or buying a duplex or a place with an ADU?

Essentially becoming a landlord of some sort, and as a property owner you would get to do absolutely what you want with your property, right???

…. Well…. not so fast!

Owning property in the Bay Area is a wonderful privilege and invariably a good long term investment, but venture into rental income with your eyes open.

The housing market is tight, the laws are very specific, there are folks who may take advantage (sad but true), and the penalties for missteps can be Draconian!

Do yourself a HUGE favor if you have not purchased yet, and consult with a local qualified landlord tenant attorney so you know the lay of the land!

If you currently own property, join a LOCAL landlord advocacy group and consult with legal staff. These groups are an EXCELLENT resource for landlords.

Many homeowners become accidental landlords. A relocation enabled them to keep a property and rent it out, or they decided to rent out a room or convert part of their home to a rental.

And for the House Hackers…roommates? Can you raise the rent? Can you get them out?
This is current day California land of legislation… not the TV Wild West of my youth!
I’d suggest look into what you can and cannot do.

Whilst many Bay area cities including Berkeley and Oakland have had various levels of rent control and tenant eviction restrictions in place for years, the number and type of properties which fall under these restrictions has recently increased.

Many cities have “Just cause eviction” ordinances.

As a landlord in most cases you cannot blithely give your tenant notice  because you want to sell the property…. this is likely NOT a ” just cause” for eviction.

A local attorney who specializes in this area of the law can advise owners of options if they wish to sell. Several cities, including Oakland now have minimum mandatory buyout requirements for negotiating tenant move outs.

I regularly work with property owners who wish to sell and in conjunction with their landlord tenant attorney we figure out what works best for all involved.

Being a property owner is great, but know your rights and obligations… and stay safe!


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As we’ve entered the Fall market many sellers still price low for competition, but some have set their expectations based on the frothier Spring market. Listing price strategy is all over the map! Some homes are priced too high, most are still priced too low and as Goldilocks might say …. some are priced just right!

Yoyo pricing is a phenomenon. Homes come on low to attract competition, the seller does not get offers as high as they expected, so they bump the price up to what they will accept, their “transparent price” If this is more than the market will bear…. and they want to sell, they then lower the price to somewhere in between.

“Buy it now pricing” may be used at the outset if sellers don’t like the idea of pricing low, they don’t wish to move out or stage or even come on the open market, and if they can get their “buy it now price” without doing so they will sell now.
The trick is for sellers to make sure they are not leaving money on the table by doing so.

Click image  for 3Q19 Market Update

 With pricing all over the map, buyers will do well to keep a close eye on days on the market and check in with their agent as to why a home is still available, and make sure to communicate their interest early on.

Transparent pricing and ” Buy it now” pricing may bring offers as written (no set date) and price adjustments often get other buyers off the fence and writing offers.

I’m always happy to discuss the market and your specific needs!




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You’ve lived in your home for a number of years and like a lot of folks you live with all sorts of things “you’ll get to at some point!” 
The carpets are threadbare, you haven’t painted since the kids were in kindergarten, the wood floors are pretty scratched and the enamel has worn off the tub etc. etc.

Everything is in good shape and you have lovely things but you’re a retiring downsizer and you’ve owned this home for maybe 25+ years.
Your buyers are likely to be closer to the age you were when you purchased and they tend to fall in love with and spend a premium on updated “millenial style” homes! 

Like many agents I’m frequently telling sellers they will get a higher price if they can invest some money in painting, redoing floors, updating light fixtures and staging.

And like many sellers… they would if they could but they can’t… but maybe they can!!

Compass has recently rolled out a great program which can help many sellers with equity in their homes (but with limited cash reserves) by giving short term financing to cover home prep costs.
It takes some advance planning, licensed contractors need to be approved and there are guidelines to follow.


I’m happy to answer questions if this is a good fit!

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Back when we bought our last house around 1998 we were considering schools and test scores and the Montclair hills seemed like the spot which best met our needs.

Although we were also very tempted by a couple of super charming homes -one in Adams Point with a gorgeous stained glass transom window and the other a craftsman style home near a wonderful pocket park in what is now more acceptably known as NOBE!

Fast forward about 20 years and the conversation I often have with homeowners in the Berkeley and Oakland hills frequently turns to
How is it possible homes in the hills are not worth more ?”

So here is a little chart giving some idea of relative appreciation over the last 20 years in the hills and the flats.
Yes, the hills were more expensive to start with, but a generational shift
is placing value on urban locations and Lakeshore is very tempting!

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That Magic feeling!

Every so often a home with that magic feeling comes on the market!

On Brokers tour the agents are “oohing” and “aahing” and say “I could live here!” and you realize you are not alone in responding to the home as you do!

The magical house does not have to be exceptionally fancy.

More likely it is unostentatious, more likely it has a wonderful interface with the outdoors… a place where you can imagine spending today’s precious down-time relaxing in comfort and looking out onto a beautiful garden or view!

How do you value a home like this?

You pull the comps, analyze the data and say…. However… this home is magical!
Data and logic invariably go out the window!

The winning recipe will undoubtedly be whatever the sales data indicates plus whipped cream and a very large $$ cherry on the top!

Will it appraise?
Quite possibly not. Is there going to be a buyer who doesn’t care, probably.

Like the world’s most valuable jewels and artworks a home with “ that magic feeling” is a rare commodity and gets valued accordingly!

closeup photo of pink petaled flower tree

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Pexels.com

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The holiday season saw somewhat of a seasonal slowdown as buyers turned their attention to the holidays. A few deals were had, many sellers tried the off-market ” Buy it now” pricing and some were successful. Shadow inventory which did not sell in the Holiday season and new inventory will be coming on soon!
Click on the image below to see the last quarter’s report

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I am so grateful for the opportunities I had in 2018 to help so many wonderful clients!

A BIG THANK YOU! to friends and clients who sent many of these people my way.

If you have a move in mind for 2019 I’m always happy to meet prospective clients, discuss options and put together a plan before the early Spring market gets going!

You can call me, text or leave a message at:  510-390-8101


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Let’s run the numbers…..but take the neighborhood breakdowns with a pinch of salt or twoOverall inventory was down a smidge in 3rd quarter. (It certainly seems to have picked up in October… after this report) as sellers scrambled to get their homes on the market, particularly those in the higher end.

One particular neighborhood shows sales prices are down by 25% from last year……. I don’t think so! A function of few homes for sale and not enough data to be meaningful…
Yes, it can now take MORE than 2 weeks on the market before sellers get an offer!
Agents have to gauge the interest and the response to pricing.

If the property is anything but a perfect “10” Buyers are a bit more cautious.
The news is distracting, so is the stock market..the weather is still great… buyers and agents are circling a little longer, is the property priced low, priced near value, priced a bit too high?
The market is less predictable, so it’s important to do your research!

Are we finally moving towards a more balanced market, where list prices are close to sale prices?? Maybe!
Are prices dropping? The high outliers from the Spring should probably be considered as such…. unless of course the property is a perfect “10”!

3rd Quarter market report


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