Archive for the ‘Financing’ Category

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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Per our 2nd Quarter market report below,prices continued to rise, lower-priced homes remained in high demand, the seasonal increase in homes for sale helped , though inventory levels remained critically low.

And now, we are again well into our usual Summer lullthis is not the busiest season in real estate! Many agents and their clients are on vacation and even though families may want to be settled before school starts we invariably see inventory drop and some good homes do not get as much attention as early in the year.

We are seeing some homes not get offers within the first 3 weeks ( yes, this is now a shock!) more listings indicating ” transparent pricing ” and more ” yoyo” pricing.

What I call ” Yoyo pricing” is when a home comes on low to meet the current market norm of ” price under, get competition to bid the price to what the home is worth“. The seller gets offers, but the seller has higher expectations so they don’t accept any of them. So the list price goes up to what the seller will accept “transparent pricing” Another couple of weeks go by and they still don’t get their price ….so then it drops back down to somewhere in the middle and then maybe they get that price …or… it is subsequently bid back up a notch or two if a couple of buyers are again competing.
Which goes to show that no one really knows what a home is worth until it gets out in front of “market forces”!

In short: The summer lull may offer vigilant buyers opportunity to get into the market on some homes.

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This week I attended our quarterly Top Producers referral group meeting in San Jose. Agents from as far away as Sacramento, Carmel,Tahoe and Davis shared updates on their current market conditions and a variety of real estate related topics.

If you are looking to buy or sell outside of the Bay Area, I can usually provide referrals to great agents!

We have 30 year veterans and Millenials in the mix so it’s a nice cross section of different styles and approaches to real estate!

In general, the theme was one of “low inventory” with some markets slowing and others as competitive as ever, and “what is the next generation going to be able to afford?”
( Yes, we are only too aware of the down side to declining affordability)

The Oakland- Berkeley area seems to be one where buyers have become more selective this last quarter. Great houses are garnering the attention and high prices. Less than A+ or less strategically priced homes are sometimes only getting one offer or sitting. 

As we get into the holiday season it can be a good time for buyers who see potential in those “less than perfect” or less optimally marketed properties!

To check on the stats from the last quarter, Q3 -click below.

Pricing for competition is key….. sorry… no end in sight for those under market list prices at this time!!



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The First Quarter round up!
Q1 2016 click image

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The fourth quarter in Oakland and Berkeley and neighboring cities continued with a serious shortage of inventory.

There was a slight increase in listings after labor day, and a momentary slow down. In part attributed to the sheer exhaustion of the buyers (and their agents)! How many way over asking clean and often contingency free offers can you write and still not get the house??!

Of note in the 4th quarter, the Oakland neighborhoods of Redwood Heights and Lincoln Heights saw a big jump in average sale price.
For some time they have been significantly below the Glenview prices and the difference is now closer to a recent historical norm.

For perspective on inventory in the Berkeley/Oakland areas we cover ……

On 12/31/2013 there were 222 active listings
On 12/31/2014 there were 131 active listings
On 12/31/2015 there were 64 active listings

Sellers… if you are ready… do not wait! This is our Spring market and the last Jan-Feb sellers have done very well.

In March and April you will have competition!!!

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Twice a week my colleagues and I confer to see who needs to tour which homes based on the sellers and buyers we are working with. (This is one of the BEST reasons for sellers and buyers to decide early on which agent to work with.) As agents we can’t see everything on the market, so we do prioritize and keep our eyes open particularly for clients who are thinking of making a move.

The best agents, in my opinion, devote a good chunk of every week to touring and keeping up with the newest additions to our inventory. How else can we advise sellers and buyers on the competition and possible value??!

A light hearted game we play when we go out on tour… you have to have fun on the job! …is to come up with the day’s theme. There nearly always is one…. crown molding, fabulous roses, smelly basements, interesting fireplaces, weird floor plans, only cookies to eat (!)…….. and this week we were lucky to have  First Class Views!!

And surely, this is one of the reasons we pay the price to live where we do, and a premium for a house with a view!

When we lived in Hong Kong, I’m pictured here with my oldest son, we felt that view was worth it too!


Our low listing inventory continues,  appx 30% down from this time last year… Sellers, there are buyers out there!

Click to enlarge image


A super stylish ‘90s home with the absolute best view, (even for doing the dishes!) at 160 Gravatt Drive  The owners added a mini panoramic window to great effect, listed by Kelly Deal of Grubb & Co… who also had real food for us, much appreciated after a marathon tour!

21 Stephens Way, up in the same Claremont Hills area is a one owner home with lots of potential and a super floor plan and some easy garden access. All level living which is a desirable feature in the hills!  Listed by Patricia Swift of Grubb & Co.

And for those who would like to be a wee bit more central and stumble out of bed into a latte…. finally, we have a few new listings in Rockridge and Elmwood!  Some seriously priced semi fixers, a nicely redone couple and a little gem for under $500,000 at 2508 Woolsey, Listed by Daniel Stea of PBG. Now that is a tempting little number for this location…

I’m always happy to answer real estate related questions and appreciate your support through referrals!

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There is always something inspiring about those who have the courage of their convictions! Years ago I recall sticking some money into a “contrarian” fund… I don’t recall how my investment did, but I liked the idea of investing (a little!) with someone who saw the possibilities in a down market! With little inventory on the market, the jewels in the crown are selling quickly, in competition, and yes… for cash. As appraisals are often coming in more conservatively the cash offer has really come into it’s own; you would be amazed how many cash buyers are in the market in all price ranges… though with those  piddly interest rates at the bank -maybe not!

Of note to cash buyers, there is cost saving refinancing available to a buyer who wants the competitive advantage of a cash offer, and to subsequently leverage their investment with a mortgage within the first 90 days of ownership.
(Let me know if you want more details)


Two exceptional Berkeley homes, including my favorite mid-century with to die for garden which just closed in 10 days for cash and significantly over the list price…. we do seem to be moving out of the market stall at the end of 2011.

See the list versus sales price……wow!

Click on image to enlarge


So where in Oakland can you find a level home on almost a half acre, with a Bay view and some Hollywood style for under $450K? OK so some of them need some updates but the space is amazing…. so if theBerkeley hills and Rockridge leave you feeling cramped try looking a little further afield! We had a lovely drive through the hills to see 4200 Aberfoil  listed by Donna Conroy of Pacific Union

And if your budget allows for a higher price and you want the latte factor…which you will pay more for…try this classic Oakland home on the Piedmont border close to the GrandLake area. Super access to the garden and plenty of curb appeal at 1027 Winsor Listed by Karen Lum of GrubbCo

I’m always happy to answer real estate related questions and appreciate your support through referrals!

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Several buyers who have visited my recent open houses have told me they hope to take advantage of the market and buy a higher priced home.
The low mortgage rates and price discounts have created an excellent opportunity for home owners who have equity or the financial ability to trade up to a more expensive home.
The graphic below illustrates how trading up can actually be a better deal now, even if the value of your current home is down.
If you wait for the prices to go up, the proportional cost of trading up will be higher.


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Our brokers meeting today included a discussion on the current situation with short sale transactions and loan modifications.

In 2010 we anticipate there will be an increase in the number of homeowners who will be trying to modify their loans, and the number of sellers who will be under water if they sell.

The good news is that more of the banks are starting to do loan modifications.

If you know anyone struggling with their loan payments, it is REALLY worth talking with the lender. If they were approached months ago with no success, it is worth another call!!

Some lenders are lowering the rates and, yes, they are doing this even if the home is worth less than it sold for. This may not work for everyone, but if you plan to stay in your home it may make sense.

We heard better feedback today particularly for homeowners with Wachovia, World Savings, Wells Fargo and Chase.

For many homeowners, the short sale route can still be preferable to foreclosure. An attorney can advise if this makes sense.

Yes, banks can still take a long time on the short sales; however, it is good to hear there is progress being made.

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There are loans available!

Real estate is such a dynamic market, and we are all wondering how 2010 will play out!
Will there be more cases of “house arrest” ( sellers and buyers not quite able to make a move,) or will the level of confidence continue to build with lower prices and low rates.

One holiday question has been “Is it possible to get a jumbo loan these days?”

Yes, most banks are back in this market.
There are larger loans available for homeowners who are in a position to refinance or buyers looking to purchase more expensive homes.
You do need to provide more documentation than you would have in the past, and probably have a larger down payment or equity.
Also, you may need to find the right lender match for your situation as these loans can be more relationship driven, or dependent on your assets.

Another option for buyers, one we haven’t seen in decades, is seller financing. It’s a useful option in some cases when additional financing is needed.

A large portion of the market right now continues to be driven by first time buyers using FHA loans. (more…)

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