Posts Tagged ‘Financing’

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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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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Cash offers and sale data

Cash offers and low inventory are creating a consistent story of heavy competition in all price ranges.

Looking at the chart for this years activity , the number of cash transactions is pretty staggering. This is just the closed deals.

The actual number of cash offers is much higher. Every single county is showing at least 25% cash sales and some are closer to 50%.

No… this is NOT all overseas money! It’s investors, buyers who have sold to buy, those who figure the banks are paying peanuts and have savings, those who’ve been siting on the sidelines, those with great bonuses, the affluent, the relatives who tell their fortunate kids it’s a great time to buy and can help out!

Some buyers pay cash to compete and then refinance to take advantage of the 60 year low rates.

So how does a buyer compete against cash offers?

Their offer has to be even MORE compelling…e.g fewer contingencies and usually … a higher price.
It’s risk versus reward……yes, the seller will kiss the cash offer goodbye, but it had better be worth their while to wait longer and take the risk inherent with any loan.

The combination of low inventory and the competition with cash are pushing prices up at a very steep rate.

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Remember when the stock market crashed and for many months…. years afterwards!… if you were a baby boomer like me you couldn’t even open the retirement account statement…it went unopened into the trash…. better not to know!

Then prices started to move up and you could tentatively peek to see whether you were really going to have to work until you were 80 or 90!

So over to the East Bay real estate market at the start of 2013 and it’s less scary for homeowners to read the numbers! We still have plenty of homeowners who don’t have enough equity to sell, but the good news is that prices are consistently up across ALL price points.

snapshot for link to CC Data archive 4

As agents we’ve been feeling the buzz and seeing the results since the middle of last year, and now it shows in all the data.

Data isn’t everything but it’s one parameter in the market and nice to see more signs of a recovering economy.

Do call if you are interested in an opinion of value in 2013!

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Yes it’s December and things are slowing down but our east bay real estate market never really dies… except the way the inventory has been dropping the last couple of years the market is fading away!

From almost 700 homes for sale  in November 2010 (over $400,000 in the 6 cities we cover locally) , to 544 last November and  just 369 this year. It’s easy to see why frustrated buyers roam the Sunday open houses and over 70% of our contracts last month were in competition.

Serious buyers are out looking rain or shine, so let’s hope would be sellers get a jump on the market in January… don’t wait for the other sellers or you’ll be in competiton with more listings!

Click on image to view full-screen

Click on image to view full-screen


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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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We divide the market into different segments to look at data and review prices and volume.
In the charts here we compare 3rd quarters only and divide the market into above and below $800K.
The lower and upper ends of the market frequently adjust differently.

The link will take you to 6 local cities, and Oakland divided by neighborhoods.
Some quarters the data can be quite skewed by a few sales, so these brief windows are a snapshot in time and we review the whole year for a more balanced perspective!


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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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