Alameda, CA Real Estate News

By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Since I won the Magnetic Lenses to give my pocket digital camera wide-angle capability, I happily logged on and ordered it. Even if I had to pay for it, it may be worth it, for only $39.95! I had to check it out. Simple to use lenses for use on multiple cameras      PROS: Definitely gave me greater depth. Easy to mount -- magnetic ring with adhesive attaches to outer rim of lens. And lens adheres to the ring and stays there! Lightweight lens. CON:  Visible rounded corners have to be cropped. Need to make allowances for what will be cropped out. More time spent cropping! UPDATE: A Magnetic Lenses support person name Josh made a simple recommendation that solves this problem: Zoom in just a tad until the corners disappear. You will still have a good wide-angle picture photo. And indeed, i...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Yes. Not having permits is a deal-breaker. Believe it!  It happens again and again. We find a lovely home. Client loves it. We write an offer. We look into the remodeling, expansion, improvements. Then we discover the work was done without permits. "But they were done by professionals." Uh-huh. If they were professionals, they would have known to get permits, and then to have them finaled by the inspector. "But they just changed appliances and the counter top." Uh-huh. Are the appliances EXACTLY the same? Were new electrical outlets and wiring required? "The seller doesn't want to get the permits. The sale is AS IS." Then it's bye-bye. Let's move on. This just happened to me. My buyer loved LOVED the house. Made an offer on the spot. We got the disclosures, and lo and behold, we find ou...
Comments 6
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
It's an adage: "The first offer is almost always the best offer." Many REALTORS attest to this, and many of us have experienced it. LEAPING LIZARDS! WHY dont/won't more people believe it?   CONVINCE ME! I haven't been a REALTOR as long as some of you have been, but very recently, I've experienced this first hand. It's mind-boggling that it's a challenge to convincingly validate to sellers why there is a lot of truth in this. Today, I am thinking about this adage again because I just submitted an offer a day after the listing came on the market. My seller has been looking for a while. He knows what he wants. And we don't want to waste time. We wrote for over list price with aggressive terms: no buyer inspections, 40% down payment, 3% initial deposit, AS IS. Sellers decided to wait until ...
Comments 7
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Alameda CA has always enchanted me. And now that I live here, I continue to enjoy the small-town charm. I've never lived in a place (besides San Francisco) where there are so many delightful Victorians. Yesterday, I needed cheering up....so I drove around, snapping pictures (from my car) of some of the homes and architectural details that caught my eye. Thought I'd share a few.     After taking these pictures (and a few others) I felt better ---- immediately! I will keep my camera handy and take more HAPPY pictures. Geez, I LOVE THIS ISLAND CITY!  
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
We've heard and read about cyber or virtual staging for at least two years now when the concept was introduced. San Francisco Chronicle featured this story today (geez --- what took them so long?) And we've also heard that staged properties sell faster, and at higher prices than non-staged homes. We also know that recent National Association of REALTORS studies show that 87% or more of buyers and sellers go on line to look at homes for sale. So it seems natural to blend cyber staging with online marketing. For agents and their sellers who are strapped for funds and can't afford the cost of traditional staging, the next best thing is cyber or virtual staging. The agent provides photos of vacant rooms. The designer digitally furnishes and stages the rooms, provides the images to the REALT...
Comments 25
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
My seller is out of sorts due to the number of inspectors that the buyers want done to the property, following the pest inspection and the home inspection. This is not the first seller who has complained to me about this, but the question begs to be asked: when do inspections get to be too much and become invasive? Certain things were tagged by the property inspectors that triggered a series of other inspectors who specialize in different things. In one house, my seller works at home. So he had to vacate his home office multiple times to allow the inspectors to poke around the house. He sat in the car, working on his laptop, getting his wireless signals from his router --- and during his busy periods, it was quite a challenge. In the other, I've had to get the dog out of the house so th...
Comments 10
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Open house: a waste of time? This goes for folks who say doing open houses is a waste of time. I like doing open houses: 15% of my business last year was a result of clients whom I impressed during open house.It's the battle of the old versus the new way of farming, or generating business.  Some folks prefer to do it the way they've always done it --- walking their farm areas, door hanging, mailing Just sold/listed postcards, etc. And some of them are really good at it and do get a lot of new business that way. But others, like me, prefer to do find business in other ways. Some ways are tried and true, like writing personal notes, calling your client base, mailing monthly items of value, popping by --- basic principles of Brian Buffini's Working by Referral.  What works for you doesn't ...
Comments 15
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
My co-worker was showing a foreclosure that was just listed in Alameda. It was priced aggressively, in a very desirable neighborhood. When she and her clients arrived at the property, there were literally throngs of people going in and out of the house. It was so busy they thought there was an open house. NOT! Turns out that another realtor arrived to show the property to her clients, but that folks came to the property and wanted to see it, too. That realtor made the mistake of leaving the door open, so folks came in. And they came. And they came. That realtor couldn't leave without locking the house, but because there were so many people there, she couldn't get them all out. She called out for help: "IS THERE A REALTOR IN THE HOUSE?" To which my co-worked responded, and said she would...
Comments 43
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Having been lulled into thinking that perhaps our lovely island city is not only holding its value but also somewhat insulated from the sweeping wave of short sales and foreclosures, it is interesting to see where we're going. And are we there yet?   1st quarter 2008 2nd quarter 2008   1st quarter 2009 2nd quarter 2009 Number of sales 53 137   65 98 Days on market 59 45   60 44 Median price $628,696 $610,652   $536,910 $562,052 Regular sales 51 128   44 78 Short sales 1 2   4 8 Bank owned 1 7   17 12 In 2008, short sales and foreclosures represented barely 6 % of total sales the first half of 2008. During the same period in 2009, that increased to 25%. This is somewhat sobering (and humbling). At the same time, median price dropped from $619,674 to $549,481 or 11.5% decrease in market v...
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
This question gets asked over and over again. And the answer is, "It depends."  This seems like the right time to reiterate that real estate is local. GENERAL INFO Buyers have to qualify for that tax credit that equals 10% of purchase price, or UP TO $8,000. On FHA loans, the tax credit can be be PART of, but not THE down payment. See: Who/Where/How/What/When to use the $8,000 first time buyer tax credit with an FHA loan EXCEPTIONS But.....but.....yes, there are exceptions ... some state housing finance agencies have developed their own tax credit bridge loan programs, so buyers in states whose HFAs offer such programs can monetize the tax credit upfront to cover all or part of their downpayment. The reference to the state finance agencies may have been what got folks thinking that the ...
Comments 4
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Next month, friends of mine are relocating to Hawaii for a job promotion and also to be closer to their family who are still in Hawaii. They asked me to list their house for sale. But upon learning that  they got their loans modified the value of their home is less than what they paid for and therefore can't be listed a the price they want there are two different lenders, which would make a short sale difficult ....they decided to rent the house for a year while they try to get their loans consolidated and perhaps in a year, sell it. This would have cost tham $1500/month more than what they could get in rent. But they felt they have no choice because short sale is not do-able in the time period they need. Oh...but there is another choice! Lease-purchase option! This can be the best of b...
Comments 3
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
This woman buys a condo for her brother and sister who unexpectedly die within a year of each other. Later, the woman tries to rent the condo, where the rents barely cover the monthly mortgage and HOA fees. The HOA slaps her with a hefty fine because under their rules, the quota for rentals is filled, and she can;t rent out the condo to non-family members. She appeals. Deaf ears. Closed minds. No compromise.  Since she can't rent it out, she doesn't have any money to pay for the condo and the HOA fees. So she tries to sell the condo as a short sale. In the meantime, the HOA fees accrue. The HOA attorney sends threatening letters, adds a hefty fine (for previous transgression of renting the condo for a short period of time), and attorney fees. Condo now has offer, subject to lender appro...
Comments 3
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Just one of the fun things we do at our office... Usually, for one Friday of the month, we hold a Brown Bag lunch with our broker, during which we discuss events and issues pertaining to real estate. It's an informal roundtable discussion. However, the brown bag luncheon was scheduled on July 3 when only a few of us didn't take off for the long July 4th weekend. So  last Friday, my broker, Michael Studebaker, of my company, Gallagher and Lindsey in Alameda CA, did something fun: he barbecued pork --- AT THE OFFICE! He set up a barbecue at an alleyway behind the office, brought the meat and accoutrements. By 11:30 am, as the smell of the barbecue floated, our mouths were watering, our stomachs growling. So we hurriedly set the tables. Some of us brought the wine and beer. Others brought ...
Comments 6
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Like many other cities that have hummed along, Alameda seemed to, as many residents like to say "hold its value." But Alameda is hardly untouched by calamitous economic downturn. In 2008, the numbers were quite different than where they are today 2008 REO foreclosures: 35 homes, or 8% of 415 homes sold that year. In 2009, and as of this writing, based on our local MLS figures, here's what's happening in our glorious island of Alameda. SOLD (closed escrow) LISTINGS since January 1, 2009: 138 Residential homes 23 condos 12 townhouses 5 duets 98 detached single family homes Average days on market: 53 Average list price: $574,774 Average sold price: $556,203 (96.7% of average list price) Average sold $/sq ft: $353/sq ft 9 short sales 26 REOs or bank owned (18.8% of total sales to date --- ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Typically, we copped out by referring clients to our lenders and to our escrow managers. Or we say "Let me work out some figures and I'll get back with you." We never have the answers on the spot. Well, with Fidelity Agent, we can! Info on Fidelity Agent is not on every Fidelity Title Company site, but here's a link to Fidelity Agent comparisons to other calculation programs. After raving about using Fidelity Agent (or Palm Agent as it is sometimes known), here's info that  you may want to check out. What is it, and how does it work? Here's a nice video that will give you a really good idea of how it works, and how you can use it in different scenarios. http://pc3.fntg.com/UploadedDocuments/demos/fidelityagent/index.html How to contact Fidelity Agent The best way for an agent to acquire...
Comments 8
By Chuck & Nancy Bianchi, CRS, ABR & E-PRO
(Harbor Bay Realty)
Past contestants have sculpted replicas of the Posey Tube, a Mayan temple and even Godzilla. Still others have opted for traditional castles with towering turrets, crenelated walls and saltwater moats. What can be entered during the 43rd annual Sand Castle and Sand Sculpture Contest today is limited just by the imagination - and judging by past years, contestants will have plenty of it on display. The free event at Robert Crown Memorial State Beach is an Alameda tradition. But it also attracts participants from throughout the Bay Area. The rules are simple: Only material found naturally on the beach can be used, such as shells, stones and driftwood - and sand, of course. Contestants can use shovels, hoes and spatulas to sculpt their work. They also can use buckets, milk cartons and oth...
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Part of my outreach and Client Appreciation Program (CAP) per Working by Referral (Brian Buffini) to clients and associates is to send them an Item of Value. This time, I digressed from the original and proposed letter, and created one that I felt was pertinent today. Here's what I am getting ready to mail. The difference is that on Active Rain, I am providing links. CAP Item of Value This real estate market continues to surprise us: rates are very low, and home prices are finally near "the bottom."  The opportunities are still very much right there.  And conditions are evolving.  There are now several new programs to help both Buyers and Sellers. Buyers    First Time Buyer Tax Credit of $8,000. Eligible buyer with an FHA loan can apply the  credit toward closing costs and as an additio...
Comments 2
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
KEY TO EARNING ENERGY-EFFICIENCY TAX CREDITS Homeowners now can claim up to $1,500 in expanded energy-efficiency tax credits for remodeling their principal residence to reduce energy consumption. Available until the end of 2010, the revamped Existing Home Retrofit (25C) Tax Credit helps consumers save two ways: on their costs and on their utility bill WHAT QUALIFIES? See: Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency as outlined by Energy Star. Click HERE Also see: National Association of Home Builders for the Facts on Energy Efficiency Tax Credit  The expanded federal tax credit refunds 30 percent of the product replacement cost up to a total of $1,500. In some cases, installation costs may also be used to claim the tax credit. As long as the new products meet IRS qualifications.can be use...
Comments 2
By Chuck & Nancy Bianchi, CRS, ABR & E-PRO
(Harbor Bay Realty)
It's was a busy week for Nancy and me. We have been wrapping up the work on the new townhome listing. The painting is done except for some touch up that will be needed after the hardwood floors are refinished which begins Tuesday. The rose garden is looking great. We are planning on it being open this coming Sunday from 2-4 pm. Come on by or send your friends by to see this clean "F" model in Casitas, located in Bay Farm Island area of Alameda.  Now for some fun, on Thursday 6/4 LaVal's Pizza in the Harbor Bay Landing Center will be hosting the first of two "Hot Rods at Harbor Bay" Car shows of the year. Admission is free to view the approximately 50 plus cherry cars owned mainly by Alameda residents although there are plenty of cars from neighboring cities too. There is also a raffle a...
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Last Sunday was going to be a busy open house day. My listing is on a corner lot. So put up colorful flags on one side, and another set of coloful flags on the other side to form a "V" to lead people straight to the front door. THE NERVE! Imagine my consternation when another agent whom I will not identify (but I will if she pulls this stunt again) who has a listing a few doors from me, planted her sign DIRECTLY IN FRONT of my listing, and in the middle of the flags. There are four corners on that street -- my listing is one corner, I had my sign and flags on that corner. Couldn't she have placed her sign on any one of the three that don't have signs? My seller was outraged when she saw that...and told me again how much she disliked that agent's brokerage. She is going to tell her clien...
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