Alameda, CA Real Estate News

By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
How do you go from this fixer to a waterfront townhouse? This morning, I showed a major fixer upper to a couple looking for investment property. There was clearly a bit of disappointment that this fixer was more than they expected (although I had set expectations earlier). I mentioned that there are a couple of fixers on the west side of town that they should also check out. Both said they weren't keen on seeing anything there (they're east enders, and there's a bit of west vs east mentality). I persuaded them to let me show those properties anyway, and told them that the west side of town is evolving and improving. Minutes later, we're at the west-end fixer. They were really intrigued and liked this one better. They both thanked me for taking them to the west end. After having lived in...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Like most people, when I go to a retail store, I don't like having a salesperson follow me around. Knowing how I feel about being "stalked", I try to conduct myself in a manner that would be helpful without being obtrusive. Someone commented on my latest post ANOTHER open house lead turned into a listing. Holding open houses work! that he hasn't ever had a lead from an open house---yet. Yes, I know...it depends on the market. But a lot of it also depends on how you do open houses, too....right? When I looked at sources of my business, 21% of them are from leads I generated from open houses. So it works for me. Here's what I do/have during open houses INFORMATION --- every piece of printed material I give out has my name on it (I get my marketing stickers from Vista Print, or labeleenie...
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
     I love my Grandson Luc. He keeps me young as I watch him a couple of time a week to keep him out of daycare. He will be 2 years old on January 18th. He is the love of my life! It is so different being a grandparent. When we are together we go to the park, out to lunch and visit people. People that have seen us together over the last year are now commenting on how much he has grown. He is good natured and funny. My daughter is due to have another baby in August. I am excited to see the difference of the personality of my new grandchild. I am sure he or she will be just delightful and my Grandson Luc! I am very thankful that being a Realtor for over 24 years has allowed me to take care of my grandson. Who knows, he may be my assistant in a few years!  
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
I have lived in Alameda all my life. I love this little island located across the bay from San Francisco. i love this little island and all its changes. Boy has it changed a lot! I grew up on Bay Farm Island. Although that part of Alameda is not an island, it was  farms and water when I was a child.  i worked in the school district for 10 years and then started selling real estate 24 years ago. There isn't much I do not know about Alameda. Call me if you have questions about my city.  I have included photos of Harbor Bay Isle, homes and other points of interest. Enjoy.                                                  
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
Benefits of  Pre-Inspections   The benefits of ordering a Physical Inspection and a Structural Pest Inspection when initially listing the  home can make the entire marketing process move smoother and quicker.  Establishes Objective Value The price is not merely set by the seller but placed on the home by a disinterested third party whose profession is to value property.  Validates List Price If the comparable sales and the list price are the same, there is less likelihood that the buyer will discount the "asking price." Establishes Basis for Comparison The comparable sales and the inspection can be used to compare with subsequent reports and can help to validate or challenge their findings.  Creates Awareness of Condition of Home A third party inspection of the home by an inspector wil...
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
Mortgage rates fall to new low The average rate on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 5.14 percent last week to a new record low, according to Freddie Mac.  A year ago, the rate was 6.17 percent for a comparable loan.  As a result, mortgage applications last week jumped to the highest level in five years, with more than 80 percent of the applications for refinancings.  There also was an 11 percent increase in applications for home purchase loans. Check out this article from the Washington Post for information.
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
More lenders allow "early workout" loan alterations Borrowers with loans owned by Fannie Mae no longer have to be behind in payments in order to qualify for a loan modification.  Borrowers facing financial difficulty, such as losing a source of income, now can apply for an "early workout" loan alteration.  Under Fannie Mae's program, borrowers who qualify will enter into a trial period of reduced payments, usually for four months.  If the reduced payments are made on time each month during the trial period, the modified mortgage terms may become permanent.  This article from the Los Angeles Times has quite a bit of information to help homwowners with early workout loan atlerations.
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
My Seller wanted a few more days to get his house in order before I activated it on the MLS. This is the newest listing which I blogged about ANOTHER open house lead turned into a listing. Holding open houses work! Because he gave me permission to start promoting it (as long as I sent the waiver to our MLS), I talked it up among my clients and agents in the office,  Saturday afternoon, I got the listing. Sunday, I took a few pictures and created my first draft for a VISUAL TOUR. Although I could use more pictures, I started promoting this on craigslist, postlets and vflyers. Monday, I had four showings --- two were my clients, and two were by agents with their buyers Tuesday, I had another four showing -- again, two were my clients, and the other two by agents from my office. Click on p...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I am a strong believer in and advocate of open house. Perhaps it doesn't work for everyone, but it certainly works for me. Last month, I closed escrows stemming from an open house lead in October, which resulted in my listing their house in November while they bought a duplex I had listed (double end!). That one contact turned into three deals for me in December. OPEN HOUSE LEAD Today, I picked up a new listing. This gentleman walked into one of my open houses in December 2007. I have seen him several times later, in other open houses. I maintained contact with him, sent him my monthly CAP (Client Appreciation Program) item of value. Three months ago, when I thought he was close to listing his house, I sent him a hard-bound presentation binder. NEW LISTING Then yesterday --- a year afte...
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
My State association, the California Association of Realtors is the best! They are consistenly help their Realtors with consumer protection issues. I have always had a pet peeve in my area regarding the seller choosing the title company and (most of the time it is the listing agent) making the buyer pay for title insurance. In my area, the normal practice is for the buyer to pay for title insurance, therefore they get to choose. These agents do not know RESPA laws. I always give my buyers choices but they rely on me to make sure they get the best insurance and title officer. I have been in the business for many years and as a listing agent have had to deal with many title insurance companies that make many mistakes and my title company at no cost has had to make things right for my clie...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Coming off 2007 when the real estate industry was hammered by stories of doom and gloom, I approached 2008 with trepidation. I was grateful for a trickle of sales that kept me alive, although I also saw my checkbook balance shrink to Lilliputian size, and my credit card balance grow to gargantuan proportions. Then boom! My fourth quarter lifted my spirits when escrow after escrow closed (I even double ended one...yeah!). Year 2008 finished with a BANG, and turned out to be one of my best years ever. For that, I am eternally grateful. Here comes 2009....perhaps buoyed by the promise of even lower interest rates, the steadily declining prices and the tremendous choices, buyers are taking a giant leap forward. These last few days, I received calls from buyers who are seriously looking for ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
  In addition to installation of smoke detectors, strapping of water heaters, testing/repairing/replacing sewer lateral, one of the government requirements to close escrow in Alameda is installation of a gas cut off valve. Automatic gas cut off valve ensures that the gas is shut off in case of a major earthquake. They are recommended, and in some cities in California, are now mandated when a home is sold. In Alameda, the cost of installation varies, but typically, the one-time cost will run around $525. Although I haven't seen any links on the City of Alameda's website for a detailed explanation about gas cut off valve, I found a good site and FAQ on the Southern California Gas Company's website that addresses natural gas earthquake shut off valves. ABOUT NATURAL GAS SHUT OFF VALVE A na...
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
What are your plans for New Year's Eve? I am going to a wedding. My client, Michael, who is a friend now, is getting married for the first time. He is in his 30's. He has always enjoyed calling me just to talk. I met him quite a few years ago and sold him a condo. I then sold him a single family home on Thompson Avenue which is also known as Thompson Lane at  Christmas. The entire block is lit up and decorated for the kids and Santa is there to listen to the children's requests. Of course a disclosure is signed regarding the electric costs during Christmas when a home is purchased on this street. I wish Michael much happiness and I am sure he will have a "Happy New Year".
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Here's a snapshot of what's going on in Alameda CA as of this post. Ahhhh-lameda --- a Historic and Picturesque Island on San Francisco Bay ACTIVE AND PENDING SALES 117 homes actively for sale There 43 pending 11 pending properties are subject to lender approval (short sales or 7% of total active and pending properties) 33 are condos (20% of total) 17 are townhouses 4 are duets 111 are detached single family homes (69% of total Averages Active listings 79 days on the market $625,714 list price $384/sq ft Pending 63 days on the market $508,230 $367/sq ft One may surmise that a lower $ cost per square foot may lead to shorter time on the market REOS AND SHORT SALES There are 48 REOS and short sales, or 30% of total active and pending homes for sale 19 REOs or 12% of total (wow!). Here are...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
SEWER LATERAL  hardly a topic one wants to discuss, but a very important consideration and negotiation item (and could be pricey) when buying/selling real estate in Alameda CA. I didn't know anything about, and still have limited knowledge of what a sewer lateral is, until I moved to Alameda CA. Here, prior to sale, properties over 25 years old must have the sewer lateral tested for infiltration. If it passes the test, it is certified for 5 years and need not be tested if it is re-sold during that period If it fails, it must be repaired or replaced, and then re-tested Replaced laterals are certified for 25 years Whenever I show or list properties in Alameda, I have to explain to my clients that we have specific requirements pertaining to sewer lateral and gas cut off valve. Invariably, ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Went out this morning to get my paper, and saw --- gasp! ---- fog? In Alameda? So I hurried and took this picture, using my iPhone. Since fog is such a rarity in our island town, I thought I'd register it for posterity. I had visions of getting all warm and toasty in layers of woolen sweaters and scarves. Then I went back inside, went online to Active Rain, made a few comments. Looked out the window, and voila! Less than 30 minutes later, the fog is gone! That didn't last long. So I guess we can still claim that we live in SUNNY Alameda Postscript: I should have taken a few more steps down the stairs so that the wires wouldn't show in these pictures --- but I was so excited to see the fog that I was in a foggy state myself. :) This is taken of littleJohn Park across from where I live on...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
There is a listing in Alameda CA that has got us shaking our heads. It's a short sale listing for a ranch style home, 3 bedrooms/2 baths, and steps to the beach. It's listed at $499K. However, the confidential remarks says that the loan "negotiator countered at$594K and needs an offer ASAP." The listing agent who is from out of the area, was asked why she didn't simply list the price at what the lender wants to cut to the chase. She responded that they do this all the time in Hayward to stimulate interest and get people to show it. Then she off-handedly says, "This is Alameda, for God's sake. It's not like it's Stockton!" There are three offers on the table, all above the list price of $499K, but way under what the lender will approve. These offers are going nowhere. If you already know...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
The locals know it but perhaps we wanted to keep it a secret so that it won't be so doggoned busy as Alameda's famed Ole's where on weekends, lines of waiting diners could snake around the corner of the block. One day, while showing houses, I got so hungry that I invited my willing clients to have a quick bite before we look at more houses. MARTI'S PLACE Instead of taking them to a fancy restaurant, I took them to Marti's Place. Their regular menu is augmented by specials that they post on a large blackboard. Although both were on the Weight Watchers program, they each found something they liked, and enjoyed. She had a bowl of soup (gumbo) and a salad. He, a salmon omelet. I was struggled with deciding between the Swedish pancakes or the healthier spinach omelet. In sympathy with my Wei...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I just posted a view of REOs in our neighboring city of Oakland CA. So how does that compare with Alameda CA?  I looked for detached single familyhomes that closed escrow since November 1, 2008. Here's what I found in our island city of approximately 72,000 people How many closed escrow? Total closed: 4 Price and Size Lowest sale: $400,000 Listed at $276,500. Sold for $124,000  or 31% over list price This was also the smallest property with 888 sq ft of living space, 1 bedroom/1 bath. Three out of four listings sold for over list price. Highest sale: $555,000. Listed at $590,000. This was sold both as a duplex and a single famly home, with 5 bedrooms, 2.5  baths. Days on market Shortest time on market: 6 days for the least expensive and smallest home on this list. Longest time on market...
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By Jean Powers, CRS,e-PRO,HAFA,SFR Broker, Northern California
(Kane & Associates call 510.908.9002)
Ready to close the deal? Maybe not. Sometimes unforeseeable issues arise just prior to closing the sale. Hopefully, with negotiation, most of these have a workable solution. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. But don't panic. Another buyer might still be found who is willing to accept the house as is. Imagine that your prospective buyers are a couple with young children. They envision your unused attic as the perfect playroom for the kids but, before closing the deal, they request an inspection to see if it's safe and also if they will be able to install a skylight to provide natural light to the new space. This inspection reveals that under the shingles that are in good condition is a roof that will only last another year or two. The prospective buyers immediately balk, not wa...
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