Alameda, CA Real Estate News

By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
The pain and joy of double-ending is so intertwined that it's sometimes hard to determine where one begins and the other ends. It doesn't happen to me very often, and when it does, I find it to be so challenging that I wonder if it's worth it. LESS THAN 24 HOURS RESPONSE TIME was stipulated by an agent who submitted/emailed his offer on Saturday night, with an expiration of 5pm Sunday. I promptly forwarded his offer to my client who was out of town and didn't get a chance to pick up his email early enough to meet that deadline. He told me he would like to review any or all offers Tuesday at 1 pm. At that point, I alerted the first agent and other agents with prospective buyers that my seller will be in town on Tuesday and that they should submit their offers then if they want to Two Off...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Another sign of the times.... Last Christmas season, we were shocked when title companies were were working with closed their doors in our area, and consolidated offices, followed by several reorganizations. This afternoon, I just got the news that one escrow officer with whom I have active escrows (and there are others from my office working with her, too) was just laid off. This was totally unexpected, and she just got the note. It's very disconcerting...although last year was tough, this year is showing promise. But with this recent economic turmoil, it looks like a lot of companies are getting ready to cut back where they can. I am reminded of an adage, "When business is bad, it pays to advertise. When business is bad, you've got to advertise." So I have not pulled back --- yet --- ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Once upon a time, there was a successful REALTOR who worked hard and did everything he learned from his mentor since he started 21 years ago. He selected areas where he could farm. He walks the streets and drops off fliers and puts door hangers. He listens to his very astute associate from the title company who taught him how to send letters to chosen target audiences to tell them about buyers who are looking for specific properties. So he sends "urgent need" letters. He mails "Just Listed" and "Just Sold" flyers. He just learned how to showcase his listings on REALTOR.com. He holds open houses. He is still doing this. 21 years and still going strong.  Along came a newbie. After trying the good old-fashioned way of door knocking, cold calling, and sending postcards, she decided to find ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
While checking out a local blogger's site whose primary focus and opinion is on the implosion of the local real estate market, there was a comment from one of the visitors. Okay, I have thin skin....but this is not the first time I've heard us Realtors being grouped with car salesmen. As Seinfeld would say..."not that there's anything wrong with that..." She said: "You know it's difficult to see what is the value of real estate agent given that buyers (smart ones anyway) are too savvy and do their own home work and share information. I anticipate the change in real estate agent's commission rate in the near future. Having bought three of our homes on our own, and seeing site like this this flourishes, I couldn't help but wonder if real estate agent could become the next dying profession...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I was shocked to read about people I personally know who are upside down with their homes. Recently, a former co-realtor's house was featured on a foreclosure site as having received a notice of default. Then today, shock of all shocks, one of our lenders with Wells Fargo is also selling her house as a short sale. Both of them bought their respective homes in 2004, at the height of the market. And both have been adversely affected by the downturn. I am speechless. The fear is starting to creep up my spine. I tell myself, "I will survive!" but when this crisis is getting close to home, I don't know what to say. This may be new or old news to some, but if you haven't done so yet, go to hotpads.com and check out their foreclosure heat map that looks like this. And you can zoom in to areas ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
In my little island of Alameda, we've always felt more secure in the thought that we're innured from the economic upheavals known as foreclosures and short sales. There is a certain "pride" in our beautiful island. We're ideally situated between metropolitan San Francisco and Oakland, we have year-round fabulous climate, we have fabulous events, and we have fabulous architectural gems. But last week, when I posted current short sales and REO activity in Alameda, I was surprised to see the numbers. Today, I looked again. Out of 157 active residential listings, there are now 25 REOS and foreclosures, 11 of which are REOs, and 14 are short sales, or 16% of total. The activity for writing offers on these is quite brisk, and we're finding ourselves in competitive situations. Looking in DQNew...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Today, we celebrated the birthday of one of our friends on his boat docked at Fortman Marina in Alameda CA. As we were interacting, I was amused at the energetic exchanges and the many accents. It brought a big smile on my face when I noticed the mix of people: Israeli (former Air Force pilot, now an entrepreneur, and the birthday celebrant) American Indian/Irish Filipino (me) Australian Myanmar (how do we call folks from Myanmar or Borneo?) Portuguese Russian German/Scottish English Of the people who were there, only 4 were born in the U.S., and 6 are immigrants --- a nice reminder that this country is a real melting pot (or salad bowl depending on your preferred metaphor). Need I mention the different religions also represented at the party? Can you imagine a Jew partying with a Musli...
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Last night, over cocktails with clients, we were discussing the unbelievable economic havoc in recent days and weeks. Giant and prestigious corporations collapsing. Mortgage companies bailing out or needing to be bailed out. My client made a comment that she is concerned about her 401K, and is thinking of taking out as much as she can and put it in real estate --- something we can see, touch. Her husband is just as concerned. None of us are comfortable relying on our social security or retirement for our old age. This was echoed by others in our circle, those who did or do have 401K accounts. We were reminded of people who suffered tremendous losses when their companies folded (think Enron, for one). So although the stock market through the years have shown a robust growth in portfolio,...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
When I posted that I had 70-80 groups go through my open house for a Tudor fixer, some folks asked how I did it. This doesn't happen often, but for starters, my listing had the most important ingredient: location, location, location. And to complement that factor, I also did the following: Advertise frequently on craigslist See 10 things to do when posting on craigslist. This complements the regular local newspaper advertising that features our listing The fact that this is a Fixer drew people who are looking for a good deal I put out several open house signs on main intersections. By the way, each of my open house signs has long, flowing gold/red metallic ribbons that set them apart from other open houses. They also catch the eye when the ribbon flaps in the wind. I had bought rolls of...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I'm so happy that Alameda is continuing to grow in terms of services, attractions, etc. so much so that there's hardly any reason to get off the island. Being a foodie of sorts, I was eager to try three new restaurants, and invited some clients to the experience (experiment?) BAD: Aquacotta.  on Webster Street. Shortly after they opened, I invited a couple of clients to meet us for dinner there. First, we had such a hard time finding the place because the sign wasn't distinct enough. When we got there, the place was packed --- and noisy! Seems like there's nothing to dissipate the noise level. We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar, and were thoroughly impressed by the bartender. Everything was downhill from there. After we were seated at a regular table, I should have guessed we'...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Here are before and after.... I held my first open house yesterday, and I must say I'm exhausted. I had 70-80 GROUPS (definitely over 100 people who came with family, neighbors, etc). It was hectic. Wish I had more time to chat with the folks but they just kept right on coming. The question is, does it pay to stage a fixer?      ATTAGIRL! Although the house needs a lot of work, it was important to showcase its good bones and hint at its tremendous potential. Too many cracks in the walls, tons of peeling wallpaper, outdated kitchen and baths. So I had the carpets ripped out --- and voila! Hardwood floors! I brought in some light furnishings (all my chairs and tables fold). It was all I could to do make it look a little nicer than what it used to be. At least I had place to sit down to ca...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Just learned something today --- this may not be the case every time....but it's interesting to know. One of my listings is a property which I tried to sell as a short sale. Problem is, the lender is Downey Savings, and they won't approve ANY short sale. I followed up today to see if this policy has changed. Nope. No short sales. Since this is going to be foreclosed, I asked if I can list it when it becomes an REO. I was referred to their REO Department. The lady who answered said they have a policy NOT to use the short sale listing agent of a property to be the REO agent of the same property because of potential conflict of interest. So I asked to be an REO agent for other properties. Unfortunately, they're not hiring any more agents in my area. (I was actually surprised to be able to ...
Comments 9
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I just listed a fixer home, and posted it on craigslist, using information I got from Zillow and Cyberhomes. The local Alameda blogger saw it immediately. And although I got points for straight-talkin' the condition of the property, he zinged me (or realtors in general) for using Zillow zestimate in my craigslist/vflyer/postlet post. And speaking of Zillow, after all the flak the big Z is getting from the real estate industry for their Zestimates(tm), I find it a bit rich that a Zestimate(tm) is not only mentioned in a listing, but ostensibly used to establish a "fair" list price by deducting $50K from that Zestimate(tm). And for what looks like a serious fixer, $648,000 ($350 / sqft) seems a bit high considering how easy it is to spend $150K on a house that size in that condition--whic...
Comments 5
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
I'm so happy that Alameda is continuing to grow in terms of services, attractions, etc. so much so that there's hardly any reason to get off the island. Being a foodie of sorts, I was eager to try three new restaurants, and invited some clients to the experience (experiment?) BAD: Aquacotta.  on Webster Street. Shortly after they opened, I invited a couple of clients to meet us for dinner there. First, we had such a hard time finding the place because the sign wasn't distinct enough. When we got there, the place was packed --- and noisy! Seems like there's nothing to dissipate the noise level. We were lucky enough to get seats at the bar, and were thoroughly impressed by the bartender. Everything was downhill from there. After we were seated at a regular table, I should have guessed we'...
Comments 0
By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
SHORT SALES AND REOS FOR SALE As of this writing, there are 166 homes for sale in Alameda. 14 are short sales, and 9 are bank-owned --- or 14% of total homes actively for sale. We just didn't think it would be this high. At first, it was just 2% of total...then it slowly inched up. A few month  ago, it was at 10%. But 14%? Among the REOs are 2 condos, 1 townhouse, and 6 detached single family homes. One of these is a home in the new development of Bayport, 4 bedrooms/3.5 baths, 3423 sq ft, built in 2005, and listed at $849,900. The least expensive is a junior 1-bedroom condo listed at $174,900. And among the 14 short sales, another home in Bayport is in peril. This one has 4 bedrooms/2.5 baths, 2219 sq ft, and listed at $774,999. And there is a home facing the lagoon. Similar lagoon hom...
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Fidelity Agent. Ever hear of it? We didn't either, until our Fidelity Title rep introduced us to it today. We were asked if we were ever baffled by math questions,  Questions such as: I don't want to go over $3000/month in mortgage payments. How much house can I afford to buy? How much are our closing costs going to be? How much will we net if we sell our house at a certain price? How much will our monthly payments be at 5% down? 10%? 15%? 20%? How much will our monthly payments be at 6% interest for 30 years? At 6.5% How much will we save if we made an extra mortgage payment a year on a 30 year mortgage? Rent vs buy 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 ...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
We've often been accused of sales fluff when writing advertising copy. Not a cop out, but a legitimate reason is that we are not advertising copy experts. Sometimes, we picked up bad habits from folks who didn't know any better either. But it wasn't after I exchanged emails with a local blogger that I became extra-careful about my ad copy. I've started following the posts of a local Alameda blogger on www.knifecatchers.com. At first, I was horrified at what I perceived to be a knife sticking into the efforts of home sellers and realtors to sell property in Alameda. However, from time to time, I pick up good info. I communicated with the anonymous blogger when I commented on one of his posts on the use of "sweet" versus "charming" to describe a bungalow. Here's our exchange: ME: I'm tryi...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Before I became a REALTOR I also wondered how much work is involved in helping a client buy or sell property. Little did I know! Please, folks...we don't just provide transportation. I can only speak for myself, but this is a sampling of what I do for my clients , starting with Sellers.FOR SELLERS 1. Before meeting the client, I prepare a comparative market analysis, put together a marketing presentation (not a cookie-cutter presentation -- I put a lot of thought, research and effort in this presentation which eventually became a template for my company) 2. Other agents will know that putting together a comparative market analysis is not just about looking at what sold, are active or pending. One has to determine other factors to qualify specific properties to be in the comps. 3. Upon l...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Mixed bag of emotions --- that's par for the course. OH, JOY! Today, I received a call from a prospective seller who told me I got the job of their realtor, beating out two other realtors in bigger local offices. I am thrilled. This is a very good listing in a desirable part of the island. This is a home with very good bones...needs a lot of work, but it is on a great street. A visionary will rejuvenate this home in no time. It should generate a lot of interest. Keep your eye on this home....it's coming soon! OH, NO! Then later, I receive an email from a client whose 10-unit apartment building I had listed and marketed last year. Against my advice, he wanted a higher price than I thought reasonable. Although I generated a lot of interest and had many showings, the numbers just didn't ad...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Sometime back, I was successful in posting some pictures of my beloved city, Alameda CA Now that we've "claimed" or sponsored communities, I am inspired to tote my camera more frequently so that I can post additional pictures. But once I logged on, I realized after clicking here and there. that we don't have an intuitive method to post pictures. Okay...maybe it's just me. I've forgotten how. Or I am just too blind to see what may be obvious to a lot of people. But shouldn't we have some kind of very visible instruction like "Click here to load pictures" or something like that for realtors like me whose mind gets fuzzy late into the night? Anyway, here are a couple of pictures I intended to post. This one is a typical clear day in Alameda, while fog banks begin to unfold in San Francisco...
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