Berkeley, CA Real Estate News

By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
See what homes are for sale now in BerkeleySee what homes are for sale now in Oakland Recently, I heard famed Bay Area Real Estate Economist Carole Rodoni speak about our unique Bay Area Real Estate market.  Among her most important points that pertain to our East Bay Real Estate market as we start the real estate recovery of 2013 were: Real estate is one of the two main drivers of the U.S. economy; the other being the stock market.  The U.S. economy is not great, but is doing better than other world economies and is being kept alive by real estate and the stock market.  The Bay area economy is an island unto itself.  It’s driven by technology, diversity, creativity…like no other area in the world.  Here, real estate will be in demand because people will always want to live here.   The ...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
I’ve had quite a few calls in the last couple of weeks from my East Bay homeowner clients who finally have enough equity in their homes to think about selling, then moving up.  With average home prices in Berkeley and Oakland up more than 19% over last year, many who’ve thought about moving can now really consider it. The big issue then becomes…so then what?  It’s true, there is a shortage of Berkeley/Oakland area homes on the market.  So, the multiple offers that help you sell your place make it more challenging to find a new home.  But we have our ways. For starters, bridge loans are starting to be available if you have at least 30% equity in your present East Bay home.  Secondly, buyers of your place are more likely to accept a rent back now, which will give you some buying time beyo...
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By Gary Tucker
(Tucker Inspecton)
Last week a faulty electrical junction box in the sub-area at the famous Chez Panisse ( Alice Waters ) restaurant in Berkeley Ca had a major fire as the result. What this says is that out-dated or un-safe electrical wiring; gone undetected can result in serious results; no one was injured. However her business is shut down until major repairs are completed and the fire Marshall completes the investigation. If you have had a property inspected and there are electrical problems called out in the report,have them reviewed by a licensed electrical contractor. Go back over those old reports a second or third time and see if there is something that needs repair. Do yourself and your clients a favor; if there is nothing to be found I'm sure your clients will be thank full. Any questions or com...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
In our Near East Bay of Berkeley-Oakland and environs, a lot of Buyers are discouraged by the dearth of houses for sale in Berkeley and Oakland.  But the good news is, more homes will be coming on the market in Berkeley/Oakland/Alameda in the next few months.  There is still likely to be competition and multiple offers given the multitude of Buyers.  So lots of Buyers think, "we’ll just wait this out".  So how much will it cost you to wait one year, two years … instead of compete? The answer might surprise you.  Let’s take an example of a $700,000 house.  If prices go up by 10 to 13% in the Berkeley-Oakland area this year as they’re predicted by Zillow, that $700,000 house will cost $770,000 to $791,000 next year.  And more the year after that.  Add to that, interest rates are likely to...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
“We’re going to wait until the market gets back to normal.” - Would-be Buyer.  That would be like “waiting for Godot.”  In Bay Area/East Bay real estate, what IS a “normal” market?  Have we ever HAD a “normal market?”  Maybe once in the last 10 years … for  a few months in 2010, when there were an equal number of Buyers and Sellers.  The fact is, in Berkeley, Oakland and the Bay Area in general, 99% of the time, there are more Buyers of homes than Sellers.  We just live where everyone wants to be.  Admittedly, there have been tons of articles written about the coming wave of foreclosures and short sales.  Maybe if you’re in Nevada.  In the East Bay, they’re not coming.  Home prices in the near East Bay, according to recent MLS data, are up an average of over 20% for the last three month...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
The other night, my teammates and I met for a get together at Comal, a relative recent entry in the Berkeley Arts District scene.  It was so much fun.  Comal has a great beer/margarita garden in the back with margaritas and “craft” cocktails of every flavor and aroma.  (Try the Del Rio, with tequila, sherry, St. Germain, orange bitters and grapefruit zest.) And then there’s the food.  I had the fish tacos and wondered why they were so good.  It turns out the chef, Matt Gandin, heralds from Delfina in the City.  So, these are not your Mission Street tacos.  We’re talking wood-grilled Mahi Mahi, with pickled cabbage and avocado aioli. So, next time you find yourself in the Berkeley Arts District, check out Comal.  Feel free to stop by my office if you’re in the neighborhood and say hello....
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By Courtney Cooper, 206-850-8841
(Cooper | Cartwright)
Lots of fun stops on our short holiday adventure. My 13 year old is checking out UC Berkeley and had to buy a Cal sweatshirt while we were o campus. I used to play around the campus as a teenager here and there, so it was interesting taking my daughter there.   UC Berkeley - Wandering Around The Campus
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
There are a good many homes with foundation issues in the Berkeley Hills. Lots of underground streams that can affect the lay of the land under your home. The following home had lots of stettlement. A buyer purchaed the property at a "fire sale" price... way under market value for homes in the area.  He proceeded to fix the foundation as that was his "non professional" determination as to the cause of the movement. He failed to hire an expert, and relied on his own intuition... WRONG thing to do. Once he completed his "cosmetic fix" of the foundation, he watched it break apart duing the next few weeks and put the home back on the market suggesting it was haunted to my buyer.  When I refer to "my buyer" don't misunderstand me, I'm not a Realtor. I mean that they are my clients for the FH...
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By Peggy Hughes/pha logistix, inc., SF NYC LA
(pha logistix inc)
A Different Kind of Holiday Production   We've all seen and loved different productions of The Nutcracker - on TV, at the movies and on-stage performances via a local symphony or ballet group.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are lucky to have a different take on this holiday classic!  The Mark Morris Dance Group will again perform The Hard Nut for their 20+ year at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA. A wonderful tale with dancing snowflakes, a "Waltz of the Flowers", and a hilarious skewed family party! Performances begin Friday evening, December 14th and run through Sunday, December 23rd.  Call 510.642.9988 and get your tickets today for the entire family.   You won't stop laughing... what a great way to spend time during the holidays... Enjoy! And, remember... a Happy Move is an Organ...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
Here’s the quick summary of the basic question: what has happened in our East Bay Area real estate market in the past year. A year ago all the talk was about buyers sitting on the fence. Buyer apathy and lack of willingness to make a decision changed quickly to motivation. The change occurred quickly at the beginning of 2012 in SF, two months later in the East Bay, mid-March, specifically. Rates had been great last year. Yes, they’re even better now, but that wasn’t the big difference. Issues of confidence were huge: buyers needed to see that the bottom had been reached before they were truly motivated—concerns over jobs were a major factor. Now the increase in tech jobs has trickled up from Silicon Valley, to SF, and across the Bay, increasing confidence. —there’s an emotional compone...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
A lot of my clients ...like everyone who bought after 2003...are wondering when we will be getting back to the good ole days in East Bay real estate, ie, the highs of late 2006.  Well, we’re not there yet.  But we’re getting close.  Over the last six months, East Bay home prices have made remarkable progress.  In fact, it’s the first time in five years we’ve seen a definite and sustained upswing in prices.  For instance, the average home price in Berkeley for the last six months was $694,365.  That’s 4.3% above the same period last year.  And in Oakland, the increase is even more … the average price in Oakland for the last six months was $419,823 — a 13.2% increase over last year.  Compare that to 2006 and we’re still 14.8% less in the case of Berkeley and 4% in the case of Oakland.  Pi...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
...in how a house sells…and how it feels.  Now that 90% of homes being sold in the Berkeley-Oakland neighborhoods are staged, many homes are starting to look the same.  Or, at the very least, they all look like the staging company that did them.  So, when selling your home, how do you make it special but still appeal to the broadest audience of Buyers? One thought came to mind recently when I was talking to my good friend, Mark Bell of Omega Lighting Design in Berkeley.  Omega has a store dedicated to unique lights – from period pieces to re-purposed industrial pieces to custom made lights.  He gave me a couple of examples of how a single light could make a difference. Mark said that a unique light in one of the key areas of your Elmwood area home – entryway, kitchen, dining area or mas...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
Beating in the heart of Berkeley’s South campus region sits the wonderful neighborhood referred to by locals as “The Elmwood".  Following the great San Francisco quake of 1906, rebuilding efforts gave life to this “streetcar suburb” as part of the 1900’s housing boom.  Elmwood, in its early years, was comprised mostly of affluent business men and their families seeking quality homes near the University of California, Berkeley. This desirable neighborhood, stretching along College and Ashby Avenues, lies on either side of this popular intersection.  Take note: many Elmwood hotspots can be found venturing along this path.  Residents and visitors alike find it hard to resist the handmade ice creams, sorbets, candies and cookies freshly served at “Ici.”  A line can be seen even in the dead ...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
Did you miss the window?  With all the articles in the SF Chronicle recently about “Homes Sales Jump to 6-Year High”, has the Buyer’s train in Berkeley/Oakland already left the station?  The answer is NO...not if you’re buying a house for the right reasons.  The "right reasons" are these: You’re buying a Berkeley/Oakland house to live in as a long-term investment.  By long term, we mean 3-4 years or more … not the 1-year and refi from the go-go days.  Once we arrive at an equilibrium point of prices in the East Bay, which we are probably approaching, houses will still likely appreciate  -- albeit at 2-3% per year, not the 10% we’ve seen the last six months.  Still, over time, that’s a great investment.  With 20% down, that works out to a 10-15% annual return on your cash, which is bette...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
After a 5-year slump, this summer has been the summer of multiple offers in Berkeley-Oakland.  One astonishing example is a recent listing I had in the Elmwood on Piedmont Avenue (see 2620 Piedmont Ave.). It was an historic house – the Gester House – and close to campus with 4 bedrooms and about 2,700 square feet.  We listed it for $1,195,000.  Truly, I expected a few offers.  We had over 30 disclosure packages out.  But we got 15 offers! And it ended up going over $300,000 above the asking price! To be sure, it was marketed well and broadly.  We cleaned and staged.  But it’s also an indication of the demand for homes in the Elmwood area of Berkeley.  The Elmwood has become the destination of choice for Buyers in 2012…it’s close to coffee and campus, walk to everything and it’s an urban...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
Our suspicions have been confirmed.  Home prices in Berkeley/Oakland have definitely ratcheted – or rocketed – up in the last 3 months.  Berkeley home prices, for instance, for the last three months are up to an average of $718,049, or an average of $445 per square foot.  That’s about 9% over the same period last year in Berkeley!  Interesting to note: the Berkeley sold price is 106% of the asking price, indicating the prevalence of multiple offers. Moreover, Oakland home prices have shot up even more.  The average Oakland home price for the last three months is $436,402, which is a whopping 37% over last year’s average home price in Oakland of $317,754.  Oakland homes are selling an average of 124% of the list price.  Now, to put that in perspective.  That doesn’t mean the price of an ...
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By Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer
(Gibson Management Group, Ltd.)
The Rent Stabilization Board of Berkeley has been taken to Alameda County Superior Court by two emplyees who petitioned the court to investigate unfail hiring practices. The investigation went to the grand jury which came back with some "findings" that area landlords may find beneficial. The board hired a lobbyist to help find PROtenant issues; and it assisted area non-profit agencies to assist tenants facing eviction. When the board was founded in 1980 - the rental unit registration fee was $22 and now it is $194. The Board has until September to file a response with the court on how they will address the issues found by the grand jury and area landlords are hoping that the whole system can be revamped so that fees are lower and the salaries of the board members are reduced along it th...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
I recently had the opportunity to share current real estate market updates with colleagues from San Francisco, Sonoma and Marin Counties. We had gathered as a group of Realtors particularly interested in “green” and sustainable practices, to share our stories with Build it Green, a local non-profit that encourages green building practices. We learned that our markets share some key aspects: Multiple offers are being received on the most desirable properties There is lots of cash in these areas, and it’s coming from young couples, downsizing boomers and investors (more about that in a GreenBungalows article) An increase in off-market sales occurred in all of these areas during the first half of the year Non-contingent offers typically are the successful ones. While none of us as agents l...
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By Kathy Burke, S.F. East Bay Home Staging
(Sensational Home Staging~~Danville, CA)
Home Staging - Montclair ~ Oakland Hills CA ~ Staging to Help Sell Homes Are you getting ready to sell your home in the Monclair  or another Oakland Hills neighborhood? Are you hoping to find a buyer quickly and easily? The SECRET to selling is understanding what appeals to prospective buyers. We can help make your home a buyer’s dream!The Montclair-Oakland Hills offer some of the most exciting real estate deals in the Bay Area, and homes for sale in this community deserve special treatment! Prospective homeowners are drawn to the hills of Oakland for their easy proximity to San Francisco and mix of urban, suburban and woodsy living.  With all custom-built homes, the Montclair District offers some of the most appealing and interesting homes in the Bay Area.  Home buyers seek a great var...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
After a dead market for the past 5 years, the market for million dollar homes in the East Bay is showing signs of life after death.  And a healthy life at that. Looking at Berkeley for instance - In the first three months of this year, the average home price over $1 million was $1.308M, with an average price/square foot of $438.  Fast forward to the past three months and the average sold price in Berkeley has risen to $1.372, or $504/sf.  On a price/sf basis, that translates to 15% above the prices of the first quarter and actually 13% above asking prices.  That trend seems to be establishing the average asking price for luxury homes in the East Bay now standing at $1.64M.  As for what that buys in Berkeley, typically it’s a classical, updated older home of 3,000 sf with a Bay view. Oak...
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