Berkeley, CA Real Estate News

By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
  How about a mixed use building? I love this type property as in many cases it is very hard to get them financed. This is typically a commercial loan. The FHA Full 203k loan is perfect for a renovation project on a mixed use building. Let’s look at a couple of examples in “Small Town America” where you might see mixed use properties. I have actually had some Realtors and agents tell me that there weren’t any in their area… NOT, they are everywhere in most towns all over the USA. They look like this: and this   How about this one They are everywhere They are all around you, but YOU have to open your eyes and mind to see their full potential. They can be financed using the FHA 203k loan program. Now that you see these examples, don’t you remember seeing them in your town? Sure you do. No...
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By David Ames, San Francisco
(Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco)
One of my favorite clients (and good friend) called me about a month ago to ask if I'd be interested in selling her place in the Berkeley Hills.  I told her that if I had the "pulse" on what's happening over there, I'd be happy to.  Fortunately, I know a great Realtor that works in that area so I put them in touch and voila'.  Her only concern was in making sure her place looked "just right" before going on the market, and she is convinced that I'm the only one who can do it (I've got them trained well).  Over the past couple of weeks, I've been popping in (here and there) to help her tune the place up...definitely some laugh out loud moments while shopping at IKEA and Target for supplementary accessories, etc.  But through it all, we made the open house deadline.  So...Why am I sharing...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
or anywhere else for that matter? More FHA 203k war stories lets start in Berkeley CA. A client purchased a five unit apartment and wanted to turn it into a four unit building. Sounded like a reasonable plan. The problem with the city of Berkeley is that you cannot remove a unit from the rent rolls without putting a replacement unit somewhere in the city limits. There are just too few rental properties in that city to go around so the city created this rule. Now the five unit building had one of the units that was about 12 x 12' that had a sleeping area, tiny bathroom with cutest and smallest SS sink I had ever seen and a kitchenette at best all in that footprint. In my opinion this should never have been a "unit" but it was and now we have to live with the problem. Now the fun begins. ...
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By Terrylynn Fisher, HAFA Certified, EcoBroker, CRS, CSP Realtor, Etc.
(Dudum Real Estate Group - BuyStageSell.com)
  EarthTeam's initiatives include COOL SCHOOLS Climate Action Campaign which equips middle & high school students in the Bay Area & beyond with the knowledge, tools, inspiration, & support to take action against climate change in their homes, schools, & communities.  EarthTeam was a sponsor at the Annual GreenFEST Contra Costa event on August 14, 2010 to reach out to communities and share their mission and goals with the public.  It is the perfect forum  as GreenFEST provides a target market visitor for the message.  Students can get involved in different ways, depending on their interest & amount of time they have available, the choices are unlimited and include such things as Save the Bay, Indoor Air quality, restoration projects and other research projects designed to teach and incr...
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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)
Median Home Price, Single Family Homes for sale in Berkeley CA July 2010 and the Berkeley CA Real Estate Market Update August 12, 2010 As I took our snapshot of the Berkeley real estate market this month I saw some decrease in median price of the active listings, but a substantial decrease in the sold prices from June to July of this year. Overbidding continues on the most desirable homes, taking the median sold price 5.5% over the median list price for single family homes. Distressed properties now make up a surprisingly high percentage of the active single family homes at 23%. Homes for sale in Berkeley CA as of August 12, 2010* 104 single family detached homes for sale in Berkeley CA or homes for sale in 94701 - 94710 are on the market Median list price in Berkeley is currently $625,...
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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)
Finally there may be Money for Energy Efficiency (ME2) in Berkeley! Federal stimulus funding will be available for whole-house energy retrofit programs, beginning July 6th. The City of Berkeley will be coordinating cash incentives to increase the energy efficiency of your home, apartment building or business. Funding is provided by the US Dept. of Energy and is available for all types of buildings and income levels! Energy retrofits help you save money, improve building comfort, safety and durability as well as reduce your carbon footprint! Rebates:·         Up to $8,500 for single-family & duplex homes (including rebates through PG&E)·         Up to $30,000 for commercial & multifamily properties The City is holding  public workshop so homeowners can learn how you can qualify for this ...
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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)
Inventory picked up, as did the sense of optimism in the Berkeley, CA real estate market last month. Many first time buyers were out, trying to get into contract before the April 30th deadline to capitalize on both the Federal and State home buyer credits. Total supply of inventory in Berkeley for single family homes remained unchanged at 2 months. Days on the market grew from an average of 22 in March to 31 in April.  Median sales price for Berkeley, CA was down 7% from two years ago. But at $722,500 that was a 20% increase from the April 2009 median, and a $45.5K increase over the median for March 2010, or 6.7% for the month. The number of properties sold for the month stood at 36, up from 31 in March, 23 in February and 20 in January of this year. That was down from April of last yea...
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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)
The GREEN Council of the Berkeley Association of REALTORS will be accepting used, broken, out-of-date and otherwise unloved electronics equipment this Friday, April 23rd from 10 - 3 as our way of acknowledging EARTH DAY!     We can accept: *Moribund monitors  *lifeless laptops  *sick cell phones  * tired televisions  *capute printers (you get the idea!) Please, no large appliances. Office appliances of all kinds, as well as printers and audio equipment can be accepted. The good folks from the Alameda County Computer Resource Center will attempt to fix your equipment and then give it away to someone who is unable to afford to buy a computer. If they are unable to reuse your equipment, it will be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. They give free refurbished computers to schoo...
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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)
Usually when I analyze sold data for the Berkeley, CA real estate market, it reinforces what I’ve experienced as a REALTOR® representing both buyers and sellers in this East Bay area. Not so with the first quarter results for 2010! As our spring market evolved in 2009 we all were painfully aware of extremely low inventory. First quarter of 2009 saw a total of only 55 single family home sales. This year it feels as if we have a bit more inventory (a total of 72 sales), but we also have significantly more buyers. I would hope this would be true, since buyers have had a year to watch and hope for the market to tumble – only to see prices hold essentially constant. Interest rates continued to be at record-breaking low levels, inching up only recently. And buyers, especially first-time buyer...
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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)
In my post from a couple days ago I discussed the frustration of buyers who want a spacious North Berkeley home, ideally with a high Walkscore. I regret that I didn't patent what I use to call the "Latté Factor." It was my way of telling clients unfamiliar with our area where they would find a section of town with lots going on. It was the same idea as Walkscore, only with caffeine as the indicator for how many amenities, and how much buzz an area had. I used to describe Solano Avenue in North Berkeley as being either a single or double cappucino, depending on the block. Some blocks of Shattuck Avenue are only a strong cup of coffee. But Rockridge: a double latté for sure!   So the Walkscore folks figured out a way to standardize the concentration of amenities to a numeric score. Their ...
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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)
For the past week in Berkeley, CA we've had gorgeous spring weather. Starting with the narcissus, we've had a progression of beautiful things in bloom: camellias, magnolias, daffodils, freesias and now tulips, cyclamen and a deep blue California native ceanothus. It's thrilling to hear the buzz of bees gorging themselves on pollen as they move through the blue blossoms. And as our gardens have come fully into flower, so is our real estate market emerging. Unlike so many other parts of the country where the phrase "glut of inventory" defines their condition, we have had many months of very few properties to show an ever-increasing number of buyers. The predictable result has been continued multiple offers. Last week I previewed a classic Berkeley home for a buyer: an Arts & Crafts style,...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
Did you all get to see that  FHA 203k and Streamlined k webinar? Interesting. They emphasized the mixed use and larger multi family like 5-6 units that could be turned into 4 units. If you are in Berkeley or Berserkely as I lovingly call it from time to time you CANNOT remove units in production from the rent rolls. If you have a 5 unit building and want to turn it into a 4 unit building you must be sure you add another unit somewhere in the city limits to offset the one you are removing. Years ago we had a client who was adding two units at his project and another client who wanted to turn 5 units into 4. One of the units was way too small and it really didn't make sense to use it as a unit. I was able to get the owner builder to work with us and go to the city hall and show that we we...
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I'M GOING TO WALK AWAY FROM MY BERKELEY HOME--HOW DOES FORECLOSURE AFFECT MY CREDIT?  In case you do not know the effects of foreclosure on your credit, here are a few: •1.   A foreclosure listed on your credit report is virtually impossible to get repaired.  It will most likely be a permanent mark on your personal credit history. •2.  The impact to your credit score will be significant.  Sometimes up to 300 points.  This will be devastating to all your future credit inquiries.  INCLUDING CAR LOANS, CREDIT CARDS AND MEDICAL. •3.  In the future, if you apply for a mortgage, you will be required to disclose a previous foreclosure.  This will cause any future mortgage rates to be significantly higher. •4.  Some companies run random credit checks on their current employees.  If they find a ...
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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)
For those of us active in the real estate market in Berkeley, CA, and the adjoining communities, 2009 was frustrating. I kept telling myself it was primarily because of low inventory. With not enough properties to show our clients we had buyers who were disappointed not to be able to find the home they wanted here. Others found their desired home, only to have it elude them as one of the several other offers received was the winning bid. In a surprising number of cases in Berkeley in 2009, the winning offers were all cash (see my post below from Dec. 2009). Some took their disappointment to other East Bay cities where they were able to find distressed properties at attractive prices. But for those who want to live in this community because of the rich architectural heritage, the physica...
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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)
Berkeley, and the surrounding communities of Albany, Kensington as well as strong neighborhoods of Oakland such as Rockridge are experiencing the problem of low inventory, and did through most of 2009. I hear that the same condition applies to several neighborhoods in San Francisco. We're not just talking about the seasonal slowdown we would expect in the winter months. We know that the high unemployment rate we're experiencing, especially in California, means that many home owners are concerned about whether they'll continue to have salaries to support their current mortgage. When a job could be at risk it's hardly a time that inspires people to sell, unless it is to a situation with a lower cost home or lower taxes. That probably means moving away from the Bay Area!  But I believe a d...
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Yes, there are REO's available for purchase in Berkeley.  The inventory fluctuates, but as of 1/5/2010, there are ten current REO listings: 1.  1648 Curtis Street, 3/2, 1423 sq.ft, listed at $499,900 2.  1055 Amito Drive, 4/3, 4160 sq.ft, listed at $1,025,900 3.  827 Channing Way, 3/1, 1007 sq.ft, listed at $399,900 4.  1050 Creston Road, 4/3, 2953 sq.ft, listed at $950,000 5.  1239 MLK Way, 3/1, 1211 sq.ft, listed at $634,900 6.  452 Boynton Avenue, 4/2, 2301 sq.ft, listed at $859,000 7.  1687 Thousand Oaks Blvd, 3/2, 2244 sq.ft, listed at $859,900 8.  6946 Bristol Avenue, 4/4, 4120 sq.ft, listed at $999,900 9.  3227 Boise Street, 4/1, 1129 sq.ft, listed at $309,900 10. 1243 Ashby Avenue, 4/2, 1614 sq.ft, listed at $254,000 For more details about any of these listings, or to receive fr...
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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)
Wondering how best to incorporate Green ideals into your holiday preparations? That was the challenge discussed at the recent meeting of the Berkeley Association of REALTORS® Green Council, concluding its first year as a group. I am proud to have founded this group of dedicated agents, and to serve as their Chair. Following the basic principles of reduce, reuse and recycle, the Green Council came up with these practical suggestions: If you’re going to decorate with lights, use LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). They’re much more readily available now than in previous years, and in many great styles and colors. They use only 10% of the electricity used by incandescent lights, and in general they are much better made and more likely to last longer. The bulbs are advertised to last up to 100,00...
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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)
We continue to read in the national news about the "glut of inventory" that exists in many parts of the country. In my area, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically in in Berkeley, CA, we have struggled with too little inventory all year. Last month we had 41 single family residential sales, while 42 residential properties appeared on the market. We could use more than a net of just one property! We currently have under two months' inventory on the market. If we take a more detailed look at our market and compare to what we experienced last November, we see that the Berkeley, CA market inventory is down substantially from this time last year, but up from only 1.5 month's inventory last month. Those are fairly subtle changes. What I can tell you as someone out ...
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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)
This has been an unusual year for our local East Bay real estate market for a number of reasons. The most-talked about, of course, are reductions in prices from the peak a couple years ago, the reduced inventory from what we consider the norm, and the existence of distressed properties in our Berkeley-area market, even though they represent only a small percentage of the total. Buyers in Berkeley, Albany, Kensington and the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland in particular are faced with a frustrating combination: record low interest rates and tax credits that inspire them to buy, in a market with very limited inventory. One result is familiar: multiple offers. We have become accustomed to anything from three to seven offers being received on any listing that is appropriately priced and d...
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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)
Since August there's been a tangible sense that the market was getting stronger, and not just in the immediate Berkeley area. Buyers who had the financial means to buy decided, finally, to get off the fence. Properties that had been sitting for some time went into contract as a result. We also began to see significantly more all-cash sales, and in higher price ranges. Two of the properties for which I had buyers recently had competition from all-cash buyers at the $1.0 - 1.4M range. So far this year only one of my buyers has been fortunate enough to get their desired property without competition. For most buyers we're still writing three or four offers before getting into contract, and those are also the number of offers we usually face as competition. Whereas before three offers could ...
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