THE SECOND STORY | September 20th, 2018

Shopping A-town

I’m pretty predictable and not too fancy. I love the shopping bags that I’m able to stuff inside my numerous backpacks (which is what I do  splurge on). But I only wear 1 purse/backpack at a time.

Here’s an example of the giveaways from the various business districts within our town. (No, TJ’s is not giving anything away and you can see where I shop – whether on my bike or in my car.)

You know when summer is over and when fall is right around the corner…because the Alameda real estate market has been getting new listings all over this island (relatively speaking).

Buyers want to move into a new (to them) property before the holidays set in. And the Sellers are thinking…get me outta here!

Once again…motivation is the rule for both buyers and sellers. And seller’s (5 of them) have contingent sales on their property.

That means the Buyer(s) won’t close until their own property  closes first, and then they’ve got the cash, loan, and whatever to move forward on their new (to them) purchase. If either party is too stuck on their list/buy price…that property won’t sell. And it’s off to the races for the sellers and back to the grind for the buyers.

Alameda Real Estate this Week!

New 18

Pending 2

Sold 10

Total Active 56 including 5 Active Contingent and 1 BOM

Total pending 53 including 1 court confirmation, and 1 subject to lender approval

OK! That’s a wrap!

Enjoy the weekend….days are getting shorter!

Please contact me if you have questions (or if you have the answers) about the A-town marketplace!

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun” blog… 

THE SECOND STORY | September 18th, 2018

Consumer Protection from Irresponsible Mortgage Practices

Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 in response to the mortgage crisis that led to America’s Great Recession. The two parts that apply closely to homebuyers are the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgages (QM).

A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, more stable features that help make it more likely that borrowers will be able to afford their loan. These loans do not allow certain risky features like an interest-only period when no money is applied to reduce the principal; negative amortization that would allow the mortgage balance to increase; and, “balloon payments” at the end of the loan that are larger than the normal periodic payments.

A debt-to-income ratio of less than or equal to 43% has been established to provide a limit on how much of a borrower’s income can go toward total debt including the mortgage and all other monthly debt payments. However, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau believes these loans should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in some cases, can exceed 43%.

There is a limit for up-front points and fees the lender can charge.

By showing that the lender made an effort to be certain that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan, the lender in turn, receives certain legal protections. Underwriting factors considered by the lender include:

  1. current or reasonably expected income or assets
  2. current employment status
  3. the monthly payment on the covered transaction
  4. the monthly payment on any simultaneous loan
  5. the monthly payment for mortgage-related obligations
  6. current debt obligations, alimony, and child support
  7. the monthly debt-to-income ratio or residual income
  8. credit history

For more information, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fact sheet … protecting consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending.

THE SECOND STORY | September 13th, 2018

Flood maps? In A-town? yep…..

Check out my ‘for fun’ blog…

Alameda Flood Maps…. If you are thinking about buying, or actually own property(ies) in Alameda, this subject will affect you.

Alameda Realtors have a monthly marketing meeting. The guests at the meeting, last Tuesday, were 2 knowledgeable city engineers, trying to explain the issue in less than 1 hour: the why’s, the wherefore’s, the what-to-do’s about living in a flood plain.

Some of 94501 and 94502 are affected…not all. How will it affect those who want to dig down to expand a property’s living space? What are the rules that dictate owners need to purchase Federal Flood Insurance?

I’ve recently started including some portions of the Alameda City website, for local disclosures that the Realtors don’t have at this time:

-the flood insurance issue (this will be addressed with our Natural Hazards Disclosures (issued by various companies).

-the Federal Building (next to Crab Cove), which the Feds will be giving to the city and what it will be morphed into.

-what the School Board is doing regarding the high schools (merge or not to merge)

-what is going on with Historic Alameda High; about Paden School – those workers were working overtime on the weekends this summer….etc, etc. What about Lum School?

Lots of questions, and you could probably think of lots more. ugh.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 11

Pending 10

BOM 1 (back on market)

PCH 3 (price change)

Sold 6

Total active listings 49

Total pending sales 50

OK! Have a fun weekend! Contact me if you have questions about this shifting market. My answers may be vague, but I will do whatever is necessary to find out an answer from a party, source, person, company that I trust.

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 11th, 2018

Quick Plumbing Inspection

No one wants to waste water or money. For that reason, take a few minutes every other month to do the following inspections:

  1. Check to see if cutoff valves on sinks and toilets are working properly.

    Many times, builders will put individual cutoffs on supply lines to sinks and toilets. It is reasonable to expect them to work but after some time, they can corrode which prevents opening and closing. It is a good idea to test them occasionally before you need them in an emergency.

  2. Fill each sink with a few inches of water to see if they drain in what you feel is a normal time.

    A slow-draining sink can be an indication of a clog that builds up around the insides of the pipe. Common causes are food, grease, hair and soap scum. Plunging can take care of some slow-running sinks. After partially filling the sink with water, seal the plunger over the drain and pump it up and down a few times.

  3. Inspect each toilet to see if they are leaking water from the tank into the bowl.

    Toilets that continue to run after being flushed can use a large amount of water in a month’s time. Generally, the problem comes from a flapper that doesn’t seat properly. Sometimes, the chain is keeping it from closing properly or the flapper itself may need to be replaced.

    Another issue could be that the flush valve needs to be replaced. These can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $20.00 and are relatively easy to change out. There are lots of instructional videos on the internet and it can save money if you give it a try.

If you need a recommendation for a good plumber to take care of something you discover, please feel free to call me at .

THE SECOND STORY | September 6th, 2018

A-town….how do we get on and off this island…..

…if there’s a natural (earthquake, flood) or a man-made disaster?

IMHO…(and my opinions are very simplistic):

-there won’t be another tube (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

-there won’t be another bridge (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

Oh yeah, how about some water taxis? All day and all night long. Yeah, those are a lot more doable.

Why aren’t our elected official talking about stuff that matters to almost everybody, instead of some of those elected officials working their way up the food chain?






On a lighter note…I went to lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and took these photos on Park St, and this is happening all over town!

I love this!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 15

Pending 15

this week

Sold 5

Withdrawn/canceled 2

Total Active

(the above includes 2 Active Contingent, 1 Back on Market, 3 Price Changes)

Total Pending 56

Hope you had a non-labor day, and I hope you’ll reach out to me if you have questions about this shifting market!

best, marilyn

Check out  (my for-fun blog).


THE SECOND STORY | September 4th, 2018

Act Decisively

Whether it is hesitation or procrastination due to uncertainty, it can cost buyers by having to pay more for both the house and the financing. This is one of those markets where most of the experts expect interest rates and prices will continue to rise through 2019.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale which is close to the same as last year’s inventory. Normal inventory is considered to be a 6-month supply.

If during the period you’re waiting to buy, the price of the home goes up by 5% and the mortgage rate increases by 1%, the payment on a $275,000 home with a 95% mortgage could be $233.80 more each and every month. Over a seven-year period, the delay to purchase would total close to $20,000.

To act decisively, you need good information; a confused mind will not generally make a decision. In today’s market, you need to know exactly what price home you can qualify for and you need to know what kind of home you can expect for that price.

You’ll want a housing and a mortgage professional you can trust to give you the information you need to make good decisions for yourself and your family. We’d like to be your real estate professional and can recommend a trusted mortgage professional.

To get a better idea about what it may cost you for a home in your price range, use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator. If you have any questions, call me at (510) 908-9021.

THE SECOND STORY | August 30th, 2018

Ch-ch-changes in the real estate market?

There seem to be some changes/shifts, in the real-estate market. Inventory is increasing (not very dramatic but it is happening) all over the US.

I believe it was a Zillow article that I was reading this week and 12% of the existing listings had price decreases, in order to get ‘buyers’ to show up with their agents at the front door of a listing. The National Association of Realtors says basically the same thing.

Alameda is no different.

This week I wrote to a client “You were able to ride the wave and kick out of it nearly at the top. You may be able to paddle into a wave that won’t be so big, with lower prices rolling in. With some foresight and with the hindsight, this market should work perfectly for you and your family.”

(Somehow I can’t get my photos from my phone to upload to my gmail and then post them to my blog! I’ll deal with that tomorrow!)

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour Tues 11

New 12

Price Change 3

Total Active 47

Total Pending 45

Sold  10 

Let me know if you have questions about this market….it’s a bit wacky out there right now. It’s not just A-town. Maybe a shift for the market is in the prevailing winds!

Have a great weekend! best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | August 28th, 2018

Reduce Refinancing Costs

There is much more than a lower rate and payment to determine whether to refinance a mortgage. Lenders try to make refinancing as attractive as possible by rolling the closing costs into the new mortgage so there isn’t any out of pocket cash required.

The closing costs associated with a new loan could add several thousand dollars to your mortgage balance. The following suggestions may help you to reduce the expense to refinance.

· Tell the lender up-front that you want to have the loan quoted with minimal closing costs.

· Check with your existing lender to see if the rate and closing costs might be cheaper.

· Shop around with other lenders and compare rate and closing costs.

· If you’re refinancing an FHA or VA loan, consider the streamline refinance.

· Credit unions may have lower closing costs because they are generally loaning deposits and their cost of funds is less.

· Reducing the loan-to-value so mortgage insurance is not required will reduce expenses and lower the payment.

· Ask if the lender can use an AVM, automated valuation model, instead of an appraisal.

· You may not need a new survey if no changes have been made.

· There may be a discount on the mortgagee’s title policy available on a refinance.

· Points on refinancing, unlike a purchase, are ratably deductible over the life of the loan ($3,000 in points on a 30-year loan would result in a $100 tax deduction each year.)

· Consider a 15-year loan. If you can afford the higher payments, you can expect a lower interest rate than a 30-year loan and obviously, it will build equity faster and pay off in half the time.

A lender must provide you a list of the fees involved with making the loan within 3 days of making a loan application in the form of a Loan Estimate and a Closing Disclosure Form. Every dollar counts, and they belong to you.

THE SECOND STORY | August 23rd, 2018

Real estate is real life….

Rejection…nobody likes it.

Sometimes real estate comes easy…sometimes it doesn’t.  We need the downs to appreciate the ups. And we need the ups to realize that there is nothing that can really take us down. And we can still change our minds, keep on track, and steer a steady course. That puts the real back into real estate!

Alameda Real Estate This Week

Broker Tour Tues 12

New 22

Pending 15

Sold 9

Total active listings on the market: 47 including 1 Withdrawn/canceled, 1 BOM (back on market) and 1 AC (active/contingent on selling another property).

If you have questions about the market, let me know.  I won’t make up an answer, but I will try to find a person, book, historian, or somebody who grew up here, who may know!

Best, m


THE SECOND STORY | August 21st, 2018

Moisture & Mold

Moisture is mold’s best friend and it thrives between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit which is why it is commonly found in homes. Mold spores float in the air and can grow on virtually any substance with moisture including tile, wood, drywall, paper, carpet, and food.

Moisture control and eliminating water problems are key to preventing mold. Common sources of moisture can be roof leaks, indoor plumbing leaks, outdoor drainage problems, damp basements or crawl spaces, steam from bathrooms or kitchen, condensation on cool surfaces, humidifiers, wet clothes drying inside, or improper ventilation of heating and cooking appliances.

  • Control the moisture problem
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces using soap and water or other cleanser; dry completely
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces
  • Discard porous materials with extensive mold growth
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold
  • Periodically, inspect the area for signs of moisture and new mold growth

The EPA suggests that if the moldy area is less than ten square feet, you can probably handle the cleanup yourself. If the affected area is larger than that, find a contractor or professional service provider.

Increasing ventilation in a bathroom by running a fan for at least 30 minutes or opening a window can help remove moisture and control mold growth. After showering, squeegee the walls and doors. Wipe wet areas with dry towels. Cleaning more frequently will also prevent mold from recurring or keep it to a minimum.

A simple solution to clean most mold is a 1:8 bleach/water mixture. Since homes have thermostatically controlled temperatures and water is used all day long in the kitchen and bathrooms, the environment is conducive to mold.

See Ten things you should know about mold written by the EPA.