THE SECOND STORY | July 12th, 2018

Apples for sale…nope!

One thing that I don’t miss is our apple tree….
 I wish our real estate inventory was as plentiful as this apple tree was. I took it down last fall because it was falling into the carriage house, since it was giving up on surviving!

But things seem to be shifting…as I speak with other agents in town, out of town.

I was reading a quarterly report today that comes from a friend (real estate agent) who works for a company called Paragon Real Estate Group in San Francisco. We go back for maybe 20 years. But these numbers stop me from breathing! Check this out this link!

I guess lil’ ol Alameda real estate looks like chump change to those who come here from out of town…but we’ll muddle through it..because the market will change. I’ve recently told folks that the top of our market is beginning to come down in price…WHILE the lower price properties are still climbing. It’s been this pattern since I started…a long time ago. But we work off of history, not forecasts. And we work within the market, do not control the market, whatever it may offering. There are more BOMs (back on market) and PCH (price changes).

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues tour 10

New 16 

Sold 16

Total active 32

Total pending 62

Here’s the opposite of what I have (no connections) except for Sonos:

Call should you have questions..and maybe you could answer my own!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | July 10th, 2018

A Word Homeowners Need to Understand

Acquisition Debt is the amount of money borrowed used to buy, build or improve a principal residence or second home. Under the new tax law, mortgages taken after 12/14/17 are limited to a combination of $750,000 on the first and second homes. The mortgage interest on this debt is tax deductible when itemizing deductions.12844696-250.jpg

It is a dynamic number that is reduced with each payment as the unpaid balance goes down. The only way to increase acquisition debt is to borrow money to make capital improvements.

Prior to the new law, homeowners could additionally borrow up to $100,000 of home equity debt for any purpose and deduct the interest when itemizing deductions. Mortgage interest on home equity debt is no longer deductible unless it is for capital improvements.

Acquisition debt cannot be increased by refinancing. Some confusion occurs because mortgage lenders are concerned in making home loans that will be repaid according to the terms of the note and using the home as collateral. That does not include making a tax-deductible mortgage.

Another thing that adds confusion to the issue is that the lenders will annually report how much interest was paid in a year but only the amount that is attributable to acquisition debt is deductible.

Even if the interest on the cash-out refinance is not deductible, it may be advantageous to pay off higher interest debt such as credit card debt and replacing it with lower mortgage debt.

It is the responsibility of the taxpayer to know what part of their mortgage debt is deductible. The challenge becomes more difficult after a cash-out refinance. Homeowners should keep records of all financing and capital improvements and consult with their tax professional.

THE SECOND STORY | July 5th, 2018

You know it…you go to it….you cheer who’s in it!

I’m talkin’ about A-town’s 4th of July Parade!

BTW…my listing at 912 Del Mar is very available!  Here’s the Drone video. 

The photos are just to the right of this post, and the 3D virtual tour allows you to see the layout using a doll-house format, and see the actual rooms as your march the camera through the property.

It’s located on a 1 block long street, close to everything, including schools (public, private, charter, magnet), shopping (South Shore Center: Trader Joe’s, Safeway, restaurants), Park Street (fun eateries, Tucker’s Ice Cream, the Alameda Theatre).

It’s been a bit of a slow week for A-town real estate. But here’s what happened this past week.

New 5

Sold 14

Total active 29

Total pending 71

Alameda’s parade has most everything covered: land, sea, flight (not sure how legal that copter is flying so low…), walkers, riders (bikes, classic trucks, cars, unicycles).

Everybody is cheering everybody…all ethnicities are all equal in A-town. YAY!



THE SECOND STORY | July 3rd, 2018

Unexpected Expenses

It’s common for Sellers to consider offering a home warranty or protection plan to make their home more marketable. A growing number of homeowners are now purchasing this type of protection for themselves to limit the unexpected expenses of repairs and replacements.34399062-250.png

A home protection plan is a renewable service contract that covers the repair or replacement of many of the components in a home. Some homeowners especially like the convenience that it organizes a qualified service provider as well as the cost of the repairs or replacements.

There are a variety of companies that offer home warranties and the coverage may differ but the majority of things will include heating, air conditioning, most built-in and some free-standing appliances, as well as other specific items. Additional specific coverage may be available for other items like pool and spa equipment.

Some investors are even placing this coverage on their rental properties to limit the amount of repairs during the year. It is a viable way to manage the financial risk and the stress dealing with unexpected expenses.

Call me at (510) 908-9021 if you’d like a recommendation of available programs.

THE SECOND STORY | June 29th, 2018

Generational mistakes…

Alameda Real Estate this Week 

(trying to keep these numbers simple…let’s see if this works)

New 9

Sold 21

Total active 50

Total pending 62

My listing at 912 Del Mar is available! Have your agent call me about it, if you are interested!

Been working on an offer until just a few minutes ago, for clients who are buying their first home (condo). There’s real competition for 1/1 units…this condo has 5 offers, as of this evening.

Be well! Get ready for our very local, and Bay Area renown 4th of July parade! It’s a blast to watch!

Enjoy the mid-week holiday! Text, em, or call me if you have questions about the market….

I took this earlier this week…very windy, cold, and the beach was full of flying (literally) windsurfers and kiteboarders!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 26th, 2018

Don’t Let a Killer In

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer you don’t want in your home but because it is colorless and odorless; you may not even be aware the deadly condition exists. The Center for Disease Control says more than 400 people in the U.S. die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning and over 10,000 require medical treatment each year.16485740-250.jpg

Unmaintained furnaces, water heaters and appliances can produce the deadly gas. In addition, other sources could be leaking chimneys, unvented kerosene or gas space heaters or exhaust from cars or trucks operating in an attached garage.

The Environmental Protection Agency suggests the following to reduce exposure in the home:

  • Keep gas appliances properly adjusted
  • Install and use an exhaust fan vented to the outdoors over gas stoves
  • Open flues when fireplaces are in use
  • Do not idle car inside garage
  • Have a trained professional inspect, clean and tune-up central heating systems annually

Headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and feelings of weakness or fatigue are a few of the most common symptoms. Lower levels of exposure to carbon monoxide may be mistaken for the flu.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be on every level of a home and especially, in sleeping areas. The alarms can be purchased for as little as $25 and plugged into the wall like a night light.

Regardless of the government requirements, no one would want to put their family, guests or themselves at risk for something so deadly.

THE SECOND STORY | June 21st, 2018

Buying without seeing….

Summer’s bounty! Well, a portion of last summer’s crop. I still need to plant tomatoes for this summer! This year I have bigger bins and I get the small veggie plants from Encinal Nursery! I consider myself a fake farmer (which is better than a fake news reporter).

I got this note from a good friend…whose house I sold for them (husband and wife) years ago, and they moved back to Florida. His wife, unfortunately, passed on a few years later. He sold that house and moved back to Alameda, to an apartment, less than 1/2 block from me!

“Good things come with good friends who have your best interests at heart! It was new on the market. Laura, the real estate lady I’m using, had a criteria setup for me as to my wants in a property. This one fit perfectly. Once I saw the photos I was pretty much sold on it. Then my friends that live there, Van and Mary, toured the property with Laura. He called within 10 minutes and said BUY, BUY. So, wrote an offer that afternoon. Quick. Now I can wait to really SEE the property. 

So all things ended up all good! How many of you would buy without seeing?

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 6

PCH price change 1

Pending 10

Sold 8

WT 2 

Total active 34

Total pending 71

Have a great weekend! I’ll be holding 912 Del Mar open on Sunday 2-4! Stop by and say ‘howdy!’ Last weekend’s open house was busy!

best, m

THE SECOND STORY | June 19th, 2018

Waiting Will Cost More

An economist responded when asked how interest rates would change: “They may fall some and then, rise and after that, they’ll fluctuate.”43276292-250.jpg

Just because interest rates have been low for ten years doesn’t mean they are supposed to be low. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates twice this year and are expected to go up twice more plus three times next year. Mortgage rates have risen from 3.95% to 4.62% since the first of January.

Increased rates directly affect the payments on homes but so does the price. With inventory levels remaining low, the prices will continue to go up. When interest rates and prices rise at the same time, it costs buyers a lot more.

If the mortgage rates go up by one percent and prices increase by five percent in the next year, the payment on a $250,000 home could go up by $200 a month. In a seven-year period, the buyer would pay $18,000 more for the home.

People planning to buy a home, need to investigate the possibilities of accelerating their timetable to take advantage of lower rates and prices. Use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator to see how much more it could cost you to wait. Call (510) 908-9021 if you have questions about what can be done now.

Cost of Waiting 061818.jpg

THE SECOND STORY | June 15th, 2018

Agents…it’s all about the company. No, it’s about the culture.

There’s a lot of movement within the ‘real estate agent’ industry these days. Agents are dropping like flies, and then having a rejuvenation if/when they choose another company. It’s not as easy as it looks.

Some agents don’t feel comfortable with a huge company brand name on the ‘For Sale’ sign, with their name appearing in a really small font somewhere on that sign or on the sign riders (the smaller rectangular signs that either hook onto the For Sale sign or finds a home on top of the crossbar of the post planted in the ground).

Sometimes the companies take a percentage of the commission (over and above the designated split), say 6% is taken off the top and goes directly to the company. That would pay for the office, the rent or mortgage, the employees/support staff, the copy machines, the printers, the electricity the heat, and on and on.

Some agents are looking for higher splits (the commission that is earned by an agent in representing the buyer or the seller, or even both parties in one transaction). A certain percentage of the commission goes to the company and the balance goes to the agent.

Sellers can negotiate the commission before they sign the listing agreement.  It can be in fixed dollar amounts, but usually, it’s in the form of a percentage of the sales price.

Normally, agents start at a low commission split, and once they obtain a certain dollar amount in earnings…the split can increase as the agent brings in more dollars. In most cases, there is an upper cap limit that the agent can earn. OF COURSE, if the agent is being sought after, that high split make a difference…but the agent needs to perform to maintain that cap.

Sometimes several agents may be interviewed by a prospect. S(he) may not even know who those agents are. And no, it’s not rude for the agent to ask who the other agents are. And no, it’s not rude for the prospect to decline that info.

Then there are companies that offer incentives: not for listing/selling the property, but for finding other agents to work for the company, and if those agents produce, then the agent who drew them in, gets a portion of the new agent’s split.  I liken this to multi-level marketing. S(he) who is the first draft pick, makes the most bucks, and those below can never reach that pinnacle.

Bottom line is…real estate is not a hobby, it’s a way to make a living. For some ‘making a living’ can be tough. But it’s also a way for that living to turn into knowledge to become a real estate investor, for him/herself, or for his/her clients.

Actually, real estate is a way of life….helping folks find homes and or investments, doing a lot of listening, and asking loads of questions to be able to find out what the customer’s goals are.  And BTW…an agent needs to love that work.

Alameda Real Estate this Week (as of Friday eve)

Broker Tour Tues 10

New listings 10

Pending 17

Sold 10

Total Active listings 41 (including 3 PCH and 4 Active Contingent)

Total Pending listings 72

Please check out my new listing @  912 Del Mar  

and come over on Sunday between 2-4 and say hi!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 12th, 2018

The Tax Difference in Second Homes

A principal residence and a second home have some similar benefits, but they have some key tax differences. A principal residence is the primary home where you live and a second home is used mainly for personal enjoyment while limiting possible rental activity to a maximum of 14 days per year.10213246-250.jpg

Under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Mortgage Interest Deduction allows a taxpayer to deduct the qualified interest on a principal residence and a second home. The interest is reduced from a maximum of $1,000,000 combined acquisition debt to a maximum of $750,000 combined acquisition debt for both the first and second homes.

Property taxes on first and second homes are deductible but limited to a combined maximum of $10,000 together with other state and local taxes paid.

The gain on a principal residence retained the exclusion of $250,000/$500,000 for single/married taxpayers meeting the requirements. Unchanged by the new tax law, the gains on second homes must be recognized when sold or disposed.

Tax-deferred exchanges are not allowed for property used for personal purposes such as second homes. Gain on second homes owned for more than 12 months is taxed at the lower long-term capital gains rate.

This article is intended for informational purposes. Advice from a tax professional for your specific situation should be obtained prior to making a decision that can have tax implications.