THE SECOND STORY | April 24th, 2018

Costs More – Takes Longer

The one experience that homeowners can agree upon after completing a remodeling project is that it costs more and takes longer than expected. It doesn’t really matter that you researched, planned, and received multiple bids, it will, invariably, cost more and take longer than you originally anticipated.96303159-250.jpg

Replacing floorcovering or painting is a project that a homeowner can easily get bids and contract with the workmen directly. A new level of complexity occurs when the project involves more specialized contractors, like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, counters, and others.

Now, a homeowner is faced with dealing with one general contractor who will run roughshod over the sub-contractors or make the decision to do it themselves. Typically, you’ll pay more for a general contractor, but the trade-off is that they have the contacts and experience to make things go smoothly.

Subs are notorious for wanting to finish their “part” of the project and move onto to the next job. Sometimes, they’re not interested in the “big picture” enough to consider doing things in a way that are best for the overall outcome.

When you start tearing out some things, you find out that there may be unexpected expenses involved. Another common occurrence is that during the project, you get a new thought about changing something else “since it is already torn up anyway.” This will add time and money to the job.

There can be the situation that the homeowner doesn’t even know the right questions to ask or what to consider when trying to coordinate the different workers. The most detailed timetable can be thrown off track if one set of workers don’t show up or finish on time. At best, it delays the project for a few days. At worst, it can delay it for a few weeks because the individual workers may have committed to other jobs that don’t allow them to reschedule.

Once the work is done in a professional manner, you’re probably going to live with it for years. If it is something you’ve wanted to do and it will allow you to enjoy your home more, it is worth doing. Just be patient and enter this adventure with the understanding that it will cost more and take longer than you expect.

THE SECOND STORY | April 19th, 2018

All hail broke loose in Alameda…

Hail the size of dimes,  fell to the               ground, in A-town!

It was hailing so hard:

1) I woke up.

2) I thought the electrical workers were heaving/whipping their wires around. Turns out they weren’t even here yet.

3) I thought my windows would break.


I’ve never heard of FOMO…but now I have. Here’s an article from The Realtor online magazine. “Fear of Missing Out”

FOMO Drives Young Buyers Toward Ownership

Fear of missing out—or FOMO, as millennials have coined it—has become a powerful motivator for young buyers to pursue homeownership, according to a new Bank of America survey. In particular, social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, where users often post about their lives as homeowners, are big influencers on prospective buyers, the survey of 2,000 U.S. adults finds. “I think it’s motivating them to think about homeownership,” says D. Steve Boland, BofA’s head of consumer lending. “Their interest level is high, and it’s driven by what they see.”

According to the survey, a third of millennials say that when viewing social media posts about homes their peers have purchased, they think: “If they can buy, why can’t I?” And a quarter of all consumers say they fear missing out on an opportunity for themselves to purchase when viewing others’ home photos on social media. Twenty-three percent of consumers—16 percent of whom are first-time buyers—say they are jealous of the homes bought by their friends and acquaintances.

Social media postings about homeownership can stir up emotions in consumers and motivate them to want to own themselves, Ethan Kross, a professor of social psychology at the University of Michigan, told USA Today. “If other people are doing better than we are, that can get us to feel bad,” Kross says. “It reminds us of what things could be like.”

Source: “Instagram, Facebook Photos Spur Millennials to Become Homeowners,” USA Today (April 11, 2018)



I was hauling some groceries out of the car and an older guy was out taking a walk. I recognized him, and he kind of recognized me. We re-introduced ourselves. Frank has lived nearby in the same house for over 50 years.

He started off by saying…”There is nowhere else I’d rather be than Alameda!” He said he was stationed at the Alameda NAS, back in WW II, and he’s been here ever since.

He has a great attitude. Despite the traffic, the density of the new housing, the height of the new housing, how long it’s taken the base to get developed, and the fact we may be stuck here in 94501 if anything happens to our ability to get access into and out of this island, Alameda meets all of his needs.

I get it. And even if I didn’t get it….there are still a bunch of folks who want to live here. The only reason I showed up here is because my husband’s first real job was at at the brand new Mariner Square building, working with yacht designer, Gary Mull.

It’s changed quite a bit since then.

We love calling Alameda our home. What a great conversation. That’s one of the reasons we like it here. Nice folks abound in Alameda.


Alameda Real Estate this Week

My Seller who owns the single level townhome on BFI received 3 offers yesterday. It is now pending. Should close in 25 days.

New 13

Pending 20

Sold 12

Total active on the market 28

Total pending on the market 52

If you are just thinking about buying or selling, give me a call. We can talk about what’s going on here in A-town.

Have a lovely weekend! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 17th, 2018

Case Study – Housing Decision During Retirement

A couple is planning to tour the United States in a travel trailer during their first few years of retirement. They are going to sell their current home now and purchase another home when they finish their travels. 30349530-250.jpg

An interesting exercise is to determine the optimum time of selling the home: now or when they’re ready to buy their replacement home.

If they intend on traveling for more than three years, then, it may be a good decision to sell prior to the sojourn to avoid paying taxes on the gain in their home. IRS allows for a temporary rental of a principal residence while still keeping the $250,000/$500,000 capital gains exclusion intact. A homeowner must own and use a home for two out of the previous five years which means that it could be rented for up to three years, but it would need to be sold and closed before that three-year window expires.

If the travel will be less than three years, there is an option of selling now or later. Using the example below, the homeowner sold the home, paid their expenses and invested the proceeds in a three-year certificate of deposit until the replacement home was purchased.

case study retirement-1.jpg
As an alternative, if the homeowner rented the home, not only would they have income, the home would continue to appreciate and the unpaid balance would go down resulting in larger net proceeds. Based on a 5% appreciation and continued amortization of the mortgage, the net proceeds could easily be $40,000 more.

case study retirement-2.jpg
Obviously, there are a lot of considerations that affect the decision to sell now or later but in an appreciating real estate environment, being without a home for several years could affect the financial position of the owner in the replacement property. It is certainly reasonable to look at various alternatives before making a decision. Call me at (510) 908-9021 to help you look at the different possibilities and talk to your tax professional.

THE SECOND STORY | April 12th, 2018


My late husband was a yacht designer. One of the yachts he designed was about 70 feet long? and it was a houseboat, built in here in the Bay Area and was towed to Molokai, where her home was going to be. It was a huge yacht and glorious!

Crab Cove in between rain storms.

Recently, there have been a couple of floating home listings in the multiple listing service. It’s been a while since I’ve written about these types of homes.

Houseboats sound very romantic, don’t they? Well, maybe not if you get seasick. But for those who like to get rocked to sleep, houseboats can solve some regular house issues: no mowing the lawn, maybe some great views if you get a berth that offers those.

You need to check with your tax accountant about deducting the interest you pay on the loan (if you use it as your personal residence), maybe even the docking fees, for the slip, for some parking, for some landbased amenities.

But what about those docking fees? How often do they go up? How about pumping out the holding tank (toilet, shower, galley sink)? Here’s a link (rather dated)  about houseboats in HI. Maintenance is a big deal on any boat and houses.

These days the marinas in Alameda are filled with empty slips. Dearest Carl, I hope the sailboats in heaven are fast, fun, and a blast to sail.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour 8 

New 10

AC 1 (active contingent – means the buyer needs to sell something before s/he can close)

BOM 1 (back on market)

PCH 1 (price change) local real estate broker owns this and made an office out of this but he’s had it on the market w/ at least 2 other agents. Really?


Total active listings 34

Total pending listings 47

OK. That’s a wrap…down memory lane. Looking to the future, but need to be in the present.

Call, text, or em me about any Alameda real estate questions. Will be at 3402 Redhook Lane, (94502) this Sunday between 2-4pm holding a second open house. Offers will be entertained this next Tues. Have your agent email me for the disclosures. This is a great 2/2 single level townhome and this “A” model is in high demand since it’s the only single level townhome in the 3 Bay Farm Island condo associations. AND this is full of natural light, even on darkest days! Priced @ 690K. Come see me there on Sunday!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 10th, 2018

Waiting Period After Distressed Sale

“How long do we have to wait to qualify for another mortgage” is the question concerning people who’ve had a foreclosure, short sale or bankruptcy. The loan types for the new loan will differ in amounts of time to heal credit scores based on the event.43296989-250.jpg

The following chart is meant to be a general guide for how long a person might have to wait. During this waiting period, it’s important that the person be current on all payments and maintains a history of good credit.

A recommended lender can give you specific information regarding your individual situation and can make suggestions that will improve your ability to qualify for a mortgage. This process should be started before looking at homes because of the time constraints listed here can vary based on current requirements and possible extenuating circumstances of your case.

Waiting periods Distressed sales 2.png

We want to be your personal source of real estate information and we’re committed to helping from purchase to sale and all the years in between. Call us at (510) 908-9021 for lender recommendations.

THE SECOND STORY | April 5th, 2018

Shred Party wrap-up! Alameda Meals on Wheels wins!

Shredding Party….was great! Bright sunshine, great people, lots of SHREDDING! Joshy, our shred-meister was terrific…getting out to the cars to load up the big bin and stopping to talk with folks! Remind me next year, that I got too many donuts (delish as they were)!  And Alameda Meals on Wheels will get a tidy $500 (Rosemary wasn’t at the office this week, so I’ll give the donation to her on Monday)! Thank you all!

I had to take this photo of tulips on Grand Street!


…continuing on from the last two  blog posts:


    • WE DETERMINE IF WE HAVE A MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE BASIS UPON WHICH TO DO BUSINESS – at that time we decide if we wish to proceed to work together.

Either we are a match, or not! It takes the Seller(s) and the agent/Broker (me) to decide this together.  No hard feelings…it’s about whether we can accomplish the goal…getting a property sold at the highest price possible. That being said….

…I have a new listing that I just put on the market today…3402 Redhook Lane, a 2 bedroom, 2 bath townhome in Garden Isle. See the column to the right for the details. Usually, Ricky, the photographer I use, launches a drone. However, because this is too close to the North Field of OAK Airport, the FAA rules dictate that if the drone goes over 300′ it will automatically shut down…as in ‘crash.’ But he did get some nice overhead shots.  Check it out! Or better yet, come to the open house on Sunday 2-4pm.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 10

Pending 13

Sold 8

BOM back on market 1

Total active on the market 32

Total pending on the market 48

OK. That’s a wrap for now. Come to the open house @ 3402 Redhook Lane!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 3rd, 2018

Waiting Will Cost More

With the first quarter of 2018 in the books, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is nearing what Freddie Mac predicted it would be in the second quarter. If this pace continues, rates will exceed the five percent mark expected by the end of the year.42814186-250.jpg

The Fed has had its first of an expected three raises for this year and two more are expected in 2019. While these rates are not directly related to mortgages, they certainly have an effect.

Delaying the decision to purchase or refinance could be an expensive missed opportunity. A $270,000 mortgage at 4.44% has a principal and interest payment of $1,358.44 per month. If the rate were to rise one-percent in the next twelve months, the payment would be $1,522.88.

The $164.44 increase would cost a homeowner an additional $13,812.97 in seven years and close to $60,000 over the full term of the loan.

The question facing people is “what would you spend $164.44 each month if you had acted sooner to get the lower rate?”

If you’re curious to know what your “missed opportunity” could be costing you, try this Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator . Use 0% increase on price change if you are refinancing a home you already own.

THE SECOND STORY | March 29th, 2018

Calling all Shredders (not the snow kind…

…the PAPER kind!)

Tomorrow, SATURDAY!  9am – noon!  Bring all of your papers and watch them get shredded to bits! Stop by, say hi, jaw around for a bit, get some fruit, juice, and some donuts. And a huge bag (it’s officially an antique and/or a collector’s item….Harbor Bay Realty is no more!) But it’s new and can haul lots of stuff around!

(This picks up from last week’s post!)

11 Questions you should be asking a real estate agent! 

These may lead to more ??

    • What is the list price to sales price ratio last 60 days?
    • What is your average number of days on the market in the last 90 days?
    • What is the absorption rate of homes like mine in this area?
    • Of the listings that you didn’t sell last year, why didn’t they sell?
    • What is the percentage of time you represented buyers vs. sellers?
    • How many properties did you actually sell last year?
    • Can you give me a list of your top 10 clients with their contact information?
    • Do you do any type of work besides real estate?
    • How many people do you speak to each day about the real estate business?

Can you show me a copy of your daily schedule? (I like this one because I could show somebody my calendar but it changes day to day depending on client needs.  So I’d have to say I don’t have a daily schedule but I sure get loads of real estate done!

Results…exceeding the challenges.

Alameda Real Estate this week.

New 9

PCH price change 1

Sold 15

Total active 35

Total pending 43

Public service announcement: Bridge closings for next week!

See you @ the Shredding Party! best, m

THE SECOND STORY | March 27th, 2018

FHA Advantages

The Federal Housing Administration, operating under HUD, offers affordable mortgages for tens of thousands of buyers who may not qualify for other types of programs. They are popular with both first-time and repeat buyers.

The 3.5% down payment is an attractive feature but there are other advantages:fha3.png

  • More tolerant for credit challenges than conventional mortgages.
  • Lower down payments than most conventional loans.
  • Broader qualifying ratios – total house payment with MIP can be up to 31% of borrower’s monthly gross income and total house payment with all recurring debt can be up to 43%. There is a stretch provision taking it to 33/45 for qualifying energy efficient homes.
  • Seller can contribute up to 6% of purchase price; this money must be specified in the contract and can be used to pay all or part of the buyer’s closing costs, pre-paid items and/or buy down of the interest rate.
  • Self-employed may qualify with adequate documentation – two year’s tax returns and a current profit and loss statement would be required in addition to the normal qualifying and underwriting requirements.
  • Liberal use of gift monies – borrowers can receive a gift from family members, buyer’s employer, close friend, labor union or charity. A gift letter will be required specifying that the gift does not have to be repaid.
  • Special 203(k) program for buying a home that needs capital improvements – requires a firm contractor’s bid attached to the contract calling for the work to be done. The home is appraised subject to the work being done. If approved, the home can close, the money for the improvements escrowed and paid when completed.
  • Loans are assumable at the existing interest rate with buyer qualification. Assumptions are easier than qualifying for a new mortgage and closing costs are lower.
  • An assumable mortgage with a lower than current rates for new mortgages could add value to the property.

Finding the best mortgage for an individual is not always an easy process. Buyers need good information from trusted professionals. Call (510) 908-9021 for a recommendation of a trusted lender who can help you.

THE SECOND STORY | March 22nd, 2018


11th Annual Shredding Party! 

March 31!  9am – noon!  

At my house (call me if you need the address)! 

Be there or be square! That’s a week from this Saturday!

Gather your papers together and get rid of them: safely, securely!

Come on by, have a Lee’s donut or 2, some juice, some fruit.

Take it to go..or hang out for a spell!

Oh! Get a big bag…it’s a bit of an antique…says my name (I’m not the antique) but it also says Harbor Bay Realty…and that’s history!

A bit of education today…in my humble opinion…

LET’S TALK ABOUT REAL ESTATE MYTHS…part 1 of 3 or 4 or more!

These are subjects you may want to discuss with other agents you may be interviewing.

Business should be based on mutual trust, experience, communication, listening.   The business of selling your property is all personal.  And the extensive repeat and referral business I have shows the importance of personal, accountable relationships.

Local company, out of town…it doesn’t matter. Why have a local agent rather than one from out-of-town?   

A GREAT local agent: 

-knows the market (inside and outside)

-has access to the terms of closed sales because of peer relationships/connections

has a positive reputation among your neighbors, citizens, and peers

is easily accessible

is accountable 

-subscribes to the multiple listing service

-knows the city: the issues, the ordinances, the people, the processes (such as sewer laterals, transfer taxes, special taxes, schools, City Hall contacts, local vendors, trades people, crafts people, specialty vendors)

-knows city trends

-works full time and that includes seeing a variety of properties

-understands what offer strategy works best for a particular listing and explains ALL of your options to you.

A GREAT agent listens to you and asks lots of questions about YOU. And will admit when s(he) doesn’t know everything but will work to find answers for you.

Alameda Real Estate this week

Broker Tour Tues 11

New listings 14

Pending listings 7

Sold listings 13

Total active listings 38

Total pending listings 50

That’s a wrap! We may have a bit of a respite for a day…and then more rain! Be careful out there!

best, marilyn  Take a quick read!