THE SECOND STORY | March 15th, 2018

More stuff for the earthquake box..

I hate to harp on this…but be prepared and you won’t be bummed out.

Small bags holding items you may not think much about..unless you are in an earthquake!

While cleaning out my bathroom drawers and cabinets this past week, (have drawers will fill), I was grateful for the small things….the mini toothpaste tubes, the toothbrushes, and unbreakable mini mouthwash bottles that your dentist gives you when you show up for the once per year visit.

How about the mini shampoos and conditioners and the hand cleaners that the hotels want to have you take away as part of your ‘departing’ gifts? Now you have a reason to keep them!

Just toss those items into sturdy, waterproof plastic bags and toss them into your earthquake grab-bag, or EQ backyard box. And along with those, I found 2 First-Aid kits – one will stay in my bathroom, and the other will go in the box!

I hope they will remain in their ‘new’ locations, for as long as I’ve had them in my own home…and I hope I don’t have to use them. Carry on!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

I’ve had an open house on the past two Sundays, and between those, I had a broker tour for my listing at 1633 Clinton. (link to the drone shoot). Here’s a link to the virtual tour.

OMG! The open houses were swamped…with friendly neighbors, with curiosity seekers, with looky loo’s, and with some real buyers. We received 7 offers today. Stayed tuned!

New 8  including an REO (bank owned/real estate owned/foreclosed on).


Pending 1

Sold 8


Total Active on the market 31

Total Pending on the market 56  (including 2 requiring lender approvals)

Have a good weekend! Enjoy the rain!

best, marilyn

PS  My 11th Annual Shredding Party will be March 31, 9-12!  Call me for instructions if you aren’t on my mailing list. Bring friends! Remember…82 boxes is the number to beat, set by a gal who brought all of them over for the Shred of her life! Plus it won’t cost you anything…except I do ask for donations for Alameda Meals on Wheels, if you are so inclined to give to a great cause!)

Shred on!

Feel free to give me a call if you have questions about the market.

best, marilyn  check out my other blog… 

THE SECOND STORY | March 13th, 2018

Inventory Continues to be a Challenge

In any given market, inventories fluctuate based on supply and demand considering area and price range. The National Association of REALTORS considers a balanced market to be a six-month supply of homes.47945268-250.jpg

If it takes longer than six months to sell, it is thought to be a buyer’s market and less than six months, a seller’s market. Most buyers and sellers probably feel a balanced inventory is more like three months’ supply of homes.

The inventory of existing homes has been reduced to approximately 1.5 million houses which is 10.3% lower than a year ago. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis there are 5.7 months’ supply of new homes currently on the market in the U.S.

Inventory has a direct impact on price. When demand is constant, but inventory is reduced, price tends to increase because the same number of people are trying to buy a smaller than normal number of homes.

As easy as it is to recognize the signs of spring, one should be able to spot the direction prices will be moving. When prices and mortgage rates are increasing, buyers are affected by not being able to afford the same price or size of homes.

THE SECOND STORY | March 8th, 2018

Be prepared…is not just a Girl Scout or a sex slogan.

Brick Brickwork Ruin Broken Decay Collapse

This is what our foundation was like in 1988: nothing but bricks! We got this taken care of ASAP once we closed on the property. Our foundation was complete by Sept., 1989. And then the next month we had a major earthquake, centered in Loma Prieta (60 miles south of SF).

Our kids were playing soccer when that happened, and I was showing property. I think the house was on Walnut. And of course, those folks were visiting their daughter (to whom I had sold a house) and they wanted to move to CA.

Well, they’d never been through anything like that…and shortly after they returned back to FL. with no intentions of moving to CA.

One of my good friends has been saying that they are rockin’ and rollin’ in Danville, these days. I say, a bunch of small quakes seems to relieve the pressure from a big quake.  But I’m no seismologist.

I was recently talking via Skype to daughter, Sutter, and her hubby, Sean, who live in Christchurch, New Zealand. We got talking about what we have for earthquake preparedness. They went through the 6.3 quake in Christchurch in 2011. (See the photo below.)

I won’t tell you about what you need to have during an event like this. Google can tell you what you need to know.

Even the residents in our apartments are waking up to what they need to get!

I added some more stuff to the waterproof, weather resistant box we have in our backyard..and it was the first time I’d looked in there for probably 3 years! But I have a KQED backpack in my car ($15 a month for a year will get you one of these). Here’s a link to see what you need in any emergency.

Do it now! Then tell me about what you did to be prepared while at my Shredding Party, on March 31, 9-noon! Of course, all that you bring to shred onsite (my house) is free to you and your friends! The truck comes to us, and will shred what you have onsite!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 13

Pending 3

Sold 11

W/C withdrawn/ canceled 1

Total Active Listings this Week 31

Total Pending Listings this Week 53

That’s a wrap! Come on by and see me at my new listing 1633 Clinton! Sunday will be the second open house 2-4pm.

Look to your right and see the photos, virtual tour, and the drone photography!

best, marilyn

check out my other blog… 


THE SECOND STORY | March 6th, 2018

Your Refund Could be the Difference

One of the silver linings to filing your income tax return is finding out that you are going to receive a refund. If you happen to be one of these fortunate taxpayers, your next decision is what to do with it. With the average tax refund around $3,000, it could be the difference that makes a home a reality sooner rather than later.46795263-250.jpg

Many would-be buyers think it takes 10% or more down payment to purchase a home, but actually, it can be much less. There are VA and USDA mortgages that have no down payment for qualified buyers. FHA has a 3.5% down payment program and FNMA has 3% down payment mortgages for qualified creditors.

Closing costs for originating new mortgages can easily range from two to three percent of the purchase price but most lenders will allow the seller to pay part or all of them based on the agreement in the sales contract.

While the average tax refund might not cover the down payment on the median price home, it certainly helps. Your refund could make it as simple as 1-2-3 to get into a home.

  1. Get the hard, cold facts for the homes and mortgages in your area and price range.
  2. Get pre-approved with a trusted mortgage professional.
  3. Start looking at homes.

Call me at (510) 908-9021 or marilynschu to get started.

THE SECOND STORY | March 2nd, 2018

Not down, not up, just right-sizing.

Sunset in February…on a bike ride along Alameda’s shoreline.

follow me on my for-fun blog

I get a subscription to Inman News through one of the real estate organizations I belong to. All real estate, all the time. I thought this article was excellent.

Doesn’t matter if you are renting, buying, selling…it makes sense!

Alameda Real Estate This Week

New (last 7 days) 11

Total Active listings 38 including BOMs, AC

Total Pending listings 50

Total Sold (last 7 days) 10

Enjoy the rain – even when there’s a downpour like this afternoon!

NEW LISTING @ 1633 Clinton Ave. Open Sun 2-4, the following Sun 2-4, and Broker Tour 11-1 on Tues Mar 6! Just type the address into your browser…check out the virtual tour (drone shoot).

Have a great weekend. best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | February 27th, 2018

Fair Skies on Horizon

Buyers who have been concerned about what might happen to the tax laws affecting home ownership should feel more comfortable about moving forward with their decision to purchase. The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed by the President continues to treat real estate as a favored investment.31496145-250.jpg

Whether it is for a home to live in as your principal residence or to use as rental property, the tax laws are in place but other dynamics to be concerned with are not; mortgage rates are expected to rise as well as prices.

Reasons to buy now:

  1. The mortgage interest deduction is intact for most taxpayers.
  2. The capital gain exclusion for principal residences up to $500,000 remains in place.
  3. Taxpayers can elect annually to take newly increased standard deduction or itemize deductions whichever will benefit them the most.
  4. The house payment with taxes and insurance is most likely cheaper than the rent.
  5. Rents will continue to rise making the difference even greater in the future.
  6. Lock-in the principal & interest payment with a fixed-rate mortgage.
  7. 30-year mortgage terms are available to most borrowers.
  8. Prices will likely increase due to lower inventories and several years of low housing starts.
  9. Section 1031 exchanges, capital gains and depreciation remain the same for rental properties.

For a summary of specific real estate provisions in the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act, click here.

THE SECOND STORY | February 22nd, 2018

Quick decisions… real estate

I’m coveting my neighbor’s spinning wheels!

I’m so tempted to get one of these! I took a video of the wheels spinning in opposition..but WordPress doesn’t allow me to insert videos. Bummer….

Story of the Week….and over the years….

Bob and his wife, Patti, bought a house through me in 1999. Wonderful people! In 2005, they asked me to do a CMA (comparative market analysis) for them. That’s when they asked me to send them my Alameda weekly update. (No blogs back then).

They started doing some work on that property and then I sold that house for them in 2007. They headed back to Florida.

We’ve stayed in touch all these years: through my husband, Carl’s, sudden passing in 2002, and then when Patti passed on after a lengthy illness in 2014.

In 2016 he decided he’d moved back to Alameda. He wanted to rent an apartment in an older home…I referred him to some rental agents here in Alameda. And he rented a place less than a stone’s throw away from me. He had friends here and he wanted a change.

Last month he emailed me that he’d purchased a house in Texas (brings out that drawl in him). It’s on a river and comes with a dock in his backyard. WHOA! When did he do that?

“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, toured the property with Laura. He called within 10 minutes and said BUY, BUY. So, wrote an offer that afternoon. Quick. Now I can’t wait to really SEE the property.”

That’s true trust. He deserves the BEST! Knowing him…it will be perfect…and if it’s not quite right…he’ll make it perfect! Good luck, Bob! (And I told him I’d maybe write about his adventures. And I just did.)

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker tour Tues 11

New 16

Pending 1

Sold 7

W/C withdrawn/canceled 1

Total active on the market 36

Total pending on the market 48

If this is a first time that you’ve seen my blog…bookmark it! I hope I can give you some local (or not) real estate tips in A-town! Or tell some folks who want to know a bit more about the city we live in…and don’t forget to ask me about vendor referrals. I have vendors that know me and I trust.

Or you can let me know of disasters with vendors….we learn, and by sharing, we get smarter and wiser.

Have a great weekend! best, marilyn

Follow me on my ‘for-fun’ blog…Boomer Chick Musings – this week it’s about the Winter Olympics!

THE SECOND STORY | February 20th, 2018

Historical Perspective

In 1968, mortgage rates were 8.5%. The next year, rates went down to 7%. Homeowners could buy a 15-20% larger home for the same payments if they could find someone to assume their mortgage.Mortgage rate history2a.png

FHA and VA mortgages were very popular in certain price ranges and they allowed anyone to assume the mortgage regardless of the credit. If you could find a person to take over your note, you were free to qualify for another mortgage.

In October 1981, mortgage rates reached 18.63%. A $250,000 mortgage had a monthly principal and interest payment of $3,896.46. As astronomical as that rate sounds, people were still buying homes and were good investments.

Four years later, they were still over 12%. The monthly payment was $2,571.53. Believe it or not, people were excited to be paying only 2/3 what they had to pay a few years earlier.

Fast forward to late 1991 when the rates went below 9% and that same payment was to $2,015.16. At the turn of the 21st century, rates were 8.15% and that made the payment $1,860.62. Not much change in rates during that decade.

If we look around the housing bubble, late 2008, the rates were 6.04% and the payment was $1,505.31. By 2009, mortgage rates had fallen below 5%. The lowest mortgage rate was 3.31% on November 2012 with a payment of $1,096.27.

Rates fluctuated for the next few years until now, and most of the experts are expecting them to be above 5% by the end of 2018. Rates have increased each week for the last six weeks to 4.38% with payments of $1,240.12.

The average mortgage rate for the past 47 years is a little over 8%. The real estate and mortgage markets are cyclical. Rates have been historically low for a long period but will probably continue to rise. Most buyers don’t pay cash and mortgages enable them to purchase now. Based on history, even 8% would be an excellent rate. Until it reaches that point again, everything lower is a bargain.

THE SECOND STORY | February 15th, 2018

Alameda summer in the winter.


Shoe tree @ Alameda Point, next to the estuary, near the basketball courts and ferry.

Take a look at my ‘for fun’ blog…

Last week my friend, Meredith, and I rode our bikes west on Shoreline, then over the mini bridge at Ballena Bay to the tip of that small peninsula. Then we turned around and biked over to the ‘ready reserve’ fleet, where the aircraft carrier (the Hornet) is based. Called Alameda Point these days (aka Alameda Naval Air Station), we rode around Spirit Alley (I call it alcohol alley), over to the estuary, and then back around the horrible housing (which is scheduled to get rebuilt), if I understand the projected plans.

BUT…I looked up and found this shoe tree where there are basketball courts and pick up games. I’m not sure if these are the shoes that the losers lost or whether the winners lost. The ‘tree’ is a light post.

We got back well after dark, but it was a gorgeous end-of-day-into-night ride.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

I had the opportunity to get outta town for about 5 hours this week…when I visited a couple of homes for sale in San Leandro, after I stopped off at the San Leandro City Hall. I went to the City Hall because I could not find how to get the permit histories online. Turns out nobody can do that.

So, I needed to drive to the San Leandro City Hall (it’s very nice), parked my car (thank goodness it was free), then went in the side door, asked the attendant about how I could get the info online, only for this lovely young woman (who was the BEST multi-tasker EVER) to explain that they don’t have the info online.

I spent over 2 hours in front of the only computer (thank goodness there was no line when I got there, but there was a line when I left), trying to read/interpret/decipher permits for two properties. Then I had to pay $1.15 cash for each page of the 12 pages I printed. REALLY?

Now I really appreciate what A-town has done for its citizens regarding using the tools we now have at our home/office desks. Plus, I think those city employees would rather get their work done than mess with folks like me in person. Thank you, Building Official Greg McFann, and his team in the department.

Broker Tour Tues 8

New 13

Pending 2

Sold 3 

Total active 29

Total pending 43

That does it for this week’s blog. Contact me if you have ???’s!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | February 13th, 2018

The “Right” Agent and the “Right” Home

Some buyers think that finding the right home is the critical part of the buying process and that is how they determine which agent to use. While it is important, there may be a broader skill set to consider when selecting your real estate professional.what buyers want-2017.png

The most recent NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicate that 52% of buyers do want help in finding the right home to purchase. There was a time when the public did not have access to all the homes on the market, but the Internet has changed that.

Helping to negotiate the price and terms of sale were identified by almost 25% of the buyers. No one wants to pay more than is necessary and the terms of the sale can be as important as the price.

The next largest area of assistance that buyers value has to do with financing and the paperwork. Even if a buyer has been through the process before, it very likely could have been several years and things have probably changed.

Since the cost of housing is dependent on the price paid for the home and the financing, a real estate professional skilled in these specialized areas can be very valuable in finding the “right” home. An agent’s experience and connections to allied professionals and service providers is equally important.

Ask the agent representing you to specifically list the tools and talent they have available to address these areas.