THE SECOND STORY | April 18th, 2019

Perfect weather in A-town today!

Fog off-sets the skyline of The City, today.

While I was hosting a broker tour this past Tuesday, a group of us (agents)    had some time to chat, and chat we did!

We had the opportunity to ask a lovely Redfin agent about the company’s business model.

Like most of us who are involved with real estate, there’s a bunch of flexibility. That’s why we like it: independent contractors, and ‘nobody being the boss of me’, (yet there is a chain of command, otherwise you’ll fail miserably or be sued).

And the stories can be amazing, hilarious, sad, or depressing. In this fast-paced world, it’s kind of unusual to take time to understand the other person’s point of view: no judgment, just listening. And then we keep on keeping on.

What I’ve come to learn over the decades is that people need to know you care…about them, their stories, their background, their money, their dreams, and their goals. And for the most part, if that doesn’t work for them, then I wish them good luck and best wishes in the future.

There’s plenty of room for everybody if you expand your fences OR just focus on what you know best. That’s pretty much how I run my biz.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

I did put a new listing on the market a week ago, and it will be open this Sunday, then offers, if any will be entertained this next Tuesday.  See the link to the right…a virtual tour, and you can see the ‘doll-house’ style, looking done on the floorplan. 1726 Lafayette St., Alameda!

New 14

Active (28 incl 1 active contingent)

Pending 48

Sold 13

WC (withdrawn, canceled) 1

That’s a wrap! Come on by Lafayette on Sunday…no, I won’t have bunnies playing in the front or back yard, and for sure I won’t give out candy to the kids! I’m sure they’ve had plenty!

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun blog’

THE SECOND STORY | April 11th, 2019

“Thank you for helping me to realize that online house hunting is..

….is about as useless as online dating:-)”

This just cracked me up, today. And it was sent by a marvelous woman, who is house hunting in Alameda.

Stacks of pink, in my backyard.

The photos do say a few things…like the difference between a professional photographer vs. an agent with a cellphone. Or if the agent doesn’t look to see if his photos are upside down/ or sideways (which recently happened).

The photos do give you an idea of how the property looks with staged furniture..and that will help bring folks in the house/condo/townhome.

Like an iceberg, there’s a lot more under the surface than you may realize.

What’s the neighborhood like? Is there a Neighborhood Watch? Where do folks shop? Where do they get good take-out? Where are the parks? Is there a skate park? How are the schools?

Get an agent who knows the ‘hood.’ You’re wasting your time if you don’t.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues tour 11

New listings this week 10

Pending this week 12 including 1 pending sale: want back up PSB

Sold this week 5

Total active 28 including 1 AC (active contingent)  and 1 PCH (price change)

Total Pending 28 

OK. That’s a wrap!

Enjoy your weekend!

If you have questions about this market…maybe we can figure it out together.

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 4th, 2019

“Hope is no longer a viable marketing alternative.”

I have the title of today’s post..taped to my computer screen and it’s been there for decades.

-You can hope who the buyer will be (depends on the market).

-You can hope the property will sell at or above the list price (depends on the market).

-You can hope the seller is/are nice people (in our case, the sellers were definitely not very nice).

-You can hope the price will come down…(depends on the market).

-You can hope it will sell in a timely manner (depends on the market).

And the market can change, literally overnight (like with natural disasters: earthquake, flooding, fires, loan interest rates).

So if you own a condo, townhouse, single family home, mansion, units…..

I would say that the location is primary (not the property). And as I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say, “You’re buying a location…that happens to come with a condo or a townhouse or house or mansion or rental units or whatever.”

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues tour 11

New 11

Active 30 (incl 2 Active Contingent)

Total Pending 48

Sold 13

I’ll be at 2837 San Jose this Sunday 2-4 having an open house. Come on by…rain or blue sky!

best, marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | March 28th, 2019

Shredding Party and Alameda Meals on Wheels

It was a beautiful day for the Shredding Party – absolutely gorgeous! People were able to dump and run, and others were hanging around making small talk: about their lives, vacations, trips, A-town, and other issues that involve most of us. The front steps were host to many of us…as others went inside and found fruit, donuts, and juice.

All of the donations amounted to $955 for Alameda Meals on Wheels.

Electrical box, southeast corner of Central   and Walnut, close to Alameda High School.


Rosemary, the lovely woman who has run the office for over 15 years, has lived in Alameda a lot longer than I have, knows who’s who (inside AMOW and all over the town). She told me that AMOW has no funding from the county or state, and runs a deficit of $17,000 per month were it not for the donations.

She also let me know that 2 volunteers, in separate instances, each found a person down (on the floor) while delivering the meals, and unable to get up. In each case, they may have died had AMOW not showed up. They immediately called for an ambulance.

Another attendee, a woman (who I didn’t know), saw my FaceBook post about the Shredding Party that morning, came over with her stuff, and proceeded to repost it to her friends once she shredded!

All good, all amazing. And both Rosemary and I shared stories about Alameda, including her friend who spent some time with her, and saying it was the most calming part of her trip was the 24 days in “Mayberry by the Bay.” Her friend’s words, not ours.


Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues tour 5

New 9

Total active, including 1 PCH  32

Total pending  51

Total sold this week 14

Do you have questions about the market? So do I! I do not profess to know it all…but I’m happy to share what I know, if you want to converse about it!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | March 21st, 2019

The A word…Alameda Shredding Party!


When I was in 4th grade our family moved three times: from Costa Mesa to Claremont (San Diego) to La Jolla (San Diego) and to Daly City (in the SF fog belt). Except for Costa Mesa, each of these homes were rentals.

My dad was in upper management for a concrete supplies company, and he was transferred to those locations.

When I was in 5th and 6th grade, my folks found a great lot, up on a hill, in San Rafael (where the sun mostly shines), and they decided to build a home there.

But when I was about to start junior high, my folks moved us back down to Newport Beach, because they felt we needed to be grounded (not as a punishment) but to call a place ‘home’ for several years. And it was a lovely home.

But, back to LaJolla. That’s where the 4 of us kids lived in one room…two bunk beds, and a crib in the middle. The two older kids got the top beds, kid  #3 got a bottom bunk, and the youngest slept in the crib.

At the same time, my dad’s mom came to live with us. So Grandma got her own room. And she loved sitting out on the deck in the evenings, while the cooler ocean air whipped around the hills.

Just last week something brought this to my mind: asbestos. After thinking for a while, I realized that back in the day (in LaJolla), while I was in bed and still awake, I was picking off the small bits of the pop-corn ceiling within arm’s reach. I mean, what else was there to do?

Popcorn ceilings are not necessarily a bad thing. I think they were supposed to provide some insulation between the roof and the finished ceiling inside the house, before anybody knew anything negative about it.

These days the environmental booklet that is required to be given out to buyers, is a treasure-trove of would-be-disasters. Every once in a while I scan through it.

I know that going through all of the state, county, and city disclosures is a pain in the butt…but I suggest you do just that. Because, no matter what, you will have to sign off on receiving that booklet of joy, whether you read it not.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

(One of my good friends emailed me after I posted last week’s blog, to let me know that the links weren’t working. Thank you, Alan. Once I knew that, I was able to fix whatever was wrong. Sorry!)

Tues Tour 9

Total Active listings this week 43, including on BOM (back on market)

Total pending listings this week 47

Total sold this week 10

That’s a wrap for now!

You’re invited to my 12th Annual Shredding Party 

this Saturday 9-12! Rain or Shine!


You have my contact info, if you don’t have my address, call me, and bring your stuff to shred, have some donuts, juice, and fruit!

Hang around for a while, or dump and run!

Best, marilyn



THE SECOND STORY | March 14th, 2019

History tells us…now what do we do with it?

Saturday, March 23! 9am – noon! Bring your stuff to shred, watch it get ground up into bits, have a couple Lee’s Donuts (just ordered them), some juice, some fruit, jaw around for a while, and off you go!

If you read this and haven’t gotten an invite,

let me know…

and you’re invited! Bring friends! It’s free to all!

And any and all donations will go to Alameda Meals on Wheels…and will be matched by me!


My masterful webmeister fixed what was wrong last week when I couldn’t post anything!

Thank you,  Stuart! See you and family at the Shred Party!

I’ve been to a couple of meetings this past 2 weeks with the Bay East Association of Realtors, with our Alameda Local Government Relations Committee, and with our local (Realtor) Alameda Inforum, where we often have a guest speaker.

The first meeting was with local elected officials from all over the East Bay. This was my second year attending this event. It was as fascinating as the first time…when the Mayors, Vice Mayors, Council members, and City Managers were able to look at the California Real Estate stats for 2018. And get a clue about what we are all facing..pricing, housing inventory, spending hours in the car or  public transit.

Yep..there’s a real housing shortage. Yep, the freeways are packed with cars going somewhere (usually to jobs) very slowly. Yep, we have school issues. Yep, we have budget deficits.

But this event is one way to let them know we can be partners to help remedy these items.

Many of the Realtors at this meeting, knew that the market made a shift, downward, in June, 2018. I had a listing that felt that severely.  It was listed for 780K, had a price drop to 769K, and while the open houses were busy…there were no offers. Finally, an offer came in for 720K, and my Seller countered it for 749K (I think) and the Buyers came up to 729K.

And that’s when I knew (and the stats now showed us) that June was a turning point: more days on market, more price reductions, less bidding up, and Buyers found some relief. And just this past Tuesday, at our Alameda Inforum Marketing Meeting, the stats showed us the same thing.

Here’s the deal…IMHO the price reductions start at the top of the market (those listed for the most $$$), and while those prices are coming down, those on the lower end of the market are still climbing.

We (Realtors) only work off history, and we don’t have a genie to guide us into the future. But looking behind us, we need to face the facts.

BTW, we had 1 offer on the listing I have at Bali Lane…and now it’s pending as of yesterday.

Alameda Real Estate this Week!

Alameda Tues Tour 11

Total active listings 46 including 1 BOM

Total pending listings 42

Total sold this week 12

Questions? I may not have the answers, but I may be able to find somebody who does!

best, marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | March 1st, 2019

Coffee talk? No, insurance talk.

I’m not an expert at anything. But for insurance, I’m at the mercy of the real experts.

Waiting at a house to meet clients on a cold but bright day…looking out to the lagoon.

Today I attended a talk at our Alameda Chapter of the Bay East Association of Realtors. I wanted to learn more, especially about what insurance is needed to cover the basics….the house, the apartments, and my Trust, (which the former owns the latter); title insurance, property insurance, death insurance, and on and on.

I was a bit shocked about the ‘trust’ part. Most, if not all of us, will place any property we own, into a trust. That way, when we are incapacitated, or dead, the trust governs what will happen to the property, AND it allows us to keep our stuff private (i.e., out of probate court).

We’ve had our trust for decades. But after listening to the presenters I suddenly realized, that when/if I refinanced the property it would be be taken out of the trust, and then I would be responsible to put it back into the trust, once the transaction was completed. Now I have the escrow company checking that out!

Regarding Alameda: parts of the island are now labeled as being in a flood zone as of late last year. There’s such a thing as a ‘certificate of exclusion’ that you will definitely want. Call your insurance agent about that. It will save you a ton of money.

Here’s what else I learned or was reminded of: tenants need to have their insurance carrier send a copy of their insurance to the owner of the property, with the specifics (the amount and what it will cover). And I’ve done that right.

And guess what? I’ve been threatened (no, told in writing) by my insurance carrier that they would to cancel any renewal if I didn’t get my electrical system updated. Well, guess who did what the carrier wanted! Yep, me.

Tues Tour 10

New 12

Pending 39

Sold 9

OK…Wordpress has changed radically to me, so after 3 hours of attempting to figure it out, I’m outta here for now! 

PS 3-1-19  My webmeister got back to me…and said so many people were pissed off about WordPress changes…he was able to revert back to how it was before the geniuses tried to perform their magic. YAY!

I’ll be at the open house Sunday 2-4 at 3141 Bali Lane (94502). Head down Island Drive, make a right turn onto Mecartney, make a u-turn at Verdemar, and park near to 3141 Bali (which is the alley behind the townhouse) but it should (IMHO) be Mecartney. Stop by and check it out…

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | February 21st, 2019

Knots vs Nots, and THE SHREDDING PARTY!

Unwind the knots. 

Work on the knots. 

Throw out the nots.


Each real estate transaction (Selling or Buying) has a unique personality.

But some do have knots that need to be unwound, sooner or later,

to be able to move forward.

Wish this was taught in real estate school, but it’s (k)not.

Real life is the best teacher. because life is not in a book.

New 8

Active 47, including 1 Active Contingent and 6 Price Changes

Pending 35

Sold 8

Referrals are the lifeblood of my business. Examples:

I put a new listing on the market today. 3141 Bali Lane. It will be open this Sunday 2-4pm. See the “new listings” to the right…check out the drone video, and the virtual tour.

Back in the day, I sold a 3 unit building that she had in Alameda, and she bought her townhome through me. 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, and that was about 14 years ago. 675K is the list price of that unit, today.

In the same development, Islandia, I have a 2/2 unit that will close next week, and I represented those Sellers. Their good friend let them know about me, and I was able to sell their home in San Leandro. Then they bought the unit here in Alameda about 15 years ago.

Tomorrow I’ll be closing on a listing at 2515 Central Ave. I sold this to my client about 6 years ago. My daughter was the connection, because they worked together for a while.

I cannot say how grateful I am to have these clients, who have become friends, or friends that have become clients.

BTW  My 12th annual Shredding Party is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 9-noon! The truck will accept everything you need to shred…and you can see it done on site. I’ll be sending out announcements to those on my mailing list. Let me know if you’d like to join us! And it’s FREE to you from ME. If you choose to make a donation to Alameda Meals on Wheels, they will be thrilled! And I’ll match whatever you give to AMOW! 

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | February 14th, 2019

I guess the drought is over….

It’s been raining a lot. This afternoon it was hailing. But when the clouds show up, after the rain, it can be pretty spectacular.

When I was driving home from Pleasanton about 10 days ago (no, I don’t do real estate out there, but I do attend meetings at the Bay East Association of Realtors…and I’m on a committee for the Alameda Chapter of Bay East…the LGR…Local Government Relations for A-town).  I was looking up and it reminded me of when I used to fly gliders and airplanes out of Fremont (at Sky Sailing Airport).

Clouds streets…that’s when the puffy clouds (cumulus) line up, along or on top of the hills, mountains (ridge lines), and glider flying becomes… SOARING!

You can make a few turns under a cloud and then straighten out, put the nose of the plane down (to gain speed) and get to the next cloud street, and do it again. And again. And again. Maybe you’ll have a destination, like Vacaville: you’ll take a photo of the airport there, (no cell phones in that era) and head back. Or you may run out of lift, and you might land in a field (not too many of those around the East Bay these days).

I was flying gliders out of Minden, Nv. and Carl, my husband, was crewing for me. And I landed on top of a small flat cliff in the middle of nowhere (the Carson Valley). We had radios, but nothing like today.

And I actually saw him drive by me about 2 miles away, on the road, below me. I started to figure out how I could camp out in the glider. I would be a long, cold night…but doable. Most pilots have a backup plan when they’re flying anything with wings. And I did have a plan (which included food, water, and warm clothes). But maybe he’d have a towplane get in the air and find me on the plateau before darkness arrived. But somehow he found me…and we de-rigged the glider and headed back to Minden.

What’s this got to do with real estate? Maybe more than you might think. What if…this happens…what if an earthquake hits when you’re selling or buying? What if? What if?

Often folks need to quiet their thoughts…but they can’t ignore them.

A good real estate agent can calm them down…or even say…”it’s okay to walk away” (when a deposit is not at risk). Every transaction, every showing is different. And that’s why great agents could be like pilots…overcoming obstacles…to get just the right property for their clients.

OMG…a woman doing a survey for the FAA just called me. She wanted to know what I thought about the FSS (flight service station) at OAKLAND airport. I told her I hadn’t flown in years…so I wouldn’t be the best person to answer her questions! What a coincidence!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

I have a pending sale on my listing @ 1151 Admiralty Lane, that happened 2 nights ago. We had 3 offers.

Broker Tour Tues  10

New 16

Pending 11 including 3 PBO (want backups), 1 PSLA (needs lender approval – short sale/foreclosure)

BOM (back on market) 1

PCH (price change) 1

Sold 9

Total Active 38

That’s a wrap…carry on! Let me know if you have ???s about the market. I’ll try to answer them..

best, marilyn

Shredding Party is Saturday, March 23 9-noon!

It’s free to all and if you’re so inclined, donations to Alameda Meals on Wheels will be accepted and I’ll match what you give to AMOW!

2 postcards will be going out via snail mail!

THE SECOND STORY | February 7th, 2019

An email to my client…..

In my humble opinion, I think that the pricing (list/sale) issue is generational.

For those who have just come into the market, have kids in school (or no kids at all but may be planning on having a family), Alameda seems very tame and homey. Most newbies aren’t involved in local politics (they’ll find out about that later). Alameda is flat, easy to get around, close to parks and beaches, close to shopping. That why lots of us like it!

This is a photo of the clouds along Shoreline, last year. But I was driving to Pleasanton for a meeting this week, and the hills were full of snow!

However, these folks are bringing a lot of $$$ into this market, whether the prices are shifting or not. As far as detached homes go, what we paid 350K for 20-30 years ago, is now 1M+.  The old 400K is now the new 900K+.

Obviously, this is not a rule, but a shift in how we live.

The newer generations don’t know how to wait in line. They demand instant help via any of the devices we carry around with us including how to buy real estate or carve a turkey.

They share meals at restaurants with long tables full of strangers, with whom they become ‘friends’. They have their groceries delivered to their houses, as well as their meals. They use ride-share vehicles and some don’t even own a car.

The A model townhome (that I have listed and you saw) may not seem the best for baby-boomers BUT it’s a single level, attached on only one side.  But the A model floor plan could be a solution to Gen X&Y and the Millennials.

Several Baby-Boomers have looked at the A model I have listed, but the number of younger generation lookers have out-numbered them. There are parks just outside the door, garages are used for storage (not multiple cars), bus transport is accessible. The last A model I sold, about a year ago, was purchased by the younger generation, and I think we had 7 offers on it.

Any potential buyer, anywhere, is buying a location, that just happens to have a house/home/condo/townhome/ sitting on it.

As you well know, many of the original townhomes on Bay Farm Island were built in the 60’s & early 70’s. Those are mostly row-homes, straight in a line, with garages in the rear, on an alley. The Community of Harbor Bay Isle has several individual smaller townhome communities that have a meandering physical layout, with lots of trees and lagoons, built in the 80’s with garages in the rear, not straight out in front.


Yes, we do have inventory…and it’s increasing. And some of the prices are coming down, either by price reductions (read motivation), or if it’s been on the market 30-60 days with no offers.

Welcome to my world!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 11

Pending 5

Sold 7

Total Active 23, including 3 Price Changes, and 1 Active Contingent

Total Pending 31, of which 5 want Backup offers to the pending offer

The Super Bowl survived without me (it’s just too dangerous to spend my time watching it), and Valentine’s Day is almost here, then Presidents Day…and I hear there’s some chatter to make our National Election Day a holiday. Carry on!

PS I did have a former client call me this week, wanting to know if I knew any agent in Huntington Beach.  He was calling on behalf of a friend in Connecticut who has a home to sell in S. CA. I did find a great person (through my Certified Residential Specialist organization) who has interviewed for that job. If you, or a friend, have a need for an agent somewhere in the US, let me know and I might be able to make a connection. It sure beats finding anybody without any credentials! Keep me in mind for those referrals!

best, marilyn