THE SECOND STORY | June 13th, 2019

Warriors… a “new” history has been made.

Culture…is what they call it. A culture that’s created, not just by the boss, the coach, sometimes it starts with the workers and but spreads to the team, so all can embrace it.

When Kevin Durant went down in the last game on the hardwood, the crowd from the Raptors cheered. Nobody needs to see or hear that. We need to think a bit more of the others than of our selves…and almost every pro doesn’t want to see a pro injured.

Tonight was the final game of the season.  Final game @ Oracle. Unfortunately, the Raptors won. And a couple of the Warriors got hurt…during the game.

What does this have to do with real estate? A lot. Agents are jumping from company to company. Companies are eating up their prey. I even have to ask agents (with whom I’ve worked for years)….where have you planted your license? Good thing I did…one h had made another less than 2 weeks? YIKES!

A couple of these companies I met within the last week.

I am so tired of the “rah-rahs…we can do this for you, just join our happy crowd.”

I’m over it. I love where I’m at and what the companies provide for me and, hopefully, they receive some benefits from working with me as an independent contractor.

The reason I say ‘companies’….Fusion is one company (and I left Harbor Bay Realty after being with them for 25 years). However, after 5 years….Fusion decided that they wanted to expand their biz to other small businesses: marketing, advising, database updating, etc.

I still receive all of the benefits from Fusion: my wonderful weekly meeting with my advisor Amy, my annual marketing plan (they do it and I know it’s done), pulling together my database, a weekly video chat with our Founder, James Becker, boosting  FB posts and even this week, a new member of the team has been added.

Fusion morphed their agents with ReMax Gold. Not nearby…but the staff is excellent.

ReMax Gold, “Coffee with the Brokers” (this past week), the 3 Brokers went over the Analysis of a Lawsuit. I usually partake in is and it was awesomely terrific.

This is what a broker needs to provide to its agents.

Oh, but have good time partying out there.


Tues tour 12 

Total active 38, including 1 BOM, 4 PCH

Total pending 65

Total sold this week 8

Let me know of questions you may have about this crazy market.

best, marilyn



THE SECOND STORY | June 11th, 2019

Don’t Leave Home Without…

You’ve been planning this trip for some time and almost every detail has been considered…or has it? Have you thought about how to protect your home while you’re out of town? What’s going to make sure that everything you left is still there in you return?

Nothing could ruin a trip more than coming back to find out your home has been burglarized or worse. It makes sense to spend a little time before you leave on making sure your home is as safe and sound as it can be.

There are a host of devices to use across the Internet including camera door bells, video cameras, door locks, garage door openers, light and thermostat controls. You can monitor your home whenever you have an Internet connection. The question is whether you want the distraction from your trip.

Consider these low-tech suggestions along with your other normal efforts:

  • Tell your neighbors you’ll be out of town and to be aware of any unusual activity.
  • Notify your alarm company
  • Discontinue your postal delivery
  • Use timers on interior lights to make it appear you’re home as usual.
  • Don’t make it easy for burglars by leaving messages on voice mail or posting on social networks.
  • Post on social networks after you’ve returned about your vacation.
  • Remove the hidden spare keys and give it to a trusted neighbor or friend.
  • Lock everything, double-check and set the alarm.
  • Take pictures of your belongings in case you need them.
  • Disconnect TVs and other equipment in case of unexpected power surges.
  • Adjust your thermostat.
  • Arrange for lawn care.
  • Consider disconnecting the garage door opener.
  • Put irreplaceable valuables in a safety deposit box.

It’s nice to go out of town on a well-deserved trip and it’s always nice to get back home…especially when it is just the way you left it.

THE SECOND STORY | June 4th, 2019

Temporarily Renting a Home

IRS has provisions for homeowners regarding the sale of a principal residence that allows for temporarily renting the home without losing the ability to exclude the gain if the home is sold under the correct conditions.

The rules for the exclusion of gain on the sale of a principal residence are:

  • Up to $250,000 of gain may be excluded for single taxpayers and up to $500,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.
  • Ownership and Use must have been a principal residence for two of the five years preceding the date of sale (closing date). This allows for a temporary rental for up to three years maximum.
  • Either spouse may meet the ownership test.
  • Both spouses must meet the use test.
  • No exclusion has been used in the previous 24-month period.

Let’s pretend that a person had owned a home from more than two years. This person married and moved into their new spouse’s home two years, six months ago. That person decided to sell the home and would have approximately $200,000 of gain in the sale.

If the property is put on the market, sold and closed prior to the three-years that they moved out, the home would still be eligible for the section 121 exclusion on the sale of a principal residence. If the sales closes after that three-year period, the owner would owe tax on the gain. If the long-term capital gains rate for the owner was 15%, they would owe approximately $30,000 in taxes.

If you or a person you know is in a situation like this, they should certainly seek professional tax advice as well as discussing the marketing and value of the property with their real estate professional. This is something that I have experience with; call me at (510) 908-9021. The timing is very important and critical to a favorable outcome.

THE SECOND STORY | May 30th, 2019

Memorial Day…@ Veteran’s Park, Alameda.

      Veteran’s Memorial Park
            Saturday service.

I rode my bike to the service last Saturday, knowing that folks had taken their cars. It was a lovely service: bagpipes, solos, prayers, and the band. This type of service gets me out of myself, and realize that any issues I think I have, are nothing compared to the ultimate sacrifice those that have given their lives so we can have our freedom. Puts it in perspective, doesn’t it?

So this will be short and sweet.

Plus the Warriors lost tonight (boo hoo).

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour Tuesday 15

New 9

Total Active 45 including 2 PCH

Total Pending 55

Total Sold this week 10 

Actually, my listing at 1726, 1728, 1728 1/2 Central went pending tonight but I can’t make the mls accept the name of the agent who sold it. Will call the support team tomorrow!

Let me know if you have questions about the A-town market. Some personal insights may apply here.

Have a fun weekend!

best, marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | May 28th, 2019

Time to Buy Again

For people who have experienced a distressed sale of a home and gotten their finances and credit back in shape, there can still be an unanswered question of “How long do we have to wait to qualify for another mortgage.” The loan types for the new loan will differ in amounts of time based on the event.

The different lending authorities, VA, FHA, Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac (FHLMC), establish their own waiting periods. A borrower may be eligible to qualify for one type of mortgage before another type, even though during this waiting period, that the person was current on all payments and maintained a history of good credit.

The following chart indicates how long a person might have to wait.

waiting period for distressed sales.png

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.

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 | May 23rd, 2019

Keys to my…..

….listings! When the seller(s) move out….and they’re ready to hit the road…this is often what I get….a mashup of keys. This can be a bit overwhelming because in this instance it was a single woman…and it was quite a collection for a townhome. Of course, all buyers NEED to change out the locks ASAP once they own the property!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour Tues 11

New 17

Total Active 37 plus 2 PCH

Total Pending & 9 PSB

12 Sold

Take note! One of the 2 Price Changes PCH was downward by $455,000. The other was upward: $130,000.

Have a lovely Memorial weekend. Take just a few seconds, minutes, even just a walk thinking about why we have this holiday.

best, m

my for-fun blog

THE SECOND STORY | May 21st, 2019

Tech to Find the Right Home

According to the 2018 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, 52% of buyers want help to find the right home to purchase. Physically locating the home is certainly part of what buyers want from their agent but finding the right home at the right price and terms is also crucial.

87% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker. Slightly more than half of buyers were referred to their real estate professional by/or is a friend or relative or had used the agent previously to buy or sell a home.

There are tech tools that can be used together with the expertise and experience of your real estate professional to make the home buying process efficient and effective.

Listing Alert … while this service is called by other names, the buyer identifies the specifics about the home they want, and it will notify them directly when a new listing comes on the market that matches their needs.

Real estate smartphone apps … imagine driving a neighborhood, seeing a sign and immediately being able to know the price and specifics about the home; very convenient. There are a variety of different apps available such as Homesnap, and others, ask your agent for their recommendation before installing one.

Digital documents … companies like DocuSign have revolutionized real estate negotiations by doing everything digitally so that you’re not going back and forth between the parties signing and initialing changes. It is safe and secure and your agent will handle this end of it for you.

ColorSnap Visualizer … this Sherwin Williams app for iPad allows you to paint walls on a picture, match photos to find paint colors and other things before you commit to a color.

Google maps … plug in an address on Google Maps and you see street view of the home, satellite view, surrounding businesses, traffic speed and other things.

Sex Offender RegistryNSOPW, the National Sex Offender Public Website is a safety resource that provides the public with access to sex offender data nationwide.

Financial Calculators … fill in the blank applications that can illustrate the benefits of renting vs. owning, Equity Accelerator, Adjustable Rate Comparison, Cost of Waiting to Buy and many other homeowner situations.

Free Public Records DirectoryOnlineSearches provides access to public record sources like deeds and assessor and property tax records. While this service is free, some state and county agencies may charge fees for accessing public records.

Virtual open house … an alternative to physically viewing a home is to look at the multiple photos online. If the property is interesting, you can schedule a physical showing with your agent.

Check your credit … Order free credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion each once a year at

The final recommendation is your phone. When you have a question, contact your agent. Calling another agent may seem like an expedient way to get an answer, especially if you cannot get a hold of your agent but it could inadvertently, cause issues.

Your real estate professional can assist you with these and other tools to help you find the right home. If you have any questions, feel free to call us at <phone>.

THE SECOND STORY | May 16th, 2019

“As Is” does not mean….

…” in ignorance.”

This applies to both Buyers and Sellers.


Buyers are sometimes willing to overlook what they don’t read or what they don’t see because they’re so excited about getting a property.

Sellers are sometimes willing to overlook the obvious because they’re used to whatever it is (dangling electrical outlets, deep scratches on the hardwood floors, carpets/rugs covering up what they don’t want to see, water stains under sinks, on the ceilings, roofs that need patching or a new layer, or items that require permits but they don’t have them (it was a do-it-yourself job, or I didn’t know that, or whatever).

This is why we get inspections upfront these days by proven professionals (sometimes they may have a current General Contractors license). Many inspectors don’t have a GC (like most of them).

-These inspections allow the Sellers to be informed about what is happening currently in their property (before they put it on the market, even though they’re “used to it” and want to sell it ‘as is’).

-These inspections allow the Buyers to be informed about what is happening in places they won’t necessarily go…like the crawl space, like looking up the chimney, climbing on the roof (let the experts do this stuff).

I think I mentioned that I had both pest and property inspections done on this old beast of a house within the last year. And then things happened that I couldn’t easily see, much less anticipate, in the crawlspace (the cast iron sewer pipes – very, very old- were dripping), the sump pump (was pumping in what should have been pumped outside) and more.

And this is where I remind you, that you need to plan on spending 1% per year, of the current market value (not what you paid for it when you first bought it). It’s a job, not a hobby,  to get things fixed, repaired, replaced. Hire known professionals.

To that end…I’ve been keeping a list of my clients who have contacted me regarding vendor recommendations since October of 2018. And at the same time, before I let them know who to call…I’ll pick up the phone and call them myself, (after normal biz hours), and leave a message to see if they’re still in biz. And some of those vendors pick the phone up during the off-hours! Now that’s dedication! And the stories…are quite amazing that they share with me in those off-hours.

I know you’re thinking, ‘Marilyn, get a life.’ Yep, and I think the life I have is quite decent, even sometimes, I think it’s the best!

(BTW, I’ve given out over 40 vendor names to clients and to those who aren’t clients but are referred to me.)

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Broker Tour Tues 16

New 17

Total Active 33 including 1 PCH

Total Pending 50

Sold 7

The rain! Enough! The plants are now growing and flowers are blooming!

Enjoy your weekend!

best, marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | May 14th, 2019

Comfort Systems

Heating and air-conditioning are frequently referred to as the “comfort systems.” If one has gone out in the dead of winter or the heat of summer, lack of comfort becomes a primary concern. Regular maintenance with a HVAC checklist is something that homeowners can do themselves to ensure that the units operate properly.


  • Change your filter every 90 days; every 30 days if you have shedding pets.
  • Maintain at least two feet of clearance around outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps.
  • Don’t allow leaves, grass clippings, lint or other things to block circulation of coils.
  • Inspect insulation on refrigerant lines leading into house monthly and replace if missing or damaged.

Annually, in spring

  • Confirm that outdoor air conditioning units and heat pumps are on level pads.
  • Pour bleach in the air conditioner’s condensation drain to clear mold and algae which can cause a clog.
  • Avoid closing more than 20% of a home’s registers to keep from overworking the system.
  • Replace the battery in the home’s carbon monoxide detector.

While using this list will prevent some things that may impede the comfort system’s proper performance, it is recommended that you have your units serviced annually by a licensed contractor. Furnaces should also be inspected for carbon monoxide leaks. Preventative maintenance may help avoid costly repairs.