THE SECOND STORY | October 4th, 2018

CTA (cover their ‘ass–‘)

Mortgage brokers and traditional banks are in the biz of making $$$. And no wonder the complaints above exist. These days most everybody wants everything quicker and with less paperwork, BUT they also want folks to explain what they are signing. That’s when an excellent escrow officer has a place in this lineup. But good escrow officers have a stack of docs for every client(s).

The above complaints have been around since I’ve been in the biz. In that period we’ve seen ups, downs, huge interest rates (coming through 18% when I first started the biz) and market crashes.

When interest rates were too high….we structured the contract that might have had some of the following: 2nd loans carried by the sellers, wrap-around loans, short-term financing carried by the sellers.

One time I had a contract that wanted the seller to replace the brick foundation…and he did! Took a couple of months but we got the place sold, otherwise he wouldn’t have sold it because lenders weren’t lending on brick foundations.

Now that rates are inching up…we hear complaints from those who are new to the market. It’s life…I usually tell them what real high rates mean (give them those examples). Agents and lenders work within whatever parameters we can to legally make the transaction flow: jump over the bumps in the road, and ‘close the deal.’

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Tues Broker Tour  14

New 12

Pending 3

Sold 10

Price change 5

BOM (back on market) 3

Total Active 58 incl 2 AC

Total Pending 17

That’s a wrap! Have a nice autumn-y weekend! Let me know if you have questions about the market. You can see by the stats above…DOM is getting longer, BOMs are happening, and the sales have really slowed down.

And based on my conversations with SF agents, local agents, and agents up and down CA….this is slow down is the real deal. I’ll say it once again. If the Seller sets the price too high, Buyer’s will laugh and walk away. The Buyers actually set the price. Get it?

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | October 2nd, 2018

Mortgage Free

It may be an all too common belief that a person will have a house payment and a car payment for the rest of their lives. However, with a plan and some determination, you can be mortgage free.

Planning for retirement is obviously important and many times, an activity plagued by procrastination. Some homeowners’ goal is to have their home paid for by retirement, so they won’t have payments. It makes sense to eliminate a sizable recurring expense before they quit working.

By making regular principal contributions in addition to the payments, the debt can be eliminated by the target retirement date.

Assume a homeowner refinanced their $300,000 mortgage at 4% last year for 30 years with the first payment due on May 1, 2017. With normal amortization, the home will be paid for at the end of the term.

Additional principal contributions with each payment will save interest, build equity and of course, accelerate the payoff on the home. An extra $250.00 a month would pay off the mortgage 7.5 years sooner. $786.81 extra with each payment would pay off the loan in 15 years.

Having a home paid for at retirement has the apparent benefit of no house payment. A debt-free home is also a substantial asset that could be borrowed against or sold if unanticipated events should occur.

To make some projections to pay off your own mortgage, use this use the Equity Accelerator calculator.

THE SECOND STORY | September 27th, 2018

Ride the wave or wait for another set…

I took this photo

12-9-2009 while watching the surfers at Jaws, Maui.


Below is a (slightly modified) excerpt that I wrote to a client, who recently sold her house.

“I think the market may be going the way you want it to go. You were able to ride the wave and kick out of it nearly at the top. You may be able to paddle into a wave that won’t be so big, with lower prices rolling in. With some foresight and with the hindsight you have, it should work perfectly for all of you.”  

This is my way of comparing real estate to surfing.


Tonight I had the privilege of joining a local mortgage broker, and one of the best-ever escrow officers, for dinner! It was a thoughtful, positive, hysterical (at times) conversation.

As we were comparing notes about our businesses, we all came to the same conclusion…no thing is ever simple in real estate..always twisting and turning… and some shouting. And when it is simple….be grateful.

We need to be ready to expect the unexpected, and be able to tap into our resources for solutions…or consider anything that may be a solution. I guess that’s why I like it so much….

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Lots of new listings (the rush before the holidays), plus longer  days on the market, and more withdrawals and cancelations of the listings.

New 18

Pending 10

Sold 6

Total Active 64 (including 4 A/C, 1 BOM, 5 PCH)

Total Pending 55

Contact me if you have real estate market questions….or even if you have some comments about where the market is heading!

Best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 25th, 2018

How to Clean Gutters

The gutters and downspouts on your home are intended to channel rainwater away from your home and its foundation. When they’re blocked and not functioning properly they can lead to the gutters coming loose, wood rot and mildew, staining of painted surfaces, and even worse, foundation issues or water penetration into the interior of the home.

Most experts recommend cleaning the gutters at least once a year. More often might be necessary depending on the proximity of leaves and other debris that could collect.

If this is a task that you feel comfortable about tackling yourself, there are few things to consider. If the debris is dry, it will be easier to clean the gutters. Safety is important, and precautions should be taken such as using a sturdy ladder and possibly, having someone hold it while you’re on the ladder.

Other useful tools will be a five-gallon plastic bucket to hook on the ladder to hold the debris; work gloves to protect your hands from sharp edges of the gutters; a trowel or scoop and a garden hose with a nozzle.

· Start by placing the ladder near a downspout for the section of gutter to be cleaned.

· Remove large debris and put it into the empty bucket. Work away from the downspout toward the other end.

· When you’re at the end of the gutter, using the water hose and nozzle, spray out the gutter so it will drain to the downspout.

· If the water doesn’t drain easily, the downspout could be blocked. Accessing the spout from the bottom with either the hose with nozzle or a plumber’s snake, try to dislodge the blockage.

· Reattach or tighten any pieces that were removed or loosened while working on the downspout.

· Flush the gutters a final time, working from the opposite end, as before, toward the downspout.

There are specialized tools at the home improvement stores like Lowes and Home Depot that can make this job easier. Check out their websites and search for “gutter cleaning”.

THE SECOND STORY | September 20th, 2018

Shopping A-town

I’m pretty predictable and not too fancy. I love the shopping bags that I’m able to stuff inside my numerous backpacks (which is what I do  splurge on). But I only wear 1 purse/backpack at a time.

Here’s an example of the giveaways from the various business districts within our town. (No, TJ’s is not giving anything away and you can see where I shop – whether on my bike or in my car.)

You know when summer is over and when fall is right around the corner…because the Alameda real estate market has been getting new listings all over this island (relatively speaking).

Buyers want to move into a new (to them) property before the holidays set in. And the Sellers are thinking…get me outta here!

Once again…motivation is the rule for both buyers and sellers. And seller’s (5 of them) have contingent sales on their property.

That means the Buyer(s) won’t close until their own property  closes first, and then they’ve got the cash, loan, and whatever to move forward on their new (to them) purchase. If either party is too stuck on their list/buy price…that property won’t sell. And it’s off to the races for the sellers and back to the grind for the buyers.

Alameda Real Estate this Week!

New 18

Pending 2

Sold 10

Total Active 56 including 5 Active Contingent and 1 BOM

Total pending 53 including 1 court confirmation, and 1 subject to lender approval

OK! That’s a wrap!

Enjoy the weekend….days are getting shorter!

Please contact me if you have questions (or if you have the answers) about the A-town marketplace!

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun” blog… 

THE SECOND STORY | September 18th, 2018

Consumer Protection from Irresponsible Mortgage Practices

Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 in response to the mortgage crisis that led to America’s Great Recession. The two parts that apply closely to homebuyers are the Ability-to-Repay (ATR) and Qualified Mortgages (QM).

A Qualified Mortgage is a category of loans that have certain, more stable features that help make it more likely that borrowers will be able to afford their loan. These loans do not allow certain risky features like an interest-only period when no money is applied to reduce the principal; negative amortization that would allow the mortgage balance to increase; and, “balloon payments” at the end of the loan that are larger than the normal periodic payments.

A debt-to-income ratio of less than or equal to 43% has been established to provide a limit on how much of a borrower’s income can go toward total debt including the mortgage and all other monthly debt payments. However, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau believes these loans should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and in some cases, can exceed 43%.

There is a limit for up-front points and fees the lender can charge.

By showing that the lender made an effort to be certain that the borrower has the ability to repay the loan, the lender in turn, receives certain legal protections. Underwriting factors considered by the lender include:

  1. current or reasonably expected income or assets
  2. current employment status
  3. the monthly payment on the covered transaction
  4. the monthly payment on any simultaneous loan
  5. the monthly payment for mortgage-related obligations
  6. current debt obligations, alimony, and child support
  7. the monthly debt-to-income ratio or residual income
  8. credit history

For more information, see the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fact sheet … protecting consumers from irresponsible mortgage lending.

THE SECOND STORY | September 13th, 2018

Flood maps? In A-town? yep…..

Check out my ‘for fun’ blog…

Alameda Flood Maps…. If you are thinking about buying, or actually own property(ies) in Alameda, this subject will affect you.

Alameda Realtors have a monthly marketing meeting. The guests at the meeting, last Tuesday, were 2 knowledgeable city engineers, trying to explain the issue in less than 1 hour: the why’s, the wherefore’s, the what-to-do’s about living in a flood plain.

Some of 94501 and 94502 are affected…not all. How will it affect those who want to dig down to expand a property’s living space? What are the rules that dictate owners need to purchase Federal Flood Insurance?

I’ve recently started including some portions of the Alameda City website, for local disclosures that the Realtors don’t have at this time:

-the flood insurance issue (this will be addressed with our Natural Hazards Disclosures (issued by various companies).

-the Federal Building (next to Crab Cove), which the Feds will be giving to the city and what it will be morphed into.

-what the School Board is doing regarding the high schools (merge or not to merge)

-what is going on with Historic Alameda High; about Paden School – those workers were working overtime on the weekends this summer….etc, etc. What about Lum School?

Lots of questions, and you could probably think of lots more. ugh.

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 11

Pending 10

BOM 1 (back on market)

PCH 3 (price change)

Sold 6

Total active listings 49

Total pending sales 50

OK! Have a fun weekend! Contact me if you have questions about this shifting market. My answers may be vague, but I will do whatever is necessary to find out an answer from a party, source, person, company that I trust.

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 11th, 2018

Quick Plumbing Inspection

No one wants to waste water or money. For that reason, take a few minutes every other month to do the following inspections:

  1. Check to see if cutoff valves on sinks and toilets are working properly.

    Many times, builders will put individual cutoffs on supply lines to sinks and toilets. It is reasonable to expect them to work but after some time, they can corrode which prevents opening and closing. It is a good idea to test them occasionally before you need them in an emergency.

  2. Fill each sink with a few inches of water to see if they drain in what you feel is a normal time.

    A slow-draining sink can be an indication of a clog that builds up around the insides of the pipe. Common causes are food, grease, hair and soap scum. Plunging can take care of some slow-running sinks. After partially filling the sink with water, seal the plunger over the drain and pump it up and down a few times.

  3. Inspect each toilet to see if they are leaking water from the tank into the bowl.

    Toilets that continue to run after being flushed can use a large amount of water in a month’s time. Generally, the problem comes from a flapper that doesn’t seat properly. Sometimes, the chain is keeping it from closing properly or the flapper itself may need to be replaced.

    Another issue could be that the flush valve needs to be replaced. These can be purchased at Lowe’s or Home Depot for about $20.00 and are relatively easy to change out. There are lots of instructional videos on the internet and it can save money if you give it a try.

If you need a recommendation for a good plumber to take care of something you discover, please feel free to call me at .

THE SECOND STORY | September 6th, 2018

A-town….how do we get on and off this island…..

…if there’s a natural (earthquake, flood) or a man-made disaster?

IMHO…(and my opinions are very simplistic):

-there won’t be another tube (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

-there won’t be another bridge (too expensive to build and not sure Oakland would want us interfering on their land).

Oh yeah, how about some water taxis? All day and all night long. Yeah, those are a lot more doable.

Why aren’t our elected official talking about stuff that matters to almost everybody, instead of some of those elected officials working their way up the food chain?






On a lighter note…I went to lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and took these photos on Park St, and this is happening all over town!

I love this!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

New 15

Pending 15

this week

Sold 5

Withdrawn/canceled 2

Total Active

(the above includes 2 Active Contingent, 1 Back on Market, 3 Price Changes)

Total Pending 56

Hope you had a non-labor day, and I hope you’ll reach out to me if you have questions about this shifting market!

best, marilyn

Check out  (my for-fun blog).


THE SECOND STORY | September 4th, 2018

Act Decisively

Whether it is hesitation or procrastination due to uncertainty, it can cost buyers by having to pay more for both the house and the financing. This is one of those markets where most of the experts expect interest rates and prices will continue to rise through 2019.

The National Association of REALTORS® reports there is currently a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale which is close to the same as last year’s inventory. Normal inventory is considered to be a 6-month supply.

If during the period you’re waiting to buy, the price of the home goes up by 5% and the mortgage rate increases by 1%, the payment on a $275,000 home with a 95% mortgage could be $233.80 more each and every month. Over a seven-year period, the delay to purchase would total close to $20,000.

To act decisively, you need good information; a confused mind will not generally make a decision. In today’s market, you need to know exactly what price home you can qualify for and you need to know what kind of home you can expect for that price.

You’ll want a housing and a mortgage professional you can trust to give you the information you need to make good decisions for yourself and your family. We’d like to be your real estate professional and can recommend a trusted mortgage professional.

To get a better idea about what it may cost you for a home in your price range, use the Cost of Waiting to Buy calculator. If you have any questions, call me at (510) 908-9021.