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!

THE SECOND STORY | March 20th, 2018

Standard or Itemized

Taxpayers can decide each year whether to take the standard deduction or their itemized deductions when filing their personal income tax returns. Roughly, 75% of households with more than $75,000 income and most homeowners itemize their deductions.Standard or Itemized-250.png

Beginning in 2018, the standard deduction, available to all taxpayers, regardless of whether they own a home, is $24,000 for married filing jointly and $12,000 for single taxpayers.

Let’s look at an example of a couple purchasing a $300,000 home with 3.5% down at 5% interest. The first year’s interest would be $14,630 and property taxes are estimated at 1.5% of sales price would be $4,500.

The interest and property taxes would provide a combined total of $19,130 which is less than the $24,000 standard deduction. Unless this hypothetical couple has other itemized deductions like charitable contributions that would make the total exceed $24,000, they would benefit more from taking the standard deduction.

If the mortgage rate were at 8%, the combined total of taxes and interest would be almost $28,000 which would make itemizing the deductions more beneficial.

Tax professionals will compare available alternatives to find the one that will benefit the taxpayer most. For more information, see and consult a tax advisor.

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.