THE SECOND STORY | October 16th, 2008

Home sweet home…

A variety of events have culminated in family being the focus of much of my attention this past week. For the past four years I’ve made a trek to Newport Beach during autumn. I make a home at the Marriott Newport Coast Villas , a quick walk to Crystal Cove State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway, between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach. The blog header photo was an extraordinary sunset painted before my eyes Wednesday evening at Crystal Cove.

Being there gives me a chance to see my dad and his wife over the course of a few days and meals. I remember the ‘good old days’ of middle school (not so good) and high school (very good), and fondly recall how Carl and I met at Balboa Yacht Club.

As the photo shows, I still have my megaphone from senior year cheer leading, topping a shelf in my home office. A friend hand-painted them for us back then and while I hardly notice it, it fills the space nicely and adds some color. Maybe I should just give it up….
Each visit I enjoy at least one bike ride from the Balboa Pier to the Huntington Beach Pier and back, midst locals rather than loads of tourists. And I definitely make time to do work! Thank goodness for the Internet!

Evan and Erin typically make a visit from San Diego for part of a weekend. And this year Sutter joined me from New Zealand! As of yesterday, Sean is now in Alameda too!

And why are we all together? E&E are getting married Friday afternoon in a smallish ceremony. After 8 years of being together starting in college, Evan popped the question last December, and here we are. So we broke bread with both families tonight.

What about the ‘home sweet home’? Alameda is home. Newport is a nice place to visit. Even Sean got a sense of Alameda as ‘home’ when he and Sutter went to one of their favorite eateries on Wednesday, Ramirez Taqueria on Alameda Ave. It’s been over a year since Sean was there. When they walked in one of the amazing workers asked if Sean wanted his regular and then told him what it was. Even though NZ is home to S&S now, they clearly have a second home here.

Real Estate this week in Alameda…

Active listings 195, 188 last report

Pending listings 69, 70 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings 3 large apartment buildings, listed with the same company, leads me to believe common owners (different LLCs) are making big moves either out of the market or into other less management intense investments. Interesting.

Lowest price new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday tour 12 w/ 2 repeats Click Here to View Listings

New 16 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes 14 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 7 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 5 Click Here to View Listings

BOM (Back on Market) 1 Click Here to View Listings

Expired 4 Click Here to View Listings

Withdrawn / cancelled Click Here to View Listings

Listing awards this week….none, since I was out of town when the tour took place.

So have a good weekend! I’ll be checking voice mail in between the wedding celebration events of Friday and Saturday. Patience, please!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | October 9th, 2008

Gettin’ it done…

The weekly update will be sans a story this week…due to time constraints! Making a run to SFO late, and the MLS is down starting at 10pm. Now that’s not my style….too early!

Real estate this week in Alameda….

My listing at 1233 Regent will be open this weekend with my associates, both Saturday and Sunday 2-4pm. Check out the website.

My listing at 640 Waterview Isle closed yesterday. 699K was the list. 765K was the sale price. No concessions. Multiple offers.

Two new-on-the-market properties have gone pending this week. 1724 Alameda Ave . Click Here to View Listings and 1614 Versailles Click Here to View Listings . Shows there are folks with serious down payments and these both are in the 800K range. Will be interesting to watch.

Active listings 188, 186 last report

Pending listings 70, 71 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday tour 13 with 2 repeats Click Here to View Listings

New 17 Click Here to View Listings

Price change Click Here to View Listings

Pending Click Here to View Listings

Sold Click Here to View Listings

BOM (back on market) 1 Click Here to View Listings

Expired 5 Click Here to View Listings

Withdrawn/cancelled 3 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week…remember this is only my perspective. Once again, not enough worthy properties for all the listings I typically give weekly.

Cute/Charming Click Here to View Listings

Bang for the Buck Click Here to View Listings you’ll see a couple of entries here showing some history. This is now a bank repo and finally priced to sell.

Have a good weekend!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | October 2nd, 2008

Gnarly, Greedy, and Oops- just kidding about that loan…

Often my Saturday mornings consist of listening to the lighter side of National Public Radio as I go about chores, padding around the house. Last May I was spell-bound and amazed as I listened to an episode from This American Life . In it, someone was speaking freely about his involvement as a borrower. He wouldn’t make a loan to a guy like him if he were the lender. And the guy who tells of leaving bartending to making at least 70K PER MONTH after some customer who came into the bar offered him a job amassing mortgages. He now has nothing. This is the penultimate story of OPM. Other People’s Money. And how so many got so much for so little in such a short time, and how it all backfired.

So if you are interested in a real story with real people and real events (the Wall Street guy, a borrower, the loans, the hunger for mortgages, the degradation of standards i.e. deregulation, all bundled together with their particular stories), I’d like to encourage you to listen to, or download onto your portable device The Giant Pool of Money.

It certainly confirmed everything I’d read in my commercial real estate trade newsfeeds, magazines, and investment articles (the few I could comprehend). I remember reading and re-reading about CDO’s – Collateralized Debt Obligations and trying to understand what they were, over a year ago. Of course, what they were was BOGUS! No substance behind them. For me, hearing this program helped me tie all the loose ends together. And as ‘the mess’ has continued to get messier in past couple of weeks it is clear there is plenty of blame to go around for it all.

Real estate this week in Alameda…

I’ve put a new listing on the market 1233 Regent Street (between San Jose and Encinal). Check out the property website. Loads of photos, a virtual tour, and then when you are on the virtual tour home page you can click on the upper left and connect to the video tour. I’ll be there Saturday and Sunday 2-4. Come by and say HI!

Read on for three first-hand financing stories I’ve been involved with this week.

1) Hey, what happened to the loan program we were using? It’s on the cutting room floor. The buyers who were using a state of California loan program in conjunction with another government insured program to purchase a condo I have listed found out a week ago that the California program got cut by the Governator when he approved the budget. So the very good agent, with whom I have worked since we both started the biz over 22 years ago at the same office, is all over it. Based on some facts that came to my attention quite by accident, but that were unknown to the Buyers’ agent, it became obvious her clients needed to dump their ‘friend’ who was ‘doing’ the loan. So they did. And while the issues are not fully resolved at this time, they have a true expert working to get them this specialized financing. If she can’t do this gig, nobody can.

2) Hey, where’d the lender go? Oh, they closed their processing office and sent all the biz to a southern California office. Well, the Buyer is mightily qualified and well-represented, but somehow the loan papers just never showed up – for nearly a WEEK! Only today did the mortgage broker find out that the file has been in a huge pile no longer close by, dumped on people who didn’t expect to see their work load increase. So we missed the closing date and nobody had any reason why. My client, the Seller, is buying an upleg investment property out of the area, moving plans have been rescheduled and utilities turned back on since the move date is the only thing moving at the moment. The agent representing my Seller on the Buy-side has been scrambling with the agent representing the Seller on the other end. Yep, it’s a stack of pancakes and we’re on the bottom, driving everything else. Easy to get mad, better to make nice. Need to stay focused that everybody is working to the same end.

3) What do ya mean you want more money? A contact I’ve come to know through a separate transaction told me today that his previously approved loan for the purchase of an investment duplex out of the area has a few more demands from the lender. What was originally 20% down now must be 30%. What was a 0 points loan is now 2 points. And that’s that.

What do all these transactions have in common? The financing. A Buyer needs to be plenty secure that the financing won’t be changed unilaterally by the lender when it is least expected, i.e. at the last moment, at the end of the transaction, even when the loan was previously approved in writing.

Sellers may see contracts with the Buyer’s financing contingency staying in place through the actual funding of the loan (like 2 days before the closing). It’s about the only way the deposit won’t be at risk if the lender gets gnarley and greedy.

Been there, done that. It helps to have been through several of these market situations over the years. Pity the ones who are trying to figure out to solve problems rather than just write up orders. I LOVE IT! This market gets the riff-raff out and lets the rest of us take care of business.

Active listings 186, 192 last report

Pending listings 71,75 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday Tour 8 with 2 repeats Click Here to View Listings

New 13 Click Here to View Listings

Price change 10 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 12 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 12 Click Here to View Listings Don’t be fooled, 1621 High Street was on the market a long time and started at 899K – sold for 799K

BOM (back on market) 2 Click Here to View Listings

Expired 9 Click Here to View Listings some may show up as new listings.

Withdrawn/cancelled 5 Click Here to View Listings some may show up as new listings.

Listing Awards this week…remember this is only my perspective. Too many awards, not enough recipients again.

Winner, Cute/Charming, Bang for the Buck (my new listing!) 1233 Regent

Get Me to Rehab Click Here to View Listings great location, tough floor plan

Have a great weekend. For all our sakes, I hope it rains but may it not interfer with your plans!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 25th, 2008

Where do I start?

Between the local issues we face and the federal financial mess we are in….I’m not sure where to begin.

I think I’ll work my way up the food chain.

Alameda:
Here’s a link to NO on P campaign. You may see signs around town. Measure P is proposing a huge increase in transfer taxes. Those are the fees paid by buyer and seller when property transfers title from one party to the other. They originated once Proposition 13 kicked in. The website is very good, including offering alternatives that would spread to almost all citizens, rather than a very few, the burden of generating income to offset the huge deficits the city is facing.

Transfer taxes originated after Proposition 13 kicked in. Proposition 13 was the voter-approved initiative that reigned in uncontrolled county spending throughout the state. Can you imagine not knowing how much your annual property tax bill would be? That’s how it was….if the county spent more than its income then property taxes could be raised in two ways. Either the value of the property was increased OR the value remained the same but the tax rate was increased. Many of you may remember that scenario personally, or like me, remember your parents going crazy when tax bills showed up.

City contract negotiations. The fire department is negotiating with the city for a new contract. We all want excellent fire and police services. We also want a strong parks and recreation department which adds substantially to our quality of life here. For over the past 20 years our elected city officials have continued to approve contracts with city employee unions that have now put us in the hole for millions of dollars for pension and benefit plans that we cannot pay without some more funding! Unfortunately Alameda and many other cities and counties are on the same path as Vallejo. The grim reaper is calling at our back door. I’ve had very challenging conversations with wonderful people who are members of unions. But it’s time those members force their leadership to come up with new solutions before the employees find themselves unemployed by an bankrupt city. Now that would be a lose-lose situation. Perhaps increasing salaries and elminating long-term benefits would be a start. Let union members figure out their destinies the way the many of us mere mortals have to.

Local city election. Instead of worrying about offending various portions of the citizenry, when are we going to get a candidate who will simply tell the voters the truth about what is going on? OR how about some type of Q&A that each candidate answers in writing? We’ve sometimes seen that in the papers….there are so many issues out there that should not be dodged. I am aware that the current city council met with city management in the last year to prioritize the issues that they are facing. I’d like to know what’s on that list. Has anybody outside City Hall seen it? If so, who? If not, why?

-Soft-story building retrofit ordinance. On September 10, Alameda Planning and Building Department officials slid copies of a proposed property safety ordinance onto the conference table around which the Customer Service Improvement (CSI) Committee members were sitting for their monthly meeting. It was an overview of a new ordinance that was going to be presented as complete to the City Council on October 7. I was astounded! This was news to the common folk at the table. I’m all about safety. But I’m also about transparency, communication, and citizen input so the government can get it right the first time for the benefit of the community.

To get an idea of the type of building affected check this out. This ordinance deals with 5+ residential unit buildings, including mixed-used that would have least 5 residential units.

After suggesting that the Alameda Building Official write his next article about this subject, we asked what stakeholders had been notified. We didn’t get a direct answer. I called the Executive Director of The Rental Housing Association of Alameda County, who had NOT been notified of this ordinace. The following Tuesday a two page generic city letter was sent out to, well, we aren’t sure, but I got one. Realtor members of the CSI starting calling and talking to the Alameda Association of Realtors leadership. After attending a number of committee meetings, last Monday afternoon four members of the AAR (two of whom are on the CSI – one was me!) met with the Alameda Director of the Planning and Building Department and the Alameda Building Official. As we filed into the office, the Director had just removed the ordinance item from the 10/7 City Council agenda, and by the time we filed out, a date had been set for a community workshop – 10/9/08 2-5pm in the conference room at the Main Library on Oak Street. And yes, the city is sending out notices again (still not sure to whom), and the RHANAC is using their mailing list and collaborating with another group to get their version of a notice out to owners who may be affected by this.

Federal: If I’ve learned anything about government, especially in the last few years watching our dear city, the wheels of government turn slowly, as they should. It is certainly trying on even a saint’s patience to try to get something done. But with proper input, we might prevent huge mistakes. Transparency is not a word found in the Dictionary of Bureaucrats.

And I’m really worried if Congress starts owning banks, (the link is a good overview)brokerage firms, houses, and who knows what else as a result of this bailout package. Why you suppose private enterprises are stepping in to buy some of these grossly mismanaged companies? Because they see an opportunity to make a ROI (return on investment). The fact is if these “goverment leaders” actually spent time in their home towns at the local coffee shops, (not for photo opportunities or campaigning) they’d get an earful. They would have known what was happening in real estate….lots of us did. Lots of you did. We may not be rocket scientists, but we’re not morons either.

Except for the larger scale, the problems are the same as small cities. Do ya think the government has handled your social security benefits well? How about Medicare? How about the tax code? Energy policies? We had staggered days to fill up our cars in the 1970’s and we’ve made NO progress! Environmental policies? The education system?

Enough….let’s talk local real estate….it is a micro market business. And Alameda is holding its own.

Real estate in Alameda this week…

Active listings 192, 199 last report

Pending listings 75, 70 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday tour 11 with 1 repeat Click Here to View Listings 10 are in the link since 102 Parfait went pending quickly. See awards.

New 9 Click Here to View Listings

Price Changes 12 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 14 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 9 Click Here to View Listings

BOM (back on market) 0

Expired (some show up as new listings) 2 Click Here to View Listings

Withdrawn/cancelled (some show up as new listings) 3 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week…remember this is only my perspective.

Winner, Bang for the Buck, Cute Charming Click Here to View Listings and pending already!

Get Me to Rehab Click Here to View Listings

No others were deemed worthy!

Have a great weekend! I’d love to get some emails sharing your feelings about what is going on. I see wonderful opportunities for the citizenry to take ownership in their various levels of government and make/demand serious changes of those who want to be in charge. It’s time to raise our expectations.

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 18th, 2008

I’ve got that autumn feeling….

The apple tree in the backyard gives and gives – enough for many friends, plus the birds and the squirrels. I picked at least another three dozen the other night, filling a crate over the top. Alameda’s propensity to grow amazing fruits, vegetables, and flowers keeps me in awe.

My exceptional young friend and neighbor took this picture of the back yard apple sign a couple of years ago. And the sign was given to me several years ago by my sister-in -law, Kim, another dear friend, one of the more creative people I know! Sweet!

Real estate in Alameda this week…

I’m saving comments until next week about the proposed increase in transfer taxes (the chunk of change paid by buyers and sellers when properties sell, currently $5.40 per each $1000 of sales price, scheduled to go to $12 per thousand.

Active listings 199, 209 last report

Pending listings 70, 70 last report

Highest priced new listing (the highest was actually re-inserted as new so I don’t count it). The map on this listing is not accurate, but it is a new house on Mecartney, to the east of US Bank, corner of Island and Mecartney.) Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday tour 11, with 4 repeats Click Here to View Listings

New 9 Click Here to View Listings

Price Changes 10 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 11 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 7 Click Here to View Listings

BOMs(back on market) 2 Click Here to View Listings

Expired (some show up as new listings) 9 Click Here to View Listings

Withdrawn (some show up as new listings) 7 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week…remember this is only my perspective.

Winner of the Week Click Here to View Listings also Cute, Charming, and Out of Rehab

Cute, Charming Click Here to View Listings

Bang for the Buck not this week

Got Me a Makeover not this week

Get Me a Facelift Click Here to View Listings

Grand Dame not this week

Out of Rehab Click Here to View Listings

Get Me to Rehab tie! Click Here to View Listings this duplex was the second property I’ve ever turned around and walked out of due to gagging. Gross in every aspect. Click Here to View Listings this second listing is just a mess.

Enjoy your weekend. If you have real estate questions, especially regarding financing, let me know and I’ll try to get answers for you….and if you need vendors, again, give a call (that’s the best way if you think I won’t recognize your email address). Best! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 11th, 2008

Homeowner (dis)associations & (dys)functions?

When I started selling properties involving homeowner associations I learned early-on to tell my clients to rip open the huge package of HOA documents and start their due diligence by reading the minutes of the HOA. There is absolutely no better way to learn what and who the issues are in a planned community. And I’ve read plenty myself, as an agent/broker, in order to get a sense of the issues and how they are addressed. Check out these very real excerpts that I’ve come across during the course of representing sellers and buyers in my own transactions.

“(the) owner’s use of pots and pans to bang on the back wall at 3:00 a.m. was unacceptable behavior.” Duh.

“Considerable work has been done within the unit to clean it up, including removing 16 birds, one chicken, one rabbit, and five cats…” What, no snakes? Oh, that’s right. They’re prohibited by the House Rules.

“Complaints have been submitted to management regarding an ‘older’ woman yelling at guests using the guest parking lot.” Gee, welcome!

This one cracked me up: “Head phones must be used while car washing.” I got this image in my head and pictured all these residents washing their cars and only waving to each other since they couldn’t hear. Then I read the next sentence. “No radio/stereo playing without head phones is allowed in any common area.” Oh, that explains it. Keep your music and talk shows to yourself.

Community notes…
With the approach of autumn, it’s time to change the blog photo. I took this of the new/old theatre a couple of weeks ago.

I stopped by the office of Alameda’s own city-wide Meals on Wheels program and its Executive Director, Rosemary Reilly told me they know there are many folks out there who can use their service, but they aren’t hearing from them!

Do NOT confuse our program with the county-run Meals On Wheels program. This is Alamedans taking care of Alamedans. It is completely independent, is NOT government funded, and has devoted local volunteers. There is also a ‘friendly visitor’ element so those who are shut-in can have a breath of fresh air come right to them in the form of a short visit. Kids sometimes accompany adults on the visits and that adds a nice dynamic.

We all have neighbors (even the ones who bang the pots and pans or collect excessive numbers of animals) that just might need some help.

AND this is not for low-income folks only. And it can be short-term while someone has a bit of a recovery period. And it is for ALL ages. Check out that website above. If you know someone who just might be helped it’s worth sharing the info. It is hard to find nicer people doing nice things for the community.

Real estate in general this week…
This week I came across two articles I think every consumer should review.

The first was about using a “weapon” against identity theft called a credit or security freeze. It was in USA Today on Tuesday and I tore out the article so I could share it. I found it in their archives. PLEASE, at least check it out.

The second is an excellent overview of the massive government take-over of the Federal National Mortgage Association (aka FNMA or Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Association (aka FHLMA or Freddie Mac). What happened and why do you care? Please check it out!

Real estate in Alameda (and Carson City) this week…
On Monday, both the condo (960 Shorepoint Court #101) and the single family lagoon home (640 Waterview Isle) I have listed went pending. It was a busy time….considering I took 3 days off to play golf in Carson City, returning Wed am. This is the 4th year I’ve gone to this fun tournament in Nevada, run by Alamedans (good courses, even better prices, and the best people!).

And was I thrilled to stay at the Holiday Inn Express this year: excellent internet service, good cell phone reception and nice accommodation! Even warm chocolate chip cookies in the late afternoons!

As soon as each round of morning golf on Monday and Tuesday wrapped up by 1:30pm, I returned calls immediately, sitting in my air-conditioned car, and then headed back to my ‘office’ to get the transactions together, midst multiple offers, counter-offers, and then back-up offers. In the evening, once the delicious (really!) buffet dinner at a local casino that hosts the group was over, it was back to work late. Then up early…. Plus I had the opportunity of writing an offer while away as well as doing some pre-buy math for a client who wanted to really understand the costs of ownership. But that offer was deleted the next day…(see Trends below).

Active listings 209, 213 last report

Pending listings 70, 64 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday Tour 11 Click Here to View Listings

New (note some are input in more than one category – ggrrr) 15 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes 8 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 16 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 9 Click Here to View Listings

BOMs (back on market) 0

Expired and Withdrawn (some show up as new listings) 12 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week…remember this is only my perspective. Even though I missed the Tuesday tour due to golf ūüôā I did get out to view 6 properties late this afternoon.

Winner of the Week not this week

Cute, Charming Click Here to View Listings already pending!

Bang for the Buck not this week

Got Me a Makeover Click Here to View Listings already pending!

Get Me a Facelift Click Here to View Listings says 5 bedrooms but 2 of them are accessed through 2 others (hmm), has a pool – lots of hardscape

Grand Dame not this week

Get Me to Rehab Click Here to View Listings huge rooms, unusual floor plan

I’m Out of Rehab Click Here to View Listings

Trends? Consumers are finding out the hard way that the grossly underpriced short-sale listings are generating multiple offers that are bringing the purchase prices close to or up to the most recent sale price of similar inventory. Take for instance 2063 Whitehall . Priced for 385K, there are 6 offers. The last comp was in July, same floor plan but on Willow, for 492,5K. And the offer prices are within 5% of that. Kind of discouraging for those who are just trying to get their feet wet in this market place.

Have a great weekend! May you have the best of all that is good and share it generously. Unlike oil, that type of resource never depletes and only multiplies when used.

Maybe take a quiet moment to ponder the impact of 9/11/2001 on you personally and the world in general. Are we making any progress toward anything substantial and good? If not, why. If so, then pay it forward.

Carry on, Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 4th, 2008

“Any body who jumps out of a perfectly good plane is not dealing with a full deck.”

That is a quote from my dear husband about 31 years ago. It was directed at me. And he’s the one that got me into flying which lead me to take the leap out of an airplane! If he were with us today I think he’d say much the same about bungee jumping.

The parachuting memories came flooding back after watching a video made a couple of weeks ago of Evan and some of his best buddies as they bungee-jumped at Whistler. It is posted on his blog. And as good as it is, his observations are even better. Absolutely incredible!

When Sutter and I had a trip of a lifetime traveling around the South Island of New Zealand nearly three years ago, we quietly and intensely watched jumpers at the home of bungee jumping. But we stuck to our plan to fly gliders the next day in one of the most popular advanced sites in the world. I have a friend who flies and trains there so knew about it.

So why did I jump out of an airplane all those years ago? Well, I was teaching glider flying at the time and flying some high performance sailplanes. I’d strap on a chute and knew the basic theory of how to get out of a the plane if some disaster hit…but theory and reality are not the same.

Thus a group of us decided to go to Antioch and take the training and make a jump. At the end of the day it was too windy for us to jump so they told us to come back any time and we’d finish it all up.

I bet three weeks went by before we showed up again. We were given a quick refresher course and stufffed into a Cessna. This is long before the sleek chutes used today for tandem jumps with an instructor. These were with big, honkin’ round miliary chutes and we jumped out with a static line, a length of cord attached to the airplane that would yank the chute open once the line was fully extended after the jumper exited the plane.

When the instructor yelled “NOW!” I looked back at him in disbelief as I held on for dear life to the edges of the opening where a door once was on this craft. What did he really mean? “NOW!” Oh, he meant get out. Leave. Adios. Buh-bye.

Shoving myself out and with the wind screaming in my face I attempted to holler the mandatory count to 4. They told us if we got that far and the chute wasn’t deployed by the static line, it was time to go to plan B. I got to 5. Oh s…t. Right at that moment the world jerked to what seemed a stop as the chute burst open and filled wildly. Next instruction – look up to verify that’s what really happened.

From 9,000 feet it was all downhill. What a view! Finally locating the ground target (we never saw an aerial of what that looked like), it was a bit disconcerting that it was so small. But I played with the risers and spun around a bit, hit the ground on my heels, fell back on my butt, then fell back on my head which was protected by some puny helmet. I collapsed the chute, gathered it up before the wind caught it and dragged me over the field, and gave it back. Once we all realized we had completed the course, we drove home.

I think it was a few hours before Carl even bothered to ask how it was. Outwardly he was not impressed. And while I never jumped again, at least I had some experience behind my words when I talked to students about the real thing. And I had a new appreciation of how to act/react in an emergency should it be necessary.

I’ve thought about the differences between bungee jumping and parachuting.

Parachuting: exiting a perfectly good airplane without a full deck of cards into incredible winds generated by the forward motion of the plane; controlled flight in the form of drifting; higher altitude; longer ride; more equipment; more expensive; some training involved.

Bungee jumping over water: leaving a lovely view from a solid platform; a brief briefing; a quick drop; the water can break a fall; a most bizarre (I imagine) feeling of falling head first to earth/water; the rush of the bounces.

What they have in common? No logical useful purpose. Shoving off when everything in you says ‘who thought of this anyway.’ The thrill of the thrill. Saying you did it.

As is commonly said in the aviation industry “flying is hours of sheer boredom interspersed with moments of sheer terror.” (Ah, more stories for another time.) But isn’t life the same? All in all, a blend of thrill with blah with awe. Finding balance. No regrets.

Real estate this week in Alameda…

Active listings 213, 217 last report

Pending listings 63, 64 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday Tour Click Here to View Listings

New 11 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes 8 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 10 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 10 Click Here to View Listings

BOMs (back on market) 1 Click Here to View Listings

Expired & Withdrawn (some show up as new) 12 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week…remember-this is only my perspctive!

Another slow week…two properties I tried to see (since I hosted a Broker Tour property this week and was trying to catch up), the agents just couldn’t figure out how to get them shown.

Winner of the Week Click Here to View Listings got to give it to my listing on Waterview (price, location, size) see also Facelift.

Cute, Charming Click Here to View Listings

Bang for the Buck Click Here to View Listings also see Facelift – too bad fees are so HIGH!

Got Me a Makeover not this week

Get Me a Facellift Click Here to View Listings Click Here to View Listings

Grand Dame not this week

Get Me to Rehab Click Here to View Listings haven’t seen this but you can just tell…plus a buyer has to write an offer subject to inspection which means you write the offer just to get in, then back out or revise it based on what you see. Tells me we’ve got a tenant issue.

I’m Out of Rehab not this week

Looking for trends…how about the calls are coming about values on homes to see if a tax challenge is viable? That’s a trend until 9/15. Give a call if you want comp info.

Have a nice weekend! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | September 1st, 2008

Can you reduce your property tax bill? MAYBE…(also Alameda July and August sales stats)

Dear Friends and Clients,

Some of you have taken me up on my offer to give you an updated value so you can consider the opportunity to reduce your property tax bill as allowed by Proposition 8. Remember that assessments are supposed to reflect the market value of the property when you bought it, subject to a maximum 2% annual increase when the economy supports it.

This is a terrific link to the Alameda CountyTax Assessor and it answers loads of questions, gives great examples and has additional links for getting the application to challenge your valuation and also gives other options (call for info, go in person) to get your challenge questions answered.

If you bought before the market heated up, then chances are good (and I’m happy to answer your questions about values) you are still taxed at a lower rate than what the market may have dropped to.

If you bought and did loads of improvements and those items that require a permit triggered supplemental property taxes reflecting the valuation of the work done, then there is a chance that assessed value may be too high.

If you sold a property used as a personal residence (or a portion of it, like an owner occupied unit in a duplex), and then bought a replacement property for a price less than what you sold the prorated personal residence portion for, chances are your transfer of the relinquished property tax basis is still lower than the current market rate.

If you bought a property in the past handful of years you may be positioned to challenge that tax bill.

If you have questions about values for your property with respect to your tax bill, you’ve got until 9-15-2008 to put your challenge in writing to the Alameda County Assessor.

Note that some counties are being proactive on this and have automatically reduced the valuation on that card they sent out to you this past July. They do that to avoid the glut of paperwork they would otherwise have to face. Smart move.

The sales stats below are just numbers but may give you an idea of the market activity. Please realize that location and condition of properties are not considered (water views, docks, lagoons, Gold Coast, new homes, surrounding area, planned community). DOM Days On Market can be skewed if the agent churned the listing (re-inserted it as new).

Alameda July Sales Stats

2 bedroom single family homes

3 bedroom single family homes

4 bedroom single family homes

2 bedroom apartment style condos

  • 0 sales

3 bedroom townhomes

4 unit apartment buildings

  • 0 sales

Alameda August sales stats

2 bedroom single family homes

3 bedroom single family homes

4 bedroom single family homes

2 bedroom apartment style condos

3 bedroom townhomes

4 unit apartment buildings

If you’d like to receive an email notice that a weekly post has been made with that week’s Alameda sales activity along with any random and/or pertinent observations, (see previous posts for examples), just let me know. If I don’t know you I will respond to a phone call rather than an unidentified email!

Best, Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | August 28th, 2008

He’s got the bug to go green…

…and then finds the bad bugs. This is Allan Kanady, owner of and licensed pest control inspector (operator) for Omega Termite Control . Last spring he saw me riding my bike on the broker tour and made the comment he should ride to his Alameda inspections. Well he showed up with his bike and trailer at my new listing at 640 Waterview Isle and was I impressed! That vertical stick on the back of the trailer is his poking probe to see if wood is rotted. I call it a weapon but he says he’s going to get a flag made with the company name and fly it off the pole. This picture makes him look like a kid!

Raindrops on their heads : Sutter has made it known Christchurch NZ has seen a lot of rain recently. My brother in Vero Beach, FL (he and his family live on the island portion of the town) said “Vero, especially the island, handled the 15 inches in 3 days without any effects. It seems the drainage here is much better than some neighborhing cities. “

No raindrops in Alameda: Following the lead of my dear friend Bobbie who told me how she was conserving water, this week I started catching the cold water from the shower faucet in a 5 gallon bucket. It’s the water that would go down the drain while waiting for the water to heat up. Then I take it outside and dump it into a full-size plastic garbage can (the kind with wheels we used to use before the bins showed up courtesy of Waste Management). I get about 3 gallons per shower.

Then today I had the spa professionally cleaned. I usually drain and clean it myself but wanted to start fresh. I asked the gentleman to siphon the water into another spare garbage can I have rather than letting it all just go down the yard drain.

Now the outdoor plants have “dessert water”, an extra treat, since they need more than what I have the irrigation set for. The plants seem happier already.

My dream pet: If you are interested in a new style of pet dog check out Evan’s 2nd post on his blog. That dog meets all my requirements – bouncey, clean, no shedding, no pooper scooper needed, goes quiet when I say, and might even protect me (from what I don’t know). And I’d walk it next to my other dog.

This, my friends, is my local “Un-clear on the Concept” Award this week. Because I didn’t want to be late this month with my payment to Alameda Power and Telecom, I decided to use the drop box at the office on Grand Street at Clement, since I was doing errands anyway. But if you read the small black print (shaded area) you’ll find that if you use those boxes (this one is only 8 feet away from their front door), it may take 2 days to post! Now maybe they mean if ya put yer payment in on a Friday afternoon, it won’t be checked over the weekend OR if there is a long weekend like this coming weekend, it could take3 days to post. Anyway, I decided to park and walk the payment in.

My overhauled website is now up and running! Please take a look and comments are welcomed!

Real estate this week in Alameda….

My clients closed on their home at 2618 Buena Vista today. Yippee for them! They will bring much joy to the house they are making a home and to the neighborhood they have dreamed of!

A I noted previously, I put a new listing on the market today. This is a 1961 mid-century classic, custom-built single level home, over 1900 square feet, situated at the curve of a cul-de-sac on the South Shore Lagoon. It is a step-free property, meaning that the first owner was wheelchair bound. The doors are wider. Pocket doors are in place where swinging doors would be. The counters are the original tile and set low for access. The master bath is wonderfully stepless. The entry is lovely and wide, drawing you right into the view of the lagoon. Drawers are pull-outs. The angles in the home reflect the shape of the lot. This is great example of thoughtful design elements that should be considered for homes today, incorporating simple accomodations that will allow an owner to stay in a loved home for a long time, avoiding expensive and wasteful remodeling when needs change.

I’ll have 640 Waterview Isle open 2-4pm both Saturday and Sunday so come by and say HI!

Active Listings 217, 213 last report

Pending Listings 64, 67 last report

Highest Priced Listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest Priced Listing Click Here to View Listings

Tuesday Tour Click Here to View Listings

New 19 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes 11 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 10 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 13 Click Here to View Listings

Back on Market (BOMs) 0

Expired & withdrawn (some show up as new) 10 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week….remember – this is only my perspective!
Slow week….

Winner of the Week I was going to give an award here but the owner/agent doesn’t even have one photo in the MLS, so forget it.

Cute, Charming not this week

Bang for the Buck not this week

Got Me a Makeover not this week

Get Me a Facelift Click Here to View Listings Tie!

Grand Dame not this week

Get Me to Rehab not this week

I’m Out of Rehab not this week

Looking for trends….Still looking for something interesting.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend! Do something you really want to do! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | August 21st, 2008

What are they thinking?

When she writes me, my friend signs off as ‘the other Marilyn.’ We met many years ago and we’ve gone through lots of Alameda real estate together. I’ve often told her she knows more about the Alameda market and marketing property than 95% of the agents out there. But she’s not quite ready to give up her engineering day job. Obviously the photos she’s seen with some of listings finally got to her. She shares her observations and some comments!

“As always, I enjoyed your weekly blog. But, it reminded me of a real estate question that has been puzzling me for a while. A lot of the photos in the MLS listings seem to be basically photos of furniture.

This agent apparently thought that this photo of someone’s old couch that doesn’t even fit into the room was important and/or would entice people to want to buy this house.
I think I’m missing a fundamental real estate concept here.

In furniture photos like this, what exactly is the agent trying to sell? I know it‚Äôs a petty point, but I‚Äôve been wondering about it for quite a while. “

“Hey, this place has a floor. I think I’ll buy it.”

Hey, I’ve always wanted a place with a door. I think I’ll buy this.”

If any of you see my listings with photos like these, you are to contact me immediately. If I don’t respond then contact my adult kids and tell them it’s time to put me in that small boat on the out (ebb) tide, and out I’ll go under the Golden Gate. Really.
Oh – Evan started a blog this week. The title for it originated when the four of us would race Mercury sailboats in Monterey Bay annually. Ev and Sutter borrowed one, and Carl and I used the family boat. It was a riot to hear the adult kids arguing across the ocean and in the foggy mist at times. Any way, one of the first times we did this I took electrical tape and renamed our boat The Left Schu (Carl was left handed) on the stern and the kids’ yacht The Right Schu. Even I thought that was clever. Somewhere there is a picture but that’s another project.

Real Estate Consumer Info!

Check out the recent Housing Stimulus Bill and see if anything applies to you, your friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers. It could be of help.

-Some Californians to Get Refunds from Kickback Suit.

Real estate this week in Alameda….

Active Listings 213, 213 last report

Pending Listings 67, 62 last report

New 9 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes 15 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 17 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 10 Click Here to View Listings

Back on Market (BOMs) 1 Click Here to View Listings

Expired & withdrawn (some show up as new) 6 Click Here to View Listings

Listing Awards this week….remember – this is only my perspective!

Winner of the Week , Cute, Bang, and Got me a Makeover (plus it went pending alredy) all to
2712 Washington

Get me a facelift TIE! and they are BFI townhome neighbors Hazels

Grand Dame not this week

Got me a makeover not this week

Get me to rehab not this week

I’m out of rehab 1811 Lincoln

Looking for trends….I’ll keep an eye out for something interesting.

Enjoy the weekend!

marilyn