THE SECOND STORY | July 10th, 2009

It’s like watching the yellow pages pass by…

A year or two ago in the annual Alameda 4th of July Parade there was a ‘float’ (actually a truck with a bunch of people on it having a good time) that had a sign that read “Shameless self-promotion!” And so it was this year with the Alameda parade! It certainly had one of the largest gatherings of entries yet it moved right along, had some great entertainment (how about the Lincoln Middle School Marching Band – a huge group that sounded great, looked good in their black t-shirts, and they really walked the route!). Maybe it was the result of the economic times, but many commented that more businesses were parading their names along with promotional materials than in recent memory. A great time was had by all!

Alameda real estate this week….
Maybe the third time is the charm…. 933 Shoreline Drive #305 is back on the market. The first buyers backed out because of a rental restriction adopted by the HOA in the past year that states owners must own for at least two years before they can consider renting, and then subject to not exceeding a specific percentage of rental units within the complex. The second buyers also loved the property but they could not get FHA financing on the building (minimal down payment on their part but reserve funding did not meet FHA standards). So I put it back on the market on Wed eve, we have one offer on the table and supposedly a second showing up on Friday.

Is is being foreclosed on? Or is it going short? I’m aware of a situation regarding a property that was put on the market for about 60K less than it was purchased for in recent years. As has been the custom, also in recent years, the loan (note) has/had been sold to various lenders. The problem becomes magnified when those lenders include ones that have gone under and/or been absorbed by others. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing to whom and by whom. So when a notice of default (NOD) is filed against an owner/property by one of those banks that kind of doesn’t exist, what’s going on? Clearly somebody is foreclosing on the property. The owner and the agent have a challenge in getting to whoever is in charge. What a mess. And this is not an isolated case.

Here are a couple of articles I thought were interesting…

Is there a new rush of foreclosures coming to market?

What’s with jumbo mortgages?

Active listings 173, 172 last report
Pending listings 92, 93 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 10, with 2 repeats

New 15 The house at 1221 Sherman does not show up as New on the market because it had an extra zero put into the listing price, making it over 24 MILLION. Once the error was noted, there was a price change to over 2.4M and it never got into the listings as new, just as the price change, a quirk of the MLS. I saw it on the broker tour. We’ll leave it at that.

BOM (back on market) 4

Price changes 6

Pending 13 The house at 1810 Clinton I mentioned last week does now have a pending sale that is supposed to forestall a foreclosure. Let’s hope it all works out, as best possible for all the parties.

Sold 11

Expired 3

Withdrawn/cancelled 8

Alameda real estate awards this week….remember this is only my perspective.

Cute/charming

Get me to rehab this is a sad story….in 2006 this sold for 750K. It is comprised of two houses on one lot: a major fixer Victorian with two units in the front house and a detached two level cottage. Serious work was needed. Then a huge fire got the front house. It’s slowly been rebuilt but it’s still got a long way to to go and now it’s bank owned and on the market.

Got me a makeover

Get me a facelift

That’s a wrap! Have a good weekend!

Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | July 2nd, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

(You may recognize this home on Broadway. It’s one of about six in town that dresses up for most every holiday on the calendar. I wonder where the owners stash all the decorations when they are not in use….)

Speaking of Independence Day and owning real estate, do you remember how independent you thought you’d be because you owned your own home, your own rental property, your own warehouse, or whatever tickled your fancy?

I recall feeling that way. Actually my mother-in-law bought the duplex so her grandchild would have a home. Then later she sold it to us. We had to buy a lawn mower. At a yard sale. Because the yard said we needed to tend to it. I made covers for what passed as couches in our living room. We accepted any and all wooden crates and boards for shelving, dining tables, coffee tables, and end tables. Sunday afternoon garage and yard sales became my routine. I’d have shopped on Saturdays but I had to teach glider flying on Saturdays. Slowly the house became home. And we got on the job training for landlord-ship that became critical to our/my lives/life.

How was our real estate experience? The agent (yes, a local one whose name graces, even today, an Alameda office) didn’t tell us how taxes were figured. So we had a surprise with that. And the same agent said we’d get access two weeks before we had to leave our apartment so we could refinish the hardwood floors. And then disappeared during that time. Those floors finally got new life after we sold the duplex. During the process of the purchase since my mother-in-law lived in Newport Beach, we became the point people. We had no clue about what was going on but even dumb old me figured out that something seemed grossly inappropriate about the same agent representing both the buyer and seller, AKA ‘double-ending the deal.’

Maybe I owe a quick moment of thanks to that situation. Notice I didn’t say to that agent. So when my dad called one night several years later during his dinner and said I should get my real estate license, I said, “why not?” I had already figured out how to take government tests and had passed loads of them for all the various pilot ratings/licenses I held. And the airline industry was in the tank at that time. So why not?

And thus morphed a sky-based career into a land-based career spanning over 23 years, in a town I love, with clients who often are friends or have become friends or are referred by clients and/or friends. I figured there had to be a better way of servicing a customer. And I have continued to learn. In times like these, every day is new, often full of fires that need to be put out.

Back to independence. While owning property does bring a sense of that, we also become slaves to the property as we attempt to not slum it out, figure out how to pay for the most crucial repairs and still put food on the table and gas in the tank, and try to make good decisions about improvements that will satisfy us for the moment as well a yet unknown future owner.

Yet, whether the market be up or down, there really is something about being in charge of your own property. Well, as in charge as you can be in a town that swarms with folks who make a hobby of anonymously reporting owners to the Planning and Building (Code Compliance) Department for installing windows that don’t quite match the vintage/historical nature of the building.

Owning real estate in our neck of the woods = money pit. We can’t deny it. And we love it. It does give a sense of freedom when the transaction is done properly, including proper financing. When that happens, you know you are controlling your housing costs. You are not at the whim or mercy of someone tossing you out or upping your rent.

That is real freedom in just one facet of life. I’m grateful for both the opportunity to own a home, some apartments, and be able to help others define their dreams when it comes to real estate. What a privilege and an honor.

So either dream of decorating a home that will one day be yours, or decorate to your heart’s delight that gem you now call home. Happy Independence Day!

Alameda real estate this week….

-16139 Via Arriba, San Lorenzo closed on Tuesday. This was a first time purchase for my twenty-something client. It was a short sale. The previous owner had paid over 500K for the place and my client paid 250K, waited (only) three weeks for the bank to approve the sale after the seller(s) accepted the contract, and then we got it closed (thanks team!) two days before the deadline.

-Note how many properties went pending this week, and how many SOLD this week.

-3318 Washington is new on the market, but sold for 885K 6-05, then sold 7-06 for 1,099,000, and is now for sale for 850K. The city will take a bath on this I think. Alameda carried a second on this for the previous city manager who resigned.

-1810 Clinton is new on the market. Started a few days ago at 775K, now 675K. It will be foreclosed on July 9 if there is not an accepted offer before then, according to the agent’s remarks in the MLS. Purchased in 2001 for 760K, it was on the market for 1.1M 8-06, then dropped to 990K. No sale. It came back on the market for 939K, then dropped to 879K. No sale. No back yard. Duplex behind it is a separate lot, divided from the house back around 2000. Tough situation. My heart breaks for the family.

Active listings 173, 180 last report
Pending listings 93, 100 last report

Highest priced NEW listing

Lowest priced New listing

Tuesday Tour 10

New 11

BOM (Back on Market) 1

Price changes 8

Pending 15

Sold 21

Expired 8

Withdrawn/cancelled 4

Alameda real estate awards this week…remember this is only my perspective

Bang for the Buck, tie! 3318 Washtington 425 Haight

Get Me to Rehab
, tie! Owned by the same person for decades, across from the Alameda Marketplace, it was swarming with agents and clients for about 30 minutes last Wed. am, since it will not have any broker tour or open houses due to the tenant situation.

Stay safe, have fun! Enjoy the parade! It’s a blast to see the streets get tidied up and homes made pretty the week and day before the event. Total community at its best! I’ll be at Clinton and Grand or chatting with friends in the general area!

That’s a wrap! Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 26th, 2009

“We are living our dream.”

(Two days ago I noticed the tear on one of the prolific Bird of Paradise flowers in the garden. Being a bit of a romantic at the moment, I wondered if it was a tear of joy, sadness, relief, maybe anticipation. Maybe it was just the course of life.)

Few comments mean more to me as a licensed real estate broker than the line for today’s post title. It came from a card accompanying flowers I received yesterday from clients whose home closed last week. I had the privilege of selling their home for them here in Alameda and watching them relocate to North Carolina.

Most of you know I really feel I have the clients from heaven….again and again! And Paul and Kathy were no exception. They had made lovely improvements to their home. It was immaculate and they followed my lead in making sure the property could be sold with little or no hassles. They took the time and some money to get the pest report certified, and got permits for the upgrades they had made over the years.

The kicker and major issues came with the financing the buyers brought to the table. FHA loans are having their fair share of challenges these days. They often need 2 appraisals. The process is longer than normal (45+ days vs. 30). Sellers are in limbo while the underwriters wait to the very end to decide whether or not to bestow their blessing on the transaction, fund the loan and close. Can they actually move or not? Do they ask for up to 3 weeks after the close when they know they have their proceeds to start to pack, arrange for movers, close on the next property, forward mail, shut off utilities? It’s Seller hell to say the least.

After wrestling with the vagueness of the situation, they decided to stick to their moving plans and head out even if the transaction blew up. Very gutsy, not easy to do. We closed 3 business days late and they were able to move as planned, funds in hand before they left Alameda. The next home was theirs a couple of days later.

Showing how much we can do these days, during the marketing period they were even able to go on the European canal cruise they had booked prior to putting the property on the market. With the aid of the internet, cells phones, and e-faxes, we were able to get an accepted offer on their home and they enjoyed their vacation!

Back to the blog title and the birds of paradise….
I didn’t post last week for a couple of reasons. Last Thursday was a rather big day for me. And the night before I was up until 3am attempting to prep for all the emotion I figured I just might experience the next day. First on my plate was an ethics challenge that had been filed against me by a local real estate broker. That ridiculousness had been hanging over my head for over 3 months. Not something I took lightly. After all the impositions that put on my life, the guy never even showed up for the hearing, even when he was contacted at his office and was there. How rude is it not only to me and my Broker, but to the volunteer panelists who set aside hours of their own day to provide a service that is integral to supporting the ideals of the Code of Ethics for Realtors? The answer to that question is “very rude and very unprofessional.” To me this shows the challenge was unfounded and clearly not important to him. And without sounding cocky, I felt I was on solid ground. Result? Case tossed. Onward to the next event of the day.

Noon Thursday….here’s where the blog post title seems to hit home. In my own mind I’ve been living a dream the past 7 weeks or so. Last Thursday I was supposed to meet up with a friend I’ve known since 7th grade. After about a 38 year gap, we had reconnected through our high school class FaceBook group. I mean, what else do I do when someone says “I’ve loved you since we were sophomores in high school. I was just too shy to ask you out.”

It seems that is not uncommon in and of itself. You hear or read stories like this. But when it’s your own life….well now that’s a different thing. I was to pick him up at SFO and we were going to have a bit of face time instead of talking for hours on the phone, emailing, and text messaging. We admitted we were acting like 15 year old kids but in very different bodies! After driving over to Pacifica, which seemed appropriate for two people who lived at the beach in younger times, then having lunch at the SF Ferry Building, and then checking into a rather lovely downtown hotel where I had TWO rooms booked (my control freak nature AND safety net regarding neutral ground) by 3pm the next admission came along…

…to a hospital in the city! He was not well, and I was freaked out. Many of you know I am a practicing Christian Scientist and choose not to mess around with medical processes. But he had to do something rather than macho it out so I insisted he get to a doctor, or a doctor get to him or I get him to a hospital. And there he was for 2 full days as they tried to figure out what was wrong. Scans, cameras, you name it, they did it. He was drugged up, and I was a mental mess. I’ve NEVER spent that kind of time in a hospital. The people were wonderful and it was a real eye-opener for me on many levels.

I’m not sure how easy it is to get to know someone who is on some saline/morphine drip thing for 48 hours. But nonetheless, in a bizarre way, those hours of face time did have an impact. He got out, exhausted but basically well, with no resolution and no answers as to what the problem had been. And then our 4 day date actually began and it kept getting weirder… Truly we are living a dream, or at least a comedy. (there may be more to come, depending on – everything!)

And that is why I didn’t post last week. No way. No how.

So today’s post (also a bit late due to my very full work schedule, and a need for sleep in order to fully function) will incorporate last weeks’ activity.

Alameda real estate the past 2 weeks…

-31 Oak Park closed.
-219 Cypress B, a Woodstock 1/1 single level attached home came on the market.
-933 Shoreline Drive #305 (full bay view condo) went pending and then BOM, and then went pending again with two more offers that came in on Monday.
-16139 Via Arriba My client who is involved with a short sale in San Lorenzo got his papers signed yesterday as I was running around at the same moment finding the Homeowners Association and picking up their pile of documents. The listing agent kinda didn’t know there was a Homeowners Association (thank you Placer Title for getting on top of this!), and the listing agent didn’t know the wife was on title (thank you Placer Title for getting on top of this), and the listing agent gave us disclosures filled out so badly by the seller (and not signed by the wife) that they are incomplete and full of lies and oversights.
-I listed 2 properties that are on MLS waiver until they are ready to go.

Active listings 180, 172 last report
Pending listings 100, 98 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 14, 2 repeats

note: the listings categories reflect the time period back 2 weeks but may have changed from new to active, active to pending, new to price change during that time. So properties may have gone through various status changes along the way.

New 12

Back on Market 2

Price Changes 14

Pending 27

Sold 18

Expired 7

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

Alameda real estate awards this week...remember this is only my perspective!
Winner, Bang for the Buck (and already pending: on market for 31K less than it sold for a couple of years ago.

Grand Dame, Get Me a Facelift (add some reconstructive surgery to that too).

Get Me a Facelift

So that’s a wrap! Have a great weekend!

Carry on… marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 16th, 2009

April and May sales stats and market charts for A-Town!

(A couple of weeks ago I took a very late afternoon bike ride with the intention of seeing if it was still possible to circumnavigate my way around the island perimeter from Sherman along the estuary, along the wharfs beyond Mariner Square, sticking as close to the water as possible, ending up at the former Naval Air Station, aka Alameda Point, riding next to the western most chain link fences there (erected so the Least Terns have their place on the base reserved). That’s when I caught the western sunset. And that’s when I caught the attention of a security guard. I put on my best smile and said I hadn’t gone anywhere that wasn’t open. Then he said he was about to lock the open gate I came through when he saw me. Well, I wasn’t hiding. I had that stupid ‘see-me-anywhere’ vest on along with a flashing bike headlight, and a flashing red light on the back of my helmet. Anyway, it was a great ride with some deadends and backtracking where new fences are up. Then I headed back, about 8:45pm, along Central, over to the beach and home.)

Active listings (June 16) 178, 160 (April 14)
Pending listings (June 16) 100, 78 (April 14)

Please take into consideration that since so few properties have closed the figures are skewed, and that the actual DOM (days on market) are not always considering re-insertion of listings as new when they are simply just continued. And of course location, size, and condition are not reflected in averages except that the price may be higher for one than others….but each micro market has it’s own quirks that the stats just cannot reflect back to us accurately. That’s a lesson as to why agents you are talking to should spend time in the market you are part of…..

April sales charts (April 08-April 09) Show charts

2 bedroom single family homes (6)

  • average DOM 62
  • average sales price $486,500

3 bedroom single family homes (7)

  • average DOM 59
  • average sales price $612,000

4 bedroom single family homes (0)

3 bedroom townhomes (0)

2 bedroom apartment style condos (2)

  • average DOM 72
  • average sales price $325,000

4 unit apartment buildings (0)

May sales charts (May 08-May 09) Show charts

2 bedroom single family homes
(2)

  • average DOM 7
  • average sales price $547,500

3 bedroom single family homes (7)

  • average DOM 34
  • average sales price $572,142

4 bedroom single family homes (5)

  • average DOM 54
  • average sales price $700,300

3 bedroom townhomes (3)

  • average DOM 44
  • average sales price $529,333

2 bedroom apartment style condos (4)

  • average DOM 18
  • average sales price $311,000

4 unit apartment buildings (0)

That’s a wrap….carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 11th, 2009

BIG yard sale at 1727 Clinton…..

(I’ve been watching this mural come to life over the past two – three weeks. This is at Garden Cleaners, corner of Webster and Haight, on the Haight Street side. All of the plants and flowers painted on the wall grow abundantly in our dirt here in Alameda. And I love the depth the artist created that makes the garden sit in a flower box (the bricks at the base of the building). What a wonderful addition to what was previously a boring box. We are fortunate to have property owners who are willing to add custom touches all can enjoy to their buildings.

New topic! Blog title! A neighbor at 1727 Clinton is having a HUGE yard sale Friday from 12-4, and Sat and Sun 10-5 (maybe 4pm). If you think you need something you may just find it there. I was over this evening to check it out and it is amazing.

New topic! Concert at the Cove Friday (Motown, soul, R&B) 5:30 – 7:30pm

New topic! I was showing property this afternoon and saw a creative use of a standard household item. The first picture is the “Dorothy Door” (as in The Wizard of Oz). These are the flat overlapping doors you lift up to get into a basement or subarea. Look closely at the second picture and I think you’ll agree with me and my clients that the handle is a toilet paper roll holder.

Alameda real estate this week….

The listing at 933 Shoreline Drive #305 I put on the market last week received 2 offers this week. We’ll see what shakes out shortly. People have loved the full bay view!

My client got an accepted offer after only (and I mean only) 4 weeks of waiting on a short sale single family home in San Lorenzo. But the lender has made it a really quick close.

The least expensive single family homes in town, primarily all short sales or lender owned properties (REOs) have been receiving upwards of 4-9+ offers quickly. Most of these are exceptional messes with unpermitted additions, other bizarre work, substantial deferred maintenance, and/or unfinished projects. I called several agents this week to see just what was going on with their listings and that was the consistent report.

Here are a couple of articles I thought added some insight to the financing mess out there.

Tips for refinancing your loan.

FDIC shelves toxic loan program

Many of you know that my daughter Sutter and son Evan are often sources of info for me…they are my personal news screeners. While I’ve been working on this Ev sent a link that he found very interesting and heavy on the numbers with respect to the mortgage mess. I went through it and it’s not the most positive but the positions are supported by some substantial facts. Check it out. You can blow it up to full screen and just scroll through the slides. T2 Partners Presentation on the Mortgage Crisis. Thanks Ev!

Active listings 172, 167 last report
Pending listings 98, 90 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing


Tuesday Tour 12, with 2 repeats

New 16

BOM (back on market) 2

Price changes 13

Pending 17

Sold 7 (this is corrected as of Friday AM. Thanks Ken for letting me know I somehow put last week’s solds in – I can’t figure out how I did that….)

Expired 0

Withdrawn/cancelled
3

Alameda real estate awards this week….remember this is only my perspective!

Winner of the Week

Cute, Charming

Bang for the Buck

and a special award for Awesome Hydrangeas (check them out in person at the open house)

Have a pleasant weekend! Can you believe we are over half way through this year? It hit me the other day. It is screaming by. OMG, I sound like my mom!

Carry on! marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | June 4th, 2009

2 Tubes and 6 Bridges….welcome to Alameda Island!

(This is the convergence of the Bay Farm Bridge with the Bay Farm Bike Bridge, taken from the wooden bridge that non-auto users use to get between 94501 and 94502. Most can name the four primary bridges but many leave out the bike bridge and the Fruitvale Railroad Bridge. They count, too! The railroad bridge is adjacent to the Miller-Sweeney Bridge, aka the Fruitvale Bridge. And the railroad bridge does lift up and lower down once per week.)

I had a bunch of pent up energy this evening. I really missed not riding on the broker tour on Tuesday due to the new bay-front condo listing I put on the market and held open for the agents. So about 6pm this evening, and this is why I LOVE this time of year, I set out on my bike.

I have a loop I often take and it goes like this: from home head west a couple of blocks to Grand Street, south to the beach bike path, head east and make the turn onto Broadway. Take the 1st right onto Bayview. Follow Bayview to High Street, get on the sidewalk, get back onto the bike path and go through the small park and head under the Bay Farm Island Bridge.

Continue on the path and make the U-turn and head up the ramp onto the Bike Bridge. Some may not know just how unique a bike drawbridge is – it is said it’s the only one in the US! Many of us back then said it was a stupid waste of 3.3M to build it, but it’s cool and safer for pedestrians and skate boarders, and bicyclers.

At the end of the Bridge, head east with San Leandro Bay on my left and Mount Trashmore on my right. Some may not know that that sealed mound with methane gas pipes sticking out of it was once Alameda’s city dump, thus the fond name for the place. Take the bike path past the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field. Cross Doolittle and ride the path along the east side of Alameda’s two municipal 18 hole golf courses.

Across from the golf courses is the Oakland Airport North Field, full of small planes tucked away in some of the most amazing hangars! I taught flying out there with Lou Fields, (a Navy pilot with loads of aircraft carrier launches and landings), from whom I took my flight instructor training. Back to those hangars. Behind some of those doors are the ultimate man caves. Yep, I mean man caves. They tinker on their toys, watch TV, lounge around, just get away from it all and/or hang with other cavemen. And ladies, if you think it’s impossible for a guy to keep anything immaculate… the secret is OUT! You could eat off some of those floors.

Cross Maitland and head into the Harbor Bay Business Park. At some point I cross the street and get on the bike path that edges right next to the bay. Shortly thereafter I’m directly across from the end Runway 29 and can watch the planes depart into the westerly wind.

Staying on the path I end up at the Harbor Bay Ferry. Continue to rim the bay front all the way back to the Bay Farm Island Bridge. After a head wind all through the biz park, it’s nice to have a bit of a tail wind. Retrace the steps back along the beach, usually in a head wind again, to home. Well, except tonight I stopped at Big 5 Sports and bought two collapsible chairs (on sale $14.99 each), then cut through over to the Safeway gas station and filled up the tires. Just ask and they’ll turn the air on for free!

I love this place! Here’s my attempt to map that route. If this works, how cool is that! I’ve always thought it was between 8-10 miles and it’s just under 10.5 miles.

Alameda real estate this week…

New listing at 933 Shoreline Drive #305! Feedback from the agents has been good which translates into showings of the property. I’ll be hanging out there 2-4pm on Sunday. Great views!

I thought all these articles were good (source California Association of Realtors weekly Money Market Matters online newsfeed)

Low mortgage rates are going, going, gone?

Lock in the rates now….or wait?

Mortgage fraud? You may be busted…

Is it the high payments that need to be fixed? Maybe not so much…try employment and property devaluation.

Active listings 167, 173 last report
Pending listings 90, 83 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 12 with 3 repeats

New 11

Back on Market 3

Price changes 8

Pending
16

Sold 5

Expired 5

Withdrawn/Cancelled 4

Alameda real estate awards this week….
remember this is my perspective only!
None this week…I didn’t get to see enough!

Have a nice weekend! The Farmers Market is now also on Sat 9-1 on Webster at Haight (as well as Tuedays!).

Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 28th, 2009

Boats and golf….totally Alameda!





(A couple of Sundays ago as the weekend heat spell came to an end, a friend and I took the Hubba Hubba out at 5:30pm. The Hubba is a 26′ 1966 Chris Craft, twin engine wood lapstrake boat. It’s got some juice to to it since the engines are 305 hp V8s. We cruised up the estuary out to the bay, under the new bridge, over to the Giants game, and back home. What an evening! Super warm, smooth water, calm winds. Back to the dock at 8:35pm.)

Keeping it on the light side….I found a Father’s Day card cover inside a folder I keep for blog ideas. I don’t know when Father’s Day is but now that I play a bit more golf I appreciate these revised golf rules any day.

New Father’s Day Golf Rules
1. Every drive is a practice drive till you get one you like.
2. Subtract 1 stroke for every tee you remember to pick up.
3. If the ball rolls over the cup, it’s a gimme.
4. If the ball rolls around the cup, it’s a gimme.
5. If the ball looks like it was headed in the general direction of the cup, it’s a gimme.
6. Distractions like noise, wind or clouds moving are immediate cause for a do-over.
7. Chipping on the green will be replaced by an underhand toss.
8. If in a trap, your sand wedge may now be replaced by our sand shovel.
9. The terms ‘par’ and ‘double bogey’ are hereby interchangeable.
10. If you take more than five strokes, count it as a ‘5’ and move on….there are people waiting!

Alameda real estate this week….
Interest rates jumped big time on Wednesday….something about investors not liking government interference. You’ll notice in the solds this week prices are going over list…but ya gotta remember, list prices are way down….the market does speak!

Want to know more about short sales?
Good knowledge here.
Prepping for a refinance Pay attention!

Active listings 173, 173 last report
Pending listings 83, 84 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 7 with 1 repeat

New 9

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 10

Pending 13

Sold 5

Expired 1

Withdrawn/cancelled 8

Alameda real estate awards this week…remember this is my perspective only

Winner, Bang for the Buck

Cute, Charming

Get me a Facelift

Got me a Makeover

That’s a wrap! Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 21st, 2009

As the parade marches by….


Everybody seems to like a parade! And the most common comment at Alameda’s famous 4th of July parade is “more music!”
The west end needn’t go far to get a lot more music and an amazing display of marching band talent from around California. For years, each May Encinal High School has hosted a huge band and drum line competition. While it was plenty warm last Saturday for the event, the displays of talent were awesome! And the behind the scenes scenes were impressive too. Huge buses, travel coaches, trailers, surrounded Encinal High, off-loading massive boxes and cases of instruments, clothes racks of fresh and pressed uniforms, and food supplies (especially water). Hundreds of parents come along to cheer their kids and bands, put makeup on the twirlers, pick specks of dirt and lint off the uniforms, polish shoes, and polish instruments. The band directors are totally devoted and proud as they coach their armies.

The 300 block of Haight turns the event into a block party that starts in the morning and later in the afternoon turns into a pot luck feast fit for royalty. They even have a trophy they award to the drum line they vote best of show! Another classic example of small town, island living.

Alameda real estate this week…
A bit more on the market. Some quick pending sales. Pricing tells the story (sold or not sold, deal or no deal). Pent up demand. Some multiple offers on non-stressed sales (except that the market is off 20-30% from the highs depending on the usual suspects – location, location, location, and condition).

Active listings 173
Pending listings 84

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 9 with 1 repeat

New 14

BOM (back on market) 0

Price change 4

Pending 15

Sold 11

Expired 2

Withdrawn/ Cancelled 1

Alameda real estate awards this week….remember this is my perspective only!

Winner, Bang for the Buck, Got Me a Makeover

Cute, charming

Get Me a Facelift (4 way tie)

Get Me to Rehab

If you have an American flag fly it this weekend. I like to take a moment and give quiet thanks for those whose ultimate sacrifice continues to allow us to vote California propositions/ballot initiatives down.

Enjoy your weekend! Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 14th, 2009

Memories and stained glass…often colorful, transparent, beautiful, radiant, cracked.

(The numbers in the header photo read backwards….and that’s because the best light to shoot the glory of the original stained glass windows was when the natural daylight back-lit the designs. I had the privilege of listing this six unit Victorian about 4 years ago…and yes, it sold!)

I spent a couple of hours this evening writing an offer with a young client referred to me, who, as a first time buyer, is trying to find a decent discounted house and make it a home.

Decent and discounted are not the most compatible words in the world of short-sales and REO’s (real estate owned by the bank). We’ve seen some stinky places, trashed out places, places that seem they are sliding down a hill, places below BART tracks, places backing up to freeways or super busy streets. We’ve seen small houses, and smaller houses. But through it all he’s realized the side-benefits of buying now include some potentially amazing prices, terrific interest rates, and the First Time Buyer $8,000 tax credit!

Writing an offer is often a great time for some Real Estate 101. Sharing an occasional personal story can make the process easier. Asking if the newbie Buyer knows what escrow is/does leads to a story if he/she is not sure of the answer. The answer is simple enough…an escrow holder is a neutral third party that acts only when receiving agreeing and concurrent instructions given in writing by the principals in the transaction. No agreement, everything stops.

Here’s my story about escrow:

When I was growing up my family moved more than the norm. I went to 3 different schools in 4th grade and it wasn’t because I was kicked out of each one. Rather, my dad received numerous promotions and job transfers with the company he worked for over the course of decades, eventually retiring at the ripe old age of 49 (you read that right).

As the oldest of 4 squirrelly kids (the other 3 were boys), I was often aware that family dynamics were changing. Typical of those times, our parents didn’t speak too openly about anything in front of their kids. And much of what they did say was unexplained. Example: THE TALK about s-e-x. Ooops, I digress.

Yet there would come the moment when they’d announce we were moving – again. And they’d say “We’re in escrow.” Okay, whatever. I thought we lived in Costa Mesa, or Daly City, or La Jolla, or San Rafael, or Newport Beach. But I guess we were in Escrow. And the only thing I could relate that to was some place I’d heard of – Fresno. So I assumed Escrow must be a town or city near Fresno, and that was where we were moving to. Escrow. Again. And we were in it. Again. But we never moved to Escrow or Fresno. And for that, my friends, I remain very grateful.

Alameda real estate this week….
It was a banner week for east end home inventory. Three houses went for sale on Windsor. And the number of ‘new’ listings has been something we’ve been waiting for. 16 new, not counting Thomsen’s Garden Center that came on the market a couple of weeks ago and another was withdrawn and reinserted as new. Some properties are selling in very short order.

To make it easy to contrast and compare here are the three Windsor properties:
2951 Windsor
3042 Windsor
2919 Windsor

Active listings 170, 164 last report
Pending listings 82, 74 last report

Highest priced new listing there were 2 higher, but they were re-inserts
Lowest priced new listing

Tuesday tour 11 with 2 repeats

New 18

BOM (back on market) 0

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 4

Expired 0

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

Alameda real estate awards this week....remember this is only my perspective!

Winner, Got me a Makeover

Cute, Charming

Get me a Facelift

Bang for the Buck

Out of Rehab

Have a great weekend!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 7th, 2009

Open doors, open houses, open minds

(I took this week’s photo several years ago at a Victorian duplex I had listed. It sold in short order. The preserved hardware was exquisite! For me the symbolism is good…am I opening doors or closing them? With the barrage of media blasts about all things lousy, I find I need to be super selective about what I let into my mental house!)

I have loads of stuff to share this week. We’ll start with a continuation of the door theme. Below is an edited excerpt from an email communication about three weeks ago I wrote to a client whose condo will come on the market in the next week or so. Tim said I could share this. His brother had some input about open houses and how he thought they were important.

Many of you know I am not a fan of repetitive open houses. And many of you know that I call a spade a spade. Open houses are a chance for an agent to set up shop for a couple of hours in a property with the sole intent of trying to find business off those who come through. And that’s fine. But it’s important to realize that over 80% of real estate shopping and property screening is done online these days. I wrote:

I am constantly shocked and dismayed by how few agents use virtual tours, lots of still photos, a floor plan, and then create (read buy) a single-property website that makes for one stop shopping. I even do it for fixer properties! Get the info out there! Better than weekend open houses, let the people attend an open house 24/7 from their desks at work or home (we know it happens all day long), then get the info, then do their drive-by (even that can be virtual via Google), and then call their agent for a private showing. Consumers love it and appreciate it. And for properties located in gated communities, the other residents don’t get upset by having spectators wandering around the site, with no control over where they are going and not knowing if they are a guest or stranger. After all, the owners paid for those gates for a reason. It has seemed to obvious to me how important it is to honor owners’ spaces ever since I started the biz 23 years ago.

As I said, now we take the properties to the world, literally, and it’s their choice to click on it or not. But the game of ‘let ’em come to us’ is over. Yet the same principle has remained constant. IN all markets, good or bad, all momentum (or lack of) starts with PRICE. Get it right and get it right early on. If it’s not right…adjust it to the point the private showings start, and then offers (or lack thereof) will reflect what the market thinks.’

Financing subjects:
-Check out some details involving national efforts for preventing foreclosures, including incentives for loan officers who successfully modify a loan gone bad.
-What up with jumbo loans?

City subjects:
-Want to see the published list for salaries of city employees?
-Want to see the list of city jobs cut on Wednesday?
-Want to get accurate news in a timely manner about A-town? Please check out The Island . I’ve traded emails with the writer who has a journalism background, a deep concern about Alameda, and does an amazing job of fact gathering and checking. A couple of months ago I mentioned in an email to her that I was disappointed that the salaries of city employees (ruled as public info last year) had yet to be published for Alameda. Low and behold, the first list showed up last Friday on The Island. I’ve been really impressed. I decided to subscribe and paid the $25 for the daily notice I get about the blog update. It is fair, not vicious, and much needed. I’ve put the blog in the sidebar as one of my favorites and because of it, I’ve been able to share the info regarding city employee salaries and the job cuts with you.

Great neighborhood event of the week, month, year: Dear friends (and clients) of mine invited me and a few dozen of their friends and neighbors to Soup Night last Monday evening. It was low-key, awesome, and delicious! And they’ve been refining and expanding it over the past year. They got the idea from an article that appeared in Sunset Magazine a couple of years ago and went for it! 3 soups, some condiments, simple drinks…2 hours on a Monday. What a way to create and cherish friendships….in a time that really demands reaching out to each other. Yea for D&M!

Great FREE entertainment: Concerts at the Cove start up Friday night at 5:30. I’ve been a huge fan of these events for years. Ride your bike, walk over, even drive! This year it’s all starting a month early and tonight features a classical quartet. It should be excellent.

Alameda real estate this week:

Active listings 164, 159 last report
Pending listings 74, 60 last report

Highest priced new listing
(well, highest but not new…took a rest and price came down)
Lowest priced new listing

Tuesday tour 14 with 4 repeats

New 16

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 5

Expired 8

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

Alameda real estate awards this week….remember this is only my perspective!

Winner, Bang for the Buck

Cute, charming (tie!)
Cute, charming

Get me to Rehab
(tie!)
Get me to Rehab both of these have units that need to be rebuilt.

Have a really nice weekend. After the wonderful and gentle rainy days we had, this weekend may feel like summer – it sure did on Thursday!

Carry on! Marilyn