THE SECOND STORY | July 9th, 2020

You might want to ask these questions about moving and movers…

I found this lovely lady in somebody’s basement or attic. I think it was a basement because of the plywood behind her. I think she was the woman (mannequin) who used to look out an attic window on Central.

I hope your Independence Day was pleasant. I have a client I’m working with and he heard gunshots all along the shoreline. Some folks are just plain stupid.

I copied this ‘moving’ checklist from somewhere. But it seems really good!

What is the charge for packing?
Does it include boxes? If not, what do they cost and will you deliver them?
Is there an additional charge to deliver some items to a storage unit?

How is a damage claim handled?
What insurance do you provide and is there a cost?
Does the insurance cover items packed by the owner?
Can additional insurance be purchased?
If items are covered by my Homeowner’s insurance, whose insurance pays first?

Unusual Items
Can you ship my car(s)? Will they be in the moving van or towed?
What are the charges for shipping cars, lawn tractors, etc?
What items cannot be shipped?
If a shuttle truck is needed because of the location of my house or size of the driveway, is there an additional charge?
If packing and loading are on different days, can you leave the beds and other basics out for us to use?

What dates are available for our move?
What date will you pack and how long will this take?
What date will you load the van?
What date will the van arrive at my new location?
If my new home is not ready for delivery, how many days can it be delayed before there is a charge?
What is the charge for additional days or weeks?

Are there any additional fees that I’m responsible for that have not been discussed?
What are the terms of payment?
Is a down payment required?
When will the balance be due and who is authorized to accept it?

Alameda Real Estate this Week


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)

Active listings 37 including 1 AC, 1 PCH

Days on Market  high 1152, low 7, avg 109, median 29

Pending listings 11 including 2 PSB

Days on Market  high 125, low 0, avg 22, median 12

Sold listings 10

Days on Market  high 54, low 0, avg 24, median 21

If you’d like a current CMA (Comparable Market Analysis) for your property let me know. It’s based on algorithms, and those don’t tell you the condition (interior or exterior), and they don’t do the inspections for you)!

Be smart, be safe, wear masks, and stay 6′ away from others! We aren’t through this yet.  best,  marilyn


THE SECOND STORY | July 7th, 2020

Good Decision for a Second Opinion


You’ve done your homework, contacted a mortgage company and believe you are pre-approved. That part of the process is finished and you can concentrate of finding a home and moving…or can you?

Pre-qualified and pre-approved are two different things but some people, including some in the business, use the terms interchangeably. Pre-qualified is an opinion of likelihood that a borrower will be approved based on preliminary information about their income and credit. Whereas, in a pre-approval, the borrower’s credit report is updated and pulled, income and assets verified and involves pre-underwriting.

Even when you have a highly qualified loan officer, the real decision maker is the underwriter who can commit the lender. Generally speaking, a person who has been pre-approved receives a written letter stating the terms and conditions of the commitment.

A second opinion from a different lender can be a comforting thing for a borrower. It will either confirm that the first lender was correct and that the rate and terms being offered are competitive or it will reveal that there could be differences that would warrant more investigation.

Mortgage money is a commodity and while competition usually keeps lenders close to each other in the rates and terms they offer, you won’t know for sure unless you shop around. The cost for being pre-approved is usually a nominal amount and when you are considering the size of the mortgage you’ll be borrowing for up to thirty years, it makes sense to get a second opinion.

Occasionally, during the process of being pre-approved, an unexpected credit problem may be discovered. It is better to learn about it early so you’ll have time to correct it before you have contracted on a home.

Your real estate professional, Marilyn Schumacher, will be able to recommend lenders who are active, experienced in the area and can share their experience with you regarding previous loans they have made. The benefits far exceed the time and effort it takes. You’ll be looking at the right priced homes; getting the best loan, rate and terms; have increased negotiating power with the Seller and can close quicker because many of the verifications have already been made.

THE SECOND STORY | July 2nd, 2020

Independence Day applies to all every day!!

Even though this world seems really messed up…..if we keep the higher goal in mind….all lives DO matter, including Black lives, LGBT lives, Hispanic lives, ALL LIVES (even those martian lives who live out of this world).


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active listings 35  (including 2 A/C, 1 BOM, 1 PCH)

Days on Market  high 1152, low 6, avg 113, median 34

Pending listings 18  (including 3 PSB)

Days on Market  high 50, low 0, avg 23, 1 median

Sold listings 10

Days on Market  high 92, low 0, avg 23, median 12

I hope you find a way to wear your masks, don’t set off any fireworks, wear your masks, enjoy/comfort others that are going through the same circumstances, wear your masks, and don’t torch anybody’s home, apartments, vehicles (i.e. don’t set fires by shooting off rockets)!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 30th, 2020

Prepaying Your Mortgage


Paying off your mortgage can provide peace of mind and is a worthy goal but is it the best thing for you to do at this time.

Do you have higher interest rate debt currently? If you have credit card debt with double-digit rates or personal, car or student loans, you’ll probably save more money from interest by paying these things off before you pay off your mortgage which is usually one of the lower rates on debt.

Many financial advisors recommend funding your annual retirement contribution before paying down a mortgage. If your company offers matching funds for your contribution, you would be leaving money on the table by not making the contribution to your retirement. For instance, you would be getting a $10,000 value by putting $5,000 into your retirement if your company matches it.

Creating an emergency fund is another favorite of financial advisors. When the rainy day arrives and you need funds, it may be difficult to get money from the equity of your home, especially if you have lost your job. Six months’ worth of living expenses is a good target to have available should you need it and a year’s worth would be even better.

Children’s college funds may be another priority that takes precedent overpaying off the mortgage. Whether you’re saving or investing to pay for their education, it is going to cost more than it did when you were in school.

When you are ready to start paying off your mortgage, decide on the best way to do it. Regular principal contributions on a monthly basis are very predictable and will get the job done. Setting up an automatic bill pay with your bank will assure that you don’t re-prioritize that extra amount every month because there is always going to be something else to do with extra money.

It is important to be sure that the lender applies the additional payment amounts to the principal and not to the escrow account.

Use the Refinance Analysis to see what extra amount you’d have to pay to retire your mortgage in a certain time frame or by making a specific additional amount each payment, you can find out when the loan will be paid. Regardless of which way you go, prepaying a loan will save interest, build equity and shorten the term on a fixed-rate mortgage.

THE SECOND STORY | June 26th, 2020

Real estate is a mental game…from all sides.

Have loads of lemons and some tomatoes, but these tomatoes  kind of look like red chiles.


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


I think about my job/enterprise/work a lot! I want to please everybody! But sometimes that’s just not possible.

I was updating my listing presentation this afternoon and this evening..and was looking at some of the letters/notes that were written by clients (now friends) to me over the past years.

They are so kind and grateful! I never know when I’ll hit a chord with clients. But each client can be a true relationship. I say ‘can’…not ‘is.’

I’m at the time, right now, to be able to sit at a table and just listen. However, that’s a bit difficult at this moment because we’re not allowed to sit at tables these days with clients.

I was speaking with some folks recently…and laying down the line. Does one of us cross the line, or not? We weren’t getting anywhere, and they were frustrated with the real estate process…and so was I.

First things first…I let them know they had some options. They could fire me. They could drop the price. They could keep the price where they wanted (i.e. wished it would be), and the property would sit…vacant…

Real estate is rough. It can be severe. It can be rewarding. These clients can AND do live the life they want: surrounded by family via phone, skype, zoom. But to keep comparing the current to the ancient a real waste of time and life.

Here’s to moving on: both mentally and physically.

Active listings 39 (including 2 AC, 1 BOM  3 PCH)

Days on market  High 1146  Low 2   Avg 107  Median 33

Pending listings 14 (including 3 PCH)

Days on market   High 56  Low 3  Avg 16  Median 12

Sold listings 7

Days on market   High 69  Low 0  Avg 23  Median 9

Have a great weekend and wear your mask! 

best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun’ blog… 

THE SECOND STORY | June 23rd, 2020

Lower Your Cost of Housing


Homeowners still have considerable advantages from the amortization of the mortgage and the appreciation enjoyed by most homes even with taking the standard deduction instead of itemizing to take the interest and property tax deduction.

There is an adage, “Rent or buy, you pay for the house you occupy.” You either pay for it yourself or for your landlord. The people who have job security, sufficient income, good credit and the funds for the down payment and closing costs can enjoy the many financial and emotional benefits of homeownership.

Looking at a $350,000 home purchased with an FHA mortgage with 3.5% down payment at 3.25% interest for 30-years, the total payment would be $2,420 a month. During the first year, the average monthly principal reduction is $573 a month which build the owner’s equity in the home.

At an estimated 3% appreciation, this home would increase in value at the rate of $875 a month during the first year which again builds the owner’s equity in the home.

Even if you consider the buyer will now be responsible for repairs and possibly homeowner’s association fees, the monthly net cost of housing in this example is $1,122 or less than half the monthly payment. The difference goes to equity which a tenant does not benefit from.

If the buyer were paying $2,750 monthly rent, they would be paying $1,628 more each month to rent than to own. In a year’s time, they would lose $19,500 of equity by continuing to rent. The down payment in this example is only $12,250 which would leave $7,000 to pay for buyer’s closing costs.

Purchase Price $350,000
Down Payment $12,250
Total Monthly Payment (PITI + MIP) $2,420
Less Monthly Principal Reduction (average first year) $573
Less Monthly Appreciation (average first year at 3% annually) $875
Plus Estimated Maintenance & HOA $175
Net Cost of Housing $1,122

The equity for the homeowner in this example at the end of seven years would be almost $140,000 based on the appreciation and amortization of the mortgage. Whether you rent or buy, you pay for the house you occupy.

Use this Rent vs. Own to plug in your own numbers for the price home you’d like to buy. If you need help with it, contact me and we can do it over the phone at (510) 908-9021 or in an online meeting.

THE SECOND STORY | June 18th, 2020

Pre-qual, Pre-approved, HOAs & repairs….

What’s the difference between being pre-qualified for a loan or pre-approved for a loan? What’s the difference between a Mortgage Broker and just walking into your bank?

Pre-approved means the lender has run the numbers: your bank account balance, your investment portfolio (you get that from your financial advisor not the lender), whether you’re getting a gift of cash from a relative. That way you’re prepared to make an offer once you find something that fits your budget.

A Mortgage Broker has relationships with a lot of lenders, not just 1 bank.

And be sure to find out if the property has an HOA (homeowners association).  There are some very good HOA’s out there. And there are some with terrible reputations i.e. they ignore repairs and then assess you megabucks once they get threatened by their insurance company that they’ll drop the HOA.

Some HOA’s have board members that are looking out for themselves. They don’t give all (or any) of the homeowners updated minutes, financial statements, or an overview of bids for repairs and/or replacements for the near future or for estimates of items that are further into the future.

You may need to be a bit overbearing with the HOA…because you need the info now so you won’t be surprised when the fees are raised, or surprise renovations are required. And do not be shocked if you’re elected to the Board. The board needs strong folks, but also kind folks to be able to reason with the other homeowners.


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active 43 including 2 PCH , 2 AC, 1 BOM

Days on market:

High 20, Low 0, Avg 10, Median 12

Pending 13, including 1 PSB

High 20, Low 10, Avg 10, Median 12

Sold 11

High 20, Low 10, Avg 10, Median 12

We’re done! That’s a wrap! 221 Central received 5 offers today and it’s now pending.

I’ve had several folks call me this week, regarding financing, the market, and what they might consider doing to their property.   Always interesting and fascinating!

Have a great weekend! Wear a mask, and keep 6 feet between you and others! It’s a bit crazy at the beach…too many folks, too close together. argh.


Best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 16th, 2020

Annual Advisory


Homeownership is a privilege and a responsibility. Even after decades of owning a home, you may still need some help to handle some of its challenges by focusing on the three “M”s of homeownership: maintenance, minimizing expenses and managing debt and risk.

While many people recognize the benefits of annual wellness, financial, vehicle and equipment maintenance visits, an important checkup that you may not have considered is an annual homeowner advisory or real estate review. Why would you treat the investment in your home with less care than you treat your car or your HVAC system?

Consider exploring the following:

  • Do you know the current value of your home? (You can, by obtaining a list of comparable sales in your immediate area, as well as what is currently on the market for sale.)
  • Have you compared your assessed value for tax purposes to the fair market value in order to possibly reduce your property taxes?
  • Even if you’ve refinanced in the last two years, can you save money and recapture the cost of refinancing in the length of time you plan to remain in your home?
  • Have you considered reducing your mortgage debt with low-earning cash reserves that will not be needed soon?
  • Do you have a record of the improvements you’ve made to your home since you purchased it? Do you know what items can be included?
  • Have you considered investing in rental homes in good neighborhoods to increase your yields and avoid the volatility of the stock market?
  • When was the last time you updated your home inventory of personal belongings? Do you have pictures as well as written documentation?
  • Do you need recommendations of repairmen and other service providers?

This service is part of my point of difference as a real estate professional to provide information to help homeowners not only when they buy and sell but all the years in between too. My goal is to create lifelong relationships with our customers as their “go to” person whenever they have a real estate question.

My strategy is to provide reliable, consumer-based information about homeownership on a regular basis through email and social networking. If it benefits you by helping you be a better homeowner, maybe you’ll consider us your real estate professional.

When you don’t know the answers to real estate questions, you know where to get them.

We’re always here to serve your real estate needs. By helping you with the three “M”s of homeownership, we can earn your confidence and trust for the next time you move or a friend of yours needs a recommendation.

If you’d like to have a list of the market activity in your area or any of the other information mentioned, please contact me at (510) 908-9021 or marilynschu

THE SECOND STORY | June 11th, 2020

Smell the roses & turn lemons into lemonade….

The pleasures of having a back yard:  lemons and roses.

I know it’s a frustrating time for Buyers and Sellers hoping to buy and sell real estate. However, I believe that what we’re going through now…will be continuing well into the future.

No, I don’t mean the vicious virus. But rather how we do real estate under these circumstances. It is becoming the new normal. And often it’s more efficient.

-No open houses, no Broker Tours, where anyone can stop and just take a look.

-Disclosures and disclaimers about how we show houses (including preapproval letters and the PEAD  – Property Entry and Advisory Disclaimer).  Most of the transactions are done electronically including title and escrow.

While most listing agents have photos taken professionally, now more and more are having trained photographers use Matterport for the floor plans and have folks licensed (by the FAA) take the drone video. And I may have the original floor plans for those ‘newer’ tract (not Victorian) homes, on my computer.

I’m more than happy to say that I’ve been having a pro photographer do these aerial photos and the Matterport floorplans for the last 7 years.

(I will admit that I’ve never walked through a property with Facetime running on my iPhone.) I guess I need to look forward to that!

Definitions =

AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active Listings 40

includes 3 AC, 1 PCH

Days on market  High 1131  Low 4   Avg 99    Median  20

Pending Listings 44

includes 9 PSB

Days on market   High 92   Low 0   Avg 20   Median 13

Sold  7

Days on market  High 48   Low 5   Avg 26   Median 26

I hope you are doing well..and can take advantage of the extra light (almost summer June 20th)!

Let me know if you have questions….and I’ll be honest if I don’t have the answer…but I may talk to others that do have the answer!

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 9th, 2020

Why homebuying begins with the agent


It takes a team of professionals to buy a home like the lender, the appraiser, the inspector, the property insurance agent, the title officer, and others but the real estate professional may play the most critical role.

Baking bread seems so simple. There are only four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water; yet, there are steps that should be followed as well as a certain sequence to get the proper results. Some people mix all of the dry ingredients before adding the hot water to activate the yeast. Other people will activate the yeast in the warm water first to allow it to “bloom.”

Both methods can achieve satisfactory results but one knowledgeable person needs to be in charge of the bread instead of having multiple people to be concerned with just their one ingredient or contribution like mixing, kneading, fermentation, benching, shaping, proofing or baking.

Similarly, in a home purchase, the buyer’s agent can be the one who puts things in the proper order and sees that no steps are missed. The buyer’s agent coordinates between the other professionals with the common goal of getting the home closed on time according to the terms agreed in the sales contract.

Even if a buyer has been through the process before and possibly, multiple times, the buyer’s agent will most likely have far more experience because it is their job. They perform their job on a daily basis and are not personally or emotionally involved like a buyer is.

Your agent understands what and when the various steps should be done and by whom. They have worked with enough of the other professionals to know who is good at their job and can offer recommendations. They have seen the things that make a transaction go smoothly and what can derail one.

Experience is a great teacher, but the lesson does not have to be learned by going through it by yourself. Take the luxury of using your real estate professional’s experience acquired through years of study and practice. Allow your agent to advise you and coordinate the efforts to achieve the results you are expecting and deserve.

Learn more about the process and different steps by downloading the Buyers Guide