THE SECOND STORY | August 4th, 2020

Things Have Changed


The soothsayer in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar issued his famous warning “Beware the Ides of March.” Who knew that in 2020, around the middle of March, the world, as we knew it, would force such dramatic changes on us from the Coronavirus.

In America, it has brought our economy to its knees as we sheltered in place for over four months. During this time, changes have affected our lives and many of those changes could be permanent.

Previously, smaller homes were becoming the trend for not only efficiency but upkeep so owners would have more time to do things including travel. Now, travel is minimal and our world, in some respects, is reduced to our home.

For families with children, their home has become a school. With so many people working from home, it has become our office or store or studio. If there is more than one working adult in a home, it needs to have space for each party to work. The home fitness industry is experiencing record sales in exercise equipment so the home can become a gym.

Since we’re all spending more time at home, it is also the place to recreate. We’re cooking more; a larger kitchen and dining area would be nice. We want to enjoy the yard, garden, pool or balcony and our current home may not even have them or we’d like to upgrade.

People are wanting and needing more space to do all of these things at home. Many experts are anticipating that these changes we thought were temporary may be part of the new normal even after a vaccine and cure have been discovered.

If you have had any of these thoughts and would like to know more about how to buy or sell a home in our current market, we would love to tell you about the many options available while being responsible to stay safe. Whether it is buying for the first time, moving up or moving on, I would like to help. Call me at (510) 908-9021.

THE SECOND STORY | July 31st, 2020

Letting them know who you are….

I ordered this from in the past week. I think this is really smart advertising. Why not print the company name like it was handwritten on the box on every side of the package? Somebody is onto something. Kinda nuts, eh? Well, maybe not if the box contains something electronic….

I hope you are taking some time to go through these property reports….they say/show so much more than just the address and the photos. The graphs are interesting…and it kind of gives an overview of the market. They also give Zillow (qu)esstimates.


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active listings 44 including 1 BOM

Days on market   High 1181   Low 8  Avg 91  Median 23

Pending listings 12 including 4 PSB

Days on market   High 52  Low 0  Avg 13  Median 8

Sold listings 15   

Days on market   High 125  Low 0  Avg 22  Median 12

OK! That’s a wrap for this summary. Questions? Give me a call, email!  And if I (or my phone) don’t recognize your phone number, I probably won’t return your text msg.  There’s just too much weirdness going on out there!

Let me know if you have questions and/or need referrals…! Be safe, wear a mask, and be well!

Best, marilyn



THE SECOND STORY | July 28th, 2020

Do you like to negotiate?


Whether you like to or not, buying and selling a home involves negotiation at all stages of the process. It is not like the retail world where once you decide to purchase, you pay the price. It is easily the most expensive purchase or sale that most people experience and emotions get involved that could affect the negotiations adversely.

The word “home” by itself conjures up emotions and selling a home you’ve lived in for a while could even complicate things more. A real estate professional can separate their emotions from the process to be able to help the one they are representing.

The price of the home, the type of financing and concessions, closing costs, personal property, closing dates and possession are just a few of the many things that can be negotiated in a contract. Since the seller wants to get the most for their house and the buyer wants to pay the least, their objectives are diametrically opposed.

Even after the contract is signed, removing the contingencies can cause considerable negotiations. The appraisal, the inspections or the repairs could be a source of reevaluating the terms and provisions of the contract.

Negotiating the sale or purchase of a home is a competition; for one person to get something, someone has to give something up. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, it is important to work with an agent who can bring their skills to the table on your behalf. As your advocate, they can champion your position.

I’d like to share how my skills, training and experience can benefit you in a sale or purchase. Call me at .

THE SECOND STORY | July 23rd, 2020


I took this photo from Ballena Bay, this week. Once again, instant air conditioning!

This covid thing does have a small upside to it. We appreciate more folks, even if we don’t know them, and we appreciate our neighbors more than ever.

This morning I had a phone call from a friend/Broker…and although he and his wife have been through some very rough times (losing their son), he is so upbeat! That takes some mental strength and some strength from deep inside the heart.

Late this afternoon I had a meeting with some other friends. Yep, they wore their masks and we kept our distance. We spoke about everything….although they really wanted some real estate advice. He knows more about this town than I’ll ever know.

I am so blessed.

Now let’s get into real estate.


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active listings 44 including 2 PCH  

Days on market   High 1173  Low 1  Average 90  Median 20

Pending listings 16 including 4 PSB

Days on market   High 108  Low 0  Average 21  Median 9

Sold listings 19

Days on market   High 34  Low 0  Average 12  Median 12

PS I’m so grateful for those who have contacted me, just this week (locally or from out of state), asking for vendor referrals for their property here in Alameda:

-a loan Broker (for 2 different clients)

– painters 

-a client who lives out of state who needed a paralegal to have some documents signed and filed with the Alameda County Assessor

-a couple who needed a roof referral and fireplace vendors 

If you have a need for a vendor referral….let me know! And if you have a great vendor let me know.

Referrals are the best way to find a quality person to do a job!

Carry on! Be well, be safe, have fun (safely)! Call, text, em, me if you have real estate questions. If I can’t answer them logically and thoroughly, then I’ll find somebody who can answer them for you or direct you to someone you can call. 

best, marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | July 16th, 2020

The fog is in the city…not in Alameda

Alameda’s natural air-conditioning – the FOG!

And a structure of driftwood along Shoreline.

This week I closed the listing/ @ 221 Central Ave. (the house across the street from the Encinal High School jet). If you look to the column on the right side you’ll see some of those details. Many memories were made at the home,  and I hope the new owners will make many more! We had 5 offers. 

The Sellers moved to Duluth, MN! I just heard on either the radio or TV that Sellers are moving out of CA because the cost of living is so high. I’ve seen that for the last couple of years….folks are getting out of Dodge.

Now that folks are working out of their houses/apts/condos/townhomes and not driving to work so much (f at all), I get it. Mostly you can work anywhere as long as you have a high-speed internet connection.

This is a link to the report that I just rec’d from the CA Association of Realtors regarding the June sales.

It’s pretty interesting….just scan through it and you find some columns that are pretty revealing!


AC (active contingent on selling another property)

PCH (price change)

PSB (pending sale, want backups)


Active listings 40 including 3 PCH

Days On Market   High  1156   Low 0   Avg 99   Median 25

Pending listings 11 

Days on Market  High 50  Low 0 Avg 15  Median 25

Sold 9 listings 

Days on Market  High 20  Low 0  Avg 11  Median 9

OK! That’s a wrap! Have a nice weekend. If you head out, wear your mask, be happy, and let your smile show with those squished up eyes! 

Best, marliyn

THE SECOND STORY | July 14th, 2020

Who Decides Value?


The seller can put a price on the home but the value is ultimately, determined by the buyer. Individually, a buyer could pay over market value because they love the location, or the elevation of the home or the proximity to something that is important to them. The shortage of available homes resulting in increased competition among buyers could drive the value higher.

Most experts agree initially pricing it properly will generally result in the highest sales price. If a home starts out too high, it could actually sell for a lower price after it has been on the market for a while. It gives the impression that there must be something “wrong” with the house because it didn’t sell immediately.

So, how does a seller determine what price to put on the home? It has nothing to do with what the seller needs to get out of it. Nor does the price the seller paid for it make any difference now. Even if the seller made considerable improvements, they may not affect the value of the home.

There are three common sources for a seller to determine market value: an appraisal, a broker price opinion or an automated value model found online.

AVM, automated value models, are mathematical estimates that analyze limited public record data to determine a value. While this process can easily compare square footage, age, number of bedrooms as objective data, it is much more challenging to make adjustments for subjective data like appeal, quality of construction, floorplan and updating. Zillow Zestimates are the most common AVMs but there are many others providing similar services.

Appraisals can only be made by a licensed appraiser. Most mortgages require an appraisal as part of the underwriting process to verify that there is ample collateral to secure the mortgage in case of default by the borrower. FHA, VA, FNMA, Freddie Mac and USDA as well as most private lenders require an appraisal especially for high loan-to-value mortgages. In some situations where the risk is lower, some lenders may use an AVM.

An appraisal requires the appraiser to visit the property, perform a visual inspection, analyze the property considering three approaches to value and accurately report the property information that is verifiable.

Broker Price Opinion, BPO, as the name indicates, is a price opinion on a property made by a licensed real estate agent. The determination of whether the estimate accurately reflects the market will depend on the experience of the agent with that type of property and market area. It is possible that a BPO could be more sensitive to the actual market because it will consider homes currently for sale and recently expired properties as well as comparable sales.

While all three methods, used recent, comparable sales to arrive at a value, the appraiser and the real estate professional can make a series of adjustments for the differences in the comparables. While the appraiser is highly trained in this technique, the real estate professional also adds credibility to this process based on their experience in how the buying public might react to specific features and the home in general including positive and negative influences.

Current condition of the property is very important for a number of reasons. In some price ranges, a buyer may only have the necessary down payment and closing costs but is not able to make improvements like paint, floor coverings, appliances or other major items. In this situation, a buyer would have to live with the house in its current condition until they could afford to make wanted improvements.

Investors may not be deterred by making an additional investment in the home after purchasing it but will probably be motivated to do so only if it will increase the potential profit to be made.

An AVM can be a tool that a homeowner, prospective buyer, mortgage officer, appraiser or real estate agent can use to get a quick idea of price but there are inherent limitations that can only be considered by personal examination balanced with experience in the market place.

Experience and understanding of the subject property and the marketplace are critical to having confidence that a value is accurate. Any person could go through the same steps to arrive at a value but an experienced, well-trained professional is far more likely to assess all of the variables more accurately. If you are curious what your home is worth, call (510) 908-9021 or email marilynschu

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.