THE SECOND STORY | January 8th, 2009


Have you seen this floating around town? I first saw it the 3rd week of November while I was working on clearing out the storage unit I’ve had that has housed Carl’s office stuff. By the grace of God and some basic regrouping I was able to give the space up! I love this lighter-than-air ship ! It’s so quiet and so massive! As soon as I saw it I grabbed my camera, storage unit forgotten, and chased it over to the Oakland North Field. Carl and I had the very rare opportunity to actually fly the Goodyear Blimp a number of years ago. Yep, really take the controls and fly it. You should have seen the faces of the other passengers! That was a delightful side benefit of being an active commercial pilot at the time. I told the Captain I’d give him a good glider ride if he gave us a good blimp ride….he smiled and then once we were level over the estuary….waved me up to the right seat….

Before we get to the business at hand I’d like to say Happy New Year and I hope your holiday season was calm, peaceful, and joyous.

This post is a bit long….lots to catch up on. Sorry it’s posted later than usual. I don’t do html code and for some reason last night when I was working on this when I would insert a link to a property I’d end up with pages of code I’ve never seen and I couldn’t figure it out. I still haven’t figured it out but I’ve been able to cut and paste around it….ggrrr.

And, yes, my extended trip to Maui was wonderful! Thanks for asking! I know I’m a spoiled brat….but I really did do some work (a Second Story blog posting with Nov. sales stats, I took 2 webinar classes, did loads of business reading, emailed with clients who contacted me about moving and then worked to find alternatives for them, thought about how I might improve my services, just let my mind wander). I zoned out completely for the first week buzzing through two novels while enjoying the warmth.

This time I took my golf clubs with me rather than rent them and despite the transport charge (only on the way back….I don’t get it) and a bit of toting hassle (thank goodness for helpful folks and those airport carts which are free everywhere else in the world but the US) it was really worth it. There is nothing like your own stuff. It’s the most I’ve played over there – 4 rounds. It’s not meant to be a golfing trip. Two of the rounds were the best I’ve ever played. Two and a half rounds were by myself and I didn’t cheat with myself either. Got to play with some friends one day and one member of the foursome was Lon Simmons. He’s a friend of one of the players and he lives on Maui now. It was my first time on the very local, low key course, but it’s his stomping ground. It seems that once he saw I could at least hit the ball, I was worthy of some of his coaching and local knowledge…and it was a blast!

I’ve also learned to ship a box of stuff to Maui so I’ve got things I want (books, DVDs, foam beach chair, big beach towel, insulated lunch bag, travel mug, etc.) when I get there. Then I ship it all back the day before I leave. Much easier. And since this is like home away from home it makes sense.

While I was gone I created a new blog called Timely Shares . If you know of anybody (groups, solo travelers, couples, families) who want great places to stay in Maui or Kauai or Arizona check it out. My travel plans are different for the coming year so I have some of my Westin timeshare units available. They are awesome! For friends and clients, friends of friends, and friends of clients, I’m pretty sure I can give some sweet accommodation deals for when they may want to travel….maybe even to places well beyond the islands and Arizona. Check it out.

Even though I shut my brain down, I must have carried a more open and receptive demeanor this trip. People were coming up to me and asking questions about places, events, attractions, if I lived there, and the such. I found I could answer many of them. It was kind of cool. But I was amazed at how many I spoke with who were from the east coast and there for their first time. All age groups. That’s a long way to go. And the tourist industry is begging for attention so it was great to know folks were deciding to take advantage of the quieter times there.

Coming home to the cold (yep, I am the epitome of a weather wimp) was a shock. I don’t remember being this cold this long. I don’t mean just the weather being cold…it is…I mean I’M cold. Once I put on a jacket, scarf, my Ugg boots…they stay on all day even in the house. I’m not complaining….just observing. This is the first time I have ever come close to understanding why there is a ‘snow bird’ industry….folks fleeing the cold for the soothing warmth of lovelier climes.

Think you know the states of the US and geography? Try this….it’s very clever.

The first three rules of real estate have always been known as ‘location, location, location.’ But in ANY market, motivation must be a factor. It just may be more obvious in a down market. Thus this week’s title, exchanges MOTIVATION for the last ‘location’.

While I was gone an offer came in on my listing at 1233 Regent. Buyer and Seller went back and forth but to no avail. One day after I got home, super MOTIVATION kicked in along with loads of logic for my client. So on Christmas Day he had an accepted offer…we just needed a couple of sets of initials so it went pending on 12/26.

Last week, just before New Year’s Eve I interviewed for a listing. The owner was referred to me by a client here in town. I declined the opportunity. Why? Great location, nice property, NOT MOTIVATED! Folks, when you buy real estate and pay over the list 4 years ago, you’ve made a commitment! Then when you put in 60K worth of spa-like bathrooms, a new furnace (yes, a necessity), add in air conditioning (minimal demand for it around here), then accept your dream job out of state….and the market turns on ya….it don’t care what you paid, what you put in it, or what you want out of it! What’s more, there are actually recent sales in this lovely gated community. And they are over 10% lower than what the Seller feels she deserves for her efforts.

On New Year’s Day I wrote an offer for clients on a property that has been sitting for a while. Fabulous location but with some issues. My clients accepted the counter-offer this past Monday morning. In anticipation of that happening we booked inspections the Friday and Saturday before. After a whirlwind of inspections so far this week…we are about to see how MOTIVATED the seller is. We are a bit skeptical but need to see it through to the end.

One of the thought processes I had on Wednesday morning was that it was too bad we didn’t have the perfect buyers for the property. Then I realized that we DID have the perfect buyers. We just didn’t have the ‘perfect’ market! Despite the significant surprises the inspections have revealed, they are still interested…but not at the price agreed upon. See it’s one thing to put a property on the market with loads of reports and inspections and info. It helps eliminate surprises. It’s another to consciously decide that thorough inspections aren’t necessary. It only creates surprises, and new material facts for the next folks to dwell on if it doesn’t work out with the current prospects. It will be very interesting to see what happens.

As many of you have heard me say, “Save the surprises for birthdays. Surprises don’t belong in real estate.”

PAY ATTENTION! an quick excerpt from my California Association of Realtors online weekly update “Wells Fargo was offering 30-year conforming loans at 5 percent plus one point, while Bank of America was offering the same kind of loan at 6.625 percent plus one point on the same day in December 2008.”

I had to go into Bank of America the other day and they had their rates posted. 4.25% for 417K or less…WOW! Then I moved my eyes to the right and it was 2.65 points! Call me if you’d like reliable lender referrals…straight talk about the choices. I have one client who has recently decided to go with a reverse mortgage (they have changed quite a bit in the past year) and he is much calmer about his financial situation. Not everybody offers everything, plus we have the challenge of being sure a refi will appraise this days. Call if you have questions.

Again, from the above noted source “Stricter underwriting standards, higher down payment requirements, and more rigid credit score requirements are leading many home buyers to apply for Federal Housing Agency mortgage loans. Loans issued through an FHA-approved lender often require only a 3.5 percent down payment and borrowers can have credit scores in the 600 range, as opposed to 720 or higher — the standard for most financial institutions. It’s important to note that although FHA loans appear to be the best option for many home buyers, borrowers with FHA loans often pay a higher premium for mortgage insurance. ” NOTE from marilyn: the mortgage insurance can be a killer. The goal is to logically explore options.

In the next few days I’ll post the December sales activity and sales graphs. For now I’m focusing on what we’ve got since the 1st of January.

Alameda real estate this week….

Active listings 146, 175 last report

Pending listings 58, 60 last report

Highest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

Lowest priced new listing Click Here to View Listings

New 11 Click Here to View Listings

Price changes Click Here to View Listings

BOM (back on market) 3 Click Here to View Listings

Pending 12 Click Here to View Listings

Sold 4 Click Here to View Listings

Expired 17 Click Here to View Listings

Withdrawn/cancelled 1 Click Here to View Listings

No awards this week….the pickings are too slim!

Have a great weekend! Here’s to positive change for all of us despite the world’s glaring declarations of insurmountable issues.

Carry on! Marilyn

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I arrived in Alameda in 1973, as a new bride...with husband Carl Schumacher, both of us from Newport Beach. He was embarking on his career as a Naval Architect (i.e. yacht designer) under Gary Mull. Please see the 'ABOUT ME' page in this website! to see how it has all turned out! I'm so blessed!