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

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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!