THE SECOND STORY | October 29th, 2009

Another type of scary…not doing due diligence.

(This shot was sent to me just before I started working on the post. Ken and Connie…you guys are over the top with your decorations (well, not as over the top as others in town) but the results of your pumpkin carving contest tonight….this is incredible! I am super impressed with the artists’ efforts! Ever since I came to Alameda as a very young bride in early October, 1973 I have not ceased to be amazed at how Alameda decorates for Halloween!

After the post item…. 10-30-09 11:30am, I’ve been informed that the photo is courtesy of, AnneKohler Professional Photographer, check out that website. It is gorgeous! Credit due where credit earned.)

Post/Title Story: Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to visit some properties where some substantial changes were made, but they just didn’t work out the way the owners thought. Examples:

An owner built a most bizarre ‘addition’ to the house. It was obvious it did not have permits, and I was told, second hand, that it did not need permits because of its smallish size (I have not verified that). It went up two levels, sat on the property back corner of a very small lot, no set-backs were honored, and it was definitely unsafe. complete with weird windows, exposed wiring, a funked out laundry area, and wonky steps that made me a bit reluctant to use them. It was used as a living space. Also a garage was converted to a camping out space.

One spouse bought the other out of the property for $50,000 and refinanced the loan to get the previous owner off. This was done relatively recently. The appraisal came in quite high and without it the departing owner would not have gotten the amount agreed upon. Suffice it to say, I was nothing but bad news to these folks. Maybe I was on overkill. So the remaining owner not only overpaid, but inherited what I considered huge liabilities. Along with those two big issues, were the ones still remaining in the actual home – that’s another story.

Dear friends, if you think you are getting the steal or deal of the century, have some extra eyes check it out BEFORE you sign on the dotted line. Get some good real estate agents/brokers to give an opinion of value and look it over to assess how it might eventually fit into the marketplace. How about getting an appraisal from a disinterested third party (yep, $400 is cheaper than $50,000), BEFORE you sign up for financing so you can with some authority determine a real market price. How about hiring someone to actually represent you in the private transaction to be sure that city ordinances are complied with properly?

I know of instances where properties have changed title with a buy-out on private ‘deals’ and the buyer had no clue about the zoning. That can make a huge difference as to whether financing can actually be obtained or what the cost of specialty financing might be! A new listing this week came on the market and the agent did not have written documentation from the city verifying what the zoning was for the site.

There have been many examples when folks have not taken the time to figure out the tax consequences of completing a real estate transaction BEFORE closing the ‘deal’ because it was such a ‘steal’. That can be a rude awakening.

We are not all experts at everything. I call on my accountant to be sure of my decisions. I call my lending contacts to see if there is something I’m missing in loan papers. I call on my best escrow officer to see if she can catch something I’m not seeing. I call on my estate attorney to be sure my personal papers are in order. Recently I had a big go-round in August re-grouping on my property insurance which resulted in the same coverage but with the premium reduced 25% Oh yeah, that was the result of that great escrow officer who sees what insurers are offering.

Gosh, just yesterday I made a call to ATT, triggered by a text message I got from them about a change in my billing that I didn’t make! That turned out okay because a credit card date was extended, but since I had them on the line I asked about my phone programs. Now I’m getting lots more bang for very few extra bucks. You can be sure that they were plenty happy with my excessive long distance minutes at home and the extra charges. But they sure didn’t call me about that! But I wasn’t paying attention and had a wake up call, so to speak.

Save the scary for Halloween. Take a bit of time to mitigate drama and trauma! Do the due diligence.


Jaw’in on the front porch (articles of interest – might be worth sharing?)
We know it’s a mortgage mess….digging out
Short sales….market them smartly!
Getting the gold in the Golden State! This is a terrific article.


Alameda real estate this week….
1209 Eagle went pending, after 8 days on the market….price, condition, reports/inspections upfront go a long way.

It was fun to get a pat on the back last Sunday when several people at the open house commented on the website for 1209Eagle . One consumer even told her agent he needed to start doing that type of site for listings. It is so worth the time, effort, and a few dollars to buy the template, include a floor plan, virtual tour, video tour, reports and inspections. I even use websites for the not-so-pristine properties I list! C’mon everybody, give the consumers what they want!

Another totally fun and cool, but now totally necessary tool I’ve started to use in the last week is DocuSign. This is electronic signatures. It is fabulous. Not only does it save time that would have been spent on prepping documents for signatures, it eliminates printing and scanning and sending back again, as long as all we need is signatures. If forms need to be filled out you can’t do that since the items are sent as PDFs and you can’t fill those out online. From my client across the street to those in CO, UT, and TX this week…..this is AWESOME! Yeah, it costs me some money and so do the websites but YOU ARE WORTH IT (oh, that’s right, so am I).

Active listings 130, 130 last report
Pending listings 91, 96 last report

Tuesday tour (7 with 1 repeat)

Highest priced NEW listing

Lowest priced NEW listing

New 11

Back on Market (BOM) 1

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 12

Expired – 5 some show up as NEW

Withdrawn/cancelled 6 (some show up as NEW)

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

Cute, charming and Get me a lift (not a facelift, an engineered lift that has been factored into the price to mitigate the sloping in the front of the house)

That’s a wrap! Carry on! Enjoy the weekend! Fall back with those clocks on Sat night otherwise you’ll be late for church, your brunch date, your sporting event, or whatever you do on Sundays!

Best, 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!