THE SECOND STORY | November 12th, 2009

Alameda magic…

(Two years ago to the day I took this shot on the beach between Sushi House and the post office. I’ve used it once or twice as a marketing postcard. I think I’d been cleaning up the back yard and the carriage house when I realized something was about to happen in the sky. I jumped in the car rather than on my bike in case time was of the essence or if I needed to move around a bit to catch whatever was going to reveal itself before my eyes. Once I parked and went onto the sand I barely moved for about 45 minutes. I had the time and I could wait it out. I already had taken several wonderful shots of the sunset and I knew they were good. Then, as if on cue and with a silent director yelling ‘action!’ the kayaker came easing out of the shadows and into the light. It really was magical.)

Post/Title Story: Magic in a public record book? I had an opportunity this week to spend about 3 hours figuring out how to explain to a lender that the appraiser for a 110+ year old house may have been a bit off course when asking if a half bath had a permit. If I showed you the photo of the subject bath, even if you had no training in forensics, you’d be able to tell that they just don’t build sink fixtures like they used to 60-90 years ago, that they just don’t have the same trim boards like they used to 60-110 years ago, and that they just didn’t have permits for most things like interior bathrooms back then. Oh, that’s right….the city has no records detailing what the word ‘addition’ means on a permit history prior to 1940! It just means addition!

So here’s what I did. I tried to find out what the two additions were for, one in 1920 and one in 1930. No could do. Then I looked on the counter and saw one of my favorite, but not often-enough-used resources. The Sanborn “big book” of real estate lots and improvements in Alameda. The book I started with had a copyright date of 1988. I found the property I was looking for and clearly the back had an addition. I took several photos of the big book with my iPhone and emailed them to myself. See the photo with the yellow lots.

I was pretty sure there was another book that was older. Sure enough, there is but the public can’t get access to it and it’s now on microfiche. It goes back to the 1800’s. With help from friendly Community Development staff members the property was found and we made a photocopy of the page I wanted. Then I took a picture of that copy. See the black and white photo which shows the original footprint of the house and its neighbors. Compare that to the more ‘recent’ book and the first addition shows up. Then the 2nd addition must have been in 1930 and that’s when somebody filled in the gap in the back with another bedroom. No footprint for it but the permit history says ‘addition’ and that’s what we see today.

My logic was that there was a bathroom somewhere in that house way back when. And the fixtures and trim supported that it was probably some form of the half bath we see today.

I have no issue with an appraiser asking about permits for current upgrades. But I pointed out no appraiser would go into a 1950’s Alameda rancher and ask if the 1970’s kitchen upgrade was on permits. Get over it! Our half bath was the same type of situation but OLDER!

Well, after all that….the issue disappeared. YAY! And the appraisal and loan contingencies were removed today by the buyers. This is a great example of appraisers doing work in areas that they may not be too familiar with and why the current system is so whacked. We are getting appraisers who may not be familiar with our housing stock and who make weird associations based on their experiences elsewhere that have no bearing here.

As real estate agents and brokers, we need to pull out the stops to come up with supporting data that will allow appraisers to complete their reports and logically answer their questions and concerns. And that’s not magic…it’s smarts.

Jawin‘ on the front porch (articles of interest that might be worth sharing?)
-I can vouch that this is the completely accurate low-down on how shorts sales are working
-Getting a clue about your house value….check it out.

Alameda real estate this week…see the adventure above.

Active listings this week 126, 122 last report
Pending listings this week 85, 81 last report

Tuesday Tour 10 with 1 repeat

Highest priced NEW listing
the highest wasn’t new – check out what restaurant is for sale.
Lowest priced NEW listing there seems to be some serious settling going on here.

New 15

Back on Market (BOM) 0

Price changes 7

Pending 13 the outdoor chairs must be the highlight of this property. But it sold in less than a week!


Expired 1

Withdrawn/canceled 4

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

Winner, Out of Rehab A lovely re-do with terrific and tasteful upgrades including solar tubes and skylight, roof, bathrooms, kitchen. And it’s single level.

Bang for the Buck this is facing foreclosure on 12-6 according to the agent so it is priced to get lots of offers over the list price. Offers due Friday the 13th. I saw it today.

That’s a wrap! Carry on!

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!