THE SECOND STORY | February 11th, 2010


(I smile a lot when I’m in our business districts these days. They are bustling. Not that long ago I never would have believed it could happen. I went with a friend Saturday mid afternoon to see Avatar at the Alameda! We caught this great view of the theatre banner on our way out, complete with the reflection in the glass of the upper level interior lighting. But the shot is not too bad for an iPhone! Oh, my take on Avatar? It’s Star Wars (space travel and mechanical devices) meets Jurassic Park (dinosaur type animals) meets Dances With Wolves (cultures fighting and then individuals melding together) meets Die Hard (explosions and crash scenes).

Post Title: First things first….a reminder to those of you who have received postcards and/or emails about The 4th Annual Shredding Party on Saturday, rain or shine! You’ve got the details, I just want to remind you that this is my treat for you: my clients, my friends, and my neighbors and many of you are all three! Show up between 9 and noon (we shut down promptly at noon), say hi, dump your paper goods (including 3″ 3 ring binders that can be full!), grab some juice and donuts, and get on with your day! If you’d like to make a donation to a local cause (which I get to choose!), that will be welcomed. We gave $100 last year each to Alameda Little League, Alameda Boys and Girls Club, and Alameda Meals on Wheels.

It is so great to have good movies and terrific restaurants right here! And of course the theatre complex (and the parking structure) are winners through and through. This activity is helping pull Alameda through the worst of times since the disappearance and collapse of the big sales tax generators, the new car dealers.

Here’s the deal. The state is in a mess, and it is taking cities down with it. We all have a responsibility to stop the incessant stabbing and continuous bleeding created by the state government and its elected officials, who are literally stealing every dollar, dime, and penny from all California cities. They are taking our portion of tax revenues, development dollars, educational funding, and now are planning a run on our share of gas tax dollars, of which we get a chunk for projects beyond roads.

At the Shredding Party I will have petitions that support the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act which is scheduled for the Nov 2010 ballot. This is sponsored by Californians to Protect Local Taxpayers and Vital Services which is “comprised of a coalition of taxpayers, public safety, local government, transportation, business and labor, with major funding from the League of California Cities and the California Alliance for Jobs – Rebuild California Committee.” Go to the website and check out some of the dollars the state has taken from the city of Alameda coffers in order to attempt to fix their own problems. Check out this site that shows how much the state owes Alameda (type in Alameda, then move to the top tab to the right, scroll down to see the shocking amount!)

If you would like to sign the petition…give me a shout and I’ll make sure meet up with you. I will be carrying them with me or at the least have them close by….don’t be surprised if I ask if you want to sign.

Here are two websites that deal with an overhaul of the government of the state of California. Folks, we’ve got to do something about the way this marvelous land is run. These are tied to the state constitutional reform efforts. California Forward 2010 and Repair California – Californians for a State constitutional Convention (Bay Area Council) .

I am convinced that only complete disgust by the grass roots electorate will result in getting anything done and it really is time for a revolution featuring the weapons of new ideas and proactive discussions that will lead to implementation of results-oriented outcomes. It’s time to eliminate the boom or bust cycles of government. Miraculously, government keeps on taking, but the rest us in the real world keep taking it on the chin. Ouch!

Alameda real estate this week….

I put a new listing on the market – first time it’s EVER been on the market and it was built before 1910! Two houses on 1 lot for 659K. 2128-30 Buena Vista has lots of pluses. Add a new foundation and some roof work to the front house, take advantage of the huge high basement and it’s good to go! Loads of parking for both houses. The back cottage is a super sweet 2/1, currently occupied. I’ll have the front house only open on Sunday 2-4pm.

I’ve been using the term ‘learning curve’ a lot in the last couple of weeks. My learning curve is going straight up starting with an attempt to learn the basics of Excel 2007 (completely different from the 2003 version), and with my attempt to keep track of lending rules. I cannot believe how quickly loan underwriting rules are changing. Here’s an example.

Most of you know that PMI or MI (private mortgage insurance or mortgage insurance) is used for loans that have the borrowers putting less than 20% down. That included, in the old bad days, 0% down. The purpose of MI is to insure the first lender for the difference between the amount being put down and what is short of 20% down, should the loan default. Consequently, if a loan went bad, the holder of the first would then make a claim with MI to make them whole for that part of the ‘missing’ down payment. Guess what….MI companies ran out of money to pay the claims.

In the old days, MI companies were happily accepting risk on ill-qualified borrowers and terrible loans, the same way the first lenders were. That meant they were insuring super high risk loans. And remember, the borrower pays the MI premium strictly for the benefit of the lender, and for the privilege of getting a higher leveraged loan (which is certainly fair enough).

I think there used to be three MI companies. Today there is one. It is the go-to company – the only one lenders can go to to get the insurance they want, unless a lender self-insures via their own loans like Wells Fargo. That usually happens by blending the MI into the loan interest rate OR tacking on the insurance dollars as part of the mortgage expense. And MI is NOT a one shot wonder. It goes on and on until the loan is paid off (via a sale or refi) OR when the borrower can prove he/she has a 20% equity position in the property. It depends on how the policy is written. And the borrower never gets to choose the MI company. The choice rests with the lender. Oh that’s right…now there are NO choices!

This week the remaining MI company changed its requirements regarding credit scores. It used to require scores of 680 for borrowers. Now it is 720. That is huge. That is so huge that loans have been lost, a lot of them, this week, for borrowers and first lenders who previously thought they had great credit scores. And oh, that’s right – it happened to my own clients this week.

Thank goodness for a Plan B generated by the mortgage broker. But we still have hoops to jump through to get this short-sale purchase completed.

I’m reminded of the news headline this week created when some health insurance company randomly upped its rates something like 39% on its policy holders. Here’s my take on this. To these idiotic companies – if you don’t want to be in the game….then just get out. Sell your assets, if they can be translated into dollars, and just get out. Every act similar to what I’ve described is an instant invitation for nationalization of these entities since in both good or bad times they clearly cannot regulate themselves. Yet, in the great American way, there will be others who will want to enter the game and at least for a while write insurance that makes sense to all parties involved, and maybe we’ll find some win-win situations.

Active listings this week 114, 112 last report
Pending listings this week 87, 78 last report

Highest priced new listing

Lowest priced new listing

Tuesday Tour 7

New 10

BOM (back on market) 2

Price changes 7

Pending 15


Expired 0

Withdrawn/canceled 0

Alameda real estate awards this week…..
(remember this is my perspective only)

Get Me a Body Lift AND Cute/Charming (at the same time) my new listing.

Bang for the Buck and Get Me A Facelift

That’s a wrap! Shred On!

best, marilyn

Published by


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!