THE SECOND STORY | March 18th, 2010

Folks, you’re buying an interest rate that comes with a house!

Post photo: Much to my surprise and delight I saw the first rose bloom of the season in the front yard two days ago! Last year’s first was on April 9. That confirmed my feeling that the roses leafed out really early this year. They do like water and there’s been no shortage of that this winter. With this bit of a heat spell I think we’ll have a bloom blast for the books!

Post title: Last week when I was in Newport Beach I attended three meetings, two of which involved real estate observations. One I mentioned in last week’s post and it was sponsored by Wells Fargo. The other was with my folks’ financial adviser. One was a huge group in a theatre, the other was with a total of 5 attendees. But the bottom line was the same, from any and all directions.

If there is anything to be said about this market – and granted it is really ugly in more ways than we could have ever imagined – it is a ‘perfect’ storm for nearly as many folks as it is the worst tsunami for oh so many more. When prices come down and interest rates are at all time historical lows…well, that just doesn’t happen since, they say, for about 75 years (let’s see, the Great Depression then and the Great Recession now- cash was/is king).

Just today, I must have had the same conversation with potential sellers at least four times. Yes, I feel the ALAMEDA market has bottomed out. No, I don’t think we’ll see the highs we saw back in 2005 for many years to come. No, you can’t price over the market. Yes, you need to be perceived as the best value against your competition. Yes, all other properties similar to yours need to drive buyers to yours because your price (always price), location, and condition beats them. Yes, there is a pent-up demand. No, prices are not going way over the list. Yes, financing is tough. No, don’t just look at the offer price. Yes, you’d better pay attention to terms and down payment, the type of loan, and verify the ability of a buyer to close. And yes, get used to delays because the rules just keep on changing. No, it won’t stay this way forever. Yes, interest rates will go up and prices will go down.

For buyers, yes, this is a good time to buy. No, you are not the only one out there looking for a steal and upside potential. No, there are no more ‘steals’ in this market. Yes, there are ‘fair deals’ in this market. Yes, you need to expect to be part of multiple offer situations. No, you are not God’s only gift to the Seller whose property you want. Yes, get a pre-approval letter from your lender than has some teeth in it. Yes, actually fill out the loan application and know that all the employment and income verifications have been completed. No, don’t plan on a short term of ownership. Yes, rates will be going up, and then prices will stabilize again. But the rates at this time may not come around again for a really long time. And yes, write a short but sincere letter to the seller saying why you want to own that property. Because, yes, even in this market, emotions enter into both sides of the transaction.

From my online trade news-feeds: Check out some real estate apps for your smart phone. Most of the younger buyers are completely sold on Redfin as the go-to source for listing searches and info. It really is excellent.

Alameda real estate this week….

My client closed on 521 Taylor. After a long search and one other offer written over the course of about five months, my first-time buyer was johnny-on-the-spot and wrote a strong, clean offer on a single family home that needs some updating. I may have said something to the effect that if he didn’t buy the place I was going to fire him. The offer was accepted at the list price, as written. He had everything ready regarding his financing. And had an excellent loan officer (and her team). I must say that both agents (oh, that’s right, one of them was me), knew how to work, and appreciated the other’s professionalism. And we closed on the contract date. YAY for Dave and his team (Placer Title, Wells Fargo, inspectors, his contractor friends, and his support system!)

If you glance at the 21 pending sales this week, four are short sales and four are bank-owned (REOs – Real Estate Owned). If you glance at the 10 closed sales this week, only one was a short sale, and the average DOM (days on market) was just under 30 days. This is a far cry from some of the surrounding areas. Alameda is its own mini market, always has been and always will be.

Active listings 137, 135 last report
Pending listings 93, 86 last report

Highest and lowest priced new listings

Tuesday Tour 10 (what a fabulous day for a bike ride – doesn’t get much better, end to end of Alameda 94501 and 94502)

New 16

BOM (back on market) 0

Price changes 5

Pending 21

Sold 10

Expired 1

Withdrawn/canceled 2

Alameda real estate awards this week…I’ve caught up and rode to 10 open houses last Sunday, and saw another 8 this past Tuesday.

Bang for the Buck (tie)

Cute, charming

That’s a wrap….carry on! Enjoy this fabulous summer-spring-winter weather! Give a call if you need vendor referrals….always happy to share the wealth of experience! 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!