THE SECOND STORY | April 29th, 2010

Did anybody look in the ironing board?

Blog photo: Bursting with color AND fragrance, I picked these roses on the 24th and couldn’t resist having them pose for the camera. Last night they were tossed having had a wonderful run of glory in my bedroom. Sweet dreams for sure.

Blog title: We all have our quirks for survival. Most of our quirks are rooted in how we grew up. Twice in the last day the subject of clearing out homes has come up. Here are three stories.

1. I was reminded of a story a friend told me probably 20 years ago about one of her elderly family members who had passed on. They were going through the home doing what must be done. Towards the end of the job, a relative put out the question, “Did anybody look in the ironing board?” Whaaat was that about? It turns out there were thousands of dollars hidden in the wall-mounted, drop-down ironing board! Thank goodness she had let a few close folks know about it! Clearly she was a product of the depression. (side-bar – Linda I hope the story is accurate!)

2. A number of years ago when my sister-in-law and I were going through my mom’s stuff in the house and in the garage I discovered my mom just couldn’t get enough electrical extension cords! And she was also fond of plastic bags. There were bags of bags and bags of cords! Knowing that she grew up with a family in which the parents had them all hide in the attic from bill collectors, I bet that quirk was a function of having to run cords between neighbors’ homes if/when their power got cut off due to lack of payment. It also explained why she took charge of the family finances, why the bills were paid religiously, and why she took financial planning, and trust and estate planning extension classes at Orange Coast College.

3. Here’s a more recent personal story I think I may wrote about in January or February. Friends and I were in Newport Beach in January for several days (I have the most awesome friends who volunteered to take vacation time to help me clear the house my folks had left on short notice when they moved into assisted living in December). Debbie gave Donnie instructions to go through every book carefully. The first book Donnie touched, he found $800! In subtle yet quietly grand fashion, they proudly walked over to Susan and handed her the money which she had completely forgotten about! Everybody was blown away. Now that was worth interrupting the interview with the real estate broker we were having!

(And by the way, he was hired, had the house ready for showing including interior painting, carpeting, cleaning inside and out, in less than 10 days. There was a pending sale for absolutely top dollar in less than another 10 days, and closed in less than 30 days. And yes, prices in Irvine are way down from the highs, but the transaction turned out to be all cash for this non-upgraded 1980’s 2/2 home, looking down to a golf course – the view was the clue. And using somebody who super knows the neighborhood.area was critical. And people have some big bucks in the form of cash out there.

3. Today, during my weekly mental health hour (which is my form of therapy better known as a golf lesson) my teacher and I got talking about our parents. We realized that stashing was not unique to them. We all do it some way, some how. Many, many years ago he had stashed a goodly chunk of change in a picture frame in his folks’ house. When he and his new bride were moving that household he said to be careful with the pictures but didn’t say anything more. Then he heard a scream and his wife was rounding up hundred dollar bills that had fallen out! He said to her, “I told you to be careful!”

Moral? What you find before the garage sale maybe worth more than what you get after the sale. As far as I’m concerned any money made at a garage sale is money that didn’t have to be spent and time taken hauling unwanted stuff to the dump or to donation centers that most likely wouldn’t want the junk anyway, thus creating more trips to the dump.

Quick glimpses…
Credit scores and foreclosures, short sales, and deeds in lieu – what happens? This is excellent.
It’s baaack…Private Mortgage Insurers see a void.
Remodeling realities! Here are some trends…

Alameda real estate this week…

Here’s a story. I wrote an offer this week for clients. The property came on the market the week before. Three offers were received. My clients wrote an excellent offer and had all their duck lined up. The value was definitely there for the property and it had been priced aggressively by the seller and her agent. Keep in mind this one was easy to comp because it is in a planned unit development.

Folks, I’ve been saying OUR market has bottomed in general. We still have to be aware of obstacles involving financing and special considerations, especially with condos. But when one door slams sometimes a window opens (see above link regarding low-down payment loans and PMI).

I don’t have the crystal ball to say what will happen. But at this moment inventory is still pretty low, there is a pent-up demand, rates are upping a tad but still terrific, and prices are ooching up a bit.

In a recent post my blog title said ‘You are buying an interest rate that comes with a house!’ And if you find a property that you like, will stay in for 5-10 years, can afford, feel confident in your job/financial position, then maybe this is the perfect storm. BECAUSE, as I told my clients, if they don’t get this property they can be assured the mark as been set for all others similar to it, regardless of condition, so the next one will be higher in price and we can expect interest rates to inch up too. That’s a fact. Multiple offer situations, as frustrating as they are because you feel like you are bidding against yourself, are not the time to hold back IF the property can meet all your needs. Don’t go crazy….and if you are unsure if the property will appraise – keep all those critical contingencies in place.

Here’s another story….My clients received an offer on their property which was significantly lower than the list price. A kind-of-similar unit had closed the week before so we had a recent comp (better condition, not as good of a location). I know the agent and she is top-notch. Yet the parties were so far apart that after the first counter offer was given to the buyer in writing, we got a verbal ‘willing-to-pay-this price’ back. After some talk, my clients responded with a verbal figure. I think this went on for three go-rounds. And remember, if it’s not in writing and signed, you’ve got nothing. But this illustrates the other side of the environment out there. It takes thoughtful consideration. But the one thing I told my clients was that I was working on another property in the same area and when that came on the market (better in many respects), they definitely didn’t want it as competition against them. Result – pending sale. Moral – consider the future with the past, but be in the moment.

Active listings 158, 162 last report
Pending listings 107, 98 last report

Highest and lowest priced new listings

Tuesday tour (rain, sun, rain, sun, warm, cold) 8 on tour, 2 repeats

New 13

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 8

Pending 18

Sold 6

Expired 3

Withdrawn/canceled 5 this includes the Webster House on Versailles – either it didn’t get a basic transaction together, the shorted lenders wouldn’t approve an offer, any buyers (if there was a transaction) wouldn’t wait it out, or the sellers have opted for another alternative.

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

Get Me a Facelift and Bang for the Buck I didn’t think any others were worthy.

That’s a wrap! Carry on! Enjoy the glorious weekend! Give a call if you have real estate questions. If I can’t answer them I’ll say so, and then see if I can get an answer or a source for one!

best, m

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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!