THE SECOND STORY | June 3rd, 2010

I’m an Alameda urban gardener! Plus new rules for property painting…

Blog photo: Thanks to Iris Watson, owner of Thomsen’s Garden Center, I’ve become a grower of edibles! The back yard has had a prolific apple (good for eating AND cooking) tree for decades, and we put in our mega-producer dwarf lemon tree maybe 15+ years ago, but I’ve always thought I couldn’t grow any veggies due to too much shade. So when I went over to Thomsen’s to get some spot color for some containers, I told Iris I’d love to grow food. Immediately she said “You can! Put the veggies in pots next to the carriage house! You’ll get reflected light, warmth, and sun!” And she was right! She’s helped me before and as is typical of many of our local experts, she has a history with probably 1000’s of properties in town, going back well…let’s just say a long time! She planted the gorgeous camellias and some of our roses long before we took over the care and tending of this old house.

With the added encouragement and know-how of my clients/friends Jackie, and Darren and Suki, I had my FIRST EVER home grown salad tonight! Starting from the pot on the left is basil, next is a mix of 6 lettuce plants, then a cherry tomato, and then Celebrity – a wonderful tomato Iris assures me. The lettuces are divine – and I’m not sure what they are. Super flavors! And there is fruit on the tomato plants.

Normally producing hundreds of apples, last year our dear tree gave us one – not one hundred – ONE. I guess it was time for a rest. It’s happened a couple of times before. This year there is good fruit on the tree. Today I cut away some growth that was hosting aphids since I prefer not to use insecticide sprays in the yards. And I think the apple tree is now happier!

Tuesday I finished the second harvest this year on the Meyer lemon tree. Look at those two baskets full! Incredible!

Blog post: If you are having work done to the inside or outside of your pre-1978 or child-occupied facility PLEASE pay attention to this! There are some serious new FEDERAL rules regarding lead abatement effective April of this year! The goal is to minimize the risk of lead exposure to you, your family, your residents/occupants, and neighbors. If you plan on selling you might expect potential buyers will ask for documentation regarding the verification and certification of lead cleanup. And what’s even more important is if there is compensation (money, bartering, rent reductions, etc) involved, contractors/renovators must provide proof of certification to do that work PLUS documentation that the work has been completed properly. Do-it-your-self-ers are exempt. I’d suggest starting with the second link below – excellent, very short videos answering the most commonly asked questions. It’s succinct and to the point.

Oh BTW, if you think Alameda’s anonymous complainers for code compliance is an expensive hassle, you ain’t seen nothing yet with respect to anonymous calls to appropriate authorities regarding lead paint. PAY ATTENTION! And all quality Realtors will be talking to their clients and prospective clients about these issues.

Quick Glimpses:
Private Mortgage Insurers are back in the game.
Rates LOW! Considerations….(ignore the San Diego focus)

Alameda real estate this week….

We closed the delightful 2/1 Woodstock co-op unit last Friday for 260K on a 275K list. See the link in the right sidebar.

What do I see coming this summer?

More inventory. If what I am working on for selling clients is any indication, many of whom are in various states of delay, you’ll see properties priced to the market.

I don’t think you’ll be seeing prices heading downward unless it’s condos located in troubled complexes with too many renters and not enough owners to meet lender requirements and/or complexes with too many owners who are delinquent on their HOA fees.

Here in Alameda, we are seeing the low-price water-marks of last year, very slowly rising. It seems there are more buyers in the market with the interest rates staying low and money available for loans. Some may be willing to pay the price for high-leveraged loans, aka low money-down financing. The costs involved with high leveraged loans include private mortgage insurance rates and fees, and more points for specialized financing. The low rates might be considered off-sets by buyers willing to pay slightly higher prices and fees.

The talk of shadow foreclosures and more short sales may very well be true. However, because of increased buyer demand we will see lenders holding out for more money and not caving to low ball offers. Buyers will need to get the message that those days are gone.

Sellers may start to consider carrying paper.…behind the institutional loan buyers will obtain. It could be minimal amounts with minimal risk to the seller(s), with minimal carrying periods. Expect this especially if rates start to climb up the mountain.

Should rates climb, I expect there will be a slowing of price increases and some buyers will be ‘interest-rated’ out of the market.

Alameda is a lot more stable than surrounding communities and the fact that our market over the decades has not had the extreme highs and lows experienced by other towns/cities, continues to bode well for the town now.

Let’s talk about the rental market. I can speak from current experience. Rentals are spending lots more time on the market, and as a result rents are coming down. Quality, priced right, will always win over dirty units and unmaintained buildings. I think some issues owners will face is applicants with less than desirable credit scores due to the effects of the employment situation and perhaps involvement in short sales and foreclosures. If owners think they will be able to pass on the costs of the parcel tax for Alameda schools, Measure E, to their tenants, I think they will have another thing coming at least in the short term.

Speaking of Measure E, I am for it. But I don’t like the split assessment for 5+ residential units and commercial properties vs 1-4 unit properties that will have a prix fixe assessment. I will be facing a tax increase of over $500 from the current parcel tax, should E pass. Yet, I have already voted for it. Quality schools are the least we can give to our kids and our community. Just like all things, people gravitate to quality. And that will make Alameda a more vibrant community.

What I’d like to see is all of our public school parents figure a way for each of them, on any level, to contribute directly to our schools. And that includes parents whose kids come from outside of the district. In that situation, they are now in the community and need to contribute to its health. It can be volunteering regularly, donating cash in regular intervals to the Alameda Education Foundation, figuring out how to get ALL of the students, in all schools and grades to be stewards of their schools by getting involved in responsibilities around the facilities. Good schools don’t come cheap and we need to have the kids learn that they must give something back to the school community they are part of every week of the school year. This is not about haves and have-nots. It’s about teaching, learning, and executing ethical standards, without having everybody fit into the same box.

Observations and sermonette over.

Active listings 166, 161 last report
Pending listings 84, 98 last report

Highest and lowest priced NEW listings (low is a tie)

Tuesday Broker Tour
(a nice bike ride!) 9, no repeats

New 18

BOM (Back on Market) 2

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 17

Expired 6

Withdrawn/canceled 7

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

Winner of the Week

Bang for the Buck, Out of Rehab, Got a Makeover

That’s it! Carry on! Have a nice weekend!

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!