THE SECOND STORY | July 29th, 2010

Thanks Tommy Bahama! This chair rocks! Well, not really…

Blog photo AND Post: A couple of months ago, an Alameda high-end contractor told me about these beach chairs while we were standing in line at the butcher’s at Chestnut Encinal Market. This guy and his wife have more timeshares at the same place I go on Maui (Westin Ocean Resorts), than I think I do altogether (yep, that would be another story…suffice it to say, quality does matter).

My normal MO is to buy a cheap beach chair at one of the ABC Stores for $15 and then give it to someone before I leave, who can use it, and who also might pay it forward too. Well my friend said get to Costco on Maui. A more convenient Costco there there could not be since it’s right next to the airport. So on my 3rd run to the airport to pick up the next guests, E&E and I stopped at Costco (my 2nd trip in less that 24 hours) and bought 4 chairs along with a few more things.

Allow me to give you a tour of the chair. For about $27 each, here’s what you get.

-A lightweight but solid chair, that sits higher off the sand than most.
-A detachable, small pillow (note the black straps at the top of the back).
-It fully reclines to a flat position, controlled by lifting the armrests.
-The frame below the upper back pocket is the pull out support for that end of the reclined chair.
-The upper zippered pocket is for your stuff (read sunglasses, a huge biography about John Adams, sunscreen, and hat).
-The lower zippered and insulated pocket is for your cold stuff.
-A cloth cup holder (w/netting on the bottom to let condensation drip out) is attached to a device holder that hangs off the right armrest. (Yep, a LOT of people have their phones with them.)
-AND there are backpack straps so you can tote it and still carry more of your stuff with your free hands.

The bad news? It was better to leave them there and pay it forward than to pay to have them forwarded to home. But they were a piece of heaven on the beach.

Good and bad news? The San Leandro Costco had them a couple of months ago and completely sold out in one weekend. So close and now so far away…

When I was there today ordering the annual cake and buying bottled water for our Neighborhood Watch National Night Out next Tuesday, I was told I might be able to get them online. And I will try.

And the best news? Someone in Maui won’t have to buy them since we left them with the Bell Desk at the Westin and they loan them out, asking that they be returned! And the sweet news? The Bell guys saying they would have one for me when I come back in a few months.

Quick glimpses:
-Keeping score and re-scoring (credit score legit twists)
-Welcome to the world of financing condos (or not) w/ FHA

Alameda real estate this week….

My clients closed on 319 Laguna Vista yesterday….ON TIME when it looked like it was impossible, BIG thanks to our ever-excellent escrow officer, Debbie Calvo at Placer Title! She pulled out all the stops to make it happen so our Buyers could start their move as they had planned. She rocks even more than the Tommy Bahama chairs!

Unfortunately the out of area loan officer (with a huge national company that features horses) had a bit of trouble communicating with us and a call to her manager two days ago seemed to have helped the AWOL agent get with the program. Thank goodness an awesome local loan officer and her assistant with the same company were able to give us some tips on what to do about the situation both at the beginning and end of a transaction they didn’t even get paid for (thanks Nina and Matt)!

Which brings me to my next beef du jour….folks the lending environment is tough. The new rules and the ever-changing rules are bad enough. But in this day and time, we need aggressive, in-the-know loan officers and mortgage brokers with solid relationships with the people they work with on the other side who I don’t get to see or know. Granted they don’t get to talk to the appraisers. But they need to understand the ins and outs of the game so they can prep the borrowers UPFRONT about what to expect: the massive amount of documentation, re-documentation, re-verifications, and who knows what else.

The lenders need to keep our clients informed. I let buyers know that I’ll be asking to see a fair amount of the documentation the lender gives them so it has a second set of eyes on it, and to advise the buyer(s) to ask questions if something looks wonky. And that includes telling the buyers what questions to ask. We’ve seen some pretty whacked out charges on the Good Faith Estimates and HUDS recently even after they’ve been pointed out to the lender previously.

I’ve always asked my buyer clients that if I don’t know the lender and/or escrow officer they wish to use, may I please speak to that/those person/persons so I can lay out my expectations and find out from them what their expectations are of me: what can I do to make their job easier? But if they sound like wingnuts….I tell the Buyer(s) to consider making a change, for their own sanity, to minimize surprises especially at the last minute, and for the successful close of their transaction.

I’ve got one going now (on the Seller side) and the Buyer’s lender hasn’t been able to figure out what happened to the appraisal, much less the appraiser! Now I know better than many that pooh happens. But if it does, then we need to expect that our professional partners in the transaction have a plan B and a plan C and the guts to fire non-performing lenders and get a move on with companies that can deliver!

On the Seller side, I find I need to temper frustrations about why the financing is grinding away so slowly. Along with that I find some of the larger condo Homeowner Associations are managed by companies that hide behind their voice mail systems and will not and do not respond to inquiries about why the docs they send out (and for which the owner pays hundreds of dollars for) are incorrect, lacking, and incomplete. Now that’s a rip off.

And I can’t say enough about how important it is to have an excellent escrow officer: one who has amazing detail orientation as the lender, empathy with the clients as issues arise, and who loves facing a challenge and getting the right result, and who communicates well and judiciously with all the parties in some of the most stressful situations people encounter.

Active listings this week 176, 189 last report
Pending listings this week 83, 79 last report

Tuesday Broker Tour 10 w/ 3 repeats


BOM 1 (back on market)

Price changes 11 (quite a few)

Pending 19 (6 of which are subject to lender approval)

Sold 11 (end of month…quite a few)

Expired 0

Withdrawn/canceled 5 (note that the reindeer house at the intersection of Gibbons, Northwood, and Cambridge is canceled. hhmmm. What up with that?)

Alameda real estate awards this week….remember this is only my perspective!
Cute, Charming – tie!
Not quite ‘Get me to rehab’…but more than ‘Get me a facelift’

About the town…
Tonight my dear friend Colette Collester (past life as a college professor with a PhD I believe in Art History) gave a fabulous talk/presentation at the Alameda Museum about Vincent Van Gogh (one of my favorites!). This was her fourth annual talk covering a wide variety of wonderful art subjects. Hugely engaging and enlightening!

If you haven’t tried Burger Wednesday at The Little House Cafe and you are a carnivore….check it out. My friend Jill and I went on…oh yeah, that’s right – this past Wed – and I now know why I’ve heard the raves.

August is now upon us and this summer weather sucks. I hope my gorgeous green tomatoes-in-a-pot turn red someday!

To those of you who have shared my name with friends, family, co-workers, associates, and neighbors I am most grateful…thank you so much.

Have a great weekend! Smile…the person who catches it may just pass it along!

Make it work, that’s a wrap, carry on! 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!