THE SECOND STORY | August 5th, 2010

Pay now, pay later: we usually pay anyway.

Blog photo: It was the National Night Out for Neighborhood Watch groups throughout the country on Tuesday evening. While I actually like to cook and bake, I can’t beat the bang for the buck when it comes to the Costco bakery. Thus here is what the neighbors shared for our annual get together. I just wish the weather reflected the cake decoration, although we lucked out and the fog didn’t roll in until after 8:30 and all were back in their warm abodes.

Blog post: Many of us have had or are experiencing the challenges associated with aging parents, which may include the selling of their home. I’m no exception, having had my folks make a move into assisted living on very short notice, in the last 8 months.

With the help of amazing friends who joined me long distance to assist in the clearing, sorting, tossing, sorting, selling and sorting of items my folks did not take with them to their super nice two bedroom, 2 bath apartment, the job was done in four days. And to my folks’ credit there was not a lot of clutter in their home, which made the job infinitely easier. It had not been upgraded during the 25 years or so of its life. So the next steps in order to maximize the dollars was to have the real estate broker bring in his vendors who painted, carpeted, seriously cleaned, did some pest damage repairs, and some light landscaping in less than two weeks. It had a contract in less than eight days.

Currently, I’m in the process of working with three clients who are going through that experience. Each situation is unique. Parents may have passed on. A parent is now solo. A parent or parents are being a bit more proactive and choosing on their own to take a simpler life style.

In many cases there is one adult child who takes the lead, the responsibility, to get the job done. Siblings may not be around to help. May not be capable. May not even be much help and being absent is a blessing. In that situation working solo can be much better.

Beside the emotion of watching a life or lives become disassembled, along with the memories (good and bad), and the stories (funny and sad), generated by items re-discovered, the practical side of what that move or sale represents does come forward. It may mean a sense of relief. It may provide a sense of care and community. It may mean gifts to people or organizations who have played important roles in the parent(s) life/lives.

Most in charge of such an endeavor feel a strong sense of obligation to realize the best profit possible for the parents/estate. Here’s the fine line. How much work do you do to the property? Is clearing out enough? Paint, carpet, flooring? Repairs? Remodeling? Updating? Does the location justify putting tons of cash into a project? Can the location carry the sale because of its desirability and you can forget about doing work that the next owners are only going to ‘do-over’? In my folks’ case, location carried the sale and immaculate sealed the deal.

A very sweet conversation with one of my clients this week included the observation about the market price today. Was what she had decided to do (prior to us meeting up) getting a better return on the dollar than just letting it be sold as a fixer? In this case there had been few, if any improvements over the decades and general routine maintenance had not been a priority.

And thus the title of the blog. My response to the question kind of popped out. “You know, we either pay as we go or pay at the end. If we pay at the end, we usually can do so in one of two ways: take a hit in price and be done with it or, if it is available, put some money in to basic repairs and clean-up chores that have been long ignored. The difference is that more qualified buyers are usually attracted to what is immaculate and maintained, than those who may be attracted to a discounted price but can’t afford to do the work required to get it in a condition that is livable for them.” Either way, there is a market price that will generate the most interest. And in this market, the property condition can hugely affect one’s ability to get financing, if an all cash transaction is not possible.

Now back to us adult kids. Pay as we go often allows us the comfort and confidence of living in a place that will take care of us, as we have taken care of it. But we are all juggling our priorities these days so we need to make solid decisions that maximize the use of the dollars and minimize future problems, like having termite treatments done, fixing wood rot, keeping the exterior painted, patching the roof, servicing the furnace. It’s not always easy staying on top of issues, and actually much easier to work with ‘ignorance is bliss’ and figure what we don’t see just doesn’t exist.

Flash back to the parents’ home. From a practical view, a fixer indicates that somebody chose not to care, or could not care. The concern from a buyer may be “what other surprises will show up once we own it?” “What secrets are behind the walls – hot wires, ancient newspapers for insulation?” (Here I speak from personal experience at our own place.) A tidy property at least invites prospects to envision themselves in it. They may linger longer.

Sometimes I see a tenderness from adult children in charge of these projects. There’s a desire to make right what they would have liked for their parents. A desire to present the property to the world that sheds the light of love and care on the family home. And that very gift of time and care brings an inner reward. What may have started as an obligation morphs into a deep sense of satisfaction, beyond duty.

And then….there’s the other ending….get rid of it, we’re done with it, we’re outta here. And you know? That’s all right too.

These are not the situations for judgments. Most people usually want to hear their options, not be judged, have their opinions honored, and then move forward. There is no one right way.

It’s just the way it is.

Alameda real estate this week….

I’m just about to input a new listing – in San Lorenzo. It’s actually one of the inspirations of the blog post. 16640 Cumora is a 3/1.5 two story 1960’s home, 1802 square feet, original owners, nicely maintained throughout it’s years, located at the end of a cul-de-sac, with nice updating. Price is 385K and it will be open this Sunday 2-4pm. If you know of someone who wants good bang for the buck this is worth checking out! The website will be live tomorrow afternoon.

It’s time for graphs and charts to speak 1000s of words. You may be interested in seeing Alameda’s Fact and Trends graphs and charts. This is the service Harbor Bay Realty subscribes to. Please keep in mind…these stats don’t take into account condition, location, upgrades. They don’t know the difference between a Gold Coast home or a Harbor Bay Isle bay front home. They don’t know the difference between an apartment condo or a Marina Village or Harbor Bay Isle towhhome. But they do show trends, and that’s what they are for.

I decided to go back two years (as far as our tracking service will go). So the search was for all 94501 and 94502 single family homes, condos, and townhomes from 07/2008 through 07/2010. It’s a bit of a bummer that we can’t get back to 2006 and 2007 at the top of the market. But this is interesting stuff and most will find a format that is best suited to their way of digesting data.

Here you go.
Single family homes

Active listings this week 183, 176 last report
Pending listings this week 85, 83 last report

Tuesday Broker Tour
20 w/ 8 repeats

New 13

BOM Back on Market 3

Price changes 8

Pending 15

Sold 7 (check out the sale price for the house on Versailles)


Withdrawn/canceled 3

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

Get me to Rehab! tie!

More than an overhaul….not a total rehab you’d never know — no photos

That’s a wrap! Carry on….it’s the least we can do!

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!