THE SECOND STORY | October 14th, 2010

Newbies in the market….

Blog photo: This was the view from the Hubba Hubba (26′ 1966 Chris Craft, wood lapstrake, twin 305 hp V8 engines) last Saturday afternoon as three of us bounced around SF Bay with 100’s if not 1000’s of our closest friends. All were gathered together to watch a fabulous Blue Angels show. I know the photo on the right is a blur but if you look closely, below Sutro Tower and slightly right, is the formation of the jets screaming along the city front. I was astounded to get any photos at all since I was in charge of driving and avoiding loads of other boats!

Blog post: Three especially interesting calls/emails came in this week. They all had two things in common. They were responding to a price that grabbed their attention. And each one had arranged financing with little or no input by an agent because they didn’t even have one yet.

One was from a first time buyer who had excellent questions about a property I have listed. I encouraged her to get her own agent so she’d have proper representation. Turns out they have selected an online lender. The good news is they have a human being they are in contact with. The bad news is, as the lender told me over the phone, his company does 8000 loans per month and they just don’t have the time to do formal employment and income verifications for their clients. They will do that once there is a ratified contract. From a Seller’s point of view, that’s a key ingredient that’s missing in a so-called pre-approval letter. In reality those borrowers are not pre-approved, they are prequalified. And that doesn’t have much weight with Sellers who want to know they’ve got a valid buyer.

Another call was from a commercial broker who has been in the biz in SF for 40 years. I didn’t know him. He was calling on behalf of his son, a first time buyer, who saw a listing I have and the price was right for him. The dad had made sure he was qualified for financing by a big institution. He’s FHA ready. But the property he called about requires a 20% down payment and Wells Fargo just kind of doesn’t lend on stock co-op properties. Aahhh…says he. What else do I have that is perfect for his son in the 180K range. No condos, no fixers, close to BART says he. Aaahhh….says I. Nothing. Not in Alameda. Well, he wants me to represent the son says he. How about Emeryville says he. I don’t know the area but I kind of doubt what he wants exists anywhere in the East Bay says I. He’s about 4 years too late and even those were fixers. Oh says he. I let him know I’m probably not the best one to help them out.

The next was an email from some sweet friends, with a new baby! And they are first time buyers. As they searched the internet a bargain in Hayward for 189K with a huge lot caught their eyes! Ut-oh, thinks I. That’s trouble. Bank repo or short sale. Total wreck I bet. I immediately looked up the property on the MLS. Pictures looked good. Yep – bank repo. And what the consumer can’t see is the info regarding the nature of the sale, the terms of the sale, and oh yeah – the reports. 62K pest report, an engineer’s guess in one paragraph stating that the uneven settlement is probably the result of the Hayward Fault, a property inspection that had photos of sloping around the house that were steeper than the bunny hills I learned to ski on, and a photo of a rotted roof. But because I could download the reports I let them speak for themselves to my friends. And I’m not sure if any lender would loan on that property. It most likely will be an all cash deal….but due to location and the extent of the work required, that price may just go down further. But even all cash buyers don’t buy poorly located junk. Yet lenders over the years were happy to slap loans on them! Not a match for my friends who are FHA buyers with a minimum down payment. Even the FHA rehab loans have limits for repairs that this would exceed.

Moral of the story? We’ve got all the info in the world waiting for us. But unless we can put it into context, it is worthless. Folks, do the homework, surf the ‘net, get a sense of what an online lender will do for you, but then get serious and find an agent who can work with you to understand your priorities (low maintenance? quality of schools? close to transport? price? financing and downpayment options? fixer? effects of buying big and cheap vs smaller and with a better location?) Then you are on track to understand what viable options you really have out there. Prices are still down. They’re just not down and out anymore.

Old houses and energy efficiencies!
Hot outside now.…how about in a couple of months? If you think you may need a new furnace, can afford it, and want to take advantage of some very serious tax credits….NOW is the time! Make your calls to your favorite vendor and ask about the programs! Most of the tax credits expire at the end of the year. I just had a new high efficiency furnace installed in the last week. And I figure I may be saving upwards of 30% at least on the whole thing with the credits, etc. But I had the work booked nearly 2 months ago….worth checking out though.

Windows! I’ve had 3 calls in the last 2 weeks regarding window replacement options. Tax credits are available for those too! I recently copied an idea I saw at The Garratt Mansion when I had the listing for it. That place was HUGE and had lots of windows. If I recall, the owners put up clear plexiglass on the inside of the some of the fancy windows to create a more affordable type of ‘double paned window’, which also preserved the mostly irreplaceable period windows.

I decided to do the same for 4 large windows in our house, that don’t open, have sheers over them but leak air like a bad balloon. In a storm you can see the sheers move! We had plexiglass cut to size and the pieces are held in place by small twisty wing-nut like thingies. That’s the technical term I’m sure. And they are easy to remove so when the window washers were here, they simply lifted the plexiglass out, washed the inside of the windows, put the plastic back and voila!

Quick glimpses:
National foreclosure moratorium not so good?
What price do you pay for such low rates?

Alameda real estate this week….

Unsold properties this week 206, 213 last report
Pending properties this week 69, 65 last report

Highest and Lowest priced NEW listings

Broker tour 10 with 4 repeats…with the dry heat it was a great ride out to Bay Farm, all the way to the last street before Harbor Bay Parkway, back to the north side of Everett, up to Alameda Marina for an errand, and across to the south side of the island.

New 9

BOM (back on market) 4

Repositioned (price changes) 10

Pending 15

Sold 6

Market-rejected properties (expired) 1


Alameda real estate awards this week...remember this is only my perspective!
Cute/charming every square inch of space is used in this cutey.
Get me a facelift

That’s a wrap! 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!