THE SECOND STORY | January 28th, 2011

Shameless self-promotion….in two ways….new blog and my clients successes with Alameda’s amnesty program.

Open homes this weekend courtesy of The Island Blog

Blog photo:  First I’m so glad that Google Blogger figured out the glitch in their photo header system!  There were a number of complaints on their site. And to my surprise, when I clicked in just now…last week’s mini-photo was full size!  YAY!

Alameda has such great windows, including those that are painted as exterior murals!  This is next to the front door at Garden Cleaners on Webster.  On the Haight St. side of their business they have a full wall mural, which I’ve as a blog photo before.  Paint and talent and taste….that’s all it takes, eh?

Blog post(s):  This week I’ve decided to use a link to what I wrote last Friday in a ‘for-fun’ blog I started when in hibernation from The Second Story last December (which is an annual ritual).   That blog is called Inside Out – one boomer chick’s take on life.  After posting it, I realized I could have written it for The Second Story since it does deal with the concept of having a second or third set of eyes reviewing procedures and/or documents that we routinely accept as current, such as all kinds of insurance, and tax returns. Please take a moment to read it.  Nobody should have to find out about tax issues the way my clients (and dear friends) did.

And more self-promotion – if you are interested in getting an email blast when a new post goes on Inside Out, let me know and I’ll BCC you just like I do with the folks who have opted in to get a notification that The Second Story has a new post.

Alameda’s Amnesty Program:  A number of years ago the city introduced a program that would help property owners who had illegal units, get them legalized when possible, based on numerous criteria: how long the unit had been in use, how many gas and/or electric meters were on site, records of rents received, photos of how the property had been used over the decades (which could show when/how changes were made), and Alameda county records which OFTEN show conflicting information to the city of Alameda’s documentation.

Meant at first for units, it now includes non-permitted work for almost anything – kitchens, bathrooms, windows, additions, detached garages, converted garages, electrical, plumbing – you name it.

I’ll give you a case close to home.  Our home.  When we bought it the owners had added an attached enclosed room for a spa.  No permits.  We knew it.  About 11 years ago we discovered that more than the stairs were rotted…it extended into the whole structure.  That was my chance to get the thing into the Amnesty Program, so we could pull permits for the corrective work.  I’d guided clients through legalization of projects before so I knew it was a good thing.

We put together an application package with all the right documentation.  YAY!  Well, it became BOO-HOO because the way it was built, it violated side yard set-backs and that couldn’t be allowed.  Denied.  The contractor tried every which way possible to get it to work and my husband did the drawings but no luck.  But we liked what we had and wanted to keep it. Because we had come forward with this problem voluntarily, we did not suffer any penalty fees that are so prevalent today when the city comes across or finds out about unpermitted work.  We pulled a full permit, knocked the thing down and rebuilt properly.

In the past two years I’ve helped at least 6 Sellers by presenting this process as an alternative to facing extreme fees should the property go on the market and it gets anonymously reported to the city as a code compliance complaint.  When owners come forward there is still the application to do, the package to put together, and a city inspection to go through regarding health and safety issues that need to be addressed.  There will be corrective work in many cases.  I’ve had examples of no corrective work required at all, and then lots of it when it was done by rip-off contractors who did the first installation.

Getting it right will cost some money.  But it will help reduce the time on the market as long as the list price is accurate. The buyers gain confidence in what they are purchasing.  And who wants a lawsuit after the fact, anyway?

The biggest problems buyers face today is with short sales and REOs (real estate owned by the banks), Probate, and Trust sales because they are almost always sold AS IS.

If this is something you may be facing, check it out.  You may not like it.  But it may save you some serious money in fine and fees.  Plus it may make a property that still has equity more saleable.  If you have questions, send me an email or give a call.  Oops!  That was another shameless self-promotion.

-This promotion is for my clients and friends!  See the announcement at the end of the post about  the 5th Annual Shredding Party!

Alameda real estate this week….
My client’s in-the-family-property-forever, the massive lot with the huge fixer duplex, closed last Monday.  505 Pacific closed in 10 days, after a review of 12 offers (8 of which were all cash), for 400K on a 350K list price.  I think it may have been the quickest close I’ve been a party to.  The buyer accepted responsibility for the sewer lateral, gas shut off valve, and the almost $3700 city fees to finalize the Amnesty permit the Seller obtained in order to have it recognized as a legal duplex on city records.

Unsold listings this week 190, 192 last report
Pending listings this week 54, 55 last report

Tuesday tour tour 12 with 1 repeat.

Highest and lowest priced NEW listings this week

New 1

BOM (back on market) 1

Repositioned properties (price changes)  14

Pending  12

Sold  10

Market-rejected properties (expired)  2

Withdrawn/canceled  2

Alameda real estate awards this week….

Winner (big, newer, good floor plan if you have in-laws or extended family, and a home office AND want space!

Cute/charming (I had this listed in 2000 and it sold for 370K on a 335K list price….very original and needed a foundation and clean-up.  Next owner put the foundation in and did major work and they sold it for 510K on a list price of 485K in 2002.  Currently, the owners have done more work and it’s on the market for 569K

Get me to rehab

That’s a wrap.  Carry on!  For my clients and friends… The 5th Annual Shredding Party is Feb. 26, Sat 9am-noon!  Look for an email blast from me as well as a postcard!  Get ready to bring that stuff!  No charge!  My gift to my clients and friends!

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!