THE SECOND STORY | April 16th, 2020

“Everything works out in the end because it’s not the end until everything works out.” Brad Inman, real estate guru.

Recent spring evening bike ride!

 

Recent spring evening bike ride!

14th Annual Shredding Party!

Rain or Shine!

This is my gift to you!

May 2nd Saturday, 9am – 1pm

for our Alameda community—-

FREE to you and all your friends!

If you’d like to make a donation, I’ll match it and all proceeds will go to: 

Alameda Meals on Wheels!

And being obedient to the Alameda County law, we will be ‘physically distancing.’

If you need my address, email me. Many of you will be getting at least 1 or 2 postcards from me with all of the info and you can tell your friends to come by, or  I can pick up your stuff (and your friends stuff) the week before our party.

Come over, dump and run!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

The rules and laws are changing quickly. Be sure you have an agent that knows those laws! That means somebody who knows the laws in Alameda and Alameda County.

I was just on a webinar and a law that was valid a week ago and now it’s been changed. argh! And this is serious stuff! If you want to see a property there are specific rules that need to be followed!

As the attorneys said….folks are relying on us to get the documents signed before we (agent and 2 buyers) can access a property – it’s all about the virus.

AC= active contingent (the buyer needs to sell something before s(he) can complete the transaction. In this instance, another buyer might write a back-up offer. If the primary buyer can’t meet the contract deadlines, it’s bye-bye to the first buyer. And the back-up offer moves into the primary position. Be sure your agent explains all of this to you! You do NOT want to lose your deposit to the Seller.)

BOM=back on the market (could be that the buyer had some conditions in the contract that s/he couldn’t meet in a timely manner).

PCH= price change (seller either raised or dropped the price)

PSB=pending sale (seller & agent wants backup offers)

REO=  Real Estate Owned by the lender (The seller may have stopped paying the lender, was behind a few months, etc. It’s a foreclosure!)This the first time in years that I’ve added this to our list!

New listings 4

Active listings 30 & 1 pch

Pending listings incl. 5 PSB

Sold 8

Be safe, stay well, and come watch your stuff get shredded!

best, marilyn

 

THE SECOND STORY | April 14th, 2020

Check This Off Your LIst

8XWrIpPRWUWDwADBOrJmOA.jpg

Everyone knows someone it has happened to or has heard a tragic story. It could have been a fire, a flood, a burglary or some other disaster but to file a claim on their insurance, they need the receipts or a list for what is being claimed.

Since you’re at home anyway and may even have kids at home who need something to do, now is a great time to get a current home inventory done. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this seemingly, daunting task is to put together a collection of pictures of every room in your home.

The more valuable, the more important it is to take a close-up picture. It will be necessary to open the drawers and closets and, in some cases, to pull things out in order to show everything in the picture. That’s why having someone to help you makes it faster and easier.

Not to get distracted from the job at hand, you may discover things that you had forgotten you had which is why you should do an inventory rather than trying to reconstruct it after the loss. In some cases, it may be years after you’ve filed a claim when you remember you forgot some things.

Having photos or videos of the different rooms in your house combined with a list of the items can serve as the proof you need for your claim.

There are other benefits to doing a home inventory also. You’ll know the “right” amount of insurance to have on your personal belongings by assigning replacement costs to them. It will simplify filing a claim if you ever need to.

To organize your photos and even provide a detailed list of higher value items, you can download a Home Inventory in an interactive PDF that you can complete. You can put it together on your computer and store it online to make it available if the computer is stolen or damaged.

THE SECOND STORY | April 9th, 2020

Spring is busting out all over….

14th Annual Shredding Party!

May 2nd Saturday, 9am – 1pm

Rain or Shine!

This is my gift to our Alameda community—-

FREE to you and all your friends!

If you’d like to make a donation, I’ll match it and all proceeds will go to: 

Alameda Meals on Wheels!

And being obedient to the Alameda County law, we will be ‘physically distancing.’

If you need my address, email me. Many of you will be getting at least 1 or two postcards from me with all of the info and you can tell your friends to come by, or  I can pick up their stuff the week before our party.

 

Come over, dump and run!

      Blooming Backyard.

New 34

Click Here to View Listings

Pending 4

Click Here to View Listings

Sold 8

Click Here to View Listings

You can see that the real estate market is reacting to the world’s condition, based on the numbers. But it’s also hard to show any property in Alameda County, because the County rules take precedence over the State. And based on those rules/laws it’s pretty impossible to show property in Alameda County. If you want more info, ask and I’ll get it to you. 

Best, marilyn

check out my ‘for fun’ blog Boomer-Chick-Musings.com

THE SECOND STORY | April 7th, 2020

Mortgage Closing Scams

EBBE5vJkL0GqGW0zOtPBHg.jpg

The American bank robber, Willie Sutton, was asked why he robbed banks and his answer was “because that is where the money is.” During his 40-year career, he stole about $2 million but Internet scammers are stealing many times that amount in phishing schemes preying on unsuspecting home buyers.

These crooks know where the money is because buyers have the down payment and closing costs and are expecting to transfer it to the close the sale of their home. The FBI, in their 2018 Internet Crime Report, stated victims lost over $149 million and the CFPB estimates the losses at over $1 billion as a result of fraud in real estate transactions. The scammers want to take advantage of the situation while it is still in the buyer’s account.

Commonly, during the closing process, scammers will send spoofed emails to homebuyers from someone they expect to hear from regarding the transaction like the real estate agent or the settlement agent. They will include false instructions for the closing funds.

Following these suggestions can help to protect you and possibly, avoid scams:

  • Call before you click to verify the wiring instructions to transfer funds. DO NOT use the phone number or email in the email request. Use a trusted source, preferably, in person, of contact information.
  • Confirm everything independently with your real estate agent and closing officer. Confirm the actual instructions with the bank before transferring money.
  • Verify immediately, within four to eight hours, with the title company and real estate agent that the money was received. If it has not been received, notify the bank immediately to determine if it can be cancelled.

If you believe you have been the victim of a phishing scheme, call your bank immediately and ask them to issue a recall notice on the money transfer. File a complaint with the FBI at www.IC3.gov and report it to your local FBI office.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released two documents in an effort to inform consumers about wire fraud scams that commonly occur during closings: Mortgage Closing Checklist and Mortgage Closing Scams.

This is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice.

THE SECOND STORY | April 2nd, 2020

The real estate biz is very unusual.

Stuff – buh bye! One of the benefits of being stuck @ home for prolong periods of time. Say hello to electronic waste, Stuff.

The rules and the laws are changing very quickly…and so is the news about the Corona Virus. Yesterday Alameda County updated their who-can-view-a-property status. The bottom line is nobody, in person. Yes, they can show a virtual tour of the property, or floorplan. But no private showings.

The goal is to save lives.

Here’s an example:

I get notices from the lockbox vendor, Supra, when a lockbox is opened or closed. This is triggered by the actual lockbox mechanism. It tells me the time of day it was opened, the time of day it was closed, the name of the agent, the company he/she works for, the telephone number/email of the agent.

Yesterday I got a notice that the lockbox was opened. It’s the only listing I have at the moment. I didn’t recognize the name. So I called her. She’s from Santa Clara (the city, not the Alameda street).

Santa Clara is in a different county than Alameda. Alameda County has stricter rules than most other venues/counties. Alameda is a city within Alameda County.  And there are 5 other counties that are using the same rules as Alameda County.

She called me to let me know there was no house key in the box. I called her back. That’s because I removed it from the lockbox maybe two weeks ago.

Turns out she wanted to show her clients another property and that the listing agent for that property sent her a signed addendum/advisory (that our Ca. Association of Realtors attorneys had created 2 days ago) that the seller had signed.

Her buyers signed that addendum/advisory. The goal is to protect the agents, even if the potential buyers want to walk into a potentially dangerous property (read Corona Virus).

So what’s the problem? This agent had no CLUE that in Alameda County we are working off a more severe set of rules than Santa Clara County.

This is why I try to be very aware about the rules. These changes are coming very fast.

IMHO, please get find an agent that knows the town/city that you want to explore to see if they have inventory that may be appealing to you, the buyers. Anything less is a waste of your time.

Definitions:

MLS=Multiple Listing Service 

AC= active contingent (the buyer needs to sell something before s(he) can complete the transaction. In this instance, another buyer might write a back-up offer. If the primary buyer can’t meet the contract deadlines, it’s bye-bye to the first buyer. And the back-up offer moves into the primary position. Be sure your agent explains all of this to you! You do NOT want to lose your deposit to the Seller.)

BOM=back on the market (could be that the buyer had some conditions in the contract that s/he couldn’t meet in a timely manner).

PCH= price change (seller either raised or dropped the price)

PSB=pending sale (seller & agent wants backup offers)

REO=  Real Estate Owned by the lender (The seller may have stopped paying the lender, was behind a few months, etc. It’s a foreclosure!)This the first time in years that I’ve added this to our list!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Definitions:

MLS=Multiple Listing Service 

AC= active contingent (the buyer needs to sell something before s(he) can complete the transaction. In this instance, another buyer might write a back-up offer. If the primary buyer can’t meet the contract deadlines, it’s bye-bye to the first buyer. And the back-up offer moves into the primary position. Be sure your agent explains all of this to you! You do NOT want to lose your deposit to the Seller.)

BOM=back on the market (could be that the buyer had some conditions in the contract that s/he couldn’t meet in a timely manner).

PCH= price change (seller either raised or dropped the price)

PSB=pending sale (seller & agent wants backup offers)

REO=  Real Estate Owned by the lender (The seller may have stopped paying the lender, was behind a few months, etc. It’s a foreclosure!)This the first time in years that I’ve added this to our list!

_________________________________________________________________

New listings 5

Total active listings 27

Total pending listings 33

Total sold 6 

 

Get creative with your weekend…let me know what works for you!

best, marilyn

 

THE SECOND STORY | March 31st, 2020

What Buyers Can Do While Staying at Home

8wnxIIswiUyO-740kDxQmA.jpg

While you’re isolating at home, there are things you can do to help buy a home now or in the near future. Instead of spending time surfing the Internet looking at homes, do the groundwork necessary to be able to purchase the home that you find.

  • There is a lot of documentation necessary to qualify for a mortgage and to be approved. This part of the homebuying process can be done in advance, long before you even start looking at homes much less finding the one that you want.
    • Assemble all documents to make a pre-approval
    • Photo ID
    • Two months current pay stubs
    • Last two years’ W2s
    • Complete copies of checking and savings statements for last three months
    • Copies of statements for IRAs, 401k, savings, CDs, money market funds, etc.
    • Employment history for last two years with addresses and contacts
    • Proof of commissioned or bonus income
    • Residency history for last two years with addresses and contacts
    • Assets for down payment, closing costs, and reserves; must provide paper trail
    • If self-employed, last two years tax returns, current profit and loss statement and balance sheet; copy of partnership/corporate tax returns for last two years if owning more than 25% of company
    • FHA requires driver’s license and social security card
    • VA requires original certificate of eligibility and DD214
    • Other things may be required such as previous bankruptcy, divorce decree
  • Get pre-approved giving you the confidence
    • Determining the amount you can borrow – decreases as interest rates rise
    • Looking at “Right” homes – price, size, amenities, location
    • Finding the best loan – rate, term, type
    • Uncovering issues early – time to cure possible problems
    • Creating bargaining power – price, terms, & timing
    • Being able to close quicker – verifications have been made
  • If using a gift as a down payment, construct your gift letter
    • The donor’s relationship to borrower
    • State the dollar amount is a gift and not a loan
    • State that no repayment is required
    • Signed and dated by the donor and borrower
    • Include all contact information
  • Build your homebuying team
    • REALTOR® – this person will coordinate the efforts of the other team members to make the transaction move smoothly, without unnecessary delays to close on time.
    • Lender* … consider a trusted professional you can meet with face-to-face
    • Title company* … guaranteeing the title and closing on time is important
    • Inspector* … more than a flashlight and a clipboard

*Your agent can recommend these professionals based on their experience and having worked with them in the purchase and sales of other homes. This can keep you from getting hooked-up with someone that may not be familiar with the type of home, area, or loans that you might be considering.

Additional information about the buying process and things that you can be doing while you’re waiting to look at homes can be found in the Buyers Guide.

THE SECOND STORY | March 26th, 2020

Communications from those who want to know….

Cloud formations at Alameda Point, today.

……what’s going on with the real estate market (aka with the Corona Virus pandemic)?

I tell folks that I don’t read crystal balls…I don’t pretend to know what the future will bring….and while we can learn from the past….I have no idea how this will shake out.

I do give them items to think about….

-Buyers: How long do they anticipate living there? Is there a chance that  they could lose a job (income)? Is there a chance that they could go through a job transfer to other areas, states? What happens if what they bought loses value, for whatever reason?

-Sellers: Why are they moving? Would it be better to rent out where they now live, instead of selling it? Do they want to downsize? Right-size? Get a single level house/townhome/condo? Do they need to consider an IRC 1031 exchange if they rent out that property now, does it have units that generates income? Cash-out? Leave on a boat and never come back?

I was selling Alameda real estate when we had the earthquake, when we were attacked on 9/11, when the Oakland hills fire decimated everything, and of course when the financial fiasco hit (2008).

Just some things to think about…..

—————————————————————

Definitions:

MLS=Multiple Listing Service 

AC= active contingent (the buyer needs to sell something before s(he) can complete the transaction. In this instance, another buyer might write a back-up offer. If the primary buyer can’t meet the contract deadlines, it’s bye-bye to the first buyer. And the back-up offer moves into the primary position. Be sure your agent explains all of this to you! You do NOT want to lose your deposit to the Seller.)

BOM=back on the market (could be that the buyer had some conditions in the contract that s/he couldn’t meet in a timely manner).

PCH= price change (seller either raised or dropped the price)

PSB=pending sale (seller & agent wants backup offers)

REO=  Real Estate Owned by the lender (The seller may have stopped paying the lender, was behind a few months, etc. It’s a foreclosure!)This the first time in years that I’ve added this to our list!

Alameda Real Estate this Week

Active listings 30 including 4 BOM

Pending listings 7

Sold 15

One of the things that I’ve noticed these 2 plus weeks, is that I smile at strangers more in these troubled times. And they smile back, genuinely.   We are all working through this together. And I don’t want to lose sight of that.

Get a hold of me if you have questions and/or comments.

Best, marilyn

 

 

THE SECOND STORY | March 24th, 2020

Showing Procedures During Covid-19

aZ6tZZfG9kyWKf_XzXaejA.jpg

During these unsettling times, sellers and buyers are concerned about staying healthy and virus-free as we all are. To keep all parties safe, new procedures should be considered regarding the procedure for showing houses.

Agents are reporting that they are selling homes where the buyers have not physically been in the home and base their decision on the virtual tour found online. Some states have suspended showings because they are not considered essential services and other states have not addressed the subject.

In the spirit of stepping up to do what is necessary, the following suggestions should be considered:

  • Buyers should view the pictures online first to see if the home meets their needs. Most listing agents upload enough pictures to get a good idea of what a home looks like.
  • Buyers should ask their agent questions that the photos don’t address. Then, their agent can go through the listing agent to ask the seller direct.
  • It may be possible for the agent or owner to do a Facetime walk-through which would allow the buyers to ask questions and direct the agent or owner where to point the camera.
  • When possible, buyers can make an appointment to see the home through their agent. They should meet the agent at the home in their own car. No children should attend showings.
  • Recommended safe distances will be maintained between the owners and listing agent, if present, the buyers and their agent.
  • Transfer is almost inevitable, and all precautions should be taken. Buyers should carry their own sanitizing wipes and or gloves and avoid unnecessarily touching surfaces. Allow their agent to open doors and cabinets.
  • They should be disposed of in a trash bag in their car after they exit the home.

The social distancing and isolation could present some buying opportunities due to a lack of competition. At the same time, the lack of inventory in many markets could keep prices high. Overall, home prices nationwide are stable and, in many cases, continuing to rise which makes it a far less volatile alternative to investing in the stock market.

With mortgage rates being at historic lows, there will probably never be a cheaper time to finance a home.

Thank you again for looking at our listings and let us know if we can help you in anyway.

Please stay safe; wash your hands; practice social distancing and follow all the guidelines necessary to promote good health. We’re all in this together!

THE SECOND STORY | March 19th, 2020

It’s a bit weird in the real estate world…..

….and in the whole world. But somehow the weirdness brings out the best in people. I think folks are kinder and smile more readily (even with the face masks on).

 

The above is a sign on the third floor of Alameda’s City Hall. It’s not always so calm up there….but I took the photo over 5 years ago. Now it really means something. May you find peace, calm, satisfaction, and wellness in all parts of your lives!

Needless to say, clients, potential clients, friends and neighbors, are calling, em, texting, stopping me in the stores, and want to know what is happening in our local real estate world. I spoke with a couple this morning (we tried Zoom, but couldn’t get it to work), so we just used our phones.

My response to these folks is: I can’t predict the future. I’ve been through a few of these man-made and/or nature-made events over the years. I may be able to tell my clients various scenarios of what may happen…but there is NO guarantee.

Most of us, in compliance with Gov. Newsom’s order, won’t be holding any properties open, even for the broker tour.  And that’s a good thing!

That doesn’t mean that an agent can’t open up a vacant house and show their buyer(s). They can.

BUT…should an agent ask permission to get into an occupied house? NO! Who would want a stranger inside of their property….even if they’re desperate to sell it? Under today’s circumstances…no way!

In fact, I think this Coronavirus will change the way MOST real estate agents will do business, even after it’s left our lives.

I never show a property unless I have a meeting with the potential clients at a Starbucks, Peet’s, Blue Dot, Wes Cafe, etc.  We have a chance to ask questions of each other, and then we’ll make a decision whether to work together, or not.

Most of my clients come from referrals, not me door-knocking, not me rounding up and hounding people at open houses.

ALAMEDA’S REAL ESTATE MARKET THIS WEEK

Definitions:

MLS=Multiple Listing Service 

AC= active contingent (the buyer needs to sell something before s(he) can complete the transaction. In this instance, another buyer might write a back-up offer. If the primary buyer can’t meet the contract deadlines, it’s bye-bye to the first buyer. And the back-up offer moves into the primary position. Be sure your agent explains all of this to you! You do NOT want to lose your deposit to the Seller.)

BOM=back on the market (could be that the buyer had some conditions in the contract that s/he couldn’t meet in a timely manner).

PCH= price change (seller either raised or dropped the price)

PSB=pending sale (seller & agent wants backup offers)

REO=  Real Estate Owned by the lender (The seller may have stopped paying the lender, was behind a few months, etc. It’s a foreclosure!)This the first time in years that I’ve added this to our list!

33 Active 

Click Here to View Listings  

49 Pending

Click Here to View Listings

11 Sold

Click Here to View Listings

OK. That’s my 2 cents worth for now.

Stay calm, cool, and do something great for your neighbor(s)! Even if that just means checking in with them, in person!

best, marilyn

 

THE SECOND STORY | March 17th, 2020

Why have a mortgage during retirement?

yZJrHnbmJUu8PyFrpRhb0w.jpg

You don’t have to watch TV for long before Tom Selleck, Henry Winkler or Robert Wagner will tell you why seniors should consider a reverse mortgage. However, there are a seniors who are resisting the conventional wisdom of having their home paid for and opting for a mortgage with payments on their home.

In some cases, seniors will downsize into a smaller home and have a large amount of equity to pay cash for the new home. In other situations, they may have their home paid for and decide to do a cash-out refinance which will require making payments.

The logic behind either of these examples could be motivated by the fact that since mortgage rates are so low currently, the owners can reinvest the money at a higher yield and make money on their equity. This will give them more money for their retirement income.

A common question that is asked by owners considering such a strategy is whether they’ll be able to qualify for the new mortgage since they may no longer be employed. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination against borrowers based on age.

All borrowers, whether they are working or not, need to show that they have good credit, reasonable debt and enough stable income to repay the mortgage. Lenders cannot base their decision on loan term based on an applicant’s life expectancy, so a 30-year loan is possible regardless of the borrower’s age.

Fannie Mae, one of the largest purchaser of mortgages on the secondary market, is concerned on income that is stable, predictable and likely to continue. Retirees’ income can come from Social Security, pensions, or distributions from retirement accounts like IRAs, 401(k)s, Keogh or other plans. Lenders will analyze these sources to estimate how long it will last.

Other investments can be considered like stocks, bonds, mutual funds and annuities. Based on the type and the volatility of the investment, lenders may be restricted from considering 100% of the income.

Getting the facts as it pertains to you as an individual is important to be able to know if you are eligible and how much you can borrow. A trusted mortgage professional who understands this type of borrower is very important to help you determine the right mortgage vehicle and provide information to decide if this option is right for you. Call me at (510) 908-9021if you would like a recommendation.