THE SECOND STORY | June 26th, 2009

“We are living our dream.”

(Two days ago I noticed the tear on one of the prolific Bird of Paradise flowers in the garden. Being a bit of a romantic at the moment, I wondered if it was a tear of joy, sadness, relief, maybe anticipation. Maybe it was just the course of life.)

Few comments mean more to me as a licensed real estate broker than the line for today’s post title. It came from a card accompanying flowers I received yesterday from clients whose home closed last week. I had the privilege of selling their home for them here in Alameda and watching them relocate to North Carolina.

Most of you know I really feel I have the clients from heaven….again and again! And Paul and Kathy were no exception. They had made lovely improvements to their home. It was immaculate and they followed my lead in making sure the property could be sold with little or no hassles. They took the time and some money to get the pest report certified, and got permits for the upgrades they had made over the years.

The kicker and major issues came with the financing the buyers brought to the table. FHA loans are having their fair share of challenges these days. They often need 2 appraisals. The process is longer than normal (45+ days vs. 30). Sellers are in limbo while the underwriters wait to the very end to decide whether or not to bestow their blessing on the transaction, fund the loan and close. Can they actually move or not? Do they ask for up to 3 weeks after the close when they know they have their proceeds to start to pack, arrange for movers, close on the next property, forward mail, shut off utilities? It’s Seller hell to say the least.

After wrestling with the vagueness of the situation, they decided to stick to their moving plans and head out even if the transaction blew up. Very gutsy, not easy to do. We closed 3 business days late and they were able to move as planned, funds in hand before they left Alameda. The next home was theirs a couple of days later.

Showing how much we can do these days, during the marketing period they were even able to go on the European canal cruise they had booked prior to putting the property on the market. With the aid of the internet, cells phones, and e-faxes, we were able to get an accepted offer on their home and they enjoyed their vacation!

Back to the blog title and the birds of paradise….
I didn’t post last week for a couple of reasons. Last Thursday was a rather big day for me. And the night before I was up until 3am attempting to prep for all the emotion I figured I just might experience the next day. First on my plate was an ethics challenge that had been filed against me by a local real estate broker. That ridiculousness had been hanging over my head for over 3 months. Not something I took lightly. After all the impositions that put on my life, the guy never even showed up for the hearing, even when he was contacted at his office and was there. How rude is it not only to me and my Broker, but to the volunteer panelists who set aside hours of their own day to provide a service that is integral to supporting the ideals of the Code of Ethics for Realtors? The answer to that question is “very rude and very unprofessional.” To me this shows the challenge was unfounded and clearly not important to him. And without sounding cocky, I felt I was on solid ground. Result? Case tossed. Onward to the next event of the day.

Noon Thursday….here’s where the blog post title seems to hit home. In my own mind I’ve been living a dream the past 7 weeks or so. Last Thursday I was supposed to meet up with a friend I’ve known since 7th grade. After about a 38 year gap, we had reconnected through our high school class FaceBook group. I mean, what else do I do when someone says “I’ve loved you since we were sophomores in high school. I was just too shy to ask you out.”

It seems that is not uncommon in and of itself. You hear or read stories like this. But when it’s your own life….well now that’s a different thing. I was to pick him up at SFO and we were going to have a bit of face time instead of talking for hours on the phone, emailing, and text messaging. We admitted we were acting like 15 year old kids but in very different bodies! After driving over to Pacifica, which seemed appropriate for two people who lived at the beach in younger times, then having lunch at the SF Ferry Building, and then checking into a rather lovely downtown hotel where I had TWO rooms booked (my control freak nature AND safety net regarding neutral ground) by 3pm the next admission came along…

…to a hospital in the city! He was not well, and I was freaked out. Many of you know I am a practicing Christian Scientist and choose not to mess around with medical processes. But he had to do something rather than macho it out so I insisted he get to a doctor, or a doctor get to him or I get him to a hospital. And there he was for 2 full days as they tried to figure out what was wrong. Scans, cameras, you name it, they did it. He was drugged up, and I was a mental mess. I’ve NEVER spent that kind of time in a hospital. The people were wonderful and it was a real eye-opener for me on many levels.

I’m not sure how easy it is to get to know someone who is on some saline/morphine drip thing for 48 hours. But nonetheless, in a bizarre way, those hours of face time did have an impact. He got out, exhausted but basically well, with no resolution and no answers as to what the problem had been. And then our 4 day date actually began and it kept getting weirder… Truly we are living a dream, or at least a comedy. (there may be more to come, depending on – everything!)

And that is why I didn’t post last week. No way. No how.

So today’s post (also a bit late due to my very full work schedule, and a need for sleep in order to fully function) will incorporate last weeks’ activity.

Alameda real estate the past 2 weeks…

-31 Oak Park closed.
-219 Cypress B, a Woodstock 1/1 single level attached home came on the market.
-933 Shoreline Drive #305 (full bay view condo) went pending and then BOM, and then went pending again with two more offers that came in on Monday.
-16139 Via Arriba My client who is involved with a short sale in San Lorenzo got his papers signed yesterday as I was running around at the same moment finding the Homeowners Association and picking up their pile of documents. The listing agent kinda didn’t know there was a Homeowners Association (thank you Placer Title for getting on top of this!), and the listing agent didn’t know the wife was on title (thank you Placer Title for getting on top of this), and the listing agent gave us disclosures filled out so badly by the seller (and not signed by the wife) that they are incomplete and full of lies and oversights.
-I listed 2 properties that are on MLS waiver until they are ready to go.

Active listings 180, 172 last report
Pending listings 100, 98 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 14, 2 repeats

note: the listings categories reflect the time period back 2 weeks but may have changed from new to active, active to pending, new to price change during that time. So properties may have gone through various status changes along the way.

New 12

Back on Market 2

Price Changes 14

Pending 27

Sold 18

Expired 7

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

Alameda real estate awards this week...remember this is only my perspective!
Winner, Bang for the Buck (and already pending: on market for 31K less than it sold for a couple of years ago.

Grand Dame, Get Me a Facelift (add some reconstructive surgery to that too).

Get Me a Facelift

So that’s a wrap! Have a great weekend!

Carry on… marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 16th, 2009

April and May sales stats and market charts for A-Town!

(A couple of weeks ago I took a very late afternoon bike ride with the intention of seeing if it was still possible to circumnavigate my way around the island perimeter from Sherman along the estuary, along the wharfs beyond Mariner Square, sticking as close to the water as possible, ending up at the former Naval Air Station, aka Alameda Point, riding next to the western most chain link fences there (erected so the Least Terns have their place on the base reserved). That’s when I caught the western sunset. And that’s when I caught the attention of a security guard. I put on my best smile and said I hadn’t gone anywhere that wasn’t open. Then he said he was about to lock the open gate I came through when he saw me. Well, I wasn’t hiding. I had that stupid ‘see-me-anywhere’ vest on along with a flashing bike headlight, and a flashing red light on the back of my helmet. Anyway, it was a great ride with some deadends and backtracking where new fences are up. Then I headed back, about 8:45pm, along Central, over to the beach and home.)

Active listings (June 16) 178, 160 (April 14)
Pending listings (June 16) 100, 78 (April 14)

Please take into consideration that since so few properties have closed the figures are skewed, and that the actual DOM (days on market) are not always considering re-insertion of listings as new when they are simply just continued. And of course location, size, and condition are not reflected in averages except that the price may be higher for one than others….but each micro market has it’s own quirks that the stats just cannot reflect back to us accurately. That’s a lesson as to why agents you are talking to should spend time in the market you are part of…..

April sales charts (April 08-April 09) Show charts

2 bedroom single family homes (6)

  • average DOM 62
  • average sales price $486,500

3 bedroom single family homes (7)

  • average DOM 59
  • average sales price $612,000

4 bedroom single family homes (0)

3 bedroom townhomes (0)

2 bedroom apartment style condos (2)

  • average DOM 72
  • average sales price $325,000

4 unit apartment buildings (0)

May sales charts (May 08-May 09) Show charts

2 bedroom single family homes

  • average DOM 7
  • average sales price $547,500

3 bedroom single family homes (7)

  • average DOM 34
  • average sales price $572,142

4 bedroom single family homes (5)

  • average DOM 54
  • average sales price $700,300

3 bedroom townhomes (3)

  • average DOM 44
  • average sales price $529,333

2 bedroom apartment style condos (4)

  • average DOM 18
  • average sales price $311,000

4 unit apartment buildings (0)

That’s a wrap….carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 11th, 2009

BIG yard sale at 1727 Clinton…..

(I’ve been watching this mural come to life over the past two – three weeks. This is at Garden Cleaners, corner of Webster and Haight, on the Haight Street side. All of the plants and flowers painted on the wall grow abundantly in our dirt here in Alameda. And I love the depth the artist created that makes the garden sit in a flower box (the bricks at the base of the building). What a wonderful addition to what was previously a boring box. We are fortunate to have property owners who are willing to add custom touches all can enjoy to their buildings.

New topic! Blog title! A neighbor at 1727 Clinton is having a HUGE yard sale Friday from 12-4, and Sat and Sun 10-5 (maybe 4pm). If you think you need something you may just find it there. I was over this evening to check it out and it is amazing.

New topic! Concert at the Cove Friday (Motown, soul, R&B) 5:30 – 7:30pm

New topic! I was showing property this afternoon and saw a creative use of a standard household item. The first picture is the “Dorothy Door” (as in The Wizard of Oz). These are the flat overlapping doors you lift up to get into a basement or subarea. Look closely at the second picture and I think you’ll agree with me and my clients that the handle is a toilet paper roll holder.

Alameda real estate this week….

The listing at 933 Shoreline Drive #305 I put on the market last week received 2 offers this week. We’ll see what shakes out shortly. People have loved the full bay view!

My client got an accepted offer after only (and I mean only) 4 weeks of waiting on a short sale single family home in San Lorenzo. But the lender has made it a really quick close.

The least expensive single family homes in town, primarily all short sales or lender owned properties (REOs) have been receiving upwards of 4-9+ offers quickly. Most of these are exceptional messes with unpermitted additions, other bizarre work, substantial deferred maintenance, and/or unfinished projects. I called several agents this week to see just what was going on with their listings and that was the consistent report.

Here are a couple of articles I thought added some insight to the financing mess out there.

Tips for refinancing your loan.

FDIC shelves toxic loan program

Many of you know that my daughter Sutter and son Evan are often sources of info for me…they are my personal news screeners. While I’ve been working on this Ev sent a link that he found very interesting and heavy on the numbers with respect to the mortgage mess. I went through it and it’s not the most positive but the positions are supported by some substantial facts. Check it out. You can blow it up to full screen and just scroll through the slides. T2 Partners Presentation on the Mortgage Crisis. Thanks Ev!

Active listings 172, 167 last report
Pending listings 98, 90 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 12, with 2 repeats

New 16

BOM (back on market) 2

Price changes 13

Pending 17

Sold 7 (this is corrected as of Friday AM. Thanks Ken for letting me know I somehow put last week’s solds in – I can’t figure out how I did that….)

Expired 0


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

Winner of the Week

Cute, Charming

Bang for the Buck

and a special award for Awesome Hydrangeas (check them out in person at the open house)

Have a pleasant weekend! Can you believe we are over half way through this year? It hit me the other day. It is screaming by. OMG, I sound like my mom!

Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | June 4th, 2009

2 Tubes and 6 Bridges….welcome to Alameda Island!

(This is the convergence of the Bay Farm Bridge with the Bay Farm Bike Bridge, taken from the wooden bridge that non-auto users use to get between 94501 and 94502. Most can name the four primary bridges but many leave out the bike bridge and the Fruitvale Railroad Bridge. They count, too! The railroad bridge is adjacent to the Miller-Sweeney Bridge, aka the Fruitvale Bridge. And the railroad bridge does lift up and lower down once per week.)

I had a bunch of pent up energy this evening. I really missed not riding on the broker tour on Tuesday due to the new bay-front condo listing I put on the market and held open for the agents. So about 6pm this evening, and this is why I LOVE this time of year, I set out on my bike.

I have a loop I often take and it goes like this: from home head west a couple of blocks to Grand Street, south to the beach bike path, head east and make the turn onto Broadway. Take the 1st right onto Bayview. Follow Bayview to High Street, get on the sidewalk, get back onto the bike path and go through the small park and head under the Bay Farm Island Bridge.

Continue on the path and make the U-turn and head up the ramp onto the Bike Bridge. Some may not know just how unique a bike drawbridge is – it is said it’s the only one in the US! Many of us back then said it was a stupid waste of 3.3M to build it, but it’s cool and safer for pedestrians and skate boarders, and bicyclers.

At the end of the Bridge, head east with San Leandro Bay on my left and Mount Trashmore on my right. Some may not know that that sealed mound with methane gas pipes sticking out of it was once Alameda’s city dump, thus the fond name for the place. Take the bike path past the Bill Osborne Model Airplane Field. Cross Doolittle and ride the path along the east side of Alameda’s two municipal 18 hole golf courses.

Across from the golf courses is the Oakland Airport North Field, full of small planes tucked away in some of the most amazing hangars! I taught flying out there with Lou Fields, (a Navy pilot with loads of aircraft carrier launches and landings), from whom I took my flight instructor training. Back to those hangars. Behind some of those doors are the ultimate man caves. Yep, I mean man caves. They tinker on their toys, watch TV, lounge around, just get away from it all and/or hang with other cavemen. And ladies, if you think it’s impossible for a guy to keep anything immaculate… the secret is OUT! You could eat off some of those floors.

Cross Maitland and head into the Harbor Bay Business Park. At some point I cross the street and get on the bike path that edges right next to the bay. Shortly thereafter I’m directly across from the end Runway 29 and can watch the planes depart into the westerly wind.

Staying on the path I end up at the Harbor Bay Ferry. Continue to rim the bay front all the way back to the Bay Farm Island Bridge. After a head wind all through the biz park, it’s nice to have a bit of a tail wind. Retrace the steps back along the beach, usually in a head wind again, to home. Well, except tonight I stopped at Big 5 Sports and bought two collapsible chairs (on sale $14.99 each), then cut through over to the Safeway gas station and filled up the tires. Just ask and they’ll turn the air on for free!

I love this place! Here’s my attempt to map that route. If this works, how cool is that! I’ve always thought it was between 8-10 miles and it’s just under 10.5 miles.

Alameda real estate this week…

New listing at 933 Shoreline Drive #305! Feedback from the agents has been good which translates into showings of the property. I’ll be hanging out there 2-4pm on Sunday. Great views!

I thought all these articles were good (source California Association of Realtors weekly Money Market Matters online newsfeed)

Low mortgage rates are going, going, gone?

Lock in the rates now….or wait?

Mortgage fraud? You may be busted…

Is it the high payments that need to be fixed? Maybe not so much…try employment and property devaluation.

Active listings 167, 173 last report
Pending listings 90, 83 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 12 with 3 repeats

New 11

Back on Market 3

Price changes 8


Sold 5

Expired 5

Withdrawn/Cancelled 4

Alameda real estate awards this week….
remember this is my perspective only!
None this week…I didn’t get to see enough!

Have a nice weekend! The Farmers Market is now also on Sat 9-1 on Webster at Haight (as well as Tuedays!).

Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 28th, 2009

Boats and golf….totally Alameda!

(A couple of Sundays ago as the weekend heat spell came to an end, a friend and I took the Hubba Hubba out at 5:30pm. The Hubba is a 26′ 1966 Chris Craft, twin engine wood lapstrake boat. It’s got some juice to to it since the engines are 305 hp V8s. We cruised up the estuary out to the bay, under the new bridge, over to the Giants game, and back home. What an evening! Super warm, smooth water, calm winds. Back to the dock at 8:35pm.)

Keeping it on the light side….I found a Father’s Day card cover inside a folder I keep for blog ideas. I don’t know when Father’s Day is but now that I play a bit more golf I appreciate these revised golf rules any day.

New Father’s Day Golf Rules
1. Every drive is a practice drive till you get one you like.
2. Subtract 1 stroke for every tee you remember to pick up.
3. If the ball rolls over the cup, it’s a gimme.
4. If the ball rolls around the cup, it’s a gimme.
5. If the ball looks like it was headed in the general direction of the cup, it’s a gimme.
6. Distractions like noise, wind or clouds moving are immediate cause for a do-over.
7. Chipping on the green will be replaced by an underhand toss.
8. If in a trap, your sand wedge may now be replaced by our sand shovel.
9. The terms ‘par’ and ‘double bogey’ are hereby interchangeable.
10. If you take more than five strokes, count it as a ‘5’ and move on….there are people waiting!

Alameda real estate this week….
Interest rates jumped big time on Wednesday….something about investors not liking government interference. You’ll notice in the solds this week prices are going over list…but ya gotta remember, list prices are way down….the market does speak!

Want to know more about short sales?
Good knowledge here.
Prepping for a refinance Pay attention!

Active listings 173, 173 last report
Pending listings 83, 84 last report

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 7 with 1 repeat

New 9

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 10

Pending 13

Sold 5

Expired 1

Withdrawn/cancelled 8

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

Winner, Bang for the Buck

Cute, Charming

Get me a Facelift

Got me a Makeover

That’s a wrap! Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 21st, 2009

As the parade marches by….

Everybody seems to like a parade! And the most common comment at Alameda’s famous 4th of July parade is “more music!”
The west end needn’t go far to get a lot more music and an amazing display of marching band talent from around California. For years, each May Encinal High School has hosted a huge band and drum line competition. While it was plenty warm last Saturday for the event, the displays of talent were awesome! And the behind the scenes scenes were impressive too. Huge buses, travel coaches, trailers, surrounded Encinal High, off-loading massive boxes and cases of instruments, clothes racks of fresh and pressed uniforms, and food supplies (especially water). Hundreds of parents come along to cheer their kids and bands, put makeup on the twirlers, pick specks of dirt and lint off the uniforms, polish shoes, and polish instruments. The band directors are totally devoted and proud as they coach their armies.

The 300 block of Haight turns the event into a block party that starts in the morning and later in the afternoon turns into a pot luck feast fit for royalty. They even have a trophy they award to the drum line they vote best of show! Another classic example of small town, island living.

Alameda real estate this week…
A bit more on the market. Some quick pending sales. Pricing tells the story (sold or not sold, deal or no deal). Pent up demand. Some multiple offers on non-stressed sales (except that the market is off 20-30% from the highs depending on the usual suspects – location, location, location, and condition).

Active listings 173
Pending listings 84

Highest priced NEW listing
Lowest priced NEW listing

Tuesday Tour 9 with 1 repeat

New 14

BOM (back on market) 0

Price change 4

Pending 15

Sold 11

Expired 2

Withdrawn/ Cancelled 1

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

Winner, Bang for the Buck, Got Me a Makeover

Cute, charming

Get Me a Facelift (4 way tie)

Get Me to Rehab

If you have an American flag fly it this weekend. I like to take a moment and give quiet thanks for those whose ultimate sacrifice continues to allow us to vote California propositions/ballot initiatives down.

Enjoy your weekend! Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 14th, 2009

Memories and stained glass…often colorful, transparent, beautiful, radiant, cracked.

(The numbers in the header photo read backwards….and that’s because the best light to shoot the glory of the original stained glass windows was when the natural daylight back-lit the designs. I had the privilege of listing this six unit Victorian about 4 years ago…and yes, it sold!)

I spent a couple of hours this evening writing an offer with a young client referred to me, who, as a first time buyer, is trying to find a decent discounted house and make it a home.

Decent and discounted are not the most compatible words in the world of short-sales and REO’s (real estate owned by the bank). We’ve seen some stinky places, trashed out places, places that seem they are sliding down a hill, places below BART tracks, places backing up to freeways or super busy streets. We’ve seen small houses, and smaller houses. But through it all he’s realized the side-benefits of buying now include some potentially amazing prices, terrific interest rates, and the First Time Buyer $8,000 tax credit!

Writing an offer is often a great time for some Real Estate 101. Sharing an occasional personal story can make the process easier. Asking if the newbie Buyer knows what escrow is/does leads to a story if he/she is not sure of the answer. The answer is simple enough…an escrow holder is a neutral third party that acts only when receiving agreeing and concurrent instructions given in writing by the principals in the transaction. No agreement, everything stops.

Here’s my story about escrow:

When I was growing up my family moved more than the norm. I went to 3 different schools in 4th grade and it wasn’t because I was kicked out of each one. Rather, my dad received numerous promotions and job transfers with the company he worked for over the course of decades, eventually retiring at the ripe old age of 49 (you read that right).

As the oldest of 4 squirrelly kids (the other 3 were boys), I was often aware that family dynamics were changing. Typical of those times, our parents didn’t speak too openly about anything in front of their kids. And much of what they did say was unexplained. Example: THE TALK about s-e-x. Ooops, I digress.

Yet there would come the moment when they’d announce we were moving – again. And they’d say “We’re in escrow.” Okay, whatever. I thought we lived in Costa Mesa, or Daly City, or La Jolla, or San Rafael, or Newport Beach. But I guess we were in Escrow. And the only thing I could relate that to was some place I’d heard of – Fresno. So I assumed Escrow must be a town or city near Fresno, and that was where we were moving to. Escrow. Again. And we were in it. Again. But we never moved to Escrow or Fresno. And for that, my friends, I remain very grateful.

Alameda real estate this week….
It was a banner week for east end home inventory. Three houses went for sale on Windsor. And the number of ‘new’ listings has been something we’ve been waiting for. 16 new, not counting Thomsen’s Garden Center that came on the market a couple of weeks ago and another was withdrawn and reinserted as new. Some properties are selling in very short order.

To make it easy to contrast and compare here are the three Windsor properties:
2951 Windsor
3042 Windsor
2919 Windsor

Active listings 170, 164 last report
Pending listings 82, 74 last report

Highest priced new listing there were 2 higher, but they were re-inserts
Lowest priced new listing

Tuesday tour 11 with 2 repeats

New 18

BOM (back on market) 0

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 4

Expired 0

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

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

Winner, Got me a Makeover

Cute, Charming

Get me a Facelift

Bang for the Buck

Out of Rehab

Have a great weekend!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | May 7th, 2009

Open doors, open houses, open minds

(I took this week’s photo several years ago at a Victorian duplex I had listed. It sold in short order. The preserved hardware was exquisite! For me the symbolism is good…am I opening doors or closing them? With the barrage of media blasts about all things lousy, I find I need to be super selective about what I let into my mental house!)

I have loads of stuff to share this week. We’ll start with a continuation of the door theme. Below is an edited excerpt from an email communication about three weeks ago I wrote to a client whose condo will come on the market in the next week or so. Tim said I could share this. His brother had some input about open houses and how he thought they were important.

Many of you know I am not a fan of repetitive open houses. And many of you know that I call a spade a spade. Open houses are a chance for an agent to set up shop for a couple of hours in a property with the sole intent of trying to find business off those who come through. And that’s fine. But it’s important to realize that over 80% of real estate shopping and property screening is done online these days. I wrote:

I am constantly shocked and dismayed by how few agents use virtual tours, lots of still photos, a floor plan, and then create (read buy) a single-property website that makes for one stop shopping. I even do it for fixer properties! Get the info out there! Better than weekend open houses, let the people attend an open house 24/7 from their desks at work or home (we know it happens all day long), then get the info, then do their drive-by (even that can be virtual via Google), and then call their agent for a private showing. Consumers love it and appreciate it. And for properties located in gated communities, the other residents don’t get upset by having spectators wandering around the site, with no control over where they are going and not knowing if they are a guest or stranger. After all, the owners paid for those gates for a reason. It has seemed to obvious to me how important it is to honor owners’ spaces ever since I started the biz 23 years ago.

As I said, now we take the properties to the world, literally, and it’s their choice to click on it or not. But the game of ‘let ’em come to us’ is over. Yet the same principle has remained constant. IN all markets, good or bad, all momentum (or lack of) starts with PRICE. Get it right and get it right early on. If it’s not right…adjust it to the point the private showings start, and then offers (or lack thereof) will reflect what the market thinks.’

Financing subjects:
-Check out some details involving national efforts for preventing foreclosures, including incentives for loan officers who successfully modify a loan gone bad.
-What up with jumbo loans?

City subjects:
-Want to see the published list for salaries of city employees?
-Want to see the list of city jobs cut on Wednesday?
-Want to get accurate news in a timely manner about A-town? Please check out The Island . I’ve traded emails with the writer who has a journalism background, a deep concern about Alameda, and does an amazing job of fact gathering and checking. A couple of months ago I mentioned in an email to her that I was disappointed that the salaries of city employees (ruled as public info last year) had yet to be published for Alameda. Low and behold, the first list showed up last Friday on The Island. I’ve been really impressed. I decided to subscribe and paid the $25 for the daily notice I get about the blog update. It is fair, not vicious, and much needed. I’ve put the blog in the sidebar as one of my favorites and because of it, I’ve been able to share the info regarding city employee salaries and the job cuts with you.

Great neighborhood event of the week, month, year: Dear friends (and clients) of mine invited me and a few dozen of their friends and neighbors to Soup Night last Monday evening. It was low-key, awesome, and delicious! And they’ve been refining and expanding it over the past year. They got the idea from an article that appeared in Sunset Magazine a couple of years ago and went for it! 3 soups, some condiments, simple drinks…2 hours on a Monday. What a way to create and cherish friendships….in a time that really demands reaching out to each other. Yea for D&M!

Great FREE entertainment: Concerts at the Cove start up Friday night at 5:30. I’ve been a huge fan of these events for years. Ride your bike, walk over, even drive! This year it’s all starting a month early and tonight features a classical quartet. It should be excellent.

Alameda real estate this week:

Active listings 164, 159 last report
Pending listings 74, 60 last report

Highest priced new listing
(well, highest but not new…took a rest and price came down)
Lowest priced new listing

Tuesday tour 14 with 4 repeats

New 16

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 6

Pending 11

Sold 5

Expired 8

Withdrawn/cancelled 3

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

Winner, Bang for the Buck

Cute, charming (tie!)
Cute, charming

Get me to Rehab
Get me to Rehab both of these have units that need to be rebuilt.

Have a really nice weekend. After the wonderful and gentle rainy days we had, this weekend may feel like summer – it sure did on Thursday!

Carry on! Marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 30th, 2009

Surprise! A French bakery….in my own home!

(Home-baked croissants right out of my antique home oven.)

Many of my clients have heard me say time and again, with respect to real estate transactions, save the surprises for birthdays – we do what we can to keep them out of real estate.

Our kids knew from way back that Carl and I weren’t into Hallmark holidays. We would probably have been considered extremists since we carried that thought into creating ‘special days’ instead of birthdays. That meant that anytime, for any reason, even more than once per year, we could celebrate the goodness of each other, anytime, anyway. A real surprise sometimes. And there were times when the kids chose the day they wanted to have as their Special Day.

There were some interesting side effects and side benefits of this. First, invitations wouldn’t mention birthday. It was a gift of a party for friends. Second, the mentality that many kids carry with them for months prior to their birthday of ‘me, me, me!’ shifted into planning and thinking about what he or she wanted to do for the friends. Third, a Special Day was calmer and avoided the hype, unmet expectations, tears, and grabbing of presents. Fourth, parents would ask if it was a birthday party, and we could all say ‘no!’ with a bit of an explanation. I think we even said ‘no gifts’ on the invitations – just come and have some fun. (They may have thought of us as looney or psychological child abusers but the kids turned out better than okay!)

The most unexpected and lovely side benefit was this. Guests would come to the door, and often hand a host or hostess gift to the Special Day kid. Talk about surprised! This was completely unexpected by all of us! The guests and honoree learned what host gifts were, how to offer them, and then proceed with the activity. Such gifts were simple, inexpensive, and well-thought out. It was so sweet! And we didn’t have over-tired kids at the end of the day because they were in the moment the whole time.

So in our family, we tried to have gifts from the heart and not because of guilt or commercial pressures. That’s just we way we were, and I continue to be.

BUT! When an unexpected box showed up yesterday, ‘perishable’ written on it, I couldn’t remember what I had ordered. That’s because I didn’t order it.

Evan and Erin had shipped ready-to-be-baked croissants in honor of (and well ahead) of Mother’s Day. So I set six of the 15 in the box, out to rise at room temperature for nine hours, then baked them up tonight. Sutter (up from down under in New Zealand) and I enjoyed some of them tonight. The smell! The taste! Glorious! So thanks E&E for the surprise gift and one that was designed to be shared. Wish you were here!

And to Sutter, I’m so glad you choose to come a few days before and stay a few days after the annual meeting you have in Boston. The gift of your presence and time when you fly to San Diego for a visit with E&E, and then you and Evan driving to Irvine to visit your Grandfather and his wife before you fly back to Oakland, is priceless. And your local friends enjoy the hours you set aside for them so you can catch up. And I love the process cleaning the house so all is hopefully nice for you here. Really. I really do. What a great family. How blessed we all are!

Alameda real estate this week….
My client closed on her sweet home at 538 Haight today. It’s a nifty one bedroom bungalow with a small yard with southern exposure.

My clients at 31 Oak Park have an accepted offer on their home as of Tuesday.

Active listings 159, 160 last report
Pending listings 60, 83 last report
You’ll see there are quite a number of closed sales this week.

Tuesday tour
12, with 3 repeats

Highest priced new listing
Lowest priced new listing

New 12 (some have been on the market previously and not sold)

BOM (back on market) 0

Price changes 10

Pending 7

Sold 17

Expired 2

Withdrawn/cancelled 5

Real estate awards this week….(remember this is only my perspective!)

Winner I really liked the light in this HBI home and the slightly raised backyard along the lagoon path.

Get me to rehab major work here. May need to be all cash offer.

Bank for the buck, Got me a makeover In Ballena Bay, but not on the water.

Cute, Get me a facelift needs work but a cute bungalow

The rain is coming again! Good! Have a nice weekend!

Carry on! marilyn

THE SECOND STORY | April 23rd, 2009

That’s a lot of daffodils

Today’s blog photo was taken a couple of Saturdays ago when a group of 6 of us took a day trip to Daffodil Hill. Our friend and tour guide, Jim, had told us about a flower farm that goes into full daffodil bloom for just a couple of weeks in early spring and off we went.

It was a gorgeous day and the spectators were out in force up there. A touring motorcycle group had their sparkling wheels all lined up. I especially liked this mega luxurious three wheel job. We stopped in Sutter Creek, to have a light morning bite (yummy super-airy cinnamon rolls!), and picked up sandwiches for a picnic, which Jim supplemented with various side dishes and drinks, much to our delight and surprise!

After our walk through the flower farm, we drove to the town of Volcano. We found a cute store, featuring all manner of pies.

Then we had our picnic at Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park took a self-guided short hike/walk which Betsy and I ended up doing backwards (not the walking part; we started at the end by mistake).

Then it was time to head home….a lovely day!

Alameda real estate this week…

Webster House Auction….continued from last week. Mr. Evan Schumacher wondered what happened with The Webster House auction (announced in last week’s post). The bottom line on the auction of the Webster House (Bed and Breakfast Inn) at 1238 Versailles, is that there was no bottom line. No sale. There were far fewer people than I expected there would be and most were just curious, not bidders. There may have been 3 people interested in bidding but even they didn’t seem too interested due to the lack of interest!

But here is why there was no sale. Auction was set to start at 1pm. By 1:20pm one of the Real Estate Auction people had people move towards the sidewalk, gather round, and he announced that “This has never happened before to us. I won’t give details but I just got off the phone with the Seller and she has decided not to sell it.” Well, that is no surprise to those of us who have watched this over the years….One person who called me to find out what happened at the auction immediately said “There weren’t enough people to give her the attention she wanted!” The agent had also verbally relayed some representations the owner had made regarding parking and in no uncertain terms 3 local licensed real estate brokers AND a former B&B owner in town said that info was bogus.

I think the auction company may be rethinking their interview process and doing some fact checking before they jump into a gig like this that ‘includes’ the biz, which is virtually impossible to substantiate a value for, as noted by a couple who had previously had contact with the owner and walked away from the ‘deal’. They were also there as interested bystanders.

If this market, plus 23 years of working around Alameda, has taught me anything, a property that has been on the market for years usually has one big reason for not selling. And that is the seller. And that takes care of every possible reason the seller gives as to why the joint ain’t sold.

Foreclosure inventory increasing? The same Mr. Schumacher forwarded this article which addresses the end of the foreclosure moratorium and what may happen next.

NEW LISTING! I put a new listing on the market on Wednesday. It’s in Point Richmond, and has been the home to dear family friends for decades. It’s on the bay complete with non-stop views, comes with direct beach access (ownership of said portion of beach verified by a property survey), and offers a diverse floor plan. Check it out at The photos and virtual and video tour (button on upper right of virtual tour) are terrific. If you know anybody looking for San Francisco Bay bayfront property….share the info!

This week has seen a big spike in private showings of listings. Good weather? Spectator sport? Serious buyers? We’ll see if there is a spike in pending sales and closings the next month.

Active listings 160, 164 last report
Pending listings 83, 82 last report

Tuesday tour 9 with 3 repeats

Highest priced new listing
Lowest priced new listing

New 12

BOM (back on market) 1

Price changes 10

Pending 11

Sold 8

Expired 7 (some may be showing up as new)

Withdrawn/Cancelled 4

Real estate awards this week...remember this is my perspective only!


Get me a facelift

I’m around this weekend, doing some serious spring cleaning after some serious construction and repairs around here the past 3+ weeks. We’ve had an engineered seismic shearwalling, strapping, and bolting project going on around and under the front (unbuilt-out) half of the building . Insulation has been added around the same perimeter and under the floors. The front doors have been refinished. All the ceiling tiles downstairs have been replaced (water damage from flooding caused by a hot water handle that broke off into my hand a couple of months ago, shooting up steady stream of hot water for about 30 minutes that found its way downstairs into the ceiling, onto the carpet in the hallway, and onto the laundry vinyl). A new sewer ejector pump was installed this week, as the old one was not shutting off and overheating the motor . And my washer door was replaced which solved the small amounts of mystery water in the laundry room . The downstairs is a dust covered, boot printed, hand printed, dirt tracked in, yucky mess. Sutter comes in from New Zealand the beginning of the week and she deserves an immaculate place to stay! The nice news is the windows got cleaned inside and outside this week, and the carpets get done Friday. Yippee! Almost there.

That’s a wrap! Carry on! marilyn