Rolling Stones! Al & Andy are at it again…!

AlAndAndy

“We know Anna May and Greg Jones and their brokerage, Realty World Neighbors, because of their involvement in the Prospect Hill Neighborhood Association, their efforts to help maintain the neighborhood’s open space and other projects.

“Our decision to appoint Anna and Greg as co-listing agents (and later as our buyers’ agents) arose because they work on a number of issues and we were impressed by their efforts and contributions. We have found that people who work well when they volunteer also do well professionally.

“Frequent communications kept us informed of progress over the transactions for which we hired Anna & Greg to assist in the Historic Prospect Hill neighborhood. We appreciated Anna & Greg’s attention and time to email, call or text as the sales progressed.

“As sellers, we appreciated the well-coordinated marketing plan for our unique home in the historic Prospect Hill neighborhood. They knew how to price it for the prevailing market conditions, how to promote it to the right groups and took care of all the paper work expeditiously. There were no errors, no last-minute deliveries or problems from the time we listed until the sale closed. We subsequently hired Anna & Greg to list and sell another home for us and we experienced the same high level of competency in that transaction too.

“We were extremely impressed by their knowledge of the market, pricing and their ability to get the word out about our home through their networks, professional organizations and advertising. They were very professional, competent and knowledgeable about real estate in the area.

“We’re delighted to now be in a larger Prospect Hill home and were able to purchase this home in part due to the negotiation skills of Anna and Greg. They negotiated on our behalf for the sellers to pay for repairs before we moved in. We would definitely hire Anna May and Greg Jones again and recommend them to others.”

-Al Parso & Andy York, Historic Prospect Hill Neighborhood residents

Working for Buyers: The Representation Agreement

Brown eyed rufusAll of us get our butts out of bed in the morning for different reasons. For us, it’s this pesky dog. Rufus the Dufus whines and cries and whimpers at the crack of dawn until we let him out to go potty. He is an annoying little 50 lb.-creature, but he gets us out of bed. It’s hard to be mad at him once our sleepiness subsides.

What gets us into the office is something entirely different. Our Clients have an expectation that we be at the top of our game when it comes to representing them. There is a big difference between a “Buyer Client” and a mere “buyer customer”. We ONLY advocate for the interests of Buyer Clients after they’ve formally retained our services to do so. We’d rather avoid working on behalf of buyers for weeks or months, putting aside our evenings and weekends and family time only to (argh!) have a buyer suddenly decide to have their newly licensed cousin represent them, for example.

Part of formal buyer representation includes an “Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement”. This document outlines what the buyer and agent parties can expect of each other and what documentation is required to get started.  We take representation of Buyer Clients as seriously as we take our representation of Seller Clients. Here are a few of the benefits of formal buyer representation:

  • We’ve built a reputation among fellow agents in our market area for having rock-solid buyers. Our Exclusive Buyer Clients benefit from this by having their offers submitted by us be taken more seriously, especially in multiple offer situations which are common in our area. This means we have compiled a complete Buyer Package before we show even one property to a buyer.
  • Exclusive Buyer Representation ensures our Clients that they are our first priority. Evenings and weekends, for example, are reserved for Clients first and foremost.
  • Many of our Clients are high profile, very busy individuals. We take the time to preview properties for Exclusive Buyer Clients and record walk-thrus and report to them whether or not a property is even worth seeing.
  • We attend weekday real estate marketing meetings where we broadcast what our Exclusive Buyer Clients seek, and often learn about upcoming listings long before they hit the market.
  • We send out monthly real estate e-newsletters to broadcast to our databases what our Exclusive Buyer Clients want, and through this medium, we also learn about properties that will be available before they hit the market.
  • If our Exclusive Buyer Clients MUST move into a specific neighborhood, we’ll knock on doors and send mailers out to ask those neighborhood property owners if they have interest in selling rather than wait around for something to come available.

Right now, our Exclusive Buyer Clients include a recovering peninsula dweller buyer, the newly engaged couple, the seller of this gorgeous home who’s buying in the San Ramon area to be close to family, and also the family of a US veteran who’s seeking an affordable home in the East Bay.

We’re darn good at what we do, so there are certain steps we take before we use our talents, expertise, network and experience to advocate and help protect a Client’s interests. There are only 24 hours in a day, after all…

 

Jumping In Without Contingencies

client photoMeet our daring and dashing Exclusive Buyers Clients, M & B!

The subject of putting all your eggs in one basket doesn’t allow much wiggle room for an “out” — not without penalty, anyway.

When it feels right, there’s no denying taking the plunge. That’s what M & B did recently, in two ways:

  • They made an offer on a property with NO CONTINGENCIES
  • They got ENGAGED! To be married!

Let’s hope they don’t find anything wrong … with the property, of course. Otherwise, they’re stuck!

CLICK HERE for an artist reception featuring the work of “Slate Quagmier”, shown here.

 

Making the Case for Stairs

 

dogs on our stairs
(This is not a photo from a scary movie. These are our dogs Piglet & Rufus. If you can’t tell who is who, then you have no sense of humor.)

 

I don’t know about any of you, but I like tight buns. I like having them too, which is why I love living in a three-story house.

We have many clients who love stairs. They feel as if they’re on top of the world when their homes are up high. I remember shortly after moving in to our home, I sat in the hot tub located on the lower deck of my home with my mom. It was dark outside and the house was lit from within. I looked up at the three levels of my home and said, “Mom, I feel rich.”

I’ve also had dreams of living in a home with many levels and the higher up I climbed, the less “stuff” each space had. I’ve also had dreams of a vast “basement”-type area with what appeared to be hordes of space and so much potential for improvement.

Although I sometimes get winded going up the stairs when hauling up the laundry, I am grateful for the opportunity to do so. I know that walking up stairs helps me to keep my muscles strong and adds to my overall health.

So, how about a nice home with a built-in opportunity for a healthy daily work-out?

Meet Phil! Does he look pouty?

Here’s “Phil”! This 12-year old sweetheart’s mom is selling their long-time home at 2828 Eastman Avenue in Oakland‘s Allendale district.

Phil
Phil, 12, is not included

When the sale closes, Realty World Neighbors will make a donation in Phil’s honor to Bad Rap, where he was trained when he was a youngster…

A home is not a home without a dog!

 

The Calm Before the Storm

photo of paintersA lot of prep work goes into preparing a home for sale. This home has been in the same family since 1977. Many memories have spun their stories over the years of growing up and raising a family here. It is now time for new memories and we’re working on making sure the home is clean and comfortable for the new owners.

Shown here are Todd Worsfold and his crew member preparing the home for sale.

Stay tuned for more details! May 2016 is when this home will be available. You’ll LOVE the new colors chosen, I’m sure!

Out of the Closet

Greg Jones during our remodel
Greg Jones during our own remodel

Here’s a real dialog that took place last month:

Homeowner’s question:

Good Afternoon;

So, I have a question on a remodel we are finalizing the plans for. We are working with an architect. Just to refresh your memories; our home is approx. 1200 sq.ft. with 3 small bedrooms and one remodeled bathroom and a remodeled kitchen we finished last year.
We are doing two things; enlarging our bedroom by adding a bathroom that will use the current closet plus a few feet into the bedroom, and add  8 ft. on the side that faces the front yard. That side will have a door that opens to a walled patio.
The second project is an addition; a 16 x 11 dining room off the back of the house.
We are currently submitting our plans to a structural engineer. We have shown our preliminary ideas to the planning dept. and (were given) the go a head to proceed to the next steps.
We have a couple of questions. The expanded bedroom will need closets, since the current one will become the new bathroom, and our contractor says that for a bedroom to be called a bedroom it has to have built-in closets. Is this true? We are trying to figure out how best to add closet space and are wondering if modular free standing closets are a reasonable idea, or if we should build in closets as part of the wall. Do either choice effect the value of our home?
We are also wondering if investing $80-100K in these two projects makes financial sense, given the fact that so far, our neighborhood is still looking like a blue collar area, though most of the Cal Trans rental properties have been purchased, rehabbed and put back on the market in the $500K plus price range over this last year.
Our own cash investment in our home has been very small; we paid $185k two years ago, and the down payment was paid by the CalTrans Stipend. We re-financed a year after purchase and pulled some of the new equity out to remodel the kitchen.
Our thinking is, since we paid so little for the house (really below market at the time) we have a lot of “head room” in which to invest for improvements, without exceeding our equity.
So… in your opinion, does it make sense to invest $100k plus (needs major hardscaping and landscaping when the building is complete) if we plan on being here at least 5 years?

We love the land our house is on;  a huge backyard that borders Hayward regional park trails in the canyon below, and that feels very private and almost rural.

So, those are our questions.

Thanks,
L.

My answer:

Yes, you should have a built-in closet so that the room is considered a “bedroom”. This does affect the home’s marketability should you decide to eventually sell. When we remodeled our house in San Francisco years ago, we knocked out a bedroom closet to enlarge the bathroom. The market was so hot that we got a chunk of money for the home in addition to enjoying a gorgeous remodeled bathroom, but we could no longer tout that room without a closet as a “bedroom” anymore but instead, a “den”.
It does make sense to invest $100,000 if your enjoyment of the home over that five year period of time is worth the $20,000 per year or roughly $1,666 per month. Only you can decide this. There really is no price one can put on enjoying one’s home.
In any case, nobody knows what the market will be like in 5 years should you decide to sell or refinance, so it is impossible to say definitively whether or not it’s “worth it” financially.
I’m being careful with my answers so as not to mislead you while still being honest.
Hope this helps!
Anna May

Available Soon! Target Date: Jan. 26, 2016

lindenwood exterior photoALREADY IN CONTRACT: All cash contract with no contingencies scheduled to close in 6 days.
3-bedroom, 2-bathroom single-level home in the sought-after and well-established Southgate neighborhood on Lindenwood Way!
This home’s neighborhood popularity is due to its tree-lined streets, easy access to shopping, the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge, a neighborhood swim club, the mall and Chabot College a few blocks away, which is where A-list actor Tom Hanks attended.
 
Stay tuned for more information!

Why we MUST do business locally!

Amazon_Infographic_1200px_headerAmazon is rapidly expanding its online empire, but behind the conveniences that the company offers are a lot of hidden costs. We found an infographic to see how shopping at Amazon compares with shopping at local businesses in its impact on jobs, taxes, the local economy, and community. Before you click, here’s why your choice matters:

Jobs: Amazon creates less than half as many jobs as local brick-and-mortar stores do. This means the more Amazon grows and crowds out other businesses, the fewer jobs available.

Taxes: In most communities, Amazon has no facilities and therefore pays no property taxes.  In about half the states, it does not collect state and local sales taxes. Property and sales taxes are the main source of funds for our schools and public services.  If local businesses are squeezed out by Amazon, households will have to shoulder a higher tax burden.

Local Economy:  While local retailers are engines of economic activity, spending their revenue at a wide variety of other businesses in the community, Amazon merely extracts money, leaving little behind.

Click here for the full infographic. Please feel free to re-post and distribute this widely!

Why Doing Business Locally MATTERS

Amazon_Infographic_1200px_headerAmazon is rapidly expanding its online empire, but behind the conveniences that the company offers are a lot of hidden costs. We put together an infographic to see how shopping at Amazon compares with shopping at local businesses in its impact on jobs, taxes, the local economy, and community. Before you click, here’s why your choice matters:

Jobs: Amazon creates less than half as many jobs as local brick-and-mortar stores do. This means the more Amazon grows and crowds out other businesses, the fewer jobs available.

Taxes: In most communities, Amazon has no facilities and therefore pays no property taxes.  In about half the states, it does not collect state and local sales taxes. Property and sales taxes are the main source of funds for our schools and public services.  If local businesses are squeezed out by Amazon, households will have to shoulder a higher tax burden.

Local Economy:  While local retailers are engines of economic activity, spending their revenue at a wide variety of other businesses in the community, Amazon merely extracts money, leaving little behind.

Click here to check out the full infographic. Please feel free to re-post and distribute this widely!

 

 

Animal Lovers’ Artist Reception

Artist Jackie Arellano painting “Clover”, an adoptable dog at the Hayward Animal Shelter

“Animal Rescue; A True Humanitarian Endeavor”

When we save an animal’s life, we never quite realize how it salvages our own souls. Join Hayward Arts Council members Jackie Arellano and Ann Maloney-Mason as they show the beauty of their own souls through the eyes of their furry artwork.

This artist reception kicks off a season of charity events supporting animal rescue efforts leading up to Carnaval with the Hayward Arts Council (November 13th) and SantaCon Hayward 2015 (December 5th).

CLICK HERE to RSVP for the event held on Saturday November 7th from 1-3 p.m. at Realty World Neighbors’ Art Gallery in Downtown Hayward

Dating, Engagement, Marriage: The Stages of Home-Buying

What’s Next?

  • The Home Search is the same as “Dating”. We know what we want in a home/partner and we know we must “have the goods” to get what we want.
  •  “The Engagement” happens after we make an offer on a home and the offer is accepted. Tread carefully during this period of time. This is when you look for flaws and deal-breakers so you’ll have time to bail out without penalty.
  • “The Marriage”: You’ve closed the purchase and are the official owner of the property. (Here’s where I start snickering.) If you try to get rid of it now, everyone will be wondering “What’s wrong with it?”

Many of us know what happens after marriage.

Weight-gain, lax grooming, fading colors, neglect. After buying a home, the same stages of post-courtship decline can happen before we know it.

We trim less and become visibly unruly. The leaves fade and are missing the luster and color applied before. The landscaping fits a bit tighter as the fabric of neglected greenery expands. We become fat and lazy!

You start coming home later…

You know how it goes within a marriage. You think what’s-her-name isn’t going anywhere so you become sloppy. You leave the toilet seat up. You buy Lucky Charms instead of bran cereal. You fail to be her hero by killing spiders. You fail to allow her to pluck your eyebrows when you start looking like Fu Manchu. You wait until he gets back into the room and point out that the dog barfed so he’s stuck cleaning it up.

(NOTE: I’m guilty of the last sentence above as of just this morning.)

The lights are on but no one is home…

This is why it’s important to generate reasons to spruce up. If you’re concerned about whether or not people think you’re a slob, invite them over for a party! This will give you incentive to shed a few lbs. of that fluffiness, plant tulips, etc. Make everyone want to be on the arm of the best-looking, best-maintained house on the block, even after being “married to it” for many years!

Finally, know if you’re ready for a commitment in the first place!
This photo was taken when I visited my family in Iowa last year.

 

What’s the difference between eggs and bacon?

The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.

The Guilt of a Bathroom Remodel

IMG_1709Recently, we remodeled the upstairs bathroom in our home. It wasn’t cheap. We installed heated floors, heated towel bar, heated (and neon-lit) toilet seat and a ceiling heater. I doubt there’ll be any complaints about the temperature come winter-time.

Here’s the rub: I feel guilty about it!

The bathroom was perfectly functional before the remodel. It met all of our needs, even though it wasn’t “sexy”. A part of me wishes we could have used that money to put toward animal rescue efforts. Imagine how many dogs we could have saved had we just put the money toward that effort instead!

Another part of me is thankful for the remodel. There is such a pristine feeling being in the remodeled bathroom now. It feels like I’m in a spa. My husband loves being surrounded by beautiful things, beautiful places, beautiful music and beautiful creatures (i.e. Piglet & Rufus and a few select humans). So, if the husband is happy, I know I will be too. Happiness leads to more productive people who are in turn able to earn more money to do even more amazing things, for charity or otherwise.

So, my advice to you is this: Cherish your surroundings! Make your space pleasant and inviting. Let go of things that serve no purpose in your life to allow space for what offers you enjoyment…