Over the Hill: Hayward to Arnold

Call Ave.“We’ve known Anna and Greg socially for many years, but when we decided to sell our Hayward home after 22 years, we thought, well how about professionally. We’ve been guided by them for seven months in the process of readying our home for sale, and putting it ‘on the market’. Anna and Greg were amazing….we had several minor bumps along the road, but they helped us through. Commitment is actually Anna’s middle name; don’t let the Laveria fool you. Her firm Realty World Neighbors is dedicated, and their work product is superior. Although we’re leaving Hayward after 40+ years, we’ll be back in the area frequently, and we look forward to seeing our friends in the real estate office.”

-Linda & Steve Bristow, community activists

Crossing the Bridge: Hayward to San Mateo

“Anna May did a great job selling our rental property. When I first met her, IVentnor Ct. found her to be very personable. After choosing her as our realtor she went to work quickly. She is very knowledgeable and responsive. When she says she’s going to do something, she does it very soon. She’s always ready to answer questions and let you know what the next steps will be. Selling a property can be very stressful. We were very happy to have Anna May as our realtor. I highly recommend her!”

-Susan I. Choi, Retired Financial Services Supervisor (local municipality)

(from Alameda County to San Mateo County)

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…

 

Say Yes First, Then We’ll See

Image-wedding and engagement ring 200

In addition to the Exclusive Buyer Clients we have who jump in head first or take their time to make a decision, we also have those who are “perpetually engaged”.

One such Exclusive Buyer Client of ours has been “engaged” for quite a while and for a number of reasons, has not sealed the deal.

Being “engaged” in a real estate transaction means that a proposal has been offered and accepted. The engagement is sometimes dragged on and on for many months while one or both parties work on some issues.

Sound familiar, all you serial monogamists?

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?

Homes Available Soon!

porch sunset view
26630 Call Ave. in the Hayward hills

4160 Perkins Ct., Fremont: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2-car garage, 1811 sq ft (AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 2016)

26630 Call Ave., Hayward hills: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2-car garage, 2300+ sq ft (AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 12th)

Call Anna May: 510-886-ANNA (2662) or Greg Jones: 510-886-GREG (4734)

California suburbs growing fast as many are priced out of cities, data show

Source: Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2016

Suburban areas on the outskirts of the red-hot Los Angeles and San Francisco areas grew especially fast last year, state officials reported Monday.

San Joaquin County, home to Stockton, grew faster than any other, up 1.3% to 733,000 people. The area has become increasingly popular for people fleeing astronomical San Francisco Bay Area housing prices while remaining within commuting distance.

San Joaquin was followed by Yolo, Riverside and Santa Clara counties.

The fastest-growing city was Vernon, which grew a whopping 72% thanks to a new housing development that brought its population to 210.

Among cities with at least 30,000 people, the fastest-growing were concentrated primarily in the Inland Empire and Orange County: Porterville, Eastvale, Lake Forest, Beaumont and Lake Elsinore.

The number of new housing units in California declined last year for the first time since the start of the economic recovery, due mostly to wildfires that scorched more than 2,000 homes.

California’s housing supply rose by 67,110 units last year, compared with an increase of 69,435 units in 2014. Demographers at the California Department of Finance say the number of new units would have been about equal to the year before if the destructive wildfires in Lake and Calaveras counties had not hit.

Of the new units created, just over half were multi-family dwellings such as apartments and condominiums. Los Angeles, the state’s largest city, saw the most growth in housing, with 12,224 new units. It was followed by San Francisco with nearly 2,900, San Jose with just over 2,000 and San Diego with about 1,750.

The housing hit came as California’s population grew to 39.1 million last year, an increase of 348,000 people, just under 1%.

Most of the state’s 482 cities saw population gains, but 44 cities shrank and one — tiny Tehama, population 431 — was unchanged.

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!

Receiving Thanks

IMG_2575[1]We have the best Seller Clients ever! This lovely plant was brought in by our Seller Client Arutha as she was on her way out of town and off to her new life in Las Vegas.

We were able to entice her to let us take her to coffee at Hippies Brew first before she left town. Hippies Brew has Jimi Hendrix painted on the wall. Arutha is a DJ who appreciates good music, so we thought it was a good fit to share a farewell brew.

Sometimes we meet people who retain our services to do a job for them, and if they weren’t leaving town, we’d love to cultivate a friendship with them. Arutha is one such lady with a wonderful sense of humor.

If you need a DJ in Las Vegas, we’ll connect you with her!

The Zalamea Family

Zalamea family photoDo you know of anyone who might have a home to sell to this lovely family? Meet the Zalameas!

They’d love a 4-bedroom home with at least one bedroom and full bathroom on the main level.

Contact us if you or someone you know has a home that might be of interest to Ed and Mary Ann for their family!

San Francisco Home Available Soon!

747-28th Ave., San Francisco
747-28th Ave., San Francisco

This San Francisco home in the Richmond district will be available soon, in May of 2016. The services of Sterling Sites have been retained for professional staging and Color Touch; Painting Professionals for Fine Homes will be painting the interior and exterior of the property.

Story about this house:

Several years ago, in 2008, I met with the owner of this San Francisco property to assess its market value. He was mulling over whether to sell it or rent it out. I recall advising that he should consider hanging on to it unless he absolutely has to sell. The market was down at that time and I felt that he could do better if he waited.

Fast-forward 8 years later: I just secured the exclusive right to list and sell this property. He remembered me from 2008 and probably appreciated that I wasn’t trying to just “get the listing”, even though listing and selling homes is what I do for a living.

In life, it is important to do the right thing. Never be greedy or pushy. Do, say and live your life with the best interests of others at heart.

Remember the law of attraction! We attract what we are. I am blessed to be surrounded by incredible people. It is a life by design, not by accident.

 

 

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

While Their Peers Play, Allen & Rachel will INVEST

UPDATE AS OF DECEMBER 23rd: IN CONTRACT!

I love meeting young people who focus on “building” rather than “playing”. Allen & Rachel are 20-somethings who’ve made the decision to buy a home which is NOT in alignment with what their peers are doing. I’ve said this many times before:

We LOVE WORKING WITH SMART PEOPLE!

Rachel & Allen seek a home in the Hayward-San Leandro-Oakland areas under $600,000. Might you know of a home coming available that their little dog Rupert would like?

IMG_4444

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!

 

 

Want to live next to this? (Home Available Soon!)

Monika flier in JPG

UPDATE: This home is now available. CLICK HERE for property details.

We just listed a classy 3-bedroom home right next to Lake Don Castro. It will be available soon.

Would you like to live near outdoor recreation?

Don Castro Regional Park is a 101-acre urban oasis on the boundary between Hayward and Castro Valley. The clear waters of the swim lagoon are a favorite with central Alameda County residents.

The lake, San Lorenzo Creek Reservoir, is where fishing is available year round and hikers along the shore will discover a surprising wilderness in miniature, where turtles and frogs splash in the water, ducks rest in the reeds and raccoons and deer come down to drink at sunset. There is access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Chabot to Garin trail and over five miles of trails in the Five Canyons Open Space. The adjacent lagoon is supplied with water and a large shallow area is roped off especially for children.

CLICK HERE for more information about Lake Don Castro.

“Zombie Homes”: The Vacant (Property) Dead

Dashboard 1

‘Zombie’ Homes Spook Fewer Neighborhoods

Vacant foreclosures – known as “zombies” – plunged 43 percent in the third quarter compared to a year ago, according to RealtyTrac’s latest U.S. Zombie Foreclosure and Vacant Property Report. As of the end of the third quarter, about 20,050 residential properties were in the foreclosure process and vacant, but had not yet been repossessed by the foreclosing lender.

“The overall inventory of homes in the foreclosure process has dropped 36 percent over the past year so it’s not too surprising to see a similarly dramatic drop in vacant zombie foreclosures,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “What is surprising is there are so many vacant homes where the home owners do not appear to be in financial distress — with only 3 percent in foreclosure or bank owned, and only 6 percent that are underwater. More than 63 percent of these vacant homes are not even encumbered by a loan, owned free and clear by the owner. The fact that the home owners are not selling given the recovering real estate market in most areas indicates that many of these properties are in poor condition and in neighborhoods that have been left behind by the housing recovery.”

The following states are still haunted with the most vacant “zombie” foreclosures, according to RealtyTrac’s report:

  • New Jersey: 3,997
  • Florida: 3,512
  • New York: 3,365
  • Illinois: 1,187
  • Ohio: 1,028

The following states have the highest share of vacant “zombie” foreclosures as a percentage of total vacant properties:

  • New Jersey: 9.4%
  • New York: 8.2%
  • Nevada: 2.7%
  • Massachusetts: 2.5%
  • Illinois: 2.1%

On a metro level, the following areas had the highest share of vacant “zombie” foreclosures as percentage of all vacant properties:

  • Rochester, N.Y.: 14.3%
  • Trenton, N.J.: 10.5%
  • New York: 10%
  • Albany, N.Y.: 7.9%
  • Allentown, Pa.: 5.2%

Source: RealtyTrac

Have “zombie homes” plagued YOUR neighborhood?

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.