Skinny-dipping, anyone?

OPEN HOUSE Saturday June 9th, 1-3 p.m.
Our new Bridgeport condo listing at the end of the San Mateo Bridge in Hayward! MORE PHOTOS HERE
Any swimmers out there? No, we don’t really recommend skinny-dipping but this great condo complex has many amenities for a simpler lifestyle:

  • Greenbelts maintained by someone else
  • Swimming pool and spa
  • Elevator buildings
  • Gated parking
  • water and trash paid by monthly HOA dues

This 2-bedroom, 2-bethroom, 1007 sq ft unit is listed at $123,886.

So Many Buyers, Not Enough Sellers!


Get Off the Fence!Just a few months ago homes were sitting on the market beckoning for a buyer to want them!
It’s a bit different now. Buyers are abundant and available homes in affordable price ranges are not. Homes garner multiple offers above asking price with many important contingencies shaved off the contract!
Here’s the deal. When a  real estate professional tells you to BUY NOW, they’re not necessarily just trying to make a sale! Any of us agents who’ve been in business long enough have seen the ups and downs of the market and the frustration our clients face when they don’t get off the fence in a  timely enough manner.
If you’ve set a goal for yourself to do something in life such as purchase a home or sell your home, PREPARE NOW! You never know when it will be too late to enjoy maximum benefits.
However, don’t feel pressured — the timing must be right for YOU…

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How to Pump Up Your Credit Score

(Nothing original here — we got this from the The New York Times)
To avoid another real estate bubble, many lenders have tightened their mortgage requirements.  According to a report by the Federal Reserve, a majority of banks are less likely to offer loans to people with a FICO score of 620 and a 10 percent down payment than they were in 2006.  Lenders were also less likely to do so even for those with a score of 720.  The good news though is there are some tactics that consumers can employ to raise their scores.
Making sense of the story
First, it is worth noting that median credit scores are rising, as people reduce debt and spend less in tight economic times.  Some 18 percent of Americans now have scores of 800 to 850, while 15 percent are below 550, according to FICO data.
Often lenders will review FICO scores from the three big credit agencies, and they use the middle number to evaluate the borrower.  That number becomes the borrower’s “risk number.” 
Borrowers can figure out their risk number by obtaining their three credit reports, available free once a year at, and studying them carefully for errors or omissions.
According to FICO, the two biggest factors in a credit score are payment history, which accounts for 35 percent of the score, and the amounts owed, accounting for 30 percent.
Knowing that information, one can raise his/her credit score by reducing balances on credit cards.  However, if an account is in collection, it is too late to improve the credit score by paying it off.  The notation that an account is in collection is what lowers the score, so consumers may get more mileage by paying down active credit-card balances and other debts first.
Though mistakes and bankruptcies may stay on a credit report for seven years, lenders will generally be more likely to overlook late payments that happened two or more years ago than more recent ones.
Improving one’s credit score could take three to four months, or it could take as long as 18 months.
Read the full story

Debt Forgiveness Protections Expire December 31, 2012

ISLIP, NY - FEBRUARY 09:  A padlock hangs from...
ISLIP, NY - FEBRUARY 09: A padlock hangs from a door of a foreclosed home on February 9, 2012 in Islip, New York. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

For homeowners with a home that’s worth less than the balance(s) owed, what does this mean to you? This means taking the chance of the debt forgiveness law being extended past the end of the year or getting off the fence and exploring your options for a short sale now.
After a foreclosure or a short sale, the former homeowner is not taxed on forgiven debt under federal and state laws that will expire at the end of this year.  In both cases, the lender likely ends up receiving less than the full amount of the outstanding balance.  If so, the amount the borrower is no longer responsible for paying to the lender is considered “cancellation of debt” income and, thus, income to the borrower that – prior to the adoption of the federal and state protections – was subject to income tax.  Those federal and state protections are scheduled to expire at the end of 2012.
Pride comes before a fall. We know of many people who have simply walked away from their homes that fall into foreclosure, perhaps because they are too proud to ask for help. Not only do borrowers ruin their credit unnecessarily with a foreclosure rather than pursuing a short sale, foreclosures are devastating to entire neighborhoods by dragging down property values of the homes around them. Do you know of someone in your neighborhood who needs help but is too proud to ask for it?
Short sales are a common part of the real estate landscape these days. The best thing we can do is to help get the word out about what homeowners’ options are so that they can make informed decisions…

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Double Purple Female: Renting Out a Room

Has anyone out there considered renting out an extra room in your home to help with the housing expenses? I’ve been surprised at all the folks we know who have made the decision to do so. The rationale behind renting out a room is often that the space is wasted otherwise and also, they’re helping out a friend who can’t afford a place of their own in this economy. All this in addition to the fact that it certainly helps with the monthly housing expenses.
The rules are much different renting out a room in your own residence versus renting out an investment property. Renting out an investment property comes with many rules and laws governing tenant’s rights. There are also numerous fair housing laws one must adhere to which can be avoided if renting out space in your own residence.
Homeowners looking to rent out space in their home may not fall under the same, strict guidelines of California Landlord Tenant Law and HUD guidelines. This is YOUR residence and YOUR space, after all. For more information, visit the California Department of Consumer Affairs website at:
We have three extra rooms in the house that are mostly unused, except for storing items that Greg still has not unpacked since he moved in a couple years ago. For us, renting out a room is a matter of privacy — we’d like to wear whatever we want (or not) and throw parties whenever we want without worrying about who else is in the house. Admittedly, however, it would be nice to have some extra dough coming in each month…
Laws vary from state to state too, so check your local rules to make sure you’re on the safe side of renting out your space…