2015 Market Outlook – One Quick Perspective

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The housing market continues to recover and home values are predicted to continue to rise, but at a slower pace.

Zillow forecast calls for a 2.4 percent appreciation for 2015 for the nation, which is less than half the appreciation rate seen for 2014.

As we in the Bay Area know, our market operates a little differently than the rest of the country.  However, we too will most likely see a slower pace which will help bring more balance to the market, as more previously sidelined sellers decide to list their homes, and more buyers enter the market – particularly younger buyers. These buyers will find themselves with more leverage in the market, after years in which sellers largely held the upper hand in negotiations.

We tend to have multiple offers when the inventory is low.  Last year, the buyers were out in full force the first week of January and it took the sellers until March to get on the market for the “spring selling spree” whens buyers got a little relief from the 30% price increases they saw the first quarter.  From all indications, Kristin forecasts this year sellers will get a jump on listing sooner and it will create a more balanced real estate market.  Those who list in the first couple of weeks of January will most likely see the most offers and get to choose the strongest buyer.  Here is to 2015!

~Kristin

When observed calmly, all things have their fulfillment.”  Basho Matsuo

The Orchards

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At Oak Grove Blvd & Ygnacio Valley Road in the Shadelands Business Park. Safeway is finally building on their lot that has sat empty for so long – the last of what was once real orchards.  Safeway’s new store will replace its smaller Encina Grande location across the street, where Whole Foods will move in.

The Orchards will include a Stein Mart, Crunch Fitness & Petco along with specialty shops, restaurants, 200 units of senior housing, green space, play area and jogging trails.  This area has been languishing from a business perspective and the city has been trying to figure out how to reinvigorate it to be more like a Bishop Ranch.  The problem is the commute – there is no easy access from Bart, thus people have to drive so many of the business once housed in the Shadelands have moved.

Hall Equities Group will be transforming the building Contra Costa Times occupied in a Recreational Sports Facility and will become the regional go to place for youth basketball, soccer, lacrosse, etc. – this is sorely needed in our area as field space is a premium – now parents will be able to drop off the kids to warm up and walk over to grab a coffee or do their shopping.  It will be interesting to see if it attracts actual business vs. retail.
~Kristin
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beate.” G. K. Chesterton

Utility Box Art in Walnut Creek

The Bay Area is a region of cutting edge ideas, that runs on creativity and vision.  Walnut Creek as a city and a community finds it important to incorporate these inspirations of creativity and art into the evolving landscape of the city (which I might add has been well planned for years, starting with the insight to set aside open space for all of us to enjoy so close to home).

The Utility Art project demonstrates the growing public art movement of the city.  These ugly utility boxes that stand on street corners, now curiously feature works by local artists featuring animals, abstracts, landscapes on eleven signal boxes throughout downtown.

The first time I saw one, I wondered about it, it definitely will spark a conversation.  You may like them or you may not – they are bright and different, but isn’t that what art is suppose to do – make you think differently!

Share with me your favorite and least favorite.  The painted utility boxes are to stick around for 18 months, I think they should stay, maybe with rotating artists.   I could only find 9, but one article said there were 11, does anybody know where the other 2 are located?

Left “Crossroads 4”  Right “Freedom”   |   Artwork by : Carol Aust   |  Located at N. Calif & Olympic (Sports Authority)

U1

“Humility”  |  Artwork by Andrea Thrams  |  Located at N. Main & Civic (Eleve)

U2

“Windy Day”   |  Artwork by:  Carol Aust   |   Located at N. Main & Bonanza (Wells Fargo Bank)

U3

“Where The Other Sock Goes”   |   Artwork by: Julie Alvarado   |  Located at Locust & Mt. Diablo (Union Bank)

U4

“This Is How It Is”   |   Artwork by:  Nathan Huff   |   Located at N. Main & Cypress (A1 Shoe Repair)

U5

“All That”   |  Artwork by:  Jake Watling   |   Located at Botelho & N. California (Project Pie)

U6

“Mt. Rosalie”   |  Artwork by:  Mary Anne Kluth    |  Located at S. Main & Olympic (Talbots)

U7

“Above and Beyond”   |   Artwork by:  Marcos LaFarga   |   Located at N Broadway & Lincoln (Library)

U8

Left “Don’t Worry Mountain”  Right “Hexagons”  |   Artwork by:  Kristin Farr    |   Located at Civic & Locust (Lettuce)

U9

Detail on “Don’t Worry Mountain” |   Artwork by:  Kristin Farr    |   Located at Civic & Locust (Lettuce)

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Motivated Buyers

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This is what happens when somebody’s rent is going up from $2500 to $2800 – why waste it on rent, when you can own…

Met clients for the first time on 12/31 @ 2:30 spoke about the market, their needs and how I work – showed them 3 properties, drove by 2. They liked one and decided to sleep on it.  I got an email on 1/1 saying they would like to write up an offer.  We met on 1/2 at 3:30 after I found out their lender could not do the financing.

I set them up with JVM Lending, who was so efficient and top notch, they got fully approved that afternoon, so we wrote the offer and it was ratified at 10:30 the same night – whew! I would like to do that every week. I love motivated buyers.

~Kristin

Seek not to follow in the footsteps of men of old; seek what they sought.” Basho Matsuo

Best of 2014 – Kitchen Storage Ideas

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I am hoping to redo my kitchen/make a great room in the next year or two. My favorite ideas are the pull out knife drawer – keeps things simple and off the counters; the pantry cabinet for those who can’t do a walk in; and the cookie sheet cubbies!

What is your favorite idea?

~Kristin

 
“Peace comes from within.  Do not seek it without.”  Buddha

Home Equity Line of Credit (H.E.L.O.C.)

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Home Equity Line of Credit (H.E.L.O.C.) are popular once again, because borrowers have now more equity in their homes. They also come into play for buyers with 80/10/10 financing, which allows borrowers to put 10% down and avoid paying PMI. That happens because they have an 80% loan-to-value (LTV) first mortgage and a 10% combined LTV HELOC or 2nd mortgage.

How dos it Work? Here it is:
– Rate: Prime +1.99%
– Payment: Interest only for 10 years – but you can pay it off sooner
– Draw Period: 10 years
– Repay Period: 20 years

Here is why I like them – if it is a small amount, (i.e. similar to a car purchase), it can be paid off in a relatively short time – especially if someone gets bonuses, their income is steadily increasing or they are stock rich & cash poor (IPO). It avoids paying mortgage insurance, and if you pay it off, you can use it down the road for remodeling.

The only concern is they are not a fixed rate and are tied to the prime can climb significantly and we all expect rates to rise, however we as an industry thought that would have already happened. It might just be a great option one buyer, but it isn’t for everybody.

I like to have these discussions with my buyers so that they are informed and can make the best decision for their needs & situation. Options are a beautiful thing….

~Kristin

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Tips of the Trade – Common Mistakes To Avoid When Buying A Home

I am not a big fan of things stated in the negative, so I will translate each point to a positive Do.

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1. Do understand the local real estate market to determine pricing and location options – go to open houses, look at Zillow & Trulia for ideas on prices and what you get;

2. Narrow your search to what is available in your price range – having said that, it is best to get a pre-approval upfront so you know what you qualify to purchase and what your monthly payment will be. Give me a call if you would like a reference for some great lenders;

3. Do obtain a proper home inspection to identify problem areas that could prove expensive – everything is negotiable until you remove contingencies, know what you are buying;

4. Do identify all available financing options based on your monetary situation – the lending environment has loosened up ever so slightly and you can now get a conventional loan for as little as 3% down. Know your options;

5. Look for the best home for your family’s needs – The “perfect” home does not really exist. If your agent has not sat down with you to discuss what you are looking for in lifestyle, commute, future and top 3 most important features, then it may take you longer to sort that stuff out. A good agent helps navigate that process;

6. Familiarizing yourself with local schools, shops and other neighborhood amenities – school borders can be tricky, consult your agent and ask where you can verify the information. I have seen out of area agents note a home is in the Walnut Creek School District when it isn’t, but they make the assumption because the house is in Walnut Creek;

7. Consult your lender before making a major purchase or changing jobs – moving money around or purchasing a new car could affect your credit rating or ability to purchase the home; &

8. Do buy with resale in mind.

Call or email me to learn more about how I can help you with a home purchase.

~Kristin

Congratulations to Scott & Shenine!

After a long search and some soul searching on what was important, they found a very cute 2 bedroom 1 bath Craftsman Bungalow built in 1916.

What a great starter home for a young couple!!

No HOA dues, a yard and when the time comes, if they plan accordingly, they can buy up, keep this home and use it as rental income – now that is the way to build wealth!

If you are a first time home buyer or a parent who would like to help get their child into a home and would like more information, give me a call!

Signing final documents to close – very excited!

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SOLD! Their first home.

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~Kristin

And The Color Of The Year 2015 Is…

Marsala – yes, like the wine!

The impactful, full-bodied qualities of Marsala make for an elegant, grounded statement color when used on its own or, I like it as a strong accent to many other colors. It can add to any room by incorporating the hue in accent pieces, accessories and paint.

Marsala’s plush characteristics are enhanced when the color is applied to textured surfaces, making it an ideal choice for rugs and upholstered living room furniture. Here is another article on Marsala that my stager Cathy Lee shared with me. What do you think about this color and how would you use it?

Use the new ‘it‘ color on your Furniture,

Marsala 1

On your House Accessories,

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Or simply paint a strategic Wall!

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Here are more tips on how to use this beautiful color

~Kristin