California getting snotty about their potties

Did you know California has put a new law in place that went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year? It’s causing quite a commode-tion.
It basically says that any home built after 1994 must flush away some money meeting the requirement of having water-conserving plumbing (WCP) fixtures in their bathrooms, whether it’s going on the market or not. What a stinker!
Additionally, the law calls for installation of WCP fixtures – and wiping away the old one – when the existing plumbing fixtures use more than the following:
  • Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
  • Any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush.
  • Any shower head manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.

Now that the drought is over, I wonder if the regulations might go down the drain and on the sale side nobody is enforcing it. But either way, a very important question remains: who the heck has a urinal in their house?

Following Up: Honeybees!

A few weeks back, we did the Parkmead Garden Tour. I spoke to one resident who is a honeybee keeper. In addition to the Beekeeper who was there to speak, I learned a lot about honeybees.

For example, did you know that a honeybee has to travel more than 55,000 miles and has to visit about 2 million flowers just to produce one pound of honey? Or that they can fly 15 miles per hour? 

Beekeeping is a hobby that seems to be picking up popularity, especially around the Bay Area. Much like composting, its attraction is that it’s a sustainable, healthy way to provide for oneself and the community around us. It’s been common knowledge for years that the bee population is quickly dying off, and their extinction would have a horrific effect on the planet’s ecosystem.

So, I also snagged some basic information on beekeeping resources around the Bay Area! If you want to learn more about the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA), visit this link! If you’re interested in starting beekeeping, you can find supplies at MarElla Honey B’s in Concord, Biofuel Oasis/Urban Farm Store in Berkeley, and many others around the Bay Area.

If you’d simply like to attract more bees to your garden to help increase the population and improve your pollination, plant flowers that they like! For example, blackberries and raspberries, fireweed, lavender, oregano, rosemary and sunflower are a few that really attract heavy pollination.  

Here are a few more fun facts for you to finish out our blog on honeybees:

  • A typical beehive makes more than 400 lbs of honey per year
  • A honeybee will flap its wings about 11,400 times per minute, creating the familiar “buzz” sound
  • Honeybees are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.

So when you see a bee nearby, don’t run or swat at it, but think of the good they do and then briskly walk away!

The VA loan is the best loan going!

With Memorial Day around the corner and a time to honor and remember all the brave heroes who served to hold our flag high, I thought it would be a great time to mention the benefits of a VA loan and what is currently happening in that arena.

There’s a bill in Congress that eliminates loan limits for the VA. The current VA limit for Contra Costa is $636,150, so eliminating the limit will help our vets who qualify for more to still be able to purchase with their VA benefits. I specialize in working with VA buyers and sellers, and have a strong passion for it given my family’s history in service.

There is also a rebate available of up to $2,500 in Contra Costa County for qualified buyers with approved lenders. I can connect you with a qualified lender. The VA loan is the best loan around  –  low rates, nothing down, 25% of the loan is backed by the federal government, lowest loan foreclosure rate, plus many additional changes over the years to help make a VA offer be accepted such as the seller no longer has to pay for the pest inspection.

Did you also know, you are eligible for a VA loan after 90 days active duty in wartime (we are still considered in wartime which started with the Gulf War)? You are eligible after two years of service if no longer on active duty  and six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves.

If you’re a veteran looking to buy or sell in the Bay Area or know somebody who is, please give me a call so we can get the ball rolling on helping you land a rebate and get your VA loan accepted!

Pending home sales are down in CA – what does it mean?

According to the California Association of Realtors, pending home sales have dialed back and marked the weakest February in three years.

Courtesy mcar.com.

Low housing inventory, eroding affordability and rising interest rates made pending sales on a year-over-year basis for the month of February suffer after a good start to the year in closed escrow sales. Also, sellers simply aren’t selling.

They did see elevated market activity, but the Bay Area pending sales specifically were down year-to-year for the fifth straight month. According to the release, the Bay Area has been plagued by a shortage of homes on the market and poor affordability.

We have seen an increase in listings starting in April, but with pent-up demand, buyers are getting frustrated losing out in multiple-offer scenarios and with ever-increasing prices.

If you want to know more about the market, give me a call!

Opportunity Knocks?

At 55 Crest Ave. in Alamo, you might see a “best of both worlds” type home. It’s a 0.84 acre lot, the land is appealing, and because of that, they’re listing at $795,000.

But if you’re waiting to move into the 21st century, this may not be the place for you. Believe it or not, this run-down old place had almost 50 disclosure packages requested because of its location and potential.

I personally know a few people who are interested in the renovation project, with the knowledge that a remodeled home in that area may sell for much more later on.

Of course not all buyers who request a disclosure package will write, but I suspect they got at least 15 offers, the opportunity is too great even if the property sells for one million, it is surrounded by $1,500,000-$2,000,000+ homes.

There was a combination of speculators looking to flip it and disgruntled buyers who have lost out on homes and think it might be worth building their dream home. It just goes to show that the Bay Area real estate market is crazy red hot right now – it is a seller’s market.

If you are thinking of buying in or around Walnut Creek, give me a call! I’d love to help you.

Happy Easter from my clients!

This is why I do real estate. How awesome are these pictures and the nice messages from a client who clearly loves their new house? It’s moments like this that remind me why I love this job so much!

“Happy Easter, Kristin! We had our first formal family dinner at our house today and even broke in the fine china and family silverware.”

Looking for your dream home?

1154 Glen Rd. in Lafayette has it all. As realtors, we occasionally get preview invites to see a home before it goes on the market. Last Thursday, there was a private viewing of this spectacular home with wine, cheese and homemade chocolate chip cookies baking that created a cozy feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This coveted Happy Valley street is one of my favorites. The home was originally built by Nobel Prize winner Glenn Seaborg in 1951. The current owner completely remodeled it in 2009, adding on this high-beamed family room to the original L-shaped layout.

I love how this stone fireplace is the centerpiece of the living room. The current owner is a real estate agent and has a knack for remodeling homes, living there for a while, and then moving on to the next project. In this case, the same street just a few doors down will get the next updates to this mid-century neighborhood.

Two of my favorite features were the Jack-n-Jill bathroom where there is a laundry shoot cabinet to the laundry room on the other side, and the mud room next to the garage, as well as another outdoor entrance to store the backpacks and shoes upon returning home.

 

 

 

 

 

The master bedroom was added on with high, vaulted ceilings, doors to the pool area and an amazing bathroom. All this can be yours for $3,650,000. For more information and better photos, check out this home here.

The problem with large AMC’s for lenders and clients

Our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending wrote a blog recently about Apprisal Management Companies (AMC’s) that I found really interesting. Jay wrote about the mess that usually comes out of a broker-lender relationship due to appraisal issues.

Family Home, Residence, Contemporary, Property, Modern

After the mortgage melt down the laws changed that required lenders to use AMCs instead of cherry picking their appraisers directly.  This past practice created an opportunity for dishonest practices.  However, creation of AMC’s created a separate list of issues and caused the cost of appraisals to increase.  The AMC’s usually paid the appraisers too little and decreased motivation by appraisers to do a good job or they hired inexperienced appraisers because the seasoned appraisers got out of the business as their salary decreased. Initially there was no parameters in place for the appraiser you got.  Many times, I got an appraiser from Sacramento appraising a property in the Walnut Creek School District and would get a low value because the comps they pulled were parts of Walnut Creek not in the school district.  As you can imagine, this led to some huge problems

As time passed, mortgage brokers such as JVM have moved to a “mortgage banking channel” to avoid using AMC’s and now utilize their own internal AMC that is still compliant but staffed by competent, local, highly-skilled appraisers of JVM’s choosing.  The lender still can’t talk to the appraiser, but at least they have control of the quality of appraisers and know the area they are appraising.

For more information about this topic, see this Washington Post article Jay quoted in his blog. You can visit JVM Lending here.

Pending: 304 Grapevine Pl. (Pleasant Hill)

A past client just put his home at 304 Grapevine Place in Pleasant Hill on the market. It went pending in 7 days and received four offers all over the asking price.

He only bought 15 months ago, but a career with the Coast Guard has him moving to Seattle and he will still walk away with some money in his pocket, although he is telling me Seattle is as pricey as the East Bay if not more so.

I love helping our military sellers and VA buyers. I specialize in knowing about the VA loan, have worked on a military base in Nuremberg, Germany and have a son who is currently in the Navy (on a nuclear sub, NuPoc graduate). If you know somebody who is eligible for the VA benefits and would like to know more about the home buying process, I would be honored to help them.

You can take a tour of their beautiful home here. If you’d like to know what it takes to get your home sold in 7 days or be next on my list of satisfied customers, please give me a call or visit my website at www.kristinlanham.com.

Emerald Elite Award

Our annual BHG convention recently occurred in Las Vegas. It is at this time of year they announce award winners based on production. I am happy to share that I was the recipient of the Emerald Elite Award, for which any agent nationwise, within the Better Homes and Gardens Company, meets the following criteria:

  • $325,000 GCI (Gross Commission Income, before taxes and expenses) OR 59+ total transactions

Thank you to all my great clients, referrals from friends and agents, team, lenders, inspectors, stagers and title reps! Additionally, I was awarded the 2017 Best of Walnut Creek Award in the Real Estate Agents category by the Walnut Creek Award Program. You can see a press release about that here, if you’re so inclined:

http://walnutcreek.walnutcreek.onlineawarded.org/PressReleaseub.aspx?cc=DJGB-TBHJ-QZRR