Happy Veterans Day 11/11

Tomorrow is Veterans Day – a day to honor and celebrate the men and women who protect our country. I have a son who is currently serving and know many who are veterans of the military. I’d like to first and foremost thank them for their years of bravery, courage and selflessness in defending the United States of America.

One of my main focuses in real estate is helping veterans get into the crazy California housing market.  I believe those who have served our country deserve to own a home in that very same country.  The VA loan is the best loan going and I strive to educate other agents about the benefits to help them when there is more than one offer.  The VA loan allows our veterans to purchase with zero down, but the government backs 25% of the loan, thus it is like putting down 25%.

If you are a veteran or know anyone who is that may be looking for a new home, please contact me. For those of you who aren’t, but would like to make a difference for our veterans tomorrow, please visit serve.gov and search “veterans” to find volunteer opportunities.

Art Town: Wings

fullsizerender-6The other day, I was grabbing lunch at Vitality Bowl in downtown Walnut Creek when I thought I need to look for another piece of art for my blog.  I looked up and noticed – for the first time ever – a cool sculpture across the street by the Lesher Center.

It’s funny how that happens! I’ve lived here for years, and probably walked that sidewalk a hundred times, and only now noticed it!  Art is all over Walnut Creek, you just have to look and notice.

The sculpture is called “Wings” and was built in 1986 by Walnut Creek resident Dan Dykes. He grew up on a small Oregon farm on the outskirts of the Siletz Indian Reservation, where his early exposure to natural forms in that rugged environment continues to influence his abstract work.
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To me, the sculpture looks like an angel from certain angles, with its wings spread out behind it. Dykes intended for there to be hints of simple birds, plants and trees in the sculpture, and for the durable bronze material to change with weather over the years, as well as with light patterns to reveal tiny, purposeful markings.

 

 


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East Bay housing market is shifting

housing-marketLately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.

In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers  with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.

The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.

Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:

Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.

It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price. san-francisco

The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).

In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation.  In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.

1943 Eagle Peak Ave. (Clayton) Open House this weekend!

eagle-peak-2Check out this rarely-available Oakhurst condo! It resonates peace and tranquility with its abundance of natural light and nice, open floor plan.
The property is nestled into a quiet neighborhood with views of the hills so you can come home and relax to complete serenity.
Enjoy updated bathrooms with Restoration Hardware upgrades, tall ceilings, spacious bedrooms, a large master bath and a bonus walk-in closet.
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The property backs up to the 7th hole of Boundary Oaks golf course, complete with pond and waterfall and includes one attached garage with interior access, as well as one detached garage. The 2-bedroom, 2-bath, 1,026-square foot home is absolutely perfect for first-time buyers!
Swing by the Open House this weekend on your way to Clayton’s Oktoberfest: we’ll be open both Saturday (10/1) and Sunday (10/2) from 1-4 p.m.

Check out the virtual tour of 1943 Eagle Peak Ave. here!

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Mortgage Terminology 101

mortgage-1 Buying a home, even for those with experience, is already a tricky process to navigate. Add choosing a mortgage on top of that and things can get really stressful. Luckily, Keith Loria of BHG posted a great list of basic mortgage terminology to help guide buyers through this process. Check out our lightly edited version:

“Mortgage Lenders” – lenders make the loan and provide the money you’ll use to buy your home. You’ll need a lot of financial background information when you meet with a lender so he or she can set mortgage interest rates and other loan terms accordingly.

“Mortgage Brokers” –  brokers work with multiple lenders to find you the best loan. This can be confusing, but their jobs are essentially to get you the best rate and terms on your loan.

“Mortgage Bankers” – most lenders are bankers, which means they don’t actually lend their own money, but borrow funds at short-term rates from warehouse lender. Some larger mortgage bankers will originate their own loans and sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or investors.

“Portfolio Mortgage Lenders” – they originate and fund their own loans, offering more flexibility in loan products because they don’t have to adhere to secondary market buyer guidelines. Once these loans are serviced and paid for on time for at least one year, they’re “seasoned,” and can be sold more easily on the secondary market.

“Hard Money Lenders” – this may be your last resort if you’re having trouble getting a mortgage and working with a portfolio mortgage lender. They are private individuals with money to lend, though interest rates are usually higher.mortgage-2

“Wholesale Lenders” – they cater to mortgage brokers for loan origination but offer loans to brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. For you, the loan costs about the same if it were obtained directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.

“Correspondent Mortgage Lenders” – these lenders have agreements in place with one or more wholesale lenders to act as their retail representative. They lend directly to buyers and use wholesaler guidelines to approve and close loans with their own money. They will also buy back any loans they close that deviate from those guidelines.

“Direct Mortgage Lenders” – direct mortgage lenders are simply banks or lenders that work directly with a homeowner, with no need for a middleman or broker.

10 tips for adding value to your home before you sell

kitchenWhen you sell your home, it’s all about adding value before it goes on the market. There are some small tweaks you can make around the house to make sure you get top dollar for your house. Here is a whittled-down version of the top 10 tips from Houzz.com on how you can increase that value:

1. Add square footage: Move furniture around to fit the room better and make it feel larger. Perception is powerful, even if that true square footage won’t budge. You want prospective buyers to see a lot of space, and therefore, a lot of potential.

2. Traditional sells too: You don’t have to buy a bunch of new stuff to show off your home. Every buyer has his or her own style, so staying honest to the home’s roots can pay off.

3. Master bedroom closet upgrade: Add custom closets to the master bedroom. A large, walk-in closet will add value to any home and excites buyers. Finding an affordable way to do it isn’t terribly difficult with a little research.

4. Kitchen is king: If you do spend money on your home before it hits the market, put it towards your kitchen. Even updated light fixtures will add value to a space used for eating, drinking, gathering and storage by even the worst cooks.

5. Storage, storage, storage: There is no such thing as too much storage. It’s important to provide ample storage space, so utilize it as much as possible when selling!

6. Fresh paint is magical: Painting is the most cost-effective way to freshen up a space. Freshly painted rooms feel updated, clean and crisp and won’t break the bank. Try to avoid colors that are too bold and might scare off buyers. Traditional, neutral choices can do wonders!

7. Try to be energy-efficient: Buying a home involves closing costs, moving fees, energy bills and more on top of just the sale price. If you offer buyers energy-efficient options (CFL or LED lightbulbs, solar panels, etc.), they may find that long-term cost savings attractive. front-yard

8. Bathroom updates help: Behind the kitchen, bathrooms are going to be the most important part of your home to get updates in when selling. A little bit can go a long way in most bathrooms; replace outdated features or change light fixtures to start.

9. Hire a professional organizer: Don’t try to do everything yourself. This process is stressful enough! A professional organizer can help you de-clutter your home and help open up manageable space. That organization will impress buyers.

10. Add curb appeal: You only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Make sure your front yard is tidy and well-groomed. Don’t let peeling paint or cracks in the walls scare off buyers before they even make it in the door.

Walnut Festival coming this weekend!

This Thursday through Sunday, The Walnut Festival will be put on for the 80th time. The Festival is a rite of passage for young Walnut Creek residents, and probably anyone who has lived here for a few years has experienced it at some point.

I looked up a little history on the Festival that I’d like to share:

  • First Festival was in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival
  • In 1936, the name officially changed to The Walnut Festival
  • In 1976, it was officially relocated to Heather Farm Park for good

Among other things, The Walnut Festival offers fun carnival rides, tons of food options and a bunch of cool entertainment. The Walnut Festival Association runs the show and will give discounted tickets ($6 instead of $7) to anyone who brings a can of food for donation to the gates.

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Courtesy: thewalnutfestival.org

The Walnut Festival will run from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, 5-11 p.m. on Friday, 11-11 on Saturday, and 11-8 on Sunday. Don’t miss out!