Join us for a broker tour today from 10:30 a.m .to 1:00 p.m. at both 2899 Madeira Way in Pleasant Hill and 1655 Endriss Dr. in Martinez. We’ll have some goodies to share at these beautiful properties!
Also, at the home on Madeira Way, we’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday (June 25th and 26th) from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The updated 4-bedroom home has new hardwood floors, plantation shutters in every bedroom and a large backyard with a patio perfect for entertaining.
The master bedroom is downstairs, just off the living room and dining room, which buttresses a nice kitchen with granite countertops. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms with one currently being utilized as a spacious personal office.
Come wander through this lovely home in a great neighborhood with us this weekend. Hope to see you there!
You can see a virtual tour of 2899 Madeira Way right here.
It is unlikely the Federal Reserve will be increasing interest rates this month after a weak May job report (only 38,000 jobs created, 117,000 less than expected and the worst month for job creation in nearly six years). According to experts, the likelihood of a rate hike is down to a measly 4 percent, and that trend may carry over into July.
Thus, this summer could prove to be the hot time to buy or sell a home. In California – specifically the East Bay – selling season tends to be in the spring. Once we move into the middle of May, buyers and sellers become distracted with graduations, weddings, etc.
And once school is out everyone moves into vacation mode through mid-August, before families start getting ready for going back to school. Usually, we see an uptick in the number of homes that are on the market in the summer compared to the the spring. With continued low rates, this summer might buck that trend with buyers out to purchase.
To prepare, buyers should be pre-qualified for a mortgage before they start shopping and, ideally, desktop underwritten. It is best if buyers don’t make an offer contingent on the sale of their own home. For sellers, they should be ready to make themselves and their homes available for show. At minimum, have a staging consult done. Try to have your home staged before a showing.
Statistics show clean and pristine homes that are staged properly sell faster and for more money than ones that are not. Necessary improvements, such as new painting, replaced fixtures and refreshed house plants are huge for staging.
It is about getting it show and picture-worthy and keeping it neutral, not spending a lot of money on upgrades. As is the case with personal preferences, “What you think is a nice improvement is another man’s gold shag carpeting.”
One of the greatest joys of my job is presenting my clients with the key to their new home or telling a seller their home is SOLD. Below are some pictures of celebrating with my happy clients as they receive those keys, sign their loan documents and enjoy their congratulatory “let’s celebrate” baskets after closing!
The perks to this beautiful home are endless! Located in the Summer Lake neighborhood of Oakley, this new property (built in 2012) is close to hiking and jogging trails, and just one mile from the Delta. The neighborhood boasts the lake, a pool, tennis courts and playgrounds.
It gets even better when you go inside – enjoy a home office, open-floor plan between the eat-in kitchen and living room, and an upstairs den that is perfect for the kids! One of the master suites is on the first level, and the other is upstairs for total privacy. That was not a typo; there are two master suites in this home! And still, there’s more – in the backyard, you can relax near the pond or have a drink around the outdoor gas fireplace.
Don’t let this one pass you by. Stop in and see the Open House this weekend! We’ll be open from 1-4 p.m both Saturday (3/12) and Sunday (3/13).
You can see a virtual tour of 1777 Park Place Rd. right here.
Don’t miss this gem! Storybook charm in the desirable Virginia Hills neighborhood with all the bells and whistles! This property is move-in ready with a recently updated kitchen and added deck off the living room. On a corner lot, near Pleasant Hill Schools, with separate family and living rooms.
Plus, there’s a large yard – perfect for entertaining! Conveniently located within walking distance to local parks and shops.
Stop by this beautiful home at its great location on the border of Pleasant Hill and Lafayette, and see for yourself! We’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday this weekend (2/20 & 2/21) from 1-4 p.m.
You can see a virtual tour of 6864 Waverly Rd. right here.
As promised, I said I would write a couple of blogs from a Carol Rodini speaking event I attended. The first blog gives her thoughts on how China and Saudi Arabia may affect the real estate market in the coming months. Today, we’re discussing a general Bay Area real estate overview.
Carol said that we (in the East Bay) are usually 6-8 months behind the other side of the Bay – meaning San Francisco and the Peninsula. What is currently happening there (and we may see this in the later part of the year) is that the media is reporting a growth of inventory. This type of news has adverse effects on real estate. In reality, there are two types of real estate: desirable and non-desirable. The media bundles them together, but Carol pointed out how they are different.
Prices have gone down on high-end properties, and buyers are getting hesitant and willing to stand by and watch what happens. For example, a house in San Francisco that was listed for $1.5 million sent out 30 disclosure packages. One buyer submitted a pre-emptive offer of $1.75 million all cash and the seller didn’t take it because they thought they could get more and wanted to market it a bit longer. On the offer due date, none came in. So they went back to the cash buyer and that person said no.
A few takeaways:
1. You can’t be over-priced in this market.
2. Buyers in the city are no longer playing the competition game.
3. Sellers need to be aggressive with their pricing, by pricing it slightly under market. The reason? Millennials buy with their stock options. And with the market volatility and changes, this is making them a bit more hesitant.
The East Bay will have a great spring. We traditionally see a bit of a slow-down in the summer, and depending on what the stock market does, we may follow in the steps of the city. Our average price point is much lower and we are seeing a bunch of first-time home buyers that can’t afford San Francisco or the Peninsula who are looking at the East Bay – at least until the prices drop on the other side of the Bay.
The idea of saving enough money for a 20 percent down payment to buy a home in the Bay Area can be a daunting thought, especially because our average prices are so much higher than the rest of the nation. How can 20 or 30-something’s save that much money and still afford rent and basic living needs?
I posed this question to my favorite lender Jay Voorhees, Co-Owner at JVM Lending.
“Buyers often need less money than they think to buy a home, as long as their loan amount is lower than the conventional and FHA maximum of $625,500. Buyers can either take advantage of FHA financing and buy with as little as 3.5 percent of the purchase price for a down payment, or with conventional financing, purchase with as little as 5 percent down. Both options above, however, require mortgage insurance, or an additional fee that borrowers have to pay every month when their loan-to-value ratio is over 80 percent.”
What does that mean from a real estate perspective? With interest rates and inventory low, it means you will probably be competing for a property. The good news is most buyers will have similar financing; however if one has 20 percent down or all cash, that may be the deciding factor on whom the seller selects.
What can buyers do to avoid mortgage insurance? According to Jay, put down 20 percent, or 10 percent down and get a second mortgage on top of their first mortgage (“80/10/10” financing). This option requires excellent credit and very low “debt ratios.” Jay says that many borrowers are forced to use FHA financing no matter what because FHA is much more flexible with respect to credit and debt ratios.
Jay had a couple final thoughts on the topic:
“Buyers can also get gifts from relatives to use for down payment funds or closing costs. Buyers cannot use borrowed funds for a down payment. Whoever provides “gift funds” will have to provide a signed “gift letter” attesting to the fact that the funds are in fact a gift.”
“The total closing costs for a purchase can range from $6,000 to $18,000, depending on the type of loan, the loan amount, and the place of purchase (some cities have high “transfer taxes”). If gift funds are not available and buyers are tight on cash, they can, however, ask their lender to increase their interest rate in exchange for a credit to cover some or all of their closing costs.”
If you have specific questions or would like to discuss your options and want to speak with JVM Lending, call them at (925) 855-4491 and ask for Jay, Heejin (both owners), or one of their talented associates. They are in downtown Walnut Creek at 1850 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Suite 530. Give them a call and and tell them you saw this blog on WalnutCreekLifestyle.
On January 11, I attended a speech by Carol Rodoni about the Bay Area real estate market with an emphasis on the East Bay. My blogs are going to spread out over a handful of posts to give bite-size tidbits of her speech, which I always find very entertaining:
China devaluing their currency:
Carol sees this move as a growing pain and a way to try to support their economy. Every Nov. 11, China celebrates “Singles Day,” the biggest on-line shopping day of the year. Nov. 11, written out as “11/11,” represents four singles, which is also referred to as “Double Eleven.” This past November, Alibaba broke its own record and increased sales by 60 percent, or $14.3 billion. By comparison, American sales on Cyber Monday were $1.35 billion. I don’t think we need to worry about China.
Middle East and the price of oil:
Oil now costs less than $27 per barrel and is still dropping, when only a few years ago it was $109 per barrel. Saudia Arabia has refused to cut down production, perhaps in the hopes of pushing out a few competitors. Saudi Arabia has a tremendous advantage, as their technology to extract oil is inexpensive compared to other countries; this includes the U.S., where fracking has become a provider of jobs in the Midwest. Saudi Arabia may be okay with lowering prices to eliminate smaller competition, like Iran, now that oil sanctions have been lifted.
As a result of how chaotic the world is, Carol doesn’t believe the Fed will raise rates more than twice in the next year. She said she believes the next rate hike won’t happen until June, and felt the hike in December was at the wrong time. All this still makes for a great time to purchase or refinance as rates are still hovering below 4%.
Money Management 101: Buying a home, especially in California, has its benefits from a tax perspective – buyers can deduct their mortgage interest and property taxes from their income after they purchase. For buyers in high tax brackets, these savings can amount to more than $1,000 per month in high-end markets.
Why is this benefit important? For payment-sensitive renters who are considering a first-time purchase and are nervous about their housing payment jumping from $2,500 in rent to $4,000 (for PITI = Principle, Interest, Taxes & Insurance), it may be enough to make them change their mind or scare them into being a renter for life.
What most people don’t realize or most lenders and realtors don’t emphasize (or bother pointing out at all), is that buyers can recognize their tax benefit right after purchasing by increasing their allowances or exemptions on their IRS W4 form and giving it to their HR contact. By increasing the number of exemptions – because now you own a home and can write off the interest – you don’t need to withhold as much money for the IRS. This allows the new home owner to maximize their take-home pay with each check and mitigate the pain that results from the increased home payment.
Buyers should consult with a CPA or tax planner to figure out their optimal number of exemptions. The idea is that on April 15th, you don’t pay any additional money or you don’t receive a refund from the IRS. If buyers are already claiming a handful of exemptions, then it is unlikely this benefit will give much in the form of extra income flowing into their paychecks.
Some information in this blog taken from JVM Lenders Daily Comments.