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realtor: Help Me Help You--Part Two - 04/22/08 05:33 PM
Last time, I blogged about what sellers can do to "help me, help you" --and now it is the buyer's turn. I'm going to be doing a lot of work researching properties, putting together tours for us, creating offers, negotiations, scheduling inspections, and more. And, there is a lot that buyers can do to help make the search and the transaction go as smooth and effectively as possible.Buyers, you can "help me help you" by doing the following:Know what aspects of a new home are most important to you. Maybe you need at least 2 bathrooms, or would prefer a nice (3 comments)
realtor: Help Me Help You--Part One - 04/18/08 11:20 AM
There is that great line in the movie Jerry Maguire where sports agent Jerry pleads with his only client Rod Tidwell to do things that will help him be a better agent on Rod's behalf. He tells him "Help me help you!" Well, as a real estate agent, I often have to ask my clients to help me help them. So, I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts on what you can do help your agent do a great job on your behalf. Today's edition is for the sellers in the audience, and next time I'll focus on (3 comments)
realtor: Choosing a Mortgage Broker - 04/16/08 03:13 PM
When you are getting ready to buy a home, one of the toughest decisions is choosing a mortgage broker to work with. This is especially true in today's rocky mortgage market where you don't know who to trust. These are confusing times, so you need to make sure that you are working with a mortgage broker you can rely on.There are two main types of brokers to consider:*First, there are mortgage officers associated with specific lenders, like Bank of America or WaMu or Countrywide. They will work with you to find the best deal from their company, and if you are (5 comments)
The San Francisco Chronicle just came out with its annual list of the Top 100 restaurants in the Bay Area. Of course, most are in The City itself, but they included 14 East Bay restaurants. Of the 14, several are old favorites of mine and others are now on my list to check out. Plus, they left off one of my favorites!Of course, standard-bearer Chez Panisse is on the list, as well as other favorties like Oliveto and Bay Wolf. Here in Rockridge, they also included the wonderful A Cote and new kid on the block Wood Tavern. Both are great! (0 comments)
realtor: Lock Bumping--Home Security Concern or Urban Legend? - 04/08/08 11:55 AM
I've recently come across the phenomenon of "lock bumping" (also known as "key bumping") as a method used by thieves to break into locks. At our friendly, local locksmith, they even had handouts about lock bumping and what you can do about it. A quick internet search demonstrated, however, that it might be more urban legend than widespread problem.Lock bumping is real, but the question is how prevalent is it. But, you are probably wondering first what the heck lock bumping is. It is a method that allows a lockpicker to easily crack nearly all common door locks. They just figure (1 comments)
Today is the big day--moving day--are you ready? Moving is one of the most stressful things a person can endure. But, some planning ahead can help make things go smoother.Before the big day, make sure you have taken care of changing your utilities, changing your bank accounts, and submitting an address change to the post office. Drop off your keys with your Realtor and make sure to get the keys to to your new home.Some things to plan for moving day: Make sure you have enough cash to cover expenses, such as the moving van, gas, food, and even tolls if you (1 comments)
realtor: Spring Cleaning Tips - 04/01/08 03:16 PM
Spring has sprung, so let's get that house of yours looking beautiful for that first gathering or party of the season! I'm not talking about vacuuming and doing the dishes. I'm talking about those little things you always think you should do someday. First of all, get yourself organized and de-clutter your living space. Recycle the old magazines laying around. File away your important mail and paperwork. Organize your photos. You know what to do! Clean your blinds and windows. You don't even need that blue window cleaner. Just a few drops of white vinegar and dishwashing liquid to a bucket (0 comments)
realtor: My Favorite Real Estate Statistics - 03/28/08 03:40 PM
The media is full of information and reports and statistics and projections and forecasts about the real estate market. And, it can get a little confusing. Is it a crisis or a correction? A meltdown or a slowdown? Is it a good time to buy or a bad time to sell? And, when will we hit "the bottom"?I just returned from another terrific 2-day real estate seminar with Brian Buffini, and thought I would simply share some of my favorite statistics from the event and let you decide where the real estate market is. (you fellow Buffini members will already know (6 comments)
realtor: Save Money by Going Green - 03/21/08 01:12 PM
I like to check in from time to time with ways to go green, and this month I will be mailing to my clients a list of helpful tips on ways to save money by going green. Yet another reason that going green is great is because it appeals to both our altruistic side (saving the earth) and the selfish side (saving money). Here is a preview of what I will be sending my clients this month: Ceiling fans use less energy than air conditioners and save you money in the long run. Hardwood floors require no vacuuming, meaning you will save (3 comments)
realtor: Home Design Deals in the East Bay - 03/19/08 04:27 PM
Well, I'm back from a little break. This time we hit the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Frankfurt with stops in Dusseldorf, Cologne and more. Now, back to the real estate market...and real estate blogging!I love Ikea as much as the next person, but sometimes you need something a little different. One of the great ways to find unique and affordable home decor ideas is to hit the Alameda Point Antique and Collector's Faire. This where many of the East Bay's top interior designers and home stagers get their goods, so why shouldn't you have a chance at them, too?I've been (0 comments)
realtor: Countrywide Foreclosures in Oakland - 02/27/08 12:45 PM
As I've written about before, a lot of people still ask me about buying foreclosures. Due to the media's coverage of real estate market and the sub-prime fallout, there is a belief that there are tons of foreclosure deals out there just waiting to be snapped up. But think again. The East Bay is just different.Click here to visit a list of Countrywide's currently active foreclosures in California (and dig deeper to look at the whole country). There are over 4200 Countrywide foreclosures in the state as of February 12th. How many are in our neck of the woods?Well, Oakland has (1 comments)
realtor: The Inspection Contingency Period - 02/26/08 05:06 PM
So, you've made an offer on a home and it has been accepted. Congratulations! Within the escrow period, there is the inspection contingency period for you to look into all of the nooks and crannies of the house to make sure it is the perfect home for you. And, if you do find any significant faults, the inspection contingency provides the ability to pull out of the contract.Now, you probably aren't an expert in foundations or furnaces or termites, so you have to get the experts in to inspect your home. But, what should you expect to inspect? Of course, every (1 comments)
realtor: The ABCs of PMI - 02/20/08 01:39 PM
With all of the seismic changes happening in the mortgage markets, one aspect to keep in mind is PMI, aka Private Mortgage Insurance. PMI is when you buy insurance to cover your lender (not you) because you are taking out a loan deemed to be riskier than most.PMI is usually needed on loans for more than 80% of a home's assessed value, which account for many mortgages in the Bay Area. So, if you are putting less than 20% down on your home purchase, you will most likely need PMI.How much is PMI? Generally, it costs one-half of one percent of (3 comments)
realtor: "Rockridge is Just Different" - 02/15/08 04:40 PM
Today, Ron Kriss, our broker here at Lawton Associates, announced a comprehensive and historical comparative analysis of the Rockridge real estate market. And, he has concluded that "Rockridge is Just Different." I have worked with Ron Since the mid-90s and we have seen the market in all of its many ups and downs.Rockridge has long been one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the entire Bay Area, and the real estate market here is atypical. Lawton Associates, an expert in the Rockridge district, has been the top-selling real estate brokerage in the neighborhood for over 10 years. This chart, compiled by (0 comments)
realtor: Below Market Rate Condomimiums - 02/13/08 01:43 PM
One terrific option for first time homebuyers in any market is the purchase of a "below market rate" condominium. These are generally city-run programs to provide affordable entry to the real estate market for low and moderate income earners, especially in areas where housing prices can be high.Every program is different, but many cities generally work with developers to set aside a percentage of units that would be designated as "below market rate." For instance, a one bedroom condominium might cost $275,000 instead of $425,000. And, these units are usually required to be as equitable to the condos priced at a (0 comments)
realtor: Why I Haven't Blogged in Two Weeks... - 02/12/08 03:28 PM
Why haven't I blogged in two weeks? Because I'm so busy with my clients! They say the market is busting, but I am not seeing too much evidence of that in our market. This just goes to show you that the real estate market is truly a neighborhood-by-neighborhood market.Here in Berkeley, Rockridge, and other parts of Oakland, there continues to be a consistent number of homes available for sale. And, buyers are starting to come out of the woodwork due to interest rates that are both low and sane and some great deals that are out there. So, what does this (4 comments)
realtor: The Highly Touted Jack London Square Revival - 01/31/08 04:47 PM
Living in the East Bay for the last 15+ years, it seems like the powers that be are always talking about a revival of Jack London Square. And, it looks like it might actually be on the verge of happening!First, there is the highly anticipated California Harvest Hall, which is planned to be largest public market on the west coast, rivaling even Seattle. That should be opening in 2009 and promises to bring in a lot of local visitors and tourists alike.Today, Eater SF has a run down on other great developments in the neighborhood. Among the news is that Cocina (2 comments)
realtor: Keep Renting? Or Buy? How About a Lease Option! - 01/28/08 05:27 PM
As most people are now realizing, this is a terrific buyer's market--possibly the best buyer's market in over a decade. With home prices staying steady and even going down in parts of the Bay Area, now is a great time for first time homebuyers to to make a reasonable entry into the real estate market.But, many first time homebuyers have nervous jitters, and that is very understandable. Not only is buying your first home a huge undertaking, but the media has everyone on edge about the stability of the real market. So, what do you do if you know that now (1 comments)
Yesterday, I blogged about getting ready for tax season by helping you decide whether to hire a CPA or do it yourself. Today, I'll provide some tips on getting yourself organized to make your work go smoothly. Of course, everyone's tax situation is different, but these are some basics to get you started. If you have specific questions, contact a tax professional or contact me for a referral.First, gather your W-2 and 1099 forms sent to you from your employers, of course. Then, if you have any investments or bank accounts, you will need your 1099-B (for stock transactions), 1099-DIV (for (0 comments)
Each month, I send my regular clients a selection of tips and advice on real estate, home ownership, finances and other life issues. This month, we focus on getting ready for tax season. Today in the blog, I will look at whether you should hire a CPA or do your taxes yourself and tomorrow I'll blog about some of the paperwork you will need. (And, we'll get back to real estate next week!)Every year, many of us struggle to select the best method of preparing and filing our tax returns. It is never too soon to start thinking about the upcoming (2 comments)
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.