Monday, August 27, 2007

Sold Comparison for single family homes

Below are the stats for single family homes sold between May 1, 2007 - August, 27th 2007 and May 1, 2006 to August 27th, 2006 for Peidmont, Berkeley, Oakland, Albany and Hercules.


MAY 06' - AUG 27, 06
45 SOLDS, AVG. LIST PRICE (L.P.) $1,931,155 AVG SOLD PRICE (S.P.) $1,946,227

MAY 07' - AUG 27, 07
49 SOLDS, AVG LIST PRICE $1,608,306 AVG SOLD PRICE $1,612,497


MAY 06' - AUG 27, 2006
208 SOLDS, L.P. $838,903 S.P. $881,695

MAY 07' - AUG, 27 07
194 SOLDS, L.P. $894,213 S.P. $948,448


MAY 06' - AUG 27, 06
957 L.P. $638,257 S.P. $653,474

MAY 07' - AUG 27, 07
704 SOLDS, L.P. $704,678 S.P. $718,782


MAY 06' - AUG 27,06
48 SOLDS, L.P. $681,799 S.P. $719,955

MAY 07' - AUG, 27 07
47 SOLD, L.P. $668,021 S.P. $711, 784


MAY 06' - AUG 27, 06

59 SOLDS, L.P. $740,217 S.P. $733,453

MAY 07' - AUG 27, 07
27 SOLDS L.P. $690,897 S.P. $677,053

When wildfires strike will your home be ready?

As you know I volunteer for the Red Cross and when I read this article posted an Inman News, I though I would share!

When wildfires strike will your home be ready?
Aug 24, 2007, 5:00 am PDT

It seems that hardly a day goes by without reports of a devastating wildfire burning somewhere around us. From rural acreage to crowded suburbs, living anywhere on the edge of a potential wildfire zone can put you, your home and your family at risk. To minimize the dangers from a hot, fast-moving wildfire, there are several practical, straightforward things you can do to protect your home.


To improve the odds of your home making it through a wildfire, you need to establish a defensible space around your house that makes it harder for a fire to start or become established. That space should extend out a minimum of 30 feet from your house in every direction, and it should be well planned and continually maintained.

Use fire-resistant landscaping: Within the 30-foot zone, use fire-resistant landscaping such as lawns, moist ground-cover plantings and low shrubbery. Avoid plants that are naturally dry and highly flammable.

Trim trees: First, remove all dead trees from within your zone. Thin the remaining trees in the zone so that they're no less than 10 feet apart, which helps prevent the spread of a fire from tree to tree. Finally, all remaining trees need to be limbed to a height of at least 6 feet off the ground, which removes "ladder fuel" and helps prevent a ground fire from spreading up into the trees.

Move combustibles: Another important element of the noncombustible, 30-foot zone is to move combustible materials away from the house. This includes firewood, scrap lumber, flammable liquids such as gas cans, and other materials that could potentially feed a fire.

Trim weeds: Keep the weeds and vegetation around your home trimmed to less that 4 inches high. Also, keep weeds and dry grass at least 10 feet away from where you store your firewood, as well as away from any debris piles.

Clean the roof and the yard: Rake up needles and leaves from your yard, and remove them from your roof. Cut back overhanging limbs, and keep your gutters clear as well. Consider recycling or composting yard debris rather than burning it.

Use fire-safe roofing: In a wildfire situation, the single most vulnerable part of your home is the roof. Wind-blown embers landing on a dry wood roof can ignite it in seconds, and spread quickly. Whether you're building a new home or re-roofing your existing one, make use of fire-resistant or fire-treated roofing materials. Also, be sure your chimney or wood stove flue has a spark arrestor, and check its condition at least once a year.


You also need to make certain that your family knows what to do in the event of a fire or the need to evacuate.

Establish a firm evacuation plan: All family members should know what to do and where to assemble in the event of an evacuation, including rounding up and caring for pets.

Know what to take: Gather your valuable papers and irreplaceable family items such as photo albums in a convenient location so as to minimize your time and risk in the event you need to evacuate your home. Transfer important documents from your computer onto easily portable storage media, such as a USB flash drive. Have enough prescription medicine readily available to last a minimum of 72 hours.


Now take a moment to look at your home from the eye of a firefighter or other emergency crew that needs to get to you.

Mark your address: Would someone who doesn't know your home be able to find it quickly in an emergency? Is your address clearly marked and clearly visible from a distance? Can it been seen at night?

Check your property's access: Can fire trucks and emergency vehicles easily access your property? Is there anything that blocks your road or driveway, or makes it potentially difficult to turn around?

A wildfire may seem like a remote possibility, but every year hundreds of homes and other structures are destroyed, so it really pays to be prepared. Take a little time this weekend to look around the inside and the outside of your house, and make plans now to turn your home into a safe and fire-resistant zone.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Finally some relief!!

The market got a boost this morning when the Fed lowered the discount rate to 5.75% from 6.25%. The Fed has also poured billions in additional liquidity into the banking system in recent days but the rate cut was its most dramatiuc effort yet to date.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Inexpensive remodeling tips to get your house ready to sell!

As many homeowners prepare to put their homes on the market, they often realize to get more "bang for their buck" they may need to do some remodeling. Especially in a market like we have today were buyers are wanting more for their money!

According to Realtor magazine, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is $52,000 and the average cost of a bathroom remodel is $13,000. Although these projects will likely increase your resale value, they are pricey.

On the other end of the spectrum, there is plenty one can do to increase curb appeal without breaking the bank! Apply a fresh coat of paint inside and out. I would even go as far as hiring a color consultant for a couple of hundred bucks to make sure you get the best colors for your home. I have seen to many times were people "think" they know color and in fact, they don't. It's not worth it. Just hire a professional.

Over time, exterior trim around your windows, doors and along the roof line may have become warped. Get that replaced. And while you are at, get a termite report and prepare to do the work it takes to get it cleared. Buyers love buying a place that has a cleared pest report. And you as the Seller can typically get the work completed by a contractor for 1/2 the price that is stated on the pest report.

You can also do some energy efficient work like change out the light bulbs, replace the water heater and seal around the windows. All of these minor changes will allow you to increase the value of your home and make it more appealing to buyers.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Juicy drama in the mortgage industry!

Ok, wow the drama in the mortgage industry just keeps getting juicier! Here is what I know - the subprime market is non-existent, stated income is non-existent unless you are getting an Acorn loan or a VA loan which is backed by the government. Wells Fargo just raised their interest rate on jumbo loans. A jumbo loan is anything over $417K. In our market, that is 90% of everything listed in this area. And, the feds didn't raise the interest rates yesterday.

Ok, can you still get a mortgage loan? Yes, if you have good credit, a down payment and a low debt to income ratio. And frankly folks, if our standards have been tight all along we would not be in this mess. Back in the day, there were just to many people who got mortgages who really couldn't afford them.

And Jim Cramer is way to dramatic. Give it rest Jim and take your meds! Check it out at

As for our little bubble - Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont and Rockridge the prices have not changed dramatically, days on the market seem to be a bit longer but we are still seeing multiple offers on many houses in these areas. And yes, buyers have a little more negotiation power in these areas, and a lot more in other areas like in the transitional areas of Oakland.

I can't predict the future but that is what I know today.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Got home insurance?

I volunteer with the Red Cross and the majority of time I am called to help people who have been burned out of their home. And guess what, the family is never covered by home insurance and if they rent, they do not have renter's insurance. Here is a piece on home insurance and I think it's important. Don't loose everything by taking a gamble. It's not worth it!!

Protect your home and those you share it with. In addition to providing shelter and comfort for ourselves and our loved ones, our home is often our single greatest asset. And it’s important that we protect that precious investment. Most homeowners realize the importance of homeowners insurance in safeguarding the value of a home. What they probably don’t know is that about two-thirds of all homeowners are under-insured. According to a national survey, the average homeowner has enough insurance to rebuild only about 80 percent of his or her house.

The shortfall is the result of several factors:
Home values have increased significantly. Most homes are worth considerably more than they were five years ago. Construction costs are up. Rising prices for lumber, copper piping and labor have pushed up replacement costs by seven percent a year since 2001.

Home remodeling is at an all-time high. From outdoor rooms to gourmet kitchens, homeowners are upgrading their living spaces, but not updating their policies to reflect the increase in value.

Insurance policies have changed. Rather than offering “guaranteed replacement cost” coverage, which pays whatever it costs to rebuild a home exactly the way it was, most standard policies provide only “extended replacement cost,” which places a cap on building costs that may be less rebuilding the home.

What a standard homeowners policy covers:
A homeowners insurance policy covers your home, your belongings, injury or property damage to others, and living expenses if you are unable to live in your home temporarily because of fire or other insured disaster.

The policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning or another disaster listed in your policy. Some risks, such as flooding or acts of war, are routinely excluded from most policies.
Your belongings, such as furniture and clothing, are insured against theft, fire or other insured disaster.

Also covered are the legal costs for injury or property damage that you or family members, including your pets, cause to other people. If someone is injured on your property and decides to sue, the insurance will cover the cost of defending you in court and any damages you may have to pay. Policies also provide medical coverage in the event someone other than your family is injured in your home.

If your home is seriously damaged and needs to be rebuilt, your policy will cover hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while you are temporarily relocated.

How much insurance do you need?
Homeowners should review their policy each year to make sure they have sufficient coverage for their home. The three questions to ask yourself are:
Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?
Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?
Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my possessions?
Here’s some information that will help you determine how much insurance is enough to meet your needs and ensure that your home will be sufficiently protected.

Protect your assets:
Make sure you have enough liability insurance to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit due to injury or property damage. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability coverage. With the increasingly higher costs of litigation and monetary compensation, many homeowners now purchase $300,000 or more in liability protection. If that sounds like a lot, consider that the average dog bite claim is about $20,000. Talk with your insurance agent about the best coverage for your situation.