Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What's an REO?

The question the month is "What is an REO?" The term REO (Real Estate Owned) means that the bank now owns the piece of property. Basically, the property has gone through foreclosure, put on the auction market, and did not sell. Therefore, it is now owned by the banks.

REO's can be a good investment but you must know what you are getting into. It's not just a good buy because it's cheap. Often times, owners will trash a house once they are given a foreclosed notice. I have even seen an REO property with the piping torn out of the wall before the owners moved out. However, it can be a good buy but the same rules apply - how the bones of the house? Make sure you get an inspection before you close the deal. The bank requires that you buy "AS IS."

The reason an REO could be a good option for you is if it's an a decent location either to live in for yourself OR if you plan on renting it. The price could be right and the bank is not into owning an REO. Banks often get fined by the Federal Government for owning REOs so they want to get rid of it as soon as possible and they tend to sell it for around 30%-40% of it's value. Not a bad deal, eh?

So, if you are interested, I can send you some REOs in the surrounding areas. However, if you are seriously thinking about buying then let's talk loans. It's harder these days to get financing and typically a bank will want 20% down if you are an investor planning on renting the property. If you are thinking of buying for you to live in it, the banks are looking for at least 5%-10% as a down payment.

Send me an email and/or call and I can send you some REO's ins the area you are interested in.

Friday, December 05, 2008

City Walk Wrapped Up Tight!

So, it looks like the City Walk project will not be completed anytime soon. The developer claimed bankruptcy in 2007 with the hopes of getting additional financing in 2008 to complete the project. With the state of the economy there looks to be little hope to finish. Read below for more details...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dubai is shape shifting

So, as I try and keep my mind off this ever changing economy, I search for articles that are not about the economy, or at least about hope or something of interest like architecture. I read in article on regarding the new skyscraper going up in Dubai and I thought I would share as it "sounds" like it will be amazing but then again it's still just sound.

New York Base architect David Fisher, released a statement regarding the "world's first building in motion," that his company wil be building in Dubai.

Ambitious plans to build a revolutionary 420-meter shape-shifting skyscraper in Dubai have been unveiled by architects.

Each floor would be capable of rotating independently, powered by wind turbines fitted between each floor.

"You can adjust the shape the way you like every given moment," Fisher said. "It's not a piece of architecture somebody designed today and that's it. It remains forever. It's designed by life, shaped by time." Watch how the tower would spin and twist!

Apartments will sell for approximately $3,000 per square foot, making each unit range in price from about $4 million to $40 million. According to Dynamic's website, "Work on the tower is to be completed by 2010."

Fisher said that plans to build a second rotating skyscraper in Moscow were at an advanced stage and that the group intended to build a third tower in New York. He said developers and public officials in Canada, Europe and South Korea had also expressed interest in the project.

There has been som skepticism as Fisher has never built a skyscraper before. He has said that he has teamed up with engineers and architects who will help hil with his development. I guess we will have to wait and see the outcome.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Woman buys foreclosed home for Stranger

I haven't blogged in a couple weeks because I have been completely consumed with the news about the economy. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on and unfortunately, like most people, have become somewhat depressed with the ups and downs of the market.

Instead of spreading the negativity, I am going to start spreading the positivity! I read this article that gave me hope and put a little warmth in my heart. I hope it does the same for you!

Friday, October 03, 2008

To bad West Oakland....

Arnold declined the bill to address pollution by opposing a fee at are ports caused by ships importing and exporting materials and opposing fees to trucks that do not meet environmental regulations.

The fees of up to $30 per 20-foot equivalent unit on each shipping container processed at the ports would have been used to alleviate congestion at the ports by funding projects to improve flow and efficiency.

The fees, which were expected to raise about $300 million a year statewide, also would have mitigated air pollution caused by the movement of cargo to and from the ports.

In a veto message that he issued late Tuesday, Schwarzenegger said "he rejected the nitrogen oxide, which is a smog-forming pollutant, and 75 percent of all diesel particulate matter pollution."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

And the council halts again...

Sometimes I wonder how anything ever happens in Berkeley. There is so much talking going on I feel like I am at a never-ending therapy session. Amongst other topics like, establishing citizen nuisance wood smoke abatement procedures and raising recreation fees, the council spoke to city's condominium conversion fees.

A suggestion for revisions in the amount of fees that are charged to complete a condo conversion be reduced to 8%, as well as a review of how the process in which those fees are determined.

Initially the fee was set by council in 2005 at 12.5% of the sale price of the unit to be converted. This was set to help the city by back affordable rental housing that was deemed lost in the condo conversion, as well as give the city a a share in some of the profit (however, I'm not sure how this has been accounted for or what the money has been used for).

There was a general agreement among the council, staff and residents speaking at the meeting that the current conversion fee is too high and that the city approval procedures are too complicated. But there was little agreement on how much to charge, or exactly what parts of the procedure to streamline or change. So, we are back at just talking and no action...again.

I'll keep you posted of any changes. My next blog about this topic will be in 2010.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

3833 Wisconsin Street - $499K

This house explodes with charm! Big backyard, hardwood floors, corner unit, built-ins, converted attic space, the list goes on and on. The only downside is there is one bathroom.

Price just dropped and definitely worth taking a look at!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Berkeley Foreclosures YTD

Zip: City: County: Total:

94702 Berkeley Alameda 5
94704 Berkeley Alameda 1
94705 Berkeley Alameda 1
94708 Berkeley Alameda 1
94707 Berkeley Alameda 1
94703 Berkeley Alameda 0
94710 Berkeley Alameda 0
94709 Berkeley Alameda 0

Oakland Foreclosures YTD

Zip: City: Total:

94603 Oakland Alameda 77
94621 Oakland Alameda 57
94605 Oakland Alameda 83
94601 Oakland Alameda 38
94607 Oakland Alameda 19
94612 Oakland Alameda 5
94606 Oakland Alameda 16
94619 Oakland Alameda 18
94609 Oakland Alameda 6
94602 Oakland Alameda 8
94610 Oakland Alameda 7
94618 Oakland Alameda 3

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Big Coupon Savings

Last week launched a new listing site focused on new homes and lots, but with a twist. Anyone can register with the site and get a “Rebate Voucher.” Bring the voucher to the builder and get a “cash back equaling 1% of the purchase price”. It's like a $1K coupon.

From the Press Release:
“Completely non-competitive LotandHome offers benefits to the buyer, the homebuilder and the real estate agent. Homes sold through carry a three percent commission from the participating builders. The new homebuyer receives a 1% cash rebate, 1% goes into national advertising for the website and 1% is allocated toward operational expenses and profits.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The world's most expensive real estate!

Despite global economic concerns, there are still properties commanding ferocious premiums. Where are below.

According to London-based real estate group Knight Frank, has identified the top twenty (I'll give you the top ten) most expensive places you can buy and how much you can get for a measly $1.5 million:

1. London; a small studio apartment at $6,191 per square feet
2. Monaco; a studio apartment at $5,888 per sq. ft.
3. St Jean Cap Ferrat (France); small studio apartment at $5,853 per sq.ft.
4. Courchevel (France); studio apartment; $4,710 per sq.ft.
5. Hong Kong; studio apartment; $4,507 per sq.ft.
6. Manhattan; studio apartment; $4,320 per sq.ft.
7. Cortina d'Ampezzo (Italy); 1 bedroom at $3,028 per sq.ft.
8. Portofino (Italy); 1 bedroom at $2,692 per sq.ft.
9. Singapore; 1 bedroom at $2,423 per sq.ft.
10. Tokyo; 1 bedroom at $2,334 per sq.ft.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tips to avoid a foreclosure!

Are you having trouble keeping up with your mortgage payments? Have you received a notice from your lender asking you to contact them?

Don't ignore the letters from your lender
Contact your lender immediately
Contact a HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agency
Toll FREE (800) 569-4287
TTY (800) 877-8339

If you are unable to make your mortgage payment:

1. Don't ignore the problem.

The further behind you become, the harder it will be to reinstate your loan and the more likely that you will lose your house.

2. Contact your lender (the bank that owns your loan) as soon as you realize that you have a problem.

Lenders do not want your house. They have options to help borrowers through difficult financial times.

3. Open and respond to all mail from your lender.

The first notices you receive will offer good information about foreclosure prevention options that can help you weather financial problems. Later mail may include important notice of pending legal action. Your failure to open the mail will not be an excuse in foreclosure court.

4. Know your mortgage rights.

Find your loan documents and read them so you know what your lender may do if you can't make your payments. Learn about the foreclosure laws and timeframes in your state (as every state is different) by contacting the State Government Housing Office.

5. Understand foreclosure prevention options.

Valuable information about foreclosure prevention (also called loss mitigation) options can be found on the internet at,717348&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL .

6. Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds free or very low cost housing counseling nationwide. Housing counselors can help you understand the law and your options, organize your finances and represent you in negotiations with your lender if you need this assistance. Find a HUD-approved housing counselor near you or call (800) 569-4287 or TTY (800) 877-8339.

7. Prioritize your spending.

After healthcare, keeping your house should be your first priority. Review your finances and see where you can cut spending in order to make your mortgage payment. Look for optional expenses-cable TV, memberships, entertainment-that you can eliminate. Delay payments on credit cards and other "unsecured" debt until you have paid your mortgage.

8. Use your assets.

Do you have assets-a second car, jewelry, a whole life insurance policy-that you can sell for cash to help reinstate your loan? Can anyone in your household get an extra job to bring in additional income? Even if these efforts don't significantly increase your available cash or your income, they demonstrate to your lender that you are willing to make sacrifices to keep your home.

9. Avoid foreclosure prevention companies.

You don't need to pay fees for foreclosure prevention help-use that money to pay the mortgage instead. Many for-profit companies will contact you promising to negotiate with your lender. While these may be legitimate businesses, they will charge you a hefty fee (often two or three month's mortgage payment) for information and services your lender or a HUD approved housing counselor will provide free if you contact them.

10. Don't lose your house to foreclosure recovery scams!

If any firm claims they can stop your foreclosure immediately if you sign a document appointing them to act on your behalf, you may well be signing over the title to your property and becoming a renter in your own home! Never sign a legal document without reading and understanding all the terms and getting professional advice from an attorney, a trusted real estate professional, or a HUD approved housing counselor.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Have we hit bottom?

I keep gettng asked by my clients, friends family if I think we have "hit bottom yet" in the East Bay Market. The direct answer simply is I don't know. And really, the only way to tell if we have hit bottom is when prices start to go back up or stabalize.

In some areas like North Berkeley and Rockridge, prices have not changed dramatically. In other places like West Oakland and Richmond you have definitely seen a substantial drop in prices. However, no matter where you are buying in the East Bay, a buyer has more negociating power then we have seen in a long time. A buyer can negociate on terms and frankly that equals saving money. So, if you are thinking of buying the time is this year. Loan rates are extrmeley low, and Fannie Mae just raised there conforming loans in the some parts of the East Bay to low