Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Listed - Two Bedroom, Two Bath Condo in Gated Community in Rockridge

Located in the serene hillside setting of the Oakland Hills, Parkwoods has the perfect blend of urban sophistication with a suburban ease. From the gated entry to the well-manicured grounds surrounded by hills and greenery, you will feel like you are at a spa retreat. Built in the 1990’s, this exquisite complex offers many amenities like a clubhouse, exercise gym, sauna, spa and pool.
Tucked into the hillside, this peaceful home offers a well-designed floor plan that consists of two bedrooms, two baths and ample closet space.  The kitchen opens to the living room creating a great space to entertain.   A custom featured wood built –in, a gas fireplace, gleaming hardwood floors and large windows in the living room add to the ambiance.  The master bedroom offers a large walk-in closet with custom shelving. The master bathroom features dual sinks, plenty of counter space and a tub with a shower.
The second bedroom located on the opposite end also boasts a generous walk-in closet with custom shelving and access to the patio. This home also features an in-unit washer and dryer, two tandem parking spaces located in the garage, and extra storage.  Offered at $449,000. HOA fees $367 per month. Open 10/27 from 2-5pm. 

Additional information and Pictures go to:

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

New Listing - 2901 Maritime Way in Marina Bay

This meticulously maintained home consists of 2 master suite bedrooms, 2.5 baths and 2-car garage and offers a stylish yet low maintenance type of living.  Gourmet kitchen boasts exceptional features like granite counters, distinct lighting, and stainless steel appliances. Approx. 1100 sq.ft.

Located in the fabulous Marina Bay this home offers you a nature inspired way of life. Walk the Bay Trail or enjoy the sunsets over the bay and create the lifestyle you want. 

Listed at $349,000. 
Open Sunday 8/11 and 8/18 from 2:00-4:30

By Gina Odom, Realtor
415-307-1423 cell

Monday, July 01, 2013

Whither Goest Thou? A Mortgage Rate Questionnaire

This is a multiple-choice question quiz: which is true – A, B, C, D, or E?

A) If the headline reads MORTGAGE RATES ON THE RISE! it means it’s time to buy (quick) before they go up further!

B) If the headline reads MORTGAGE RATES FALL! it means it’s time to buy (quick) to cash in on the savings!

C) If the headline reads MORTGAGE RATES UNCHANGED! it means it’s time to buy (quick) while the rates are stable!

D) All of the above.

E) None of the above.

My answer is below (and it’s not even upside-down), but before anyone even looks down there, I’d like to mention that there is an equally valid second question, which would read ‘sell’ instead of ‘buy.’
This week is a good time to be pondering both questions. It looks as if the long-lived swoon in mortgage interest rates is about over. “Looks as if” is a carefully chosen phrase, because what seems inevitable in finance has a strong track record of proving wrong. One of the dangers that our current environment presents is that everyone has been correct (about mortgage rates staying in the cellar) for such a long time that they’ve grown accustomed to rates being predictable. They aren’t.

                                                                             So the answer to the question is (drum roll, please): E). 

It’s a trick question: when it comes to buying or selling a home, doing anything “quick!” just because of a one-week dip or rise in mortgage rates is a bad idea. It’s a big decision, one that should be entered into with care and forethought. But if you were to remove the “quick!” from the question, I’d personally tend a little more toward D), but only because I don’t think local mortgage rates are likely to fall right away. And rates today are still, historically low. 

Good time to buy, good time to sell. Thoughtfully.

By Gina Odom, Realtor

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Maximizing Value Helps When You Go To Sell!

On Thursday, Bloomberg’s online news service confirmed what we had been hearing in more general terms: “Sales of previously owned U.S. homes climbed more than forecast in May…and prices jumped, indicating more progress for residential real estate.” Agents here in Berkeley would also not have been surprised at the national surge in selling prices “by the most since October 2005”. If you were already inclined to sell your own Bay Area home, it looks more and more as if this summer will be a propitious time to jump on the opportunity. 

As Realtors gear up to maximize the market’s improvement, homeowners are also weighing some of the more popular alternatives for boosting valuations when it comes to selling — 
  • Prospective homebuyers are increasingly energy savvy, so when new appliances need to be updated prior to sale, the more energy-efficient they are, the more worth highlighting they will be. Us "Green-Minded" real estate agents know how to emphasize a property’s ‘green’ attributes.  
  • If you have an attic or a basement that is currently serving little purpose, conversion can pay off. Basements are often the more affordable option since they call for little structural remodeling. Conversions can be into a games room, office, or utility area. Attics are often best converted to bedrooms or office space (or at least staged to suggest the possibility
  • Landscaping including features like decks can be a huge selling point. If you are prepared to engage in a little DIY, adding a deck can be among the most cost-effective of improvements. According to HGTV, the cost of a professionally built deck starts at about $15 per square foot, with more elaborate installations featuring costly hardwoods or composite materials running closer to $35.  

Even if you do not intend to sell, a little extra money invested in your home may be a dollar-wise idea. Thoughtful investments can enrich your own living experience AND attract higher prices when the time comes to move on. If you’re looking for a real estate agent call me today to go over other improvement ideas.

By Gina Odom, Realtor : 415.307.1423

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Just listed - 898 Spruce St, Berkeley

Like out of the pages of Architectural Digest, this six bedroom, three and a half bath home is immaculate and pleasing to the eye. Panoramic Views from the Bay Bridge to Mt. Tam from numerous rooms in the house. High ceilings, grand windows, multiple fireplaces, gleaming hardwood floors, luscious front and back gardens are just a few amenities of this home.  Once you have stepped inside you do not want to leave. Each room creates a unique experience to your senses.

(Click Play to see Video)

The galley style kitchen offers you views of the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the impeccable front garden.  Granite counters, ample cupboard space, tailored made oven hood, Viking Stove and Refrigerator are just a few of the details to appreciate while enjoying your tea nd reading the paper.

A 900 sq.ft. deck allows for a great space to entertain your guests while watching the sun set over the bay.  A variety of fruit trees, flowers offer a gardening paradise.  Enjoy a variety of "walking paths," to get into town or visit treasures of Berkeley like Indian Rock.

Offered at $1,495,000.

More information and pictures:
Written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, June 03, 2013

Bay Area Real Estate Watchers Buoyed by Market Report

When it comes to Berkeley's residential real estate outlook, some truisms say it all: “Strike while the iron is hot!” “The early bird gets the worm!” “Time and tide waits for no man…” Sometimes those hoary old clich├ęs have survived because their wisdom doesn’t ever change — and right now, some hard facts and figures may make these more relevant than usual.

Real estate watchers, buoyed by last Tuesday’s stock market jump (a reaction to the bullish real estate statistics), were also digesting The National Association of Realtors®’ latest report: it carried more cheerful news about the expanding market for existing-home sales. Final numbers for April showed sales moving at the highest pace since November of 2009, which was a single month that spiked due to the homebuyer tax credit. It also marked the 22nd consecutive month of year-over-year monthly price rises.

What is the “even better” news for potential Oakland and Berkeley real estate sellers? It’s about the relationship between available inventory and the pace of sales. The listed inventory across the nation is actually 13% lower than a year ago — which translates into a median time on market of just 46 days. A year ago, that figure was 62 days. In other words, across the nation, sales of existing homes are moving a full 45% faster! Berkeley's average days on market since January for a 3 bedroom home is approximately 19 days and for Oakland it is approximately 24 days. Time and time again our area has always bounced back quickly compared to the rest of the country.

NAR President Gary Thomas had some words for real estate buyers that potential sellers will be pleased to hear. “With homes selling in half the time it took to sell a year ago, buyers must be both decisive and prudent.” East Bay home sellers should love that word ‘decisive.’ It hints at the underlying condition of a market that has become competitive for buyers — buyers additionally empowered by April’s fall in conventional mortgage rates. For both real estate buyers and sellers, now looks like time to “strike while the [market]’s hot”!

In case you have been one of those trend watcher, I’m standing by. Why not give me a call to discuss how you can take advantage of today’s outlook?  written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, May 20, 2013

New Listing in the spectacular neighborhood of Glenview! 3 bed, 2 bath Craftsman for $749K

Spacious & Sunny Craftsman Located Glenview!

Lots of windows, gleaming hardwood floors, coffered ceiling, large welcoming porch, downstairs bedroom has separate entry, backyard has stone patio wich makes a great space for entertaining. Offered at $749K come see why this Craftsman stands out from the rest! For more information go to OPEN SUNDAY 5/19 and 5/26 from 2:00-4:30. By Gina Odom, Realtor

Spring into Summer: Housing Prices Heat Up!

When I update Bay Area readers about the latest news in housing prices, it’s usually not as ‘latest’ as I’d like. The reason is that there is a delay in most of the truly reliable indexes that measure housing prices. The big indexes are national (Oakland & Berkeley housing prices are another matter), and they have a built-in two-month delay.
We can look at trends and directions, but if there is a change afoot, we won’t be sure of that for about 60 days.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal found a way to present unusually fresh numbers. Reporter Nick Timiraos ignored the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which reported statistics from back in March, and leapfrogged into April with the first solid news about our much-anticipated spring selling season.
It shows a startling 2.7% one-month increase: the largest March-to-April gain in any of the 17 years since the series was first reported.

“The monthly gain blew away all past Aprils,” said an economist at Credit Suisse. The basis of the reports comes from last Wednesday’s release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ producer-price index, which measures prices in the whole economy (at least as seen by manufacturers and wholesalers). It’s a backdoor way to gauge housing prices when you examine prices received by real estate agents.
The numbers showed a 9.1% gain over housing prices from a year ago…and remember, big price rises were already happening by then. The takeaway, per the Journal, “Don’t be surprised to see continued increases in prices and sales in the next batch of housing reports.”

Professors Case and Shiller are certainly standing by to give us those. And in case you would like a more locally focused update on our recent East Bay housing prices, I’m standing by, too — why not give me a call today?

When I update Bay Area readers about the latest news in housing prices, it’s usually not as ‘latest’ as I’d like. The reason is that there is a delay in most of the truly reliable indexes that measure housing prices. The big indexes are national (Oakland & Berkeley housing prices are another matter), and they have a built-in two-month delay.
We can look at trends and directions, but if there is a change afoot, we won’t be sure of that for about 60 days.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal found a way to present unusually fresh numbers. Reporter Nick Timiraos ignored the S&P/Case-Shiller Index, which reported statistics from back in March, and leapfrogged into April with the first solid news about our much-anticipated spring selling season.

It shows a startling 2.7% one-month increase: the largest March-to-April gain in any of the 17 years since the series was first reported.

“The monthly gain blew away all past Aprils,” said an economist at Credit Suisse. The basis of the reports comes from last Wednesday’s release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ producer-price index, which measures prices in the whole economy (at least as seen by manufacturers and wholesalers). It’s a backdoor way to gauge housing prices when you examine prices received by real estate agents.
The numbers showed a 9.1% gain over housing prices from a year ago…and remember, big price rises were already happening by then. The takeaway, per the Journal, “Don’t be surprised to see continued increases in prices and sales in the next batch of housing reports.”

Professors Case and Shiller are certainly standing by to give us those. And in case you would like a more locally focused update on our recent East Bay housing prices, I’m standing by, too — why not give me a call today? Gina Odom, Realtor 415-307-1423

Monday, May 06, 2013

Supply of East Bay Homes for Sale Struggles to Keep Pace

So the market’s recovering, interest rates are low, and you think you’re finally ready to buy a home? Not so fast. Buyers across the country are running into a new roadblock: there don’t seem to be enough homes for sale.

Anyone who has looked at entry- to mid-level homes for sale in Oakland and Berkeley probably knows what I mean. Mortgage rates remain near historic lows, and as the prices of homes for sale continue to rise, fears that we could soon see a repetition of a real estate equity loss seem increasingly unlikely.  
Why the lack of inventory? There are several reasons. Buyers may be ready to buy again, but some sellers are still not in a position to offer their homes for sale. When the housing market collapsed seven years ago, some homeowners’ equity loss was such that they remain unable to sell. Prices may be on the rise, but some need more time to return to pre-crash values.
Buyers always want to buy at the bottom, but sellers want to avoid selling there. Buyers are watching that bottom fade into the distance, but some sellers, pleased to watch their homes growing in value, are content to wait longer. 

NAR says that there were just 1.93 million existing homes for sale on the national market in March, down nearly 17% from the prior year. In a well-balanced market, what had been a six month’s supply fell to just 4.7 months’ worth.  Nationally, homes for sale now stay on the market for just 62 days, down from a median of 91 days only last year. Glenn Kelman, CEO of an online national real estate brokerage, put it succinctly: "Somebody rang a bell and said the boom is back, and nobody wants to be late to the party."

Homeowners who have been thinking about selling are increasingly liking what they see in today’s market — including the prospects for trading up. Even those whose previous evaluations were unsatisfactory are finding it worth another look. If you would like to find out what your home is worth today, give me a call! - Gina Odom, Realtor 415.307.1423,

Thursday, May 02, 2013

When 4-Legged Family Members Are Relocating

Close to 70% of families say they have a dog or a cat in their household. If you are in that sizeable majority and are planning on relocating, there are some planning steps you can take to help ease the move for your four-legged family members.

Since the daily routine is going to be thoroughly undermined, on the day of your move, do as much as is practical to retain a calm atmosphere. If possible, provide a small quiet area where the pets can stay out of the way and safely clear of any wide-open doors. If you have portable fencing that's strong enough to do the job, remember to make it available with the first wave of unpacking.

Fostering calm is especially important while your goods are being moved in and out by big, scary strangers. If you will be using cages for transportation, make sure they are roomy enough, and put in some familiar, comforting toys. For especially excitable pets, you may want to consider spraying their cage ahead of time with a pheromone formulation that helps retain calm.

Relocating to any new home is the perfect storm to create opportunities for pet prison breaks. A move can disrupt behavior patterns for even the most loyal four-footer. Both cats and dogs who have gotten lost during relocation have famously made their way back home -- even when home isn't there any more. Prevent such misdirected heroics by making sure the garden has been fully secured before you move - and have all collars equipped with new tags with new local contact information. A doubly failsafe method is to have your pet micro-chipped.

Relocating will be a big event, and a big adventure. Pup and Kitty will settle in shortly: the truth is, as soon as you are content, they will be, too. Moving here to the East Bay will provide you plenty of options for doggie daycare and petsitting. Being a dog owner myself, I have plenty of recommendations for care.

Also, If you are in the early stages and have not yet found your new local home, I offer some of the best service in town - and I'd be delighted to introduce you to some of our best neighborhoods!

Written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's Not Monopoly Money: Your Refund & Your Property

Remember playing Monopoly? After another player had put up a hotel on a pricey property like Boardwalk or Park Place, remember that feeling of relief every time you got past without landing on them? Whew!\
That's the way many of us feel now that Tax Week is over. If you're one of the millions who will soon be checking the mail for your refund check, you're are probably also pondering the best use to put it to. Especially if you're thinking of selling your property any time this year, you might do something that's less than obvious: put some of that check to good use by making one or more simple property improvements. After all, your property is probably one of your biggest investment -- and the payoff when you take good care of it won't be in play money.
If yours is an average refund  (most are somewhere north of $2,500), it can be pretty painless to direct a modest chunk of it to your property. I've come across some simple ideas that should also reserve most of the refund for other purposes.
One idea that few people act upon is to order a professional energy audit. This can cost between $400 and $600 for a full diagnostic inspection. By revealing gaps (even small ones) around doors, windows, and recessed lights, it can reveal energy-wasters that ultimately lower utility bills year-round. An even less expensive utility bill-saver is available in the form of the latest sophisticated low-flow showerheads. They are simple to install, and can save up to 50% of the water used by even some of the newer showerheads. The best ones feel nearly as if you are showering with the same amount of water. 
One of the last things likely to leap to mind once your refund check arrives is insurance. Basic homeowners insurance isn't fully comprehensive, yet for a small additional amount -- generally about $300 -- you can buy a million dollars' worth of added liability coverage with an 'umbrella' policy that also covers your cars.
It will feel like getting past Park Place and Boardwalk all year long!

written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Listing at 5400 Broadway Terrace #106 located in Prime Location!

Dazzling 2 bedroom, 2 bath with spacious layout and beautiful features. Open layout perfect for entertaining this light filled unit faces the Claremont Country Club.  Listed at $599,000. Open Thursday from 10-1 and Sunday from 2:00-4:30. Check out the video for pics and details and the dedicated website at

Monday, April 08, 2013

Smooth Relocating Depends on Thoughtful Preparation

Most everyone with any relocating experience should recognize ‘the moment.’

No matter how much advance thought and elbow grease you’ve put in, that’s the moving day moment when everything seems to starts happening at once, and there’s literally no time left to attend to the stray details you’ve been meaning to take care of …  

It’s all but inevitable: the yellow pad that you’ve organized with all the contact information you need today more than any other day: why, it’s packed! and sealed! inside one of the cartons that’s already out there in the van!  

When you’re relocating the unplanned will always happen. Nevertheless, you can control the areas that have the most impact on how successful your move will be.  

One element that needs careful attention is the people part. It’s too easy to lose touch with those who relocating timetable. With a little preparation and imagination, it’s possible to turn events like garage sales and going-away parties into really fun celebrations.  I had a friend who hosted their going away party with a garage sale. She was able to make a few extra bucks as well as saying goodbye to her loved ones.

People are important in your life, so decide early how to announce to family and friends your
Another good idea is to assemble key belongings in a box that will accompany you: important documents like passports and birth certificates, jewelry, or other prized possessions. 

Most household moving veterans agree that the single most vital step is securing a dependable moving company. Price is important — but so is hiring a group that will guard your belongings safely during your relocation. Scrupulous interviewing and checking out the reputation of mover candidates will more than pay off in reduced stress come moving day. And even if you are an eternal optimist, get adequate insurance: relocating does inevitably involve unforeseeable risk.

‘The moment’ when your relocating is in full swing can be one when you are able to enjoy the anticipation of a new and exciting chapter in your household’s history. If you have sold your East Bay home already – congrats! And if you are just beginning the process, do give me a call — I’d love to put my resources to work for you!    written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Distressed Sales Decrease, While Short Sales Rise

A short sale is the option usually preferred by anyone who faces foreclosure. 
It’s the path that, with the approval of the mortgage lender, promises to ultimately minimize damage to the homeowner’s credit score. 

According to Realty Trac, distressed sales of all kinds continued to decrease in the last reported quarter, yet the non-foreclosure short sale volume increased by 4%. That amounts to a significant 22% of all sales. Realty Trac’s are the most reliable national statistics, and our East Bay short sale profile has likewise reflected the continuing working out of the distressed property phenomenon. 
Completing a short sale in Oakland (or anywhere else, for that matter!) can be challenging. If you’ve decided that it is your best course, you can do a lot to help your agent accomplish it:
  • From the beginning of the short sale process, keep your agent informed of any changes in the financial picture. That means keeping up-to-date on the changing balance remaining on the mortgage, as well as the number of missed payments. When the information is at hand, your agent can impart the sense of urgency that gets your home sold as fast as possible. 
  • The speed of sale is important, yet while a short sale specialist is an expert in that arena, other important details regarding taxation and the law may influence the best overall strategy. By encouraging your real estate agent to work alongside an experienced attorney or tax specialist, you will form a team that can execute your short sale package more efficiently than if they worked independently.
  • Executing a short sale means meeting multiple demands—each with its own timing requirements. That can mean a lot of pressure: but if your agent asks you to do something or provide additional information, stand ready to do it! That speeds negotiations with buyers and lenders, increasing the chance that you will successfully close your short sale.
Short selling a home is a somewhat complicated process. I offer a no-obligation, in-home consultation to help assess your circumstances and the next steps to consider. I am a Certified Distressed Property Expert so please Call me anytime! by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, March 18, 2013

East Bay Property Values Benefit from Spring Ritual

The first day of spring falls on the 20th—making Wednesday the day many homeowners start planning their ritual seasonal maintenance. Spring is also the traditional launch of the busy season in real estate, when safeguarding Oakland property values can become a less abstract matter.  
Because water damage is Public Enemy #1, homeowner checklists should always highlight three points:

First: the Roof
As soon as March’s lion turns a bit more lamb-like, it’s time to get out the ladder to survey roof damage. Leaves, twigs or other storm debris that have clogged gutters during the weather months can allow moisture to penetrate the roofing and below, in the worst case triggering mold or rot. Look for holes or rust in the flashings or metal seals around roof joints, chimneys, skylights or any other structures that penetrate the roof.

Second: Down Under 
Now it’s time to go down. While spring rains are still falling, put fresh batteries in your flashlight and head to the furthest reaches of basement or underneath the house to check for puddles. Even when it’s raining outside, your home’s foundation should remain dry. When it comes time to sell, East Bay homes’ property values are seriously affected by water damage especially parts of Oakland like North Oakland that have basements located under the water table. If you see signs of trouble, it’s time to call an expert. 

Third: the Exit Routes
That is— the drains. Backed-up plumbing is a nuisance you can avoid if you clean all the drains two or three times a year. Don’t forget the garbage disposal, either. My trick is to pour in equal parts salt, baking soda and vinegar, followed 30 seconds later by two quarts of boiling water. Then give the mixture a chance to work overnight before running water again.

With the sales market poised for spring action, the protection careful homeowners have given to their own property values will make a material difference. But you don’t have to be selling your home for this time of year to trigger the maintenance efforts your property may need. Got a property-related question? Give me a call!

written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, March 04, 2013

Berkeley Home Sales Prospects: Anything But “Calm”!

Last week, East Bay home sellers saw more than the usual number of reasons to look forward to this spring's home selling season. It looked like the opposite of the lengthy real estate “Perfect Storm” that caused free-fall across the national landscape. 

Signs pointed to the possibility that we may be headed into the opposite market conditions. Webster’s Dictionary says the opposite of ‘storm’ is ‘calm’ – but I don’t think you would call Berkeley home sales outlook a “Perfect Calm.”  Far from it!  

Some of the signs:
  • - Falling Inventory. Per the NAR’s Existing Home Sales Report, there’s a nation-wide shortage of total inventory. By the end of January, it had fallen another 4.9%: lowest in seven years. Raw unsold inventory hasn’t been this low in 14 years!
  • - Rising Demand. Per last week’s National Association of Home Builders’ News and Alerts bulletin, “housing demand continues to return.”  NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, pointing to buyer traffic that is up 40% over a year ago, states flatly, “We’ve transitioned into a seller’s market in much of the country.”
  • - Buyer Attitude. Also last week, the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index showed a rebound from January. The ‘Present Situation’ index rose sharply (from 56.2 to 63.3). This remains the only less-than-stellar point of contention, I think one area could be a tipoff to gathering strength: the proportion of those expecting their income to rise is now growing, those expecting the opposite, falling.
If this spring turns out to be the opposite of a Perfect Storm for Berkeley home sales, will conditions improve further? Should sellers wait? The falling inventory measure might suggest otherwise. If the NAR’s appraisal is correct, now that these trends are consolidating, “…it would seem likely more inventory would come to market.” 

If you are a East Bay home seller who’s been waiting and watching for the right moment to enter the home sales listings, I hope you will consider giving me a call soon. Actually – today might not be a bad time! 
written by Gina Odom, Realtor

Monday, February 25, 2013

City of El Cerrito cracking down on homeowners! Beware

Rumor has it that the City of El Cerrito of "cracking" down on non-permitted work. "How," you ask? Apparently, during an open house a code enforcement officer will stop by and if he notices that there was a major remodel job like a kitchen or bathroom, he will investigate to determine if a permit was pulled for the work.  If the owner did not pull a permit then they will issue a fix-it fine to the seller. I have yet to see this happen and it is only hear-say but apparently that is the rumor.

Given that there is no city transfer tax in El Cerrito and they just built a brand new city hall and the downturn of the economy it doesn't surprise me that the city needs to find other ways to collect revenue.

written by Gina Odom

Cracked Glass Found in Home Prices Crystal Ball

Who doesn’t want to know what will happen in the future? That’s a very small group, for sure, since good planning is a cornerstone of good management -- for households as well as for organizations of every kind.

So, whenever Bay Area homeowners see headlines like “Home Prices Up ‘Unsustainable’ 5.9% in 2012,” above a MarketWatch article that explains that price growth is expected to slow, they probably would like to gauge the reliability of the forecasters.

In this case, MarketWatch is part of the relatively stalwart Wall Street Journal, so credibility goes up. But closer examination finds that the author is just reporting information real estate site Zillow compiled. Zillow is indeed an internet behemoth -- but can East Bay homeowners rely on its national predictions to gauge East Bay home prices?

My own take is to find out how well has this source done in the past… 
Looking back a very short while ago (to December 26 of last year), I find that Zillow’s survey of 100 economists and forecasters “said they expect home prices to increase in full-year 2012 by 4.6%.”

Hey! Hold it! This is only February, but now the same outfit is telling us that the actual home prices gain last year was 5.9%. Doing a little arithmetic, it seems that the 100 economists and forecasters, faced with the task of estimating home prices for a year that had just a week left, were off by 28%! (They also acknowledge that the same panel had predicted the rise would be 2.3% only three months earlier).

So I guess it’s not that surprising that they feel home price rises like last year’s are going to be ‘unsustainable’ in 2013. Apparently the actual home prices were unsustainable last year, too!
Since real estate and home prices in Berkeley or Oakland are inherently local, it takes on-the-ground expertise to keep up with them.  If you’d like to know where your home falls in today’s market, contact me now to schedule an initial consultation.  I think we’re getting ready for an interesting spring season —and I’d love to help you explore your options!

written by Gina Odom

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Oakland Home Sellers Think 'Staging'

We all know the feeling – the one where guests are due and you haven’t had time to clean the house.  You shove all the…well… stuff into the back bedroom and shut the door (you’d lock it if you could). 
Now imagine that feeling times 10.  If you are trying to sell your home this spring, and you have rooms full of that…well…stuff -- you’re in for exactly that.  

You can prevent it all with just a touch of the staging approach for your Oakland home.  Not everyone has $5,000 or more to spend on professional staging, but then again, you can’t offer your home in “lived in” condition and expect to have buyers racing to write you their high-priced offers. There are many staging companies that can work within your budget as well, so, if you only have a few thousand to work with that is better than nothing. And often times, a stager or Realtor can incorporate your stuff to save on costs.

Real estate is in large part an emotional selling proposition – beyond their basic housing requirements, buyers want to see themselves living a better life in their new East Bay home. The quickest and easiest way to make that possible is to simply get rid of that same stuff! 

Here’s an easy example: while a messy home office – one stuffed with papers and files – will cause many potential buyers to think too cramped for me, a well-staged home office helps them imagine their own paperwork in control. To achieve a look that’s clean and simple, box up your files and clean out the dust bunnies.  If you have allowed extra furniture to accumulate (like that folding table in the corner that holds last year’s tax records), go ahead and de-accumulate it!

Staging of any kind may not be your first choice for how to spend an afternoon, but selling your Oakland home is a business transaction, and when you approach the process confident that a little elbow grease will go a long way, your pocketbook will register the difference. 

If you are, in fact, preparing for this spring’s selling season, contact me to discuss practical strategies for economically handling the repairs, remodeling, and staging that will speed the sale of your East Bay home.

written by Gina Odom

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rental Increases Motivate Investors, 1st-Time Homebuyers

To the extent that Oakland rentals reflect wider real estate movement, there is good news and bad news for Bay Area tenants. It all depends on how they view it (and how they chart their personal housing strategy). The bad news was not unexpected: for the third straight year, rents were up across the nation in 2012, according to apartment housing industry expert MPF Research.  

Although rents rose at a slightly slower pace than in 2011, national forecasts are calling for rent increases in 2013 that match last year’s. The research firm said that apartment rents climbed 3.0% in 2012, down from 4.8% in 2011, but again were above the long-term norm of 2.5% registered over the past 20 years.

For tenants currently in Bay Area rentals -- both apartments and single-family homes -- rents may be heading up, but the good news is that this price pressure has not yet resulted in a less friendly home buying environment. “Loss of renters to purchase in the now-improving for-sale housing market is having only a very small impact,” according to MPF’s report. In other words, rentals are not being lost in large number even though rents are rising, so floods of first-time homebuyers are not yet adding significant upward pressure on single-family home pricing. 

Even with housing prices on the rebound, first-time homebuyers who decide to leave the world of Bay Area rentals to buy a home now will still benefit from the record low interest rates and distressed property bargains that result in historically affordable home prices.

Another group that would hail rising Bay Area rental rates are investors.  "Most places are starved for new product right now, so properties that will complete over the coming year appear likely to do incredibly well, generally without hurting the results for the existing stock," according to Greg Willett, MPF’s vice president.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a rental home in Oakland, conditions warrant a thorough look at the opportunities available now and those opening this spring.  Call me to get started on a plan of action!

written by Gina Odom

Thursday, February 07, 2013

California home prices up 12.6%!

According to CoreLogic, home prices have had a huge increase in purchase price since 2006. Inventory remains low and there is a ton of investor money going into real estate. It's been obvious in our area with buyer competition and with low interest rates it seems like everyone wants in on the action. Now, we just need inventory to pick up!

written by Gina Odom

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

I am now a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE)!

After many hours of studying and test taking, I am now a Certified Distressed Property Expert. Should you know of anyone who is having a hard time making their mortgage payments, please have them call me. I can help! It's always best to know all of your options before considering a foreclosure. I have helped many sellers in this tough market and may even find a way for the homeowner to stay in their home with a modified loan payment.

Gina Odom, Realtor
Certified Distressed Property Expert
Green Certified
415.307.1423 cell

Monday, January 14, 2013

HopScotch - An Upscale Diner located in Uptown!

HopScotch a new restaurant located in Uptown District of Oakland is an upscale diner serving fabulous cocktails and a small and well honed menu. We had a variety of dishes including the Beef Tatki, Potato Chips fried in Duck Fat and served with an aioli dip, and a lovely green salad served with a beet dressing. And those were just the starters. For entrees, we had Fried Chicken and Butternut Squash Gnocchi. The atmosphere was my favorite and the service was exceptional. It's a great addition to the neighborhood.

Check it out!

By Gina Odom, Realtor

Thursday, January 10, 2013

1311 Carrison St, Berkeley

Cute starter home just came on the market in South Berkeley. This sweet bungalow is completely remodeled, hardwood floors, open layout, bonus room and features a wrap around deck. Listed at $525K. Shoot me an email if you want additional information - Listed by Linnette Edwards from BHG.

2 bedroom, 1 bath plus bonus room.  Approx. 1282 Sq.Ft.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

300 Ivy St, San Francisco - New Development by David Baker

At the southwest corner of Grove and Gough Streets in Hayes Valley, this development by David Baker and Partners is planned to bring 63 new flats and townhouses to the neighborhood. Just block from the newly widened Octavia Street that boasts boutique shops, Gough Street will have storefronts that will make up a pedestrian-friendly retail row, with prominent corner facades at both Ivy and Grove.

The main building entry along with the townhouses will face the shaded, low profile Ivy Street. Behind, homes will surround the courtyard and will feature terraces and decks. 

David Baker and Partners is also responsible for the spectacular PC Lofts in West Oakland. This transformative development in West Oakland is just a quick drive over the bridge to SF. The development just became Green Rated by Build It Green and has won numerous awards like "Best Adaptive Reuse Project, James Hardy Design Award and National Landscape Award."

written by Gina Odom

Friday, January 04, 2013

Guest Chef is worth checking out!

I dined at Chef Guest in the Rockridge district of Oakland last night with a few friends and it was fabulous. A small setting with about 8 tables allows for a very intimate setting. The concept of "Guest Chef" is exactly how it sounds - a new chef every few weeks or so. Last night the menu featured Moroccan food and the chef was delightful. He was not only good with food but he was also fun to speak with about his home country and his love of food. We had the lemon chicken, a trio of dipping sauces, Moroccan stew,  and ended the evening with an amazing lemon cake.  Click here for the bio of the featured chef and the concept of Guest Chef.

Guest Chef

5337 College Ave, Oakland

written by Gina Odom