Berkeley, CA Real Estate News

By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
This week marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the Fall Season in the Bay Area Real Estate market.  In Berkeley/Oakland, we had 8 pages of (or 240) new listings on our Thursday agent tour ... double what it has been!  The list of Sunday Open Houses swelled to over 300!  All of which means more houses to choose from in all price ranges ... $100,000 to $5,000,000.In contrast to what’s being reported in other areas of the country, there seems to be increasing interest from Buyers.  This is all against a backdrop of the lowest interest rates in 40 years just reported by Freddie Mac.  A base rate of 4.12% for a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage.  Your interest rate may vary, depending on your credit score and type of house.  4174 Shaftner, Temescal One of the New Fall Offerings! If y...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Leave your cars at home. Hop on the bus, Jack, or get on your bike for a mile-long block party. SOLANO STROLL Sunday, September 11, 2011, 10:00 am - 6:00 pm   This year opens up with thw "Unsung Heroes" Parade with about 100 groups, starting at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free to a mile-long block party. Here's what you will find: Over 500 vendors 50 entertainers 200 juried arts and crafters 50 food booths Established restaurants and shops on Solano Avenue Fun events for the family See giant slides, carmova; games, clowns, jugglers, stilt walkers, face painters, magicians, wizards and elves GREEN ZONE: festival goers will find displays of green technologies STAGE DOOR: over a dozen local performance/theater groups   SCHOOL/YOUTH RESOURCE AREA Free shuttle ride on Marin Avenue and from North...
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By Barbara Reynolds, Buyers Agent, Listing Agent, Luxury Homes, Invest
(McGuire Real Estate)
Are we there yet?  Amid all the dim outlooks for Berkeley-Oakland real estate and the economy in recent days, there’s definitely a positive way to look at it ... something on the order of the old saying, “The darkest hour is just before dawn.” According to the highly respected Case-Schiller index of real estate prices, prices are now at 2002 levels – even in the East Bay.  Obviously, with mortgage interest rates at their lowest point in decades, that is a great buying opportunity.  If, that is, you believe the slide in real estate prices is almost over. According to noted Bay Area real estate economist, Carol Rodini, the worst is likely over in Bay Area real estate for several reasons. 1. There is strong job growth in Northern California propelled by the Internet, which Rodini calls the...
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By Leah Stapleton, Berkeley Closer, Bay Area Real Estate
(Century 21 M&M and Associates)
I admit, I’ve been a driver my whole adult life and understanding the Lorin Districts and Berkeleys Walkscore was not a part of my life. I like the look of a clean car and I like getting where I’m going. Even living in South Berkeley for the past eight years, I stuck to my car. It was habit. I didn’t care for dealing with the cat calling on the streets, I wanted to have the looks and comfort a nice car can bring, and yeah, I wanted to know I had my ride nearby, just in case of an emergency.But recently I changed brokers and started working at Century 21 M&M and Associates on University Avenue at the corner of University and Seventh Street. That’s not too far from my home in South Berkeley, and the areas between my neighborhood and my work neighborhood are walkable and interesting. My ex...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
Purchase and renovation is still the big thing in Berkeley CA. There are just so many neglected homes there that the FHA 203k loan makes the most sense for the masses. While the mortgage limits are heading downward for the first time in a couple years, NOW may be the last chance you get at these higher loan limits. I'm personally hoping that HUD will step up to the plate again and leave these rates were they are until we are out of trouble with the economy... no need to stop what is working, and it is working. The maximum loan limits are going from $729,750 to $625,000 on loans that can't close by 9/30/2011 and that could take a whole bunch of people out of the market if their purchase requires renovation or repairs. It forces people to look for a smaller home or bring more cash to the ...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
Heading to an Association breakfast meeting, I turned on the car radio to hear a national real estate market update. The reporter was commenting on the fact that the housing market recovery was going to be much slower than originally anticipated, lasting at least through next year, if not longer. The number of foreclosures nationwide is being talked about in the range of 5-6 million still on the books in the "shadow inventory" we all hear about. Foreclosures are being absorbed at a rate of about 1M per year. Could it really take five or more years for us to see a recovery? Speculation is that recovery will come sooner, as a result of foreign investment increasing, and a natural increase in the number of households requiring housing. An interesting point was made about the fact that fewe...
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By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
It used to be that state capitals and university towns were seen as stable real estate markets where the main industry is state government and schools. But alas, alack, the recent economic slowdown affected even the hardiest markets. Looking at BERKELEY CA, it was interesting to note the trends and median sold versus median list price between detached single family homes and condos. FORECLOSURES Naturally, a market review must include a glimpse into whether or not it is beset by foreclosures. In this ase, Berkeley is not exempt. In 1st Quarter 2011, 30% of total residential sales were foreclosures, whereas zero was reported the same period of time in 2008. Since foreclosure were being tracked in the last three years, this is the highest percentage of foreclosures yet.  Naturally, we all...
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By Chris Neddersen
(Coldwell Banker)
What to do if you've planned NOTHING for Mom (except trouble) Mother’s Day is coming up.  I hope you followed my advice and planned a wonderful day for the worthy mom in your life.  Since I’m a Real Estate agent, the mother of my kids has learned to be flexible.  I’ve got a Condo that I’m holding open on Mother’s Day (would your mom like to buy a condo?  Or would she like you to buy one so you won’t be underfoot?  If so, come on by this great Cal Convenient Condo on Browning Street in Berkeley from 2:00 to 5:00! Let’s talk!).   But I digress.  As I was saying, we often have to postpone our celebrations.  This year we’re going to pre-pone Mother’s Day and celebrate this Saturday.  There’s a lot to do, and I’ll share some of it with you. Free Activities in the Berkeley Area Saturday, Mot...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
All residents of the Berkeley, CA area are invited to bring their lifeless laptops, sick cellphones, tired TVs and moribund monitors to the Berkeley Association of REALTORS® this Thursday from 1 - 4 pm or Friday from 10 -noon and their electronics will be recycled for FREE. This is the annual Earth Day tribute I organize on behalf of the GREEN Council of the Berkeley Association of REALTORS®.  Last year we filled the conference room -- help us do that again this year! The office is conveniently located at the corner of MLK and Cedar Streets in Berkeley (1553 MLK Jr. Way for those with GPS!). Please, no major appliances. As an added bonus, all donors will receive a reusable lunch bag filled with Green Goodies and tips on saving energy. It includes a CFL, bio bag, outlet gaskets, as well ...
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By Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude
(eXp Realty of California, Inc.)
La Mediterranee in Berkeley CA  We had a great meal at Le Mediterranee on College in Berkeley CA on Sunday. We spent some time touring the area and when it came time to eat decided this was the place to go.  We were able to secure seating on the patio, after a few minutes wait, with heat lamps and views of the world passing by on foot and by car. The food was terrific, arriving soon after we ordered.  I would definitely recommend La Mediterranee without reservation, except that the service was rather lacking. It's rare that I have to ding a place for crummy service, but unfortunately La Meditarranee gets a big red X on my list, despite great food and atmosphere in a very cool part of Berkeley.  Perhaps it was an off day - other on-line reviewers were positive, while some were also prett...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
Yesterday I was invited to join Allen Moore of Mason McDuffie Mortgage in Berkeley for a tour of fixers. We met at one and for the second time in my life I saw a home that is not a likely candadate for the FHA 203k program. It was a very small duplex so right away it needs to be larger for FHA financing. The thing that caught my eye was the 3 x 3 studs on 48" centers and only 3/4" plywood where one side was the inside wall and the other side was the outside wall.  This was likely WWII housing slapped up in a hurry on a patio slab rather than slab with footings. Very light weight and with no real structural support. The last one I saw years ago was in Merced, CA where the 2 x 2 studs on 48" centers supported 3/8" asbestos board. You could see through the cracks between the panels into th...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
Prohibition of Seller-Funded Downpayment Assistance Programs   Mortgagees are reminded that the use of downpayment assistance programs where the funds for the homebuyer’s required investment in the property are provided by the seller or any other person or entity that financially benefits from the sale of the home, or any third party or entity that is reimbursed directly or indirectly by the seller or any party that financially benefits from the transactions, is PROHIBITED under section 2113 of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act (HERA) of 2008.  Mortgagees are advised to exercise due diligence in the underwriting of FHA-insured loans using downpayment assistance to prevent insuring transactions prohibited under section 2113 of HERA.  Further guidance on this issue with details on le...
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By Doug Anderson, Bay Area Real Estate Views
(Tucker Associates Real Estate Services)
As a companion to the Four Year Real Estate Performance for: Piedmont, Montclair & Berkeley I researched the growth of distressed sales for these higher end market segments during the period of 2007-2010. As the housing market moves toward recovery there are still challenges left for home buyers and sellers with respect to the growth of both short sales and foreclosures in their neighborhoods. The following information only pertains to single family detached homes.
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By Elisa Uribe Realtor #01427070, Opening the Doors to California Homes -East Bay
(Golden Gate Sotheby's International)
Owners On Stage in Oakland CA I love this article about how much a difference staging makes but also have to say I have talented clients who have an eye for “the look.” My clients who recently sold their home on Circle Hill in Oakland did all the staging themselves. Agents came in to see the house and would ask me “who was the stager.” Now that’s a compliment to a job well done! I often have sellers comment that their house never looked better than when it's been staged (either professionally or personally)...ironically, right before they move out. But there's no reason only perspective buyers should get to enjoy a well decorated home. One of the best times to give your house a good make-over is right before you move in! One of my favorite interior styling companies here in the East Bay...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
You've all seen the headlines:  Plunging Prices, Stagnant Sales, Foreclosures lurking. The Berkeley, CA area market has remained stronger than most during this market correction. But this past month most of the extended Berkeley area has seen very limited activity. In the past three weeks less than one property has closed per day in Berkeley, CA. Of those 20 sales, 6 closed above list, 8 closed at list, and only one was more than 10% below. Thirteen of those sales were between $200K and $510K, with high price at $1,175K (two of those). Sold prices are more than $100K below last December, and for the first time in several years our median is below $500K ($498K median vs. $603K a year ago) and down substantially from last month's median of $745K. Of the single family homes under contract ...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
Master Speaker Arlene Blum at the Green Council this Week**Wednesday, December 8th, 2 pm** Light refreshments provided by JMC Building Inspection Services I am very excited, and somewhat in awe that we will welcome Arlene Blum to speak at the B.A.R. GREEN Council this week. She was recently part of the Master Speaker series at GreenBuild, the world's largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. She will speak about The importance of removing toxic chemicals from our buildings, especially in the forms of insulation and furniture cushioning. The impact of these chemicals is long-term, and did you know that we in California are particularly impacted? Arlene speaks both with tremendous passion and authority, having a PhD in Bio-Physical Chemistry. She will share anecdotes of her...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
Wow, just talked with a contractor on a Berkeley project. $50,000 rehab is costing $3,700+ for permits.. you would think they were selling the house. That is 7.4% of the renovation costs and people think the consultant makes too much at 1%. On top of that they won't take a Lowe's or HD kitchen layout, they have to have a certified engineer or architect draw them plans. The home must be made "GREEN" which includes light fixtures that cannot have screw-in bulbs that are fluorescent but they must be the type that cannot ever be replace with an incandescent bulb. The client is replacing some old aluminum sliders with something more of the period this home was built but to do so they have to have architectural drawings of the new windows and a plat map showing the set backs form the lot line...
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By Arlene Baxter, Listing/Buying agent, Historic to Green, 2012 REALTOR of the Year, Berkeley Association Berkeley CA & environs
(Red Oak Realty)
I began last week and the month of November in a manner I won't soon forget: yes, watching the Giants win the World Series! But I was actually referring to something of importance to a somewhat smaller audience: I switched brokerages and have joined the new Berkeley Office of McGuire Real Estate. McGuire has been a luxury real estate firm in San Francisco, California, since 1919, and has just established a presence in the East Bay within the past year. It was flattering to be approached by a manager I like a great deal, but I was also impressed by the support systems they provide their agents. I started off with a new listing as well, so I got to put their systems, including the use of a professional photographer for all listings, to the test right away. So far, I definitely believe I m...
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By David Ames, San Francisco
(Zephyr Real Estate, San Francisco)
This is a quick follow up blog to a story I posted on October 25th (The Past Couple of Weeks...) regarding a client of mine who wanted to sell her Berkeley Hills home. I referred her to a great agent at Marvin Gardens Real Estate (yep...that's the name of the company), and he did a wonderful job pulling everything together in order to promote a smooth selling process and garner a clean offer. It's two weeks later...results?  You bet.  2 offers, the higher of which came in $11,000 over the asking price with a 45 day free rent-back after close of escrow.  (I love it when that happens)... To be safe, I'll leave it at that.  Although anything can happen between now and COE, the first hurdle has been cleared.  Let the escrow begin! So far, so good. Localism is what it's all about.  Although ...
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By Mike Young, FHA 203k Consultant 916-758-1809
(203kOnLine.com, covering the USA)
  How about a mixed use building? I love this type property as in many cases it is very hard to get them financed. This is typically a commercial loan. The FHA Full 203k loan is perfect for a renovation project on a mixed use building. Let’s look at a couple of examples in “Small Town America” where you might see mixed use properties. I have actually had some Realtors and agents tell me that there weren’t any in their area… NOT, they are everywhere in most towns all over the USA. They look like this: and this   How about this one They are everywhere They are all around you, but YOU have to open your eyes and mind to see their full potential. They can be financed using the FHA 203k loan program. Now that you see these examples, don’t you remember seeing them in your town? Sure you do. No...
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