Berkeley, CA Real Estate News

By Pacita Dimacali, Alameda/Contra Costa Counties CA
(Alain Pinel)
Berkeley real estate market is nearly unchanged when compared with the frenetic activity in the surrounding cities. For the statisticians and other folks who prefer graphs to see what's going on a specific market, here's a snapshot of what it looks like in Berkeley CA, comparing the market the past two years, starting in October 2007 - October 2009. People will see different things and interpret this information in different ways --- I guess it depends on what you want to see or what you hope will happen. in the meantime, here's what the data is SHOWING us. MONTHS SUPPLY OF INVENTORY I like starting with the months supply of inventory. When there are more buyers than there are sellers, it means that it's a seller's market. The higher the months inventory, the more it becomes a seller's ...
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By Bruce Methven
(Methven & Associates)
Given the terrible state of the economy and the real estate markets – and given the large number of subprime residential loans made during past years – many borrowers are looking for loan modifications as an alternative to foreclosure. Unfortunately, at least at this point there is not much that can be done for many homeowners, although this area is in flux and additional government and lender programs may become available. Obviously there is no point paying for loan modification work unless there is a good chance to modify the loan. (Where there isn't a good chance of modification, unfortunately there are limited options, such as bankruptcy, giving the lender a deed in lieu of foreclosure, possibly finding someone to arrange a short sale of the property or walking away from the propert...
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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 recently was on the listing side of two wonderful, "very Berkeley" Arts & Crafts homes in North Berkeley. Neither of them had classic floor plans, but both had tremendous amounts of original wood  and exceptional period details, multiple fireplaces, updated kitchens and larger than normal lot sizes. In both cases I was successful in getting our local paper to feature these homes in the Real Estate sections during their marketing period. That special marketing, an individual website for each property with lots of photos, plus my marketing to a specialized group of Arts & Crafts and period home enthusiasts, resulted in huge attendance at my open houses.  One was priced well IMHO, based on the comments I received from agents (though numerous buyers thought it was priced too high). The se...
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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)
Ask my high-end buyers -- those who plan to spend more than $1.2M on their home purchase -- and they will undoubtedly comment about two problems, both of which have gotten only worse as the year has progressed. 1. Limited inventory. Berkeley's residential inventory has been roughly half of what existed in 2008. In properties listed at $1.2M and above, inventory during the past 12 months is down 12% from the previous 12 months. Interestingly though, median price has changed very little. Median price for the $1.2M and above sector in Berkeley in June 2007 was $1.389M. In June 2008 median price for this sector was $1.35M, with 75 sales in that range during the past 12 months. Median price this June was actually up slightly to $1.4075M, but with only 45 sales in that range during the past y...
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By Keith Rockmael
(Intero Real Estate Services)
Even in a Greencentric city like Berkeley, locals and Bay Area visitors would be Green with envy when they see the just opened David Brower Center. It feels healthy just to walk through the Green down-to-the-bones building which combines advanced technology along with simple recycled materials. When entering for their housewarming party we had a difficult time not noticing the soaring concrete walls which made us think more dot com than gallery. The fact that in creating a building with an oh- so-feathery carbon footprint (when compared to most structures) Principal Architect, Daniel Solomon included up to 70 percent slag in those walls. Just like people, what Green buildings have on the inside can be the key. Anyone (or any building) can have a great exterior but look at the Brower Ce...
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By Harrison Painter, New Media Consultant
(GoGladiator Media)
June 2, 2009 - The Diary of a Gladiator 2-Minute Video Edition. Harrison talks about the launch of GoGladiatorTV and is excited to announce that 3 coaching slots are now open! GoGladiatorTV will be a live Ustream show talking everything real estate. Our first four markets will be Indianapolis, Chicago, Tampa/St Pete, and Atlanta.Harrison will be opening up 3 slots for committed people who want to be coached through a real estate investment deal from start to finish.Learn how to:    * Find Money    * Find & Analyze a Deal    * Close the Deal    * Rehab the House    * Find a GOOD Property Manager    * Lease the House to the Right Tenant    * How to Manage Cash Flow    * If Needed, Re-Sell the PropertyIt is an exciting time to be an investor, so come and enjoy the GoGladiator experience! H...
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By Kym Hough, Staged to Sell East Bay - Danville, CA
(www.Staged-to-Sell )
www.Staged-to-Sell.com  lovesworking in the Berkeley area of California. The houses are a bit funky at times and can be everything from classic to modern in design.  The real estate professionals are truly experts in their area and the clients are committed to doing what it takes to get the house sold.  This property was on the market last month. Within a matter of days in received three offers and sold for over asking. In this tough market its more important than ever to prepare a home for market. Just see for yourself. The Living Room had beautiful hardwood floors and tiled fireplace is overwhelmed by dark walls. Even the molding was painted the dark red color. We painted the walls, had the fireplace cleaned and buffed the floors. Keep in mind that this shot was taken at the same time...
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By Chris Cohn, Berkeley California Real Estate
(Pacific Union Real Estate)
Last night I had dinner with a highly competent and experienced loan broker who is also a friend.  She was feeling terribly down about the lack of control she is experiencing the in current market.  I suggested that she make a list of "can you believe" loan and appraisal stories to give to clients.  I thought that if the clients could appreciate the difficulties of getting through underwriting as of May 2009, they might not take delays and additional inquiries so personally.  One of the examples she gave me was shocking.  The underwriter, as a final loan condition not previously mentioned, wanted an explanation of why the borrowers did not have social security numbers from birth.  The explanation was relatively easy: the borrowers were in their 70's and didn't get social security number...
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By Chris Cohn, Berkeley California Real Estate
(Pacific Union Real Estate)
This was passed along to me and is worthy of sharing.  Give a listen if you haven't heard this already.  Grandpa Elliott ROCKS. "Below is a link to one of the best pieces of sound engineering work I  think I have ever seen.  It is a composite audio/video of a song whereby additional tracks were laid in by different singers and musicians from different places around the world. The finished product is tremendous! The song itself is that classic standard, "Stand By Me", originally released in 1955 by The Staple Singers and released again in 1961 by the Drifters. This composite version is pretty amazing.   So turn up the speaker volume and Click Below..."  
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By Bruce Methven
(Methven & Associates)
Borrowers who obtain Fannie Mae (FNMA, the Federal National Mortgage Association) loans for apartment buildings frequently receive lower-interest loans - but must comply with all of the Fannie Mae requirements. One of these is that they hire an attorney to prepare an opinion letter to the initial lender and Fannie Mae (which buys the loans after they have closed). The lender is required to hire an attorney for an opinion letter, but the borrower still must have its own attorney as well. This article is designed to provide a few tips and cautions about the process for these loans. The borrower's attorney must be licensed to practice law in the state where the property is located. If the property is located in one state and the borrower is located in another, the lender and Fannie Mae may...
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There are a number of steps that creditors with commercial debts can take to enforce judgments they have received against businesses that owe them money. (Consumer debt collection is much more regulated and is not addressed in this article.) Collection agencies generally work on a contingency-fee basis, often charging 25% to 40% of the amounts collected. Where the amount owed is larger (at least $5,000 or more), there is an attorneys' fees clause and the debtor has assets (and particularly where the creditor has a security interest in some or all of those assets), it may cost less in the long run to hire an attorney on an hourly basis for collection. Debts incurred primarily for business purposes are not (unlike consumer debts) subject to the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act o...
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
The Elmwood Neighborhood of BerkeleyThe Elmwood is one of my favorite neighborhoods in Berkeley. Easy to find, at the major intersection of College Avenue and Ashby, or Highway 13, parking is the only problem you'll find. Drive north on College, past the main row of shops into the neighborhood a bit, and you may find street parking, but watch out for street cleaning day!My son and I had an afternoon off on a rainy Saturday and meandered through the shops. I had never walked into The Tree House and loved the mix of products carried there. We bought Elliot another Sigg, with the hopes that this one won't roll into the storm drain like the last one.
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
The Tree House Cont.Artisan produced, organic, and often local, they also stock world goods that employ women in South America and locations beyond.
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
A Hearth is a HomeOur love of fireplaces, hearths and mantles is deep and ancient. If we have fire we can keep warm, we can make bread, we can care for our loved ones. I rarely find a home buyer that doesn't require a hearth in the living room. "Oh, I don't plan on burning wood in it, I just want it!"Hearth and Heart both derive meaning from the Old English root hoerte, and we just don't want to move our families into a home without a heart.So even though wood burning fireplaces are not green at all, and they are put greenhouse gasses into our air, we can't seem to live without them. Actually, I feel the same way, but love the look of lit candles at a range of heights to offer up the glow of a fire without the same carbon level. For best indoor air quality, choose unscented beeswax cand...
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Berkeley's Own The Gardener on 4th Street in Berkeley installed a new potting shed/studio. It's purpose: arranging cut flowers, planting succulent arrangements with help from the expert staff and just getting your hands dirty. It's the Gardener way of "Social Networking" with their clients. What fun! The Gardener has a location in the San Francisco Ferry Building and also a wonderful store in Healdsberg.  You can find them on the web at www.thegardener.com
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
This house once held Bernard Maybeck's Packard.  He designed and had it built when La Loma was still a country lane and he could drive up into the front door, which are now connecting French doors.It is the perfect size for a pied-a-terre, a secret hideaway where you unplug your laptop and turn off your mobile phone.  Be sure to bring a stack of your favorite books, your French press, Peets coffee, and your enough firewood to waste away an afternoon or two.
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
The National Association of Realtors is (finally) Going Green! I've been pleasantly surprised to discover that my new brokerage, The GRUBB Company promotes Green Real Estate with it's agents and clients. Our Broker, John Karney is a marine biologist by training and is well founded in the science of global warming. Coming from a scientific background, he is wary of Green-Washing and I felt myself heaving a sigh of relief when I saw the intelligence with which the topic of "Green Real Estate" has been addressed in our office. The new Green Certification offered by NAR is a big step in the right direction for creating awareness with Realtors and I am looking forward to adding that certification to my Build it Green designation. There has been an emphasis in green building of consumerism. J...
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
What Are They and Why Should We Care? There are over 87 species of wild bees in and around Berkeley. These are not even the hiving bees that we are familiar with but bees that live singly in old wood and other wild places they can find to shelter. These bees are the workhorses of food pollination. Many people have heard of the large scale honey bee colapse but don't realize that just by planting California Native plants in their gardens they can sustain dozens of species of wild bees right here in town. With drought conditions being what they are, planting soil appropriate, sun appropriate plants are more important than ever and will provide habitat for hummingbirds, bees, and other flying creatures. Consult the list of hundred's of flowering plants that are attractive to bees at the UC...
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By Nicole Bailey
(Residential Properties)
All this rain has me thinking about my garden. This year I'm dreaming of huge pumpkins to sit on the front porch this fall. Crazy shapes and rich orange colors. My son carefully turning them towards the sun. I will plant tomatoes, zucchini, hot peppers and tomotillos, lavender for the bees and honeysuckle for the hummingbirds. Bay Friendly Gardens and UC Berkeley/urban gardens both recommend bee-friendly plants and drought tolerant California natives perfect for planting this season.
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Drought Conditions Reinvigorate the Greywater Debate in Berkeley Greywater: Waste water from lavatories, showers, baths and sinks only. This water can be stored in special equipment and may then be used to water lawns, gardens or other relatively benign non-potable uses such as groundwater recharge. Water from toilets is called black water; it must be properly drained to the sewer or septic system. It makes so much sence to re-use the mostly clean water from hand washing in bathrooms and from the kitchen sink, but getting a working plan through the City permitting process can be tricky business. This has caused a water underground to form, that eschews the permitting process altogether, which has inadvertantly contributed to the problem of non-cooperation in the planning department. Con...
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