Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Buying a House in Oakland: Another Reason, Zoolights!

If you are thinking about buying a house in Oakland, another reason to consider is ZooLights at the Oakland Zoo. Last night my wife, youngest daughter, and some friends went out to the Oakland Zoo to experience the Zoo Lights display, which they put on every year for the Winter Holidays.  We had a great time, even though there was a bit of drizzle it did not dampen our enthusiasm but rather kept the crowds away and we had lots of space to enjoy the lights.  The kids rode on some of the rides (the carousel, the cars and planes) and all of us took the train ride on a brightly and festively lit engine. We ate in the cafe, pizza hot and chocolate, visited with Santa, checked out the gift shop and were generally impressed with the display.  Do other zoos do this?

The city of Oakland often gets a bad rap. The bad reputation comes from some select areas of the city where crime really is overboard. Oakland, by the way, in terms of area is a huge city. The facts that tend to get overlooked are ones like: did you know that Oakland has more park land than any other city in the United States? or that it has more artists per capita than aywhere in the United States besides Manhattan?  Hmmm, stats like this make me think it ani't that bad a place. In fact its a great town! If you are buying a home in Oakland you will want to experience all the good things it has to offer:  parks, music, restaurants, art (check out the Crucible), museums and more.  There is a ton to explore including Zoo Lights. Here are some pictures I took with my phone last night.

For more information about buying a home in Oakland, or selling a home for that matter please check out my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mortgage Update

This post is compliments of Sheila Schultz, a wonderful loan agent in the East Bay

"ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END..." Or so the popular saying goes. And last week, the Fed reiterated once again that their Mortgage Backed Security (MBS) purchase program...the program that has helped keep home loan rates low for much of the last year...will end on March 31, 2010 as previously stated. Here's the lowdown on what this means, and all the latest news impacting home loan rates and the markets.

Last Wednesday during their regularly scheduled meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve kept the Fed Funds Rate unchanged. But history has shown that when the Fed has left rates too low for an extended period of time, there is a price to be paid, via higher inflation. Yet if the accommodation is removed too early, it can derail an already fragile recovery. The Fed continues to walk this tightrope, trying to get it "just right."

Along with this decision, the Fed emphasized and reminded that their MBS purchase program will still end on their already revised deadline date of March 31, 2010. Why is this significant? Let's look at the numbers from last week to get an idea. The Fed purchased $16B in MBS in the latest week bringing the year-to-date total to $1.087T. This means there is $163B left to purchase before March 31, which in turn means the Fed will purchase about $11.5B on average each week through the end of the buying program. This is less than half of what the Fed was buying regularly throughout 2009 and a 1/3 less than what the Fed has been buying in recent weeks.

So why does this point to higher rates around the corner? When there is lots of supply and diminishing demand, the price of that item will subsequently go down - it's Economics 101. So, when Bond prices start to decrease from the diminishing demand of the Fed's purchases, home loan rates will naturally be likely to increase.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buying a Home in South Berkely: Neighborhood News

On November 24th, the United States Postal Service held a community meeting to discuss their proposal to close the Park Station Post Office at 2900 Sacramento Street (at Russell). Unfortunately, due to the lack of notice and the proximity to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the turnout was very low. At this meeting, Councilmember Moore encouraged the Postal Service to hold another meeting to give the community an opportunity to voice their concerns. The USPS agreed and is holding this community meeting on Thursday, January 7th, 2010 from 5:30pm-7:00pm at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis Street. Park Station Post Office serves a great deal of seniors and other residents that find it difficult to use an alternate post office location, so it is extremely important to the surrounding community. If this is something that you are interested in, please notify your neighbors and/or post flyers. I have attached a flyer for your use. Thanks so much and please help to save our neighborhood post office!

For more information about buying a home in South Berkeley or in other parts of the East Bay, please visit my website:   http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buying a home in South Berkeley: Neighborhood News

San Pablo Neighborhood Council Holiday Party

If you are thinking about buying a home in South Berkeley you might want to know that The San Pablo Neighborhood Council is ready to party. They are inviting the neighborhood to join them for their Holiday Party on Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 6:30pm to 8:30pm. There will be music and fun, bring your favorite holiday dish or a snack to share. The Art Room at San Pablo Park is the place.

If you are buying a house in South Berekely or for that matter in any neighborhood a good practice is to meet the people that live in the area, talk to them, ask them why they live there and what they like and don't like about the neighborhood. Find out about crime, friendliness etc. Talking to nighbors is, in my opinion, the best way to learn about a neighborhood.

The Berkeley Police Department and Berkeley Boosters Association/P.A.L. is hosting a holiday turkey basket distribution to selected needy families. Volunteers will meet on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 6:30 a.m., in front of the Police Department to help assemble 250 food baskets. The gift of giving starts with you!

For more information, contact Jen Louis via Email or phone at 981-5990 X4212.

The Berkeley Fire and Police Departments along with the United States Marines Toys for Tots Foundation, needs your help in providing donations for the Toys for Tots Program. Collection barrels have been placed in all fire stations and each station will collect toys until December 25, 2009. New and unwrapped toys collected before December 19 will be used for the Toys for Tots program. Toys collected from December 19 to December 25 will be distributed to homeless shelters assisting families.

Toys will be distributed on Saturday, December 19 at the Public Safety Building by the Berkeley Police Department to families that have pre-registered through the Toys for Tots program. Registration ends December 16, 2009.

For other information and toy barrel pick up, please contact Firefighter Tony Hall via Email or Lieutenant John Tarascio, via Email or at 510-981-5520.

For more information about buying a home in South Berkeley or buying or selling a home anywhere in the East Bay please visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This is a repost of a city of Berekley Official Press Release:

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, December 15, 2009) - The City of Berkeley Police Department (BPD) Homicide Detail is asking for the community’s help in closing its only remaining unsolved homicide for 2009.

At 11:29 p.m. on May 4, 2009, the BPD Communication Center received multiple calls from residents reporting shots fired in Southwest Berkeley. Officers responded to the 1300 block of 67th Street where they found the shooting victim, Maurice Robertson, 18, of Berkeley, lying in the rear yard of a residence. The Berkeley Fire Department Paramedics responded and pronounced the victim dead at the scene.

Detectives are looking to speak with someone they consider “a person of interest” who was seen by witnesses near the crime scene prior to the shooting. That person is described as:

Black male, 16-19 years old
5'08" to 5'10" in height,
Wearing an orange Northface-style windbreaker

On May 21, 2009 the City of Berkeley offered a $15,000 reward and Bay Area Crime Stoppers offered an additional $2,000 reward, for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible for Robertson’s murder.

Detectives are asking for the community’s help in catching those responsible for this crime. Anyone with information can contact the BPD Homicide Detail at (51) 981-5741 (office) or (510) 981-5900 (non-emergency dispatch line). If callers wish to remain anonymous they are asked to call the Bay Area Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Berkeley, Oakland Real Estate Market

Below I've gathered information that gives you an overview of the Berkely, Oakland Real Estate Market

Sold properties Median Price $726k down from $762k in Nov 2008
Sold units 43 up from 25 in Nov 2008
Current for sale properties Median price $699k same in Nov 2008
Units for sale 131 down from 159 in Nov 2008
Months supply of inventory at 1.7 down from 3.3 in Nov 2008
Days on Market at 65 up from 37 in Nov 2008


Sold properties Median Price $254k up from $200k in Nov 2008
Sold units 220 same from 219 in Nov 2008
Current for sale properties Median price $235k from $188k in Nov 2008
Units for sale 870 down from 1934 in Nov 2008
Months supply of inventory at 1.8 down from 6.2 in Nov 2008
Days on Market at 39 down from 61 in Nov 2008
Median price in Nov 2007 was $400k

While we don't know what the future has in store, we can anticipate further bumps on the road to recovery in the Berkeley, Oakland Real Estate Market. The end of the government incentive for first time home buyers (due to expire April 30th), an increase in interest rates (look for the Fed to begin raising rates in March) and inflation are all on the horizon and indicate that many buyers will be losing buying power, and other potential buyers may drop out of the market place altogether as they see their chances of getting what they want diminishing.  Sellers should take heed and think seriously about getting their house on the market before spring arrives when there will be more competition from other sellers and probably a smaller pool of buyers who will be competing on their property.

For more information about buying or selling a home in the East Bay please check out my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/
For a consultation or home valuation feel free to email bill@billfletcherhomes.com or call 510-368-2854 (cell)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Buying a Home in South Berkeley: Neighborhood Update

If you are buying a home in South Berkeley you'll want to know whats going on in the various neighborhoods.  One of the more active nieghborhood groups is WANA (West Alcatraz Neighborhood Association).  This group has over the past 18 months or so intiated monthly happy hours at Cafe Vino on 66th and Sacramento, supported local cafes and restaurants, held a block party. The group also sponsors twice a month neighborhood cleanup days, a once a month meeting for parents of young children at a local park, holds periodic association meetings, has a web networking tool at http://www.bigtent.com/, has sponsored traffic control signage by having children paint "Slow Down" and "Caution, Children Playing" signs for drivers, has been in touch constantly with the city of Berkeley in an effort to make buying a home in South Berkeley a desireable option for young families and more.  On Thursday, December 17th they are holding the annual holiday get together at the community room in the apartment building at 1499 Alcatraz at 6:00PM. When you are thinking about buying a home in South Berkeley and wanting to check out different neighborhoods, this neighborhood association should be on your list of groups to contact.

The End of Stepped-Up Basis: Real Estate Tax info

The End of Stepped-Up Basis

This report is pulled from: http://registeredrep.com/mag/finance_end_steppedup_basis/ and reposted for your information

In 2010, when the estate tax is scheduled to “go away” at least for one year, it is replaced with an insidious carry-over basis system. Tracking tax-basis information for clients will require careful record keeping and revisions in estate-planning documents. Despite the overall negative impact of the changes, clients can still benefit with proper record keeping.
If a client dies before 2010, the basis of his assets for income tax purposes is stepped up to their value for federal estate tax purposes. These values are usually determined as of the date of your customer's death, but with an option to value assets six months after death. (The six-month option can be used only if it reduces both the gross estate value and estate taxes.)
So if your customer has an account with an aggregate, adjusted cost basis of $100,000, but a federal estate tax value of $1 million, the basis of the assets for heirs becomes $1 million. Heirs like this because their capital gains tax is lessened when they sell the property, and the person from whom they received the property never paid the capital gains tax ahead of death. (But dying is quite a price to pay to avoid capital gains taxes!)
All this changes in 2010. Heirs lose the advantageous step up in cost basis. In the above example, the heirs' cost basis will also be $100,000 — a horrific result.
We had this same system in 1976, and it was repealed in 1978 because it was too complex and unworkable. People died without basis information.
Those negatives aside, here's one benefit to the changes. For certain estates that qualify, the basis of assets passed to a nonspouse can be increased by the executor of an estate by up to $1.3 million (and that number is adjusted for inflation).
Applying this principle to our example would mean the executor could potentially adjust the basis by $1.3 million, so the heir's cost basis of $100,000 can be stepped up to $1 million. You cannot adjust cost basis higher than the value of the assets on the date of death, so there will be circumstances in which the $1.3 million cannot be fully utilized. Conversely, there will be cases in which the $1.3 million will not be enough to avoid the negative impact of the tax law because the value of the assets on the date of death is much higher than $1.3 million.
There is another wrinkle to this. Property left to a surviving spouse in a manner that qualifies (and there are very strict rules) gets a basis adjustment of up to $3 million (separate from the $1.3 million). This means the total adjustments can be $4.3 million. Under the right circumstances, the spouse could be allocated the entire $4.3 million basis adjustment, drastically reducing capital gains taxes.
However, qualifying for this significant basis adjustment could be negated because of current language contained in many estate plans. This can happen especially when gifts are made in trust for spouses, as opposed to outright gifts. In order to secure these increases to cost basis, estate-planning documents must be updated. This is something you can encourage clients to do now with the help of their estate-planning experts. Meanwhile, secure accurate cost-basis information on all your clients' assets. They may need it come 2010.
Roy M. Adams is worldwide head of the Trusts and Estates Practice Group at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis in New York. In addition to his law practice, he lectures extensively on estate planning and has authored several professional texts including “Contemporary Estate Planning: A Definitive Guide to Planning and Practice.”

Please visit my website:  http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Berkeley Neighborhood Update: James Kenney Park Meeting

This is a copy of an Official City of Berkeley Press Release

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, December 09, 2009) -
The City of Berkeley plans to apply for grants to improve James Kenney Park and Community Center. All interested park users are invited to attend this meeting to comment on park improvement needs. The meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM, at James Kenney Community Center, Community Room, 1720 Eighth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710. Refreshments will be provided. Please come join the discussion!

Buying a Condo in Emeryville: Market Update

If you are thinking about buying a condo in Emeryville the charts below  should provide you with some useful information about where the market is trending.  The line on the chart is a polynomial trend line.  At this point you can see that the median sales price is still in decline.
Click on chart to enlarge

The Chart below repersents how long it is taking to sell a condo in Emeryville.  The bars represent the averaage number of days on market it takes to sell an Emerville condo.

  Click on Chart to enlarge

For those who are buying a condo in Emeryville you might also be interested in the months supply of inventory which has shrunk since last November and should begin to drive prices back up a bit and the last chart which indicates the difference in average for sale or list price and the price a property actually sold for.

The red bar represent the price a condo was listed at and the green bar represents the price it actually sold for.  The trend in both situations is downward indicating that right now is a great time for those buying a condo in Emeryville and probably not such a good time to sell.   In gerneral the for sale price has been lower than the sold price except for November 2009 where the sold price was far below the original list. My read is that November was an anomoly but we'll see if the trend continues as we move through the winter.

Plese visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Monday, December 7, 2009

FHA Mortgage Loans: Changes coming

The following report is provided courtesy of the California Association of Realtors:

Testifying before the Housing Financial Services Committee yesterday, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Shaun Donovan announced possible policy changes for Federal Housing Administration’s, FHA Mortgage Loans.

Rising defaults on FHA mortgage loans have led to the FHA’s cash reserves falling below federally mandated levels. FHA officials hope that policy changes will ensure borrowers have a stronger equity position and are less likely to default.

Proposed changes include:
· Raising the minimum credit scores requirements: Currently borrowers with FICO scores as low as 500 may qualify for an FHA-insured loan. The new minimum credit score has yet to be determined.

· Increasing down payment requirements: FHA borrowers currently can put down as little as 3.5 percent. A proposed change would raise that amount to a minimum of 5 percent.

· Limiting the amount sellers can provide as concessions: The agency is considering lowering the maximum permissible level to 3 percent from its current 6 percent limit.

· Raising up-front insurance premiums: Agency staff is reviewing whether to increase the monthly insurance premiums charged to borrowers, which come on top of insurance paid up front. The current up-front premium is set at 1.75 percent of the value of the loan. The FHA may decide to increase that premium. The amount has yet to be determined.

According to Donovan, the rules will not be finalized until the FHA determines how to craft them in a way that weeds out the most problematic borrowers while ensuring that qualified borrowers will not be inadvertently shut out, thereby derailing the housing market's recovery.

Fore more information about the changes to FHA mortgage loans please visit the following:

Wall Street Journal: FHA Considers Ways to Boost Its Reserves

Washington Post: HUD chief defend efforts to aid borrowers

Homes for Sale in the Richmond Annex: Market update

If you are looking at homes for sale in the Richmond Annex either as a buyer or a seller the following graphs should privide you with some timely and useful information.  The first Chart shows the monthly median sold price from November of 2008 to November of 2009.

This shows an enormous increase in the past year of the median price in the Richmond Annex.  Prices have basically doubled, an indication that homes for sale in the Richmond Annex are currently a hot commodity.

The following chart reflects the months supply of inventory.  Usually when we see the amount of available properties decrease we see the prices rise.  This is certianly the case in the Richmond Annex.

This chart indicates that we have a month and a half 's supply of inventory.  Typically anything less than 7 months supply is considered a "sellers' market." And even though the inventory was low in November of 2008 we were experiencing a financial meltdown of the economy at that time and properties were generally not being offered for sale. 
If you are looking at Homes for Sale in the Richmond Annex either as a buyer or a seller I woudn't wait too long.  The public will catch on pretty quickly and competition will go up both for buyers as more want to get into a desireable area but moreso for sellers as more properties come on the market, particularly in the Spring when government incentives will end and mortgage prices will begin to rise.

For more information on East Bay Real Estate please visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Buying a Home in South Berkeley: Neighborhood Update

Well there is some good news to residents an to those thinking of buying a home in South Berkeley.  A long standing problem has finally been addressed by the city.   The house at 1610 Oregon Street is going to be shut down, boarded up for a year and the owner and residents evicted.  The history of this property goes back at least 30 years and had long been known as a "drug house." But last spring when there was a shooting on the 1500 block of Oregon and two children were hit, fed up residents put pressure on the city to clean up the neighborhood. If you're planning on buying a home in South Berkeley you want to be aware of what is going on in your prospective neighborhood.  Fewer drug dealers is generally considered a good thing.  I've been a resident of South Berkeley since 2001 and in that short time have seen a tremendous improvement in quality of life. Cafes, restaurants, and an influx of young families who are buying a home in South Berkeley are changing the dynamics of this area.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Berkeley Gourmet Ghetto Real Estate Market Update

The Gourmet Ghetto area of North Berkeley has long been a popular place to live.  Easily acessible to two BART stations, The University of California and some of the finest eateries anywhere such as Chez Panisse.  This Gormet Ghetto Real Estate Market update is mostly comprised of graphs that indicate a confused market but one in which houses to buy have become a scarcity over the past year. The median home price has declined since November of 2008 but seems to have stabalized and has begun to trend upwards a bit.  The lack of inventory has become the real story.  As soon as a property comes on the market the many buyers who want to live in this area are bidding the prices upwards.


The red bar represents the price the homes were listed at or the 'For Sale' price.  The green bar represents the price that Gourmet Ghetto homes actually sold for.  Each pair of bars represents a separate month.  there were no sales for example in December, February or March


This chart represent how long it took on average to sell a house.  The smaller the bar the quicker the Gormet Ghetto Homes sold. You can see that buyers bought Gourmet Ghetto homes 77% faster this November as opposed to a year ago.


This chart represent each months supply of inventory or how long it takes for the properties for sale to be cleared off the market.  The higher the bar the more properties there are to choose from.  Anything over 7 months supply has been considered a buyers market.  Anything under 7 months supply has traditionally been considered a sellers market. This chart shows that compared with November of 08 this year has 50% less to select from.  Even a year ago the number still indicated a sellers market.  Right now if you were going to sell a home in the Gourmet Ghetto it would most likely sell pretty quickly.  If you were going to buy a home in North Berkeley's Gormet Ghetto you would most likely be facing competition from other buyers.
 Advice:  look for properties listed a a price below what you can afford.  These are the properties that you most likely can afford!
For more information on Gourmet Ghetto Home buying and selling or other real estate information in the East Bay please check out my webssite: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/
For questions, comments, home valuations or other real estate wervices please feel free to email me: mailto:call.bill@redoakrealty.com

Thursday, December 3, 2009

South Berkeley Real Estate Market Update: Houses 94703 Zip Code

This chart reflects the Months Supply of Housing Inventory in South Berkeley zip code 94703 from November of 2008 through November of 2009.  The trend line shows a decline throughout the year (54%) and a leveling off during the past two months .  This indicates a scarcity of housing stock in South Berkeley which in a supply and demand economy should put upward pressure on prices and indicate a rise in prices in the months to come.
Click on Chart to Enlarge

Click On Chart to Enlarge

The above chart shows the changes over the past year in For Sale Pices vs Sold Prices in South Berkeley Homes.  While we are seeing a sharp decline as measured from November of 2008.  Beginnng in April of 2009 we are seeing an increase in home prices and in most months the Sold price is higher than the List or For Sale Price.  This indicates that in many instances there are multiple offers on properties which is putting an upward pressure on prices and indicating that the bottom of the South Berkeley Homes market in this zip code (94703) may have been reached last March.

For more information on South Berkeley Homes and other East Bay Real Estate information  please visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

East Bay Real Estate: South Berkeley Neighborhood News

this report is taken directly from SF Gateway.

Sweets and pie: Jennifer Millar of Sweet Adeline Bakeshop and Tom Schnetz of Flora and Dona Thomas are teaming up on a new Berkeley project. The pair has taken over the former Spud's pizza space (3290 Adeline St.) to open Addie's Pizza Pie in February or March. Millar says the plans are to make thin-crust New York style pizza and frozen custard, popular in the East and Midwest.

"It's like soft serve, but better," says Millar, adding that no one around here is making the dessert.

As for the pizzas, she says they'll make eight signature pies a day and a few seasonal ones. The pizza will be sold by the slice or the pie. Customers will also be able to build their own. Millar says there will be salad offerings as well.

Friday, November 27, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Market Update: Emeryville Condos and Townhouses

East Bay Realtor:  Emeryville condos and townhouses monthly market update.  The number of For Sale property is decreasing and the sold price has been increasing (notice the trend lines).  At the same time (chart below) the months supply of inventory has been fairly steady at a low point.  These charts seem to indicate that the bottom of the market has been reached, 14$ increase in price compared with the same time a year ago.


Please visit my website for more indepth realestate resources http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

East Bay Realtor: Albany Real Estate Market Update

East Bay Real Estate Albany Housing Market Update
This chart shows what's been going on in Albany for the past 12 months.  The first bar represents the median "for sale" price and the second bar represents the median "sold" price in a given month.  Because escrow lasts usually about 30 days there may be a months lag between forsale and sold.  But the main point of this graph is to look at the trend.  Has the Albany housing market hit bottom?  This chart is not definitive but my opinion is "yes it has."

The second chart depicts the amount of available housing stock in Albany.  It clearly shows that there is little availability.  Houses in Albany are in demand.  And this basic law of the marketplace is keeping home prices in Albany strong.  I think as we look forward we will see prices showing an increase and sales will continue to be brisk.

Please visit my website for home searches, reports, resources: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Market Update: North Oakland Homes, One of the 10 hottest Zipcodes in the US

It appears from this chart that the bottom of the market in this zip code happened last February.  The green column represents the List Price and the red column represents what the property actually sold for.  What's going on? This area is seen to be an afordable one and a good entry point for first time buyers.  its proximity to both Berkeley and Emeryville and developments like the Dogtown area make it both attractive and affordable.  Developers and flippers have found distressed proerties in this area and are fixing them up and turning them over.  They price a bit low and watch the bidding take off. My opinion is that this growth is not sustainable and will tend to moderate a bit. But this area is undergoing rapid transformation and prices are still affordable.  This area, in my opinion, is a good one for first time buers to explore.

Please visit my website for morereal estate information related to Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito and other parts of the East Bay.  Please feel free to call me at 510-368-2854 or email bill@redoakrealty.com for information , home valuation or other real estate resources.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

East Bay Realtor: Berkeley Real Estate Market Update, the Flats

I thought you might be interested in this little graphic .  Data is taken right off the MLS.
 Berkeley Flats October 2008 vs October 2009.  The red column represents the list price and the green column represents the price the home actually sold for.  This chart is for detached houses only in MLS areas 4,5,6,7,8.      

Please visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Sunday, November 8, 2009

East Bay Realtor: Complete List of Open Houses for Sunday 11/08/2009

East Bay Real Estate:  Homes available in Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, El Sobrante, Oakland, Richmond, Kensington, San Leandro.  List of Sunday Open Houses posted each weekend on my website:  http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/.  Click "Sunday Open House" tab.  Happy searching.  If you need help please feel free to email me at bill@redoakrealty.com or call 510-368-2854.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

East Bay Realtor Real Estate Market Update: What's Happening in the LORIN district of Berkeley?

Median Home prices in the Lorin district of Berekely (South of Dwight, West of Adeline) have fallen in the past year by 11%.  At the same time availability (month's supply of inventory)has dropped by 82% signifying that this might be a good time to sell.  It certainly has been a good time to buy!

Click on chart(s) to enlarge

Please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

East Bay Realtor: One of the top ten hottest zipcodes in the USA is right here in Oakland!

If you are looking at how much a property is selling for above list price then North Oakland is one of the hottest areas in the United States.  According to Zip Realty who is tracking this stuff in 33 major markets, 94608 average sales price in the 3rd quarter averaged 105.6%!

For more in-depth real estate information in the Berkeley, Albany, Oakland, Emeryville, El Cerrito, Kensington, Piedmont, San Leandro,Richmond, El Sobrante Areas please check out my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

East Bay, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville Real Estate: City of Berkeley Launches New 311 Call Center

Pilot program aims to streamline and improve customer service

Berkeley, California (Monday, November 02, 2009) - Berkeley residents, businesses, and visitors now have two faster, easier ways to access City services: a new 311 Call Center and an updated online service center at www.CityOfBerkeley.info/onlineservice.

The 311 Call Center

Creating a consolidated call center has been a major component of the City’s Customer Service Initiative. Anyone within the Berkeley city limits can now dial 311 from a land line to reach the Call Center. Cell phone access is currently in test mode and will be fully operational by December. “By providing one easy to remember, convenient number we want to help community members get the information and services they need as quickly as possible,” said Deputy City Manager Lisa Caronna. Call Center phones are answered 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on regular City business days.

311 is not a City switchboard - - calls are answered by customer service representatives who can help most callers complete routine City business without being transferred. The most frequently requested transactions include:

Reporting graffiti, potholes, and broken parking meters;

Paying refuse bills and parking tickets;

Requesting general information (City business hours, office locations, etc.);

Changing residential refuse services; and

Reporting a residential or commercial missed garbage pick-up.
The Online Service Center

In a web survey conducted last fall, the top two online services requested by community members were the ability to submit online service requests and to access an online City staff directory. Both services have now been added to the City’s website. The Online Service Center (www.CityofBerkeley.info/onlineservice) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and performs many of the same services as the Call Center, including the ability to report problems such as graffiti, potholes, and illegal dumping.

“We’re excited about these pilot programs, and look forward to getting feedback from the public so that we can make adjustments and improvements,” Caronna said. “The Customer Service Initiative is definitely an ongoing process. We’re glad to announce the 311 Call Center and the new services available at the Online Service Center, and look forward to expanding the scope of services handled by both throughout 2010.”

The public is invited to email feedback and suggestions to 311@cityofberkeley.info.

Please visit my website, http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/  for more indepth inforamtion about East Bay Real Estate

East Bay Realtor North Oakland-Temescal Update.Shows Home prices rising!

Click on Chart to Enlarge

This represents the median sold price for the zipcodes 94608 and 94609 from October 2008-October 2009.  This is obviously another hot area that shows prices have gone up by 17% comparing Octobers with October and from the chart below that shows the months supply of inventory you can see that scarcity is one of the driving forces.
Clcik on chart to enlarge

Please visit my website for more information on East Bay Real Estate:  http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

East Bay Realtor update: Berkeley Residential Real Estate Median Price October 08-October09

Click on to enlarge

Its a little hard to read but very clear that the median home price in Berkeley showed an increase of 7% this October compared with last October.  This is in keeping with what I have been saying.  There are lots of Buyers and not enough inventory.  conditions are very favorable for buyers with interest rates being low and prices lower than they've been but Berkeley tends to represent the apex of value in the East Bay.  People want to live in this wonderfully diverse and progressive community.

Please visit my website for more information about East Bay Residential Real Estate: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

East Bay Realtor: Want to Buy a House in Berkeley for $1.? Here's your chance

Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, Real Estate Update:
Actually there are 2 houses for sale for one dollar each by the University of California.  What's the catch?  They are in very poor condition and you have to move them. Here's the story: http://www.dailycal.org/article/107260/historic_houses_on_campus_up_for_sale_on_condition
please visit my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Thursday, October 22, 2009

East Bay Realtor: Where the foreclosures Are!

East Bay Realtor: Another Reason to Live in Berkeley! Green Green Green

This is a latest press release from the City of Berkeley
Launch of Green Cities Website Designed to Expedite the Greening of America
Berkeley, California (Wednesday, October 21, 2009) - City of Berkeley efforts to reduce global warming emissions and save energy are highlighted and available for residents to review on an innovative environmental policy best practices website launched today.

The website was launched by Green Cities California (GCC), a collaborative of ten of California’s most environmentally progressive jurisdictions. In addition to the City of Berkeley, members of GCC include Los Angeles, Marin County, Pasadena, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Barbara, and Santa Monica.

The purpose of this website is to help cities across the U.S. design effective, cutting-edge environmental policy by learning from the experience of leading green cities like Berkeley. The site includes case studies of environmental legislation that will help policymakers across the nation avoid pitfalls and save time when working to increase energy efficiency, reduce solid waste, and promote sustainable transportation modes in the community.

Local government sustainability policies can have a profound and positive impact on environmental protection and quality of life in communities. For example, California experienced a dramatic drop in littered polystyrene on beaches due to the adoption of polystyrene bans by dozens of coastal jurisdictions in the state, including the City of Berkeley.

Berkeley FIRST, Berkeley’s much acclaimed solar financing program is cited on the GCC website. Already this program has been used as a model for policymakers throughout the country including spurring new legislation in California and at the Federal level.

As a central repository of green legislation, the GCC website will further stimulate local governments to be leaders in developing environmental policy. By sharing resources and policy ideas around sustainability, cities can learn from each other, encourage leadership and reduce redundancy. In addition, the website will allow local residents to learn about what policies other jurisdictions are enacting and advocate for similar green policies in their communities.

“Achieving significant reductions in global warming pollution requires that we share ideas across city boundaries and with other levels of government. GCC’s new website will help Berkeley to show what’s working here and to learn from other cities’ experiences as well,” said Timothy Burroughs, Climate Action Coordinator for the City of Berkeley.

The free Web site – created by local governments for local governments and their residents – provides everything policymakers and advocates need to implement new policies, including the policy document itself, staff reports, background research, legal analysis, and outreach and education materials. Almost 50 Best Practices, organized around the seven categories of the Urban Environmental Accords – Energy, Waste, Urban Design, Urban Nature, Transportation, Environmental Health and Water – can be accessed now at www.greencitiescalifornia.org.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Berkeley Real Estate Update: FREE Disaster supplies from Berkeley

This is a press release from the City of Berkeley.

Groups have more than 3 months to apply for equipment that includes portable generators, radio communications, fire hoses, and disaster first aid kits.
Berkeley, California (Tuesday, October 20, 2009) - Neighborhood and community organizations who are prepared to be self-sufficient in a major disaster can now apply to get free containers stocked with emergency response equipment from the City of Berkeley.

The Office of Emergency Services now has applications available for the 2010 Community Emergency Supply Program application. Measure GG passed in November of 2008 provided funding for a limited number of emergency supply caches to be awarded to neighborhoods or community organizations that show a high degree of preparedness and organization. The Community Emergency Supply Program has been supporting neighborhood organizations with supplies and training since 2003. There are currently 44 City-awarded disaster equipment caches distributed throughout the city.

“It is essential that every household, family, apartment tenant, neighborhood and community group be prepared to survive for five to seven days on their own, until utilities and services can be restored,” said Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong. “This program enhances disaster preparedness in the Berkeley community by giving direct support to neighborhoods and community organizations.”
The equipment that includes portable generators, fire suppression hoses and nozzles, disaster first aid kit, portable communication radios and other safety equipment.
Caches will be awarded based on several criteria, including geographical distribution across the City, the risk assessment of the neighborhood, and the level of neighborhood involvement in the Community Emergency Response Training program.
The 2010 Community Emergency Supply Program is accepting applications from October 17 through January 29, 2010. Applications can be picked up at the Fire Department Administrative Offices at 2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, 2nd Floor, Monday-Friday, 8-5 or online at http://www.cityofberkeley.info/ContentDisplay.aspx?id=3920

Monday, October 19, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Market Update: Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Kensington, Oakland, Piedmont, Richmond

Median Sale Price

Location ....3rd Q 2008 ..3rd Q 2009... % change

Albany .......$615,000... $552,000... -10.24%

Berkeley..... $750,000... $665,000. .-11.33%

El Cerrito.... $570,000... $535,000.. -6.14%

Kensington.. $830,000... $705,000.. -15.06%

Oakland all.. $310,000... $175,000.. -43.55%

Piedmont... $1,200,000.. $1,400,000 ..16.67%

Richmond All .$200,000.. $145,000 ....-27.50%

Average price /average change
.................$639,286... $596,714.... -13.88%

Number of Sales

Location 3rd Q 2008 ....3rd Q 2009 .....% change

Albany ......25 ...............24 .....................-4.00%

Berkeley... 136 .............111................... -18.38%

El Cerrito ...52 ...............49 .......................-5.77%

Kensington ..15.............. 17 .......................13.33%

Oakland all ..662.......... 832....................... 25.68%

Piedmont .....28.............. 21 ......................-25.00%

Richmond All 390......... 415....................... 6.41%

Total Sales / change in total sales
.................1,308......... 1,469...................... 12.31%

[Data is taken directly from the East Bay Regional Multiple Listing Service and is believed to be correct but cannot be guaranteed.]

Saturday, October 17, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Update: Open Homes for Sunday 10/18/09

A complete list of Open Homes in the East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond, San Leandro Real Estate) has just been uploaded on to my website. http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/. Click the Sunday Open House Tab.  I'll be at 236 Pomona in El Cerrito from 2-4:30.  Come by and say hi!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

How to Buy a REO!

If you want to learn about what it is like to buy an REO please watch this short educational video.  Yes it is full of humor and a bit over the top but it represents the experience many of us agents have who represent buyers.  It's a little dose of reality.  Watch, Enjoy, and then get ready to battle!

Please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ for more in depth information on this and many other real estate related subjects.
For a consultation, home valuation or other concerns please call 510-368-2854 or email me at bill@redoakrealty.com

Monday, October 5, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Update: The Home Buyer Tax Credit

Word is out that Obama is behind extending the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.  This is toady according to White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs.  There also appears to be bipartisan support for this extention.  What does this mean to you?  Well, there is still no guarantee that the credit will be extended.  But the signs are hopeful that it will go at least until June 10th as the housing market is still considered to be an important piece in restarting our economy.  If you are considering selling a home, it would be to your advantage in many situations to get it on the market while this stimulus is still in play.  Likewise , if you are a buyer, this is a free $8000.  Also, the Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville and other East Bay real estate markets are turning.  Prices in most areas have stabelized and in many areas are showing an increase.  Don't delay too long or this window of opportunity will pass you by.  If you're one of the folks who in 2005 wished you had bought in 2003, well those days are back and the housing market will recover.  Do yourself a favor.  You'll be glad you did.
For more real estate related information as well as a complete MLS search for homes is availabe on my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/. For a confidential consultation, home valuation, BPO or other real estate services please call 510-292-2029 or email bill@redoakrealty.com

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Berkeley will be adding Parking Meters

But that ain't all!   They will also be increasing the rate by 25 cents, the fine by  5 dollars.  The city council agreed to approve installing over 400 new meters along San Pablo Ave from Albany to Oakland.  At least the hours of operation will remain the same, unlike Oakland who extended its metered hours till 8PM

Free! Flu clinic to be held in Berkeley on Tuesday

This report is taken from the Oakland Tribune and written by Kristin Bender

BERKELEY — Berkeley's Public Health Department is holding a free seasonal flu clinic Tuesday.
The clinic will have standard seasonal flu shots available for anyone 6 months and older and the FluMist nasal vaccine available for all healthy people between ages 2 and 49.
Every year, the flu sends 20,000 children to the hospital and is the cause of death for more than 4,000 Californians, statistics show. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that every child between ages 6 months and 18 years be vaccinated for the seasonal flu, except those with a serious egg allergy.
Last year, the Berkeley Public Health Department gave free vaccines to nearly 1,400 community members, said acting Public Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman. The department will be prepared to give at least 2,000 vaccines this season.
The clinic is from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Berkeley Adult School, 1701 San Pablo Ave. Seniors who need special assistance should enter on Curtis Street. For more information, call 510-981-5300.
To speed up your visit, download an intake form from www.cityofberkeley.info/publichealth. Print the form,fill it out and bring it with you. Forms also will be available at the flu clinic.
Vaccines for the H1N1 virus are not yet available and will not be provided at this clinic.

Please visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/
For confidential consultation, home valuation or Broker's Price Opinion call me at 510-292-2029 or email me at bill@redoakrealty.com

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Berkeley Program to Help Elderly and Disabled: Berkeley Real Estate Resources

Hi, I thought this might be of interest to my Berkeley Neighbors.  Please pass on thisinfo to anyone you know who may be in need.
Rebuilding Together has just announced that they have money avaialbe to help the elderly and disabled with minor home repairs.  Please read below and email the link at the bottom for more information
Bill Fletcher, Your East Bay Realtor

From:John Stevens

Subject: New Minor repair funding

We have just received a grant that is specifically directed at making year-round minor repairs for low-income elderly and disabled homeowners in Berkeley. This will include minor plumbing, electrical, and carpentry, and other safety repairs such as repairing hand rails and banisters, replacing defective ovens and ranges and vent-a-hoods, repairing improper and broken door and window locking mechanisms, and more.
It is my hope that this will expand our ability to reach not only more citizens, but the Berkeley citizens most in need.
When we make these repairs it will be an entrée to view the individuals' homes and determine if there are greater issues at hand thatwe will be able to help them with through our City of Berkeley funded Safe Homes program. If you become aware of homeowners in need of such repairs and funding is not otherwise available, please check with us to see if we can help.

John Stevens
Executive Director
Rebuilding Together - ABE
3318 Adeline ST.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Bus: 510-644-8979
Fax: 510-644-6213

Monday, September 28, 2009

Need a Loan Modification for your home? Try NACA

An article in today's SF Gate tells of a huge event coming to the Bay Area in Richmond on October 16 to the 20th.  They expect to attract 500,000 home owners who need a loan modification in order to stay in their homes.  NACA or The Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America has launced its "Save the Dream Tour."  A complete story is available on the SF Gate website: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/09/27/BU7819S899.DTL. This is something to tell your friends about!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

East Bay Real Estate, Open Homes listed for 9/27/09

For a complete list of East Bay Open Homes (Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, San Leandro, Richmond, Emeryville, El Cerrito Real Estate) for Sunday 9/27/09, please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/  and click on 'Sunday Open Houses.'

For a complete list of REO's, Short Sales, and more please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ .  For a confidential consultation or home valuation plese call me 510-292-2029 or email bill@redoakrealty.com

Friday, September 25, 2009

Rockridge Street Fair Sunday 9/27/09 11-6

The Rockridge Out and About Street Fair begins at 11AM and runds until 6PM on sunday.  College Ave will be closed from Claremont to Manilla and there will be lots of food, entertainment and stuff to do.  Get a complete schedule at http://www.rockridgeoutandabout.com/

Please visit my website:  http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/
For a confidential consultaion or home valuation please email bill@redoakrealty.com

Thursday, September 24, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Statistics: Piedmont Real Estate, August 2009

-------------------------August 2008-----------------August 2009
Average Days on Market-----42--------------------------33
Average Active Listings------14---------------------------22
Average Sales Price------$1,148,593-----------------$1,394,909

For more information please visit my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/.
For a confidential consultation or home valuation please call or email.

East Bay Real Estate Statistics for San Leandro August 2009

San Leandro Realtor:  Home Sales
-------------------------August 2008-------------August 2009
Average days on Market--85------------------------72
Average Active Listings---378----------------------126
Average Sales Price-----$379,356---------------$341,641

Please visit my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ for more information.  Call or email me for a confidential consultation or home valuation.

Berkeley Real Estate Statistics for Home Sales August 2009

Berkeley Real Estate Stats for :
------------------------August 08-------------August 09
Days on Market---------------56-----------------49
Average Active Listings--------94-----------------80
Average Sales Price--------$674,315---------$686,451

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Berkeley News from your East Bay Realtor

The City of Berkeley is going to be selling the BOSS house.  You may remember this is the one that was leased to a non profit and turned into a meth lab, right next to a preschool. In preparation for a sale, the city has finished cleaning up toxic residue left by a drug operation at the former transitional housing site which was run by Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency. The city has set a hearing to hear any protests to the sale.  You can read more about it here: http://www.insidebayarea.com/my-town/ci_13395832.

And there are ART CARS coming to Berkeley.  GO to Amoeba Records on telegraph Ave on Sunday and you'dd see about 50 of these works of art driving down the street.  You can read more about this here:
http://www.insidebayarea.com/my-town/ci_13395401.  There will also be live entertainment between Bancrof and durant where Telegraph will be shut down.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oakland Real Estate Market Update: Months Supply of Houses

Wow! Look at this chart! this represents an 84% decline in inventory from August 2007  tthough August 2009.  Oakland went from 11 months worth of houses to 7 weeks.  If you've been trying to purchase a house and keep getting beat up here is one of the reasons.  Lots of competition for available inventory,

Please visit my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ for more information about East Bay Real Estate. Please call or email me at bill@redoakrealty.com for a confidential consultation, home valuation or other real estate related need.

East Bay Real Estate Market Update: Berkeley Homes Inventory

Here is a snap shot of months supply of housing inventory in the city of Berkeley from August 2007 to August 2009.  It shows a 40% decline in months supply of houses.  This is one of the main reasons that prices in Berkeley have held their value.

Please visit my website at http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ for more information about East Bay Real Estate.  Please call or email me at bill@redoakrealty.com for a confidential consultation, home valuation or other real estate related need. 

Monday, September 14, 2009

East Bay Realtor: Another Reason to Live in the East Bay! The Arts!

Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville and Richmond are coming together to launch a special Art based Initiative.  The East Bay of California offers much in the way of the Arts, among them being one of the highest per capita percentage of artists.  To find out about what these cities are doing follow this link.  Pretty neat stuff.

Please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/ for complete information about buying or selling real estate in the East bay communities of Oakland, Berekeley, El Cerrito, Albany, Emeryville, and beyond.  Fro a confidential consultation please call me at 510-368-2854 or bill@redoakrealty.com.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

East Bay Real Estate Update: More Foreclosures Coming!

Here's the latest scoop.  I've heard that Wacovia/Wells Fargo has many many many foreclosures coming to fruition because there have been programs etc causing delays in the normal process and these properties have been held back from coming on the market.  These will be hitting the market late in the year and into the first quarter of next year.  Those of you who have been bidding against all cash offersand getting beaten up regularly, like many of my clients will have a much better chance of getting your bid accepted as these properties will be plentiful and will greatly affect the profit margins of the home flippers. 
There won't or at least there shouldn't be as many all cash offers to compete against.

Wachovia said that quite frankly they would always take an all cash offer even if it were 10-15% below the highest offer.  Its a purely business decision and better meets their needs.  So my readers, my friends,  don't fret, don't get discouraged.  There are plenty of homes coming on the market in the not too distant future.  We may not have the tax credit at that time, though NAR is lobbying to get it extended.  We may not have as good interest rates but we will have cheap inventory and plenty of it for the next 6 months or so. But keep in mind this will not last forever, and there wil be no better time to buy. 
For more information on East Bay Real Estate please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/
For a confidential consultation please call me 510-368-2854.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Emeryville Real Estate Market Update: August 2008 vs. August 2009

Here are the stats for Emeryville.  Not as uplifting as Berkeley.
August 2008
DOM----Median Sold-----Max Sold------Min Sold
August 2009

For more information on East Bay Real Estate please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Berkeley Real Estate Market Update: August 2009 vs August 2008

I thought I'd give some stats for the City of Berkeley.  These might be useful to you
August 2008
DOM----Median Price -----Max Price-------Min Price
August 2009

For more information on East Bay Real Estate please visit my website http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Friday, September 4, 2009

East Bay, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville,Real Estate Update: Mortgage Rates

My Lenders tell me that rates got marginally worse today in light of slightly better than expected unemployment figures, and at the front end of a three-day weekend. Rates often get slightly worse before long weekends.
Plese visit my website: http://www.billfletcherhomes.com/

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Berkeley Real Estate Update August 09 for Zip code 94702

This chart is for median price of  detached homes (no condos, no income properties) from August 2008 to August 2009.  There is a 1% increase in the median sales price over this time.  The market is changing.  If you are looking for a bargain real estate property in Berkeley, you are a day late.   I am sorry that the chart is hard to read.  This is the best I can do for now. The main numbers are 617K in August 2008 and 621K in August 2009 or almost a 1% increase in price.

On another note. I saw yesterday that a duplex I was watching on Grant road in Berkeley that was listed at 575K which was a bit on the low side, I thought but not that low ended up selling for 705K!  Wow!and only on the market for 14 days.  This is indicative of the phenonmenon I keep mentioning that there are plenty of buyers and not enough inventory on the market.

Monday, August 31, 2009

East Bay Oakland, Berkeley Realtor, Real Estate Update Albany,

August 2009
# of Listings----High--------Low--------Median-------Ave DOM

August 2008

The Median price of a home in Albany increase by 4.9%

East Bay Oakland, Berkeley Realtor: El Cerrito Market Update

I thought I'd give a little energy to El Cerrito since this is one area that I spend a good deal of time in.  I just ran the numbers for August, 2009 and compared them to last year.  Here they are:

August 2009
# of listings---High------Low------Median------Ave. DOM

August 2008

Median Home values declined 9.6%

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ease Bay, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Real Estate Market Update: Adeline Place Condos in Emeryville

I went by and had a first hand look at these new condos located on San Pablo at 38th Street in Emeryville. These are 1 and 2 bedroom units ranging in price from 230K to somewhere in the high 3oo's depending on the upgrades. some of the have curved walls which I think is pretty cool. They are wonderfully soundproofed (there are actually no common walls between the units. they have built in dead air space which makes them real quiet. And, they have some real nice financing options. For example 3.5% down with no mortgage insurance! The city of Emeryville also has some down payment assistance programs that may be able to go along with the in house financing options. Location is central. You can look out your window and watch traffic on a couple of different highways. From the 4th floor units the view is quite nice. There isn't a lot of outdoor space available, though which may be a drawback for some. There are only a few units with direct access to a patio which is actully common area. Sales office is open Friday through Monday from 12-6. If you go please tell them I sent you, appreciated!

East Bay Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville Real estate Market Update: City of Oakland Mortgage Assistance Program

The City of Oakland MAP (Mortgage Assistance Program) is a great opportunity for many moderate-to-low income people. And there is plenty of money available. KEEP IT IN MIND for you or your friends.

20% Down Payment Assistance from City of Oakland

The City of Oakland has revised the income limits for its MAP down payment assistance loan. Effective July 1st, the family income limit is being revised upward to 100% of AMI (Area Median Income). This loan will be subordinated to a first mortgage and is payment deferred for the life of the loan. Income limits will be as follows:
********************Maximum Income
Family of 1********* $62,500
Family of 2*********$71,450
Family of 3*********$80,350
Family of 4*********$89,300
Family of 5*********$96,450
Family of 6********$103,600

Although there is some additional paperwork involved, the conditions are easily met:

1. Must be a first-time homebuyer (no home ownership in the past three years)

2. Must buy in Oakland

3. All borrowers must attend a First-Time Homebuyers workshop

4. Single family home only

5. Down payment assistance limited to 20% of purchase price ($50,000 max)

6. Contract must include provision for an Independent Home Inspection

7. Contract must include provision for One Year Home Warranty

8. First mortgage must be 30 year Fixed

9. Borrowers own money of 3% of sales price must be included in the transaction. If gift money, it must be seasoned.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

East Bay, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville Real Estate Market Update

30 Year Fixed Rate Loan at a Cost of One Point: 5.0%*
Rates got slightly worse today in response to slightly improving employment and GDP numbers.

The New York Times announced that Google will soon enter the mortgage arena by offering rate quotes. Lending Tree, a company that also offers on-line quotes, is upset about this because Google will be using the same supposedly exclusive technology that Lending Tree uses.

With all the problems we're seeing that mortgage brokers have to deal with it will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

East Bay, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville Real Estate Market Update: Mortgage Rates

30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage at a Cost of One Point: 4.875%*

Consumer Confidence is up! New Home Sales are up! Durable Goods Orders are up! Normally all this “good news” would send the stock market up too, and the bond market down – resulting in higher mortgage rates. The stock market, however, was unimpressed because New Home Sales and Durable Goods Orders are only up month over month. They are down compared to last year. In addition, Home Sales have been so poor and prices so low that it is hard for them to stay that way. Just like when you snap a rubber band it has a bounce. Home sales prices will snap back to a place closer to their real value. We can see this happening now.

What I think impressed the bond market was the fact that there was significant demand (other than our own Government buying its own debt) at yesterday’s auctions of government debt. This is good news for the real estate industry because it signals continued lower rates, as the market still values Government Debt. When we see bond auctions with no buyers other than our own government, we all need to get nervous.
For more information on East Bay Real Estate visit my website, www.billfletcherhomes.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Oakland, Berkeley, East Bay Realtor: City of Berkely PRESS RELEASE offering FREE Workshops


Berkeley, California (Monday, August 24, 2009) - Do you live in a drafty Berkeley home?

Not only is your leaky home letting all your warm air out, it may also be letting dust and contaminants in! The City of Berkeley is sponsoring FREE workshops to teach you about how to protect and insulate your home to save energy, money, and improve the overall health, comfort and performance of your home.

Learn how to:

Improve Comfort
Save Energy & Money
Improve Indoor Air Quality
Finance Energy Efficiency Retrofits
Take Advantage of Incentives and Rebates
The workshops will also offer free snack and giveaways; presentations by City Staff, PG&E, The Ecology Center, and SmartSolar; and the opportunity to meet local home performance contractors and energy specialists

Come to one of the following three FREE workshops in your neighborhood:

Thursday Sept 17, 7- 8:30 p.m.
St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal
2024 Ashby Ave.

Thursday October 8, 7- 8:30 p.m.
St. Johns Presbyterian Church
2727 College Ave.

Thursday October 22, 7- 8:30 p.m.
Epworth Unified Methodist Church
1953 Hopkins St.

To RSVP, call Marna Schwartz at 510-981-7473 or email mschwartz@cityofberkeley.info

Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, East Bay Real Estate Market Update

I'm noticing a shift in the markets that I want you to be aware of. What was a buyer's market at the low and middle ends has now become a sellers market once again. the issue is that there is very little inventory and any property that is any good is receiving multiple offers which in most cases is driving the sales price up. This may indicate a short term or a long term trend. At this time I don't know which. What I do know is: that on Saturday a property in Walnut Creek on Molly Lane in a short sale situation received 4 offers as soon as the price was reduced; that a home on 67th Street in Berkeley last Thursday received 4 offers, all but one well above the list price in a standard (traditional) sale situation; that an REO (banked owned) home on San Jose Street in the Richmond Annex received 15 offers within the first few days of being on the market and that these offers were submitted to the bank last Saturday.

What can be gleaned from my experiences is that many individuals who consider themselves first time buyers are currently priced out of the market. Have they missed their opportunity? Perhaps. I can't predict the future so I don't really know. I keep hearing about another 2 million homes that are REOs and will be coming on the market soon. But this rumor has been out there for months now and I haven't seen its fruition. If the banks actually do own these large amounts of homes and are holding them back out of fear of flooding the market then now is the time to begin releasing them, now, while the tax credit is still available, now while there are still first time buyers who have a renewed hope of owning a piece of the American Dream.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Berkeley Unified Schools and Test scores

As a former educator I could rant all day about ow we mis-use educational tests. They honestly measure very little, as they are norm referenced,and so are designed to have winners and losers; and our dependance on the scores put pressure on teachers to teach to the test thus taking a great deal of the joy and creativity of teaching out of the classrom. We're always comparing our tests to other countrys' test scores and bemoaning the fact that we're losing the competitive edge. And as I see ths preference for tests and teaching to the tests as one of many problems with our system, I, nevertheless am the one who will rip open my cild's test envelope and pour over the scores within. I want my child to be in the 90th percentile, damn it!

Well this is a small preamble to announce the fact that Berekely's test scores have demonstrated minor shifts this year, a four percent increase in english/Language arts and a 1 percent drop in math. Both scores by the way are well above the state average. So I guess if you believe that test scores are a significant way of measuring a school or distrcit this is another good reason to consider Berkeley as a home-buying option if you have or plan on having children.

Mortgage Rate Update: East Bay Real Estate, Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville

30 Year Fixed Rate Loan are holding steady at a Cost of One Point at 5.0%*

As most of you know, almost all loans require income documentation today, with only a few exceptions. The first exception has to do with especially liquid borrowers with seven to eight figure liquid asset accounts. Lenders like First Republic and Union Bank will do “make sense deals” for such borrowers with limited income documentation. The other exception, of course, is Hard Money.

Hard Money will lend up to 75% of Appraised Value/Purchase Price at rates of 10.5% to 11% and with total fees in the 5 point range. But, Hard Money will no longer lend against Owner Occupied properties after October 1st. New regulations and rate restrictions imposed by Congress make owner occupied loans impossible for Hard Money Lenders.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Berkeley Music Festival Coming Next Week!

Neighborhood amenities is one important consideration when purchasing a home. Berkely, and Oakland offer a whole lot to quality of life . For example: Music, Music, Music!!!! Well known names like Ramblin Jack Elliot and David Grisman will be helping the Freight and Salvage open its new digs on Addison Street. Berkeley's own Anna DeLeon will be giving one of her rare performances at her own place, the Jazz Island, on Allston Way. Lesser knwn locals such as my own son's band, Rough Waters, will be playing for free at venues all over the downtown area. In this case Friday Night at the Meridian International Sports Cafe on University. Whatever your musical preferences there is bound to be something for you, Dance, Regae, Jazz, World, Roots, Blues, Rock. And best of all, most of it is free! Opens Wednesday August 26th and runs through Sunday August 29th. There is more information available at www.downtownberkeleymusicfest.org. See you at the Meridian on Friday!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oakland Berkeley real estate trends in rates and inventory

Expect surges in Housing Inventory. With the foreclosure moratorium finally lifted, Notices of Default are up, and Notices of Trustee Sales are WAY up. For example, Notices of Trustee Sales were up over 300% in Contra Costa County in July (compared to last year), and they were up almost 200% in Alameda County. This should result in a sizable increase in the number of listings coming to market this fall.

One more thing:

The New York Federal reserve purchased $20.4B in Mortgage Backed Securities in the latest week bringing the total to approximately $742B since the program began back in January. Home loan rates have stayed historically low during this period in the 4 3/4% to 5 1/2% range. We can't drive home the point enough that rates are going eventually higher - With September upon us, there is only a few months left in the Fed Bond purchase program - hopefully you are seeing the opportunity in rates that may only last just a few more months.

Something else to consider in the not to distant future, while the Fed is scheduled to purchase Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) through the end of the year, they are only purchasing Treasuries through the end of October. The reason the Fed is buying long-term Treasuries is to maintain the spread between the 30-year Treasury and MBS. Once the Fed stops buying Treasuries, their yields should rise...and that would force yields on mortgage rates to move up so they can stay competitive and attractive.

Oakland, Berkeley, Real Estate: Mortgage Rates snap shot

It is important to point out that“positive” economic news, like improving industrial production or improving employment statistics, usually pushes interest rates higher. Positive reports send signals to the market that the economy is improving and that the Fed may back off from its support of the bond market. I want to remind you that when you see positive reports, you can expect interest rates to rise in most cases.

There is one positive report, however, that does not send rates upward, and that is what we received on Friday. Inflation appears to remain under control. CPI (Consumer Price Index) numbers came in on Friday, indicating prices were flat in July. In addition, the CPI has dropped almost 2% over the last year – the most since 1950.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Berkeley, Oakland, Emeryville, Real Estate Statistics--Emeryville

These Real Estate Market Statistics for Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville will be available every month. I'll be posting them as time allows. These particular numbers are for Real Estate in Emeryville (condos only) there were no houses sold in July! There aren't a lot of houses in Emeryville to sell! If you own one you have in your possession a rarity!

-------------------------July 2009-----------------------July 2008
Median days on Market----30-------------------------------62
Median Sold Price---------416,050-------------------------423,795
High price----------------539,000-------------------------925,000
Low price-----------------195,000--------------------------229,000
Number sold-----------------9---------------------------------11

Oakland Real Estate Statistics July 2009

These stats are for the zip code 94609 Temescal North Oakland Area only:
--------------------July 2009----------------------------------July 2008
Days on Market---------20-------------------------------------------16
Median Sold Price------220K----------------------------------------619K
High Price--------------745K----------------------------------------712K
Low Price--------------190K-----------------------------------------135K
Number of solds---------6---------------------------------------------16
Please keep in mind that zip codes overlap neighborhoods and tha these numbers should be looked at more closely by your realtor to get a more accurate snapshop of your neighborhood.

Berkeley Real Estate July Statistics

Hi Everyone!,
I ran these numbers this morning and thought I'd pass them on. This is one of my market areas and I'm super interested in what's going on. In Berkeley the Multiple Listing service is organized by zones rather than by zip codes. These statistics are for zones 07 and 08 which roughly corresponds to zip codes 94702 and 94703

Single detached homes
For the month of July 2009-------------------July 2008
Number sold =----------12-----------------------------9
Median price=---------451K-------------------------490K
High price-------------620K-------------------------855K
Low price--------------265K-------------------------305K
Median Days on Market--14----------------------------16

New Exhibit in Berkeley inspired by Freight and Salvage

Ever walk down Addison Street between Milvia and Shattuck and see the art in the windows? If you are a fan of music there is an exhibit coming that you'll probably want to see and you can see it from the sidewalk. Moved by Tradition, an art exhibition featuring artwork inspired by traditional and folk music is being shown at the Addison Street Windows Gallery from August 25 through September 7, 2009. This exhibition celebrates the newest Addison Street neighbor, the famous Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse. For further information about this exhibition, please call Lisa Manning, 510-548-7603 or lisa@freightandsalvage.org.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dog Friendly Beach! Chicken Ranch Beach!

If you are looking for a dog friendly beach and one that is also family friendly, uncrowded and unmarked, water temperature swimmable, sand bars for the kids and an occaisional skate or ray swimming along the bottom this is the place. Its about 90 minutes from the east bay out Sir Francis Drake Blvd. a hair past Inverness. We were delightfully surprised on Saturday when we found it. But, if you want surf this is not the place. If you're going here for the first time look for cars parked along the road, up the hill on the right, just past Inverness. There is a little pathway through the trees and you're there! If you see the Tomales State Park sign you've gone too far.