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,

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

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 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

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.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Ohlone Dog Park and Doris Richards

The Ohone Dog Park at Hearst and Grant in North Berkeley was the first dog part in the USA. having two dogs myself I often visit this wonderful Berkeley resource. There is an intersting article in the Daily Planet about Doris Richards who died on July 27th and how the Ohlone Dog Park came into being. Here's the link:

Mortgage Rates Data: Rates Dipped This Week

According to the Associated Press the average rate on a 30 year fixed mortgage was 5.22% down from 5.25% last week, and down from 6.54% from last year at this time.

Whether to Refinance or to Pursue a Loan Modification information for Bekerley and Oakland Home Owners

East Bay Neighbor wants you to know about this website: This is an Obama developed website that gives some guidance about how to navigate through the muddy waters of what to do to save your home. This site gives information about loan modification programs and how they differ from refinancing.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Berkeley Real Estate, Oakland Homes for Sale Monthly Stats

JULY ...............................2009.........................2008
Active Listings ..................138........................... 188
Under Contract ..................47............................. 35
Closed Sales .........................38 ............................60
Average Sales Price ........$828,624........... $835,000

Active Listings ................1052 ........................2286
Under Contract .................363 ..........................226
Closed Sales ......................280 ...........................201
Average Sales Price ......$335,000 .............$492,000

While home prices in Berkeley remained strong and virtually unchanged, Home prices in Oakland showed a drop of 32% form last year at this time. It is intersting to note that available home inventory has fallen dramatically and that number of home sales has risen sharply over this same period.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ed Roberts Campus getting closer to opening day

This campus is one fantastic addition to the neighborhood. Think about it...the first of its kind one stop spot for people with disabilities. Because it is located at the Ashby BART station which links to SFO, this center will be accessible to people with disabilities from all over the world! Awesome! will this have an affect on property values in our neighborhood? I think so as more folks who need these services want to live closer to the providers.