Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Waiting for the Superbowl

Today's Broker's Tour was very small. The feeling in my office is that agents are waiting until after Superbowl weekend to bring their properties onto the market. The logic being that no one will be looking at open homes on Superbowl Sunday.
I have always found Superbowl Sunday to be a very productive day for open houses, and those buyers who are out looking at homes on that day, are very serious about finding a new place to live. We Realtors are really good at coming up with theories.
One home that was on tour today, and stood out above the others was 31 Idaho out at Point Richmond. For all of you who have not been out to Point Richmond, along 580 on your way to the Richmond Bridge, it is a wonderful hidden village full of great little cafes and shops right by the water. 31 Idaho is a charming 1908 California Bungalow with tons of updates, and all the storage you will ever need in the attic and the basement. The detached garage was converted to a little studio with a half bath. The home is within walking distance to downtown Point Richmond, and it offers a great little retreat, not too far away, and not too close. Worth a look!

All Mixed Up

The NAR (National Association of Realtors) continues to take a rose colored view of the Real Estate Market, despite what the numbers are telling them. They have called 2006 the third best year for Real Estate, after 2005 and 2004. This despite the fact that sales for December 2006 dropped almost 8% when compared to December 2005. This is all of course based on National statistics, not local.
Locally, for 2006, we did see a rise in value of 3.6% over 2005, but I think there can be no denying, even to the most casual observer, that home values in Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond have taken a step back. I definitely had buyers who were able to get a lot more house than they could have gotten in 2005 for the same amount of money. I really don't know what to attribute the statistical rise in value, however modest, to the values in 2005.
I do continue to believe that Buyers will be more in the driver's seat this year, and now, more than ever, there are going to be great values to be had.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Thursday Broker's Tour

I continue to be amazed at how fast homes are coming on the market this year. With January being one of the slower months for real estate, and the slowing of the market in general, I am still seeing, each Monday and Thursday, more and more homes taking an early leap onto the market.
One property that stood out amongst all the rest today was a huge home at 785 Kingston in Oakland near Piedmont Avenue. The home is a grand old place sitting on a wonderful lot with mature trees. The home itself boasts over 3000 square feet, and this does not even include a massive attic space and basement. It also has a well thought in-law that was carved out of the first floor. This home is a fixer, needing a new roof, foundation work and general updating, but it is priced with this in mind, $895,000.
It has great bones, as we agents say, and is well worth the investment to bring it into the 21st century. It is in good enough shape to live in while the work is being done, and you would definitely be living in style.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Interest Rates Edging Up

For the week ending January 18th, long term interest rates have edged up again, this according to Freddie Mac. Though the increase is only slight, it does represent the highest rate since November.
Still, when you look at the numbers, the rise is a minimal one. 6.23% for a 30 year fixed loan versus 6.21% for the previous week. This does represent a 13 basis point rise over last year at this time.
For a definition of basis point, click here.

Monday, January 22, 2007

My Sunday Open House

Yesterday I held a colleagues listing on 75th in East Oakland Open. There seems to be a lot more activity on the market than I was expecting for January. While not a flood of new homes, I saw about a dozen homes open in the area of my open house, as well as many more new listings on the Monday and Thursday Broker's tour.
I had originally expected that most people would be holding back for the much more active market in the Spring, but I think I am going to have to reevaluate my opinion. Each new week of 2007 there are more homes on the market, and not just the ordinary 2 bedroom homes, but also the larger, higher end properties.
There may not be any waiting until March for the smart buyer. Sellers are coming out early.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Best Burger in Berkeley

I have found the best burger in Berkeley, and a wonderful little café for breakfast and lunch. It is called 900 Grayson, right at the corner of Grayson and 7th Street. It used to be just another greasy spoon in the industrial area of Berkeley. It was bought and revamped and it has become a stylish café offering homey food with a modern twist. The hamburger comes stacked with little onion rings and bacon. It is the beefiest tasting burger I have had in a long time.They also make a fantastic Cobb Salad. Check them out

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Thursday Broker's Tour

It's Thursday, and another Broker's tour has come and gone. Things are just starting to wake up on the market. While the volume is still low, the larger more expensive homes are starting to come out, and as all listing agents know, the real way to a Realtors heart is through the stomach. Thursday Tour always has a lot of food at each stop.

If you read the buzz from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and their economists, you will hear that the market will start moving upwards come the Spring. I am a little less sanguine about our local market. Most Industry analysis seems to take the position of the listing agent and the seller, and they are telling the seller's that come mid-year, there will be a stiffening of the market, and perhaps even an upward swing in prices.

I feel that sellers will be lucky if things just remain even for the rest of the year, and they should really look for a 2% to 5% decrease in value, with the hopes for a leveling in the market in 2008. Most economists point towards a rise in interest rates to 6.5% to 6.8% for a 30 year fixed loan by the end of the year.

I know I keep harping on this, but 2007 is going to be a great year for buyers.

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Monday, January 8, 2007

Monday's Broker Tour

Today was the Broker's Tour for most of Oakland. There is still not alot of new listings coming onto the market, but I think in the next 2 months there will be an onslaught of new home listings.
With the market being what it is, listing agents are being careful to bring homes onto the market with as much advantage as they can give them. This means that most listings will be staged and painted, and many of the repairs will be done and all the reports will be available.
Timing a sale to get maximum effect is part of the stratagy, and a March introduction of a new property when more buyers are traditionally out looking is part of that.

Most observers, me included, think that the market has corrected for the most part, and that now we are in a leveling off period. Part of this is because towards the end of 2006, buyers started to become active again. They saw that home prices had dropped, and interest rates were about as low as they were going to get. This put a little squeeze on the market that leveled home values out at the end of the year.
This does not mean a return to the over-heated market we have known in the Bey Area. It means just another factor that is returning us to a more sane, and even market.

I still see 2007 as a great year for those looking to buy Real Estate.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Tacos Instead of Real Estate

Thurday is a Broker's Tour day. The day we go out to look at what is new on the Real Estate market. It's still early, and there is not much to see. Certainly not anything to write about.
During these blustery Winter days I cannot help but day dreaming of what I want to do when the weather turns warm again.
The New York Times Online ran a wonderful article about finding the perfect Taco on the road from Santa Barbara to San Francisco. Mix this with a few choice stops for the beaches, and I think you have a fantastic, easy Summer getaway.
Here is the article for your winter day dreaming.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Let's Get Started

A new year has begun, and traditionally this is a slow time for Real Estate. But, I have found that it is not wise to treat this time as vacation time.
At the end of December and continuing on to the first week of January is the best time to organize the year.
You can get a feel for how the Real Estate market is going to progress, and you can set your plan A for the year, but always remember, be prepared to act on plan B at any time.
I think the year is going to see continued retrenching in the value of Real Esate. Last year we saw a 2% gain in value, but I think that was just some of the left over momentum in the market from the previous over heated years. This year there should be the begining of an actual decrease in Real Esate Values reflected in the quarterly surveys.
As I said in my last entry. My final clients of 2006 got much more house than I think they could have gotten in 2005 for the price.
Interest rates remain relitively low, so I think 2007 is on track to be an excellent year for anyone who wants to buy property.