To buy or not to buy? that is the question or should we remodel?

As a Realtor I have the privilege of PRE-viewing a lot of houses and have been given many chances of buying a home before it hit the market (paying fair market value nevertheless) and yet the decision to buy and move out of our current home always resulted in a “stay put” approach.
I live in a small 2 bd, 1 bath home in the St Jerome’s neighborhood.  I love my neighborhood and its proximity to Bart, shops, Solano Avenue, Kensington circle and parks.  It was important when we bought and is still important now.   My husband and I intentionally bought a smaller home closer to our way of life as opposed to a bigger home for our growing family that required the use of a car for any quick shopping trip.  What people would refer to as the European model.  We have made the best use of the space but there comes a time when even that is not possible and the increase in market value in the Bay Area has won over our squeamishness to increase the square footage of our home.

It is a big endeavor to start construction on an addition and remodel.  First you have to go through the hurdle of the building department and every city has its horror story!!!!  The approval of my permits took 3 months because the dept was overbooked apparently!

After a quick demolition of the deck and a week of digging up the perimeter of the foundation and building the steel framing for the foundation stage 2 started with the pouring of the foundation and today a truck delivered this huge load of beams and plywood.  Besides the noise that must drive all the neighbors crazy it is so exciting to see how a house is built.  I was expecting as much but seeing it in progress is quite amazing i admit.

Soon i will be in need of  a temporary place while the addition/remodel moves indoor and kitchen gets a facelift, walls are moved etc…. That phase does not appeal to me much as the dust will surely be everywhere when it is all done but that is part of the process and i signed up for that so i will deal with it the best i can… In any event i am in search and need of a short term rental for a 1 month and that is the least fun part in the Bay Area!!!!!  But going through this makes me a better Realtor, gives me a better understanding of what my clients have to go through and the stress it causes.

To all of the home buyers and those looking at rentals out there my hat is off to you.


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New listing in El Cerrito

Welcome to my lastest listing in El Cerrito.  I am really happy to live in such a great city and happy to be an active realtor and community member in that city as well.

Bright and sunny 3 bedroom/2 bath home in the heart of Mira Vista neighborhood.  Remodeled kitchen and baths.  Huge living room with bay windows and views of Mt Tam, wood-burning fireplace, refinished hardwood floors. Dual pane windows throughout.  Nice level backyard with patio and fruit trees (Olive, Meyer lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange).  Listed for $725,000.

Please call me at 510-813-0970 or email me with any questions or for a private showing.

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When is the best time to sell??

I get this question a lot and the answer varies.  Spring time is always very busy with sales but so is September though a few years back it was quite dismal.  Agents will tell you that December is the worst time or throughout the holidays and historically it is true as less buyers are in the market and the California weather is not optimal (a little bit of rain scares people off the street).  However despite all these options the best time to sell depends on the sellers’ time frame, timing and pricing and their LIVES.  Sometimes the best time to sell is when it will cause the least amount of stress to my sellers.  I spoke with clients who were stressing out and rushing to put their house on the market to catch the “good” buyers but eventually they agreed to slow down, breathe and let the market speak. It paid off big times in their marital life and even in the sales price.  Life happens and family is a priority and the real buyers will be there no matter what for their perfect house, be it in June or December.

I would however be a lot more inclined to wait after Graduation time from now on after finding out firsthand this year that most buyers are not in the market for about 3 weeks but busy with graduation and end of school activities.  It worked out for my clients who ended up renting their home at a very good price but still it was stressful for them and for me.

For other opinions read this article from the San Francisco Chronicle:

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1408 Alcatraz Avenue, Berkeley CA

The summer market is still active.  This  beautiful Alcatraz remodel listing received 2 excellent offers and is now pending.  Attendance was slower during the open houses and brokers’ tour but a few buyers were still interested.  I am seeing a few price reductions throughout the Bay Area and I have experienced a great listing not selling at in El Cerrito.  August is usually slower than July so September should be an interesting month…

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Is there a shift in the market?

In the last few weeks the market seems to have shifted a little.  Some houses are selling fast and others are stagnating.  It varies on the neighborhood and the condition of the house but there is no clear pattern.  A house that needs some work will languish more than a move-in ready home… This has changed from before when buyers would snatch anything that came onto the market.  That said a house on MLK in Berkeley had 4 offers all way over its asking price of $699,000 and it needed a brand new foundation and a kitchen.  On the other hand my super cute listing at 1617 McGee is not selling…It is listed for less money at $649,000 with the same amount of bedrooms and less foundation work.

My other listing in Pinole at 2440 Ramona has been shown many times with no offers either… It is a spacious 4 bedroom/2 bath home surrounded by well maintained homes in the heart of Pinole Valley which is selling like hot cakes. The layout which worked great for my clients is holding buyers back now.

Let’s hope that my latest listing in El Cerrito at sells generously and revives the other 2 houses.

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New listing in the heart of Berkeley

1617 McGee, Berkeley CA 94703

Elegant 1907 Folk Victorian home full of Old World charm.  Details include 10-ft ceilings, hardwood floors, bathroom with clawfoot tub and secret stairs to a full basement.  Conveniently located within walking distance to the North Berkeley Bart, the Gourmet Ghetto, and Totland Playground.

Dining room with corner fireplace

Updated kitchen with walk-in pantry

Hardwood floors and dual-pane windows

Seismic retrofit done in 1996

Office area at the rear of the house overlooking backyard

Deck wrapped in wisteria vines and landscaped backyard with fire pit area and veggie beds.

Listed for $649,000

1front2 2entrance 2entrance1 3livingroom 3livingsofa 3window 4dining 4diningfireplace 4diningtable 4kit 4kitchen 4kitchenisland2 4kitchenisland3 5bedroombetter 5br2 5br4 6bathroomtoilette 8stairs 9yardbest 9yarddeck 9yardpanorama 9yardway

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Tired of competing in the East Bay Real Estate market?? Then come take a look at 2440 Ramona Street, Pinole CA

In the heart of Pinole Valley experience the old-world charm of this 1956 Ranch-style home. With 4 bedrooms including one enormous one (with access via sliding glass doors to both the covered patio and the backyard) that could be used as a family room and 2 bathrooms, this home offers all the comfort you can expect.  2 fireplaces, cozy kitchen with adjacent dining area. Large 2-car garage with interior access.  Refinished hardwood floors and newer laminate flooring.  Landscaped and private backyard with flowers, lawn, lemon tree and rosemary bush.

Listed for $449,000

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