Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some advice to home buyers.

Some advice to home buyers:

There is plenty of advice around, available to new homebuyers, - no shortage of good words, must-do's, encouragements, explanations and training, etc...  I do not mean to be comprehensive in this blog, but I just wanted to say a few things coming to mind, in light of what is going on out there: the current local market, fast-going environment, competitive to the extreme, sometimes ruthless.

Taking a bit of perspective, I just wanted to throw some ideas out there and remind of some basic main ideas:

  • Home buying doesn’t begin with home searching; it begins with a mortgage pre-approval.  Often, first-time home buyers fear getting pre-approved because they’re
    afraid the lender may tell them they do not qualify for a mortgage or they qualify for a loan smaller than expected.  However, by getting preapproved, buyers will make a financial decision rather than an emotion one.  Also, knowing that they can qualify for a certain loan (depending on the terms of the loan), they will feel more confident in their endeavor, as they will be sure of what they can really buy (in $), as they are looking at homes.
  • Home buyers need to think of a house as a long-term commitment.  If a buyer may have to switch jobs in a year or two and may have to move for the job, they should think twice about buying a house.  Ideally, buyers should picture themselves living in the house for five to seven years.
  • Should a buyer have to move after a few years, following the above train of thoughts, they may want to think in terms of an investment for the long term: a "retirement account" - they could rent out the property.  Just saying it is a possibility for people thinking "long term".  (see this article from the LA Times)
  • Some first-time buyers make the mistake of spending all of their savings on the down
    payment and closing costs, and sometimes borrow on their 401K.  However, it is not good to be left with no savings at all for home repairs and other unexpected expenses.  It could make more sense to get in the market with a smaller property, i.e. a condominium/townhouse, and move up 3 to 5 years later.
  • Should there be a lot of competition for the chosen house, give it your very best. 1/ there will be no regrets should it not pan out, 2/ chances are that in a year or two, you will not remember exactly the price you paid, 3/ there is a cost in searching for too long a time, both psychological and monetary; or I should say there is "savings" in just getting it done earlier rather than later: interest rates can go up, prices can go up, and moving into your new home is much better than looking for it week after week.
As always, thank you so much for reading, and if you like what you read, let your friends know!
Silicon Valley real estate specialist
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Offers over asking price in California.

To keep in perspective:

How many houses sell for over their asking price throughout California, over time?  This may answer your questions on this matter:

Thanks for reading!
Silicon Valley real estate specialist
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates
A place worth noting: Our Brother's Home in MountainView

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

America's Rental Housing

America's Rental Housing.

It is no secret that finding a place to call home in the Bay Area has become a problem, both as a purchase and as a rental.  Rents have gone up very significantly in the past 3 to 4 years, with a steep acceleration as early as mid 2012.  The front page of the San Jose Mercury News today 4/16/14 talks about it and prints: " Region's average asking rent is now $2,043 after three years of double-digit annual growth".

But this is not limited at all to our area. Nationwide, there is a similar problem, as studied and explained in the Rental Housing Report of the Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (Dec. of 2013). In many ways, the situation has to give us pause.

  • Half of US renters pay more than 30% of their income on rent,
  • 19% of  all renters 10 years ago were paying more than ½ their income on rent; they represent 27% now.
  • 31 % of Americans were renting in 2004, they are 35% in 2012.
  • Between 2000 and 2013, median rents nationally (adjusted for inflation) increased by 6%, while the median income of renters dropped by 13%. 
  • The shortfall in the number of units affordable to extremely low-income renters in the U.S. (those earning no more than 30 percent of the area median) more than doubled from 1.9 million in 2001 to 4.9 million in 2011.
Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies Article.
If you want a copy of the SJ Merc. article let me know.

Silicon Valley real estate specialist
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates

non-profit organization worth noting: Partners for New Generations.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Privacy trees...

I recently sold a house for which a row of privacy trees was quite important, as a brand new development of apartments is slated to be built on the back side of the lot.

This “privacy screen” turned out to be quite useful in this case, as it will continue to grow and provide a clear separation between the new buyers’ home and the large complex in the back.

What kind of trees can you use to build such a protection, both from sight and from noise?  I thought that this page from the “” web site was quite informative, as well as their blog.

Do you have any local suggestions for any specific trees that work well here in the Bay Area?

Thanks for reading,


Silicon Valley real estate specialist
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates