San Mateo County Quick Real Estate Update

I am so happy to share that our real estate market is improving – if you didn’t already notice. Enjoy this update.

The numbers show that the market has stabilized in most geographic regions and is about ready for “a long winters nap.” But, something was definitely happening in San Mateo County. Single family home sales were UP from September. Comparatively, single family home sales, inventory and average days on market were fairly stable in other regions. San Mateo County showcased a 28% increase in single family sales rising to 453 in October. Most notable was a 78% increase in sales in the $3-5 million price range and a 61% increase in sales in the $1.2-1.4 million range.

Single family inventory remains substantially lower than the same period from a year ago, but there is increasing progress in closing the gap. Compared to October 2012, there is a significant increase for single family median prices in all counties. Single family sales are still coming under pressure compared to October 2012. Median prices increased in San Benito County by 45%, Monterey County by 31%, Santa Cruz County by 29%, and both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties by 12%.

I read this article at: http://www.mlslistings.com/NewsRoom/market-data-reports/current-month?utm_source=MLSListings+Real+Estate+%26+Housing+Update+-+October+2013&utm_campaign=October+2013+Market+Indicators&utm_medium=email

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors
Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

ARE DINING ROOMS DEAD? 5 BETTER WAYS TO USE THAT SPACE – by Brightnest

Have you checked out Brightnest?  Of course I have – being a home addict and a Realtor.  I’ve really enjoyed playing with the app and reading the newsletters.  When this article popped into my inbox – I was intrigued!  Be rid of the dinning room?!  What?  But then I thought about it, and how much lives have changed.  It may not work for everyone – but I was an interesting ready – enjoy!

ARE DINING ROOMS DEAD? 5 BETTER WAYS TO USE THAT SPACE

How many times did your family use your dining room last year? If you can count the meals at the table on one hand, then you may want to consider repurposing that room. It can be hard to let go of the dining-room dream, but let’s be realistic. A room that only gets used during holidays isn’t worth keeping.

If you’re willing to break out of the traditional dining-room mold, the possibilities can go a lot further than three-course meals and dress shoes. Here are five ways to get more from your dining room.

Convert it into a home office. Picture your large dining room table. Now picture that same dining room table with one chair. Boom! You now have the home office you’ve always wanted. Let your china cabinet double as office supplies storage and use this space as an office for 360 days a year. For the 5 days that you host large dinners, simply clear off your office supplies and add the extra chairs back to the table!

Keep it as the party room. If you love entertaining people but hate the idea of hosting a formal dinner, turn your dining room into hang-out central. Replace your dining room table with a pool table and install a bar along one wall for finger food and cocktails. The dining room will quickly become the most popular room in the house!

Make it a morning cafe. Instead of squandering every square inch of the room with an oak table that sits eight, place a couple small, café style tables in the room. Small tables are more inviting when you’re enjoying a cup of coffee, reading the paper or even opening the mail. Plus, smaller tables are easy to move around and join together (just in case a dinner party of eight does actually happen).

Turn it into a guest room. If your extended family treats your house as their free hotel, consider installing a Murphy bed in your dining room. Most of the time it will simply look like a shelf and you can use the room for whatever your heart desires. Then, when guests arrive, it instantly turns into an impromptu guest bedroom.

Make it playtime central. If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and love the idea of your kids playing close by, then turn your dining room into their playroom. Ditch the fancy table and replace it with a craft table and add toy bins or book shelves. We also recommend adding a comfy rug for optimal toy enjoyment.

What do you think?  Please share your thoughts by email or comment – thank you!  -Sabrina

I read this article at: https://brightnest.com/posts/are-dining-rooms-dead-5-better-ways-to-use-that-space

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

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Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Feng Shui and Real Estate

I have to say – Real Estate introduced me to the art of Feng Shui 10 years ago.  I was walking through a home that didn’t feel right.  My client mentioned it had bad Feng Shui as she looked out the window to the intersection that was heading straight at them home.  Before she even finished her sentence she was out the door.  I looked Feng Shui right away and have been reading about it ever since.

When we were remodeling our home, I took out my trusted Bagua to choose colors.  When I look at homes I consider the front door, the homes position etc.  I have truly enjoyed learning about Feng Shui.  Enjoy this article I read through the California Association of Realtors.

8 Staging Tips Using Feng ShuiThe ancient Chinese art of feng shui (pronounced “fung shway”) is over 3,000 years old, and has been known to help many REALTORS® sell homes when applied to their listings. This method of arranging inner and outer environments so they consistently support the possibility of all the good things in life encourages health, wealth, great relationships, career, and wisdom – just to name a few. Karen Rauch Carter, author of the bestselling book Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life, works with many REALTORS® who swear by her techniques. Here are a few easy fixes to help prepare your listings for sale the feng shui way.1. Create a happy front door. According to feng shui principles, the easier it is for people to bring opportunities to your front door, the more you’ll have.  Make the walk from the car to the front door a delightful experience. That means no thorny plants nearby, no sidewalk trippers, and no cobwebs to walk through.  Next, add details that draw people to the front door, such as a welcome mat and flowers.  You might even consider painting the front door a shade of red to attract positive energy, especially if it’s positioned in shadow or under an overhang or porch.  Make sure the doorbell and outdoor lights are in good, working order. Clean the door and stoop thoroughly — shine the metal on the knocker, wash any windows — make it the prettiest front door on the block!

2. Fix the leaks. This is, of course, basic common sense, but in feng shui leaking water is equivalent to leaking money. When a leak is fixed, the money stays, and you may just end up selling the home at a higher price.

3. For every room, a true function. When buyers see a treadmill in the bedroom, a computer on the kitchen counter, or a bike in the hallway, it may appear that the house doesn’t seem to have enough room for all the necessary functions. When staging a home, make sure every object in the room matches the room’s function.

4. Manage outdoor plants. Plants, especially dead ones, can block positive energy when physically touching the outside of the house.  When the limbs of a tree are in direct contact, they may even transfer negative energy into the home. Remove worry and excess debris, and the house may sell faster.

5. Place furniture in a commanding position. This means different things for different rooms, but the feng shui basic premise is that furniture should be arranged so the back and head are protected. Don’t have your back to a door or window when you’re on a couch, chair, or bed, and avoid directly facing a wall, especially when sitting at your desk.

6. Keep the energy flowing.  Doors and windows are the entry points for energy to enter or escape, so make sure all are in good working order to encourage positive energy flow.  All doors (including closets) should open freely with nothing blocking their way.  Windows should be easy to open – make sure none are painted or nailed shut. If they’re stuck, you might get stuck with a listing that’s hard to sell.  If possible, open curtains and blinds before a showing to invite energy into the home.

7. Let the buyer find the view. When a home is designed to give you that big WOW view upon entering the front door, consider creating a bold, dramatic design statement to compete for that attention somewhere inside the home. This may seem counter-intuitive, but if buyers are immediately drawn outside, that means nothing inside is holding their attention. The more you can keep attention INSIDE the house before the eyes slip outside, the better energy and “greater likeability” you are creating.

8. Employ the power of red. Homes lacking a fire element may be more difficult to sell. This problem can be addressed with a quick fix of adding red or hot orange colors where appropriate.  Place a vase of red flowers on the counter, or toss a few red throw pillows on the couch or bed if the décor allows. A bowl of red apples is another easy solution. Pointy, triangular shapes are also considered fire elements in feng shui, so consider filling a vase with flowers like birds of paradise. Animal prints can also provide a fire element, as can actual fire, such as candles. Try adding a few splashes of red here and there, and see what it can do for your next listing.

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House

When you buy a fixer-upper house, you can save a ton of money, or get yourself in a financial fix.

1. Decide what you can do yourself

TV remodeling shows make home improvement work look like a snap. In the real world, attempting a difficult remodeling job that you don’t know how to do will take longer than you think and can lead to less-than-professional results that won’t increase the value of your fixer-upper house.

*  Do you really have the skills to do it? Some tasks, like stripping wallpaper and painting, are relatively easy. Others, like electrical work, can be dangerous when done by amateurs.

*  Do you really have the time and desire to do it? Can you take time off work to renovate your fixer-upper house? If not, will you be stressed out by living in a work zone for months while you complete projects on the weekends?

2. Price the cost of repairs and remodeling before you make an offer

*  Get your contractor into the house to do a walk-through, so he can give you a written cost estimate on the tasks he’s going to do.

If you’re doing the work yourself, price the supplies.

Either way, tack on 10% to 20% to cover unforeseen problems that often arise with a fixer-upper house.

3. Check permit costs

Ask local officials if the work you’re going to do requires a permit and how much that permit costs. Doing work without a permit may save money, but it’ll cause problems when you resell your home.

Decide if you want to get the permits yourself or have the contractor arrange for them. Getting permits can be time-consuming and frustrating. Inspectors may force you to do additional work, or change the way you want to do a project, before they give you the permit.

Factor the time and aggravation of permits into your plans.

4. Doublecheck pricing on structural work

If your fixer-upper home needs major structural work, hire a structural engineer for $500 to $700 to inspect the home before you put in an offer so you can be confident you’ve uncovered and conservatively budgeted for the full extent of the problems. 

Get written estimates for repairs before you commit to buying a home with structural issues.  Don’t purchase a home that needs major structural work unless:

You’re getting it at a steep discount

You’re sure you’ve uncovered the extent of the problem

You know the problem can be fixed

You have a binding written estimate for the repairs

5. Check the cost of financing

Be sure you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, and repairs without draining your savings. 

If you’re planning to fund the repairs with a home equity or home improvement loan:

*  Get yourself pre-approved for both loans before you make an offer.

*  Make the deal contingent on getting both the purchase money loan and the renovation money loan, so you’re not forced to close the sale when you have no loan to fix the house.

*  Consider the Federal Housing Administration’s Section 203(k) program, which is designed to help homeowners who are purchasing or refinancing a home that needs rehabilitation. The program wraps the purchase/refinance and rehabilitation costs into a single mortgage. To qualify for the loan, the total value of the property must fall within the FHA mortgage limit for your area, as with other FHA loans. A streamlined 203(k) program provides an additional amount for rehabilitation, up to $35,000, on top of an existing mortgage. It’s a simpler process than obtaining the standard 203(k).

6. Calculate your fair purchase offer

Take the fair market value of the property (what it would be worth if it were in good condition and remodeled to current tastes) and subtract the upgrade and repair costs.

For example: Your target fixer-upper house has a 1960s kitchen, metallic wallpaper, shag carpet, and high levels of radon in the basement. 

Your comparison house, in the same subdivision, sold last month for $200,000. That house had a newer kitchen, no wallpaper, was recently re-carpeted, and has a radon mitigation system in its basement.

The cost to remodel the kitchen, remove the wallpaper, carpet the house, and put in a radon mitigation system is $40,000. Your bid for the house should be $160,000.

Ask your real estate agent if it’s a good idea to share your cost estimates with the sellers, to prove your offer is fair.

7. Include inspection contingencies in your offer

Don’t rely on your friends or your contractor to eyeball your fixer-upper house. Hire pros to do common inspections like:

*  Home inspection. This is key in a fixer-upper assessment. The home inspector will uncover hidden issues in need of replacement or repair. You may know you want to replace those 1970s kitchen cabinets, but the home inspector has a meter that will detect the water leak behind them.

*  Radon, mold, lead-based paint

*  Septic and well

*  Pest

Most home inspection contingencies let you go back to the sellers and ask them to do the repairs, or give you cash at closing to pay for the repairs. The seller can also opt to simply back out of the deal, as can you, if the inspection turns up something you don’t want to deal with. 

If that happens, this isn’t the right fixer-upper house for you. Go back to the top of this list and start again.

My words to the wise – if you get outbid – don’t fret – start again.  Each home you take the time to break down and understand the cost of repair – the better prepared you will be when the next opportunity arises.

We bought a condo as our first purchase – and though you mainly own just the paint in – we budgeted $10,000 in repairs only to spend $17,000 in the end.  Hind sight is always 20/20 – but now when we buy our next home, we’ll have the experience under out belt and a better picture of a budget and our limitations. 

By: G. M. Filisko

I read this article at:  http://members.houselogic.com/articles/how-assess-real-cost-fixer-upper-house/preview/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

Roaring Rentals…

When Susan read this article one morning over coffee – I just about dropped my cup. As full time Realtors we are well aware of the hot rental market – having just rented a unit out for a client in under a week. However, when I heard this – even I was surprised. Enjoy this article from the SF Chronicle – I enjoy Carolyn Said.

Rents soaring across region

San Francisco rentals were a different world when Chuck Post became a leasing agent – just four years ago.
“In 2009 we were actually discounting rents, offering things like a free month’s rent when you moved in, perhaps throwing in free parking,” he said.
Those days are long gone.
Now as the economy roars back, his listings draw long lines of wannabe tenants, and apartments get snapped up in less than a week.
Rents in San Francisco are escalating at breakneck clips this year, largely driven by an influx of tech workers. Oakland and San Jose likewise are seeing steep run-ups.
San Francisco’s bigger apartment complexes saw average asking rents break the $3,000 mark in the third quarter, hitting a record $3,096 across all size units, according to data service RealFacts. That’s an 11.9 percent bump from the same time last year.
Median asking rents for San Francisco apartments listed on http://www.livelovely.com clocked in at a record $3,398 in the third quarter, up 21 percent from 2012, said apartment-finding company Lovely.
“Rents are rising faster in San Francisco than almost anywhere else in the country,” said Jed Kolko, chief economist with housing service Trulia. “Rising rents are a bigger challenge than rising home prices, especially in a place like San Francisco where buying is out of reach for many middle-class and lower-middle-class people.”
Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the think-tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research, said the city is facing a “crisis of affordability.”
“What happens when you let a city get this expensive, is that over time, only the wealthy can live there. You lose everyone else,” he said.
A spike in evictions has spurred protests of gentrification, including one at City Hall on Thursday. Activists say San Francisco must act to maintain a diversity of income levels.
The root cause is simple, Metcalf said: “The growing regional economy coupled with decades of under-building housing.”
San Francisco’s construction boom is helping to increase inventory. But to really make a dent on the housing shortage, Metcalf said, the city would need to deliver 5,000 new housing units a year for quite some time. It’s averaged 1,500 units a year over the past 20 years.
New buildings in Mid-Market and the Mission have a two-faceted impact on rents.
They command a pretty penny, driving up the median and average rental costs.
However, some experts said the new buildings are forcing some older units to drop their prices to compete, thus giving prospective tenants some relief.
“There’s a lot of brand-new Mid-Market stuff with nice amenities and high prices competing for the well-paid tech people,” said Laura Gray, a leasing agent with Paragon Real Estate Group. “The not-brand-new units are left struggling a little bit.”
For instance, she’s listing for $2,900 a one-bedroom at a 6-year-old luxury building near AT&T Park and Caltrain.
“A year ago, this would have rented for $3,500,” she said.
Other agents said that there remain plenty of wallflower apartments, either because they’re in undesirable areas or overpriced.
But that’s cold comfort to the folks engaged in the blood sport of apartment hunting in San Francisco.
Rosie Simeonova and Jay Dillon thought they were prepared when they moved here from Los Angeles last month.
“We knew San Francisco would be expensive, so we upped our budget,” she said. “We knew it would be competitive, so we were very prepared with our renter’s resume, employment confirmation, credit reports, pay stubs, anything you could possible ask for.”
They quickly discovered that their $2,500 limit for a one-bedroom near Dillon’s new job at the University of San Francisco didn’t go far.
“We must have seen over 30 places,” Simeonova said. “We’d go to an open house for a little tiny apartment and there’d be 20 people on the stairway frantically filling out applications. The landlords had no leeway for renters; a lot of times they would just offer 15-minute windows to see places. It was intimidating.”
They got more aggressive. When they spotted an Inner Richmond place that seemed to fit their needs, they called the leasing agent and asked to meet before the open house, offering to sign a lease on the spot. That did the trick.
Lovely said that rents for studio apartments rose the most, with the $2,370 median up 24 percent from last year and 16 percent from the second quarter.
For all sizes of apartment complexes, Oakland clocked in at $1,595, a 15 percent increase, while San Jose was at $2,180, up 13 percent from last year, Lovely said.
For buildings with 50 or more units, RealFacts said Oakland’s average rents of $2,124 in the third quarter were up 10.3 percent from 2012, while in San Jose the $2,015 average was a 9.2 percent bump.
By Carolyn Said

I read this article at: http://www.sfgate.com/realestate/article/Rents-soaring-across-region-4924282.php

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522 Office: 650-365-9200

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Check out my photos on Instagram: http://instagram.com/sunshinesabby

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Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:
http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors
Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE#70000218/ 01499008