We are delighted to announce "We've moved!"
We have re-joined Red Oak Realty!
And we are excited to share our newsletter with you! Take a look~ let us know what you think!
Don't miss the restaurant reviews, that's our favorite part!
'Twas the Week Before Winter
…and it’s not likely that the real estate market will take a long winter’s nap, at least according to 1,300 respondents to a survey conducted by Realtor.com for itsWinter Home Buyer Report.
Among the top reasons these prospective buyers are motivated is their belief that they will have one or more of these advantages: motivated sellers, better prices, and less competition from other buyers. But 24% admitted that they will be looking in the winter because they were unsuccessful in the previous two seasons.
These veteran buyers are not dazzled with visions of sugar plums. They know that they will face some of the same challenges that have frozen them out for over a year: in particular, a continued lack of inventory, either on the market or their price range. October housing data nationwide, as reported by Realtor.com, shows a strong market.
"Instead of the usual seasonal slowdown, October data show the 2013 fall market moving at a fast pace," said Errol Samuelson, president of realtor.com. "Inventory has returned to last year's levels, but prices continue to strengthen and homes are moving significantly faster compared to this time last year."
Locally, demand is even stronger. That same article lists the ten metro areas with the shortest median days on the market. Bay area markets hold the top three positions nationwide, with #1 Oakland beating runner-up San Francisco by 18 days (30 vs 48). The “Oakland MSA” should be read as East Bay, which includes all of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. San Jose was 3rd, and one of California’s most depressed markets, Stockton-Lodi, held the 5th position. Denver was the only area outside of California to make the top five.
Getting back to our off-season buyers, almost a third cited unpleasant winter weather as an obstacle, but keep in mind that this is a national survey. Although our days have grown short and many will be wet, we will not need a snow plow to get to a Sunday open house. Realtors will have booties and throw rugs ready for wet-footed buyers.
With our market still so strong “wait until spring” is not the only option for sellers who are ready to sell. The sounds you hear from above could be roof and chimney inspectors instead of a jolly fellow with a team of reindeer. Buyers will still be out there willing to deck your halls with green, especially the 19% of winter buyers ready to make an all cash purchase.
For buyers wintering over in the market, don’t expect a gift wrapped opportunity, but don’t give up either. Hang your stocking with care and a strong pre-approval letter. You might not be home for these coming holidays but, if you keep at it, St. Valentine’s Day could make a lovely start for you in your new home.
Market Update: November
Over the past month we have seen a decline in new listings but a consistent number of new contracts and sales. This reflects a decline in supply but a consistent level of demand. In market dynamics such as these, you get - as you see in the chart - a decline in sales but an increase in price. In November, sales declined 17% while prices continued to rise, up 36% to a median of $572,500. Additionally, homes sold 3.6% over original list price, further emphasizing our current "seller's market." We expect December to be relatively similar, closing out a year that may very well be an all-time high water mark for prices.
The first week of December in the mortgage marketplace was one of the most action-packed weeks in 2013. The big news was that the economy added 203,000 jobs in November and the national jobless rate dropped to 7.0% from 7.3%. A separate report from the Commerce Department showed personal income unexpectedly fell by 0.1% in October while spending rose by 0.3%, indicating that consumers are dipping into savings to spend. Inflation at the consumer level, as measured by the personal consumption expenditure index, edged up a very modest 0.1%. Rates crept higher in anticipation of the improved economic outlook and continued to climb as the expectations were confirmed. All eyes are now on the FED meeting in mid-December to see if the much anticipated "tapering" of QE3 will begin. If the FED continues to "sit on its hands" and wait until the New Year before exerting any effort to close the tap on their $85 billion per month buying appetite for Treasury debt obligations and agency-eligible mortgage-backed securities, mortgage interest rates will likely trend sideways to perhaps fractionally lower into the end of the year.
If you have any questions about getting preapproved for a purchase loan or about refinancing, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai at Commerce | Mortgage - firstname.lastname@example.org | 510-250-8725
Tips on End-of-Year Taxes
The year of 2013 showed a marked turnaround in the economy, and with it, an increase in the federal tax rate. As Ben Franklin so astutely stated, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." Here are some of the most common ways that you might be able to ease this certainty.
Purchasing a home remains one of the largest tax write-offs you can have. We all know about the mortgage interest deduction, but did you know that you can also write off any points you paid to obtain your mortgage? In addition, local property taxes and personal mortgage insurance are also 100% tax deductible. Just a reminder, you should ALWAYS consult your CPA before utilizing these tax breaks.
Energy efficient upgrades in your home are also a great way to reduce your taxes while increasing the value and efficiency of your home. These savings take the form of a tax credit as opposed to a tax deduction. A credit is simply deducted from your tax liability dollar for dollar. Items such as energy efficient windows, water heaters and furnaces all qualify, as does a new roof!
And speaking of ROOF, donating to the Red Oak Opportunity Foundation (in addition to any 501(c)3 organization like One Warm Coat or the Alameda County Food Bank) is a great way to reduce you tax basis while maximizing the power of your donation. For every dollar you donate to a local charity you save an average of 41% on that dollar, and more importantly, you help to maintain a community that is capable of supporting Bat Kid.
For more information on the home buying process, or for info relating to one of the many deserving non-profits in the East Bay, please drop a line.
Holiday lights are popping up around our East Bay neighborhoods, particularly the unofficial “Christmas Tree Lanes” like Picardy Drive in Oakland and Alameda’s Thompson Avenue. More official displays can be seen at:
Restaurant Review: Marrow
Warning: This place is not for vegetarians! Instead it's all about the (seriously) local grass fed meat and milk fed pork. The concept is simple: The chef brings in one animal at a time and does his best to prepare meals using a variety of techniques that consume the entire animal. It's the perfect storm of sustainable, hyperlocal, low-carbon footprint foodie-ism. And when you throw in the affordability factor, you end up with a slam dunk. The only thing missing is enough seating, but that is made up for with al fresco picnic tables lining the sidewalk. The menu is small but delightful. If you are a first-timer, and have truly come for the marrow, you can't go wrong with "The Deal" – it’ s reminiscent of an In-and-Out burger, except grass fed and gourmet. Marrow - 325 19th Street, Oakland - open for breakfast/lunch only, Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, Sat-Sun 10:30am-2:30pm.