Seasonal Shifts: Normal…and Crazy-Making!

by arlene on July 27, 2017

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

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It’s easy to forget that in fact every year, even during very active markets, real estate experiences seasonality. There is a significant difference in behavior between the early spring with its characteristic very low inventory, and the summer, when generally buyers have more choices, and more fatigue. You would think that as agents we would become immune to these shifts in behavior. But no, as we experience our annual summer slow-down, some amount of worrying sets in. Could this be the beginning of a real market change? Did we hit the top of the market and are beginning some decline? Probably not; I wrote about almost the same topic last year in this newsletter, and probably have for many summers. What we know is this: the basic economic factors of limited supply and high demand are still in play. And unless there’s a significant and long-term negative economic event, the wiggling we experience in the summer months is probably normal.

Make no mistake: it’s still unnerving, especially for sellers! Last month I had a lovely, updated condo in the hottest location possible: Rockridge. A combination of Fathers’ Day, a heat wave, and the Warriors’ Parade converged, and during the time that terrific condo was on the market it felt like a shift was occurring. Open houses were mostly sparsely attended, and I was hearing about the same situation at other properties. I did extra advertising, and fretted. I’m pleased to say that we received three offers, and the result was excellent and my seller is delighted. Listed at $705,000, it just closed at $803,000. Will I, and other agents, remember next year at this time that some summer sluggishness is normal? Check-in next year!



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New for 2017: CA Law for Low Use Water Fixtures

by arlene on January 11, 2017

California now leads the nation with standards that could save over 10 billion gallons of water in the first year and eventually over 100 billion gallons of water per year according to the California Energy Commission.

Effective January 1, 2017, new water conservation regulations Screenshot 2017-01-11 20.16.39took effect for interior water fixtures in almost all single family residential properties. Here’s what you need to know:

Background: In 1992, the California Legislature passed SB–1224. This senate bill imposed water conservation standards on all toilets and urinals installed in all single family residential homes, multi–family residential properties, and commercial properties. Subsequently in 2009, with California’s on–going drought, the Legislature passed SB–407, extending the toilet and urinal standards to all properties and further added shower and faucet standards. Those standards are:

  • Toilets – no more than 1.6 gal/flush
  • Urinals – no more than 1.0 gal/flush
  • Showers – no more than 2.5 gal/min
  • Internal Faucets – no more than 2.2 gal/min

Compliance Deadlines: The lawmakers appreciated that complying with these standards could cause some economic hardship if retrofit was immediately required, so a schedule of compliance was established:

    • By January 1, 2017, all single family residences must be in compliance; and
    • By January 1, 2019, all multi–family and commercial properties must be in compliance.

In addition, if any such properties were being substantially improved or refinanced prior to the compliance deadline, compliance must occur at the time of improvement or refinance.

Disclosure Obligations: The law requires that any Seller must disclose to any Buyer whether or not the property is compliant with the water conservation law. This is, in part, already referenced in a key disclosure form,  the California Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement (“TDS”) and non–compliance would have to be disclosed on the Seller Property Questionnaire (“SPQ”). While the law does not impose this disclosure obligation on real estate agents, the prudent agent should inquire whether or not a property is in compliance since it is possible that a Seller might not be aware of the law.

Non–Compliance Penalties: Currently, there are no state–wide monetary sanctions set forth in the law for non–compliance. However, local governments and water agencies have the authority to impose additional regulations which could include non–compliance penalties. Further, non–disclosing Sellers would reasonably be liable to Buyers for the costs of compliance. It will be interesting to see whether effective means of compliance will emerge.

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After the Election: Emotional and Economic reactions in the Real Estate Market

December 8, 2016

Last Saturday I enjoyed being a guest on Protect Your Assets, a radio show on KNBR 680 AM. The host, David Hollander, is my financial advisor and producer of the show that airs each Saturday morning from 8 – 9 am. This was my third appearance on the show, and still I was amazed at […]

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The East Bay Autumn Market: Does it become more vibrant like the leaves, or cool with the weather?

October 24, 2016

  I love this time of year, with the transition to autumn and the turning of colors. And I’m one who really looks forward to celebrating Halloween. I suspect there will be some especially scary politician costumes this Halloween–or are they out there already?! I want to share a bit of  what it looks like behind-the-scenes as […]

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Berkeley Mid-Century Modern

June 19, 2016

It’s my pleasure to be representing 183 Fairlawn Drive. This Chalet-style home with its clean lines and inviting interior offers a peaceful retreat in the hills. And yet you are close to all of the wonderful amenities of Berkeley: its great neighborhoods, Lawrence Hall of Science, LBL, the UC Campus and Tilden Park. A bus stop is […]

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Behind the Scenes: the Real Value I Bring as a Realtor

May 16, 2016

I’m always fascinated to hear what people assume it’s like to be a Realtor. These past couple of weeks I’ve had several “back story” situations that I think would surprise most consumers about what are our most key duties, and how much difference an agent makes in the outcome of a deal. And so gentle […]

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800 Shattuck — The Pratt-Thomas House

April 3, 2016

The Pratt-Thomas House at 800 Shattuck Avenue is available for the first time in almost 50 years. The first of three neighboring homes designed by John Hudson Thomas for John Pratt in 1911, this is where Thomas himself lived for several years after its completion. This may be one of the most photographed homes in […]

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Sometime just asking the question can hurt you–Changes in the Insurance Industry

April 1, 2016

After the spring rains came additional things falling: trees. This is a good time to re-evaluate your insurance, and be sure that you know what would be your coverage in case a tree fell either on your property, or one of your trees fell on your neighbor.  Do you have a deductible that is so high […]

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The 2016 East Bay Real Estate Market Opens with Few Options, Lots of Cash

February 15, 2016

  It feels like spring, and daffodils, those harbingers of our new real estate market, are in bloom all around the East Bay. I know lots of properties are being prepared to come on the market, but right now the available homes are very scarce indeed. In all of Berkeley, in a $400K range of prices […]

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Autumn Market Starts with Record High Prices

September 28, 2015

The Autumn market has just begun amidst the highest median home prices ever in the East Bay. Berkeley has crested over $1M, Albany and Alameda both around $900K, and El Cerrito, is now $775K. My colleagues at Red Oak got some good air time on KPIX last week, showing the summary of our market: –1/3 […]

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