Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Ode to February

Goodbye February, Hello Mayor!

1. Unbelievable. Did you know that some 14 percent of all Americans have more than 10 credit cards? This according to a recent study conducted by Experian Consumer Direct, a leading provider of online direct-to-consumer credit reports, scores and monitoring products. When will all of this crash the economy?

2. Phew! Mortgage rates eased back down as the month draws to a close. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.22 percent for the week ending Feb. 22, down from the previous week when it averaged 6.3 percent. Last year at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 6.26 percent. Hip hip hooray! Lock in this low rate today!

3. Multiple what? We are seeing moderate activity throughout most areas of the East Bay. This past week alone I have seen multiple offers on homes, including one in Oakland and one in El Cerrito. In Berkeley, more units have gone pending in the past week than we have seen in the past few months.

4. Bubbles are for baths. The media still hasn't determined whether or not there is a bubble- they are at war with themselves.

5. JetBlue- who? sent out personal emails, went on local talk shows, and even posted a video on YouTube apologizing for their "miscommunication" flaws following the recent irreverent weather conditions on the East Coast. Gee, thanks.

6. More goo. www.gootube.net, an online real estate video portal, complete with the google mapping system, is released.

7. Go orange! The American Institute of Architects' 150th anniversary celebration included our very own Golden Gate Bridge as one of the top 150 architectural gems.

8. Senator Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy for president and took the stage in presidential real estate politics. Sen. Clinton will co-sponsor a bill which will bar banks from real estate brokerages. Woah, Nelly! Could someone in politics actually be in favor of Realtors and consumer concerns?

9. Unzip the zillows. Zillow. com is under scrutiny once-again. There is a new phrase attached to Zillow- "unzillowable." If something is unzillowable, it is unable to be valued by the popular website zillow.com. Items which determine value include noise, traffic, views, paint, and the neighbor's dog. Wouldn't it therefore be plausible to say that no property can obtain an accurate "zestimate" from Zillow?

And finally, #10. It isn't real estate related, but it is definately noteworthy.

10. Gavin Newsom...need I say more?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chicken and Waffles?

Many of you who know me know that I love food! If you are looking for a taste of retro East Oakland, look no further.

Today I had lunch with some clients at Merritt Bakery in Oakland. I have had their cakes, but never actually sat down at the restaurant.

The hostess, who called me "hon," immediately looked at us and with a wink and a smile, said "Feel free to sit wherever!"

We went towards the back. The menu offers a large variety of typical diner food: Fried Chicken (I think there were 4 peices) complete with corn, potatoes, and a salad. Or how about the HUGE Club sandwich with enough meat to feed a family of four.

But that isn't what people come here for. It's the house fav: Chicken "n" Waffles.

It comes with 2 pieces of mouth-watering fried chicken and an enormous waffle- all piled on top of each other- and a bottle of syrup on the side. Who can resist this?

Committed to their neighborhood, this downhome diner is a part of Oakland not to be missed. The next time you are taking a walk around the lake, stop by for a piece of pie.

Merritt Bakery
203 E. 18th. St. (at 2nd Ave & 3rd Ave)
Oakland, CA 94606
(510) 444-6955

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HESA Do's and Dont's For Agents and Brokers

It's all over the news: foreclosures are on a rise throughout the state. A foreclosure is started with a lender records a Notice of Default, or NOD, against a property. Agents and brokers beware--if a NOD has been recorded against the property you must adhere to the Home Equity Sales Act.

In order for HESA to apply, there are four conditions that need to be met:

1. Residential property (1-4 units)
2. Owner occupies one unit
3. Notice of default recorded
4. Buyer does not intend to occupy

Items to note:

1. The seller must be given notice that he/she has a statutory five day right to cancel the purchase agreement.
2. No agent can represent a buyer in such a sale without securing a bond - which is not currently available.

What to do:

1. Ask that the title company provide a Property Profile and have them include any recorded NOD's.
2. Highlight any recorded NOD's on the Preliminary Title Report
3. On a regular basis, check for newly recorded NOD's

With foreclosures on the rise, I think it is important that all consumers, not just agents and brokers, know about this. Buyers and Sellers alike need to understand that if all four of the above conditions have been met, an agent cannot represent you in this sale.