In just a few years Oakland, San Leandro and other East Bay homes have become affordable to many first time home buyers. The median price of Bay Area homes has continued to drop from $720,000 in the spring of 2007 to the current $295,000 median price of homes sold in Feb 2008.  The majority of these homes have been REOs(bank owned) and short sale (pre- foreclosure) listings but these have also brought down the price of surrounding owner occupied homes as well. Additional changes in lending practices and the $8000 federal tax credit have also stimulated buying in many neighborhoods. Maxwell Park, Laurel, and Dimond neighborhoods have seen plenty of buyers looking to get into these areas.  Some houses are selling for over $200,000 less than they were just…

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Oakland has always a diverse city but never more so than now. There are now three different homes in Oakland listed for $45,000 and less and 3 homes listed for more than $3.5 million. One of the Million dollar listings has breathtaking views of Oakland, San Francisco as well as the $33,000 home in the flat lands, though you might need a telescope to see it.

1504 92nd is a cute 2 bedroom 1 bath bungalow that is listed at $33,000. This same home would sell for 10 times this amount and more in many Oakland neighborhoods but as they say, ' location, location, location". In reading the MLS further, the $33,000 listing price is actually the opening bid at auction later in the month but I will keep you posted for what it actually sells for.

 

Another house on…

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I have received two different, very official looking letters wanting to "help me" with adjusting my county property taxes on my home. One is from the Homeowners Tax Review (HTR) and another from Property Tax Reassessment Co. Both letters try to resemble an official document from the county or state and come in envelopes that mislead.


Because of falling home prices in the last few years, Alameda county and others counties are willing to reassess the assessed value of your home. This can result is a significant savings on the property taxes you pay on your home.


The problem arises when these letters start appearing in my mailbox with headlines like ESTIMATED SAVINGS $438.74 or $1812.50!! That seems great, but the fine print says that they are going to…

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I read an interesting article about former Golden State Warrior Latrell Sprewell suing his old real estate agent in regards to disclosure of water damage at a home he sold in Hayward CA back in 2002.

We all remember Latrell and the talented but troubled Warrior guard who choked his coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice back in 1997. While this was a black eye for both the team and the city, it seems that the Warriors have moved on to field another entertaining team, albeit on out of the playoffs.

Latrell is suing his agent for not disclosing a water damage problem costing Latrell $540,000 in repairs bills when an arbitrator decided in favor of the new owners. He is suing his agent to recover the $540,000. Wow. 

 

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So the auction for the 'perfect' house in Berkeley had some bumps along the way. At the last minute, a termite report was produced which detailed $14,000 to $24,000 in repairs. Personally, I would never trust a report with that much leeway, especially one that came in the day before the auction. The auctioneer had previously assured me that the termite work had been cleared two years ago so this was troubling to me.

Plenty of people showed up in the rain to bid but ultimately the home didn't sell. The reserve was $525,000, which might have been fine if there was no additional work to be preformed, but that termite report was looming. The home is back on the market for $525,000 or best offer. Good luck to the sellers because they have had the hardest time…

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It's not every day that a nice home in the Bay Area is auctioned off. Usually auctioned homes are the dregs of the area, those that no one wanted to buy on the regular market, a cross between a fixer and a teardown. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see such a 'perfect' home in Berkeley ready for auction. The owners had obviously taken care of the home, and had painstakingly addressed every detail. The roof and foundation were new. The floors were freshly sanded and finished. The bathroom had been remodeled and the large kitchen had been tastefully finished. In the well manicured backyard there was a studio trimmed with wood that was used as an office.
So why was the house being auctioned off? The owners had always paid their mortgage, their bank…

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Ok, sometimes showing homes to clients can be unexpectedly fun. Today, I had a great set of clients visiting from out of town, touring some nicer homes in Oakland. At the third house on our tour, I used my lock box to open the front door (after calling ahead to conform) and the alarm begins counting down. I look at my MLS sheet and realize there is no alarm code to turn it off. 

Great!

Then, as I'm standing there wondering how loud the alarm will be when it goes off, the dog runs out the door and takes off up the street. Panicked, my clients and I chase the dog up the street into a neighbor's yard when the dog decides to hide in the bushes. After 5 mins. of coaxing him out of the bushes with some steak supplied by the neighbor, the dog then runs back…

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One of the undiscovered gems of Oakland is the Union Point park near the Park St. bridge leading to Alameda. Formally a vacant, weed covered lot the area has been transformed into a waterfront park including a Children's play area with a Sailing ship climbing structure, a Bridge to nowhere, a semi-circular pier / art installation and its centerpiece, a bougainvillea covered spiral hill in the middle. On weekends the park is a great place for picnics and gatherings right next to the water. There are BBQ grills and plenty of open space for throwing a Frisbee or football. From the top of the hill you are treated to a beautiful view down the Oakland estuary, with the barges, fishing boats and ships of the adjacent Coast Guard Island. Studded with artwork,…

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I just read an interesting article on the state of home sales in parts of Oakland.  Low priced ($200,000 and less) homes are becoming very attractive to investors. They can buy a home, rent it out, and still have positive cash flow because of the strong rental market. Many investors are coming in with all-cash offers for a smooth transaction with the bank.

The median price of a home in Oakland is now $330,000 which is roughly half of what it was only 18 months ago. What is driving homes sales up and prices down is the amount of REOs (bank-owned) and short-sales being sold. 50% of homes sales last month involved foreclosed homes, but foreclosures only represented 14% in Dec. 2007.

Banks are also starting to list their homes low and let the market…

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While on my way to meet a friend at the new Alameda Theater I was reflecting on the diversity of retail opportunities on the 3 short blocks of the central Park Street shopping area.  After the movie, we wandered down to Tomatina for an early dinner.  As we walked, I began to take note of which businesses were on Park St. and I was pleasantly surprised.Starting at Lincoln and Park Street, and continuing down just 3 short blocks to Encinal, a shopper can find two antique stores, a large bookstore, four children’s stores selling toys and clothing, your standard Peet’s and Starbucks, a coin dealer, two bicycle shops, a store devoted to dogs, a large shoe store,  a handsome high end clothing store, and restaurants too numerous to list, but with food choices…

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