What’s going on with the Housing Market?

Without further ado, here it is: We think the Housing Market is doing just fine. And we’re not just blowing smoke either to try and trick you into buying or selling real estate.

Sure, we’ve seen some of the same news reports and articles that you have saying that affordability is an issue or that prices are reaching “bubble” values. Or that sales have finally slowed down and that’s that…  Let’s take a quick look at each of these:

Affordability is an issue: According to the The Street in their article Why the U.S. Housing Market is Good – And Getting Even Better, “Interest rates are now so low that a family can buy the median-priced U.S. home on income about $11,000 less than the median household income. And half the houses are cheaper than that.”

Prices are reaching “bubble” values: We turn to our partners over at Keeping Current Matters who put it this way in their article Home Values: DEFINITELY NOT in Bubble Range!!, “Had the bubble and crash (of 2008) not occurred and instead we just had normal annual appreciation over this period, prices would actually be greater than they are today.” KCM illustrates it really well in this graph with data supplied by the National Association of Realtors:

No Bubble

Sales have slowed down: Not really, according to Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Realtor.Com, “Sales typically peak in June or July, but this year might turn out to be an exception. With low mortgage rates, continued evidence of strong demand, and an increasing number of both buyers and sellers just starting to explore, we could have an extended peak.”

Finally, what about Investors? Well, here is one last article worth checking out from Jeff Reeves at Marketwatch, and the title pretty much says it all… This is the Best Time in History to Invest in Real Estate or Why the Market isn’t Headed for Another Bubble“And given that so many traditional asset classes are facing headwinds, it’s worth taking a serious look at real estate both as a way to find new opportunities and to hedge your bets in a challenging market.”

Bottom Line: With low, low interest rates and room for prices to grow with normal historic appreciation of 3-5%, this is STILL a great market to Buy, Sell or Invest. Give Carol a call to have a no obligation conversation about what makes sense for your particular situation.



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San Ramon Valley Schools some of the Best in the Nation… Again!

It is no secret that the outstanding San Ramon Valley Unified School District is one of the best in the nation and a major draw to live in the area. In fact, for families with school age kids it may be one of the top criteria for moving to the area. It’s not hard to sell this school district – potential buyers already have done their research and know exactly which are the best schools!

newsweek-america-best-high-schoolsNewsweek does an annual school ranking, along with other news media and information websites, and San Ramon Valley schools again ranked high. California High School was ranked Number 120 in the nation followed closely by Monte Vista High at Number 121.

None of these rankings are perfect though, because of the differing criteria, sources of information, and whether the school even makes the data available to the analytics companies.

This shows with Newsweek’s omission of Dougherty Valley High School, actually the highest ranking high school in the San Ramon Valley USD. We’re not sure why they were not included in Newsweek’s study, but we’re certain they would have cracked the top 100 in the nation had they been.

All of the rankings can be found here>>>

Interested in specific school scores? Reach out to your Realtor as we normally have this information at our fingertips for our buyers. At least a great agent will! And, yes, I have the schools scores if you need them…

Posted in Danville, Homebuying, homeownership, Housing Trends, San Ramon, San Ramon Valley, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where are Mortgage Rates after Brexit?

As you may know, Britain voted recently to leave the European Union – this was coined Brexit – which caused immediate instability to the world’s financial markets. The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership of 28 European countries that was formed after the end of World War Two. The idea was that countries that traded together were less likely to go to war again against each other. It has its own currency – the euro – which is currently used by 18 of those countries.


Helping to settle down the markets, Britain and the EU are working on an exit strategy that will last from two to seven years depending on what they end up agreeing upon. Of course the housing and mortgage markets were going to be impacted by this event, and there was great concern over what would happen with mortgage rates and how that would impact the housing market. When there is uncertainty outside of the US, investors move to safer investments – US mortgage-backed securities being seen as one of them. A higher interest in US mortgage backed securities usually results in lower mortgage rates.

So after one month, what exactly has been the impact on mortgage rates?

As reported by our good friends over at Keeping Current Matters, “initially, rates did fall. However, Freddie Mac has reported that rates have stabilized and have actually increased marginally each of the last two weeks. This prompted Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Beckett to say:

“Post-Brexit volatility tapered off over the last two weeks, allowing interest rates to bounce back a bit from their near-record 30-year mortgage rate lows.”

And, Capital Economics Property Economist Matthew Pointon believes rates will continue to increase:

“Given we expect Brexit will have a minimal impact on the U.S. economy, we see no reason to change our forecast for mortgage rates to reach 3.85% by the end of this year, and 5.0% by the middle of 2018.”

We will continue to follow the effect of Brexit on the U.S. housing market. But for now, it appears the impact is not as dramatic as some thought it could be.””

Let us know if you have any questions about the mortgage market or are interested in talking to a mortgage professional. We have numerous preferred mortgage partners we both know and trust and would be happy to share their contact information with you!


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Amazing Beaches just Hours away from the East Bay

Who says you have to go to Southern California or some tropical paradise to enjoy a great beach? One of the best things about living in the San Francisco area’s East Bay is the fact that we’re just hours from beaches to the west, Monterey and Carmel to the south, the Sierra’s to the east and the Napa/Sonoma wine country to the north! No other area in the US can beat that combination as far as we’re concerned.

Today we’re going to spotlight 3 beaches all within a couple of hours drive from the East Bay. There are many more beaches to explore – find them at: www.californiabeaches.com.

China BeachChina Beach is a small cove in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood. It lies between Baker Beach and Lands End and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area:

  • Golden Gate Recreation Area | China Beach Park | 340 Sea Cliff Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121
  • Activities: Sunbathing, Picnicking, Tide pooling
  • Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Tide Pools, Cave
  • Pet Policy: No dogs allowed on the beach
  • Fees: Free parking

Muir BeachMuir Beach is a quiet cove, beach, and lagoon tucked into the coastline three miles west of Muir Woods and a favorite spot among locals.

  • Golden Gate Recreation Area | Muir Beach Park | 200 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965
  • Activities: Hiking, Beach combing, Bird watching, Fishing, Sunbathing, Bonfires, Picnicking
  • Amenities: Restrooms, Picnic Tables, Trails, Fire Pits
  • Pet Policy: Dogs allowed off leash if under voice control
  • Fees: Free parking

Capitola BeachCapitola Beach is located in the heart of Capitola Village with its many shops and restaurants. Lots of swimming, surfing, volleyball, kite flying and beach activities for the whole family.

  • Capitola Beach | San Jose Avenue and Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010
  • Activities: Volleyball, Fishing, Sunbathing, Bird watching, Surfing
  • Amenities: Fishing Pier, Volleyball Courts, Lifeguard, Restrooms, Showers, Shops, Creek, Restaurant, Beaches
  • Pet Policy: No dogs allowed on the beach
  • Fees: Metered street parking

There you have it – just 3 of the great beaches withing hours of the East Bay. What are your favorites? Enjoy the summer and all the Bay Area has to offer and please contact me if you are interested in moving to the best place on earth!

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Is Costco’s switch from American Express to Citi Visa Credit Cards going to Impact your Credit Score?

2000px-Credit-score-chart.svgLike many of you, we are long-time Costco loving members who have used our Costco American Express credit card extensively to earn rewards. Effective today, Costco has switched to a Citi Visa credit card that they believe is better in the long run for their members. But will this switch have an impact on your credit score?

One of our favorite credit experts, Ken Strey of Scorewell Inc., has recently weighed in on the subject and offers these words:

“Usually, applying for a new line of credit can result in a “hard pull” on your credit report. But in this case, since no new credit is being issued, Citi says it will not pull a credit report as part of the account transfer process.

Where cardholders might be affected is in their credit score – depending on how much, and what sorts of, available credit they currently have, and how long they have had the AmEx Costco card.”

The number of times your credit score is pulled can impact your score. It stands to reason that pulls occur when you are attempting to obtain more credit, thus the negative impact on your credit score. So it is nice that Citi isn’t pulling credit again as part of their process. Ken goes on to say:

“While this transition from AmEx to Visa is structured in a way that you get a new card without pulling a credit report, the change will almost certainly reflect that your AmEx was closed and a new Citi/Visa account was opened.

If you’ve had that AmEx account for a long time and always paid on time, your credit score might be dinged because your “length of credit history” would be shortened.”

Having had extensive experience with our client’s credit scores as part of the home buying and refinancing processes, we know that it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen with Costco member’s credit scores as a result of the credit card change until there is some history to compare, but it is something you should be aware of in case you are in the process of obtaining new credit. If we find out any definitive impact of the new card’s impact on credit scores we’ll share that information.

Ken Strey can be contacted at 925-478-4732, kenstrey@scorewellinc.com.


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Experts Agree – No Housing Bubble

The surging housing market still has legs, as evidenced by reports from the Wall Street Journal and other housing experts. Driven by rising demand and supply constraints, the market is gaining even more strength. Don’t take our word for it, here is the proof:

wall street journal

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“In spite of deficient supply levels, stock market volatility and the paltry economic growth seen so far this year, the housing market did show resilience and had its best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007.”

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com:

“We had a triple crown of April home sales reports, so 2016 is in the pole position to earn best year of home sales in a decade.”

Andrea Riquier, MarketWatch housing reporter:

“I’m calling the end of the housing “recovery.” On to ‘expansion.'”

Freddie Mac:

“Despite the disappointing economic reports, we still forecast housing to maintain its momentum in 2016.”

Steven Russolillo, Wall Street Journal housing reporter:

“A recent gauge of home builder sentiment held firmly in positive territory, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Perhaps more important, expectations for sales in the next six months jumped to the highest level of the year.”

Fannie Mae:

“Our latest housing tracker shows that the first quarter of 2016 was the second fastest first quarter pace of home sales in the past decade… Home sales typically rise in the spring and summer months, and we anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace by late summer.”

Call us with your questions, if you need to buy, sell, refinance or just need to know the TRUE value of your home. We’re here for you and our expert and professional advice is always free and without obligation.

Posted in Homebuying, homeownership, Homeselling, Housing Trends, Real Estate Market | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 Home Projects NOT to DIY

roof repairWe love home improvement DIY projects and a big part of our business is suggesting simple, low-cost home improvements to our sellers to increase the value of their home. The internet is filled with tons of projects with step by step instructions and video directions and there are television shows and DIY celebrities all encouraging homeowners to work on and improve their homes

However, you will never see us recommending any of the below projects that should be left to professionals. Every year people end up in the emergency room because they tried to repair something they should have asked a professional to do. Not only you can injure yourself, but it can turn into a larger problem and eventually harm your home or your family and end up costing you a lot of money! So with those words of warning, here are the 5 home improvement projects, as outlined by our friends at JustClose.com, that you should give yourself a pass on and call the pros!

 1. Roof Repair

“Working on the top of a roof is not only very risky, as you may just slip, but it may also harm your home’s structure, if you don’t know how to properly install or repair the roofing. This really requires knowledge and precise expertise, so make sure to hire a professional with the right skills and correct tools. Sure, this may cost higher, but you’ll not have to take the risk and will finish the job much faster.  In the end, if you think there is not a big issue, make sure to call a friend and ask for a help.”

  2. Home Additions and Structural Changes

“Knocking down walls is a dangerous task, if you’re not a professional. It may seem quite easy, but behind those walls can be electrical wiring or plumbing. While knocking down the walls, you may harm these features and cause huge problems. So ask a professional to make sure there are no electrical wires and plumbing in the wall before removing it. This point is also about remodeling a bathroom or adding an outdoor kitchen. Don’t take the chance and consult a specialist. A good contractor will navigate tricky permits helping you avoid potential uncomfortable and dangerous situations.”

   3. Major Plumbing Issues

“Yes, you may fix a dripping faucet yourself or maintain your shower head. But when it comes to larger problems, you’d better hire a professional. Tackling a kitchen renovation or putting in a bathtub is projects that are best to be left to skilled contractors. Even a small mistake can bring to water-damaged walls or leaky faucet. Imagine an overflowing bathroom or burst in a pipe you’re not able to stop. Funny? Not sure. So before you try to tackle any plumbing issue, take the phone and call a plumber.”

       4. Electrical Work

“Its one thing to replace a light fixture, but quite another to try to repair faulty wiring or any other major electrical issue without a professional. They know how to install and repair wiring, while ensuring that everything is under control, and your home won’t catch on fire. Large jobs can really cause serious injuries due to small mistakes that any professional knows how to avoid.”

       5. Tree Trimming

“Removing or trimming a tree requires working with sharp tools at tall heights. You may not only fall from 15ft heights, but heavy branches or tools you use, as well as blades can fall, damaging wires and everything under the tree. So tree removal is another job to be left to an arborist who is trained to do this.”

Your Realtor should have a list of trusted professionals and vendors they have experience with to help you get your search started for the right people to take on these tasks for you. Tackle the small jobs yourself if you like, but for these and other big jobs, call in the pros!

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