November Home Sales Rise in Alamo California

Home Sales RiseNovember proved to be another strong month for the housing market in Alamo CA. Pending home sales and new home sales climbed in November. The number of new single-family homes sold across the nation rose to the highest rate we have seen since April of 2010. According to the Commerce Department, the number of new home sales rose by 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted 377,000-unit annual rate. For the first time since 2005, the continued growth of new home building and new home sales will continue to help boost the economy.

Pending home sales also jumped nationwide in November by 1.7 percent over October, for the third straight month of gains. The increase in November pending home sales follows a strong October that also boasted a 5 percent gain. According to the National Association of Realtors, pending-home-sale gains of 5.2% were seen in the Northeast, 4.2% in the West, and 0.1% in the Midwest

The number of signed contracts in November in the Northeast and West increased, and ticked up slightly in the Midwest, while the South remained unchanged. The increase in signed contracts is an indicator that home sales will be up over the next few months. There is typically a one to two month lag time from when a home goes under contract until a home is sold and closed.

Not only did new home sales rise, so did the median sale price. In Alamo, CA, from September 2012 to November 2012 the median sale price was $1,160,000, based on a total of 77 sales. Compared to the same period of time one year ago, the median sales price increased by 16%, or $160,000, and the number of sales increased by 51% according to data from Trulia.

If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

Mortgage Interest Rates Reach Another All-Time Low in Alamo CA

Once again, mortgage rates have reached an all-time low here in Alamo CA and across the country. Freddie Mac, who does a weekly survey that tracks mortgage rates nationally, reported that a 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage dropped to 3.34 percent with an average .07 point for the week of November 15th. This is the lowest rate ever to be reported by Freddie Mac since they started tracking rates in 1971. During this same time period last year, we saw interest rates average at the 4 percent mark.
15-year fixed-rate mortgages also saw a decrease for the period ending November 15th. The average rate was 2.65 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 2.69% the week prior. Last year, we saw a rate of 3.31 percent during this period of time.

Many economists are attributing the decrease in rates to higher consumer confidence and lower wholesale prices. Historically low mortgage rates make it the perfect time to buy a new home.

Take advantage of low interest rates and save even more money on your home mortgage. If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

How To Cut Mortgage Costs On Your Alamo Home

There are several steps you can take to help cut mortgage costs on your Alamo home. Shopping around for the best rate when it comes to refinancing your current Alamo home mortgage is a great way to send money back into your pocket. Here are some easy things you can do to help save some money.

1.  Shop Around

When it comes to mortgage rates, you want to shop around. Obtain mortgage rates from a few brokers. Shopping around brokers can save you money when it comes to mortgage rates and origination fees.

2.  Is it the Right Time to Refinance?

Historically low mortgage rates have made it the perfect time for many homeowners to refinance their homes. Earlier this month, 30-year fixed- rate mortgage loan rates were as low as 3.49 percent. Refinancing can save you money on your monthly mortgage payment, but keep in mind that there are fees you must also pay when doing this. Before choosing to refinance, be sure to add up all the miscellaneous fees that you will incur by refinancing to ensure that the benefit of refinancing outweighs the costs. Alamo homeowners should be looking for the lowest interest rate they can obtain at the lowest cost when it comes to refinancing.

3.  Avoid Fees

To cut costs on your mortgage when shopping around for lenders, look for those that will not charge application fees. Application costs can range anywhere from $75 to $300, according to a mortgage refinancing guide published by the Federal Reserve System which oversees national monetary policy and the banks.

4.  Compare Lenders

Shopping around for interest rates is the best way to go; however, be sure that when shopping around for rates that you do it on the same day, or within at least 24 hours. Rates change day-to-day, and in order to determine which lender is offering the best rate, it is important to shop those rates around or on the same day.

5.  Monthly Payments vs Home Prices

If you are in the market to buy a new home and are undecided between two homes and the price difference between those homes is the only thing you are comparing, there is more to consider. Property taxes and homeowner’s insurance are also costs that you must consider that are typically added into your monthly home payment. When looking for a home, think beyond the purchase price and take into consideration other things that will be added into your monthly payment.

If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

Home Prices Rise Across the Country and Here in Alamo

Existing-home sales were down a little for the month of September, but overall home prices were up across the nation. The number of homes for sale is continuing to decrease, and in turn we have experienced the seventh straight month in a row with home prices rising here in Alamo and across the country.

An existing-home sale is a completed transaction that includes single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops. For the month of September existing-home sales dropped by 1.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.75 million. However, existing-home sales in September were up 11 percent over September 2011. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the market trend is up. “Despite occasional month-to-month setbacks, we’re experiencing a genuine recovery,” he said. “More people are attempting to buy homes than are able to qualify for mortgages, and recent price increases are not deterring buyer interest. Rather, inventory shortages are limiting sales, notably in parts of the West.”

Historically low mortgage rates are continuing to help the housing market. According to Freddie Mac, the national average mortgage rate on a 30-year fixed-rate loan was 3.47 percent in September, down from 3.60 percent in August. September of 2011 mortgage interest rates were averaging 4.11 percent.

The national median existing-home price last month for all home types averaged $183,900.  Home prices were up 11.3 percent over this same period of time last year. We have not seen home prices increase for seven consecutive months since the time period of November 2005 to May 2006.

Decreased housing inventory and increasing home prices make now the perfect time to sell your home. If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years, and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

Tips for New Home Buyers in Alamo

Buying a new home in the Alamo area can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Here are a few tips when it comes to buying a new home.

1. Short-Term Mortgages

If you are in the beginning stages of home buying, you may still be shopping for a mortgage loan. If you are able to financially afford a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage over a 30-year fixed-rate, I would highly recommend it. This type of loan would result in you paying off your home in 15 years versus 30. A 15-year loan will also allow you a lower interest rate. Your monthly payment will be a little higher as you will be paying off your home in half the time of most common mortgage loans.

2. Do Away With PMI

If you put less than 20 percent down on your home loan, you can expect to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is a policy that protects the lender from any losses they may incur if you do not pay your monthly payments. The U.S. Federal Reserve System, which oversees national monetary policy and banks, reported in its consumer guide that the cost of PMI can range from $50 to $100 per month. Getting rid of your monthly PMI payment can save you a substantial amount of money.

To do away with PMI, your first option would be to put 20 percent down on your mortgage loan. However, if you are unable to put 20 percent down, there are other ways to do away with PMI. Once you have made enough payments to gain 20 percent equity in your home, send a written request to your lender asking them to cancel your PMI insurance.

3. Shop Around for Your Home Insurance

For many, their home is one of their biggest assets and properly insuring it should be a top priority. Take your time and approach many insurance companies to find the best rate and coverage for your needs. You want to purchase enough insurance to cover the full replacement cost of your home.

4. Is It Time To Hire A Contractor?

If you are looking to make improvements to your new home to make it fit your style, changes that you can do on your own are ideal and will save you money. However, unless you are a contractor, you may not be able to tackle some of the projects you want done around your home. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) recommends hiring a contractor when there is an unknown. According to the NARI, “The unknown that is obvious to a professional but is not to the average layperson can cause a lot of problems for people trying to tackle a project themselves.” Things such as painting and small roof repairs are easy projects that many homeowners are capable of doing on their own.

5. Internet, Cable And Phone

After you have purchased your new home in Alamo, consider a monthly plan that will bundle your Internet, cable and phone. If you are planning on using the same company for both your Internet and cable, ask your provider if they offer a bundle plan. Consumer Reports Magazine Senior Editor Jeff Blyskal, says if you do it right, bundling can save you money.

If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years, and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist For Your Alamo Home

The smell of fall is in the air, and winter will be here before we know it. School has begun, and the days are quickly getting shorter. Here are some useful tips on what you can do to prepare your Alamo home for fall.

Insulate Your Doors and Windows:

Now is the time of year to add weather stripping to your doors and windows. Weather stripping can come in many forms such as: foam, felt, plastic, or metal. It is used to keep the cold and moisture out of your home by sealing gaps. If your home is newer there is a good possibility that your windows are more energy-efficient and have no need for additional weather stripping.

Insulation:

Check the insulation in your home before it gets too cold. Un-backed or loose-fill insulation is available at many local hardware stores and can be easily placed on top of what is already there. If your walls need additional insulation, you can also hire a professional company to install blown-in insulation foam.

Gutters:

This is the time of year to examine your gutters. Clear your gutters before leaves begin to fall.

Mice:

During this time of year, mice are looking for a warm place to call home. Screen all the exterior vents in your home. Mice are able to squeeze through as little as a quarter-inch opening. Take a look at the bottom of your garage doors before the cold weather hits as mice are known to squeeze through under a garage door if there are any gaps.

Dryer Vents:

Every six months you should be cleaning out your dryer vents. To do this–unplug your dryer and move it out and vacuum behind it. Unhook the tube you will find that vents the dryer and remove as much lint as possible from the tube.

Roof and Chimney:

Inspect your roof on a dry day for any damage or missing shingles. Look at the flashing and seals around vent pipes and the chimney to be sure it is intact and not damaged. If you are unable to physically inspect your roof, a professional roofing company can inspect it for you.

If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

Biweekly Payments on Your Home Will Save You Money

Over the life of the mortgage loan on your home, you will pay an exorbitant amount in interest. Consider taking advantage of biweekly payments on your home, and you will save money. Making biweekly payments on your home will reduce your total interest cost and reduce the term of your loan.

There may be 12 months in a year, but there are 26 total two-week periods. If you are making biweekly payments you are essentially making 13 payments per calendar year. If you are buying a new home in the Alamo area and begin taking advantage of biweekly mortgage payments from the start of your loan, you can reduce a 30-year fixed rate mortgage by nearly five years.

How Much Can You Save?

If you were to take out a $200,000 mortgage at a 5% interest rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and make biweekly payments, you can save $34,000 in interest payments and reduce the term of your loan by nearly five years.

Many lenders are willing to collect payment from your account on a biweekly basis. If you choose to go that route, be sure to inquire with your lender to see if they charge a one-time setup fee. Be sure to check and see if your lender will allow you to pay off your loan early without incurring any fees. If making a biweekly payment is not an option for you but you are able to save throughout the year, making an extra payment each year will essentially yield you almost the same results.

Take advantage of low interest rates and save even more money on your Alamo home mortgage. If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years, and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years.

New Rules For Buying Your Alamo Dream Home

The turn in the housing market has affected many aspects of Real Estate, including what buyers must do to secure their desired home. There are far more buyers than sellers, so competition is fierce.

If you’re in the market for a home in Alamo or the surrounding area, here are five new rules that could help you close the deal.

Forget Lowballing – Making an offer far below asking price can often prevent price negotiation and sometimes will kill the deal altogether. Smart sellers know there’s another person right behind you who might present a better offer. You’ll get better results by asking the seller for concessions such as help with closing costs or paying for needed repairs.

Get Pre-Approved – To show sellers you’re a serious buyer, get pre-approved before you look at even one home. This confirms how much house you can actually afford which makes potential sellers more confident that you can secure a mortgage in a tightened lending environment.

Consult an Expert – A qualified real estate agent can educate you on market conditions in your area including how long it takes for a home to sell. Transactions from the last three months will provide a clear idea of how things are and what to expect for your buying situation.

Expect Competition – Today’s market is a lesson in basic economics. The supply of homes is small while demand is large, so lots of buyers are bidding on the same homes, particularly short sales and foreclosures.  If you’re pre-approved you can often create an offer faster than those who are not.

Dig For Information – Find out all you can about that East Bay property before you make an offer.

  • Use a title company to uncover any arrears or liens on your desired home.
  • Make sure your own home inspector checks out the house.
  • Review a recent land survey or have your own done to verify property lines.
  • Ensure all required state disclosures have been made on the home.

Even in a tight housing market, it’s possible to hold the winning offer if you follow these new home buying rules. Every extra minute of work you put in will be worth it when you’re sitting in your dream home.

I will walk with you through every step of the real estate process. If you are ready to sell or buy a home, contact me by email or call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years and my qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years. 

Some Great Tips for Your East Bay Home’s Open House!

When is the best time to have an open house for your East Bay Home? Sunday afternoon is Open House Day for most communities. It’s recommended that the open house last for at least two hours, although many agents like to schedule an open house from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. An open house should never be in conflict with holidays, community celebrations or special events like the Super Bowl. Check out the forecast and try to schedule your open house on a sunny day; cold, rainy days tend to keep potential buyers at home.

Host a broker preview about a week before the open house. Agents can give you valuable feedback about your home’s appearance and whether your asking price will meet buyer expectations.

To prepare your Alamo home for showing, move some of your furniture into storage. By moving at least one piece of furniture out of every room, the space will look larger and much more inviting to those happy house hunters.

Make sure to remove any items not included in the sale of your home. It’s better to remove an item than have to explain to a buyer that it is not for sale.

Two or three days before the event, clean your house from top to bottom. Vacuum dust and cobwebs, wipe down the window sills, and wash the windows inside and outside. Pay attention to small details when cleaning your Diablo home. Make sure surfaces, appliances and floors are gleaming. Clean and fluff the bedding, towels and rugs and touch up any spots on the walls. Sweep out the garage, clean the sidewalk and driveway, trim bushes and dead flowers, and mow the lawn.

Twenty four hours before your open house, open all the windows and air out your home. Give every room a final review; stand in the doorway and take a good look at every detail. Add color and a great floral fragrance by adding floral arrangements throughout your home.

Now you are ready for your open house! Reward yourself for a job well done by going out to dinner. You’ll have a great meal and you won’t have to clean up again before the big day!

If you are ready to sell or buy a home, call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a real estate professional for 23 years. My qualifications include the production of over $105 million in sales within the past 5 years. 

Your East Bay Homes Front Porch!

With all of this hot weather streaming across the country, it would be a great time to find some time to put your front porch to use again.  Get out of the house and take in the breeze.

Not every porch or front entryways are put to good use.  After the winter and rainy season, the porch may have taken a beating and needs some repair.  Sometimes people use their front porches for storage and this is certainly not a great sight for any house hunters.

There are a few key points that realtors talk about that will help you sell your house.  They are location, curb appeal and pricing.  Buyers consider these their highest influencing factors.  Why you ask?  Well, location is very important to most every buyer.  In today’s real estate market, pricing is very important to almost every buyer.  Curb appeal will get the buyers out of their cars and into your home to view it!

So it makes sense that your East Bay front porch should look its best.  A little maintenance might just be what the porch needs!  This doesn’t have to take weeks either or cost an arm and a leg to do.

It’s all about the tiny things you do.  A tired looking porch can be brightened up with some simple repairs, replacements and a little rearranging.

An easy way to start is by using a critical eye and take a look at your porch.  If you have been using the porch for storing things that could be put elsewhere, move them off the porch.  Replace your old worn out mats or carpets.  Try some new colorful ones.  Take a look at the lighting on your porch.  Try brightening up the porch with an inexpensive lighting system.  This can be accomplished using solar lights if you wish too!  This will create a brighter, safer entry way into your home.

Take a look at your door handles.  Are they tarnished or corroded?  It is hard to turn the handle to open the door?  Your East Bay home will not look well maintained if the door is beat up and the hardware looks wore.    If your home looks messy outside, the prospective home buyers will only see that this home in not well maintained and some won’t go any further.  Look at your home like it’s the first time.  Like you were buying it!

Try adding some appealing decorations.  Try to create symmetry which works well and is easy to create.  Symmetry gives a feeling of balance.  Try putting some potted plants on both sides of the walkway to the porch.  Place a decorative wreath or floral display on the front door.  Try putting a small water feature on the porch.  A small fountain can make the new buyers feel relaxed in your East Bay home.

Just remember, the front porch is the first thing a buyer will see.  Make sure it leaves a positive impression.  Then take the time to go outside and enjoy yourself sitting on your front porch.

So now that you are ready to sell your home or buy a new home, call me, Brad Gothberg, at (925) 648-5326. I have been a professional in the Real Estate business for the last 23 years. My qualifications include production of over $105 million in sales in the past 5 years.