Control Home Insurance Costs On Your East Bay Home

Home insuranceIt comes as no surprise that home insurance costs are increasing across the country, and here in East Bay. Shopping around yearly for the most competitive rate is one option to help control your cost. Here are few other ways you can help control the cost of home insurance on your East Bay home:

Raise Deductibles: The idea behind home insurance was not to cover small things that occur around the home, but in reality to cover catastrophic events. Increase your deductible to the highest limit you can comfortably afford to reduce your yearly costs.

Choose Carefully: When looking for your new dream home take into consideration if it lies in a flood prone area. Look for a home that is in a community with a professional fire department. Prior to purchasing a home review the Comprehensive Loss Exchange report to see any previous claims on the home.

Reinforce: Modernize your home if it needs it to reduce the risk of fire and water damage. If your home does not have storm shutters, consider installing them.

Home Security: Keep your smoke detectors with working batteries at all times. Make sure to deadbolt the doors in your home at all times, and install an alarm system.

Group Policies: To save money on your home insurance policy, group it with other policies such as auto loans. Many times companies will provide you a large discount if both your home and auto policy are with them.

Get Rid of Coverage:  Do not add things to your policy that you do not need as this only drives up the cost.

Review your home insurance policy and costs yearly to be sure you are getting the best coverage and the most affordable cost.

If you are ready to sell or buy a home in East Bay, 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.

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.

Selling Incentives to Help Motivate Home Buyers in East Bay

Home SoldIn today’s market, home buyers are looking for a deal. Here are some incentives as a home seller in East Bay you can consider to help get your home sold.

1. Pay the Points
Points are fees that lenders charge to finance a loan. Typically, one point is equal to one percent of the mortgage loan. Consider offering to pay the new home buyer’s points in an effort to secure an offer on your home.

2. Closing Costs
Closing costs are those costs that are incurred by escrow companies and lenders to process paperwork that is needed to close the sale of the home. As the current homeowner, offer to pay for the buyer’s closing costs by stating you are willing to pay up to a certain amount.

3. Pay for Inspections
Nearly all lenders will require a home inspection before a loan will be approved. Many times a buyer is the one paying the cost of the inspection. Offering to pay for the home inspection is an added incentive to spur buyers to buy your home.

4. Allowances
If your home is in need of a little updating and you do not have the finances to completely remodel, consider offering the buyer an allowance. The allowance is a credit given to the new homeowner to compensate for some areas of the home that need a little updating.

5. Paid Utilities
Taking on a new mortgage payment can be a lot for many new homeowners, and the added cost of utility bills can also add to the sting. Make it easier on the buyer and offer to pre-pay certain utilities for a certain length of time.

Weigh your options carefully when it comes to offering any added incentive. Many times selling incentives are just what an East Bay home needs to sell quickly. The housing market competition is increasing and an incentive as mentioned above will help your home stand out in the market. Choose an incentive that will fit in your budget.

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.

Maintain Value in Your East Bay Home and Protect Your Driveway

Driveway

Proper home maintenance can go a long way in maintaining your home’s value, and if you have an asphalt driveway, you want to protect and maintain it. Taking the time to patch and seal your driveway can extend the life of it, along with adding to its curb appeal. Now is the time to restore your asphalt driveway before winter arrives. Below are some helpful tips when it comes to maintaining your East Bay home’s driveway.

1. Trouble Spots

Look over all areas of your driveway and look for any cracks, pot holes, oily stains, or crumbling areas. The end of the driveway tends to be a common area where damage occurs.

2. Fix Stains

If you notice oil or grease stains on your driveway, try to remove them by using hot soapy water with a stiff-bristle scrub brush. If this method does not remove the stains, try dissolving the stains by using a degreaser.

3. Treat Cracks

It is common for most driveways to have cracks, and you want to make sure they are repaired before you apply an asphalt sealer. If the cracks are not repaired, they will grow wider over time. There are many products on the market that can be used to fix these cracks.

4. Potholes

If untreated, cracks can lead to potholes in your driveway and they also will need to be repaired before sealing the asphalt. You can purchase a blacktop patch to fix the potholes and crumbling asphalt. Remove any pieces of loose asphalt or substrate before applying the patch.

5. Prep Driveway

The last thing you will need to do before applying your sealer is to prep your driveway. Thoroughly clean the driveway by using a push broom, then hose off the driveway with a hose or a power washer if you have one.

6. Sealing The Driveway

When your driveway is prepped and ready to be sealed, check the package of your sealer to see how long it takes to dry. Some sealers may take up to three days to dry. Check your weather forecast to be sure rain is not in the forecast while the sealer is drying. There are several types of asphalt sealers on the market. Tar-emulsion sealers are the least expensive and usually start out around $12 per five-gallon pail and offer minimum protection. These types of sealers require constant stirring during application. Asphalt-emulsion sealers tend to be the most popular and cost about $20 to $25 per five-gallon pail. This type of sealer typically does not require constant stirring during application and provides stellar resistance to oil stains and water penetration.

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.

Danville Home Prices Rise

U.S. single-family home prices rose for the sixth month in a row. The S&P/Case Sheller composite index of 20 metropolitan areas showed an increase of 0.4% in July which is up 4.6 percent over last year. This was the largest home-price increase seen year-after-year since July 2006. According to Trulia, the average listing price of a home for sale in Danville as of October 3rd, 2012 was $1,190,062.This is an increase of 2.5% compared to the week prior. The average price per square foot in Danville is $351 which is an increase of 10.7% over last year.

Nearly six years after the housing collapse, many economists believe that the housing market has finally turned the corner. The sale of previously occupied homes jumped to a high that we have not seen since May of 2010. The number of home re-sales and the breaking of ground on new properties rose for the month of August. David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at Standard & Poor’s, said in a statement, “All in all, we are more optimistic about housing. Upbeat trends continue.” The trend in gains in the housing market is headed in the right direction, but there is still a long ways to go until a full recovery can be considered.

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.

Mortgage Rates in Diablo May Increase in the Near Future

Recently the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which is the regulatory body for both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, announced that another 10 basis point increase in guarantee fees (g-fee) will go into effect between November 1 and December 1, 2012. The increase in g-fees could lead to mortgage rates for home buyers in Diablo to jump in the near future. This is the second time g-fees have increased this year, with the last being in April.

The g-fee increase will result in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac charging lenders more to guarantee loans. The increase will result in about 40 to 50 basis points in price to the lender which, in turn, will be passed on to the home buyer. The increase you will see in interest rates will vary by lender and borrower. We could see rate increases by 0.125 to .5 percent in the very near future.

A .5 percent increase in mortgage rates could have a strong impact on what a borrower would pay on a monthly payment. For instance, if the rate would increase from 3.5 percent to 4.0 percent it would raise the rate on a $200,000 loan by $57 a month.

Take advantage of low interest rates and buy now before the rates go up. 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.

Staging Your Danville Home? Avoid Doing These Things

With the economy struggling, many homeowners are doing what they can to hold onto as much equity in their home as possible. Many homeowners in Danville who are trying to sell their homes have chosen to try to stage it on their own in an effort to save money. If this is something you plan to do, consider these tips.

Living Room: Personal photos need to be kept to a minimum in the living room and throughout the home. Some homeowners have been known to display a frame with the manufacturer’s photo still inside. This is something you do not want to do. You want to remove any family photos, diplomas, or any other similar item. De-personalizing the room is essential. Replace personal items with decorative art.

Bedroom: Many staged homes present a throw across the end of the bed with a tea-for-two setting placed just right on top of the throw. Many experts will tell you that this idea is way overdone, and buyers know that you really do not live this way. Instead, go with a nice bedding set that accentuates the room. Include a long dresser, a chest of drawers, and two night stands at each side of the bed. If the room feels crowded with all the furniture, consider replacing the bed with a smaller one.

Bathroom: Do not over do the accents in this room. There is no need for bubbles in the tub and filled wine glasses sitting on the ledge. Do not decorate your toilet with a ribbon. It may sound silly but it has been done. Instead, buy a few new hand towels, remove any personal items, and replace your shower curtain with a new one.

Kitchen & Dining Room: If you want your home to stand out as being staged then a formal dining room set will do it. Less really is more here. Place a simple vase with flowers in the middle of the dining room table. Make sure your kitchen counters are clear of all clutter.

A home that is staged well will leave potential buyers with a feeling that it was not staged at all. A clean, de-personalized, clutter free home is what you want your home to look like when buyers view 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.

What You Have To Gain By Refinancing Your Danville Home

Interest rates at historically low levels and new loan programs have opened up the doors for many Danville residents to refinance their homes. There are many reasons to consider refinancing your home loan beyond the benefit of lowering your monthly mortgage payment. Here is what you have to gain by refinancing your home mortgage:
Reduce Your Rate and Term ̶ Keep Your Current Payment

If you are in a position to maintain your current monthly mortgage payment at its current rate, consider reducing the term of your loan when you refinance. Rates continue to remain low, and this may provide you with the option of reducing your 30-year mortgage to a 20-year mortgage with the same monthly payment amount.

Extract Your Home Equity

Are you facing big expenses in your future ̶ medical expenses, college tuition, or a major family event? When you are refinancing your loan, consider borrowing a few extra dollars to help meet your future expenses while interest rates are low.

Dump the ARM

If your current loan is an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM), now is the time to refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage while rates are low.

Combine First and Second Mortgages

If you currently have two mortgages that when combined are less than 80% of the value of your home, consider taking a cash-out refinance to pay off your second loan. Keep in mind your monthly mortgage payment will increase as you will be paying more than just interest on the second mortgage. However, if the prime rate goes up in the years to come you will benefit.

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 five years.