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.

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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.

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.

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.

How To Shop For Your First East Bay Home

If buying your first home in East Bay is in your future, there are a few things to consider prior to taking the big step of home ownership. Owning a home can be a very rewarding experience and the tax deductions that come along with it are a great perk, but you want to make sure you are ready to make such a large purchase.

1. Know Your Budget
When it comes to buying your new home, the first step is to determine just how much you can afford. You do not want to waste your time looking at homes that are out of your price range. There is nothing more discouraging than finding your perfect dream home–only to find out it is out of your price range.When determining your budget for buying a home, do not forget to include taxes, maintenance, utilities, insurance, and any homeowner association dues that may be needed.

2. How Long Will You Live in the Home?
There are quite a few upfront costs that you will incur when you buy your home. The longer you live in the home, the better your savings will be as you are spreading these upfront costs you paid out over a longer period of time. If you are only looking to live in the home for a few years, you will need to determine if the upfront costs you are paying will cost you more than if you would rent for those few years.

3. Obtain A Loan
Getting preapproved for your East Bay home loan will help make buying your first home an easier and more enjoyable experience. The mortgage lender you choose should be able to provide you with an estimate of how much you will need for closing costs so that they can be figured into your overall loan amount. Your down payment on the home will impact how much your total loan and monthly payments will be after closing. If you are able to put down 20% of the home purchase, it will allow you to not have to pay mortgage insurance. Be sure to shop around for the best loan rate and terms.

4.  Find a Realtor Who Knows the Market
Now that you have determined what you can afford, it is time to find a reliable Realtor® who is familiar with the market in your area. Your Realtor® should be able to provide you with the median home prices in your area.

5. Shop Around
What are your needs? Make a list of all the things you are looking for in your new home. Be realistic in the fact that you may not get everything you are looking for. Provide your Realtor® with your list and begin the process of looking at homes that are on the market.

Now is the perfect time to buy a home in East Bay. 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. 

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.