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.

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.

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.

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.