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.

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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 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.