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Antonio Cardenas' Blog

By Antonio Cardenas | Agent in San Leandro, CA
  • 7 Proven Strategies to Help You Buy Your First Home

    Posted Under: General Area in San Leandro, Home Buying in San Leandro, Rent vs Buy in San Leandro  |  January 26, 2012 10:54 PM  |  1,888 views  |  No comments

    Despite the difficulties in obtaining financing for a home purchase, there are great rewards for those who dare step into home ownership. You will need a couple of qualified people to help you navigate through this obstacle course: A Lender and a Professional Realtor. Open your eyes to today's opportunities in San Leandro! Here are 7 proven strategies to help you navigate to a successful home purchase.

    • Begin by gathering all your financial documents first. You will need among others: current pay stubs, copies of tax records from the last two years, recent bank statements for all your accounts, copies of Divorce decrees if applicable. If you have funds in CD's or 401Ks or other income, you will need to bring copies of those documents too.
    • The next step is to talk to a lender about your finances. Find out what you qualify for, how much money you need to have for a down payment plus closing costs. You can do this by simply asking your lender to do a pre-qualification for a loan. After this meeting you should know what your price range is and how much your monthly payments will be.
    • Make a list of what is important to you and your family when is comes to housing. Do you really need to have 4 bedrooms? is a pool an absolute necessity? Keep in mind that the First Home is not exactly your Dream Home. Buy below your maximum qualifications if you can, that will leave you room to save money by applying a small amount each month to the mortgage payments to reduce the principal amount borrowed.
    • Meet and interview a local, Professional Realtor. Choose a person that specializes in the area that your are interested in. You can do a lot of research on your own online, but a professional Realtor's help is absolutely necessary. Remember this: Realtor's commissions are paid for by the home seller. There is no cost to you when you buy a home. Use his knowledge and expertise... for Free!
    • There will be other professional trades people that will get involved in a typical real estate transaction. your Realtor will assist you here and on your behalf, he/she will contact home, roof, termite and other inspectors. The lender will take care of having the house appraisal done for you.
    • Once you have made an offer on a house, you will make a cash deposit into a title insurance company. This neutral company will not only run an escrow for you, it will also ensure the title of the house in your name after escrow closes and you become the new owner of the house.
    • Read and understand all documents handed to you and the time elements involved during the transaction. The more you know the better it will be for you. if you take these steps in order, once you have picked the right house and made and offer that has been accepted, you will have about 30 to 40 days before you can get the house. If the house, however, is in a short sale, it might take months before you can close the escrow and call that home your own.

    The cycle of real estate will continue, just as when prices went up and then come down, we will see in the near future this trend reversed. Buying a house in the long run is far better than renting.

    Antonio & Alexia Cardenas

    "The Realtors In Motion"

    CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

    Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

    Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!


  • 7 Golden Rules for First Time Investors.

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Leandro, Foreclosure in San Leandro, Rental Basics in San Leandro  |  January 15, 2012 11:23 AM  |  2,134 views  |  No comments

    Becoming a landlord and owning a rental property provides great tax breaks and potentially good financial returns, but also exposes the individual to major legal liabilities.

    Here is a quick lesson in Landlording 101. Based on my experience as a Professional Realtor and an as investor myself.  Follow these rules, study them, practice them, because they will help you become a good law-abiding landlord and a savvy investor.

    • Educate yourself about your duties, responsibilities and liabilities of a landlord. It is a business in which ignorance is NOT a defensible argument. If you have to go to court to either collect your rents, evict somebody, or even worse; being sued by one of your tenants, you better know your job very well and be prepared, it could cost you the entire investment property and more, if you are not.
    • Join a group of "Apartment Owners Associations." Become a subscriber and get involved in their discussions.  These people will be your best allies. The AOA group provides professional guidance and will help and support you in making your business of providing housing for others more profitable, easier and more enjoyable. They will have real time alerts on new laws and local proposals that can affect the business of apartment owners.
    • Chose your tenants carefully! Be fair and color blind when interviewing potential tenants. There are strict rules about discrimination of any kind. Your own personal beliefs should not dictate who you rent to. Develop a consistent and clear procedure to always use when choosing your tenants. Tests are regularly conducted by the Fair Housing authorities and the penalties are severe.
    • Maintain your rental properties! Landlords who do not spend money in maintenance or repairs, will invariably spend much more money defending their actions or lack off in court when a tenant gets injured or harmed because of lack of maintenance. The value of a rental property is based on income and overall physical condition. A clean, safe and well maintained property will always provide high rental values with less tenant turnover.
    • Do not get personal, seek legal advise when dealing with trouble tenants. There is a set of steps that must be followed exactly when enforcing a lease or rental agreement. The correct forms must be used, the timing must be absolute, and even the wording on the document must be specific and appropriate for each situation. If it is not done right, the entire process must start all over again. Let the professionals handle these situations.
    • Know Thy Limits...! Even if you consider yourself a "handyman," and know how to swing a hammer or use a power tool, know when to call the professionals. Can you really tackle a plumbing or an electrical problem? Hiring the right professional could shield you not only from personal injuries to yourself or your tenants but from legal liability. The key here is to do it right; do not think "expenses" think instead "tax deductions."
    • Put together a team to help you run your business. Do not wait until you need an attorney to look for one. Begin by asking other landlords in the area if they know someone locally. If possible, get to meet them, find out what their fees are, their work schedules, where are they located etc. Do this for everybody. You will need a good plumber, electrician, roofer, flooring specialist and painter. If you do your homework, you will know exactly who to call when an emergency arises. 

    A rental property pays back at least in 3 different ways: Appreciation: in a healthy real estate market, properties go up in price. Depreciation: When you own a rental property you can deduct the improvement (the value of the building) one 27th of its value every year for 27.5 years. And finally, Income: the rent paid by the tenant, minus expenses.

    Taking care of tenants problems right away is a good solid block in which to build a strong relationship with the most valuable partner you will have in your rental business: YOUR Tenant.

  • Preparing The House For Sale Is NOT a Job For A Do-It-Yourself. You Can Make Money If You Do It Right

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in San Leandro, Home Selling in San Leandro, Curb Appeal in San Leandro  |  May 31, 2011 1:07 PM  |  2,397 views  |  No comments

    When preparing the house for sale, homeowners have a clear choice: A) Keep a low budget and do it yourself (DIY) or B) Go Pro and make some money. The difference is actually like day and night. On the DIY project with a low budget, the house most likely will take time to sell and the offering price will reflect the quality of the materials used and the level of workmanship.

    www.listedbyantonio.comGetting professional help is the way to go, it will impress would be home buyers, it will show well, it will sell faster and will bring in more money because it will give the impression that the house has been well taken care of, home buyers usually pay more for quality.

    Home buyers look at a lot of homes for sale before making an offer, and usually can spot those that have been poorly dressed for sale. There is the presumption that there might be even more problems resulting from neglect and hence will not even consider making a decent offer, the fear of discovering something more serious that require expensive repairs is well founded.

    Preparing the house for sale is a very important step, not only does the house has to show well, if you can prove that it has been well taken care of, and is in move-in condition, you will have an easier sale. The following steps ought to help you:

    • Pack before you put the house on the market, keep just essentials pieces needed for a comfortable living, put the rest on storage. Less is more when showing the house
    • Have a home and pest control inspections done well in advance, make sure you call a local, reputable company that can stand scrutiny.
    • Address any and all issues from the reports, have the work done professionally and with the necessary permits. Not only would you be protected from liabilities by their warranties, home buyers and appraisers will give more value to the house because of its condition.
    • Nothing is more inviting than a fresh coat of paint and some new flooring, special attention should be given to the front of the house, the famous "curb appeal" is very important. Fresh flowers ad color and life to a dull yard.
    • When it comes to paint, do not just go "hospital like" white paint, ad some warm, earth tone colors, and here is a trick, empty a small bottle of vanilla into the can of paint, it will give the house a nice "home like" kind of smell. This is a must if you have pets, or if there are smokers in the house.
    • Get some high wattage light bulbs and flood every room with light, and do not forget to have all windows cleaned. Speciall attention should be given to bathrooms and the kitchen. They should be well lit and spotless!


    Remember and double check this: the IRS sometimes considers any work done to the house up to 6 months prior to listing it as an expense of sale. Capital gain taxes could be reduced by the cost of fixing the house. There is another benefit to this approach of using professinal help: use all those invoices, warranties and bids as part of your real estate disclosures, make sure the buyers sign and acknowledge receipt of those documents.

    Sometimes I take my seller clients out of their house and walk them across the street, I ask them to turn around and look at their house with home buyers eyes... If they like what they see, we are fine, if they don't then we have some work to do. Happy selling!

    The Realtors In Motion                       Antonio & Alexia Cardenas

                                  "The Realtors In Motion"

    CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

    Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

    Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!

  • Home Sellers Should Go Undercover, Pose as Home Buyers to Find Out How Listing Agents Work

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in San Leandro, Home Selling in San Leandro, In My Neighborhood in San Leandro  |  April 18, 2011 7:43 PM  |  2,407 views  |  No comments

    If a future home seller would take the time to check the credentials of potential listing agents, they could very easily weed out those who are not fitted for the job. After all, a listing agreement presently will tie up the seller to his Realtor of choice for about 4 to 6 months. If you, as a home seller, have the wrong representation, it's your fault. You, Mr. Seller did not do your homework, as simple as that.

    Your house as viewed by others A quick look at my MLS, here in Alameda County, on the East shores of the San Francisco Bay, shows an incredible array of listings of all types. The ones that stand a good chance of attracting a home buyer, are those that simply have the basic information, i.e. a few photograhs, a good description of the property on the remark section, and an easy to find listing agent with an office with a person who actually answers the phone during normal working hours. A few Realtors even have the audacity to write on the comment section for other Realtors: "NO calls, only emails."

    The person who is going to be selling a property, should call on one of the listings of the Realtor he is thinking of giving the listing to and pose as a home buyer. Many things could come out of that conversation that could help decide whether this individual is the right person for the job. Here is a short list of the items to look for.

    1. How quickly does this Realtor responds to calls?
    2. Make a tentative appointment to see the house. How flexible is this person?
    3. Is this Realtor eager and available to show the house within hours?
    4. Ask where on the Internet you can find more information about the house
    5. Compare the Realtor's web site with others. How do the listings show?
    6. Is the site easy to navigate? Is information clearly presented?
    7. How well does this Realtor know your neighborhood? How does he sells it?

    In my area, I know there are a couple of listings that will probably never sell! One has a Realtor that works about 3 hours away. I can just imagine, how he reacts when someone calls and ask to see the house. Obviously, he just expects that putting the house on the Realtors MLS, another Realtor will sell it for him. Another moved out of state but still comes every now and then and lists homes for sale and his co-workers sort of take care of his business. If these sellers would have just made a couple of phone calls, and pretend they were home buyers, they would have seen how bad these houses were represented. Mistakes like these can costs home sellers thousands of dollars. Your house as viewed by others

    Do not allow YOUR HOUSE to be what I call an "Orphan Listing" Similar to REO's and some Short Sales, those are listings where it appears nobody is in charge! banks sometimes assign listings at random with agents who are not familiar with the area, and do not seem to spend any time advertising those listings. Their great marketing ploy is only to post the listing on the local MLS.

    Finally, if you already have your home on the market, go find it on the Internet! Find out how it shows, is it missing important information? use the list above and see what happens. On almost any real estate site on the Internet you can simply put your zip code and a price range, your house should show in all it's glory... or not! If your Realtor have done his/her job properly and professionally, and your house has not sold yet... REDUCE THE PRICE! 

           Antonio & Alexia Cardenas   

                      "The Realtors In Motion" 

             CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

                      Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

                         Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!

  • When Selling Real Property Stay Local. If Selling in San Leandro, CA. Hire a Realtor Who Knows San Leandro, CA.

    Posted Under: Home Selling in San Leandro, In My Neighborhood in San Leandro, Moving in San Leandro  |  March 4, 2011 7:18 PM  |  1,346 views  |  1 comment

    If you are selling a house in San Leandro, CA. You should hire a Realtor who knows San Leandro, CA. If you hire a Realtor whose office is too far from the property, you might be shooting yourself on the foot. A local Realtor will have far more flexibility and an expanded knowledge of your neighborhood than one whose office is miles away. Smart home sellers who choose a local Realtor to sell their home will be ahead when making their move. Via the Internet, Realtors advertise far and wide, and they flaunt knowledge of the entire county and even nearby counties, but can they really service all areas?

    A view of San Francisco bay from San Leandro, CA

    The personal knowledge that the local Realtors have about their area and their city is very important because this information when provided to a potential home buyer can help him/her choose this particular community versus another. There are communities that have very specific local point of sale ordinances that can become a serious legal problem for the seller, if not disclosed properly to the home buyer by his Realtor.

    If you are selling a house in the city of San Leandro, a community right across the bay from San Francisco, your Realtor should know everything about the city of San Leandro that a potential home buyer wants to know when considering moving to the area. Realtors are often asked about schools, demographics, crime statistics, distances to major airports, public transportation and local amenities among others. A professional Realtor not only needs to know this information, often times, uses it to attract potential home buyers.

    If a home buyer wants to see the house, and the Realtor is even 20 miles away, it will take him about half an hour to get to the house, spend about 15 minutes showing the property and then another 30 minutes to return to his office, without traffic, it will take about 1.5 hours to show one house, this is not something this Realtor will want do too often. A Realtor that is a within the city could get there within minutes, and that is the kind of service that benefits the seller the most.

    View of San Mateo Bridge from San Leandro

    After all, the most important part of the job of the listing agent is to market the property in such a way, that it attracts a lot of attention and therefore generates a lot of showings of the property. A local Realtor will be far more efficient by being close by than one that works too far away. And Realtors most likely won't advertise a lot in an area where they do not work all the time.

    I have been selling real estate exclusively in San Leandro, CA. since I become a Realtor in 1985. 98% of my listings are within the city, mostly in the neighborhoods of Bay-O-Vista, Estudillo Estates (where we live and work)  and Assumption Parish. When I receive a phone call on one of my listings, I often times surprise the caller by saying "... If you are in front of the house, I can meet you there in 10 minutes or less." It helps that my wife is also a Realtor and we work together, so one of us is always ready to go show a listing. We have been able to sell a few of our listings almost on the spot because of our ability to respond quickly.

    I highly recommend that home sellers hire local Realtors. If you need help choosing the right local Realtor, drop me a note, of give me a call, via my association with several groups of professional Realtors, I can find you within hours not only the 3 closest but the 3 most professional Realtors in your town. This is a FREE service! If you are thinking about selling, go ahead give me a call, I'll back my words.

    The Realtors In Motion       Antonio & Alexia Cardenas   

                      "The Realtors In Motion" 

             CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

                      Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

                         Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!

  • Home Sellers Who Understand The Appraisal Process and Use it Propely Will Sell Their Homes Faster

    Posted Under: General Area in San Leandro, Market Conditions in San Leandro, Home Selling in San Leandro  |  February 15, 2011 5:44 PM  |  1,281 views  |  No comments

    Setting the correct asking price for a house from the beginning, is by far one of the most important steps in selling the home. But how does the homeowner know what is the right price? Who sets the asking price? the seller? his Realtor? the home buyer? the appraiser.? How do they come up with the asking price?

    Smart home sellers should interview at least 3 local Realtors. In a typical listing presentation, the Realtor will bring a copy of the tax records for the subject home, plus real estate data from the neighborhood. This data includes homes offered for sale, pending sales (those that have already accepted an offer but have not close escrow yet) and a list of all homes that have sold in the area within the last 3-6 months similar to the one the owner wants to sell. Realtors call this a CMA (Comparable Market Analysis).

    Home seller's appraisal

    To set the correct asking price for the house, the first comparison will be to look at the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage. Chances are that the builder who built the neighborhood used the same floor plans and many homes in the area are very similar in sizes of lots, garages, fireplaces etc. The second part of the evaluation will include the upgrades or deferred maintenance that the subject property has incurred, adjustments can go up or down depending on condition. Home sellers who understand this data are actually doing an appraisal of their property, because that is the exact information that the buyer's lender will use to determine the value of the property for purposes of granting a purchase loan to the buyer.

    Even though not all homes are built equal, or maintained the same, the median price for the home should stand out pretty clear. Appraisers must prove the selling price with at least 3 recent homes sold in the area similar to the one they are appraising. Most appraisers will be far more conservative than the homeowner when it comes to assigning value to improvements. If you put a $20,000 kitchen, you cannot simply add $20,000 to the value of the house, remember that there used to be a kitchen there, and the value of the old kitchen must be reduced from the $20,000.

    Appraisal of a home The difference between a Realtor CMA (Comparable Market Analysis), and an appraisal are the forms in which the values are shown, other than that, they should both come up to the same price range, since the data available from the neighborhood is the same for both parties. Home sellers who want their property sold should pay attention to these numbers because it is here where the correct asking price should be set, leave a little bit of room to grant the buyer a small discount and make sure that the appraiser will have no problem coming up with the correct value of the house.

    Most home sellers will want the highest possible price for their homes and often times go way above the median price for the area and put themselves out of the market. Unfortunately their Realtors will go along with a higher price in order to represent the seller and take a listing thinking that down the road they will adjust the price to the correct level. Everybody loses in this scenario. If you are a seller, and your Realtor tells you a price, your next question should be: "Now, suppose I am the appraiser, can you show me 3 homes that justify that price?" If your Realtor cannot deliver, move on to the next one. Because if you do not, then you are going to be sitting on that house for a very long time. Even if your buyer comes along and wants to pay your inflated price, if the appraisal does not match the selling price, the bank will not lend and the buyer cannot buy, and you will not be moving any time soon, as simple as that.

    If you ever find yourself thinking about selling a property, email me a note, I can help you find the 3 top local Realtors that will come and give you a professional evaluation and help you sell your home for the highest amount of money possible, in the shortest period of time and with the least inconvenience to you and your family, and the best part of all: This service is FREE of charge to you.


    The Realtors In Motion       Antonio & Alexia Cardenas   

                      "The Realtors In Motion" 

             CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

                      Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

                         Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!

     
  • Are Home Borrowers The Only Ones with Ethical Responsibilities When Walking Away From Their Mortgages?

    Posted Under: Quality of Life in San Leandro, Market Conditions in San Leandro, Home Selling in San Leandro  |  January 31, 2011 4:57 PM  |  1,125 views  |  No comments

    One of my best friends is seriously thinking about walking away from his mortage via a strategic default. But his guilt and sense of moral obligation and ethical responsibiliies are killing him. He wants my opinion... he bought his home in 2007 for about $850,000 and it is now worth only $550,000. His payments are going to almost tripled the amount he currently pays in about a year.  A strategic default occurs when a homeowner stops paying their mortgage even though they are still financially able to do so.

    I told him the standard Realtor talk: I could not tell him what to do, he needed to talk to a his bank about possible options for a loan modification, also to talk to his CPA to understand potential tax liabilities, and to a lawyer for potential legal ramifications, and to consider the hit on his credit scores.

    Strategic Default?  Then we went off record, and as friends we discussed the issue in an open manner. I do not understand why is the homeowner the one that is supposed to be the only responsible party and to pay up and not go back on his promise to hold his own. A loan after all, is a business transaction between an investor and his partner, the borrower. The Investor puts up the money and expects a return in his investment, the borrower agrees to make payments until the loan has been paid off completely. Investor makes his money back plus some helfty profits and the borrower will end up with the property free and clear, hopefully worth a small fortune.

    There is no investment of any kind that has no risk at all. Lenders have always reaped good returns on those investments, and traditionally have had good  safeguards against losing. They even have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) that they ask the borrowers to pay for, and the government has a golden parachute to bail them out. How come they do not have moral or ethical obligations to make them feel guilty? They have scared people into staying in their homes and continue to make payments even though, those houses will remain underwaterl for many years.

    Home owners traditionally have paid their mortage, and their house was one of the major debts that they wanted to pay off first. The investors greed helped create the economic collapse, the no-money, interest only loans they sold to unqualified borrowers were irresponsible, they deserve to lose. Home borrowers already lost their downpayment, and their closing costs, along with their dreams, sometimes compiled with the loss of a job and their own self steem. Why should they feel guilty about losing the house? why should they be the only ones asked to be moraly and ethically correct? The lenders have recovered quickly and will go on making money. Homeowners, however, will take years to recover, if ever.

    We concluded that as equal partners in this transactions with the banks, homeowners should be able to call it quits, accept the loses and go forward and not feel guilty about a strategic default. Making high payments on a house that has no chance of providing a return for years to come is not in the homeowners best economic interest.

    My friend will let the house go, and start the recovery period, knowing that nobody will loan him money for at least 3-7 years. He will rent for a while, save money and be prepared to invest in homeownership again... sometime down the road. He realized that he has nothing to be ashamed off, or guilty of, he will lose his down payment or initial investment, it was a risk he took, the lender took a risk too, it is after all, a simple business transaction that did not pay off  for either party. If you make a bad investment, you have the right to walk away from it.


    The Realtors In Motion    Antonio & Alexia Cardenas   

                      "The Realtors In Motion" 

    CRS, GRI, E-Pro Certified. SFR (Short Sales, Forclosure Resource) Serving the east shores of the San Francisco Bay, Alameda county: specially the following cities: Castro Valley, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Hayward, Oakland, Pleasanton & Dublin.

      Visit us on line at:

    www.listedbyantonio.com or call (510) 326-4263

    Call us, We'll come and TANGO with you!

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