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Eric M. Abrams' Blog

By Eric Michael Abrams - California Real Estate Broker | Broker in San Diego, CA
  • I'm the Best Real Estate Agent on Trulia.com Period!

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Francisco, Home Selling in San Francisco, Foreclosure in San Francisco  |  March 11, 2011 11:03 PM  |  2,517 views  |  3 comments
    I sell homes, I volunteer, I have a great dog, I love kids, I'm the best person in the world, I have tons of experience, I love the environment, I'd never step on a snail, in fact I'd halt traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge, just to let that tiny snail cross. I'm a vegetarian, who also eats meat. I run only energy star appliances, I also drive a gas guzzling SUV (actually I don't- it's very economical at 30mpg, but we'll talk about that later), I'm a wind surfer, I'm a photographer, I run marathons, I ride bicycles, I give the guy on the corner $20.00 every time he asks, I work for you 24/7/. I don't sleep. Sleeping is for agents who don't succeed, and well, like Charlie Sheen says, I'm "WINNING." 

    That's the type of real estate agent I am. Don't you want me working on your behalf? Actually, I'm a real estate broker, king of all agents- even better right. Let me pound my chest for a second, because I answered 50-more questions on a multiple choice test- ARGHHHH...

    Seriously folks, I'm getting so tired of reading the same old lines from realtors who tell you how great they are at this and that, and surely you must be too. Look the gig just aint that hard. Ya help your client find a home, fill out a some paperwork, negotiate a bit, and badda bing, badda boom, ya got your client a new house. Maybe I'm just a genius, and it's easy for me. I mean it is possible, that I have above average intelligence. I'm not talking Spok, I'm at Einstein levels here. E=MC4, I'm twice as smart as that German guy. 

    So, here ya go, the most honest pitch you're ever going to here: 

    I sell real estate, so I can pay my bills. Yes I enjoy it at times, and at other times I'd rather be kite boarding (if only I knew how- looks fun eh?). It's like any other job. Sure I'm attracted to it, as I started several business in my youth, and I've been involved in finance since I was a young lad and all through college, but come on peeps. If I had the cash, I'd be in Maui drinking, from coconuts, climbing up the damn trees to get them, so I'd be ripped like Tom Hanks in that movie "Cast Away." I'm a Broker remember ARGHHH!!!!

    So, if you want an honest agent you've stumbled upon his blog. If you want someone who wants to dazzle you with reasons as to why they're more sacred than the Pope, there's plenty lurking the halls of the Internet. 

    Thanks for following along, as usual. I just got back from Berkeley Iron Works Climbing Gym. It was lots of fun. I didn't donate anything there, other than a few calories and a few bucks for some power bars- hence the chest beating. I am real estate broker, hear me roar! ARGHHH!

    Have a great weekend, and look, if ya find a house you want to look at, call me. We'll go check it out. I won't bug you for the rest of your life and, well, we might even have fun during the buying process, I promise I won't be busy taking my dog for a walk along the beach, or volunteering 8-days per week, or giving 99.9% of my life savings away to.....you get the point...

    Cheers mates, 
    Eric M. Abrams
    California Real Estate BROKER!
    510-332-6314 Direct

    Highland Partners - BH&G - Mason Mc Duffie
    342 Highland Ave.
    Piemdont, CA 94611

    CAR Lic. r01862927
  • Luxury Sales Bounce Back in a Big Way. What's the Mean for You?

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in San Francisco  |  June 2, 2010 9:06 PM  |  2,152 views  |  No comments

    It appears that the U.S. luxury market is finally making some headway. As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, the U.S. luxury market is showing a dramatic rebound, especially in metro areas such as Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, and even Las Vegas.

    This dramatic claim is backed up by the numbers. Since the start of 2010, there were 2,461 closings nationwide during the first quarter of 2010 (Q1) that were priced between $2-million and $5-million.  

    That number is up a whopping 32% from last year. Historically, when the end of a recession finds a bottom, high-end products begin to sell again.

     For example, the sale of private planes, sports cars, and expensive watches, etc. are all closely watched as their correlation to a healthy economy is so strong.

    In fact, one of the most accurate correlations has been the ob
    servance of the yacht market. When boats sell the markets rise and when yacht sales sink, so too does the market.  No pun intended. 

    With that said, the following "luxury" companies such as F
    errari, Apple Computer, Rolex, Lamborghini, Airbus Business Jets, Gulfstream, and Boeing Business Jets, are all showing incredible signs of life.  A few of those companies are experiencing record quarters. Did we reach the bottom? The only way to tell is when we see prices start to climb for several quarters, and people jump back in to the market. 

    If one were to buy a home with the idea of living in it for the next 5 to 10 years, "I'm going to throw it out there," historically you're going to fare quite well indeed.

    In fact, last Sunday, I held an open house in Piedmont, California that was 2,050 sqft. at 1728 Trestle Glenn for $1,099,000.00, complete with a pool and some wonderful updates and remodeling performed. I won't guess what this home will be 10-years from now, but I will guess that it will be higher. 

    And by the way, if you were ever curious about how the wealthy move; they move by Mercedes Benz, of course (as evidenced above). 

    Thanks for following along and as always, I encourage and appreciate your comments and suggestions. 

    Eric M. Abrams
    California Real Estate Broker
    415.669.4358 San Francisco Direct
    510.332.6314 East Bay Direct

    Highland Partners Prudential
    342 Highland Avenue
    Piedmont, California 94611

    C.A.R. r01862927

  • FHA Loan - Then and Now

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Francisco  |  June 2, 2010 11:20 AM  |  2,081 views  |  No comments

    In 1934, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created by the National Housing Act for the primary purpose of insuring long-term residential mortgage loans and, thereby, promoting home ownership in the United States. Today, the FHA is the largest government insurer of mortgages in the world.

    FHA loans have surged in popularity. In 2005, government-backed FHA loans represented about 2.8% of total loans originated. Today, the number is closer to 30%. Over the past couple of years, as credit standards tightened, FHA loans have become the loan of choice for many homebuyers.

    Contributing to the popularity of FHA loans is that the maximum loan amount limit has increased from $417,000 to as much as $729,750, depending on the county in which the home is located. Also, if you qualify for a loan, the loan-to-value (LTV) ratios are potentially higher than those for conventional mortgage loans. With FHA loans, a buyer can borrow up to 96.5% of the value of a home. The potential for a higher LTV also makes FHA loans an attractive option for homeowners wanting to refinance. And FHA loans come with fixed mortgage rates providing stable payments over the life of the loan. Also, FHA closing costs can be financed into the total amount of the mortgage.

    Traditionally, FHA mortgages were used to assist first-time homebuyers who may not have otherwise qualified for a loan. But FHA loans are no longer just for first-time homebuyers. They are increasingly used by move-up buyers. The only restriction is that a purchaser may have only one FHA loan at a time.

    If you would like to learn more about the FHA loan process — please contact me today. 

    Eric M. Abrams
    California Real Estate Broker
    510.332.6314 Direct
    510.428.1224 Fax
    Executive Sales, Leasing, and Investment

    Highland Partners Prudential 
    342 Highland Avenue
    Piedmont, CA 94611

    Your referrals, comments, and suggestions are sincerely appreciated and noted. DRE License# 01862927

  • Solarium Power is so 1970s. Move over Space Fans here comes the Fuel Cell!

    Posted Under: Going Green in San Francisco  |  May 12, 2010 2:38 PM  |  2,016 views  |  No comments
    Sure George Clooney was great in Solarium, I mean come on, they guy is wold class, right?  When isn't he great a great performer?  So you'll have to forgive me for "borrowing" the title for my ever expanding appreciation of alternative energy sources and as the title for this article. 

    In fact, if you ever sat through the movie, Solarium, that is, you'll know it took place on a space station, at some point in the future.  Space stations, most of them at least, are powered by massive solar panels, that are carefully transported into space aboard the ever aging Space Shuttle. Snoozing yet? 

    I'll get to the point quickly.  Those space based solar panels work wonderfully. Why? Because they're so large and the sun's rays don't have to filter through our pollution clogged atmosphere! Enough with the science. How big are these things? Well, in rough terms, the solar arrays on the International Space Station are cumulatively the size of multiple football fields.
    Here you go space fans, take a look for yourself.  That's right the International Space Station has zero curb appeal.  I wouldn't buy it, that's for sure.  Those big solar cells are ugly, inefficient, and they take up a heck of a lot of "space." I guess, space here has a double meaning.  I mean they literally take up outer space and their dimensions are massive (if you found humor there, you're probably still reading. If not, I hope you learned something about the space station, at least).

    Now, let's bring solar cells to our own backyards or to be more precise, our rooftops, some 200 miles beneath the Space Station, and within our smog choked and cloud covered atmosphere.  In order for a home to substantially benefit from solar power, one must be ready for quite a project. Not only must the average sized roof be absolutely covered with solar cells, but even when that's done, an average U.S. household still uses more energy than these cells can provide, in some cases, quite a bit more. Furthermore, what happens at night when the sun is fast asleep, but you still want to keep your energy star compliant fridge operating or maybe, just maybe, you want to have dinner ready for your loved one who's been hard at work, slaving away in order to  pay for the "luxury" of having those massive and unattractive power collectors placed upon your roof? Well, that's when then energy companies come back into the fray.  PG&E is in the Bay Area is ready and waiting, but pick your poison elsewhere. Most power in the U.S. comes from clean burning coal plants (clean burning coal sounds like an oxymoron to me, but through the magic of carbon credits, polluting power plants can continue polluting while paying what amounts to a fine, in order to buy clean credits from clean producing power companies, some located halfway across the planet), but the rest comes from good old fashion nuclear power, and a very small portion is starting to come from wind turbine, a few tossed together experimental solar farms, and a handful of hydroelectric power plants. But, who are we kidding. We're a meat and potato country (in honor of Al Gore, I mean to say we're a meat and "potatoe" country or was that Dan Quayle, who can keep them straight anyway). In energy terms that means we mostly rely on fossil fuels to fuel our ever increasing appetite for energy. Everything from the Macbook Pro I'm typing on, to the Xbox your children play on, consumes power, and most of that simply comes from good old, and I mean really old, "dino juice." For the sake of argument, I did read that there's a theory the earth is producing oil 24/7, so we should fear not. But, then again, I also read a theory that we have a 1 in 10,000 chance of being wiped out by an asteroid during any given year.  So, I don't know who to believe when it comes to these things. Maybe it all boils down to enjoying life while you're healthy enough to do so. Which is really at the crux of this article. Keeping the air we breath and the oceans we depend upon clean, is important, in fact it's vitally important. It's so important that in the 1950s we felt it all but our national and worldly duty to exploit the most revolutionary invention humankind has ever created The splitting of the atom!

    You know that world changing power generation technique, otherwise known as the invention Mr. Albert Einstein claimed was one humankind's greatest blunders: Nuclear Power. Yep, there sure are quite a few of these nuke plants operating, and given that they're so darn clean, safe, 
    and trouble free, the federal government has decided now is a brilliant time to start issuing new permits to build a few more of these marvelous facilities. Never mind the fact that a massive fault line was "just" discovered directly beneath Diablo Nuclear Power Plant. 

    But what if there were something different, something that produced power 24-hours per day per day, was no larger than a small refrigerator, and could power your home and then some? The future has arrived and for about $50 grand, plus $12k to install, you can have a spiffy new fuel cell, churning away, pollution free, converting energy from water in your own backyard.  Too good to be true or too expensive to be practical?  Well neither, really. 

    Residential on-demand fuel cells, that do not store hydrogen, are now being installed in homes across California. Just how simple are they to install?  Very. They require nothing special, take up little space, and can pay for themselves in 5 to 7-years or less, depending on the price of your electric and gas bill.  Keep in mind, you can convert your gas powered heater to electric, as you'll be producing electricity 24-hours per day! 

    What's the catch?  Well, peeving your local utility company and forcing them to purchase all the electricity you do not use, for example, when you're sleeping or when you're on vacation. In other words there is no catch, and the price will continue to decline, to boot. They're even guaranteed for 10-years with upgradable warranties, are manufactured by a state-of-the-art company and can dramatically increase the value of your home. 

    Imagine selling your home 5-years from now and advertising the fact that it comes with free electricity, heating, air conditioning (we all need it a few days each year), or free electricity to power your 2015 plug-in Prius or Plug in Lexus, or Plug in (
    insert brand here) for life. 

    The point is, the average solar system requires a tremendous amount of maintenance, is extremely ugly to most home owners and potential home buyers, and wo
    rks at its rated output only during the most idealistic of times. Meaning that you're usually getting only a small portion of what you've paid for. On cloudy days forget about it. Have an unusually shaped roof or roofing material- tile or slate- forget about it.  Is your home oriented incorrectly to the sun, sorry sir. I can go on, and the argument will go on, until the world finds a solution to the current energy crisis that we're all facing, whether we want to believe it or not.

    But, there are options that can be implemented today and from a practical standpoint, solar is yesterday's news and fuel cells, which can earn you money by selling the electricity you don't use back to your local power plant (most states require electric companies to repurchase unused power produced by residential alternative energy plants), are here to stay, and are most certainly the way of the future. 

    For more information about going Green and about buying or selling a Green home in California I encourage you to contact me at any time via phone or e-mail. 

    There are a lot of agents to choose from when buying or selling your next home, but there's only one who has experience in residential fuel cell installation:  the author of this blog. Combining real estate with green technology is my passion. I look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate this to you. 

    Thanks for following along! 

    Eric M. Abrams
    California Real Estate Broker
    510.332.6314 Direct
    510.428.1224 Fax

    Highland Partners Prudential 

    342 Highland Avenue
    Piedmont, CA 94611
     DRE License# 01862927
  • When does your "Contingency Period" Start and End?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Francisco  |  May 8, 2010 7:04 PM  |  10,946 views  |  1 comment
    One of the most confusing aspects of purchasing a home is determining when a contingency period starts and ends. In this article, I'll attempt to demistify the confusion allowing you to clearly understand the time frame you have to work with when buying your first, second, or even third home in the Golden State.

    Within California when one submits an offer to purchase real estate, unless otherwise specified, they are submitting what is called a contingent contract.  This means you're agreeing to purchase the Property you've selected contingent upon certain conditions being met. Sometimes this is referred to as a "conditional contract." Though, in real estate, such contracts are always referred to as a contingent contracts.

    A few examples of contingencies that may pertain to your situation are:
    • The home must appraise at the level you're buying it for.
    • The home must be free of major defects or previous major repairs.
    • You must be able to qualify for a loan to purchase the home.
    • Etc., etc. There are a myriad of reasons you are not purchasing a property immediately, but agreeing to do so after giving it a thorough inspection to make sure it meets your criteria.

    Every real estate transaction is different and some transactions have no contingency periods at all.  But, what is great about a contingency period is that it gives you, the Buyer, time to examine the home from rooftop to foundation and to decide if the home, you've made your contingent offer on, is right for you. One would never purchase an expensive used sports car without first taking it to a mechanic to make sure it was in tip top shape. The contingency period in real estate is quite similar, in that it allows you to make sure you're getting what you pay for.

    Real estate contracts can be confusing and filled with legal jargon, but in California, unless otherwise stated, the contingency period will start the day after the Sellers accept your offer to purchase their property. With that in mind, if the Sellers of the property you're purchasing accept your purchase offer, and then sign your offer at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning, your contingency period will begin at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday (the following day), and end seventeen (17) days later. The only caveat to this time period is that should the seventeenth (17th) day, or any other length of time agreed upon, end on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the contingency period will automatically expire on the next business day. 

    For example, if a Buyer places an offer to purchase a Property on May 3, 2010 and their offer is accepted by the Seller on May 6, 2010.  Their contingency period will begin on May 7th. In this case, seventeen (17) days later would be Sunday, May 23, 2010. Remember, Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays do give some added benefit to the Buyer in the form of extra days. 

    Since May 23, 2010 will not count, as it is the last day of the contingency period and it falls on a Sunday, the next day, Monday, May 24, 2010 will serve as the final day of the contingency period. This will occur automatically with nol action required by the Buyer or his or her Realtor.
    Of course not every Realtor remembers the rules, so if the last day of your contingency period does end on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, it's a good idea to make sure the Seller's Realtor is aware of that fact, so that no unnecessary stress unfolds during the final days and hours of the contingency period.  

    Confused? Don't be. This is but one reason why you have a real estate agent, who's job it is to make sure no deadlines are missed and that your well protected.

    With that in mind, unless otherwise specified, this means you have seventeen (17) days from the start of the contingency period, to the time you must remove all contingencies, cancel the transaction, or request a contingency extension. However, a word of caution is needed here. Keep in mind the Seller is under no obligation to offer you a contingency extension, and it is often the case that such requests are denied. Therefore it is best to avoid putting one's self in that position all together.

    This is why it is crucial that you not miss a contingency period time frame by failing to remove contingencies or cancel ones purchase contract within the given time period specific to your purchase contract.  Being negligent in this area can have grave financial consequences. It is possible you may forfeit your earnest deposit and be liable for other damages, simply by being late in removing contingencies or by not canceling your offer to purchase in a timely manner.

    This again, is but one of the primary reasons it is crucial to work with an experienced and responsible real estate agent.  Sellers can be understanding, but they can also be opportunists, especially in a tough real estate market, and a minor misjudgment of dates can have a major effect on your wallet.

    Now that you have a grasp on when your contingency period begins and when it ends, make sure to order all of your home inspections and speak to your loan officer, as soon as possible after a Seller accepts your contingent purchase offer.

    For more in-depth information, please feel free to contact me anytime.  Lastly, keep in mind all real estate contracts are unique with no two contracts being the same. In California the standard contingency period is seventeen (17) days.  Though, when drafting a purchase contract for residential properties the option exists to ask the Seller for a greater number of days. For example, It is quite common for Buyers to ask for twenty-one (21) days, to allow for extra inspection time.  Though again, a Seller is under no obligation to grant you this request and if there is a popular property you and your Realtor feel will receive multiple purchase offers, it is best to present the Seller with the strongest offer possible.

    Requesting a longer contingency period may weaken your position, if the Seller is comparing your offer to that of another Buyer, all else being equal. And, in nearly all cases, seventeen (17) days is ample time to have the home you've selected thoroughly vetted and for any additional negotiations, such as repair requests to be presented to the Seller.

    Thank you for following along. If there is a particular topic you'd like to see me write about, here, in the future, please let me know!


    Eric M. Abrams
    California Real Estate Broker
    510.332.6314 Direct East Bay
    415.669.4358 Direct San Francisco
    510.428.1224 Fax


    Prudential Highland Partners
    342 Highland Avenue
    Piedmont, CA 94611

    CA DRE# r01862927

    - Sitting Board Member on Oakland Board of Realtors MLS Advisory Board
    - Certified International Fine Homes Agent
    - Green Technology Home Consultant and Green Living Agent with first hand experience         using the latest technology, such as fuel cell residential power generation, solar, and wind turbine, water recapturing, etc.

    The above represents the opinion of Eric M. Abrams only.  I am not an attorney nor a certified public accountant ("CPA"). It is essential to check all of the facts above with an attorney and a CPA prior to taking any action, whatsoever. The above article is written solely for entertainment purposes and may have material errors contained herein.  It is essential that the information above not be relied upon in any manner without first contacting a qualified attorney and CPA who are able to guide you through the pros and cons of the various issues discussed above.
  • Is Real Estate still the best investment a person can make? What do you think?

    Posted Under: Home Buying in San Francisco  |  January 27, 2010 4:33 PM  |  1,893 views  |  2 comments
    Per personal request, I was asked to create this blog in response to the above question asked by Mott Kornick of Bal Harbour, FL.  I was told that it may help home buyers who are considering purchasing a home in the near future. I hope it will help you, in some manner. Keep in mind, the writings below are verbatim and were not originally written to be a blog entry, but due to strong positive response, I've decided to start my first blog on Trulia.  Without further adieu: 

    Question: Real Estate is still the best investment a person can make. Especially NOW. What do you think?

    The rule of thumb is to never invest more than you're willing to lose. I was a professional investor for one (1)-decade. It's impossible to to say if any investment is the "best" investment. 

    Each investor has their own definition of "best." Each financial advisor has their own opinion of "safe." 

    From a strictly technical standpoint, no, real estate is NOT the safest investment one can make. That would be reserved for a federal savings bond or another FDIC product. Even then, is the product insured against nuclear war, if one truly wants to go to the extreme? 

    The best investment one can make, is to diversify their assets across a wide and varied landscape of investment products, including real estate, if you so desire, but maybe excluding it as well. 

    It depends upon a myriad of factors and only you and an experienced financial advisor can sit down together and figure out what the best investment portfolio for your particular situation should look like. 

    I do not agree that real estate is the best Investment an individual can make. Real estate is truly not meant to be an investment. It is meant to be a home, a place to raise a family, or a place to provide one with shelter. 

    While it's true that many use real estate as investment devices, they are particularly poor investment vehicles for a number of reasons A) They are not liquid and cannot be easily bought or sold B) they are not guaranteed to gain value the way in which many annuities, bonds, and certificates of deposits are C) they require a tremendous amount of upkeep, tenants, and they are also subject to Economic Obsolescence. 

    The only reason I would encourage an investor to purchase any type of property now, be it a $5m complex with a 10% cap rate or a 15% cap rate, for that matter, is if they have a long-term horizon. 

    Otherwise they're essentially gambling with their money. They're investment may pay off or they may lose it all. 

    We've already seen the results of average citizens investing in real estate, and the results have been devastating. Families have been torn apart, long term employees have lost their jobs, professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and bank managers are out of work and can't find employment, and our entire credit system is in shambles. 

    As a real estate professional, I do not think now is the time to encourage a client to invest. We're seeing little signs of true recovery, in any sector of the economy. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is up slightly, but it's impossible to tell if that's due to the stimulus plan or to consumer spending. Of course, most financial analysts will tell you it's due to the former. 

    Real estate should not be treated as an investment in this economic climate. While it's tempting to purchase a property for $800,000, that may have been selling for $2-million several years ago, it's also important to compare such an investment to other bubbles. 

    For example, compare the cost of Cisco Systems (CSCO) to its high. Years ago it was worth twice was it is today, and when it began to dip, much as real estate has, people bought up the stock with abandon. It's never recovered, and likely won't for many, many years, as it was absurdly overvalued. That is but one example of thousands. 

    Asking such a question, in my opinion, indicates a lack of knowledge of investments and with due respect it's not wise to assist your clients in investment properties unless you A) have a tremendous background in investments, equities, and specifically real estate development OR B) are 100% aware of the laws which govern the sale of investments. 

    Selling a property advertised as an investment, can be governed under the Federal Trade Committee. They can and will prosecute you, if you do not provide your clients with professionally written disclaimers, that only an attorney will have the capacity to draft. 

    I'd strongly advise you to be cautious in the wording you use in your advertisements, given the nature of crackdowns that are taking place across this nation, rightfully so. The vast majority of real estate agents are not qualified to give investment advice of any kind, beyond the most mundane. While there are exceptions, make very sure that you meet the minimum qualifications for giving such financial advice. Real estate brokers and agents are opening themselves up to tremendous liability by suggesting "XYZ" is sure to gain value, given its current price. 

    Eric M. Abrams 
    California Real Estate Broker
    CA DRE # R01862927

    *The above is not a solicitation to sell real estate and should be considered to be entertainment only. Eric M. Abrams is a licensed real estate broker with the California Department of Real Estate.  Eric is not a licensed financial advisor in the State of California.  The opinions expressed above are the sole and separate opinions of Eric M. Abrams only. 

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