Home > Blogs > Ken Lee & Mary Burns' Blog

Ken Lee & Mary Burns' Blog

By Ken Lee & Mary Burns | Agent in Piedmont, CA
  • Some Great Values in Montclair

    Posted Under: General Area in Oakland, Market Conditions in Oakland, Home Buying in Oakland  |  October 29, 2011 1:44 PM  |  5,992 views  |  No comments

    There are currently some great values in the Montclair District in the Oakland Hills.  Montclair is noted for it's excellent elementary schools, wonderful shopping district, and bucolic life style.  The homes there are surrounded by majestic trees and often offer serene canyon and hill views.  Some residents describe it as like living in a national forest.  Even in today's market the average price of a home in Montclair is over $700,000.

    As of today there are 24 homes in Montclair priced under $600,000 with 14 of those being offered at less than $500,000.  Here are a few examples:

    • 3 BRs / 2.5 BAs, 2586 sq ft, offered at $575,000
    • 2 BRs / 1.5 BAs, 1679 sq ft, offered at $469,000
    • 3 BRs / 2 BAs, 1605 sq ft, offered at $519,000
    • 3 BRs / 2.5 BAs, 1672 sq ft, offered at 529,000
    • 3 BRs / 1.5 BAs, 1795 sq ft, offered at $539,000
    • 3 BRs / 2 BAs, 1784 sq ft, offered at $539,000
    • 3 BRs / 2 BAs, 1446 sq ft, offered at $450,888
    • 2 BRs / 2 BAs, 1056 sq ft, offered at $342,000

    A few of the homes I listed here may require a small amount of cosmetic work or updating but all are in move-in condition and a few have undergone complete renovations.  I continue to be amazed by the number of quality homes we're seeing at attractive prices in some of the best neighborhoods.
  • Demand for Rental Housing Rises

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Oakland, Rent vs Buy in Oakland, Rentals in Oakland  |  October 28, 2011 12:30 PM  |  6,000 views  |  1 comment

    With the number of distressed sales and the tighter credit conditions we've experienced over the past several years demand for rental housing is bound to increase.  Based on anecdotal evidence this appears to be the case as a number of home owners have told us about the sheer volume of calls they received when they advertised their properties for rent on Craigslist.  The following news from Freddie Mac lends further confirmation to this emerging trend:


    For anyone contemplating purchasing an investment property now is the time.  Buying now will allow you to lock yourself into an attractive rate of return due to depressed prices and historically low interest rates.  Over time your annual return on investment, already excellent compared to current alternatives, will only grow as rents rise while your largest expense remains fixed due to the fact that you've locked in today's low interest rates.

    For those in their thirties and forties buying rental properties now can be a way to secure your retirement.  No one knows 20 or 30 years from now what form Social Security will take or if it will still be available.  But owners of rental properties will have a relatively reliable and steady income stream (or a significant lump sum available to re-invest should they choose to sell their property) to see them through their retirement years.
  • 3rd Quarter Market Report for Alameda County

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Alameda County, Home Buying in Alameda County, Home Selling in Alameda County  |  October 26, 2011 10:31 PM  |  5,942 views  |  No comments
  • Some Signs of a Bottom

    Posted Under: Market Conditions in Oakland, Home Buying in Oakland, Home Selling in Oakland  |  October 25, 2011 12:13 PM  |  5,982 views  |  No comments

    Some pundits are forecasting another dip in housing (particularly if the economy slips into another recession) before we see a bottom sometime in 2012.  On the flip side there is growing evidence that we may have already hit bottom and can expect to see sunnier days ahead.  This certainly appears to be the case in certain local markets across the country.  Other evidence making a case for a bottom include strong housing starts in September, growing homebuilder confidence, and an increase in mortgage applications.

    Prospective buyers should be aware that even if we see a stabilization of the market a full rebound will likely occur only gradually over time.  Much will depend on the strength of the economy and consumer confidence which currently remains weak.  But housing is such a large part of the national economy I am hopeful that just a stabilization in prices can have a significant impact on improving consumer confidence and hence the overall economy.
  • Real Estate a Good Investment Again

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Rent vs Buy  |  October 18, 2011 11:32 AM  |  5,683 views  |  2 comments

    Is real estate becoming a good investment again?  It is according to some key measures of value such as price-to-rent ratio, level of interest rates, affordability index, and relative yield vs. other investment classes.  The SmartMoney.com article below talks about each of these measures and makes the case that this is the right time to buy houses again:


    For investors multi-family properties may offer the best investment value both from a current cash flow perspective and for future capital appreciation.  It's been close to 15 years since I've seen such attractive valuations.  In Oakland multi-family properties in the most desirable neighborhoods routinely sell for 15-17x annual rents or more in a good market. Today you can often buy those same buildings for 10-13x annual rents or less.  This means that your rental income will likely cover all of your expenses including the mortgage payments and you may still have a few bucks left over at the end of each month.  Properties with 4 units or less are selling at prices that are closer to 13x than 10x annual rents but you can get financing terms that are more attractive, especially if you plan to live in one of the units.

    Longer-term housing trends also favor rental properties.  Since the bursting of the real estate bubble many people have become disillusioned with owning a home.  Some have lost or will lose their homes to foreclosure.  While this is a tragedy for those who are going through this hardship it is good news for owners of rental properties.  More people will be renting and this means a stronger rental market and growing rental income for owners.  And due to the fact that your largest expense (the mortgage) is fixed, the majority of any growth in rental revenue will likely end up in your pocket. More rental income also means your property value will increase because the value of your investment property is to a large extent determined by the amount of revenue that it generates.  In other words, rising rents will lead to more cash in your pocket and a higher value for your property.

    Investors should be aware that in cities with rent control (i.e. San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley among others) rent increases will be limited unless/until one of your tenants decides to move.  Nevertheless at today's prices and interest rate levels real estate is arguably the best investment option you can find today.

    Please feel free to contact me for more information about multi-family properties.  You can also post a question in the comments section below.

    Ken Lee
    Highland Partners
    DRE #01496964
  • Do-It-Yourself Project Videos

    Posted Under: Remodel & Renovate, Design & Decor, How To...  |  October 13, 2011 11:40 PM  |  5,545 views  |  No comments

    We've recently added a series of Do-It-Yourself Project videos to our web site.  I've posted one of the videos "How to Install a Dimmer Switch" below.  There are 7 project videos in all.  The other 6 topics are:

    • Installing a Vanity
    • Simple Tile Laying
    • Getting to Know Your Home's Breaker Circuit Panel
    • Installing a New Light Fixture
    • Repairing Dry Wall
    • Updating a Ceiling Fan

    To see these videos go to our web site at www.youreastbayrealestateteam.com and click on "Do-It-Yourself Projects" from the menu on the left hand side of the home page.  We'll add more project videos as they become available.  We hope you enjoy them.

  • 30-Year Rates Hit New Lows - Now under 4%

    Posted Under: Market Conditions, Home Buying, Financing  |  October 6, 2011 4:31 PM  |  5,636 views  |  No comments
    Rates have hit new lows again, falling under 4% for a fixed 30-year mortgage according to Freddie Mac:


    For buyers this really is the opportunity of a lifetime.  On top of these historic low rates there are still many great homes for sale at bargain prices in wonderful neighborhoods.  Of course many Americans are currently struggling with their finances in this weak economy and many more are still saddled with houses purchased at the top of the bubble 5-6 years ago.  But for those of you who are able to obtain financing but are still sitting on the fence, what are you waiting for?  We'd love to hear your feedback.
« Read older posts
Copyright © 2014 Trulia, Inc. All rights reserved.   |  
Have a question? Visit our Help Center to find the answer