Foreclosure in Walnut Creek>Question Details

ally, Home Buyer in San Francisco, CA

I'm a buyer. When will sellers list their properties for sale after the holidays?

Asked by ally, San Francisco, CA Thu Dec 27, 2007

We are relocating for work. We have been looking for houses in Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area for the past 2 months. We are looking for a single family home with a flat yard and NO pool in a neighborhood that has sidewalks (for stroller walking) in move-in condition. Most of the current homes on market have one issue or another so they aren't suitable for my family or "newly renovated" but actually botched-up remodel jobs by obvious house flippers. Our realtor told us a lot of folks have taken their homes off the market for the holidays? When do people start listing their properties again? It's supposed to be a buyer's market, but there's nothing for us to buy. We are prequalified buyers who can buy a $1.2 MM home with a substantial down payment, and willing to close in 30 days on the right house. Will all houses in this price range need work before being able to live there?

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Small world Alice. I am also from Marina Del Rey (relocated to the bay area for work), and looking in Lamorinda, WC, Danville, and Alamo. We have been looking on and off in the area the past 12 months waiting for the market to adjust. What I have seen is the following: prices are all over the place in WC, and seems unstable. Danville is the same way due to competition w/ new construction. Lamorinda and Alamo have a lot of stubborn sellers refusing to lower prices which is why a lot of inventory has been sitting around forever or withdrawn off the market. Homes in the 1.2-1.4 range are about 20% over priced for what they are. Homes under 1MM also over priced, fixers or too small and also sitting around forever.

We are in a fortunate situation that we sold our house in MDR, and are renting a month to month place up here so we can take our time to find the right place. I would recommend doing the same so you get the right house for a decent price. The prices will come down in the area. It is already starting to happen. Just be patient, and dont overpay or you will lose your down payment in 12-24 months.

Just as an FYI...Northgate is located up a 30-40 min heavily trafficked street from the freeway and downtown WC. I would avoid the neighborhood if you have to commute anywhere in the morning.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2007
Hi Alice,
It is true that exposure sells homes and most of the Brokers tours are shut down during Christmas week and During the week of New Years. The local board of Realtors CCRIM tour for Walnut Creek is every Tuesday with the exception of the last two weeks. If someone was thinking of putting thier home on the market I would prefer they wait until the week following New Years so it is fresh for the January 8th Meeting. We have a few homes that meet your description and will be brand new and active starting tommorrow, and on tour for the brokers January 8th 2008.
Web Reference: http://www.mattirvin.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2008
Hi Alice - I live in West Walnut Creek - the homeowners association is Loma Vista
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2007
So, I think it's personal preference and opinion on housing - why purchasing homes can be more of an emotional event than others.

My husband came from L.A. His family live in Brentwood, Pasadena and Encino; o.k., not like MDR, but also very nice area in L.A., but he loves Marin and would not touch L.A., Sorry.

What you are paying for in the Bay Area is the natural environment, surroundings and quality of life. Coming from my last residence in Indiana, you can image the sticker shock, but whenever I look at my current surroundings, I am amazed at where I am.

If you look at some houses in the link below, you will see a lot of homes are surrounded by hills, trees, views; I did not include the ones with the Bay Views (more expensive). Every time my sister comes to visit, and we drive on one of the bridges, she would comment on the million dollar views and basically say that's why we are paying for what we are paying. .

Yes, we pride ourselves for having buildings that camouflage into the surroundings - my neighborhood just shut down a new development proposal - too modern and does not fade into the environment. The developer was proud for the great new builidng, but we said NO loudly. Yes, anothing thing we like to do is buying up open space or land to preserve. Anothe benefit of being here and why the housing prices are high :-)

Sylvia
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
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Alice,

Yes...the bay area (outside of SF) is more suburban than MDR and kid friendly. We are leaving the city for the east bay because I am pregnant and my husbands office is out there. You can get a larger house for less up here, but the remodels in general are terrible, in poor taste compared to westside LA in my opinion, and far from the shopping and restaurants of San Francisco (wait till you try to drive across the bay bridge on a friday night...the traffic makes LA look like a picnic) ....plus the upgrades are cheap home depot jobs and they expect 300-400k extra which is ridiculous. You will also notice people dont do much with their yards compared to LA. It is just grass and old trees.

I think people like things looking old and rustic up here, and after being here for awhile, I am getting more used to it. When I first got here, it was really depressing, but now I am seeing it as more charming to make the best of it. I still refuse to settle for a tacky house though.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Dec 29, 2007
O.K, I can't resisit this - Would not be a good Realtor if I don't try to sell my own area :-)

Any chance you want to move to Marin? Great place, and if you can commute to Novato, we have some outstanding homes in the $1.2M range. Although some are off the market for the holidays, but I am sure I can go through the temporary off market / withdrawn and expired listings also.

http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/MarinCounty

http://www.sylviasellsmarin.com/Forbes+Rates+Marin+Schools+B…

http://norcalmls.rapmls.com/scripts/mgrqispi.dll?APPNAME=Bar…

If you haven't been here, you should take a drive up - beautiful place, and great schools too!

By the way, for the houses you are looking for - if the market is slower now, I would look at price range higher than $1.2M (maybe $1.3M+ range) and don't be shy about offering lower - seller's motivation has a lot to do with what they will eventually sell for - two of my clients just got great deals on none foreclosure, none short sale homes - the sellers want to move and both of my clients have good position to buy (just like you , enough downpayment, great credit, short close); we asked for it, and we got it.

Best,
Sylvia
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2007
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Novato, CA
MVP'08
Contact
Thanks, everyone. We will continue to look. We have seen over 20 houses, some with features we like but also have feature(s) that we cannot live with. Our realtor really knows specifically what we are looking for based on our feedback from the houses we have seen.

John, what is the name of your neighborhood, so I can be sure to check it out?

Yes, Susan, I agree with some of your observations about price and size/quality of the homes and share your frustration. But having come from MDR, I am sure you can appreciate we can now get a home with that is more kid-friendly. There is a big difference between Venice High and Acalanes High. Any way you look at it, a 4 BR house in Lamorinda will still be cheaper than a 4 BR house in MDR.

I think the reason why some of the "upgraded" homes don't seem like good "value" to me is because their upgrades, although nice, are not my taste or were poor quality. I am sure the houses are also overpriced due to "upgrades". Does it really cost $600K to redo a kitchen and hardwood floors on a 2000 sq ft home?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2007
Hi Alice - The direct answer to your question is - It depends on the seller. Every situation is unique, just like yours and Susan's.

I live in Walnut Creek - on the hill east of 680 overlooking the the town. This is a great family area but lacks the sidewalks for strollers. But it's low traffic so you can use the entire street!

If you want to track the market, check out the link to our Market Detail Reports. They are updated every week and have the most detailed information available.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Dec 28, 2007
Hi Alice,
If the Sellers pulled their property, they will most likely put it back on after "Super Bowl Sunday," (which I believe is the first or second week in February). Others may wait to put their home back on around March, April, May. Your agent should look at the "withdrawn" properties and see if any match your needs. If so, your agent can contact the former listing agent or the Seller to see about showing their home. This is at least what I have done for past and current clients in the area. Is your agent from the area or from Marina Del Rey?

For $1.2M you can get some pretty good buys out there, depending on what your parameters are. Yes, you will run into some beat up fixers, as well as some botched remodel projects, but no matter what price range your in, you will run into that. With respect to finding a home with little or no work required, I think it depends on what the property. I have seen some enormous houses priced well below their comps. But those homes have had significant work that had to be done. On the other hand, I have seen some spectacular homes priced well above their neighborhood comps, but the Sellers did all the work and added a lot of "bells and whistles" to the property. Bottomline, it is all relative. Lamorinda has some great neighborhoods, but based on your price range, it may be tight to find a large enough home that will meet your needs. Of course, amongst the three towns in Lamorinda, I think Moraga may be your best bet to find something. Walnut Creek is great as well. And if you look in the Northgate neighborhood or even the Saranap neighborhood (WC address, but LAF. schools), there are some hidden gems within there.

Well the best of luck to you and hopefully you have a great agent that knows the area and that will help you find your dream home!

Happy Holidays.
Brian
Web Reference: http://www.tom-rochford.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2007
Alice-
I have three homes coming onto the market between the third week in January and early March. You will see the numbers increase most significantly in March and April, that is why i want to get my listings out ahead of the crowd.
You should be able to find very good value in your price range and many that are already remodeled enough to walk in and be ready to serve your family's needs. I can think of three homes that might work for you but i cannot interfere with your existing realtor relationship-- good luck.
Web Reference: http://www.apr.com/dougm
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2007
Often people re-list their homes after the first of the year. The first quarter of every year tends to be the busiest in Real Estate, so it's a great time to be looking/shopping.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Dec 27, 2007
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