No Realtors are touching this question? I'm a little surprised. Ask 3 General Contractors and get 3 radically different answers. The shame is that you're supposed to know the loopholes and what questions to ask.
Keep in mind I'm a Journeyman Carpenter, who has built custom and tract homes, who became a Realtor later in life. My insight is multifaceted and volumes have been written on this topic.
First, get at least 3 estimates stating specifically what you want, from the foundation to the roof and everything in between. Will it include the utility hook-ups, driveway/sidewalk, landscaping/seed/or simple grading? Do you need an Architect or will they providing plans? Is the A/C and heating units green?. Solar? Warranties? Tile? Exactly what kind, where, quality, imported or domestic? Carpet, pad thickness, manufacturer, plain or cut pile, level loop, pattered loop... you're starting to get the idea.
Saving a buck is in most peoples minds and you may want to take care of installing floor ocverings yourself and that might save you a few bucks. Kitchens and baths are where the price/sq ft can be quite high and is where you can save if you're a do it yourselfer.
Most estimators in the bay area are throwing out numbers starting at $150/sq ft. Add tile in the kitchen and baths and that number goes up.
I can direct you towards a few Contractors who have built homes locally and whom I've done business with. Just let me know if you'd like those numbers. I am happy to help.
For good public schools (including high school), Albany is pretty much it. For instance, Oakland has some pretty decent neighborhoods, with decent elementary schools, but forget about high schools in Oakland (imho).... more
General inventory is still well below historical norms. Over the past 15 years the average inventory of available homes in Alameda & Contra Costa counties has been around 4500, today we are sitting around 2000. There are many factors that go into deciding if the time is right, the biggest for most people is monthly affordability. As interest rates go up affordability usually goes down. The other big factor is the very limited supply of 3 bedroom homes in Albany. If you decide to wait a while, do yourself a favor and continue to monitor the market. You never know when the right house might come along and a slim chance of getting the home you are looking for is better than none should you completely withdraw. Your agent or broker should be able to set you up on a automatic notification system for homes that fit your general criteria.... more
Carrie, I can't help but wonder whether you went on market in July, and how you did? I list and sell in Albany, and the market there has definitely performed differently this year than in the recent past. Larger homes, because there are so few, still sell for a premium, and homes that have been very upgraded. There was simply too much info left out of your query to reply, but overall, I would have said that $700K would be hard to achieve unless it was a large home and very unique. To several points below, Zillow is never a reliable source for comping, and location, architectural style, street, and upgrades are all very critical factors that have to be taken into account. Yuo didn't say whether you bought to sell for a profit, and whether you had to get 700K to make money, or were hoping for a windfall. Hope you did well, and hope you hired a local agent who understands the microdetails~... more
Keith is probably correct in his assumptions about the original development, but It's not just the schools that keep people in Albany. Another factor in the cities plan may have had the goal to create a large enough population base to be self supporting.
As an Albany native I would highly disagree with his blanket description of the houses themselves. The majority of the homes were built in the 1920's although there are a smattering of Victorians and some newer homes. I have been in many homes over the years of my friends, and truthfully i have watched some them be altered in perhaps not always the most desirable of ways.
However, originally, most of the houses had beautiful hardwood floors, fabulous fireplaces and Deco style ceramic tile. When I speak to current residents of Albany, they talk about their lovely homes with pride, and just try to get one to sell!!
Either Craftman style homes appeal to you or they don't, but they are called Craftsman homes for a reason. It's not just the schools that keep people in Albany.... more
Seth, Great queston. From your details I do not get that you are planning on selling in the next couple of years. Landscaping is always a good investment. It increases the appeal of the property. It depends on why you want the wall. Is it necessary, as a retaining wall? Or is it merely decorative? If you plan of living there a number of years before selling. I see nothing wrong with adding a wall. It will hold its value.... more