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94703 : Real Estate Advice

  • All18
  • Local Info2
  • Home Buying7
  • Home Selling1
  • Market Conditions1

Activity 14
Sun Dec 24, 2017
Hermitlife asked:
I have a small, 700sqft house in R2 area of Berkeley, CA with lot of 2160sqft. I have 18ft setback in back and 14ft setback in the front. 40% of the lot will give me 864sqft. Is it possible…
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Wed Nov 22, 2017
Angelica P answered:

The photos have been removed from our display as you requested.

Thank you for using Trulia,
Consumer Care
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Mon Mar 30, 2015
Arpad Racz answered:
Hi Kaleb,

Yes, it is a good idea to have a chimney inspection, since a broken chimney can be a hazard, and can be costly to repair. It is a good idea to have any safety or expensive items known up front with inspections.

Kind regards,

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Thu Oct 16, 2014
Simon Watson answered:
I was an appraiser for 6 years and the rule then was any detached unit/cottage is not part of any
living space or bedroom count unless it is zoned multi unit or duplex. It can be considered as bonus space but not part of the GLA. You also have to be careful with FHA loans as bonus space can raise red flags.

Simon Watson
Keller Williams Realty-East Bay
(925) 286-7112
(510) 859-4773
BRE 01881304
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Thu Jun 19, 2014
Val Damico answered:

A typical rental will require a few documents to ensure landlord acceptance.

1, w2/ Tax Returns for both you and your boyfriend for the past 2 years

2. 4 most recent pay stubs or cashed pay check receipts

3. Detailed credit report(s) reflecting credit score and length of credit lines

4. Photo copied Identification for both you and your boyfriend

5. Finally, your going to need a good Rental Agent to help/ assist you in the finding of your new place.

Hope this helps,

Any further questions feel free to call me direct

Al the Best,

Daniel D'Amico
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0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Sun Dec 29, 2013
Tomi Thomas answered:
Parissa and Jim, your query doesn't really say why you want to approach the market this way. Perhaps you don't have the funds for a down payment, or you may think you can get the property cheaper by locking in a price now?

True rent-to-own deals are very rare in our market where properties sell quickly with competition. I can't think of a single real advantage to sellers and few to buyers. There are risks involved in "off - market" deals, as well, that you should be wary of. Corporate sellers (developers) have figured out the market is back, and if they are offering a rent to own, there may be fine print you want to look at very carefully. If they are serious about selling, they would likely just sell. Any seller offering to rent to you directly with an ownership path, may have some ulterior motive, like locking you in to spending more on a non-refundable basis. Either way, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be sure to have any contract you consider signing reviewed by a licensed real estate attorney. Be very cautious not to get caught up in the heat of moment scenario, thinking you've outsmarted the market.

If you have any available money for down payments and documented income, you might be better served by purchasing now and getting an FHA backed mortgage, 3.5% down payment. You'll have to look for a home outside of Berkeley to get that accepted, because you'll be competing with cash buyers...but if you buy a modest first home and put a little sweat equity in to it, you might do far better in the long run.

My advice is, rather than posting an open ended question on websites, visit some open houses, and talk to 3 or 4 agents in person about the market to get a better sense of how to capture a home in today's market. That will allow you to get answers based on questions they can ask that flesh out your situation, and get you better info that will put you on a path to success. Or, if you don't want to go to open houses...simply call the offices of some local agencies. They will put you through to the agent on duty to take calls (called the FLOOR agent), and you can ask some questions by phone, or make an appointment to go in and talk out details with a few of them. These agents will help you figure out what your real options are. If you can't buy now, the effort will still be worth it to figure out what you need to do for the future to become a homeowner. It's an education that is well worth the effort.

Good luck with your search. Remember, information is the key to success.
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1 vote 6 answers Share Flag
Fri Jun 21, 2013
Rie Yamaoka answered:
I lived in Berkeley, but not exactly in that area. But I drive through Alcatraz often. I wouldn't consider it safe for a female college student. If you were my sister or daughter, I would tell you not to walk by yourself at night. I don't have any crime stats, but it feels dark and with not many people in that area. ... more
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Mon Sep 17, 2012
Tomi Thomas answered:
Kaleb, I am curious. Did you ever purchase a home? What conclusion did you reach about this neighborhood. I'm always looking for feedback I can pass on to other buyers. I can take a brieg answer offline. ... more
0 votes 10 answers Share Flag
Mon Sep 17, 2012
Tomi Thomas answered:
Katey, great question. The answer is complex. I concur with most of what I see below, & these answers just scratch the surface, because a full discussion is too much to have on chat board.. I would add the following, in an effort to fill in a few of the spaces:
ONE: the reasons for identifying a Realtor* that you want to work with first are:
a. There are MANY moving parts to what you want to do. Working w/ a knowledgeable agent will make your effort more efficient & ultimately produce better results for you in both time & money.
c. Most properties in our markets don't "pencil out", meaning it's hard to find the ones that can be cash flow positive in the near term. When they come on market, they are gone before you blink.
d. You have to Lay down a base of knowledge, Put together your team (agent and lender and YOU), Confirm All of your financial information, & be able to submit a credible offer very quickly when a good match hits the market. An experienced agent will know what this means and help get you "in position" to be taken seriously as a buyer. Your agent is marketing you to the listing agent in the same way a seller's agent markets the property.
e. Your agent will recommend strong service providers who have a track record and an added incentive to perform on your behalf, because their (the service providers) reputation within an agency depends on that track record.. Your agent will know if your lender is not performing well, and can hold them accountable in ways that you can't.

TWO: The lender matters as much as your Realtor. And the particular lending agent within the lender you choose also really matters. This is not an area where you want a newbie working on your loan. Getting it right from the beginning can save you THOUSANDS of dollars on the purchase and many thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

Knowledge really matters in this market. I agree with all of Mary C's comments below. I prefer mortgage banking companies over the direct lenders, for a variety of reasons. RPM/LaSalle are my favorites - very tangible reasons.

THREE: Rent Control Laws Both Oakland and Berkeley have strong and complicated rent control laws. You will want to familiarize your self with them. This can be done after you choose your Realtor, but will need to be factored in as you decide on locations. There are additional expenses & restrictions involved in both. They really affect the experience you will have, & what you can qualify to purchase. Emeryville, Albany, Richmond Annex, El Cerrito, and the outlying areas do not have rent control, so you may want to include them in your search. An experience agent can ask you the right questions and explain in detail.

FOUR: Finding an agent. You want an agent who is very well versed in the areas you are interested in, & one who will ask you lots of tough questions before you get started. This is not really a good arena for a newer REALTOR, unless you want to spend lots of time learning together. Tough love from your agent is a good thing. Also, don't hire the agent you think will be your new best friend & spend extra time - that likely means they don't have a lot of business. Hire the one who knows the details, & is committed to not wasting your, or their time.

FIVE: How to make your agent the most effective.
Be clear about you expect from the agent, & test your asumptions. Ask the agents you interview "What do I (you) need to do to help us work effectively together". They will appreciate being asked. Every agent has had the experience of a client that comes in expecting the agent to earn their commission through time. Time is NOT the best measure of your agents professionalism,& the agents with the experience to help you make money on a property are not going to waste their own time on busy work.. You WANT expertise, & one measure of the agents effectiveness is getting you through the process in a shorter amount of time.. That said, the likelihood that you'll buy the first property that you really like is pretty slim, so you can have some confidence that you aren't going to be rushed through the process. You are probably looking at 90 days minimum, more like six months. You want the agent that is in it for the long haul, but is going to be the linebacker that gets you there in a manageable timeframe. The agent may not be the one to see the property first on the MLS. You should be working together as a team, and you should be actively working on identifying properties. The suggestion that your agent will be able to narrow the field of properties to the one's that are easy money makers does NOT accurately represent our market place. If you go into your search expecting that, it will cost you six months, easily.

I hope you won't be discouraged by my reply. Your model is very worthy...just get yourself a good agent who will help educate you...and then be prepared to work the system. Good luck!
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Sat Jun 4, 2011
Tomi Thomas answered:
P.S. 15K definitely falls within the threshhold of what is considered to be a high pest report, but it depends on where the work is, how far progressed, and how it affects the livability of the house. Definitely get multiple bids. ... more
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Fri May 13, 2011
Kouros Kirk Ansari answered:
Dear Daniel,

Condominiums are governed by the strict rules and regulations ( CC& R's) which are recorded and respected by all courts in California. They are one of the most powerful organizations in the system and I think unless they are willing to amend the CC &R's , you are waisting your time. I would try to buy in a subdivision where you are welcomed. Rossmore retirement community in Walnut Creek(very beautiful) may have a lower age restriction . It used to be 45 about 40 years ago. Hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to call me if you like to discuss this matter further. 415-819-7777. Best wishes- Kirk Ansari ... more
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Wed Oct 29, 2008
Tara-Nicholle Nelson answered:

This is a complicated question because of the relationships involved. To protect yourself, first - get a clear read on what the property - in its current condition - is actually worth on this market. Make sure that paying him $50,000 makes financial sense given the value. Second, get clear on what is legally involved with co-ownership with a friend; I wrote a column about this exact issue not long ago - here's the link:

Finally, sit quietly with yourself and try to understand how your friend ended up in this situation. Sometimes, but not always, people have a habit of not handling their business in a buttoned up way - get clear on whether your friend has a pattern of this sort of thing that might warrant caution before doing a transaction with her.

Also, get clear on the agreement between you and your friend. Are you looking for any upside from helping her with this? Understand that if you go on a mortgage with her - whether or not you go on title with her as well - YOU are jointly and severally liable for the mortgage, until the home is sold or refinanced out of your name. That is, your friend could die, become disabled, or just desert the scene, and you would still be responsible for paying the mortgage. If she falls on hard times and can't or doesn't pay the property taxes - the County will come after you for them. If that is not okay with you, then you might not want to do this transaction.

With respect to first time homebuyers' programs, the City of Berkeley doesn't really offer anything helpful for your situation. If you work for the University or the City or anything like that, check with your HR departments re: whether there are any programs of that sort that can help. You may be eligible for a low-down payment/loan-to-value loan through the FHA or CalHFA, but that depends on a number of factors. I would definitely talk with a reputable, ethical mortgage broker to get more info - if you need a name and number, drop me a line - I'd be happy to make a referral!

Tara-Nicholle Nelson
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Mon Mar 31, 2008
Lisa Cartolano Ellen Diamond answered:
Timing the real estate market can be like trying to time the stock market--you can't predict what will happen in the future.

Berkeley is still a desirable place for many to live and evaluating the market in your area will really help you get a good handle on how your home compares to others in your area. You are correct that San Francisco and Berkeley are different markets. San Francisco has not been affected by the townturn in the real estate market to the same degree as Berkeley and surrounding areas, but properties are still bought and sold in every market, so really taking a look at your local market will help you understand what is going on in your area.

One reason you may want to consider moving before the end of the year are the changes in the conforming loan limits. As part of the ecnomic stimulous package recently signed into law conforming loan limits have been increased to $729,750. This will not only help you when looking to purchase a property in San Francisco, but will also help buyers to look at buying in Berkeley as well. When selling your home, many buyers who could not qulify for a first time home owners loan through FHA, now can. Thes limit changes are currently in place until the end of the year and then are due to reset to the origional loan limit of $417,000 in 2009.

Being informed about the current market can help you make a decision regarding moving, but ultimately I would say look to see what works best for your family.

If you would like more information regarding how the market is in your area where you home is currently, I can send you information regarding comps in the area.

Lisa Cartolano
Alain Pinel Realtors

Visit my blog Real Estate Without The Schmooze at
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