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Home Buying in Albany : Real Estate Advice

  • All37
  • Local Info3
  • Home Buying9
  • Home Selling4
  • Market Conditions3

Activity 16
Fri Dec 9, 2016
Rich Reed answered:
It would depend on what the multi-unit housing is replacing. My opinion is, if it's replacing single family homes on large lots, then it probably would tend to decrease the value of surrounding homes. If it's replacing dilapidated and unsightly areas, then it would tend to increase surrounding home values. ... more
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Wed Oct 14, 2015
Terri White answered:
Trulia compiles that information under the "Median Sales Price" and compares the list price and the sales price. There is indeed a map showing where the sales are located and price. Let me know if you can't locate it, and I'll be happy to send it t you directly, as I'm not sure if it just shows up on the agent portal or the public portal.
Terri White
Berkeley Hills Realty
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Thu Jul 23, 2015
Cindy Davis answered:
Ask the listing agent of the property to remove them.
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Wed Sep 10, 2014
Roger Grubb answered:
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.

Take care,
Roger Grubb
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Mon Oct 7, 2013
Rae Claire answered:
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
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Tue Jun 25, 2013
Jamie Edson answered:
As a native of Albany, I would love to tell you that Albany is safe. However, I was personally a victim of crime in Albany. The brother of a girl I was friends with at Albany High School murdered another Albany girl. Of late, I can think of two serious crimes that occurred in Albany. Now I am talking about over a span of many years, but there is no place that is "safe".

There is only "safer than". Some streets in Albany are "safer than" others. Albany is safer than some towns and less so than others. Those databases mentioned will help you determine statistics. Another tool for you to compare cities is the Megan's law database.

I currently live in a town which the media crucifies as being incredibly unsafe. Yet I feel safe where I live for the most part. Enough to walk my dog late at night, at least in the neighborhood where I live. So neighborhoods are perhaps more a barometer than an entire city or smaller town, and I don't believe you will find statistics for those.

One thing I do, is ask the local police about the number of calls made to specific neighborhoods. I would ask long before I gave myself the opportunity to fall in love with a specific house, so your judgement is not clouded.

Choices that you make are as big a factor in your safety as your location. As a teen in Albany, I made a bad choice and put myself in totally avoidable danger. I am not blaming myself. This is simply a fact, from which I learned not to make similar mistakes.

A choice you can make after you find your new home is to head a neighborhood safety group. There are both online ( and in person groups ( All neighborhoods are made safer when residents become actively involved.

Good luck, Jamie Edson

DRE# 01796294
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Thu Apr 4, 2013
Lisa Cartolano Ellen Diamond answered:

The differences are not particularly significant. Base property taxes are the same across Alameda and the difference in the tax basis comes from the cities and local ordinances that have been applied. There are ordinances that have been voter approved for libraries, schools, etc. and this can change the tax rate in different areas of a particular city as well.

The county is portion of the property taxes are the same for all cities located in Alameda County. This county portion is 1.0%

The average tax rate in Albany is 1.3814% with the city portion .1620%, the education portion .2032%, miscellaneous 0.162

In Berkeley the average tax rate is 1.2472% with the city portion 0.0470%, the education portion .1840% and miscellaneous .0162%

This is just an average, but it at least gives you an idea of the tax basis overall for each city. When looking a particular property, it is important to review the preliminary report to find out the exact tax basis and to see if there are any special assessments for that particular home.

Pricing in both cities can vary a lot. Berkeley is a larger city, so there does tend to be more variation in pricing. Location within each city plays an important role in price along with size and condition. Albany does tend to have a lower rate of turn over with less inventory than Berkeley. If you are beginning your search, there is currently a dearth of inventory and lots of competition for the few listings that are currently on the market.

Hope this helps! If you have any further questions regarding the market in Albany or Berkeley, do not hesitate to contact me.

Lisa Cartolano
DRE 01715440
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Tue Oct 23, 2012
Felix Hung answered:

I recommend you connect with a mortgage loan officer and go over FHA financing as well as a 5% down conventional - side by side, you'll be able to see the difference and which one fits your needs better.

Why do you prefer not to go FHA?

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Wed Aug 24, 2011
Mitch Lucio answered:
You can contact a local Realtor and provide them with the information that you have. Some agents have accounts with services that can easily find the information you are looking for. You can also search public records at the county. Most of the sources that notify you of a property for auction provide the street name, bedroom, bath and square footage of the home. You can search the street and narrow down the list by searching for the features that match closely to the information you have. This can take quite a bit of time. If you are working with a Realtor they should be able to assist you with finding this information in a much easier manner. ... more
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Fri Jun 24, 2011
John Arendsen answered:
That's the 64k question. This is an ongoing dilemma. It varies from bank to bank and deal to deal. There's no rhyme or reason for the awkwardness of the banks handling or in many cases mishandling of short sales. I've seen them go through in weeks and I've also seen them take well over a year.

It's almost just the luck of the draw nowadays and I don't see it getting much better anytime soon. At least not in the areas we're currently servicing. There's possibly years of shadow inventory lurking in the midst and I personally think the RE market is still in correction mode not to mention the quagmire with the banks.

As my beautiful wife of 37 years having worked in lender relations for two decades so aptly puts it; It's a real Fuster Cluck out there. Good luck.
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Mon Jun 13, 2011
Scott Godzyk answered:
The problem is that if it is a short sale, the lender does not own the property, that would be a bank owned home or REO. In a short sale the home owner is still the owner of the home, they are just simply seeking the approval of their bank to sell the home for less which should be at or below the current market value.

Please see my blog for more tips and advice on buying a short sale
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Mon Dec 20, 2010
Kamal Randhawa answered:
Congrats on your engagement....I believe with your income, it might be best to look in areas other then Albany unless you are comfortable with a condo or townhouse. Albany has the best schools in the Bay Area. I have a lot of clients relocate after having children just because of the schools.

If you like, I can send you a sample of what's out their in all 3 cities.
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Wed Aug 12, 2009
Arthur G. White answered:
Tiger, there is a process called "spot certification" that will give an HOA a short cut path to getting certified. This is an option if the problem is simply that the HOA never applied. However, it will not help if the community is not certified because it cannot meet FHA criteria, e.g. insufficient reserves. Even conventional loan programs have tighter requirements. Beautiful units out in Marina Bay are sitting on the market because of the lack of financing. For many developments the only options are all cash or seller financing. The latter option cannot work in a bank owned or short sale situation, and that is what we are seeing with many of these units. Consider turning your attention to a small bungalow or ranch house in Richmond, San Pablo, or El Sobrante. You will be making a better investment and have less problem with financing.
The article referenced below addresses the issue of spot certification and problems faced by first time home buyers.
Good luck and please contact me if you think that I can be of any further assistance.
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Thu Apr 9, 2009
Jeff K answered:
Hi Gayle,

Right now it may be marginal to do a Re-Fi - but ... you won't know until you look at all the numbers. Try Wells Fargo - they have consistenly beat rates from all mortgage brokers that I tried over the last 10 years. I think that a fair number of these brokers try and take 1/8 point (or more), rather than give you the best deal they can.

Even if the rate tomorrow isn't quite what you want - these rates can change rapidly - and only for a day - when they do. So, your Wells person can ring you when that quick drop happens so that you'll take advantage of it.

I got lucky a few weeks back - the rates dropped 3/8 point, my Wells guy called me up on his own - and I locked it in.
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Wed May 23, 2007
Andy Kaufman answered:
In our understanding, its because a lot of the houses were built as homes for shipyard workers before and during World War 2.
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