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Home Buying in El Cerrito : Real Estate Advice

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Activity 16
Sat Apr 22, 2017
Amy Seng asked:
We're considering putting an offer on a home in a seismic hazard zone (El Cerrito hills). We had the home inspected by a structural engineer who says it is in pretty good shape in terms…
0 votes 0 Answers Share Flag
Wed Sep 10, 2014
Robert Chomentowski answered:
The best way to compare rent vs. buy is to first look at average rents for a similar property vs. your mortgage + taxes + insurance (PITI) on a purchase. Two major factors to look at when buying are: 1. Loan principle pay down and 2. Tax write-off of mortgage interest and property taxes. These two factors are often overlooked buy renters in a rent vs. buy. For example, on a $600k purchase with 20% down at say a 4% 30 yr fixed rate, your monthly principle pay down on the loan would be over $700/mo (and principle pay down goes up every month as the you pay down the loan, more of your payment goes towards principle). After 5 years you would pay down $45,851 of the loan principle. When renting you do not get any "principle pay down", the entire payment goes to the landlord and you are left after 5 years of renting with no equity. So make sure you count the principle pay down. The tax write off savings can be significant too. So tax savings + principle pay down can be an extra $1,000+/mo in your pocket vs. renting.

With renting of course, you do not have an maintenance or repairs. If you buy a older house that needs updating, you could be looking at significant maintenance and upgrade costs vs. renting you have none. Also with renting you have a lot of flexibility to move quickly and if you don't like a neighborhood or job changes, it's much easier to move.

Also with buying you fix your payment for 30 years. With renting, rent will keep going up over time.

One nice thing I liked personally about buying is the ability to remodel a property to your tastes. I got tired of renting properties with outdated kitchens, floors and bathrooms that I could not upgrade to my tastes.
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Tue Jun 3, 2014
Dorothy Coakley answered:
Two lots in our hillside community sold in 2004 having been on the market for the first time in 50 years. The consortium that built these "spec" houses alienated the surrounding neighbors by building houses that blocked views, maxed their available footage and were not architecturally suited to the hillside. The result? Both houses are now rented as neither attracted buyers. Morale: Do your due diligence, work with the community *and* try to blend your new home into our mid-century view houses. If so, you'll meet with success. ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
This is out of date (above) , but currently you need about 1/3 of the cost of a project to get a loan for the balance, fixed, at 3% or even lower. If a qualified person like you mention is willing to co sign to get you started there is nothing wrong with that. As an Architect, as well, I would suggest doing the plans so it fits into a specific budget or the project will not be feasible, loan or otherwise. Do you want to have a set of plans that does this? Or what would you do, buy a used house and live in it? That is a possibility, but if you can afford to buy you can certainly afford to build, is my point, so why would you do that? ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
2 thousand or a little more. Why don't you build a new house if you can afford that you can afford a new house? If you use an Architect and do it on budget you can get a house of your own for 1/3 that. I do that for people. I even did that for myself. ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
I see places all the time that are going through this process. I would buy and help you buy if you need guidance. As an Architect, it is not impossible to navigate the process, finding a property you like, or a house. However, I'd rather buy a very worn house that needs a lot of repairs -- like all of them-- then a new house, myself, to make the most profit from sweat equity using an Architect to draw the plans. I can do these plans if you need them once the house is found and purchased. They are average priced at 650 lately. up to 800. K. Some are very low. $50K. $200K It depends on where you want to be. We like certain areas. I know a house right now by the refinery that is available for renovations. Would you consider investing by the refinery and the freeway? $100K plus Architects fee of six percent. ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
It is listed on records and you can call them or write them or go to their address and ask them, or an email address will be available in some records in the county and online. It is done all the time. If you are interested in a property though it is easier to buy one that is already listed. If you want to fit a new building to your own needs and budget use an Architect. I usually locate property to suit a need. ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
Nothing wrong with the idea. Why don't you build instead of buying though. Its cheaper. Especially with an Architect that sets the budget with you. The existing properties are always going to be escalated in price even in low down turns like we have right now. They are still too high to pencil out. ... more
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Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
Tue Sep 25, 2012
Darrell A. Caraway Architect answered:
Sounds like it is too early. The owners still have a chance to pay up and make their project work for them. It will be able to be sold next, but not until it is cleared the bank selling process. ... more
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Sun May 2, 2010
Kamal Randhawa answered:
Hello Rishwin,

Usually the prices you see that are too low to be true, is the default amount. Sometimes, the default amount is corrected but if not, the bank holds an auction. At this point, you can make a bid for it but you'll be competing with some hard core investors with pockets full of cash. I advise you go to some of them just as an observer to get an idea of what you are up against.

The best option, however, is to work with a Realtor who can assist you in finding a home that meets your needs. MOST homes on the market at this time are REOs or Short Sales anyways. Good luck :)

Kamal Randhawa
Broker
510-932-1066
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Fri Jun 19, 2009
Catherine Krueger answered:
I am assuming you are talking about a home that is already foreclosed upon and not one that is in foreclosure because for those you can contact the owners or go to the court steps in Martinez and buy them at auction there. Some of these houses also go to public auctions so you can buy them like that. As long as you do your due diligence first you can buy them: know what you are buying and paying for, be ready with money in hand.

The other way to buy a foreclosed home is when the bank puts them back on the MLS as REO (real estate owned). An agent working that area will have access to the MLS and the confidential remarks. That transaction is similar to a "regular" sale. You have contingencies within the contract that allow you to inspect the home and get a loan on it etc...

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions. I specialize in the East Bay from Hercules to Oakland if this is the area you are looking at.

Best of luck,

Catherine Krueger
Marvin Gardens Real Estate
510-813-0970
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Mon Jun 15, 2009
Bob Georgiou answered:
The success of a short sale is in the hands of the listing agent moreso than it is as a buyer. The fact that there are too many variables to control should be reinforced since the bank is looking out for its bottom line, there is no guarentees since another buyer can bump you off or the lender can decline to accept the offer.

I have worked the listing side 3 times on short sales. Once it closed with concessions from vendors. Once the seller was advised to let the home go to foreclosure at the advice of an attorney. Once the lender declined a low offer based on comps and foreclosed only to see the price drop another 100k to sell.

I would be pleased to offer whatever assistance I can.
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Wed Mar 11, 2009
Andy answered:
Julie,

Krista has the better summary. And she also mention the Government programs. You may obtain either State or local support. Also FHA may be helpful but usually FHA lenders ask sellers to pay the closing cost. That may become a burden when you negotiate the price.

If you really want to buy a house now, you should contact loan consultant first then CPA. That is not because loan consultant is free but CPA is not. The reason is $8,000 is a big number but in your real estate case, it is a small piece of cake. Clarifying your financial possibility is the first step. Otherwise, nothing can happen.

By the way, nice to see a person from El Cerrito where I have a lot good memory and a real estate person in Berkeley where my career starts.

Andy
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Fri Feb 20, 2009
Frank Spencer answered:
Hi Silva,
As Krista mentioned that home is currently pending. There are a number of like properties in the area for sale in the area in a variety of price ranges. If this home is particularly interesting to you we can keep an eye on the listing and advise you if the sale falls through which is happening more and more frequently.

Happy Home Hunting
Frank Spencer
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Sun Dec 28, 2008
Eric H. Wong answered:
Simon;
Check Bernard's answer to your question about the Everett Street property. His answer applies to this property as well.
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