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Home Buying in San Rafael : Real Estate Advice

  • All107
  • Local Info23
  • Home Buying34
  • Home Selling8
  • Market Conditions2

Activity 39
Joe Nernberg,  in Calabasas, CA
Thu Oct 20, 2011
Joe Nernberg answered:
Currently, the minimum electrical service is 100-amps. You definitely need PG&E to spot the new panel/meter for you. The utility company has the right to move the panel/meter from the back to the side yard (as an example). A city permit is required. The difference in cost between a 100-amp and 200-amp panel is less than a pair of nice running shoes.

Consider a kitchen in a "new" home usually gets 6 circuit breakers. That should tell you that Joseph Eichler didn't factor in the power needs of personal computers, a microwave oven, sub zero refrigerator, flat screen TV and an X-Box.

Does this home still have the radiant heating system?
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0 votes 6 answers Share Flag
Bonnie Baird, Real Estate Pro in Grand Rapids, MI
Tue Aug 9, 2011
Bonnie Baird answered:
Your county records or local taxing authority.
0 votes 10 answers Share Flag
Help You, Home Owner in Texas
Sun May 15, 2011
Help You answered:
Never agree to arbitration when dealing with a large company because most corporations pick and pay the arbitrator so the arbitrator is more likely than not to find in their favor no matter what! I know from personal experience! I will never sign anything in the future that has an arbitration clause. The practice is downright crooked but is totally legal. ... more
0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
James Gordon…, Real Estate Pro in Hamilton, OH
Sat Nov 13, 2010
James Gordon ABR SFR SRS answered:
Ida as an agent that has over 20 years of experience you should know the answer to this so you must be asking this question to start a discussion. Any new agent should get the training from their broker on how to act as a buyers agent in our current environment. That would include availability of programs funded by the NSP and how to find FHA qualified properties for people with just a little money saved or damaged credit. On the flip side of that, also how to find if a property is not FHA approved as it takes a different type of buyer. I just helped a buyer close in August on a non FHA approved condo. Because of the number buyers that can only purchase FHA non FHA approved units in my area move slowly. They were able to purchase the propery for less than it sold for new in 1996. ... more
0 votes 3 answers Share Flag
David Poulsen, Real Estate Pro in San Francisco, CA
Sun Nov 7, 2010
David Poulsen answered:
The best way to track a house not on the market is to work with a Realtor, who can keep watch daily for that property or others that are similar in the neighborhood that may come on the market. I happen to work that market in Marin County and would be happy to help you. Give me a call. ... more
0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Tammy Hayes, Real Estate Pro in Port Charlotte, FL
Wed Oct 20, 2010
Tammy Hayes answered:
Let FHA Loans Help You
FHA loans have been helping people become homeowners since 1934. How do we do it? The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) � which is part of HUD � insures the loan, so your lender can offer you a better deal.
• Low down payments
• Low closing costs
• Easy credit qualifying
What does FHA have for you?
Buying your first home?
FHA might be just what you need. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price, and most of your closing costs and fees can be included in the loan. Available on 1-4 unit properties.
Want a fixer-upper?
FHA has a loan that allows you to buy a home, fix it up, and include all the costs in one loan. Or, if you own a home that you want to re-model or repair, you can refinance what you owe and add the cost of repairs - all in one loan.
Financial help for seniors
Are you 62 or older? Do you live in your home? Do you own it outright or have a low loan balance? If you can answer "yes" to all of these questions, then the FHA Reverse Mortgage might be right for you. It lets you convert a portion of your equity into cash.
Want to make your home more energy efficient?
You can include the costs of energy improvements into an FHA Energy-Efficient Mortgage.
How about manufactured housing and mobile homes?
Yes, FHA has financing for mobile homes and factory-built housing. We have two loan products � one for those who own the land that the home is on and another for mobile homes that are - or will be - located in mobile home parks.
Ask an FHA lender to tell you more about FHA loan products.
Find an FHA lender
Need advice? Contact a HUD-approved housing counselor or call
(800) 569-4287.
Need help with your downpayment? State and local governments offer programs that can help. Find a program near you.
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1 vote 4 answers Share Flag
Tristan Cela…,  in Marin County, CA
Thu Jul 29, 2010
Tristan Celayeta answered:
Do not restrict your consideration to short sales and REOs. Serious sellers compete.

You should actively contact prospective agents to interview. The added value will vary from agent to agent and only you will finely decide who works best for and with you.

As you talk with agents get your financial ducks aligned. When you enter the market you'll want to be able to act in a timely way. Opportunities are always ephemeral.

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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Liz McCarthy, Real Estate Pro in Greenbrae, CA
Sat Mar 20, 2010
Liz McCarthy answered:
Hi B, Just wanted to let you know I responded to your email, You have Yahoo email, and sometimes my email goes into Yahoo spam folderk for whatever reason. Figured that might have happened as I responded right away to you and havent' heard back. Just wanted you to know! LIz McCarthy ... more
0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Mary Kay and…, Real Estate Pro in San Rafael, CA
Mon Mar 1, 2010
Mary Kay and Kathy Yamamoto answered:

If there is a way for you to figure out a way to buy, we would certainly suggest that you explore it!! You will get tax benefits as well as be eligible for a tax credit if you can get an offer accepted by April 30th. If you would like us to refer you to a mortgage broker that will tell you honestly whether you qualify for a loan, we have a very "down to earth" person that we can recommend.

We think that you should explore the possibility of buying. PLUS, is there a clause in your rental agreement regarding the purchase of the property by the tenant OR are you not interested inb the property that you are renting?

let us know if we can be of any further assistance!!
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0 votes 8 answers Share Flag
Tristan Cela…,  in Marin County, CA
Tue Dec 1, 2009
Tristan Celayeta answered:
You have received excellent advice so far.

You should check the management performance of each HOA before you buy, as part of the inspection/investigation phase. The current fee can be high or low depending on board decisions and actions. You need to investigate each to understand and appraise the association as part of your buying process. ... more
0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Wed Oct 28, 2009
Sylvia Barry, MAS,CIPS,SRES answered:
Hi Geo:

Novato's housing market has seen a lot of changes during the past two years, and it has been very interesting to be in the midst (or forefront) of it al - even though I don't like the reason why it's that way, it is the way the market had been during the past two years.

Novato is setting a trend in Marin County for what's going on after the housing market crash and I anticipate seeing similar pattern rippling through Southern Marin, even if its not the same magnitude.

There are quite a few reasons why you would see a house being listed and then sold. Again, depending on the source you are looking at, it might or might not be legitimate. Yes, quite a few a actually foreclosures, and/or auctioned off to investors and they turn around, some upgraded the house, others not, and sell the home. This is the new flip.

My clients bought a few homes through the investors like that and they are quite happy with their purchases.

The investors (at least the ones I happened to work with) are reputable, and keep their words on the improvements they plan to make to the house before selling to my clients. My clients are happy to get updated home that are move-in ready (acutally very charming) at market or below market value.

Why don't you send me the addresses of the few homes you saw and I can take a quick look and see what happened to those homes.

Sylvia Barry
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
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0 votes 3 answers Share Flag
Mary Kay and…, Real Estate Pro in San Rafael, CA
Wed Sep 9, 2009
Mary Kay and Kathy Yamamoto answered:
Can you qualify for a loan on a renovated home? In this market, we are seeing homes that were purchased for significantly more than current prices that were recently remodeled and upgraded by the current owners who can no longer afford to make the mortgage payments. Some clients of ours just purchased a "short sale" property in San Rafael that had been remodeled and upgraded by the owners in the last 2 years. The sellers spent over $90,000 on the remodeling. While we were waiting for the short sale to get approved, we continued to look for other alternatives for them. The homes of similar square footage in similar neighborhoods that needed remodeling would have ended up costing them much more when you totaled up the purchase plus the upgrades, not to mention the time and inconvenience factor as well.
Your question is somewhat "general" because the answer to the question depends on a lot of factors. In some situations, the lower priced property is definitely the best buy, even after factoring in the cost of remodeling. In most cases, the cost of remodeling will be an out of pocket expense after the purchase, which means that you need to have additional money after putting up the down payment and closing costs.
The most important thing to consider when buying real estate is the location of the property. You can usually change many things about the property, but you can't change the location. Many times people will buy a property that needs work but is in a good location. If the location is desirable and you do not over improve the property, it is usually a good investment.
We both have personal experience in remodeling and upgrading. We try to guide and advise our clients toward making good decisions about the real estate that they are considering for purchase. Our goal is to have clients who are comfortable and satisfied with their property. That is what gives us repeat business and referrals!

Mary Kay and Kathy Yamamoto
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0 votes 5 answers Share Flag
Scott Cherry, Real Estate Pro in San Rafael, CA
Tue Jun 30, 2009
Scott Cherry answered:
The last sale there was 18 Chapel Cove that sold for $1,800,000. It wasn't quite the asking price of $1,895,000. It was on the market before but this time it was on for 81 days. I have been selling East San Rafael since 1974. I would like to meet with you so I can present a current CMA for Chapel Cove and East San Rafael. You can reach me direct at 415-257-2042

Most Sincerely,
Scott Cherry
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Kelley Eling, Real Estate Pro in Palm Desert, CA
Thu Mar 5, 2009
Kelley Eling answered:
Gerstle Park is a great place to live. I grew up there and still have many friends there and indulge myself at the restaurant at Panama Hotel whenever I get the opportunity. The Yamamotos are correct when they say that it is more meaningful to track a specific property, and I can do that for you if you are interested. That said...

Here you can see how San Rafael, in general, is performing:

Here you can see how Marin has performed historically:

If you are interested in something more specific feel free to call or email me.
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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Mary Kay and…, Real Estate Pro in San Rafael, CA
Fri Jan 2, 2009
Mary Kay and Kathy Yamamoto answered:
The base tax for any property that you purchase in the State of California is 1% of the purchase price. The property gets reassessed at the purchase price as of the date that the deed is recorded in the new owner's name. The property tax bill lists your assessed value, and the base tax is 1% of that. Then there are additional charges/assessments for the specific area that the property is located in such as school bonds, mosquito abatement, paramedics, sewer, etc., which normally amount to an additional .2-.25%.
There are some areas that have higher charges/assessments that are attached to the property called mello-roos, but there aren't many areas of Marin that are affected by that.
Give us a call if you need any further information!!

Mary Kay and Kathy
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Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Sun Aug 3, 2008
Sylvia Barry, MAS,CIPS,SRES answered:
Hello S:

Just stumble upon your question. I wonder if I actually know the property you are talking about - a great property on water, for lease and not for sale. An owner of this type of property called me the year before about possible selling his home and then he decided against that - too rare/good a property to let go - right around this time when the lease with his previous tenant was expiring, and I have no doubt that he'd rented that out in a heart beat. .

It's now four months later, so you have either already bought the place, leased it or moved on.

Wonder if you can give us an update and let us know if you need further assistance.

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0 votes 9 answers Share Flag
Helen Buckley,  in San Rafael, CA
Tue Jun 10, 2008
Helen Buckley answered:
I agree with Sylvia in that the first step to take when trying to figure out which house one can afford, is not to look at houses at all but ones own finances! Once you have sat down with a mortgage professional, and i have two fantastic mortgage pros I can recommend in San Francisco, then sit down with a realtor who knows the area in which you would like to buy. I am an agent who lives and works in San Rafael ! We would look at what price range you are qualified to buy in, take a look at those areas and see what appeals to you!
Please feel free to give me a call!
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0 votes 4 answers Share Flag
Laura Mogann…,  in Greenbrae, CA
Sun May 4, 2008
Laura Mogannam answered:
As with everything it is imperative that you do your homework! Make sure you consult with a professional who is familiar with San Rafael and knows what is going on there. It is important to study the prices of comparable homes that have sold in the area to make sure that the asking price is realistic. Try to find out how long the property has been on the market and why it is being sold. Next consider your situation. How much do you like the home? Are you planing to stay there for a while? Would you be devastated if someone else got it instead of you? How serious of a buyer are you? Are you also being realistic? If you visit several homes for sale in the same area you will get a good feel for tthe accuracy of the price. After this research if you plan to write an offer you might want to offer the asking price or slightly below and begin the conversation with the seller. If they are not happy with your offer they might counter or reject your offer. A rejected offer doesn't mean you can't come back again in the near future.
Looking for a single family home versus a condo is a bit different. When looking for a home you can visit the home and the surrounding neighborhood, look at the disclosures provided by the seller regarding the condition of the home. There is a little more freedom and flexibility. When buying a condo or a Single Family Home in a Planned Unit Development (PUD) it is very important to READ all the CC&R's and HOA documents to make sure that you can abide by the laws governing the property. All the best, Laura Mogannam, in San Rafael
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Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Fri Jan 18, 2008
Sylvia Barry, MAS,CIPS,SRES answered:
Hi Sam:

I know exactly how you feel. When I moved here from Indiana (we moved around 5 times due to his consulting job)10 years ago, I had a huge sticker shock - my husband bought the house - I did not even get to see the house because he did not want to lose the house and sounded like he really liked the house. I had headache for two straight weeks. Everything is relative. Yes the price was much lower back then, but it was still much higher than other places in the country. so, yes, I know how you feel.

The good news is that the market has slowed down quite a bit during the last two years, and price dropped some; still high, but it did drop. The other good thing is that the lenders have been shaked out some and calmer now and the interest rates are lower and stayed stable recently, so it's a good time to buy now.

Steve is right. The further north you are from San Francisco, the cheaper the houses are. There are, of course, fabulous places to live in Marin and great choices; all depends on your needs, wants and financial situation.

Are you moving to Marin due to relocation or other reasons? If relocation, will your company assist you in the relocation? Have you talk to a lender recently? As you know, things has changed a lot and it will be good to know what price range will be a comfortable range for you. That will help you to set a boundary when you start looking for a home here.

Find a good, reputable realtor to work with; somebody who is willing to show you around, and spend time to help you get familiar with the market and local condition and have the patience to help you find the best ome for you.

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