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Albany : Real Estate Advice

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

Activity 18
Thu Apr 4, 2013
Nanette Kunewa answered:
Albany's values are less varied overall when comparing to "Berkeley" because Berkeley has a larger geo footprint and a much wider variation on values. For instance Berkeley is quite different from hills around UCB to the area around Ashby Ave below MLK.

Albany is quite "rich" in its valuations as well; more in line with the higher prices of more desirable areas of Berkeley. Of course, similar dynamic as far as geographic spread of values: generally more up the hill, the more desirable and more expensive. These 2 areas often seem to be tight on inventory even when the rest of the market is not so tight.

Property taxes, at their most basic (1% ad valorem), are similar throughout CA but there is much variation in "special assessments" depending on what exact property you're considering. Each property has to be specifically assessed & confirmed.

Another issue is city transfer taxes upon bonafide sale transfers of property. Berk is $15 per thousand on full value; Albany is $11.50. Typically (but this can & does vary & is negotiable) this transfer tax cost is split 50/50 between buyer & seller.
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Tue Oct 23, 2012
David & Devin Ratoosh answered:
The only problem I can foresee is that you may not have enough for your down payment. You should go ahead and call up a mortgage broker to find out. I would be happy to provide you some recommendations if needed. ... more
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Mon Jun 17, 2013
Davey Cetina answered:
There is a lack of inventory everywhere, not just Albany. That being said, you are correct, there are only two 3 bedroom houses currently available in Albany- however I don't believe that waiting is really going to help much with the purchase price.

Summer usually brings an increase in listings, but also an increase in buyers, which results in an increased price for the summer (the prime real estate season).

If you wait until the Fall/Winter, prices usually drop, but so does inventory. You might want to do that, however, if you're wondering if prices will drop in general I don't think that is the case. I believe the bottom has passed, at least for the Bay Area.

I think that with the low interest rates, with the relatively low prices right now may be the best time to buy.

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me!

Davey Cetina
Buyer’s Specialist | DRE# 01887446

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
2095 Rose St, Ste 100 | Berkeley, CA 94709
[t] 510.517.7238 | [f] 510.780.2110
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Sun May 6, 2012
Robert Chomentowski answered:
Not sure about Albany in particular, but in general in coastal CA what appears to be happening is prices in the middle and high tiers are reaching new post bubble lows. Where the low price tier is holding steady on up a bit. ... more
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Sat Mar 17, 2012
David & Devin Ratoosh answered:
Hi Eric,

Not too sure if you can find this information on Trulia but if you go ahead and either send me an email or give me a call on my cell phone I would be happy to provide it for you. ... more
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Mon Dec 20, 2010
Jeff Kim answered:
Congrats on your engagement. Its also a great time as a buyer. I am a local broker in the east bay area who also raises my family here. If you would like to look at homes, feel free to check out my website. You can also feel free to call email or text me. Have a great day and once again congrats! ... more
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Tue Jun 29, 2010
Jamie Edson answered:
this would be a much easier question to respond to with more information to work with. first, i will define what a lease option includes. an option is essentially a contract between a buyer and seller whether it is a stock or real estate. terms for a future transaction are set in the present. if the buyer is able to perform, they have the right to exercise the option. if they can not then the option expires and becomes worthless. technically an option to purchase could be sold to another buyer if the original buyer can't perform, if it would be a good deal for someone else.

in any event the underlying lease is the basic contract. the end of the lease is generally the length of the term the buyer has to perform the purchase. commonly, the buyer will make a larger than usual deposit as a down payment. they may also pay more than market value with the overage going towards the down payment. the benefit to the seller is obvious, they get more money up front and if the buyer fails to perform the owner keeps the extra money. the risk to each side is in the volatility of price. if the price is set at today's values and the value skyrockets, the buyer wins, but if the price drops and the buyer chooses not to exercise the option, the seller wins. only if the value at the time of the actual purchase is roughly the agreed upon price is it a complete win/win. however there are other benefits included such that the buyer knows that the house can not be sold to another buyer during the lease period, and the seller has the security of knowing that the buyer will probably take better care of the property with the expectation of future ownership.

when the term of the lease is near its expiration date, escrow can be opened and the sale completed.

if the question is specifically what are the chances of acquiring a lease option in albany, that is a really good question. there are a large number of rental homes in albany: 10-20% more than demographically similar cities in the bay area. they rent for more than the average bay area home, largely because of the overall stability of albany, and the excellence of the schools. i am a product of albany schools, therefore, i have a certain bias.

think as if you were a landlord. you own a home that has only suffered a minimal loss while houses in most surrounding cities have lost up to 60% of their value. an owner of more than 5 years, with a newly refinanced loan is probably experiencing positive cash flow. vacancy rates are low, meaning houses rent quickly. if sold, most owners will likely face long term capital gains. would you sell?

your best bet at finding a possible lease option may be to find a house where the owner has recently moved out. they may want to sell before their 3 years are up to capture the tax credit available for those who have lived in their house 2 out of the past five years. i would ask potential landlords how long they have been renting out their houses. your task as a tenant/buyer is likely to be educating the seller as to what the benefit to them will be in selling their home. most owners will not understand the concept well enough to be willing to go forth.

you might offer to build some sweat equity into the house to sweeten the deal for a reluctant seller. then if t you choose not to exercise the option, they come out ahead!

june through sept are excellent months to try and find a new residence in albany.

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Mon Sep 7, 2009
Eric H. Wong answered:
The lower price is correct. It seems to take Trulia some time to catch up with any changes in the MLS.
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Wed Aug 12, 2009
Liz Stevens answered:
I do not know of any FHA restrictions due to "high rise" or too many units condos. Let me suggest you call the Mtg Broker I do business with, who does FHA loans, Chet Gohd, RPM Mortgage. tell him where you are considering buying and he can give you good information. All the best. 510-647-5320 ... more
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Thu Apr 9, 2009
Nina Daruwalla answered:
Hi Gayle,

This ques is for a Lender, for a re-finance, I can refer you to a really good Lender- Kevin Lyon at The Loan Source, call and speak with him: 408-390-7044.
All the best,

Nina Daruwalla
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Tue Mar 24, 2009
James Gordon ABR SFR SRS answered:
Glenn just ask your agent to set it up and they can. Only properties listed on their local MLS system can be set up.
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Mon Jun 15, 2009
Catherine Krueger answered:
Hi Susie,

I just read your post and though it is old I figured it might still help. From what you have listed your home sounds like a nice home that should sell well. I would definitely set a date and time for open houses and an offer date. The market is doing well in Albany so unless you are priced way higher than the comparable sold homes in your neighborhood your home will sell fast. Below the freeway, homes are not reaching the same amount of money as the ones above San Pablo. Also the closer to the freeway the more you will have to discount for it. As far as price is concerned without seeing the house and its exact location it is hard to come up with a value. Price also depends on your termite report. If the report shows a lot of damage (dry rot or termites etc) you will have to discount for that too. I am just about to put a home on the market in Albany for $475,000. Fantastic location but smaller home than yours. Roughly I would say between $475,000 to $525,000 depending on all the above factors.

Best of luck. I am available if you have any further questions or would like a walk through analysis and market update.

Best regards,

Catherine Krueger
Marvin Gardens Real Estate
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Tue Sep 13, 2011
Kenneth Lee answered:
I used the Trendgraphix data that we have at Alain Pinel and the average days on the market for Albany in the last few months is 65 days.

It's difficult to estimate the market value of your property without knowing other factors, such as, the specific neighborhood or total square footage of the house and lot. That being said, it is not unheard of to have a 2 bedroom and 1 bath house to sell in the $700k range in Albany.

I would suggest that you interview a few Realtors that know your area well to help you set a listing price.

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Fri Aug 6, 2010
Kenneth Lee answered:
Hi Carrie,

I do not recommend that you over extend yourself financially. I understand that you really like the house in Lafayette, but from my experience in working with buyers, you'll find one just as nice when you are in a better position to make an offer.

Feel free to email me and I would be happy to give you some referrals for loan brokers that my clients have worked with in the past and have been quite pleased with their performance.

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Tue Sep 11, 2007
Mr.P answered:
Maybe 40% tops, If it will improve the overall condition of your backyard.
I have had clients that the backyard condition was the most important thing.
Don`t go over the top, keep it appealing. ... more
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Mon Jun 7, 2010
Keith answered:
I've wondered about this too - from what I can gather, it is because Albany's roots are very working class and I'm guessing that the developers originally built housing for that demographic. I think my cousin also mentioned that some of the housing was built long ago as secondary housing for some of the San Franciscans.

I totally agree - great city (schools, retail, feel), but the housing is substandard (small sq. footage, tiny lots, no character/charm/design, and hideously expensive for what you get!!). Most homes that are larger are really smaller homes that often have poorly integrated additions. Bummer!!

The prices in Albany make North Berkeley/Berkeley Hills look like a bargain (well, sort of...) (but of course, you don't get the high-scoring Albany schools....)
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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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