What to look for on the final walkthrough

  • Does the property look substantially the same as when you wrote your offer?
  • Are all items that were to be left with the property still there?  Like refrigerator, washer and dryer, curtains, light fixtures.
  • Extra keys and garage door remotes are on the property.
  • Operating manuals, appliance warranties, alarm codes, and alarm contact information are on the premises.
  • All sellers personal items removed.
  • Debris on the property removed, including unwanted paint cans.
  • Consider obtaining a buyers home warranty to cover unexpected repairs of covered items for the first year; a small deductible applies.

Remodeling in 2014

Some tips to make the process a little easier to get started

I have done my share of remodeling; usually starting with a sledge hammer and a bottle of Chardonnay, but others may not have the same ease at starting that process.  I thought this article gave some good tips at how to break the process down into pieces so that it won't be quite as intimidating.  I am happy to give some tips as well, so don't hesitate to ask.  Are you planning any remodeling this year?

http://bit.ly/1a2FSDA

Ready to downsize?

Here are some great tips

I really liked the practical tips in this article for downsizing into a smaller home.  I have done this myself in the last few years and it was a lot easier than you might think.  Do you have any tips I could share with clients doing the same thing?

http://bit.ly/1bBlBRD

West Portal Real Estate Market 2013

West Portal Real Estate Market goes up for another year

The West Portal/Inner Parkside 2013 Year-End Real Estate Market Update

By Eric Castongia, Zephyr Real Estate

Eric Castongia

This was an interesting year to look back on.  In looking at the analysis I did for 2011 and 2012, it’s amazing how far we’ve come!  In 2011, we had price reductions, withdrawn listings and properties sat on the market.  In February 2012, we roared back to life and we’ve been running ever since, although I felt a pause in the fall.   Even over the holidays this year, we saw properties come on right up to Christmas and then they sold right away.

  • The total number of sales for 2013 was 64, a huge increase from the normal of around 50; that’s a 28 percent jump. 2012 was 50.  Even in a down market, 2011 saw 51 sales because of our consistency and built-in demand.
  • At the close of the fourth quarter of 2013, we had two active, two pending (not yet closed) and 18 sold (closed) properties.  Of the 18 sold, 16 received multiple offers and 16 sold over their asking price.  The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $25,000 to as much as $251,000.
  • Technically, no properties sold under asking, but if you dig a bit deeper, two of the sold properties had been reduced, then sold for over asking.  Another property sold at asking.
  • For a little perspective, at the close of the fourth quarter of 2012, we had 17 sold (closed) properties.  Of the 17 sold, 12 received multiple offers and all 12 of them sold over their asking price.  The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $2,000 to as much as $262,000.
  • There was one short sale this year and it is still pending.  In 2012 there were six.  It seems that property value increases and previous sales have flushed out most of the short sales and foreclosures.
  • There were four ‘failed to sell’ listings for the year; one came back on and is still pending (the short sale mentioned above), so net affect is three; in 2012, we had seven.  Again an indication of an accelerated market.
  • Interestingly, a property that had sold on 17th Ave. in 2008 for $1.3m, sold in the fourth quarter for $1.4m.  That’s a pretty good return considering that three of those nearly five years where in an economic downturn.  The property would have gone down between 2008 and 2011, then recovered between 2011 and 2013.
  • As you may know, my scientific method for establishing value is spreading sold properties from different quarters across my dining room table.  In that way, I can compare apples and apples and avoid median price, which I think is not too useful.
  • By my interpolation, property values went up year over year, but down quarter to quarter.
  • From the third quarter to the fourth, it looks like prices went down as much as three percent; that’s the pause I felt.
  • Year over year, we gained approximately four to eight percent.  That seems like a big spread, but consider this.  The target moves every single quarter.  I compare properties between quarters and the properties I compare change, because I have to find similar properties between quarters.  Since each house and block is different, we have little control in coming up with firm numbers.
  • Interestingly, list prices didn’t seem to change; it was the overbids that did.  Being part of the dotcom mentality, we have to take into account that buyers expect to overbid.  Note that I mentioned above that the minimum overbid was $25,000 in the fourth quarter, in the third it was $2,000.  Price your property near where you think it will sell and you won’t get activity, or a buyer.
  • I expect the usual first quarter bump in prices; there isn’t much inventory, so if you go on the market right now, you’ll likely get a premium.
  • If you read the national news, they expect equilibrium in the real estate market this year; I do not agree for San Francisco.  Our real estate market has always reacted differently and I don’t think this year will be any different.  We are still likely to see short supply and buyers staying the course trying to buy before interest rates go up.

Eric Castongia, Residential Sales Specialist at Zephyr Real Estate provided the information in this article. The content of this article is an interpretation of data from the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service and Eric’s observations in the marketplace.  Eric can be reached by e-mail at Eric@SFHotBuy.com, or via mobile phone at (415)307-1700. DRE Lic. No. 01188380

How to look for hazard insurance

Obtaining hazard insurance on property has gotten more difficult, so please get started immediately on securing hazard insurance on your property.  This is because of the extraordinary losses that insurance companies have paid out from disasters and mold claims.  Obtaining insurance for properties that are older, have brick foundations, are mixed use or commercial buildings, or multiple unit buildings can be even more challenging. 
Since lenders require hazard insurance to be in place prior to close of escrow; unknown claims discovered prior to close and after you are in a purchase contract could be frustrating and expensive should you not be able to close escrow until insurance is secured.  While you are in contract, the sellers through their agent, should disclose (or be asked to disclose) any claims on the property and if possible, order a CLUE report from their insurance carrier to disclose any claims that may have been made.  The seller can order one from www.choicetrust.com, or their insurance agent can provide one; we cannot get one on their behalf.

If you are purchasing a condominium, there is a master insurance policy on the complex and this is an issue of which you should not have the same concern as when you are buying the entire property.  You should still consider getting a condominium contents policy, however, to cover the contents in the case of fire, theft, or other disaster.  Be sure to note that you may need an ‘HO-6’ policy that would cover appliances, kitchen cabinets, fixtures and finishes.

When shopping for insurance, make sure you talk to several insurers.  Generally, you will have a better grasp on what are important features in policies by talking to multiple people because you’ll know what features and exclusions each policy have.  Here are some things to consider:

  1. Look for exclusions in coverage.  For example, rental property coverage is much more limited; you will need a specific landlord policy and perhaps a separate liability or umbrella policy.
  2. Earthquake insurance is extra if available.  It is offered by the California Earthquake Authority 30 days after you close escrow.
  3. Look for dollar limitations on claims.  Even if a policy claims to be guaranteed replacement, there are caps on the policy-find out what they are to avoid being under-insured.
  4. Special items of value might have to be scheduled separately; things like antiques, jewelry, computers, or firearms in order to be covered.
  5. If an insurer offers actual cash value, make sure you ask what this means.
  6. Understand the liability portion of your policy and what it covers and does not.  You may need a separate umbrella policy if it is not sufficient.
  7. Look at the deductible on your policy.  By raising it, you may be able to reduce your premiums.
  8. Discounts are generally given when multiple policies (i.e. house and auto) are issued by the same company-check into whether this is possible.
  9. Discounts are also sometimes given when you have smoke detectors, alarm systems, dead-bolt locks, etc…  Also see if group discounts are given.
  10. Many insurers may not insure properties that are not bolted to their foundations, do not have circuit breaking electrical systems, or are on brick foundations; this will limit the available insurers for your property, which may also be more expensive coverage.  For tough to insure properties, this may be a government sponsored plan, such as the California Fair Plan.
  11. Be sure to review your policy limits annually to stay up to date.  Insurance might have some sort of cost of living rider, but it is usually not sufficient to maintain adequate insurance coverage.
  12. Make your home safer and keep up maintenance.  Keep roofs in good repair, take care of items which could lead to a claim such as cracked and heaving sidewalk tripping hazards, consider seismic retrofitting.
  13. Be careful in the claims you make.  Insignificant work may be better taken care of out of your own pocket, rather than risk being canceled by your carrier, or making your property difficult to sell when a new buyer has to get insurance.
  14. For personal property, it would be unusual to have an insurer offer replacement value-be sure and ask.

Items in list above inspired by Realtor Online Magazine, reprinted with permission of the NAR, copyright 2003.  All rights reserved.

The West Portal/Inner Parkside 2013 Year-End Real Estate Market Update

By Eric Castongia, Zephyr Real Estate

This was an interesting year to look back on.  In looking at the analysis I did for 2011 and 2012, it’s amazing how far we’ve come!  In 2011, we had price reductions, withdrawn listings and properties sat on the market.  In February 2012, we roared back to life and we’ve been running ever since, although I felt a pause in the fall.   Even over the holidays this year, we saw properties come on right up to Christmas and then they sold right away.

  • The total number of sales for 2013 was 64, a huge increase from the normal of around 50; that’s a 28 percent jump. 2012 was 50.  Even in a down market, 2011 saw 51 sales because of our consistency and built-in demand.
  • At the close of the fourth quarter of 2013, we had two active, two pending (not yet closed) and 18 sold (closed) properties.  Of the 18 sold, 16 received multiple offers and 16 sold over their asking price.  The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $25,000 to as much as $251,000.
  • Technically, no properties sold under asking, but if you dig a bit deeper, two of the sold properties had been reduced, then sold for over asking.  Another property sold at asking.
  • For a little perspective, at the close of the fourth quarter of 2012, we had 17 sold (closed) properties.  Of the 17 sold, 12 received multiple offers and all 12 of them sold over their asking price.  The amount of over bids ranged from as little as $2,000 to as much as $262,000.
  • There was one short sale this year and it is still pending.  In 2012 there were six.  It seems that property value increases and previous sales have flushed out most of the short sales and foreclosures.
  • There were four ‘failed to sell’ listings for the year; one came back on and is still pending (the short sale mentioned above), so net affect is three; in 2012, we had seven.  Again an indication of an accelerated market.
  • Interestingly, a property that had sold on 17th Ave. in 2008 for $1.3m, sold in the fourth quarter for $1.4m.  That’s a pretty good return considering that three of those nearly five years where in an economic downturn.  The property would have gone down between 2008 and 2011, then recovered between 2011 and 2013.
  • As you may know, my scientific method for establishing value is spreading sold properties from different quarters across my dining room table.  In that way, I can compare apples and apples and avoid median price, which I think is not too useful.
  • By my interpolation, property values went up year over year, but down quarter to quarter. 
  • From the third quarter to the fourth, it looks like prices went down as much as three percent; that’s the pause I felt.
  • Year over year, we gained approximately four to eight percent.  That seems like a big spread, but consider this.  The target moves every single quarter.  I compare properties between quarters and the properties I compare change, because I have to find similar properties between quarters.  Since each house and block is different, we have little control in coming up with firm numbers.
  • Interestingly, list prices didn’t seem to change; it was the overbids that did.  Being part of the dotcom mentality, we have to take into account that buyers expect to overbid.  Note that I mentioned above that the minimum overbid was $25,000 in the fourth quarter, in the third it was $2,000.  Price your property near where you think it will sell and you won’t get activity, or a buyer. 
  • I expect the usual first quarter bump in prices; there isn’t much inventory, so if you go on the market right now, you’ll likely get a premium.
  • If you read the national news, they expect equilibrium in the real estate market this year; I do not agree for San Francisco.  Our real estate market has always reacted differently and I don’t think this year will be any different.  We are still likely to see short supply and buyers staying the course trying to buy before interest rates go up.

Eric Castongia, Residential Sales Specialist at Zephyr Real Estate provided the information in this article. The content of this article is an interpretation of data from the San Francisco Multiple Listing Service and Eric’s observations in the marketplace.  Eric can be reached by e-mail at Eric@SFHotBuy.com, or via mobile phone at (415)307-1700. DRE Lic. No. 01188380