How To Find Air-Leaking Windows And Seal Them

Preventative care will minimize your home repair costs and, at this time of year, it’s a good idea to sweep your home’s exterior for sign of air leaks and drafts around windows.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, drafty windows can account for 30% of a home’s heat loss in winter so it’s best to find them, and seal them.

In this 4-minute video from the DIY Network, you’ll learn how to identify your home’s leaky windows, and how to seal them with caulk. The job requires a little bit of elbow grease, but it’s manageable for even the novice handyman.

Some of the tips include:

  • How to use a lit candle to find windows that leak air
  • How to remove existing caulk using caulk softener
  • How to “push the bead” of caulk for proper application

The video concludes with a brief tutorial on setting your home’s programmable thermostat so, when taken with the window caulking exercise, homeowners could stand to save a bundle on their winter heating bills.

Lagunitas Road, Ross, CA

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Marin County “Tour de Noel” is back!

TOUR DE NOEL, the popular annual guided tour of holiday-decorated homes in Ross and Kentfield is back after a one year hiatus.  This year’s Christmas House Tour, now in its 23rd year, features four distinctive Marin homes: a Tuscan farmhouse, California craftsman, contemporary Mediterranean and a French Provincial. 

What better way to get in the holiday spirit?  I am looking forward to visiting the French Provincial home in particular.  It features large interior beams fitted with square pegs and four antique fireplace mantels — three of limestone and one of wood — imported from France.  The floors of the foyer and hall are travertine; the living and dining rooms are a rich dark walnut. Most of the countertops are limestone and the custom light fixtures are French replicas.

 Last year, the event organizers at St. John’s Episcopal Church took a break from the tour, replacing it with a dessert reception and candlelight performance of Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory.” 

The reading was so well received that this year they are featuring  both events for what they now call “TOUR DE NOEL WEEK END.”  In addition to the tour and the candlelight reading of “A Christmas Memory” in the Church, the festivities will include a holiday lunch, afternoon tea and a holiday boutique featuring a selection of wonderful home made jams, jellies, chutneys, baked goods and holiday items.

What: Tour de Noel Weekend

Dessert reception and “A Christmas Memory,” 7 p.m. – Friday, December 10 – $25

Christmas House Tour ($30)  and holiday boutique from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 11 and from

Holiday luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ($12) or afternoon tea between 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, December 11 ($10) – Fresh Starts Catering is creating an amazing lunch for Tour goers. It will feature a choice of two hearty soups, winter market salads and festive home-made desserts. (Pumpkin Soup with gorgonzola dolce luce or Tuscan Bean Soup ~ Salads: Winters Farmers Market Salad or Spinach Salad with oranges and almonds.~Desserts: Festive Home-made desserts.)  Stay after tour and warm up with a cup of tea and savory sandwich bites and delectable petit fours.

Holiday boutique from 6 to 7 p.m. on Saturday, December 11 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, December 12.

Where: Tour shuttles depart from St. John’s Episcopal Church at 15 Lagunitas Road in Ross.

Tickets: $10 to $50 available online at St. John’s Episcopal Church, and at the following retail stores for cash or checks only: David M Brian in Greenbrae, Mill Valley Market, Paradise Foods in Corte Madera and Novato, Susan’s Store Room in San Anselmo, Woodlands Floral in Kentfield, and Papier in Novato.

Information: 456-1102; www.stjohnsross.org

Proceeds from the weekend’s events support charities helping those in need in Marin county and beyond, including Gilead House, Canal Alliance, A Home Away from Homelessness, Northern Light School, Seeds of Learning and Global AIDS Interfaith Alliance (GAIA).

  


Marin County Real Estat Market Report for October 2010

While the economy is showing signs of improvement, the real estate sector is still searching for signs of stabilization. Two main factors are continuing to have a huge impact on the real estate market: the jobless rate and foreclosures.

Even amid signs of economic growth and recovery, the jobless rate in fall 2010 has hovered between 9 percent and 10 percent with most analysts foreseeing a very slow decline in the number of unemployed.  During her presentation to the Marin Association of Realtors on November 9, Leslie Appleton Young, the chief economist for the California Association of Realtors (CAR) stressed that local markets in California are deeply affected by larger economic forces, including  lagging consumer confidence often resulting from unemployment or people’s fear of  losing their job.  This keeps most people from taking risks, she said: “Banks don’t trust that consumers are going to pay them back. Consumers don’t trust their employer is going to keep them employed.“  The California State jobless rate remained unchanged at 12.4 percent in October, one of the highest in the country.  The Bay Area’s rate was significantly lower:  San Francisco came in at 9.3 percent, San Mateo at 8.5, and with the lowest rate in California, Marin at 8 percent.  Even with a relatively low rate, unemployment continues to have an impact on Marin County buyers who are fearful of making such an important financial commitment, even though they would love to take advantage of the great bargains available and the historically very low interest rates.

 The other wildcard in the housing recovery, closely related to the unemployment rate, is the foreclosure crisis and shadow inventory. Looking ahead, the number of properties yet to come to the market because they are in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosures is a much more difficult aspect of the current housing market to quantify. There are numerous estimates of the size of this shadow inventory, the wide range of estimates in part a reflection of the fact that there is no consistent or agreed upon definition of what constitutes the shadow inventory. Many analysts expect the number of repossessed properties or those with mortgages that are severely delinquent to remain a significant headwind for the market for some time to come.  “If you want to try to understand the [Marin] market, it’s really distressed versus nondistressed,” Appleton-Young said. Appleton Young believes that Marin County’s real estate market will need several years to recover from its recent slide, and that the recovery will be delayed by sellers’ reluctance to lower their prices.  Marin County sellers of upper end homes are still very unrealistic and still “nostalgic for the boom years,” she added.

At the lower end of Marin County’s market, she said, a different trend is in play: not enough cheaper properties are available for sale. While demand has cooled for high-end properties (mostly because the “jumbo” loan market has dried up), there is still a strong appetite for so-called distressed properties whose sellers are struggling financially or have stopped paying their mortgage, she said.

The number of single family homes properties in contract per price range tell the story very clearly:

Marin County – Single Family Residences as of November 8, 2010     
      Total Active      In Contract      % In Contract      Type of Market     
ALL PRICES      1152      298      25.87%      Balanced     
0-$999K      670      212      31.64%      Seller’s     
1MIL-$1,999K      285      62      21.75%      Buyer’s     
2MIL-$2,999K      97      15      15.46%      Buyer’s     
$3MIL +      100      9      9.00%      Strong     

 

On a much more positive note, she did share that according to a recent CAR survey, 23% of recent transactions were all cash, usually an indicator that the buyer was probably an investor. That is a bright note because historically when investors start purchasing a large number of properties, it means the market is reaching the bottom!  Time will tell.

Overall activity in Marin has remained stable in the past month. As of November 8, there were 1,152 Single Family Residences listed for sale on the Marin County MLS, and 298 of those were in contract. The percentage in contract was up slightly in all price segments except for the $1million to $1.99 million range, where it was off half a percentage point, or essentially unchanged. The key “entry level” under one million segment was up from 30.96% to 31.64%, while the over-$3million segment increased from 7.84% to 9% on the strength of a 2 unit decline in inventory and a 1 unit increase in listings in contract. Small numbers like that provide evidence too thin to make market generalizations, but the good news is that some of those upper end propertzWies are continuing to move!

Comparing to the highs and lows for the Marin County real estate market over the past five years, here is where we stand:

–       Sold single family homes:

  • High: August 2005 – 259
  • Low: February 2009 – 62
  • October 2010 – 149

–       Average Median Sales Price:

  • High: September 2007 – $1,160,000
  • Low: February 2009 – $649,000
  • October 2010: $746,750

Where is this market headed? While many argue about the timing of the recovery, one thing is certain, eventually the Marin County real estate will recover. The recession has had a profound impact on the way consumers shop and the mentality is very much that everyone is in search of a “deal.” Those who bought near the bottom and got that great “deal” will be the envy of those who waited what will have turned out to be too long.. So the question becomes not “are we at the bottom of this market”, but “are we near the bottom?”

Marin County Market Statistics (Single Family Homes)
  Prices Unit   Change from last year
  Median Average Sales DOM SP/LP Median Average Sales
Marin $746,750 $945,102 149 92 94.70% -1.20% -9.50% -12.90%
Belvedere $2,747,860 $4,030,953 3 176 89.90% -17.40% 21.20% 50.00%
Corte Madera $900,000 $1,069,909 11 79 95.90% 12.10% 21.80% 175.00%
Fairfax $585,500 $631,150 6 109 94.80% -16.20% -11.00% -14.30%
Greenbrae $935,000 $969,429 7 44 97.50% -15.00% -14.30% 133.30%
Kentfield $1,924,500 $1,924,500 2 100 94.00% 26.20% -40.90% -50.00%
Larkspur $720,000 $732,500 4 58 83.10% -39.60% -32.80% 0.00%
Mill Valley $897,500 $997,159 20 67 95.70% 5.00% -21.10% -4.80%
Novato $630,000 $678,843 30 86 96.10% 5.90% 2.30% -41.20%
Ross $1,380,000 $1,380,000 2 151 92.80% -52.90% -53.80% -50.00%
San Anselmo $719,000 $739,534 13 91 97.30% -12.60% -9.30% 62.50%
San Rafael $590,000 $645,316 35 117 96.60% -14.50% -22.40% -22.20%
Sausalito $1,350,000 $1,745,000 4 96 92.50% -13.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Tiburon $1,730,000 $1,815,769 9 112 93.20% -16.60% -39.90% 50.00%
Marin County Market Statistics (Condos/Townhomes)
  Prices Unit   Change from last year
  Median Average Sales DOM SP/LP Median Average Sales
Marin $360,000 $415,598 31 107 97.00% 0.60% 10.20% -43.60%
Corte Madera $515,000 $515,000 2 114 95.40% 4.10% -2.10% -50.00%
Greenbrae $410,000 $423,333 3 101 96.50% -12.20% -8.60% -25.00%
Mill Valley $749,000 $749,000 1 97 100.00% 48.30% 59.40% -75.00%
Novato $278,550 $285,638 8 103 97.40% -0.50% -9.10% -65.20%
San Rafael $260,000 $309,286 7 112 97.00% -9.60% -10.40% -50.00%
Sausalito $390,000 $446,000 3 41 99.30% -12.40% -1.40% 0.00%
Tiburon $1,057,500 $1,057,500 2 291 95.30% 86.30% 86.30% 0.00%

SP/LP = Sales price divided by the listing price at the time of sale

I make it my business to understand the numbers, and follow the trends closely.  I know Marin County’s neighborhoods and can provide you with the right guidance.  Whether you are thinking of buying or selling, or are just curious to find out how much your home is worth, call me at 415.925.3231 or send me an email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com.


Home Safety Tip : How To Test A Smoke Detector

Test your smoke alarmAccording to the United States Fire Administration, in 2008, there were an estimated 378,200 in-home fires.  Combined, these fires caused $8 billion in property damage and killed 2,600 people.

Unfortunately, many of affected homes did have smoke detectors installed, but the devices were faulty either because of dead batteries, or because the smoke detector had reached the end of its useful life.

This is why it’s so important to test your home’s smoke detectors at least once annually.

Here’s how to test a smoke detector:

  1. Ask a family member or friend to walk to the farthest point of the home from the detector.
  2. Push and hold the testing button to activate the alarm. Usually, this takes 5 seconds.
  3. Confirm with the family member or friend that the alarm was audible from his/her location.

And there’s an additional step worth taking.

Just because the smoke detector’s alarm works doesn’t mean that the actual smoke detector works. For less than $15, therefore, you may want to buy a “smoke test” from Amazon to confirm whether your detector is faulty.  The smoke test simulates a real fire so, if the detector fails to sound when it’s tested, it’s time to replace the entire smoke detector unit.

2,000 residential fires occur on Thanksgiving Day each year — most of them related to cooking. Before Thursday, make sure your smoke detectors are working. You don’t want your home to be Fire #2001.

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.


Sewer lateral: why you should check out yours

OK I know,  this is not a very sexy topic, but one you should pay attention to!

What exactly is a sewer lateral you may ask?  It is the sewer line that connects your home to the public sewer collection line and it is your responsibility as home owner to maintain it.

The Marin County sewer lateral infrastructure is aging and many of the old, clay lateral pipes are in dire need of replacement.  Why is it so important?  As main sewer lines and laterals age, they develop leaks, become clogged by grease, and are cracked by roots. This situation leads to sewage spills and overflows. During wet weather, stormwater enters through those cracks and breaks, increasing flows in sewer pipes by 1,000% or more. This is called Inflow and Infiltration, and causes additional spills and overloading of the wastewater treatment process. The result threatens public health and has, at times, contaminated San Francisco Bay and its tributaries.

Because pictures speak louder than words, here are pictures of defective sewer laterals:

 

What you can do to fix the problem:

Have your sewer lateral line inspected.  Contact me for a FREE INSPECTION!

– Make sure you NEVER pour grease or oil into your drain.  I used to think that if I diluted grease with hot water and soap it was fine to do so.  But it WILL CLOG UP your lateral as soon as it cools down.  Just pour your cooking oil or grease into a jar or plastic bag and place it in your garbage instead.

– Contact your Local Sanitary Agency to find out more information.  Credits are available for repairs.  

 Marin County has been commendably proactive and has implemented a Marin Lateral Program  to address this important issue.  A group of nine local wastewater agencies — members of the North Bay Watershed Association — is working together to help homeowners and businesses inspect and fix their privately owned sewer laterals to protect their homes, health and environment, as well as saving money.  

 If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, it is paramount to have the sewer lateral line inspected.  I always make sure my clients do so to avoid any costly surprises down the road. 

Feel free to call me with any questions!

For more information, click on the following links to get the answer to all your questions on sewer laterals and watch the video:

What is a sewer lateral line?

Why you should care about sewer laterals.

How to inspect and repair your sewer lateral.

Your sewer lateral line: is it leaking?

Latest news and documents

Read Marin IJ article


Marin real estate market facing long recovery according to CAR economist

Leslie Appleton Young

Last week’s economic update to a standing room only audience from Leslie Appleton-Young, the chief economist for the California Association of REALTORS® at the Marin Association of Realtors’  monthly membership meeting  was chock full of key insights, penetrating analysis and expert advice. 

She touched upon the effect excessive asking prices have on the market and how they are preventing the market from recovering.  At the other end of the market, there is a lack of inventory in lower priced homes (under $1 million). 

 “If you want to try to understand the market, it’s really distressed versus nondistressed,”

The main issue preventing a full market recovery is lagging consumer confidence and the unwillingness of consumers to take risk.  

“Banks don’t trust that consumers are going to pay them back,” she said. “Consumers don’t trust their employer is going to keep them employed. Across the board there is just a lot of fear and negativity about the future and uncertainty.”

She did point out that one bright spot in the market is the increase in the number of investors seeking real estate. According to a recent California Association of  REALTORS® survey, 23 percent of recent transactions were all-cash, an indicator the buyer was likely an investor. 

I know from experience that when investors start snagging up properties it is usually a sign that the market has bottomed out.  Time will tell!

Stay tuned for my monthly market update with detailed analysis of all the numbers and trends.

Read  Marin IJ article here on Leslie Appleton Young’s presentation.


Better Credit Scores Get Better Mortgage Rates

This week marks the start of the Refi Boom’s 7th month ; rates have been falling since early-April 2010. Whether you’re looking to refinance or buy a home, however, know that not everyone will qualify for today’s low rates.

Mortgage approvals are primarily based on good income, good equity and strong credit, and, without all three, the best rates of the day remain out of reach. Now, you can’t always ask for a raise and equity is a function of the housing market, but you can do something about your credit score.

In this 4-minute segment from NBC’s The Today Show, you learn some credit basics to help propel your score higher:

  • There’s no “quick fix” for credit. Time + Good Credit Behavior = Better FICOs.
  • Pay every bill when it comes due. Even one late payment can damage your score.
  • Don’t close old credit cards

Also among the segment’s advice is to stop worrying about whether rates have bottomed. Refinance today if it makes financial sense. Then, if, by chance, rates fall in the future, just refinance again.  Don’t be greedy!

Corinthian Island

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About the author: The above Real Estate information on Marin County Real Estate was provided by Sylvie Zolezzi.  I can be reached via email at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com or by phone/text at 415.505.4789.  I help people move in and out of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I am here to help you make the smartest real estate move and build wealth, providing you with reliable real estate information and advice you can trust.

My knowledge and passion for Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you successfully navigate the process of buying and selling a home.  My business model enables me to provide superior service and a better client experience.  I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County! 

I service the following towns in Marin County: Sausalito, Tiburon, Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield,  Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Novato.