Marin County Home Improvement Projects : How Much Equity Will You Build?

Is that next home remodel worth it?

Home improvement projects are booming, expected to cross $110 billion in total volume this quarter.  Unlike in recent years, however, the projects aren’t always helping to create much new home equity.

Nationally, according to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Report 2011-2012, today’s homeowners get a much smaller payoff on their home improvement projects: for each home improvement dollar spent in 2012, homeowners can expect to recoup just 58 cents in home equity.  This figure is down sharply from 2005, when the cost-to-value ratio was 87 percent nationally.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, it appears that while each job cost is higher than the average national job cost, we recoup a higher percentage of that cost.  For example, the average highest cost recouped nationally is 72.5% for an attic bedroom remodel.  In San Francisco, the highest cost recouped is for a minor kitchen remodel at 115.5%.  If you’re planning to remodel/update your Marin County home in preparation for sale, therefore, consider the following projects, each of which carries a high cost-to-value ratio.

From Remodeling Magazine’s “Mid-Range Project” list for the San Francisco Bay Area :

  • Steel Entry Door Replacement : Cost, $1,542; Recoup, 105.7%
  • Attic Bedroom : Cost, $68,168; Recoup, 101.6%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel : Cost, $22,067; Recoup, 115.5%
  • Garage Door Replacement : Cost, $1,837; Recoup, 100.7%
  • Wood Deck Addition : Cost, $13,963; Recoup, 90.9%

By contrast, other projects carry a low cost-to-value ratio, and should only be undertaken if the project’s utility exceeds its cost.  These projects don’t do much to raise a home’s resale value.

  • Home Office Remodel : Cost, $33,246; Recoup, 67.5%
  • Sunroom Addition : Cost, $90,406; Recoup, 62.6%
  • Backup Power Generator : Cost, $18,001; Recoup, 46.4%
  • Bathroom Addition : Cost, $97,077; Recoup, 77.9%
  • Fiberglass Entry Door Replacement : Cost, $4,117; Recoup 78.1%

If you’re planning a home improvement project over the next few months, the timing is right — both contractor costs and material costs are low nationwide, and improving a home can extend its useful life.

See the full San Francisco Cost vs. Value 2011-2012 Report.

Should you need recommendations for top notch professionals to complete your remodeling projects, please feel free to contact me, I will be happy to refer you to the right person.

__________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with the best home buying or selling experience possible by combining my business and financial experience with meticulous attention to detail and a warm, personable and caring approach to meeting your needs.  I have an excellent track record as a successful, results-oriented negotiator and effective communicator.  My analytical skills and understanding of current market conditions, along with my ability to utilize a broad range of cutting edge technological and marketing resources, make me an invaluable real estate resource.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched. I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  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 Conforming Loan Limits For 2012

Conforming loan limits (1980-2012)

What is a conforming loan?

A conforming mortgage is one that, literally, conforms to the mortgage guidelines as set forth by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

Conforming mortgage guidelines are Fannie’s and Freddie’s eligibility standards; an underwriter’s series of check-boxes to determine whether a given loan should be approved.

Among the many traits of a conforming mortgage is “loan size”.

Each year, the government re-assesses its maximum allowable loan size based on “typical” housing costs nationwide.  Loans that fall at, or below, this amount meet conforming mortgage guidelines.  Loans in excess of this limit are known as “jumbo” loans.

Between 1980 and 2006, as home values increased, conforming loan limits did, too, rising from $93,750 to $417,000.  Since 2006, however, despite falling home prices in many U.S. markets, the conforming loan limit has held steady.  This will remain true for 2012 as well and for the 7th straight year, the national, single-family conforming mortgage loan limit will remain at $417,000.

The complete 2012 conforming loan limit breakdown, by property type :

  • 1-unit properties : $417,000
  • 2-unit properties : $533,850
  • 3-unit properties : $645,300
  • 4-unit properties : $801,950

Loan limit exceptions for high-cost areas, including Marin County

However, there are some areas nationally that have earned “loan limit exceptions” based on the local median sales prices.  These areas are known as “high-cost” areas.  The Housing and Recovery Act of 2009 passed by Congress made high-cost loan limit pricing permanent at $625,500.  Loan limits within these regions were further increased on a temporary basis and ranged  from $625,500 to a maximum of  $729,750  from 2009 until September 30, 2011. 

San Francisco and Marin County are included in these high-cost areas (along with most of California), New York City, and most of Hawaii and Alaska.  Nationally, there are approximately 200 such “high-cost” areas.  A complete county-by-county list is published online.

President Obama signed into law a government spending bill Friday morning that reinstitutes higher conforming loan limits for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans through the end of 2013.  Effective today, FHA can insure loans up to $729,750.
 
The Senate had approved an amendment to a bill earlier in the month that would have also reinstalled the same limits for Fannie and Freddie loans as well, but a joint appropriation committee cut Fannie and Freddie out of the final bill, leaving only FHA loans in.

Thinking of buying or selling a Marin County home, feel free to contact me for a free consultation (Cell: 415.505.4789.)  I would love to be of service.

Gerstle Park, San Rafael

__________________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.


Using a Home Generator? Here’s How To Stay Safe

It is soon going to be the season to be merry, but also the season for storms and the all too familiar power outages they cause in Marin County.  If you have invested in a home generator, here are a few safety tips to keep you and your family safe.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas and carbon monoxide poisoning poisoning is especially common during periods of power outage.   This is because homeowners fire up their personal home power generators and home generators are a leading cause of poisoning by carbon monoxide.

In this 4-minute from NBC’s The Today Show, you’ll learn about home generators, how they operate, and the safety measures every homeowner should undertake.

A few basic home generator safety rules, as described in the interview, include :

  • Never modify a generator or its engine
  • Keep a 10-foot distance between the generator and your home
  • Always point the generator’s exhaust away from your home

Furthermore, make sure your home has an ample supply of carbon monoxide detectors, and that they’re operational.

Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!

Cape Marin, Greenbrae

___________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.


Mortgage Market Week in Review – November 18, 2011

MORTGAGE MARKET WEEK IN REVIEW

While other markets witnessed extreme volatility, interest rates remain steady to unchanged from last week in response to better than expected economic data that has offset the continued uncertainty surrounding the European debt crisis.

CURRENT INTEREST RATES | NOVEMBER 18, 2011

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.125% (4.20% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.875% (2.95% APR)
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 1 POINT
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.625% (4.77% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.875% (3.01% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.375% (4.44% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.000% (3.06% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are SAME compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

INDUSTRY NEWS

BREAKING NEWS: Obama Signs Extension for Higher FHA Loan Limits
Friday, November 18th, 2011, 10:21 am
 
President Obama signed into law a government spending bill Friday morning that reinstitutes higher conforming loan limits for Federal Housing Administration loans through the end of 2013.
 
Effective today, FHA can insure loans up to $729,750.
 
The Senate had approved an amendment to a bill earlier in the month that would have also reinstalled the same limits for Fannie and Freddie loans as well, but a joint appropriations committee cut Fannie and Freddie out of the final bill, leaving only FHA loans in.
 
The move by Congress will give borrowers seeking loans between $625,500 and $729,750 in pricey markets two options. They can take out “jumbo” loans that carry higher interest rates and require down payments of at least 20%. Or, they can take out an FHA loan which allows for lower down payments but charges insurance premiums that add to borrowers’ costs.
 

This article courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2011 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

gkemsley@terramb.com
Office: (415) 464-3144
Cell: (415) 828-0218
Fax: (888) 449-0329
DRE License #: 01121768
NMLS #: 291780

____________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.

 


It’s Official: Congress Passes FHA Loan Limit Hike

BREAKING NEWS!  Friday, November 18, 2011

By Brian Collins

Mortgage bankers soon will able to originate Federal Housing Administration loans of up to $729,750 in high cost areas thanks to Congress, which passed a “minibus” appropriations bill Thursday night.

But Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lenders will be stuck at the lower $625,500 limit.

President Obama is expected to sign the combined Transportation, Housing and Agriculture minibus measure shortly.

House and Senate conferees hammered out this strange FY 2012 compromise under heavy lobbying from housing-related groups – in particular the National Association of Realtors. In the end, House conferees refused to raise the limit for the GSEs, whose seller/servicers began adapting to the lower loan limit in late September.

The spending bill (H.R. 2112) also extends the National Flood Insurance Program through Dec.16 and provides $80 million for foreclosure prevention programs.

The House passed the appropriations bill by a 298-212 vote Thursday and the Senate passed it by a 70-30 vote later that night.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voted against the measure. “It is unconscionable that Congress would renew the excessive loan limits for any of the government housing agencies when we should be weaning ourselves off government dependence in the housing finance sector,” Sen. Corker said.

The banking committee member recently introduced a bill to unwind Fannie and Freddie over 10 years.

National Association of Home Builders chairman Bob Nielson said restoration of the higher loan limits for FHA is “essential to help stabilize the nation’s housing financial markets.”

The minibus appropriations bill also restores the FHA loan limit in hundreds of counties by raising the local benchmark to 125% of the median house price from 115%. The benchmark in these low cost markets dropped to 115% at the end of September.

NAR, as expected, welcomed the outcome. “As the nation’s leading advocate for homeownership, we applaud members of Congress for restoring FHA’s previous loan limits, which will help reduce consumer cost burdens, stabilize local housing markets and allow qualified, creditworthy borrowers to access affordable mortgage financing,” said NAR President Moe Veissi.

Bon Air Shopping Center, Greenbrae

_______________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

 

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.

 

 

 

 


The garage can help sell your Marin County home

Your garage can be used for much more than parking cars, storage, and holding trash bins.   Here is the link to a great article about staging your garage to help sell your home: The Garage Can Help Sell Your Homet, Realty Times, September 16, 2011.

The author, Phoebe Chonghua,  argues that most homeowners think of staging their kitchens and bedrooms, but should also stage their garage. garage is a feature that is playing an increasingly important role.  And I could not agree more.  Whenever I hold an open house or show homes to Marin Countybuyers, the garage is one of the most important features of the home on which they focus. 

Phoebe Chonghua  recommends sellers entice buyers with a garage that shows off its most important features to make sure it becomes a must-have item on their home-buying list.  

Here is a list of upgrades you can make to showcase your garage:

  • Storage is always a premium in homes.  Add closet organizers, storage bins that can stash away seldom-used items, use walls and ceiling for storage and consider adding one or two loft-type storage areas.  For more tips on storage,  read my post on How To Make More Space In Your Garage.
  • Add lighting.  Garages are often dark and dreary: adding additional lighting is relatively inexpensive, but it makes a huge difference in increasing a garage’s appeal. 
  • You might also consider coating your floor.  A concrete floor in the garage can show off the wrong things, such as those icky, ugly oil stains. If you coat your floor with an epoxy resin-based paint or rubber mats and tiles, then drippings and spills are easy to wipe up. The mats and tiles help to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked inside the garage and ultimately into the house. They also can help with insulation and noise reduction. For practical reasons, coating your garage floor is ideal. For staging reasons it simply looks nice and is much more welcoming than a concrete floor.
  • Make sure your garage door and opener are working quietly. The first automatic garage door openers became commercially used back in the 1950s and if yours is an original, it’s time to upgrade! Keep the garage door in the same theme style of the home, color and overall decor. Make sure the door doesn’t squeak when it’s opened. Get it checked out by the garage door company that installed it or sometimes all it needs is a good oil job to lubricate it. A noisy garage door opener could indicate to a buyer that it’s on the verge of breaking down.
  • Next, finish your walls and ceilings. Many garages are not finished, but if you put up wall board you can complete the look of the garage. Finished sells better. Make sure the garage is insulated before you finish it. That can save on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Finally, add a coat of fresh paint. Yes, painting the garage can add a lot. You don’t have to go wild with color; neutral tones are fine. It’s all about the overall theme of the room.

Don’t be afraid to add a little style to your garage, just don’t clutter it with too much decor.  When it comes to selling, a garage should be spacious, organized, and a place where buyers can imagine easily storing their own stuff!  A well maintained and organized garage reflects well on the property and generates a feeling of confidence that the property has been well maintained by organized owners.

Gorgeous fall colors, Monte Vista, Larkspur

 _______________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entice buyers with a garage that is organized, kept up and shows off its most important features. Storage is always a premium in homes and if your garage showcases closet organizers, hand shelving, and storage bins that can stash away seldom-used items or tools, buyers will find your garage a must-have item on their home-buying list.

Use walls and ceilings for storage. Consider having one or two loft-type storage areas built into the garage. They drop down from the ceiling a few feet and allow homeowners to store multiple large plastic bins of seasonal decorations and items they rarely use. Having the extra space allows you to get boxes up off the ground, making the room look larger. To add a decorator touch, add curtains around the storage area to hide the boxes and bulky items that are stored up high.

Next, add lighting. It’s relatively inexpensive, but it makes a huge difference in increasing a garage’s appeal. Replacing the single center bulb with a strip of lighting is a fantastic way to spark a buyer’s interest. Garages are often too dark and dreary. Adding an eight-foot fluorescent light strip will light up the room and make your garage shine.

You might also consider coating your floor. A concrete floor in the garage can show off the wrong things, such as those icky, ugly oil stains. If you coat your floor with an epoxy resin-based paint or rubber mats and tiles, then drippings and spills are easy to wipe up. The mats and tiles help to reduce the amount of dirt that gets tracked inside the garage and ultimately into the house. They also can help with insulation and noise reduction. For practical reasons, coating your garage floor is ideal. For staging reasons it simply looks nice and is much more welcoming than a concrete floor.

Make sure your garage door and opener are working quietly. The first automatic garage door openers became commercially used back in the 1950s and if you’re is an original, it’s time to upgrade! Keep the garage door in the same theme style of the home, color and overall decor. Make sure the door doesn’t squeak when it’s opened. Get it checked out by the garage door company that installed it or sometimes all it needs is a good oil job to lubricate it. A noisy garage door opener could indicate to a buyer that it’s on the verge of breaking down.

Next, finish your walls and ceilings. Many garages are not finished, but if you put up wall board you can complete the look of the garage. Finished sells better. Make sure the garage is insulated before you finish it. That can save on your heating and cooling bills.

Finally, add a coat of fresh paint. Yes, painting the garage can add a lot. You don’t have to go wild with color; neutral tones are fine. It’s all about the overall theme of the room. Don’t be afraid to add a little style to your garage, just don’t clutter it with too much decor. When it comes to selling, a garage should be spacious, organized, and a place where buyers can imagine easily storing their own stuff!


Government Releases Additional HARP Guidance For Underwater Homeowners

Making Home Affordabie

Tuesday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac unveiled lender instructions for the government’s revamped HARP program, kick-starting a potential refinance frenzy nationwide.

HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. The updated program is meant to give “underwater homeowners” an opportunity to refinance at today’s low mortgage rates.

In the two-plus years since its launch, HARP’s first iteration helped fewer than 900,000 homeowners. HARP II, by contrast, is expected to reach millions.

Lenders begin taking HARP II loan applications December 1, 2011.

To apply for HARP, applicants must first meet 4 basic criteria :

  1. The existing mortgage must be guaranteed by Fannie Mae or by Freddie Mac
  2. The existing mortgage must have been securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009
  3. The mortgage payment history must be perfect going back 6 months
  4. The mortgage payment history may not include more than one 30-day late payment going back 12 months 

If the above criteria are met, HARP applicants will like what they see.

For HARP applicants, loan level price adjustments are waived in full for loans with terms of 20 years or fewer; and maxed at 0.75 for loans with terms in excess of 20 years.

This will result in dramatically lower mortgages rates for HARP applicants — especially those with credit scores below 740. Some applicants will find HARP mortgage rates lower than for a “traditional” conventional mortgage.

In addition, HARP applicants are exempted from the standard waiting period following a bankruptcy or foreclosure, which is 4 years and 7 years, respectively.

These two items are inclusionary and should help HARP reach a broader U.S. audience.

HARP contains exclusionary policies, too.

  1. The “unlimited LTV” feature only applies to fixed rate loans or 30 years or fewer. ARMs are capped at 105% loan-to-value.
  2. Applicants must be “requalified” if the proposed mortgage payment exceeds the current payment by 20%.
  3. Applicants must benefit from either a lower payment, or a “more stable” product to qualify

And, of course, HARP can only be used once. 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will adopt slight variations of the same HARP guidelines so make sure to check with your loan officer for the complete list of HARP eligibility requirements.

Sleepy Hollow, San Anselmo

_____________________________________________________________________________

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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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 Real Estate Market Update – October 2011

We are in the home stretch for the holidays.  With Halloween just behind us, Christmas decorations are already popping up everywhere—way too early for my taste, I just can’t get in the holiday spirit until after Thanksgiving…  On the real estate front, we usually see fewer homes coming on the market, slower sales and low inventory in early November.  But this year, things are a bit different… Read on for more details.

 

As is often the case, Marin is bucking the regional and national trends, greatly in part due to our no-growth policy.  On the national front some ideas are floating around to reduce the glut of inventory: some are suggesting that banks experiment with cleaning up the books by demolishing foreclosures rather than selling them, others believe that turning REOs into rentals will save housing… 

In Marin, inventory is down 13%: as of October 31 there were 960 active listings compared to 1103 last year.  The reason for this trend is that the general cycle that typically fuels our real estate market is broken: few homeowners are trading up to a bigger house from their starter home or down to a smaller home when their kids go to college, and instead are staying put, selling only when compelled to.  Meanwhile buyers are taking advantage of the great opportunities in our market and, despite a decreasing inventory, the number of pending listings is higher at 448 or 32% of inventory compared to 415 last year or 27% of inventory. 

The cream of the crop listings–well situated and priced properties in good condition– are selling like hot cakes, often with multiple offers.  They rarely go significantly over asking with the exception of cash sales where appraisals are not an issue.

The combination of declining, consistently low supply and high demand accompanied with frequent multiple offers should have resulted in increasing prices and in turn higher supply by now, but single family home prices are remaining pretty steady.  They have been hovering slightly over or under $1,000,000 for the past 14 months, with the exception of a peak at $1,153,000 in November 2010 and a down spike at $813,000 in January 2011.    

The good news is that this is a sign that our market is recovering steadily, albeit slowly.

Sales continue on their upward trend with 2,140 homes sold year to date as of today, November 9 (1,657 single family homes and 481 condos) compared to 1,997 as of November 9, 2010 (1,584 single family homes and 411 condos) and 1,789 as of November 9, 2009 (1,789 single family homes and 428 condos).

Open houses continue to be very well attended with serious buyers, especially in the lower end segment of the market.  The trend continues to be the preference for remodeled, turnkey homes in excellent condition and great locations.

 ACTIVITY BY PRICE POINT

 Activity varies greatly with each segment of the market, with the 0 to $999,000 segment continuing to significantly outperform the higher end segments. The $1 million to $1.99 million range remains very attractive for buyers with 20.28% in contract only, with the $2 million to $2.99 million close behind.  Where tremendous opportunities await the high end buyer is the $3 million plus market with less than 4% in contract!.

 CITY BY CITY REPORT

Novato continues to lead the pack with 45.02% of its inventory in contract, closely followed by Corte Madera and a newcomer at the top: Sausalito, with 40.28% in contract, compared to 28.21% in September and 26.2% in September.  A blip in activity or a sustainable trend? Time will tell.  Greenbrae, on the hand, has slowed down with 33.33% in contract only compared to 47.06% on October 1 and 48.28% on September 4 and is now a balanced market.

 

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, I have not noticed the usual lull in activity.  Motivated buyers continue to attend open homes in search of their dream home; it might be well worth it to keep your home on the market through the holiday season while the competition takes a break.  Likewise for buyers, it will be worth your while to continue looking as the sellers who keep their home on the market through the end of the year are motivated.  Looks like the best possible scenario for win-win transactions!

Gorgeous fall colors in Sleepy Hollow, San Anselmo

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.


The Secret of Dressing Like a French Woman

In case you did not know, I am French and I do dress like a French woman… 

What is my secret?  I shop in small boutiques, mainly in Marin and occasionally in San Francisco, to find unique, timeless  pieces that work well for my body type.  I wear mostly classic pieces which I update with trendy, current accessories.  When putting an outfit together, I always pay attention to proportions and I layer a lot to add interest.  Finally, fun jewelry and the right accessory help bring it all together.

My favorite boutiques in Marin are Lindissima (in the Bon Air Shopping Center-my all time favorite), Collage, Blanc and Ma Petite Folie in San Anselmo, Paparazzi in Tiburon (they also have two stores in San Francisco), M Clothing in Corte Madera (and a second store in Healdsburg) and Gala, Pearl and Nicolette in Larkspur.  In San Francisco, there is a fabulous French store called La Boutique, in Jackson Square:  a must stop if you are looking for completely unique, one of a kind European pieces you cannot find anywhere else to update your fall wardrobe.

Let me know what your favorites are!

Lindissima in the Bon Air Shopping Center

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     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.


This Holiday Season, Think Twice Before Saving 15 Percent At The Register

FICO recipeWith Halloween behind us, retailers are in the Holiday Spirit. Businesses know that consumers spent a median $556 on holiday gifts last year and they want this year to be just as strong.

That’s why it’s barely November and, already, Black Friday ads clog our mailboxes and the airwaves. Retailers want our dollars and they’re offering great deals to early shoppers.

There’s one discount a smart shopper should think twice about, however — the ever-present “Open A Charge Card Today And Save 15%” promotion. In the short-term, deals like this will save money. 

Over the long-term, however, opening a charge card could cost you much, much more — especially if you plan to refinance your home or buy a new one.

Applying for a charge card can lower your credit score up to 85 points.  

According to the myFICO.com website, as a category, “New Credit” accounts for 10% of your 850 possible credit points, comprising the following credit traits :

  • Your number of recently opened accounts
  • Your number of recent credit inquiries
  • Time elapsed since your recent credit inquiries
  • Your proportion of new accounts to all accounts

Each trait is a negative in the FICO-scoring credit algorithm which means that, with each in-store charge card application, your credit score is likely to fall. How far your score will fall depends on the rest of your credit profile.

Meanwhile, low FICO scores correlate to higher loan fees.

Using a real-life example, assuming 20% equity in a home, for either purchase or refinance, look how loan fees for a $200,000 conforming mortgage change by FICO score :

  • 740 FICO : There will be no added loan costs
  • 720 FICO : You’ll have a 0.250% increase in loan costs, or $500
  • 700 FICO : You’ll have a 0.750% increase in loan costs, or $1,500
  • 680 FICO : You’ll have a 1.500% increase in loan costs, or $3,000
  • 660 FICO : You’ll have a 2.500% increase in loan costs, or $5,000

You can see first-hand how expensive low credit score can be — much more costly than the 15% saved at the mall. That’s why people planning to refinance to today’s low rates and soon-to-be homeowners shouldn’t rush to save 15% at the register. 

For people in want of a mortgage, high FICO scores are worth protecting.

Thinking of selling your home, inventory is very low and there are many buyers ready to purchase right now in Marin County.  Now maybe a great time to put your home on the market rather than waiting for spring when your listing will be competing with many more!  Thinking of buying, interest rates continue to be at historic lows and affordability at an all time high.

Either way, whether you are considering buying or selling, I would be happy to sit down with you for a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your options and investigate how I can help you reach your real estate and financial goals.  Contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

The Village Shopping Center, Corte Madera

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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 specialize in residential real estate in beautiful Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

 

My goal is to provide you with a home buying or selling experience that is comfortable, educational and financially beneficial to you… and that ultimately culminates in a lifelong relationship.  My business is solidly based on proven systems and cutting technology, which paired with my optimism and passion for my profession, guarantee a positive outcome for my clients.

 

I am a long term Marin County resident and home owner.  I strongly believe our quality of life is extraordinary and practically unmatched.  I love our community, quaint towns and vast open space and never tire of their breathtaking beauty.  My knowledge of, and passion for, Marin County are equaled by my commitment to helping you enjoy the same home ownership benefits.     I know the neighborhoods, the schools, the amenities; I know where you want to live.  I know and love Marin County!