Young or Old: Outdoor Space Sells in Marin County!

Kentfield backyard

Survey Shows Top Outdoor Living Trends for 2012

When potential homebuyers come to me, some of the features highest on their “must have” list virtually always have something to do with outdoor space.  Young families buying homes, for example, are searching for a flat, grassy area off the kitchen where their toddlers can totter.  High-profile clients often seek out impressive spaces with great foot-traffic flow for indoor/outdoor entertaining.  Empty-nesters often come to me seeking the opposite — less yard with easy- or no-maintenance landscaping.  The point is, no matter what the age or demographic of the buyer, in today’s market, outdoor space sells.

The 2012 Residential Landscape Architecture Survey confirms again how important those backyard grills and dining areas are when it comes to what most people have at the top of their minds when they think about buying homes.

So — what is hot for those buying homes in 2012? The survey is one conducted every year by the American Society of Landscape Architects. This year they came up with some clear winners.

According to the survey, top popularity goes to BBQ grill space (97.4%), followed by low-maintenance landscapes (96.6 percent), fireplaces/fire pits (95.8 percent), and dining areas (95.7 percent). 

Americans also love their pools (79.2 percent), but not quite as much as their spas (80.4 percent) and other decorative water elements (89.9 percent), such as waterfalls or bubblers.

Not as popular as they once were? Turf lawns at 50.9%, gazebos at 49.1%, and hammocks at 27.4%. 

When thinking of gardening, Americans tend toward the practical and sustainable with native plants (86.3 percent) and food/vegetable gardens (81.2 percent), with over half of them preferred to be organic (61.2 percent).

Besides planting locally and organically, other sustainable elements continue their popularity with homeowners.  Native or drought-tolerant plants (85.4 percent), drip irrigation (81.7 percent), and permeable paving (71.6 percent) are making their way into outdoor living spaces across the country.

One of my favorite homes featured on the recent Dwell Home Tour in Marin County is in Kentfield: it has a recently landscaped drought tolerant garden with a plethora of succulents in different shapes, colors and textures which is spectacular.  See picture of the home’s backyard/pool area above and front yard below.

Additional information on residential landscape architecture can be found at www.asla.org/residentialinfo.

If you are considering an outdoor remodel, whether you are planning on selling your home or not, be sure to design with Marin County buyers in mind.  Contact me any time for a stop-in — I’ll be happy to go over the features most clients look for when buying homes in Marin County today and recommend some of the top professionals in Marin County to help you achieve your goals.  I can be reached at 415.505.4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

In the meantime, make sure to visit my Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space Webpage  for inspiration.

Drought tolerant garden in Kentfield

 _________________________________________________________________________________________

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 luxury 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 specialize in Luxury Homes in 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 – May 25, 2012

MORTGAGE MARKET WEEK

This week was light on domestic economic reports so the market looked overseas where continuing EU problems and news of an economic slowdown in China helped keep interest rates at record lows.  

 CURRENT INTEREST RATES | MAY 25, 2012

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.750% (3.83% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.750% (2.83% APR) 
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.750% (4.83% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.250% (3.33% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.000% (4.08% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.125% (3.20% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are FLAT compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

INDUSTRY NEWS

NAR’s Housing Affordability Index Breaks into Record Levels!
 
Housing affordability is at an all time high according to the quarterly Housing Affordability Index for the first quarter of 2012.  The index, issued  by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), hit 205.9, the first time it has broken through 200 since recordkeeping began in 1970. The companion index measuring the ability of first-time buyers to purchase a home also set a record at 135.8.
 
The index gauges the purchasing power of a household given the relationship between median home price, median family income, and the average mortgage interest rate.  The higher the index, the greater the household purchasing power.
 
While mortgage interest rates remain at historic lows, both home prices and interest rates are expected to edge up modestly as the year progresses, but housing affordability should remain very favorable with the median-income household well positioned to afford a median-priced home.  For all of 2012 the index is projected to set an annual record, averaging 191 for the year. 
 
NAR: Quarterly Housing Affordability Index


  
NAR: Quarterly Companion Housing Affordability Index

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This article was reprinted courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2012 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Office: (415) 464-3144 – Cell: (415) 828-0218 – Email: gkemsley@terramb.comWebsitewww.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

__________________________________________________________________________

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 luxury 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 specialize in Luxury Homes in 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 Rate Decline: Has It Run Its Course?

The question at the top of the list for Marin County residents thinking about buying a home is the one about mortgage rates. May’s rates are certainly low (really, really low: south of 4%)…but is it worthwhile to wait for them to head lower? Even more to the point, what are the odds they will suddenly reverse and jump through the roof?

If there were a dependable answer to that question, it would be well known. Of course, there isn’t – there are so many economic and political conditions that could cause mortgage rates to change, no one can be certain of the answer. But there is no shortage of pundits willing to try.

According to Bankrate.com last week, 21% of their panelists believed mortgage rates would rise this week, 21% thought rates would fall, and the rest believed rates would remain relatively unchanged (+ or – 2 basis points). Their published opinions change every week — I follow them, and it’s unusual for the experts to be exactly divided about the direction — but that’s where they stand at the moment.

This would be almost comical were it not so important to anyone buying a home: those rates determine your purchasing power — the whole basis of your home search.  It’s an important factor to address early on. So how can anyone even start to go about buying a home?

Acknowledging reality is always the place to begin. Current economic conditions are keeping rates low for the time being, but this low yield can’t last forever. Since change (in either direction) is the only condition certain to occur, to begin the process of buying a home, draw plans based on that current reality. Then keep your eyes open for changes should they occur. This is also where thorough preparation lets you take charge. If you have been pre-approved by one of our local lenders, you will be ready to lock down the right deal when it is offered – rates and all. Then, for you, the guessing game will be over.

If you are buying a Marin County home and want to take advantage of today’s rates, an experienced mortgage broker will help you gain access to the different lending programs available from differing banks, even potentially securing a lower rate than you would get on your own.  The difference in percentages and points can have positive impacts on your monthly payment. 

If you’re considering buying a Marin County home, I can help you prepare to put yourself in the position to take advantage of any and all conditions that present themselves. I hope you will turn to me as your local real estate expert: call me anytime with questions!  I can be reached at 415.505.4789.

Shelter Bay condominiums, Mill Valley, CA

____________________________________________________________________________________

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


Breaking News: Home Prices Show Strongest Year-to-Year Gain in 6 Years

DS News just published this news alert earlier this morning about home prices. 

The median price of an existing home climbed 10 percent to $177,400 from $161,100 in April 2011, the strongest year-to-year gain since January 2006. Existing-home sales rose to 4.62 million (seasonally adjusted annualized rate) in April from a downwardly revised March rate of 4.47 million, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Tuesday morning. Economists had forecast the April sales pace would be 4.66 million.

To read the full article, click here.

To get the local perspective and find out about Marin County median sales price and sales volume in April, click on the links to read my Marin County Market Update for April 2012  and for my http://wwwMarin County Luxury Real Estate market Update for May 2012.

For specific information about your community, your neighborhood, your home, feel free to contact me at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.  The market has changed dramatically this spring and now may be the time to make a move and buy or sell Marin County real estate.  I will be happy to meet with you for a no-obligation consultation.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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


Home Affordability Reaches New High In Q1 2012

Home Affordability 2005-2012While affordability in Marin County is at an all time high and savvy buyers in great numbers are taking advantage of our low prices and rock bottom interest rates, our prices in the San Francisco Bay Area have always been and continue to be among the highest in the nation. 

Recent reports about home affordability being at its highest have made headlines recently.  It is important to understand that the media generally reports national news: let’s look at national numbers and how we compare with the rest of the country, remembering that the more desirable an area, the higher and least affordable home prices will be.

THE NATIONAL STORY

Falling mortgage rates and stagnant home prices are making a positive effect on home affordability nationwide.  Never before in recorded history have so many homes been affordable to households earning a moderate annual income.

Last week, the National Association of Home Builders reported the Home Opportunity Index at 77.5 — its highest reading of all-time.  The index indicates that more than 3 of every 4 homes sold last quarter were affordable to households earning the national median income of $65,000.

Last quarter marks the 12th straight quarter — dating back to 2009 — in which the index surpassed 70.  Prior to this run, the index had never crossed 70 even once.

That said, like most real estate statistics, the Home Affordability Index has a national purview.  National data, while important,  does not tell the whole story for homeowners in specific cities, or in specific neighborhoods.

THE REGIONAL STORY

Last quarter, home affordability varied by region, as it always does.

In the Midwest, for example, affordability was highest. 7 of the top 10 most affordable markets nationwide were spread throughout Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. The top two spots, however, went to an East Region town (Cumberland) and a Pacific Northwest Region city (Fairbanks, Alaska), respectively.

The top 5 most affordable cities for home buyers in Q1 2012 were:

  1. Cumberland, MD (99.0%)
  2. Fairbanks, AK (98.9%)
  3. Wheeling, WV (97.0%)
  4. Kokomo, IN (95.8%)
  5. Indianapolis, IN (95.8%)

By contrast, the Northeast Region and Southern California ranked among the least affordable housing markets — again.  Led by the New York-White Plains, NY-Wayne, NJ area, 8 of the 10 least affordable areas were in the Mid-Atlantic and California, and for the 16th consecutive quarter the New York metro area was ranked “Least Affordable”.

THE LOCAL STORY – SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

The San Francisco Bay area ranked 225 (next to last before New York city) on a national basis and 68 on a regional basis.  The good news is that 39.9 percent of homes were affordable to households earning the area median income of $102,900, compared to 33.2 percent for the first quarter of 2011.  The even better news is that we continue to be the best place to live in the country!!!  Click here to read the first Q 2011 report.

The rankings for all 226 metro areas are available for download on the NAHB website.

Despite our ranking, home affordability is at the highest it’s been in the Bay Area in many years as our home values, while still high relative to the rest of the country, have been trending down since the height of the market in 2007.  Click here  to read my April 2012 Marin County Market Update for the latest trends in prices and sales volume.

If you are thinking of buying a Marin County home and are looking for a local expert to guide you in your search, feel free to contact me at 415.505.4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

 

Waterfront living in Belvedere, CA

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

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

 

Savvy buyers are well tuned to the great window of opportunity in the Bay Area as they are pouncing on homes, often competing with other buyers in multiple offer scenarios.


Woo Marin County Buyers Through Luxury Add-Ons

Kitchen gets a facelift with stainless steeel appliances

As the Marin County real estate market has been undergoing the kind of wide changes we’ve seen recently, it is no surprise that prospective buyers have adjusted how they approach their choices.

With lending tight and larger deposits often being sought by lenders, many of this spring’s Marin County homebuyers are seeking ‘move-in ready’ properties…homes that require little or no out-of-pocket cash before moving in.  That growing segment of the buying public has grown weary of bargain-hunting, is tired of viewing REO’s and short sales — and just wants to be able to settle into their new home as-is.

Today’s Marin County buyer wants a bottom line cost that’s nailed down.

 Automatically qualified to interest such homebuyers are today’s local luxury homes: homes with features that exude a higher-end “feel” — even if their size or location would seem to indicate otherwise. Adding some of these features can send the ‘luxury’ message…and adding some of those features can cost less than you’d think! 

 Luxury homes almost always have a well-planned, open kitchen.  One step in the right direction is to simply remove everything from counters to create the look of more space.  The current tendency is to value kitchens with a multitude of storage and counter space. Where that’s not possible, consider adding new appliances with a modern feel: go for stainless steel to create the feel of luxury – possible even in modest spaces.

I just sold a condominium with Formica kitchen countertops with multiple offers: the owner had just added new stainless steel appliances which totally changed the look and feel of the kitchen.  For inspiration on kitchen trends and a wealth of ideas on how to upgrade your kitchen, read my recent article Must Haves for Your Remodeled Marin County Kitchen.

Remodeled Marin County Bathroom

Another feature qualifying luxury homes is at least one luxury bathroom. Here, it is hard to get past the need to provide ample space for comfort, though spa-style baths are one item that can do the trick. You may also consider a tile mosaic backsplash: that kind of tasteful design touch goes far toward creating a feel of luxury. More simply (and economically), just changing out the faucets to a brushed nickel or other metal surface (please – not brass or gold!) can do the trick.  Add fluffy white towels, beautiful art work, an orchid or two, and great smelling candle and voila! Instant luxury.  Depending on the layout of your bathroom, changes can be pleasingly inexpensive.

Luxury homes may also include green features.  New windows, added insulation, and solar heating are prime examples, but without the budget for major improvements, it’s also possible to take a more modest approach. New energy-efficient LED light bulbs can be one minor feature that can add appeal to today’s luxury homebuyers.  You may also consider getting your home LEED rated through a national or local institution.  Not only will your family benefit from installing green features, but it will encourage most buyers to consider your home a notch above the Marin County competition.

 Of course, there is no substitution for good old-fashioned personal advice.  If you’re mulling over your own home sale this spring or summer, contact me anytime for a custom consultation about practical ways you can maximize your prospects.  I can be reached at 415-505-4789 or Sylvie@YourPieceofMarin.com.

__________________________________________________________________________________

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


Must Haves for your Remodeled Marin County Kitchen

Traditional kitchen from the Houzz site

Are you planning on remodeling your Marin County kitchen in the near future?

There are so many new trends, styles, materials, fixtures, appliances, etc. that it can be totally overwhelming.

I have found a wealth of information on one of my very favorite websites, www.Houzz.com,  to help you do a little research before you get started and narrow down your style preferences.

Each of the following articles contains great information and a multitude of stunning pictures:

 To start with, here are some general articles to help you decide which kitchen style will work for you:

As granite has become more ubiquitous, some of my clients have started exploring other alternatives.  This article (Parts I, II and III) will help you discover all the new materials available today.  I am seeing concrete countertops in both kitchens and bathrooms, and quartz countertops (such as Caesarstone) more and more frequently in Marin homes.

If being kind to the planet and breathing healthier air in your home is among your criteria, you will want to read these articles:

Looking for inspiration for your design choices, here are some good tips:

I could go on and on.  As you can see, you can discover the answer to pretty much any of your design questions on Houzz.

Good luck and happy remodeling!

__________________________________________________________________________________

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 luxury 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 specialize in Luxury Homes in 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 – May 18, 2012

MORTGAGE MARKET WEEK IN REVIEW

The financial discord in the European Union dominated the news again this week and the associated turmoil continues to push investors out of the stock market and into the safe-haven of US Treasuries – In response interest rates moved lower again this week.

 

CURRENT INTEREST RATES | MAY 18, 2012

CONFORMING RATES
($200,000 – $417,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.750% (3.83% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 2.750% (2.83% APR) 
JUMBO RATES
($625,501 – $2,000,000) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 4.625% (4.70% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.125% (3.20% APR)
CONFORMING (HIGH-BALANCE) RATES
($417,001 – $625,500 cap by county) 0 POINTS
• 30 Year Fixed: 3.875% (3.95% APR)
• 5/1 ARM: 3.125% (3.20% APR)
RATE TRENDS
Rates are DOWN compared to last week.
Rates are DOWN compared to last month.
Rates are DOWN compared to one year ago

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

How can I increase my Credit Score?
 
Lending has changed much in the past four years and today every aspect of a borrower’s credit profile is highly scrutinized — perhaps none more so than a borrower’s “Credit Score.” 
 
The three major credit agencies each have their own scoring system. The most popular score is from the Fair Isaac Company (FICO).  Lenders pull a credit report from all three agencies and typically use the middle score to evaluate a borrower. 
 
In conventional financing, a borrower must have a score of 740 or higher if they want a shot at the best interest rates available in the marketplace.
 
According to FICO, the two biggest factors in your credit score are your payment history, which accounts for 35 percent of the score, and the amounts owed, which accounts for 30 percent.
 
The most effective way to raise your score is to reduce your credit card balances.  If an account is in collection, it is too late to improve your credit score by paying off the collection. In this case, consumers will get better results paying down other active credit-card balances and debts first.
 
Though mistakes and bankruptcies may stay on your credit report for seven years, lenders will generally be more likely to overlook late payments that happened two or more years ago than more recent ones. Indeed a late payment that occurs the month when you’re applying for a mortgage will result in a declined mortgage application.

Belvedere

 ******************************************************************************************

This article was reprinted courtesy of Gina Kemsley – Copyright © 2012 Gina Kemsley, Terra Mortgage Banking, All rights reserved.

Gina Kemsley – Senior Vice President – Loan Consultant, Terra Mortgage Banking

Office: (415) 464-3144 – Cell: (415) 828-0218 – Email: gkemsley@terramb.comWebsitewww.terramortgagebanking.com/loan-officers/gina-kemsley

_______________________________________________________________________________________

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


Estate planning in Marin County

There is a common misconception among the American public that estate planning is only the domain of the elderly or the very wealthy.  However, that is far from the truth.  The fact is estate planning is something that can be done by people of any income level, and should be considered by everyone.  If you have not considered yourself as a candidate for estate planning, you might be misjudging the value of your assets.

In fact, you might think of items like your home, your car and your life insurance simply as part of the background of your life but they are, in fact, assets – and valuable ones at that.  And if you have underestimated your need for putting together an estate plan you are not alone.  The unhappy result of failing to plan may be unnecessary fees, expenses and delays at a time when your loved ones are struggling to cope with loss.

What is estate planning?  It is deciding

  • Who will raise your children
  • Who will manage your finances
  • Which medical interventions you want
  • Who you want making healtch care decisions for you
  • How property and financial assets will be distributed

Click here for definitions that will help you understand wills and trusts from the San Francisco Law Office of Robert L. Ferris, Probate and Trust Attorney’s website.

“As many as 120,000,000 Americans do not have up-to-date estate plans” according to the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC). “That makes it one of the most overlooked areas of personal finance, but it is also one of the most important.  Estate planning protects you, your family and your family’s future, so it should not be put off.”

The economic challenges of the past few years have shown many Americans the importance of saving and making well-considered financial decisions.  As important as it is to create and maintain a household budget and use credit wisely, it is equally essential to include estate planning as part of an overall understanding of personal finances.  For most people, the human element of estate planning is key, but it sometimes gets lost in the discussion of accounts and numbers.  The most important thing to remember is that planning your estate well ahead of time – when you are feeling your best and when you are calling the shots – ensures that your goals will be accomplished.

Though young people often do not feel the need to take action, a well thought-out plan is the best way to ensure that your wishes, from guardianship of young children to charitable intents to caring for older parents, are carried out the way you want them to be. Your plans can always be updated as life’s inherent changes alter the landscape, but establishing a starting point that clearly represents your wishes is the first step that needs to be taken. 

Giving yourself and your family peace of mind about the financial concerns of the future is a great gift. If you have never considered an estate plan, visit www.estateplanninganswers.org for more information and to help shed light on how a plan can benefit you and your loved ones for years to come.

Click on the link for the Marin County Estate Planning Council for estate planning resources in Marin County.  And feel free to call me for a referral to estate planning professionals in Marin County.

Mill Valley Luxury Home

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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 luxury 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 specialize in Luxury Homes in 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 Luxury Real Estate Market Update – May 2012

Corinthian Island

 

LONG AWAITED RECOVERY

After dipping to a low of 52 sales in the first quarter of 2009, Marin County’s luxury real estate market seems to be recovering quite well from the real estate woes that have plagued the high end market in the past few years.  For purposes of this report, I will be referring to the luxury high end market as home priced at $1 million and above, unless otherwise specified. 

Luxury home sales have shown a marked improvement in the first quarter of 2012 with 126 sales over $1 million, compared to 110 during the first quarter 2011, and 101 during the first quarter 2010. 

Marin County has always been a most desirable area, with its proximity to the cosmopolitan and sophisticated metropolis of San Francisco, the wine country and the booming Silicon Valley.  It is filled with all the trappings of wealth and glamour and some of its most prestigious addresses can be had today for relatively low prices.

Of course you will find that Marin real estate has not depreciated as much as most other areas of the country and Marin County luxury properties have held their values unbelievably well.

That said, excellent deals await.  Finding them is where I can help you.

LIMITED HIGH END INVENTORY

At the end of April 2012, inventory remains constricted at 304 active listings over $1 million, down 25.1 percent compared to 406 a year ago. 

This inventory level is lower than years past just like in the lower end market inventory, but also because as prices have declined in many markets, homes that were priced at or over $1 million at the peak of the market in 2006 are now priced below $1 million. Moreover, to the extent sellers do not have a compelling reason to sell now, many are waiting for prices to recover rather than trade up or down in today’s market.

Demand is high however, and sales have jumped from 49 to 70 year over year, a 42.9 percent increase.  Pended properties have also improved year over year with 77 properties in contract at the end of April compared to 56 a year ago, a 37.5 percent increase.

Activity has increased as high end buyers are stepping up when they feel a particular home represents a good value and possesses unique characteristics justifying its price.  And sellers are willing to negotiate.

This boost in activity has resulted in a dramatic decline of 43.2 percent in the average days on market from 95 in April 2011 to 54 in April 2012.  

While the percentage of homes in contract for the under $1 million range is off the charts at 78% for April 2012, in the higher end the percentage of homes in contract decreases proportionally as the price of the home increases: 32 percent for the $1 to $1.99 million range, 19 percent for $2 to $2.99 million range and 10 percent for the $3 million and up range.  Consequently, the higher the price for Marin County luxury homes, the more extraordinary the opportunities for buyers who have the financial wherewithal to purchase these distinctive properties. 

 

Belvedere Luxury Living

RECENT HIGH END MARKET ACTIVITY

Properties that languished on the market last year for months on end have been receiving offers within just days of coming back on the market this year. For example, 1 Saint Bernard Lane in Tiburon, priced at $4,950,000, was withdrawn from the market after 188 in April 2011.  It went into escrow on March 26, 2012 just 13 days after it came back on the market at $4,495,000. 

During the month of April 2012, several luxury properties went into contract just days after coming on the market, some with multiple offers, catching agents and buyers alike by surprise:

–          190 Vista Grande in Greenbrae, priced at $2,395,000, went in contract within 9 days

–          25 Manor in Kentfield, priced at $2,395,000, went in contract within 6 days

–          15 Poplar in Kentfield, priced at $3,200,000, went in contract within 9 days

–          1 Hart Lane in Mill Valley, priced at $2,595,000, went in contract within 5 days

–          139 Edgewood Avenue in Mill Valley, priced at $3,650,000, went in contract within 11 days

–          223 Round Hill Rd. in Tiburon, priced $2,495,000, went in contract within 7 days

Will this heightened activity translate into a significant improvement in sales in the luxury and ultra luxury market in the next few months?

For now, despite the increase in activity, pricing in the higher end (especially for homes that started off overpriced) remains on the soft side and “value” is evident in virtually every community and every price segment of the luxury home market in Marin and sales activity remains flat year over year.

Marin County cities recording 17 luxury home sales between $2 million and $4 million in April 2012 included Belvedere (2), Greenbrae (1), Kentfield (3),  Larkspur (1),  Mill Valley (2), Ross (1), San Anselmo (2), Stinson Beach (1) and Tiburon (4).. These homes averaged 107 days on market. Their average sales price was $2.672 million (roughly $667 per square foot), and they averaged 4,105 square feet. 

Marin County’s ultra-luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) experienced three sales in April 2012 — Kentfield, Ross and Stinson Beach, each had one sale.

In comparison, Marin County cities recorded 16 luxury home sales between $2 million and $4 million in April 2011 as follows: Belvedere (3), Kentfield (1), Larkspur (1), Mill Valley (3), Ross (1), San Rafael (1), Sausalito (2), Stinson Beach (1) and Tiburon (3).  These homes averaged 85 days on market. Their average sales price was $2,750,000 (roughly $847.65 per square foot) and they averaged 3,512 square feet. 

Marin County’s ultra luxury market (homes priced in the $4 million and up range) experienced three sales in April 2011 – Kentfield, Mill Valley and Ross each had one sale.

Call me with any questions about Marin County’s luxury real estate market at 415-505-4789 or email me at Sylvie@YourPieceOfMarin.com.

LIKE my www.Facebook.com/LuxuryinMarin.com fan page.

________________________________________________________________________________________

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