Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rumor Control--Foreclosures

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry on the basics of the foreclosure process. With so much in the media about foreclosures almost every day, people have a lot of questions about foreclosures and how they work.

In addition to sharing this information, I would also like to help put an end to the rumors that buying foreclosures is an easy way to make money and get deals in real estate. It is possible to get deals and make money, but it is definitely not EASY, and there are many many pitfalls to watch out for.

I worked in foreclosures for about seven years throughout the 1990s, so let me share some tips and information from my experiences.

First, there are not that many foreclosures in the more desirable neighborhoods of Oakland and Berkeley. In fact, most of the East Bay foreclosures are in cities like Antioch and East Oakland, so finding a foreclosure that you might like will be difficult from the get go.

Second, buying foreclosures on the courthouse steps can be a tricky business. First, the bank wants to get their money back, so the opening bids may not be as low as you would hope. They will also require buyers with all cash. Plus, there are some very experienced players there who know how to game the system to their advantage. Buyer beware!

Third, it is very, very difficult to know the condition of the house in foreclosure that you are buying, since you probably won't be able to go inside before you buy it. It could be a neglected property in disrepair, or the person losing his or her home might be upset and cause intentional damage. Also, make sure you know exactly which deed of trust you are buying.

If you are looking for deals in foreclosures, it is probably best to wait until the bank has to sell it on the open market. At that point, the banks might be willing to make a deal. After all, they are not in the homeowning business. But, bear in mind that the sales will likely be on an "as is" basis and excellent credit is necessary.

I said it before and I will say it again--foreclosures are a tricky business. If you have any questions about buying foreclosures, let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Guide to East Bay Farmer's Markets

If you live in the East Bay and live for fresh locally-grown produce, then you are in luck. There are more Farmer's Markets in our region than you could ever believe. You can get fresh lettuces and peppers and berries and oranges and almost anything your heart desires at a local Farmer's Market every day of the week (Except Mondays...the farmers need a day off, too!).

Here is a quick daily guide to East Bay Farmer's Markets. Maybe you can run out on your lunch hour and pick up some fresh produce for tonight's dinner!

TUESDAY: Alameda (Taylor & Webster), Berkeley (Derby & MLK), Concord (Todos Santos Park), El Cerrito Plaza, Union City (Kaiser), Walnut Creek (Kaiser).

WEDNESDAY: Hayward (Kaiser)

THURSDAY: Berkeley (Shattuck & Rose), Concord (Todos Santos Park), Fremont (Kaiser), Livermore (Carnegie Park), Martinez (Court & Main), Martinez (Kaiser), Oakland (Fruitvale).

FRIDAY: East Oakland (73rd & International), Fremont (Nummi), Oakland (Kaiser Piedmont), Old Oakland, Richmond (Civic Center & McDonald), Walnut Creek (Rossmoor).

SATURDAY: Berkeley (Center & MLK), Brentwood (2nd & Maple), Castro Valley (BART), Danville (Railroad & Prospect), El Cerrito Plaza, Fremont (Centerville), Hayward (Main & B), Oakland (Grand Lake), Oakland (50th & Mandela), Oakland (Millsmont), Oakley (City Hall), Orinda (Avenida de Orinda & Orinda), Pinole (Pear & Fernandez), Pittsburg (Railroad & 6th), Pleasant HIll (City Hall), Pleasanton (W. Angela & Main), San Leandro (Bayfair), San Ramon (Forest Home Farms), Union City (Old Alvarado), Vallejo (Downtown).

SUNDAY: Crockett (Pomona & 2nd), Oakland (Jack London Square), Kensington (Arlington & Amherst), Martinez (Main Street), Oakland (Montclair), Moraga (Moraga Rd & Moraga Way), Newark (Newark Mall), Oakland (Fruitvale), Oakland (Temescal), Walnut Creek (N. Broadway).

Please keep in mind that some Farmer's Markets are seasonal and might be interrupted due to rainy weather. For more complete information and regular updates, please visit the terrific East Bay food website

If you are looking for great resources around the East Bay, just let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Monday, November 26, 2007

Safety Measures for New Homeowners

Oh, it is so exciting to move into your new home. So much new space to explore and discover. Buying and arranging new furniture and decor. Having your friends and family over to see the new home. But, before you get too comfortable, there are some simple safety measures you should take make your home the haven it should be.
  • Introduce yourself to the neighbors and exchange contact information. In the event of an emergency or natural disaster, these will be the people you rely on.
  • Install an automatic gas shut valve. This is especially crucial in earthquake country.
  • Secure water heaters. And while you are at it, make sure that cupboards and furniture won't tip or fall if there is an emergency.
  • Re-key all the locks to the home. You never know who the previous owners provided keys to.
  • Keep vegetation trimmed to prevent fires.
  • If there is extra reason to be concerned, install a home alarm and outdoor lighting.

There are many ways to make your home safe. If you would like more ideas, please let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or