1st time Home buyers

New SOMA Release! 2Bed/2Ba Exquisitely Remodeled, 1119SF, $549k-$595k

New SOMA release of 6 stylishly remodeled homes at 181-191 Russ Street. Steps from the best culinary, shopping, arts and recreational destinations in the district. Walking distance to Whole Foods Market, ATT Park, and Draves Park 1/2 block away make this a city dwellers dream location.  Each freshly remodeled spacious two-bedroom two-bathroom home at features hardwood floors, high-efficiency lighting, all new kitchens with stainless appliances, modern bathrooms, large bedrooms and stunning open floor plans with Bay Windows. Storage and In Unit Laundry Room included. Low HOA fee. Asking $549,000-$595,000. Walkscore of 98, Transportation score of 100, Great Biking.

Early OPEN Sunday 1-4:30PM. Call Erika, Showing Agent, for private viewing 415-321-7076, Erika Burke, Top Producer DRE#01386234

www.181Russ.com

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Blog Post: San Francisco Realtor endorsed by 1st Time Homebuyers.

 

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Duffy Family pic

A special endorsement for me as a Realtor, from a lovely family, 1st time home buyers in San Francisco.  I’m so grateful!  Thanks Duffy Family, enjoy your new home!

“Dear Erika,                                                                                                                                                                                                                 I wanted to take a minute to thank you for helping Gerry and I through a process that became a lot more complicated than we expected. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your patience, veracity, and guidance in buying our first home. We knew buying a house would not be easy, especially buying a probate, but you were there every step of the way to make sure we felt comfortable and confident in our decisions. You knew all the in’s and out’s of this complicated purchase and became our personal cheerleader :). We would recommend you in a heartbeat to anyone who is looking to buy a house…..in any city! Your great attention to detail, creativity, and profound knowledge in real estate is amazing.  We are forever indebted to you!”                                                                                                  With Sincere Thanks,  Stephanie and Gerry Duffy

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Call to Action! Condo Conversion Lottery ByPass Legislation – Please Help!!

CONDOMINIUM CONVERSION LOTTERY BYPASS LEGISLATION – HELP US and JUST SAY YES!!!!

content_HouseMoneyAt the end of this post find a link to all of the San Francisco City Supervisors, call or email in support of this important legislation to secure their votes and help your fellow homeowners realize their real estate dreams.

The current introduced legislation by Supervisors Mark Farrell and Scott Weiner which would enable tenancy in common owners who qualified for the 2012 condominium lottery to bypass the lottery by paying a per unit fee starting at $4,000 and increasing on a sliding scale basis dependent upon the number of years the building has entered the lottery.  The legislation includes tenant protections which provide any tenants in occupancy will receive lifetime leases. In order for the legislation to pass it will require six votes from the Board of Supervisors. 

 MY STORY: I regularly place new homeowners into TIC’s as an entry level purchase that is affordable in San Francisco. Most cannot afford condominiums, are overqualified for the BMR offerings and MOH programs and hope to convert their TIC to condominium as an equity building perk of their ownership. The current condominium lottery process hinders these property owners from furthering their real estate ownership dreams.

A consensus must occur within a TIC group to persue condominium conversion as well as a % share of cost for the persuit. TIC owners are hard working, middle income earners.  It’s not cheap to own a TIC – when the typical down payment is atleast 20% of the sale price.  When a 2-6 unit conversion can take upwards of 6+ years to convert it dashes hope and stifles the desire for ownership of the TIC, and passes along an arduous process to the next owner.  TIC’s are a frequently transferred type of home, with re-sale typically within 3-5 years, as an owners’ life circumstances, job, finances change.  TIC’s are the most basic purchase of 1st Time Home Buyers that stimulate the real estate sales community to trade-up upon re-sale.

Many of these owners purchase with the idea of living in the home as a “starter home” and also an investment.  Many want to make a 2nd home purchase in San Francisco within a few years, turning the TIC into rental/income housing which adds to the rental stock.  Allowing condo conversion to occur quickly and prudently, further secures the perimeter for these owners to make that transition, and building real estate portfolio health in San Francisco.

Making this small step toward allowing the basic rights and freedom of home owners to improve their asset in San Francisco and stimulate TIC and condominium real estate transfers for move-up purchase and possible use as income property in San Francisco is good for its’ prospective and current TIC owners, the rental market, and just plain good business.

Click, Call or Email with your support as YES! for this important Condo Conversion ByPass Legislation:  http://www.plancsf.org/contact-city-hall/

Thank You, Erika Burke, Realtor, Top Producer 415.321.7076 [email protected]

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The Inside Scoop for 1st Time Home Buyers for a successful San Francisco Home Purchase right NOW!

Young Couple9 Tips for making a successful purchase in the current Sellers Market

As you know inventory in San Francisco is at its lowest mark in more than seven years.  With such a low supply comes steeper competition which can put 1st time homebuyers at a disadvantage.  I like to look at it as an opportunity to be informed and prepared.  (Tips at the end)

Evaluating property and the market.

A Discussion:

With low inventory the first time home buyer may be going up against investors who are also targeting the bargain-priced or lower priced homes that are in the same pool in which you are looking.  Investors and contractors come to the table with buying power, large down payments and/or cash, which can edge you out of the deal.  One strategy is to prepare to compete.

In a Sellers market, a strategy that is often employed by listing agents, are to list the homes for well under the market, in hopes of attracting a large number of offers.  This means each home must be individually evaluated against the market to see if this is the case.  If so, the buyer must be prepared to bring their offer in at the regular market price which can be substantially, sometimes $10k-$100k or more over the inappropriately low asking price.  Just because a price is listed, it does not reflect the market value or the actual final purchase price range.  Conversely, some homes do not require an overbid and your agent will be able to advise you accordingly. Continue reading

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Hayes Valley Tech Couple Endorse Realtor

I’m so grateful that my recent sale of 432 Ivy Street, San Francisco, CA, a  single family, 3 Bedroom, 3.5 bath home for $1,380,000. located in Hayes Valley was purchased by  a beautiful, charming and newly married tech couple which resulted  in the following endorsement. 

1st time homebuyer’s, Dan and Kristine said, “Thank you again for being so wonderful during the process!”

“Erika was extremely helpful during the home buying process.  She worked closely with us to understand the type of property we were
interested in and helped us find many places to look at so we could continue to refine what we wanted.  Once we found a place she did an amazing job helping us come up with an aggressive pre-market offer.

She put together and submitted the offer over a few hours on the weekend and was super responsive to all of our questions.   She was always on top of what needed to be done, worked closely with the mortgage officer to make sure everything was moving smoothly for a very fast closing window.  We were very pleased with Erika and highly recommend her to anyone in the real estate market.”

Having strong representation in a competitive market helps.  Give me a ring and let’s match you to your home  or help you to sell and move ahead soon!


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Hayes Valley Home Just SOLD at 432 Ivy St. – $1,380,000.

Talk about quintessential San Francisco.  This 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bathroom single family Edwardian home, built in 1911, JUST SOLD for $1,380,000. to my wonderful clients who had set their sites on owning this home, in this specific location.  They knew what they wanted and I wanted to be sure they were able to complete their purchase.

Though we made an offer the moment the home re-emerged on the market with new lowered pricing at the beginning of September, the seller wanted to see a full marketing period and set an offer date for a few weeks later.  We strongly negotiated to a comfortable offer price and held fast for the offer date with an extended counter offer.  Since there are no single family homes for sale in Hayes Valley, there was alot of interest in the home.  Hayes Valley has many condominium and TIC offerings, but few single family homes, which made this an extra special value. 

We made it to the offer date where there were 3 offers and ours came in toward the top and had excellent terms.  A little more negotiating and my clients won the home.  I was absolutely delighted that our strategy worked and that they are now to call this home their own. Though there were a few unsure moments during the waiting period which we managed together nicely, this is what I call a successful day in real estate. 

Set on a tree lined side street off of Octavia Blvd., steps from the chic shops and restaurants of Hayes Valley’s hip and happening neighborhood, this home is an historical gem.  Built in 1911 and approximately 1700 SF,  it retains many of the original traditional features like wainscoating, crown mouldings, leaded windows, a charming wood stairwell, a fireplace, formal dining room with original cabinetry and all generously sized bedrooms on the upper level.  There is a charming clawfoot bathtub, original wood floors, a basement level with office space and a small yard with mature trees, beds for gardening and a deck off the kitchen.

The current 1 car garage can even be restored for 2 cars which is especially handy in this neighborhood. There have been some upgrades made over 10 years ago, so the home awaits updating with the TLC and refurbishing that will be made by the new owners who are looking forward to the task!

This is a family home just right for my clients, a newly married couple!  I look forward to watching their family grow and helping their friends, colleagues and family as I have helped them.  Keeping a positive attitude, negotiating smartly and making every advantage for my clients in every transaction means I have happy clients.  This is my singular goal!  I’m thrilled for them and can picture them happily ensconsed in this very special home.

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I just SOLD a Sunset/Parkside Home at 2118 31st Ave. to 1st Time Home Buyers

My Lovely clients, a young family and First time Home Buyers, just purchased their first home at 2118 31st Ave., in the Sunset/Parkside District in San Francisco.  During our Sellers Market, homes in the Sunset/Parkside have been receiving high numbers of multiple offers…like 12 and 15 offers on one home, with tremendous overbidding and alot of cash purchases to sweeten the competitiveness of offers.

We’ve arrived at the property for the Key Transfer! My Buyer and her adorable son!

This 2 Bedroom/ 1 Bath home was a sought after floor plan with a center patio affording lots of light to the home, original hardwood, an updated kitchen, yet well cared for, still in original condition. The past owner lived here for over 50 years and it was being SOLD as a probate with the proceeds to be distributed to family members. This type of transaction presents its’ challenges in terms of lengthy escrow while awaiting for court approval or confirmation for a sale and the “AS IS” purchase.  Probates often come to market with a lower value than other regular sales making them a good buy.

In this transaction, my clients over bid the asking price of $569,000 up to $661,101.  There were 12 offers, and although ours was not the highest, it had the best terms.  My client a contractor, determined the AS IS purchase acceptable and so made little additional terms to entice the Seller to accept their offer, and we Won!.  The purchase price was a deal for a gloriously large Sunset home with a basement/garage waiting for development and the possibility to add a level.  Perhaps a third floor master suite?   Continue reading

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Blog Post: San Francisco City Planning Overview in the 7X7

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John Rahaim, our San Francisco City Planner spoke at Vanguard Properties to provide us with the state of San Francisco City Planning.

Here’s a re-cap of what is ongoing and planned for our City scape, and what you can expect when building or remodelling your home.

The City has the capacity for 70,000 housing units with the current land availability and capital availability. We are approving about 2500 projects per year and he believes that double that amount should be approved annually. To speed up the process he would like to see smaller projects and about 1/2 of new construction units not have to go before the planning commission.

We have 45,000 units currently entitled. About 28,000 are in Park Merced and Hunters Point. 4,000 units are currently under construction with another 2,000 to be completed by the end of this year. This growth is primarily driven by the needs of the Tech Industry. In SOMA (South of Market) our office space vacancy is at 3%, we are nearly fully occupied. Already through planning, the 2nd Rincon Tower is planning to break ground in a Couple of weeks.

Continue reading

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Twin Peaks Tech Chic 2 Bedroom SOLD for $535k, Only 2 left!

Guess where I’ll be this Sunday?  Happily showing the Memorial Weekend OPEN HOUSE on Sunday from 1-4:30pm at 20 Parkridge Dr. at Burnett off Market Street on Twin Peaks in San Francisco. 

I just SOLD Unit #12 to my ecstatic Buyer for $535,000.   Only 2, Two Bedroom Units are left!  #9 is offered for $519K.  What? Make sure to stop by and soak up these chic and beautiful,  fresh remodels featuring  hardwood floors, recessed lighting, new stainless appliances, parking and storage. 

 Enjoy a Modern | High Tech Open Living, Dining Kitchen Floor Plan filled with light from oversize double pane windows. New Stainless Steel Fridge, dishwasher, range and microwave.  Your two huge bedrooms are on either side of a spa like bathroom and the home features an in-home laundry with new machines. Take in the famous & enormous Downtown and Twin Peaks Panoramic Bay views from your private balcony.

A Few blocks from Molly Stones , Glen Canyon Park and centrally located in the middle of San Francisco for North or South commutes. Set beneath a green median and upon the hillside makes it private and accessible. A tremendous value for the location and comparable units currently on the market. Everyone who has purchased is delighted with their “find”.  Just right for the first time home buyer, student, professional, bachelor or bachelorette or a light and bright pied-a-terre.  Come and See me!

Showing by:  Erika Burke 415.321.7076, [email protected], DRE#01386234

Listing Agent, Vanguard Properties, Jonathan Deason

 

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Luxury South Beach Loft-1 Block from San Franciscos’ Waterfront

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Currently available is loft #130, 1535 Square Feet of cool modern living featuring two, 17 ft. windows spanning 2 levels. The unique entry level includes a tasteful modern kitchen with sub-zero fridge, room for dining before your floor to ceiling windows,  and a half bath, wrapped up in sleek steel, concrete and iron design elements, highlighted by inset and spot lighting.

“The surprise is the mezzanine and 2nd loft level Grande En Suite Master Bedroom”

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New to Market! Nob Hill Condo Hot spot-Available Now! Cathedral & Bridge Views!

A new San Francisco real estate market offering today is 1201 California St. #507 near Pine Street atop Nob Hill,  is a wonderfully priced condo opportunity for 1 Bedroom and 1 bath in an exclusive neighborhood with Views of Grace Cathedral and the Golden Gate Bridge. Blocks from Union Square, the theatre and financial Districts, the location is superb.

You are greeted by the door man in this elevator building. The kitchen features a beautiful marble countertop, laundry is available in the building. The bath includes French doors and finishes in keeping with the period. Enjoy views from the Living Room and Bedroom, carpet and slate flooring. New Homeowners will meet with board approval. Included is 1 indpendant parking space.

The building was made famous by Dashiell Hammets’ Maltese Falcon.  Built in 1926, it features ornate architectural details as San Francisco’s treasured Cathedral Apartments.  The building offers a Charming Roof Deck to take in the City’s most outstanding views.  Offered for $475,000. Shown only by appointment, please call to arrange your  showing and for further information.   

Erika Burke – Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR), Vanguard Properties, [email protected] 415.321.7076 www.liveinluxurysf.com

Listed by Paige Dew-Ewing, BHG Mason McDuffie Real Estate
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Sleek lifestyle at 200 Brannan #506 – Luxury Bay Living in San Francisco’s South Beach.

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Today I had the pleasure of viewing a luxury Penthouse at 200 Brannan in the exclusive South Beach neighborhood, steps from the Embarcadero, near the Ferry Building, South Parks’ 2nd St. restaurants and boutique’s, Giants Stadium, only steps from San Franciscos’ quintessential bay views and numerous outdoor activities. Close to the Bay Bridge, 101 and 280 and public transportation.

200 Brannan is one sleek, beautifully kept, luxury condominium building of 191 homes.

As an experienced luxury Realtor, I am the appointed representive for 200 Brannan through our Vanguard Properties website and will keep you informed of the latest offerings.  I will arrange your private showing or provide accurate comparables and comparisons for your home sale at 200 Brannan.

I view every home with the idea in mind of who the buyer might be, and ask, “Would I live there myself”? I can give a definite “Yes”, to the current offering of penthouse Unit 506 and easily picture a sophisticated couple, business bachelor or bachelorette, design or art world professional, luxury pied-a-terre seeker, or a young urban dweller making this prestigious offering their home.

Greeted at the door by the engaging door man, Roberto, one immediately feels secure and that they are entering an exclusive, service oriented, 5 star living experience, from the atrium entry, to the exquisitely chosen neutral palette on the walls of the quiet, plushly carpeted hallways. Dotting those walls are custom art and photographs that are finished with sophisticated lighting; which guide you past the serene green bamboo ground floor courtyard and on to the multiple elevators that bring you closest to your home.

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Frankly Chic Brick and Timber Clock Tower Loft

I had a suprise treat today during my Tuesday property tour. I viewed a rarely available 1733 SF Brick and Timber loft in the coveted Clock Tower Building in San Francisco’s South Beach (SOMA) neighborhood. This home is perfect for an artist, a couple who entertains, a tech exec or an expressive bachelor or bachelorette. This is a home in which to live your glory days, even if that means a fabulous San Francisco pied-a-terre now that the kids are in college.

The building itself features broad expanses of metal and wood and each homes door has a metal lighted sculptural feature that adds to the hip, arty, modern feel. The interior courtyard is charmingly landscaped with ferns and vines covering the interior walls. There are elevators from the entrance and to the Tower, where #454 is located.

This private loft bedroom sits a few steps above the expansive living area that is framed at the far end by two enormous windows that span the width and overlook a charming vintage building landscape. The quality of lite is exquisite and the exposed brick, stunning hardwood floors and vaulting exposed beam ceiling make this a New York Style loft.

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The Millenium-San Francisco Luxury Resort Highrise Living

Yesterday, I toured San Franciscos’ Luxury Tower, The Millenium with  my colleague, Uche Nchekwube, M.B.A., Realtor at Vangaurd Properties.  We were greeted by the valet as we drove up and met by  the buildings’ concierge who escorted us to our private showing appointment.We had the luxury of viewing the gorgeous homes currently offered for sale.

Our showings consisted of a visit to the City View residences, loft like urban dwellings with seamless finishes like marble bath and kitchen, soaking tub, sleek cabinetry, picture windows, and urban views! Very modern, streamlined and sophisticted. The hallways are quiet, plush and serene. Then we were escorted to model homes at the ‘Residences’, 1 and 2 bedroom homes on the lower floors and the slightly larger, Grand Resdiences with stupdendous views, on the upper floors. They have numerous floor plans to choose from, for each Residence group. We saw Floor Plans A, C and F, each featuring something specical, an extra walk-in closet, a guest room/office, a den, more square footage, a commanding view, a new and different lay out! It’s easy to see why the most exclusive buyers are making the Millenium their home. It’s fresh, clean, beautifully designed and luxurious. Everything has been thought of for you in terms of surroundings, service and comfort.

There are enormous views available of the City and the bay and our colorful urban landscape. In our busy lives, the Milleniums’ Owners’ level offers the relaxation, socialization and comfort that one would book a resort stay for. Spanning the entire lower level, you will find a temperature controlled wine storage locker, a wine tasting room shaped like a wine barrell, an owners lounge with the latest magazines & periodicals with a fireplace, private dining room, and a snack/coffee bar. If that’s not enough you can take advantage of the movie theater, the indoor swimming pool, the private spa rooms and lounge by the enormous fireplace on the outdoor terrace. Wanting to exercise, there is a workout room, pilates studio and fully equipped gym, plus a play room for the kids. The concierge on this level can arrange any private party or event in any room on this level for you.

At every turn The Millenium offers an air of luxury and sophistication that is evident from the moment of entry. These homes demonstrate the  exclusivity that is sure to appeal to the most discerning city dwellers and home owners. Allow me to fill you in on some of the features and benefits of these homes and schedule your private showing. Reach out at 415.321.7076 to view at your convenience.

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San Franciscos’ One Hawthorne, a Luxury Highrise in the Middle of the Action – Affordable and Stylish

One HawthorneWorld-Class View from a Junior 1 Bedroom

Downtown San Francisco is host to many new and newish high rise luxury buildings offering homeownership opportunities to the most discerning urban dwellers.  Experience life with all of the amenities, like exercise rooms, valets, roof top gardens with outstanding world-class views and some buildings include concierge service.

Tonite I attended an invitational cocktail fete hosted by the sales team of One Hawthorne.  Catty-corner to our new Vangaurd Office at 199 New Montgomery.  One Hawthorne’s sales office is at the corner of Hawthorne and Howard with the building entrance around the corner on the quiet Hawthorne Street, not a thoroughfare, a calm street in the midst of the action.

Our Hosts, Sales TeamJessica Keenan & Carrie Barrett, with their wonderful caterer!

Greeted by the sales team who offered wine and beautifully prepared nibbles,  I was given the inside scoop on the upcoming offerings in this building.  Sales have picked up, are brisk with available homes moving quickly.

Sold in phases, the first phase has only 8 units left before the anticipated release of the upper floors 21 to 25 in the next several months.  As the floors go up, so does the pricing. Jessica gave us the grand tour of the sleek, modern, impressive models of a junior one bedroom, the perfect pied a terre, a 1 bedroom at 800+ Square Feet and the 2 bedroom/2bath of over 1200 Square Feet.  Continue reading

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Housing Starts, Builder Confidence on the Upswing

With new construction on the rise and the current affordability of homes for the median income earner, consumer confidence is returning to the real estate market.

National Housing starts rose 1.5 percent in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 699,000 from the revised December estimate of 689,000, and they were 9.9 percent above the January 2011 rate of 636,000, according to the latest figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department. Housing starts for single-family homes fell 1 percent in January to 508,000, down from 513,000 in December.

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Permits for new construction edged 0.7 percent higher to 676,000 in January from the revised December rate of 671,000, and they were 19 percent higher than the January 2011 estimate of 568,000.

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Touring San Francisco Luxury Property

Today I took out a client who wanted to tour luxury property in all neighborhoods of the City!  That was a big bill to fill as luxury means something different to each person.  In this case, it was in the form of at least a 3 Bedroom, 3 Bath home of over 1800 SqFt, with a price point of $1m-$2.3m and up.

Luckily that is easily achievable in our town.  Though we are a great city, buyers often note, its’ diverse neighborhoods make it feel like a town.  We began our tour in St. Francis Woods.  Known as District 4, this neighborhood sports detached mansion like homes on larger parcels of property.  I would call this “the country in the middle of the city”.  Some of our oldest and most beautiful Mediterranean and Spanish style homes are in this neighborhood that exudes a charming elegance.  They loved West Portal, the 3 block shopping district at the base of St. Francis woods and its’ boutiques, pubs, cafe’s and art cinema.

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San Francisco based Real Estate firm announces their “21 Club” of Top Producers for 2011

Today Vanguard Properties, the well-known San Francisco real estate firm headed by Principal James Nunemacher for nearly 30 years, announced the “21 Club” Top Producers of Vanguard Properties for 2011, including Erika Burke.The achievements of these very hard working Realtors and Broker Associates are recognized yearly by the firm, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

Quote start“We are thrilled with all of our agents performance and this past year’s gain in what has been touted as a down national real estate market,” said Mr. Nunemacher.Quote end

The 2011 year end numbers for Vanguard Properties posted close to a 30% gain in sales over 2010. “We are thrilled with all of our agents performance and this past year’s gain in what has been touted as a down national real estate market,” said Mr. Nunemacher.

The firm is looking forward to yet another year of growth with the opening their new sales office in downtown San Francisco located at 199 New Montgomery Street.

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Houseplants are Easy-How To Secret!

Houseplants.  We are 7×7 in San Francisco.  That is 7 miles by 7 miles.  Not all of us have outdoor space, though in the City many of us are lucky to have our little slice of land in the back yard.  If you don’t have that, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fabulous greenery that is living, in your very own home.

Here is my best kept secret.  Purchase potting soil and a pot that is a little bigger than the plant you have purchased, drop in a screen to cover the hole in the bottom of the pot (purchased at a garden supply store) and some gravel or old pot shards as a small bottom layer. Ease the plant out of the pot by turn it on its’ side and holding close to the stem(s), drop it into the pot with some soil previously placed in the pot leveling the top of your new plant about 1-2” below the rim.  Surround it with soil and press the plant down, and tamp the soil down lightly.

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What is a Realtor? Really.

We all know it is a professional who is licensed to facilitate the sale of purchase of real property, homes, commercial, lots and land in a given area.  But what does a realtor do?  Just show a few homes and facilitate a contract?  Hardly.

A realtor is a devotee to their clientele and their brokerage.  They often work 7 days a week, or at least make themselves available to their clientele.  They must study and pass a rigorous exam and are remanded to fulfill continuing education requirements.  They work from their brokerages and often a home office.  They do their own accounting and pay taxes from each commission.  They place their own advertising, attend networking events to raise their profile, they learn to brand themselves for their specialty.

Realtor’s are social networkers who have mastered technology and social networking skills to promote themselves, your listings and attract buyers through business building on the internet.  They use computers, tablets, smart phones, faxes, electronic documents, copiers.  They design and use mailers to connect with the public and their clients.  They know about bulk mail, folding machines, types of paper.

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Appraisers Add Form to Help Value ‘Green’ Homes

The Appraisal Institute recently released a form to help appraisers factor in energy-efficient home features when valuing homes. The forms can also be used by real estate agents in describing “green” properties on the MLS, the Appraisal Institute notes.

Everything from a home owners’ energy efficient appliances to solar panels may now get more attention from appraisals with the added form.

The new form allows appraisers to identify and describe a home’s green features. It will serve as an optional addendum to Fannie Mae Form 1004, which is the appraisal industry’s mostly commonly used form for mortgage purposes, used by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration. Continue reading

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Tips for meeting down payment requirements

Borrowers qualifying for mortgages today are paying for the excesses of yesterday. During the go-go years leading to the crisis, underwriting rules became incredibly lax, and now they are excessively restrictive. Mortgage underwriting rules have become increasingly detailed and rigid, with much less room for the discretionary judgment of underwriters.

To help borrowers deal with this problem, I am developing a program for my website that will show potential borrowers whether they qualify, the type of mortgage for which they qualify if they do, and exactly where they fall short if they don’t. Continue reading

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6 tips for a higher credit score

Your credit score, calculated from information in your credit report, is a measure of how good a risk you are to a credit grantor. A large proportion of borrowers who can’t qualify for a mortgage would qualify if their credit score was higher.

The theme of this set of articles, that many borrowers can repair their own qualification credentials, applies as much or more to credit score than to down payment or income. Continue reading

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Happy 4th Of July Weekend!

When the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence more than 200 years ago, they talked about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Within the pursuit of happiness is home ownership, and I love that I am involved in making that privilege—that gift of the American experience—a reality for my clients.

Hope you all have a fun filled (and safe) fourth of July weekend!!

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Installation of a Carbon Monoxide Detector Suggested

Carbon Monoxide injuries and fatalities occur most often during the winter months.  Unlike natural gas, carbon monoxide has no smell and is virtually undetectable.  Closed windows limit fresh air circulation so that the danger of carbon monoxide poising is greatest.

Possible sources of that poinsoning are from gas burning appliances such as ranges, ovens, waterheaters, furnaces, etc. Malfunctioning gas burners, defective appliance flues or a damaged furnace are all conditions which can allow carbon monoxide to enter the living space.

Another common source of carbon monoxide entry is from either an improperly lit fireplace or a chimney with inadequate draft.  This could be caused from improperly lighting a fire, a partially opened damper or clogged chimney flue.

The symptoms vary from very mild (headaches, drowsiness, joint aches, dizziness) to extreme (flu-like symptoms, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, allergy symptoms, nausea). Depending on the level and length of exposure, carbon monoxide is lethal.  Carbon monoxide detectors (similar in design to a standard smoke detector) are readily available (drug stores, hardware stores,  home improvement stores) and cost under twenty-five dollars.  They are designed to sound a loud alarm when measuring any low level condition of carbon monxide.

In the City of San Francisco an Energy and Water inspection is mandated before the roperty can transfer.  During this inspection, the number, placement and effectiveness of smoke detectors are inspected, corrected and/or installed.  This is a perfect opportunity to ask for a carbon monoxide detector or the combination smoke and carbon momxide detector to be installed.  It may reflect a slightly higher cost for the Buyer or Seller but will be well worth the addition of an important detector that could save lives.  OR make sure that you update all of your current smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and go ahead and install them yourself – TODAY!!!

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Insulate Your Pipes! Save Money!

It’s true.  It’s New Years Day and I love to do things like clean out closets.  So my husband stays smartly out of the way and just came up to tell me that he had insulated our hot water pipes.

  Now you may have guessed, we are a GREEN household and always seeing to improve our recycling, energy efficiency, use of natural and re-use products, native gardening improvements and general home repair GREEn upgrades.  Natuarally I was pleased to hear he had insulated the pipes.

My husband also happens to be a plumbing contractor in the City of San Francisco and personally he is an avid recycler and energy improver! If he makes a plumbing call to your house, you can almost be sure he will advise you about what you can do to optimize your recylcling and energy comsumption.

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Recycle your Fridge, Earn a Gas Credit, Use CFL’s by PG&E in San Francisco

fridge recyclingold fridgeHowdy!  Look what I received today in my ValPak mailer.  A coupon from PG&E promoting Recycling, and energy savings.  The info below is what was on the coupon with all of their website links too!

Check out the program put into place by PG&E in San Francisco

It’s easy to recycle your old (still working) refigerator!  Guess who will do it for free and you will receive $35 dollars too!

www.ApplianceRecycling.com/PGE or PHONE 1-800-299-7573

Here are some other PG&E Links you might find useful

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Should a Buyer be Pre-Approved for their loan before Searching for Property? Yes or No?

imagesHere in our San Francisco market, I urge all of my buyers to gain pre-approval for a loan before they begin their home search. Many people seem to think that pre-approval is like applying for your entire loan, but it is not.
Once you have chosen a direct lender, Bank, or Mortgage Broker, they will ask you to fill out a loan application and assist you in gathering the necessary documentation and verifications to complete what will eventually become your “loan Package”.
Once the loan professional has verified your income, assets and employment, they are able to estimate the type and amount of loan you will likely qualify for. This will assist you in knowing what your monthly payment, insurance, property taxes and interest will be and in turn, you will know the right price range to look in when shopping for your home!
Now that you have that pre-approval letter you are ready to search. This will give you a competitive advantage, as you will be able to submit offers immediately on what could be the “perfect” property for you with that valuable pre-approval letter. This letter lets the listing agent know that this buyer is already working toward their loan approval and has the right income and assets to qualify for that particular purchase. What do you think about loan pre-approval and working with an agent. Do you feel it is necessary?
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1st Time HomeBuyer – You may be able to use the tax credit for San Francisco Real Estate

Here’s the latest on the first time home buyers tax credit!!!

http://www.edesignations.com/blog/2009/10/real-estate-loans-first-time-home.asp

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Catch the Green Wave

Catch the Green Wave

Just outside of the tiny town of Saybrook, Illinois is some of the “greenest” farmland to be found anywhere in the Midwest. This pic was snapped traveling down a lovely country blacktop last October.6a0105361dfb6d970c01156fa30707970bThese graceful towers are absolutely silent, but are generating power for thousands of residents in Illinois. That’s a good thing, because in the United States alone, buildings alone account for:

• 70% of electricity
• 39% of all energy use
• 39% of all (CO2) emissions
• 40% of raw materials use
• 30% of waste output
(136 million tons annually)
• 12% of potable water

Sustainable residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities are so important to all of us. If you are seeking a green home or building, there are real estate professionals who specialize in “green.”

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green Designation is the definition of green professionalism, excellence, and leadership for today’s real estate practitioners. This training program is specifically designed to address the educational needs of practitioners in residential, commercial, and property management markets. The program provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients, in purchasing green homes and buildings.

The Green Designation enables real estate professionals to incorporate green principles into their practice and encourages the real estate professional to be an advocate in spreading the green philosophy and be a positive force for creating sustainable and energy efficient communities of homes and commercial buildings.

What does it really mean when it comes to being a homeowner or looking for that eco-friendly home?

A homeowner can do many things to go green in the home. For example, some tips regarding electricity according to Planet Green are:

· Audit yourself – determine how energy is used in your home, where it is lost, etc. Many utilities offer energy audits as a free service.

· Reduce your use – replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLS);turn off lights and devices when not in use; eliminate electronics that sleep on a standby setting as they continue to pull electric even when turned off; line dry (when possible)

· Put your house on a diet – Houses consume a large amount of energy when heating and cooling. To cut down on costs, utilize natural ventilation instead of air conditioning when possible such as ceiling and whole-house fans. Keep shades drawn during the hottest period of the day in the summer. If you use electric for your water heater, purchase an insulated blanket to wrap around the water heater.

· Buy wise – After heating and cooling, appliances are the next biggest electricity users. When purchasing new appliances, look for the EnergyGuide label which shows consumption in terms of kWh per year. Additionally, look for the Energy Star rating.

When purchasing a green home, not only are you helping the environment, but you have the ability to take advantage of energy-efficient mortgages.

1. Energy-efficient homes and energy efficient mortgages – Check out “Financing Energy Efficiency: An EEM Handbook” by Randy Martin. The book discusses what energy efficient mortgages are (loans with relaxed credit standards and favorable interest rates for houses meeting prescribed energy standards) and FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage requirements. http://www.resnet.us/ratings/overview/default.htm

2. Residential Energy Services Network RESNET is one of the principal groups of green housing-minded practitioners, lenders, builders, etc. The group is guided by a committee of mortgage lenders offering energy-efficient mortgages. http://www.resnet.us/about/resnet.htm

3. EPA Energy Star – Existing homes EPA’s Energy Star Program is used by lenders as the standard of determining energy efficiency. Borrowers whose houses meet the standard qualify for the favorable terms of energy-efficient mortgages. EPA’s existing-home site contains information on the top energy saving improvements and how to save money by using energy-efficient improvements as part of the remodeling process. http://www.energystar.gov/

4. EPA Energy Star – New Homes – EPA provides information on its Energy Star Program as it applies to the new-home market. Website features resources on finding a new-home builder, lender, energy-use rater, and utility programs that promote energy efficiency. http://www.energystar.gov/

5. National Energy Raters Association – NERA is an association of professionals who rate and verify home energy efficiency and consult with practitioners, lenders, buyers, sellers and others on improving home efficiency. http://www.energyraters.org/

Tips taken with permission from the National Association of REALTORS®

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