Friday, November 28, 2008

Alameda Snapshot: Alameda Monument

Alameda has 24 Historical Monuments, and one is "For Sale"

1630 Ninth Street, Year of Construction: 1878-79, Architect: Unknown, Architectural Style: Italianate

List Price $1,995,000

Victorian building with 2 stunning units upstairs. Full basement includes 1 additional unit. 2 Car garage with Victorian Pride of ownership. Very low rents. HW floors, abundance of light, builtins, firepl. Victorian built approximately 1897,houses built in 1927 concrete foundations. Total 7 Units

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Alameda October Sales Data

The National and Regional data concerning existing home sales is downright depressing. So I dug into the Multiple Listing Service to take a look at sales in Alameda over the last 13-months and found that our micro market is holding up.

Starting in November 2007, Alameda saw a four consecutive months of declining sales. Sales spike in April and July of this year and bottomed in September. Unlike the National numbers Alameda had a solid October with 47 closed transactions a small increase over the prior year.

According to the National Association of Realtors , existing-home sales fell 3.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 4.98 million units in October from a downwardly revised pace of 5.14 million in September, and are 1.6 percent below the 5.06 million-unit level in October 2007. Total housing inventory at the end of October slipped 0.9 percent to 4.23 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.2-month supply2 at the current sales pace, up from a 10.0-month supply in September.

Alameda is see pricing pressure with 71 of 172 listing have instituted a price reduction. Plummeting national home prices established yet another benchmark low in September and according to several reports and real estate observers many say the worst is still to come.

In the Case-Shiller report released yesterday, of the 20 cities tracked, the San Francisco metropolitan region experienced the third largest annual drop, 29.5 percent, and by far the largest monthly decline, 3.9 percent. The San Francisco Metro is defined as Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.



The true test of the Alameda Housing Market will come in the upcoming slow winter months. If January and February sales can outpace last years sales it will be a good sign that the market in Alameda may have found the bottom.

Weekly Inventory Report -- Total Alameda Inventory

Data Pulled November 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Total Listings: 172

Single Family Residences: 102

Condominiums: 40

Multi-Family: 30

Short Sales: 20 

Foreclosures: 15 

Highest List Price: $1,995,000 

Lowest List Price: $219,900

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

U.S. home prices in free fall

The Chronicle is reporting new housing numbers for the Bay Area. The San Francisco region experienced the third largest annual plunge of 29.5 percent, and the largest monthly decline, 3.9 percent.

The Forgotten North

As I was planning my post, I had planned to write about NAS North housing this week, but Lauren Do over at Blogging Bayport wrote a very articulate post that conveys the current state of the project much better then I would be able to pen. I did decide to document the current state of the housing. Much of the area is barricaded off, but I believe I got enough footage to communicate its present state without trespassing.

This neighborhood is very important too me, because I lived in North Housing from 1977 to 1983. Kollman and Mayport Circles were my home, playground and social scene. During that time it was a thriving community. So, to see the streets empty, buildings falling into disrepair and work being performed to mitigate toxins in the ground becomes very tough to watch. It is my hope that this area is not forgotten and it can become a thriving community again.

On to the video . . .


Monday, November 24, 2008

More Affordable, for Some

Last week, the California Association of Realtors released report on Thursday that stated housing affordability has more than doubled in California during the past year.

CAR said the percentage of households that could afford to buy an entry-level home in the state rose to 53 percent in the third quarter of 2008, compared with 24 percent for the same period a year ago. Those looking to buy in Alameda will find prices have declined by 19% from September of last year, so more buyers now qualify for home loans with lower prices, but it looks like that homes still remain out of reach for many.

CAR's First Time Buyer Housing Affordability Index measures the percentage of households that can afford to purchase an entry-level home. The lower the index number is, the fewer people who can afford to buy a home.

According to the report the statewide minimum household income needed to purchase an entry-level home priced at $287,760 in the third quarter of 2008 was $56,100. The minimum qualifying income was 44 percent lower than a year ago when households needed $100,500 to qualify for a loan on an entry-level home.

This Index is based on an adjustable interest rate of 5.91 percent and assuming a 10 percent down payment. First-time buyers typically purchase a home equal to 85 percent of the prevailing median price. That would peg the monthly payment including taxes and insurance at $1,870 for the third quarter of 2008.

The San Francisco Bay region was the least affordable in the state, but the index there also rose from 18 percent last year to 35 percent this year. In San Francisco County the index went from 15 percent last year to 26 percent. In Alameda County the index rose from 23 percent last year to 39 percent this year, and in Costa Costa County it rose from 16 percent to 30 percent.

So taking a looking at median home prices from DataQuick Information Systems, derived from all types of home sales -- new and existing, condos and single-family, Alameda has seen a 19% decline in prices so an increase.



Sept 2008

Sept 2007

Y-T-Y %

Alameda County









Based on CAR’s formula for the Index, Alameda comes in at about a 25 using their rating System. I used an online calculator to come up with an Alameda example: A person buying a home at the average $564,750, after a 10% down payment you would have a payment of $3,872.49 with taxes, Insurance and PMI. The annual income needed would be $154,896.

According to Census 2000, Alameda’s average household income is $68,376. Although the data is dated, it shows that most of Alameda would have a hard time meeting the requirements. I think that the index shows that Alameda continues to hold value, because affordability has a direct relationship to what consumers desire. Supply and demand in its basic form controls much of of the affordability for home buyers.

If look around the Island, there are several properties that are bargains based on Alameda’s historical value and pricing. Based on the run-up in home value from 2000-2008 many properties are closer to 2000 prices than 2006, so if you now fall into the those who they say can afford the market gets better for you everyday.

Another School House Rock Video "Dollars and Sense": I forgot how educational they were.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Alameda Snapshot

I was going to title this feature the Essence of Alameda, but suddenly realized that the Alameda Sun has been using that title for their Real Estate Section. So, since they grab the title first I will just call my feature Alameda Snapshot. On Friday's I would like to post a photo that captures an element of Alameda and what it looks and feels like to live on our Island. Today: Fall is in the air at Jackson Park. Like many of Alameda's parks, Jackson is lined with homes on both sides.

If you have a photo you would like to share, please send an email for the Friday feature.

Sales for the month of November (Nov. 1-20):


Number of Listings Sold

Average List Price

Average Selling Price

% Sale to List












Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alameda Quick Tour

I am introducing a feature called Quick Tour. I will post, 2 minutes or less, video of real estate listings, new housing projects.

Today’s video looks at the Grand Marina Project progress, a new listing that I thought was interesting and a listing that has been on the market for over a year.

If your want more detail here are the links to the listing brokers:

Lincoln Property – This is listed as a short sale. According to Zillow the property last sold October 2004 for $509,000, so it may have an equity line and/or second that exceeds the current list price.

Tideway Property – This property has an open house this weekend and has had two price reductions durin g the listing period.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More on Taxes (Credits)

Yesterday, I wrote about Alameda’s Measure P and the transfer tax today it is what the Feds is trying to give back when you buy a home.

During the whole housing meltdown Congress included, in H.R. 3221: Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, a tax credit for new home buyers. The credit is available for a limited time only, and applies to home purchases after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009. The credit also has income requirements of $75,000 for singles and up to $150,000 for married couples. So if you bought a home since April and you meet the requirements you need to talk to your tax preparer.

The credit reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.

Is fully refundable, meaning that the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax that they owe. Make sure you understand the details of the credit because it has a long term effect on your future returns.

According to the government website:

The credit operates much like an interest-free loan, because it must be repaid over a 15-year period. So, for example, an eligible taxpayer who buys a home today and properly claims the maximum available credit of $7,500 on his or her 2008 federal income tax return must begin repaying the credit by including one-fifteenth of this amount, or $500, as an additional tax on his or her 2010 return.

Eligible taxpayers will claim the credit on new IRS Form 5405. This form, along with further instructions on claiming the first-time homebuyer credit, will be included in 2008 tax forms and instructions and be available later this year on, the IRS Web site.

If you bought a home recently, or are considering buying one, the following questions and answers may help you determine whether you qualify for the credit.,,id=186831,00.html

As you look at ways to buy a new home also look at: The City of Alameda's  Downpayment Assistance Program, the Program recently raised its maximum loan amounts so eligible first time homebuyers may now borrow $50,000 to $80,000, to help with the purchase of a home. Buyers can use the funds for a downpayment and/or closing costs for the purchase of a single-family residence (includes condos and townhouses) anywhere in the City of Alameda.

This program is being administered by First Home, Inc. For more information, please call First Home directly at (888)572.1222 x110. Click here to visit their web site.

To view the Downpayment Assistance Program brochure, click here. (5/08)

"Our House" by Madness -- I heard it on the radio this morning, and I thought it would be appropriate.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alameda's "Measure P": What does it mean?

With the citizens of Alameda passing “Measure P,” an increase to the City of Alameda’s real property transfer tax from $5.40 to $12.00 per $1,000.00 of value, I wanted to look at it in real terms in whar it means when buying a home. I am going to stay away from the politics of the measure, which have been discussed on other blogs in detail, and look at the economics.

The tax is for the next 20 years and subject to audits, but what does it mean to the Real Estate market? The tax is charged when a property is sold and in Alameda it is common practice that the tax is split 50/50, between the Buyer and the Seller. Most new buyers are unware that the tax is even charged  and can come as a big surprise when it is time to sign the final documents. The tax will have some real estate scrambling to explain the additional cost and some buyers looking for additional cash.

So for my purposes, what does the tax mean when you close a transaction as a buyer and open your wallet to shell out the cash that everyone in the transaction is looking to grab when you sign your closing papers?

If you are purchasing a $500,000 home, the transfer tax under Measure P increases from $2,700 to $6,000. So if you are the buyer of an Alameda home you would need to pay $3,000, sticking to tradition, at the close. This would be an additional $1,650 under the new tax. Adding this to closing costs that run between 1% and 3% of the purchase price.

For our example, I will use 2% (loan origination, appraisal, processing fees) or $10,000, that a buyer will need come up with for those fees. Combined the tax and closing cost together and the tab comes to a whopping $13,000 total. This is just to close the transaction.

Lending standard have now tightening, I will use a 10% down payment to continue the example, a first time buyer would need roughly $63,000 for the down payment and closing costs to get the keys.

The big question for me is in a competitive housing landscape where is Alameda positioned?

In Alameda County, the City of Alameda will have the third highest transfer tax (see below). Only Berkeley, Oakland and Piedmont have higher transfer taxes while seven cities in the county and the unincorporated areas of Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, San Lorenzo and Sunol do not charge the tax. I took a look at Contra Costa County and found that only the City of Richmond charges the tax. So of 33 cities in the two counties only 8 (24%) have a transfer tax.

City Real Property Conveyance Tax rates per thousand dollars of value are:

Berkeley         $15.00

Oakland          $15.00

Piedmont       $13.00

Alameda        $12.00 (as of election)

Albany            $11.50

San Leandro  $6.00

Hayward         $4.50

In real terms this will not stop people from buying in Alameda. The tax will just makes it tougher to do so for those new buyers or those trying to move up to a more expensive home. I do think is some (very few) savvy buyers will make it part of their decision, but many will just be shocked when they have to come up with more cash at the close. For some it may just put the purchase of home out of reach for a while longer.

The tax will be a bigger impact if quality of life declines in Alameda and people look at the cost compared to other cities that have similar lifestyle qualities. The added fees then would be something that we be additional reason to look elsewhere. If the City Council uses the tax to improve quality of life then it becomes an investment and keeps the market vaule of homes up. That will be a tough task, with what the council is facing with next year's budget.

Results of the election

A little lesson on Taxes -- Thanks to School House Rock for still teaching us all.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Alameda Real Estate: By The Numbers

It is amazing that 2008 is rapidly coming to a close. We are now midway through the fourth quarter of 2008, and before the new year starts, I wanted to take a look back at a couple of third quarter housing reports produced by online real estate valuation estimator Zillow and online residential real estate brokerage ZipRealty. Both companies produce housing reports that track the market, home values, sales and inventory and wanted to look at these reports and see what it means for Alameda.

Zillow reports, in their Real Estate Market Report, that Alameda experienced a 1.3% decline in pricing from the prior quarter. The year-over-year change was a -7.8% in value to Alameda homes. The good news is Island has not seen the same decline as the national average 9.7%. Zillow reports that the San Francisco, CA Metro Area has current index of $567,000 which is a one year change of -14.4% compared to Alameda’s index of $600,000 to the -7.8% change in the 12 months prior.

Prices in Alameda have taken a hit in the macro but the good news is the Island has held up well during the real estate downturn. Taking a look at the ZipRealty Quarterly Housing Report, reveled that sellers in Alameda are accepting offers about 98% of the list price.




Ave List Pirce

Ave. Sale Price














Looking at the report, this shows that Alameda is doing well for the Bay Area. The Bernal Heights neighborhood in San Francisco was tops in the Bay Area with offers on average at 103% of list. Eleven zipcodes were below 95%, at the bottom was the Green Valley area of Fairfield at 92% of list.

Sales from September to October are up, but the average sale price and average price per square foot declined. Although it is not a trend, I think that it shows that people (buyers) are starting to find prices that are attractive. Not so good news if you are selling.

I guess it is tough to swallow the fact that housing market continues to decline. Even though Alameda is not suffering like the rest of the country or even parts of the Bay Area the number show that 21% of Alameda's listing are either a foreclosure or short sale. With the traditional slow home sales period approaching during the holiday season, it will be interesting to see what happens to inventory over the next couple of months.

Weekly Inventory Report -- Total Alameda Inventory

Data Pulled November 15, 2008 at 7:30 AM

Total Listings: 183

Single Family Residences: 108

Condominiums: 44

Multi-Family: 31

Short Sales: 21

Foreclosures: 17

Highst List Price: $1,995,000

Lowest List Price: $210,000

Note: The lowest list price was $165,000 for a houseboat at Barnhill Marina. I did not include it as the low listing, because it is not on land. There are three house boats included in the numbers.

With the housing market being so tough, I thought a little humor for Monday is appropriate. So Welcome, to 94501 Real Estate!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Welcome to the 94501

Welcome to 94501 Real Estate! This blog is where I get a chance to talk, and hopefully discuss, what is happening in the Alameda Real Estate market in both the 94501 and 94502 zipcodes. I will look at “Hot” real estate topics and see if it is a trend I think you should know a little more about. I will review inventory data and housing reports to see how all those numbers impact our little Island. Hopefully as we look at the market we will also get a chance to take a close look at individual neighborhoods and maybe firgure what inventory is moving and what's not. I will also share photos that capture the essence of Alameda and post some of your photos that do the same.

I love the history of our little Island, so occasionally I will drop in something that I find of interest that pertains to the development of our city.

As part of full disclosure, I work in the real estate industry, but I am not a sales person. I am just a person that has lived in Alameda for over 30-years and has seen many of the changes to the community from real estate development and most of all I like to watch the ever changing real estate market. Since I follow the market closely for my job I thought I would share what I find with the world.

So welcome, to our little piece of cyber real estate and I hope that you enjoy the blog as I launch it on Monday, November 17, 2008. So enjoy Elvis singing, "Home is where the heart is," until we start publishing this coming Monday.