Here are a few pics from my trip to Denver

I thought I would post a couple pictures of my trip to Denver. I went out there for the first Western Cast Iron Conference. There has been a biannual Southern Cast Iron Conference that takes place at the Sloss Furnaces (a historical monument now to the industrial cast iron industry) in Birmingham, Alabama.

This brave leather clad individual is charging the cupola.

The conference draws artists who cast in iron from all over the country, but since there has until now not been any place out west where the artist can come together, the Western Conference was created as a sister conference to the one that takes place out at Sloss.

I went with my group from Diablo Valley College and the folks at the Crucible in Oakland. Our crew got to do the performace iron pour where we put on the performance art piece, “The History of Bowling.” Very fun, since it involved casting iron bowling balls that were broken out of their sand molds while still having molten centers… hefted up onto a ramp and rolling down while the molten metal from the center of the ball got flung out igniting the parafin wax lined metal ramp and then crashed into the ceramic shell bowling pins that had been set on fire with combustible liquids. All in all a very crowd pleasing spectacle since this is done after dark and the orange glow of the bowling balls lasts for about 45 minutes.

Another performance of “The History of Bowling” is suppose to be put on at the up coming Fire Arts Festival that goes on in July at The Crucible. Fun stuff!

SFR homes in Contra Costa County under 100K

I keep getting asked, “So are there any deals going on in the area?” — uh…yes.

I think that with the state of the market people are thinking that it is such a terrible time for real estate, but in fact the opposite is true if you are the buying half of the real estate market. I pulled up homes that are currently for sale that are under 100K (most are either going to be short sales — meaning the sellers are going to be short of funds to pay off what is owed on the property once the home sells… still a very frustrating and often time consuming transaction, and bank owned properties.) These are single family residence mind you… the condos and town homes are a whole separate lot. Check it out and if you are interested in any of these, then by all means please let me know (just shoot me a request and include either the MLS number or the address, and I will let you know more details on the property that interests you.)

this is a link to the properties

Wow… San Francisco is an amusing place.

Have you heard about the proposed sewage treatment plant that some SF residents want to rename the “George W. Bush” sewage treatment plant? I just heard about this and looked it up and found a really funny blog about how some of the SF residents feel about this. I find it funny because this is exactly the kind of thing that really gives San Francisco it’s character. There are people who have posted both in favor as well as in outrage over the city proposal, and I just think that it is great that there is even a debate over this topic. This is just one of the things that adds a little spice to living in the Bay Area. Check it out — Curbed SF.

Point of Sale Bill AB 2678

Here is a little update I got on the state of of this bill:

C.A.R. initially OPPOSED AB 2678 (Núñez) because it effectively would have required, among other things, that ALL homes and commercial property in California have an energy audit at point-of-sale, and that mandatory energy efficiency investments be made. While C.A.R. appreciates the goal of energy conservation, C.A.R. strongly opposes point-of-sale requirements because they are ineffective and because such mandates will weaken the housing market. If enacted as introduced AB 2678 could have added even tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of purchasing a home.

After thousands of REALTORS® called their legislators in opposition to the bill and thousands more lobbied against the bill in person last week at Legislative Day, the bill’s author amended AB 2678 to remove the point-of-sale requirement. The bill was further amended at C.A.R.’s request, to ensure that energy audits or improvements are not required as a condition of sale. With these changes, C.A.R. SUPPORTS AB 2678.

A thought on mortgage rates

I had a conversation yesterday with one of my clients about the state of the economy and where things might be going with interest rates. It seem that with so much inventory on the market, buyers are feeling pretty confident that they can hold back and keep waiting for prices to drop. This certainly could be one scenario, but another scenario is that while the present moment has the benefit of wide scope of inventory and extremely favorable interest rates, a very real concern is how long can interest rates hover at the present level. On Tuesday, I got an update from my mortgage broker friend Andy Scott from Peregrine Lending who gave me a quick snapshot of what was going on currently. Here is what he had to say as of Tuesday:

We’ve seen Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) hit lows nearly everyday over the last week. Much of this can be attributed to inflation concerns…as we can all feel at the pump and the grocery store. Speaking of inflation, the Fed Funds Futures are now pricing in at 0.25% increase for the next Fed meeting. That means that the current prime index would move from the current levels of 5.00% to 5.25% should that increase actually materialize. This would actually be good as raising the short term rates would benefit the strength of the dollar and inversely lower the cost of oil as well as improve long term rates (30 year money) since inflation is the arch enemy of bonds, and lowering inflation would benefit MBS and long term bonds. Rates have been on the rise, but some good news is that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made decisions to remove the “at risk”/”declining” market policies which have been effect. These market policies helped lenders identify areas that have had significant loss of value and thus allowed lenders to restrict the amount of money they would lend by 5% of the total loan-to-value. This is good, as many forecasters and analysts believe that we are seeing a bottom to the market and this move should help to provide more liquidity to the marketplace.”

It is a complex set of factors that move our economics, and as you can glean from Andy’s comment, there are certainly some nice things that are happening that are an advantage to buyers such as the removal of the declining market policies… which frankly have made it difficult for some buyers who are really pushing their limits on what they can afford on a monthly basis as far as mortgage payments because needing to put down more money initially is sometimes just not possible. The removal of the declining market policy could potentially save buyers who only have a minimum down payment from having to look at homes that fall into a lower price range than they might now be able to afford… and this could make the difference between being in a better neighborhood. It is fascinating stuff. I certainly don’t have a crystal ball and every person I know that has been involved on the mortgage end of real estate pretty much have the same story — things are changing on a daily basis, and “I can’t tell you what’s really happening other than what I see before me today.”

My advice to buyers who can purchase now and have decent credit is to go find a house that you can live in for the next 5 years and buy it. If you have the potential for buying an investment property… go out and find a property that you can get to cash flow and buy it. Get it while the gettin’s good!


OK… So I have officially opened myself up to a frequent writing commitment.

So… Blogging is pretty big now. I have been very hesitant to jump on this particular bandwagon because as it is I am pretty busy, but it is true… I usually have something to say (at least that is what I would imaging people who know me would indicate.)

I plan on bringing up Real Estate related topics that are of interest here in the San Francisco Bay Area… and probably for the most part those topics will be most relevant to Contra Costa and Alameda Counties.

I can’t promise to be prolific and consistent with this technology… a very poignant saying comes to mind —

“I can’t promise to try, but I promise to ‘try’ to try.”

I also can’t promise that the only things I will blog about will be Real Estate. While I do seem to have a knack for talking at length about the subject, I also have several other passions that will more than likely make their way in. Art and the like. Perhaps Aikido and various other off the wall subjects such as welding or cooking for instance. I have “mad skiwls” as the youts of today like to say. I am also on the edge of being termed a “geek” or “nerd” as it were… so one cannot be surprised if they find mention of things such as the very best of story lines that are taking place in the illustrated literature of the day (comic books.)

Well that should be enough for an initial post.  That being said… the lowest value I saw today as far as a single family home in Concord today is $94,525 (mind you this is a complete fixer — but it is a 3 bedroom 2 bath home, 1860 sq.ft on a 9000 sq.ft lot) – unbelievable price for residential land in the SF Bay Area!


Fast and Efficient Sales!