Marin County Real Estate Blog

Buying a Home? Know the Warning Signs of Foundation Damage

Warning Signs of Foundation ProblemsFoundation damage can be a serious problem for a house. If you're a home buyer, knowing the signs of foundation damage can help you decide whether your Bolinas home is in need of repair.

Cracks in the Foundation

Cracks in the foundation can be one of the most obvious signs of foundation damage. The worst cracks are usually stair-step shaped cracks in the mortar and deep, horizontal cracks in the foundation. Horizontal cracks are an indication that the soil outside the house has pushed on the foundation, causing it to break. This can happen when wet soil freezes and expands. Some types of soil are known to expand when wet and shrink when dry, which can also cause problems for the home's foundation.

Bulging Walls

A bulging wall is almost always a sign of a very serious problem. Bulging basement walls are typically an indication that the soil is pushing on the foundation, while bulging walls above the soil line are indications that the foundation has shifted.

Often, bulging walls are accompanied by water problems. Look for water stains, mold, mildew and beads of moisture around the cracks and bulges. This happens because water can intrude at the site of foundation and wall cracks. Sometimes this happens because water itself is...

The New Tax Bill and Home Ownership

With the passage of the new tax bill, many questions exist regarding what impact the new bill is likely to have on the residential real estate market including exisitng homeowners, home buyers as well as sellers. 

 Below is an outline of three most pressing items (Mortgage Interest Deduction, Property Taxes and State & Local Taxes (SALT) and Exclusion of Gain on Sale of a Principal Residence) that real estate practitioners watched carefully as the bill became law as well as some industry commentary regarding the potential implications of the new tax law on the real estate market.

DISCLAIMER: As you review this summary, please keep in mind that this post is not meant to be a resource for tax advice but instead a resource for basic information regarding aspects of the new tax code and how it may impact the real estate market. We encourage our clients to speak to a tax professional or financial planner regarding their specific situation and how the entire tax code will affect their personal returns.

Here are the 3 Major Concerns of Real Estate Practitioners as it relates to the new tax bill.

1.  Mortgage Interest Deduction

There was concern that the mortgage interest deduction (MID) would be eliminated. That didn’t happen.

However, the bill has made the following changes:

  • Reduces limit on deductible mortgage debt to $750,000 for new loans taken out after 12/14/17 (from the existing $1,000,000). Current loans up to $1 million are grandfathered.
  • Homeowners may refinance mortgage debts existing on 12/14/17 up to $1 million and still deduct the interest, so long as the new loan does not exceed the amount refinanced.
  • Repeals deduction for interest paid on...

Your Guide to Home Flooring

Home Flooring ExplainedThe key to home flooring is to understand both the functionality and the aesthetics of each space in the home. From the master bedroom to the hallways, the floors are one of the largest surface areas to work with when it comes to the overall vibe of the house. Find out more about the criteria experts use to decide which flooring is appropriate and where it should be used for the best possible outcomes in your Beldevere home.

Living Room

Whether a homeowner calls it a living room, family room, or den, the key for this room is to make it as comfortable as possible (unless planning to turn it into a formal space). One fashionable trend when it comes to these areas is to choose hardwood floors and then augment the space with a colorful area rug. However, carpeting is still the number one choice for homeowners today. Not only is the floor soft and welcoming underfoot, but it's also excellent for those who may be unsteady on their feet. Carpets not only provide more traction, but they can cushion a fall too. It's extremely important that homeowners invest in quality when it comes to carpets, as inferior ones will turn threadbare very quickly.

Kitchen

Tile has been the traditional choice for kitchens everywhere because it's so easy to clean. With all the spills in the kitchen from morning to night, tile is resistant to moisture and stains alike. The material has also come a long way since its original inception. Now there are limitless colors, shapes, and materials to choose from....

The Benefits of Homeownership Go Beyond the Financial

The Benefits of Homeownership Go Beyond the Financial | MyKCM

Homeownership is a major part of the American Dream. As evidence of that, 91% of Americans believe that owning a home is either essential (43%) or important (48%) to achieving that “dream.” In a market where some people may be unsure about the benefits and possibilities of buying a home, it is important that we remember this.

Homeownership is NOT just about the money. In fact, some of the major benefits are non-financial. Here are a few of those benefits as per the National Association of Realtors:

  • Consistent findings show that homeownership does make a significant positive impact on educational achievement.
  • Several researchers have found that homeowners tend to be more involved in their communities than renters.
  • Early studies of homeownership and health outcomes found that homeowners and children of homeowners are generally happier and healthier than non-owners, even after controlling for factors such as income and education levels that are also associated with positive health outcomes and positively correlated with homeownership.

Bottom Line

Homeownership means something more to people and their families than just the financial considerations.

Contact the Marin Modern Team, your Marin County real estate connection, for assistance buying or selling a home in...

6 Telltale Signs Your Roof Needs Repair or Replacement

5 Signs Your Roof Needs RepairRoofs constantly protect homes from harsh weather like rain, wind, and snow, and unfortunately, they don’t last forever. Many homeowners aren’t sure of what to look for in a damaged roof until it’s too late, so here are 6 different things to keep an eye out for when inspecting your Woodacre roof for damage.

Misshapen Shingles

Shingles are supposed to be flat and straight, this way they can do their job of protecting their home. If the shingles are curled, bent, or ripped, they can allow moisture and wind to get inside the home. Likewise, if shingles are completely because of causes such as strong winds, animals, or age, this will also allow weather to get into the home. Curled and missing shingles are to be expected as the roof ages, so when these become common sights, it’s time to start thinking about replacing the roof.

1. Cracked shingles

Cracked shingles fortunately aren’t as bad a prognosis as misshapen or missing shingles. Cracks can be a sign of cold weather or wind damage, and if just a few shingles are showing damage from cracking, they can easily be replaced. However, if after inspecting the roof the homeowner finds that there’s cracking all over, this is a sign that it should be replaced in the coming years.

2. Neighbors are Replacing Their Roofs

In a neighborhood, the next-door neighbors will typically have...

Solar Panels: Why You Should Buy and Not Lease

Why You Should Skip the Lease and Purchase Your Solar PanelsWhen it comes to making a home more environmentally friendly, solar panels are one of the first things homeowners think about. Solar panels can be an excellent way to save energy and money over time, and there are multiple ways to get them. The first way is to use cash or a solar loan in order to purchase the panes, and the second is to lease the solar panels from a company. However, these options are not equal. Here are some of the reasons why homeowners should purchase solar panels instead of leasing them.

Cost

Solar panels are not an addition that can be made on a whim. Depending on the quality of the panels and size of the roof, it can cost anywhere from $15,000-30,000 to purchase solar panels. It’s these steep up front costs that often make homeowners look into leasing panels instead of purchasing them outright. Loans typically last 20-25 years, which is roughly the lifespan of the solar panels themselves, and make it easier to obtain the panels. However, homeowners who lease their solar panels will miss out on possible tax benefits and rebates that may save up to 50 percent of the cost of the panels.

Lease contracts will also take energy cost inflation into account when they’re created and will usually increase about 2-3 percent per year. If energy costs don’t rise as predicted in the...

7 Advantages of Downsizing Your Home

7 Reasons You Should DownsizeHomeowners may start thinking about downsizing for a variety of reasons. Maybe members of a family have moved out and a big house feels empty or daily household chores have become too time consuming because there’s just too much to take care of. There are many advantages to purchasing a smaller home, and here are 7 of them that all homeowners should know.

1. Smaller Home Means Smaller Bills

Between mortgages and utilities, the larger a home, the larger the subtotal on the monthly bills. Everyone loves saving money, and downsizing can help save several hundred dollars or even more every month on the mortgage alone depending on the new home. Smaller homes also use less energy, so homeowners don’t have to worry about paying unnecessarily high heating bills just to stay warm during cold winter nights.

2. Less Time Spent on Chores

The larger a home, the more care it needs. Dusting, vacuuming, and mowing the lawn are all time consuming chores that take even more time in a large home because there’s so much more to do. While downsizing doesn’t make the chores go away completely, it does make those chores smaller and more manageable so the homeowners have more time for other things like...

Should Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling?

hould Boomers Buy or Rent after Selling? | MyKCM

In a recent CNBC article, it was reported that many baby boomers are selling their current homes and moving into rentals, rather than purchasing another home.

“Between 2009 and 2015, the number of renters aged 55 or above rose 28 percent, while those aged 34 or younger only increased 3 percent...

Meanwhile, more than 5 million baby boomers across the nation are expected to rent their next home by 2020, according to a 2016 analysis from Freddie Mac.”

This makes sense in the short term for many reasons. If you are moving to a different part of town or a new region of the country, you may decide to rent until you pick the perfect home in an area you love. However, is renting a good long-term strategy?

A mortgage payment remains fixed. Rents, however…

The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 third quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

...

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success!

Before You Make an Offer, Here Are 4 Tips for Success! | MyKCM

So, you’ve been searching for that perfect house to call a ‘home,’ and you finally found it! The price is right, and in such a competitive market, you want to make sure that you make a good offer so that you can guarantee that your dream of making this house yours comes true!

Freddie Mac covered “4 Tips for Making an Offer” in their Executive Perspective. Here are the 4 tips they covered along with some additional information for your consideration:

1. Understand How Much You Can Afford

“While it’s not nearly as fun as house hunting, fully understanding your finances is critical in making an offer.”

This ‘tip’ or ‘step’ should really take place before you start your home search process.

Getting pre-approved is...

Tips for Selling Your Vacation Home

Selling a Vacation Home and How it Differs From a Primary ResidenceA vacation home can be a great investment for some people and in certain stages of life. However, it is not always the best option for everyone even if the idea sounds great at the time. For people who have purchased a vacation home but have learned that it is not something they will be able to use as often as they wished or it is too expensive for the benefit, the decision may be to sell it in the market. Selling a vacation home is not always as easy as selling a personal home because it is not a market that everyone is looking to purchase in. These tips can help you sell your vacation home for a good amount and as quickly as possible.

Work With an Agent With Experience in Vacation Homes

Not all agents have the same experience with different types of real estate transactions, so it may not be wise to hire just any agent. Instead, look for one that has experience with these types of property as well as the area. It is important that the agent knows there is a stark difference between selling a vacation home and property when compared to selling almost any other type of property. Choosing someone who has the right experience for the type of home as well as the area it is located in can completely change the experience of a seller. This is not something that should be overlooked in the process.

Sell During the Busy Season

If you...

What You Need to Know About Selling Papers

How to Get Selling Papers in OrderThe paperwork for a home sale is not nearly as straightforward as a seller might expect. This isn't just because real estate agents need something to do, but because life gets messy and the paperwork ends up reflecting the complexities. Having a good real estate agent is usually the best way to avoid mistakes and delays, but it helps to understand more about the process before putting a home up on the market. This list will give you a general overview of the types of documents a home sale will need, but specific laws vary depending on the state your home is located in.

The Affidavit of Title

Sometimes called the Seller's Affidavit or General Title Affidavit, this document will give the buyer information about the state of ownership of the home. Usually, the affidavit will disclose major problems with the actual home (e.g., mold or insect infestation), as well as any conflicts that might affect the buyer in the future. Liens against the home or outstanding contracts will need to be listed, as well as all known disputes about the property lines of the land (e.g., if a neighbor contests the division of the lawn.) Buyers generally use this as extra insurance if they doubt the authenticity of the home deed in your San Rafael home.

The Home Deed

Seller's transfer control of the property with the help of the deed for...

What to Know About Going Solar

What to Know About Going SolarSolar energy is being touted as a clean energy solution that can potentially save homeowners considerable money over the panel's lifetime. However, is solar the right choice for every homeowner?

Solar panels have become common in communities in California, New Jersey and Arizona. Learn more about solar energy before making the switch to sustainable energy today.

Solar Panels Provide Clean Energy

Traditional sources of energy create chemical by-products and may produce toxic emissions. Solar energy is a clean source of energy that has gained a following in many first world countries, including Germany and Japan. The United States is not only the only country taking advantage of solar panels for residential and commercial use. Solar energy is used in countries around the world to provide an affordable and sustainable energy source. The use of solar panels decreases a home's carbon footprint by approximately 35,180 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

Solar Panels Can Benefit Many Different Lifestyles

Solar power can be used not only by homeowners of traditional homes. Homeowners of tiny homes, apartments, RVs and mobile homes can all incorporate solar power to meet energy demands of their home. Those looking to become completely self-reliant, such as those living an off-grid lifestyle, can pair solar panels with batteries to securely store energy produced from a ...

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year:

  • More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home
  • The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower
  • More low-down-payment programs have been introduced

This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern.

The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | MyKCM

As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a mortgage since...

Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE

Homeowners: Your House Must Be Sold TWICE | MyKCM

In today’s housing market, where supply is very low and demand is very high, home values are increasing rapidly. Many experts are projecting that home values could appreciate by another 5%+ over the next twelve months. One major challenge in such a market is the bank appraisal.

If prices are surging, it is difficult for appraisers to find adequate, comparable sales (similar houses in the neighborhood that recently closed) to defend the selling price when performing the appraisal for the bank.

Every month in their Home Price Perception Index (HPPI), Quicken Loans measures the disparity between what a homeowner who is seeking to refinance their home believes their house is worth, and an appraiser’s evaluation of that same home.

Bill Banfield, Executive VP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans urges anyone looking to buy or sell in today’s market to remember the impact of this challenge:

“Based on the HPPI, it...

Earn Money Back with Energy Efficient Upgrades with High ROI

Earn Money Back with Energy Efficient Upgrades with High ROIGreen improvements can improve the energy efficiency of a home and attract home buyers willing to pay a premium for valuable upgrades. Many new construction homes now include the option of systems serving to improve energy efficiency but owners of older homes can get in on this growing trend seen in homes across America.

Those with a renovation budget can easily allocate funds to make high ROI energy efficient upgrades before the year is out, whether you're in a San Anselmo home or elsewhere. What are the latest suggestions? Learn which energy efficient upgrades should top your home renovation list today.

Take Care of the “Envelope”

Addressing gaps and cracks can reduce heating and cooling costs, as sealing and insulating a home's exterior can reduce the heating and cooling demand of a home. Homeowners can improve the energy efficiency of a current home by:

  • Adding attic insulation to the floor
  • Filling spaces in the attic floor around areas such as recessed light fixtures, pipes, wiring and chimneys
  • Weather stripping doors and windows

This project can reduce energy bills while keeping a home at a comfortable temperature year round. Gaps and leaks can overwork an HVAC system and allow cool or hot air to escape rather than function as...

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up... Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

ortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage...

5 Tips to Sell Your Home Fast

5 Tips To Sell Your Home FastThe longer your home lingers on the market, the more money and time will be spent on maintaining the property. Getting a home in top shape before listing is one way to get more prospective buyers to consider making an offer on a home in the first few months. What should homeowners be doing in order to increase interest and get offers right away?

Implement the following suggestions prior to selling a home to make the most of every day it is on the market.

Boost a Home's Curb Appeal

Different changes may be suggested by a real estate agent in order to make a house more attractive to potential buyers. Agents often recommend planting seasonal flowers, giving the front door a fresh coat of paint and fixing cracks in the driveway or walkway.

When interested buyers see a property for the first time, it sets up their expectations of what the rest of the home will be like. Make needed repairs, give siding and decks a good power washing and remove any debris or unhealthy shrubs or plants. Some owners may also need to sod a yard if the grass is discolored, as this may be an indicator of a pest problem. A seller wants their home to look well-maintained and move-in ready.

Declutter and Clean

In order to make a home feel ready for a new occupant, make it as inviting as possible. A thorough deep-cleaning and the removal of extra furniture and knickknacks is generally suggested. Removing heavy furniture, family photos and religious items can help a...

5 Reasons Homeownership Makes 'Cents'

 Reasons Homeownership Makes ‘Cents’ | MyKCM

The American Dream of homeownership is alive and well. Recent reports show that the US homeownership rate has rebounded from recent lows and is headed in the right direction. The personal reasons to own differ for each buyer, but there are many basic similarities.

Today we want to talk about the top 5 financial reasons you should own your own home.

  1. Homeownership is a form of forced savings – Paying your mortgage each month allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life for renovations, to pay off high-interest credit card debt, or even send a child to college. As a renter, you guarantee that your landlord is the person with that equity.
  2. Homeownership provides tax savings – One way to save on taxes is to own your own home. You may be able to deduct your mortgage...

What Is The Contingency Period? An FAQ for Home Buyers

All About the Contingency PeriodOne of the parts of the home buying process is the contingency period. Knowing what the contingency period is and what your role is during the contingency period can help you purchase the home you want.

The contingency period is a period of time that occurs an offer has been accepted and before the close of escrow. The period begins on the day that the offer is accepted, and ends on whatever day is listed in the contract paperwork. During the contingency period, the home buyer is allowed to inspect the home for problems and decide whether or not to proceed with the sale of your dream Port Reyes Station home.

What Can Be Done During the Contingency Period?

The type of inspections that a home buyer chooses to perform during the contingency period depends on the home buyer. Most home buyers choose to get a standard home inspection performed by a certified home inspector. During the standard home inspection, the inspector will look at various systems in the home such as:

  • Plumbing
  • Roofing
  • Electrical
  • Appliances
  • Flooring

In addition to the standard home inspections, many home buyers will also choose to get specialized inspections. For example, home buyers may also decide to have the home inspected for termites. This is not included as a standard part of a general home inspection.

What...

Why Sell Now Instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now

Each year, most homeowners wait until the spring to sell their houses because they believe that they can get a better deal during the normal spring buyer’s market. However, recently released data suggests that a seller’s best deal may be available right now. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item will be realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high. Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed for over a year. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there is currently only a 4.2-month supply.

Supply is currently very low!!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers out looking at homes) disclosed that there are more buyers right now than at any other time in the last twelve months. This includes more buyers looking at homes right now than at any time during last...

Current Homes for Sale
Southern Marin
City # Price Range
Belvedere 6 $5.0m - $17.0m
Mill Valley 30 $525k - $10.0m
Sausalito 13 $795k - $7.0m
Tiburon 25 $625k - $16.0m
Central & North Marin
City # Price Range
Corte Madera 5 $495k - $25.0m
Greenbrae 5 $529k - $1.5m
Kentfield 2 $5.0m - $5.5m
Larkspur 4 $425k - $4.2m
Novato 38 $486k - $2.6m
Ross 4 $3.3m - $18.9m
San Anselmo 9 $769k - $2.7m
San Rafael 49 $225k - $8.8m
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