Marin County Real Estate Blog

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:


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...

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...

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...

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....

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...

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.


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!!


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...

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage

Don't Let Fear Stop You from Applying for a Mortgage | MyKCM

A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from jumping into the real estate market due to their uncertainty about the buying process. A specific cause for concern tends to be mortgage qualification.

For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!

In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need to have saved for a down payment (73% of all buyers made a down payment of less than 20%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income and good credit history.

Throughout the entire home buying process, you will interact with many different professionals, all of whom perform necessary roles. These professionals are also valuable resources for you.

Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps that Freddie Mac suggests you follow:

  1. Find out your current credit history & score – even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO® Score of all closed loans in September was 724, according to Ellie Mae.
  2. Start gathering all your documentation – income verification...

Understanding PMI: What You Need to Know

What You Should Know About PMIPMI, or Private Mortgage Insurance, is required for home buyers who are seeking a mortgage but who may not have 20 percent to put down. This insurance is not for the buyer, but for the lender who is providing the mortgage. Because the buyer has a small down payment, the mortgage company wants to make sure they are covered if the buyer does not make their mortgage payments. But what is PMI, really, and how does it work? Understanding it can help any buyer determine whether they need this extra insurance, and how they can get the best deal on it so they pay as little extra as possible on their mortgage.

Private Mortgage Insurance is for Low-Down-Payment Buyers

Buyers who have a down payment amount under 20 percent are generally the ones who are asked to pay PMI. That does not mean this requirement will not be waived for a particular buyer under specific circumstances or with certain lenders. The PMI rule is a general one, and affected by several other factors. In general, though, buyers who do not have a 20 percent down payment can expect to pay PMI, whether they're buying a home in Novato or elsewhere. If they plan for that that will be better prepared for the size of their mortgage payment. A mortgage payment that is otherwise manageable can put a home out of reach once PMI is added to it, if buyers are not prepared...

Home Warranties and Why They Are Important.

Sometimes overlooked, but nontheless important, item 7 D 10 of the CAR California Residential Purchase Agreement concerns home warranties and who will pay for them. A home warranty may cover many of the types of things that can go wrong shortly after the new owners take possession. And if it's not already in place at the time your furnace or dishwasher, or refrigerator breaks, or your roof starts to leak, its too late to purchase it to cover that occurrence!

I always make an effort to ensure my clients have a home warranty in place. Usually we write in the request for the seller to pay for the warranty. It's actually in the seller's interest to see that the buyer is protected because it protects the seller too.

I had clients a few years back who had the stove, washing machine, and refrigerator all quit during the first 3 months  they owned the home; the home warranty paid for them all! Another client had the furnace fail shortly after closing and it was replaced by the warranty company for just a small service charge. (After trying many home warranty companies over the years, I found a terrific one that actually holds up its end of the deal!)

Recently, one of my clients agreed to a rent-back for the sellers after the close of escrow, and during that time, the garage door opener failed. It was an old unit, and parts weren't available. Not only that, but the new unit required the replacement of the springs on the garage door, so it could have been quite expensive. Could have been. Except the home warranty company (the same one that bought the appliances for the client above) paid for everything. The total charge was just $75.00 for the service call, and the seller, who was in residence when the unit died, agreed to pay for that. No disputes, no arguments, no negotiations, no problem- everyone happy! Interestingly, that seller had refused...

Home Owner Decisions: Hire A Professional or Renovate Yourself?

Should You Renovate Yourself or Hire a Contractor?Buying a home means investing in upkeep. Every so often we must tackle small and large repairs and updates to keep our investment in good shape. But should you try your hand at renovation, or should you pay the extra dough to get a professional to do it? This is one of the biggest home owner decisions you will make, and choosing wrong can have costly consequences. Consider these points when you are planning a home renovation for your Novato home.

What needs to be done?

Small updates like changing out faucets and installing ceiling fans are projects that don't take much time or skill. Installing kitchen cabinets, replacing a tub, or knocking down walls is far more complex. Home owners should consider the involvement of the renovation before diving into it themselves, or they could get in over their heads.

How handy are you?

Are you adept at using a hammer and drill, or do you not even know what those are? Renovating your home yourself requires at least a bit of carpentry talent. While almost anyone can paint, but biting off more than you are equipped to handle can result in the project getting ruined and looking wonky (think uneven tile) or spending even more money hiring professionals to fix the mistakes. Think about the project, how in-depth it is and whether or not you have experience on such a project before you decide on renovating your home yourself....

Moving-Up to a Luxury Home? Now's the Time!

Moving-Up to a Luxury Home? Now’s the Time! | MyKCM

If your house no longer fits your needs and you are planning on buying a luxury home, now is a great time to do so! We recently shared data from Trulia’s Market Mismatch Study which showed that in today’s premium home market, buyers are in control.

The inventory of homes for sale in the luxury market far exceeds those searching to purchase these properties in many areas of the country. This means that homes are often staying on the market longer which can eventually lead to a price change.

Those who have a starter or trade-up home to sell will find buyers competing, and often entering bidding wars, to be able to call your house their new home.

The sale of your starter or trade-up house will aid in coming up with a larger down payment for your new luxury home. Even a 5% down payment on a million-dollar home is $50,000.

But not all who are buying luxury properties have a home to sell first.

In a Washington Post article, Daryl Judy, an associate broker with Washington Fine Properties, gave some insight...

How to Buy a Home: Steps to Succeed in the Home-Buying Process

Home Buying Explained for First Time BuyersWhen buying a home for the first time, it can seem overwhelming. Where should someone even start when making one of the most important decisions of their life? In truth, buying a home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. So to make the process more easily understandable, here are the steps it takes to purchase a home.

Set a Budget

No one wants to be in debt because they overestimated how much money they could afford to spend on a home. Creating a budget is an easy way for home buyers to stay on track when it comes time to start looking at homes for sale.

Save for a Down Payment

When purchasing a home, many mortgage lenders will require that the buyer have 20 percent of the home’s total cost up front in cash. However, it’s possible to pay with a down payment that is as low as 3 percent. Choosing to go with a low down payment can create difficulties for the buyer such as it being harder to find a mortgage or having to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, lower down payments are more accessible to a wider number of people, especially first time home buyers, so they shouldn’t be dismissed automatically.

Choose a Mortgage and Get Pre-Approved

There’s a large variety of different mortgages that home buyers can get, and...

Want to Use a 203k Loan? What You Need to Know

Buying a Fixer Upper With a 203k LoanA 203K loan is a viable option for a potential home buyer who has found the ideal home, but it needs some work completed before it can be lived in and enjoyed fully. This loan is guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and funded only by lenders approved for the program. A 203k loan also involves special rules and stipulations that make it different than traditional loans.

Overview of a Standard 203k Loan

There are two types of 203k loans: standard and limited. The standard version is designed for renovations that are extensive such as structural repairs. In many cases, the homeowner is not able to live in the home during these repairs.

Because a standard 203k loan is designed for use with homes that need major repairs and/or renovations, there are no caps on the amount that can be borrowed for repairs. The homeowner is often not able to live in the home during this time so additional funds can be borrowed to pay for temporary housing.

Funding an addition, moving a load-bearing wall, structural repairs and repairs that require architectural drawings or a plan review are just a few instances in which a standard 203k loan can be beneficial for a homeowner planning renovations.

Limited 203k Loan Basics

Borrowers who need a loan primarily for cosmetic repairs can choose a limited 203k loan. There is a cap of $35,000 on the amount that can be borrowed for repairs using this version.


No... You Do Not Need 20% Down to Buy NOW!

The Aspiring Home Buyers Profile from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is required to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The results of the survey show that non-homeowners cite the main reason for not currently owning a home, as not being able to afford one.

This brings us to two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

NAR’s survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 39% of non-homeowners say they believe they need more than 20% for a down payment on a home purchase. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 3% or less.

Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

2. FICO® Scores

An Ipson survey revealed that 62% of respondents believe they need excellent credit to buy a home, with 43% thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the ...

The Mortgage Process: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Mortgage Process: What You Need to Know [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Many buyers are purchasing a home with a down payment as little as 3%.
  • You may already qualify for a loan, even if you don't have perfect credit.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local professionals who are there to help you determine how much you can afford.

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


6 Down Payment Options for Home Buyers

Different Down Payment Options For Home BuyersTraditionally, home buyers have been advised to save at least 20 percent for a home down payment. In a world where basic living expenses can make this type of savings seem insurmountable, there fortunately are options for buying a home with a low or zero down payment.

FHA (Federal Housing Administration)

For first-time home buyers, a loan from the FHA or Federal Housing Administration is ideal for anyone looking for low down payment options. FHA loans for a qualified first-time homebuyer means a low interest rate for the mortgage with a minimum down payment of 3.5 percent. The loan is issued from a bank or credit union and does require the home buyer to have private mortgage insurance.

VA (Department of Veterans Affairs)

For U.S. Veterans, the VA loan can be a good option when buying a home and it requires zero down payment. This type of loan help is available for qualified veterans as well as active-duty members of the various service branches including the National Guard and Reserves. Unlike the FHA loan, it doesn't require private mortgage insurance. However, there is a funding fee that may be as low as 1.25 percent. To date, the VA has guaranteed more than 22 million loans and refinancing options for veterans and active-duty service members in Marshall and other cities.

Navy Federal Credit Union

The Navy Federal Credit Union, another option for qualified...

Thinking of Selling your Home? Competition is Coming

Thinking of Selling your Home? Competition is Coming | MyKCM

The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will rise over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Sales Report, the number of these permits were up 7.7% over last year.

How will this impact buyers?

More inventory means more options. Danielle Hale,’s Chief Economist, explained this is good news for the housing market - especially for those looking to buy:

"It's not spectacular construction growth, but it's slow and steady in the right direction. Eventually, the pickup in single-family home construction will mean [buyers] will have more options. Especially with the limited number of sales right now, more options are really needed."

How will this impact sellers?

More inventory means more competition. Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can expect:

  1. A great price on their home as buyers outbid each other for it
  2. A quick sale as buyers have so little to choose from
  3. Fewer hassles as buyers don’t want to “rock the boat” on the deal

With an increase...

More Than Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs

More Than Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

According to a survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage.

After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.

“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.” gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. in order to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment.

More Than Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

Keep in mind that if you...

Curb Appeal: It's All in the Details

How to Get the Most Out of Your Curb AppealOn a listing, a property that offers an updated gourmet kitchen with granite countertops and a jetted tub in the bathroom may seem like a total catch. But if an interested buyer drives by the home to find overgrown landscaping or a brown yard rather than lush, green grass, those interior upgrades and effective staging tricks are not going to matter. Curb appeal is one of the most important factors in a seller's ability to list their home for the highest price possible and sell it in the shortest amount of time.

According to, curb appeal can boost a seller's property value by up to 20 percent. On the surface, it may seem like curb appeal requires a well-manicured lawn and a nice looking exterior, but there's actually a lot of details to consider when improving the curb appeal of a property that is going to be listed on the market.

5 Small Details that Make a Big Impact on Curb Appeal

  1. The Mowing Lines. Most sellers know that they need to mow their lawn regularly when their property is on the market. However, many do not realize that their mowing technique can have a big impact on a buyer's impression of their home. Sellers should make an effort to mow straight lines, as this gives the home a clean, crisp and tidy appearance. In a desirable community like Larkspur, buyers may even expect this level of lawn care.
  2. Seasonal Decor....
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