San Francisco Home Inspector News and Real Estate

Latest offers

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Latest offers A snapshot of what lenders serving the Bay Area are offering. BankCityConventional 30-yr fixed (%)PointBank of AmericaSan Francisco4.6250.582Provident Credit UnionBelmont4.6250San Francisco Federal Credit UnionSan Francisco4.5000Source: Sentinel Media Services, rates taken June 25, 2013

Sound Off: What makes a successful Realtor?

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Sound Off: What makes a successful Realtor? It looks like you guys have a great job, driving fancy cars and looking at beautiful homes. [...] I've always enjoyed going to Sunday open houses. Residential real estate brokerage is technically a "sales job," and yet when people ask me how I like being a commission-only salesperson, it gives me pause. Knowing what they want allows us to most effectively partner with them, steering both the client and the process in the right direction - whether it involves finding the right home to buy, preparing a home for sale or selecting the right buyer in a multiple offer situation. Logic and analytical ability come into play when writing an offer, reviewing seller disclosures and inspection reports, or renegotiating a purchase as new information comes to light during the course of an escrow. The needs of both buyer and seller, their emotional states, and how best to accomplish the mutual goals of both parties when emotions are running high must be understood and skillfully handled by the agents in the transaction. Good agents are often "people persons" able to get along well with both clients and colleagues, while working as a team with the agent representing the other party to a transaction.

Two-level luxury condo in Pacific Heights

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Two-level luxury condo in Pacific Heights The recently finished structure now only has one unit left on the market: a two-level condominium featuring a private, landscaped roof terrace, outdoor kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows showing off sweeping views of the San Francisco skyline. To create a light and airy feeling in the condominium, double bleached white oak floors and large windows were installed in the three-bedroom unit. The condominium includes a Heat N Glo gas fireplace with limestone surround in its living room, and cabinetry designed by Artthaus conceals a flat-screen television. A jetted tub and glass-enclosed shower highlight the master bathroom, while marble surrounds and a double-ash vanity create a luxurious backdrop. 2064 Jackson St. also comes with a two-car garage and concierge service, as well as a janitorial service that cleans the building's public areas every day.

Price Point: $1.29 million

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Price Point: $1.29 million Hardwood floors line the sunken living room and formal dining room, while the kitchen features three cooktops and substantial cabinet space. Large decks can be found off both levels and a built-in spa off the master suite overlooks the surrounding landscape.

Woman with cane denied second-floor apartment

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Woman with cane denied second-floor apartment The manager you met may have been acting from good intentions, but discouraging you from renting a second-floor apartment and redirecting you instead to a first-floor apartment probably constitutes housing discrimination based on your disability. Both federal and state Fair Housing laws prohibit the manager from refusing to rent the second-floor apartment to you because you appear to have a mobility impairment, if you have a disability within the meaning of the fair housing statutes. If the manager was motivated by good intentions, the fair housing agency can educate her to help her gain an accurate understanding of the rights of disabled tenants under the fair housing laws. If education is not effective, the fair housing organization may also help you file a housing discrimination complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Price Point: $1.08 million

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Price Point: $1.08 million Each of the three bedrooms of this Tudor-style revival are located on the upper level and the home is two blocks from the boutiques and restaurants of Lakeside Village. Windows on three sides illuminate the living and dining rooms, while the kitchen and breakfast nook offer potential for customization.

U.S. mortgage rates jump to 2-year high

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
U.S. mortgage rates jump to 2-year high San Francisco Chronicle Copyright 2013 San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Updated 3:58 pm, Friday, June 28, 2013 [...] eventually, more expensive home loans could price some people out and slow the housing market's momentum, which has helped drive the U.S. economy over the past year. "People are getting off the fence a little bit more or choosing to buy now instead of choosing to buy three months from now," said Anthony Geraci, a Cleveland real estate broker-owner who says he's seeing more sales activity lately in his market. Mortgage rates are rising because they tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a benchmark for most long-term interest rates. Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, a real estate data analysis firm, thinks many would-be buyers will start to take note. Low mortgage rates have helped fuel a housing recovery that has kept the economy growing modestly despite higher taxes and steep federal spending cuts. The average rate on a 15-year fixed mortgage, a popular refinancing instrument, soared this week to 3.50 percent - its highest point since August 2011 - from 3.04 percent last week. Several Fed voting members have stressed in recent days that Bernanke's comments made clear that any pullback in bond purchases would hinge on the economy's performance, not a calendar date. Geraci says he doesn't think higher mortgage rates will hurt a housing market in which there aren't nearly enough available homes in many areas.

Montclair Mediterranean showcases custom details

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Montclair Mediterranean showcases custom details Located on the Piedmont side of Montclair, this four-bedroom Mediterranean home features high ceilings, intricate wood detailing and custom wrought iron fixtures and railings. Nine sets of French doors provide flow from indoors to out, and the custom home includes a two-story foyer. The showcase living room is adorned with a truss beam ceiling and connects with a flagstone terrace facing southwest.

Julie Jay Home Staging plays role in Bay Area home sales

Fri, 07/05/2013 - 09:59
Julie Jay Home Staging plays role in Bay Area home sales San Francisco Chronicle Copyright 2013 San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Published 5:44 pm, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Julie Jay Home Staging plays role in Bay Area home sales The owner of Julie Jay Homes Staging sees every interior as a canvas for her to play with. The business has grown from humble beginnings in her garage to a company operating out of a 13,000-square-foot warehouse with three moving trucks. Dozens of mattresses, scores of original paintings, ornate vases, stylish pillows and chairs ranging from simple to avant-garde are stored here. [...] included in the warehouse are books for lining shelves, utensils for decorating kitchens and bathroom accessories. The store featured items she found at consignment stores around the Bay Area and the shop was titled after a nickname her mother had. The frenetic pace of San Francisco's booming real estate market keeps Jay busy. During her time in the industry, Jay has grown close to Realtors who rely on her to make homes as inviting and attractive as possible. To highlight a room, Jay gravitates toward neutral colors in sofas and chairs and accents them with vibrantly colored pillows and accessories. Jay cherishes the sprint of quickly getting houses staged in time for open houses, broker's tours and professional photographers who put pictures of her work online. The Larkspur resident unwinds with water sports like paddle boarding in her spare time - when she has it. Despite the booming real estate market, Jay hopes to carve time out of every week for consultations.

Custom riverfront getaway has hobbyist vineyard

Wed, 07/03/2013 - 10:18
Custom riverfront getaway has hobbyist vineyard San Francisco Chronicle Copyright 2013 San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Published 5:45 pm, Wednesday, June 26, 2013 When land along the Columbia River in Washington state became available about a decade ago, the man who spent his career in construction and renovation seized the opportunity to build a home his way. An elevated breezeway separates the main house from the casita, or guest quarters, and is highlighted by a stone cupola with a tile mosaic in the ceiling. Tides ebb and flow as commercial vessels transport cars and crops on the bustling waterway. Directly above the fireplace is what may be Morgan's favorite architectural finish of the home, a satellite dish he stashed in the ceiling and supported with brickwork. In the master bedroom, a recreation of Diego Rivera's "Lady with Day Lilies" rests inside an arch above the headboard. Outside, a painting on the home suggests the viewer is peering through a hole in a fence and seeing a landscape of the Pacific Ocean and a beach in Puerto Vallarta. The kitchen includes a commercial-grade range, slate floors and a center island with built-in sink and custom cabinetry. Like many other rooms in the home, the kitchen and dining room feature large walls of glass facing the water.

Palo Alto estate boasts classical design - and secret rooms

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 09:57
Palo Alto estate boasts classical design - and secret rooms San Francisco Chronicle Copyright 2013 San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Updated 5:08 pm, Thursday, June 27, 2013 The partial brick facade, forest green shutters and paned windows reflect a classical elegance commonly associated with the East Coast or plantation homes. A home theater boasts blackout shades and surround sound, while virtually every one of the home's 17 rooms has its own air handler to keep temperatures in check. Immediately to the left is the music room, which boasts a piece of artwork dating back to the original construction, and the living room, which looks out at the front of the .86-acre lot. Besides being aesthetically pleasing because of its hardwood moldings and cabinets fashioned from knotted wood, the kitchen is ergonomically designed. The upper level houses the master suite, which is separated from four additional bedrooms on the floor by a long hallway. The master suite has dual walk-in closets and bay windows, while its bathroom boasts a jetted tub and marble vanities on opposite sides of the room from each other. The lowest level includes a billiards room and wine storage space, and a one-bedroom guest house above the garage includes a kitchen and bathroom. [...] despite updating the wiring, installing soundproof windows, adding a spa and new plumbing to the pool, and installing a marble entryway, many of the home's original designs still remain. Built-in speakers pump sound into the rooms to create a lively setting or soothing ambience, especially in the executive office, which sits beside a home gym and includes its own bar.

Updated Sausalito Victorian has huge master suite

Mon, 07/01/2013 - 09:17
Updated Sausalito Victorian has huge master suite The living room, library and formal dining room all open to the front deck, and a patio area tops the home's four-car garage. Lush gardens and scenic lookouts surround the home, and its top level has a bonus room with space for an office or extra bedroom. The 1,000-square-foot master suite, featuring a private living room with a fireplace, a terrace overlooking San Francisco Bay, dual bathrooms and dual walk-in closets.

'Sophisticated yet understated' home in Oakland hills

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
'Sophisticated yet understated' home in Oakland hills When the family began construction on a new home, they reached out to architect William Dutcher to create an elegant space that would not only be welcoming and attractive but also unlike what stood there previously. Wide phalange steel columns support the home, while walls of glass decorate the entryway and Honduran mahogany lines the hardwood floors and forms the doors and cabinetry. Inside, Dutcher points to the spiral mahogany staircase off the entryway that's illuminated by a skylight, which is a favorite interior design feature. Polished steps play off the cantilever and patina steel frame, while the sculpted handrail adds a dimension of grace to the design. With a private den, large office and dressing area, the master suite dominates most of the top floor. Mahogany finishes, master suite with den, office and dressing room, exterior fountains and waterfalls.

Latest offers

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Latest offers A snapshot of what lenders serving the Bay Area are offering. BankCityConventional 30-yr fixed (%)PointsBank of AmericaSan Francisco4.1252.625Provident Credit UnionBelmont4.0000San Francisco Federal Credit UnionSan Francisco3.8750Source: Sentinel Media Services, rates taken June 18, 2013

ARM Rates

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
ARM Rates IndexThis WeekLast WeekYear Ago6-month CD0.410.450.426-month T-bill0.0750.0800.1501-month Libor0.190.190.246-month Libor0.410.410.741-year TCMS0.140.140.185-year TCMS1.111.040.71IndexThis WeekLast MonthYear AgoWSJ Prime Rate3.253.253.25Federal Discount Rate0.750.750.7511th District Cost of Funds0.9700.9671.140Source: Bankrate.com, 11th District, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; latest figure is for May and changes on the last working day of every month.

Just Approved: Self-employed homeowner gets better rate by waiting

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Just Approved: Self-employed homeowner gets better rate by waiting After meeting with the borrowers and studying the situation, he understood their income and compensation and how to interpret that to a lender. Argo counseled his clients to wait 3 1/2 months, allowing 2012 to come to an end so they could immediately file their taxes and show the final 2012 income to satisfy the "consistent and ongoing nature" of lending rules for income. An additional time hurdle taken into account and awaiting them was the IRS's typical annual slowness in processing Form 4506T. Lenders accept an applicant's income as bona fide only after the IRS confirms - via the 4506T - that the tax forms used in the loan application match the returns submitted to the IRS.

Sound Off: What are the biggest mistakes buyers make?

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Sound Off: What are the biggest mistakes buyers make? (1) Buyers fail to read all the loan documents, inspection reports and disclosures provided to them. (2) It is important the buyer maintain their financials in the same state they were in when they were preapproved for their home purchase. Some of the items that can come up are increasing credit card debt, buying a car or making another large purchase, changing jobs, or incurring derogatory remarks on their credit report.

Data Point

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Data Point 2,680 Square footage of the largest home sold in San Mateo County during early May. The five-bedroom home in Foster City was built in 1973 and sold for $1.392 million.

Newly built Tiburon home blends technology with stylish design

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Newly built Tiburon home blends technology with stylish design A Savant System controlled by wall-mounted iPads and iPods operates everything from the entry gate to the radiant heating, as well as fireplaces, fountains, intercoms and security systems. The natural horizontal striations in the granite walls are inspired by mid-century modern homes, Strauss said, and the use of natural materials to support the steel frame is crucial to the design's appearance. Horizontal grain olive ash wood and Caesarstone countertops complement the induction cooktop and connects to a walk-through pantry and prep area with double ovens and heating drawers. A handmade, stainless steel fire pit, infinity edge pool and outdoor kitchen with 42-inch grill complete the backyard, which is accessible from many rooms of the Tiburon home. Five-bedroom, five-bathroom newly built 5,000-square-foot home with views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco skyline; Savant System operated by wall-mounted iPads and iPods controls heating, security, lighting and sound systems.

Immigrant renter seeks answers about discrimination

Fri, 06/28/2013 - 08:51
Immigrant renter seeks answers about discrimination National origin discrimination is defined as different treatment in housing because of a person's ancestry, ethnicity, birthplace, culture or language. National origin discrimination can also be a result of failing to provide the same level of service or housing amenities because a tenant born in another country does not speak English at all, or does not speak English well. [...] the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the federal agency responsible for enforcing the federal Fair Housing laws, does not inquire into a complainant's immigration status when investigating complaints of housing discrimination. The federal Fair Housing laws also make it illegal for a landlord to threaten to report a tenant to the immigration authorities if the tenant files a complaint of discrimination with HUD.