Real Estate Blog

There is a new proposal coming out of Washington that if impemented would dramtically change the tax rules pertaining to real estate. Rep. Dave Camp is pushing for a new set of rules that would govern several aspects of real estate taxation. Part of the plan is to replace the current mortgage interest deduction with a new standard deduction, that would eliminate the need to itemize deductions. For home equity lines of credit, there would be no interest deduction unless the money was being used for home improvement.

Another major change would be to the capital gains exclusions for profit up to $250,000 for single people and $500,000 for married couples. Currently to qualify for this exclusion you need to have lived in the home for two out of the previous

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During the bubble years (2004-2009) many homeowners took out Home Equity Line's of Credit or (HELOC's) in order to take advantage of the sudden increase in equity due to rapid appreciation in real estate values. According to some analysts, as many as 75% of all HELOC's that are outstanding today were originated during these bubble years. Although real estate prices have been increasing, they haven't increased enough for many homeowners. One feature of the HELOC is that borrowers could choose to have a fixed interest only payment for say 10 years, and then then the payment would be adjusted to the fully amortized amount. This is what's known as the "resetting" of the loan, and in many cases in will mean that the homeowner will have to pay several hundred

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In what's being called an unprecidented action, the Federal Housing Administration announced that it is reducing it's maximum loan amount by $100,000 from $729,750 to $625,000. The change comes from FHA revising the way it looks at median home prices. Basically since 2008 the FHA has been using the median home price from 2007, which is when prices were at a peak. Many feel that this will have a negative impact, because it will prevent some potential home buyers from being able to purchase the house they want. A $100,000 difference is a pretty big one, and for some that will be the difference between being able to buy or not.

At the same time, in my experience most buyers who are looking in the above $500,000 range are not using FHA financing. Usually

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2014 could prove to bring an extra burden to some homeowners who planned on short selling thier home. Shortly after the real estate market started to head south in mid to late 2007, Congress quickly realized that the sheer volume of short sales was going to be so large that they had to enact legislation to help lessen the shockas much as possible. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act was one of the most important pieces of legislation in terms of helping to not make things worse than they already were for so many people.

This act prevented homeowners from incurring a tax liability for the amount the the lender let them off the hook for. Many homeowners were forgiven several hundreds of thousands of dollars, so the potential tax consequences could have been

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In 2007 Signature Properties completed the Broadway Grand Development, which houses Ozumo Lounge and Pican Restaurants. Although like many of the Condo developments in Oakland Signature struggled to sell the units which were completed just as the housing market started to tank. So they decided to turn the bulk of the units into rentals while they waited for the market to recover. And recover we have, with prices in Oakland up 25-30% in some areas in just the past year. Once the rentals were converted back into Condos, they sold 90% of what was available and now have only about 4 units left.

I was there recently showing some clients a few of the units there, and that's when I was told about a large expansion of the development which will include a

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After the mortgage meltdown, California District Attorney Kamala Harris authored what's known as the "Homeowners Bill of Rights". Some lawyers call the most massive change in real estate law in the past 100 years, and many financial institutions are on hight alert because of it. You may have heard of the giant lawsuit that was won against several of the largest lenders for improper forclsorure filings as well as Mortgage Fraud. Well part of the outcome of the lawsuit was a program called CityLift, which is designed to help right some of the wrongs that the lenders committed against borrowers. 

Basically it allows for a $20,000 forgiveable grant for first time home buyers to use toward the downpayment on their first home. As long as the borrower is a

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You may have heard about the City of Richmond and it's plans to take over underwater real estate mortgages. This would be a drastic measure, but who knows it just might be a good idea. Some Cities such as Richmond have seen property values drop so much that it truly has had a devastating impact. In many cases, homeowners feel that it would better for them to simply walk away from the home and let it get foreclosed on as opposed to staying in a home that is worth about half of what the ownwer owes on it. This is part of what lead to the dramatic decreases in values from 2008-2011. So many homeowners figured they would be better off walking away..so that's what they did. This lead to record foreclosures, as well as decreased revenues for Cities and Counties

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Several months ago Governor Jerry Brown announced Brooklyn Basin, which will be one of the largest real estate developments Oakland has seen in some time. Funded by Chinese Investors, the Development will feature 3100 new homes, several hundred thousand square feet of Retail space and a new Marina. It will take up approximately 65 acres South of Jack London Square, from Oak to 9th st. Of course there was opposition to the Development from some Community groups who claimed that it would negatively impact the character of the area, as well as environmental people who felt it will be too close to the Freeway. However in the end it was approved, and construction should begin within the next year or so.

Apparently it will take 7-10 years to complete, and

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If you regularly pass by Lake Merritt in Oakland, you have seen the gradual improvements that have been happening over the recent several years. From the landscaping to the completion of the 14th st Bridge..the lake has a new look. It started with the addition Lake Chalet, a vibrant restaurant with good food and drinks. Lake Chalet replaced what used to be rowing center which housed kayaks and and other water vessels. This is not to be confused with the "Boat House" which is further down closer to the Nature Center.

The addition of the Bridge that allows boats to travel out into the estuary is a really cool new feature. You can now catch people in paddle boats, kayaks, and sailboats passing under the Bridge and into the Estuary. Also, I actually saw

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With the advent of the internet and all the websites that claim to provide updated real estate information, us Realtors are finding that many of the sites offering real estate information in Oakland and other Cities are often inaccurate with what they provide. One of the most common issues I see is when clients search for homes online, find one that they have questions about and they send me the address. When I look the property up I see that the property sold two months ago! How is this providing value to the consumer?

One of the biggest problems is that the owners and operators of some of the largest real estate related websites are not in the business of selling real estate. Rather, they create the sites in order to get traffic which they can use to

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