Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Rolling Towards the Postseason

The A's won again in extra innings to extend their winning streak to seven games while opening up a two game lead on the Angels in the west. With the hated New York Yankees coming to town this weekend, I'm hoping that the East Bay will rally around their their team and pack the Coliseum.

Its times like this that make me envious of the beautiful stadium that sits on the bay right across the bridge. While our youthful team is playing the type of exciting baseball that a city can rally around, they have to do so at an aging stadium with a concrete monstrosity in the outfield blocking what used to be an amazing view of the beautiful Oakland hills.

The East Bay is a wonderful location for baseball. It rarely rains during baseball season and the temperature is almost always comforable. Hopefully someday in the near future, we'll have a new ballpark to be proud of. If you're want to stay up to date on the progress, here's a great blog to check out.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

Moving to Top Producer

After stubbornly dragging my heels, I'm finally making the move over to Top Producer 7i.

When I learned that there was a Keller Williams branded version that integrates the marketing strategies outlined the MREA book, I started to consider making the change. I had been using ACT as my contact manager, but the level of real estate specific integration that Top Producer offers makes it a no brainer.

I'm looking forward to getting it up and running and will be sure to share my thoughts as I go along.

Initial Observations:

Pro: Excellent experiences w/customer service, tons of features (I've only scratched the surface)

Con: Email interface is a bit clunky

Anybody else using Top Producer? If so, please share your thoughts, tips, complaints...etc.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bubble Talk

Yesterday, I read a post in the excellent Rain City real estate blog about the real estate bubble.

While he doesn’t find the bubble interesting, I think it’s fascinating. This has the potential to be one of the biggest stories of the decade.
How the real estate boom plays out "will determine what the economy looks like in a couple of years," says Rod Smyth, chief investment strategist for Wachovia Securities.
What I also find fascinating is how the timing of this story coincides with the explosion of the blogs. While there’s an occasional story on the local news, or in the newspaper, blogs are providing an incredible amount of exposure to the subject. Looking at my real estate blogroll, there’s at least three blogs on there dedicated solely to covering the housing bubble story and it seems like there’s more popping up everyday. If you want to read on the subject, you won't find a shortage of information to sift through.

I'm not an economist nor can I see into the future, but as a full time real estate professional out in the trenches in one of the "bubble markets" I feel that this is a subject that I should be keeping on top of. When talking to people about real estate, the bubble subject invariably comes up and I'm happy to engage in a conversation on the subject.

What am I currently telling them? We're definitely seeing a slowdown. It's not uncommon for offer dates to come and go without receiving any. Properties that were bringing in 10 or more offers a few weeks ago are now receiving anywhere between 1-4. As long as interest rates stay relatively low, I think there's a decent chance that the recent boom will decelerate into a soft landing. There are still plenty of buyers out there, they're just being a little more selective.

But that's just my opinion.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Millionaire Mondays

Here's a cool resource that I thought I'd share.

Every Monday, Millionaire Systems hosts a couple of free teleclasses where they interview people who are putting the systems & models described in their books to work for them. The books, written by Gary Keller and Dave Jenks examine how successful agents & investors built their businesses and breaks it down into easily digestible lessons.

There is NO CHARGE for you to participate.
To participate, dial 512-225-9443 and input 914315#
At 12 PM Pacific is the call for Investors.
At 1 PM Pacific is the call for Realtors.

Complimentary MP3 downloads are available for the previous week's teleclasses. After a week, you can still download the audio files, but they hit you up for $2.99.

Millionaire Mondays Homepage

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A Mid-Summer Breather?

The lastest numbers are in from Dataquick, and it looks like the Bay Area real estate market continues to show signs of cooling. Volume is off 10.8% from last year's record numbers and for the first time this year the average median home price has fallen when compared to the previous month. Although, if you compare to this time last year, prices have risen 17.7%.

You can read the article here.

A snippet:
No records were set last month. Does that mean the market is turning? Probably not. Sure, July was the first month this year that Bay Area home prices didn't reach a new peak. But more important than reaching new highs every month is how stable and sustainable the market is. Right now, things are looking pretty good," said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

China & The Real Estate Bubble

Every time I hear talk about China revaluing their currency, the first thing that I think of is how it's going to effect long term interest rates, which have been one of the main cataylsts to the current housing boom.

There was a cool article, written by Robert Reich, on this subject in this week's SF Chronicle real estate section. If this is up your alley, I recommend checking it out.

Property Profile: 1384 Henry St in Berkeley

Keller Williams Golden Gate presents:
1384 Henry St. in Berkeley.

Located in the heart of North Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto” is this 2 bed/ 1.5 bath Live Oaks Townhouse end unit. It's been tastefully updated with new interior paint, flooring and more. The living room has vaulted ceilings with doors to the balcony and bay views. The charming landscaped front sitting patio offers seating with a degree of privacy. Located near Campus, it’s convenient to public transportation, freeway access to S.F., and all the excitement and color of the fabulous shops and restaurants nearby. Listed at $629,950. The owner will be reviewing offers, if any, on August 23rd. MLS#40100501

For more info, or if you'd like to schedule a private showing, call Andy at 510.847.4145

If this property isn't exactly what you're looking for, use Andy's website, http://MyEastBayAgent.com to Search the MLS. You can save searches and have properties which meet your criteria e-mailed directly to you as soon as they hit the market.

Blog Squad Press Release

For Immediate Release August 16, 2005
Berkeley, CA


Andy Kaufman with Keller Williams Golden Gate Realty in Berkeley, CA has joined real estate bloggers and journalists from around the country to form THE REAL ESTATE BLOG SQUAD to cover the National Assn. of REALTORS® annual convention and exposition October 28-31, 2005, which will be held in San Francisco, CA. THE REAL ESTATE BLOG SQUAD (A Human Experiment) is featured in national press reports. Blog Squad members have appeared recently in Investors’ Business Daily, MSNBC/Newsweek Online, Time Magazine Online, CNN, Inman News, and The Los Angeles Times.

"THE REAL ESTATE BLOG SQUAD is an exercise in citizen journalism," says Kaufman, "and it will provide an open forum for discussion throughout the real estate industry, with national exposure and a special focus on the Bay Area, which is both the host as well as Andy's
Kaufman is one of 25 Real Estate Blog Squad members. The group has a web site at http://RealEstateBlogSquad.com. The blog will launch in late August, 2005 with pre-convention blogging.

"I am excited to be part of an historic project that moves the real estate industry in the CyberAge," said Kaufman.

Kaufman maintains a real estate blog, featuring news, info, activities, and trends on the residential aspect of the East Bay, CA market area. You can read his blog at: http://myeastbayagent.blogspot.com . Andy's primary real estate website is: http://myeastbayagent.com

Kaufman can be contacted via email at: andy@myeastbayagent.com or by phone at (510) 847-4145.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Oakland's Baseball Resurgence Rates GM an 'A'

NPR's All Things Considered had a feature on our amazing Oakland A's this weekend.

This looked like the year when General Manager Billy Beane's low-budget
"moneyball" aproach might flop. But after a dismal first half, his Oakland A's
are contending again for an American League West title.

Here's a link to the audio.

Movin' Out of California

Yesterday's SF Chronicle featured an article on what they termed, 'reverse-pioneers'. For one reason or another these people decided to seek greener pastures outside the crazyness of the Bay Area and California in general.

The chronicle tracked down a few reverse pioneers who are a few years removed from the Bay Area to get their thoughts about their moves.

Since I'm a 'pioneer" myself having relocated to the East Bay in August 2002 after living my whole life in Wisconsin, I found some answers quite interesting.

Here's a good one:

How is the coffee?
There's Starbucks, but no Peet's. That was my wife's
favorite coffee. For a while she had people sending it to her.

I'm glad that they tackled the important subject of coffee consumption. When I moved out here, I was an occasional coffee drinker; now I'm hooked on Peet's. Our old office was next door to the original store and once you get spoiled, it's hard to accept any substitutes. We have Peet's in our new office, but it's not the same as going there. You can buy it, or have it shipped in but it still doesn't compare to the store brewed Peet's.

Along the same lines, I thought I'd never be able to move away from Wisconsin because I wouldn't be able to watch the Packers on Sundays; but now thanks to the wonders of satellite television, the internet, and a little extra effort on my part I'm able to be a full time fan living 2000 miles away. Gotta love innovation!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Solarized Berkeley Sunset

I'm working on adding some flair to the blog. Uploading photos to blogger was a pain the first time I attempted it, so I'm trying the flickr approach.

Anyways, here's a pretty cool shot I took from outside my house in Berkeley.

New Sewer Lateral Ordinance

There's important news for home buyers and sellers in some East Bay cities.

In an effort to modernize it's sewer system and protect the health and safety of it's residents, property owners within the Stege Sanitary District (.pdf map) will now be required to obtain a "Certificate of Compliance" for their sanitary sewer laterals upon the sale of their property, prior to the close of escrow.

If you're thinking about selling property within the district, this is something to take care of when preparing your home for sale.

Taken from the FAQ's

Q: What is a "sewer lateral?"

A: A "sewer lateral’ is that portion of the sanitary sewer line which connects a house’s or business’ plumbing to the District’s sewer system. Typically, most, but not all, of the "sewer lateral" is on private property, while the other portion of the sewer system, the "sewer main," is usually all in the public right-of-way.

Q: Why is the District concerned about the condition of the sewer lateral?

A: Sewer laterals which are in poor condition present two problems: (1) faulty sewer lines can leak raw sewage in the ground, which may be a public health issue; (2) storm water can invade poorly sealed sewer lines and can overload the sewer system, causing sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) and backups, and can occasionally overload the wastewater treatment facilities, resulting in the discharge of partially treated wastewater into the Bay.

Q: At what point(s) am I required to repair or replace my sewer lateral?

A: You may voluntarily choose to repair or replace your sewer lateral at any time you feel it is necessary (for example, if you are experiencing frequent sewer backups or blockages). However, the Stege Sanitary District Ordinance Code now requires that non-compliant (i.e., those with defects) sewer laterals be repaired or replaced when a property is sold – before the close of escrow.

Q: The sewer lateral on my property has been repaired or replaced and a Certificate of Compliance has been issued. How long is the Certificate good for?

A: District staff has determined that, given the quality of modern sewer pipe technology, Certificates of Compliance will be honored for 10 years. In most cases, therefore, the owner of the property will not be required to obtain another Certificate of Compliance for 10 years, even if the property is sold, or major improvements are made to the house.

Sewer Lateral Compliance Policy Homepage

Full FAQ section for Property Owners, Contractors, and REALTORS®

A Step-by-step guide to the process

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Google Maps & Berkeley Crime

If you've read my previous post on Googlemaps, you know that I'm a big fan.

While reading the Beast Blog, earlier today, I learned of how Scott Brodsky used the Google Maps API to layer the locations of the reported crimes on a Google map of Berkeley on his site, Incidentlog.com. It looks like there's another cool application of this technology.

So if you're interested in seeing the crime in Berkeley, I recommend checking Scott's site out.

Here's the Beast Blog post and here's the original post from the Berkeley Blog that started it all.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tiny House

I admit, they fooled me. In fact, I fell for it a few times. You know the Geico ad which features the mock reality show, "Tiny House", where the contestants are forced to live in a miniature home.

This article reminded me of when I was showing property earlier this year. This one building had a "tiny house" studio in the back rear. Everything was really nice, except for the 6 1/2 foot ceilings. As soon as I walked in I made a tiny house comment, but my client missed the reference and just looked at me funny. Maybe I should send her the link?

East Bay Neighborhoods

Hey everybody, happy Monday!

Another great weekend: The A's swept the Tigers to move to within 1 1/2 of LA, business was amazing (But I could always use more) and the weather was perfect, as usual.

If you're unfamiliar with the East Bay, here's a great guide to get you started.

If you have any real estate related questions, e-mail me, I'd love to help out!