Thursday, October 29, 2009

All of my girls --

All my girls together last evening!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Topics To Move Fence Sitters

Topics To Move Fence Sitters:

High Balance Conforming of $729,750 ends 12/30/2009. Reverts back to $625,500. Simultaneous Closing, 1st and 2nd 80% CLTV to $1,250,000 (San Mateo County)

First Time Homebuyers Tax Credit ends 11/30/2009.

Economic News:

Leading economic indicators for September were up 1% and up 11.8% for the last 6 months. Strongest showing since 1983.

New home sales were up for the fifth consecutive month in August. Inventory of new homes are down to their lowest levels since 1990.

The report on Real GDP to be released this week is expected to show an increase of 3.7% annual pace for the 3rd Quarter. By comparisson, first quarter Real GDP was (-6%) Another sign that the economy may have hit bottom and is on a recovery path.

Friday, October 23, 2009

NIMBY Won’t Stop California High-Speed Rail

Source: WIRED: Zach Rosenberg

Democracy, it has been said, is two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner. We’re seeing that in California, where resistance to a planned high-speed rail line is mounting in three affluent cities. A vocal, and influential, grassroots movement has sprung up to reroute the line around the San Francisco Bay Area communities or have it run underground.

There is tremendous support — not to mention a concrete plan and $10 billion to get the project started — for a high-speed line linking San Francisco and Los Angeles. But disgruntled residents of Menlo Park, Atherton and Palo Alto could make things very difficult. The cities are home to some of the Bay Area’s wealthiest residents, and they’re suing. Their NIMBY opposition could turn the project into a mind-bogglingly expensive and impractical boondoggle.

This issue goes beyond the Bay Area and California, because other proposed high-speed lines almost certainly will face similar opposition. The plaintiffs simply do not want the trains running through their neighborhoods, and such views are not unique to California. The Obama Administration set aside $8 billion in stimulus funds for high-speed rail and our next transportation spending bill could include as much as $50 billion for it.

As high-speed rail becomes a national reality, planners of potential lines can expect fierce resistance in the courts and intense local political pressure.

The California resistance comes from communities that voted heavily in favor of Prop. 1A, the 2008 ballot initiative that allowed the state to issue bonds worth about $10 billion, or roughly one-quarter the total cost of the project. The measure passed with 52 percent of the vote. Gov. Schwarzenegger has sought another $4.7 billion of the $8 billion set aside in the stimulus package. Forty states are pitching projects — some 272 applications in all — totaling $105 billion.

California’s project is well into the planning process, and the cities of Atherton and Menlo Park have joined some environmental groups in suing the California High-Speed Rail Authority and Caltrain. They’re the two major bureaucratic forces behind the project. The suit alleges two things: first, an improper environmental assessment; second, infringing on Union Pacific’s track ownership.

The first issue is relatively straightforward — the plaintiffs argue studies of the environmental impact the project would have on their communities weren’t handled correctly and therefore underestimate the noise, vibration, displacement and other problems the line would create. Much of this was settled in an earlier lawsuit, but the judge sided with Atherton on a few minor issues, allowing for further suits.

The second point requires a little history: Southern Pacific once owned the tracks California hopes to retrofit for high-speed trains. In 1991, Southern Pacific, which became part of Union Pacific in 1996, sold the tracks to Caltrain for use as commuter tracks, but it retained the exclusive right to use them for freight and to hire an operator for intercity trains. The latest suit claims Caltrain lacks the authority to allow intercity high-speed trains on the tracks because Caltrain is dealing with the High-Speed Rail Authority, not Union Pacific. Union Pacific, which has been happy to allow high speed rail as long as it can still haul freight on the lines, seems puzzled by the lawsuit.

Assuming the plaintiffs aren’t actually outraged at the creek displacement or wholly overlooked violation of California contract law, this appears to be, at its heart, a case of NIMBYism. The plaintiffs worry about the noise, vibration, increased traffic and loss of privacy — and decreased property values — high-speed rail might bring. They also argue that no one involved in the project adequately or honestly studied alternatives, which, in fairness, is true. These are legitimate issues.

So the proposed solutions are to reroute the rail line or run it through underground tunnels (or both). The proposed reroute might require passengers to stop at an Amtrak station and transfer to Amtrak. Burying the line would be extremely expensive, while rerouting and burying it makes it more expensive and impractical.

Huge projects like this always inflame passions and incite litigation. It is a usual and occasionally necessary part of the process. But California’s high-speed rail line, which is currently the country’s best shot at a credible and useful high-speed intercity train, will be built one way or another.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Are you a slave to driving the kids everywhere and worry that they aren't safe either walking or riding bikes from your home to school or sport activities? Would you prefer to live where you can walk to church, the grocery or the local Coffee spot? While some clearly adore living behind secure gates in an exclusive enclave, increasingly "Walkability" is becoming a factor that savvy Real Estate Buyers are considering.

Source: The following is excerpted from Go to this website and put in your address to see how "walkable" your residence is!!!

What makes a neighborhood walkable?

A center: Walkable neighborhoods have a discernable center, whether it's a shopping district, a main street, or a public space.

Density: The neighborhood is compact enough for local businesses to flourish and for public transportation to run frequently.

Mixed income, mixed use: Housing is provided for everyone who works in the neighborhood: young and old, singles and families, rich and poor. Businesses and residences are located near each other.

Parks and public space: There are plenty of public places to gather and play.
Pedestrian-centric design: Buildings are placed close to the street to cater to foot traffic, with parking lots relegated to the back.

Nearby schools and workplaces: Schools and workplaces are close enough that most residents can walk from their homes.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

House of the Week...

A perfect home for adults just came on the market! Located at 216 Selby Lane in Atherton, it is a small home by Atherton standards, but it is well priced at $1,695,000 and offers many amenities and loads of privacy...

Please call me at (650) 543-1215 DIRECT or (650) 888-6628 CELL to see this property.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Menlo Park has a new vehicle for Parking Enforcement -- it is a very tiny little Smart Car and replaces a golf cart.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christine Horstmann with Clive Owen at the Mill Valley Film Festival.

Christine says, "Here I am working to direct the activities and no one is paying attention to me..."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

House of the Week...

Well, currently there are several new homes on the market in Menlo Park and Atherton. One that I think is really special is located at 1080 Lassen Drive in Menlo Park. Beautifully done Interior Design by Joanne James, this home is filled with light and lovely finishes.
Priced attractively at $3,540,000.

To see this home please give me a call at (650) 543-1215.

Mortgage Rate Outlook

Oct. 2, 2009 -- With September now
behind us, stock markets started
October in a fashion similar to other
Octobers: they sold off to some
degree. After a pretty good third
quarter's profits were booked, at
least some of those gains from
equity sales have been stashed
back into Treasuries, driving yields
down. This is turn is pressuring
mortgage rates down to the lows of
earlier this year.

The overall average for 30-year
FRMs declined by almost a tenthpercent
this week, and HSH's FRMI
closed Friday with five-day average
of 5.40%. Five-one hybrid ARMs
also eased back, shedding eight
basis points to close the national
survey at 4.74%. At 5.07%, conforming
30-year FRMs sported their
lowest average rate since the late
March to late May period gave us
nine consecutive weeks just over
(and under) the 5% mark.

A bright spot was Construction
Spending rose by 0.8%, its second
positive reading of the year. More
impressive was the 4.7% rise in
spending for residential projects,
which was more than enough to
offset drags from the troubled commercial
sector (-0.1%) and the 1.1%
drop in the public sector. Stimulus
money isn't making it out to lowerlevel
projects all that quickly, and
cash-strapped states and counties
are simply putting projects on indefinite

Low mortgage rates continue to
provide support for housing markets,
and the gains in residential
construction spending could be one
of the keys to getting a firmer recovery
underway. However, credit
conditions remain tight, and while
home prices have begun to firm to
some degree, it may be a long time
until most underwater homeowners
will be able to take advantage of
those low rates to recast their balance

Does October continue to live up to
its reputation as a wicked month for
stocks? To the degree that it does,
mortgage rates should benefit.
Spring lows ignited a fair bit of refi
activity, but building lasting refi
waves requires low (if not continually
declining) interest rates for a
period of weeks, even months. We'll
continue to have low rates, but
significant declines are unlikely. If
you're considering refinancing, don't
hesitate too long or a fickle October
market may catch you napping.

Treasury yields dipped at week's
end, so mortgage rates should start
next week on a softer note.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Doing Your Real Estate Homework: The New York Times Rent vs. Buy Calculator

A common question for all first-time home buyers is -- Does it make sense for me to buy or rent?

It’s likely that you’ll receive as many different answers to this question as people you ask it to. The majority of Realtors are going to tell you it’s a great time to buy because interest rates are low and numerous media outlets are reporting that the US is at the tail end of the recession. At the other end of the spectrum, there are people who feel like it never makes sense to buy and that you will always come out ahead financially if you con-tinue to rent. The reality is that determining if it’s a good time to buy requires a full review of the buyer, from their finances to their life goals.

Most first-time home buyers want an easy, non-intrusive way to figure out if it’s the right time for them to buy. Cirios has searched the Web for the best rent vs. buy calculator that combines ease of use with a valuable output.

The one we recommend can be found on The New York Times’ website. The basic form of the calculator only requires 5 inputs (Monthly rent, Home price, Down payment, Mortgage rate and Annual property taxes) to give you a reading on when (if ever) buying is better than renting.

Here are our tips and precautions regarding this calculator which will allow you to get the most out of this web-based tool:

Use a rental rate for a home similar to the home you are looking to purchase. If you input the rent of your one-bedroom apartment and want to see if it makes sense to buy a 3-bedroom home, the calculator will tell you it’s never a good time to buy.

Do not use an annual home price appreciation of more than 3%. At this point, its unreasonable to expect more than 3% annual appreciation.

Use a higher than a 1% increase in annual rent increase/decrease. If you are thinking about buying a home, it is likely that you are looking to upgrade your current living situation. If you don’t buy a home now, over the next 10 years you are very likely to be renting a larger home. As a re-sult, you’ll probably be paying more than just your standard 1% rent increase.

(NOTE: There are advanced settings on the right side of the calculator which allow you to make the calculator more reflective of your personal situation.)

Source: Cirios Trends -- Getting to the Bottom of the Housing Market