Bay Area churches building affordable housing

A number of churches in the Bay Area are building – or looking to build – affordable housing on the property they own the help ease the housing crisis in the area. Currently, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek is close to completing construction of 44 affordable apartments next to the church. Most will have income caps and be for renters earning between about $26,000 and $35,000 a year.

While there are other projects in Berkeley and West Oakland, many churches are facing obstacles fro zoning restrictions to neighborhood opposition as they try to relieve the housing problem.

Tips if you’re going to have an Open House

The concept of an Open House has gone out of style considerably the last few years as many real estate agents just don’t bother anymore. Still, it can be a useful tool to get the word out. If you’re going to do it, might as well do it correctly.

  • Get the word out with postcards to communities and neighborhoods outside the area.
  • Schedule the day the house listing hits the market. Generate the buzz, build excitement and create a sense of urgency in would-be buyers.
  • Schedule with other neighborhood open houses and present a packet highlighting all the homes for sale in the area.
  • use “open house” websites such as Zillow and Realtor to get a free listing.

Is it time to refinance?

According to a recent analysis by Black Knight, approximately 5.9 million homeowners nationwide could reduce their mortgage payments by refinancing. Earlier in the year, 30-year fixed rates fell below 4 percent and now average around 3.94 percent.

Black Knight estimates that the savings to be about $271 per month for the average borrower.

Of course, the lower interest rates mean homes are currently a bit more affordable as the average monthly payment on a median-priced home – assuming a 20 percent down payment – has fallen nearly 6 percent in the last half year.

More Bay Area millennials living with mom and dad

Sure, the economy is strong and unemployment is low but due to the high price and low availability of housing in the Bay Area, more and more millennials are moving back home after college. Throw in massive student loan debt and times are especially tough for this generation.

Naturally, the transition can be challenging for all involved and ground rules have to be set. Rent, groceries, laundry, chores all have to be factored in.

According to Zillow, nearly 14 million millennials have moved back in with their parents. The higher the rents, the more likely it is to see parents and adult children living together which explains why it is becoming increasingly common in the Bay Area.

Regrets? Homeowners have a few…

A recent survey by Zillow reports that, while most buyers have regrets about some aspect of the home buying experience, 92 percent are happy that they bought and are no longer renting. Whereas over half of buyers are first-time buyers it’s not surprising that there were aspects of the process for which they were not adequately prepared.

The largest regret by 36 percent of the respondents was unexpected repairs or maintenance. Size of the home was also mentioned – twice; with too big cited by 11 percent and too small by 21 percent. 18 percent said they didn’t like their neighbors.

The majority of first-time buyers felt rushed throughout the process and didn’t take adequate time to check out the neighborhood or the commute and chose poor mortgage options.

Before buying a condo

Buying a condo is like buying a house – only different! While you won’t have to be concerned about maintenance – that’s the Association’s job – you should be concerned about the Association. Some things to look out for:

  • How is the Association run? What are their procedures for repairs and complaints? How many on the board?
  • How much is in cash reserves? If not high enough, condo owners could be hit with a special assessment in an emergency?
  • What is the delinquency rate of condo owners who don’t pay? Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA do not approve condominiums with the delinquency rate above 15%.

Baby Boomers aren’t going anywhere

Blame it on the Baby Boomers! One of the biggest problems in real estate today is the lack of available homes for sale throughout the country. According to a recent report by USA Today, Baby Boomers are partially responsible as they’re not moving out of their homes and downsizing as they enter retirement.

The reasons are many. Approximately 20% of those 65 or older are still working as compared with just 12.1% back in 1996. In other cases, they have adult children living with them and need the space.

Some Baby Boomers are looking to downsize but can’t find a suitable smaller home.

Bay Area continues to grow

According to data released by the US Census Bureau, the Bay Area has grown 8.5 percent – or 600,000 people – since 2010, making it the fastest growing region in California. Nearly 7.8 million people now live in the Bay Area with San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa as the fastest growing counties.

Overall, though, Californa has experienced its lowest growth rate at just over 6% or 2.3 million people as many have left for cheaper alternatives.

Remodeling just got more expensive

The recent round of new tariffs is likely to result in a 7-8 percent increase in remodeling costs according to industry experts.

Products such as lighting, countertops, laminates etc. are commonly produced in China and the new tariffs will increase from 10 percent to 25 percent.

The National Association of Home Builders anticipates that many remodeling projects will be put off or delayed. Many contractors say that projects are already being scaled back.

High tech upgrades on a budget

Smart homes are here to stay but if you live in an older home and have a tight budget there are still plenty of ways to add useful devices to your home.

  • Voice commands: Devices such as Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Home and Amazon Echo Dot can perform tasks such as playing music, making phone calls and searching the net.
  • Smart security camera: More than a convenience, today’s security cameras are more affordable and can deliver 360-degree coverage in HD.
  • WiFi smart power strip: A great way to control and charge your smart devices from phones to TVs to laptops.
  • Streaming sticks: Connected to your HDMI port on your smart TV, streaming sticks such as Roku let you watch movies and TV episodes as well as Netflix, YouTube and more.