Archive for July, 2008

Should you use a buyer’s agent when looking for a home?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

What is the difference between using a listing agent, buyer’s agent or just finding a house on my own using the Internet?  Over 80% of people start their home search on the Internet, and in my opinion usually continue to use the Internet throughout your search process.

The Internet should include all tools available including e-mail, Web searching, and agent offered tools such as CleanOffer or Home Alert.  The Internet is a great tool to give you a basic understanding of the prices of homes available and also to rule out some homes you find undesirable for one reason or another.  If you know the type of home you are looking for i.e.: number of bedrooms price range cities and school district it is possible to have those listings e-mailed directly to you as they come on the market. 

Okay, now you’ve searched for your home on the Internet found a likely suspect and it’s time to just go to the listing agent and make your offer right?  Some buyers to go directly to the listing agent to make their offers and it is not illegal for the agent to write your offer and some agents love it, after all they get double the commission.  Now it’s time for the negotiations to begin.  The listing agent you’ve chosen as legally committed to represent the seller’s best interest and now you as a buyer can in the picture and they are also you represent your best interest?  Some agents love this for obvious reasons others shy away from it just to avoid the appearance of a possible conflict of interest.  I think what the buyer is hoping is that because the agent gets double the commission they will share some of that with them and the buyer will end up with a better deal.  Theoretically that better deal is possible, however, in reality because the agent is negotiating with himself they may not have the same incentive to get you the best possible deal which could far exceed any commission savings are in my opinion, this is like going to a car dealer and asking the salesperson to go to the manager and have them tell you the best deal he can give you on the car.

I good buyers agent will give you an honest opinion of the value of a property show you other properties that perhaps are even a better deal.  They will take the time to learn what type of house you like, the neighborhoods that appeal to you and give you an honest opinion of the value of that house in that neighborhood.  Their fiduciary responsibility requires them to negotiate the best possible deal you and they will also show you homes that may not even be on the Internet yet.  For most buyers, this is by far the best method to use when looking for a new home.

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Mountain bike riding on Mount Tamalpais

Monday, July 28th, 2008

One of my favorite activities is my Saturday morning bike ride.  Marin is well known for mountain bike riding; as a matter of fact it is where mountain bikes were invented.  I am fortunate enough to Mount Tamalpais just minutes from my home.  My typical weekend mountain bike ride involves leaving my home at 8:30 in the morning and heading to Mount Tamalpais through San Anselmo and Ross.  From the entrance to Mount Tamil pious we right up to the five corners then down to Fairfax and finally end the ride at coffee roasters in San Anselmo.


Coffee Roasters is a fantastically fun coffee shop especially early on the weekend mornings.  The usually have live music quiet but entertaining and the place is bustling with people coming and going, especially bike riders.  It would be a rare occasion for me to stop the coffee roasters and not run into someone I know.


After the coffee we head home which finishes the ride and we clocked 10 miles.  If we are feeling especially energetic, we go down concrete pipe road which adds a couple of more miles to the ride.


The short little jaunt on Mount Tamalpais takes us through several microclimates which are typical of Marin County.  On the way up to five corners we can look towards the Bay and often see fog hanging over the hillside yet it is hot on Mount Tamalpais.  At the top of the right at five corners we will drink some water and started heading towards Fairfax.  It is surprising how cold the weather becomes just before Deer Valley.


Regardless of how many times I go in this ride I always take the time to appreciate the natural beauty we are lucky enough to live around.


Warren Carreiro, Broker


Switching over to an electric leaf blower

Sunday, July 27th, 2008

Some communities in Marin have banned or restricted gas leaf blowers.  The original bans in Belvedere were enacted because of noise issues.  Who wants to be woken up by your neighbor’s gardener at 8:00 A.M. Saturday morning? 


I still have my old gas blower in the garage; it has not been used in years, not because I was the first to go Green or didn’t want to disturb the neighbors.  They are just too hard to start, it would take me ten or fifteen minutes just to get the blower out of the garage and started. 


My wife purchased an electric Toro blower/vacuum for the yard and she loves it.  I was somewhat skeptical, how could that machine keep up with a Tim-the-tool-man Taylor gas blower?  Well, it does and we never have to run to the gas station, worry about neighbors, and are as green as you can be without raking (that will be our next step).  Not that I have anything against raking, it often works best, but for some of those tricky areas, nothing seems to work as well as a weed blower. 


I think the trend is good, we need to learn to get away from these gas powered lawn mowers and blowers.  Not only are the noisy but they also are not good for the environment and who wants to make our oil-producing neighbors richer than they already are.



Warren Carreiro, Broker

Frank Howard Allen Realtors


“Homes You Love. Advice You Trust”

Marin Real Estate: First half 2008 vs. 2007

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

For all the headlines you would think Marin County Real Estate had fallen off a cliff but the numbers don’t reflect that.  Below is a comparison of single family homes, condominiums, and both combined.   Although the numbers reflect just a 1% drop in median home price they really are not telling the whole story.

I recently closed escrow on a three bedroom home in San Rafael for $599,000.  At the peak of the market in 2005 this home would have sold for well over $700,000.  In 2005 loans were too easy to obtain and buyers, with 100% financing were playing with funny money and many were more concerned with monthly payment than amount paid.  This resulted in some buyers paying the absolute top dollar for a home and we are seeing some of those homes selling for much less today, often as a short sale or REO.

The truth is, regardless of what the numbers are showing, prices are down especially for the lower price range and less than the most premium locations.  On the other hand, homes over two million seem to be holding up well. 

These numbers are from Marin MLS (B.A.R.I.E.S) and are current as of July 14, 2008.

                January 1 to July 1, 2008                Jan1 to July 1, 2007

Marin Overall:                 

Number of Sales                981                         1,405

Median Price                     $875,000              $900,000

Average Price                    $1,194,230           $1,210,350

Single Family Homes:                   

Number of Sales                786                         1,111

Median Price                     $1,050,000           $1,065,000

Average Price                    $1,352,877           $1,363,208


Number of Sales                194                         291

Median Price                     $469,500              $628,926

Average Price                    $542,416              $560,000 

Warren Carreiro, Broker




Who are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Monday, July 14th, 2008

Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac have been in most major newspapers including The Wall Street Journal over the past couple of days but who are they and what do they do? If you Google Fannie Mae you are as likely to get the Chicago chocolate company Fannie May as you are the financial institution Fannie Mae. 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have essentially the same federally charters which is to provide a market for your bank to sell their loans to. Once banks generate a loan they usually sell the loan in the secondary market to either Freddie or Fannie. Banks sell off the loans so they have a fresh supply of money to lend to someone else.

Both Fannie or Freddie are corporations owned by stockholders, not federal institutions. Once they buy have a portfolio of loans they package them into bonds and sell them to investors.  The bonds are guaranteed by Fannie or Freddie so investors feel comfortable buying them.  After the sale they have new money to buy loans from banks and the circle goes on. 

This system has worked well for years but with the financial crises in the United States both Fannie and Freddie are having problems raising enough capital to fund new loans.  This is why they have made newspaper headlines, the Fed is coming to the rescue by offering to lend them money and may even purchase some of their stock if needed. 

Warren Carreiro, Broker