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From the monthly archives:

July 2011

Wednesday Wow Factor on Thursday (the beach is a bit flaky for wi-fi as it turns out). No “pause for a minute” moments on tour yesterday so instead I’m showing you our recently completed garage remodel.

When we bought our million dollar tear down (Silicon Valley at its finest!) the garage was a haven for critters and a treasure trove of interesting sketches, diagrams and strange looking mechanical inventions from the 60s. Oh, and then there was the boat, which we donated to a college project.

We finally made it to the garage end of the honey-do list and hired our contractor, Chris, to take it from trash to treasure. He stripped out the years of grime and dust, finished the inside, painted the walls and floor and added new lights.

The real game changer, however, is the new glass garage doors we opted to put in. We have a large one on the front and a second smaller one on the back. Both are mounted with a side-opener which keeps the ceiling less cluttered looking. They are AWESOME in my humble opinion. We now have a clean and bright garage OR a fully finished rec-room for the kids, depending on how we want to use it. Actually we’ll probably use it primarily for our staging furniture but no reason we can’t use that furniture while we’re storing it ;)

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I set out this morning to see how my home town of Los Gatos was faring in the property market compared to the rest of the Bay Area.  I started, as I often do, by running some basic calculations on median list price and median price per square foot to see where we are compared to the peak of late 2006 thru 2007.

As the graphs indicate, Los Gatos overall is currently standing at about 16% below it’s peak.  Prices here have rebounded a little but when you look at the data, they actually didn’t fall that much either (Note: theses are averages and medians, your mileage may vary!).    For homeowners no decline in value is ideal of course, but it’s certainly not the bloodbath other areas have experienced.

As if reading my mind, the Mercury News ran an article this morning reflecting similar stories across the Bay Area.  Affluent areas fell 10-20%, less affluent areas 50-60%.  Affluent areas are rebounding faster (some even back to peak levels), less affluent areas are still engaged in REO and short sale trench warfare.

Los Gatos market activity patterns often trail a few weeks behind some of the cities further up the peninsula.  According to my colleagues there, Palo Alto, Mountain View etc are experiencing multiple offers and rising prices.  It will be interesting to see what happens here in the next few weeks.

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160 Robin Way, Los Gatos, CA 95032

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

A Los Gatos Ranch Home with a difference.   Bold updates and innovative remodeling take this home from Nice to Wow! With acclaimed Los Gatos schools and located in a peaceful and popular neighborhood this home has a lot to offer.

Call for more information or to view.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81129370" showall="true"]

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140 Cleland Ave, Los Gatos, CA 95030

by Gail Thomson on July 7, 2011

in Uncategorized

Located in the heart of Los Gatos, this newly custom built Victorian Farmhouse was designed by renowned architect Chris Spaulding and built with quality Craftsmanship by B&C Homes.

With excellent Los Gatos Schools and a short walk to the beautiful Los Gatos downtown, at its current list price this home really is amazing value.

[idx-listing mlsnumber="81121016" showall="true"]

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Wednesday is real estate broker tour day in Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell and Cambrian.  Every week we get to see newly listed homes big and small, new and old, quirky and elegant.   Inevitably I see something that makes  me stop, ponder and exclaim  ”Now that’s a clever idea” or “Oh, this will sell the house!”

Today’s moment came at the new listing at 160 Robin Way , tucked in behind the Marchmont/Englewood neighborhood between Kennedy and Shannon.  This nicely updated ranch home with a modern twist held a couple of surprises.

From a visual perspective the rich brick red commercial doors and windows were a daring choice but it works and they add a modernized Japanese shoji feel.  The bi-sliding doors are a functional plus.  Now why didn’t I think of that?

The real “eureka!” moment came when I walked into what should have been a small master bathroom.  Rather than doing a major addition to add space to this small area, the owners added only a walk-in shower stall addition with glass brick, adding both space and light at minimal cost.  This could work in any home in need of a slightly bigger bathroom without overly impacting the yard space or encroaching on setbacks.

If you want to see this home for yourself, give me a call, I’d be happy to take another look :)

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Real Estate prices are down, interest rates are at record lows, you’ve found your perfect Silicon Valley Dream Home but you still have 1 hurdle to cross;  Financing

Don’t sit on the sidelines assuming you can’t buy because you can’t get a loan.   Here are 5 things the lenders are looking for in order to approve that home loan.

1. The Down Payment.  While 20% down is preferable, don’t count yourself out if you don’t have it.  You can still finance up 95% conventionally and up to 96.5% through FHA loans.  There will be additional cost associated in the form of mortgage insurance but this may still end up being financially better than continuing to rent or stay in your current home.

2. Job History.  Banks want to know that you have the ability to remain in the home and make the payments.  Job History will be vetted carefully looking for career changes and earnings continuity.  Short periods of unemployment shouldn’t affect you too negatively.

3. Debt.  Banks want to know that you can comfortably afford to pay ALL your debts, not just your mortgage.  Debt to income ratios vary but typically your total monthly debt should not exceed 41% of your income.

4. Credit Score. FICO scores range from 300 to 850.  Lenders typically look for 640 and above with higher scores lowering the costs.  FHA will consider borrowers with lower scores.

5. Paperwork.  Gone are the days of the no doc loan frenzy.  Lenders want to see paperwork to support your income and assets.  That means paystubs, tax returns, account statements etc.

Talk to a reputable lender to find out what is available to you.  Contact us for a referral.

Based on an original column by Candice Choi.

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