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Our backyards are some of the best places to spend the summer months, especially if you’re practicing social distancing and are tired of being…

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In recent months, Contra Costa County has seen unprecedented low rates on loans and refinancing, and many homeowners have chosen to take advan…

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The real estate market over the past year has seen low rates, low inventory and high prices, and local real estate agents say they see no end …

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Kitchens play an important part in any household, as they are areas of entertainment, family gatherings and discussions and, of course, the ce…

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Navigating life often comes with pitfalls, but a little preparation – and a chat with your insurance provider – can diminish those pitfalls in…

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Visitors’ impressions of a home are often dictated by the home’s entryway. Must as one may judge a book by its cover, the same can be said abo…

Real Estate Topics

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If you are looking to rent a home from someone you don’t know, you need to be very careful. Potential tenants need to make sure that the landlord actually OWNS the property and that they aren’t some scammer who just took over some vacant property.

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Back when Obamacare passed in 2010, it did add a new 3.8% tax on the “unearned” income of high-income taxpayers (single-filers making more than $200K and joint-filers making more than $250K). This is called the “Medicare Tax” because it is meant to shore up Medicare’s shaky finances. It woul…

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There is a classic book written during the subprime mortgage crisis that should be required reading for anyone interested in finances called, “This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.” They describe many times over the past several centuries where the “experts” explain how…

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Now that real estate prices have risen again, many investors are looking for loopholes to avoid paying some or all of the capital gains taxes. There USED to be a loophole that actually went away many years ago, but I still hear people talk about it as if it was still valid.

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Prop 19 just went into effect on April 1st. This gives some homeowners more options in regards to “property tax portability.” Prior to the passage of Prop 19, you could only transfer your tax base one time if you moved within the same county, or if you moved to certain counties in California…

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I still remember that sinking feeling when I took the call, even though it’s been more than 15 years ago…, “Brian, the floors are RUINED!” The call came from the buyer’s agent and I had just given them the keys earlier that day on a transaction. The day before, the Seller had removed their k…

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I don’t know if you heard, but we had a Presidential election recently… With a new President and the Democrats having control (via tie-breaker) of the House and the Senate, many people are expecting/hoping for a roll-back of some of Trump’s tax policies.

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A 1031 is where a real estate investor exchanges one investment property for another, and if they follow the rules, their capital gains taxes are deferred. One of the rules is that the investor cannot take possession of the funds from the sale of the first property before they buy the second…

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One major factor that has been driving our recent red-hot real estate market has been the super-low interest rates. The Federal Reserve has been pulling every lever they have in an attempt to drive interest rates as low as possible to help stimulate the economy. So far it’s been working on b…

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If you have out-dated cabinets, consider painting them versus spending big bucks on full replacement. Another option is to just replace the doors and have a laminate put over the boxes, but that’s an article for another day…

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You may qualify for a tax credit if you meet certain qualification when buying a new residence in Contra Costa County. This is for “first-time homebuyers,” which generally means that you haven’t owned a home in the last 3 years, but there are other ways to qualify. [See my article last year …

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I recently noticed a significant change in how Zillow connects buyers and real estate agents. Zillow used to make it easy to contact the listing agent on each listed property. They were listed prominently on each listing with a way to reach out to them. Some buyers would think they were bett…

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Last week Governor Newsom extended the moratorium on evictions in California through June 30, 2021. This is not a blanket prohibition on all evictions, but it does stop evictions if the tenant is unable to pay all or part of their rent due to a COVID-related reason. The tenant is still respo…

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With more people working and schooling from home, they are finding out just how loud their home is. Barking dogs, your neighbor using a leaf blower, road noise, etc. were mild annoyances before COVID. But now that we are home more they are becoming major issues to be dealt with. Students are…

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A contingency is something that a buyer holds as a way to get out of the contract. The most common are inspection, financing and appraisal contingencies. The “standard” method of how contingencies are officially removed has changed quite a bit over the years. There are two main ways – passiv…

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Moving is hard enough, but if you make any of the following 5 mistakes, it will be even harder!

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The California Association of Realtors® has a new program that can provide qualified California homebuyers a $1,250 Lowe’s Gift Card to purchase appliances for their new residence. This is in effect as of January 8, 2021, but funds are limited, so it’s first come/first served.

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For many years buyers were looking for smaller homes closer to work. They weren’t spending much time at home anyways because they were either at work or commuting. And they wanted smaller homes just to have less to maintain and to keep it affordable. But now with so many people working and s…

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Trends come and go in real estate design, just like they do in fashion. These changes are driven partly by the whims of homeowners, partly by new technology and this year the pandemic is having an impact. If you want to keep up with current trends, making changes in décor, paint color and fl…

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There may be some government help on the way next year for some home buyers. It will likely be targeted towards buyers who meet any of the following criteria: 1. Have not owned a principal residence during the 3-year period ending on the date of the new purchase. 2. For couples, if one spous…

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As I mentioned last week, Proposition 19 passed last month. Below is a reprint of a handout from the California Association of Realtors summarizing the changes:

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There were several proposals discussed or put on the ballot this year in regards to state income and/or property taxes.

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So every year in the past, I would tell people that unless they REALLY need to be moving in January, you normally don’t want to put your home on the market in the week around Thanksgiving, or the last two weeks of December. Normally, people are busy shopping, traveling to visit family and ju…

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During the 2008 financial crisis, many savvy investors bought foreclosed properties to “flip” them for a profit or to rent out. These investors ranged from well-heeled individuals to large Wall St. firms. There is a new law in California that attempts to reduce the number of foreclosures tha…

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The more criteria you put in, the fewer results you are going to get, but when inventory is low like it is now, you’ll want to put in as few criteria as possible. If you plug in that you are looking for a one-story home with a 3 car garage and a pool and paid-for solar, you aren’t going to g…