New Area Code ‘628’ added to Marin County starting March, 2015

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415+628 Area CodesGet ready for new area code overlay ‘628’ being added to Marin and San Francisco starting March, 2015.  New subscribers for local phone systems will be assigned the new ‘628’ area code while current subscribes retain their current ‘415’ area code.

The only twist to the new area code for current subscribers with 415 prefix is the new procedure of adding 1-415 prefix to all local 415- area code calls.

Per Marin IJ, “the biggest digital change for local residents who continue to have the 415 prefix is a new routine that requires dialing or tapping 1-415 before a local number — starting Saturday. It’s as if you were making a long distance call, although local rates remain the same.

Phone officials advise customers to reprogram all services, automatic dialing equipment or gear with a seven-digit number, in order to incorporate the new 1-415 procedure. Examples include life safety systems, fax machines, Internet dial-up numbers, alarm and security systems, call forwarding settings and voicemail systems.”

However, this will not affect the 9-1-1 emergency system: ““The overlay will have no effect on people dialing 9-1-1 to report an emergency, and the Sheriff’s Office continues to encourage callers to use that 9-1-1 system anytime they require immediate assistance from their law enforcement or fire agencies,”

Update on the State of Novato Real Estate Market

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The following article first appeared on Novato Patch: Update on the State of Novato Real Estate Market :

On this Labor Day weekend, I thought I will provide a quick update on the Novato Real Estate Market since my last blog post on Aug. 21 to the end of August.

Below are statistics of Single Family Residences (SFR) and Commen Interest Developments (CID/Condos) that are either new on market (Active), under cotract (Contingent), Pending (All cotingencies removed) and Sold during the 10 day period.

I also included breakdown of single family residences that are new on market or sold during the 10-day period by price range.

A quick glance at the statistics on 08/31/2012 supports a strong sellers’ market.

Fun facts – The lowest price SOLD single family home during the period is a small Black Point home with a private hill top setting, closed at $270K. On the other spectrum, a beautifully top to bottom, completely redone single story home, 4 bedrooms, 2 and half baths, 2358sf home sited on close to 1/5 acre lot on Mill Road, priced at $699K, quickly went into escrow with multiple offers and closed in 20 days at $800K; an all cash purchase. A Bel Marin Keys on the water house closed at $865K and a single story Country Club home on the Golf Course closed at $915K, both homes are nicely updated; while a Stonetree Home, 4700+sf, one of the hard hit areas by the depressed market, closed at $1Million, was the highest priced sale of the period.

Have a Wonderful and Safe Labor Day Weekend!

Novato Real Estate Market Activites
08/21/12 to 08/31/12
SFR CIDs
Actie 16 6
Contingent 21 6
Pending 9 3
Sold 21 7
Single Family Home Activites
Price Range NEW SOLD
$0-$500K 3 9
$500,000 – $600K 3 4
$600,001 – $700K 3 2
$700,001 – $800K 6 3
$800,001 – $999,999 1 2
$1M – $1.25M 1
$1,25M – $1.5M
$1.5M+
Total 16 21
Novato Real Etate Market Statistics
Week of August 31, 2012
Type # of Total Units % of Total
# Total Units IN Escrow Active
In Escrow S/B
SFRs 170 101 41% 59% S
CIDs 67 49 27% 73% S
All SFR/CIDs 237 150 37% 63% S
SFD by Price Range
$0-$500K 42 34 19% 81% S
$500,000 – $600K 28 18 36% 64% S
$600,001 – $700K 28 16 43% 57% S
$700,001 – $800K 28 13 54% 46% S
$800,001 – $999,999 22 15 32% 68% S
$1M – $1.25M 10 2 80% 20% B
$1,25M – $1.5M 5 3 40% 60% S
$1.5M+ 11 2 82% 18% B
Total 174 103 41% 59% S
% in Contract Type of Market
Less than 25% Buyers’ Market
25% to 40% Neutral Market
Greater than 40% Seller’s Market

Footnote:

(*) Data collected from the local Multiple Listing Services (BAREIS – Bay Area Real Estate Information Service).

Refinance while Underwater? HARP Expanded to Reach More Borrowers

A ray of hope has just been offered to some homeowners with properties that are seriously upside down, according to the California Association of Realtors.

In order to help a broader range of distressed homeowners and offer relief to the housing market, the Federal Housing Finance Agency announced on Oct. 24 that the mortgage relief program HARP — the Home Affordable Refinance Program — has just been expanded.

Per FHFA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have helped approximately 9 million families refinance into a lower cost or more sustainable mortgage product, approximately 10 percent of those via HARP. HARP is unique in that it is the only refinance program that enables borrowers who owe more than their home is worth to take advantage of lower interest rates and other refinancing benefits.

One of the biggest hurdles for borrowers who are current on their home loans and are considering refinance is the fact that the equity on their house is too low to qualify for a refinance. Until now, Fannie Me and Freddie Mac would only allow fixed-rate mortgages if the borrower’s property stays under 125 percent loan-to-value.  This requirement prevented many upside-down borrowers from refinancing to take advantage of the current low interest rates that they desperately need.  The enhanced HARP guideline lifted that restriction.

Other HARP program enhancements effectively reduced certain fees associated with the refinance as well as eliminated the need for a new property appraisal if the FHFA has a reliable automated valuation model estimate.  Both allowed cash strapped borrowers the ability to refinance without the steep fees a refinance might require.  The HARP program, schedule to expire at the end of 2011 has now been extended until the end of 2013.  New federal guidelines for the HARP changes should be released to mortgage lenders and servicers by Nov. 15.

According to the California Association of Realtors, the basic eligibility requirements for an enhanced HARP loan are as follows:

  • Existing mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  Borrowers can check whether they have a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan by going to http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/get-assistance/loan-look-up/Pages/default.aspx.
  • Existing mortgage loan must have been sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac before June 1, 2009.
  • Existing mortgage loan cannot have been refinanced under HARP previously (except for Fannie Mae loans refinanced between March and May 2009).
  • Current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80%.
  • Existing mortgage loan must be current, with no late payments in the past six months, and no more than one late payment in the past 12 months.

Words of Caution:  Remember my previous blog about SCAMs – Too Good To be True, Then Beware? There are a lot of scammers out there to take advantage of distressed homeowners at their most vulunable stage.  Before engaging services that promise to modify your loans or save your home from being foreclosed on, make sure you check out the FTC Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule that outlaws advanced fees and false claims and requires clear disclosures from the servicers.

More Information About HARP:

More information about HARP is available from FHFA.

Other Resources for Distressed Homeowners:

Marin County Property Tax Deadline is Friday, December 10th

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Are you like most of the other property owners who like to wait until the last day to pay your property tax?

The deadline for payment of the first installment of the 2010-11 county property tax bill is 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10.

Payments must be postmarked by Friday or delivered to the tax collector’s office at the Civic Center no later than 5 p.m. that day to avoid a 10-percent penalty.

Property taxes may be paid online at http://www.co.marin.ca.us/paytax or by phone at 800-985-7277 with either a credit card or electronic funds transfer.

The second tax payment is due April 10.

For more information, including programs helping those who cannot afford their tax bill, call the tax collector’s office at 499-6133 or visit http://www.co.marin.ca.us/taxes.

Living Green? Small Space? Check out the Space Saving Furniture!

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According to Kentfield, Marin county Architect, Sarah Robinson, an Alumni of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture; that Being Green is not just to tear down and build from scratch but it’s about “Seeing the untapped potential that already exists.”

“Green Living” is not limited to only use ‘Green’ products such as energy efficient appliances, water saving faucets, shower heads, toilets, bamboo flooring, recycled water, drought resistant plants, solar energy, double/triple paned windows, reuse building material, no VOC paint, and such.

Today, a friend of my shared a video of space saving furniture, which I thought would fit in nicely with green minded, sustainable living friends. these furniture has intelligent design where each piece of furniture has several purposes and fits in a tight space, are artistic an allow for smaller space thus reduce footprint of the new building design.

On a practical side, for friends or college kids who live in small apartments, houses, dormitories; these furniture allow them to have better quality of life while dealing with the tight space.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I do

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Prepare Your (Marin County) Home for the High Wild Fire Season – An Annual Exercise!

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Living in Marin and Sonoma Count, San Francisco North Bay, and for that matter, the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the entire state of California, we are constant on “High Fire Alert” during the dry summer seasons.

With the state budget cut, which deeply affected the state, county park as well as municipal fire department budgets, it is with even more urgency that homeowners heed to the advise and guidelines on how to prepare yours homes for the fire season during the next few months.

In 2008, San Francisco Chronicle published an article highlighing what builders in the Oakland Hills did while rebuilding homes after the 1991 Oakland Fire. The Oakland Fire “ultimately killed 25 people and injured 150 others. The 1,520 acres (6.2 km²) destroyed included 2,843 single-family dwellings and 437 apartment and condominium units. The economic loss has been estimated at $1.5 billion.”

Along with the article, S.F. Chronicle included a partial list of checklist developed by (of all the places) Travis County, Texas about what how to prepare for a fire:

I am following suit and quoting below:

Wildfire Preparedness Check List

The more “yes” answers you have, the more prepared you are in the event of a wildfire threat.

The House

  • Fire-resistant roof i.e. metal, tile, composition?
  • Non-flammable siding materials?
  • Home is located down-slope?
  • Wooden deck facing or overhanging level ground?
  • Large glass windows, facing level ground?
  • Deck, porch, vents or house screened to keep sparks out?
  • Chimney extending above the roofline?
  • Chimney spark arrester in place?
  • Roof and gutters clean of debris?

Around the House

  • A fire defensible space (D-space) zone of 30 – 100 ft?
  • Adequate clearance of weeds, tall grasses and brush?
  • Leaves raked?
  • Trees pruned 10 ft up from base of trunk?
  • Debris cleared from beneath trees and near structures?
  • Tree limbs pruned at least 10 ft from roof or within 15 ft laterally from chimney?
  • House location or address clearly marked (3 inch letters)?
  • Small amounts of mulch used near wooden structures?
  • Firewood and other burnable items stored at least 30 ft from the house?

Access

  • Easy access to home by emergency vehicles?
  • Road grade less than 15% (not steep)?
  • Road wide and accommodating to two-way traffic?
  • Road straight with wide turns?
  • Large areas for vehicles to turn around?
  • Short driveway from main road?
  • Home area level and easily plowed or raked for fire line?
  • Multiple roads into and out of developed area for safe and easy access and evacuation?

Water Supply

  • Pressurized hydrants available?
  • Non-pressurized or dry hydrants available?
  • Water sources such as ponds or streams accessible?
  • Power lines buried and not susceptible to fire?
  • Well pumps maintained with uninterrupted electricity?

Ten Quick and Easy Steps to Prepare for a Wildfire

1. Cut grass and weeds, rake leaves and pine needles and remove yard debris and branches.

2. Relocate woodpile and left over building materials at least 30′ from house.
NOTE: It is best to not locate the woodpile directly uphill or downhill of any structure.

3. Signs, address and access are well marked, and visible both night and day. Reflective numbering/lettering that is 3″ or larger is recommended.

4. Prune dead and low-hanging tree limbs 6 to 10 feet from the ground around house. Remove all dead vegetation in brush and shrubbery.

5. Store all gas, oil and other chemicals away from the house. This includes propane tanks on BBQ pits.

6. Keep roof and gutters free from leaves and needles.

7. Enclose spaces under porches, decks, foundations and overhangs, and roof/attic vent openings with 1/8″ metal screening.

8. Have garden hoses connected on all sides of your house.

9. Place tools (such as ladders, shovels, rakes and hoes) for easy access to fire fighters.

10. Check driveway for adequate clearance for emergency vehicles. (Both height and width).

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Novato Celebrates July 4th Together at July 4th Parade in Downtown Novato

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Novato, California, the north-most town of Marin County, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, celebrates July the 4th with, among other activities, a July 4th parade through old town Novato.

The parade has steadily gained fan and momentum over the years; with the town growth and community involvement, has become a local attraction when celebrating July 4th. This year, being the 50th Anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Novato, anticipation is even higher 🙂

Between 8-11AM, the local Presbyterian Churchoffers their infamous Buckaroo Breakfast (2010 will be their 57th year doing this) with proceeds benefiting a Novato community mission project, such as Homeward Bound, Novato Human Needs, or Marin Food Bank. A place to gather, get some comfort, yummy breakfast; and say Hi to your friends and neighbors!

I had never be ‘IN’ the Novato July 4th parade before until the parade last year, 2009. A few times whenI went to the parade, I was a bystander, watching for my then young sons marching down Old Town Grant Avenue as part of Novato Summer Music Institute Marching Band. It was fun watching them, but I had never be IN one before.

Last year, I got the taste of actually being in the Parade while riding the truck with the Penguin Empire Robotics Team (San Marin High School Robotics Club). I have to say that it was a lot of fun riding with the students, pretending that I was helping (they knew exactly what to do). and waving to the bystanders (now that I am in it, might as well enjoy the parade!)

The parade drew record entries and record crowds. Presumably the difficult economy kept a lot of people home during the summer; but being in Marin for the summer can not be considered a hardship, I have to say; and the 4th July parade reinforced the hometown feeling of being in this beautiful town.

The parade had 200+ entries and celebrated the many facets of Novato: The ones who protects us so we can be safe – WWII Surviing Veterans, Marine Corp Color Guard, Air force airplane flyover, Pacific Coast Guard, Novato Fire, Novato Police; Our Future Manyy student groups – the Novato Summer Music Institute, Five Charming Lads from San Marin, San Marin Jazz Choir, Marin Summer Theater, Novato Unified School District, Various Novato schools and Novato School Fuel thanking Novato for passing Measure A+ for Kids campaign; dace clubs, Taken do clubs, …..

and many other special interest groups:

Politicians or politician wanna-bes; the Peace Group with Cranes representing lost lives in wars: the perennial entry of fleet of antique tanks and military vehicles (a private collection by the owner of Marin Sanitary, Joe Garbarino’s WWII Military Museum), Bushmills Irish Pipers band of San Francisco, Petaluma Riding and Driving Club Senior Drill Team, A 3-Plane Fly over, Basset hound parade (yes, hundreds of them and their proud owners; the bystanders thought they are awfully cute), the horses and owners (Novato is famous for our horse properties in Indian Valley, Vineyard, Atherton, green point, black point).

MY personal favorite, other than the Pengium Empire float, of course, is the Pini Hardware Plunger Brigade, last year, with an automatic toilet built by Penguin Empire adviser Mike Sousal. Pini Hardware did a garbage can dance one year which was very cute seeing those big man dancing :-). (Pini Hardware is a small local hardware store famous for personalized attention. Novato waged a war against Home Depot moving into town because of Pini Hardware, and the big box shop blinked – Novatans are good at keeping the town away from big corporations); anti-tax protesters, archers, musketeers, Coast Guard Strike Team, and many more groups.

It’s also fun to see so many friends and neighbors out there watching and enjoying the parade. Novato, a town of 50K+ population, a lay-back and very friendly town can seem so small and personal where we seem to know and care about everybody! I was busy waving at my friends the whole time.

Oh, not to forget about the Penguin Empire Team – the students did great and the crowd were awed by the awesome robot whenever we stop. The students remotely controlled the robot, drove it down the ramp, performed a couple of routines (unfortunately, due to the crowd, we were not able to show the full potential of the robot) and drove it back up the float. The crowds were quite enthusiastic about the robot and the team 🙂

Here are a few pictures to share with you; many are courtesy of Nvato Advance and some are my own collection – sorry, I was too busy to be IN the parade, and did not take as many pictures as I would have liked!

Before pictures from 2009 Parade, I’d like to share with you a pictures from the Novato History Museum collection:

1908 July 4th Celebration in Novato

Yes, this is the Novato July 4th Parade in 1908 (102 years prior)!!!

Waiting and Positioning

Airplane Salute

Marine Color Guard

Helicopter Overhead

The Novato Fire – kids love the Fire Engines and we love them, especially with the dry, high fire summers in California!

Pearl Harbor Survivors

San Marin Pengium Empire Robotics Team (I sit behind the Igloo). The float won one of the first place awards.

Marin Summer Theater – 2009 Cast. 2010 Shows are Chicago, Rosencrantx & Guildenstern Are Dead and An Enchanged Evening

The Peace Parade with cranes representing lost lives during wars

The Pini Hardware Plunger Dance and an automatic Toilet Flush

St. Marys Chinese Girl Drum and Bell Dance

Guess Who!?

You got it! Basset Hound Parades

More Bassets

Irish BagPipers

Horse Women

Mariachi Band

WWII Military Museum

Novato Summer Music with Mr. Jason Eckl

Antique Farm Tractor

Fun Salon Worker

Pacific Coast Guard Strike Team

I will be with the Penguim Empire Float again this year, but look forward to sharing some pictures from the 2010 Novato July 4th Parade with you!

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate 
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors 
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Federal Tax Credit for First Time Homebuyer Closing Deadline Extends to 09/30/10

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Updated July 1, 2010 – US Senate Passed this Bill and it is now at President Obama’s to be signed.

June 29, 2010 – US House extends Closing Deadline for First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit to 09/30/10 if they are in contract as of 04/30/10.

The homebuyer has to be in contract before 04/30/2010 and now close by 09/30/10 (instead of 06/30/10). This bill is going to the congress and is expected to pass.

This is in part due to the slow process by the lenders and loan servicers during the loan approval and loan funding process where two months escrow might not suffice to close escrow. However, I also fee the benefits to First Time Homebuyer in contract on Short Sale properties due to the notorious slowness in lender approval of short sales.

Hopefully the ones that are in contract on short sale as of 04/30/10 will also get the up to $8,000 tax credit if they close by 09/30/10. There is also the California Tax Credit of up to $10,000 which expires 12/31/10 – unlike the federal tax credit, this tax credit has to be claimed over a three year period.

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barr

_____________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Luxury Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frank Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa.   Starter Home to Luxury Property.  REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View Homes, Architectural Distinctive Homes. Investment, 1031 Exchange.

Novato, Marin Real Estate Market Overview as of May 27, 2010

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It’s been quite sometime since I published a Novato Markret Overview. As I have told interested parties – the market is hopping for homes that are entry level homes, attractive to both first time home buyers and investos; but can be quite challenging for high-end or move-up homes.

Vey clear drop in % in escrow happens between $700K and $800K, with a steep drop from sellers market to buyers market; this might have something to do with the Jumbo Conforming loan cut off point of $729K.

However, homes are very competitively priced and in great conditon can go into escrow quickly, no matter where the price point is.

               
  Novato Market
  Week of 05/27/2010
           
  # of Total Units % of Total Market
  # Total Units # In Escrow   % Active % In Escrow  
Type          
SFDs 255 98 62% 38% N
CIDs 89 47 47% 53% S
All SFDs and CIDs 344 145 58% 42% S
           
SFD by Price Range          
$0-$500K 55 32 42% 58% S
$500,001-$600K 38 16 58% 42% S
$600,001-$700K 38 16 58% 42% S
$700,001-$800K 36 19 47% 53% S
$800,001-$999,999 36 7 81% 19% B
$1M – $1.25M 20 3 85% 15% B
$1.25M – $1.5M 17 3 82% 18% B
$1.5M+ 13 2 85% 15% B
TOTAL SFDs 253 98 61% 39% N
           
% in Contract Type of Market      
< 25% Buyers      
25% – 40% Neutral      
> 40% Sellers

_________________________________________________________

Sylvia Barry, Realtor, ePRO
Marin Realtor for Marin Real Estate
Marin, San Francisco North Bay
Frankk Howard Allen Realtors
website: www.SylviaSellsMarin.com
Blog: www.AllAboutMarinHomes.com

MARIN, SONOMA, S.F. BAY AREA REAL ESTATE – Beveldere, Corte Madera, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Marinwood, Mill Valley, Novato, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, Tiburon; Cotati, Penngrove, Petaluma, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa. Starter Home to Luxury Property. REO (Bank Owned), Short Sale, View

Leisure Stroll on Mt. Burdell, Marin Open Space, Novato, CA

A leisurely stroll on Mt. Burdell, Marin Open Space, on a very fine, early spring day.

Sunny, warm, clear, air fresh, quiet, except for birds chirpping, grasses are green; shining with dew,flowers are budding and tiny leaves peeking out. Water was flowing and Duke happily splashed in the stream.

We can see miles ahead all the way to the bay……

A picture perfect day!

This is from the trailhead in Partridge Knolls …. there are many trailheads for Mt. Burdell in San Marin area, Novato, CA.