Advice for Livermore Valley Home Sellers & Home Buyers!

home purchase offerHave you wanted to sell your Livermore Valley home but have been waiting for home prices to rise and equity to return? Have you wanted to buy a Livermore Valley home but have been busy saving up a down payment and paying down debt? No matter what has made you wait to accomplish your real estate goals in the Livermore Valley real estate market, now is the time to act!

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to update you on the latest market news for Livermore Valley home sellers and Livermore Valley homebuyers. Whether you’re one, or both, here are some tips from MSN Real Estate that I’ve summarized for you.

Livermore Valley Home Sellers:

  • Jump-start the process now! The sooner you sell, the better, before competition from other sellers and new homes starts increasing. Sellers usually don’t realize how long the process takes, so begin to clean, declutter, organize and stage your home now. Also, consider getting an inspection done before listing your home, so you know what needs upgrading or repairing. You could also visit a couple open houses to get ideas for staging your own home.
  • Work the market in your favor. With prices up and inventory low, the Livermore Valley real estate market is in your favor right now! You still have to work it intelligently, though. Work with a Livermore Valley real estate agent that is familiar with the market and what homes are selling for. Don’t just go with the agent that promises you the best price. He might be bluffing. If you’re getting the price you wanted, and then some, offer the buyer something in good faith, such as a fast move-in date.

Livermore Valley Home Buyers:

  • Be credit-ready! As soon as you’re ready to buy, you want to get preapproved for a mortgage. Many sellers will turn you away if you’re not, seeing you as an unserious or complicated buyer. Also, this will help pinpoint what you can afford, so you’re not wasting time going after homes out of your price range. Check your credit report, and if your credit score is below 620, work on paying off debt and raising that score.
  • Adjust your negotiating expectations. With inventory low and home prices high, lowball offers just aren’t going to cut it in this competitive market. There are a lot of eager buyers out there, trying to beat rising mortgage rates and prices, so if you really love a house, start with a great offer and respond to counteroffers quickly. You want to avoid a bidding war. Try to have a few houses in mind, in case you lose one to another buyer.

For more tips, either as a Livermore Valley home seller or a Livermore Valley homebuyer, check out the full list from MSN Real Estate.

When you’re ready to buy or sell, or you have questions, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m here when you need me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

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Things to Do Around Livermore Valley This Month!

guitarAre you feeling bored now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is over? Have no fear! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve done some research and collected information on a few upcoming events in the Livermore Valley area. No matter what time of year it is, there is never a dull moment here in Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, CA! It’s one of the many qualities that make this area an excellent place to call home.

Read up on these upcoming events and mark them in your calendar if they sound appealing:

  • Saturday, join Livermore Ballet School for A Night of Dancing! This is a fundraiser in honor of Delaney Newton, a two-year-old battling her way through brain cancer. The $50 tickets will include hors’ d’eourves, dinner, non-alcoholic refreshments, dancing, a DJ and so much more. A cash bar will be available. The silent auction and raffles have some great giveaways!
  • Do you have off work for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Celebrate your three-day weekend at one of Livermore Valley’s finest wineries! McGrail Vineyards and Winery in Livermore will be open from noon to 4:30 p.m. Stop by and taste a lineup of five wines for $10. Or, stop by Garre’s Vineyard & Winery in Livermore between 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. They’ll have wine tasting for $5!
  • International Guitar Night takes place at the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. This concert will feature Brian Gore, who for nearly two decades has been uniting some of the world’s best acoustic guitarist in one collaborative event. This year, Gore is collaborating with guitarists from Italy, England and Argentina, bringing sounds from all over the world together on one stage! Purchase your tickets so you don’t miss out.
  • Beginning this Wednesday, Jan. 22, and running through Feb. 22, stop by the Firehouse Arts Museum in Pleasanton, CA for Just Add Water & Black on White. This features two separate art exhibits. One contains a colorful display of watercolor works from Bay Area painters. The other contains works in black and white, so the collections are as different as night and day! An opening reception will take place Jan. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Enjoy yourself for the remainder of January here in Livermore Valley. If you’re thinking about buying a Livermore Valley home, or selling your Livermore Valley home, now is the time to do it! Conditions are excellent! Contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent, for more information, or to get started on the home-buying or home-selling process.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Fast Cleaning Tricks for Livermore Valley Home Sellers!

cleaning2When selling your Livermore Valley home, it’s important that you declutter, organize and clean as much as possible. This doesn’t mean throwing everything in a closet and shutting the door, because Livermore Valley homebuyers will look there. It means deep, serious cleaning.

However, once you deep clean your Livermore Valley home, it’s hard to keep it in pristine condition every moment of everyday. After all, you still live there! But as a Livermore Valley home seller, sometimes potential homebuyers will show up on your doorstep, or showings will be scheduled before you have time to clean again.

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’d like to share some quick cleaning tricks from Real Simple that will spruce up each room of your home in no time. Again, these are for after you’ve already deep cleaned and organized, and right before potential homebuyers, or house guests, stop by.

In the living room:

  • Get rid of pet hair on the sofa fast by wetting the fingertips of rubber gloves and sliding your hand over the couch. The wet rubber will pick up the hairs.
  • Keep a decorative basket next to a couch or table for you to stack books, magazines or TV remote controllers in.
  • Turn the couch cushions over before homebuyers or guests arrive. The side less used often looks better.

In the kitchen:

  • If the dishwasher and sink have washed-but-not-clean dishes in them, store dishes in a large stockpot until after homebuyers leave. (Don’t forget about them!)
  • Hide aromas from your last meal by boiling nutmeg, cloves or cinnamon and orange peel in a saucepan on the stove. Or, diffuse an essential oil, such as orange or lemon.
  • Replace the hand towel with a fresh one, and fold it neatly over the oven handle.

In the bathroom:

  • Light a candle. The light is flattering, it smells good, and it makes the bathroom seem like a peaceful place to relax.
  • Hang fresh guest towels and throw your dirty/damp towels in a closed laundry basket.
  • Keep a decorative basket or box handy under the sink for products and gadgets from the sink. Make sure it looks nice, homebuyers might look in your cabinets!

Check out the Real Simple article for more tips for these rooms, as well as for a home office, a kids’ room and a laundry room.

As a Livermore Valley home seller, you always want your home looking clean, organized and pristine to Livermore Valley homebuyers. You also want your home to appear neutral, without any personal photos or artwork around. Therefore, preparing your home for the selling process should start before you’re ready to list your home.

Have questions? Need suggestions for cleaning or staging your home? Contact me! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’ve helped tons of local homeowners stage their homes, list their homes, show their homes and sell their homes. Now is the time!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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2014 Design Trends for Your Livermore Valley Home!

Sunlight RoomI hope you had fun ringing in 2014 this week in Livermore Valley! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to fill you in on what’s ahead for real estate and home trends in the new year.

First off, if you’d like to buy a Livermore Valley home this year, now is the time to do it! Mortgage rates are expected to rise, so the sooner you buy, the more money you save. Plus, if you buy soon, you’ll beat the rush of homebuyers that will appear on the market in a month or two.

If you’d like to sell your Livermore Valley home, 2014 is your year! According to Housing Wire, the west coast states lead in rising home values. Home prices and home equity continue to rise here in California, making it the ideal time to sell! If you wait, you’ll have more competition from other home sellers and from new construction. Sooner is better.

Whether you’re buying, selling or staying put in your Livermore Valley home, everyone enjoys learning about the latest home design trends. Here’s a rundown from Realtor Magazine of what is expected to be trending in homes this year:

  • Wider reclaimed wood and porcelain floors. For whatever reason, wooden floorboards are getting wider and are cut from a variety of tree species, giving them stained or patterned looks. Porcelain flooring is becoming popular too because of its durability and unlimited styles.
  • Simpler cabinets, bigger drawers. I don’t think any homeowner would mind having larger drawers! Warm gray tones are replacing oranges and browns, with less visible hardware and more modern doors.
  • Paint palettes. Warm grays are popping up everywhere for 2014, including the walls. Light, fresh corals, sea greens, lavenders and misty blues are also expected to gain popularity, according to Kelly-Moore Paints. Deep, romantic hues look great offset by neutral beiges and off-whites.
  • Indoor-outdoor living. Blending indoor space and outdoor space is an ongoing trend, with homes adding more large windows and French doors that lead to the outside. Solariums and screened or covered porches that connect to a patio or pool are also popular home features here in California.
  • Wireless technology. Homeowners are upping their technology systems. From programmable thermostats or lighting systems, to security systems and entertainment systems, more and more digital technology is being added to homes to make them fast and easy.

For more home trends for this year, check out the rest of Realtor Magazine’s predictions here.

When you’re ready to buy a Livermore Valley home or sell your Livermore Valley home, contact me! If you have questions about the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’m here to help you in any way that you need me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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5 New Year’s Eve Events in Livermore Valley!

NYEAs your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I hope you had a fabulous time celebrating whichever holiday you celebrate. Now, it’s time to bid farewell to 2013 and celebrate the beginning of 2014!

Will you be home watching the ball drop, gathered with friends, or out at a local venue? If you’d prefer to be out and about for the New Year, there are plenty of events and activities going on around Livermore Valley. Here’s a collection of events you can attend!

1.  Every year, the Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center hosts a New Year’s Eve Celebration at the Bankhead Theater on Dec. 31. This year, the celebration will feature modern master of the slide guitar Roy Rogers, along with his band The Delta Rhythm Kings! The event will begin at 8 p.m. and will include a complimentary champagne and dessert reception after the performance. Tickets cost $60. Or, you could purchase the “Sparkling New Year’s Eve Package” for two, which includes performance tickets, a four-course dinner at Sanctuary Ultra Lounge, cocktails, an overnight stay and more.

2.  Enjoy slices of organic pizza for $1 per slice at New Leaf Deli in Pleasanton! Their made-from-scratch cheese pizza features organic ingredients, including original marinara sauce and dough made fresh in the deli. They have been offering $1 slices each Tuesday night in December, and New Year’s Eve is the last Tuesday evening to take advantage! This deal runs from 3 to 7 p.m., limit two slices per person.

3.  Handles Gastropub in Pleasanton is hosting a New Year’s Eve Party, beginning at 6 p.m. It includes a prix fixe menu, music in the public house with DJ Scott LaRock until 1 a.m., and a champagne toast at midnight. Admission costs $10, or it’s free if you join them for the prix fixe menu.

4.  First Presbyterian Church in Livermore hosts an annual New Year’s Eve Labyrinth Walk on Dec. 31. Between 8 p.m. and midnight, you can stop by to walk the courtyard labyrinth by the light of the Christmas Eve luminaries. There will also be a labyrinth inside, lit up by candles and surrounded by music. This is a great way to say goodbye to the old year and welcome in the new year!

5.  Bring in 2014 with lots of dancing at Temptation 2014: The Biggest Bollywood New Year’s Party in San Ramon! The celebration will take place at Canyon View from 8 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. It includes stand-up comedy, a comedy skit with dance performances, a DJ, a dinner buffet, kids’ entertainment, professional photographers,  a midnight ball drop and much more.

When you’re ready to buy a Livermore Valley home or sell your Livermore Valley home in the new year, contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent! We can make it happen!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Prepare Now For the Livermore Valley Home-Buying Process In 2014

laptop_work_browsingThe year is quickly coming to a close, with the holidays arriving next week and the New Year beginning the week after! Chances are you are going to cozy up with friends and family and celebrate this festive season. But come 2014, it’ll be a great time to buy a Livermore Valley home!

As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I want to share how you can prepare for the home-buying process next year. There are plenty of steps you could take right now to ensure a smooth home purchase next year. Here’s a few:

  • Save up for a down payment. Rather than spend every last penny on holiday gifts, cut back this year. Do a grab bag or a secret Santa, where each person only buys for one other person. Or, decide that your gift this year will be buying a Livermore Valley home! That’ll be a great incentive to eat at home more often, brew your own coffee, watch old movies, take walks and find free events around Livermore Valley. The more money you save to put down on a house, the better mortgage rate you’ll receive!
  • Improve your credit score. Your credit score is the other half of the puzzle in receiving a mortgage loan. The higher your score, the better your chances are at getting accepted for a mortgage. Order a credit report now and check it for errors. If there are any, work toward fixing them. Pay down your credit card debt. Use the cards minimally and try to pay them off each month. Don’t open new cards or close existing cards. Don’t make any large purchases before buying your Livermore Valley home, and stay put in your current job.
  • Research the Livermore Valley real estate market. Now is a great time to see what homes are listing for and selling for in Livermore Valley, and how fast. This will give a good indication of how many Livermore Valley homebuyers are out shopping and what type of deals they’re getting. Because inventory is lower than usual, you have fewer options. However, this time of year, most Livermore Valley home sellers are looking for a quick sale, so you might have some negotiating power! It’s good to have an idea of what type of offers you’ll need to make ahead of time, so you’ll be prepared.
  • Find real estate professionals to work with. You’ll need a mortgage lender and you’ll need a real estate agent. I’ve got you covered on the agent end! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I have years of experience working here in Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin. I can fill you in on the current state of the market and housing changes for the new year, and I can help you find homes in your price range and with the features you desire. I can point you in the right direction for other professionals that you’ll need to work with, too.

Contact me if you have any questions or when you’r ready to buy a Livermore Valley home. Have a wonderful holiday!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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7 Holiday Events This Weekend in Livermore Valley!

santa hat

What is your favorite Livermore Valley holiday event? As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I like to know that Livermore Valley residents are enjoying all that our local towns have to offer this time of year! This weekend alone, there are tons of family-friendly events happening. I’ve put together a list here so all you have to do is jot down the ones that sound interesting and head out!

1.  Take a road trip to Mountain House for the 5th Annual Holiday Lights Contest! More than 50 Mountain House residents decorate their homes for the holidays and compete for the top prize. You can gather up the family and some hot chocolate and enjoy the sights! Then, vote for your favorite online between Dec. 13 and Dec. 20. One voter will win a gift card.

2.  Tonight, starting at 5:30 p.m., head to the Arroyo Seco Holiday Mini Mall for all of your holiday shopping! The school is decked out with local, original arts, crafts and gift ideas. From candles, purses, scarves and hair bows, to jewelry, sweets, memory books and clothing, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list. There will also be a bake sale, coffee and raffles.

3.  Head to Danville, CA on Saturday for the 20th Annual Breakfast with Santa! From 8 a.m. to noon, enjoy pancakes or crepes, eggs, sausages and oranges. You’ll receive a complimentary photo with Santa, too! Also enjoy a bake sale, a craft boutique and children’s activities. Cost is $8 per person, ages three and under free.

4.  Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Valley Children’s Museum in Dublin, CA is hosting their December Second Saturday event! Bring the kids by for snowmen and snowflake crafts, hot chocolate and light refreshments. The museum will also be collecting canned, non-perishable food items.

5.  Saturday evening, enjoy watching the holiday classic, Elf, on a 40-foot screen! This screen will be set up at the Amador Valley High School football field. Doors open at 5 p.m., when you can enjoy visiting with Santa, listening to Christmas carols and eating snacks from the snack bar. The movie will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for students and $5 for kids under age 10.

6.  Looking for some new holiday dishes to serve at your Christmas dinner this year? Head to Pans on Fire in Pleasanton, CA on Saturday at 5 p.m. for an English Yuletide Feast! You will learn how to roast a haunch of meat, make Yorkshire pudding, creamed horseradish sauce and a gingered pear tart with cider-bourbon sauce. Sunday, they have cookie baking and exchange. Call to register!

7.  A full-length production of the holiday classic, The Nutcracker, is coming to Bankhead Theater in Livermore, CA! Get your tickets now for performances on Dec. 14 and 15, and Dec. 21 and 22. School groups can get special tickets for Dec. 17. Support local dancers and get in the festive spirit while watching nutcrackers and sugar plum fairies.

As you Livermore Valley real estate agent, I hope you have a fun, festive weekend. When you’re ready to buy a Livermore Valley home or sell your Livermore Valley home, contact me!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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6 Tri-Valley Events This Memorial Day Weekend!

americanflag3How are you celebrating your long Memorial Day weekend in the Tri-Valley area? As your Livermore real estate agent, I want to make sure that you know about all the events taking place. Whether you’re new to the area or you’ve lived here for years, you should get out and enjoy some music, wine, good food or antique shopping.

Check out these events and leave me a comment to let me know where you’ll be going! Have a great weekend!

Fenestra Winery is hosting their Spring Fling and Annual White Wine Sale this Saturday, Sunday and Monday! Drive on over to this winery in Livermore between 12:30 and 4:30 p.m. each day to picnic on the lawn and taste new wines. Every white wine will be available for a special price. There will also be live music by the Hurricane Band, local vendors and grilled kebabs!

Help benefit the Livermore Heritage Guild by attending their 40th Anniversary Fundraising Dinner & Auction on Saturday night! This is free to attend and open to the public. Doors open at 5 p.m. If you’d like dinner, that begins at 6 p.m. and costs $15. The auction will begin at 7 p.m. They’ll have antiques, collectibles, rare newspapers, books, Livermore wines and local olive oils to auction off!

The Downtown Pleasanton Antiques & Collectibles Fair takes place on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stroll along Main Street while shopping for antique and vintage items. This event includes free admission and parking, so there really isn’t any reason not to go check it out! If you have antique items you’d like to sell, you can bring up to three items for a free appraisal between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Head to Dublin High School on Sunday for an afternoon of family fun! Whether you participate or just cheer others on, there is a 5K Run/Walk, a Kid’s 100m Dash, a Mascot Race and a Dance Off! Aside from these events, everyone can enjoy music, food, inflatables, games and fitness activities. The event is to showcase how fun it can be to live a healthy lifestyle, and from the sounds of it, it’s true!

Arista Winery’s Memorial Day Weekend Backyard Party is this Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at their Pavilion Event Area! Head to the winery to enjoy panoramic views of the Russian River Valley while chefs pair barbecue creations with the winery’s newest wine releases. Dinner items include a whole roasted pig, flatbreads roasted on a backyard pizza oven, featured wines and so much more. As you savor these pairings, you can listen to the live music of SoulShine Blues Band.

On Monday, join the VFW and American Legion to honor our fallen service men and women, which is what Memorial Day is all about. The Pleasanton Community Band will play patriotic music as officials make speeches. Then, the USAF ROTC from UC Berkeley will present a 21 gun salute. Afterward, you can enjoy a barbecue lunch and an awards presentation for the winners of the Voice of Democracy essay contest. It’s a great community event to partake in!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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How to Buy a Livermore, CA Home With Lasting Value!

money in hand2If you’ve been thinking about buying a Livermore Valley home but haven’t put your plan into action yet, now is the time to do it! Predictions have been made that as home prices and home sales continue to rise, historically low mortgage rates will fade away. Mortgage rates did rise this week, so that’s a good indication.

When you’re ready to buy a Tri-Valley home, contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent! I can help you find the home of your dreams that has what you need and is in your price range, and I will work as your advocate to help you negotiate a price and make a bid that works for you.

One important tip when buying a home is to choose one that will have lasting home value. What does this mean? Down the road, when you decide to become a Tri-Valley home seller, you’ll want the home to be worth as much or more as it is now. That’s what makes homeownership a great investment opportunity, unlike renting, where you never see that money again.

How can you ensure that you buy a Livermore home that will keep its value for years to come? Here are some tips:

  • Location. Since you can’t lift a home and move it to a better location, you’re pretty much stuck where you are. You want to choose an ideal location that will still be ideal down the road. Are there good schools nearby? Parks? Is it quiet, but close enough to restaurants, shopping and nightlife? Are there jobs? Is transportation convenient? Think about what makes a home’s location ideal before buying it. (Luckily, Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin are full of great neighborhoods that fit these categories!)
  • Rooms. No matter what happens in the future of real estate, rooms will always hold value to homebuyers, especially if they are moving up and growing their families. Right now, the ideal home is usually a home with two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms. If you find something similar to this size, there’s no doubt it’ll keep its value for years to come.
  • Age. Newer homes will hold their value longer than older homes, unless the older home displays impressive architecture or a historical context. (Frank Lloyd Wright homes will never go out of style!) A newer home means that everything is newer: roof, water heater, furnace, windows, appliances, insulation. The older the home is, the more issues that might come up.

To view more tips on how to buy a Tri-Valley home with lasting value, check out this article from The Street.

If you have questions about any of this, contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent! I know everything about homes in the Tri-Valley real estate market, including values. I can help you find a home that suits your needs now and in the future.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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