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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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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Why to Buy and Sell Real Estate in Livermore Valley This Winter

christmas fireplaceAs your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner yesterday with your family and friends! Today is a notorious day for consumers to purchase deals, and for merchants to sell deals. Did you know that this concept also rings true with buying and selling homes in the Livermore Valley real estate market?

While many people tend to think that the holiday season is a terrible time for buying a Livermore Valley home or for selling your Livermore Valley home, I’m here to tell you otherwise. First off, here are some reasons that KCM Crew gave for wanting to sell your home now:

  • Only serious Livermore Valley homebuyers are out. You will not be bothered with browsers and lookers. If a potential buyer is taking time out of their holiday season to look for a home, it’s because they are serious about buying. This will help the process run faster and smoother for you!
  • There is less competition. As a Livermore Valley home seller, this is great news for you. You have more negotiating power when inventory is low and buyers have less options.
  • The process will be quicker. Banks won’t be as busy, only serious buyers are out, and they don’t have as many listing options. This all means that the process will move faster from listing to closing.
  • It’s the best time to move up. Mortgage rates and home prices are predicted to continue rising, which means higher monthly mortgage payments for homeowners. If you plan on buying a bigger, more expensive house, you definitely don’t want to wait!

Now that you know why now is a great time to sell your Livermore Valley home, you might be wondering why now is a great time to buy a Livermore Valley home. Here are some reasons that MSN Real Estate shared:

  • Home price decreases. On average, home prices dip $7,000 after Labor Day and usually hit bottom in December. With predictions saying that prices will continue to rise in 2014, Livermore Valley homebuyers should take advantage of possible deals right now.
  • Only serious Livermore Valley home sellers are out. Just as only serious buyers are out, only serious sellers are selling this time of year, too. You might have more negotiating power from a seller who desperately wants or needs to move right now.
  • You will get more attention from professionals. Since there is less going on this time of year for Livermore Valley real estate agents and mortgage professionals, now is your best chance to get the time you deserve and to run through the process quickly. Mortgage lenders might loosen their requirements, too!

If you would like to buy or sell real estate in the Livermore Valley real estate market right now, contact me! As a Livermore Valley real estate agent, I would love to give you the attention and support you deserve. Give me a call and we’ll get you going.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Upcoming Events in Livermore Valley Wine Country!

winebottleWho said that the holiday season meant stress and chaos? Here in Livermore Valley, the holiday season also means plenty of events, activities and discount specials at our local vineyards and wineries. While you can fight the crowds at the grocery store this weekend and the department stores on Black Friday, as your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I suggest enjoying some wine instead.

Take a moment to savor the moment, support local business and socialize with Livermore Valley neighbors. Here are a few events to mark in your calendar in the next couple of weeks:

  • Do you know what types of wines should be served with Thanksgiving dinner? Visit the new tasting room at Cuda Ridge Wines this Saturday or Sunday, Nov. 23 or 24, for Salute to Harvest! You’ll get to pair wines with “Thanksgiving on a Crostini” by Smokey Jim. This will include turkey, stuffing and gravy with homemade cranberry sauce on the side. Wine tastings include merlot, cabernet franc, sab sauv, malbec or petit verdot. Enjoy live music while you sip and sample. Tasting flights cost $10.
  • If you don’t have time to cook Thanksgiving dinner, but would still like to enjoy it, order a take-home dinner from Wente Vineyards! There meal generously feeds six and features traditional holiday dishes with simple finishing instructions to follow at home. You can pick up at the Event Center at Wente Vineyard the day before Thanksgiving, but you must reserve ahead of time! The meal costs $249.
  • What better way to celebrate Black Friday than with wine? Steer clear of the stores and instead head to Murrieta’s Well in Livermore, CA! From 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday, you can enjoy their special Holiday Preview Weekend. Purchase gift baskets and enjoy seasonal cheer while indulging in handcrafted blends.

There are also open houses and/or sales happening the day after Thanksgiving at Thomas Coyne Winery, McGrail Vineyards and Winery, and Las Positas Vineyards.

The next big Livermore Valley Wine Country event, which encompasses all participating wineries, is Holidays in the Vineyards Dec. 7 and 8. Mark your calendar for this wonderful event, which is right around the corner!

On these two days, you’re encouraged to bring unwrapped toys or monetary donations to your favorite winery. All donations will be given to the Pleasanton-Livermore Fire Association’s Toys for Tots program after the event. On these two days, you can enjoy arts and craft vendors, special wines, festive activities, Santa visits, carolers and so much more. Full details are available here.

Enjoy yourself around Livermore Valley this holiday season, and don’t let yourself get too stressed out! If you’d like to buy a Livermore Valley home or sell your Livermore Valley home as a holiday gift this year, contact me! As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, my schedule always has time for my clients.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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Tips for a Cross-Country Move to Livermore Valley, CA!

Moving BoxesNow that a good portion of the country is getting cold and snowy, it’s a great time to move to Livermore Valley, CA! The sun always shines in our warm climate, and the winters are always bearable. As your Livermore Valley real estate agent, I’d like to help you out with your long-distance move.

Moving can always be tricky, even if it’s just across town. But a cross-country move adds some more stress and complications if not done right. MSN Real Estate shared seven tips for cross-country movers that could really help Livermore Valley homebuyers out! I’ve summarized them here:

  • Give yourself time. Don’t wait until you close on your current home to start thinking about the move. Last-minute moves will only make the home-buying process that much more stressful, not to mention you might be left with all of your belongings and nowhere to go if you don’t give yourself time. MSN Real Estate recommends beginning preparations eight weeks before your moving date. (Check out our Free Relocation Package for more help!)
  • Choose a moving method. You can drive all of your belongings into Livermore Valley on your own, you could rent a moving truck, or you could hire a professional moving company. Decipher how much stuff you have and what is the most probable, cost-effective method. If you go the professional route, start rounding up estimates and reading reviews for different companies. Contact me for suggestions!
  • Invest in durable boxes. When it comes to all of your most precious belongings, you don’t want to skimp on the durability and quality of your boxes. Make some calls or drive around and see where you can score some free boxes. Usually manufacturing plants have boxes, along with grocery stores, liquor stores, banks and so on.
  • Pack tight. In the next eight weeks, decide what you need to take and what you can get rid of. This is a great time to declutter and downsize your belongings, such as kitchen gadgets, old electronics, magazines, books and old clothes. What you don’t need can be sold online or in a yard sale, which will help pay for moving costs!
  • Organize papers. Papers are one of the easiest things to misplace during a move, but some of your most important documents are on paper. Organize all of your important paperwork, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates and insurance policies, and then pack them together in labeled folders. Consider taking these with you rather than packing in a box.
  • Take inventory. If you have your items shipped or moved with professionals, you want to make sure to write down what is in each box. Take photographs of your valuables, so you can prove what condition they were in if anything happens to them. Label your boxes so you know what’s in them and where they go in your new Livermore Valley home.

Through the entire home-buying process and moving process, be sure to remain calm as much as possible. Enjoy the experience! You’re accomplishing the American dream in sunny Livermore Valley, what isn’t there to love? When you need assistance, contact me, your Livermore Valley real estate agent!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
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