SOLD: 995 Hopkins Way – Enjoy Casual Poolside Living!

995 Hopkins Way

Pleasanton, CA 94566
$1,360,000
MLS: 40666310
4 Bedrooms
3 Bathrooms

Welcome home to this stunning five bedroom, three bathroom property. You are sure to be impressed by the fully landscaped front and back yard with mature shrubs and trees. Upon entry, you will be greeted by a gracious living room which is highlighted by vaulted ceilings and a charming fireplace.The dining room has been enhanced by a stunning chandelier. French doors give direct access to the patio creating the ideal atmosphere for entertaining guests. Concoct your culinary masterpieces in the remodeled kitchen which boasts an eating area, center island, granite counter tops and a wall of windows overlooking the gorgeous backyard. A spacious family room designed for informal gatherings features a fireplace and a sliding glass door which leads out onto the patio.

Escape to the master bedroom suite which comes complete with vaulted ceilings, sitting area and a gas fireplace. Achieve serenity in the master bathroom, which comes fully equipped with a dual vanity, separate shower and a tub situated in front of a sizable window. The additional bedrooms are all spacious for residents and guests alike. Eliminate early morning traffic with two additional full bathrooms. Casual poolside living can be yours in this home with a dazzling swimming pool and lush backyard. You won’t want to leave this paradise! Located in Ventana Hills, don’t miss your opportunity to own this impressive home!

Home Sales Pick Up Speed in Alameda County!

Homes in Alameda County are selling fast, according to recent housing stats from Realtor.com. Overall, California real estate is outselling other areas of the county. Compared to the pace of sales nationwide, California homes have the shortest days on market!

Here are the California cities with the shortest days on market:

  • Oakland: 21 days on market
  • Stockton-Lodi: 26 days
  • Sacramento: 32 days
  • San Francisco: 44 days
  • Fresno: 44 days
  • San Jose: 47 days

If there’s any downside, it’s the fact that our statewide home inventory remains lower than normal. This helps keep home prices up, but it prevents us from having a balanced market, which is best for long-term growth.

Some optimists are calling this a new California housing boom, but that would be inaccurate according to economist Kenneth Rosen. Rosen is the chairman of the University of California-Berkeley Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. He predicts that the California housing market will continue to improve in 2013, but not at the skyrocket pace sellers might hope for.

The reason? Rosen says tight-fisted mortgage lending keeps 40% of potential home buyers out of the market. A mortgage market that demands perfect credit scores is not realistic, and some of our home buying activity has been supported by cash buyers. As home prices improve, it’s reasonable to expect that fewer cash buyers will be in the California market.

Rosen also speculates that future tax increases could have an effect on 2013 home sales. California has some tax hikes on the table that are separate from anything Washington might hand down.

What this means is we can expect continued improvements in Livermore Valley home values, but prices shouldn’t become a runaway train. Much depends on what happens during the Federal budget talks in upcoming weeks. Meanwhile, real estate in Livermore valley is alive and well!

Thinking of buying or selling a Livermore Valley home? Let’s talk! I will share the latest market data for your neighborhood and help you find the best opportunities. Just contact me for the latest home sale details in Livermore, Pleasanton or Dublin. I’ll answer all of your questions, and provide you with expert guidance for success!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
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Low Inventory of Homes for Sale Challenges California Market

Livermore Valley home sellers, take note: we have more buyers than homes! The 2012 Annual Market Survey, conducted by the California Association of Realtors®, shows that low home inventory is an issue throughout the state.  The situation continues to feed bidding wars among California home buyers, with 57% of home sales attracting multiple offers during 2012.

If you’re a home seller in Livermore Valley, this is a happy problem!  However, real estate professionals statewide are concerned that  a prolonged lack of supply could affect the pace of the housing recovery. It’s no secret that many sellers are holding out for higher prices. But if buyers give up before sellers see the price levels they want, nobody wins.

Understandably, there’s close attention being paid to home buyers! Here’s what the 2012 Market Survey says about California buyers:

  • 30% of home buyers paid cash.
  • 17% of home buyers were investors.
  • 40% of first-time home buyers are choosing bank-owned properties or short sales.
  • 35.8% of home buyers are first-time buyers, up from 34.2% a year ago.
  • 5.8% of buyers were from other countries, with China and Canada leading the group.

On the average, the days on market for a California home are half of what they were a year ago. 2012 traditional home sales have a median of 32 days on the market. Distressed properties are also moving faster, with short sales averaging 90 days on market during 2012, as opposed to 141 days a year ago.

To compare that to our local area, the days on market for homes in Alameda County are running about half of what they were a year ago; two months on the market instead of four.  There is great variety in the days on market throughout our county. What you find in Oakland is not necessarily true for Livermore, and so on.  While the survey is helpful, your best guidance will always come from local data – supplied by your local, experienced real estate professional! (Me!)

If you’re thinking of selling your Livermore Valley home in the upcoming months, it’s time to start making plans.  Let me show you the latest market data for your neighborhood! Please contact me for a comparative market analysis in Livermore, Pleasanton or Dublin. I’ll answer all of your questions, and provide you with expert marketing strategies to help you succeed!

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
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Will a Past Foreclosure Prevent Buying a Livermore Valley Home?

With home values rising and monthly rents becoming costly, there are plenty of former homeowners wishing to re-enter the Livermore Valley real estate market. For some, the mortgage hurdle is complicated by a prior foreclosure, personal bankruptcy or a short sale on their credit history.  If you’ve experienced one of these events, what does it mean for your home buying prospects?

Simply put, you’ll need to wait awhile, but the time period may be shorter than you realize. The Wall Street Journal reports that over 700,000 former homeowners are now eligible to return to the market, despite previous foreclosure or adverse record. Here’s a framework for example:

Chapter 13 bankruptcy: no matter the type of mortgage you had before, you could be eligible for a new FHA mortgage in 1 to 2 years. You will need to have clean credit, a good income, and meet a minimum down payment of 3.5%.

Prior foreclosure or short sale on an FHA-backed mortgage:  you will need to wait at least 3 years before being eligible for another FHA loan. Good credit and a consistent work history will be essential.

If you had a mortgage previously backed by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, and experienced a short sale or foreclosure, you may need to wait to 7 years before you are found eligible for another such mortgage.

Loan modifications: if your lender agreed to alter the terms of  your prior mortgage, either temporarily or permanently, this could impact your credit score. How much of an impact depends on how the lender reported it – if at all – and how your loan performed after the modification.  There is no typical waiting period in this case, save for the length of time it may take for your credit score to recover.

In all cases, remember that banks are cautious today. You can expect some extra scrutiny if your prior mortgage did not show “paid as agreed” for any reason. The good news is, the stigma of a  prior foreclosure, bankruptcy or short sale is  temporary. Your best bet is to talk to a reputable mortgage lender, and see how your own situation fits in with the current underwriting guidelines. I can refer you to local lenders who are experienced and trustworthy. You may be able to buy a Livermore Valley home sooner than you think!

When you have questions about the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me! I have the local market expertise you can count on for Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin! Whether you are buying or selling a home, or “just looking“, I can provide the latest market data and the professional guidance you need.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website

Is Livermore Valley a Seller’s Market?

Despite gains in home prices during 2012, some homeowners who want to sell are avoiding the market, according to a recent survey by Redfin. In the survey, potential home sellers believed  they would get higher prices by waiting a year or two. Ironically, if prices are higher in a year or two, these sellers will also pay more for their next home!

The truth is, you can’t time the market. Nor can you predict what mortgage interest rates will be in the future, or what the economy is going to look like.  When to sell your home isn’t as important as why you are selling your home. If you need a bigger home for your family, or a shorter commute to work, or you’ve got a great job offer in another city, it makes sense to evaluate the opportunities you have today.

In fact, the opportunities in Livermore Valley real estate could be better than you thought. Sellers are getting over 98% of their asking prices, and in some cases, multiple offers. For example, here’s a quick look at how August 2012 shaped up.

Single-family homes for sale in Livermore averaged 31 days on market, with an average sales price of $520,741.  Sellers obtained  98.81% of their asking prices.

In Dublin, single-family homes averaged 24 days on market, with an average sales price of $639,275. Sellers obtained 99.25% of their asking prices.

In Pleasanton, single-family homes averaged 40 days on market, with an average sales price of $881,522. Sellers obtained 98.87% of their asking prices.

Overall, Livermore Valley home sellers do not have the market competition today that they faced during 2011 and 2010. Even so, price recovery is still a very gradual process. Inventory levels are low, but factors such as home condition, location, amenities and price always carry importance.

Is Livermore Valley a seller’s market? It depends on the home, the seller, and your real estate professional! Experience counts when you have a Livermore Valley  home to sell. I have the local expertise to help you succeed! Whether you just have a few questions, or you’d like a comparative market analysis, I’m ready to help you!

For the latest home sales activity for your neighborhood, contact me!  I will provide the latest market data and the professional guidance you can trust.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
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Livermore Valley Sees Fewer Distressed Home Sales

The shadow inventory is giving way to a brightening real estate picture, according to recent reports by the California Association of Realtors. Statewide, the percentage of short sales and foreclosures dropped again, with August short sales holding 23% of home sales, and August foreclosures holding just over 14% of the market.

The total market share of distressed properties in California was 37.8% in August 2012; this is a good improvement over a year ago when distressed properties held 48.3% of the market.

Meanwhile, Alameda County’s distressed sales accounted for 23% of the market during August 2012. This is a drop from 26% during July 2012. A year ago, distressed sales were hovering around 38% of the market. The reduction in distressed sales points to continued housing recovery for Alameda County and Livermore Valley.

Ready for more good news? Lender Processing Services reports that mortgage delinquencies nationwide have been reduced by 30%, since the peak of the housing crisis in 2010. Overall, we have fewer mortgages going bad, while at the same time, the shadow inventory is being successfully absorbed by an inventory-hungry market.

In fact, Livermore Valley home prices are still climbing! August 2012 home sales held a median price of $539,820 in Alameda County. It’s an increase of 11.4% from a year ago, when the median home price was $468,900. We’ve come a long way in a year!

As your professional Livermore Valley real estate agent, I keep my eye on the market trends that affect today’s buyers and sellers. Livermore Valley real estate is continually changing, which is why local experience matters!

If you are buying or selling a home in Livermore, Dublin or Pleasanton, contact me today! I will be happy to provide you with the latest market statistics and give you the professional guidance you can trust.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website

Mortgage News for Livermore Valley

California mortgage interest rates are going to sneak up a notch in the near future, but not for the reasons you might expect. As of October 1, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are raising the basis point fees they charge to lenders. In turn, lenders are likely to pass the increased costs on to mortgage borrowers in the form of slightly higher rates.

Freddie and Fannie are making these changes in order for their mortgages to be priced in line with private funding. In other words, they are trying to encourage private capital to return to the mortgage market.  Returning the mortgage markets to balance is in the best interests of taxpayers, who have helped Freddie and Fannie out of some tight spots in the past.

Who relies on Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae for mortgages these days? Almost everybody. In fact, Reuters reports that 85% of mortgages originated during 2011 were backed by these agencies.  So far in 2012, 89% of new mortgages are backed by them. Even small changes by these mortgage giants can have wide-reaching effects.

Fortunately, the dollar impact to Livermore Valley home buyers will be modest. According to Bloomberg, borrowers can expect to pay about $4,000 more over the life of the loan, using a $200,000 mortgage as an example. Break that down per payment, and it’s an extra $11 per month.  Larger loans could see this ratio played out into another $40 a month or so. Not a show-stopper, but remember that these increases are the result of modest policy changes. There are many other reasons why interest rates can rise, and we shouldn’t take today’s rate environment for granted.

The bottom line is, low interest rates and affordable home prices won’t be around forever! Market changes can happen quickly, and buyers who wait on the sidelines too long will miss out on the great opportunities in Livermore Valley real estate. Why not take a look at the wonderful homes available on the market today?

My experience in Livermore Valley real estate will help you whenever you are buying or selling a home! Whether you need the latest market data for Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin  or you just have a few questions, contact me! I will provide you with reliable, professional guidance throughout all of our market conditions.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website

New Short Sale Rules Will Help Livermore Valley’s Real Estate Market

If you are a Livermore Valley homeowner struggling with negative equity and a personal hardship, there’s good news: short sales are about to get easier. Effective November 1, 2012, short sale rules are changing for mortgages backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. These government-sponsored entities are involved in over half of all active residential mortgages in the United States.

The new rules create a cohesive short sale process between Freddie and Fannie and their respective mortgage servicers. The upshot is a reduction in red tape and a wider door of opportunity for struggling homeowners.

For example, homeowners who are current on their mortgage payments could be eligible for a short sale, as long as they have a personal hardship along one of these areas:

  • Divorce
  • Business failure
  • Excessive obligations
  • Death of borrower or co-borrower
  • Job loss
  • New job/relocation more than 50 miles away

In cases where the homeowner is already behind on the mortgage and experiencing a hardship, the short sale will be treated with priority. Also, the paperwork process will be reduced for these homeowners.

It gets even better from there. Mortgage servicers will be given the authority to approve all qualifying short sales directly. No more delays while waiting for Freddie or Fannie approval.

There is also incentive for second mortgages to cooperate with the short sale. Usually, second lien holders refuse to sign off on a short sale because there’s nothing in it for them. The new short sale rules provide up to $6,000 in compensation to a second lien holder. While this may not seem like much, the take-it-or-leave-it deal gives all second liens the same treatment; no more bickering back and forth, and no wasted time.

The only unpopular rule could be the contribution requirement. Homeowners who have sufficient financial assets will be required to chip in on the short sale. In return, they will be off the hook for the difference between the sale proceeds and the mortgage balance.  This is a reasonable compromise that replaces the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 which expires at the end of this year.

The new short sale rules help Livermore Valley real estate on several fronts. First of all, short sales involve the fair market value of the home, whereas foreclosures are discounted. Short sales also keep the homeowner engaged in the process, preventing home abandonment and neighborhood blight. Last but not least, our home inventory should improve as more short sales come to market. Because they are listed at fair market value and our absorption rate is strong, the new listings would be welcome.

My experience in Livermore Valley real estate will help you whenever you are buying or selling a home! Whether you need the latest market data for Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin  or you just have a few questions, contact me! I will provide you with reliable, professional guidance throughout all of our market conditions.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website

Will Fiscal Cliff Fears Affect Livermore Valley Real Estate?

The view from the top of the market is clouded by tax fears, according to recent articles by CNBC. The prospect of a capital gains tax hike has caused affluent home sellers to take price discounts now, rather than face an uncertain tax future. RealtyTrac reports that national home prices in the $1 million-plus range have fallen by 20% during 2012.

Here’s why luxury home sellers are concerned: unless Congress prevents it, a “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax breaks and Federal spending cuts could begin January 1, 2013. Affluent Americans face a possible capital gains tax increase from 15% to 20%. While the first $500,000 gain is exempt if the home was a primary residence for two out of five years, it’s a scant tax shelter at the top. Therefore, affluent home sellers are seeking to close their deals during 2012.

Can the selling behaviors at the top of the market affect home values across the board? And what could it mean for Livermore Valley real estate?

By adding inventory to the real estate market, while accepting price discounts for a quick sale, there is concern that motivated luxury sellers could cool down the market. And if sale prices trend downward on luxury homes, home values in the nearest tier could take a step down, and so on.

However, Livermore Valley is a well-balanced market. The majority of Livermore Valley homes for sale are priced under $600,000. While we have about 25 homes on the market priced at $1 million or more, this does not indicate an exodus. Home sellers in the top price range will affect each other. Those seeking to minimize tax obligations  will likely take a price discount to close during 2012, but this would not be a large share of the market. Still, this could impact high-end homes that were not otherwise affected by timing concerns.

Home sales in Livermore, Dublin and Pleasanton could slow down a bit in the months ahead, due to seasonal patterns and the distractions of an election year. Overall, Livermore Valley remains attractive for home buyers, and escalating rents will continue to drive first-time buyers into the market. So long as employment remains stable and the broader economy behaves, our market will be driven by practical motives, and not short-term strategies.

When you have questions about the Livermore Valley real estate market, contact me! I have the local market expertise you can count on for Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin! Whether you are buying or selling a home, I will provide the latest market data and the professional guidance you need.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website

Will the Homeowner Bill of Rights Impact Livermore Valley Real Estate?

Beginning in 2013, the Homeowner Bill of Rights puts California at the front lines of foreclosure prevention. The passage of the law has been hailed as a victory for California homeowners, while mortgage lenders have concerns about potential impact to the housing market. Will it mean a real estate slowdown for Livermore Valley?

First, here are the highlights of the law:

Mortgage servicers cannot pursue foreclosure while a loan modification or short sale is being evaluated.

Mortgage servicers cannot begin foreclosure until they have provided documentation to the homeowner that proves their right to take foreclosure action.

Paper trails must be clear when mortgage loans change hands, and the “robo-signing” of foreclosure documents is prohibited.

Mortgage servicers must provide a single point of contact for distressed homeowners.

Undoubtedly, the law provides good protections for California homeowners. Lenders argue that lengthening and complicating a foreclosure process does not benefit the housing market. In states such as New York and Florida where foreclosure can take years to accomplish, depressed home values have been slow to recover. Mortgage bankers suggest that California’s expedient foreclosure process is what enabled us to begin recovery, while the rest of the nation struggled with ever-declining home values.

Looking at current trends, it’s unlikely that the new law by itself will affect the Livermore Valley real estate market. Foreclosures are down by over 23% in Alameda County as of June 2012. It’s the number of foreclosures, and not the specific process of law, that truly impacts the market. So long as the broader economy remains stable and our local employment outlooks are good, mortgage defaults should continue to decrease – and home values should continue to improve.

We should also remember that the Federal foreclosure settlement reached with the five largest mortgage servicers has already changed foreclosure practices. This too, had caused concern about mortgage availability, but it has not stopped the market.

As your professional Livermore Valley real estate agent, I understand the concerns of today’s buyers and sellers. The real estate market is continually changing, which is why local experience counts! If you are buying or selling a home in Livermore, Dublin or Pleasanton, contact me today! I will be happy to provide you with the latest market statistics and help you with your real estate goals.

John Kurtzer
Your Livermore Real Estate Expert
RE/MAX Accord

Livermore Real Estate
View Livermore Listings
Visit My Website<!–

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