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You are here: Home » 2014 » February

Stop The Tunnels

I’ve never been too shy about speaking out about controversial topics, but I don’t think this one is really that “controversial.” I don’t know of anyone in this area that is FOR the recently proposed tunnels to funnel water to Southern California.
Here is a summary from www.RestoreTheDelta.org: “The State of California wants to build two giant tunnels, each 40 feet in diameter, 150 underneath the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta.[…] The tunnels could carry up to 2/3 of the flow of the Sacramento River. This is the main supply for fresh water in the Bay-Delta estuary. Water exporters want this high quality water for use in other parts of California. Right now, about 35% of water exported from the Delta goes to cities in the Bay Area, the South Coast and Southern California, while big agribusiness growers in the San Joaquin Valley receive about 65% of the water. […] These are the same interests that have pushed State and Federal officials to over pump the Delta during the last decade and that continue to push for over-riding the Endangered Species Act to increase pumping. They are now are pushing through the {Delta tunnels} for even more water to be exported from the Delta. The proposed Delta tunnels would destroy Delta fisheries, coastal fisheries, especially the $1.5 billion annual commercial salmon fishery, Delta family farms valued at $5.2 billion annually, water quality for Delta water users in San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties, North Coast rivers, and would have a negative impact on the ecological health of the San Francisco Bay.”
If you are old enough to remember the “Peripheral Canal” controversy decades ago, this sounds eerily familiar, and Jerry Brown was governor then and now.
Go to www.RestoreTheDelta.org and look in the bottom right to sign an online petition against this. I did!
If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). #1 in Brentwood listings sold since 2000. To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty.

How To Access Sold Info

Remember when we had MLS books? Actual physical books where we’d list homes for sale? Real estate agents would physically write down the details about their property for sale (I think using an inkwell and quill on Papyrus. Google it if you don’t know what those are….). Well, I’m having a little fun here, but we actually did use to have physical MLS books, and only agents had access to the information. Buyers HAD to contact an agent to find out about homes for sale.
My how times have changed! I still remember the uproar caused when agents could actually put active listings on their websites, and not just their listings, but listings of other agents, as well! I remember this uproar because I was one of the first agents in our area to put active MLS listings on my website, and I got some grief from fellow agents about it. They would say, “If you give them that info, then why do they need US?” I tried to explain that I am MORE than just a way to access listing information. A website can’t replace wise and honest counsel about one of your biggest financial investments. I LOVE my clients having access to the MLS data so we can focus our conversations on topics like these instead: Should we move-up to bigger home now or wait? Should we replace this carpet before we sell or just get it cleaned? Should we do a short sale, or stick it out? Websites can’t answer these questions.
So we’ve had active listing info on the Internet for years now, but for some reason the sold information has been hidden from view, except for the fact that it’s public record, but who wants to drive to Martinez to access it? Well, I’ve finally found a way to give you access to SOLD info, and at no charge! Just surf on over to our Sharp Realty FaceBook page at www.FB.com/SharpRealtyPage, then click on the tab in the middle called “Recent Home Sales.” Enjoy!
If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). #1 in Brentwood listings sold since 2000. To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty.

Inventory Update

I WAS WRONG! (AGAIN…) We started 2014 with about 83 homes on the market in Brentwood. Some of these were brand-new homes, so we had probably 70-75 actual resale homes on the market. I assumed that we would see a decent spike in inventory by mid-January. I thought that there was a large pent-up supply of people who really wanted and needed to move over the last few years, but couldn’t, due to being slightly upside-down. But then after the big gains in appreciation in prices in 2013, they could actually sell and NOT be a short sale! I figured they’d want to spend one last holiday season in their home, and then go on the market just after the first of the year. So I told my clients who were looking for a home in December to just wait until January, and we’d be sure to see lots more homes on the market.
Well, as of February 10th, we have 98 homes on the MLS listed as active in Brentwood, but when I subtract out the brand-new homes, it’s only 85 resale homes on the market. So while that’s almost double what we had at this time a year ago, it’s still a historically very low number of homes for sale. We are still seeing multiple offers on the best homes that are priced right and in good condition, so when they do come on the market, they aren’t on for long.
Now, it’s still possible that inventory could spike this month or next. But until then, there is a very important lesson to be learned from this. NEVER, EVER LISTEN TO MY PREDICTIONS! (Of course, I still stand my prediction of the Super Bowl score. 49ers 27, Broncos 21!)
If you have questions on this or any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). #1 in Brentwood listings sold since 2000. To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty.

Non-Refundable Deposits

Sellers LOVE the idea of a “non-refundable deposit.” Buyers HATE the idea. Real estate agents are, um, conflicted on the issue, depending on which side of the transaction they represent. This can be quite a contentious issue when you get a seller that is adamant that they want to keep the buyer’s deposit if the deal falls through for ANY reason.
I’ve heard it said at real estate legal seminars that non-refundable deposits in a real estate transaction are likely not enforceable in California, but that we don’t have good case law to point to as a legal precedent. The way that California real estate law is written is to somewhat favor the buyer in this matter. This means that even if you give the buyer all the disclosures, reports, etc. ahead of time and have them sign a nasty-worded form saying that their deposit is “non refundable” under any circumstances, the law may still give the buyer an “out” if new negative information comes to light prior to close of escrow that is a material fact, or if the buyer is unable to close the escrow due to no fault of their own.
There was a recent court case on this issue that does bring a little clarity to the situation – Bradford Kuish v. William W. Smith, Jr., et al. In this case, the purchase contract specified that the deposit was to be “non-refundable” so when the buyer cancelled, the seller sued to keep the deposit. It went to trial and the judge ruled that the non-refundable deposit WAS in fact, refundable. What makes this case not a great precedent is that the seller actually sold the home right after the first buyer cancelled for MORE money, so they actually benefitted from the cancellation, and that may have been a factor in the decision. So this may not be “settled law” yet.
I AM NOT A LEGAL EXPERT. PLEASE CONSULT ONE IN REGARDS TO YOUR SITUATION. If you have questions on any other real estate topic, call me at (925) 240-MOVE (6683). #1 in Brentwood listings sold since 2000. To search the MLS for free and view virtual tours of homes for sale, go to: www.SharpHomesOnline.com. Sharp Realty.

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