Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Number 8 Means What?

Hey, it's 2008, and do you know what that means? New beginnings! That's right, the number 8 is referred to as New Beginnings! In fact, 8 stands for a lot of positive facts when you do a little research. Eight is seven plus one, and is hence the start of a new order, the beginning of a new era. Eight thus represents regeneration and resurrection.
Here's the bottom line, 2007 is almost out of here and 2008 (A New Beginning) is around the corner. Whatever you didn't get in 07, it's okay, because 08 is here and it's time for a new beginning. I'm sure you've heard the saying, God gave us two eyes in the front of our heads so we could look forward, not "backwards!" So make 2008 a great year!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bay Books - Local Bookstore in San Ramon, CA

One of my favorite bookstores is locally operated and owned. Established in 1988, Bay Books serves as a meeting place for book lovers and collectors. Whether you are looking for that hard-to-find volume or the latest bestseller, Bay Books is the place to start. At their two locations, they stock over 600,000 books- mostly used but many new books, too.

They have a wide array of art and architecture books, classics, cookbooks, craft books and history books. Their children's section is well organized and a favorite place for parents. Teachers receive a 10% discount on used books for class-room use. They boast a large selection of paperbacks but we are most proud of our large collection of archival-quality leather-bound volumes. They carry most of the trade paper bestsellers and some hard covers too. You will find both NEW and used titles on our front tables and floor displays-all discounted 10-50% off. They don't carry every new title but check with us first before you pay full price.

Their friendly staff enjoys sharing ideas and helping customers find interesting books to read. Often our staff members end up reading books suggested by customers because they, too, are book lovers. They are a member of the American Bookseller's Association, and participate in its nationwide gift certificate and gift card programs. And, are active in the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. Bay Books will find rare and obscure books for you wherever in the world they are for sale. On request, they will special-order any book available new from our wholesalers, if they don't have it in one of our stores.

Bay Books helps our local schools, libraries and churches through book donations and fund-raising assistance. In April, 2004 we were a major sponsor of the first annual 5K Fun Run/Walk, a fund-raiser for book acquisitions of the Contra Costa County Library. Also, click on " Our Friends in Iraq" to see how we made Christmas 2004 a little more pleasant for our troops, risking their lives in service to their country, in far-off Iraq. They also donate books to the Blue Star Moms for their Care Packages to soldiers away from home.
Remember when you shop locally- your dollars stay local.

You can visit their website at:

Saturday, September 1, 2007

How to Sell Your Home in Any Market

A pro-active approach will help you have a smoother home-selling experience regardless of market conditions. Follow these simple tips and techniques and you will sell your home in the least amount of time and for the best possible price.

Work with a Knowledgeable Agent
Select a real estate agent for their knowledge, experience and ability, not someone who thinks they can get the highest price. Whatever list price an agent suggests, it should be supported by a comprehensive Comparative Market Analysis (CMA). This will provide you with information about the area's recent sales and current listings and help you make an informed decision. What office support does the agent have? A knowledgeable support staff responsible for many of the details will give an agent more time to focus on marketing and negotiating.

Price Your Home Correctly
Setting a price that is high for the area can be a harmful strategy. You risk losing potential buyers. A house receives the most attention during the first two weeks it is on the market. Even if you lower the price later, you have lost this initial momentum and may not be able to recapture those buyers who would have otherwise been interested. When a house has been on the market for a long time, agents assume there must be something wrong with them. Because they are reluctant to waste their client's time, they may decide to avoid your house altogether.

Minimize Clutter, Maximize Space
Too much clutter and too many personal items can be distracting for buyers and interfere with their ability to imagine themselves and their possessions in the space. Go through each room and pack up extraneous furniture, clothes, decorations and knick-knacks. Never have more than three personal effects on a piece of furniture or shelf. And don't forget to clear everything but the essentials from the kitchen counter. Rooms with little maneuvering space will seem small to a buyer. Remove the ottoman, extra chair or side table to allow enough space for at least three people to comfortably walk around the room. Overly full closets will make buyers think there isn't enough storage. Box up your out-of-season clothes and extra linens. Lastly, make it a habit to put away items as soon as you are done with them. The less clutter there is, the more attractive your home will be.

Monitor Light Levels
Homes show better when there is lots of light. Make sure to open the blinds and curtains before a showing. If your home faces north or it is a gloomy day, turn on some lights. This will add warmth and create a more pleasing and comfortable atmosphere.

Prepare a Full Disclosure Packet
It is smart to have the disclosure statement completed when the property goes on the market. This will help avoid any problems during the negotiation and closing stages.

Be Flexible
Always try to accommodate appointment requests. Realtors often have buyers for a limited period of time, which they optimize by showing them several homes. Asking them to come at another time might cause them to simply skip your property altogether. The convenience of the buyer should be a prime consideration.

Employ a Professional Marketing Strategy
When selecting an agent, make sure you understand their approach to marketing. What initiatives do they typically utilize? What do they recommend for you? Look at their marketing materials. Are they professional? How do they compare with other homes in your price range? How technically savvy is the agent? Someone with the latest business tools, such as a computer, cell phone, Web site and online marketing system, will be the best equipped to sell your home, bringing you greater exposure and ensuring that your home is marketed competitively.

Ready to select a Realtor….I am here to help! Toll Free: 877.876.8889

How to Sell Your Home for the Best Price

Tip # 1: Make your house presentable
You don't want to lose the interest of potential buyers because of an unkempt or cluttered house. To ensure your home makes a good first impression, keep the landscaping maintained and clear your driveway and entrance of everything but the essentials. Remove extraneous decorations and knick knacks from each room. A house that is overfilled will appear smaller and dirty. Enlist a friend to help you maintain your objectivity during this process. Before you place your home on the market, do a thorough cleaning and be diligent about maintaining it until it sells. Unsavory cooking odors, dirty laundry or a messy bathroom are an immediate turn-off to buyers.

Tip # 2: Complete repairs and refresh the paint and carpet
To make sure your home shows well, complete any necessary repairs and consider refreshing the paint, carpet and other cosmetic elements. A fresh coat of paint will make a tremendous difference in how your house appears to buyers. Stained carpet, dirty window treatments and chipped walls or other cosmetic imperfections tend to turn off buyers. You don't want your house to look like a fixer-upper unless you plan to negotiate on those terms.

Tip # 3: Be proactive in the marketing of your home
Don't be a passive participant. You will sell your home more successfully if you take an active roll. First, interview a number of agents and select the one that appears the most motivated and qualified. In addition to placing your listing on the MLS, your agent should employ a number of other marketing techniques, such as the Internet, local papers, flyers, signs, open houses and networking. The more exposure your house receives, the more potential buyers it will attract. Communicate your expectations to your agent and hold him/her accountable. The more specific you are up front, the less miscommunication you will experience later.

Tip # 4: Make your home as accessible as possible
You need to be as accommodating as possible to potential buyers. That includes giving your agent a key or having a lock box on your door. The longer it takes to arrange a showing, the more you risk a potential buyer losing interest even before they see your home. Some buyers, especially those that are relocating, have a tight schedule and may only have a short window in which they can schedule an appointment. Also, it is best to leave the house during a showing. This will alleviate any pressure or hurriedness the buyer may feel.

Tip # 5: Price your home right
Work with your real estate agent to determine your listing price. They should provide you with information about comparable properties that have sold recently and ones that are currently on the market. This data will be the most useful when setting a price. Every seller's goal is to make a large profit. However, this doesn't mean you should set a high price. How your house is priced in comparison to the market will directly affect the number of interested buyers you will have and offers you will receive. Potential buyers know their buying potential and are usually very knowledgeable about the market. A house with a market value price will attract many more potential buyers. The more interest there is in your property, the greater the chance you will receive an offer, or even multiple offers. Conversely, the longer your house lingers unsold, the fewer and fewer buyers it will continue to attract.

Ready to select a Realtor….I am here to help! Toll Free: 877.876.8889

Buyer Smarts

When buying a home these tips will help you find the right house, negotiate the best price and make the process as pain-free as possible.

1. Work with a Buyer's Agent
A seller's agent is typically good at marketing, whereas a buyer's agent possesses the skills most suited to home buyers. When looking for a home, you want to work with an agent who is motivated to help you find the best house at the best price. In order to find the right agent, conduct interviews with a number of different agents. When you make the final selection, sign a contract with them that stipulates the performance terms. This gives you an avenue to terminate your relationship if the agent is not meeting your expectations.

2. Get Pre-Approved
Getting pre-approved gives you tremendous bargaining power. A pre-approval letter is a lender's guarantee of how much they will loan you. This is attractive to the seller as they know financing will not cause closing delays. If the seller is considering other offers, your pre-approval will give you an advantage over those whose financing isn't established. Note that pre-approval and pre-qualification are quite different. Whereas pre-approval is an actual guarantee, pre-qualification is only an estimate of what a lender is likely to loan you.

3. Know Your Needs
In order for an agent to find the home that best suits you, you must first decide what type of house you want: number of bedrooms, ranch or two-story, type of layout, square footage, amenities, location, etc. Once you have determined your criteria, share them with your agent in as much detail as possible. This will help them show you the homes best matched to your parameters.

4. Be Easily Reached
If you are serious about buying a home, your real estate agent must be able to contact you easily. Attractive deals can arise quickly and disappear quickly. Give your agent detailed contact information.

5. Demonstrate your Seriousness
There are a number of things that will demonstrate to the seller that you are a serious buyer and give you a good negotiating position. This is especially important when there is more than one offer on the table. A strong deposit, at least 5 percent, is sure to attract the seller's attention. A pre-approval letter is also attractive as it ensures the negotiations with you will not be hampered by financing issues. Despite what is commonly believed, price isn't always the deciding factor. A seller will often look on a pre-approved buyer more favorability, even if their offer is lower than competing bids.

6. Work with a Mortgage Broker
A mortgage broker can save you time as well as hundreds of dollars each month. On your behalf they will solicit a number of lenders to find the lowest interest rate and the most favorable mortgage terms. They have access to more resources than an individual and can usually save you time and money. Along with saving you research time, mortgage brokers are typically quite flexible about meeting you at your home or your office and at night or on the weekends.

Ready to select a Realtor….I am here to help! Toll Free: 877.876.8889

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