Thursday, June 26, 2008

What you need to know about the market

The economic downturn is causing some Baby Boomers to downsize or postpone retirement, but they still are in no hurry to pay off their mortgages, according to the annual “Affluent Boomers at 60” survey from Oaklandbased Bell Investment Advisors. Historically, most seniors paid off their mortgage before retiring. Not so today. More than 55 percent of those surveyed who currently hold a mortgage don’t intend to pay off their loan until their 70s, if then. That could change if the economy worsens or the slowdown is prolonged. One in four Baby boomers already are changing their retirement plans and 40 percent are “downsizing” their lifestyles. More than one quarter (28 percent) have lost a job in recent months or know someone over age 60 who has. As a result, 22 percent say they are cutting down on charitable contributions, 21 percent are changing vacation plans, 18 percent are reducing the amount they are saving, and 11 percent are postponing retirement entirely. Sixty-nine percent say the economy is causing them to change to a more conservative investment strategy. The survey included equal numbers of men and women born in 1948, all of whom reported investable assets of $1 million or more.

The rapid rise in gas prices is causing similar lifestyle changes on America’s highways and byways, particularly those leading to and from the suburbs. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation reported that American drivers reduced the number of miles they drove in March by 4.3 percent over the same month a year ago. Now, Coldwell Banker says 81 percent of the agents it surveyed said their clients increasingly are looking to urban housing as a way to cut commuting costs. A third study by CEOs for Cities, a government-business coalition, said higher gasoline prices will push new housing developments closer to the urban core in many U.S. cities and cause home values to decline in those suburbs where there are few transit options for commuters.

The percentage of American households headed by homeowners experienced its most significant decline in two decades at the end of the first quarter of 2008, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only 67.9 percent of households were headed by homeowners, down from a record 69.1 percent achieved in 2005. Renter households increased from 30.9 percent to 32.2 percent, erasing gains achieved in recent years. The jump in renter households was not unexpected: it simply happened far faster than anticipated. The Joint Center for Housing at Harvard University projected the number of renters would increase by 1.8 million between 2005 and 2015. Instead, the housing market decline and subsequent dramatic rise in foreclosures pushed 1.5 million additional households into rental housing between 2005 and 2007 alone. Not surprisingly, rents have increased by about 11 percent and vacancy rates have fallen in many urban markets over the same period.

Compliments of the California Association of Realtors

Friday, June 20, 2008

Office Closed ~ Windermere Community Service Day

Today was Windermere's Community Service Day. Every Windermere office closes on the third Friday in June in the 13 States to give back to the Communities we work and serve in.

Our office volunteered to work at
Shephard's Gate an emergency shelter for homeless women and children, while committing to change their lives.

We had a testimonial from a 41 year old woman who was raped at 14 and hit the drug trail shortly there after. She has turned her life around since arriving at Shephard's Gate just 10 months ago.

We painted, cleaned, repaired fences and play structures getting ready for the reopening of one of their residance halls on July 1st.

During our lunch break we were move by the stories of the residents and we felt blessed to be a part of giving back to the community.

Considering moving to the East Bay? Do you want to Buy or Sell a home?

Do you have clients with needs in the East Bay?

Contact Pam Winterbauer, 2006 REALTOR® of the Year

Broker Associate, ASR, CRS, e-PRO, GRI, PMN, SRES, At Home with Diversity Certified

Windermere Welcome Home

Please contact Pam Winterbauer for all of your real estate needs in the East Bay

Visit for home prices, local information & featured listings.

Toll Free: 877 876-8889 or 925 824-4878

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summertime Food Safety Tips

Summer-time is one of the best times of year to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those that aren't available year-round. Recent salmonella outbreaks like those in last year's spinach crops or this year's tomato crops are an important reminder about handling food properly.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) notes that there is no way for consumers to detect salmonella since it can't be smelled, tasted, or seen. Here's what they recommend to reduce the risk of exposure during this latest outbreak:

Check the Type ~ Since April 16, more than 220 people from twenty-three states have contracted
salmonella poisoning from tainted tomatoes. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising people to eat only cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes sold with the vine still attached, and tomatoes grown at home since these tomatoes are not associated with the outbreak.

If you have raw red plum, Roma, or round red tomatoes, which are the tomatoes associated with the outbreak according to preliminary data compiled by the FDA, the best thing to do is either throw them away or return them to the store where you purchased them.

Wash, Wash, Wash ~ One of the best ways to protect yourself is to wash all produce, including organic produce, with cold running water. You should scrub your produce gently with a vegetable brush, or you can use your hands if you don't have a brush. Make sure you remove outer layers of cabbage and lettuce. And make sure you wash fruit, too, even if you don't eat the peel.

In addition, wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and also wash cutting boards, counters, and utensils to avoid cross-contamination. When you are preparing fresh vegetables, make sure you avoid any kind of contact with raw meat. And don't forget to refrigerate sliced up fruits and vegetables.

Ask Your Waiter ~ If you eat out, ask your waiter what the restaurant has done in response to the outbreak. Several restaurants...including chains McDonalds, Burger King, and Taco Bell, among others...have stopped serving tomatoes, but it's always wise to double check. Keep in mind that ketchup and cooked sauces are not affected since cooking tomatoes at 145 degrees kills salmonella. Don't hesitate to ask your waiter to leave tomatoes off a sandwich or salad if the restaurant hasn't removed tomatoes from its menu. Note that if you remove the tomatoes once your order comes, the food could still be contaminated.

Make the Call ~
Salmonella poisoning typically resembles the flu, and symptoms usually appear 12 to 72 hours after infection and include abdominal cramps, headache, fever, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If you suspect that you've contracted a case of salmonella poisoning, call your local health department. Reported cases help the CDC and FDA track the source of salmonella.

For the latest information on the tomato salmonella outbreak, visit:
Link to FDA Information CDC: Link to CDC Information

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Oh Nehemiah, what verse were you?

Can this be the same Nehemiah? Well let's see.

Buyers in todays market are looking for good solid financing that is close to 100% and provides help with downpayment and closing costs. Here is your Nehemiah!

Guidelines for this Nehemiah: This is a grant program that provides gift funds for downpayment and closing costs to qualified homebuyers.

The seller contributes 6% to the Nehemiah Program. The program grants up to 3% for down payment and 3% for closing costs. The cost of the program at closing is $599.00 to Nehemiah. Nehemiah does not underwrite the package. FHA 1st loan and underwriting guidelines. Propeprty must appraise, value to include 6%. Some lenders cap price if using program (wells 417K). Increasing value 6% over list price and lender will scrutinize appraisal.

Sounds like the best thing since sliced bread and subprime loans?