Zephyr Real Estate Fall 2009 Newsletter: fall market outlook, can you trust your appraiser and more….


Fall 2009
Real Estate Report News and Updates for Homeowners
In This Issue

Fall Market Outlook
Can You Trust Your Appraiser?
Major Corridors in for Deep Cleaning
Little Feet Hit the Street for Walk to School Day
Keep Cool and Cut Energy Costs With These Tips
Walk up to Bernal Heights for Annual Fiesta

Danielle Lazier
DRE# 01340326

Fall Market Outlook
With the many recent media announcements that ‘the recession is over!,’ you may be wondering what that means for San Francisco real estate. Our market has definitely picked up over the last four months. The sales figures for June and July were some of the best that we’ve seen over the last year and a half, both in terms of number of properties sold and in terms of median sale prices. I heard a report on KCBS this morning in which the ‘experts’ concluded that the recession being over and the recovery being over are two completely different things. I think it’s fair to say that the patient is stable, but that they can expect some long term physical therapy after leaving the hospital.

Factors that will affect the recovery time frame will be strongly impacted by how quickly we can see the end of home foreclosures as well as the revival of skittish home lending sources. Both will undoubtedly trail other indicators of the economic turnaround.

The good news is that buyers seem to be coming around to the idea that prices and rates are both enticing. The more our elected officials and the news media pronounce that we’ve reached the bottom and that recovery has begun, the more consumer confidence will rise and we can begin to clear the obstacles to full recovery of our local market.

Can You Trust Your Appraiser?
NAR and the National Association of Home Builders have noted that some appraisers are lowering home values by comparing conventional sales to foreclosed homes and distressed properties.
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is warning that as a result of May’s passing of the Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC), a significant number of agents have reported that appraisals are taking longer, and in some cases, deals are falling through.

According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the HVCC is designed to “improve the reliability of home appraisals.” This is accomplished by placing a firewall between appraisers and mortgage lenders, who must now order independent appraisals through Appraisal Management Companies. These agencies are essentially middlemen, charging high fees that are putting some of the most experienced appraisers out of business. As a result, 76 percent of REALTORS® say the time it takes to obtain a completed appraisal has increased, with 37 percent of REALTORS® reporting lost sales due to said delays.

Worse still, both the NAR and the National Association of Home Builders have noted that some appraisers are lowering home values by comparing conventional sales to foreclosed homes and distressed properties. Additionally, a significant number of NAR appraisers have reportedly been assigned to unfamiliar geographic areas.

The NAR is working to protect consumers by taking these concerns to Congress and the FHFA, with some success. On July 23, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac issued guidelines stating that lenders should use appraisers who have demonstrated experience in the geographic area. Second, it clarifies that appraisers are not prohibited from talking to real estate agents.

In the meantime, the NAR will continue to speak for consumers and the real estate community on this important issue.

Little Feet Hit the Street for Walk to School Day
Mark your calendars and keep your eyes open for pint-sized pedestrians: the annual Walk to School Day is Wednesday, October 7th.
The familiar sight of kids skipping off to school has become a thing of the past. Heavy traffic, the risk of strangers, and sometimes just a simple lack of time seem to have done away with this tradition. But some parents face a dilemma: What about a child’s sense of independence? Are they getting enough exercise? What impact does driving to school each day have on the environment? Especially in a big city like ours, it seems important to teach kids how to be safe pedestrians and cyclists.

Walk to School Day is observed around the world; this year, it will fall on October 7. Presented by the City’s Shape Up San Francisco program, this event gives kids and their parents an opportunity to spend a little more time together, and learn how to be responsible walkers.

Whether you are a parent who’d like to learn more about upcoming events at your school, or simply a driver who’d like to be ready for an increase in neighborhood foot traffic, stay tuned to www.sfwalktoschool.com for updated information.

Walk up to Bernal Heights for Annual Fiesta
One of my favorite fall traditions, Fiesta on the Hill, is a great community event and fundraiser for the Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center.

This year’s alcohol-free event promises to be a fun-filled day of family activities, great food and music.

Join the Fiesta Sunday, Oct. 18 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Cortland Avenue between Bocana and Folsom.

Agent’s Corner

As many of you read in my email, the SF real estate market has really picked up.

Over the past 6 months, the median sales price for a single family home increased 11%. 37% more homes sold and 9% more went into escrow, i.e. more homes are selling & market activity is up. For condos, the median sales price has increased 1%. Not as dramatic a pick-up as in the single family home market but we are seeing significant signs of life! 34% more condos sold and 10% more went into escrow/contract.

We have qualified buyers but not enough property! If you’ve been considering a move to greener pastures, it may be the time. As always, I want to be your Real Estate Consultant for life so call me anytime you or a friend needs intelligent advice.

Talk to you soon,

Major Corridors in for Deep Cleaning

The Department of Public Works, in conjunction with the Department of Parking and Traffic, SF Environment, and Recology, executed the first of four intensive three-day cleanup efforts called “Super Eco-Blitzes” on Mission Street a few weeks ago.

Crews will be hitting major merchant corridors this fall to steam clean sidewalks, repaint curbs, and fill potholes and more. Will they be coming to your neighborhood?

Aug. 25 – 27:
Stockton Street from Sacramento Street to Columbus Avenue

Sept. 1-3:
Mission Street from Amazon Avenue to Allison Street and Geneva Avenue from Lisbon Street to Alemany Boulevard

Sept. 15 – 17:
Clement Street from Arguello Boulevard to 10th Avenue

Keep Cool and Cut Energy Costs With These Tips

Any San Franciscan will tell you: Their Autumn is our Indian Summer. So while much of the country starts their annual winterizing duties, homeowners by the Bay must prepare to contend with that rare visitor, heat.

PG&E’s Flex Your Power initiative has some great tips for keeping cool and saving energy in the City during these sultry months. Most city dwellers forgo air conditioning altogether, but when the mercury hits 80, it can be very tempting to run out and purchase a new cooling unit. Resist! These tips are time-tested, though sometimes easy to forget when summer comes but one or two months a year:

  • Close drapes, blinds and shades to keep sun’s rays out of the home during the warmer months, particularly for south-facing windows.
  • On hot days, avoid using the oven; cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.
  • Open windows at night. When you wake in the morning, shut the windows and blinds to capture the cool air.
  • Turn off fans when you leave the room. Remember that fans cool people, not rooms, by creating a wind chill effect.
  • When you shower or take a bath, use the bathroom fan to remove the heat and humidity from your home. Your laundry room might also benefit from spot ventilation. Make sure bathroom and kitchen fans are vented to the outside (not just to the attic).
  • Test for air leaks by holding a lit incense stick next to windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, and attic hatches. If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing or weather stripping.
  • Use ceiling fans (many of which use less energy than a light bulb) to improve your comfort level and reduce air conditioning costs.

Of course, visit www.fypower.org for more information!

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