Rent? Buy? Either Way, You’re Paying a Mortgage!

There are some renters that have not yet purchased a home because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent free, you are paying a mortgage – either your mortgage or your landlord’s.


As The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return.  

That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

Christina Boyle, a Senior Vice President, Head of Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ that allows you to have equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee your landlord is the person with that equity.

The graph below shows the widening gap in net worth between a homeowner and a renter:Increasing Gap in Family Wealth

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, owning might make more sense than renting with home values and interest rates projected to climb.


Things to Consider when BUYING A HOME
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Buying a home? Beware of the latest scam!

Buying a home is exciting. You saved for the down payment, scheduled the move, and are dreaming of planting new roots. Closing is right around the corner… unless a scammer gets your settlement fees first.

The Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors® are warning home buyers about an email and money wiring scam. Hackers have been breaking into some consumers’ and real estate professionals’ email accounts to get information about upcoming real estate transactions. After figuring out the closing dates, the hacker sends an email to the buyer, posing as the real estate professional or title company. The bogus email says there has been a last minute change to the wiring instructions, and tells the buyer to wire closing costs to a different account. But it’s the scammer’s account. If the buyer takes the bait, their bank account could be cleared out in a matter of minutes. Often, that’s money the buyer will never see again.

If you’re buying a home and get an email with money-wiring instructions, STOP. Email is not a secure way to send financial information, and your real estate professional or title company should know that. If it’s a phishing email, report it to the FTC.

Here are some ideas to help you avoid phishing scams:

  • Don’t email financial information. It’s not secure.
  • If you’re giving your financial information on the web, make sure the site is secure. Look for a URL that begins with https (the “s” stands for secure). And, instead of clicking a link in an email to go to an organization’s site, look up the real URL and type in the web address yourself.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain malware that can weaken your computer’s security.
  • Keep your operating system, browser, and security software up to date.

Learn more about protecting yourself from phishing and what to do if your email is hacked. If you gave your information to a scammer, visit

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Buying a Home? New Rules You Need to Know!

Michael Koenig and Maureen Torretto discuss some new changes to real estate finance law. These new closing rules take effect October 3, 2015.

TRID is the New TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures. The Loan Estimate replaces the initial Truth-in-Lending disclosure and Good Faith Estimate.

Maureen Torretto, Loan Consultant with iMortgage.
Phone: 925-577-8706

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Take Advantage of Market Volatility

Schadenfreude. Ever hear of this term? Basically, it means to take satisfaction or pleasure at the expense of someone else’s misfortune.

Well, that’s basically the opportunity now.

The financial markets are in turmoil, thanks to what is happening in Greece and China. The benefit to you? Look at the chart below. Interest rates are plunging again!
(I just took a screenshot from my Zillow Mortgage app this morning, July 8, 2015.)

Interest Rates Plunging again.


The overall trend of interest rates are definitely going up. Don’t let this second chance pass you by!

Contact me now to learn how to take advantage of the current market trend.

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Stoneridge Drive Extension Finally Opening!



The Stoneridge Drive Extension is finally opening!
Basically, it will allow you to drive straight through from the Livermore Premium Outlet Mall down Stoneridge Drive into Pleasanton. The Ribbon cutting ceremony will be on Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 10am.

  1. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,205 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,015 sqft
    Year built: 2015
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 115
  2. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,527 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,846 sqft
    Year built: 2012
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 48
  3. 4 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,441 sq ft
    Year built: 2014
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 50
  4. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,862 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,541 sqft
    Year built: 2016
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 21
  5. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,974 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,862 sqft
    Year built: 2000
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 7
  6. 3 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,618 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,077 sqft
    Year built: 2013
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 8
  7. 3 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,765 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,839 sqft
    Year built: 2012
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 8
  8. 3 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,976 sq ft
    Year built: 2016
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 20
  9. 3 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,976 sq ft
    Year built: 2016
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 20
  10. 3 beds, 3 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 1,883 sq ft
    Year built: 2016
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 13

See all Real Estate near the Stoneridge Extension Opening.
(all data current as of 5/4/2016)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

City of Livermore Featured on Today in America! [Video]


Our own city of Livermore was featured on “Today In America”, a show hosted by Terry Bradshaw.

Livermore is no longer up and coming. It’s new and improved and here to stay!

Pretty cool, eh?

Here are some links to places mentioned in the video:

Livermore Premium Outlets – click for website

Wente Vineyards, Concerts – click for website

Livermore Valley Wineries and Events – click for website

Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center – click for website

Livermore 13 Cinemas  – click for website

Livermore Downtown Events – click for website

Home of the World’s Longest Burning Lightbulb – click for website

Annual Livermore Rodeo – click for website

i-Gate Technology initiative – click for website

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – click for website

Sandi National Laboratory in Livermore – click for website

Would you like to make the move to our awesome town? Here are some of the latest homes to hit the market:

  1. 5 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,898 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,400 sqft
    Year built: 2003
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 0
  2. 4 beds, 2 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 2,395 sq ft
    Lot size: 4.96 ac
    Year built: 1979
    Days on market: 0
  3. 6 beds, 5 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 5,007 sq ft
    Lot size: 14,224 sqft
    Year built: 2003
    Parking spots: 4
    Days on market: 0
  4. 5 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,491 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,165 sqft
    Year built: 2000
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 1
  5. 4 beds, 4 full, 1 half baths
    Home size: 3,550 sq ft
    Lot size: 16,825 sqft
    Year built: 1998
    Parking spots: 3
    Days on market: 1
  6. 3 beds, 2 full baths
    Home size: 1,352 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,166 sqft
    Year built: 1999
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 1
  7. 4 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 2,726 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,377 sqft
    Year built: 1992
    Parking spots: 3
    Days on market: 1
  8. 3 beds, 3 full baths
    Home size: 1,742 sq ft
    Lot size: 2,060 sqft
    Year built: 2012
    Parking spots: 2
    Days on market: 1

See all Real estate in the city of Livermore.
(all data current as of 5/4/2016)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

6 Tax Facts Home Sellers Should Know

  1. If you’ve owned and lived in your home for two of the five years prior to selling it, you can generally excluded up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a join return, in most cases).
  2. You are not eligible for this exclusion if you sold another principal residence within the past two years and excluded the allowable gain from your income.
  3. If you can exclude ALL of the gain from the sale of your primary residence, you don’t need to report the sale on your tax return.
  4. If you have a gain on your principal residence that exceeds the allowable deduction, it is taxable.
  5. You can’t deduct a loss from the sale of your primary residence.
  6. Special rules may apply when you sell a home for which you’ve received the first-time home buyer credit. (See IRS publication 523, “Selling Your Home,” for details.)

If you’re contemplating a short-sale, there are some additional tax implications you should be aware of as well.

Got a question about selling your home?
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Seller vs Buyer vs Appraiser [Infographic]

The infographic says it all! (Thanks

Are We Over the Hump?

There’s been much talk about the housing recovery lately, in that, we may actually be recovering.

The S&P Case-Shiller national home price index, which covers more than 80 percent of the housing market in the United States, climbed 6.9% in the 3 months ended June 30 compared to the first 3 months of 2012. That’s rather remarkable.

But those are just cold, empty sterile statistics.

More importantly, are we getting any warm and fuzzy’s out of this market? Well, that depends on who you ask. If you’re a home-owner/seller, nervously watching the market every day to see if you’re still under water, then you’re feeling VERY warm and fuzzy! (Would you like to know the value of your home? click here)  In most markets here in the bay area, we’ve easily seen a 6-10% jump in prices in just the last 6 months!

If you’re a home buyer, you may have mixed feelings about this. More like cool and prickly. The market has become so heated up, it makes it rather difficult to get an offer accepted. It’s not uncommon to compete against 5-20 other buyers when bidding on a property. What’s causing this rocket-ripping-upward price momentum? I personally think it’s these three things:

  1. Relatively low house prices
  2. Ridiculously low interest rates
  3. Buyer’s perception that they have missed the market bottom and may miss out entirely.

So where do we go from here? Well, excuse me while I whip this out (my crystal ball, that is…):

Now that summer is coming to close, we should see this feverish market begin to cool a bit. Election season is upon us, so I doubt we’ll see any policy changes that will have an profound effect on the market. Many people talk about this huge ‘shadow inventory’ that is going to be dropped on the market, thus dropping home prices. No way Jose. Not gonna happen. I’ve got some good sources (let’s just say, a certain representative from Arizona who serves on the House Banking Committee).

Bottom line: We’re going to remain flat to moderately upward over the next 9 months. Buyers: don’t wait for interest rates to go lower. Money is cheap. Use it and abuse it (if you can). Sellers: With the demand we’re at now, there’s no better time to sell. (Update 12/27/12: it’ll be interesting to see the impact of the impending fiscal cliff on early 2013)

This is one of the rare times where it’s a beneficial time for BOTH Buyers and Sellers. It’s really been a buyers market for the past several years (remember all those REO/Bank-Owned/Auction signs plastered all over the neighborhood?). So we are now finally entering a transition phase of balance.

Stop waiting and debating!

Give me a call at 510-270-2201 or contact me here.


Fireworks in the Bay Area – 2012

Would you like to know where there will be Fireworks in the San Francisco Bay Area this year (2012)? Then here’s the list of the fireworks events!

(Note: there may be other 4th of July activities throughout the bay area that do NOT involve fireworks…they are not listed here.)


Alameda County Fair. Entertainment, contests and food are on tap at annual fair. On July 4, the entertainment is the annual blues festival. Fireworks on June 29 and July 6. Fair runs through July 8. Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton Ave., Pleasanton. $6-$10, $10 parking. 925-426-7600,

Oakland A’s Fireworks Night. On July 3, the A’s take on the Boston Red Sox in a 7:05 p.m. game with fireworks at the game’s conclusion. Tickets are $10-$200,


Antioch. Family-friendly celebration with live music, car show, food and kids zone starts 5 p.m.; parade is 7 p.m. followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.; Second Street, downtown Antioch; $4 donation;

Concord Fourth of July Jubilee and Parade. The event, which runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Todos Santos Plaza, includes a parade, music, a fair and a 5K walk and run. On July 2-4, there will be fireworks and the presentation of the popular Singing Flag at Dave Brubeck Park, 4363 Concord Blvd., starting at 9:20 p.m. each night.

Martinez. Events kick off at 8 a.m. with flag-raising and pancake breafast and parade at 10 a.m. Fireworks at dusk on Waterfront Park Marina;

Moraga. Events kick off at 8 a.m. and include fun run, dog parade, car show, kids activities and fireworks (around 9:30 p.m.) at Moraga Country Club, 1600 St. Andrews Drive, Moraga;, 925-888-7045.


Gilroy July Fourth Fireworks. Fireworks will start about 9:30 p.m. at Gilroy High School, 750 W. 10th St. 408-846-0460.

Great America‘s Independence Week Fireworks. One of the largest displays in the Bay Area is set for June 30 and July 1 at 9:30 p.m. There will be no fireworks July 4. Great America, 4701 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara. Park admission, $36.99-$46.99;

Milpitas Red, White and Boom! Fourth of July Celebration. Fireworks begin at 9:15 p.m. Bring a picnic and enjoy an evening of music by the Houserockers. Gates open at 6 p.m. Admission: $3. Milpitas Sports Center, 1325 E. Calaveras Blvd.

Morgan Hill Independence Day. The event begins at 8 a.m. with 5K walk/run at P.A. Walsh School, followed by a parade. A car show will immediately follow the parade. Entertainment and fireworks viewing will be located at Morgan Hill Community Park. Music begins at 6 p.m., fireworks display starts at

San Jose Giants Fireworks Extravaganza. Fireworks will begin after each game: 5 p.m. June 30, 6:30 p.m. July 4 and 7 p.m. July 5. Municipal Stadium, 588 E. Alma Ave, San Jose. 408-297-1435,


Foster City Fourth of July Celebration. Music, food and beverages, a parade, dog show, pancake breakfast and arts and crafts. 8 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. Leo J. Ryan Park, Shell Boulevard and East Hillsdale Boulevard.

Redwood City Independence Day Festival and Fireworks. Arts and crafts, food and beverages, kids’ activities, carnival, 9 a.m., Broadway and Hamilton streets. Parade begins at 10 a.m. at Marshall and Winslow streets. Fireworks will begin about 9:15 p.m.


Scotts Valley Fourth. The annual Fourth of July parade starts at 3 p.m. along Scotts Valley Drive. Then go to Skypark (361 Kings Village Road) for music, food and other activities. Fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Tickets: $6-$8, available at local stores.


Marin County Fair. Music, food, animals, rides. Additionally, there will be fireworks each night. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. June 30-July 4. Fairgrounds, Civic Center Drive (off Highway 101), San Rafael. Advance tickets: $14-$16; those 4 and younger get in free. 415-499-6800,

San Francisco Fourth of July Waterfront Celebration. Music and viewing of fireworks display over San Francisco Bay. 2-11 p.m. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. Pier 39, Beach Street and the Embarcadero. Free. 415-705-5500,