You're in escrow, now what?

Over the last two weeks, I have been actively working with four sets of home-buyers who have each had some pretty intricate files.  For example, a few weeks ago I had home inspections on a stellar mid-century home in the El Cerrito Hills, (photos coming soon.)  During the inspection contingency period, we had half a dozen inspectors through the property at the same time.  It was a revolving door coupled with a time crunch as we had to move quickly to investigate the condition in a short time period (By the time the inspectors were available, we only had a few days left in our inspection period). The roof inspector, the chimney inspector, structural engineer and seismic contractor were there at the same time, grabbing my client Susan or Greg to update them on their findings. A few days later and by the time my clients removed their inspection contingency, (the period of time agreed upon to fully investigate the property and neighborhood.) they felt completely comfortable with the property's condition. This is not to say they had a flawless property, but that they had a property whose flaws they understood. So what happens after you have a home inspection?: A few things. You can remove your inspection contingency, if you feel completely satisfied with the condition of the property and secure in moving forward with the purchase. You can remove it subject to a repairs or seller credits. You can cancel your contract if there are serious issues and you are uncertain about the value or condition of the property. With another client, we had a hiccup during the financing contingency period.  However in the end, after hours of strategizing with my clients and their lender, we were able to successfully resolve the problem and close escrow on time.

When it comes to financing it is always the buyers choice on who to use for financing the property, be it a mortgage broker, credit union or bank.  I strongly suggest working with someone with a proven track record of success who is local.  In the situation above, I was able to contact this professional after hours in emergency situations to resolve issues and set a game plan.  In this case, if the mortgage lender was out of the area  or in a different time zone, this task would have been extremely difficult.  Additionally, because of my on-going working relationship with this mortgage consultant, there was a huge incentive for her to resolve this file with a positive outcome. (She knows client satisfaction keeps her on my recommended service provider list.)

There are two finance contingencies: appraisal and loan. The appraisal contingency should always give a buyer ample time to have an appraiser in the house, write their report and submit it to the underwriting department at the financial institution that is funding the loan. For example, say you are offering $500,000 on a house and you are obtaining 20% down conventional financing. The house will need to appraise at $500,000 for the lending institution to agree to finance the property.  If the house does not appraise at the price your offered, you can either: renegotiate the purchase price so the 20% down ratios work with the appraised value, cancel your contract, (as long as you have an appraisal contingency), or bring extra money to the loan to satisfy the difference in value. The loan contingency is the time period allotted to obtain a satisfactory appraisal, get loan approval from the financial institution that is funding your loan after further review of your finances and the house.  When you get pre-approved for a loan before you write an offer, you are screened by the mortgage consultant or broker to see that you meet specific guidelines for a loan.  Once you place an offer and it is accepted, then both the borrower and property is scrutinized before you have loan approval.

I am so happy that my clients were able to purchase the homes that they really wanted.  I hope the above information gives you some clarity into the process. If you have more questions, I am happy to talk.

Rotten Rot

When you are buying an older house it is common for a property to have $10,000 - $20,000 worth of needed repairs.  If a seller has owned their home for many years often there is newly found damage that is discovered during an inspection.  In many cases it is not that the seller intentionally neglected their property, they just didn't know the damage was existed.  Inspections by quality professionals are key as you need to know exactly what you are buying.  Pictured below is rot in the wood framing of a home in the Oakland Hills.  I represented the buyers of this house and I was able to negotiate dry rot and termite damage repairs before escrow closed.  (The sellers paid the cost of the repairs.)  Before my clients moved in the wood was removed, new wood was installed and the appropriate exterior was installed to code. A picture is worth a 1000 words. This picture shows rot in the wood framing of this house. The damaged pieces were cut out and replaced with new wood.     A picture is worth a 1000 words. This picture shows rot in the wood framing of this house. The damaged pieces were cut out and replaced with new wood.

Real Estate Update in Oakland and Berkeley


  • Sold properties Median Price $726k down from $762k in Nov 2008
  • Sold units 43 up from 25 in Nov 2008
  • Current for sale properties Median price $699k same in Nov 2008
  • Units for sale 131 down from 159 in Nov 2008
  • Months supply of inventory at 1.7 down from 3.3 in Nov 2008
  • Days on Market at 65 up from 37 in Nov 2008


  • Sold properties Median Price $254k up from $200k in Nov 2008
  • Sold units 220 same from 219 in Nov 2008
  • Current for sale properties Median price $235k from $188k in Nov 2008
  • Units for sale 870 down from 1934 in Nov 2008
  • Months supply of inventory at 1.8 down from 6.2 in Nov 2008
  • Days on Market at 39 down from 61 in Nov 2008
  • Median price in Nov 2007 was $400k

The Real Estate 411 in Oakland and Berkeley

The two charts, provided by Altos show this week in real estate in Oakland and Berkeley.  This is an overview so it includes homes in excellent and in poor conditions, (and every  neighborhood).  To get a better sense of the market, email me.  Some properties are still flying off of the market due to high demand and the lack of quality inventory.  - Deidre


Oakland-Berkeley Real Estate at a Glance

At Red Oak Realty, the real estate brokerage I hang my license, most of our agents were busy this summer!  At almost every weekly meeting  we would discuss the market and talk about the multiple offers that were taking place.  Red Oak has about 80 full-time Realtors and does a great deal of the Bay Area production.  A few weeks back my office opened 89 escrows within one week!  Last week, Red Oak Realtors were both the winning offer and the back-up offer for two properties for sale in Oakland.  I love working at an active office, the energy keeps me competitive and I am able to hear many tales of the East Bay real estate underworld. Attached is a chart of the Oakland-Berkeley market from mid-summer, (July 2009 in select zip codes)   To obtain current real estate data from a select neighborhood, email me,


Oakland and Berkeley Real Estate at a Glance


                                  2009                 2008

    Active Listings             138                    188
    Under Contract            47                      35
    Closed Sales                 38                      60
    Average Sales Price   $828,624      $835,000

    Active Listings             1052                   2286
    Under Contract            363                     226
    Closed Sales                  280                    201
    Average Sales Price   $335,000        $492,000

    Keep in mind the Oakland stats include all areas of Oakland.  To understand a specific neighborhood, I can do a custom report for you.

    Secret Mediterranean Casa in the Heart of Berkeley

    20 Crystal Way in Berkeley is a tranquil home tucked away from Euclid Street on a small cul de sac.  In fact in all of my 38 years in Oakland and Berkeley I have never been on this street.  This sunny Mediterranean home has a scrumptious gardens, sensible upgrades and a great vibe.  Listed by Dee Knowland of Pacific Union for $1079,000,  I thought I would share this with you!  The exterior of 20 Crystal Way, Berkeley home or Italian Villa? Formal dining with fantastic windows.

    The best of both worlds light airy with handsome beamed ceilings.

    Functional kitchen with a door leading to the backyard.