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What’s With All The One Bathroom Houses In The Bay Area?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Decorating by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

While in the rest of the country, you might be able to buy a 3,000 square foot house for less than $500,000, here in the Bay Area, we’re lucky to get more than one bathroom in a 1,000 square foot house in am up and coming neighborhood. So, how does a family live in one of these one bathroom houses?

Bathroom_for_suite_-_Paris_Opera_Cadet_Hotel

It’s not impossible. With these tips, one bathroom can become manageable, although I’m not going to promise that two wouldn’t be better.

1. If it fits, add a second sink.

Many older homes (and let’s face it, most Bay Area homes are), have more counter space than sink space. If you have the room, add a second sink. The plumbing is already there, so it’s an easy fix for any plumber. It will, at the very least, enable one person to put on makeup and another to brush their teeth.

2. Build a wall around the toilet

Privacy on the toilet is often a priority among the closest of spouces, let alone entire families. A wall hiding the toilet can offer the privacy someone needs. If there’s room, consider a door along with a couple of walls. That would ensure total privacy and unless two people need to use the toilet at the same time, it solves all problems of privacy.

3. Think high

Most single bathrooms are small and lack storage space. Shelves can be a lifesaver. Build them high, which gives you the added bonus of fooling the eye to making the room seem more expansive.

4. Change your sink

Even if you don’t have room for a second sink, make the best of one by making sure it has storage. Pedestal sinks are a no-no when there is just one bathroom. The under sink storage is imperative. If you can’t afford a new sink, there are shelving units that are designed to o around pedestal sinks.

h2>5. Outsource

The only things that have to be done in the bathroom are, well, going to the bathroom and bathing. The rest can be done outside the bathroom if necessary. In a pinch, teeth can be brushed over the kitchen sink. Purchase bedroom vanities for putting on makeup and for drying and styling hair.

Believe it or not, large families in years past typically made do with one bathroom. Human needs haven’t changed, but the amount of stuff we have has. Minimize and be strategic. There will be challenges, but it can be done.

If You Plan On Selling Your Home, Do It Now; Here’s Why

in Bay Area Real Estate, Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If you own a home in the Bay Area, congratulations. You own property in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas of the country, but ironically, the cost of real estate now may be why the cost of your home could soon tumble.

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According to a poll by the Bay Area Council, millennials are becoming fed up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. 40 percent of them want to leave. That’s up from 34 percent last year.

The desire to leave the Bay Area was tied to how much of a person’s income went towards housing costs. Among respondents spending 60 percent or more of their income on housing, more than half are planning an escape. Other factors identified by survey respondents as serious include traffic, poverty and income inequality.

One insight the survey revealed was a generational gap in residents looking to depart for cheaper destinations. According to the survey, 46 percent of millennials saying they are looking to leave, leading all age groups. To (Bay Area Council President, Jim) Wunderman, that data doesn’t bode well for future economic growth, especially with big-picture economic indicators like job growth slowing.

“In order to effect meaningful change, we have to signal to the people who live here as well as people who are looking to the region that we’re ready to take on the challenges of making the Bay Area a place that feels like the future.”

Source: San Francisco Business Journal

None of this is particularly surprising. San Francisco is the second most expensive city in the country, just after New York. With average housing prices at nearly $3,500, it’s easy to imagine how people would become frustrated and want to leave our beautiful area.

The good news is, if you have a home, especially a house, outside the city, you might be hit slightly less if millennials start the exodus. Millennials without families tend to live either in San Francisco or in Silicon Valley, and generally in apartments. Still, if you are thinking of selling, now might be the time to do it.

Which Home Improvements Are Worth It?

in Bay Area Real Estate, Decorating by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment
Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

 

Buying real estate in the Bay Area means one thing – compromise. Even with large budgets, buyers encounter tiny rooms, small yards, limited bathrooms and outdated fixtures. Truly move-in-ready properties are rare, and even when you do find one, they are pricey and most buyers want to add their own touches.

On average, home owners sell about every five to seven years, so the odds are, that the personal touches you put on your home will need to appeal to a new buyer in a few years. So, how does a homebuyer strike a balance between what pleases them and what will please future buyers?

The age-old question is, would you rather own the nicest home on the block or the worst home on a nice block? Ideally, you’d probably be somewhere in the middle, but for resale value, it’s better (within reason) to own the worst home on a nice block. In other words, being the only home in the neighborhood with expensive finishes may not win you buyers. Or, as the adage goes, location, location, location.

For both livability and for curb appeal, a good roof is a good place to start. In California, tile roofs are popular, but solar can add thousands of dollars in value to your home. If you aren’t a fan of solar panels, solar shingles and solar tiles are also an option, but they have their downsides.

Of course, a good coat of paint goes a long way toward salability, but within reason. You might want to hold off on painting your home 49ers red, Raiders black or Giants orange. If your home’s siding is sun worn, replacement will give you about even money. You’ll get about what you put into it. Replacement windows return about 80% of the money and they’ll save you a lot of money while you’re living there.

When prospective buyers are looking at the inside of a home, the rooms that really draw them are the kitchen and bathrooms, but don’t go overboard. Stainless appliances are a plus, but chef’s quality appliances only return value if they are fairly standard in the neighborhood. Most buyers these days look for granite countertops and for updated cabinetry, but keep the colors neutral.

A lot of California homes are older and are short on bathrooms. If you have a four bedroom, one bath home, you might be better off losing a bedroom and adding a master suite, with a modern bathroom and a walk-in closet. Of course, the ideal would be to add on to the house or find room elsewhere.

Today’s modern bathrooms have granite countertops, big showers (possibly with steam) and big tubs. Most couples want double sinks and plenty of counter space. The master bath is generally more important than the guest baths, although both should look updated.

The most important thing, obviously, is to please yourself first. If you really love to cook and you want to buy incredibly high-end appliances, then buy them. Unless you are flipping a home, resale value shouldn’t be the only factor, but do your research first. If your home has two bedrooms, it’s probably not a good idea to take it down to just one, even if you do gain a master suite. Check with your realtor before adding a pool. Pools can even devalue a home.

New California Program For First Time Home Buyers

in Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If you are looking to buy a home, but are finding the down payment requirements a little daunting, there may be some assistance available to you through a new program in California.

The California Housing Finance Agency (CalFHA) is offering a new fixed-rate mortgage program with no-interest down payment loans for first-time home buyers. The best thing about the loan is that you don’t have to pay it back till you either sell your house, refinance it or pay it off.

The loan is capped off at 3.5 percent, which is the minimum down payment amount for an FHA loan. Further assistance might be available through the California Homebuyer’s Down Payment Assistance Program, which can provide up to an additional 3 percent of the home’s value.

Still, with median home values in the Bay Area capping half a million dollars, first time home buyers might not be left with a lot of options.

But that doesn’t mean you’ll be out in the cold. As median real estate prices in San Francisco have now risen above $1 million, city renters are fleeing across the Bay where prices might not be that much cheaper, but you get more space for your buck.

Christine Englund and Dean Charlton migrated from the city to the East Bay because she got a dream job in San Ramon.

“Our house in West Portal is in one of the foggiest neighborhoods in town; 2 miles up from the ocean, you’re totally socked in for the summer,” Englund said. “It’s a two-bedroom one-bathroom, with a little yard, just 1,500 square feet.”

Listed at $799,000, the house got 12 offers and sold in late May for $1.025 million. “We hit just the right time,” Englund said. “Interest rates were still a bit lower than now and inventory was so tight in San Francisco.”

Source: SFGate

You can get even more bang for your buck if you move to less family-friendly, but economical parts of Richmond or Oakland.

San Francisco on its Way to Being Most Expensive Real Estate in U.S.

in Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Throughout the country, the economy is improving, but it seems that in many ways, the Bay Area is leading the country. According to reports, the real estate values in the Bay Area will be seeing double digit spikes over the next year.

A recent forecast from real estate analytics firm Veros predicts that residential real estate prices in the San Francisco and East Baymetropolitan areas will spike an average of 12.7 percent by June 2014. The company attributes the projected increase to the region’s low unemployment rate and scant housing supply.

Veros also forecasts robust growth for the Los Angeles and San Jose metropolitan areas, which placed second and third on the list with expected price gains of 11.6 percent and 11.1 percent respectively. The news comes less than two weeks after the California Association of Realtors announced that home-price gains in the state reached highs not seen since 1980.

Source

According to reports, by this time next year, the Bay Area will have pretty much recovered from the real estate crash and may be on its way to property values above those at the peak of the bubble.

Part of the rise in housing prices might be due to an international influx. From 2005 – 2009, about 71,000 people moved to the Bay Area from other countries.

Some experts are concerned about the rapidly rising housing prices. The double digit rises in property value are reflective of the the early 2000s, before the crash. Credit requirements have tightened but mortgage derivatives (where mortgages are sold to investors in blocks) are still being sold with few or no regulations.

Still, it’s a great time to be a homeowner in the Bay Area. The job market is strong. We have one of the most highly educated population in the world and of course, the weather can’t be beat.

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