The Marks Report
September, 2014

Real estate is local and that sales are dependent on supply and demand. In areas where the job market is booming, such as the Silicon Valley, prices continue to rise at a rapid pace and inventory remains low. Nationwide, the outlook is quite positive. Real estate is on a roll. Sales momentum is building due to stronger job growth and improving inventory conditions.

According to Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, "The number of houses for sale is higher than a year ago and prospective buyers have less hesitation about entering the market. More people are buying homes compared to earlier in the year. This trend should continue for the next four years. Interest rates should remain low and apartment rents are on the rise, driving first time home buyers to enter the market."

There is a flip side. Because affordability is likely to decline in the upcoming years, now could be your time to buy. According to national predictions, it is advisable to buy the best property you can now. If you wait, you may be paying a lot more for the same home in a few years.

Distressed sales are in decline. In July, foreclosures and short sales accounted for 9% of sales, down from 15% a year ago. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 20% below market value in July, while short sales were discounted 14%. Rising home values are helping owners recover equity.

This is all good news for homeowners. Let's just make sure you are in the right house as the market continues to move upward.
If you'd like to keep track of the market in your neighborhood, you can sign up for free automatic abbreviated reports anytime. Just log onto, then follow the instructions on the left side of the screen. If you have any questions, you can contact me directly and I will set it up for you.  You can also view more in-depth reports for your specific neighborhood anytime you'd like. 

Click here for that link.

As always, if you want to further evaluate your options, contact me anytime:


Articles and Advice

Do Adjustable-Rate Mortgages Make Sense Now?

By: Barbara Eisner Bayer

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) get bad press. The poster child for irresponsible borrowing, they’re the mortgage industry’s bad boys. But ARMs can be excellent loans for thrifty buyers.

Click here for article...


How to Deduct your Mortgage Interest and Equity Loan Costs

By: Richard Koreto

Deducting mortgage interest is a great tax benefit that can make home ownership more affordable. Your first mortgage isn't the only loan that qualifies, either. In many cases, you can also deduct interest on home equity loans, second mortgages, and home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs.


Five Kitchen and Bath Remodeling Trends That Will Last

By: Donna DeZube

To help you get ahead of and sort out the kitchen and bathroom trends, went to this month's trend central, the International Builder's Show. These five kitchen and bath trends offer lasting value.

Click here for article...

Ask Alan

Q: What is the life expectancy of my household components?

A: Per a study by the National Home Builders, here are some assessments of how long these items last, on average:

    Carpet Flooring: 7-10 years

    Laminate flooring: 15-20 years

    Electric water heater: 11 years

    Gas water heater: 10 years

    Gas range: 15 years

    Refrigerator: 13 years

    Dishwasher: 9 years

    Washing machine: 10 years

    Dryer: 13 years

When you are looking at homes, be sure to find out the purchase year for these appliances. It's also a good idea to get home warranty insurance to cover any problems in the future.

Featured Homes
176 Crestview
COMING SOON! Stunning custom home with 4+ bedrooms, 5.5 bathrooms in 4400+ square feet.  Panoramic views with soccer-sized yard on 1+ acres!  Offered at 2,795,000.
8 Baltusrol
Moraga Country Club
COMING SOON! This beautiful townhome has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and is in a great Country Club location!  Updated and bright with extra windows and a wonderful private patio.  End unit near the end of a private lane! Offered at $739,000.

20 Snow Court
PENDING! Wonderful custom home with tons of space, indoors & out. 4200+ sf w/updated kitchen/family room combo. Five spacious bedrooms including a main level master suite w/updated bath. Beautifully landscaped level yard, fenced veggie garden & great outdoor areas on a serene 1/2 acre w/beautiful views! Offered at $1,295,000.
7 El Sereno
SOLD! This beautifully updated ranch style home features 4 large bedrooms, 3 bathrooms in 3800+ square feet and sits on a fantastic lot with mature oak and redwood trees.  It has a wonderful indoor-outdoor floor plan with doors from almost every room opening to the large, park-like yard, gardens and huge patio with an outdoor fireplace.  Situated on a highly desirable street, this home is charming and serene, yet minutes from transportation and downtown Orinda.    Offered at $2,975,000.
 30 Ariey Lane
SOLD PRE-MARKET! Gorgeous new construction from premier custom home builders, Greenpoint Homes features 5 bedrooms plus a bonus room, 4.5 bathrooms and an oversized 3 car garage.  High end finishes throughout the 4425 square feet of living space. 
2 Lloyd Lane
SOLD! Meticulously maintained 3+ bedroom, 2 bath home near town with easy commute!  Updated throughout with gleaming hardwood floors, beautiful living room with fireplace, eat-in kitchen, family room could be turned back into 4th bedroom.  Offered at 849,000.
 Adoptable Pet Spotlight

Families going through foreclosure have to make very hard decisions, and sometimes are no longer able to care for their pets. Dogs and cats often end up in public shelters– racing the clock as they hope for adoption. That’s where Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, or ARF, comes in. The ARF team rescues pets who are about to run out of time in these shelters, provides care and comfort, and then finally matches them with the perfect owners.

Take a look at sweet Quisp. This 2-year-old girl is 64 pounds of fun.  She's a Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix who loves long walks and puzzle toys full of food, and she's great with other dogs. 

To find out more about Quisp or any of the other ARF pets looking for a home, click on the link below.

Events of the Month
 My wife, Ellie, was a producer on a full length documentary called "Mobilize", and it's up for a Best Documentary Slate Award!  It is about cell phones and health risks (including damage to fetuses and many cancers) and the interviews with scientists and legislators nationwide are shocking. You can see it Friday, September 12th at the Rheem Theater in Moraga or Saturday, September 13 at the Castro Theater in San Francisco.  Just go to for ticket information and to view the trailer. I'm very proud of the tireless work she puts into not only this film, but into this field. 
Lafayette Art and Wine Festival
Downtown Lafayette
September 20-21
I'll be manning the APR booth during the Art and Wine Festival in downtown Lafayette.  This two day event is into its 19th year, and it's always a great time!  Click on the link below for more information.
Wine Group Tasting of the Month

Many of you know that I have a passion for good wine. I’ve even grown grapes and made my own. I’ve also belonged to a wine group for about 20 years. Every month we get together for a blind tasting and then rank the wines we try. 

Click here for this month’s tasting…