New Years Resolutions for Your Home -PART TWO

If you missed the first post, check it out here.

Kids are back in school, work has resumed, and life is in full swing. 2017 can be just like every other year where you resolve to make changes and then lose steam a few weeks or months in, OR you can take the necessary steps to set yourself up for success. Having a plan, set goals and defined timeframes is a surefire way to stick with these resolutions. The benefits of a healthy, efficient home far outweigh the initial time investment it takes to implement them. Read below to find five more resolutions as they pertain to your home:


Eat Healthier

You are what you eat! In your diet and in your home. Think of gas or electric as the food you eat. It gives you energy to do the things you need, and want, to do. Energy consumption in the home is something we can control through some simple efforts.

  • Fan/space heater in one room instead of heating/cooling entire home
  • Make sure your home doesn’t allow heat to escape
  • Adjust thermostat seasonally
  • Plug entertainment devices into a power-strip and turn it on and off
  • Investigate if gas or electric is most cost-effective for you

The debate of gas versus electric is as long lasting as it is long winded. In order to know which option is best for you, take note of the rates for each in your area. This information should be easily accessible on your bill, or on the provider’s website. Once you have all the information you can re-evaluate your appliances and heating


Drink Less. 

Laying off the libations is great for your waistline and your wallet! In your home, especially in California, consuming less water is a necessity. We all know the typical tricks, like reducing shower time, turning off the tap while you brush your teeth and lather your hands, but what can you do to reduce water use in your home?

  • Check for leaks, and fix them promptly
  • Switch to timed watering systems in your yard
  • Reduce lawn space, or better yet, switch to dryscapes
  • Update fixtures. Switching to low-flow toilets or aerated faucets can potentially off rebates as well!


Exercise More

Do you have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to “Someday I’ll do This….” but you haven’t done any of it? Exercise your DIY muscle! Why not tackle one of those projects? Repurpose that old outdated furniture. Move it into a new space. Transition your backyard from pile of stuff to haven of rest. You live in California, take advantage of it! There are so many resources, YouTube tutorials, How-To books, and guides to give you step-by-step of any project! is a great place to gain inspiration on larger projects, while Pinterest can give you thousands of ideas from quick and inexpensive to huge and costly. You get to take on whatever you want AND you get to benefit from your handiwork! Hop to it!


Family Time

Time is our most precious resource and the only thing can never get more of. Setting a space within your home for family time can be as simple as designating a movie night where family members rotate picking the film, or setting a game closet that kiddos can easily access. Other fun ways to enjoy your home with those you love are:

  • Plant an Herb garden
  • Invite the kids (or significant other) to help you cook
  • Tackle a house project together
  • Makeover the kids bedroom as a family, rework the furniture and it can feel like a new space!
  • Plant a family tree!
  • Install a swing
  • Build a sandbox


Reduce Stress

In our homes, just as in our personal lives, many things contribute to added stress. Your heater and air conditioner may have it’s work cut out for it if you’re not taking care to insulate your home properly. Checking window and door seals can be a quick and inexpensive way to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. If you have the ability to update old windows, or take on larger, more expensive projects– think about spraying insulation into existing walls. Not only will it help the comfort of the space, but it serves as a noise barrier as well. Local energy companies will often do free in home analysis’ providing you with suggestions on how to cut costs, usage, and how to maximize heating and cooling efforts.

Other items in your home that may not be standing up to the stress of regular wear and tear are flooring, fixtures, appliances and lighting. Changing out one of all of these can provide you an updated look, energy-efficiency and potential cost savings in the long run.


Understanding your home is the first step in knowing which areas need a little extra love. Implementing these resolutions could allow you to be prepared if you take the leap of listing your home, if it sells faster than you anticipate, or if you decide to purchase. Having your life organized, being educated and prepared will make the moving process far easier to handle. I am always available as a resource and am happy to answer any questions, refer you to resources, or help to navigate your next step toward homeownership. I look forward to finding your first home, an additional income property, or your forever home. Give me a call (831) 801-8206 or shoot me an email at and let’s resolve to make a move in 2017!


Cheers to the New Year!


Luxury Insider: Where Are Those Millennials Everyone Is Talking About?

Seems like we’ve been talking about the expected Millennials’ buying tsunami for so many years now that I am both surprised and disappointed that a tsunami… it is not. In fact we can hardly see a wave. Still waiting though. It has got to happen sometime. We cannot disregard the buying potential of 79 million individuals!

To better understand the topic, let’s try to define “Millennials”. According to the experts, the appellation covers those of you (and others) who are in between 18 and 35 years of age. Those who are just now aspiring to a successful professional life and many who are already enjoying it. At the end of this year, they will represent the largest generation in the workforce, slightly ahead of Boomers (76M).

The Millennials, as we have been told, are free-spirits, fast moving, ambitious, mobile, fun lovers, job hoppers, independent, irreverent, relationships activists, social media fanatics, idealists, hedonists… Anything else comes to mind? Frankly, these traits do not look much different from those that characterized this age group through the last decades, except for one thing: now the Millennials have an iPhone, use Facebook, and live in a world that is evolving around the clock.

OK, there is another thing, one that we alluded to in the first paragraph: the Millennials are not exactly waiting in line to buy real estate these days. At least not the way we expected them to, and not the way their predecessors (in the same age group) did in years past. What’s going on?

Last month, as a coincidence, a bunch of docs about Millennials landed on my desk or my computer screen. Well written studies or articles published by serious entities such as NAR (National Association of Realtors), the WAV Group and the San Francisco Magazine. I read them all and learned quite a bit more about why Millennials are not buying homes right and left. Take a look.

  • They don’t have enough money. You cannot argue with that one. Times, they are tough in the Millennials’ world. Many of them, victims of the Great Recession or the slow recovery, are still looking for a job, or looking for better pay. Many of them are still paying for student loans and they cannot come up with a down payment. Many of them have a lousy DTI (debt to income) and consequently too low a credit score. When they qualify for a loan, they get hit with a higher interest rate, which pushes the mortgage payment to painful levels. At a time when property values, from one coast to the other, have skyrocketed, home ownership is a financial challenge many cannot master.
  • They are not necessarily placing home ownership on top of their list of needs & wants. Remember, Millennials are not conventional. Many don’t share the American Dream. Not that they just want to have fun, but they may attach more importance to the moment than to the future. The future will come soon enough. Travelling and partying with friends may have a priority over fighting to get a mortgage and then fighting to pay it.
  • They are not ready to think about “unnecessary” obligations, constraints and responsibilities like, you know, a spouse, a kid, a dog… Life is good, why complicate it. Life in the burbs, as it has been illustrated in Hollywood movies, is not fast enough, exciting enough for lots of Millennials. They want the big city pulse, the busy streets, noise, traffic, eateries, clubs and all other venues that create social opportunities.

With such a state of mind and financial limitations, you may wonder whether greater numbers of Millennials will ever want to buy a home, just like Mummy & Daddy. Wonder no more: they will, and this is why:

  • They are getting richer. The economic recovery, however slow it has been, has replenished many of the Millennials’ bank accounts. More jobs, better jobs, better-paid jobs. What do you do when you have a better income and deeper savings? You buy real estate. That’s what you do. Wasting good money renting no longer makes sense when you can buy your own place, build equity and perhaps end up paying less per month.
  • They are getting older. Wait-Wait-Wait: life goes on and pretty soon you are young no more and your needs are different. You are more accountable to others, professionally and socially. You may even show your ambition to move up in the world. How conventional! You may have a family. You want a house. You want to own your own home. Imagine if 10% (or even only 5%) of the 79 million Millennials were house-hunting next year!… Now you’re talking about a true buying tsunami! Hold your breath!
Senior Vice President, General Manager of Intero Prestigio International

Shouting for All San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s Fans

Timmy Bringing The Heat

Baseball season is coming up…do you know when?  Get your sport schedules before they are gone.  Request a magnet calendar from Hollister real estate agent Kristen Jurevich who loves to support her local Bay Area teams.

Hollister is located only 90 minutes without traffic south of San Francisco and Oakland.   Fans can get to the parks with the convenient CalTrains that start in Gilroy, South County.  Many residents are Bay Area fans because SF Giants and Oakland A’s are the only professional teams within a four hour radius.  Root on the teams and consider purchasing a home in Hollister.  You may be able to afford season tickets and a mortgage payment compared to Silicon Valley real estate prices.  Kristen Jurevich can show you what is available.

What’s Next After Labor Day?

fenceSummertime came & went already… Did you go on vacation, got a good rest and got a nice tan to prove it? Hope so for you. It’s good for the mind to go into neutral every so often. Summer 2014, however, has not been exactly quiet and relaxing for everybody and in all businesses. Try real estate for example. No time to smell the roses for the true pros; July & August have been hot in every way.

Some people might argue with the above statement. After all, sales units are actually down year-to-date, in many markets this year, particularly (and paradoxically) in the most buoyant of them. The Silicon Valley is a good illustration of this peculiarity. However, this apparent slow-down is more a mirage than the reality of the marketplace. Let me make my case…

First, the number of sales units does not always tell the story. For one thing, we can only sell what is available to be sold. As you know, we are suffering from the most acute (and often incomprehensible) shortage of inventory that I can remember. Give me more listings and I’ll give you more sales. A lot more.
But, no matter how relevant the number of transactions may be to describe the velocity of the real estate market, it is not, in my view, the N.1 indicator of a hot market. Prices are. And price appreciation during the last two months, in many sought after areas such as the Silicon Valley, has certainly continued at a good tempo, seemingly unaltered by the “slow” season.

I know what you are going to say: that too is all about that supply & demand dichotomy I was referring to earlier. Well, OK, up to a point. Prices don’t go up simply because of listings scarcity. There is a lot more to integrate that the eyes don’t see. The significant fact is that most people believe again in real estate; they believe in the value of purchasing a home, whether to live in or to leverage as an investment. The recession years are now well behind us and, if nothing else, the appetite for real estate has grown after a long diet.

There is more. US real estate is wanted. This is particularly true in the San Francisco Peninsula & the South Bay. Even when the domestic demand shrinks, for all the good reasons we can understand during tough economic times, the international demand makes up for some of the loss and keeps on driving prices higher and higher yet.

For most foreign buyers coming to town, prices are no object. They don’t perceive our real estate prices as being too high. In fact, many of them find local homes to be very affordable compared to what “similar” properties would go for in the countries they come from. Not to mention that in some Asian countries, for example, you stand to lose the property that you paid dearly for upon the expiration of a multi-years lease. Title remains with the State.

Hence a growing migration of international buyers to the US. Hence the upward pressure on prices. Cash deals, multiple offers and wild over-the-asking price offers are the new normal. It is what it is. As a Realtor, I am not complaining, I am just observing.

The thing to always keep in mind in the real estate business is that buyers “make” the market. Not the sellers; not the real estate agents. We have to look at the buyers’ behavior to measure the pulse of the market and understand where it is going. Today, the trends are good. Prices, more than units, are the expression of this optimistic view.

Labor Day is now behind us. We are about to start a “new year” of sort when the fall season pushes summer away. A big wave of buyers is approaching. It would be nice to see more listings hitting the streets. Chances are it will happen. Cross your fingers and stay tuned.

By Alain Pinel
General Manager of Intero Prestigio international
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Photo courtesy of:

Home Values Back to Pre-recession Levels in 60 U.S. Metros

By Gino Blefari, President & CEO, Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.
Home values have bounced back to pre-recession levels in 60 of the 300 major metropolitan areas covered in a quarterly market report from Zillow. That’s great news for homeowners, but is already putting a damper on affordability in a handful of those metros – namely, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Diego – where the share of residents’ incomes devoted to housing is already exceeding historic norms.
Overall, home values in the U.S. climbed 5.7% in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same period last year, averaging $169,800 at the national level. U.S. home values are expected to climb another 3.3% through the first quarter of 2015.
Home values remain 13.5% below their 2007 peak, although the housing recession is now well over for the majority of cities across the U.S.
What does this mean for buyers in sellers in your corner of the world?
If you’re a buyer in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose or San Diego, you are likely going to run into affordability problems as prices and interest rates continue to rise. These are also low-supply markets, which tends to result in extremely competitive bidding situations.
The two best pieces of advice for you right now are to act fast and be patient. In order to act fast when properties become available, make sure you’re pre-approved for a loan, have your down payment ready and all your paperwork ducks in a row. Work with a Realtor who knows the local market and can also move quickly.
Being patient just means that you may be in for a longer ride than you initially expected. Be realistic and don’t compromise your financial situation just to get in the market.
Also in Zillow’s report, we learn that among over 6,700 cities and towns that experienced home value declines of 10% or more during the recession, values in 527 have either fully recovered or are expected to recover by this time next year.

That’s great news for homeowners who may have been upside down on their mortgages or would-be sellers who were waiting to make a move until a rise in values made it possible. This paints a good scenario for these markets for the next few years.
The bottom line is this: overall, our markets have recovered or are recovering well from the post-recession fallout. Some markets are back to crazy-town in terms of prices increases, which reinforces the first rule of real estate never changes: location, location, location.
Sellers overall will have an easier time in the coming years, while buyers in a handful of markets will struggle to keep up.
Stay tuned!

Home Affordability vs. Cost of Living

By Alain Pinel
General Manager of Intero Prestigio international
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Are the most expensive cities in the world in which to buy a home also the most expensive to live in?
The short answer is No. Not too surprising really. One factor depends mostly on qualified supply & demand; the other depends largely on what the town –or the country- can provide in terms of goods, resources & services (with a hefty dose of taxes). Believe it or not, only a handful of the priciest cities when it comes to real estate are also in the top 15 most expensive places to live. Double jeopardy, you might say. Usual suspects like Paris, Tokyo are on that short list.

As you might guess, if you have a lot of money, either or both of these high cost aspects are not likely to be a deal-killer. I mean, the wealthy homeowners -or soon to become homeowners-, in Paris for example, are not very likely to be overly concerned about the rising price of a gallon of milk. The shopping bill, however, can impact less fortunate “locals”. Many are progressively pushed out of the up-town districts and into more affordable suburbs (if not other regions, states or countries), while more fortunate buyers/consumers, predominantly foreigners, are taking a bigger share of the golden territory.

That’s the picture that we see, a little more clearly every year, in metropolis like New York, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, London, Paris, etc. Nothing new, although the trend is accelerating, as plenty of new money from many emerging countries is looking for a better & safer refuge, often contributing in pushing prices up in the process.

Let’s look at the Forbes/Savills list of the “Most expensive cities for luxury real estate”, and compare the results with another list, published by the Telegraph in the UK, showing the ranking of the costliest world cities, as far as cost of living.

If you are looking to purchase a pad somewhere on the planet, be aware that, everything being equal, the highest price tag will be found in Hong Kong. The Chinese island territory is not getting any bigger and buildings compete for the little space they can find, even on vertical slopes. A year ago, high-end housing averaged about $11,000 per square foot. As prohibitive Hong Kong is on the real estate side, it does not make the list of the priciest cities to live in. How nice. You can always stay in a hotel and enjoy playing tourist rather than going for broke buying a condo!

Tokyo is number 2 in the world for real estate. Forbes mentions that an opulent mansion-sized home totes a market value of… $121.6 million. Life is far from cheap either in Tokyo. Japan’s capital city ranks at the sixth place, tied with other renowned towns like Geneva, Caracas and Melbourne.

Next is London. On the list established by Savills and published by Forbes, we can read that the average billionaire abode, around 7,900 square feet, costs $42 million. A terraced house recently traded for close to $120 million. Interestingly enough, the price of everyday goods is OK.

Paris is #4 on the real estate list. If you cannot afford Hong Kong, or Tokyo, or London, now you know where to go! Don’t look for a deal though, as thousands of foreign nationals from Russia, the Middle East… and everywhere else, are fighting for a piece of the City of Lights. When it comes to the cost of living, be ready for another hit on the wallet: Paris is the most expensive city in Europe, and the second most expensive in the world, behind Singapore.

According to the list of the most expensive cities for luxury real estate, Moscow comes next. A bit of a surprise, although Forbes is telling us that Moscow has the largest community of billionaires in the world. So much for buying a cheap vacation home on the Moskva River!

And then, there is New York! The Big Apple does not seem very affordable when you consider large ticket purchases close to $90M for a penthouse over Central Park, but you still can get great real estate and a good life for the money.

As for the top “cost of living cities” in the wide-world, the list goes like this:

  • N.1 & N.2, as we mentioned already, we find respectively Singapore and Paris
  • N.3 is… Oslo, a town of only 650,000 in booming Norway. Who would have thought?
  • N.4 is Switzerland’s business mecca, Zurich, with a population half the size of that of Oslo
  • To round up the top 5, we go Down-Under to Sydney, where the dollar does not go very far.

Your turn to test the real estate market around the globe, and enjoy your stay, however expensive it may be, in all those fascinating cities!


3.9 Million Homeowners Now Above Water

happy-home-homeowners-homebuyersBy Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

Two key housing indicators were released in the past week that give us more data and context around the state of the market now and moving further into 2014. The first is negative equity and the second is pending home sales.

Negative equity improves

Thanks to rising home prices, the number of homeowners who find themselves owing more on their mortgage than their home is worth is dropping. This is good news for the move-up market. The more owners who are able to sell without a loss the more housing supply is likely to come on the market this year.

Nationally, more than 9.8 million homeowners remain underwater, but the number has fallen for seven consecutive quarters, pulling nearly 3.9 million homeowners out of negative equity, according to Zillow’s latest Fourth Quarter Negative Equity Report.

While the number may still seem alarming, it’s good to remember that negative equity is only a problem to those owners who want or need to move while they are still underwater. Economists, however, do expect the situation to continue to impact the housing market for a few years to come.

To see how negative equity fares in your market, check out Zillow’s interactive map of the U.S., which allows you to enter a ZIP code, city or county and see how your local market is doing.

Slow start for sales

In a separate report this past week, the National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales – a prime indicator of sales over the next month or two – were essentially unchanged in January.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index was up 0.1% to 95 in January, but is 9% below January 2013 when it was 104.4.

What this means is we’re likely to see fewer home sales in the first quarter of the year than we saw during the same period in 2013.

Many point to an exceptionally bad winter and lingering problems with lack of homes for sale as causes for the stall. The slowdown doesn’t mean we’ll have an all-around slow year in housing in 2014, though. Things are very likely to pick up during the traditionally fast-paced spring and summer buying seasons.

In fact, we expect particularly hot markets like San Francisco and Silicon Valley to have stellar years again – both in terms of price increases and sales volume.