Archive for the ‘Marin’ Category
Just a reminder that traffic is likely to be a bear this coming weekend in .Â The is scheduled to close from Thursday at 8pm to 5am Tuesday.Â Friday is probably going to be the biggest traffic mess when headÂ over the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge.Â Add in weekend travelers departing the city or heading to it and it could be ugly.Â Officials are advising holiday travelers to leave Thursday instead of Friday.Â To top it off, the Art Festival takes place this weekend.Â If you are heading into Marin for that- take the Golden Gate Ferry!
Patience may be the name of the game, but if you don’t have to commute, don’t!
On Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share one of my true loves with you. Every time I return home to the San Francisco Bay Area and Marin County, I am thankful for where I live. It doesn’t matter where I have been, Marin County is my home and it has a beauty that is unparalleled- the San Francisco Bay, Mt. Tamalpais, the San Francisco skyline, the Pacific Ocean.
I love where I live! Here is my postcard to you. Enjoy the view!
A view of Marin County and the San Francisco Bay from the top of Mt. Tamalpais
- AWESOME Interest Rates
- Less Competition- you have a better chance of getting the home you want without feeling the pressure to bid against several other buyers (in most cases).
- Reduced Home Prices- values have come down approximate 10-40% (depending on location) over the last 2-3 years. 2008 will see the first year over year price decline in Marin County since 1992. This is a rare opportunity to purchase a great asset at a discount.
- Motivated sellers-for the first time in over a decade the buyer has the upper hand over the seller in (most) negotiations.
- Top Notch Schools- The public and private schools in Marin are outstanding with test scores off the charts.
- Fabulous Lifestyle -Marin is a wonderful place to live. The natural beauty is awe inspiring and we enjoy vast areas of protected open space for hiking, biking and gazing at, which is all free and part of the privilege of living in Marin.
- Location, Location, Location- proximity to San Francisco, the wine country, the California coast and the Sierras.
- Weather- On Monday, the high in Chicago is expected to be 33 degrees and snowing. In Marin, 65 and sunny.
- Rent vs Own Gap Decreasing- The gap between what you pay for rent vs. what you pay to own is closer than it has been in years especially when taking tax breaks into consideration. The combination of increasing rents and declining property values has tilted the opportunity towards owning.
- Timing is everything- Looking back throughout history the best time to buy any valuable asset is when the headlines are the bleakest. Buy when others aren’t.
The Federal Reserve just announced this morning that it would purchase $600 Billion of Mortgage-Backed Securities (often referred to as MBS) backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae. This action is â€œbeing taken to reduce the cost and increase the availability of credit for the purchase of houses, which in turn should support housing markets and foster improved conditions in financial markets more generally,” said the statement from the Fed.
In plain English, the Fed is doing this to help increase availability of credit while lowering fixed mortgage rates. Secretary Paulson noted in his press conference this morning (which is still ongoing as I write this) that increased liquidity and lower rates in the housing market would go a long way toward stabilizing the economy. I couldnâ€™t agree more!
In addition to purchasing the MBS debt, the Fed will set up a $200 Billion program to support consumer and small-business loans. This is specifically designed to create liquidity in the auto, small business and student loan markets.
This meansÂ consumers BIG opportunity to grab a lower rate RIGHT NOWâ€¦
The Fedâ€™s move is already lowering mortgage rates this morning as the mortgage bonds are trading up over 100 basis points (note that prices and rates move in opposite directionsâ€¦so a move UP in prices means a move DOWN in rates) which is significant. This is a GREAT opportunity for home buyersÂ to take advantage of lower rates that we will see because of this historic move!
Stacey Fleece is a Mortgage Loan Consultant with Countrywide Home Loans in Mill Valley.
It is hard to imagine that families in Marin are going hungry, but they are.Â We have begun hearing that the Marin Food Bank now has more than double the number of families needing their support this year. I have been told that in June of this year, the Marin Food Bank was providing food for approximately 1,200 people – three meals a day.Â By October, that number had risen to nearly 3,000 people.Â In response, Pacific Union’s Greenbrae office has kicked off a Peanut Butter and Jelly drive.Â When I first heard about it, I can honestly say I was a little skeptical.Â PB&J?Â How will that help the hungry?
Over the last week, I have heard stories from a few of my coworkers who, as kids, went to school hungry and had to use the services of a food bank or a â€œsoup kitchenâ€.Â They have said that even if all they had had was a P&J sandwich to split between breakfast and lunch, going to school would have been so much easier than going to school so hungry.Â The food provided at places like Marin Food Bank literally changes peoples lives.
Favorite foods of the children are macaroni and cheese, green beans, peanut butter, jelly, canned chili – – easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods that the little ones will eat.Â The food bank is also in need of paper bags with handles and egg cartons.Â The paper bags are used to distribute food.Â Egg donations come in bulk.Â The egg cartons provide a safe and easy way to distribute the eggs.
My office attempting to get as much PB&J to the Marin Food Bank as possible.Â This year is a challenging year for many of us, but most of us don’t ever have to worry about having actual food on the table.Â For about six dollars, a large jar of peanut butter and a large jar of grape jelly can be purchased at Costco (we will be buying in bulk).Â If you have a few dollars to spare, please make a contribution to our drive.Â You can drop off PB&J, a check or other canned goods (non-perishable) at the Greenbrae office at 189 Sir Francis Drake in Greenbrae or contact me and I can arrange pick up.Â Don’t forget to drop off your paper bags with handles as well!
Additionally, you can also donate food directly by dropping canned goods at the Big Turkey display at the Town Center Mall in Corte Madera, or at food donation boxes in West America Banks and Safeway stores.Â Cash contributions can also be made online with the Marin Food Bank.
Every little contribution, even six dollars, makes a significant difference to people living in our community.
Image courtesy of Jennifer Palacio.
The Silver Peso is a Larkspur landmark in more ways than one. The bar is located in one of Larkspur’s oldest buildings. It has housed a blacksmith, a market and a tavern. The Silver Peso was born after World War II when an ex-GI purchased the Peso with silver pesos he recovered during a dive into Manila Bay. He had heard that the Philippine government dumped its national bank reserves into Manila Bay to prevent them from falling to the Japanese.
Today, “the Peso” is well known for being the local dive bar. Think Cheers, but seedier. I recently read the reviews of the Silver Peso on Yelp and got a good laugh. Here are excerpts from a few:
- “Great mix of the ages and the best mullet in town.”
- “It has drinks and pool tables and really, really bad decor. What makes this a cool place to hang is the shuffle board game. Great way to pass the evening with some friends.”
- “Best little gem in Marin”
If you look at the majority of bars in Marin, this doesn’t fit the mold, which is probably why I like it. Casual, fun. A place where everybody knows your name. (Ok, maybe not that part- thankfully, or you might be hanging out here too often)
Fall is upon us. At my house, it almost looks like it is snowing, the leaves are falling so fast. As the weather gets colder, it is time to think about preparing our homes for the winter. My favorite Marin insurance broker, Adrianne Peixotto with Costello and Sons passed on the winter preparation tips below. I hope you find these tips helpful as you prepare for the winter!
Remove leaves, acorns, sticks and other debris from gutters so melting rain can flow freely. You may also consider installing gutter guards. Available in most hardware and home stores, gutter guards are screens that prevent debris from entering the gutter and direct the flow of water away from the house and into the ground.
Trim trees and remove dead branches
Rain and wind can cause weak trees or branches to break, damaging your home, car or injuring someone walking on your property.
Add extra insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Ideally, the attic should be five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air. Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will also help protect pipes from freezing.
Wrap pipes with heating tape and insulate unfinished rooms such as garages that frequently have exposed pipes. Also, check for cracks and leaks. Have minor pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent much costlier repairs in the future.
Keep the house warm
The temperature in your house should be at least 65 degrees. The temperature inside the walls where the pipes are located is substantially colder than the walls themselves. A temperature lower than 65 degrees will not keep the pipes from freezing.
Check heating systems
The proper use and maintenance of furnaces, fireplaces and wood-burning stoves can prevent fire and smoke damage. Have furnaces, boilers and chimneys serviced at least once a year. Make sure that smoke and fire alarms are working properly and consider installing a carbon dioxide detector.
Maintain steps and handrails
Broken stairs and banisters can become lethal when wet from excess rain. Make repairs now to prevent someone from falling and seriously being injured.
Get to know your plumbing
Learn how to shut the water off and know where your pipes are located. If your pipes freeze, time is of the essence. The quicker you can shut off the water or direct your plumber to the problem, the better chance you have to prevent the pipes from bursting.
Hire a licensed contractor
Have a professional survey your home for any structural damage. If damage is discovered, have it repaired immediately so further damage will not occur during the winter. Plastic coatings for internal basement walls, sump-pumps and other methods can prevent damage to your home and belongings.
Plan for being away
If you are not going to be in your home this winter for an extended period of time, have the water system drained by a professional to keep pipes from freezing or bursting. Also, have someone check on your home on a regular basis. If there is a problem, it can be fixed quickly, thus lessening any damage. Activity at your home will also reduce the likelihood that it will be burglarized.
Fast Facts About Marin County
- Marin County Population= 248,742*
- In 2006, there were approximately 107,986 housing units
- Marin covers a land area of just under 520 square miles
*per 2000 U.S.Census
More Marin County Resources:
Well this is good news… According to the Marin IJ, Marin County has the lowest high school drop out rate in the State of California. The state average is 24.2 percent compared to Marin’s 6.9 percent. I firmly believe the strong school systems in Marin are a key factor for the relative stability in the Marin County housing market.
We often hear a lot about the quality of education in Marin elementary schools and Marin middle schools, but it is nice to know it continues on through high school!
I suggested catching the Larkspur Ferry and taking it to the SF Ferry building. It is a fun place to explore. Follow your explorations with dinner at Taylor’s Refreshers- think yummy milk shakes, burgers, etc. (I personally love their sweet potato fries- YUM!) It is not your average burger joint- the menu features a wide variety of choices and adult beverages as well.
Simple, inexpensive and fun (even for Marin locals!)