Bob Muehlbauer
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SF Gate

Sound Off: What’s something about the buying or selling process that clients tend to overlook?

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22

Q: “What’s something about the buying or selling process that clients tend to overlook?”

A: Ironically, my husband and I are in the middle of purchasing a small cabin, so I’m intimately familiar with the process. While my first instinct is to say that buyers and sellers tend to overlook the closing costs associated with buying or selling—transfer and prorated property taxes, escrow and loan-origination fees, moving costs, etc.—what I know to be true, is that they underestimate the emotional toll that such a highly-charged undertaking exacts.

Selling or buying one’s most valuable asset is challenging at best, especially in a marketplace where multiple offers often lead to greed, loss, and increased anxiety. If you can stay cool, flexible, and fair throughout the process, you are likely to have a much easier journey, not to mention a more positive outcome.

Julie Gardner, Compass, 510-326-0840,

A: How long it can take? I have found that--particularly in the pandemic when we’re ordering food to go, ordering clothes online, scheduling Zoom calls back-to-back—that actually the sales process is something that still has to happen in-person and can take a surprising amount of time.

Since a lot of sellers and buyers right now are also making more snap decisions about whether it’s time to move (they’re fed up with the space they have, or the fire danger, or whatever it may be), they can be frustrated that it can take awhile to make the actual move to a new home.

It takes longer to get to know the market now, longer to schedule property preparation for listings and longer to get pre-approved. Add to that heightened competition and the buying process can take a lot more time than...

Price Point: $1.425 million in Berkeley

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22

Address: 52 The Crescent, Berkeley.

Listing agent: Annie Walrand, the Grubb Co., 510-599-6914,

Just Approved: FHA allows “drive-by” appraisals for HECM reverse mortgage because of COVID-19

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22

Mortgage loan originator: David Chee, CPA, HighTechLending Inc.

Property type: Single-family home in the East Bay.

Loan availability: $492,000.

Available line of credit: $385,000.

Interest rate: 2.526%.

Loan type: Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), a.k.a. FHA reverse mortgage

Backstory: This borrower contacted me several years ago about a reverse mortgage. I picked up that she was hesitant about my coming to her home to explain how reverse mortgages work. Later, it did come out that she was embarrassed about the overly cluttered nature of the home interior.

I explained that as long as the clutter was not creating any health or safety hazards, it would likely be fine. Even though she understood that she still seemed horrified that an appraiser would need to come into her home for photos and measurements. Fast forward to 2020. I contacted her to let her know that because of COVID-19, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) is accepting “drive-by” appraisals.

We recently closed her FHA HECM reverse mortgage and she is very happy to no longer have monthly mortgage payments and have an available growing line of credit for her future.

As a result of COVID-19, the FHA is accepting “drive-by” appraisals through October 31. This means appraisers do not need to enter your home and only need to take an exterior photo from the street. This allows appraisers to observe prudent physically distancing practices while conducting an appraisal.

Some people have anxiety about strangers entering their home due to pets, clutter or other issues. If this has been holding you back, this is a good time to consider a drive by appraisal...

Heather Hilliard uses light, textures to design unique interiors

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22

Determined and thoughtful, interior designer Heather Hilliard has built a coast-to-coast portfolio through teamwork and elegant taste.

“I’m not a specific-style driven designer. I don’t have a formula style for every project,” said Hilliard, principal of San Francisco’s Heather Hilliard Design. “It’s more collaborative. I like to work with a team. That’s my team, the architect, the landscape architect and the clients. I find I get the best results that way. Ultimately, I want them to live their best life in the house.”

In business for more than a decade, Hilliard’s projects are scattered throughout San Francisco. She also serves clients in Silicon Valley, Marin and the wine country. Her portfolio includes interiors in the Bay Area, Hawaii, New York and Boston.

Hilliard succinctly summarizes her design philosophy.

“I don’t have a specific style, but I like using classic detailing with the restraint of modern design,” she said. “Something that is warm and inviting.”

In this interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Hilliard shares the importance of context, the role 3D rendering plays in her business and how she likes to incorporate textures and fabrics into her works.

Q: Do you have a favorite architectural style?

A: Not really. Every home is different and we try to work within the context of that house. We don’t want to do the same thing over and over—we want every project to be unique. We do this by collaborating with clients, architects and others associated with the project, and we place a strong emphasis on context. The context is the location of the home, its architectural style, the client’s desires and its surroundings.

Q: What’s a piece of technology you can’t imagine...

Kobe Bryant's Childhood Home Hits the Market for $900K—Basketball Hoop Included!

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
The hoop that helped make the late Kobe Bryant a basketball legend can be yours, if you buy the home where he spent his teenage years. The cost is $899,900.

Which Property Brother Is Better at Home Design?

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
"Property Brothers" stars Drew and Jonathan Scott are bringing "Brother vs. Brother" back to HGTV. So who will win the next season?

Lessons From Listing Photos: This Refurbished Minnesota Mansion Leaves '70s Decor in the Dust

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
A new modern, relaxed design aesthetic brought buyers running, and the house was sold for more than double its previous purchase price of $520,000.

U.S. real estate pain leaves foreign investors holding the bag

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22

Foreign investors who backed real estate projects in return for U.S. visas are emerging as losers in the pandemic-driven commercial property crisis.

In Manhattan, Chinese investors who helped fund Related's Hudson Yards have called for arbitration to pressure the developer into returning their money. On Long Island, a separate group assumed the lease to the Nassau Coliseum, after billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment decided to walk away from the project.

The investors, who backed development deals through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' EB-5 program, aren't the only ones getting hammered by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has kept mall-goers, hotel guests and office workers home, pushing commercial-property owners into delinquency. But EB-5 investors, who cared more about coming to the U.S. than financial returns, have less leverage than most.

"Cash is king during Covid, and developers are reluctant to let go of any cash," said Mona Shah, a New York lawyer who works on EB-5 deals. "It doesn't help that there are some developers who show distinct lack of respect for EB-5 money. It's easy money."

Shah said she represents a hotel developer who is looking to reduce the principal owed on an EB-5 loan, because the property closed due to the pandemic and is unlikely to return to profitability quickly. In other cases, developers are seeking to extend loan terms or withhold payments entirely, Shah said.

At Hudson Yards, roughly 2,000 EB-5 investors poured $1 billion into the Manhattan project through a series of deals, according to a demand for arbitration filed recently by Chicago lawyer Doug Litowitz. The investors were unsophisticated about U.S. real estate, according to Litowitz, and were told by the Chinese firm that helped Related raise money that they would be repaid following...

These 5 Outdoor Looks Are Trending This Week on Instagram—and Here's Why

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Get design inspiration to transform your backyard, front porch, or patio—just in time for Labor Day weekend.

Christina Anstead Tries a Totally New Kitchen Design: Will It Catch On?

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Christina Anstead of "Christina on the Coast" surprises her clients with a kitchen remodel that is far from her usual style.

Motocross Star Brian Deegan Selling $4.95M North Carolina Mansion

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Professional freestyle motocross rider and rally car racer Brian Deegan is selling his modern North Carolina mansion for $4.95 million.

80-Foot-Long Train Car Is a Fascinating Feature of This Washington Home

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
The former passenger-train car is about 80 feet long, 12 feet wide, and has been incorporated into the rest of this unique residence.

Priscilla Presley Lists Longtime Beverly Hills Home for $16M

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Priscilla Presley, the actress and entrepreneur and former wife of Elvis Presley, has listed her longtime Beverly Hills residence for $15,995,000.

What Is Title Insurance? Peace of Mind When Buying a Home

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Title insurance is not the most exciting topic related to buying a home. However, it's critical to establishing peace of mind as a homeowner.

Touch Down! Eli Manning's Giant NJ Home Is the Week's Most Popular Listing

Mon, 09/07/2020 - 21:22
Retired New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is saying goodbye to his Jersey home. The residence in Summit, NJ, is the week's most popular listing.

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