Category Archives: Community News

Your Back-to-School Checklist for a Hassle-Free Return to Routine

back-to-school checklist for parentsParents and guardians, it’s almost that time of year. The time we all anticipate with a certain mix of longing and dread—back to school season. Are you ready to make the transition from carefree summertime living to early mornings and regular routine? Avoid the frantic mornings, the last-minute homework scrambles, and all the stress with this handy back-to-school checklist!

Update the Kids’ Closets

Before heading out to tackle the back-to-school sales, go through clothes from last year to see what still fits. Donate any old or outgrown clothes before bringing new ones in to fill up closets. Consider a holding a fashion show to make it more fun for kids, and maybe take some time to make sure the closet is organized.

And While You’re at It, Knock Out School Supplies Shopping

See if you can get a supplies list from your teachers ahead of time. For real back-to-school savings, determine what can be reused fromschool supplies on your back-to-school checklistlast year (i.e. backpacks, lunchboxes, pens/pencils, etc.). Then head out to purchase the rest—before the last-minute crowds arrive.

Take Care of Medical Forms ASAP

As soon as you can get paperwork, fill it out and send it over to your doctor as quickly as possible—before the homework starts up or other paperwork starts coming in.

Purchase Alarm Clocks for the Kids

Save your voice in the morning; buy your kids alarm clocks to get them out of bed. Even if they have their own cell phones, an alarm clock can be a useful purchase, especially considering the options that are available, like alarms with gradually increasing sound or timers for bedside lamps. You can even try setting the alarm across the room so your child has to get up to turn it off.

Plan (and Make) Lunches Ahead of Time

happy student going back to schoolSave yourself the extra time in the morning. Figure out what you’ll make for the week, go grocery shopping, and make up lunches at least the night beforehand.

Create a Master Calendar

Hang a (color-coded) calendar for everyone to see that shows regular activities and one-time events for each person in the family. This can help you and the kids stay organized. Got smart phones? You can also try syncing up your calendars through Google or iCloud, or use an app like Evernote or Got Family Get Organized.

Have a Paperwork Spot

Possibly with your master calendar, have an organized spot for kids to put (and find) paperwork. Have a place for paperwork that needs to be signed by you, and another for paperwork that’s signed. File important information so it’s easily handy and accessible. If you’re going digital, consider scanning paperwork onto your computer.happy family because of back-to-school checklist

Make Time for Family

One of the most important things you can do as a parent or guardian is to make time for the kids. Don’t come home and immediately go to homework, chores, or dinner preparation. Take 20-30 minutes to go outside and play, take a trip to your local park, take a walk through the neighborhood, or play a game inside if the weather isn’t nice. This will give everyone a chance to relax and enjoy some time together.

Going Back to School in a New Location of the Silicon Valley?

If you are relocating to the Silicon Valley for back to school season, you’ll likely need all the help you can get to avoid all the school day stress. Team up with Gary & Robert to learn more about life in the Silicon Valley, explore its neighborhoods, get plenty of relocation advice and resources, and find your dream home ASAP! Just call us today!

The Silicon Valley: Home to the Most Expensive Zip Codes in the US

RS201_iStock_000005961236Medium-scrLooking for luxury in the Silicon Valley? It won’t be hard to find—some of the most expensive and luxurious homes can be found throughout the communities of the Silicon Valley and Bay Area. In fact, according to a 2015 Forbes study, California zip codes, and especially those of the Silicon Valley and Bay Area, dominate the charts for most expensive zip codes in the US.

The Most Expensive Zip Codes in America

Coming in at the #1 most expensive zip code was the Silicon Valley’s own 94027 of Atherton, a luxurious community located just north of Palo Alto (which had a high-ranking zip code of its own). The median home price of this extravagant community was just over $10.5 million, a cost that might seem absurd, but with the abundance of lavish mansions, lush landscaping, and top-rated schools within its boundaries—not to mention its easy commute to top-tier tech jobs in Menlo Park and Palo Alto—it’s not an unbelievable pricetag.

RS3405_iStock_000021808235Medium-scrOther Top Zip Codes of the Valley

Following Atherton for most expensive zip codes in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area were 94062 of Woodside and 94010 of Hillsborough (both Bay Area communities). The next Silicon zip was 94022 of Los Altos Hills, coming in at number 11 nationally and second in the Valley. Its median price of $2.4 million is due in part to its scenic landscape of rolling hills and valley, and partially to its absolutely breathtaking architecture of stately mansions. Following just behind San Francisco (#22 nationally) came Palo Alto’s 94301 (#36 nationally, third in the Valley) with a median price of $2.2 million. Los Gatos and 95030 came in fourth (51st in America) at $1.8 million.

What Does This Mean for the Silicon Valley?achievement-18134_640

The Valley is growing, demand is rising, and prices are climbing. Luxury has a price, as does the convenience of living in the technology hub of America. The Valley is fast becoming an exclusive Hollywood-esk location for corporate business execs and tech wizards—the place that calls to the rich, the famous, the important, and those seeking the absolute in modern luxury.

If you’re one of those seekers of extravagance, now is the time to act. Start by learning more about the communities of the Silicon Valley and exploring luxury homes for sale. And when you’re ready to find that dream palace, contact us and we will help you make that dream a reality.

Mountain View May See a Permanent LinkedIn Campus

Real estate is in high demand in Silicon Valley.

And earlier this year, Mountain View city officials decided on building rights for a prime area of real estate, North Bayshore.

Development in North Bayshore

Mountain View’s North Bayshore neighborhood has been a magnet for high-tech employers, and the North Bayshore development plan envisions it as an area that meets the city’s development needs while preserving its natural landscape.

A New Campus for LinkedIn

up-close view of bicycle gearsLinkedIn was awarded 1.45 million square feet of available space in North Bayshore, where it plans to expand and build a new campus mixing work with play — new offices, shops, restaurants, an athletic club, a theater, and a hotel. A key feature of this new development would be the bike-friendly and pedestrian-friendly campus, with a central pedestrian avenue and bike bridge.

The campus proposal received praise from city officials a few weeks ago, and the proposed project’s first phase has a future completion date set for 2019.

Let’s Talk About Mountain View

Relocating to Silicon Valley and looking for a home in Mountain View? Let us be your guide to this great city — ask us for Mountain View real estate listingsour guide to having fun in Silicon Valley, and comprehensive home buying resources.

Have your dream home in mind? Call us at 408-357-4611 and we can schedule a showing.

Are You Attending Our Sunnyvale, CA Client Appreciation Event?

ComedyTicket_ResizedWe here on the Gary & Robert Real Estate team don’t just like to say that we appreciate our clients, we like to show them as well.

That’s why each year, we hold a Client Appreciation Party to say “Thank You” to all of those clients who have chosen to work us when buying or selling real estate on the Sunnyvale, CA area real estate market.

Interested in going? If so, here’s all of the information you’ll need to know:

  • When: 7 p.m. on Nov. 14
  • Where: Rooster T. Feathers Comedy Club in Sunnyvale
  • Who: Past Clients of the Gary & Robert Real Estate Team
  • RSVP: As soon as possible at www.GaryandRobert.com/event

We’re Your #1 Sunnyvale, CA Real Estate Experts

Often our Client Appreciation Party is quite a momentous occasion. Why? Because over the years, we’ve helped scores of home buyers and home sellers just like you secure a successful outcome on the local real estate market. And these kinds of great professional relationships last long after the final closing.

If you’re ready to enter the market anytime soon as a buyer or seller, we encourage you to connect with us at The Gary & Robert Real Estate Team. We would love to help you every step of the way!

Until next time,

Gary & Robert

Cupertino Ranks in the Top 10 Most Educated Places in America

library in college universityCupertino landed toward the top of NerdWallet’s 2015 most educated cities in America. As the headquarters of Apple, Seagate Technology, and other thriving electronics companies, the city is known for its intelligent and highly qualified residents who have engineering and technology degrees.

San Jose also ranked among the larger cities, beating out California’s largest city for a spot in the middle. Let’s see how these two areas compared with the nation.

Cupertino: #10 Educated City in America

High School / Associate’s: 96.8% 

Bachelor’s: 76.7%

Master’s: 31.0%

While it may rank in the top 10, Cupertino easily beats out the other high-ranking cities — and the nation— for the largest percentage of residents with a master’s degree.

The area has enjoyed the spotlight before. It will likely continue to inch on up the list as Silicon Valley continues to attract technology start-ups and skillful employees.

With such highly educated residents, Cupertino provides more unique opportunities for starting careers and living in an appealing residential environment, not to mention bolstering the local economy as the in-demand industries seek the best minds for the job.

San Jose: #44 Most Educated Large City

computer motherboard High School / Associate’s: 82.5%

Bachelor’s: 37.6%

Master’s: 10.7%

San Jose easily surpassed Los Angeles in all three categories. As the so-called capital of Silicon Valley, it too will likely rank among the giants and perhaps become the most educated city in California.

High demands for engineering, computer science, electronics, and other thriving industries in San Jose will also bring an influx of the most qualified people with years of post-secondary education.

Come Join the Rankings in the San Jose Area

If you’re relocating to the area for work or became interested in these two most educated cities in the US, you can find out more about residential life in the San Jose area by checking out our real estate website.

If you have any questions about Cupertino or San Jose real estate in particular, please contact us at 408-357-4611 or info@garyandrobert.com. We would love to help.

San Jose: One of the 35 Best Cities for People Under 35

San Jose California Earlier this year, San Jose made the list of “35 Best Cities for People 35 and Under.” And it’s small wonder that this area is attractive, with its prime location in Silicon Valley and entertainment options.

Let’s explore what makes San Jose an ideal city for people under age 35.

Tech Employment Options

Last week, we discussed how nearby Sunnyvale ranked #2 in the nation for jobs. San Jose shares the same tech appeal, and Forbes cites the area as “the capital of Silicon Valley.”

For professionals under the age of 35, the nation’s cutting-edge technology hub is automatically appealing for those who are starting or continuing their careers.

Shopping, Dining, and Entertainment

San Jose offers an array of diverse entertainment options, from its plethora of shopping centers and outdoor spaces ideal for relaxing.

Walkability is important to young professionals, especially since many people in San Jose tend to walk or bike to work and around the area.

You can view more about San Jose’s individual rankings on Vocative’s livability report.

It’s Appealing as a Fit City

Alongside San Francisco, San Jose made the top 10 in the 2015 American Fitness Index. The report primarily cited the city’s abundance of farmers’ markets, low percentage of people who smoke cigarettes, and high percentage of commuters who bike or walk to work.

young professional at computerSearching for Housing?

If you’re relocating to San Jose and would like information about homes for sale, local schools, or home buying resources, contact us at 408.357.4611 or Info@GaryandRobert.com to get started. We would be happy to answer any of your real estate questions.

 

Sunnyvale Area Ranks #2 for Jobs in 2015

Forbes has named the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area as the second best place in the nation for jobs in 2015. After hitting some bumps in the road about ten years ago, the area has rebounded into a thriving job center. See what makes the greater Sunnyvale area so appealing for businesses.

high tech circuit boardHigh-Tech Headquarters

Sunnyvale is located within Silicon Valley and thus provides a nurturing business environment for tech companies. It’s also the home of a number of other industries, like aerospace and information services.

Entrepreneurial Environment

Forbes notes that the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara area is a hub for people who know how to create their own businesses. In fact, Sunnyvale offers a “Small Business Ignite” program to help entrepreneurs kickstart their company and grow their business.

A Prime Opportunity to Invest in Sunnyvale

The Sunnyvale area’s national recognition for jobs is just part of the area’s appeal. If you’re considering making Sunnyvale your new home, let us know. We can provide you with area highlights, school information, and home buying resources.

Contact us today at 408.357.4611 or info@garyandrobert.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Making Sense of Loan Modifications

Losing one’s home is a gut-wrenching experience. It’s something no one should have to go through. Now, sadly, many, many people are having to do just that. In many cases, however, there is another answer.

The Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP.

Part of the Federal Government’s economic stimulus plan, HAMP is an option that has yet to pick up a head of steam. It’s possible that it hasn’t gotten the necessary publicity, which is a shame, because keeping homeowners in their homes is vital not just to their well-being, but to the well-being of our economy.

Here’s how HAMP works:

Not a refinance, which replaces your loan with a brand-new mortgage, a loan modification happens when your lender reworks the terms of your existing loan. Generally speaking, this lowers payments and makes the home more affordable for you. Often, the lower payments are the result of a lower interest rate, an extension in the loan term, a reduction in principal, or any combination thereof.

If your home is your primary residence and the balance of your first mortgage is less than $729,750, then you may qualify for the program. Additionally, you’ll have to demonstrate that you’re facing hardships that are affecting your ability to make payments on your mortgage. From there, your lender will ask for documentation about your income, bank statements, as well as other financial data. You’ll also be asked to complete a Hardship Affidavit, in which you’ll describe extenuating circumstances with which you’re dealing.

“I’m doing just fine with my mortgage payments. Why is this important for me?”

Why? I’ll tell you why. The prospect of tens of thousands (yes, that many) homes suddenly appearing on the market is a pretty gruesome specter for our economy. Part of the problem of “shadow inventory” that we mentioned several weeks ago – a tidal wave of foreclosed homes entering the marketplace – would be a crushing blow to a real estate market that is only just showing signs of recovery.

Also, unoccupied homes are blights on communities. Too many can splinter a neighborhood, driving down everyone’s property values — not just those that are empty. And make no mistake: this isn’t just a problem of lower-income communities. No. Foreclosure is just as much of a problem in higher-end neighborhoods.

As Bloomberg reported late December – Homeowners with mortgages of more than $1 million are defaulting at almost twice the U.S. rate. This brings the rate of default for these considerable loans up to a skyrocketing level of 12 percent as of September, compared with 6.3 percent on loans less than $250,000 and 7.4 percent on all U.S. mortgages. This is quite a jump from the year prior where the rate for default on the $1 million dollar plus mortgages as only 4.7 percent.

So, take a look at HAMP. HAMP is offering distressed homeowners a second chance. A chance to keep a roof over their family’s head. A chance to keep the sense of pride instilled by owning your own home.

It’s not a cure-all. But it’s a place to start.

By Gino Blefari
President and CEO
Intero Real Estate Services

Mission: Distressed Properties

By Gino Blefari
President & CEO
Intero Real Estate Services, Inc.

No one can deny the economic challenges we face as a country. They are the most challenging we have seen in generations. This environment demands more from brokers and Realtors than ever before; especially when dealing with those caught up in the epidemic of distressed and foreclosed properties.

Planning. Organization. Training. Execution. Leadership.

Let’s take a lesson from our own military, the Marines. Their reputation as hardened fighters is well documented. Their success stems from their organization and the precise training that enables the unit to understand and execute the mission of the unit leader. Their order consists of these five elements:

  • Situation
  • Mission
  • Execution
  • Administration
  • Command and Communication

Simple. Direct. Concise. Effective. And I believe this order can be implemented in real estate and guide us through and out of this current market situation. I’ll break it down as follows:

Situation – This is the background to your problem or the events leading up to where we are now. We have been facing incredible pressures and fluctuations in the housing market for over 24 months. Starting with the stricter lending requirements and plummeting home values during the sub-prime mortgage crisis that started in 2007. Two years into this foreclosure crisis we see unemployment, the traditional driver for foreclosures, come into play. While the focus has been primarily on Wall Street and the individual homeowner we recognize the tremendous pressures that have been placed on the individual agent and brokerages.

Mission – This is what we do about it. As I assess this new environment, it becomes painfully apparent that in order to respond to the needs of a distressed marketplace, we had to first and foremost ensure that our own company did not become distressed.

Secondly, we recognize that for our neighbors and prospective clients the immediate goal is saving their home. Granted, this appears counter-intuitive to our core mission of selling homes, but the underlying situation called for this. As Realtors, our mission is to get up to speed quickly, briefed on issues and expand our network of strategic business partners like never before. Therefore it became our mission to train our agents to do just that.

Execution – This describes how our mission is to be achieved. In a distressed market like the one we face today, the solutions we offer and the unique obstacles associated with delivering those solutions are changing rapidly. That is why we have created a department that specifically addressed the problems, opportunities and solutions in the distressed markets. We provide internal loss mitigation training through our Short Sales Division. We also encourage our agents to become Certified Default Resolution Specialists, to better connect and guide distressed homeowners through all of the options available to them. In addition, we are reaching out to servicers, local government agencies, non-profits and to the community to work collaboratively to address the issues and to help jumpstart neighborhood stabilization.

Administration –
This regards the resources required to accomplish your mission.  A brokerage’s most important resource is its agents and empowering them was the most important thing we could administer.  Everyone is working frantically to create new processes, new technologies, new laws to help homeowners, but they are all fruitless if there is not a trusted source to help the homeowners engage in the process. This is where our agents come into play. Servicers are overwhelmed by the number of defaults and homeowners not able to make contact with their servicer, thus never realizing they have options to avoid foreclosure, who better to address and administer to their problems than the Realtor.

Command and Communication – Who’s in charge? Who do you report to? How do you communicate with each other?

With all other forms of loss mitigation, making initial borrower contact is still the key. The fact remains that in a great number of foreclosures, estimates are between 50-60% of all REO properties, there was never any contact between the homeowner and the servicer. Obtaining accurate borrower and property data is challenging to say the least. There are many moving parts and players, which can easily lead to loss of communication.

At Intero, it is the individual agent that remains the most viable solution to engage the distressed market and affect the greatest change in the housing recovery in the years to come.

Semper Fi

The challenges we face are daunting. The road is neither short nor straightforward. It is littered with obstacles, both old and new. But it is the road we must travel in our chosen profession and the road we choose to improve for the well being of the communities we serve.

Take inspiration from my Dad, a decorated WWII Veteran awarded with two Purple Hearts, and the Bronze Star of valor (just to name a few,) quoted often, “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is forging ahead in spite of it.”

4 Reasons to Buy

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about the $729,750 loan limits being extended through 2010. And, many are excited that the tax credit for home buyers has been extended and expanded to include buyers who have owned their current homes for at least five years.

Even with those two incentives in place, there are some would-be-home-buyers that are still sitting on the fence. Here are two additional data points that may help move you into action:

  • Today the 10 year Treasury yield is at 3.2%. This indicator corresponds to mortgage rates – typically when it’s down, mortgage rates are down. Throughout this year rates have remained at historical lows; the average 10 Year Treasury yield for the last 12 months was 3.17%. However, the average yield over the last 10 years was 4.50%. In fact, from April 1953 to December 2008 the average annual yield for the 10 year Treasury was 6.36%. The highest rate during that 55 year period was 15.32%; the lowest rate was 2.29%. The high was attained in September of 1981. The low was achieved in April of 1954. Translation: Evidence shows the 10 year Treasury yield and conforming mortgage rates are at historic lows; it’s unlikely they’ll continue in this range throughout 2010. How often does a 55 year interest rate low occur? About every 55 years!
  • According to the National Association of Realtors®, last month showed another big gain in existing-home sales and inventories continue to decline. Translation: the competition is getting tougher.

Please contact us if we can answer any specific questions or if you’d like to discuss buying or selling strategies.