Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

I love the idea of reflecting on what an honor it is to live in this country, the sacrifices made by those who first came here from Europe; especially with all the flaws and shortcomings being brought up in the news every day. Those of us in the 99% have a great deal to be thankful for compared to those who live in other places.

In addition, we can never gather family and friends around our table often enough and enjoy their company. We seem to get busier and busier every year on less and less important things. This is a great Holiday to reset what is important.

The food served on Thanksgiving is not my favorite. A slice of turkey is more than enough and don't get me started on what a bad idea I think marshmallows and yams are. Then there is just the sheer quantity of food eaten in such a short period of time. So I have my own traditions that do not include turkey and candied yams. To me it is about spending time with friends and family not the food.

This can be a tough time for many people because they cannot go home to be with family for various reasons. So if you know someone that may be facing the day alone invite them to your house. Do not worry that you are not the best cook nor about the dust bunnies that are breeding in the corners of the living room. Enjoy their company, your family, and friends and let the day unfold.

I am not going to kill myself to provide a meal that Martha Stewart would envy but I am preparing a few dishes I think my family and guests will enjoy and I am looking forward to sharing bread and laughter and being thankful and grateful for what I have.

I hope you enjoy the company and laughter of your family and friends on Thanksgiving as well.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Penn State Scandal, how it has impacted me

Like too many adults I was the victim of sexual abuse as a child. Reading and listeining to the Penn State Scandal has made me remember and feel things I do not want to. Being sexually molested has damaged my life in ways that I am still trying to deal with and move beyond well into my middle age.

Also like many victims, I have lived with someone else's shame. I did nothing wrong, I was just a child but like so many others like me, I felt like I caused the abuse and was responsible for hiding the secret. There is so much pressure to hide the secret when the abuser is a relative, there are so many ways for them to seek and get retribution on you.

Young children do not have the language to tell you what is happening to them. I told my mother that this person hurt me and that I did not want to be with them but she did not know that they were sexually molesting me. She listened with her head not her heart about what I was telling her. She did not understand the level of terror and fear I had of being left with this relative. I think that this is issue is compounded in an extremely religious environment where sex and anatomy are usually never discussed. All things sexual have a hushed secretive nature. The message is often we don’t touch or talk about anything “down there” so if you are not allowed to talk about that part of your body, how can you describe that someone was touching you inappropriately? You really do not have the language to explain what happened to you.

I beg any adult that has a child or knows a child that is unduly fearful of an adult or older child, listen with your heart to what they are telling you, not their words. A small child does not know what words to use other than "Help me, they are hurting me" I know it is so hard to face, but the neighbor who likes to babysit or the aunt or uncle who comes over all the time could actually be child molesters. Child molesters are people who work hard to blend into the community and appear to be helpful so they have access to victims. The damage this does to child is unimaginable unless it has happened to you. They lurk in churches and in schools. They do their best to be respected members of society so that their word is always believed over the word of the child.

I also beg anyone else like me that has stayed silent that now is the time to talk about this and get changes in how our society is dealing with this issue. The statistics are staggering; something like 1 in 4 of girls and 1 in 6 boys are being sexually molested by the time they are adults. This has got to stop.

If the child molester did it to you they will do it to someone else you love as well. It breaks my heart to know that the same thing happened to another one of my relative’s years later because I was not able to get my message to my parents about the pain that was inflicted upon me. It is a club I wish they did not belong to. And what terrifies me even more is to think how many other members of this special little club there are because nothing was done when I was a small child. Just like the special little club created at Penn State. No one wants to be a member of this type of club.

My heart aches for all the children and the inner children that were hurt by this man at Penn State and not helped by others that were in a position to do so. I wish I did not know the pain they feel of thinking that the person that did this to me is somehow more important than me. We have got to break this cycle and one of the best ways to do that is for people like me to stand up and tell our stories.

If you have a story to tell like mine tell it!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Recipe: Italian Sausage, Pine Nuts and Exotic Mushroom Dressing

A friend of mine just posted a lament on Facebook about what kind of dressing to make for Thanksgiving. So I decided I would share my favorite recipe. I like my dressing to be browned and a little crunchy. I really don't like stuffing; it is too moist and gummy for my taste.

Actually it is kind of a family tradition not to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, no one in my family likes turkey so we never make it. I am partial to dressing and I plan on making it this Thanksgiving but I have not decided yet on a roasted chicken or a pork roast to serve along with it.

However you celebrate Thanksgiving; I wish you and your family a wonderful day.

4 C day old baguette cubes

1 Italian Sausage browned and crumbled

1/2 C Celery diced

1/2 C yellow onion diced
1 Leek chopped

6 cloves of garlic minced

1 C exotic mushrooms, chopped. I am using Chanterelle, King Oyster and Shitake this year

1/4 C pine nuts, browned

1/4 C fresh herbs-sage, thyme, rosemary

1 C chicken broth

1/2 stick of butter
1 -2 egg beaten

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the sausage and set aside to add to the dressing. Lightly toast the pine nuts, watch carefully not to burn.
Melt the butter & add the onion, leek, garlic, celery and fresh herbs. Sauté until lightly browned add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are cooked through.
In a large mixing bowl add the bread cubes, sausage, pine nuts and mushroom mixture. Add the chicken stock and beaten egg to the bread cubes until you get the right “wetness” for your taste.
In the pan you cooked the mushroom mixture lightly brown the dressing. Adding more butter as needed salt and pepper to your taste.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My secret to eating what you want and losing weight

A big part of my life is cooking and eating great food but, believe it or not I have been eating what I want and losing weight.

I share a great many recipes on my blog because I love food and I love to eat. However, in the past year I have managed to lose over 20 lbs or about 2 1/2 dress sizes. I recently bought a pair of jeans in a size I have not worn since Nixon was still President!

I know it sounds contradictory that I share very calorie rich recipes and yet I still have managed to lose weight. I do not believe in diets, the minute I put myself on a diet I get hungry and obsess over food I think I should not be eating. What I have done instead is to make choices about what I eat.

I evaluate what I eat and I try to make a rational choice about what I put in my mouth. I have lost weight by doing the simplest things: I eat less and I exercise more. We need so many calories a day to live and if we consume more calories than we need our bodies store it somewhere for another day.

I know that sounds too simple to be true but it is. I do not eat until I am full at any meal, I stop at the point I am no longer hungry. I also try and add another 10 or 15 minutes at least of cardio every day than I want to do. Plus I really push myself on my cardio workouts. If I am not sweating I am not moving hard enough. I have also found that for me running is my ideal cardio workout. It helps me feel good emotionally, it challenges me and I can set real goals around challenges to continually get faster or increase my endurance running.

My knees and back seem to agree that less of me to carry around is a good thing. However, I want to strike a balance. If I cannot enjoy the foods I love I will lose some of my passion for life. I know that it sounds crazy to some but I think you can have the pleasure of eating ANYTHING you want and still maintain your weight. It is really about portion control and eating because you need to refuel not to entertain yourself.

I think so many people are told you can enjoy food or you can be thin but I am sure that you can do both if you are careful about the quantity of what you eat.

As an example, I ate out recently and I really wanted to have some fried Calamari. Which is not a low calorie food, plus I ate the tartar sauce on top of it. I ordered the dish and ate only until I was not hungry. My waiter wanted to know if I did not like the dish because I ate so little of it. I loved it but I only needed a few bites not a 1000 to enjoy it!

So with "Food Season" upon us find ways to eat what you want but make sure you are eating to refuel not to entertain yourself.

See you at the gym!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mountain View, CA: Comparing SFH sales October 2007 through 2011

Almost every news article is full of news about how home sales are down and prices have fallen but I wanted to see if that holds true for the local real estate market in Mountain View, CA. Has the market fallen dramatically and has the number of transactions fallen significantly? I decided to do some research on MLSListings, Inc. and see what the actual sales numbers look like for single family homes (SFH) in Mountain View.

I have had a gut instinct that prices today were fairly close to what they were in 2007 but I wanted to take a look at the real numbers. This is what I found:

Oct 2011 Snapshot

# of SFH listed-31

Cancellations or withdrawls-2

Short Sales/REOs-1

Highest priced SFH-$1,849,318

Lowest priced SFH-$594,500

Average SFH characteristics-

Listed for $1,037,082

3 bedroom & 3 bath home builit in 1959 with 1709 sq ft on a 6938 sq ft lot

Oct 2010 Snapshot

# of SFH listed-31

Cancellations or withdrawls-8

Short Sales/REOs-0

Highest priced SFH-Listed 1.699M sold 1.79M

Lowest priced SFH-Listed 435K sold 380K

Average SFH characteristics-

On the market for 46 days

Listed for $941,332 and sold for $939,748

3 bedroom 2 bath built in 1962 with 1531 sq ft on a 6322 sq lot

October 2009 Snapshot

# of SFH listed-30

Cancellations or withdrawls-0

Short Sales/REOs-3

Highest priced SFH-Listed $1,718,153 sold $1,653,823 took 421 days to sell!

Lowest priced SFH-Listed 399K sold 399K

Average SFH characteristics-

On the market for 55 days

Listed for $905,986 and sold for $905,787

3 bedroom and 2 bath built in 1963 with 1628 sq ft on a 5674 sq lot

October 2008 Snapshot

# of SFH listed-24

Cancellations or withdrawls-17!!!! Or 0ver 70% of homes did not sell

Short Sales/REOs-0

Highest priced SFH-listed for $16,950,000 sold $1,613,000

Lowest priced SFH-listed $828,000 sold $765,000

Average SFH characteristics-

On the market for 61 days

Listed for $1,107,929 and sold for $1,065,809

4 bedroom and 3 baths built in 1957 with 1837 sq ft on a 7702 sq lot

October 2007 Snapshot

# of SFH listed-42

Cancellations or withdrawls-16 almost 40% of homes were taken off the market

Short Sales/REOs-0

Highest priced SFH-listed $1,600,000 sold for $1,595,000

Lowest priced SFH-listed $640,000 sold for $650,000

Average SFH characteristics-

On the market for 22 days

Listed for $1,038,627 and sold for $1,047,014

3 bedroom and 2 baths built in 1958 with 1576 sq ft on a 6818 sq ft lot

The average list price in 2007 and 2011 are very close but the number of listings are down about 25%. So is the news half right? Let me know your thoughts on the state of the market.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Call me crazy but I love first time buyers

I know many agents do not like all the questions and sometimes all the drama that comes with dealing with first time buyers. However, I love participating in one of life's biggest moments and for most of us buying our first house is a really big moment. I feel really good when I help someone find that first place.

I know that many first time buyers start out looking for the Taj Mahal with a trailer park budget. Again half the fun of working with them is helping them realize what they can actually afford in their price range. Sometimes this results in tears and a decision to hold off for a little longer. Other times they find exactly what they want and they start building a new life. I had one client call me recently to let me know they were expecting another baby, I was so excited because one of the main reasons they bought their first house was so they could expand their family.

I have another first time buyer that has a couple of offers under his belt and so he understands the process better than most first time buyers. On one of our last shopping sprees to find him a home he brought along a friend that is thinking of starting to look for his first place. His friend asked a great deal of questions and I was amazed at the answers my client gave him about the process. He has really listened to what I have shared with him about the process in the last couple of weeks. He is under contract and patiently waiting to see if we make it through the short sale process.

I have another first time buyer that I am working with ask me about a property they wanted more information on that they found out on Zillow. It just happened that the data was out of date and I got back to them with a flippant remark about why would they need if the data was always accurate on Zillow?

They got back to me with the cutest reply. They said, “We need you to negotiate for us and we need your moral support.” I loved answer about providing moral support because sometimes I think some agents forget what a big deal buying a house is. We get jaded, we do this all the time but our clients do not. We really do need to provide moral support to our clients. I am getting this first time buyer the keys later this week and I can hardly wait. And yes, I have provided a great deal of moral support along the way.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recipe: Seafood Gumbo with a Secret

I love to make Seafood Gumbo as my big wow meal for guests. I have relatives that call and say; we are coming in a month you better make a pot of Seafood Gumbo. I get extra giddy when these relatives that grew up eating Seafood Gumbo tell this little cowgirl from Wyoming/Idaho that I make the best gumbo they have ever had. What might be the truth is that I am the only one they can flatter enough to make a pot for them when they come to town. Whatever the truth is, in the end they get a pot of Seafood Gumbo when they come to town.

I always put some type of fish, clams, crab and shrimp in my Seafood Gumbo. What is fresh at the market determines the exact nature of the seafood that ends up in the pot. The day I made this batch they had live crayfish and some blue crabs. I prefer our West Coast Dungeness to eat but the flavor of the blue crab is hard to beat in gumbo. I have to confess that I am not a huge Crayfish fan but how can you not put fresh Crayfish in a Louisiana Seafood Gumbo if it is available? They ended up being so sweet and delicious that I will make sure I make a pot of Gumbo anytime I see live crayfish at the market. But the crayfish that is not my new secret ingredient. My new secret to great gumbo is dried scallops. I had some in the cupboard so I threw a few in the pot. It added a Smokey earthiness that could not be beat. So no matter what is fresh at the market I will also drop in a couple of dried scallops next time I make gumbo. Just about any Cantonese cook would tell you that a pot of soup is always better when you add dried scallops, why would Gumbo be any different?

Bon Appetite!

¼ C butter
¾ C flour (more or less) really depends on how much the butter absorbs
I melt the butter and then add the flour. Stir constantly until dark brown and the roux smells nutty. This is at least 20 mins.
Add to the roux
3 C of the holy trinity chopped (celery, onion & green pepper)
If you want more flavor -add shallots, a leek, couple of green onions, jalapenos and some garlic
Add 6 C of low sodium chicken stock (you can always add back in salt it is really hard to take out)
Cook over slow heat for at least 4 to 6 hrs
3 Med dried scallops (soak in warm water for about 10 mins before adding)
Add red pepper to taste
Hint-I make the gumbo up the day before and then I store it in the fridge and heat it up for a couple of hours before I add the seafood
4 to 5 lbs of seafood-use a variety that your family likes, I recommend fish, shrimp, clams and crab at the minimum but make it for your family’s taste
Serve with White rice and File Gumbo

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Homefacts.com My favorite new website

Homefacts.com is a great site because it has aggregated several sites that make sense for home buyers and home sellers to check out.

I know Homefacts.com is geared towards buyers but sellers will want to make sure they know what potential buyers will find when they type in their address.
For Example, I just found out there are 10 registered sex offenders in my neighborhood within a mile of my home, and only 1 sex offender in the neighborhood of the last house I owned. That is information I would have liked to have had when I sold my place in Palo Alto and bought my place in Mountain View.

Interesting Facts I just learned about Mountain View, CA

15% of the houses built in Mountain View were built after 1990; I would have guessed that number was 5%!

34% of the housing available in Mountain View is Single Family Homes; I would have guessed that number was higher.

11% of households speak Spanish at home and 60% speak English only. Again, I would have guessed that the number of English only speakers to be much lower.

Mountain View's unemployment rate is lower than the national average. Thank you Google!

Mountain View's median household income is just over $92,000.00 and the median family income is just over $117,000
61% of the population has a bachelor’s degree and 49% of the population over 15 is married.

But my favorite factoid is….

Of the percentage of regular church goers in Mountain View, the 3rd most popular religion is LDS. Now that is not something I would have guessed either.

Use Homefacts.com and tell me what you learned about your neighborhood and city!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Salad

Once again I found myself craving something old school like chicken salad however, I wanted a more modern twist on the traditional recipe.
Lucky for me I had a couple of wonderful Trader Joe items in my possession that made a great addition to chicken salad; Cornichon pickles and Marcona Almonds. Almonds are something many people put in their chicken salad but usually it is the tasteless slivered almonds. Marcona almonds have a very strong flavor and these also have rosemary on them, which really complemented the chicken. The French cornichon pickles have a different flavor than American pickles that I really like as well. It tasted familiar but with a twist. Give it a try next time you have some leftover chicken you want to turn into chicken salad.

1 C of chopped roasted chicken
6 Cornichon pickles finely chopped
¼ C of Marcona Almonds with Rosemary
1 Tbl Mayonnaise, (the real thing!)
Fresh Ground pepper to taste
Mix everything together and serve on your favorite greens.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

What does the Debt Ceiling have to do with buying a home?

I asked Marla Sarkozy, a Direct Lender with Blue Oak Mortgage, (A Stearns Lending Company) to help make sense of the Debt Ceiling impact on home buying. This is what she had to say:

After months of political grumbling back and forth, the Debt Ceiling was finally raised and the country took a step - albeit a small one - towards lowering our enormous budget deficit.

With the political stalemate behind us, it's time to focus on how the Debt Ceiling deal will impact Bonds and home loan rates.

First, shortly after the deal was announced, Fitch Ratings and Moody's both reaffirmed the United States' AAA rating, citing that the Debt Ceiling agreement virtually removes any threat of default. That was Bond friendly news and helped Bonds and home loan rates improve. But the ratings agencies did leave the door open for a future downgrade depending on how the debt and budget negotiations continue in the future. So the Debt Ceiling may be raised, but the issue of debt and credit ratings is far from over.

Beyond that, the deficit reduction program agreed to in the deal should help strengthen the value of US debt, because there will be less spending. At the same time, less government spending will also weigh on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And just last month, we saw how weak the GDP already is when the 2nd Quarter GDP came in well below expectations and at the slowest growth rate in 2 years. Additionally, the 1st Quarter GDP was revised sharply lower than it was previously reported. Remember, a weak GDP would make Stocks LESS attractive and Bonds MORE attractive - as Bonds generally perform better during sluggish economic times.

Bottom line… be careful what you wish for. When rates moved sharply higher this past winter, it was due largely to the Fed's second round of Quantitative Easing (QE2). When that ended, the prevailing wisdom was that the only way rates could come back down to levels anywhere near where they were on the eve of QE2 was if the economy "endured more pain." That sure is what we are seeing of late as growing economic uncertainty, persistently high unemployment and rising consumer pessimism is helping Bonds move higher and trade within an earshot of the best levels - ever!

Though Bonds and home loan rates look very attractive right now, we can't be complacent and think rates will stay low or go even lower still. As fast as prices have moved higher, things can change in a heartbeat if the economy starts to see some good news.

And, although there isn't much, there is some good news out there. For example, the most recent reports for Housing Starts and Building Permits were both reported better than expected. While this is only one number and one number doesn't make a trend, this is a good figure, and I will be watching closely for follow through in future readings.

Marla can be reached at:

Marla Sarkozy
Direct Lender, Blue Oak Mortgage (A Stearns Lending Company)
NMLS #256557
408 718 8842 cell
408 521-0157 efax

Monday, August 15, 2011

Santa Clara County Real Estate Activity in July 2011 vs. July 2010

Santa Clara County Real Estate Activity in July 2011 vs. July 2010*

It seems that every time I read an article on real estate activity this year it contradicts the article I read the day before.

So I wanted to see what the numbers say about Santa Clara County real estate activity in July. It felt like there was less inventory this July compared to July last year. It also feels like there were less short sales and bank owned properties on the market.

What is interesting is that the numbers do reflect that there was less inventory for both Single Family Homes and townhouse/condos. However the inventory of bank owned townhouses/condos has increased in July 2011 by 5%.

What did you noticing in the market this July? How does it compare to last July?
1434 Single family homes were listed in July 2011 in Santa Clara County, of those 1434 homes,

• 121 homes (8%) were bank owned
• 271 homes (19%) were short sales

497 townhouse/condos were listed in July 2011 in Santa Clara County of those 497 townhouses/condos,

• 98 townhouse/condos (20%) were bank owned
• 138 (28%) townhouse/condos were short sales

How does that compare to July 2010?

1726 Single family homes were listed in July 2010 in Santa Clara County, of those 1726 homes,

• 160 homes (9%) were bank owned
• 375 homes (22%) were short sales

609 townhouse/condos were listed in July 2010 in Santa Clara County, of the 609 townhouse/condos listed,

• 94 townhouse/condos (15%) were bank owned
• 183 townhouse/condos (30%) were short sales

If I can answer any of your real estate questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201

*-Information from MLSListings, Inc, deemed reliable but not guaranteed

Monday, August 8, 2011

Recipe: Grown Up Pasta and Cheese

What grown up wants to have pasta and cheese for dinner?

Actually I am guessing it is probably a secret comfort food for many adults and I wanted to share my adult version. I used black truffle butter and truffle cheese to make this something worthy of serving as a side dish at your next dinner party.

With just a little tweaking of the classic dish you usually make for a 4 year old you can make something amazing. Serve this with a nice glass of red wine and be happy that you can make something so decadent in about 10 minutes

6 oz of dry pasta, cooked to instructions

1 tablespoon of truffle butter

3 Oz of grated Pecorino cheese with truffles

Fresh ground pepper

Drain pasta toss with butter and cheese season with pepper and serve!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Can you take money out of your 401K to buy a home?

Can you take money out of your 401K to buy a home?

I want to thank Jenny Barnes from JLB Tax Services for providing information on this subject. Jenny can be reached at jenny@jlbtaxonaut.com or visit her website http://www.jlbtaxonaut.com for additional information

Using Your IRA for a Home Down Payment

The IRS discourages you from withdrawing money from your retirement accounts early by charging a 10% penalty on withdrawals before you turn 59 1/2.

Roth IRA

Among the various kinds of retirement accounts, pulling money from a Roth IRA will cost you the least in taxes and penalties. This is because you can withdraw contributions at any time without penalty or tax. In addition, after you’ve held the account for five years, you can withdraw up to $10,000 in earnings without penalty or tax for the purchase, repair, or remodel of a first home. In other words, if you withdraw all of your contributions, you can still withdraw another $10,000 and not pay the 10% penalty or taxes on any of it.

There is one caveat however: you only have 120 days to spend withdrawn earnings or you may be liable for paying the penalty. Also, for your convenience, your financial services firm will automatically prioritize the withdrawal of all of your contributions from a Roth IRA before any earnings.

Traditional IRA

The next best choice is a traditional IRA. You’re still able to withdraw up to $10,000 for the purchase, repair, or remodel of a first home without paying a penalty, but you’ll have to pay regular income tax on the entire amount. SIMPLE and SEP IRAs follow the same rules.

With a traditional IRA, you must also use the money within 120 days for the purchase of a home or you’ll get hit with the 10% penalty. Alternatively, you can withdraw up to $10,000 penalty-free for the purchase of a home for your spouse, parents, children, or grandchildren.

Just like with a Roth IRA, your spouse can also withdraw $10,000 from his or her traditional IRA, so you can collectively obtain $20,000 penalty-free for a down payment if you’re married. The $10,000 limit is a lifetime limit for each individual.

Using Your 401k for a Down Payment

If you take money out of your 401K to buy your first home, you’ll be assessed a penalty of 10% on the amount withdrawn and you’ll have to pay income tax on it as well.

If possible, roll over the amount you want to withdraw to an IRA, so you can avoid paying the penalty. However, you can’t roll over a 401k that’s with an employer for whom you are still working. If you have an old 401k from a former employer, roll that. Since a rollover can take time to process, fill out the necessary paperwork as soon as possible.

Borrowing from Your 401k

Another option with a 401k is to take out a loan. Your loan can be up to $50,000 or half the value of the account, whichever is less. As long as you can handle the payments (yes, you have to pay back this loan), this is usually a less expensive option than a straight withdrawal. Though you will pay interest, you won’t pay taxes or penalties on the loan amount.

A few things to know about 401k loans:

Since you’re incurring debt and will need to make monthly payments on the loan, your ability to get a mortgage may be affected.
The interest rate on 401k loans is generally about two points above the prime rate. The interest you pay, however, isn’t paid to the company – it goes into your 401k account.
Many plans give you only five years to repay the loan. In other words, if you borrow a large amount, the payments could be substantial.
If you leave your company, you may be required to pay back the outstanding balance within 60 to 90 days or be forced to take it as a hardship withdrawal. This means you’ll be hit with taxes and penalties on the amount you still owe.
If payments are deducted from your paycheck, the principal payments will not be taxed but the interest payments will be taxed. Since you’ll be taxed again on withdrawals during retirement, the interest payments will end up being double-taxed.

Sometimes it makes sense to take a loan from your 401k to cover the down payment, like if you are getting an FHA loan and only need a small down payment. However, a large loan payment could have a big effect on your mortgage qualification.

Therefore, it is wise to run numbers and ask your mortgage broker how such a loan will affect your qualification before you take one out. Conversely, if the amount you need will have too adverse an effect on your qualification, it might make sense to withdraw the down payment amount and pay the taxes and penalties.

Carla Dimond

Lifesystle Neighborhood Specialist

Keller Willliams-Cupertino




Sunday, July 31, 2011

Open House 1:30 to 4:30 pm 11655 Jessica Lane Los Altos Hills, CA

Open House Sunday 1:30 to 4:30 pm 11655 Jessica Lane, Los Altos Hills, CA, come see this wonderful 4 bedroom home that has the best of both worlds. It is tucked away on a quite street in Los Altos Hills for privacy and seclusion, but is just minutes to downtown Los Altos or Highway 280. It also has a new price of 2.65M.

This homes sits on about an acre of land and provides almost 4000 sq ft of living space. Amazing views from the kitchen and master bedroom. The master bedroom has ample closet space and a spa like bathroom.

The downstairs level has a family room with access to the pool and back yard. This home also has a large driveway and a 3 car garage. Perfect for entertaining friends and family.

Drop by and see if 11655 Jessica Lane, Los Altos Hills, CA could be your next home.

This is a view from the kitchen window of the secluded back yard!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recipe: Duck Fried Rice

Like so many of my recipes this recipe for duck fried rice was inspired by leftovers in my fridge.

I have had family out visiting this week. One of my favorite things to do when I have family out is to go to places they don't have at home.

One of the dinners we had this week included a Peking duck. I love Peking duck but it is very rich and one duck goes along way. We ordered several dishes so we ended up with leftover duck. I have never had duck fried rice but I am sure I am not the first person to make it. In any case, duck fried rice was a big hit at our house.

So if you find yourself with leftover Peking duck or roast duck I highly recommend eating the duck leftovers as fried rice. It is a fast and delicious meal.

I had some leftover fatty skin that I rendered in the pan that I added to the dish. Very decadent.

1 C chopped duck meat

2 green onions chopped

2 C of cooked rice

3 eggs beaten

2 TBL of soy sauce

Black pepper to taste

1 TBL duck fat

In large frying pan heat up leftover duck fat and skin to create about a tablespoon of fat. Add the green onions first and then the duck meat. Cook until light brown add the rice. Cook until the rice is warmed completely and then add the beaten eggs and the soy sauce. Stir constantly until the egg is combined with the rice. Serve when the egg is cooked.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mountain View, CA: Comparing June 2011 single family home activity to June 2010

In Mountain View, CA there were 31 single family homes sold in June 2011. Homes were listed for 1.085M and sold for 1.11M on average. This represents a selling price of about 2% over asking price.

How does this compare to June 2010 in Mountain View, CA?

In June 2010, 40 single family homes sold with an average list price of 934K and a sale price of 951K. This also represents a sales price of 2% over asking price.

With this data it is so easy to create some crazy headline about how the market is up 17% in June 2011 compared to June 2010 in Mountain View, CA.

Is that really a true statement?

If you look deeper at the average house sold this year vs. last year in June the difference in price is based on the average size of the house sold.

In June 2010 the average house sold was 1585 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths on a lot of just under 5500 sq ft.

In June 2011, the average house sold was 1884 sq ft with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths on a lot just under 7100 sq ft.

If you look at cost per sq foot in June 2010 the average was $600 and in June 2011 it is $589. So the average price per square foot has not changed significantly and it does take into account the larger lot size for homes sold in June 2011.

So it would appear that the difference in prices would be based on the type of homes sold this year vs. last, not a spike in home prices.

“Bigger houses sold this June in Mountain View, CA” does not make as interesting a headline as “17% jump in home prices in Mountain View, CA year over year”, so you need to look at the real data not just the potential headline to understand the real trends in the real estate market.

If you want help making sense of the housing market in Mountain View, CA please contact me.