Since We Were Just There…

Truck Accident That Killed Rafters in Canyon Sparks Truck-Canyon-Rafter Reform Debate

Funky Foto Contest Week 115

No, it’s not representative of our area code. 650 has another meaning in the context of Foster City…and that’s this weeks question. What’s located at 650 something? If you’re first to answer this question you’ll win a $30.00 gift card to Chipotle at Marlin Cove (or wherever). All the rules of the road are available to view on the left hand margin as well as on the bar above. The winner along with all other correct answers will not be published until Monday morning. Any and all silly jokes, snappy quips and all wrong answers will be published immediately if not sooner. Have a great weekend!

No Laughing Matter…Kind Of

One of the unfortunate side effects of the economic downturn when it comes to Foster City is the recent demise of the ever vigilant patrol of the dog service that was employed to disperse the large families of Canadian Geese that tend to congregate in Foster City’s parks. You see, the city had a contract with a gentleman by the name of Henry Losee who has a small army of border collies.  Henry’s collies have been around town for the last 5 years to control the Geese…mostly because all that poop left by said Geese can be a real nuisance if you happen to be strolling around the parks in this town.

Seems that the Geese are so vast in numbers that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time for these critters to cover a pretty large area…with poop. The dogs chase them away. Mr. Losee calls the work his company does “humane harassment”. These birds used to be migratory but the good weather and the abundance of food ( they must LOVE the fact that Edgewater Place has so many waterfront restaurants!) has caused a bunch of them to call Foster City home.

Now, due to budget worries, Mr. Losee’s biggest customer is pulling the plug (so to speak) on the dog business. An alternative could be to hire somebody to chase the Geese away with a chemical spray but Mr. Losee thinks that’s a short term solution at best. Dogs are the best deterrent, in his opinion. Here’s an article from the San Mateo Daily Journal that goes into more depth about this potential poop problem:

Dogs no longer chasing birds in FosterCity

Perhaps we could prevail upon Foster City’s finance director, our friend, Steve Toler to shed more light upon this issue? Let’s hope some kind of alternative both presents itself…and works! I don’t look forward to future real estate disclosure forms that will have to include “Goose Feces Issues” on Foster City properties. And you thought Flood Insurance was a problem?

Loan Mods

Sometime last week I got an e-mail from a client of mine with a question about a loan modification he was attempting. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hi Jim;

Was wondering if you knew of any honest Home loan modification business’s?  You would not believe what some of these firms want me to do to have my Loan modified.  From saying that I’m renting my house for $2000 and I’m living in one room (yes that would be 4 people, in one room) or saying that my wife is a housekeeper so that her income can’t be traced…..  Huh!  Their complete lack of any sort of ethics is troubling to say the least.  Anyway any leads to a firm with a smidgen of integrity would be appreciated. thanks,


Unfortunately, I don’t have any leads for him either. I’m yet to have any client of mine be successful trying a loan mod, nor have I heard of anybody else with a successful loan mod story either. I know folks that have worked diligently for months, after being told to stop making their payment, only to have a notice of default filed on their property. I know folks who have accomplished every criteria placed in front of them…only to be rejected at the end of the journey. I’m not sure anybody really gets these things to work.

In case you missed it, a loan modification is a thing that theoretically happens when a homeowner asks his lender to alter the nature of their loan to allow said homeowner to stay in their home. Again, theoretically, the lender will adjust the interest rate to help the homeowner do just that. The problem is, supposedly only 1 to 2% of the modifications are really actually happening.

Vincent’s e-mail really illustrates the problem well. Some of these loan mod folks are quick to tell you the 1001 ways that you should lie to the lender to maneuver them into complying with your request. Often times fees are paid up front to begin the process as well…and then the odds are so greatly against having it all come together if these statistics are real. From what I’m seeing…I think they are.

I wish I had an answer for all this…my advice would be that if you’re considering this option…be really, really careful.

Funky Foto Contest Winner Week 114

Well, Boothbay Park is just one of them actually. The rest of the Parks featuring tennis courts, that was Friday’s subject, are Edgewater, Leo Ryan and Catamaran Parks. A few of you mentioned Boat Park, but unless I’m mistaken the tennis courts there are actually on the north side of Bounty which would make them part of the Foster’s Landing Apartment complex property…not in a FC Park. I also wouldn’t be surprised to learn that plenty of you play tennis there whether you live in Foster’s Landing or not! Congratulations to Pak Hui who answered first and wins the $30.00 gift card to Togo’s. Also arriving with the right answer was Alex O, Shrikant, Roger, Ellen, Nancy, Koen, Bill, Edna, Jim S, Archana, Isabelle Bushman, Jeff, Deepa, Edward Mayfield, Kirk, Kavita, Julie, Sakura, Chris Hsiung, Parkerton, Monica Martines, Joseph, Jason, Sheetal and Kirstin Jordan on facebook. Thanks for playing folks! See you again this Friday!

Social Media 2010

Still amazing stuff!

Funky Foto Contest Week 114

There’s 21 parks in Foster City in all shapes and sizes…and offering all sorts of amenities. Having said that there are only 4 of them that have tennis courts. This weeks question invites you to name all 4 of these FC parks. If you’re first to do so you’ll win a $30.00 gift card to Togo’s at the Metro Center. All the rules of the road are available to view on the left hand margin as well as on the bar above. The winner along with all other correct answers will not be published until Monday morning. Any and all silly jokes, snappy quips and all wrong answers will be published immediately if not sooner. Have a great weekend!

A Tip For Sellers

Here’s a little slice of life. I’ve got some buyer clients who are qualified up to $900,000 looking for a house with minimum 3 bedrooms, one level, good area and not a tear down and, of course, a good deal. We were planning to go look at some places one Saturday recently. All of my clients are plugged into an automatic property search that’s part of my website and they receive listings as they come on the market. This on-line organizer allows them to mark homes they’re interested in or delete those they’re not too hip about. ( It’s not uncommon for a client to delete a real gem and mark as interested a real dump…but that’s what I’m here for…to educate them). Typically clients will express an interest in living “somewhere in the Mid-Peninsula”. It’s actually kind of unusual to hear someone insist on living in only one city, so again, it’s my job to cull down the choices to a selection that the client will like based upon the education they’ve been giving me during our relationship. It’s also common for a client to mark 15 to 20 houses as interested but I discovered a long time ago that once people get past the 5th or 6th house their memory of what they’ve seen blurs a bit and they find it hard to keep track of the many details of the houses they’ve seen. Consequently I almost never show more than 6 houses at a time, there’s a natural, human point of diminishing return if we do…for everybody. It’s important to note that if you’re looking in more than one community there’s always going to be something to see in any given price range at any given time. It does happen that one house stands out way over and above all of it’s competition but it’s much more rare than you might think. My point? If you’re a seller chances are your house is not unique…there’s other houses comparable to yours on the market too.

So here’s what happens in the real world. I try to find a manageable 6 houses out of a stack of maybe 15 listings the client’s expressed interest in. Since I’ve typically previewed these houses I know immediately which represent the best opportunity to meet my clients expectations and that’ll reduce the list right away to 8 to 10 choices. How do I reduce it further you ask? The sellers do it themselves! On Friday afternoon I’ll call these listings to make appointments to show the houses Saturday morning. The first two, simple, no problem. The third goes like this:

Me: Hi, this is Jim Minkey with Re/Max, I just called to see if I can show your house tomorrow morning?

Seller: Who? What?

Me: Jim Minkey with Re/Max…is it OK if I come over tomorrow and show your place?

Seller: Ummmm…No

Me: (confused) Ummm…I can’t?

Seller: No, sorry, we’re busy tomorrow. Why don’t you come over on Sunday afternoon during the open house.

Me: Umm..sorry but my clients have plans on Sunday. They’re meeting me tomorrow.

Seller: Oh, well

Me: Thanks anyway…good luck.

The fourth call is fine and then we have this one: The listing agent is from out of the area. The house doesn’t have a lock-box, has no seller phone number and all showings need to be arranged through the listing agent. So I call him/her in area code 415,510,408 and sometimes 831 or 916 and inevitably leave a message. Do you suppose agent x returns my call? Actually yes they do…at 4:00PM on Sunday afternoon. “Go ahead and show it. There’s a combination lock-box hidden in the meter box on the side of the house” Great, too bad my clients looked at houses yesterday. “You’re exaggerating” you say. I’m serious…this kind of thing happens almost every-time I make appointments to show property.

Here’s the thing..when your house is on the market it’s your product.It has to be exposed to potential purchasers. It’s no different than if you opened a store at the Hillsdale Mall. Imagine Restoration Hardware’s manager saying “Sorry, you can’t come in here on Saturday afternoon, my aunt’s in town from Topeka and we’re busy. Why don’t you come over between 1 and 4 on Sunday afternoon?” Or even better…Restoration Hardware’s manager has to drive over from Fremont to unlock the door but only if you’re lucky enough to catch him on his cell phone to make the appointment well in advance. It’s not a coincidence that these listings tend to sit on the market a long time…and take several price reductions in the process.

No question, it can be a grueling adventure having your home on the market. I’m also well aware that often agents will call, make appointments, and never show up. It’s a pain to have to keep the place in perfect showing condition, especially when the kids are running amok and dinner is burning in the oven but the rewards can be great in doing so. In this market in particular you want as many potential buyers as you possibly can get.

Fun On The Water

One of the key features of living in Foster City is the opportunity to live in a waterfront home. There’s really no discriminating here either…you can live in a waterfront home whether you’re in a single family home, a condo, townhouse or apartment. It’s an equal opportunity lifestyle! My family always lived on the water here and I remember from an early age just how much fun that lifestyle was. You could take a boat to Edgewater place and have dinner or go shopping. You could sail to the main lagoon in front of the Metro Center and watch fireworks. It was great!

Now we’ve entered a new era of features related to living on the water…you could get shot while on the water! I don’t know if you saw this story in the media, and I rarely post about a local news story here…but I couldn’t resisit in this case. Here’s the Chronicle story:

Charges in shooting attack on noisy canoeists

Seems like some folks were goofing around a tad much in their canoe in the water east of Shell behind the Beach Cove Apartments around midnight last week. An outraged tenant took offense…and then took a gun out to confront the noisy boaters. During the argument the cranky tenant shot two men with his .22 handgun…both are going to survive and Mr. Crank is in jail facing two counts of attempted murder and five counts of assault with a firearm.

Maybe I shouldn’t make light of all this…but what a world! I just hope this isn’t the beginning of a trend! I want to sell waterfront homes!

Funky Foto Contest Winner Week 113

I think that one was a little harder than I thought it would be. Of course, Friday’s pic was of the logo on the side of the pumps at the Arco/Am Pm at the corner of Hillsdale and Edgewater. Congratulations to Harish Bashettihalli who’s been playing for a long time and finally wins! Way to go Harish!! Harish get’s the $30.00 gift card to Starbucks. Also arriving with the correct answer was Pak, Mark Polillo on facebook, Parkerton, Mike, Sandy Hughes, Anita Reimann, Steve Toler, Shrikant, Hiro, Jason, Kevin, Paul Patron, and Jason Kwan. Great job folks!! Thanks for playing!