Rules of Etiquette for home-hunting in Pittsburg



Miss Manners has probably not written a manual on the rules of etiquette for house hunting, but such rules do exist. When you follow them, you’ll endear yourself to your own agent, to the agents whose listings you’ll view, and to the homeowners you hope will accept your offer on their home.

Rule #1: Be on time for your appointment. If something happens that prevents you from being on time – like a wreck blocking the freeway or a flat tire – call!

And of course, if you need to cancel, call just as soon as you know that to be a fact.

The others, in no particular order:
Wipe your feet or use booties that the agent or homeowner supplies. Don’t track in dirt!
Control your children. If you’ve brought children along, keep them with you and enforce the “don’t touch” rule, even when there are tempting toys in the house.
Don’t bring your cat or dog inside. If it’s too hot for them to wait in the car, leave them at home or in a boarding kennel.
If you’ve made an appointment to see a home, go inside even if the outside doesn’t appeal. Remember that the homeowner has probably gone to some effort to get the home ready for you to view. And – you just MIGHT get a pleasant surprise.
Don’t open the refrigerator unless it conveys with the house.
Don’t help yourself to food or beverages. (I know, that goes without saying for most of us, but home buyers have been known to take a cold drink or a piece of fruit.)
Don’t sit on the bed unless the house is being sold furnished.
Don’t open dresser drawers.
Ask permission before using the rest room.
If you unlatch and open a window or a door, put it back the way you found it.
Don’t smoke in the house.
Do give your agent feedback. If you love the house, your feedback will be in the form of an offer. But if this isn’t the house for you, let your agent know about things you like and don’t like. This is information that will help him or her focus the search as you continue to look for the perfect home.

Are YOU ready to begin the search for the perfect home in Pittsburg? Then get in touch. I’ll be happy to help you find the home that suits both your lifestyle and your budget.

Does your Pittsburg home for sale have good curb appeal?


You know first impressions are lasting impressions. When it comes to selling your house in Pittsburg, curb appeal is the first impression, and can make the difference between selling your home and not selling it.

The human mind is a complex thing – and it often makes us see what we expect to see.

When a buyer sees a well-tended yard and home exterior, they enter the house expecting to see more of the same, and they generally do. When they see an un-tended lawn, weeds, and a torn screen door, they enter the house expecting to see signs of neglect and deferred maintenance – and that’s what they see.

That means… it pays to spend time making sure your home’s curb appeal is the best it can be.

With that in mind, here’s a check list of tasks to undertake before the first buyer or buyer’s agent views your home:

The house itself:

Power wash and repaint if necessary.
Check the front door for scuffs and scratches – repaint with an appealing color or even replace it with a nicer looking door. Check the back door and repaint if necessary.
If you have pets be sure to check for and remove muddy prints from the doors every day.
Screen doors – make sure all screens are in good repair, hinges are tight, and the handle/ latch works properly.
Windows and screens – wash, then repair any torn screens.
Replace cracked windows.
Clean the gutters.
Check all window frames and door frames for spider webs. Those critters work fast, so if your family usually uses the back door, check the front door daily.
Check your porch lights for unsightly bugs.

The yard:

Keep the grass watered, mowed, and edged.
Trim or remove overgrown plantings – let people see the house!
Add color with flower beds and/or potted plants on porch or steps.
Add fresh mulch to the flower beds and around the shrubs and ornamental bushes.
Check the fence and gate for sags. If it needs new paint, paint it.
Check the walk for large cracks and other tripping hazards. Repair or remove.
Add an attractive doormat.

Pick up and put away/dispose of everything that doesn’t belong – check for and remove kids’ toys, flyers, candy wrappers, hoses, gardening tools, etc. every day. (Remember, some people do drive by before they decide whether they want to see the interior.)

Should you need help with any of these tasks, get in touch. I keep a list of trusted Pittsburg service providers and I’ll be glad to share their names.

Get Your Credit Score in Shape Before Buying a Home






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How strong is your credit? Cleaning up your credit is essential before you make any major financial moves. Having a bad score can hurt your chances of being able to open a credit card, apply for a loan, purchase a car, or rent an apartment.

It is especially important to have clean credit before you try to buy a home. With a less-than-great score, you may not get preapproved for a mortgage. If you can’t get a mortgage, you may only be able to buy a home if you can make an all-cash offer.

Or if you do get preapproval, you might get a higher mortgage rate, which can be a huge added expense. For example, if you have a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of $100,000 and you get a 3.92% interest rate, the total cost of your mortgage will be $170,213. However, if your interest rate is 5.92%, you’ll have to spend $213,990 for the same mortgage – that’s an extra $43,777 over the life of the loan! If you had secured the lower mortgage rate, you could use that additional money to fund a four-year college degree at a public university.

So now that you know how important it is to maintain a good credit score, how do you start cleaning up your credit? Here, we’ve collected our best tips for improving your score.

Talk to a loan professional

You can protect your score from more damage by getting a loan professional to check your credit score for you. A professional will be able to guide you to whether your score is in the ‘good’ range for home buying. Plus, every time that you request your own credit score, the credit companies record the inquiry, which can lower your score. Having a professional ask instead ensures that you only record one inquiry. Once you know your score, you can start taking action on cleaning up your credit.

Change your financial habits to boost your score

What if your score has been damaged by late payments or delinquent accounts? You can start repairing the damage quickly by taking charge of your debts. For example, your payment history makes up 35% of your score according to myFICO. If you begin to pay your bills in full before they are due, and make regular payments to owed debts, your score can improve within a few months.

Amounts owed are 30% of your FICO score. What matters in this instance is the percentage of credit that you’re currently using. For example, if you have a $5000 limit on one credit card, and you’re carrying a balance of $4500, that means 90% of your available credit is used up by that balance. You can improve your score by reducing that balance to free up some of your available credit.

Length of credit history counts for 15% of your FICO score. If you’re trying to reduce debt by eliminating your credit cards, shred the card but DO NOT close the account. Keep the old accounts open without using them to maintain your credit history and available credit.

Find and correct mistakes on your credit report

How common are credit report mistakes? Inaccuracies are rampant. In a 2012 study by the Federal Trade Commission, one in five people identified at least one error on their credit report. In their 2015 follow-up study, almost 70% thought that at least one piece of previously disputed information was still inaccurate.

Go through each section of your report systematically, and take notes about anything that needs to be corrected.

Your personal information
Start with the basics: often overlooked, one small incorrect personal detail like an incorrect address can accidently lower your score. So, before you look at any other part of your report, check all of these personal details:

Make sure your name, address, social security number and birthdate are current and correct.
Are your prior addresses correct? You’ll need to make sure that they’re right if you haven’t lived at your current address for very long.
Is your employment information up to date? Are the details of your past employers also right?
Is your marital status correct? Sometimes a former spouse will come up listed as your current spouse.

Your public records
This section will list things like lawsuits, tax liens, judgments, and bankruptcies. If you have any of these in your report, make sure that they are listed correctly and actually belong to you.

A bankruptcy filed by a spouse or ex-spouse should not be on your report if you didn’t file it. There shouldn’t be any lawsuits or judgments older than seven years, or that were entered after the statute of limitations, on your report. Are there tax liens that you paid off that are still listed as unpaid, or that are more than seven years old? Those all need to go.

Your credit accounts
This section will list any records about your commingled accounts, credit cards, loans, and debts. As you read through this section, make sure that any debts are actually yours.

For example, if you find an outstanding balance for which your spouse is solely responsible, that should be removed from your report. Any debts due to identity theft should also be resolved. If there are accounts that you closed on your report, make sure they’re labeled as ‘closed by consumer’ so that it doesn’t look like the bank closed them.

Your inquiries
Are there any unusual inquiries into your credit listed in this section? An example might be a credit inquiry when you went for a test drive or were comparison shopping at a car dealer. These need to be scrubbed off your report.

Report the dispute to the credit agency

If there are major mistakes, you can take your dispute to the credit agencies. While you could send a letter, it can be much faster to get the ball rolling on resolving a mistake by submitting your report through the credit agency’s website. Experian, Transunion and Equifax all have step-by-step forms to submit reports online.

If you have old information on your report that should have been purged from your records already, such as a debt that has already been paid off or information that is more than 7 years old, you may need to go directly to the lender to resolve the dispute.

Follow up

You must follow up to make sure that any mistakes are scrubbed from your reports. Keep notes about who you speak to and on which dates you contacted them. Check back with all of the credit reporting companies to make sure that your information has been updated. Since all three companies share data with each other, any mistakes should be corrected on all three reports.

If your disputes are still not corrected, you may have to also follow up with the institution that reported the incident in the first place, or a third-party collections agency that is handling it. Then check again with the credit reporting companies to see if your reports have been updated.

If you can keep on top of your credit reports on a regular basis, you won’t have to deal with the headaches of fixing reporting mistakes. You are entitled to a free annual credit report review to make sure all is well with your score. If you make your annual credit review part of your financial fitness routine, you’ll be able to better protect your buying power and potentially save thousands of dollars each year.

How to clean up your credit now

Does your credit score need a boost so you can buy a home? Get in touch with me. I can connect you with the right lending professionals to help you get the guidance you need.

Affordable Upgrades to Increase Your Pittsburg Home’s Value and Appeal

Have you noticed? Sometimes it’s the details that set one house in Pittsburg apart from another and make it more desirable.

Those appealing details can:
Increase the selling price
Cause the home to sell faster
Here are several upgrades that will make your house more attractive to potential buyers – each costing less than $500. (Unless you’re a do-it-yourselfer, add the cost of installation):

Repaint or Replace the front door and/or entry hardware.
Since your front entry is the first thing buyers see when they approach the house, it makes the first impression. Doors come in a wide range of styles and prices, with a good variety available for less than $300. Keyed entry hardware comes in some eye-catching styles for under $150, and you can upgrade to a keyless (digital) entry for less than $200.

Replace the light fixture at your front entry.
If you’ve still got one of those old round-glass bug-catchers, replace it with something classy for under $50.

Install a programmable thermostat
Most people are energy conscious these days, so a programmable thermostat has great appeal. Tech-smart buyers will especially like a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat that allows them to control the temperature from their car or office. 7-day programmable thermostats with Wi-Fi run between $100 and $200.

Upgrade the fixtures and hardware in kitchen or bath.
You may not be able to afford new cabinetry in the kitchen or bath, but you can give the existing cabinets a new, fresh look with new door and drawer pulls, and new faucets.

Consider replacing your kitchen faucet with one of the new models with a spray head – it’s a convenience most love, and you’ll find a good selection for less than $150. If you want to make an even bigger impression – replace the old sink with one that has no wear marks. These are also available for under $200.

Bathroom vanity faucets run from $30 to as much as $300 for designer styles.

Lighting fixtures are also inexpensive and can give a whole new look to a room. You can replace that dated “round bulb” light bar over the bathroom vanity with a stylish fixture for less than $100.

Replace the toilet – or just the seat.
If you’ve scrubbed the old toilet so many times that it never quite sparkles, consider replacing it. New toilets run from $100 to $300, while replacement toilet seats cost less than $30.

If you’re handy, you could make every improvement mentioned here for an investment of less than $1,300. Would it be worth it to cause your home to sell faster, and for more money?

When you’re getting ready to make upgrades prior to selling and wondering where you should spend your dollars, give me a call. I’ll be glad to share my knowledge of our local market and tell you what today’s Pittsburg home buyers want most.

Croskey’s Monthly Market Report – January


Croskey Real Estate Monthly Data Summary

In this post we summarize monthly real estate trends across five categories of single-family homes in Pittsburg, California. All condos, two bedroom detached homes, three bedroom detached homes, four bedroom detached homes, and five plus bedroom detached homes. Here we capture trends in the local Pittsburg market, as compared to larger state and nation wide trends.

In January we observed slight increases in sold home prices of both four and five-plus bedroom homes from December 2015. The sold home price of two bedroom homes showed the largest decline, with a 12.8% decrease in price. Condos and five-plus bedroom homes showed the lowest number of homes sold, with one home sold in each category. Both three and four bedroom homes showed the highest numbers of homes sold, with 18 three bedroom homes sold and 14 four bedroom homes sold in January.

Below are a series of figures indicating the trends in median home price for each category.

***Please note, zero values indicate no sales for that month, and do not represent a median home price of zero dollars. These figures reflect data that is currently available. There may be slight changes in these, due to late reporting of sales***


Figure 1.  Median sold prices of homes in Pittsburg California during the month of January 2016


Figure 2 Percent change calculated from median home prices in December of 2015 and January of 2016. The trend direction of the percent change in median home prices is indicated with +/-  sign.  In instances where no sales data were available the % change was omitted from the table, as % change cannot be calculated properly with a base of zero.


Figure 3. Number of properties sold in January and Year to Date, listed in the corresponding columns.


Figure 4. On the Y-axis we feature the median sold prices of homes in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars. On the X-axis we feature 5 categories of single-family homes that we featured in our analysis.


Figure 5. Median sold prices of all condominiums in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars, in January of 2016.


Figure 6. Median sold prices of two bedroom detached homes in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars, in January of 2016.


Figure 7. Median sold prices of three bedroom detached homes in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars, in January of 2016.


Figure 8. Median sold prices of four bedroom detached homes in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars, in January of 2016.


Figure 9. Median sold prices of five plus bedroom detached homes in Pittsburg, CA in US dollars, in January of 2016.


How to collect rent

Collecting rent is by far a task that no landlord enjoys. Landlords love Receiving rent. Think about the difference between collecting and receiving.  Our clients hire us to do the collecting and the above video shows the system we have created to collect rent. We also talk about what we do if collecting the rent is not possible.