Costs to Consider: 4 Unexpected Home Owner Expenses

By: Nancy Mann JacksonUnexpected Home Expenses

After several years of a slow housing market, buying is picking up. Housing prices have dropped significantly during the recent slowdown, and mortgage rates remain at historic lows, meaning that purchasing a house is more affordable than it has been in years.

However, if you’re wondering, “Should I buy or rent?”, it’s important to realize that your housing costs will go beyond your monthly mortgage payment. As a renter, you don’t need to worry about anything beyond your monthly rent, but owning a home comes with a wide range of financial obligations. As a homeowner, you’ll be responsible for several costs.

Things to Consider when Buying a House

  1. Property Taxes – As a homeowner, you are responsible for paying annual taxes on the property you own. Often, these taxes are bundled into your monthly mortgage payment and held in an escrow account, and the mortgage company pays them for you each year. If you choose to pay taxes this way, be prepared for your mortgage payment to be a little higher each month to cover taxes.
  2. Home Insurance – As a renter, you may have purchased renters insurance to cover the cost of your belongings inside the home, but as a homeowner, you must pay to insure your entire home from fire or other damages. If you live near water, you may be required to pay extra for flood insurance. This expense is also frequently included in your monthly mortgage payment and held in escrow until annual premiums are due.
  3. Ongoing Maintenance – When a homeowner wakes up to a broken water heater and a cold shower, you can’t call the landlord or the maintenance department for help. You must find a plumber, pay the bill, and purchase a new water heater or parts or whatever is needed. As a homeowner, it’s important to have a cash fund available for emergencies – you never know when you may need to fix a leaky faucet, a broken lawn mower or buy a new dishwasher.
  4. Utility Bills – Some landlords cover water and sewer bills, and others include cable or Internet access with a lease agreement. As a homeowner, you won’t benefit from any such perks; you’ll be responsible for paying all the monthly bills, including some that you might not even think of as a new homeowner:º Electricity
    º Gas or oil
    º Water
    º Sewer
    º Trash pickup
    º Landscaping and/or snow removal

If you are financially prepared for the costs associated with owning a home, it may be the best choice, as it will allow you to build equity that you can benefit from for years to come.

Berkeley Point Executes $325M in Refinancing for The Gateway in San Francisco

By Joshua Ayers –

San Francisco—Berkeley Point Capital LLC, along with Freddie Mac, recently closed on the largest single-asset loan in its company history. The 10-year, $325 million refinance loan for The Gateway, a 7.74 acre San Francisco property, was locked-in at a fixed rate of 3.38 percent and is a full-term, interest-only loan.

“Berkeley Point Capital and Freddie Mac had valuable knowledge about the asset and have a long-standing relationship with the asset’s ownership group, giving us an edge in what was a very competitive process,” says Mitch Clarfield, senior managing director at Berkeley Point.

Clarfield headed-up the loan process, working with the sponsor to narrow down options that helped secure a 15-day rate lock for the nearly 50-year-old, multifamily and mixed-use community that has been in both Berkeley Point and Freddie Mac’s portfolio since 1997.

Additionally, Berkeley Point was able to negotiate an extended rate lock that helped to negate any potential rate and spread risks and allowed for repayment of the yield maintenance premium, which will provide “substantial savings to the borrower,” according to a press statement issued by the company.

“We took a very competitive stance in hopes that we could provide our customer an opportunity to lock in a long-term rate at what proved to be near historic lows,” Clarfield says. “We worked closely with Freddie Mac to put an outstanding offer on the table.”

The close of the loan signals the fifth time that Berkeley Point and Freddie Mac have financed the community, which includes refinancing in 1997 and 2005, and second mortgages that were placed in 2001 and 2007.

Built between 1965 and 1967, The Gateway features 1,254 multifamily units in addition to 62,000 square feet of ground-level retail space, with tenants including Safeway, Starbucks and Bank of America. It is located amid the city’s Financial District and is a short distance to the Embarcadero and Ferry Building.

“This is a one-of-a-kind asset and we wanted it to remain in our portfolio for at least another 10 years,” Clarfield says.

Google spends $235M to buy Mountain View offices

401 Ellis St. in Mountain View is one of the properties Google bought last week.

401 Ellis St. in Mountain View is one of the properties Google bought last week.

by  –

In its largest property purchase of the year, Google Inc. has just paid $235.5 million to acquire a six-building portfolio in Mountain View — including two buildings that are leased to another blue-chip corporate tenant: Symantec.

The transaction, which totaled just over 400,000 square feet of office space, is the latest in a string of major leases and acquisitions for Google. Many of those deals have closed in the third quarter as the search giant continues a breathtaking expansion and hiring binge.

Google made its latest purchase from Equity Office, according to property records filed Friday. The acquired properties include:

  • Mountain View Technology Center a 131,500-square-foot, two-building project at 313 and 323 Fairchild Drive, for which Google paid $82.2 million, or $625 per square foot.
  • Gateway Center, a 236,400-square-foot project at 401 Ellis St. and 500 E. Middlefield Drive. Google paid $138.8 million, or $587 per square foot.
  • 485 and 495 Clyde Ave., a pair of R&D buildings totaling 64,800 square feet. Google paid $15 million, or $230 per square foot.

Google is already in the Fairchild Research Center, which it has leased since June 2011. But it does not occupy the other spaces. Computer security software pioneer Symantec occupies Gateway Center, and OpenTV, a television-tech company, is the main tenant in the Clyde Avenue project.

It’s unclear what Google’s plans are for the Symantec-occupied spaces. Symantec leased 401 Ellis St. in 2010, and followed up with 500 E. Middlefield Drive in fall 2011. Google, Equity Office and Symantec were not immediately available for comment.

Symantec owns about 725,000 square feet of space in Mountain View, and leases 285,000 square feet, according to its most recent annual report. Those leases begin expiring in 2018.

Industry sources said that it is rare, but not unheard of, to for a corporate owner to buy a property that is long-term leased to another corporate tenant.

In Google’s case, the play could be twofold: It could see the acquisition as a way to bank property in Mountain View as it waits for the leases to expire, while earning a potentially higher yield on real estate than it would on cash.

It also tracks with Google’s desire to shift toward more of an ownership real estate strategy after being primarily a tenant in its earlier years.

In another property acquisition in July, Google paid $66.7 million for about 200,000 square feet of older industrial buildings in Palo Alto, where it may be considering redevelopment. And last week, I reported on another deal in which Google picked up two R&D buildings from Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management for $16 million.

As of Dec. 31, Google owned about 3.5 million square feet of office and building space near Mountain View, and leased 3.8 million square feet, according to its most recent annual report.

Combined, that is about the entire footprint of the Mission West Properties Inc. portfolio that was sold late last year in the biggest transaction of the year.

Equity acquired the properties when its parent, the Blackstone Group, acquired CarrAmerica Realty Corp. in 2006. It’s difficult to assess the appreciation of the properties, but Carr originally paid $53.6 million, or $407 per square foot, for the Mountain View Technology Center in 2005. That is the project Google paid $82.2 million, or $625 per foot, in last week’s deal.

All of the properties Google bought from Equity are south of the 101 freeway near the Sunnyvale border, in an area thick with R&D buildings. Google has traditionally preferred to stick north of the 101 in the North Bayshore area, where the original Googleplex is located at 1600 Amphitheater Parkway. But it has pushed out in recent years south of 101 and into Sunnyvale.

Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18:  Lloyd Blankfein, Ch...

Lloyd Blankfein, Chairman and CEO of the Goldman Sachs Group (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

It’s time to gore another collectivist sacred cow. This time it’s the popular idea that the successful are obliged to “give back to the community.” That oft-heard claim assumes that the wealth of high-earners is taken away from “the community.” And beneath that lies the perverted Marxist notion that wealth is accumulated by “exploiting” people, not by creating value–as if Henry Ford was not necessary for Fords to roll off the (non-existent) assembly lines andSteve Jobs was not necessary for iPhones and iPads to spring into existence.

Let’s begin by stripping away the collectivism. “The community” never gave anyone anything. The “community,” the “society,” the “nation” is just a number of interacting individuals, not a mystical entity floating in a cloud above them. And when some individual person–a parent, a teacher, a customer–”gives” something to someone else, it is not an act of charity, but a trade for value received in return.

It was from love–not charity–that your mother fed you, bought clothes for you, paid for your education, gave you presents on your birthday. It was for value received that your teachers worked day in and day out to instruct you. In commercial transactions, customers buy a product not to provide alms to the business, but because they want the product or service–want it for their own personal benefit and enjoyment. And most of the time they get it, which is why they choose to continue patronizing the same businesses.

All proper human interactions are win-win; that’s why the parties decide to engage in them. It’s not the Henry Fords and Steve Jobs who exploit people. It’s the Al Capones and Bernie Madoffs. Voluntary trade, without force or fraud, is the exchange of value for value, to mutual benefit. In trade, both parties gain.

Each particular individual in the community who contributed to a man’s rise to wealth was paid at the time–either materially or, as in the case of parents and friends, spiritually. There is no debt to discharge. There is nothing to give back, because there was nothing taken away.

Well, maybe there is–in the other direction. The shoe is on the other foot. It is “the community” that should give back to the wealth-creators. It turns out that the 99% get far more benefit from the 1% than vice-versa. Ayn Rand developed the idea of “the pyramid of ability,” which John Galt sets forth inAtlas Shrugged:

When you live in a rational society, where men are free to trade, you receive an incalculable bonus: the material value of your work is determined not only by your effort, but by the effort of the best productive minds who exist in the world around you.

When you work in a modern factory, you are paid, not only for your labor, but for all the productive genius which has made that factory possible: for the work of the industrialist who built it, for the work of the investor who saved the money to risk on the untried and the new, for the work of the engineer who designed the machines of which you are pushing the levers, for the work of the inventor who created the product which you spend your time on making . . .

In proportion to the mental energy he spent, the man who creates a new invention receives but a small percentage of his value in terms of material payment, no matter what fortune he makes, no matter what millions he earns. But the man who works as a janitor in the factory producing that invention, receives an enormous payment in proportion to the mental effort that his job requires of him. And the same is true of all men between, on all levels of ambition and ability. The man at the top of the intellectual pyramid contributes the most to all those below him, but gets nothing except his material payment, receiving no intellectual bonus from others to add to the value of his time. The man at the bottom who, left to himself, would starve in his hopeless ineptitude, contributes nothing to those above him, but receives the bonus of all of their brains. Such is the nature of the ‘competition’ between the strong and the weak of the intellect. Such is the pattern of ‘exploitation’ for which you have damned the strong.

For their enormous contributions to our standard of living, the high-earners should be thanked and publicly honored. We are in their debt.

Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind. (Since profit is the market value of the product minus the market value of factors used, profit represents the value created.)

Instead, we live in a culture where Goldman Sachs is smeared as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” That’s for the sin of successful investing, channeling savings to their most productive uses, instead of wasting them on government boondoggles like Solyndra and bridges to nowhere.

There is indeed a vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity: the Internal Revenue Service. And, at a deeper level, it is the monstrous perversion of justice that makes the IRS possible: an envy-ridden moral code that damns success, profit, and earning money in voluntary exchange.

An end must be put to the inhuman practice of draining the productive to subsidize the unproductive. An end must be put to the primordial notion that one’s life belongs to the tribe, to “the community,” and that the superlative wealth-creators must do penance for the sin of creating value.

And Ayn Rand is just the lady who can do it.

Miami Brick Pavers Trending in the Construction Game

by Jeff Fuller –

Miami Brick Pavers Trending in the Construction Game
With all of the things you can do to improve the look of your property, adding quality brick paving can be among the cheapest and most beneficial.

( — April 15, 2013) Miami, FL — When it comes to hiring Miami Brick paving Pros professionals in Miami there are many factors to take into consideration.  Experts suggest asking friends and family members about any reputable brick pavers they know in the area. From there you will have a good start when it comes to finding the right company. Experts then go on to say that you can’t go by referrals alone; you have to do your own homework. They explain that each Miami Brick paving Pros should have the proper licensing and training and should be able to easily provide documentation. Potential clients need to get the scoop before calling any professional Brick paving service so that their event runs smoothly.

Obtain references from potentials brick pavers, this will guarantee a better idea of the work they do as well as their professionalism. Experts discuss the need for references as well as the importance of looking up online reviews for the company on places like Google and Yelp. That should be able to tell you a lot about the quality of work and their expertise. If you are looking for great Miami Brick paving services, these tools are excellent resources.

If something about the brick pavers seems shady or unprofessional chances are you are right. If you ask for references and they can’t provide them, or they pause regarding supplying proper licenses or board certifications regarding Brick paving then you should move on. It is always advisable to go with your gut if you feel a company is not giving you all the information you deem necessary. Whatever type of brick paving you are planning is, you should not leave it to chance when it comes to exterior brick paving Miami. It can truly transform your property overnight.

Quality brick pavers in Miami will be able to send Miami concrete pavers to your property to conduct a free evaluation and assessment of your property to determine what kind of brick paving you can do to improve the value of your home. A reputable Miami commercial brick paving service should be able to offer you a myriad of different options that can dramatically improve the look of your real estate property in a very short amount of time.

Do your research and choose Miami driveway pavers that are known to provide excellent service and care in the Miami area. Take a look online at today to learn more about the specific services and products you can choose to customize your stone pavers Miami needs to your specific property.

4 Most Common Reasons For Needing Flood Restoration

A U.S. Marine Corps combat engineer with Black Sea Rotational Force 2011 removes ceramic tiles during a renovation project at a senior citizens' home in Tbilisi, Georgia, July 20, 2011, during Agile Spirit 2011 110720-M-XX999-001

Although it’s common to immediately think of severe weather situations as the cause for needing residential flood restoration, it’s crucial for homeowners to realize that there are many instances that can bring about flood damage. Knowing what to watch out for may save you from costly home repairs and permanent destruction that results in the loss of personal belongings.

Toilet Backups

Toilet backups can lead to quite an overwhelming burden as well as unsanitary conditions. Flood damages are often caused by an overflowing toilet, and this can happen for a variety of reasons. Dirt and debris can end up in the pipes of plumbing systems, causing them to clog or break. Pipe joints often become mismatched when sections shift and settle into a different position. Many homeowners find that roots from trees in their yard have crept into the sewer, generating problems. Sometimes sewers are too small to do their job in areas that are newly-developed.

Homeowners should maintain their sewage system where possible by handling any clogs right away and periodically checking to make sure the toilet tank isn’t overfilling. Most toilet backups with serious overflows are a hazardous situation for people to clean up on their own. The professional services of a flood restoration company are suggested because of all the illness-causing contaminants found in raw sewage.

Roof Leaks

As we all know roofs are used to shield a dwelling from outside elements, and they are something you don’t want to overlook when it comes to regular home maintenance. A leaky roof can mean big problems for the inside of a home if a storm rolls in. Blocked gutters, missing shingles, unsealed caulking, damaged roof or ridge vents and poorly installed flashing around a chimney are all scenarios that can lead to a leaky roof. Homeowners should make it a practice to always check their roof after a storm and a few other times throughout the year. A leaking roof can be hidden for awhile until it becomes so bad that it results in major water damage, mold and musty odors.

Unattended Yards

Flood damage inside can also be caused by a lack of maintenance or carelessness outside. Grading the yard of a home so that it carries water away from it instead of allowing water to run towards it is important to preventing flood damage, especially in the basement. Landscaping should ideally be kept a few feet away from the foundation of the home, and when watering with hoses or sprinklers, make sure water is not left to run or wetting exterior walls.

Household Appliance Failures

Refrigerators, dishwashers, ice makers and washing machines are all common reasons for eventually needing flood restoration in a home. These household appliances come with hoses that need to be maintained and checked frequently to ensure they continue to stay properly connected and tightened. At the first sign of a leaky appliance, it should be shut off and repaired right away.

Flood restoration companies have the appropriate tools and training to manage water damage and get a home back in working order with as minimal loss and repair cost as possible. Flood damage often happens without warning, but taking precautionary measures by keeping an eye out for these potentially destructive situations can help in the long run.

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Image author owned

By Tiffany Olson

Tiffany Olson is an avid blogger who lives in Northern California. She gained her interest in home realted topics from her father who is a retired life-long Union Carpenter. She loves researching and sharing knowledge with the public via social media and guest blogging.

U.S. DOT gives Colorado $30M for road repairs

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

by  –

The U.S. Department of Transportation will immediately provide another $30 million in emergency relief funds to repair flood-damaged roads and bridges in Colorado.

The DOT last week authorized $5 million in emergency funds for repairs to Colorado. Last week’s flooding destroyed 30 bridges.

“While Colorado begins the difficult work recovering from these devastating floods, we will do everything we can to help restore vital transportation links,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “We will continue to support the people of Colorado as they confront major disruptions and help them get their roads, bridges and everyday routines back to normal as soon as possible.”

The preliminary damage cost estimate in Colorado is $40 million for roads and $112 million for bridges. Highways 14, 34 and 36 each had 20 miles of damage.

The DOT said $25 million of the newly announced funding will go toward reopening roads, providing detours and protecting damaged structures. The other $5 million will be spent to repair roads and bridges on federally-owned lands in the state, including the Rocky Mountain National Park and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge.

The federal dollars, which will come through the Federal Highway Administration’sEmergency Relief Program, also will reimburse the Colorado Department of Transportationfor emergency work done immediately after the flooding. Additional funds will be made available as repairs are identified and cost estimates are made.

Rocket Fuel quadruples space in Redwood City

Rocket Fuel, led by CEO George John, quadrupled its space in Redwood City.

Rocket Fuel, led by CEO George John, quadrupled its space in Redwood City.

Rocket Fuel Inc.’s space needs are taking off like — well, a rocket.

(Come on, you saw that one coming, right?)

The advertising technology company, which confidentially filed for an initial public offering back in June, has leased 105,775 square feet at Pacific Shores Center, the 10-building, 1.7-million-square-foot campus in Redwood City. The deal, signed in August, was first noted in a market reportfrom Colliers International.

Its new lease is nearly four-and-a-half times the space it has at 350 Marine Parkway, which I’m told is being offered for sublease.

Rocket Fuel’s deal is another indication —like you needed one — of the IPO-real estate connection. We previously notednew deals that came around the same time as a public offering, with Violin Memory and Gigamon being the most recent examples.

Rocket Fuel, founded in 2008, is taking three floors at 1900 Seaport Blvd., leasing suites 100, 300 and 400. The company will pay an initial monthly base rent of $3.25 per square foot, according to an SEC filing. The tenant improvement allowance is $35 per square foot.

Brokers with Cassidy Turley represented the landlord, Starwood Capital and the Blackstone Group, the filing notes. Cornish & Carey Commercial Newmark Knight Frank represented the tenant.

We first told you about Rocket Fuel IPO filing back in August. The company, which offers up consumer data for the digital advertising market using automated decision-making tools and predictive models, had 405 U.S. workers and 60 overseas as of June 30. (For comparison, a year prior it had 190 and 15, respectively.) It has regional offices across the U.S. and Europe.

The company raised its IPO target range on Wednesday, expecting its 4 million shares to price in a range of $27 to $29.

This latest transaction brings Pacific Shores to 93 percent occupancy, according to some quick math based on available space listed on the Pac Shores website. It’s home to numerous tech companies including Zazzle Inc., Zenprise, Sencha, BroadVision and Informatica.

San Mateo County’s office vacancy was pegged at 12.42 percent in early September, according to Colliers, with average full-service rents clocking in at $3.50.