Sonya Paz’s House is on the Market NOW

Back in 2002, Mark was surfing on ebay, looking for a piece of art for our new home –  We live in an Eichler , which is a modern architecture home designed in the 60s and is still considered modern today, so a piece of modern art would work beautifully in our house.  You know that there are many artists on ebay, so Mark finally found one that interested him after hours of looking.  He made a bid and won.  After he contacted the seller to arrange shipping he realized the seller lived just about a ten minute drive away, less than four miles from our house.  It was her early years in painting and that’s how we came to know Sonya Paz.

As the years passed, we have visited her when she had a booth in the art festivals around the Bay Area during the summer.  We went to every gallery opening or event she had because we are fans and we began collecting her art from the early stages.  We even had her do a custom art piece for our wedding invitation.  We invite her over when we have parties and she will invite us when she has parties.  She has been a dear friend to us.  We have watched her business grow, as she has become a well-known and respected artist with followers and collectors worldwide.

She has been living in this house for 14 years and raised two fine boys.  It has now become time for her to make some changes in her life and we are fortunate to be chosen to be part the next step in her life.  If you are a fan of Sonya Paz and also in the market to buy a home, it is now a perfect time to come see this house.

The house is centrally located between the Rose Garden and Willow Glen; conveniently located around schools (walking distance to Sherman Oaks Elementary School and San Jose City College); walking distance to VTA Light Rail Station; Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and O’Connor Hospital nearby; Valley Fair, Santana Row, The Pruneyard, Whole Foods, and other shopping conveniences are within 10 minutes drive; easy access to highway 280/880/87.  Of course, there are 10 Starbucks around this house as well! 

It was built in 1964; it has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, with approx. 1400 sqft living space on approx. 7000 sqft lot.  They did a lot of remodeling over the years, including kitchen cabinets and floor, adding a skylight to the kitchen, dual pane windows and sliding doors, professionally designed and installed landscaping that has a patio in the front yard, stained and stamped concrete driveway and walkway, and an RV parking on the side with professionally built concrete structure driveway under the grass!

Another special feature is that the Los Gatos Creek Trail is not far from this house – the entry is on Meridian Ave, between Fruitdale Ave and Willow St.  You can walk with your children or dogs or even enjoy biking on the trail.

The Open House is on 3/30 Sunday from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. This will be the only Open House we will have for this property so please come to say hello and take a look at this home because you might know someone who is looking for a place to call home.  Hope to see you there!

1687 Kingman Ave, San Jose, 95128 (MLS# 786724)

For more details and photos, please click HERE.

– Sabrina

Housing debt is higher than equity

Friday I saw 2 articles (Wall Street Journal front page, and San Jose Mercury Business section) that highlight how we have seen a slide in the average homeowner equity as a percent of mortgage.  Meaning, forty years ago, it was likely that a homeowner of a property valued at $50,000 had a loan of only $10,000, thus having 80% in equity. 

These articles are trying to point to a slide in housing prices as the primary reason for this phenomenon.  I think the price of housing is just one of many factors.  We should be looking to the lending standards for the true cause.  For the past decade, the traditional 20% down payment which dominated the housing industry since 1945, was replaced by 10%, 5% or even 0% down payment standards.  This led to the greatest number of real estate sales peaking in 2005 as 7.2 million homes were sold.

In addition, there has been a huge growth in “interest only” loans as an overall percentage of loans taken out on new purchases.  Naturally, this means that the homeowner is not paying anything against principle so unless the home grows in value; the homeowner has no way to effect the equity position of their home.

Combining the volume of sales using less than 20% down and the “interest only” loan practice, it should be no surprise that we are shifting toward higher loan-to-value ratios.  I don’t believe these newspaper stories are accurately reporting the cause, instead, they choose to ring the alarm bell on declining home values.  Unfortunately, this is typical for today’s news environment.

On the other hand, paying down your mortgage may not be the best use of your money, at least for some people.  Since the interest rate on your mortgage is about 6.5% and this interest is tax deductible, there is a growing set of investors who are looking to invest money they would use to pay down the principle into a higher return than 6.5%.  I’ve recently read “Missed Fortune 101” by Douglas Andrew who puts together some interesting theories around this approach.


Update on Conforming Loan Limit Increases

The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight
(OFHEO) today announced it has temporarily increased limits on
conforming loans offered by
government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac, from $417,000 to as high as $729,750 in fourteen counties
in California for loans originated between July 1, 2007 and Dec.
31, 2008. Fannie and
Freddie are reported to be working out new underwriting
standards and expect to begin offering the new loans


Also, on Wednesday, the government raised the conforming
loan limit
for mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing
, and has begun offering the maximum limit of
$729,750 for 14 California counties, up from $362,790, for loans
originated between now and Dec. 31, 2008.


The Fed’s economic stimulus package approved
earlier this year called for temporary increases on
conforming and FHA loan limits to allow troubled
borrowers to refinance out of sub-prime loans and make it easier
for many new buyers to qualify for mortgages in high-cost areas,
particularly in California where home prices remain
among the highest in the nation.   


To view a list
of the new FHA Mortgage Limits by county, go to

FHA Loan
Limits by County


For a list of
the proposed loan limit changes for Fannie Mae and Freddie
Mac, go to
California Association of Realtors (CAR).


When is the bottom?

Even if you didn’t ask us this question yet, we know it’s on your mind.  Everyone would like to know – “when will we see the bottom of housing prices?”  Most people are hesitant to make a guess and maybe I’m crazy to take a guess like this, but since this is an interactive discussion, I’ll let you know my opinion and how I get there.

It seems like January 23rd was the day.  Well, maybe not for an exact bottom, but it was the most significant day of the credit crisis thus far and an event occurred which I believe may not be repeated any time soon.  On that day, I’m told by lenders with whom we work, that you could have locked a 30-year fixed loan at a rate of 4.75% — for about 3 hours.  Rates soon shot up by the afternoon and they closed at 5.5% by the end of the day.  If you were lucky enough to have been refinancing or locking a rate for a home purchase you made a great move!

In the Bay Area, January was a painfully slow month as far as the number of sales recorded.  February, even though it is a shorter month as far as the number of days, recorded more sales than January this year.  That is not what happened last year and I believe it is significant move toward normalizing sales activity.

I’m also going on the number of Pending Sales vs. the number of Active Listings.  I’ll work on getting some data and charts to post, but basically it looks like areas that were seeing very little pending sales (like Alum Rock or South San Jose) are now seeing a noteworthy rise in pending sales.

Maybe my ‘bottom call’ is somewhat based on a feeling which is not necessarily the type of analytical data most people are looking for, but I’m willing to take the chance and post the data.  Stay meshed in!