I really like to answer my client's real estate questions via blog posts.  I've found via analytics, you like to read them too.  Ask me your questions, and I'll research the real news.  Contact button is at the top of the page :)

Feb. 8, 2019

Mortgage Industry Update January 2019

Here's a friendly letter from a long time loan agent. 

I thought you'd enjoy the read, if you're looking for loan advice.

Interest rates have dipped slightly in the past several weeks which is good news for your buyers in a real estate market that seems to be going through a correction. Borrowers who got loans in the late summer 2018 may want to explore refinancing to a better rate. Borrowers who are already in the adjustable phase of their older ARM's are seeing their rate resets above 5% now, so a good idea to have them explore refinancing to a fixed product, which of course I can help with. 

Low down/zero down buyers?- The CalHFA program offers loan programs with no down and no closing costs! Ask for details, in a less competitive market these buyers may have a good opportunity to buy NOW! 

Self employed borrowers-12 month bank statements programs to qualify using deposits and NOT looking at income tax returns, let me know if you have buyers like this. 

Available to my office- HIGH balance up to $726,525 to 90% LTV even in NON high cost counties, like San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Sacramento, Solano, so basically ANY county in California that didn't have the high cost limit, is now eligible for a high balance limit up to $726,525. This product is only available to a very select group of brokers, and I have it! Call me for the details,

CONDO's in litigation- YES I can do them, construction defects etc.. let me know your scenario.

As always, have a safe and successful weekend and let me know how I can assist any of your current and previous clients in smooth, efficient and timely loan closings!

Thank you,

Eric Chauhan
Sr. Loan Officer
Associated Mortgage Group
39180 Liberty St #101
Fremont, Ca 94538
PH: 510-494-2625
CELL: 510-676-8939
FAX: 510-744-9835
BRE: 01314394
NMLS: 240203

Posted in Local Market
Feb. 4, 2019

Remodeling Regrets

Remodeling Regrets

Posted in Tips and Tricks
Oct. 14, 2018

3d Tour: 2025 Olivera Rd Unit B in Concord

2025 Olivera Rd Unit B, Concord, CA 94520

Read the seller interview and watch the 3d tour here: https://www.elizabethrusso.com/contra-costa/concord/listing-agent/sold-homes-near-2025-olivera-rd-apt-b-concord-ca-94520/


2BD    1.5BA    975 SqFt    $310 per month HOA

Posted in Listings
Aug. 7, 2018

Retirement Communities in the East Bay Area of California

Retirement Communities in the East Bay Area of California

Are you looking to live in the East Bay Area CA and only want to be in one of the best retirement communities? My favorites are: Rossmoor, Trilogy, Summerset, Trilogy at Vineyards, and The Village at Ironwood.  Check out the most current listings here... 

Click here and let's go and see a few today!

Remember, you have to be a Senior Citizen (55+ years old) to live in these communities.  There are special circumstances that allow non-seniors to live in these communities.  Questions?  I've got answers.

Elizabeth Russo, your favorite Realtor

Posted in Listings
July 21, 2018

Homes with Land for Sale | Residential Agricultural Homes

My Favorite Contra Costa Homes with Land for Sale

Click here to see: Homes with Land for Sale | Residential Agricultural Homes

Ok, coming from a construction background, I still get a lot of clients looking for homes with a large lot, or just a lot of land.  Who isn't a fan of a little home on a large lot or just a big home on a large lot of ag land?  I personally grew up in a big home with ag land. I woke up during harvest with Italians yelling, to do this that or the other, our grapes were old vine zinfandel grapes, and we sold them to local wineries (grapa or vino?).  I fell in love with the culture, so much so, I married a 1st generation genius Italian straight from Sicily.

I really must tell you, I never understood there were so many different grape varietals, until I decided to volunteer at the local wine lounge to learn more... Here are my favorite residential agricultural homes with land in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties

Contact me, I'm ready when you're ready!

-Elizabeth Russo

Posted in Listings
July 13, 2018

Should I Buy?

How do I know when it's the right house to purchase?


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Video Transcription

Hello! I am Elizabeth Russo, if you don't already know.   So, why are you purchasing real estate.  Are you a renter looking to live in the property?  Possibly you already live in the property, and you’re looking to move up or just add an investment to your portfolio?  There is a question you want to ask yourself when purchasing the property: 

How long do you want to hold onto this property?

Are you are a flipper? 

In my opinion flippers are best paired with cash buyers and contractors.  Just because the contractor, though your Realtor can give you a good starting point on how much a kitchen remodel costs,  the contractor contractor can really tell you and you won't have this bottomless pit of money that's just being thrown into.  You really don't want to be in that situation.  So, if you're looking to flip, you should be a cash investor paired with a contractor. 

<5 Years

Now, lets just say you're going to hold it for five years. You've got a great job, you just finished University, and you're working on a robot.  You know this robot is going to pay off, and you're going to be able to buy a 2 million dollar property in a minute here.  So, you just want a place where your family can be, so you can keep plugging away at life and at least have your foot in the door.  That's a really good strategy too.


And then, there's keeping it long term. I believe personally, that's just the best way to go.  It's just, hold it forever, unless something crazy happens and you're forced to sell it.  Now, when keeping it forever, you don't have to live in it forever.  You can later use it as an investment property and rent it out to other people.  You can keep it as a second home.  Maybe it is going to become your forever home.  There are a few things you should know about forever homes.  They certainly aren't forever...  Unless you're really familiar with the neighborhood and the neighbors, I would not count on this being your forever home.  You don't really, in your forever home, care for your house.  You just care for the people all around you.  Those are the best forever homes. 

Now, in purchasing your home, you should probably figure out how it's priced when negotiating to purchase it. 

List vs. Sold 

I mean, you have list vs sold value.  How much it's listed for vs how much it will traditionally sell for.  In the Berkeley and Oakland Hills and things, you're looking at a 20% difference in what it's listed vs what it sold for.  In Walnut Creek / Concord area, Martinez or Clayton, you're looking at maybe 4%, in your difference in the list to sold...  At least currently here in 2018.

Priced for Attention

Another thing you can look at is maybe, is it priced to gain a lot of attention? So, you have a 200,000 dollar asking price, but the home is really going to sell for somewhere around 500,000 dollars?  But that's just their starting bid or something like that.  You need to be mindful, this might not be an awesome deal.  They're just trying to gain attention.  This is not what it will actually sell for. 

Price per Square Foot and Good Condition

And then the next thing is, the price per square foot. In my many years in real estate, I have found, your price per square foot, is...  well, you're getting what you pay for.  Like that guy down the street may have sold his for 300 dollars a square foot and this one isn't.  This one maybe is asking 500 dollars a square foot.  The thing is, it has Viking stove, a SubZero refrigerator and there's just way nicer things.  The flooring's not cork, it's actually some kind of really nice wood, like Acacia or something like that...  And so you really should be looking at your price per square foot as the amenities or the luxury of the house.  What makes it luxury?  Now, the condition of the property is what the price per square foot would be. 

And it's one thing you need to look at in making sure it's properly priced out. 


Look at the foundation. You know the perimeter of the house.  Are you seeing any weird horizontal cracks that looks like, the whole house went *slide*.  Or you go into the garage, and you're looking at the garage floor and you realize that's the same exact foundation that's attached to the rest of the house.  There's like humongous gaps put into it.  I mean, I have been out into properties that it didn't really matter it was just the way it was.  We had a soils engineer come in and look at it.  It wasn't as scary as it seemed.  So, I wouldn't necessarily discount properties just because you see a few notable cracks.  The thing about getting into escrow is holding your foot into the door, so you can get these expensive inspections, to make sure you are investing in the right home.  You can always get your deposit back if you're within your guideline or your timetable of getting that deposit back.  You just won't get the money back for your inspections, ok? 

How much does a soils engineering report cost?  I mean out here in earthquake country, it's a pretty good idea to get one.  Next to your home inspection, I'd say those two are pretty important.  It's around 500 dollars.  Your home inspection is also around 450-550, somewhere around there, depending on the square footage.  And then there's the pest inspection.  Those are my favorites...  Always get a roof...  And you're fairly good to go.  If one of those inspections says to further inspect some other part of the house.  Then you might want to get an asbestos or something like that... a mold inspection...  That's a good starting point. 

Kitchen and Bathrooms

Also, look at the kitchens and bathrooms. Are you good with how it looks?  Do you feel happy when you're in that kitchen?  Is it embarrassing when you walk in?  Can you imagination your friends and family being there?  If you don't really care, then don't think about it. 

The Rest is Paint and Floors

BUT if you do care, you're going to need to factor in those costs.  Everything else is just paint and flooring.  I mean, it's minimal.  So, if you're good with the kitchens, the bathrooms and the foundation looks good.  This might be a pretty good property, if it's properly priced out. 

Now, if this is going to be a rental property:

Good Neighborhood

You probably want to purchase something in a good neighborhood, so you have less vacancies. 

More than 2 Bedrooms

I would go for something with more than two bedrooms, so you have a chance with a growing family, that they'll stay longer...  In a one bedroom, you might have a flip it every year or something like that.  And then you have vacancies to worry about and re marketing fees and tenant screening fees. It's just better, if you're going to buy an investment property, you make it two bedrooms. 

Year-over-Year Value

Now, if it does have a year-over-year value that is just incredible, like some places, it's just incredible....  It's just like, I'm blown away... You can make 14% year-over-year.  If it's one of those places, I mean, do you really need to rent it out, if it's in a rent controlled neighborhood?  Just hold it as an investment.  I don't know about any stock that is going to be long term awesome like that.  Personally, that doesn't hold a massive amount of risk.  So, there's just different considerations when buying a property. 

What are the best homes, or what homes sell the fastest? 

Turn Key

That's turn key homes. I mean, the kitchen, the bathrooms, the flooring, the paint, there's not wild weird foundation problems.  Most importantly people freaking love gardens!  No one really, I mean, lots of people don't really want a garden, but they like to think they would have a garden.  Just ask my husband, I do the gardening around here. 

Unique Homes

You know, in unique homes, your list to sold price is going to be a lot different.  What's a unique home?  It's something that a robot can't tell you what the price is going to be, with a high, medium and low.  You're going to need the expert advice of either your agent or an actual appraiser.  It would be places with a view, luxury features, second dwelling, like a guest house or a pool house.  Something like that... 

Homes with pools aren't necessarily unique homes.  You're not going to gain any more from it.  50% of my clients want that pool and 50% do not want that pool.  It can be a make it or break it situation. 

For instance, the mid century modern, 50% of my clients hate it.  I personally love it.  I think it's so amazing how they bring the outdoors in, but someone who doesn't want to do gardening and doesn't want their privacy kind of like, looked in on, you know...  They probably wouldn't want a mid century modern home. 

Lack of Inventory

And then, there's just lack of inventory. This can make a unique situation and quick to sell.  So, these are kind of the aspects of buying a house and things to consider. 

In unique homes, I've seen it go all of the way up to 50% over the asking price, and you should be prepared, when it appraises lower...  Possibly come in with the difference in the value of the appraisal vs.... 

Another thing you've got to look at when you're paying over the appraised value, you are setting a market price for the next guy.  So, later on in years, your home hopefully won't be dropping in value, because you just made it go up in value. 

When you're ready, please contact me.  Don't forget to subscribe and set up a search.  Customize your search and remember, I built my own website.  I'm interactively searching with you.  All of my listings are kept up to date, and I'm looking forward to meeting you soon, bye!

To get started on your journey to find a home click:

I'd like to search for home with you, let's start by clicking here.

Posted in Tips and Tricks
July 7, 2018

My Favorite Homes for Sale

My Favorite Homes for Sale

Click here to see all of my favorite homes for sale!


Here're the homes coming up in my favorite search criteria. I asked ElizabethRusso.com to show me homes with a minimum of, 3 bedrooms up to 5 bedrooms, 6,000 sq ft lot, 1-2 story or split level, in specific towns, and I'd like a view of something. Personally, I love the culture and people who live in these towns.

Now, what I'd really love to live in, isn't anywhere on the market.  I might just have to build it...  I'd like to live in a work/live space.  My garage would be on the first level with two entrances one to my living quarters (upstairs / loft) and the other entrance into my work space, large enough to store all of my gear, a ping pong table, a big conference table, kitchen, break out spaces and a lot of natural light.  I don't want any bells and whistles, just a raw place that locks down like Knox to call home.  Thinking I should just get some land and stick a big warehouse on it. :-)

Seriously though,


Posted in Listings
July 6, 2018


You are being targeted to purchase a home, because we count on you for economic growth moving forward.

Local Market Update - 7/6/18: Mortgage rates are getting better!

All Spring, when we're suppose to be setting the prices for the Summer, I was at a loss as to why we weren't selling more homes.  In reading, I found @FreddieMac believed our slow down to be the unusual run up in mortgage rates. 

Good news, they believe rates will be declining in the so short term, giving Millennials a little breathing room to purchase their first home.

We're now into our 10th year since the crash.  During this time home values made a slow recovery.  It's a good thing we have a whole new generation ready to purchase their first home, because we will see some more growth moving forward.

After a very boring 5 months, I am so excited to be out with more clients than ever.  I Is Elizabeth Russo a good Realtor?  Read what Google says...just closed escrow with the best couple from the San Francisco Peninsula. They decided to help their children purchase their first home.

We went out one time, looked at every available condo and town house in their criteria, picked one, bid on it, won the bid, did inspections and waited for the magic of the closing to happen...  Now, this morning, the demolition crew is there with our contractor, giving the tired home a facelift. 

Soon their children will have an almost new home to move into.  Exciting stuff.  It's nice to have a perfect escrow with the most perfect clients.  Did you know they watched ALL of my YouTube videos?  They treated me like a movie star.  It's bad enough my head is a little big... now it bobbles!  Oh, and they even wrote me a nice review :)

In the escrow of this home, I was so inspired to write a blog post exploring the importance of HOA dues.  I gave a little thought about how those terrible HOA's are forcing us to be a responsible community and in turn, they're protecting our home values: http://www.elizabethrusso.com/blog/are-hoa-dues-necessary/

Did you know I built this website?  I can give added advice as you need it, because we're interactively searching together.  To get started on your journey to find a home click:

I'd like to search for home with you, let's start by clicking here.


Mortgage Rates: Week ending July 5, 2018

Calif. Median Home Price: May 2018:

  • California: $600,860

  • Calif. highest median home price by region/county: San Francisco, $1,620,000

  • Calif. lowest median home price by region/county: Tehama, $197,500

Have a little time on your hands?  Check out some of my most favorite starter homes, in the East Bay Area CA: http://www.elizabethrusso.com/homes-for-sale/my-first-home/

I work hard and love keeping you up to date in anything real estate.  When you're ready to purchase or sell a home, make contact, ok?  I'm ready.

Posted in Local Market
June 29, 2018

It's National Camera Day - Check mine out!

The photos just didn't look like the home?  Was it possible your Realtor tried to sneak this one in to the list of homes you wanted see? 

I offer interactive 3d tours to help sellers gain the most exposure of their home for sale.

OR the photos on that listing looked awesome, but they didn't come out so great, when that wasn't what you expected.

I feel badly for the seller when I see that same listing, months later, STILL on the market.

Discount real estate agents don't know how to set themselves apart from their competitors.  How in the world do you think they're going to set your most valued investment apart from the sea of homes just like yours? 

A while back, I got some awesome advice from a seller.  He said, "Kid, I don't want a bunch of options from a discount menu.  I just want you to sell my home for a lot of money. Give me your best packaged plan."

My interactive 3d tour is now apart of my best packaged plan to sell your home for the highest value in the least amount of time possible.  

Make contact with me when you're ready, ok?  I have a lot of fun marketing homes!  And I'm really good at it :-)

OH! Click here for an example of my interactive 3d tour.

Come by and say hi at any of my open houses!

Posted in Tips and Tricks
June 27, 2018

Are HOA Dues Necessary?

I love that clients are always giving me their wish list.  I consider it one of the biggest complements when they sit across from me and ask me to pull out my crystal ball.  ...like they count on me to have the magic of Santa. 

@caisocial gave us a great infographic to show us the pros and cons (further down on this page), and I created a little video to help you understand the HOA differences:

Differences Between a Condo and PUD Homeowners Association

Does anyone really want to live in the ghetto?  Maybe they don't care, but if I handed them an extra 300k, they'd move out.  Actually, I believe they'd try and outrun the moving van to their new crib. My point, don't rent because you can't find something without HOA dues.  Don't wait for that single family home to never come. 

Invest in yourself and your future.  Pull the trigger and let someone help keep your investment safe. Give a little thought about how those terrible HOA's are forcing us to be a responsible community and in turn, they're protecting our home values.

Either way, Hakuna Matata!  Just know, when I'm riding on my sled, scouring the East Bay Area California, I'm looking for your perfect home, many times WITHOUT those pesky HOA dues or at least low ones.  Contact me when you're ready to pull the trigger, ok?  Remember, I want to be your Realtor.

Are HOAs bad news?

Posted in Tips and Tricks