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City Sunday, May 7, 2017 For the fear of shadows: Real estate development under Berkeley’s new City Council Aslesha Kumar/Staff By Charlene Jin | StaffLast Updated May 8, 2017 Tweet !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Comment20 After more than 20 years as a real estate broker in the Bay Area, Daniel Winkler has sworn off Berkeley. “I don’t want to own rentals in Berkeley, I don’t want to own an office in Berkeley and I don’t want to build in Berkeley ever again,” Winkler said. In February 2015, Daniel Winkler & Associates helped CS Development & Construction buy a property at 1310 Haskell StThe developer had planned to replace the site’s existing single-family home with three 2-story units. The development was in compliance with the city’s zoning ordinance, according to Winkler, and was approved by the Zoning Adjustments Board in March 2016Berkeley City Council, however, has rejected the development twice after hearing concerns from surrounding residents that the new housing would be out of scale and cast shadows on their neighborhood. “I can’t imagine someone coming to my house and saying, ‘You should move because the place you live casts a shadow over my house,’ ” said Sonja Trauss, founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation, a coalition of approximately 600 pro-density renters“There’s a reason for which people live in BerkeleyTheir needs are way more important.” After City Council first rejected the project, the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, an organization dedicated to suing California cities that disregard state housing law, filed a lawsuit alleging that the city had violated the California Housing Accountability ActThe law makes it difficult for local governments to reject housing that complies with local zoning laws and cities’ general plans. Aslesha Kumar/Staff The city of Berkeley settled the case, agreeing to hold another public hearing on the 1310 Haskell StdevelopmentBut at the hearing Feb28, the council once again rejected the development, claiming that the Housing Accountability Act did not protect certain parts of the development plan, such as the demolition of the already existent house on the lot. Winkler alleged that City Council was exploiting a legal loopholeThe developer disagreed with the council’s interpretation, but he chose not to file another lawsuit to avoid high costs, Winkler said. “Right now you have a derelict lot with a dilapidated house that no one can occupy,” Winkler said“That’s better than three homes that are two-story that are well within the zoning guidelines?” Like the developers of 1310 Haskell St., many others have become involved in prolonged administrative processes with the city while trying to get their developments approved. In January, the Pacific School of Religion actively abandoned a development project on its campus, citing the “changes in the (city’s) political landscape.” At the beginning of the year, the developers of the contentious Harold Way project, located in Downtown Berkeley, announced that they were selling their permit for the 18-story development. Last December, Mayor Jesse Arreguín took office alongside a new group of several self-proclaimed progressive city councilmembers, many of whom emphasized community inclusion and housing justice as part of their campaign platforms. But Arreguín has garnered an anti-development reputation among someArreguín said this might be because, unlike his predecessor Tom Bates, he evaluates construction projects on a case-by-case basis instead of automatically approving them. In the five months since Arreguín took office, seven developments have been brought before the councilOf these projects, one was denied, five were approved by the council and one was approved by default after the council failed to come to a decisionAmong the projects that passed, however, three were approved only after their decisions were delayed up to three times. Projects such as 1310 Haskell Stare part of a larger ethical and economic debate about how the community should address development. Most recently, City Council approved a long-disputed development at 2902 Adeline St, a proposed 14,065 square-foot apartment complexThe finalized agreement, a 50-dwelling unit project, allocates four units to very low-income housing and four units to low-income housing. While most parties agree that there is a need for more housing, there has been much controversy as to what types of development are justifiedSome argue the city’s housing shortage must be addressed by building as much housing as possible, but others call for a focus on housing regulations and affordable housing development to ensure that new developments are accessible for the city’s most vulnerable residents. The crisis Between 2010 and 2016, Berkeley’s rents have risen more than 65 percent, according to lead Rent Stabilization Board staff attorney Matt Brown. Since about 1995, the Bay Area has generally experienced economic prosperitySilicon Valley employees have moved to Berkeley, and housing supply hasn’t been able to keep up with demand, driving up costs, said Robert Edelstein, campus professor emeritus from the Haas School of Business and co-chair of the campus Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. Between 1980 and 2000, Arreguín said, the city of Berkeley saw very little market-rate development — a trend he attributed to the city’s passage of the 1973 Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance, which placed stricter regulations on development. Additionally, the city has a long-standing tendency to protest new development for reasons such as ugly designs, hasty approval, transportation issues and demand for more affordable housing units, said campus geography professor emeritus Richard Walker. But amid the housing crisis, Arreguín said, the city must build more units — specifically those that are affordable — in order to prevent people from being pushed out of Berkeley. Berkeley is no longer a suburb, but part of the urban core of a large metropolitan area, according to WalkerHe added that as the Bay Area grows denser, developments are needed to provide more housing, offices and other amenities — Berkeley can’t stay the same. Playing “musical chairs” Numerous projects being built in Berkeley are priced between $2,500 and $4,000 per month, and are affordable only to those in upper income levels, Arreguín saidHe added that Berkeley is currently subject to speculation by out-of-town real estate agencies that acquire properties as investment opportunities, thus displacing people from their homes. “It’s like musical chairsPeople are going to fight over housing… People who are rich are going to get itSo if there are more people than housing, the ‘extra’ people are going to be poor people.” — Sonja Trauss, founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Renters’ Federation Berkeley Student Cooperative, which aims to provide affordable housing for students, shares the same concernBSC operates at a full capacity of 1,260 beds and had to wait list 1,400 students last semester, according to BSC Vice President of External Affairs Zach Gamlieli. Davis Belilty, a second-year Berkeley City College student, applied to live in a co-op in 2014, but it took him nearly a year and half to get inThough his home is now a 10-minute walk away from the college, he commuted from Oakland for the first three months he attended BCC. Belilty enjoyed his bike commute to BCC — a courtesy of the West Coast’s balmy climate –– but it carved out a significant portion of his dayBelilty wasn’t alone as a student forced to live outside the city of Berkeley — a fellow student from his Spanish class, for instance, lived in StocktonBelilty said he believes more rigorous regulation on property uses and price ceilings are necessary to mitigate this displacement. “An increase in housing supply that can only be afforded by a small subset of the population is not really an increase in the housing supply,” Gamlieli said in an email. Trauss, however, said it doesn’t matter which type of housing the city invests in — low-income or market-rateIn the absence of new luxury developments, according to Trauss, high-income individuals who wish to live in the area can always afford to compete with mid- and low-income populations for existing housing, which drives up prices eventually. “It’s like musical chairsPeople are going to fight over housing.” Trauss said“People who are rich are going to get itSo if there are more people than housing, the ‘extra’ people are going to be poor people.” Even if newly developed properties cost more than other properties in the surrounding neighborhood, Edelstein said, any addition to the overall housing supply will lower the average property price. But if market-rate housing development truly drives housing prices down, Brown said, the new development that took place over the last three years of Bates’ mayorship would have shown thatInstead, Berkeley experienced unprecedented rent increases, he added.  Now, City Council is taking a different path — Arreguín hopes to finance 500 units of affordable housing developments with funds from the newly approved Measures U1 and A1, Arreguín said Visions of Berkeley To Kelly Hammargren, development often leads to the loss of Berkeley’s many historic buildings and unique environment. The Harold Way Project had been set to feature 302 apartment units and a three-level underground parking lotThe construction, however, had drawn concern from Berkeley residents that the new building would interrupt the city’s view of the bayThe project also called for the replacement of Shattuck Cinemas with a new 10-screen movie theater. The thought of losing the city’s largest movie complex called people to action, Hammargren said, adding that the protest against the Harold Way project had garnered more than 5,000 signatures because there was something in the project “for everybody to hate.” “So here, we can sit on grass and there’s sunshine all around us — that’s what makes Berkeley livable,” Hammargren said. “Sometimes being a part of a community means that you’ll be asked to give up some of your own comforts for the greater good.” — Dana Buntrock, UC Berkeley architecture professor Nonetheless the Harold Way Project was ultimately approved after nearly three years of deliberationCity councilmembers who voted in favor of the project back in December 2015 said the developer’s fee payment of $10.5 million would enable the city to create more affordable housing. The new council in general, however, has been more interested in appropriately sized developments that will not obstruct sunshine over massive amounts of space, according to Hammargren. Campus architecture professor Dana Buntrock said preserving individual properties’ access to light is minor in relation to mitigating displacement. “The trade-off that comes with protecting that house’s access to light at all costs is for other people to move further and further away… into dangerous housing like the Ghost Ship,” Buntrock said in an email“Sometimes being a part of a community means that you’ll be asked to give up some of your own comforts for the greater good.” In limbo Winkler said he feels that Arreguín’s policies, however, are putting small real estate businesses at riskUnlike larger development companies that pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to lawyers, “mom-and-pop” developers can’t afford to fight the city. “This is not some big development company — this is a mom and pop, husband and wife,” Winkler said of the Haskell Street project’s owner, CS Development & Construction“They build houses for their livingThey’re not flying in a private jetThey’re not building a thousand units a year.” Clifford Orloff, the managing partner of OPHCA, a developer that took the city to court twice over demolition fees associated with its project, said the city’s recent actions have made development in Berkeley difficult, causing developers to go elsewhere, such as El Cerrito or Albany. Orloff said the only way to lower rents in Berkeley would be to build about 5,000 more units in the cityBut he’s not sure how the city could achieve this increase when even the small 3-unit Haskell Street development failed to pass through the council. Matt Baran, the architect of the Haskell Street project, has been informing his clients that there is no guarantee that a development will be approved even if it meets zoning requirements, according to WinklerWinkler said he believes that the current owner of the Haskell Street property will no longer pursue the projectHe plans to help his client sell the house to a new buyer, who may perhaps attempt construction again. “But in the meantime, nobody gets to live there(There are) no tax benefits to the city, no family to go to the school, nobody to support the small businesses,” Winkler said“It just sort of makes it wither away.” Charlene Jin is the lead business and economy reporterContact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @CharleneJin0327. !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{},utils={getCanonicalLinkHref:function(){for(var links=document.getElementsByTagName("link"),i=0;i-1}}}(); !function(){var TOUT=window.TOUT=window.TOUT||{};if(console&&console.log&&console.log("Tout SDK: "+ +new Date),!TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt){TOUT._sdkScriptTagParsedAt=new Date,TOUT.EMBED_CODE_VERSION="1.2.0";var sdkHost=TOUT.SDK_HOST||"platform.tout.com",sdkProtocol=TOUT.SDK_PROTOCOL||("https:"==window.location.protocol?"https:":"http:"),analyticsHost=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_HOST||"analytics.tout.com",analyticsProtocol=TOUT.SDK_ANALYTICS_PROTOCOL||sdkProtocol;TOUT.onReady=TOUT.onReady||function(func){return TOUT._onReadyQueue=TOUT._onReadyQueue||[],TOUT._onReadyQueue.push(func),TOUT},TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel=function(trigger_name,attrs){var img=new Image,url=analyticsProtocol+"//"+analyticsHost+"/events?trigger="+trigger_name;for(var attr in attrs)attrs.hasOwnProperty(attr)&&(url+="&"+attr+"="+encodeURIComponent(attrs[attr]));return img.src=url,img},TOUT.init=function(brandUid,options){options=options||{};var sdkScriptId="tout-js-sdk";if(document.getElementById(sdkScriptId)&&!options.forceInit)return TOUT;if(brandUid=TOUT.SDK_BRAND_UID||brandUid,"undefined"==typeof brandUid||"string"!=typeof brandUid||0===brandUid.length||brandUid.length>7)return TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel("sdk_log",{log_level:"error",log_message:"BRAND_UID_NOT_DEFINED",content_page_url:window.location.href}),console&&console.error&&console.error("TOUT - Invalid Brand UID: "+brandUid),TOUT;TOUT._initOptions=options;var script=document.createElement("script");script.type="text/javascript",script.src=sdkProtocol+"//"+sdkHost+"/sdk/v1/"+brandUid+".js",script.id=sdkScriptId,script.className="tout-sdk";var firstScript=document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];return firstScript.parentNode.insertBefore(script,firstScript),TOUT.fireSimpleAnalyticsPixel("sdk_initialized",{content_brand_uid:brandUid,sdk_embed_code_version:TOUT.EMBED_CODE_VERSION,content_page_url:window.location.href}),TOUT}}}(); (function(){ var brandUid = '576ead'; TOUT.mapAsyncFetchApp.init(brandUid); TOUT.init(brandUid); TOUT.mapAsyncFetchApp.fetch(); })(); Please keep our community civilComments should remain on topic and be respectful.Read our full comment policy (function(w,d,s,i){w.ldAdInit=w.ldAdInit||[];w.ldAdInit.push({slot:8623363899953255,size:[0, 0],id:"ld-4142-4294"});if(!d.getElementById(i)){var j=d.createElement(s),p=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];j.async=true;j.src="//cdn2.lockerdome.com/_js/ajs.js";j.id=i;p.parentNode.insertBefore(j,p);}})(window,document,"script","ld-ajs"); WindoWest The article and the comments disregard the nature of the Haskell Street development: three separated houses to be sold as condos – and they had cantilevered second floors with flat roofs that cast big shadowsThese houses would have been sold for 1-1.5 million each. The fault is the zoning codeR-2A should be revised to advantage more compact housing forms like town houses and small multiplex apartmentsThere are many such buildings in the neighborhoodsThe 1310 Haskell Street lot is quite large, over 7200 square feet, which could easily support four units if they were connected, like two duplex buildings or even a triplex in the frontAnd sloped roofs should be required. As for this solar access issue, many cities have the “daylight plane” that assures sun to adjacent buildings and yardsZoning regulates building to protect all property ownersIt’s not rocket science but better building design standards. Berkeley’s zoning code is a messIt’s not the neighbors’ faultIt’s the City Council, present and past, not willing to adjust flatlands neighborhood zoningAll the effort has gone to the mixed-use buildings on the transit corridors and downtown. Time to bring in the consultantsThe firm that updated Richmond’s code would be a good choiceThey mixed absolute standards with form-based design standards. West Oakland’s zone near San Pablo Avenue: RM2 allows SFRs, duplex, townhouses, and small multiplex apartments and a FAR of .5 to .55That’s about rightAllowing more than one stand-alone house is a recipe for condos, gentrification, and displacementThat’s not the new urbanismThat’s the new suburbism. DragonflyBeach This is one of the best written articles I’ve ever seen regarding housing on DailyCal. Edward Governor Brown tried to get a law passed to limit the maximum delay possible to constructing a building that satisfied local zoningHe didn’t get it this timeBut the actions of NIMBYs (and Berkeley is far from being the worst example) are giving him more ammunition in his interaction with the state legislatureRemember, it was the actions of Berkeley and Santa Monica that got us Costa-HawkinsBe careful out there… Displaced As a resident whose current housing is threatened by a proposed development, I applaud the Mayor and City Council’s effortsWe can’t pretend that tearing down affordable family-sized units to replace them with endless ticky-tacky units too small for even one occupant is the best way to serve this city’s housing needsEven with laws in place like right-of-first-refusal, requiring the developer to reserve units for existing displaced occupants, there are loopholes that do not require the new unit to be an equivalent space and allowing the rent to be adjusted to the new market rate with a relatively modest fineIn my case, a 540 sq ft 1br occupied by 2 occupants of 7 years is slated to be replaced by a 300 sq ft studio at double the rentI hope the current administration will close these loopholes and continue to curtail projects which do not benefit the actual needs of the city and its citizens. We need to remember that the right approach to housing should and always will be to put the priorities of residents needing homes before developers seeking money. DragonflyBeach “We need to remember that the right approach to housing should and always will be to put the priorities of residents needing homes before developers seeking money.” Who builds the housing exactly? You can call them “ticky-tacky” but thats homes for human beingsWe’re not going to take up more land to build giant single family homes everywhere. justiceplease Berkeley’s requirements are actually lower than other cities, and we’re a major destination with reliable student population of renters: Berkeley will always be a good investmentFurthermore, not all projects are appealed to City Council: it costs neighbors a lot of time and money to do that – they appeal when they really careThis article is politically naive in that it doesn’t take into account that real estate has a huge, organized lobby in California and they have an active interest in taking over Berkeley City Council When Berkeley introduced rent control, a lot of landlords also grandstanded about how they would never rent in Berkeley againGuess what: since rents continued to provide a revenue stream – albeit not always the “market rate” one – landlords continued to rent in Berkeley! Only a few continued to moan and groan that they “could” be renting but refused to because of rent controlThen AirBNB came along and gave them an out, and the landlords that were renting rooms chose the more profitable optionIt was not rent control that killed housing for students in Berkeley: it was AirBNB. If you were an industry that wanted to maximize your profits, wouldn’t you do everything you could to take down a Mayor with a progressive social justice agenda? I guess it shows the conversion of Berkeley to a “big business school” when Daily Cal journalists end up unconsciously (or perhaps consciously) spreading CA Realtor’s Association propaganda. GrabThePopcorn Because anything that isn’t your propaganda is developer’s propaganda? justiceplease Well, the students should have clear information before they choose between “propaganda” of community and social justice or the real estate industry lobby and International real estate profiteers. Here’s an article to open up some eyes: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/06/world/asia/jared-kushner-sister-nicole-meyer-china-investors.html What happens in Berkeley is that real estate agents put together packages of several properties an investment – sometimes after tricking elderly people out of their homes – and then the property-bundlers go on a junket to Hong Kong to auction off the “investment”. justiceplease I assume the City Council had some legal ground to stand on in their decision. Wasn’t Haskell Street the development where BARF/East Bay Forward sued to overturn the Council decision? Apparently they chose to settle rather than pursue itI know almost nothing about itHowever,some people in City Council testified that the area has a lot of Section 8 housingIf I were Mayor of a city with the worst rich/poor gap in the Bay Area, I would be doing my best to look after those folks. Watson Ladd Haskell street actually isn’t being built despite meeting existing zoningWhat’s your excuse for that? Krista Gulbransen “But if market-rate housing development truly drives housing prices down, Brown said, the new development that took place over the last three years of Bates’ mayorship would have shown thatInstead, Berkeley experienced unprecedented rent increases, he added.” Berkeley is so far behind in housing production, one would be a fool to think adding a few units would change the entire landscape of rents in BerkeleyFrom 2010 to 2016 San Francisco added 15,730 new unitsRents have fallen 9% in the first quarter of 2017Seattle added 32,000 new units in the same timeframe and saw rents start to tip back for the first time since the financial collapse of 2008Seattle’s success lies in its streamlined process for new development, removing barriers typically seen in cities like Berkeley or San Francisco. We need to continue to add units at a regular paceTo think that rents would tip back after adding a paltry number of new development that somehow managed to squeeze through Berkeley’s laborious and contentious process, is yet another way in which Berkeley continues to fool itself. Thomas Lord Berkeley is so far behind in housing production, one would be a fool to think adding a few units would change the entire landscape of rents in BerkeleyFrom 2010 to 2016 San Francisco added 15,730 new unitsRents have fallen 9% in the first quarter of 2017Seattle added 32,000 new units in the same timeframe and saw rents start to tip back for the first time since the financial collapse of 2008Seattle’s success lies in its streamlined process for new development, removing barriers typically seen in cities like Berkeley or San Francisco. Sincere question: Is that intended as some scientific claims or as a polemical hand-wave? GrabThePopcorn Most of the statements are pretty easy to verify for someone with access to the … internet, although I think the 9% number is a comparison between ‘this quarter’ and Q1 2016, as opposed to ‘this quarter and last quarter’. Thomas Lord I assume that the numbers are accurate enoughIt is the conclusions drawn from them that lack support. Hobart Smedley Three two-story units on a .17 acre lot?! No wonder the neighbors weren’t exactly greeting this project with open armsIs there *any* project that the Yes In Your Back Yard developer shills would reject? EBGuy That’s just forty percent lot coverageThe developer modified his plans to help ameliorate neighbors concernsPerhaps that neighbors SHOULD TAKE THEIR LOW PROP13 TAX basis to another city if they don’t wont to live in an area zoned R-2. Watson Ladd Zoning allowed itWhy should the City Council not follow its own laws? Caesar Merlin the city counsel is the biggest obstacle to affordable housing and developmentIts the epitomy of nimbyism idefix Berkeley is weird, and I don’t mean that in a good wayPeople here claim to support principles like housing affordability and diversityBut when push comes to shove, the hypocrisy and ugly attitudes of “I got mine, so screw you” really shine through. Thomas Lord YIMBYs are weirderThey pretend to know the key to housing affordability and even though their assertions on this topic disagree with pretty much everyone else, including the research they mis-cite, they still expect to be taken seriously when they make up bs about other people’s motives. var disqus_url = 'http://www.dailycal.org/2017/05/07/for-the-fear-of-shadows/'; var disqus_identifier = '399792 http://www.dailycal.org/?p=399792'; var disqus_container_id = 'disqus_thread'; var disqus_shortname = 'dailycal'; var disqus_title = "For the fear of shadows: Real estate development under Berkeley’s new City Council"; var disqus_config_custom = window.disqus_config; var disqus_config = function () { /* All currently supported events: onReady: fires when everything is ready, onNewComment: fires when a new comment is posted, onIdentify: fires when user is authenticated */ this.language = '; if (disqus_config_custom) { disqus_config_custom.call(this); } }; (function() { var dsq = document.createElement('script'); dsq.type = 'text/javascript'; dsq.async = true; dsq.src = '//' + disqus_shortname + '.disqus.com/embed.js'; (document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0] || document.getElementsByTagName('body')[0]).appendChild(dsq); })(); 1310 Haskell St., 1973 Neighbourhood Preservation Ordinance, Albany, Bay Area, Berkeley City College, Berkeley City Council, Berkeley Student Cooperative, BSC Vice President of External Affairs Zach Gamlieli, California, California Housing Accountability Act, California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund, Clifford Orloff, CS Development & Construction, Daniel Winkler, Daniel Winkler and Associates, Davis Belilty, Downtown Berkeley, El Cerrito, Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics, Ghost Ship, Haas School of Business, Harold Way, Kelly Hammargren, Matt Baran, Matt Brown, Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Mayor Tom Bates, Measures U1 and A1, Oakland

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