Fill your weekend with garage sales, art and wine

Have any plans this weekend? If not, we’re hosting our annual Parkmead Garage Sale this Saturday at 8:00 a.m.!

Neighbors all over Parkmead have cleaned out their closets, garages and attics to put items together for this awesome event. Grab a map and look for the mailbox balloons to identify which homes are participating. Lilac and Newell (west of Trader Joe’s) are entry streets to the neighborhood.

If past years are any indication, there will be plenty of outdoors equipment, kids toys and clothes, furniture, jewelry and kitchen utensils. If you’re looking to stock up or upgrade for cheap, this is the place to be in Walnut Creek on Saturday!

And as a bonus, the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival takes place all weekend, starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday! You can swing by the Parkmead Garage Sale, fill your arms with thrifty finds, and then wander to Heather Farms for a glass of wine in the sun.

Can’t beat that!

Congratulations to Mckenzie!

I recently closed a home for my client, Mckenzie. She currently lives in the city and will be moving to Clayton. Thus, we met at the Legion of Honor to see the Monet exhibit, celebrate her closing and give her the house key, as seen below.

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IMG_1020The tenant doesn’t leave for another six weeks so this was a great way to celebrate and she was very happy to have closed! The process became a bit stressful as the family wanted to use their local bank in the valley, and the parents were co-signing. However, this bank was primarily an AG bank and did not close on very many condos.

Buyers rarely understand at the onset what a difference a great lender can make and the lasting experience everyone involved will have. If it is a great experience, the impression is minimal, but when it is not so great, it can become one of your worst nightmares. This ultimately ended well because of the family’s relationship with the local bank, yet, we still needed an eight-day loan contingency extension (but only closed four days late).

If you want to be the next client who buys or sells a property with me, I will help you navigate the process to a successful close! Just reach out at www.kristinlanham.com or call me direct at (925) 899-7123.

Following Up: Honeybees!

A few weeks back, we did the Parkmead Garden Tour. I spoke to one resident who is a honeybee keeper. In addition to the Beekeeper who was there to speak, I learned a lot about honeybees.

For example, did you know that a honeybee has to travel more than 55,000 miles and has to visit about 2 million flowers just to produce one pound of honey? Or that they can fly 15 miles per hour? 

Beekeeping is a hobby that seems to be picking up popularity, especially around the Bay Area. Much like composting, its attraction is that it’s a sustainable, healthy way to provide for oneself and the community around us. It’s been common knowledge for years that the bee population is quickly dying off, and their extinction would have a horrific effect on the planet’s ecosystem.

So, I also snagged some basic information on beekeeping resources around the Bay Area! If you want to learn more about the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA), visit this link! If you’re interested in starting beekeeping, you can find supplies at MarElla Honey B’s in Concord, Biofuel Oasis/Urban Farm Store in Berkeley, and many others around the Bay Area.

If you’d simply like to attract more bees to your garden to help increase the population and improve your pollination, plant flowers that they like! For example, blackberries and raspberries, fireweed, lavender, oregano, rosemary and sunflower are a few that really attract heavy pollination.  

Here are a few more fun facts for you to finish out our blog on honeybees:

  • A typical beehive makes more than 400 lbs of honey per year
  • A honeybee will flap its wings about 11,400 times per minute, creating the familiar “buzz” sound
  • Honeybees are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.

So when you see a bee nearby, don’t run or swat at it, but think of the good they do and then briskly walk away!

The VA loan is the best loan going!

With Memorial Day around the corner and a time to honor and remember all the brave heroes who served to hold our flag high, I thought it would be a great time to mention the benefits of a VA loan and what is currently happening in that arena.

There’s a bill in Congress that eliminates loan limits for the VA. The current VA limit for Contra Costa is $636,150, so eliminating the limit will help our vets who qualify for more to still be able to purchase with their VA benefits. I specialize in working with VA buyers and sellers, and have a strong passion for it given my family’s history in service.

There is also a rebate available of up to $2,500 in Contra Costa County for qualified buyers with approved lenders. I can connect you with a qualified lender. The VA loan is the best loan around  –  low rates, nothing down, 25% of the loan is backed by the federal government, lowest loan foreclosure rate, plus many additional changes over the years to help make a VA offer be accepted such as the seller no longer has to pay for the pest inspection.

Did you also know, you are eligible for a VA loan after 90 days active duty in wartime (we are still considered in wartime which started with the Gulf War)? You are eligible after two years of service if no longer on active duty  and six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves.

If you’re a veteran looking to buy or sell in the Bay Area or know somebody who is, please give me a call so we can get the ball rolling on helping you land a rebate and get your VA loan accepted!

Art Town: Sculpture by BART

Have you ever noticed the big wooden sculpture across the street from the Walnut Creek BART back parking lot? It’s right between the big office buildings that engulf Caffe California. Funny enough, it’s just down the block from our Better Homes and Gardens offices!

I’ve walked past this a few times and never gave it a second glance, but I actually noticed it recently and I love the composition of the structure. It kind of looks like a bunch of different parts of a piano was disassembled and dropped in a heap on the concrete.

Make sure to take a look next time you’re on your way to or from BART. It’s pretty cool!

Pet Walk at Broadway Plaza this weekend!

If you know anything about me outside of real estate, it’s that I absolutely love animals. I pamper my dog Bodie like my own child! So you’d better bet that I’m excited about the Pet Walk at Broadway Plaza this weekend!


It’s a great event put on by former A’s manager Tony La Russa’s ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation), and it’s happening this Saturday, May 20th in downtown Walnut Creek. Start the day off with a Pet Walk to raise money for saving abandoned cats and dogs. You can register at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, and the one-mile walk begins at 9:30 a.m.

ARF is hoping to raise $90,000 through the walk to save abandoned animals, and then the entire event will segue into an “Animals on Broadway” event with adoptions, rescue groups, vendor booths, a pet wellness fair, kid zone, contests and raffles.  That event will go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you can’t make it in person, you can register as a “virtual walker” to make an impact from home! Remember, all proceeds goes to helping homeless animals – a worthy cause! Here is the information to register.

For all you animal lovers out there, swing by and donate some money and time to helping our furry friends find homes! What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday in Walnut Creek! The entire “Animals on Broadway” event schedule is below:

7:30 am – Pet Walk registration begins
9:30 am – Pet Walk begins
10 am – Animals on Broadway festival opens with adoptions, vendor booths, the pet wellness fair and kid zone
11 am – Best Dressed Pet Contest
Noon – Dog & Pony Show
12:30 pm – WCPD K-9 Demonstration
1 pm – Dog & Pony Show
1:30 pm – Doggy Yoga
2 pm – Lindsay Wildlife Raptor Show
2:30 pm – WCPD K-9 Demonstration
3 pm – Doggy Yoga

Pending home sales are down in CA – what does it mean?

According to the California Association of Realtors, pending home sales have dialed back and marked the weakest February in three years.

Courtesy mcar.com.

Low housing inventory, eroding affordability and rising interest rates made pending sales on a year-over-year basis for the month of February suffer after a good start to the year in closed escrow sales. Also, sellers simply aren’t selling.

They did see elevated market activity, but the Bay Area pending sales specifically were down year-to-year for the fifth straight month. According to the release, the Bay Area has been plagued by a shortage of homes on the market and poor affordability.

We have seen an increase in listings starting in April, but with pent-up demand, buyers are getting frustrated losing out in multiple-offer scenarios and with ever-increasing prices.

If you want to know more about the market, give me a call!

Road Trips: Raymond & Buena Vista Winery

I’m a wine member with the Boisset Collection which includes Raymond Vineyards,  Buena Vista Winery, Deloach, Frenchie, JCB, Lockwood, Wyeth, Amberhill, and Wattle Creek which makes heading to Napa or Sonoma  a really fun weekend road trip!

Jean Charles Boisset has his roots in France where his parents had wineries; he has bought a few in the U.S. (see above) and in 2009 married Gina Gallo. Some of the rooms have a wild slant (think of the French Court in the 1700). There are costumes, wigs to play dress-up in some of the private tasting rooms, and some crazy art.

Back to the road trip – I went up for the day to Raymond & Buena Vista with a couple of girlfriends. Raymond was fun and whimsical – French is next door and we did the tasting all at Raymond. Buena Vista is rich in history and has a wonderful bubble lounge. It was the only working winery during prohibition.

Raymond Vineyards (founded 1970), has been a family business for five generations now. They originally came in 1933.

Now, they and Buena Vista are inspired by famous proprietor Boisset. Also, they are certified organic and Biodynamic and the winery is entirely powered by renewable solar energy. Very Bay Area of them!

At Buena Vista, “The Count of Buena Vista,” Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa, immigrated from Hungary in 1840 after growing up among his local vineyards. He was the first to plant hops in Wisconsin and became an important pioneer in the American beer industry.

His love for wine continued as he moved around California (San Diego, then San Francisco, then Sonoma) looking for the perfect atmosphere in which to grow great grapes. Finally, he settled in Sonoma in 1860 and hit it big.

Since then, Buena Vista has gone through multiple owners (including the Catholic Church), and currently is part of the Boisset Family Estates a measly 150 years after the Count first made it over.

Weather you belong to a wine club or just want to go up for a day of tasting with a picnic, the wine country is so close with great restaurants and beautiful scenery, it is well worth a trip at least twice a year if not more often!

Old Borges Ranch Day this Saturday

This Saturday, you can join Walnut Creek City staff for Old Borges Ranch Day. How cool is that? There will be arts, crafts, activities, games, livestock demonstrations, ponies and fiddlers.

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Borges Ranch is the little farm nestled into the foothills of Mt. Diablo, on the southeast side of Shell Ridge. It was established in 1899 by Francisco Borges and is a living example of what an early-20th century California cattle ranch looked like.

Many of the original buildings still exist, including the Borges family home which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1981 and is part of the Mt. Diablo State Park with an on-site ranger. Sheep, goats, and other livestock roam the farm and welcome hikers who wander past during their Open Space treks.

The almost 400-acre ranch would be a great place for the family to spend a lazy Saturday, and a great learning experience for young kids. I went on a field trip with my now-21-year-old son when he was in the 4th grade; we went back there to get polliwogs, which lived in his bedroom until they turned to frogs. Then we let them go into the creek by Las Lomas – some great memories.

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Image from walnut-creek.org

The event this Saturday will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and you can park at Northgate High School and shuttle in and out. It costs just $5 per family to take part!