My new favorite breakfast place: Sideboard

img_9371If you haven’t been to Sideboard for breakfast or lunch yet, drop everything you’re doing and go now! I recently visited the new Danville location (it was moved down the street to a cool old B&B-style building) and absolutely love the vibe there!

To go along with a rustic, hip feel, the new location has a huge back patio for diners and all their same amenities still apply: dog treats for our furry friends, awesome holiday decorations and clever order markers for the tables.

As an added bonus for those who love their weekend bike rides on the Iron Horse Trail, Sideboard is only about a block from one of the trail exits!

I have now been a couple of times and have had  their chilaquiles, which is a Mexican dish with fried tortillas, sauce, salsa and fried eggs, topped with feta cheese.

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A lady who I was sitting by on the big farm style tables says she comes all the way from Oakland to eat breakfast there often. I have ordered their delicious, fluffy beignets twice, once as a take out and once served – they are best fresh and warm, but delicious no matter what.

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A new addition is Sideboard is in Lafayette. I have yet to visit, but have been told they have a picnic service, where they’ll bring your meal out to you on a blanket on the grass in a picnic basket. What a nice touch! If you haven’t checked out Sideboard yet, make sure to do as soon as possible. It’s well worth it!

The 2016 Parkmead Chili Cook-Off was a hit!

img_9381Remember my blog about the two new breweries in Walnut Creek? Farm Creek Brewery’s stout beer became the secret ingredient to my Texas chili at our 2nd annual Parkmead Neighborhood chili cook-off! I took third place overall, and realize to win, I can’t have too much spice – that darn competitive nature of mine.

We moved up they time by an hour because we were worried about the rain. We had 12 people submit their chili, ranging from vegetarian to chicken chili and of course standard meat chili.

Every single one of them was delicious, and the rain held off until the very end when we got under the tent and finished off the keg!

We blocked off a small street, had a pumpkin-decorating table for the kids and plenty of food and drink. Once the rain arrived, one dad pulled out a blow up boat and the kids had a blast in the rare October rainstorm.

Parkmead is a wonderful Walnut Creek neighborhood walking distance to downtown and great schools. If you want to know more about the various Walnut Creek neighborhoods, give me a call!

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Art Town: Wings

fullsizerender-6The other day, I was grabbing lunch at Vitality Bowl in downtown Walnut Creek when I thought I need to look for another piece of art for my blog.  I looked up and noticed – for the first time ever – a cool sculpture across the street by the Lesher Center.

It’s funny how that happens! I’ve lived here for years, and probably walked that sidewalk a hundred times, and only now noticed it!  Art is all over Walnut Creek, you just have to look and notice.

The sculpture is called “Wings” and was built in 1986 by Walnut Creek resident Dan Dykes. He grew up on a small Oregon farm on the outskirts of the Siletz Indian Reservation, where his early exposure to natural forms in that rugged environment continues to influence his abstract work.
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To me, the sculpture looks like an angel from certain angles, with its wings spread out behind it. Dykes intended for there to be hints of simple birds, plants and trees in the sculpture, and for the durable bronze material to change with weather over the years, as well as with light patterns to reveal tiny, purposeful markings.

 

 


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Two new breweries have opened in Walnut Creek!

img_9237 Attention, beer lovers! The Walnut Creek brewery scene has added two new hotspots to supplement shops like ØL. The most well-known, probably, is Calicraft Brewery, which opened its doors recently over by Shadelands, just off Ygnacio Valley Rd.

Calicraft, famous for its fun, local beer names (“The Bay,” “Oak Town,” and my personal favorite, “Buzzerkeley”) and for using unique California-grown ingredients like starthistle honey and cluster hops, was officially founded in 2012.img_9235

The small taphouse is in an industrial area at the back of a parking lot across the street from Fieldhouse Sports Center. Besides the beer on tap, Calicraft sells chips and jerky and growlers. They have a cool interior space with a huge TV and an outdoor deck with corn hole and a grass area with Adirondack chairs. It’s a really cool place to spend an evening with friends after work!

Closer to downtown is Farm Creek Brewery, which is literally just a small img_9346tasting area next to the tanks of the brewery. It’s located on Pine St., just around the corner from Pinky’s Pizza. Even though the space is small, it’s very hip and fun, and the service is friendly.

The owner and founder started homebrewing years ago and finally made img_9347his dream come true to open a location in Walnut Creek, where he and his family live. The brewery has a 12-tap system and homemade flights.

I can’t recommend their “Heather’s Limit” stout highly enough. Even members of my Walnut Creek Lifestyle team who hate stouts said it was delicious, and it made for a really nice addition to my homemade chili – a future blog!

Calicraft is open Weds.-Fri. from 4-10 p.m., as well as Saturday from 12-10 p.m. and Sunday from 12-8 p.m. Farm Creek Brewery is open Mon.-Fri. from 4-9 p.m., Saturday 12-9 p.m., and Sunday from 1-7 p.m. Enjoy!

Anthropologie in Walnut Creek is irresistible

Last week, I walked into the new Anthropologie location in Walnut Creek just to check it out. The store, which moved to the old Barnes & Noble building on S. Main, is a perfect combination of funk, style and art. A few hundred dollars later, I was walking out with bags full of must-have, unique jewelry and a wonderful spiced candle that reminded me of Fall.

But it was more than just the items that made Anthropologie irresistible. Walking through is truly an experience made for all the senses. There are shopping options, browsing options and relaxation options. One of the three largest Anthropologies stores in the nation, this store immediately hits you with a floral scene upon entering, with a wide range of succulents and potted plants. There is a plethora of candles, an outdoor terrace with plants and furniture, a bedding section and, of course, tons of clothes and art. Knobs, aprons, dishes and cake stands filled the kitchen section, and I was surprised to find a bridal department, too!

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It was like shopping in your living room (of course, all the men were sitting around looking at their phones while the ladies shopped). Some items are new to the Walnut Creek location, such as the shoe department. As you saw in the slideshow, there are even zebras for sale (kinda…)! Go check it out when you get a chance!

East Bay housing market is shifting

housing-marketLately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.

In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers  with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.

The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.

Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:

Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.

It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price. san-francisco

The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).

In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation.  In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.

Will the Presidential race affect our mortgage rates?

I thought this might be interesting to share. Traditionally, there is very little on the market as we enter the holiday season. The last couple years, sellers listing in December and the beginning of January tended to have multiple offers because there isn’t much inventory (meaning, people don’t like to have Open Houses or showings during the holiday season as they are usually entertaining family or friends).

With the Presidential election around the corner, many agents are getting the feel the market has softened. It will be interesting to see how this year’s election will affect our market. Here are some insights from my friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending:

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Trump = Lower Rates; Clinton = Same or Higher Rates

We have blogged several times about how rates are not held artificially low prior to major elections. It is a myth that they are. Presidents, in fact, like to see proof that the economy is getting stronger, and these signs usually push rates higher. Presidents hope for positive signs like GDP growth, job growth, lower unemployment, etc. These signs usually push investors into stocks and out of bonds, causing rates to go up.

(Quick reminder: When investors demand more stocks, rates go up; when investors demand more bonds, rates go down.)

With respect to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it is all about “stability.” Stock market investors like “stability” as much as they like growth. Worries about instability or shakeups send investors away from stocks and into the safety of bonds (pushing rates down).

Investors believe that Clinton will follow President Obama’s course, and this is perceived as “stability.” So, signs that Clinton might win will probably keep investors in stocks, which will ultimately keep rates largely the same.

Investors are not sure what Trump might do, so signs that Trump might win will probably push investors to the safety of bonds, pushing rates lower.

This is very similar to the uncertainty the Brexit vote created and its influence in pushing rates lower.

Art Town: Geologica

If you’re strolling down North Main in Walnut Creek, you might wander right past a really cool piece of art. Surely, you recognize Geologica, the glittering half-rock fountain piece in front of Wells Fargo. But have you taken the time to actually look at it?

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The piece, created by husband and wife artist team Wowhaus, was created in 2012 using ceramic and glass tiles. They designed it to change with the light, weather and seasons so that every time you walk by it, the look is slightly altered. You’re never supposed to see the same thing twice!

The mosaic patterns flicker and change in the water. Wowhaus likes to play with narrative to help understand the communities we live in, and puts that into their work as well. Other pieces they’ve done reside in places like Emeryville, Oakland and San Francisco. They have another piece coming to Walnut Creek soon!

Give it an extra look next time you’re downtown and maybe you’ll notice that it’s different from every angle.