Dunkin’ Donuts Delights Downtown

IMG_4536The days of Las Lomas students darting over to San Miguel Plaza after school to grab a couple Taco Bell specials are over. Instead, they can check out Dunkin’ Donuts, which took over the old Taco Bell space and has seen lines around the corner in its first week of business.

Dunkin’ Donuts will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and serves a variety of breakfast sandwiches, coffee drinks and, as the name implies, donuts. The East Coast-based chain is incredibly popular in other regions of the country and now adds another well-known food and drink option to Walnut Creek’s growing downtown.

For a town that recently rid itself of the long-standing McDonald’s and has now cut its Taco Bell consumption in half, this may be a surprising add (especially given IMG_4540Dunkin’ Donuts’ proximity to Whole Foods), but the world can never have enough coffee shops!

I decided to visit Dunkin’ Donuts this morning and see what all the fuss was about. I waited in a long line, as expected, before being helped by a very kind girl at the register. They offer a lot more than just donuts at Dunkin’, though their only healthy choice is the oatmeal. I tried their cappuccino, some donuts (Bavarian chocolate donut and the fritter, among others) and a variety of IMG_4538donut holes.

The coffee was amazing. I asked why, and they said it was because they never let it sit for more than 15 minutes at a time. And the donuts, which tasted a lot less fried than they do at other places, were really good! I chatted with an East Coaster who said he now feels complete with a Dunkin’ Donuts in town.

The parking is easy in that plaza, especially in mornings before the other businesses open up. I have a feeling that Dunkin’ will develop quite a following!

Why Are the Interest Rates So Low?

buy a houseThere have been a lot of articles about interest rates and the stock market recently. First, the German 10-Year Government Bond Yield has hit negative territory. In layman’s terms, this means that Germany gets paid interest to borrow investors’ money, the same thing is happening in Japan. Thus, Germany and Japan are getting paid to borrow money.
On the surface, this seems silly. Why would investors take a negative yield or pay somebody to borrow their money? Because it’s safe. Investors will put money wherever they can in order to ensure they can safely recoup it in the future.
How does this help the real estate market? First, the demand for bonds keeps rates very low, making real estate leverage much cheaper (The Brexit will also have an impact, which will be a different post). When investors have a lot of cash and are looking to put it somewhere, real estate investing becomes a good place to do so.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the number of homes that went under contract to be sold in April was the highest in more than a decade. It was also the strongest month in more than eight years for new home sales – with a 16.6% jump from the previous month. We do tend to see a bit of a lull in the summer as families head off for vacation.
If you are a buyer, it might be a great time to jump into the real estate market! Give me a call if you would like some help.

Where to See Fireworks in Contra Costa County this Weekend

4th of julyFor the 24 years I have lived in Walnut Creek, there have been no public 4th of July fireworks displays. According to the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District, fireworks are illegal in the county, so good luck trying to put on your own show!

However, you can buy fireworks in Alameda County – Dublin is not that far away – but with the drought, the law is probably a good thing to abide by.

Luckily, some cities close by are shooting off fireworks, so grab a spot on a hill, go to the location itself, or maybe a friend has a bird’s eye view from their house:

  • Antioch – Contra Costa Fairgrounds (Dusk)
  • Benicia – Benicia City Park (9:00 p.m.)
  • Berkeley – Berkeley Marina (9:30 p.m.)
  • Concord – Mt. Diablo High School & Todos Santos Plaza (9:00 p.m.)
  • Livermore – Downtown (Dusk)
  • Martinez – Waterfront (9:30 p.m.)
  • Moraga – Moraga Country Club (Dusk)
  • Pittsburg – Pittsburg Marina (Dusk)
  • Pleasant Hill – College Park High School & Pleasant Hill Country Club (9:10 p.m.)
  • Pleasanton – Alameda County Fairgrounds (9:30 p.m.)
  • Richmond – Marina Bay Park (9:15 p.m.)
  • San Ramon – Central Park (9:30 p.m.)

Have a safe, happy 4th of July!

Broker Tour Today! Open House This Weekend!

madeira 3Join us for a broker tour today from 10:30 a.m .to 1:00 p.m. at both 2899 Madeira Way in Pleasant Hill and 1655 Endriss Dr. in Martinez. We’ll have some goodies to share at these beautiful properties!

Also, at the home on Madeira Way, we’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday (June 25th and 26th) from 1:00-4:00 p.m. The updated 4-bedroom homemadeira 2 has new hardwood floors, plantation shutters in every bedroom and a large backyard with a patio perfect for entertaining.

The master bedroom is downstairs, just off the living room and dining room, which buttresses a nice kitchen with granite countertops. Upstairs, there are three bedrooms with one currently being utilized as a spacious personal office.

Come wander through this lovely home in a great neighborhood with us this weekend. Hope to see you there!

You can see a virtual tour of 2899 Madeira Way right here.

 

Summer Music in Walnut Creek

Who doesn’t love sitting in the grass under a warm summer sun, jamming to some live music? Opportunities to do so are common in the Bay Area, but you don’t need to spend a ton of money or travel to San Francisco for a music festival to do so.

guitarIn fact, two events are happening in Walnut Creek this summer that may be the perfect fit for someone looking to take in an easy, cheap outdoor concert.

Summer Sounds Outside is a series of free concerts on the Lesher Center for the Arts plaza. On June 30th from 5:30-7:00 p.m., Box Set Duo Trio – who has played with artists like Dave Matthews Band and Willie Nelson – performs. You can take your pick from jazz to classical to acapella – check out the lineup and additional dates on their website here.  In addition to Box Set Duo Trio, Chris Cain, Anderson & Roe and Blue Jupiter A Capella will perform this summer.

If you’re still looking for something fun to do on 4th of July, you can check out a free musical tribute by the Walnut Creek Concert Band (under the direction of Harvey Benstein). Head out to Civic Park before 6 p.m. to catch the show!

Always a fun evening, so don’t forget about the Broadway Plaza Summer Concert Series, which has live performances every Thursday night in August:

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  • August 4th: Petty Theft
  • August 11th: Foreverland
  • August 18th: Mustache Harbor
  • August 25th: Tainted Love

Hope to see you there!

 

Why You Feel Healthier and Happier with Pets

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpgDisplaying FullSizeRender.jpgpetsSome of my past clients recently received a complimentary copy of American Lifestyle Magazine’s “Pet Power” issue. They learned all about my dog Bodie and were invited to share their photos of their pets on this blog. Now’s your chance to do so too!

In the meantime, have you wondered why your pet makes you so darn happy? Here’s are six reasons from American Lifestyle. Check it out, and don’t forget to comment with your favorite pet photo!

1. They Can Decrease Stress and Blood Pressure

Research has found that hypertensive or high-risk patients’ blood pressures are lower when their pets are around. Another study found that people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when a spouse, family member, or close friend was nearby. When a person connects with a pet by petting it, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released.2. They Can Help You Socialize

Multiple studies have found that pet owners are more social than non–pet owners. There is typically more social interaction in neighborhoods with pets, which also makes these neighborhoods seem friendlier to observers. Even if you live alone, having a dog or cat has the same emotional benefit as that of a human friendship.

3. They Can Build Immunities in ChildrenpetfriendsThis one may sound counterintuitive, since many people might think cats and dogs cause allergies rather than prevent them. However, many studies have shown that having multiple pets actually decreases a child’s risk of developing certain allergies. Families that had children who were exposed to two or more dogs or cats as babies were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as children who had no pets in the home.

4. They Can Boost Your Mood

Pets create endless entertainment, whether you have a comedian or a scaredy-cat on your hands. Pets offer unconditional love, but they also give their owners a sense of purpose. Smiling at your pet can raise your serotonin and dopamine levels, which are neurotransmitters associated with joy and happiness.

happycouple5. They Can Help Your Heart Health

Many pet owners would agree that a pet can fill your heart with love, but did you know that they can also do a lot more for that organ? Research has shown that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels—all of which can ultimately minimize a person’s risk for having a heart attack.

6. They Can Help You Detect Medical Conditions

Research has found that one-third of the pets—such as dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits—who live with people who have diabetes would change their behavior when their owner’s blood sugar level dropped. Other reports have indicated that canine friends have sniffed or licked a mole or lump on their owner’s body because they may have the ability to smell cancer.

Hot Housing Market This Summer

It is unlikely the Federal Reserve will be increasing interest rates this month after a weak May job report (only 38,000 jobs created, 117,000 less than expected and the worst month for job creation in nearly six years). According to experts, the likelihood of a rate hike is down to a measly 4 percent, and that trend may carry over into July.

Thus, this summer could prove to be the hot time to buy or sell a home. In California – specifically the East Bay – selling season tends to be in the spring. Once we move into the middle of May, buyers and sellers become distracted with graduations, weddings, etc.

And once school is out everyone moves into vacation mode through mid-August, before families start getting ready for going back to school. Usually, we see an uptick in the number of homes that are on the market in the summer compared to the  the spring. With continued low rates, this summer might buck that trend with buyers out to purchase.Beautiful white, blue and beige living room.

To prepare, buyers should be pre-qualified for a mortgage before they start shopping and, ideally, desktop underwritten. It is best if buyers don’t make an offer contingent on the sale of their own home. For sellers, they should be ready to make themselves and their homes available for show. At minimum, have a staging consult done. Try to have your home staged before a showing.

 

Statistics show clean and pristine homes that are staged properly sell faster and for more money than ones that are not. Necessary improvements, such as new painting, replaced fixtures and refreshed house plants are huge for staging.

It is about getting it show and picture-worthy and keeping it neutral, not spending a lot of money on upgrades. As is the case with personal preferences, “What you think is a nice improvement is another man’s gold shag carpeting.”