Upcoming Spring Holiday Events in Walnut Creek

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_MontrealThis is a wonderful time of year. Everything starts blooming, the sun comes out – springs forward for an extra hour and we start daydreaming about where to vacation over the summer. To signal the start of Spring, we have two holidays filled with family fun: St. Patrick’s Day (yesterday, but most celebrations carry through the weekend) and Easter!

Walnut Creek becomes especially beautiful in the Spring, and it’s a perfect time to get out and about and take part in some of the local events coming up around these two holidays. Here are a few ideas for this weekend for both kids and kids at heart:

Egg-Stravaganza at Heather Farm (Sat., Mar. 26 – 9 a.m.)  (my kids used to love this)

The Walnut Creek Interact Youth Council and Walnut Creek Recreation bring you a fun-filled egg hunt for the kids at Heather Farm next weekend. The kids can take photos with the Easter Bunny, paint their faces and do crafts, along with the egg hunts. It’s a perfect way to get your family out in the sunshine to celebrate Easter!

St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl in San Francisco (Sat., Mar. 26 – 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.)

Okay, this one is not technically in Walnut Creek and is definitely adult-only, but if you’ve ever been in the city on St. Paddy’s Day and not taken part, you’re missing out on a great time! Leave the kids with a sitter for the day, dress in your most leprechaun-like outfit and go slug a few green beers at SF’s favorite Irish bars.bunny

Easter Event at Alamo Plaza (Sat., Mar. 26 – 12 p.m.)

If you want to take the kids out for a beatuiful day to celebrate Easter, but don’t want to battle the Walnut Creek crowds at Heather Farm, check out Alamo Plaza as an alternative. Train rides, an Easter Bunny, live street entertainment and more will make for an awesome family day in the sun!

Check back next week for additional events as we move into April. Happy Easter!

 

 

Things to Do in Tahoe if You Don’t Ski or Snowboard

TahoeUp until this winter, recent ski seasons had been unseasonably warm and extra frustrating for those looking to shred powder around Lake Tahoe. As anyone who has read this blog knows, I love to ski, so I’ve been taking full advantage of this winter’s El Nino storms and going up to the Sierra’s as often as possible.

A couple of weekends ago, I went up to Tahoe to ski and attend a Wounded Warriors event at Alpine, only to find the recent warm spell had turned all my favorite runs into ice and slush. We were debating what to do, but we punted and instead went to yoga and then had a wonderful lunch at Dockside 700. Of course, with that name, we were right on the beach with a great view of the lake.

When I got home, I ran across this article about things to do in Tahoe if you don’t ski or snowboard. The author nails a few good ones, and I picked out the best five for those of you who find yourself in a similar situation as I did last weekend (or those of you who just prefer not to ski at all!). Now with the recent storms and more than three feet of new snow, I don’t think I will be doing much other than hitting the slopes. But for those who don’t ski or ride…ice-skating-235542_960_720

  1. Ice skating: at many large resorts in the Tahoe area, they have fairly inexpensive access to skate rentals and the village rink. It may only last a half hour or so, especially if it’s cold outside, but it’s hard not to have fun when you’re out there zig-zagging across the ice!
  2. Spa day: Many nice hotels around the Tahoe area have spas inside to pamper their guests. But even if you’re not staying at one, you can pay for a day pass to get your massage, hot tub and facial on while everyone else freezes on the mountain.
  3. Casinos: This is an obvious one, but why not try to make back the money your family spent on their pricey lift tickets by playing a few hands of blackjack on the Nevada side? It’ll be warm, social and entertaining at the very least. And who knows? Maybe you’ll win big!
  4. Other snow activities: snowmobiling, sleigh rides, sledding and snowshoeing are just a few of the fun activities casino tahoeyou can pay for at many of the bigger areas in Tahoe. You still want to be out in the powder, just don’t feel like strapping into a board or skis for the day? Here you go!
  5. Yoga: I’m biased, as yoga is my go-to relaxation activity, but it’s something you can find studios for all over the state; even up in the mountains. If you want to just take it easy and stay warm and dry inside, might as well stretch yourself out and enjoy a moment of zen while you’re at it.

Of course, if these options don’t appeal, you could always just enjoy a classic – laying by the resort fire with a good book and a hot chocolate, waiting for everyone else to finish up their day on the slopes.

1777 Park Place Rd. Open House

park pl 3The perks to this beautiful home are endless! Located in the Summer Lake neighborhood of Oakley, this new property (built in 2012) is close to hiking and jogging trails, and just one mile from the Delta. The neighborhood boasts the lake, a pool, tennis courts and playgrounds.

It gets even better when you go inside – enjoy a home office, open-floor plan between the eat-in kitchen and livingPark Pl 2 room, and an upstairs den that is perfect for the kids! One of the master suites is on the first level, and the other is upstairs for total privacy. That was not a typo; there are two master suites in this home! And still, there’s more – in the backyard, you can relax near the pond or have a drink around the outdoor gas fireplace.

Don’t let this one pass you by. Stop in and see the Open House this weekend! We’ll be open from 1-4 p.m both Saturday (3/12) and Sunday (3/13).

You can see a virtual tour of 1777 Park Place Rd. right here.

Best Hikes near Walnut Creek

We know the next storm’s a comin’ to the Bay Area soon – 3 feet expected up at Trucke, but you can’t deny you’ve enjoyed this crazy beautiful warm weather for the past couple weeks. I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken full advantage of it and gone hiking as much as possible with my dog, Bodie.                                                              IMG_4109

 

 

Funny enough, I found this story about the best hikes in the East Bay recently, and I’m dying to try a few that I’ve never been on before. Once this next storm clears, I’m going to hit the trails! Here is a list of the top five East Bay hikes, combined from the story linked above and my own experiences.shell ridge 1

  • Camp Force Overlook, Mt. Diablo (0.7 miles – easy) – according to the article, this starts just past Rock City and takes you through an area of crumbling stoves where famous Boy Scout leader Raymond Force and his troop used to camp. You can also watch some epic rock climbing from a distance
    (bring binoculars!) on the face of Gibraltar Rock.
  • Shell Ridge, Walnut Creek Open Space (3 miles – easy) – technically, the trail we’re talking about here is the Indian Creek – Twin Ponds loop that takes you up to the Rockspring entrance in Walnut Creek, past Bullfrong pond, and up and down many moderate slopes. The best part is the breathtaking view of downtown Walnut Creek and beyond you get on clear days.  This is the hike I tend to do the most and Bodie absolutely loves to be off leash and running abound.  IMG_3549
  • Bruce Lee Spring Trail, Mt. Diablo (3.1 miles – moderate) – this trail winds through the hills behind Clayton and affords you a nice view of the borges ranchMt. Diablo summit. There will be a little bit of a creek crossing and plenty of uphill hiking, but it’s well worth it in the end. According to the story above, your best bet is to go from the Bruce Lee Spring Trail to the Hetherington Trail to complete the loop.
  • Borges Ranch, Walnut Creek Open Space (9 miles – difficult) – the longest hike on this list isn’t a terribly steep climb (unless you opt to climb up into the Castle Rock area, which is clearly visible for most of your hike), but will bring you on a long, ambling loop that starts and finishes at the historic, unique Borges Ranch. It feels like you’re in the Wild West for a moment when you walk by the old homestead!
  • The Amphitheater, Mt. Diablo (4.3 miles – difficult) – this hike starts just off Morgan Territory Rd., and gives you expansive views of the Delta and Mt. Diablo. To get to the “amphitheater,” follow the Morgan Creek Rd. trailhead to Jeremiah Creek Trail, take a right and then a left on Old Finley Rd. The history and beauty of the spot will amaze you.

Do you have a favorite to share?

3305 Newport Ct. Open House

 

Newport bodyStep into this beautiful home, nestled in the foothills of Mt. Diablo. This home boasts an updated kitchen and baths, with dual pane windows and new Anderson sliders in the living room and master bedroom. Travertine tile at the entry sets the tone, with hardwood floors in the family room and kitchen. For extra light, solar tubes were installed in the hall and half bath.

So many details: enjoy paneled doors with new hardware, Grohe bath fixtures with quartz and swanstone counters, and a full Douglah Designs kitchen remodel with stainless steel appliances and a new Bosch dishwasher. A three-car garage completes the picture on this home, which is situated on a quiet cul-de-sac close to shops, trails, parks, Boundary Oaks Golf Course and top-rated schools. What more could you ask for?

Stop by and enjoy the Open House this weekend! We’ll have it open from 1-4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday (2/27 & 2/28).

You can see a virtual tour of 3305 Newport Ct. right here.

Living Near Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Improves Your Home Value

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Really? According to the Huffington Post, homes located within a mile of Trader Joe’s stores are seeing a significant increase in value, compared to homes that are not within that range. Same thing goes for Whole Foods!

Luckily for us living in the immediate East Bay, where healthy eating and living is quite common, there are at least 12 Trader Joe’s and no less than six Whole Foods (including one each in Walnut Creek!). Chances are, as HuffPo says, if you’re close enough to one of these stores, your home value will see an uptick. I am not so sure this shows the entire picture; maybe Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods just tend to pick more affluent neighborhoods. I have never heard a buyer say they would like to be in close proximity to either of those stores when thinking about purchasing a home.  On the other hand, I personally live within walking distance to both stores in Walnut Creek.  Do I like it, absolutely!  I just finished eating a salad from Whole Foods and often stop off at TJ’s on my way home.

On the other hand, I personally live within walking distance to both stores in Walnut Creek. Do I like it? Absolutely!  I just finished eating a salad from Whole Foods and often stop off at TJ’s on my way home.

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For me, the real estate market is never boring and always provides interesting insights – location and surrounding amenities play such a huge role in pricing. Walnut Creek and the Bay Area overall are much different than the rest of the country: great for those who already own, but not so much for those trying to find a home or move in from another state. I feel very blessed to own my own and live in such a beautiful place, whether I am located within a mile of Trader Joe’ or not.

6864 Waverly Rd. Open House

6864 blogDon’t miss this gem! Storybook charm in the desirable Virginia Hills neighborhood with all the bells and whistles! This property is move-in ready with a recently updated kitchen and added deck off the living room. On a corner lot, near Pleasant Hill Schools, with separate family and living rooms.

Plus, there’s a large yard – perfect for entertaining! Conveniently located within walking distance to local parks and shops.

Stop by this beautiful home at its great location on the border of Pleasant Hill and Lafayette, and see for yourself! We’ll have an Open House both Saturday and Sunday this weekend (2/20 & 2/21) from 1-4 p.m.

You can see a virtual tour of 6864 Waverly Rd. right here.

 

 

How to Buy Happiness, According to Science

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Ski day with some of my WC Lifestyle team members!

I stumbled across an interesting blog recently that collects scientific research to prove that money can, in fact, buy happiness if it’s spent correctly.

For example, if you are spending your income on gifts for others, experiences for yourself, and time with your family, you’re scientifically more likely to be happy.

As someone who dedicates many hours of her life to work, I can relate with the difficulties in finding the free time and money to make all of those things happen.

That’s not to say I don’t achieve happiness, but with the right mindset, I could probably increase my level of happiness – and so can you.

In the blog, the author writes:

Consider this: The two days your spend waiting for your Amazon Prime package to arrive doesn’t build the same kind of anticipation as planning and dreaming about that vacation to Belize does. You take the time off work, brush up on your Spanish, read travel blogs and more, all the while thinking about how epic this trip is going to be. And once it’s over, you’ll tell the story of zip-lining through the rainforest to anyone who will listen for the rest of your life.

My winnings from the charity poker tournament for Walnut Creek Bulldawgs!
My winnings from the charity poker tournament for Walnut Creek Bulldawgs!

I’ve made it a point to spend my time and money skiing in Tahoe; this year, I bought a pass to Squaw Valley. Not only does that allow me to escape the office for a day and do one of my favorite activities, but it oftentimes brings me in close proximity to my youngest son, who attends school in Reno.

And if you’ve followed my blogs or received my newsletters, you know I enjoy combining charity with my real estate work; from this past winter’s coat drive to my passion helping past and present military use their VA benefits to buy a home, to playing in charity poker tournaments to fostering Weimaraner’s until they find their fur-ever home!

So, if you try, buying happiness is possible. I choose to experience happiness through experiences, giving to charity and spending time with my family and friends and that does take money, but in the end it is a decision to choose to be happy.

 

First-Time Home-Buyers vs. Repeat Buyers

One Cool Thing chartAccording to the California Association of Realtors, first-time home buyers look for different things in a property than repeat buyers do. Californians list rental fatigue as the single most important reason for buying a home. From those who are trying to move up, it’s a size upgrade, followed by a location improvement.

First-time home buyers are who allow repeat home buyers to move up to the next home and continue the domino effect into the higher-priced homes. This chart to the left provides an interesting look at the different reasons different types of buyers want a new house.

On average, first-time home buyers will stay in their first home between 5-7 years. The reasons for eventually selling vary, but often it is because of the addition of new members to their family, or the search for more space, good schools and a neighborhood where home owners can see their kids riding bikes and being part of a safe community.

I recently listed a past client’s home who bought 3 years ago. When she called me, she said, “Kristin, you were right. We are ready to move.” When they bought their home, I told her they would be there maybe for 5 years and she adamantly said we will be here for a long time.  Do you have a similar story?  Are you outgrowing your first home?

Market Commentary – Carol Rodini (Part 2)

As promised, I said I would write a couple of blogs from a Carol Rodini speaking event I attended. The first blog gives her thoughts on how China and Saudi Arabia may affect the real estate market in the coming months. Today, we’re discussing a general Bay Area real estate overview.

Carol said thatSF houses we (in the East Bay) are usually 6-8 months behind the other side of the Bay – meaning San Francisco and the Peninsula. What is currently happening there (and we may see this in the later part of the year) is that the media is reporting a growth of inventory. This type of news has adverse effects on real estate. In reality, there are two types of real estate: desirable and non-desirable. The media bundles them together, but Carol pointed out how they are different.

Prices have gone down on high-end properties, and buyers are getting hesitant and willing to stand by and watch what happens. For example, a house in San Francisco that was listed for $1.5 million sent out 30 disclosure packages. One buyer submitted a pre-emptive offer of $1.75 million all cash and the seller didn’t take it because they thought they could get more and wanted to market it a bit longer. On the offer due date, none came in. So they went back to the cash buyer and that person said no.

A few takeaways:

1. You can’t be over-priced in this market.

2. Buyers in the city are no longer playing the competition game.

3. Sellers need to be aggressive with their pricing, by pricing it slightly under market. The reason? Millennials buy with their stock options. And with the market volatility and changes, this is making them a bit more hesitant.

The East Bay will have a great spring. We traditionally see a bit of a slow-down in the summer, and depending on what the stock market does, we may follow in the steps of the city. Our average price point is much lower and we are seeing a bunch of first-time home buyers that can’t afford San Francisco or the Peninsula who are looking at the East Bay – at least until the prices drop on the other side of the Bay.