Urban Remedy pops up in Walnut Creek

img_9278In August, Urban Remedy opened up next to Veggie Grill on Locust St. in downtown Walnut Creek.

The space is tiny, as it’s more of a grab-and-go joint than anything else, but they offer a lot of good healthy, paleo options to go along with their delicious organic jui ces.

As Walnut Creek continues to do away with fast food options like Taco Bell and McDonald’s, they are bringing more and more healthy options to the downtown scene.img_9277

Urban Remedy, which joins Mr. Green Bubble, Pressed Juicery and a few more in the organic juice movement hitting the East Bay.

Besides juice, Urban Remedy offers salads, bowls, wraps, rolls, soups, dressings, snacks and desserts. Check out their options here!

Mortgage Terminology 101

mortgage-1 Buying a home, even for those with experience, is already a tricky process to navigate. Add choosing a mortgage on top of that and things can get really stressful. Luckily, Keith Loria of BHG posted a great list of basic mortgage terminology to help guide buyers through this process. Check out our lightly edited version:

“Mortgage Lenders” – lenders make the loan and provide the money you’ll use to buy your home. You’ll need a lot of financial background information when you meet with a lender so he or she can set mortgage interest rates and other loan terms accordingly.

“Mortgage Brokers” –  brokers work with multiple lenders to find you the best loan. This can be confusing, but their jobs are essentially to get you the best rate and terms on your loan.

“Mortgage Bankers” – most lenders are bankers, which means they don’t actually lend their own money, but borrow funds at short-term rates from warehouse lender. Some larger mortgage bankers will originate their own loans and sell directly to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or investors.

“Portfolio Mortgage Lenders” – they originate and fund their own loans, offering more flexibility in loan products because they don’t have to adhere to secondary market buyer guidelines. Once these loans are serviced and paid for on time for at least one year, they’re “seasoned,” and can be sold more easily on the secondary market.

“Hard Money Lenders” – this may be your last resort if you’re having trouble getting a mortgage and working with a portfolio mortgage lender. They are private individuals with money to lend, though interest rates are usually higher.mortgage-2

“Wholesale Lenders” – they cater to mortgage brokers for loan origination but offer loans to brokers at a lower cost than their retail branches offer them to the general public. For you, the loan costs about the same if it were obtained directly from a retail branch of the wholesale lender.

“Correspondent Mortgage Lenders” – these lenders have agreements in place with one or more wholesale lenders to act as their retail representative. They lend directly to buyers and use wholesaler guidelines to approve and close loans with their own money. They will also buy back any loans they close that deviate from those guidelines.

“Direct Mortgage Lenders” – direct mortgage lenders are simply banks or lenders that work directly with a homeowner, with no need for a middleman or broker.

Art Town: Lost in the Mail

img_9051A fixture of the downtown Walnut Creek art scene since 1985, Jacques Overhoff’s “Lost in the Mail” sits on the corner of Civic and Main, across the way from the police station.

If you’ve ever grabbed a coffee at La Scala or strolled from Stadium Pub to Dan’s on a weekend night, you’ve passed this ceramic sculpture.

Overhoff, a Dutch artist, named this piece after the plans to assemble it literally got lost in the mail.

The design is supposed to be texture-focused and allow for softening and hardening of the features depending on the angle of the sun.

According to the Walnut Creek Arts Commissioner, some people believe the sculpture looks like a pizza with two slices taken out of it. I personally see some sort of decaying sun dial, but to each his or her own!

10 tips for adding value to your home before you sell

kitchenWhen you sell your home, it’s all about adding value before it goes on the market. There are some small tweaks you can make around the house to make sure you get top dollar for your house. Here is a whittled-down version of the top 10 tips from Houzz.com on how you can increase that value:

1. Add square footage: Move furniture around to fit the room better and make it feel larger. Perception is powerful, even if that true square footage won’t budge. You want prospective buyers to see a lot of space, and therefore, a lot of potential.

2. Traditional sells too: You don’t have to buy a bunch of new stuff to show off your home. Every buyer has his or her own style, so staying honest to the home’s roots can pay off.

3. Master bedroom closet upgrade: Add custom closets to the master bedroom. A large, walk-in closet will add value to any home and excites buyers. Finding an affordable way to do it isn’t terribly difficult with a little research.

4. Kitchen is king: If you do spend money on your home before it hits the market, put it towards your kitchen. Even updated light fixtures will add value to a space used for eating, drinking, gathering and storage by even the worst cooks.

5. Storage, storage, storage: There is no such thing as too much storage. It’s important to provide ample storage space, so utilize it as much as possible when selling!

6. Fresh paint is magical: Painting is the most cost-effective way to freshen up a space. Freshly painted rooms feel updated, clean and crisp and won’t break the bank. Try to avoid colors that are too bold and might scare off buyers. Traditional, neutral choices can do wonders!

7. Try to be energy-efficient: Buying a home involves closing costs, moving fees, energy bills and more on top of just the sale price. If you offer buyers energy-efficient options (CFL or LED lightbulbs, solar panels, etc.), they may find that long-term cost savings attractive. front-yard

8. Bathroom updates help: Behind the kitchen, bathrooms are going to be the most important part of your home to get updates in when selling. A little bit can go a long way in most bathrooms; replace outdated features or change light fixtures to start.

9. Hire a professional organizer: Don’t try to do everything yourself. This process is stressful enough! A professional organizer can help you de-clutter your home and help open up manageable space. That organization will impress buyers.

10. Add curb appeal: You only get one chance to make a first impression, right? Make sure your front yard is tidy and well-groomed. Don’t let peeling paint or cracks in the walls scare off buyers before they even make it in the door.

Walnut Festival coming this weekend!

This Thursday through Sunday, The Walnut Festival will be put on for the 80th time. The Festival is a rite of passage for young Walnut Creek residents, and probably anyone who has lived here for a few years has experienced it at some point.

I looked up a little history on the Festival that I’d like to share:

  • First Festival was in 1911 and was called The Grape Festival
  • In 1936, the name officially changed to The Walnut Festival
  • In 1976, it was officially relocated to Heather Farm Park for good

Among other things, The Walnut Festival offers fun carnival rides, tons of food options and a bunch of cool entertainment. The Walnut Festival Association runs the show and will give discounted tickets ($6 instead of $7) to anyone who brings a can of food for donation to the gates.

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Courtesy: thewalnutfestival.org

The Walnut Festival will run from 5-10 p.m. on Thursday, 5-11 p.m. on Friday, 11-11 on Saturday, and 11-8 on Sunday. Don’t miss out!

Does your front door impact your curb appeal?

front-door-1Yes, it does! When it comes to your front door, big decisions must be made. I’ve seen some of the prettiest houses ruined by the ugliest paint jobs on front doors.

For example, unless the rest of your house can really pull it off, please don’t paint your front door bright, neon pink!

From merging classic colors to considering nature tones and your home’s immediate surroundings, there are a lot more factors to consider than one would think when painting a front door.

When all is said and done, a good paint job can really tie a house together visually.

Check out Better Homes and Gardens’ guide to the “do’s and don’ts” of painting your front door.  I think you’ll find these tips helpful. I know I did, though my front door is in need or repair and really needs to be moved back to it’s original spot – remodeling is on the horizon!

You can also check out this free guide on how to paint your front door right here!

Another happy client!

Our newest seller! Congratulations to Todd, on selling your home on San Carlos Ave. in Concord. The home was listed at $400,000 and sold for $460,000. Todd chose to do a lot of things at once: get his home prepared for sale, get married, move out between friends’ weddings, and take a short trip to Palm Springs [I don’t recommend such a busy schedule when selling a home! ;-)]. Now he and his new bride search for their new home together! Wishing you many wonderful memories!

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Art Town: The Nordstrom fish!

img_9064Have you ever been wandering downtown by Broadway Plaza and turned the corner around Nordstrom and ended up staring into the open mouth of a big, golden fish statue? It startled me the first time I saw it.

Of all the strange art in Walnut Creek, this is a strong contender for weirdest of them all.

The fish, which is actually entitled “Bronze Carp” is the brainchild of the late Luciano Tempo, a Venetian-born artist who specialized in classically-hand carved stone planters, tables, and statues.

If my research is correct, Tempo also has a bronze alligator and frog somewhere in Walnut Creek. I haven’t seen those, but they are said to be placed around Broadway Plaza in a similar setting to the Bronze Carp.

Though the fish isn’t the prettiest to look at, it’s fascinatingly strange and adds a little bit of spice to our downtown art scene. It seems Walnut Creek isn’t shy about throwing random artwork together, huh?