Can China & Saudi Arabia Affect the Real Estate Market?

On January 11, I attended a speech by Carol Rodoni about the Bay Area real estate market with an emphasis on the East Bay. My blogs are going to spread out over a handful of posts to give bite-size tidbits of her speech, which I always find very entertaining:

3dp_china3dp_map_flagCarol started off by saying that 2015 was an extraordinary year in real estate and outlining a few global situations to keep in mind that may have an impact on our 2016 real estate market.

China devaluing their currency:

Carol sees this move as a growing pain and a way to try to support their economy. Every Nov. 11, China celebrates “Singles Day,” the biggest on-line shopping day of the year. Nov. 11, written out as “11/11,” represents four singles, which is also referred to as “Double Eleven.” This past November, Alibaba broke its own record and increased sales by 60 percent, or $14.3 billion. By comparison, American sales on Cyber Monday were $1.35 billion. I don’t think we need to worry about China.

Middle East and the price of oil:

Oil now costs less than $27 per barrel and is still dropping, when only a few years ago it was $109 per barrel. Saudia 4695206-Oil-prices-dropping-vector-illustration-of-fuel-barrels-with-currency-icons-and-a-down-arrow-signify-Stock-VectorArabia has refused to cut down production, perhaps in the hopes of pushing out a few competitors. Saudi Arabia has a tremendous advantage, as their technology to extract oil is inexpensive compared to other countries; this includes the U.S., where fracking has become a provider of jobs in the Midwest. Saudi Arabia may be okay with lowering prices to eliminate smaller competition, like Iran, now that oil sanctions have been lifted.

As a result of how chaotic the world is, Carol doesn’t believe the Fed will raise rates more than twice in the next year. She said she believes the next rate hike won’t happen until June, and felt the hike in December was at the wrong time.  All this still makes for a great time to purchase or refinance as rates are still hovering below 4%.

 

Top (Fur) Baby Names in the U.S.

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Around this time every year, we always find out what the top baby names in the country are. That’s always interesting, but what about our other babies’ names?

As a dog lover, this blog caught my attention a few months back. It included this infographic that broke down the most common names of dogs, and then went further and broke it down by most popular name by breed, too.

Apparently the top dog names in the U.S. right now are Bella, Max, Daisy, Bailey, and Buddy. My dog is named Bodie, so I was pretty close!

Our team here at Walnut Creek Lifestyle Group is full of dog lovers, and we wanted to share some photos of our fur children here with you to start the New Year. I think we did a little better on creativity with our naming!

Let’s start with my boy Bodie, an 8-year-old Weimaraner rescue:

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We got Bodie when he was 18 months old. We rescued him through NorCal Weim Rescue where they found him running around Fresno.  He quickly warmed up to us and became a loved member of the family. Bodie is a big, 90-lb Weimaraner (the type that basically takes you for walks rather than the other way around!), but he loves to cuddle and play. In fact, he usually feels left out if he doesn’t get to sleep on the bed!

Let’s move along to Liz, and her two dogs, Poppy and Willow. Poppy is a 3-year-old miniature poodle, and Willow is a one-year-old Cavapoo. Liz bred Willow herself, and Poppy is the mother! For those wondering, a Cavapoo is a mix between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Poodle. Here are a couple pictures:

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Liz started breeding Cavapoos two years, ago, and kept Willow from the most recent litter. Cavapoos are wonderful dogs, combining the look of the Cavalier, the non-shedding coat of the Poodle, and the sweet temperaments of both breeds. Also, Cavaliers are great dogs, but have been so inbred throughout the years that the majority of them develop a deadly malady called Mitral Valve disease. Since poodles are not largely affected by the disease, the cross-breeding drastically lowers the Cavapoo puppies’ chances of inheriting that disease.

For more information on Cavapoos, you can check out Liz’s company California Cavapoos, which bring healthy, beautiful, friendly pets to the best families. Take a look at her Facebook page!

Lastly, our freelance writer Jeremy has had dogs in his family forever. From a golden retriever when he was a baby, to a black lab throughout childhood, to the current ARF rescue mix his family loves…meet Sydney, the 8-year-old Australian Shepherd/Blue Heeler/Hound mix:

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Sydney (or “Syddie” for short – she responds to that especially well if you use a high-pitched voice) has an endless amount of energy and absolutely adores humans. If Sydney isn’t on her back with all four paws in the air, begging for a belly scratch within 30 seconds of meeting you, there’s something wrong. As you can see from the photos above, Sydney also loves to go to the Open Space in Walnut Creek!

Share some photos of your dogs – do you have any with creative names?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering 2015, Looking Ahead to 2016

New yearsAccording to History.com, the tradition of celebrating the new year dates back nearly 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. Though they weren’t on our modern Gregorian calendar at the time (so, New Year’s was actually in March back then!), they still rang in the new year with feasts and celebrations, much like we do today.

Back then, Babylonians would make promises in order to earn the favor of the gods and start the year off on the right foot (can’t confirm whether they broke their promises in the first month like we do today…), thus beginning the practice of making resolutions.

Obviously the norm today is to eat, drink and celebrate wildly at midnight, and then watch fireworks over the night sky. The explosions signify the closing of the past year and the ushering in of the next. So, as we remember the Sydney fireworkscraziness of 2015 and look forward to a fresh start in 2016, which questions do you ask yourself? What resolutions will you make? What does this time represent for you?

For me 2016 will be continued self improvement and finding balance between work and home and what truly feeds me and makes me happy.  This past year I found Yoga – it has helped  loosen those tight hip flexers and release the stress in my shoulders.  I even went on a one week Yoga Retreat to Costa Rica.  The comments I received at how well rested and relaxed I look made me think more than just in passing about balance.  I also hedged my bet on El Nino and bought a ski pass to Squaw/Alpine, totally the right decision and am looking forward to some awesome days on the slopes in 2016.

Other notables was Jackson off to UNR … empty nester, not so bad.  A nice trip to NY to celebrate Ryan’s birthday and hanging out with my friends and dog Bodie … all good stuff.

2015 flew by me, as I am sure will happen to 2016, just another reason to savor the moments.  On that note, I wish you a happy,  prosperous and balanced New Year!

~k

Happy Holidays, Coat Drive and Market Update

Hi everyone! If you didn’t receive a hard copy of my most recent newsletter at your door, here is the PDF to tide you over. There is still time to donate to the coat drive, as I’ll be dropping off any more donations I get at the Trinity Center as they come in. Thanks to everyone who has already contributed!

(Don’t forget to scroll at the bottom of the PDF to see page 2!)

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Thank You! … for supporting the coat drive

IMG_8135 Walnut Creek is now home to a temporary winter homeless shelter at The Armory sponsored by Trinity Center. It houses up to 30 homeless families while providing transition assistance in an effort to place them back in homes after their stays at the shelter.

As many of you know, I did a One Warm Coat drive that was featured in my latest newsletter. Trinity Center was the beneficiary of those coats, blankets and sweaters, along with a few of the Trader Joe’s gift cards I was giving out to the first 10 respondents. I want to thank all who donated. We ended up with about five large-sized trash bags full of warm goodies.

If you have never stopped by to drop off food or clothing, I highly recommend it. It is an eye-opening and rewarding experience. We were greeted by a group of men sitting in the living room staying warm and eating chips and dip. They kindly offered to carry in our bags of clothes. The staff is kind and grateful.IMG_8136

The Trinity Center is a non-profit based in town here on Trinity. It provides basic human services such as food, showers, laundry, clothing, mail and telephone access.

The City Council of Walnut Creek passed the proposal earlier in the year, to use The Armory on Carmel temporarily through the winter and now it’s officially in operation.

I first heard of the program when it was called Fresh Start and a neighborhood boy asked his mom how he could help the homeless. As a result, Creek Kids Care was born with local kids of all ages having art parties and creating note cards to sell. The money raised was donated to what is now the Trinity Center. What a great story that shows what one small child can set into motion.

 

 

 

 

 

Things to do Around Walnut Creek for Christmas!

ice skating WCLIt’s that time of year again when the tree lots spring up, lights blink on every corner and familiar movies play on every TV: it’s Christmas time!  If you are like me, it caught up to me quickly, as I barely got my tree up, with Christmas Cards still needing to be created – maybe they will be New Year cards (now if I can only my Costco certificate for the print shop I bought 2 months ago).  Thus with only a few days left until Christmas, there is still  a lot of things to do….

Even though Walnut Creek is nestled in the cozy Bay Area where snow is a day trip away, the town gets into a wintery spirit for the holidays. With students coming home for winter break and relatives flying into town for Christmas and New Year’s, families are reuniting all over the Bay Area.  After catch up is played, meals are devoured and egg nog is drunk, here are a few fun, local holiday events around Walnut Creek for the whole family to enjoy:

Walnut Creek on Ice

For just $15, you can enjoy some quality ice skating time right in downtown Walnut Creek. The ice rink, which has been a fixture in Civic Park for many winters now, throws fun events and never gets overly crowded. For more information about Walnut Creek on Ice, visit their website.

Santa visits at Broadway Plaza

A winter classic is taking the kids (of all ages!) to visit Santa Claus, ask for a gift and take a photo. This year, you can head right down to Broadway Plaza in Walnut Creek to see him. Make sure to hurry on this one, though; he can only hang around through Christmas Eve, before taking off on his sleigh to deliver his gifts!

091220-N-XXXXX-001 FUJISAWA CITY, Japan (Dec. 20, 2009) Petty Officer 1st. Class James Durrance acts as Santa during a visit to distribute toys to children of the Misono Orphanage. The community service project was supported by the First Class Petty Officer Association of the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63). (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Holiday Train in Blackhawk

Take a little drive to Blackhawk and get a nice meal with the family, before rewarding your kids for their patience with a fun train ride at Blackhawk Plaza! All you need is to make a purchase at the plaza, and you’ll receive a ticket for the train too. Nothing says holidays like a wintery train ride for the little ones.

Volunteer in the East Bay

There are endless volunteer opportunities around the East Bay, especially around the holidays. From helping distribute food, clothing and toys to less fortunate families, to caroling at local senior centers, there are tons of ways to help give back with your family this Christmas. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Catch a Christmas movie

Everybody has their favorite Christmas movie, but many people don’t realize that they can watch some of the classics from the Century Theaters in Walnut Creek! For example, this Wednesday night the theater will be showing Miracle on 34th Street, and then It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve. What better way to spend some warm, relaxing family time than getting a Christmas classic on the big screen?

Do you have any other fun ideas for this week and weekend around Walnut Creek? Happy holidays!

1077 Wesley Ct. #8 Open House

Wesley CtYou can’t miss this recently-updated top-floor end-unit in Walnut Creek. With fresh paint, new carpet, granite counters and new flooring, this 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom is ready for move-in. Not to mention it’s a short walk to BART, has easy freeway access, underground parking, extra storage and a pool! The list of perks never ends.

Open for a Broker’s Tour tomorrow (Tues. 12/15) from 10:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and then for an Open House this Saturday and Sunday from 1:00-4:00 p.m. both days. Come check it out!

You can see a virtual tour of 1077 Wesley Ct. #8 right here.

Just in Time for Thanksgiving!

FullSizeRender-2Having a bad hair day?

Apparently you’re not the only one…This wild turkey, spotted near Walnut & Marshall, just discovered that he’s bald!

Vanity withstanding, he is definitely not alone!  I was driving away in my Mini after an Open House at my listing in Clayton, when I came around the corner and — to my surprise — found a gang of turkeys (yes, “gang” is the technical term for a group of turkeys)!

I have seen a few gangs here and there around Walnut Creek, and many at the Lafayette Reservoir! This got me thinking: do we have a turkey problem?

Lo and behold, it’s been an issue in the East Bay since the early 2000’s. Apparently, the turkeys continue to move East, oftentimes destroying gardens, nicking paint on cars and leaving cement-like patties of you know what along the way.

FullSizeRender-1Here are a few facts about the wild turkey that were new to me:

  • There are almost 7 million wild turkeys nationwide
  • They have 5,500 feathers and males have 18 distinct tail feathers
  • Ranging from 5-20 pounds, they can run at speeds up to 25 mph and fly at 55 mph

Watch yourself around gangs of turkeys, too! By nature, they have a proud demeanor and protective instincts, with vision three times better than humans – maybe the turkey above couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

So, think twice before trying to score a free Thanksgiving meal when you see these guys on the street.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

 

 

1408 Babel Ln. Open House

1408 babel drone shotAny investors out there? Take a look at this single-family home (3 BR/2.5 BA with 1 BR/1BA in-law unit). You can rent out both properties, or live in one and rent out the other.

Open both Saturday and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Come by, have a cookie, and check it out!

You can see a virtual tour of 1408 Babel Ln. in Concord right here.

Best Sandwich in the Bay Area: Morucci’s

One of my favorite lunch time eateries in Walnut Creek is Morucci’s. They have great sandwiches, soups and salads. My personal favorite is the #1: Roasted Turkey.

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One of the best aspects of this deli is their creative menu, which lists their sandwiches from 1-17 (with some items being fractions, too!). It is always fresh and tasty and has my vote as the best deli in the area.

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Some of the most popular sandwiches are the 6 3/4, which is a delicious combination of caprese salad-style tomato and mozzarella, turkey, lettuce, roasted bell peppers, and balsamic dressing, all on a perfectly-toasted ciabatta; and the #5 (California club – fully loaded with turkey, swiss, bacon and veggies).

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For the vegetarians the Caprese is also tasty. I can truly say that every concoction they make at Morucci’s is awesome, and apparently everyone agrees – just check out the line at lunch time! Try to get there in off-hours, though. The secret got out a few years back and now East Bay residents from high schoolers to retirees form lines around the block on any given day at lunch to nab one of these famous sandwiches.


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Consistently voted one of Walnut Creek’s best, Morucci’s is a must-try if you are living in or visiting the area. From their sandwiches, to fresh Italian salads, Morucci’s definitely earns their rave Yelp reviews.

Which sandwich at Morucci’s is your favorite?  Please let me know.