It’s not too late to jump on the Walnut Creek summer bike challenge!

Are you an avid biker? Is that your summertime physical activity of choice? Even if that’s not the case, you might want to give this cool bike challenge in Walnut Creek a try!

It’s a great way to force yourself outside to enjoy the beautiful Bay Area summer weather, get a little exercise, and be environmentally-friendly all at once. Basically, there is a Walnut Creek Summer Bike Challenge that asks you to download a challenge card and complete it before the summer is over.

Destinations include Cream in downtown Walnut Creek (what better motivation for going on a ride is there than having ice cream at the finish line?), Heather Farm and Civic Park.

If the exercise, enjoyment and gas savings aren’t enough incentive, there are also prizes! Some squares on the challenge card offer instant prizes or free stuff upon completion, and the program’s grand prize is an iPad.

Other Bay Area cities hosting a challenge like this are Brentwood, Martinez, Oakley and Pleasant Hill. Give it a shot and explore our wonderful little town in a whole new way. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a SoulCycle subscription!

The smallest decisions can make your house more valuable

When selling a home, oftentimes the goal is to maximize financial return on the deal. Everybody wants to make as much as they can off their home sale, and even the slightest changes can increase what a home sells for.

Take this article on Inman.com for example. It’s about how homes with blue bathrooms sell for $5,400 more on average than others, according to a Zillow study. Crazy, right? Literally just changing the color you’ve painted a wal or two can add thousands of dollars to your wallet!

The article goes on to list a couple other color choices that can add or subtract from the sale price; for example, grey (and other neutral) exteriors sel die about $3,500 more than homes with other colors.

It really goes to show that small aesthetic decisions can play a huge role in netting you some extra zeroes on your home sale. It’s always wise to cater to the current trends when painting, decorating and remodeling your home to go on market – even if it means just a couple grand more in your pocket.

I try to stay tuned in to what’s popular so I can help you make those decisions. I am committed to maximizing your value as a seller, and on the flip side, getting you the best deal possible as a buyer. Give me a call if you’re interested in a real estate transaction!

Time for this summer to get in-tents!

Hah, get it? It’s officially summer in the Bay Area (if you couldn’t tell by the triple-digit heat…), which means it’s time for you to plan some fun camping trips!

Luckily, we live in one of the most serene, nature-filled parts of the country and dozens of great campgrounds are just a short drive away. That brings me to this list of local campgrounds provided by Placer Title Company.

Some you’ve probably heard of, some you haven’t, but either way you can’t beat the Northern California summer. Some of my favorite areas are Tahoe (of course) and the Redwoods.

On this list, I can’t recommend the Tahoe State Recreation Area, Big Basin or Tuolumne Meadows (Yosemite, so get reservations like…yesterday!) enough. I’ve also found that Desolation Wilderness near Tahoe is an amazing, remote spot for hike-in camping.

If you have kids, Angel Island is a simple ferry ride (also fun for the kiddos!) and close enough to home that you can do an easy one-nighter. Obviously, if you want to be extremely close to home in the East Bay, hit up Mt. Diablo. They have pretty great campgrounds and almost every single one has a great view of the entire East Bay.

I love camping, whether it be in a car or a tent, in the warm NorCal summers. Check out that list, pack your car, and take a weekend off to enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Our natural surroundings are some of the best parts about living in California, so take advantage of it soon!

4040 Siino Ave, listed with views of Mt. Diablo.

Tired of renting? Looking for a place to store all your toys? Welcome home to 4040 Siino Avenue in Concord!

This 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom, 1,102-square foot home on a nearly quarter-acre (.23 acres) lot, has refinished hardwood floors, an updated bathroom and gorgeous, cozy bedrooms.

Relax on the covered patio, take in a beautiful view of Mt. Diablo and enjoy a perfect getaway that you get to call home. It’s situated on a quiet street, has a large detached garage with three bays and an extra spot for a boat or RV, and even a separate area for a kennel and dog run.

Everything you could ever want, all in the heart of the East Bay. And it’s offered at just $470,000 right now! We’ll have this awesome home available for viewing at our Open House on Sunday, June 25th from 1-4 p.m. Come stop by!

Vanessa’s Bistro has great drink specials and staying power

Restaurants in Walnut Creek don’t tend to stick around for a long time these days. It seems like every month we’re writing a blog about an old favorite closing down and a new, trendy spot taking its place.

Vanessa’s Bistro is an exception to that rule. They’ve been serving patrons in downtown Walnut Creek since 2009, which feels like an eternity at this point! I’ve stopped in there a few times. My favorite is their crispy garlic salt & pepper tofu with sautéed scallions and bell peppers. I also love their special cocktails.

Vanessa’s also has Happy Hour all day on Sunday, $6 margaritas on Monday (and $30 margarita pitchers, yikes!), 50% off tapas on Tuesdays and 50% off all wine and champagne on Wednesday. A big plus (especially in trendy Walnut Creek) is that they hold happy hour Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9 PM until 11:30 PM, which consists of $5 specialty cocktails, $6 tapas and $3 and $6 select beer and wines. That is my kind of place!

They have pretty good food, too – Vietnamese tapas with a French fusion twist! They have a huge list of tapas, banh mi, seafood and vegetarian options. I think there’s a reason Vanessa’s has stuck around so long.

I give it 5 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s!

California getting snotty about their potties

Did you know California has put a new law in place that went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year? It’s causing quite a commode-tion.
It basically says that any home built after 1994 must flush away some money meeting the requirement of having water-conserving plumbing (WCP) fixtures in their bathrooms, whether it’s going on the market or not. What a stinker!
Additionally, the law calls for installation of WCP fixtures – and wiping away the old one – when the existing plumbing fixtures use more than the following:
  • Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush.
  • Any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush.
  • Any shower head manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute.
  • Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.

Now that the drought is over, I wonder if the regulations might go down the drain and on the sale side nobody is enforcing it. But either way, a very important question remains: who the heck has a urinal in their house?

Road Trips: Scenic Drives in Northern CA

Nothing can top the beauty of Northern California. From the ocean, to the mountains, to lakes, rivers and cities, the Bay Area is one of the most breathtaking places in the world.

California Redwood Road Trip

We have officially kicked off the summer season, the rain has stopped and given NorCals mild summer weather, it’s a perfect place to explore, especially during these upcoming months. I’m a big fan of road trips – there’s nothing like hopping in the car, rolling the windows down and going for a drive on a warm summer day.

With that in mind, I found a great article on OnlyInYourState.com listing 11 great scenic drives in Northern California. I’ll list a few of my favorites out below for reference, but take a look at the full list, and then take a trip!

1. Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway – Lassen National Park

2. Yuba Donner Scenic Byway – Tahoe National Forest

3. Emigrant Trail – Tahoe/Donner Area

4. Route 101 Redwood Highway – Del Norte Redwoods State Park

5. Carson Pass – CA/NV Border

Happy Trails and have a great summer!

 

Following Up: Honeybees!

A few weeks back, we did the Parkmead Garden Tour. I spoke to one resident who is a honeybee keeper. In addition to the Beekeeper who was there to speak, I learned a lot about honeybees.

For example, did you know that a honeybee has to travel more than 55,000 miles and has to visit about 2 million flowers just to produce one pound of honey? Or that they can fly 15 miles per hour? 

Beekeeping is a hobby that seems to be picking up popularity, especially around the Bay Area. Much like composting, its attraction is that it’s a sustainable, healthy way to provide for oneself and the community around us. It’s been common knowledge for years that the bee population is quickly dying off, and their extinction would have a horrific effect on the planet’s ecosystem.

So, I also snagged some basic information on beekeeping resources around the Bay Area! If you want to learn more about the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association (MDBA), visit this link! If you’re interested in starting beekeeping, you can find supplies at MarElla Honey B’s in Concord, Biofuel Oasis/Urban Farm Store in Berkeley, and many others around the Bay Area.

If you’d simply like to attract more bees to your garden to help increase the population and improve your pollination, plant flowers that they like! For example, blackberries and raspberries, fireweed, lavender, oregano, rosemary and sunflower are a few that really attract heavy pollination.  

Here are a few more fun facts for you to finish out our blog on honeybees:

  • A typical beehive makes more than 400 lbs of honey per year
  • A honeybee will flap its wings about 11,400 times per minute, creating the familiar “buzz” sound
  • Honeybees are responsible for approximately 80 percent of all fruit, vegetable and seed crops in the U.S.

So when you see a bee nearby, don’t run or swat at it, but think of the good they do and then briskly walk away!

The VA loan is the best loan going!

With Memorial Day around the corner and a time to honor and remember all the brave heroes who served to hold our flag high, I thought it would be a great time to mention the benefits of a VA loan and what is currently happening in that arena.

There’s a bill in Congress that eliminates loan limits for the VA. The current VA limit for Contra Costa is $636,150, so eliminating the limit will help our vets who qualify for more to still be able to purchase with their VA benefits. I specialize in working with VA buyers and sellers, and have a strong passion for it given my family’s history in service.

There is also a rebate available of up to $2,500 in Contra Costa County for qualified buyers with approved lenders. I can connect you with a qualified lender. The VA loan is the best loan around  –  low rates, nothing down, 25% of the loan is backed by the federal government, lowest loan foreclosure rate, plus many additional changes over the years to help make a VA offer be accepted such as the seller no longer has to pay for the pest inspection.

Did you also know, you are eligible for a VA loan after 90 days active duty in wartime (we are still considered in wartime which started with the Gulf War)? You are eligible after two years of service if no longer on active duty  and six years of service in the National Guard or Reserves.

If you’re a veteran looking to buy or sell in the Bay Area or know somebody who is, please give me a call so we can get the ball rolling on helping you land a rebate and get your VA loan accepted!