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!

East Bay housing market is shifting

housing-marketLately, we’ve started to see a “shift” in the Walnut Creek-area housing market. Price appreciation growth has slowed and we are now seeing more price reductions. Home price appreciation has generally declined to single-digit annual appreciation with estimates in the next year of 3-5 percent.

In the 24/680 corridor, homes are sitting on the market longer than they did in the Spring (20-26 days, as compared to 15-20 days). I am receiving 1-3 offers  with a final sales price of 4 percent over the asking price on most of my listings.

The Federal Reserve Bank will not increase interest rates this month. Currently, the best mortgage interest rate for a 30-year fixed rate is approximately 3.5 percent. In the big picture, global growth concerns remain the driving force behind the long-term trend toward lower rates.

Kitty Cole, who coaches many Bay Area agents, has noticed two distinct Bay Area markets. Many of them are side by side. Check out her insights:

Some of the market (still a seller’s market) is hot, with low DOM’s, high Sales Price to List Price ratios, low inventory, no contingencies, multiple offers and buyers aplenty. This market is going on in Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding cities.

It looks similar to the last 4 1/2 years. The only thing that is quite different is the number of offers that was 10-25 a few months ago, and is now 2-6 (and occasionally higher). This market requires savvy pricing and negotiating to get your seller the highest price. san-francisco

The other part of the market (a buyer’s market) has slowed with these factors in place: price reductions (up to 10 percent, and sometimes two before it brings an offer), contingent offers (contingent upon the sale of another property), high DOM’s, few offers (sometimes only one!), expired listings, cranky sellers and demanding buyers (because they can be!).

In the city, one client whose specialty is high-rise condos, literally slowed overnight and now the DOM’s for her listings are more than 30 days. Another San Francisco agent has had three listings expire in the past three months. One agent in the East Bay (Pleasant Hill) is stymied by her listings that sold within seven days and are now sitting for weeks. Many newer agents are not prepared to have the “I need a price adjustment to sell your property” conversation.  In three months, it will be different … how, I don’t know, wished I had that elusive crystal ball.

Walnut Creek starting to rock the foodie scene

IMG_9049Do you smell that? It must be the eclectic mix of fresh, local dishes and fancy San Francisco-transplanted restaurants that dot the little town of Walnut Creek. It’s no secret anymore: Walnut Creek has become a foodie haven.

In fact, earlier this year, Livability.com ranked Walnut Creek as the 10th-best foodie city, based on the residents preferring independent and locally-owned restaurants over fast food chains (that might explain the disappearance of McDonald’s and Taco Bell over the last few months!).

Also getting a shout-out was The Art and Wine Festival, which draws thousands of visitors every year. From highly-rated stops like Walnut Creek Yacht Club, to the neverending list of new restaurants popping up, Walnut Creek has put itself on the radar among the best food cities in the country.

Is it any wonder that Walnut Creek is getting so much attention for its culinary game when places like Teleferic, Rooftop and Slice House can all pop up within a few months in the same building? A building that is next door to long-time favorites like Tomatina and La Fogata? Just down the block from hip dessert shops like Kara’s Cupcakes and Cream?IMG_9045

Walnut Creek has become an extension of the nearby food meccas of Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco.

It has become the crown jewel for tourists craving good eats in the East Bay. It may not have any restaurants listed in the Yelp Top 100 nationwide, but the Bay Area has a ton.

So if you are looking to expand your epicurean tastes, check out Open Table top 10 Diners’ Choice Winners for the greater Bay Area. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful place and taste the bounty of menus it has to offer.

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!

East Bay Booze Boom!

The Bay area is leading the nation in innovation, and not just in the tech sector. A new industry on the rise in the East Bay is the alcoholic beverage market!

75e4cb_70530afefa2c4ac597c7198da59bd280With the craft brewing industry on the rise, many local entrepreneurs have hopped (get it?) on the bandwagon, starting many new breweries in Oakland, San Francisco, and even Concord! Many of these East Bay brewers are really pushing the envelope by making unusual beers, like sours, rare varietals, and other creative concoctions.

One such brewery in the sour beer market is Rare Barrel in Berkeley. They go the extra mile by aging their beer in oak barrels for about a year to develop the lovely tart flavors in their brews. Some other notable East Bay breweries are Linden Street Brewery and Pacific Coast Brewery in Oakland, Jupiter and Pyramid Brewery in Berkeley, and EJ Phair in Concord. Don’t sleep on 21st Amendment Brewery, famous for their Hell or High Watermelon beer, which just opened a huge new brewery in San Leandro. Or the popular Calicraft Brewing Co. based right here in Walnut Creek which is my favorite; I love their Buzzerkeley champagne beer.

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Beer is not the only game in town, however. The wine and liquor industries in the area have also been growing in popularity. St. George Sprits in Alameda has become well-known for their brand, and Hangar One vodka is named after the old World War II-era hangar where the distillery is based. Although they recently sold the brand to be produced next door, the distillery is excited to have more space to focus on new experiments in distillation. Some of their more creative liquors include Green Chili Vodka, Absinthe Verde (I know this one from personal experience and it was not a good one), Agricole Rum, and several Fruit Brandies. They have a great guided tour for $15, which includes a tasting of six spirits! They even have a small outdoor seating area where you can hang out with a drink after your tour and check out the San Francisco skyline from the other side of the Bay.

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Many wineries have also begun to spring up throughout the East Bay. Although this may seem like a new development, the East Bay, especially the Walnut Creek area, was actually one of the main wine-grape growing regions until prohibition in 1920. One such winery making a revival in the area is Urban Legend Cellars in Oakland. They source grapes from other local regions, and use various blending and oaking techniques to produce unique and delicious wines.

Walnut Creek has also been put back on the map with Shadowbrook Winery. This vineyard grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah, right on the foothills of Mount Diablo. Mark Lavezzoli, the Winemaker there, combines traditional and innovative techniques to create some very tasty vino. The entire team there is very excited about Walnut Creek’s potential to produce a first-class wine.

With so many great beverages to try right here in the East Bay, it’s hard to find a reason to leave and another great reason to own a home in this amazing area.

Have you been to any of these places? Please share your thoughts – we would love to hear from you!