Bored yet? Here are some fun coping ideas!

Well, this isn’t ideal! With COVID-19 spreading quickly around the country, Governor Gavin Newsom made a bold move to be the first state to shelter-in-place. I am respecting that order, as should everyone else; it is getting real out there. That said, many of us are not used to being home all the time and not interacting with others!

So, I’ve come up with some great ideas of ways you can still cope and have fun while social distancing! Please share any other ideas you have:

Get outside!

Find local trails with AllTrails, a fantastic app/company that tracks local hiking spots in most major areas. With typically good weather and so many miles and miles of trail in the Bay Area, this is a good time to get some fresh air and not go stir-crazy in your home all the time. Yes, going outside is allowed, just don’t congregate, as the state had to close our Parks due to the number of people that headed to the beach with our great weather this past weekend.

“Visit” 5 National Parks

If you can’t get outside for real, try going to Travel + Leisure and take virtual tours of National Parks in Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, New Mexico, and Florida! Maybe, when this is all over, you’ll remember that virtual tour and plan a trip to the real place. Unrelated to Travel + Leisure, you can also tour museums from home!

Join Club Quarantine

DJ D-Nice is holding virtual dance parties for people all over the globe from “Club Quarantine.” So far, special guest appearances have included Michelle Obama, Oprah, Ellen, and more. Good exercise and good times! Check it out here.

Visit virtual Aspen

There are a lot of beautiful places in this world that are inaccessible to visitors for the time being. Aspen, CO is one of the best, and luckily, the Aspen Chamber of Commerce has brought the town’s experience into our homes with digital resources.

Take a free online course from Yale on Happiness

When Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale University, started her “Psychology and the Good Life” course in 2018, she set out to give her students practical, science-backed information about how to be happy. To her surprise, nearly one in every four students signed up for the class, making it the most popular course in Yale’s history. Another option is to listen to some Ted Talks; there are many on happiness, this one from Malcolm Gladwell is a good listen.

Try some new recipes

I have a personal favorite – Willie’s Chile! The recipe is below! And, I just made my first sourdough loaf – thank you, Chris Morrison, for the starter – my neighbor dropped it on my doorstep. I suspect many are baking as the flour and sugar shelves have been bare at multiple stores. Today, my neighbor Dorothy just dropped off some homemade cookies – knock and run, baking is one way she relieves stress! There are so many great recipes to learn and master while cooped up for weeks that we should all emerge as five-star chefs, honestly. Please share your favorite recipe!

Willie’s Chile:
1. Brown 2 lbs lean hamburger meat
2. Add crazy salt to taste, a packet of Mexican spice or taco seasoning, 2 tsp chili powder, fresh minced veggies (bell peppers and hot peppers, 1 onion, grated zucchini)
3. Once mixed and brown, drain, and add A1 until the meat changes color
4. Add hot sauce to taste and 1 small can of tomato paste
5. Put into a crockpot, add 2 cans of tomato sauce, 3 cans of drained beans (your choice!), and chili powder and hot sauce to taste!

Read or listen to some new books

Remember that novel you’ve been wanting to finish for the past six months? Now’s your chance! You can also take a look at this Bestseller list from The New York Times for some fresh ideas, or Reese’s Book Club on Audible. One of my personal favorites for new ideas on books to read is Novel Visits. Speaking of Audible, they are allowing kids everywhere to stream stories in six different languages on any device as long as school is closed.

Take yoga classes…from home!

Just Be Yoga in Walnut Creek is offering their in-studio classes online. You can even stream them at a later day or time, so you don’t have to be available at the exact time they do the class. This is a huge boost for people who made yoga part of their normal workout routines before COVID-19. You do have to be a member, but they do have a trial for one month which costs $55.

Roam from Home

I got this great message from Xanterra: “We invite you to join us every day starting Monday, March 22nd as we “Roam from Home” and serve up a spectacular image from each of our brands on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to share a moment of peace and splendor during this stressful time.” You can also go to xanterra.com, scroll down to the bottom and the have some wonderful travel articles or join their newsletter! I had a Northern Italy bike trip planned in September through VBT, part of Xanterra, which we just canceled; hoping to do it in 2021 – a quality travel company.

Subscribe to Lily Lines from The Washington Post

This is a great way to stay informed AND entertained. The Lily Lines offers helpful, but also humorous, anecdotes about COVID-19 and how to stay on top of your social distancing game. Here is the link to a recent one. You can subscribe at The Washington Post.

Grab Soup & Cocktail Fixins from Walnut Creek Yacht Club

 WCYC Soup Kitchen&Bottle Cocktail Service for pick up! Famous for their soups and chowders, they have turned their collective skills and creativity towards putting together soups and chowders for you to enjoy at home. These are available frozen by the quart, and your soup order will include two Acme bread rolls. Also famous for their cocktails! Bar Manager, Kiki, has created five DIY cocktails for you, which are ready for pick-up. The pick-up days and times for their soups and cocktails are Monday through Friday from 1-5 pm. They will be doing prepayment by credit card, so that you will be able to come by, pick-up your order, and go. Give them a call at 925-944-FISH to order. Pick-up is in their parking lot, behind the restaurant. The entrance is on the Locust St. side of the building. Please click on this link for our soup and cocktails menu.

Join the Facebook Group “Social Distancing Together”

Social media is a regular feature of our lives, but especially so now! Join the “Social Distancing Together” Facebook group to get support and ideas on how to make it through this crisis. I’ve gotten some awesome ideas from my fellow shelter-in-placers!

Subscribe to my Outbound Engine emails

This isn’t because I want more people to read them – it’s because these are automatically-curated and sent newsletters that often include tips about real estate and home improvement. This is a great time to fix up the house and take care of projects you’ve been putting off!

Is there a recession coming in 2020?

Is there a recession coming in 2020 or sooner? And if so, what does that mean for the real estate industry? Additionally, how do Chinese buyers affect California real estate? Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending (with a little help from The National Real Estate Post) has you covered:

The National Real Estate Post had a great video today with information I thought was well worth sharing. Marketing commentator Barry Habib discusses margin compression, the coming 2020 recession, why he is bullish on real estate even if a recession hits, and why Chinese buyers influence California real estate so much.

RECESSION IN 2020 – WHY?

Mr. Habib agrees with other prognosticators I have cited in previous blogs and illuminates two reasons why a recession is likely in 2020:

  1. Short-term rates are almost the same as long-term rates. I won’t explain the economics, but I will say we are at this stage in the interest rate cycle now; and
  2. Unemployment has likely bottomed out and will only increase at this point.

BULLISH ON REAL ESTATE EVEN IN RECESSION

Mr. Habib remains very bullish on real estate – even if a recession hits. He thinks a 10% correction is very unlikely for several reasons:

    1. It is different this time for reasons we have explained in previous blogs – tighter lending guidelines, more structural housing demand, etc.
    2. Rates come down during recessions and that props up real estate prices; and
    3. According to Mr. Habib, if you look at data from the last six recessions (other than the 2008 meltdown) you will see that real estate prices usually do not decrease significantly.

CA PRICES HURT BY CHINESE BUYERS PULLING OUT

15% of the money spent on real estate transactions in California is from China. But b/c China’s currency is now so much weaker than it was relative to the U.S. dollar, Chinese buyers are now sitting on the sidelines. This drop off in demand is already affecting prices, particularly on the high end. But, according to Mr. Habib, this too will end and Chinese demand will return.

I hope this helped you learn a little something about the impending recession, how it affects real estate, and why Chinese buyers may affect the market long-term!

Now, with a little input from us:

Comments from Bob Schwab – Inverted Yield Curve

Our in-house lender has remarked that one of the indicators a recession may be on the horizon is an inverted yield curve. I asked what that means, and here was his response (note any errors are mine via translation):

“The U.S. runs a deficit, and in order to pay on the deficit, they sell treasury notes and pay interest to the purchaser. Normally, the longer the you take the note, the higher the rate or return; [in the] shorter term, the lower the rate the government will pay you. When the short-term notes have a higher rate than the long-term is when we have an inverted yield curve. That margin has been steadily decreasing, and we have been about 30 points away from an inverted yield curve, and thus why the buzz of a correction is coursing through the media. I am seeing a different effect; in June we had a wave of listings come on the market, when it usually quiets a bit due to summer vacations. I believe sellers are thinking prices might have reached a peak and now is the time to get their home on the market, which means we now have more inventory and more for buyers to choose from. The outcome is price reductions, things sitting longer, etc., because buyers now are thinking they will have a wait-and-see strategy!”

Silicon Valley: Moving East?

I came across a very interesting article in The New York Times recently about Silicon Valley attempting to find fertile ground in the Midwest. It’s a fascinating look at how the real estate market in the United States is rapidly changing.

Image result for for sale detroit

For example, Amazon is looking for a city to place its second headquarters. That is going to lead to a massive shift in where large tech companies start looking at places to re-locate. It’s well known that California is in a real estate a bubble. Silicon Valley, especially, is one of the richest areas in the entire country – if not the world – and one move could shake up a local economy in a huge way.

I think trying to replicate another Silicon Valley would be difficult; it is like the perfect storm – top-notch universities, a port, three international airports, the gateway to the far west and great weather. However, companies will look for more affordable areas to do business and states that provide tax incentives (think Tesla in Nevada). It doesn’t mean they will ditch the Bay Area completely.

Image result for amazon

You know things are crazy here when even the tech elites in San Francisco are tired of San Francisco. They say it’s “congested” and “expensive” in the Bay Area, and are apparently mesmerized by the affordable homes and real estate in the Midwest. If you live in the Midwest I wonder how many hip spots would there be, not to mention the possibility of snow…what are your thoughts?

Rent in Walnut Creek causing massive restaurant and bar churn

It’s no secret that rents are extremely high in California. Rents are high in the Bay Area, especially, and Walnut Creek is no exception. For how crazy home rents can be, commercial rent prices are even worse! That’s why we’re seeing so much turnover in bars and restaurants in downtown Walnut Creek.

Napa Food and Vine

It seems like we see 10 new restaurants per month popping up downtown which keeps my blog interesting. And when those come in, something must go. Some are so short-lived, we hardly even have time to try them before they disappear!

One especially pricey area is the corner of Locust and Cypress. Sauced has taken over for Pyramid Alehouse, Sunol Ridge came and went incredibly quickly, Lark Creek Cafe is closed, and new places like Urban Alley and Gotts are popping up every time we turn around. Not to mention, the place where Chili’s was a long time ago, which most recently was Caffe Stella, is clearly too expensive for anyone to come in and stay. Not to mention Crogan’s shut down, too, which may be a blessing.

That entire intersection is constantly changing, and it’s happening all over the place in downtown Walnut Creek. I know people who have moved out of Walnut Creek, and every time they come back (even if it’s only been a few months), they say certain parts of downtown are unrecognizable. Even Walnut Creek mainstay Vic Stewart’s is going to be replaced by retail!

Roam Free

This has both good and bad effects for Walnut Creek residents. As more fancy, expensive stores go in downtown, they will raise their prices to afford their own rents. More out-of-town shoppers will clog up downtown, too. But, those of us who do live here will benefit from having more amazing new restaurants and bars to try!

What to know about the new tax bill limits in 2018

The GOP finally pushed through its tax package, and the reaction has been interesting to say the least. While some seem to love it (The Wall Street Journal said the bill is the best thing to ever happen to our economy), many others hate it. Regardless of how you feel about the bill, it is signed in now and it’s time to see how it affects you, as a homeowner, seller or buyer.
My friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending put together a blog detailing some main points about the GOP tax bill and how it may affect real estate. Here are the main thoughts:
1. Current homeowners will be grandfathered in and still allowed to deduct interest against $1 million of mortgage debt. In 2018, buyers will be limited to $750,000 and interest against home equity lines will not be deductible.
2. State and local tax deductions will be capped at $10,000. This will be difficult for people in California.
3. Standard deductions are doubling to $12,000 for single filers and to $24,000 for married filers, so many homeowners won’t have to deduct their interest and property taxes anymore.
4. We have no idea what exactly the bill will do for the market when all is said and done, but for now, we can expect the low-inventory, high-demand market to suffer in high-end areas down the road, while remaining neutral in the short term.
5. To fully understand the bill’s impact on you, see a CPA. Defer your commissions. And if you’re planning an out-of-state move, consider relocating to a low-tax state like Florida, Texas or Nevada.
I’d like to expand on #5 quickly – as Jay mentioned, there will be a new $10,000 cap on tax deductions starting in 2018. If you paid off your property taxes before January, you should be able to save thousands of dollars on that by avoiding the new rule for a year. And if you are planning a move out of the Bay Area to another part of California or another state, you should be consulting a realtor or a CPA to see what kind of savings you can get!

How the tax bill potentially will affect homeowners

This past weekend, the GOP passed its tax plan along party lines, despite heavy opposition against it in CA. I was wondering how the new plan might affect homeowners, and my friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending had the perfect answer. See his summary below!

The bill has a provision to cap the mortgage interest deduction to loan amounts of $500,000 or less. To be clear, borrowers will not be ineligible for the mortgage interest deduction if they owe more than $500,000; borrowers will only be able to deduct interest that accrues against $500,000 of their mortgage, no matter how large it is. Here are some observations:

1. Only 5% of all mortgages are over $500,000. And the vast majority of them are in California. Hence, it is unlikely that we Californians will get a lot of sympathy from middle America. But this also explains why there is so much concern in California.

2. How much will it actually hurt borrowers? For a $1 million home (not a lot in coastal California) with 20% down, a borrower will have an $800,000 mortgage. This means that $300,000 of that debt will be ineligible for the mortgage interest tax deduction. If the interest rate is 4%, the borrower will not be able to deduct $12,000 of interest from his or her income for tax purposes. If that same borrower is in a 40.5% combined tax bracket (33% Federal, and 7.5% State), he or she will lose $4,860 in direct tax savings. That is real money for anyone.

3. Current borrowers will be grandfathered, meaning they will be able to continue to deduct interest against a $1 million mortgage (or $1.1 million if they have an equity line). This provision will likely hurt inventory, as this will create another disincentive to sell. 

4. Standard Deduction Doubling: This is the bigger issue for real estate in general, as most lenders and Realtors aggressively sell the tax benefits from buying a house. If the Standard Deduction for married couples doubles to $24,000, most taxpayers will not be eligible to take advantage of the mortgage interest deduction (it would only make sense if their mortgage interest and other itemized items exceeded $24,000; a $500,000 loan at 4% would only accrue $20,000 of interest). 

5. The real estate lobby is extremely powerful. This is the biggest factor of all. The real estate lobby (that includes builders) is exceptionally powerful, and most of the lobby is opposed to the above-referenced provisions.

I always find Jay’s perspectives insightful with helpful information. Jay wrote this prior to the bill being passed by the Senate. Now that it has been passed, here are a few of my own observations:

  1.  There is a lot of jockeying of blame between the two parties (status quo).
  2.  If it was so negative, why did the Senate Bill get passed so quickly?
  3. The Senate and House will now go back and forth on all the details to get final approval before it goes to President Trump. Changes can still be made or it could possibly fall apart.
  4. Back to Jay’s last point – there is a very strong lobby that still can push change.
  5. I see this continues creating a disincentive for people to sell. It used to be that on average people moved every 7 years; that number has now increased to approximately every 20 years, thus the continued low inventory.

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Road Trips: Carmel

For all the beautiful, picturesque landscapes in California, it seems like the Central coast can often be overlooked. Everyone knows about the National Parks, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the SoCal beaches, etc. But one of the best gems of the entire state is just a couple hours South of the East Bay!

If you’ve never taken a trip down the Pacific Coast Highway to reach the 17-mile drive through Carmel and Monterey, you don’t know what you’re missing! You’ll hit miles of stunning coastline, as well as some of the cutest inland towns you can imagine.

One of my favorite day trips is a jaunt down to Carmel. I love all the little shops, restaurants and the beautiful beach to enjoy the Pacific Ocean at sunset. Carmel is also very dog-friendly – it seems that everybody has a dog and they are free to run on the beach (where most gravitate to the right side). I have even gone to a Weimaraner gathering here. Anybody who has rescued a Weim from NorCal Weim Rescue gets an invite. It is a fun sight to see: a bunch of Weimaraners playing and frolicking in the waves.

Monterey and Carmel also have a great wine scene and amazing golf. It’s such an easy trip, and so close to home. I recently did the 17-mile drive; that was a first for me after all these years and definitely worth the money and scenic stops. Now might be the perfect time to go, too. It is Fall, so the leaves will be brilliant and the weather will be perfectly crisp…a perfect day for a stroll on the beach, as long as you are bundled up and there is no fog!

 

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How to send help to the fire victims

Last week, a record-setting wildfire decimated the picturesque Napa, Sonoma and Santa Rosa areas. There are 40 people dead, at least 16 wineries destroyed, thousands homeless and hundreds still missing.

via PressDemocrat.com

It is one of the most gruesome, saddening natural disasters in California history. If you’re like me, and want to help out the victims of these fires and do whatever you can to restore those areas to their former selves, there are plenty of ways to donate.

One way is to send a box of fresh fruit and vegetables from Farm Fresh to Redwood Empire Food Bank. So far, they’ve donated more than 200 boxes to evacuation centers throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

For every box donated to Redwood Empire Food Bank, Farm Fresh to You – who we wrote about last week – will match that donation. Just click here if you’d like to help. I did and when I don’t want a box delivered to my house, I will click to donate.

There have also been numerous drives and charities springing up on social media in the wake of the destruction. One specifically mentioned on the TV briefings was Napa Valley Community Foundation. Or if your heart is with helping all the animals, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is an Amazon Smiles recipient.

 

 

 

 

 

These give assurances that your donation is going where it will be most useful. If you don’t want to get involved with those, many who have friends and family that have lost everything are taking up carloads of specific donations.

My friend’s parents and sister both lost their houses and she specifically asked for certain sized clothes and non-perishables. I rummaged through my home for clothes and supplies, plus gave a gift card to Trader Joe’s.

In the news briefing, they specifically requested to temper our donations, meaning they will still be needed two months from now, so maybe one day in the near future when you are feeling grateful for all that you have, you might think, “I would like to click on one of these links and donate $25.”

Happy Buyers!

I recently helped Maria and Kehl find a new home as they were relocating to the Bay Area! It was an awesome process working with two California newbies, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

They left Houston just in the nick of time, but what has struck them most is how friendly people are here. Initially, they did not want to be in the downtown area of Martinez, but still wanted to be close to the Shell refinery. They ended up staying three months in an AirBNB in downtown Martinez and came to love the proximity to work, the easy and quick access to open space and all the fun things Martinez has to offer. It is a changing downtown area as the city is incorporating more events and family-friendly activities.  Even their lender came to their signing – thanks, Sean!

Check out this nice Zillow review they left me:

You could be next! Contact me at kristin@lanham.com if you’d like to buy or sell a home in the East Bay!

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Open House: 4391 Pembroke Dr. (Concord)

The Kristin Lanham Team has another beautiful home going on the market – this one is in Concord, on Pembroke Dr. Take a look at some of the pictures below, and swing by for a peek at our Open House this weekend!
 
The home is a cozy, mid-century charmer with a serene, quiet backyard. There is room for an RV or a boat, which includes a spa and storage shed, all surrounded by professional landscaping and lots of plants and flowers.
An open concept makes it warm and welcoming. The updated kitchen with its expansive island is the centerpiece for family gatherings and additional storage. The open-beamed ceilings add to the interior charm. There are stylish updated bathrooms, dual-pane windows, lots of natural light and great flow from outdoor to indoor for entertaining.
 
This house has been meticulously loved – an updated, warm interior and a vibrant backyard planted specifically to attract hummingbirds, butterfiles, and bees.  A perfect place to call home!
Come take a look at the Open House this weekend from 1-4 p.m. on both Saturday (9/9) and Sunday (9/10)!
3 bedrooms | 2 baths | 1250 sq. ft. |.17 acre lot
Offered at $580,000
To take a virtual tour of 4391 Pembroke Dr., click HERE!