East Bay New Year’s Eve events

This New Year’s Eve, there seems to be a ton of fun events at local establishments for you to ring in 2017 with.

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For me, New Year’s is a time to reflect on the year that has just passed and to focus forward with new resolutions – what can be improved, how to get into shape and what can I do better. I tend to struggle with the idea that one has to have a special celebration for this event, as I always find the hype does not live up to the expectation, and I am left with disappointment.

My best New Year’s celebrations have always been the unexpected. My favorite was a last-minute ski trip to Sugar Bowl where we scored a small room due to a cancellation. Our kids had the run of the lodge because the only way in was by gondola, and we could walk out the door to the lift.  To our surprise, they had night skiing, champagne and sparkling cider at the hut atop the hill. Then, at 11:30, those who wanted to participate did the torch run, and when all were safely down, the fireworks exploded! So as the clock hits midnight, we all turn the page and start looking forward to new adventures in 2017.

If you feel that you have to do something and have made no plans, but don’t want to venture all the way to San Francisco, take a look at a couple of local events taking place on New Year’s Eve:

  1. The Groove Doctors at San Ramon Marriott (8:30 p.m. for $77/ticket)
  2. Phantom of the Opera Masquerade at Nica Lounge in Concord (8:30 p.m. for $15-50/ticket)
  3. New Year’s Eve at Jack’s in Pleasant Hill (9:00 p.m. for $40/ticket)

Of course, you could always do something unexpected and maybe have the best New Year’s ever! No matter what you choose, I wish you a delightful evening and a prosperous 2017!

One Warm Coat drive – thank you!

My team and I recently coordinated a local coat drive to donate clothing to One Warm Coat, an organization that gives clothing to the homeless and others in need during winter.

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I’m proud to say that we had so many contributions, we had to use two cars just to haul all the bags of coats to One Warm Coat! I really enjoyed meeting everyone when I stopped by to pick up the coats and for those who dropped them off on my doorstep or left them on their porch for me to grab, I am shouting out a big THANK YOU ALL so much!

Your contributions will go a long way in keeping people warm this winter who otherwise might not have been. Keep an eye out for another One Warm Coat drive next year!

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It was dark, so the photo didn’t turn out great but this is one of the volunteers on the pile of bags in the truck – all full of coats!

Open House this weekend: 3650 Sun View Ct. (Concord)

The Comforts of Home: 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom corner lot home!
Enjoy an eye-catching kitchen enhanced with new flooring, dual pane windows and a rebuilt back deck. The home boasts a 2-car garage, inside laundry, spacious bedrooms and updated bathrooms.

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Simplify your commute with a short walk to the North Concord BART station while living in a quiet, tucked away neighborhood.
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Come check out the Open House this weekend! We’ll be open both Saturday (12/3) and Sunday (12/4) from 1-4 p.m.

Check out the virtual tour of 3650 Sun View Ct. here!

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Wish is your go-to gift boutique

img_4779I had a client who recently  moved here from Seattle and texted me asking if I knew of any shops to buy cute gifts for the home, kitchen, and/or baby. She had found these types of boutique shops in Seattle and Minneapolis, but didn’t know where to go in the East Bay.

She was insistent that it be a small, boutique-type store rather thanwish-family your typical Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn stores. I immediately recommended Wish on Boulevard Circle in Walnut Creek. They are located in front of my favorite yoga studio (Just Be Yoga – another blog coming soon!), and I often meander through their store when I finish yoga.

Wish opened in 2013 and is owned by three generations of women: Susie, Sasha and 2-year-old Mila, who the website says is working on expanding their baby department! They’ve been in retail for decades, as Susie has owned retail stores all of her life and Sasha was in corporate retail in San Francisco. Wish also has a great vision of supporting the local community and giving back to it.

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They always have creative, unique gift ideas and they sell my favorite candle, “Votivo Red Currant.” There is barbecue stuff for guys, jewelry, bridal shower gifts, decorations and tons of baby items. If you need to buy a gift or something special for yourself this is the place to go. Just take a look at the photos – a picture is worth a thousand words!

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My new favorite breakfast place: Sideboard

img_9371If you haven’t been to Sideboard for breakfast or lunch yet, drop everything you’re doing and go now! I recently visited the new Danville location (it was moved down the street to a cool old B&B-style building) and absolutely love the vibe there!

To go along with a rustic, hip feel, the new location has a huge back patio for diners and all their same amenities still apply: dog treats for our furry friends, awesome holiday decorations and clever order markers for the tables.

As an added bonus for those who love their weekend bike rides on the Iron Horse Trail, Sideboard is only about a block from one of the trail exits!

I have now been a couple of times and have had  their chilaquiles, which is a Mexican dish with fried tortillas, sauce, salsa and fried eggs, topped with feta cheese.

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A lady who I was sitting by on the big farm style tables says she comes all the way from Oakland to eat breakfast there often. I have ordered their delicious, fluffy beignets twice, once as a take out and once served – they are best fresh and warm, but delicious no matter what.

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A new addition is Sideboard is in Lafayette. I have yet to visit, but have been told they have a picnic service, where they’ll bring your meal out to you on a blanket on the grass in a picnic basket. What a nice touch! If you haven’t checked out Sideboard yet, make sure to do as soon as possible. It’s well worth it!

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.

East Bay pumpkin patches

According to WikiRealty, real estate consumers are already Googling Halloween at a much higher rate (3-4 times more often!) than they are homes. If you are looking for an outing to get pumpkins that is not a major grocery store, check out the following graphic from Placer Title Company.

Go grab a pumpkin at one of those patches – you may even find one with a longer stem. Halloween is just around the corner so make sure to get your pick of the litter!

 

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!

Calling all Foodies, Walnut Creek’s Restaurant Boom!

Good luck reading this blog and not drooling everywhere. In the most recent issue of Walnut Creek Magazine, they laid out a long list of new restaurants coming to town. Here is a quick run down of twelve new places to eat.

Credit: tonygemignani.com
Credit: tonygemignani.com

As part of Walnut Creek’s transition from sleepy suburb to must-see Capitol of the East Bay, the already thriving restaurant scene is getting another injection of new, hip hot spots.

First, let’s talk about pizza. As if we weren’t already spoiled by good pizza joints in Walnut Creek, MOD Pizza is moving into The Orchards, Slice House – from the world-famous Tony’s in San Francisco – will set up shop right below Teleferic and Rooftop, and Pizza My Heart will snag Project Pie’s old space on California.

The artist formerly known as Pyramid is going to be (highly-anticipated BBQ joint) Sauced, McCovey’s is turning into brunch king Momo’s, and the Hubcaps team is transforming their space into Broderick Roadhouse.

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Lemonade, a SoCal chain that serves fresh California cuisine, is coming to the old La Boulange space, and the aforementioned Rooftop is already enjoying a swell of crowds every night to dine and drink under the stars.

Looking for comfort food among all the fancy feasting joints? Hops & Scotch on Treat Blvd. will bring a restaurant and bar with mac n’ cheese, chicken strips, fried cheese curds and more.

And just to pile on top of the never-ending sushi craze, Kona Grill will enter at The Agora on Main, and also offer burgers and pasta.

Lastly, look for Limon Rotisserie and Lokanta Mediterranean Grill & Bar on Locust St.

Whew … just in time for summer dining!