Just Sold: 3354 Betty Ln., Lafayette

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I recently co-listed 3354 Betty Ln. in Lafayette with Rose Brudigam. It was listed at $1.35 million and sold, all cash, for $1.50 million. It had been a rental for about 20 years but was recently transferred to six siblings due to the passing of the family matriarch. They made several upgrades over the years, from shoring up the garage foundation to remodeling the kitchen to adding dual pane windows and a new electrical panel. They also painted the exterior and landscaped the front yard to be lower maintenance.

Before going on the market, though, there was still much work to be done. The interior had to be painted, new fixtures had to be added, and new sod had to be laid in the backyard. It was staged for a mid-century look. Once on the market, an agent looking to buy for herself wanted to know if we would accept a preemptive offer (this can be very confusing to sellers – trying to understand the pros and cons of looking at preemptive offers).

We opted to market with a weekend open house and mid-week broker tour before entertaining offers. The sellers ended up with a beautiful offer from a woman who thought it would be perfect for her and maybe, sometime in the future, for her daughter.

Though it all ended well, it wouldn’t be a home sale without a couple of small snafus along the way. The sod we replaced started browning on the edges, so we increased watering time for two very hot days in a row before the offer was accepted. Shortly after, we checked the house again and the sod was going brown and gophers had pushed up dirt! We found a broken timer in the sprinkler system and the sellers agreed to replace the sod again and add gopher wire underneath.

Also, when the buyer did her final walk-through, she thought there was fencing around the yard (there was some fencing, just not complete fencing). Since she has a dog, it caused some stress, so we delayed the closing by five days to get the new sod in and to get bids for a fence around the main part of the backyard. The seller agreed to split the cost of the fence with the buyer, too.

All in all, we have happy sellers and a happy new homeowner in Lafayette with a peek-a-boo view of Mt. Diablo and we couldn’t be happier for both parties!

KeunJib: A Pleasant Surprise!

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Who would have guessed: a Korean restaurant in a bowling alley – and a really good one at that. I was not expecting to find a great restaurant inside the Paddock Bowl in Pacheco. KeunJib truly had a great menu and after you eat, you can go bowling! Bonus points for being able to order drinks from the bowling alley bar.

There were five of us so we ordered many items, though I don’t remember all the names. We tried fried rice, a really good kimchi pancake, and a delicious filet of meat. One person ordered a kimchi stew with spam, but I did not try it. We also had a pork dish. We really enjoyed the beef short ribs and everyone thought it was top-notch. We have a lot of great Asian cuisine of all types in the Bay Area, but KeunJib stood out as an unexpected gem even against strong competition. The presentation was nice, the portions were large, and the staff was friendly.

Overall, the beef short ribs were probably my favorite – we requested another order to share. But, truly, everything we tried was delicious. Whether you’re looking to get a Korean food fix and then decide to bowl, or knocking down pins gives you a hankering for the food, it’s worth checking out the unexpected winner in Paddock Bowl!

Let’s Go Glamping!

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I came across this 7×7 article recently about glamping in Northern California. I’ve always wanted to give it a try (just looking for that special someone to share it with!). I’m especially interested in the Ventana resort in Big Sur – it looks magical! Here are 7×7’s best NorCal glamping spots:

Dawn Ranch (Guerneville): recently renovated, the wooded retreat melts into its natural surroundings. Check out the king tents, tucked away in an old fruit orchard. Bonus – you’re only a few blocks from a little local ice cream shop!

Credit: 7×7

Wildhaven (Healdsburg): all the amenities you need on the Russian River for some high-end glamping. Heaters, fans, and covered porches make everything cozy and comfortable. Those on the river itself have two-person hammocks!

AutoCamp (Guerneville & Yosemite): this is the most well-known glamping outfitter, and there are three locations within a few hours of San Francisco. The location in Guerneville has retro sleeping campers in the redwoods.

Treebones Resort (Big Sur): one of the originals (opened in 2004), this 10-acre resort in Big Sur has yurts with ocean views and two nearby restaurants (The Lodge and Wild Coast Sushi Bar).

Sequoia High Sierra Camp (Giant Sequoia National Monument): perched above Kings Canyon National Park, this hike-in glamping spot features dozens of canvas tents fancied up with high-end amenities. Each stay includes three meals.

Credit: 7×7 and @ventanabigsur

Ventana (Big Sur): this is my favorite. On the ocean, just off the Pacific Coast Highway, and rustic tents with electricity, private porches, built-in fire pits, and Adirondack chairs. That’s what I’m talking about!

Have you been glamping at any of these places or elsewhere in the region? Leave a comment below to share your favorites.

Volunteering At The Food Bank

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Each month, 400,000 residents turn to the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano for emergency and supplemental food. Many of our neighbors are unable to make ends meet and the Food Bank helps them cover one of life’s basic needs – nutritious food. According to the Food Bank’s mission, they strive to “serve all people experiencing hunger or food insecurity in Solano and Contra Costa counties and commit to never turn anyone away.”

Through a partnership with Feeding America, a non-profit network of 200 food banks and the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, the food bank lends support to hunger-fighting organizations in 18 Northern California counties. This graphic sums up the great work they do:

So, at the end of May, I was meeting my client for a staging consult and was thinking of all the things I needed to get the house ready for the market. I came up to a stop sign where there had been cars ahead of me, and apparently I did a rolling stop. I had checked for cars, but there were none at the intersection. A motorcycle police officer was out of sight watching the intersection and I got a moving violation ticket for $275. Going to traffic school would cost $303, so I asked if I could do community service instead. They gave me 10 hours. And that is how I found myself volunteering at the food bank.

I was very impressed with how well-run and organized it is. You have to fill out information to be approved. They do not take felons, for example. The distribution area is in Concord near Highway 4. On average, volunteers do 2-3 hour shifts, which vary depending on what you sign up for. There are tasks like bagging big boxes or 25 pounds of fruit and vegetables into smaller individual bags, boxing of dry goods, and handing out food at senior communities or other places.

Here is some information I found interesting: one in four people in Contra Costa County have food insecurity. The fruit and vegetables are donated by the farmers or grocery stores for being “rejects” (think, too big, blemishes, etc.), however the food bank has to pay for the shipping of the items to their warehouse, at a cost of about 18 cents per pound (primarily paid for with donations). This all came about a few years ago when the federal government gave the stores/farmers a tax break on the donated food.

All the food that is donated from various food drives, like the one I do in my neighborhood during Walnut Creek’s Community Service Day each year, gets sent out to their partner organizations that help feed those in need (churches, other non-profits, etc.). They also contribute packages to those in need when there is a disaster, such as the wildfires that engulfed parts of Northern California in recent years.

The crew that sets up, organizes volunteers, and takes away the boxes of bagged food is extremely helpful. I have seen corporate groups come in for a two-hour volunteer shift with their employees to do group community outreach (I suspect the companies pay the employees for their time during business hours!). I have seen families that make it a monthly volunteer activity to come in. And, of course, there were other traffic offenders there. If you are really reckless with your driving, you might get 150 hours of required community service. What a great way to give a speeding teenager a reality check when they have to spend all summer at the food bank!

I have bagged potatoes, onions, oranges, apples, and carrots at my shifts. The carrots were the most difficult because they are pointy and get stuck in the mesh bags we pack them in. I will most likely continue to volunteer at the food bank once a month from now on. I didn’t mean to get there, but I’m glad it happened because the work is really rewarding.

10 Kitchen Styles To Consider

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Today’s kitchen looks very different from yesterday’s kitchen – just like tomorrow’s will look different than today’s! The point is that every year and every generation sees some kind of change in the design and style of any room. Kitchens are a big one, and this – from Better Homes and Gardens – is a helpful guide to what is “in” right now.

There are so many great styles to choose from when remodeling your kitchen. These 10 are pretty popular and all come with their own descriptions and keywords that make them unique. Check it out:

Traditional kitchen (credit: Better Homes & Gardens)

Traditional: traditional kitchens tend to be formal and ornate; they evoke feelings of elegance, sophistication, and timeliness.

Modern: modern kitchens are simple, functional rooms. Sleek and low-maintenance aspects of a modern kitchen give off a warm vibe.

Contemporary: a contemporary kitchen will often be more trendy, and might even have newer technology included in its appliances. They are typically dramatic and striking, while still maintaining a bit of minimalism.

Contemporary kitchen (credit: Better Homes & Gardens)

Transitional: not to be confused with a “traditional” kitchen, transitional kitchens are modern, simple, relaxed, and often informal.

Scandinavian: as one would expect from Scandinavian design, these kitchens are serene, low-maintenance, and functional.

Organic: exactly as it sounds, an organic kitchen is bright and clean with natural and classic elements.

Industrial: again, exactly as it sounds; an industrial kitchen is often large, gray, open, and unpolished. It is a very practical choice for those cooking a lot.

Cottage kitchen (credit: Better Homes & Gardens)

Cottage: a cottage kitchen is often described as sweet and bright. They can also be vintage, charming, and decorative.

Farmhouse: farmhouse kitchens, much like farmhouse homes, are warm, sunny, and rustic. They have simple, soft elements that invite guests in.

Country: a country kitchen is also a warm, casual environment with “worn” elements; don’t be fooled, these are also cozy and inviting kitchens!

What is your favorite kitchen style? Let me know in the comments!

Zillow Quiz: How To Add Value To A Home

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I found this quiz from Zillow a while back and thought the findings were pretty interesting. Even as a professional realtor, I scored 70% on this, so it’s not easy! Fun, but not easy. Can you guess which features add value to a home? Take the quiz here.

Come back when you’re done!

Credit: Zillow

Okay, good job. How did you do? Comment your score below. For me, I didn’t realize beverage fridges were more popular than wine fridges, nor that rounded counters and plant shelves add value. Personally, I don’t care for those things, and don’t see much of that in newer California homes, but of course, Zillow is nationwide and those may be hot in other locales. Personally, I think plants shelves just collect dust!

Luckily for you, I do know my way around homes and home value. It’s my job to help you add value when selling and save money when buying. So, if you want to work with a longtime realtor in the East Bay with a track record of success, I’m your gal. Give me a call next time you are looking to buy or sell!

Summer Is Here (Pretty Much)!

Most local schools let out this Friday for summer, meaning the best part of the year is almost here! Below, I’ve shared some quirky summer events, plus some more summer-related ideas.

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Most local schools let out this Friday for summer, meaning the best part of the year is almost here! Below, I’ve shared some quirky summer events, plus some more summer-related ideas. I don’t know about you, but I welcome the consistent sunshine-y days we’ll be getting here in the East Bay!

Quirky Summer Events

One of the best local outlets, 7×7, shared this guide to quirky summer festivals in Northern California and it is just so Bay Area I had to share it. From jumping frogs to artichokes, to crawdads, to accordions, you can’t go wrong with looking into some of these hilarious and quirky summer events.

Handel’s Ice Cream

Handel’s Ice Cream – first created in the summer heat of 1945 Youngstown, Ohio – is now in Walnut Creek! Alice Handel, who used fresh fruit from her own garden and personal recipes to start her business nearly 80 years ago, started an ice cream legacy. They still make each batch fresh daily using Alice’s original methods and you can try some right next to the movie theater downtown.

Despite a lot of competition in Walnut Creek (Lottie’s, San Francisco Creamery, and even Shake Shack – not to mention all the yogurt!), Handel’s has a very eclectic flavor list. I ordered Spouse Like a House on a cone and enjoyed it a lot! I would change their rule about the two smaller scoops that come in a size small only being allowed to be one flavor – I wanted to try another!

Other Summer Fun

As I mentioned above, Walnut Creek definitely doesn’t lack in frozen dessert options – perfect as we roll into summer. One of my favorite places is The Yogurt Spot, which I have written about previously. There’s also the Creamery and so many other delightful choices. What is your favorite?

Finally, make sure to check out the Art & Wine Festival at Heather Farms this weekend! This Walnut Creek staple has been going for 41 years and is always a treat. Best of all, it’s FREE! More info here.

The Art Of Rightsizing

This piece I wrote was originally published in the April issue of TBD.

Are you tired of the constant upkeep of a sprawling property or the daily stair climb? It might be time to embrace the transformative power of Rightsizing and step into a world of newfound independence.

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This piece I wrote was originally published in the May issue of South Walnut Creek Living Magazine.

Are you tired of the constant upkeep of a sprawling property or the daily stair climb? It might be time to embrace the transformative power of Rightsizing and step into a world of newfound independence.

A diagram of different colored diamonds

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What is Rightsizing: In a world where minimalism and flexibility are life goals, Rightsizing stands out as the savvy approach to shaping your surroundings for a fulfilling second act. Unlike downsizing, which focuses on reducing space and
possessions for simplification and financial reasons, Rightsizing offers a comprehensive strategy to optimize various aspects of life, including work, health, and family dynamics.

Americans are increasingly prioritizing simpler living with less clutter and square footage, whether it’s in a condo, townhome, or a house with a tailored layout, such as fewer bedrooms but a larger plot for gardening. Rightsizing isn’t just about saving money; it’s about gaining freedom, reducing stress, and creating a space with less clutter to enhance psychological well-being.

When determining quality-of-life decisions, research your desired location, property type, and budget to ensure a seamless Rightsizing experience. Don’t let market timing dictate your decision—improve your quality of life and daily enjoyment now. When choosing the right home, consider a range of wish list items. Envision the life you want, not the one you have now. Dream about the day-to-day and how your new home can make those dreams a reality.

Expert Tips for Rightsizing:

  1. Don’t expect a windfall from selling your belongings; cherish memories over
  2. If it’s free pickup, go for it.
  3. Life is easier with less.
  4. Skip storage units; keep only joy-sparking items.
  5. Start sorting a year ahead.
  6. Document valuable items for heirs with the amount and receipts.
  7. Use color-coded sticky notes for organization—keep, sell, donate, or throw away.

Leverage the expertise of real estate agents as partners in the Rightsizing process. They provide valuable resources, connections, and guidance for a smooth transition, even if it’s a year or more away.

Ready to start your Rightsizing journey? For more insight and a free consultation, give me a call. Your future of freedom, simplicity, and fulfillment awaits!

Now Listed: 3141 Ferngrove Way (Antioch)

Welcome to your dream home on a serene, quiet street! This stellar, well-maintained property is ready to impress with its array of upgrades and features.

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Welcome to your dream home on a serene, quiet street! This stellar, well-maintained property is ready to impress with its array of upgrades and features. Enjoy peace of mind with newer dual pane windows, a fully paid-off solar system at closing, and newer A/C, heater, and ducts.

Garage doors have LiftMaster motors and battery backup. Step outside to your private oasis featuring a wisteria-covered patio, fruit and redwood trees, and an oversized, permitted shed, perfect for extra storage. The finished garage, complete with drywall and epoxied floors, adds both utility and style. 

Inside, the eat-in kitchen seamlessly flows into the family room, creating an inviting space for casual gatherings. For more formal occasions, the elegant dining area boasts vaulted ceilings. This home offers the perfect blend of comfort, convenience, and charm. Don’t miss the opportunity to make it yours!

Open House Sunday 1-4 pm. See you there.

New Go-To Dumpling Spot

I had never heard of BaoBao dumplings, but I went with a friend recently to the Concord location and was blown away by the food!

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I had never heard of BaoBao dumplings, but I went with a friend recently to the Concord location on Treat & Oak Grove and was blown away by the food! BaoBao doesn’t have much of an online presence, but they have six locations and some delicious dumplings. Just check out the pictures below!

Technically, the restaurant is named 88 BaoBao Dumpling House, and I’m not sure why! But I am sure that I’ll be back next time I need my Asian street food fix in the East Bay. We got some shrimp chow mein and, of course, some dumplings.

Luckily I went with my colleague, Phuong, and she knew how to order and to add the sauce she mixed up (soy sauce and the chili sauce) onto the chow mein. It was spicy, but delicious. I enjoyed every bite of my meal at BaoBao, but better yet was the company and knowing what to order.

Next time you want a fresh steamed dumpling, check it out!