Enjoy some gorgeous hikes before summer ends!

With the warm summer weather starting to tail off a bit, all you hikers will want to get out there and hit these last few trails before the season changes completely. Here are four great hike ideas close to San Francisco, from Time Out San Francisco.

  1. Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve: a more remote, forested getaway in the Oakland hills with stunning views of the Bay in every direction!
  2. Angel Island: 360-degree views of the Bay Area from the highest point, and just a cool getaway for some nature and history.
  3. Alamere Falls: If you’re brave enough, you can sneak close to the edge of the 40-foot falls that drop into the ocean.
  4. Lands End: An oldie, but a goodie – you can’t beat this classic hike, which can take you through the Sutro Baths, along the coastline, and towards breathtaking Golden Gate views.

Obviously, there are plenty of local hikes in the East Bay to explore, too. Mt. Diablo and The Open Space are always fun, as are the views from the Berkeley Hills and Grizzly Peak. If you want something easy to take a stroller or a couple dogs on, try the Lafayette Reservoir!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has temperate weather even in the winter, but the beauty of the trails (and the lack of mud!) disappears as fall converges on the summer.

It’s supposed to stick in the low 90’s for the rest of this work week, and then start the decline into the 80’s and 70’s in the weeks to come. Take advantage now before you hole up next to the fireplace for the winter!

What is the most expensive zip code in CA?

If you had to guess which California city has the most expensive real estate, what would you say? San Francisco, maybe? Certain parts of Los Angeles – remember the show 90210?
Watkins-Cartan House, 98 Alejandra Ave., Atherton, CA
Nope, the honor goes to the 94027 zip code – Atherton, CA. For those not familiar, Atherton is right above Palo Alto and the average cost of a home there is…wait for it…$6.17 million. According to Zillow, home values in Atherton reached a low point in summer 2009, dipping below $3 million.
I asked my friend Jay Vorhees of JVM Lending what kind of average income would be necessary to afford a home in Atherton at 25 percent and 50 percent down.
Given that the average income in Atherton is about $250,000, I was wondering how exactly a median home price of $6.17 million was affordable there! Here’s his assessment:
Assuming no consumer debt, a 4.0% rate and a 42% debt ratio, with 25% down, PITI would be about $29,000 per month (rounded). This would require $69,000 of monthly income or $828,000 annually.
With 50% down, PITI would be about $22,000 per month (rounded). This would require about $52,500 of monthly income or $630,000 annually.
So how does the average income earner in that area afford Atherton? Most likely people have had these homes for years, thus the lower income. For new purchases, stock options from IPOs are not usually included in your annual income, thus allowing the the nouveau riche of Silicon Valley to buy with cash or put 50% or more down.

Brewery madness in the Bay!

I occasionally like a good beer and love trying new brews, especially with all the microbreweries popping up around the Bay Area. We had our annual Parkmead Community Associate block party this past Saturday and Adam, one of our Board members, was adamant about getting a keg of quality beer. He was given a budget and the task of ordering it. He got a beer called Simtra, a triple IPA by Knee Deep Brewery in CA with 11.25% alcohol. Apparently, there are folks who are very serious about their beer. This blog is for you.

We’ve blogged about Farm Creek Brewing and Calicraft in the past, and they remain standouts in Walnut Creek. There is also no shortage of amazing breweries in San Francisco, where the craft beer scene is unmatched in Northern California. Check out this list of lesser-known places to try next time you’re craving a beer in the city.

In the intro of that article, they mention my writer’s favorite local brewery, 21st Amendment. They recently built a massive new brewery and factory in San Leandro.

Of course, Oakland is also stocked full of good spots to check out the beer scene. Oakland Brewing Company, Faction, and Golden Gate Brewing come to mind, but I’ve heard great things about all the little breweries popping up in Oakland!

If you’re into beer, you’ll want to try as many of these cool places as possible. Start here in Walnut Creek and then move West from there. Make sure you take Lyft, and give a shout-out to your favorites!

Let’s talk about Millennials and Real Estate

My sons are Millennials. My Walnut Creek Lifestyle freelance writer is a Millennial. More and more of my clients and colleagues are Millennials, as that generation continues to age into home-buyers.

So, realtors like myself are starting to notice more trends with the market geared toward that age group. It’s a different real estate market for Millennials than it was for their parents – nowadays, they are graduating with huge student loan debts, having trouble finding lucrative work out of college, and then struggling to pay sky-high rents and mortgages once they do get jobs.

That said, Millennials are driving the real estate market right now, which has made the following observations more obvious.

From San Francisco realtor John Solaegui:

  • There is a low inventory of single-family homes in San Francisco
  • Millennial buyers don’t care about parking spaces (though this might be more prevalent in San Francisco – it’s contradicted by the graphic above!) with the rise of ridesharing apps – they’d prefer having decks or gardens for outdoor entertaining
  • Areas like Noe Valley, Glen Park, Bernal Heights and The Sunset in San Francisco are extremely popular with Millennial buyers right now

From the California Association of Realtors’ REALTOR Magazine:

  • Millennials are cashing in on equity at a historic rate, thanks to rising home prices
  • One-third of Millennials say they are considering applying for a HELOC (home equity line of credit) in the next 18 months – much more than Gen-X or Baby Boomers
  • HELOC’s are popular with Millennials because they can consolidate debt and afford home remodels with them

I think this is an interesting trend in our market. Home prices are high, but so are the debts and loans owed by Millennials, so we’re seeing more and more interest in new ways around that issue. And even more interestingly, Millennials are changing the way we market homes – who cares about parking when you don’t have a car, right?

Congratulations to Mckenzie!

I recently closed a home for my client, Mckenzie. She currently lives in the city and will be moving to Clayton. Thus, we met at the Legion of Honor to see the Monet exhibit, celebrate her closing and give her the house key, as seen below.

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IMG_1020The tenant doesn’t leave for another six weeks so this was a great way to celebrate and she was very happy to have closed! The process became a bit stressful as the family wanted to use their local bank in the valley, and the parents were co-signing. However, this bank was primarily an AG bank and did not close on very many condos.

Buyers rarely understand at the onset what a difference a great lender can make and the lasting experience everyone involved will have. If it is a great experience, the impression is minimal, but when it is not so great, it can become one of your worst nightmares. This ultimately ended well because of the family’s relationship with the local bank, yet, we still needed an eight-day loan contingency extension (but only closed four days late).

If you want to be the next client who buys or sells a property with me, I will help you navigate the process to a successful close! Just reach out at www.kristinlanham.com or call me direct at (925) 899-7123.

Road Trip: San Francisco Museums

For these “Road Trips” segments, I often pick a place out of the Bay Area for a good road trip. But sometimes, the best road trips are within the same region and even go right into the busiest city!

Starting this Saturday, June 24th, The Legion of Honor in San Francisco will hold a Degas exhibition that examines the French artist’s place in Impressionist history.

I’ve been to a few exhibitions here, and it’s a really interesting museum that will captivate you for a few hours. Plus, it’s a great way to escape this heat wave and find a fun, educational indoor activity for the day.

Here’s a bonus: you can make a whole day out of it! Pick your favorite two or three museums in San Francisco and do a little mini-tour of them. For example, a ticket to The Legion of Honor earns you a free same-day admission to the de Young. That is right across the street from the California Academy of Sciences. And you can always hit the Exploratorium on your way in or out of town, especially if you have a few kids with you!

The Legion of Honor just closed a Monet exhibit a few weeks ago, where I’d met a recent client! You can take BART and a bus (or just drive – parking is fairly easy around there) to the Legion of Honor and members get in free to the exhibit. For non-members, it’s $28, but well worth the price of admission.

Road trips aren’t always about stuffing the trunk full of junk, rolling down the windows and driving for hours to get somewhere. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a 45-minute jaunt over the Bay Bridge to beautiful San Francisco for some museum-hopping on a sweltering hot day.

If you go to the Degas exhibit, or any other museum for that matter, comment here and let me know how you liked it!

Road Trips: Raymond & Buena Vista Winery

I’m a wine member with the Boisset Collection which includes Raymond Vineyards,  Buena Vista Winery, Deloach, Frenchie, JCB, Lockwood, Wyeth, Amberhill, and Wattle Creek which makes heading to Napa or Sonoma  a really fun weekend road trip!

Jean Charles Boisset has his roots in France where his parents had wineries; he has bought a few in the U.S. (see above) and in 2009 married Gina Gallo. Some of the rooms have a wild slant (think of the French Court in the 1700). There are costumes, wigs to play dress-up in some of the private tasting rooms, and some crazy art.

Back to the road trip – I went up for the day to Raymond & Buena Vista with a couple of girlfriends. Raymond was fun and whimsical – French is next door and we did the tasting all at Raymond. Buena Vista is rich in history and has a wonderful bubble lounge. It was the only working winery during prohibition.

Raymond Vineyards (founded 1970), has been a family business for five generations now. They originally came in 1933.

Now, they and Buena Vista are inspired by famous proprietor Boisset. Also, they are certified organic and Biodynamic and the winery is entirely powered by renewable solar energy. Very Bay Area of them!

At Buena Vista, “The Count of Buena Vista,” Agoston Haraszthy de Mokesa, immigrated from Hungary in 1840 after growing up among his local vineyards. He was the first to plant hops in Wisconsin and became an important pioneer in the American beer industry.

His love for wine continued as he moved around California (San Diego, then San Francisco, then Sonoma) looking for the perfect atmosphere in which to grow great grapes. Finally, he settled in Sonoma in 1860 and hit it big.

Since then, Buena Vista has gone through multiple owners (including the Catholic Church), and currently is part of the Boisset Family Estates a measly 150 years after the Count first made it over.

Weather you belong to a wine club or just want to go up for a day of tasting with a picnic, the wine country is so close with great restaurants and beautiful scenery, it is well worth a trip at least twice a year if not more often!

MoMo’s happy hour has potential

As you know, I like to try all the new restaurants in Walnut Creek. Most recently, I went to MoMo’s in the old McCovey’s location.

The original MoMo’s is across from AT&T Park in San Francisco and is a hugely popular place to go, especially for Giants fans before and after ball games. This is the first time they’ve expanded since opening in 1998.

The happy hour is nice, and the food itself is reasonably priced (I haven’t done a full meal yet – just happy hour), but I’ve heard from two separate parties that they thought the food was bland. Others have raved, so I’ll have to go back and try a full meal.

They have a really cool entrance and an awesome fan under a blue ceiling. They offer homemade fries, pizzas, and oysters during happy hour. The pizzas are tasty and are a great size for the price, so I’d definitely recommend that. One thing that annoyed me was that there was no sound on during the games on TV because of the loud music!

Margaritas, mules and other cocktails are $7 during happy hour, and you can get local beer and wine at the bar as well. The oysters are $1, pizza and wings are $5, and you can get calamari, lamb sliders, and a half-pound burger all for less than $10. In the grand scheme of things in Walnut Creek, that’s a pretty good deal.

According to Diablo Magazine, the lettuce leaves appetizer and lamb burger are both really good. They also loved the smoked salmon flatbread with pesto and the more upscale petrale sole dish.

Either way, this is a cool new attraction in Walnut Creek that definitely deserves another trip back for a full meal. It’s an improvement over McCovey’s and adds to the list of trendy hangout spots in downtown.

Have you checked it out yet? What did you think?

April events to mark on your calendar!

Believe it or not, it’s already almost April! As the calendar turns from winter to spring, Diablo Magazine has provided a few awesome ideas for local events in the Bay Area next month.

Image result for mt. diablo

Here are four of the best ones that I’m personally interested in going to:

The Naked Magicians: April 3rd at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater

An Australian duo who put on “the world’s naughtiest magic show,” complete with illusions and comedy. Adults only!

Bay Area Craft Beer Festival: April 22nd at Martinez waterfront

More than 50 local breweries, live music and food trucks from all over the East Bay? Yes, please!

Diablo Trails Challenge: April 15th at Mt. Diablo

You can choose from a 5K, 10K, 1/2 marathon and a 50K. Partial proceeds go to Save Mount Diablo!

Monet: The Early Years: Through May 29th at Legion of Honor (San Francisco)

You can get a cool perspective on Claude Monet’s early period of work, covering his evolution to Impressionism at the SF Legion of Honor.

Leave a comment if you know any other fun things to do next month!

All of America’s hottest real estate markets are on West Coast

We found a Realtor.com article recently that ranked the hottest real estate markets for February 2017. Nobody will be surprised to see that three of the top five (Vallejo, San Francisco and San Jose) are in the Bay Area.

According to the article, a large part of Vallejo’s rise to number one on the hottest real estate markets list is due to their drop in median days on market. It wasn’t too long ago that Vallejo went bankrupt and Mare Island redevelopment was in the crapper – that still might be an area for investment.

I also found out that Seattle is the fastest-growing market, which doesn’t surprise me at all. Seattle seems to be on the fast track to San Francisco status, with a similar culture and a bunch of new tech companies migrating their headquarters North. I currently have a client selling in Pleasant Hill and moving to Seattle and he is finding it is more expensive to purchase there.

Either way, the West Coast is HOT! If you are looking to buy or sell in the East Bay, please feel free to reach out and ask for my help!