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!

Don’t get delayed flying in and out of the Bay Area

According to Travel + Leisure, only 71.82% of flights in and out of SFO are on-time. That’s the worst rate in the entire country. Yikes!

sfo

I try to travel to and from Oakland as much as possible, which is more convenient from the East Bay anyway, but they also experience fewer delays. The BART ride from Walnut Creek to Oakland isn’t bad, especially now that they have the little connection from the Coliseum station straight to the airport. And it’s definitely quicker than going to SFO on BART! I also have a great driver that is more reasonable than Uber who is on time and a pleasure to drive with. E-mail or call me if you want his name and number.

Another great trick was getting my Known Travelers ID, which gives me TSA Pre-Check so I don’t have to take off my shoes in security and I can cut to a shorter line for my screening. It’s well worth the effort and $85 to get if you can!

Obviously, the big holiday season is over, and you might not be traveling as much now, but this is still good to know. As nice an airport as SFO might be, flying in and out of it can cause all sorts of headaches.

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.

nye-2017

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!

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.

Art Town: Geologica

If you’re strolling down North Main in Walnut Creek, you might wander right past a really cool piece of art. Surely, you recognize Geologica, the glittering half-rock fountain piece in front of Wells Fargo. But have you taken the time to actually look at it?

img_9053

The piece, created by husband and wife artist team Wowhaus, was created in 2012 using ceramic and glass tiles. They designed it to change with the light, weather and seasons so that every time you walk by it, the look is slightly altered. You’re never supposed to see the same thing twice!

The mosaic patterns flicker and change in the water. Wowhaus likes to play with narrative to help understand the communities we live in, and puts that into their work as well. Other pieces they’ve done reside in places like Emeryville, Oakland and San Francisco. They have another piece coming to Walnut Creek soon!

Give it an extra look next time you’re downtown and maybe you’ll notice that it’s different from every angle.

 

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.

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.

Credit: Twitter

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!

 

Hotel Boom in Walnut Creek?

As prices for housing, hotels and, well, pretty much everything continue to skyrocket in San Francisco, travelers are starting to realize they can stay in the East Bay and BART to and from the city in order to save a lot of money. This will have a direct effect on Walnut Creek, which is right on the BART line and becoming a hotspot anyway.

New hotels are being reviewed for Walnut Creek, including a 160-room business traveler-targeted Marriott Residence Inn near BART (where the Jaguar/Range Rover dealership and Bank of the West are currently situated) that would open this time next year. The city has also reportedly discussed a boutique hotel being built in the downtown corridor.

unnamed (1)

On one hand, this means more visitors discovering our beautiful little city and, therefore, more of a boost to the local economy. On the other hand, it means even more crowds and traffic. Higher prices for food, movie tickets and shopping. More loud, rowdy party-goers hopping from Crogan’s to Tiki Tom’s to Stadium Pub. You take the good with the bad.

Either way, if this hotel boom in the East Bay continues, it will accelerate Walnut Creek’s transition from small suburb to a must-visit Bay Area destination. I have already heard a few opinions of how people feel about Walnut Creek’s growth…please share your comments too! It’s always a hot topic.

Upcoming Spring Holiday Events in Walnut Creek

St_Patricks_Day_Parade_MontrealThis is a wonderful time of year. Everything starts blooming, the sun comes out – springs forward for an extra hour and we start daydreaming about where to vacation over the summer. To signal the start of Spring, we have two holidays filled with family fun: St. Patrick’s Day (yesterday, but most celebrations carry through the weekend) and Easter!

Walnut Creek becomes especially beautiful in the Spring, and it’s a perfect time to get out and about and take part in some of the local events coming up around these two holidays. Here are a few ideas for this weekend for both kids and kids at heart:

Egg-Stravaganza at Heather Farm (Sat., Mar. 26 – 9 a.m.)  (my kids used to love this)

The Walnut Creek Interact Youth Council and Walnut Creek Recreation bring you a fun-filled egg hunt for the kids at Heather Farm next weekend. The kids can take photos with the Easter Bunny, paint their faces and do crafts, along with the egg hunts. It’s a perfect way to get your family out in the sunshine to celebrate Easter!

St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl in San Francisco (Sat., Mar. 26 – 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.)

Okay, this one is not technically in Walnut Creek and is definitely adult-only, but if you’ve ever been in the city on St. Paddy’s Day and not taken part, you’re missing out on a great time! Leave the kids with a sitter for the day, dress in your most leprechaun-like outfit and go slug a few green beers at SF’s favorite Irish bars.bunny

Easter Event at Alamo Plaza (Sat., Mar. 26 – 12 p.m.)

If you want to take the kids out for a beatuiful day to celebrate Easter, but don’t want to battle the Walnut Creek crowds at Heather Farm, check out Alamo Plaza as an alternative. Train rides, an Easter Bunny, live street entertainment and more will make for an awesome family day in the sun!

Check back next week for additional events as we move into April. Happy Easter!

 

 

Market Commentary – Carol Rodini (Part 2)

As promised, I said I would write a couple of blogs from a Carol Rodini speaking event I attended. The first blog gives her thoughts on how China and Saudi Arabia may affect the real estate market in the coming months. Today, we’re discussing a general Bay Area real estate overview.

Carol said thatSF houses we (in the East Bay) are usually 6-8 months behind the other side of the Bay – meaning San Francisco and the Peninsula. What is currently happening there (and we may see this in the later part of the year) is that the media is reporting a growth of inventory. This type of news has adverse effects on real estate. In reality, there are two types of real estate: desirable and non-desirable. The media bundles them together, but Carol pointed out how they are different.

Prices have gone down on high-end properties, and buyers are getting hesitant and willing to stand by and watch what happens. For example, a house in San Francisco that was listed for $1.5 million sent out 30 disclosure packages. One buyer submitted a pre-emptive offer of $1.75 million all cash and the seller didn’t take it because they thought they could get more and wanted to market it a bit longer. On the offer due date, none came in. So they went back to the cash buyer and that person said no.

A few takeaways:

1. You can’t be over-priced in this market.

2. Buyers in the city are no longer playing the competition game.

3. Sellers need to be aggressive with their pricing, by pricing it slightly under market. The reason? Millennials buy with their stock options. And with the market volatility and changes, this is making them a bit more hesitant.

The East Bay will have a great spring. We traditionally see a bit of a slow-down in the summer, and depending on what the stock market does, we may follow in the steps of the city. Our average price point is much lower and we are seeing a bunch of first-time home buyers that can’t afford San Francisco or the Peninsula who are looking at the East Bay – at least until the prices drop on the other side of the Bay.