Tiny Houses & CB2

With the trend towards tiny homes (see my recent blog!), I found it interesting that Crate & Barrel has started marketing some lines of furniture to mini-living. This trend was reinforced from a coach, philosopher, and student of learning who built a tiny home with no electricity but did have running water and truly lived off the grid.

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Since the trend is turning towards more urban living (especially in bigger cities), and towards tiny homes, furniture needs to be on a smaller scale, too. To satisfy those trends and to play to the tiny home-loving millennial market, stores like Crate & Barrel (CB2) are making furniture for a smaller scale living space.

I find all this very intriguing and a smart way to live, especially as I get older, am an empty nester, and don’t need the expense of watering 1/3 acre or heating a 2,000-sq. ft. home.

The coach I mentioned is Michael Lorence. He lived in a tiny home in the woods and called his home the “Innermost House.” It was 12-by-12 feet in size, in a world lit only by fire. It served as a private meeting place of forest nature, fine traditional craft, fundamental thought culture, and cosmopolitan spirituality. In our class and various conversations, it got me thinking about how much space we really need and the importance of communing with nature.

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Another insight into tiny homes was when my friends the Lore’s, who are very handy at remodeling, helped their oldest son, Ryan, remodel a small 450-sq. ft. studio he bought in the city and created a very chic and modern living space that was featured in Houzz. It is a trend that I believe will become the norm as it has been in Europe and Asia. It also links to my past blog on the number of older people selling their McMansions and moving into small city condos.

Check out the links andI would love to hear your thoughts.

Stern Grove: Free and fun!

If you’ve never heard of Stern Grove Festival, you should definitely check it out! It’s a free music festival in San Francisco that features some great bands. They even have kid-friendly activities, free yoga classes (BYO yoga mats), food trucks, and more!

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The best part, though, is being able to just sit out in the sunshine or not so great in fog, in a beautiful part of the city and enjoying a day off. You can bring in a picnic (with certain limitations, of course) or reserve a picnic table ahead of time.

The venue itself is really beautiful, and located at 19th and Sloat in SF. The free music starts around 2 p.m. each Sunday and the season runs from June 16th to Aug. 18th. The SF Symphony, Psychedelic Furs, and Pink Martini are the ones I am interested in, but a day in Stern Grove, no matter who is playing is always a good day. Hope to see you there!

Event Round-Up: May 18th

We’re almost all the way into summer here in Walnut Creek! The kids will be out of school soon, and the days will keep getting longer and warmer, giving us ample opportunities to take advantage of some awesome Bay Area events.

Diablo Symphony – May 19th (Walnut Creek)

The Diablo Symphony presents Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony and Bach’s Double Violin Concerto tomorrow at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek! You can get tickets at the door, preceding the 2 p.m. concert. The Symphony Orchestra will be joined by members of the San Ramon Valley High School orchestra for this performance!

Rooftop History Walking Tour – May 31st (San Francisco)

Real estate nerd alert! This sounds so interesting to me, and if you like rooftops with beautiful views, you’ll be amazed by which buildings in the city might have them. This is a really cool tour to take if you like history, as you’ll get into some of the more exclusive private buildings in SF. Tickets are just $35.

Art & Wine Festival – June 1st (Walnut Creek)

For the weekend of June 1st, you can take advantage of an awesome event right in our own backyard! Pair your wine and beer with food vendors, art, live music, a Kids Zone, and more! It’s time for the Walnut Creek Art & Wine Festival. More info here.

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Walnut Creek First Wednesdays – June 5th (Walnut Creek)

Did you miss out on last month’s First Wednesday celebration? Because they are a great time! You can make up for it by coming downtown on Weds., June 5th to take part in a small street fair right here in Walnut Creek. Get more info here – you won’t want to miss it!

Walnut Creek Uncorked – June 20th (Walnut Creek)

Sip, stroll, socialize. Walnut Creek’s Uncorked event is taking place on June 20th downtown! You can sip wines, eat local food, listen to live music, and just wander downtown with your wine. I’d recommend getting tickets in advance, as this event is popular every year!

Nordstrom’s Trend Event

Every spring Nordstrom has a trend event where customers are invited to a fashion show with giveaways, goodie bags and an all-day event downstairs with makeovers and more freebies.

I got the invite because I went to a fashion consult with the local Pi Phi alumni in March where they had a makeup consult and I volunteered to have makeup done and of course ended up buying a couple $100 of beauty products. That is when Sebastian, Assistant Manager in the C0smetics Department, invited me to the Trend Event. I had to buy the tickets $20 apiece, but then got a $20 Nordstrom gift card. He also reserved two seats up front for me.

I invited Maria, our office Administrator, as a birthday gift and we had a fun day taking in taking in new fashions, having a makeover and buying a few things. Nordstrom does this event every April, so keep an eye out for it next year. It was a fun morning, as they open Nordstroms at 7 am before shoppers come and you get some time downstairs before they open up to the public!

Seller and Lender credit guidelines

Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending came through with another great topic recently, which I want to share with you below. It involves an oft-overlooked, but very important aspect of selling a home: credits to a buyer. Read on!

Here are a few quick reminders/guidelines for Seller and Lender Credits.

  1. If a credit is specified to be for a repair anywhere in a purchase contract, the repairs will have to be completed PRIOR to close of escrow. We will need to show proof they are complete with either an appraiser’s or a licensed contractor’s certification. Kristin: I handle it with a workaround by asking for a credit for closing costs on an addendum with no reference to the repair, see below.
  2. Credits for closing costs cannot exceed actual closing costs. Be sure to check with your lender to get an estimate for total closing costs. If there are significant transfer taxes and an impound account, the total closing cost figure can be substantial, creating much leeway for credits. Kristin: When the credit exceeds closing cost, I have combined it with a price reduction, usually credits are more desired, but this way you don’t lose any of the credit.
  3. Credits can be for non-recurring and recurring closing costs. There is no need to specify which. Credits can and should simply be for “closing costs.”
  4. Closing cost credits should be on a separate addendum, and not on a “Request for Repairs addendum. It is well known that Realtors substitute “closing cost” credits for “repair” credits, to avoid disclosing repair issues. But, this should not be made too obvious by putting closing cost credits on a “Request for Repairs” addendum (even if the Request for Repairs addendum does not specifically note any repairs).
  5. Make sure there are no large lender-credits in place already. We have had a few transactions grind to a halt because the selling agent negotiated a seller-credit for closing costs without knowing that we had already given the buyer a large lender-credit. As a result, the total credits exceeded closing costs, and we had to restructure entire transactions. Kristin: My recommendation is your agent should always be in conversation with your lender.
  6. Lenders need credits before they order loan documents. Many agents negotiate credits at the 11th hour when sellers are more willing to acquiesce. We, however, need to know about all credits before we order loan documents. If we learn about credits after loan documents are drawn, we have to formally re-draw loan documents. This both costs money and delays escrows. Kristin: The credit isn’t negotiated until it is time to remove the inspection contingency and if it is a shorter close, it pushes up on the docs having to be redrawn and then the buyer as 3 days review before they can sign loan docs which can push the closeout.

Art Town: “Dogs” and “Cats”

Anyone who knows me knows I love animals. I have a Weimaraner, Bodie, who is my best buddy! We go hiking together all the time, and I can’t wait to get home to him every day. He even occasionally comes into the office.

So, when I saw this utility box, you know I had to stop and check it out! They are simply titled “Dogs” and “Cats” by Ammo Waylon. I couldn’t find much information on these online, but they speak for themselves!

Two sides of the box are dedicated to dogs and two sides dedicated to cats. It sits right in front of Walnut Creek Yacht Club, which has some fun upcoming events and starting their 23rd year in Walnut Creek on May 7th. Check out the utility box when you stop by for either Mother’s Day lunch or dinner with a special fixed price menu (note: they are normally closed on Sundays or May 29th with their annual Rum Dinner); June 26th is not a Wine Dinner – its a Beer Dinner with the special guest founder of Calicraft Brewing. And finally Oysterfest #7 is on August 11th.

JVM Lending: Too busy for big houses!

I loved this blog from our friend Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending. It covers the trend in real estate towards smaller homes. I have been thinking of doing a blog on tiny homes and this may be the impetus to sit down and write about that trend! With millennial buyers angling that way and boomers finally wising up and heading that way too, the market for large houses is changing. Read on:

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I hike for five or six miles every weekend in the hills around one of the Bay Area’s most high-end housing developments. The homes are huge, stunning, and fun to see, but the best part is the extremely elaborate backyards with vineyards, gazebos, massive pools, outdoor kitchens, terraces, fruit trees, play sets, sport courts, and immaculate landscaping.

The cost for those yards alone is often in excess of $1 million. And this is what I find most interesting – in over nine years of hiking, I have seen people in those backyards maybe five or six times; despite their beauty and allure, the yards are literally devoid of human beings.

I know several families who live in the development, and I know exactly why they are never in their backyards. With sports practices, games, private coaching, tutoring, volunteering, homework, social obligations, etc., they are far too busy to ever find time to venture into their outdoor paradises.

So, that is point #1 – families looking to buy their ultimate dream home might do well to remember that they may be far too busy to enjoy it. Point #2 was illuminated in a recent WSJ article called A Growing Problem In Real Estate – Too Many Big Houses.

It turns out that far too many baby boomers built monstrous dream homes that they no longer want or are able to take care of. According to the article, in February in Scottsdale, AZ alone, there were 390 homes on the market at prices in excess of $3 million. The market for large homes is dwindling because more and more boomers are wising up and moving to smaller homes with much less maintenance, and younger buyers aren’t interested in the large homes either.

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Another problem is that we old people like earth tones, crown moldings, and other styles that younger buyers hate, only making boomer homes that much less appealing to younger buyers (when my wife Heejin and I stay in modern AirBNBs, I drive her crazy with my non-stop complaining about the concrete floors, stark colors, and what seems like ridiculously cold decorating to me; and don’t even get me started about those silly little pedestal sinks…).

Anyway, if you have a client looking to build or buy their monstrous dream home, you might remind them that they either might be too busy or too old for a huge home.

Many of those boomers in the Walnut Creek area bought those big homes with big yards and as the kids grew up, they have sold and moved downtown to places like the Mercer on California where they can lock up for three months, not worry about a yard and travel or just walk downtown have dinner and a glass of wine and walk back home…more to come for that future blog!

Take part in Bike to Work Day this week!

This Thursday, May 9th, is Bike to Work Day! As if you needed any more reason to hop on your bike and cruise through the beautiful Bay Area, the forecast for Thursday is mostly sunny and 72 degrees. Yes, please!

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I think Bike to Work Day is an important initiative for many reasons, not least of which is because it helps save the environment (or just makes people think more about the environment). With so many millions of cars on the roads every day in the middle of a climate crisis, it is nice to have a good excuse to help curb those emissions.

More than 100,000 people are expected to take part in the 25th annual celebration, and there will be about 400 “energizer stations” scattered throughout the Bay Area. The City of Walnut Creek will host an energizer station for the public in an effort to promote cycling as a fun, healthy, and environmentally-friendly commute option. The location will be in front of the library on the corner of Lincoln Ave. and N. Broadway, from 7-9:30 a.m.

Road Trips: Bottlerock

Music festivals are all the rage these days. Chances are that if you know a few people under the age of 40, at least one has been to OutsideLands, Coachella, or EDC. Bottlerock is the adult version!

I love going to Bottlerock. It’s a 3-day festival in Napa that offers a small camping option (about 20 minutes from the grounds), but is a close enough drive that you can sleep in your own bed each night, as long as you’re willing to brave traffic on the way in. Fridays are my favorite day because the crowds are smaller and the traffic lighter. This year I am again going on Friday, because I love Imagine Dragons and One Republic.

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Credit: JamBase

This year, they’ve announced the lineup and it looks pretty good again. They usually attract big names to the headliner’s stage, and they pair it with a unique Chef’s Stage experience that brings out the biggest celebrity names! It takes place May 24-26 this year. Last year, Shaun White was on the Culinary Stage with his mom (see attached video) and the cooking was a snow theme, they threw out snowballs – those Hostess cupcakes you had as a kid – and did some crazy stuff with cotton candy. Always interesting. This year, I think Alice Cooper will be a fun experience.

One really awesome thing about BottleRock is that, being in Napa Valley, the food and drink options are unbelievable. You’ll spend a little bit extra on your meals, but you’re getting legitimately delicious food instead of your typical festival fare and a place to sit down and eat it.

I’d highly recommend trying to snag last-minute tickets if any are still available. If not, make plans for next year! It’s always around Memorial Day weekend. If you are going on Friday, let me know! Maybe we’ll see each other there.