IKOI is a great new sushi spot in Walnut Creek

There’s a new sushi place in town, and I tried it recently – it did not disappoint! It is hard to break into the sushi game in the Bay Area these days, but I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed my meal along with the sake at IKOI, which is located across from La Scala.

The sushi itself was very fresh, though it took a while to get the second roll I ordered. It’s so new, there’s still a coffee logo on the floor of the restaurant from the previous tenants!

We ordered the small plate sampler with ceviche and “Hamachi Love,” all unique and deliciously fresh. Though they don’t have a large selection of rolls, the select few are quality and tasteful. I found the information about their chef and co-owner on the website really interesting, too: Chef Koji has been cooking for 40 years and trained under famed sushi master Chef Hiroshi Hiyama. He has worked in acclaimed restaurants in Japan before opening the first of three restaurants he now has in the Bay Area.

Apparently, “Ikoi,” means “rest and relaxation” in Japanese, which is perfect. I felt very satisfied and happy after eating there. I’d definitely recommend Ikoi to any sushi fans out there in Walnut Creek! It gets 4 out of 5 Mt. Diablo’s from me only due to the delay in getting the second roll.  If it was on quality of sushi alone, it would be a 5+!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Another La Nina this year? Start with Warren Miller …

According to multiple weather reports, La Nina is expected to strike certain parts of the U.S. this winter – the Rockies are on the path. Though after a big season for snowfall in Northern California last year, they are predicting it to be less wet and snowy in the upcoming months, without so much that it’ll be difficult to get to like last year!

With the season turning and snow on the mind, let me recommend a really cool annual event coming up tomorrow. Warren Miller’s “Line of Descent” is the latest in a series of snow documentaries that brings a traveling event to towns across the world. Last year I watched it at Squaw with Johnny Moseley as MC.

This year? Walnut Creek! You can see the show at the Lesher Center’s Hofmann Theater at 8 p.m. tomorrow night. There were a few balcony tickets left last I checked, but they will go fast. Tickets are about $23 right now, but it’s well worth it. The movie itself is always really awesome, and you can win free snow swag at the show!

If you love to ski or ride like me, make sure to check out this year’s trailer above. Then, once you’re thoroughly pumped up for snow season, go buy a ticket and meet me at the Warren Miller show! As you can see in the trailer, they’re featuring Squaw Valley in part of this year’s movie. How cool is that?

SaveSave

SaveSave

Fall Back: Daylight Savings Time!

This is an urgent reminder for those of you who have Sunday morning plans! Or even for those who are planning to roll out of bed a half hour before NFL games start and sit on the couch all day (nothing wrong with that!).

At 2:00 a.m. tonight, clocks will fall back an hour so your internal clock might wake you up a bit earlier. It’s worth that sacrifice of being tired earlier to get the extra hour of sunlight we’ve been so desperately missing. Just remember to reset your clocks tomorrow morning when you get up!

 

Why buyers don’t always take the highest offer

You might be surprised to hear that sellers don’t always take the highest offer on their properties. It would be logical to get the most bang for your back, but as this article outlines, there are more factors at play in today’s market.

In that specific example, the seller and their agent took a middle offer because it was all-cash, and that was the only way to ensure the deal would go through without having to worry if the appraisal would come in. They sacrificed a bit on the price (possibly) to make sure the house got sold.

From a seller’s perspective, taking a lower offer could be for any number of reasons. It could be because they want to counter up a lower offer because they have better financing or somebody waives the appraisal contingency. It could be because the letter they received from the prospective buyer was so engaging that they wanted those people to own the home, regardless of the price difference. It could even be because they’ve met the buyer and their family and just felt a connection to them.

From a buyer’s perspective, this means there’s an opening in the modern real estate market. If you don’t have the highest offer, you’re not always on the outside looking in. If you put more of a sincere, human touch on your pitch to buy the house, sellers might be more likely to sell to you!

It goes both ways. Real estate transactions involve a lot of paperwork, money and bartering. But when it comes down to it, having the human touch that a buyer seeks might be all you really need to leapfrog other offers and land the house of your dreams!

A great listing agent will go over all the pros and cons of each offer and provide reasons why one offer may be better, and give recommendations on counter strategies. At the end of the day, it is always the seller’s choice on who they choose to buy their home if they have more than one offer.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Happy Halloween!

It’s that time again, ghosts and ghouls! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays (not sure it is technically a holiday, but it was in Nevada where I grew up – that was the day Nevada became a state!).  I want to wish everyone out there a Happy, scary, sugar-filled Halloween tonight.

If you want to swing by my house and get treats from the best neighborhood in town, come to Parkmead! I usually get 200-300 Trick-or-Treater’s on Halloween, depending if it falls on a school night or a weekend. Our neighborhood is flat and on a horseshoe, so all the ghosts and goblins come to our street where many of the families have decorated or are hosting parties in their garages.

I usually invite friends over, make my famous Willie’s Chili, stoke up the chimney and pass out candy in my front driveway while having a mini-party with friends. I have even seen little red wagons carrying a child and a six-pack in the back as the parents roam their way around the neighborhood and their kids run from house to house!

My favorite part is seeing all the creative costumes and hearing the really young kids say “trick-or-treat!” You can see some of the awesome costumes from years past in the slideshow below! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Never let a buyer take possession before closing

Picture this: the odds and ends of a real estate transaction you’re involved with are taking longer than expected to tie up. Whether it be a miscommunication between the realtors, legal issues, or uncontrollable circumstances, you just want the home to close escrow.

So, you have already moved out and agree to let the buyer move in over the weekend since you will be closing on Monday or Tuesday. Even though the final forms have been signed, you won’t close for a few more days. You figure, “Heck, whats the harm?”

Oops. What if there is a financial or legal issue that crops up? Worst of all, what if the new buyer starts making changes to the home and they – or someone they hire – gets hurt on the property before it is officially theirs? What happens if there is a fire? I know of one situation where the seller allowed the buyers to put their belongings in the garage and there was something flammable and it started a house fire. Do you think those buyers still bought the house?  No, the sale did not close and the seller was left dealing with a mess and no house to sell.

Now that is a heap of trouble, tripped up by a tangle of confusing liability. What you thought was an act of goodwill has just turned the final few steps of the transaction into an absolute nightmare!

Even if this scenario seems unlikely, it is still possible. And that is reason enough to never let a buyer take possession of a property before the closing is completed. Crazier things have happened!

A realtor’s job is to protect the interests of their clients and a good agent will counsel you against having a buyer or their belongings in your property prior to the transfer of title.
If you think you might want to buy or sell in the near future, feel free to reach out to me for an organized, knowledgeable, friendly ally in the real estate process! You can always reach me at my website under the contact tab at www.kristinlanham.com.

Enjoy spook-tacular events all weekend long!

This weekend, you’ll be sure to see hundreds of little cats, vampires and ghosts running around Walnut Creek and the East Bay. It’s one of the most festive times of the year: Hallo-weekend!

Though the actual holiday is a week from today, there are plenty of events coming up over the weekend to take part in. For example, there’s a cool annual Candlelight Tour at the Winchester Mystery House. You get to tour the 160-room mansion with just a flickering candlelight to guide your way. The entire tour takes about 1 hour and tickets start at $20.

Another cool option is spending the night in a haunted jail cell in an underground dungeon on Halloween. For those of you who are really into scaring yourselves, the Ghosts of Alcatraz event by San Francisco Dungeon might be for you. Enjoy the darkness of an authentically reproduced Alcatraz cell for the night, and try not to faint from the terror.

For a couple more family-friendly, laid-back Halloween options, check out the pumpkin patch at Speer Family Farms in Alameda. It’s close enough to Walnut Creek but also worth the trek to see what they have available for you and the kids!

Lastly, on Friday from 2-5 pm, Walnut Creek Downtown is hosting a trick-or-treat for people of all ages! They ask you to bring your favorite costume and your own candy bag to collect treats from participating downtown businesses. Start at the Lesher Center and wind your way through from there. Broadway Plaza will host a similar event on the actual day of Halloween.

Whatever you do for Halloween weekend, make sure to be clever and creative with those costumes, not eat too much candy, and be safe while walking at night!

SaveSave

SaveSave

Art Town: Bullman With Bulldog

Well, this one kind of sprung up out of nowhere, huh? I love it, though! This piece on the corner of Mt. Diablo Blvd. and N. Main St. is just so unique, you can’t miss it – or you might, as it blends in with the crowds. This shot was taken late at night but look at the contrast of the day-time photo at the bottom of the blog.

The piece was donated by local developer Brian Hirahara and sculpted by Gerald Heffernon. It’s a life-size bronze statue of a half-man, half-bull dressed nicely and leaning against the pole on that street corner. His bulldog is on a leash, and there is unbelievable detail on the piece.

According to Heffernon, human figures depicted with animal heads is imagery deeply embedded in our psyches because we have a desire to acquire the power of other animals by getting inside their minds. If you think about it, even as far back as ancient Egypt and Greece there were minotaurs, hawk-headed humans, and more.

“A bullman is a hybrid of two animals,” Heffernon says. “A bulldog is all dog, but one bred to battle bulls. In this case, the bull(man) seems to control the bulldog, but those roles can reverse, as they can with humans and their dogs.”

The piece prompts us to consider which animal is in charge, as is often the case with dogs and their human owners. There is a triangle of competing wills. Heffernon, who hails from Winters, CA, calls himself a conceptual wildlife artist and wants his human/animal hybrid sculptures to be surreal, funny and thought-provoking.

Unsurprisingly, Hirahara also had a hand in approving the creepy downtown fountain with the head in it!

The piece definitely has mixed reviews – what do you think of it? Love or hate?

SaveSave

SaveSave

How to send help to the fire victims

Last week, a record-setting wildfire decimated the picturesque Napa, Sonoma and Santa Rosa areas. There are 40 people dead, at least 16 wineries destroyed, thousands homeless and hundreds still missing.

via PressDemocrat.com

It is one of the most gruesome, saddening natural disasters in California history. If you’re like me, and want to help out the victims of these fires and do whatever you can to restore those areas to their former selves, there are plenty of ways to donate.

One way is to send a box of fresh fruit and vegetables from Farm Fresh to Redwood Empire Food Bank. So far, they’ve donated more than 200 boxes to evacuation centers throughout Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.

For every box donated to Redwood Empire Food Bank, Farm Fresh to You – who we wrote about last week – will match that donation. Just click here if you’d like to help. I did and when I don’t want a box delivered to my house, I will click to donate.

There have also been numerous drives and charities springing up on social media in the wake of the destruction. One specifically mentioned on the TV briefings was Napa Valley Community Foundation. Or if your heart is with helping all the animals, Jameson Animal Rescue Ranch is an Amazon Smiles recipient.

 

 

 

 

 

These give assurances that your donation is going where it will be most useful. If you don’t want to get involved with those, many who have friends and family that have lost everything are taking up carloads of specific donations.

My friend’s parents and sister both lost their houses and she specifically asked for certain sized clothes and non-perishables. I rummaged through my home for clothes and supplies, plus gave a gift card to Trader Joe’s.

In the news briefing, they specifically requested to temper our donations, meaning they will still be needed two months from now, so maybe one day in the near future when you are feeling grateful for all that you have, you might think, “I would like to click on one of these links and donate $25.”