Is Your Home Getting Smarter?

In previous posts we’ve touched on some of the ways you can inexpensively add smart features to your home. Most can be controlled from your phone or tablet. These have included:

  • video doorbells
  • wireless security cameras
  • smart thermostats
  • smart lighting

So how popular are these inexpensive, easy to install items that provide both value and security to your home? This information from the California Association of Realtors shows just how popular these features are…


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Top 3 Ways to Protect your Home’s Exterior

In the Bay Area we’re set to see our first significant rain in quite a while and it’s possible you haven’t thought about your home’s exterior in quite a while.


Most siding materials require little or no attention. Brick, engineered wood, stone and stucco are thought to last for the life of a home, according to a report released by the National Association of Home Builders and Bank of America, “Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components”. But Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors, offers some pointers to help protect your siding from damage, including:

  • Keep foliage away. Make sure no plants are growing against your home. “Plants can trap moisture and allow insects and animals to infiltrate,” Lesh says. “You want the siding to be exposed to the elements.”
  • Watch where water may be getting in. Check areas around windows and doors to see if water is getting in. Moisture can linger and eventually cause rotting or fungal growth. Make sure those areas have been properly caulked and painted to prevent seepage.
  • Keep the gutters clean. Many home owners think they only need to check for clogged gutters in autumn when leaves are falling. A neighbor’s stray tennis ball, a bird’s nest, or even squirrels stocking up for winter can quickly become a serious problem. If water gets backed up in your gutter, it could damage your siding too, Lesh notes. Have gutters checked at least twice a year, or better yet, clean them four times a year to prevent back-ups.

If you come across any issues with your gutters or siding, please have a professional check them out. We’ve learned over the years that it’s worth the money to have things properly diagnosed and done right the first time. And we’re happy to share the names and numbers of some trusted professionals we’ve had good experiences with.


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Pleasant Hill, CA Real Estate Market 2nd Hottest in U.S. according to

Yes, you read that right! Pleasant Hill is the 2nd hottest market in the U.S. according to

pleasant-hill“Millennials are a key factor turning up the heat in America’s hottest housing markets. Fueled by large populations of millennials attracted to affordable prices and strong job markets, top ZIP codes, led by Watauga, Texas (76148) and Pleasant Hill, Calif. (94523), are rising above 32,000 others to make up®’s hottest ZIP codes of 2016.

The top ten ZIP codes include: 76148 (Watauga, Texas) a suburb of Fort Worth; 94523 (Pleasant Hill, Calif.); 80233 (Northglenn, Colo.) part of the Denver metro; 80916 (Colorado Springs, Colo.); 78247 (San Antonio); 94954 (Petaluma, Calif.); 02176 (Melrose, Mass.); 63126 (Crestwood, Mo.); 97222 (Milwaukie, Ore.) a suburb of Portland; and 92104 (North Park, Calif.) a town in San Diego.

We ranked the list based on the time it takes properties to sell and how frequently homes are viewed in each ZIP code. Homes in this year’s top 20 hottest markets sell in an average of 25 days – just over three weeks – 53 days faster than the rest of the country.® users view homes in these markets almost four times more often than homes in the rest of the country.

We knew Pleasant Hill was hot because we’ve sold there and have several current buyers looking at the area, but we would never have thought it was the 2nd hottest market out of over 32,000 that they considered. So we decided to do a little fact checking to see if the stats back up what they are claiming…

Our definition of a hot market is how fast and high the prices have climbed in combination with how fast the homes are selling. We’re not going to address the number of property views on their websites because we can’t quantify that easily. But looking at statistics from the industry leading MLS data provider, Trendgraphix, we can see what prices and days on market have been doing. Here is what we found:

The average for sale price is up 20.7% from last year.

The average sold price is up 10.3% from last year.

The average days on market are down 29.6% compared to last year.

Those numbers are way beyond the national averages and absolutely substantiate the activity that is seeing on their website. Millennials, the largest generation in history, are a key factor in the real estate market right now. And there are larger shares of millennials in the hottest markets, and especially those making over $100,000/yr. In fact, in Pleasant Hill, there are over twice as many millennials making over $100,000/yr as the national share.

The $630,000 median price, while high nationally, is a veritable bargain compared to the other towns of the 680 corridor – Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, San Ramon etc. They’ve done a lot of work in Pleasant Hill and the downtown and surrounding area not has the restaurants, shopping and entertainment that millennials are looking for.

#2 Pleasant Hill, CA from

“This slice of suburbia is located in San Francisco’s East Bay, less than 30 miles from San Francisco and nearly 20 miles away from Berkeley and Oakland. It borders Walnut Creek, an affluent community with expensive homes and boasts a beautiful downtown area with parks and highly ranked public schools such as Strandwood Elementary School and Sequoia Elementary School, making Pleasant Hill highly desirable for home buyers. It’s central location to highways 680 and 24 and a BART station make it a central location for commuters.

Millennial activity: The dominant buying group in this ZIP is 35 to 44 year olds which make up 31 percent of buyers, but millennials are a close second making up 26 percent of mortgages. The biggest strength for millennials in Pleasant Hill is their income. Forty-two percent of millennials in this area make over $100,000, which is two times the norm for millennials in the U.S.

Housing market and jobs: Homes in Pleasant Hill sell in 19 days, 30 percent faster than last year and 12, 10, and 59 days faster than the county, metro and U.S., respectively. Homes in this ZIP code receive 2.0, 2.4, and 5.4 times more views than the county, metro and U.S., respectively. The median list price for the area is $630,000, up almost four percent for the year and seven percent higher than county, 23 percent lower than metro, and 160 percent higher than U.S. The area is experiencing 2 percent job growth this year, which will translate into 7,200 jobs created. The area’s unemployment rate is 4.4 percent and trending lower.”

If you are interested into looking into Pleasant Hill, give Carol a call at (925) 487-2353. She’ll be happy to take you on a personalized tour!

Photo courtesy of @Photoz2frame!

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What’s going on with the Housing Market?

Without further ado, here it is: We think the Housing Market is doing just fine. And we’re not just blowing smoke either to try and trick you into buying or selling real estate.

Sure, we’ve seen some of the same news reports and articles that you have saying that affordability is an issue or that prices are reaching “bubble” values. Or that sales have finally slowed down and that’s that…  Let’s take a quick look at each of these:

Affordability is an issue: According to the The Street in their article Why the U.S. Housing Market is Good – And Getting Even Better, “Interest rates are now so low that a family can buy the median-priced U.S. home on income about $11,000 less than the median household income. And half the houses are cheaper than that.”

Prices are reaching “bubble” values: We turn to our partners over at Keeping Current Matters who put it this way in their article Home Values: DEFINITELY NOT in Bubble Range!!, “Had the bubble and crash (of 2008) not occurred and instead we just had normal annual appreciation over this period, prices would actually be greater than they are today.” KCM illustrates it really well in this graph with data supplied by the National Association of Realtors:

No Bubble

Sales have slowed down: Not really, according to Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Realtor.Com, “Sales typically peak in June or July, but this year might turn out to be an exception. With low mortgage rates, continued evidence of strong demand, and an increasing number of both buyers and sellers just starting to explore, we could have an extended peak.”

Finally, what about Investors? Well, here is one last article worth checking out from Jeff Reeves at Marketwatch, and the title pretty much says it all… This is the Best Time in History to Invest in Real Estate or Why the Market isn’t Headed for Another Bubble“And given that so many traditional asset classes are facing headwinds, it’s worth taking a serious look at real estate both as a way to find new opportunities and to hedge your bets in a challenging market.”

Bottom Line: With low, low interest rates and room for prices to grow with normal historic appreciation of 3-5%, this is STILL a great market to Buy, Sell or Invest. Give Carol a call to have a no obligation conversation about what makes sense for your particular situation.



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San Ramon Valley Schools some of the Best in the Nation… Again!

It is no secret that the outstanding San Ramon Valley Unified School District is one of the best in the nation and a major draw to live in the area. In fact, for families with school age kids it may be one of the top criteria for moving to the area. It’s not hard to sell this school district – potential buyers already have done their research and know exactly which are the best schools!

newsweek-america-best-high-schoolsNewsweek does an annual school ranking, along with other news media and information websites, and San Ramon Valley schools again ranked high. California High School was ranked Number 120 in the nation followed closely by Monte Vista High at Number 121.

None of these rankings are perfect though, because of the differing criteria, sources of information, and whether the school even makes the data available to the analytics companies.

This shows with Newsweek’s omission of Dougherty Valley High School, actually the highest ranking high school in the San Ramon Valley USD. We’re not sure why they were not included in Newsweek’s study, but we’re certain they would have cracked the top 100 in the nation had they been.

All of the rankings can be found here>>>

Interested in specific school scores? Reach out to your Realtor as we normally have this information at our fingertips for our buyers. At least a great agent will! And, yes, I have the schools scores if you need them…

Posted in Danville, Homebuying, homeownership, Housing Trends, San Ramon, San Ramon Valley, Schools | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where are Mortgage Rates after Brexit?

As you may know, Britain voted recently to leave the European Union – this was coined Brexit – which caused immediate instability to the world’s financial markets. The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership of 28 European countries that was formed after the end of World War Two. The idea was that countries that traded together were less likely to go to war again against each other. It has its own currency – the euro – which is currently used by 18 of those countries.


Helping to settle down the markets, Britain and the EU are working on an exit strategy that will last from two to seven years depending on what they end up agreeing upon. Of course the housing and mortgage markets were going to be impacted by this event, and there was great concern over what would happen with mortgage rates and how that would impact the housing market. When there is uncertainty outside of the US, investors move to safer investments – US mortgage-backed securities being seen as one of them. A higher interest in US mortgage backed securities usually results in lower mortgage rates.

So after one month, what exactly has been the impact on mortgage rates?

As reported by our good friends over at Keeping Current Matters, “initially, rates did fall. However, Freddie Mac has reported that rates have stabilized and have actually increased marginally each of the last two weeks. This prompted Freddie Mac Chief Economist Sean Beckett to say:

“Post-Brexit volatility tapered off over the last two weeks, allowing interest rates to bounce back a bit from their near-record 30-year mortgage rate lows.”

And, Capital Economics Property Economist Matthew Pointon believes rates will continue to increase:

“Given we expect Brexit will have a minimal impact on the U.S. economy, we see no reason to change our forecast for mortgage rates to reach 3.85% by the end of this year, and 5.0% by the middle of 2018.”

We will continue to follow the effect of Brexit on the U.S. housing market. But for now, it appears the impact is not as dramatic as some thought it could be.””

Let us know if you have any questions about the mortgage market or are interested in talking to a mortgage professional. We have numerous preferred mortgage partners we both know and trust and would be happy to share their contact information with you!


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Amazing Beaches just Hours away from the East Bay

Who says you have to go to Southern California or some tropical paradise to enjoy a great beach? One of the best things about living in the San Francisco area’s East Bay is the fact that we’re just hours from beaches to the west, Monterey and Carmel to the south, the Sierra’s to the east and the Napa/Sonoma wine country to the north! No other area in the US can beat that combination as far as we’re concerned.

Today we’re going to spotlight 3 beaches all within a couple of hours drive from the East Bay. There are many more beaches to explore – find them at:

China BeachChina Beach is a small cove in San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood. It lies between Baker Beach and Lands End and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area:

  • Golden Gate Recreation Area | China Beach Park | 340 Sea Cliff Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121
  • Activities: Sunbathing, Picnicking, Tide pooling
  • Amenities: Restrooms, Showers, Picnic Tables, Tide Pools, Cave
  • Pet Policy: No dogs allowed on the beach
  • Fees: Free parking

Muir BeachMuir Beach is a quiet cove, beach, and lagoon tucked into the coastline three miles west of Muir Woods and a favorite spot among locals.

  • Golden Gate Recreation Area | Muir Beach Park | 200 Pacific Way, Muir Beach, CA 94965
  • Activities: Hiking, Beach combing, Bird watching, Fishing, Sunbathing, Bonfires, Picnicking
  • Amenities: Restrooms, Picnic Tables, Trails, Fire Pits
  • Pet Policy: Dogs allowed off leash if under voice control
  • Fees: Free parking

Capitola BeachCapitola Beach is located in the heart of Capitola Village with its many shops and restaurants. Lots of swimming, surfing, volleyball, kite flying and beach activities for the whole family.

  • Capitola Beach | San Jose Avenue and Esplanade, Capitola, CA 95010
  • Activities: Volleyball, Fishing, Sunbathing, Bird watching, Surfing
  • Amenities: Fishing Pier, Volleyball Courts, Lifeguard, Restrooms, Showers, Shops, Creek, Restaurant, Beaches
  • Pet Policy: No dogs allowed on the beach
  • Fees: Metered street parking

There you have it – just 3 of the great beaches withing hours of the East Bay. What are your favorites? Enjoy the summer and all the Bay Area has to offer and please contact me if you are interested in moving to the best place on earth!

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