Friday, July 13, 2007

Hot Property

If you are on the market right now for an affordable condo with stunning views, don't miss the Lake Merritt penthouse condo at 320 Lee Street. Listed by broker Ron Kriss here at Lawton Associates, this is one hot property at just $849,000!

In addition to the panoramic views, the expansive sun-drenched 1,100+ sqft deck makes you feel like you are sitting on top of the world. The creative architecture and walls of glass bring those views into almost every room. There are so many “Wow” spots in this condo – it is truly unique in the marketplace.

The penthouse features 2 spacious bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, hardwood floors, and high ceilings. There is secure parking, and the penthouse offers additional security from a private elevator stop. There is plenty of storage in the condo, on the deck, and in the parking garage. The 2 Penthouse Condos share a common laundry located right out your front door. This amazing penthouse is located close to everything the city has to offer from beautiful Lake Merritt to the new Whole Foods opening this fall. The Van Buren Towers has always been a desirable address and the building is well maintained.

There is an open house this Sunday, but if you would like a private tour, please call me to make arrangements. Let me know your housing desires, and let's go look at houses! I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Have a fun weekend!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Good News for East Bay Commuters

While there are so many great things about living in the East Bay, one of the few challenges is dealing with traffic. The good news is that improvements are always being made to try and make life on the road a little bit better.

One new development is the expansion of FasTrak lanes on all Bay Area bridges. My FasTrak tag has made my life so much better....I think I would even pay for the privilege of using it. And, if you get one this summer, FasTrak is offering free tolls. And, you can get even more free tolls if you buy your tag at CostCo or Safeway. Check it all out at the FasTrak website.

Of course, getting a more fuel-efficient car helps. And, with certain cars with high fuel efficiency, you can get a tag that allows you to use the carpool lanes. How about a Prius? Recently, I wrote about a great incentive at the Gate 48 condo development in Temescal, which was built according to the highest "green" standards. For a limited time, you can get a Prius when you buy a brand new condo at Gate 48--and then use the carpool lane, too!

One of the best ways to avoid traffic is to get out of your car and use public transportation. I'm glad to see that AC Transit has started using buses on many of their major lines that use hydrogen fuel cells and have zero emissions. This combined with their new express buses makes public transportation an even better option than ever before.

I could go on and on with these transportation alternatives, and in the future I look forward to writing more about other options, like the amazing "casual carpool" program. If you ever have questions about East Bay life and culture--or want to take advantage of that great Prius deal at Gate 48--just let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Sky's the Limit!

Last week, I wrote about the many great deals out there right now, especially for homes in the $500,000-$600,000 range. But what if you aren't looking for a deal? Perhaps you want to spend as much money as possible.

So, what is the most expensive home in the East Bay? Well, there is currently a 6 bedroom / 5.5 bath home listed for sale in Danville's exclusive Blackhawk neighborhood for $12 million dollars. It even has ponds and waterfalls, plus an office for the caretaker. And, perhaps there is a deal to be had! The monthly HOA dues are only $137. Not bad! But if that is too rich for your blood, there are over a dozen other properties listed in the East Bay in the $5-10 million range.

But the East Bay is no match for down south. The great Bay Area real estate blog Curbed SF points us to the most expensive home in the nation. For only $165 million, you can get the Beverly Hills estate that once belonged to William Randolph Hearst and Marion Davies (JFK and Jackie honeymooned there, too!). The property includes 29 bedrooms in four separate houses, one apartment and one cottage.

Who says the real estate market is wobbly?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Nitty Gritty

So, What Happens at a Structural Pest Inspection?

One of the most important inspections that can happen during a property sale transaction is the structural pest inspection. Often times, the first question you might hear when selling a home is "How much is the pest?" So, what is going on here?

The structural pest inspection investigates a home for termite damage, dry rot, and other related problems. Sometimes the seller will have this inspection, but not always. If a home you are interested in has not had a structural pest inspection, it is advisable to spend a few hundred dollars on getting one done.

When looking at an inspection report, you will see descriptions of any problems found and an estimate to repair each problem. So, you are looking for the lowest number possible. Section one, which investigates current damage, is the most important section to look at closely. Section two looks at the potential for future damage.

Repair work on a house with significant damage can include anything from tenting a house for fumigation to replacing a deck. And, the costs for extensive repair work can easily escalate into the $10,000-$20,000 range. So, you can see how important this can be. But don't worry too much, as the pest report is often clear or might just require very minor work.

Inspections are not required by the state, but many lenders will require this as part of the appraisal and approval process. For more information, please visit the state's handy structural pest control website. Or, just contact me at 510-547-5970 x57 or I'm always happy to help.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Going to Market

Say you are ready to sell your house. It is in good shape, but it might not be the best house on the block. You might find yourself wondering, "How much work do I need to do to make a profit when selling this house?"

For instance, should you install those popular granite countertops and stainless steel kitchen appliances even though your kitchen seems perfectly fine? Or perhaps you should do a major landscaping renovation to give the house amazing curb appeal?

The challenge here is to do just enough to help sell your house, without going overboard. You might spend tens of thousands of dollars on that fancy kitchen or pretty yard, only to then have the buyers re-do it themselves to their own desires. And, will you really get back the money you invested?

I think it is best to be pro-active but prudent in these situations. Remember, your goal as a seller is to sell the house, not completely renovate it for the buyer. Do the necessary cosmetic upgrades to make your home attractive to buyers, but don't go bankrupt trying to have the most desirable home on the market. There are lots of tips and tricks to getting your home ready for market.

If you are ready to list your home for sale and need advice on preparing it for market, please let me know. I'd be happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or