Friday, September 7, 2007

Real Estate 101

Berkeley's RECO Guidelines

As we all know, Berkeley is always ahead of the curve on many socio-political trends, especially on environmental issues. So, if you are selling a home in Berkeley, make sure you are in compliance with the City of Berkeley's RECO guidelines.

RECO stands for Residential Energy Conservation Ordinance, and the guidelines apply to all homes and apartment buildings being sold or transferred. It is the seller's responsibility to get the property in compliance and provide proof to the city. For the full rundown on Berkeley's RECO requirements, please visit the RECO website.

The compliance guidelines are fairly reasonable and will save money for the occupants in the long run. The requirements include such items as installing CFL lightbulbs, enhanced insulation, weatherstripping, and water-saving toilets and showerheads. Most of the 10 requirements are very affordable, and can even get you rebates from various utility companies like EBMUD and PG&E. Even better, the cost of your expenditures are capped so that you don't go into bankruptcy making your home energy efficient.

In fact, most these requirements are good ideas to save the earth and will also save you some money due to their cost-efficiency. So, whether you are ready to sell your house or not, get those upgrades done and call an inspector to come certify your home as RECO compliant.

There are many ins and outs to the RECO guidelines, but these are the basics. If you would like more information or would like to discuss how to get this work done, let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

PS...Here is a fun fact about the City of Berkeley. The nickname for their website is CobWeb.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Coolest House on TV

Friends and colleagues know that I love reality shows, and I'm currently very into watching Big Brother. Not only do I love the drama, but, as a real estate agent, I love this house! Hmmm, I wonder what it would list for?

The house has an Alice in Wonderland theme that is very fun. There are small doors to fall through, oversized beds and furniture, and teacups and chessboards galore. It would be very cool if they opened the house up for fans to wander through once the season is over. Hmm, maybe I can hire CBS to do my staging sometime...

As for the drama, we're rooting for Daniele all the way. She is a very smart player, yet doesn't seem deceitful in the least. While her dad is very difficult to tolerate, both for her and the audience, we laughed our heads off when Eric was mimicking him the other night. Eric can be quite annoying at times, but we love watching him pull off the goals that the viewers give him as "America's Player", like his stunt with Evil Dick. This competition is going to come down to those three players, I believe, so I won't even waste keystrokes on the others.

Normally I offer my real estate advice and services at this point in the post, but also let me know if you want to dish about Big Brother!

PS. All photos courtesy of

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New to Market--East Lake Lofts in Oakland

If you are in the market for a very cool loft in Oakland, well today is your lucky day. Our brokerage is just now bringing to market the East Lake Lofts near Lake Merritt in Oakland. If you are familiar with the popular Mutual Creamery lofts, these are similar in style and are just around the corner.

These impressive brick and timber lofts feature large open floorplans and double-height ceilings, all with that cool industrial live/work loft look and feel. There is a wide variety of floorplans. The "West Wing" is a one-story brick-exterior building with soaring, arched rooflines. The second warehouse-type structure is an impressive three-story brick building with extensive views and walls of windows.

The East Lake Lofts are located in one of the hottest “Up-and-Coming” areas of Oakland, near downtown, Jack London Square, Lake Merritt and Chinatown. Lake Merritt offers running and cycling trails, picnic spots, a children’s park, the historic Grand Lake Theater and the Grand/Lakeshore shopping/dining district. Also nearby is the China Hill district (including the famous Parkway theater for movies, pizza and beer) and Jack London Square (soon to feature the upcoming California Harvest Hall).

There is a grand opening open house this Sunday, September 9 from 1pm to 5pm. The address is 1018 4th Avenue (@ East 10th St). If you would like more information, or would like to schedule a tour, please let me know. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 or

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Thank You! Thank You Very Much!

Every once in a while you need to toot your own horn, and today is that day. I am very fortunate to have so many great clients, many of whom have become valuable friends. And, several have have passed along their testimonials about working with me, to share with potential clients in the future. So, with a modest blush, I share them with you.

"As a single, first-time home buyer, it was important for me to work with a professional who is knowledgeable, responsive and trustworthy. Mary's experience, warmth and her willingness to go above and beyond in every area exceeded all my expectations."
-- Karin S., Oakland

"As a first-time homebuyer, Mary helped me through the entire homebuying process with patience and perseverance. She knows and understands the Oakland loft market, and most importantly, she knows and understands people. Mary provides excellent customer service and repeat customers become long-time friends."
-- Karna W., Oakland

"Mary Smartt was a one-in-a-million find. She really listened to us and helped us find exactly what we wanted. (We were exploring all of the East Bay and Mary understood the whole area). During the sale she knew just the right people for inspections and testing, people who gave us invaluable advice. Finally, she negotiated for us and we got the house. She has just the right mixture of professionalism and care. We recommend her to all our friends."
--Chuck & Roshni, Alameda

If you are entering the real estate market and would like to receive the same level of customer service, please contact me. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or