Cartoon sort while you SIP

For most of us life is not what it was a month ago, and many of us are experiencing daily adaptations to our work and lifestyle.

I will have data next week but here is a general update on ” The SIP rules!”

The March 28, 2020 amendment made to the Federal list of “essential services” now includes Residential Real Estate Services.

Bay Area Counties, including Alameda and Contra Costa, have not adopted the federal amendment and more stringent restrictions remain in place.

We currently must continue to adhere to all State,County and City restrictions, these include:

No Open Houses

No in person showings 

Restricted access and interaction with stagers, painters, contractors, movers etc

• Very restricted access to properties, especially occupied homes.
• Many Appraisals are moving to desktop and drive by so they do not go into homes.
• Signings are with Notaries, those working use gloves and masks, as an agent I attend        mine on Zoom.
A great deal of our client interaction can be executed virtually. Prospective sellers prepare videos so we can get an idea of the property and we can access sale data and discuss options in the evolving environment.
With buyers we can review videos of properties for sale if these are available.
In theory, it is possible to enter into contract subject to visiting the property and inspections.

There are many variables depending on the circumstances and principles! 

Our current policies are likely to change during the next week or so and may be relaxed to some degree. 

Do contact me if you have any questions!

If you are preparing to move or not….you could take time to have as my Mum used to say “A jolly good sort out!” and of course….. keep what’s important to you!

As always, I’m happy to be a resource for those considering a move and to offer advice in the current environment.







I hope if you are home you are enjoying walks and your garden is doing well!

A BIG Thank you to those on the front lines in essential services.




So how is the real estate market this week?


This morning our brokerage held our second virtual office meeting with 70+ agents attending.
We’re getting better at this!
I suspect still plenty of jammies as only the brave showing their early morning faces!

Broker opens and Weekend open homes in the Inner East Bay cities are cancelled. and showings are delayed during the shelter in place period. 

Multiple versions of COVID-19 addendum to contracts are being reviewed.
For buyers and sellers in or just going into contract the question is… how long will this take?
Appraisers as independent contractors call their own shots, principles are planning for longer escrows, one might say more normal escrow periods for most of the country!
We have become used to 21 days or less, and now are probably looking at 45-60 days, unless it’s a cash transaction.

The past few days agents report most of the listings are still selling with multiple offers and are writing offers in competition. A few sellers are not getting their price and are withdrawing homes from the market.
Buyers are mostly falling into a couple of camps. Those who are not confident enough to proceed, and those who are, but for the most part would like their COVID-19 discount!
However, a few really unique homes still hit record prices in the last few days.

The most volatile part of the market right now is the financing. Even seasoned lenders are getting hit with surprises. Buyers must keep in touch with lenders.
Rates have taken a jump up and are very volatile.


With 18 years in the industry, including at least one significant down and up market, I offer some tips below for sellers and buyers!



  • Take this opportunity to line up your financing early, you can talk with lenders and do the application all online.
  • Have your funds liquid so you don’t have to do a last minute rethink on a purchase!
  • Pick an experienced agent with access to off market properties and the local agent network. It is critical to have an adviser based in your target areas, more so than ever in these times, ask for recommendations. We can  do phone and video meetings.
  • Talk with friends about what they appreciate in their neighborhood and do some soul searching around what lifestyle is important to you and what are your ” must haves” and what is “negotiable“. This helps me too as your agent!
  • If you cannot visit homes, do some online research into neighborhoods and when allowed visit the different east bay neighborhoods which might work for you.
  • You may have more time and availability to do initial research right now.
  • Your agent can update you on market dynamics and when it starts to open back up.
  • Be wary of listing aggregator information and valuations. They are not local experts,
    they just aggregate data. A home is always about more than data!


  • It’s a good time to be editing your possessions and sorting out what to keep! This is frequently the most time consuming pre move job for sellers.
  • Figure out where you are going to move to, do initial research. Realtors are always happy to have phone consultations and send data to potential clients regarding their area of expertise.
  • Pick an experienced agent with a solid brokerage and a good local agent network.
  • Your realtor is VERY happy to be a resource and offer advice on what to do as you get your home ready for a sale. In many instances, do nothing, just get ready to pack!! Consult your agent before spending a bean on anything unless it is SO important to you that you’re doing it anyway!
  • Remember when you sell, your taste may not be what gets you the highest price. The buyer is who you want to care about and your agent will have a better idea of what is important to them.
  • Be realistic about values... no one is forcing you to sell (usually) and you can refuse offers that don’t make sense. Keep in touch with your realtor.
  • Do remember your realtor is a fiduciary; we are paid to give the best advice we can given current client and market circumstances. Good agents don’t just want “a deal” 
  • Be wary of listing aggregator information and valuations. They are not local experts,
    they just aggregate data. A home is always about more than data!

I am always happy to be a sounding board for sellers and buyers and happy to
consult with you in this more challenging environment!





So how is the real estate market weathering COVID-19 ?

This morning our brokerage held our first virtual office meeting with 60+ agents attending. Those of use who were dressed had the video on ( I know many think we just work on weekends but much of our best work is early and late and in jammies)!

With the new shelter in place ruling, Broker opens and Weekend open homes in the Inner East Bay cities should not be taking place for at least the next few weeks and very possibly longer.

Current escrows may become delayed as we figure out which of the many players involved may still be available.
Title companies are scrambling to figure out how to close escrows with County recorders offices potentially not staying open, and various levels of e-recording available.

Most realtors, many appraisers, stagers and many other players are independent contractors. No benefits, regular pay or paid vacation but a bigger say in how we work.
So don’t expect complete consistency on how things play out!

Much of our work is going to be considered non-essential and will require complying with the mandated shelter in place.

Agents are already marketing more extensively within the brokerage community
and have been arranging private showings for their clients.
The past few days most of our listings are still selling with multiple offers and we are writing offers in competition but not showing property will be a challenge,


The most common open house buyer question during the 2008 meltdown was
“Have we hit bottom yet?!”
Some of those buyers did not buy a home until well after the market was up above its previous levels and subsequently paid more…. and lost years of building equity.

We have seen similar appx 10 yr up and down cycles repeat for the last few decades.When you buy, ideally it is buy and hold for at least 6+ years so you can ride out any downward turn and recoup costs of sale.

Renting or staying put may be a better option for some people. Not everyone should move.  There are always buying opportunities in times like this, but it’s good to know you can ride out a storm.


1996-2019 VALUE TRENDS


I am always happy to be a sounding board for sellers and buyers and happy to
consult with you in this more challenging environment!






spring rates limerick2


  • Rates are LOW!!   
  • Inventory is LOW!!

Yes, when we arrive at an open house buyers are often standing in line! 

This early in the season buyers should be prepared for some properties not to appraise. So make sure to run the numbers and figure out whether that will work for you or not if your appraisal comes in low.

Listing prices are still frequently very under value, and competition is often high.
We are seeing instances of low appraisals where buyers are willing to make up the difference because they want the property and it is worth it to them.

As a buyer, if you have waived the appraisal contingency  (not uncommon in this market) you do want to be mentally and financially prepared for this!!

As a seller, even if the buyer waived all their contingencies, best not to count your pennies until you have close escrow!

This is a great time of year to either be preparing a home for sale, or starting you search.
I’m always happy to speak with potential clients and see if I can assist with your move!


Welcome to 2020!

The start of a new year is always an interesting time in real estate!

Will the market be the same or different from the Fall?

Will buyers be raring to go or sitting on the fence?

The first open houses of the year in Oakland and Berkeley indicate buyers are out looking…on a sunny day open homes have been busy!
Inventory at the close of 2019 was at record lows.

We have only had 1 year where our office had  less to sell at the end of the year!

Signs point to another active Spring.

Stagers and painters are booking up, several are booked out until March.…so do get ready and put a plan in action if you are considering a move in 2020!

For those of you wondering where we are in the historical cycle here is some
perspective going back  to the  80’s and 90’s ( yikes! ) hang in there if you’re afraid of buying at  the top as over time trend is always up!

As well as median prices and that ever important question of “overbids”!

Click on the Clouds of one of my favorite views for end of the year data!

As always I’m happy to be a sounding board and help you figure out what is best for your situation, buying or selling or both!


So you’re considering purchasing property in the Oakland-Berkeley area and maybe renting out rooms (house hacking) or buying a duplex or a place with an ADU?

Essentially becoming a landlord of some sort, and as a property owner you would get to do absolutely what you want with your property, right???

…. Well…. not so fast!

Owning property in the Bay Area is a wonderful privilege and invariably a good long term investment, but venture into rental income with your eyes open.

The housing market is tight, the laws are very specific, there are folks who may take advantage (sad but true), and the penalties for missteps can be Draconian!

Do yourself a HUGE favor if you have not purchased yet, and consult with a local qualified landlord tenant attorney so you know the lay of the land!

If you currently own property, join a LOCAL landlord advocacy group and consult with legal staff. These groups are an EXCELLENT resource for landlords.

Many homeowners become accidental landlords. A relocation enabled them to keep a property and rent it out, or they decided to rent out a room or convert part of their home to a rental.

And for the House Hackers…roommates? Can you raise the rent? Can you get them out?
This is current day California land of legislation… not the TV Wild West of my youth!
I’d suggest look into what you can and cannot do.

Whilst many Bay area cities including Berkeley and Oakland have had various levels of rent control and tenant eviction restrictions in place for years, the number and type of properties which fall under these restrictions has recently increased.

Many cities have “Just cause eviction” ordinances.

As a landlord in most cases you cannot blithely give your tenant notice  because you want to sell the property…. this is likely NOT a ” just cause” for eviction.

A local attorney who specializes in this area of the law can advise owners of options if they wish to sell. Several cities, including Oakland now have minimum mandatory buyout requirements for negotiating tenant move outs.

I regularly work with property owners who wish to sell and in conjunction with their landlord tenant attorney we figure out what works best for all involved.

Being a property owner is great, but know your rights and obligations… and stay safe!


As we’ve entered the Fall market many sellers still price low for competition, but some have set their expectations based on the frothier Spring market. Listing price strategy is all over the map! Some homes are priced too high, most are still priced too low and as Goldilocks might say …. some are priced just right!

Yoyo pricing is a phenomenon. Homes come on low to attract competition, the seller does not get offers as high as they expected, so they bump the price up to what they will accept, their “transparent price” If this is more than the market will bear…. and they want to sell, they then lower the price to somewhere in between.

“Buy it now pricing” may be used at the outset if sellers don’t like the idea of pricing low, they don’t wish to move out or stage or even come on the open market, and if they can get their “buy it now price” without doing so they will sell now.
The trick is for sellers to make sure they are not leaving money on the table by doing so.

Click image  for 3Q19 Market Update

 With pricing all over the map, buyers will do well to keep a close eye on days on the market and check in with their agent as to why a home is still available, and make sure to communicate their interest early on.

Transparent pricing and ” Buy it now” pricing may bring offers as written (no set date) and price adjustments often get other buyers off the fence and writing offers.

I’m always happy to discuss the market and your specific needs!