from Barbara Hendrickson

Do you think that it is easy to get a house ready for market? Do you think that the sellers “just” move out and the painters, floor refinishers, detail people who caulk, change lighting fixtures, take down curtains and rods, and replace the locks that don’t open easily, just show up and transform the house? Does it seem like it is simple to arrange for the people who do the deep cleaning and the window washing to just fit you in, and swiftly make the house sparkle so that finally the stagers can arrive and work their magic?
I am tired of looking at cobwebs so I am about to hire them myself and you can too. You do not have to be moving. It is a treat to one's self.

And after all of that, perhaps only three weeks, maybe more, that we, your Realtors, are ready to present your home to buyers so that they are able to see themselves making it their home. It is only after all of that work that buyers will offer you the highest price that your house can bring, and as you know, our commitment is to get you the highest price with the best terms and the least hassle.

But glitches remain, especially when the homes are being built from the ground up as are the extraordinary “Site Condos” 802, 804, 806 and 808 Page Street in wonderful Oceanview, known as “Page Street Panorama.” This extraordinary project is several months behind schedule due to rain, PG&E, and City and State requirements, but is at long last ready. It is brought to us by Matthew Wadlund, the same architect/ builder who built Oceanview Orchard Lofts in 2015. The first Open House should be the weekend of the of September 9 and 10. “Should”, we have learned, is a friendly and conditional word. 

A home that is being remodeled before going on the market faces similar problems. We expect to be on the market on Labor Day weekend with two weekends of open houses.

1605 Sonoma Avenue in Albany is a 5 bedroom, 4 bath home with a family room, 2-car garage (with half bath), and full finished basement. It was supposed to go not the market in early August but probably won't be ready until after Labor Day. This spacious, beautifully remodeled home with 2,723 sf on a 6,640 sf lot (per public record) will be well worth the wait!

I hope to talk to you and see you one way or the other at both of these fabulous listings.
By the way, 27-31 Vallecito Place, the triplex in Oakland received a fabulous preemptive offer and is now Pending.

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Days on the Market (DOM)


Unlike some cheeses and wines, homes sitting on the market shelves are souring rather than seasoning with time. “How long has it been on the market?” has become the first utterance of many visitors at an open house. It’s generated by two legitimate, conflicting ideas:

  • Hope for a bargain, and
  • Fear that the property has major problems

Why is DOM (Days On Market) information of interest to you?

Sellers: Overpricing will cost you both time and money. Don’t insist on a high list price because you are afraid to “leave money on the table." It’s a recipe for failure because it leaves no room on the table for buyers to bring their best offer. Your list price is an invitation, not an offer to sell. It’s the buyers who produce the real menu of prices. Then you choose. So set an appetizing table and let guests bring their best. The right marketing price will draw buyers with a hunger and a budget for your property. A good Realtor is knowledgeable about the seasonal crop of competing listings and current buyers. Recipes for preparation, pricing, and marketing need the right seasoning and perfect plating. But severe underpricing will provoke a distasteful food fight that some buyers will avoid. The five worst local cases of long Days of the Market (DOM) that closed last month were 70 to 174 days. In all but one, a unique mega mansion in El Cerrito, the delays appear to have been caused by incorrect pricing decisions.

Buyers: Expect to pay high prices for fine dining, meaning classic homes and great neighborhoods. Service in the form of maintenance, remodeling, and documentation add value. If you just want to pay grocery store prices you can buy a fixer and DIY, but do you know how to cook? Trying to satisfy a Veuve Cliquot® taste with a Bud Light® budget is just going to leave you thirsty. As prices rise, waiting is costing you money. There is a strategy for properties that are beyond their “sell by” date, but it’s not fail-safe. The discounts, when they do occur, are usually thin slices. Look at the correlations between DOM and % of list price for Berkeley and Oakland in July:

Days on Market Closed Prices as % of List Price
22 98%
17 106%
14 115%
13 135%

If this market has a “happy hour” it’s between 17 and 22 DOM, and the discounts are very small. Properties with offer dates but no offers immediately attract attention. Sensing the ripeness of a property is more than mechanically counting days. A great Realtor® knows the market intimately with access to the ripest data and has rapport with listing agents as if chatting at farmers market stalls. That perfect picking season is often before a price reduction. It requires a quick but delicate touch; grasping can bruise produce as well as egos. The offer should still be strong, perhaps well over list price if the value is there.

Whether you are looking to buy or sell, neither algorithms nor spreadsheets are substitutes for freshly harvested market knowledge. That’s the prime ingredient for a marketing campaign or an offer that is expertly prepared and sumptuously served. Rather than crunch numbers, shall we gently toss data dressed with your personal tastes to prepare a very special dish?

Recent Transactions

Market Update


The number of closed sales dropped in Albany, El Cerrito, and Oakland. Kensington and Piedmont numbers were unchanged year-on-year. Only Berkeley stood out with a substantial increase in sales of 27%. But if increased sales reflected an increased inventory it certainly did not suppress prices. Berkeley scored second place with a median price rise of 14% over July 2016. Only El Cerrito, with 15%, showed a slightly higher increase. Piedmont shows a dramatic drop in median price but the sale of two massive homes in July 2016 of over 5,000 sq.ft. on lots close to ¼ acre accounts for the comparatively negative figure this July. Nothing indicates a change in the upward trend in prices and downward arc in the number of sales. Record stock prices, flat interest rates, and decreasing unemployment figures compared to 2016 support the likelihood of continuity in our market conditions.

Mortgage Update:

Driving around the East Bay, it’s easy to see that many homeowners are remodeling and updating their properties. Property values since 2012 have risen sharply, creating considerable equity for local homeowners. Home equity lines of credit and savings accounts are being tapped to beautify homes, often by adding bedrooms and bathrooms and increasing livable space.

When the dust settles and the noise stops, you’re ready to enjoy that newly remodeled chef’s kitchen, or the extra bedrooms on that new second story, or that second bathroom that means you don’t have to share with the kids any longer. Life is good!

Now it’s time to ask whether your current home financing still suits your overall financial plan. If you have a large balance on your equity line, do you have a plan to repay that quickly, before prime ticks up again and brings with it a higher monthly cost for that second mortgage?

A refinance that combines your first mortgage and the HELOC second mortgage is one way to avoid future payment shock. A new mortgage can fix the rate to fully repay all of what is due, whereas the HELOC won’t necessarily repay that second mortgage amount, as payments required are interest-only during the initial ten years of that 30-year HELOC. You can, of course, fully repay the HELOC at any time if you’re financially disciplined and are budgeting each month for more than the required payment. However, a new fixed-rate mortgage can often mean a way to repay what’s over with less expense over time.

Depending on the type of improvements you’ve made to your home, a new appraisal will confirm an increased home value. The more value you’ve added to your home, the better the rate will be on a refinance loan.

We’re always available to provide a mortgage “tune-up” for you. Please contact Melissa Milton at or Julia Demeter at

Commerce Home Mortgage

East Bay Epicureans: August 2017 - Kassenhoff Growers


Kassenhoff Growers is one of 12 local businesses featured in Red Oak Realty’s 2017 East Bay Epicureans calendar. We’ll include more about each month’s business throughout the year. Call or email for a complimentary copy of the 2017 calendar.

The luscious tomatoes on the August page of our calendar are grown from the spring seedling selection of Kassenhoff Growers, a certified organic nursery in Oakland. Lillian’s Yellow Heirloom, Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, Cherokee Green, and this year’s favorite – Ananas Noire – are among the varieties Peggy Kass and Helen Krayenhoff offer. Is your mouth watering and your green thumb itching to dig? You don’t have to wait until next spring to start or enhance your own veggie garden. 

Kassenhoff will be back at the Temescal Farmers' Market on Sunday, September 17 with a cornucopia of winter crop seedlings. The selection will include beautiful lettuces, kales, mustards, broccoli, snap and snow peas, chard, bok choy and more. A selection of ornamentals will be available too. These hardy, organic plants are acclimated to this area and carefully selected to flourish in our local micro-climates. Their seedlings are not grown in greenhouses, they are raised outdoors in West Oakland and are hardened off and ready to plant.

Restaurant Spotlight: Mockingbird


Mockingbird has recently reopened at its new nest on 13th Street in Downtown Oakland. Originally opened back in 2013 on San Pablo Avenue by the San Francisco duo William Johnson and Melissa Axelrod, Mockingbird closed after a surprise loophole in the lease forced them to suspend all alcohol sales, deeply cutting into their revenue and growth. Fast forward to the first day of summer 2017 and they’re back in a gorgeous new space.

At the top of the delicious recommendations list: fried Brussels sprouts with lemon-garlic confit aioli, blue cheese, and saba. It’s a fantastic combination of savory, sweet, salty and earthy. With a texture that appears to be of the double-fried variety, the house-made French fries are reminiscent of those you would enjoy in France or read about making in a Saveur magazine. The Beets, Oranges & Avocados salad is an explosion of flavor and color, accompanied by a nice crunch of toasted bread crumbs. And save some room for the Vanilla Bean Pavlova with vanilla ice cream, lemon curd and strawberries - it’s sweet summer on a plate.

Open for lunch, happy hour and dinner, also offering a catering menu.
Mockingbird - 416 13th Street, Oakland, 510.290.0331. Hours: Lunch (11am-3pm) & Happy Hour (4-6pm) Monday through Friday; Dinner (6-10pm) Monday through Saturday


Realtor — CalBRE #00780582