I remember those first days of school when I was kid, when the teachers would always ask us to prepare a report on how we spent our summer. The timing is perfect for me to report how I spent my summer this year, and it was largely preparing a listing for sale. Normally that would not require the lion’s share of summer. Being a Leo who just celebrated my birthday last week by taking most of a day off (and realizing how long it had been since I’d done that!) I am aware of just how much time and effort this particular listing demanded. There were two key reasons why this listing was different from most: soon into the project of doing “normal” preparation, like painting, changing out light fixtures and hardware, it became clear that for this home to perform well, the bathroom needed more than the usual refresh. It needed a true, down to the studs reshaping and remodeling. This is NOT normally in my job description! But the alternatives were to try to find a design firm like our Enhance program (already booked out for months), find an architect or designer who was willing to take on this project, knowing it could take months, OR I could try my hand at designing the space working closely with my contractor, and choose all of the materials myself. It’s that last function that was really the kicker!

I had a vision of a spa-like, bright space with elegant materials. But we were working within a very limited space. The finished bathroom is less than 10′ deep and less than 6′ wide, and that’s after borrowing space from the previous linen closet, and moving the closet from the adjoining bedroom. I knew already that choosing colors is tricky business, but choosing tiles was daunting! Any idea how many variations there are right now in porcelain tile that looks like marble? Hundreds, maybe thousands! Even though I knew I wanted a marble mosaic for the shower floor, that only slightly narrowed the range of options. And of course, my first choice of mosaic was out of stock for months. I became intimately familiar with Pinterest boards for spa showers, and quickly saw differences between designs that seemed to work…and those that just missed the mark. My big design choice was to propose a floating stone bench. I’ve never seen one in person, but the idea seemed so perfect! My contractor had never designed one, but also got caught up in the challenge, and engaged a welder friend to build three stainless steel braces that will not rust, and can support 500 lbs. of weight. I chose a type of quartzite that blended well with the marble mosaic and played well with the porcelain tiles. It became a bit like choosing wine…was I influenced by the fact that it was called Namib Fantasy?!

After a couple of intense weeks of choosing every item, from the vanity, pulls, toilet, lights, towel bars to the mirror (which Amazon managed to lose…) and about six weeks of destruction, construction and finishing the tiny details, I proudly welcomed colleagues to see this new bathroom, along with the rest of this lovely vintage home at the first in-person brokers’ tour I have hosted in a year and a half. It was such a pleasure! You are welcome to come visit 1112 Shattuck Avenue on Sunday the 22nd, or the 29th when I will be open from 2-4:30 pm.

I mentioned that there were two reasons why this listing was different from most for me. The second reason is that it is in my old neighborhood, the tree-lined residential part of upper Shattuck Avenue. Having lived less than a block away for almost 20 years, I feel a deep attachment to this neighborhood, and to some of the folks who are still living on my old block, and the adjoining area. So it means a lot to me to be spending time there, and I have been determined to transform some of the aspects of this home that were less than wonderful when we began. I have been looking back through before photos and yes, I am proud of the differences!

There are many photos, and a detailed description of the prperty at www.1112shattuck.com.  There is also a video I narrated, complete with drone footage of various local destinations. The invitations are out for an understated neighborhood reception, COVID-style with masks and only take-away refreshments. So if you are in North Berkeley on either of the next two Sundays afternoons, or on Thursday evening, August 26, from 5:30 – 7 pm, I would love to have you drop by! Besides a very cool bathroom, this home also has a grand sunken living room, gorgeous mahogany trim in abundance, and custom built-ins by fine furniture maker Paul Biehler that are quite extraordinary. He used not only mahogany, but also wenge and quilted maple in amazing marquetry on the top of the buffet, and even the windows show carefully notched corners to match the details in the built-ins. On the main level there are two bedrooms plus the new bathroom. There’s also an au-pair at the lower level that opens to a mini-orchard of fruit trees.

I would normally not recommend to a seller that they bring on a listing during the second half of the month of August, especially as we know that this year a great many people went traveling to make up for lost time. But as wonderful a location as my new Shattuck listing enjoys, I am concerned that a true glut of inventory may appear right after Labor Day. We are all also concerned that there may be even more smoky days ahead, and who knows how that will impact buyer attitudes. The listing is ready now, looks beautiful, and so it’s show time! And of course, if you’d enjoy a private showing, just let me know.

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Did you know buildings produce as much smog as all of the light-duty vehicles in California? That’s about 40% of all of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year, Berkeley was the first city in the country to adopt an electrification mandate for new construction and major rehabilitation. More than 30 California cities have followed similar ordinances, and this year we may also see efforts to increase electrification for existing buildings. A complete transition is taking place in our energ y system – so investing in the electrification of your home is investing in the future.

To get a great over-view, and learn the experiences of numerous other home owners, check out the East Bay Green Home TourClick Here to register. It’s free, and covers two Sundays, June 6 and 13 from 10 am until 1 pm. On the first Sunday I am helping moderate the session with Chef Rachelle on induction cooktops!

Why make your house green?

“Greening” your home isn’t just best for the planet. Renewable energy has proven to be increasingly more economic than fossil fuels and better for your health. For example, gas appliances leak methane from gas extraction and transmission, and if not vented outside the house, they can seep into your lungs. Studies show that gas stoves alone increase the risk of a child developing asthma by over 40%.

Homeowners spend an average of $2,000 a year on utilities. By making your home more efficient, you can cut your utility bills by about half. If you are looking to sell sometime in the future, making your house green increases its value. If you want to sell your home fast, studies show that homes with solar panels and other green features are on the market for significantly less time than those homes without. Agent surveys also show that 26% of their buyers find renewable energy systems “important” when purchasing a home.

As California transitions to more sustainable energy, homeowners can cash in using rebates. Come tax season you can even claim a credit on your taxes for some qualified energy efficiency improvements on your home.

Where to start? With some human behavior changes, and the less expensive modifications:

  • Audit your energy use, and cut out obvious waste of power, or water
  • Swap your incandescent light bulbs for LED lights
  • Check your faucets and showerheads for leaks
  • Make sure walls, attics, basements, chimneys and air ducts are properly insulated and sealed

Then when it’s a time for a change, choose energy-certified appliances:

  • Change your water heater and space heaters to electric heat pump models (this can also result in free air conditioning) or other electric solutions
  • Replace your gas appliances such as your stove to induction cooktop and induction oven, and fireplace insert and gas dryer with electric models

As your budget allows, consider the larger-ticket items:

  • Upgrade to renewable energy by installing solar panels or investing in wind power. But don’t wait too long on this one: through 2022 you get a 26% ITC (investment tax credit) for installing solar. Need a new roof too: do it at the same time. If the roof under those panels had to be replaced, that cost should be deductible too. Consult your tax advisor!
  • Switch out your vehicle for a plug-in electric vehicle
  • Install high-efficiency windows

By electrifying your home and vehicle, your carbon footprint can decrease by 60% or more.

Moving your property to all-electric not only allows you to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, but you’re also helping to build a sustainable future while helping out your checkbook, too. And you will provide your family with much cleaner indoor air quality!

Reach out if you need any advice getting started on making this transition. I’ve just completed the solar process, after doing (too much?) research! And I’m proud that the Climate Action Committee I chair is one of the sponsors of the Green Home Tour. Hoping it will be both educational and enjoyable!


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How has the pandemic changed what homebuyers will be looking for in the coming year?

January 20, 2021

 I answered the question for the SoundOff! section of SF Gate for Sunday, January 17th. Here is a somewhat expanded response: In a word, most buyers simply want MORE than pre-pandemic, and the following trends are expected to continue: More space within the home: With families spending most of their time at home, they want […]

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Surprises Aplenty in the 2020 Real Estate Market!

December 30, 2020

Surprises were commonplace in this most uncommon year. One of the first major surprises was just how quickly the real estate market transitioned from on-hold in March, to a very active market as soon as we were declared an “essential service” the beginning of April. I’m grateful for the few buyers of mine who were […]

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FOCUS ON GIVING THANKS for Thanksgiving 2020!

November 19, 2020

Next week instead of large gatherings with many family members and an enormous roasted bird, lots of us will have just immediate family members at our table. So instead of big production meals, we can focus on what really matters: being part of a community, and giving thanks for the friends, family members and for […]

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Follow the Good Witch, and have a Green Halloween!

October 14, 2020

I have always loved Hallowwen, and Halloween 2020 will definitely be one for the books! With the concurrence of  daylight saving time, a full moon, a blue moon, the American Day of the Dead and on a Saturday no less, there is much to be entertained by, observe and celebrate! Even in our new reality […]

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How the recent fires have impacted our Real Estate market

October 9, 2020

With anxiety already high from the pandemic and the election, the fires became the final straw for some clients who now plan to leave the state, or at least leave the highest fire-risk areas of California. Others were only temporarily dissuaded from looking at properties during periods of extremely bad air quality. And many, while expressing […]

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How Open Houses and Property Showings have Changed since Shelter-in-place

July 12, 2020

For the June 30th edition of the San Francisco Chronicle Sound Off column, this was my contribution, plus some additional comments: With in-person open homes still prohibited in the East Bay, agents are instead scheduling Virtual Open Houses, advertised at set times. Instagram Live, FaceBook Live and Zoom are all platforms in use for these […]

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Advantages to First-Time Buyers while we Shelter in Place

May 30, 2020

I was asked to respond to the following question by our publicists, Lion and Orb, and thought I’d share my (lengthy…) response with everyone. Most of the answers really apply to all buyers right now.  What are some ways the pandemic could make it an easier time to buy for first-time buyers? What factors will […]

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Celebrating Earth Day, the 2020 at-home version

April 21, 2020

Honoring the Earth as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! The Earth has responded to the Great Lull with clearer air, cleaner waters, and the return of many kinds of wildlife. While we can’t gather physically together, there are many wonderful ways to celebrate Earth Day everyday by taking care of ourselves, each […]

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