California suburbs growing fast as many are priced out of cities, data show

Source: Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2016

Suburban areas on the outskirts of the red-hot Los Angeles and San Francisco areas grew especially fast last year, state officials reported Monday.

San Joaquin County, home to Stockton, grew faster than any other, up 1.3% to 733,000 people. The area has become increasingly popular for people fleeing astronomical San Francisco Bay Area housing prices while remaining within commuting distance.

San Joaquin was followed by Yolo, Riverside and Santa Clara counties.

The fastest-growing city was Vernon, which grew a whopping 72% thanks to a new housing development that brought its population to 210.

Among cities with at least 30,000 people, the fastest-growing were concentrated primarily in the Inland Empire and Orange County: Porterville, Eastvale, Lake Forest, Beaumont and Lake Elsinore.

The number of new housing units in California declined last year for the first time since the start of the economic recovery, due mostly to wildfires that scorched more than 2,000 homes.

California’s housing supply rose by 67,110 units last year, compared with an increase of 69,435 units in 2014. Demographers at the California Department of Finance say the number of new units would have been about equal to the year before if the destructive wildfires in Lake and Calaveras counties had not hit.

Of the new units created, just over half were multi-family dwellings such as apartments and condominiums. Los Angeles, the state’s largest city, saw the most growth in housing, with 12,224 new units. It was followed by San Francisco with nearly 2,900, San Jose with just over 2,000 and San Diego with about 1,750.

The housing hit came as California’s population grew to 39.1 million last year, an increase of 348,000 people, just under 1%.

Most of the state’s 482 cities saw population gains, but 44 cities shrank and one — tiny Tehama, population 431 — was unchanged.

Fleeing the Cities to the Suburbs

rachel and anna
Me with Rachel, one of our recent Exclusive Buyer Clients

Fleeing to the ‘burbs isn’t just for the Gen X-ers. Forward-thinking millennials are doing the same thing.

Yes, the “Selfie Generation” may be known as slackers, but not all of them are. See here Ms. Rachel, a 20-something attorney who moved from the expensive peninsula to the East Bay. Rachel and her fiance bought a home right down the street from me, in fact. We’ve become drinking buddies, semi-workout buddies, and both of our SOs are Mariners and Seahawks fans.

Back to the topic at hand. Here is what Rachel said about her reasons for moving:

“Moving from the peninsula to the East Bay (Hayward) was a great decision. We have shifted from unnecessarily expensive to reasonably affordable; From bland and cookie cutter to diverse and cultural; From a bubble about to burst to the next wave of growth and exciting potential.”

Side Note: Women are starting to rule the world. Our Significant Others are watching the Mariners game on TV right now…or something equally juvenile. Sorry guys, she’s taken.



Meet Phil! Does he look pouty?

Here’s “Phil”! This 12-year old sweetheart’s mom is selling their long-time home at 2828 Eastman Avenue in Oakland‘s Allendale district.

Phil, 12, is not included

When the sale closes, Realty World Neighbors will make a donation in Phil’s honor to Bad Rap, where he was trained when he was a youngster…

A home is not a home without a dog!


The Calm Before the Storm

photo of paintersA lot of prep work goes into preparing a home for sale. This home has been in the same family since 1977. Many memories have spun their stories over the years of growing up and raising a family here. It is now time for new memories and we’re working on making sure the home is clean and comfortable for the new owners.

Shown here are Todd Worsfold and his crew member preparing the home for sale.

Stay tuned for more details! May 2016 is when this home will be available. You’ll LOVE the new colors chosen, I’m sure!

Receiving Thanks

IMG_2575[1]We have the best Seller Clients ever! This lovely plant was brought in by our Seller Client Arutha as she was on her way out of town and off to her new life in Las Vegas.

We were able to entice her to let us take her to coffee at Hippies Brew first before she left town. Hippies Brew has Jimi Hendrix painted on the wall. Arutha is a DJ who appreciates good music, so we thought it was a good fit to share a farewell brew.

Sometimes we meet people who retain our services to do a job for them, and if they weren’t leaving town, we’d love to cultivate a friendship with them. Arutha is one such lady with a wonderful sense of humor.

If you need a DJ in Las Vegas, we’ll connect you with her!

The Zalamea Family

Zalamea family photoDo you know of anyone who might have a home to sell to this lovely family? Meet the Zalameas!

They’d love a 4-bedroom home with at least one bedroom and full bathroom on the main level.

Contact us if you or someone you know has a home that might be of interest to Ed and Mary Ann for their family!

San Francisco Home Available Soon!

747-28th Ave., San Francisco
747-28th Ave., San Francisco

This San Francisco home in the Richmond district will be available soon, in May of 2016. The services of Sterling Sites have been retained for professional staging and Color Touch; Painting Professionals for Fine Homes will be painting the interior and exterior of the property.

Story about this house:

Several years ago, in 2008, I met with the owner of this San Francisco property to assess its market value. He was mulling over whether to sell it or rent it out. I recall advising that he should consider hanging on to it unless he absolutely has to sell. The market was down at that time and I felt that he could do better if he waited.

Fast-forward 8 years later: I just secured the exclusive right to list and sell this property. He remembered me from 2008 and probably appreciated that I wasn’t trying to just “get the listing”, even though listing and selling homes is what I do for a living.

In life, it is important to do the right thing. Never be greedy or pushy. Do, say and live your life with the best interests of others at heart.

Remember the law of attraction! We attract what we are. I am blessed to be surrounded by incredible people. It is a life by design, not by accident.



Artist Reception at Realty World Neighbors

IMG_2606[1]Hosted by the May & Jones Group

YOU’RE INVITED! Castro Valley resident Tracy Vinzant’s Artist Reception with her beach-scapes and luau-inspired artwork! Join us on Saturday March 12th from 1-3 p.m. at:

Realty World Neighbors Art Gallery at 22392 Foothill Blvd.

Downtown Hayward

The chosen theme is in recognition of the Rotary Club of F.U.N. Sunset’s Luau Fundraiser with the proceeds benefiting several of our favorite charities, including the Hayward Animal Shelter, Magnolia Women’s Recovery Inc. and Timelist.

Out of the Closet

Greg Jones during our remodel
Greg Jones during our own remodel

Here’s a real dialog that took place last month:

Homeowner’s question:

Good Afternoon;

So, I have a question on a remodel we are finalizing the plans for. We are working with an architect. Just to refresh your memories; our home is approx. 1200 sq.ft. with 3 small bedrooms and one remodeled bathroom and a remodeled kitchen we finished last year.
We are doing two things; enlarging our bedroom by adding a bathroom that will use the current closet plus a few feet into the bedroom, and add  8 ft. on the side that faces the front yard. That side will have a door that opens to a walled patio.
The second project is an addition; a 16 x 11 dining room off the back of the house.
We are currently submitting our plans to a structural engineer. We have shown our preliminary ideas to the planning dept. and (were given) the go a head to proceed to the next steps.
We have a couple of questions. The expanded bedroom will need closets, since the current one will become the new bathroom, and our contractor says that for a bedroom to be called a bedroom it has to have built-in closets. Is this true? We are trying to figure out how best to add closet space and are wondering if modular free standing closets are a reasonable idea, or if we should build in closets as part of the wall. Do either choice effect the value of our home?
We are also wondering if investing $80-100K in these two projects makes financial sense, given the fact that so far, our neighborhood is still looking like a blue collar area, though most of the Cal Trans rental properties have been purchased, rehabbed and put back on the market in the $500K plus price range over this last year.
Our own cash investment in our home has been very small; we paid $185k two years ago, and the down payment was paid by the CalTrans Stipend. We re-financed a year after purchase and pulled some of the new equity out to remodel the kitchen.
Our thinking is, since we paid so little for the house (really below market at the time) we have a lot of “head room” in which to invest for improvements, without exceeding our equity.
So… in your opinion, does it make sense to invest $100k plus (needs major hardscaping and landscaping when the building is complete) if we plan on being here at least 5 years?

We love the land our house is on;  a huge backyard that borders Hayward regional park trails in the canyon below, and that feels very private and almost rural.

So, those are our questions.


My answer:

Yes, you should have a built-in closet so that the room is considered a “bedroom”. This does affect the home’s marketability should you decide to eventually sell. When we remodeled our house in San Francisco years ago, we knocked out a bedroom closet to enlarge the bathroom. The market was so hot that we got a chunk of money for the home in addition to enjoying a gorgeous remodeled bathroom, but we could no longer tout that room without a closet as a “bedroom” anymore but instead, a “den”.
It does make sense to invest $100,000 if your enjoyment of the home over that five year period of time is worth the $20,000 per year or roughly $1,666 per month. Only you can decide this. There really is no price one can put on enjoying one’s home.
In any case, nobody knows what the market will be like in 5 years should you decide to sell or refinance, so it is impossible to say definitively whether or not it’s “worth it” financially.
I’m being careful with my answers so as not to mislead you while still being honest.
Hope this helps!
Anna May

JUST BOUGHT: Pepto-Bismol House

Rachel and Allen JUST SOLD


First items on the agenda:

  • Paint away the Pepto-Bismol color (Rachel & Allen)
  • Pee in every corner of the yard (Rupert)

START TO FINISH: 67 days, including financing process

Exclusive Buyer Representation Agreement signed: November 21, 2015

In Contract: December 23, 2015

CLOSED ESCROW $20,000 under list price, FHA loan: January 27, 2016 (closed in 35 days even after 4 holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!)


Available Soon! Target Date: Jan. 26, 2016

lindenwood exterior photoALREADY IN CONTRACT: All cash contract with no contingencies scheduled to close in 6 days.
3-bedroom, 2-bathroom single-level home in the sought-after and well-established Southgate neighborhood on Lindenwood Way!
This home’s neighborhood popularity is due to its tree-lined streets, easy access to shopping, the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge, a neighborhood swim club, the mall and Chabot College a few blocks away, which is where A-list actor Tom Hanks attended.
Stay tuned for more information!

Why we MUST do business locally!

Amazon_Infographic_1200px_headerAmazon is rapidly expanding its online empire, but behind the conveniences that the company offers are a lot of hidden costs. We found an infographic to see how shopping at Amazon compares with shopping at local businesses in its impact on jobs, taxes, the local economy, and community. Before you click, here’s why your choice matters:

Jobs: Amazon creates less than half as many jobs as local brick-and-mortar stores do. This means the more Amazon grows and crowds out other businesses, the fewer jobs available.

Taxes: In most communities, Amazon has no facilities and therefore pays no property taxes.  In about half the states, it does not collect state and local sales taxes. Property and sales taxes are the main source of funds for our schools and public services.  If local businesses are squeezed out by Amazon, households will have to shoulder a higher tax burden.

Local Economy:  While local retailers are engines of economic activity, spending their revenue at a wide variety of other businesses in the community, Amazon merely extracts money, leaving little behind.

Click here for the full infographic. Please feel free to re-post and distribute this widely!

Who was in our house last year?

Piglet & Rufus the Dufus. YIKES! Add one more home improvement project to the 2016 list: Get those kitchen cabinets re-done! Photo by Katie Q., presumably dangling a treat over their noses.



Last year was relatively benign. Unlike past years, we didn’t have a series of major projects to be completed around the house, and we only had one big event and a few small ones at home, including football game get-togethers and game nights. The only major 2015 drama was the Seahawks losing the Super Bowl which resulted in Greg laying awake staring at the ceiling all night long — I could actually hear his eyes blinking as I tried to get some zzzz’s. Other than that, drama didn’t include my mother this time but instead, it was Piglet snagging cheese off the counter and licking the home-made mashed potatoes during our family Christmas gathering.

We did have a major bathroom remodel completed by our wonderful general contractor neighbor who lived across the street from us. Eric and his wife subsequently listed and sold their home through us and moved across the bay to be near their family.
Part of the bathroom remodel included our UPS guy who also delivers to our office a few blocks away. He was delivering a toilet and other bathroom stuff for weeks until he finally asked if Greg is the same “Greg Jones” from a few blocks away getting a throne and other bathroom stuff delivered.
We had Elite Catering provide food again for our 5-Year Itch Anniversary Party to celebrate our 5th year tolerating each other. Housecleaners came out to help with the cleaning before the event and I cleaned up my way after the event. Greg, however, isn’t as much of a slob as I am and he cleans the house regularly throughout the year. I get to clean the bathrooms, however. Lucky me.
Our house/dog-sitter took care of our knuckleheads Piglet & Rufus the Dufus while we were away. She’s not taking on new clients. I think perhaps we contributed to wearing her out.
Our neighbors/friends down the street got tired of seeing our overgrown tree outside and sent their tree-trimmer over to take care of it. I hope we remembered to reimburse them. Thanks B & C!
Larry of Sunshine Carpet Cleaning was more of a regular in our home than the housecleaners this year. We like our carpets clean and the only way to get them clean with dogs always slobbering and dragging their butts all over them is to have a pro like Larry and his crew come in. Thanks, Larry! I’ve known Larry and his wife Jeannie since the Rickshaw days when they were customers at my former restaurant.
Musette of Sterling Sites started the process of advising us on what to do with our less-used rooms of our home in order to make them more functional. We are two people who live in a 4-bedroom home and we have way too much space that isn’t used. We mostly use the bedroom and kitchen with the new bathroom being the most often occupied. Gotta love that heated toilet seat!

Greg’s been negotiating for a Cigar Room or some other caveman-ish living space. We ended the year by having Grady’s Chimney Cleaning come out and check out our stack and provide his chimney cleaning service. It’s in great shape and we can light a fire with no problem. Put that in yer pipe and smoke it!

The only unwanted visitors we had were two mice, one of which was in the glue trap THE DAY after Greg left town to visit one of his kids. Lucky me having to deal with that all by myself. Rufus the Dufus found the next mouse but luckily the dopey dog didn’t get stuck in the glue trap too — we caught him first. Later, leave it up to this dopey dog to tangle with an unknown critter outside in the back yard. Poor Piglet is usually the one who alerts us when Rufus is in trouble and he tried, but Greg and I were both busy and didn’t go outside right away. It may have been a raccoon or a cat. Who knows?
Nature surrounds us every day and even though we live downtown, we see deer eating freshly mowed grass, lizards around our house and along the creek bed a few blocks away and ducks swimming in the water outside our office building. I mention nature so our readers don’t think we live in a barn when we admit to having mice. They’re part of nature too but since they don’t help us pay the mortgage, we evict them.
This year, in 2016, I’m looking forward to new challenges to break up the monotony of everyday life. One of the biggest challenges I will have is enticing Greg to finish a couple of projects he started at home, namely, finishing painting the hallway and kitchen ceilings and changing the spotlight bulb over our bronze sculpture in our living room. He insists that he doesn’t have a tall enough ladder for completing these projects, and a painter we did have come in doesn’t like dogs and declined to paint our interior. Phooey!
So, this year, all I want is for the unfinished projects to get done.
That is all.

Real Estate: Kissing the (Hand) That Feeds You

In life, it’s very important to know which side of your bread is buttered. In my real estate career over many years, I’ve had the honor and privilege of representing clients who have bought homes with the financial contributions of their parents, in-laws, other family members or a loan through a financial institution. One common denominator has reigned supreme in each situation:

Those who hold the purse-strings get to call the shots.
I’ve seen the young couples with small children who need their parents’ blessing of cash and change their minds about where they buy because “mom doesn’t like the house”. In that case, since it was mom’s money helping to make that next purchase, the kids changed their plan about where they bought so they could be “closer to grandma”. Sounds fair to me.
One young couple I represented planned to buy a home with enough space so the in-laws could stay with them. In this case, the mother-in-law was being very difficult about what the kids were considering buying. I felt compelled to gently remind them that since “mom” isn’t contributing financially, then perhaps they could be more independent about their home purchase.
I don’t remember if I actually said what I was thinking — my edit button is broken sometimes. Let’s just say that my business partner/husband Greg backs away from showing property under these circumstances. (He has enough of his own mother-in-law sometimes. Love ya, mom!)
The most common example I see of our Buyer Clients being at the whim of he/she who provides the funds is when they’re relying on a bank of other financial institution to provide a loan for their purchase. Although most of our Buyers have enough of a healthy down payment, they still need to borrow money to be able to buy their home. It may seem odd when the lenders ask for abundant financial documentation or signatures or explanation letters or super-bizarre last-minute conditions. Sometimes I have to remind our Buyer Clients that this is all part of getting a lender to loan ’em many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
They have the money; they make the rules.
Sounds fair, right? Here’s one thing that really irks me when I’m showing property but luckily, this only happens when I’m hosting an Open House at one of our own listings, mainly because we’re selective about who our Buyer Clients are:
Scenario: Teenage kid doesn’t like the house. Complains annoyingly. Whines. Sulks. Pouts. Cops an attitude. Disrespects the adult.
Is this adolescent helping to make the mortgage payment? No.
Is this kid a child-star who’s bringing in the total infusion of cash in order for the purchase to happen? No.
Personally, I’ve gotten better over the years about commenting that whoever makes the house payment gets first pick about who bunks where.
The bottom line is this:
If mom and dad are giving you money to buy that house, you better be home for Christmas!

Light Up the Season event!

LUTS 2015The evening of Thursday December 3rd, our office Realty World Neighbors will be open from 5-7 p.m. for Light Up the Season festivities. RSVP HERE for our own “The Painter, the Poet, the Artisan” reception!

That evening, here’s what you can look forward to:

-local artist Jackie Arellano painting live in action animal portraits in our office’s “Art Gallery” where animal rescue-related artwork is on display

-local artisan Donna Jeffrey with her fuzzy handmade winter hats and scarves on display

-Dr. Marlena Uhrik’s book-signing for her Mom’s Choice Award winner, In Grandpa’s Hands along with “Take a Little Time—A  Keepsake Coloring Book”

-the Hayward Arts Council will be open across the hall

-the Hayward Area Historical Society will be open next door

-next door, Cannery Cafe will also be open for some goodies!

-pick up your “Passport to Downtown” and enter to win prizes!

At 7 p.m. sharp, we’ll close up and head to City Hall for the 7:30 p.m. tree-lighting ceremony!

While Their Peers Play, Allen & Rachel will INVEST


I love meeting young people who focus on “building” rather than “playing”. Allen & Rachel are 20-somethings who’ve made the decision to buy a home which is NOT in alignment with what their peers are doing. I’ve said this many times before:


Rachel & Allen seek a home in the Hayward-San Leandro-Oakland areas under $600,000. Might you know of a home coming available that their little dog Rupert would like?


Why Doing Business Locally MATTERS

Amazon_Infographic_1200px_headerAmazon is rapidly expanding its online empire, but behind the conveniences that the company offers are a lot of hidden costs. We put together an infographic to see how shopping at Amazon compares with shopping at local businesses in its impact on jobs, taxes, the local economy, and community. Before you click, here’s why your choice matters:

Jobs: Amazon creates less than half as many jobs as local brick-and-mortar stores do. This means the more Amazon grows and crowds out other businesses, the fewer jobs available.

Taxes: In most communities, Amazon has no facilities and therefore pays no property taxes.  In about half the states, it does not collect state and local sales taxes. Property and sales taxes are the main source of funds for our schools and public services.  If local businesses are squeezed out by Amazon, households will have to shoulder a higher tax burden.

Local Economy:  While local retailers are engines of economic activity, spending their revenue at a wide variety of other businesses in the community, Amazon merely extracts money, leaving little behind.

Click here to check out the full infographic. Please feel free to re-post and distribute this widely!



Want to live next to this? (Home Available Soon!)

Monika flier in JPG

UPDATE: This home is now available. CLICK HERE for property details.

We just listed a classy 3-bedroom home right next to Lake Don Castro. It will be available soon.

Would you like to live near outdoor recreation?

Don Castro Regional Park is a 101-acre urban oasis on the boundary between Hayward and Castro Valley. The clear waters of the swim lagoon are a favorite with central Alameda County residents.

The lake, San Lorenzo Creek Reservoir, is where fishing is available year round and hikers along the shore will discover a surprising wilderness in miniature, where turtles and frogs splash in the water, ducks rest in the reeds and raccoons and deer come down to drink at sunset. There is access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail, the Chabot to Garin trail and over five miles of trails in the Five Canyons Open Space. The adjacent lagoon is supplied with water and a large shallow area is roped off especially for children.

CLICK HERE for more information about Lake Don Castro.