If These Walls Could Talk….

whisperingOur home is about to turn 90 years old, and it makes me wonder what the house would tell us if the walls could talk.
I grew up in a very old house, and often imagined as a kid that all sorts of scary things must have happened in that house.  We moved into the old place when I was around 9 years old.  We were told that the previous owner’s husband had died in the “big room upstairs”.  That room was to become my older sister’s room (she was 16 at the time).  My brother and I came up with the story that we could hear breathing in that room.  My now sister’s room also had the sinister attic opening that led to the nether regions of the house.  Certainly something awful must occupy that space above her room as well.
Aside from the little brothers terrorizing our sister, the house had a gravity about it…a real sense of place, of sincerity, of history that no new place with mere sheet rock and cheap carpet could provide.  To be sure, there were probably environmental hazards of living in the 1904 dwelling.  Asbestos?  No problem…lead paint?  Very durable.  Who knows what disease is percolating within my tissue because of my residing there for the better part of 10 years, but it was so worth it, whatever befalls me.  Those were a great 10 years, with old mahogany paneling gracing various rooms, cork flooring in a hallway upstairs, and the classic “cowboy and Indian” wallpaper adorning my brother’s room when we moved in. Cedar lined closets and old hot water radiator heating in each bedroom were clanky and smelly and at the same time wonderful.
One of my favorite parts of that old house was not what was inside, but what was outside.  Two majestic maple trees sprawled between the sidewalk and the lazy Anderson street.  Having been planted probably around the time the house was built, they towered over the landscape at least 75 feet.  The shade, the rustling leaves, the falling leaves, the red and orange and green leaves, the majesty they provided will never be forgotten.
Now, some almost 35 years later since having moved out of my childhood home I find the same love of place, the same warmth in the hand hewn plank floors, the undersized closets, the giant inefficient furnace built to outlast me, the spookiness of the downstairs (basement I would call it, although Anna disagrees, calling it “the downstairs”).  We still have some single pane windows left in the house, with no plans of replacing them.  We will wear a sweater when we need to, remembering the workmanship that someone put into crafting those windows just for this house, unlike some of the other windows in the house that are probably repeated in thousands of homes.  Our house has many of the modern efficiencies expected in this day.  We don’t beat our laundry in the creek that is for sure, and the dishwasher’s name is Frigidaire, not Mabel.  We installed a solar array and now produce more electricity than we consume.  We have a landscaping that requires very little water.  We have LED lights and solar lighting all over the place.  We even have a high speed electric car charger (electric car not included…yet).  We even have a giant California native oak tree in our back yard that keeps the hillside firm and gives the whole property strength against the elements, whatever those might be.
It is home.

A Home For The Furry Ones

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Rochelle Ball pennysmall (2)

A Home for the Furry Ones:  Adopting a Furry One from a shelter can transform your house into a cozy home. But without careful preparation, your new furry friend can turn the old homestead into a mess. The following household and training tips will get you on your way to having it all—furry love and a tidy home.

Get Off to a Great Start

  • Put a cozy bed for your pet in every room. Pets are much more likely to keep off of furniture if they have attractive alternatives.
  • Until your pet learns house rules, don’t give him unsupervised access to rooms with sofas, beds or any other furniture you don’t want him on. Instead, spend time with your pet in those rooms, and be ready to gently but persistently discourage him from jumping up on the furniture. It may help to leave a short leash on your dog if he tries to hop up on your sofa. The moment he does, say “Oops!” Then take hold of his leash and gently lead him away from the sofa.
  • During “chill time” together, teach your dog that you’d like him to hang out on his own bed rather than on your furniture. Tie a short tether (about four feet in length) to the leg of a sofa. Place your dog’s bed next to the tether. When you’re ready to sit back and relax, tether your dog and give him something exciting to chew. (Try a new bully stick, rawhide or stuffed Kong toy.) While he works on his treat, you can sit on the sofa and read a book or watch TV.
  • If you have a cat, try putting double-sided sticky tape or upside-down carpet runner on furniture to discourage Fluffy from scratching.


  • Use dog crates and gates to confine your new dog when home alone until his house manners earn him unsupervised freedom.
  • Provide plenty of “legal” things for your dog to chew. If he has attractive toys and bones of his own, he’ll be much less likely to gnaw on your things!
  • Provide kitty with a variety of scratching posts and perches—cat trees are helpful.
  • Be sure to give your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise—running, fetching, playing or swimming—each day. A tired dog will be much less likely to engage in destructive behavior.
  • busy dog will be much better behaved, too. Consider feeding your pet in food-puzzle toys when he has to stay home alone. If he spends his time working for his chow, he’ll be less likely to look for other ways to alleviate his boredom—like chewing on furniture legs or unstuffing couches.
  • Please also research house training for dogs and litter box training for cats.

And remember to increase your pet’s roaming privileges slowly, room by room. Going from restriction to complete freedom can set a pet up to fail.

Home Décor


  • Avoid vertical blinds, pooling drapery, ornate tassels and long cords that can become strangulation hazards. If a dog gets caught in any of these, he could panic and bring objects around him crashing down.
  • Think twice about mini-blinds, which can get bent beyond repair when a curious dog tries to see the outside world.
  • Fabric shades, café curtains and draperies are excellent choices for homes with dogs.


  • Provide comfy beds in each room or designate one piece of furniture as your pet’s place. Cover this piece with a washable throw and teach your pet that this is the only piece of furniture he is allowed to frequent.
  • Make sure slipcovers are machine-washable, especially if a light-colored solid is your upholstery of choice.
  • Leather and vinyl furniture is easy to clean, but can be damaged by too-long toenails! Be sure to clip your cat’s and dog’s nails regularly!


  • Use washable semi-gloss paint in areas where your pet may sprinkle spittle on the walls.
  • Washable vinyl-backed wallpaper is easier to clean than traditional paper-backed wallpaper.
  • Relegate antique wallpapers or fabric wall treatments to the top half of the walls; paint or hang a washable wall covering below.


  • Machine-washable area rugs are easier to keep clean than wall-to-wall carpeting. If urine soaks into carpet backing, it’s nearly impossible to remove. If you do decide to stick with wall-to-wall, it’s a good idea to stock up on carpet care products, especially enzymatic cleaners made specifically for pet accidents.
  • Roll up vegetable-dyed oriental rugs until your new dog is fully house-trained—and if rugs have decorative fringe, don’t put them back down until your pet is well past teething age (over 8 months)!
  • Tile, sheet linoleum and Pergo® are pet-friendly floorings that allow you to easily wipe away accidental droppings.
  • Seal hardwood floors with polyurethane to prevent urine odor from lingering.

Keep Your Pet’s Eating and Sleeping Areas Tidy

  • Spill-proof water bowls help prevent drooly drinkers from spilling on the floor.
  • A large, absorbent placemat under food and water bowls will make for easier clean-up after messy eaters.
  • Frequently wash your pet’s blanket and bedding; use a lint roller on pillows.
  • Scoop the poop out of your cat’s litter box at least once or twice a day.


  • If you use a product that contains ammonia to clean up your pet’s urine, you won’t be able to smell remaining odors, but your pet will! In fact, ammonia-based cleaners can actually attract pets and encourage them to urinate where they’ve made mistakes before. Instead, have on-hand a special enzymatic cleaner specifically made for cleaning up pet messes—all major pet stores carry them. For best results, be sure to follow the directions on the product label.


  • Regularly trim and file your pet’s nails to keep her from shredding furniture.
  • Brush kitty or pooch regularly to remove dead skin and hair that will otherwise end up on furniture and floors.
  • Wipe off your pet’s paws and mouth after meals.
  • Trim the hair around your pet’s bottom to help keep excrement from clinging.
  • Make it easy to give your pet a good rubdown after outdoor romps. Place a machine-washable area rug by the door and keep a towel handy near the entry.

Animal-Friendly Decor

Here are some fun ways to spruce up your home for your companion animals:

  • Internal Dutch doors between rooms make it easy for you to manage which pets are allowed where. They also eliminate the need for awkward baby gates.
  • Outdoor cat enclosures can be attached to the house with a cat door to allow free access for your feline friend.
  • Fenced-in yards should have a buried, inward-facing section to prevent dogs from digging and tunneling.
  • If you have cats, be sure to install high-quality metal screens on all windows.
  • Install a folding (hinged) cat perch under a window for kitty’s viewing pleasure.
  • How about a built-in alcove for your dog’s crate?
  • By adding a porthole to a kitchen cabinet, you’ve got yourself a new place for a cat litter tray! Not only will it look clean and neat, but the porthole will keep dogs from getting in and munching on cat waste.
  • A small lift along a wall where the litter box or food and water bowls are placed would make cleaning and feeding a lot easier for senior pet owners. The lift would be used to raise and lower the litter box or food bowls.
  • If you’re really handy, how about an outdoor septic disposal system for dog waste?!

Adapted from articles by Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director, ASPCA Companion Animals Program Advisor, and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, Senior Vice President, ASPCA National Program Office.

Bay Area Home Sales Tank

Bay Area Home Sales Tank.  Why?  Because things are BAD or because they are soooooo GOOD?  What we have is a supply problem, folks.  No supply, no sales.  This puts the pinch on buyers and creates a feeding frenzy for the little supply available.  The message here is that it is a great time to put your home on the market, but be sure you have somewhere to move.  Arkansas anyone???

Professional REALTORS and Our “Marketing Meetings”

As professional REALTORS, one element of helping our clients is to be actively involved in our profession.  As FULL TIME REALTORS, we are active in many aspects of our industry.  This helps our clients because we are known in the community as active, full time real estate professionals that do the job well and within the National Association of REALTORS Code of Ethics.
Being involved also means attending what is called our local weekly “marketing meetings.”  This is where we meet with fellow active professionals to talk about our current clients and their needs, be it to buy a property or list their property for sale.  The group also conducts a weekly “broker tour” to hold new listings open for fellow REALTORS to preview newly available properties for sale.
SOLDphotoInterestingly (and perhaps sadly) only about 75 or so of us get together at our local meeting, yet there are over 3,000 members of our local association.  Those that attend the meetings are the serious and committed professionals that serve their clients at the highest possible level.
Those of you searching for a local real estate professional here in the Hayward-Castro Valley-San Lorenzo-San Leandro market should first make sure that person is a REALTOR.  Second, ask them how often they attend their local marketing meeting to represent your interests.  Finally , as them where that local marketing meeting is held (Answer:  Knudsen’s Ice Creamery in Castro Valley should be their answer).

No Excuses!

Parker & Susan in Massachusetts
Parker & Susan in Massachusetts. Their home will be completed soon.

I don’t know about you but I can’t stand when people make excuses for not accomplishing a goal. Whining and complaining is not attractive. To me, the “goal” really isn’t a goal if a solution isn’t found to make it happen.
Here is an example I’m delighted to talk about. My husband’s youngest son and daughter-in-law just bought their first home. They’re in their mid-20’s. Susan is a school teacher and Parker has his own web design business and works from home, taking care of their newborn baby while Susan is at work. Susan and Parker also work on a side business selling lesson plans to teachers for use in the classroom.
The sacrifice that Susan and Parker made as a young couple included living downstairs with Susan’s parents after they were married. No, not in the basement! But certainly living with the in-laws is something most of us would consider a REAL challenge. Heck, I couldn’t even live with my own family. I’d likely end up wanting to strangle someone if I went through that.
Personally, I’ve also made sacrifices to buy and keep a home and my husband lives as simply as I do. We don’t own extra fancy cars that require car loans, we are not constantly buying silly gadgets (well, at least I don’t) and we live within our means.
I spoke with a potential buyer today who asked me if he needs to heed the advice someone gave him about getting rid of his convertible and therefore shedding himself of the $400 monthly debt. I told him that was probably sound advice, especially since you can’t live in a convertible, or at least not comfortably! He told my I sound like his father.
Many of our first-time buyers have made sacrifices to their lifestyles in order to become homeowners. Cheers to all the folks out there who do what it takes to “make it happen”!

Realty World Neighbors’ Team Members

A handful of Realty World Neighbors’ associates attended a recent Rotary event, AKA “Dragontini Mixer”. Rotarians and members of the community mingled over dangerous Dragontini cocktails and delicious appetizers catered by Cannery Cafe.
Greg and I are members of the Rotary Club of F.U.N. Sunset which meets Thursday evenings at 7:00 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Union City. Through our club, we support such endeavors as SantaCon Hayward for the Hayward Animal Shelter, Magnolia Women’s Recovery, Inc., local youth programs as well as international projects.

Brokers/Owners Anna May & Greg Jones, Simon Wong, Richard Navarro
Brokers/Owners Anna May & Greg Jones, Simon Wong, Richard Navarro