Here is a lovely co-op unit I have listed in San Francisco.  Its 9th floor location offers one of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen.  2bedroom and 1 bath, and about 950 square feet.  Listed at $898,000.  We received 3 offers and the seller is very happy!  See more at http://www.FontanaEast907.com



For Sale, 5550 Lawton Avenue, Oakland. Offered at $995,000.

Open Saturday and Sunday, April 27th & 28th 2013 from 2:00 to 5:00

The neighbor told me that this is the best block in Rockridge. How can I argue? And Rockridge is certainly one of Oakland’s most desirable neighborhoods.

This lovely house is currently a legal duplex with 2 BD, 1.5 BA downstairs, and a 1/1 unit upstairs. Maybe someone could figure out a way to integrate the two for a grand house with a great master suite. Plus there is a cute little getaway cottage behind the house.

If you’re a fan of Craftsman details, this will be a treat for you. Original lighting, woodwork, windows, and hardware are all in superb working order. There are some infrastructure upgrades as well.

Overall, a great house on a great block. Come see me this weekend!

More at http://www.5550Lawton.com

Welcome back, Mason McDuffie!  Well, you never really left, did you?

Ever wonder why real estate companies often have multiple monikers side by side?  A company with strong roots in a given community might still find it useful to affiliate with a well known name.  So it was 15 years ago when Mason McDuffie affiliated with Prudential, to make Prudential California Realty.  Mason McDuffie was a good sized company at the time, but saw benefits to the affiliation.  But not in the Berkeley/Oakland area…

Joseph Mason started a small real estate company in 1887 and eventually took on a young visionary named Duncan McDuffie.  The company really took off after the 1906 Earthquake sent refugees to the East Bay to find new housing.  The growth continued as they began developing neighborhoods like Claremont, Northbrae, The Uplands, and St Francis Wood (in San Francisco).  McDuffie worked with the top architects and planners of the time, including John Galen Howard, Walter Ratcliff, and Frederick Law Olmsted (of NY Central Park fame).  As committed as he was to developing beautiful neighborhoods, he also was an early environmentalist, helping develop the East Bay Regional Park system and serving as President of the Sierra Cub.

This leadership lead to Mason McDuffie becoming a dominant force in local real estate, and the company grew outside the bounds of the East Bay.  But when the new affiliation brought a new identity, it was a blow to the company on its home turf.  The East Bay, and Berkeley specifically, appreciates the home-grown, boutique business more that the corporate monolith.  But that’s still us, the home-grown company most responsible for the East Bay’s architectural character.

Now we are affiliated with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, a wonderful company that keeps us on the cutting edge of service and technology, just like Duncan McDuffie did.  BHG also recognizes the value of the local office stressing its roots.  Mason McDuffie is still its own company with its own management.  So we’re bringing the name back – the best name in Berkeley real estate and the original boutique!

Berkeley Regional Office manager, Matt Cord, and I worked with local graphic designer, Amy Suits of Carbonate, A Creative Agency, to rework one of Mason McDuffie’s early logos.  The result is the awesome retro logo you see above.  Even though Mason McDuffie sold more real estate (by dollar amount AND volume) than any other company last year, it doesn’t hurt to remind folks that we’re also the one with the deepest roots.

If you are interested in talking about buying or selling in the East Bay, please drop me a line to see how I can help.

High Drama meets Serene Locale

This striking Roger Lee designed home is part of a three home cul-de-sac that won an Award of Merit from the American Institute of Architects in 1962. One look tells you why. The simple, flexible layout take maximum advantage of it environment and size to combine beauty and easy living. For more details, please check out its website:


I will put up July’s East Bay real estate numbers shortly, but hear is a quick anecdotal snapshot of the tight market we’re in right now.  In the last week, I’ve have written and presented three offers for three separate clients.  In all cases there were multiple offers, in one case eight offers.  For that million dollar house, my clients wrote a great offer, $175,000 over asking and… they didn’t get it!  The other two offers were for a $600,000 house and an $800,000 duplex.  Both of those had 4 offers each.  Neither were the winning bid.  These clients are really writing their best offers, but so were the others.  Short inventory + cheap money = a lot of competition for the few properties hitting the market.

July numbers to follow…

For the 14th straight month, inventory of single family homes in the East Bay (Alameda and Contra Costa counties) has been lower than the month before.  For these two counties, we have about 1.1 months of inventory.  That means that if no more houses came on the market and sales remained at the same pace, all the homes would be bought up in 1.1 months.  Of course, that’s an abstraction.  But it does give us a state of the market – choking!

Individual cities are performing differently.  For instance, Berkeley is at about 1.6 months (compared to 3.2 months a year ago), and Orinda is at 3.8 months.  They are very different kinds of markets, with Berkeley having a wide spectrum of housing and Orinda’s being quite uniform.  Some entry level areas are at 1/2 month worth of inventory.

Where are all those bank owned properties and “shadow inventory” we’ve heard about?  My sources say that, in our area, it’s just not there.  The word is that the bank’s asset managers just don’t have properties to divvy up among their agents.  The good news there is that more homeowners are managing to hold on to their homes.

So…. A seller’s market, without the high prices of 2004 – 2007.  But soon, I hope, sellers will get the memo that it’s okay to sell, depending on what their situation is and what the plan is.

If you’d like to tease apart your real estate situation, give a call – I’d love to help!

Thanks, as always, to Glen Bell for his awesome graphs.

Looking at national sales numbers can be interesting, but it doesn’t tell us much about what’s happening locally.  It’s a big country!

The headline is that inventory for the East Bay is at it’s lowest level since 2005, with about a fifth of the homes listed for sale as in 2007.  At the same time, the burgeoning buyer pool is scooping up properties as they hit the market.  That makes for a seller’s market, structurally, at least.  We’re not at the prices of 2005 – 2007, but they’re certainly up from last year.  Here’s what this look like graphically:

Many thanks to Glen Bell for these fine graphs.

Here are some examples of the relatively low inventory of single family homes:

Berkeley: May 2012 – 1.7 months supply, May 2011 – 3.5 months
Oakland: May 2012 – 1.9 months supply, May 2011 – 4.1 months
El Cerrito: May 2012 – 1.1 months supply, May 2011 – 4.0 months

You get the idea.  Again, all of us with buyers frustrated by the low inventory are hoping that potential sellers start making decisions about whether or not to sell based on their needs or aspirations, not fears of being beat up by the market.  Sellers, there’s hope!  Call!