Everyone knows about Sunday (& recently, Saturday!) open houses, when homes for sale are open to the public and potential buyers for viewing. But if you're new to the real estate market, you might not know agents preview new listings for our clients on weekday mornings, during scheduled Broker's Tours.
Typically, Monday's Tour is dedicated to Piedmont and most of Oakland, while Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, and North(west) Oakland tour on Thursday. Thursday is a big tour day for me, because it encompasses many of the most vibrant and walkable East Bay neighborhoods—often, the neighborhoods my younger buyer clients are most interested in.
Whenever possible, I try to accomplish my tour schedule by bicycle. It's a three-birds-with-one-stone situation: I keep my car miles down, get some exercise, and enjoy the scenery and weather of the East Bay. And I've already written about the fact that bicycling allows me to learn a lot more about the quality of life within a given neighborhood than I would otherwise, so I won't repeat myself here ;).
Today, my clients needs brought me to the Vue46 condominiums in Emeryville, a building which began its life as the manufacturing plant for Aluminum Cooking Wear before being converted into residential units in 2008. I saw two, two-bedroom units: a super spacious corner unit with views of the Oakland Hills to the east and a straight-sight line to Campanile and the Berkeley campus northwards, and a split-level unit with views westward including the Bay Bridge. "Vue46" indeed!
My next stop was a stone's throw away, but in Oakland instead of Emeryville. If you find yourself generally confused about what's Oakland, what's Emeryville, and what's south Berkeley, you're not alone. In fact there's so much confusion about it that people have given up and adopted the neighborhood name "NOBE" (North Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville). You can check out NOBE's neighborhood association website here, which features restaurant listings, happenings, and more. You can see a border map here.
My bike and I headed northward from there to check out a couple more houses in south Berkeley and an old-fashioned condo in the Elmwood. The Elmwood is one of Berkeley's most impressive neighborhoods, and one of the most expensive. Though it's a bit less fancy than the most tony parts of the Uplands and the Berkeley Hills, I prefer the Elmwood because it's flat, allowing for easy walking and biking, and the College Avenue commercial district is unparalleled in charm and walkability. The Elmwood is comprised of mostly single family residences, but some of it's largest iconic brown shingle houses have been converted to multi-unit condominiums or apartments. Occaisonally you'll see a true multi-unit building, like the 4-unit classic Arts & Crafts style building I toured today. With charming original craftsman details and built-ins, this condo would be the perfect destination for empty-nesters looking to downsize and to simplify their lives by being closer to all the action.
Before heading back to the office, I hit up a couple of my favorite Elmwood spots. Since my idea of dressing up is putting on my good jeans, I stopped in at Slash Denim, a true hole-in-the wall that specializes in new and vintage Levi's, to get a jet-black pair of pants. The shop has been there since ___ and it's my favorite way to buy clothes: all i have to do is walk in, tell the sales associate my size and my need, and be on my way. I grabbed a slice of pizza at Nabolom, bought my son a pack of freight train stickers at Sweet Dreams, and was on my way!
Lately, I've been very tempted to start a super serious Real Estate Blog. Before I was a Realtor, I worked as a writer and editor, and I love educating my clients and friends about the finer points of personal finance, property tax laws, the real estate transaction process, and making the most out of your home life. But as much as I would enjoy researching and writing a lengthy treatise on the pros and cons of Prop 13, I realize it'd be more fun for my readers if I took a different approach: focusing on day-to-day adventures.
OK, I'll admit it: I'm being pretty generous with the word "adventure." When I was 17, I spent a month traveling around Europe with nothing more than a JanSport backpack and 25 Euros per day, including lodging. That was definitely an adventure (I also lost a lot of weight without meaning to, as you can imagine).
My idea of what constitutes an adventure shifted dramatically when I had a baby and it became a major feat just to get out the door on time with clothes unsoiled and wallet in tow. In fact, I'll never forget the first outing my partner and I took with our son, to his pediatric check-up when he was 5 days old. While we were waiting for the doctor, Chris opened the diaper bag, which I had packed. "Damn, this is so heavy!" she exclaimed, pulling out three, 24-ounce water bottles, "Um, what's with all the water?" I indignantly explained, "What if something happens to us, and we need water?!" Luckily I quickly became aware of my absurd sleep-deprived, postpartum over-preparation. I had packed enough water for a hundred mile bike ride (something we did before becoming parents and will probably never do again) even though our trip entailed only a 1 mile bus ride from our apartment to the doctor's office! For the record, I'm still an avowed over-preparer.
There's no question that having a baby, and now a toddler, puts limitations on our ability to have spontaneous, complicated, and somewhat rugged adventures. At the same time, these logistical limitations have given me a renewed appreciation for quotidian fun, for all the enjoyable things we can do with a toddler in tow. One of the most surprising parts of parenthood for me has been how much more observant, mindful, and appreciative of ordinary pleasures I've become. I see living in the East Bay as an immense privilege: there is so much here, from pleasant weather to rich networks of community organizing and activism, natural beauty, tons of activities, tons of high and low brow cultural happenings (equally important in my eyes), and of course, delicious food and drink.
In this blog, I'm going to focus on sharing with you all the projects and day trips and happenings about town that my family and I participate in, how we make the most of our time together, and of course our favorite spots and activities in the East Bay. General speaking, my partner and I are both invested in sustainability, financial integrity, and cultivating a fulfilling home-based lifestyle. What that means in practical terms is that you can expect posts from me about biking for transportation, cooking, crafting, beer-making, DIY home improvement, personal finance and budgeting. In the midst of all this, real estate topics are bound to come up and I will arm you with a with a healthy dose of pragmatic resources. Now, for the adventure!