Spotlight On Albany

    Located adjacent to Berkeley, fronting the San Francisco Bay, Albany prides itself on being a safe, community-oriented city, with strong services and programs for youth, families and the elderly. It is a city made up largely of single-family homes and small businesses.  Albany’s small town character is exemplified by its “Main Street,” Solano Avenue, a pedestrian friendly business district composed primarily of small “mom and pop” shops, and home to some of the Bay area’s best eateries.           Housing: The current median price of a home in Albany is $859,000 (a 25% increase from a year ago). Homes are selling quickly with days on the market dropping to only a week on the market. Opportunity: Berkeley Hills Realty is currently offering a two bed/one bath home  for $680,000 around the corner from Solano Avenue. Come visit the Open House this weekend, May 27 from 2-4 and May 28 from 2-4:30 pm. History: Here is an interesting story about how the town got its name and how a group of women changed the future of Albany: In 1908, a group of local women protested the dumping of Berkeley garbage in their community. Armed with two shotguns and a twenty-two-caliber rifle, they confronted the drivers of the wagons near what is now the corner of San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan Street. The women told the drivers of the horse-drawn garbage wagons to go home, which they did quickly and without complaint. Shortly thereafter, the residents of the town voted to incorporate as the City of Ocean View. In 1909, voters changed the name of the city, primarily to distinguish the city from the adjacent section of Berkeley which had previously been named Ocean View. On a vote of 38 to 6 the city was renamed in honor of Albany, New York, the birthplace of the city’s first mayor, Frank Roberts.   Highlight- Solano Avenue: If you take a stroll down the mainstreet of town, Solano Avenue, you won’t be able to stop yourself from checking out the local art galleries such as Abrams Claghorn where you can take art classes, or enjoying Mr. Dewie’s Cashew Creamery, a vegan ice cream parlor, catching a movie at the Albany Landmark Twin Cinema or getting a cocktail or a craft beer at Hopsy and meeting friends. Solano Avenue has dozens of international and eclectic restaurants and bars, along with fresh flower stands and children’s art stores. Things to Do In Albany This Summer Bike About Town: 3rd Friday of the Month beginning May 19, 2013 Pump up those tires and meet up at Wheels of Justice for a ride around town. Albany Strollers & Rollers create a new ride each month in Albany. Check-out more here.   Floga-Floating Yoga! Held at the Albany Aquatic Center each Tuesday. Swimming lessons are also available.   Still Life Painting with Olivia Chen Sunday June 4, 12 – 3pm Albany Community Center, Craft Room 1249 Marin Ave, Albany CA 94706   Classes and recreation for children: Albany has created a full guide to what to do this summer! Check it out!   Albany supports creativity efforts and holds its own Albany Film Fest each March. If you are a resident, the film fest welcomes your submissions.   Want to learn more about what Albany has to offer or services they provide? Here are a variety of Community Links for information about schools. Transportation, utilities, youth sports, non-profits, and more!   Albany is a quaint town with character. If you would like to learn more about the housing market or have new listings sent to you as they hit the market, please contact Berkeley Hills Realty, today! Read More

Mother’s Day Fun For the Family in the East Bay

What do you consider a perfect Mother’s Day? Spending a memorable day with your children? Receiving flowers and cards and being left alone to enjoy the day? Enjoying a Mother’s Day brunch? Meeting other mom friends out for time to enjoy adult conversation? Whatever it is, here are some ideas to share with your family to make your day perfect! Flower Crowns for Mothers and Children Workshop | May 13 | 10-11 a.m. |  UC Botanical Garden Come make a beautiful botanical floral crown to wear with mom to celebrate Mother’s Day. We’ll use a variety of greenery and flowers to put together our crowns. A fun and festive way to spend the day! Sip some tea made from flowers while you craft away. Less than a 10-minute drive from downtown, the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden is the perfect place to spend Mother’s Day. With 34 acres filled with flowers, plants and trees, it’s a great spot to pack a lunch, spend the day out in the sunshine and enjoy mom amid all of nature’s beauty.   Open to all ages! Registration required: $20 Adult, $20 Child, $18 Member Adult, $18 Member Child, $12 Additional Sibling or Parent Chaperone Registration info: Register online, or by calling 510-664-9841, or by emailing [email protected] Refreshments: Tea   Event Contact: [email protected], 510-664-9841   Flowers For Mom: Buy Local! Moms-If you enjoy receiving flowers for Mother’s Day, but the man or kids in your life are not sure about where to shop, we always suggest shopping local. Below are well regarded local flower shops.       Lee’s Florist & Nursery Veteran florist & nursery specializing in contemporary arrangements, tropical plants, bonsai & more. 1420 University Ave Berkeley, CA (510) 843-0502 Open until 5:30 PM   Darling Flower Shop Family-owned flower shop offering traditional & contemporary bouquets, plants & gifts since 1932. 2004 University Ave Berkeley, CA (510) 843-7044 Open until 6:00 PM   Helens Flower Shop Flower shop preparing a variety of modern & traditional arrangements, plus plants & gift baskets. 2135 Broadway, Oakland (510) 388-5008 Opens at 8:00 AM   Gorgeous and Green Modern florist providing locally sourced, eco-friendly arrangements & unique gifts in a cool space. 5526B Martin Luther King Jr. way Suite 5, Oakland CA 94609 (510) 665-7974 Opens at 9:00 AM   Brunch/High Tea Claremont Club and Spa Saturday and Sunday 1-4 pm Afternoon Tea. Take in the breathtaking views and create lasting memories with your family at Claremont’s iconic Afternoon Tea. Enjoy a selection of your favorites teas, sparkling wine, and sweet and savory bites from the Claremont pastry kitchen from 1 to 4 pm. Meritage at the Claremont is offering a full brunch with “bottomless” mimosas and Bloody Mary’s. If the thought of sitting through a two hour brunch is not your idea of a fun way to spend Mother’s Day, here is a list of East Bay restaurants and cafes that are tasty and perhaps a great place to meet your other Mom friends for some time for yourself! From the Nosh Guide Berkeley: Bette’s Oceanview Diner 1807 Fourth St. (at Delaware Street) La Note 2377 Shattuck Ave. (between Durant Avenue and Channing Way) Saul’s Delicatessen 1475 Shattuck Ave. (at Vine Street) 900 Grayson 900 Grayson St. (at Seventh Street) Rick & Ann’s 2922 Domingo Ave. (between Russell Street and Ashby Avenue) Oakland: Beauty’s Bagel Shop 3838 Telegraph Ave. (at 38th Street) Mama’s Royal Café 4012 Broadway (at 40th Street) Aunt Mary’s Café 4640 Telegraph Ave. (at 47th Street) Brown Sugar Kitchen 534 Mandela Pkwy. (at 26th Street) Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café 1805 Telegraph Ave. (at 18th Street) Beyond: Sam’s Log Cabin 945 San Pablo Ave., Albany Sunny Side Café 1499 Solano Ave. (at Curtis Street), Albany Royal Café 811 San Pablo Ave. (at Washington Street), Albany Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café 4081 Hollis St. (at Park Avenue), Emeryville Doyle Street Café 5515 Doyle St. #10 (at 55th Street), Emeryville However you spend your Mother’s Day weekend, from all of us at Berkeley Hills Realty, we wish you a day that makes you feel special and honors the work you do for your family and the love you bring to all around you.   Read More

2017 Summer Activities For East Bay Kids

Summer Activities for East Bay Kids   Days are getting warmer and longer and thoughts are turning to, “Summer vacation is coming.” There are two main worries that run through the minds of parents at this time each year as summer approaches: “What am I going to do to entertain my children this summer?” and “What can my child do this summer besides sit on the couch watching TV or playing video games all day?” The answer to your worries? There are a plethora of camps, places and fun things to do to educate, entertain, exercise and build community for your children. Here are a few ideas:     Outdoor Fun   The East Bay Regional Park District continually offers classes, seminars, field trips, lessons and more year round. You can go to their website and search by activity or by date to find activities from kayaking, to photography, to Jr Lifeguard programs to gardening and more! Website   Sulphur Creek Nature Center Wildlife Camp (Hayward) Campers get close to animals like owls, opossums, and snakes in a serene park. Each week of camp is based on a different fun-filled theme. Half day camp until noon for ages 3 1/2 to 5; until 2:30 pm for ages 5-13 Website Hours: 9:30am to 2:30pm Price: $200 – $223   Oakland ZooCamp (Oakland Zoo) Oakland ZooCamp is an exciting week of outdoor nature discovery, animal adventures, and fun! Activities include zoo tours, games, crafts, science activities and of course, animals up close. Oakland Zoo creates age-appropriate programs for campers in PreK – middle school. Website Hours: Full-day programs 9am – 4pm. Half day also available. Price: $339/week for non-members. Discounts available to members.   STEM Camps   Sarah’s Science Camp (Tilden Park, Berkeley and Roberts Park, Oakland) Each day at camp, kids make and take home a fun science project while exploring complex science topics ranging from physics to chemistry and beyond. Camp also includes hiking, music, art, games, and swimming. For children 5 and over. CIT program begins at age 11. Website Hours: 9am – 3pm, plus before care and after care Price: $425-$470/week or $105/day with early registration, sibling, and multi-week discounts available   CAMP EDMO (Alameda, Berkeley, Oakland, many more Bay Area locations) At CAMP EDMO (Pre-K-8th), kids discover awesome stuff as they mix and match ingeniously fun science, art, maker, tech & nature themes to build maximum social emotional learning and 21st Century skills. Website Hours: 9am – 3pm, before care and after care available Price: $409-$559/week depending on location. Discounts for multiple week enrollment, siblings, early birds, and referrals.   Galileo Innovation Camps (Berkeley, Alameda, Oakland, other Bay Area locations) Galileo believes that kids can change the world (and have a blast doing it). Combining a mindset-shaping, innovation-based approach with crazy, summertime fun for camps kids love: Camp Galileo (pre-K—5th grades), Galileo Summer Quest (5th—8th grades). Website Hours: Mon–Fri, 9am–3pm. Extended care from 8am – 6pm. Price: $429/week for core program; Discounts for multiple-weeks or signing up early.   QuantumCamp (Berkeley and other Bay Area locations) QuantumCamp offers math and science camps for 1st through 8th graders. Each camp focuses on fundamental ideas in math and science that have inspired great thinkers throughout history. In addition to academics, campers take breaks for games, teacher-led science demos, joke telling time, free play, and lunch. Website Hours: 9am – 4pm with extended care available Price: $499 a week with significant early bird discount   Lawrence Hall of Science Camp (Berkeley) Lawrence Hall of Science camps offer high-quality learning opportunities for kids age 4 through grade 12. Choose from a variety of exciting topics including computer science, animals & nature, animation, engineering, chemistry, and robotics. Website Hours: Half day from 9am to noon or 1pm to 4pm. Full-day camps available by combining two sessions and adding supervised lunch. Extended care until 5pm. Price: $600 per week of full-day ($255 for half-day week); discounts for members or multiple weeks. Need-based scholarships available by application.   Play-Well STEM using LEGO (Albany, Berkeley, Piedmont, Alameda, Hayward & other locations) Play-Well teaches kids ages 5-13 the concepts of engineering, robotics, and critical thinking through building and playing with LEGO. Learn about fundamental STEM principles in core and themed camps (Intro to STEM, Jedi Engineering, Mine Craft Build, etc.). Website Hours: Half-day camps, 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm (some locations have full-day camps) Price: Half-day camps start at $175/week (varies by location & curriculum)   iD Tech Camps (UC Berkeley and more throughout Bay Area) Campers age 7-17 can learn everything from coding to virtual reality to 3D printing in small groups. Website > Hours: 9am – 5pm and overnight. Price: Varies by course and location. Programs start at $899/week   Enrichment Camps   Head-Royce Summer Enrichment (Oakland) Along with the academic morning, campers will also receive swim lessons, lunch, and additional enrichment classes for fun. Registration begins January 27. Website Hours: 8am to 4pm. Extended care until 6pm. Price: $1550 per 3-week session. Session 1 is June 19 to July 7; Session 2 is July 10 to July 28   Summer Animal Camp East Bay SPCA (Oakland, Dublin) Through hands-on lessons, interactions with a variety of animals and fun animal-themed activities (beekeeper, dog trainer!) children entering grades 1 through 12 will spend a week doing everything animal at the adoption center. Purr-fect experience before you add a furry friend to the family. Website Hours: 9am – 3pm Price: $395 per 5-day session   East Bay Community Swimming Pools Richmond Plunge   East Oakland Sports Center   Temescal Pool (Oakland-Located at a high school)   Roberts Pool (Oakland-Located in the Roberts Regional Recreation Area)   Warm days are here! Happy summer activity planning! If you are moving to the area this spring or summer, please contact us and we can provide more ideas of places to visit and where to go to showcase the amazing lifestyle we have in the SF East Bay! Read More

Oakland-Berkeley Housing Market Update May 2017

Discovering El Sobrante, Pinole and San Leandro As Options For Affordable East Bay Living   We all know that inventory is tight, really tight and that multiple offers are so common place in Berkeley that a listing price is merely a suggestion to start the bidding. The median price for a home in Berkeley is $1.1 million. Let’s take a different look at ways to compete in this competitive market if you are looking to be a homebuyer before Fall in the East Bay.   There are opportunities in the market, you just need to expand your horizons at bit. How far? Well, Pinole and El Sobrante are options if you are looking for a bit more inventory and a lower median home price. If you need to commute, there are backroads that can take you from these two northern cities to Berkeley through a beautiful park. Both Pinole and El Sobrante offer benefits for local people looking for local businesses and still are within the commuter circle of the East Bay and San Francisco.   Pinole The median price for single family homes as of April 19th is $470k. Homebuyers who found Pinole in September have already realized a 10% increase in their home value as other East Bay home seekers are discovering this little town. Located 12 miles north of Berkeley and 22 miles from San Francisco, Pinole has a culturally and educationally mixed group of residents and plenty of great neighborhoods. One local resident said It is a very calm city that has small town charm with nice people and you always feel welcome. Pinole has the amenities of a nice town including restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, banks, good schools, and nearby movie theaters, shopping malls, golf courses, and much more.   El Sobrante El Sobrante has some lovely areas with larger lots, more reasonable prices, and a semi-rural atmosphere. It is slowly evolving into a more sophisticated area,  it is in close proximity to recreational areas such as San Pablo Reservoir and the Briones and Kennedy Grove areas. It is also close to Tilden Park. A big benefit of El Sobrante, versus other towns that are quickly becoming more urban, is the space/land/access to nature than in many other parts of the East Bay. Median home prices have been rising, again, as more homebuyers are looking for affordable housing. The median price of single family home in El Sobrante, according to Trulia, is $420,000.   San Leandro San Leandro is a low key town located about 15 miles from Berkeley. Known for its great weather and central location to Highways 580, 880 and 238, as well as two BART stations, and the Oakland airport, this town has quaint neighborhoods. Residents say they enjoy the proximity to their larger sister cities, but enjoy the parks, the Farmer’s Market at Bayfair on Saturdays, the libraries and lots of places to go biking. The median price of a single family home in San Leandro is $540,000 and is on the upswing in housing prices according to Trulia trends report.   If you are looking for an affordable home, Berkeley Hills Realty has a new listing coming on the market next  week in the $400’s in Richmond in an area called Richmond North and East. Call us for more information if you are interested!   Oakland Now, the good news about Oakland for buyers is that according to both Altos Research and Trulia Market Reports, inventory is increasing and sales price is coming down slightly. Interesting to note, according to Trulia, the median price of a four bedroom home in Oakland dropped 2% year over year, but two bedroom homes increased by 21%. The median price of all homes in Oakland is $606,000. Berkeley Berkeley Hills Realty agents are reporting that homes are still getting multiple offers with over bidding occurring on most homes due to a continued lack of available homes for sale. According to Trulia, the price for a four bedroom home in Berkeley has dropped 13% year over year, much like the Oakland statistics. However, two and three bedroom homes have increased year over year and for all properties, the median price is $1,045,000, a 11.5% increase from 2016. We shall see in next month’s market update if a price softening continues in these two hot markets.   For more information about what is happening across all cities in the East Bay, we encourage you to contact one of our Realtor team members at Berkeley Hills Realty. Read More

Earth Day 2017-How Small Changes Have A Big Impact In the East Bay

Earth Day should be every day, as it pertains to the day to day, moment by moment actions each of us takes as we move about our homes, businesses and natural environment. As one of the bright spots in the world for sustainable awareness, residents of Berkeley and the Greater SF Bay Area have an acute social consciousness about how their actions may impact the environment. As a designated Green Business by the City of Berkeley,  Berkeley Hills Realty takes every step that we can to ensure that our footprint is mitigated as much as possible. How? Some of us are NAR Green certified.  This means we went through specialized training by the National Association of Realtors to understand all the ways we can help our clients be as energy efficient and sustainable as possible. We are a certified Green Business with the City of Berkeley. The program certifies and promotes businesses that have met rigorous standards of environmental performance. Our office, by using cloud technology, is almost paperless. By using a cloud transaction management platform, not only have we cut paper waste, but have increased the transparency of the real estate transaction for our client. Each of our clients has the ability to view all of the transaction documents on the cloud at any time they choose. (We are happy to show you how efficient we are in our transactions!) We recycle, use eco-friendly cleaners and even hold E-Waste drop off days during the year to help our neighbors. Our website has links to dozens of resources for homeowners and businesses to “go green”, too. Being located right on Solano Avenue gives our staff and fellow Realtors a chance to stay out of their cars as the walkability of the neighborhood is fantastic. We are surrounded with great restaurants, cafes and small shops. When working with home sellers, oftentimes, we will point out ways to make the home more energy efficient to increase the value of the home. We also lend our advice to new homebuyers, so they can realize the cost savings of such things as LED lighting, insulation, energy efficient appliances, and more. We also work with our clients to look at aspects of the area to help them reduce their carbon footprint such as the walkability of the neighborhood, how close they are to public transportation such as BART and buses, and farmers markets and stores that sell locally grown food. Here are some great resources to help you Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!   PG&E Resources  City Resources: PG&E Rebates Albany PG&E Energy Saving Resources Berkeley PG&E Energy Saving Calculators El Cerrito Energy Star Oakland Recycles H2ouse Water Saver Home Everyone can make a difference on Earth Day and every day. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about our green business goals and how we make “going green” for our clients easy! Read More

Introducing Lisa Hedrick To the Berkeley Hills Realty Team

Berkeley Hills Realty is proud to announce the addition of Lisa Hedrick to our real estate team. Lisa brings many years of investment property expertise to our brokerage, and we welcome her passion for helping buyers and sellers in Berkeley and the East Bay area.   Lisa began her real estate career in San Francisco in 1999 with a flip of investment property. She has successfully purchased, renovated and sold residential and commercial real estate in the Bay Area. Lisa obtained her broker license in 2006 and worked as an independent Broker/Owner with distressed property sales for ten years. She moved into residential home sales recently and accepted the invitation to join Berkeley Hills Realty.   With dozens of transactions behind her, Lisa has found that her innate instincts in negotiations, as well as her passion for working with her clients is why she loves being in real estate. Lisa fell in love with houses and architectural design while looking at houses as a child with her mother. She feels the history and energy each house has is unique, and feels like houses speak to her. Lisa believes it is important to match each buyer with the correct house – exceeding the specifications and style/location match to create a partnership.   Lisa found an opportunity in distressed sales during the recession, performing valuations for the banks. To date, she has completed over 135,000 valuations for corporate clients in the last 11 years. With her extensive background in dealing with the foreclosure crisis in San Francisco, Lisa has a strong knowledge of real estate law, rent control and stabilization and is familiar with commercial property management and valuation. During the time she worked with bank owned properties, she also became intimately familiar with the people who were affected by the crisis. Many of those affected had addiction problems. “I was a patient advocate for addiction treatment. I worked with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to help create a program that serves hundreds of addicts to this day – 10 years later, and worked as a patient advocate consultant (volunteer) with the SF Department of Public Health”, Lisa shares about her community work.   Lisa says her strengths are integrity, loyalty, organization, dedication and discipline. She goes hard for her clients and gets the deal done. WIth her extensive investment background, she excels in creative negotiation and gaining the upper hand at the negotiation stage.   “My philosophy is to assist my clients in a sound financial decision that will aid them for years to come,” Lisa states.  “I guide clients through the intimidating and daunting process of buying in a seller’s market, and can assist them in the very detail oriented process of buying a property that needs repair or is income producing, which requires an agent with more than basic knowledge in traditional residential sales”.   Lisa has a keen creative eye and can envision the potential of a property, often times when others can not. This same eye for potential allows Lisa to help sellers showcase their property in a way that appeals to buyers. Her background in valuations greatly assists her in pricing, as she is intimately familiar with the area’s ever changing micro-markets.   As a resident of Berkeley since 2000, Lisa is looking forward to working in a team environment at Berkeley Hills Realty, lending knowledge and support to the other agents and gaining from their expertise, as well.   You may find Lisa enjoying the outdoor life of Berkeley, as she enjoys running, jogging, and hiking as well as enjoying the local art, music and poetry scene. She knows that a balanced life is a good life and focuses on constant evolution, personal growth, enjoys wellness and natural medicine. “I have continually adapted as the market changed and found new ways to promote my business and evolve as a real estate professional. The market has changed and I am ready for a change as well, so here I am in residential real estate and happy to be at Berkeley Hills Realty. Life changes; we must, as well.” Read More

Magnificent Berkeley Mediterranean Home of Art Rosenfeld Comes On The Market

When Art Rosenfeld passed away in January at the age of 90, he left behind a legacy of being the “godfather” of energy efficiency and helped formulate the idea that it was better to save energy than it was to create it. His stunning Mediterranean home in Berkeley on Southampton Avenue, which he and his wife purchased in 1960, is a testament to the man who encouraged millions of Californians to turn off the lights and use energy efficient appliances.   In the spirit of Professor Rosenfeld’s passion towards energy efficiency, the 4-bedroom, 2.5-bath, 4,160 square foot (per assessor) home boasts year round living enjoyment. The south facing sun room captures its warmth during the winter and the sunken living room with massive beams features a majestic fireplace for warm seasonal and evening gatherings. With large glass French doors, the living room opens up to a large deck for al fresco dining in the afternoon or under the stars. The adjoining small library/study is perfect for reflection and solitude. The home, built in 1928 (according to BAHA), boasts classic Mediterranean details including high ceilings, an excellent floor plan, large hand crafted mission-style oak doors, a wrought iron chandelier in the entryway, and a commanding staircase. The large picture windows bring the natural light in and frame the stunning views of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge and distant views of Mt. Tamalpais. The 13,200 square foot lot features mature landscaping around outdoor entertainment spaces. The formal dining room accommodates large sit down dinners and is perfectly located with two doors to the remodeled kitchen. Meticulous planning went into the spacious kitchen remodel. Special features include a large eating area, ample storage with a spacious pantry, leaded glass windows, a side door to the outside and even a special place for a serving cart. The large master bedroom has a dressing room and adjoins the master bathroom with original tile and large windows to enjoy the spectacular views. There are three additional bedrooms on the upper bedroom level and a second bathroom with beautiful original tile from the 1930’s.   A lower level ¾ basement with a laundry area has plenty of potential. It is located next to the two-car garage. The home is situated in a neighborhood with stately homes and is within walking distance of John Hinkle Park, Solano Avenue with its many boutiques and restaurants, and public transportation.   Professor Rosenfeld was recognized with a number of remarkable awards including National Medal of Technology and innovation presented to him by President Barack Obama in 2012. Governor Jerry Brown and his wife, Anne Gust, dined last late Summer on the deck with the Rosenfeld family. Upon learning of Rosenfeld’s passing, Governor Brown said, “Art Rosenfeld helped make California the world leader in energy efficiency. His path-breaking ideas transformed our energy sector from one of massive waste to increasingly elegant efficiency. I will miss him.” Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, under Barack Obama’s first term, called Art Rosenfeld “his hero”.   The home is listed at $2,190,000 with Maya Trilling, Berkeley Hills Realty and she can be reached at 510-524.9888 ext. 18. Read More

Where To Enjoy The 2017 Wildflower Bloom in the East Bay

More than 2,000 species of native and naturalized plants grow wild in the San Francisco Bay Area with over 140 native plants  right in the East Bay hills.  The historical rainfall we experienced this winter promised an epic bloom around the region and it is unfolding all around the area!  If you can get out to the regional parks and even to a few wildflower based events, you will be delighted with the gift Mother Nature has brought this year for those who love flowers! You can even see colorful displays right in town (in fact, we captured a front yard a few blocks from our Berkeley Hills office that show the riot of color!) Below are some of the best places in the East Bay to view the “bloom” this year. Yelp has some excellent advice about specific trails to go on and most of these parks also have naturalists on staff to point out the best displays and where to find them when you go. For photographers and hikers, the next few months will be Nirvana! Wildcat Regional Park Large coast live oaks, bay laurels, and a scattering of bigleaf maples and madrones grow on the park’s east-facing slopes. North-facing hillsides support some beautiful, nearly pure stands of bay laurel, fringed with coast live oak.The west- and south-facing canyon slopes are covered with introduced annual grasses (oat, rye, barley, etc.). A few stands of native bunch grasses persist. There are many native wildflower species.   Briones Regional Park Briones’ 6,255 acres are home to many animals and birds, which forage on the grasslands or find shelter among the oaks and bays. There are gorgeous wildflower displays in season. You may see black-tailed deer, coyotes, squirrels, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, and, if you are lucky, other more reclusive creatures. Park District naturalists often lead walks to view the park’s natural and historic features. Tilden Regional Park Nestled between the Berkeley Hills and San Pablo Ridge, Tilden Park is rife with wildflowers and offers panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay. Right now, you can hike and wander through the open spaces of the park and see golden California poppies, vibrant purple lupine and dozens of wild flowers in bloom. To learn more about the wildflowers and plants you are viewing, review this Wild Flower Guide To Tilden Park. Botanic Garden If you don’t have the time, inclination or stamina to hike to see spring flowers, you can visit the Botanic Garden situated in Tilden Regional Park’s beautiful Wildcat Canyon in the heart of the north Berkeley Hills. The Botanic Garden is devoted to the collection, growth, display, and preservation of the native plants of California. In one afternoon you can visit the floral communities of the entire state with a variety of plants from seacoast bluffs and coastal mountains, interior valleys, arid foothills, alpine zones, and two kinds of desert. The Botanical Garden is open daily: October – May 8:30am – 5pm June – September 8:30am – 5:30pm Note: West Gate closes at 4:30pm The Annual Botanic Garden plant sale is Saturday April 29th. Ohlone Regional Wilderness This magnificent 9,737-acre parkland, accessible only by way of the Ohlone Wilderness Trail, includes a landscape of oak and bay woodlands, grassy uplands carpeted with springtime wildflowers, and wilderness ridges and peaks. Its centerpiece is 3,817-foot Rose Peak, just 32 feet lower than Mount Diablo..Surrounding Rose Peak are grassy ridges, profusely flowered in season. Staging areas and vehicle parking lots that give access to the Ohlone Wilderness are located at Del Valle Regional Park outside Livermore, Sunol Regional Wilderness near Pleasanton, and Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont   Huckleberry Botanic Regional Preserve   Huckleberry is considered one of the gems of the East Bay Park system.  The botanic preserve covers 235 acres with a vast array of native plants, many of them rare to the East Bay. Sibley, one of the first parks established by the East Bay Regional Park District, features volcanic lava flow from 10 million years ago. Both offer a show of blossoming plants. It’s mostly covered by an oak and California Bay canopy with lush ferns and wildflowers that hug the trail.   For more information about where to see wildflowers, contact: — East Bay Regional Parks District headquarters. (510) 635-0135. — Tilden Botanic Garden, Wildcat Canyon Road and South Park Drive. Plant sale takes place Saturday April 39, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., (510) 841-8732. — Sunol Visitor Center. end of Geary Road off Calaveras Road. (925) 862- 2601. — Black Diamond Mines. 5175 Somersville Road, Antioch. Information and hikes. (925) 757-2620.   East Bay Wildflower Events Mount Diablo In Bloom Mount Diablo State Park Clayton, Contra Costa County Sunday, April 2, 2017 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. $6 per vehicle park entrance fee (exact change required) Kick off the spring wildflower season with a guided hike through a Bay Area botanical hotspot. More Info:   Spring Wildflower Festival at Sunol Regional Wilderness Sunol Regional Wilderness 1895 Geary Road, Sunol, CA (MAP) Sunday, April 9 11am – 4pm The festival is FREE!   It’s time to celebrate the season of the birds, bees, flowers and trees! Join us for hikes, crafts, music, and nature activities. Hikes are geared for different ages, distances and topics ? There is something for everyone. Pack a picnic lunch, put on your hiking boots and join us for a glorious day filled with flowers in this very special wilderness! Fun for the whole family. Carpooling encouraged.   FREE event, parking is $5 cash. Please carpool as parking is limited. Feel free to post your wildflower photos on our Facebook page, Berkeley Hills Realty. Read More

How Following Zillow’s “List Your Home” Crowd Could Cost You

Making news this week in the real estate industry was an announcement by Zillow about a new tool for home sellers. The listing portal’s “Best Time to List” tool estimates how much the timing of when a property is listed will influence its sales price, based on the sales history of the property’s local market. “Sellers can use this information to have a more informed conversation with their local real estate agent to determine the best time to put their home on the market,” Zillow said when announcing the tool. Click here to enlarge chart. Everyone knows that the spring is a hot time to sell in San Francisco Bay Area, but Zillow shares specific dates to list your home. However, there are two caveats that Zillow does not include.  If sellers held their listings from the market and took Zillow’s advice, there would be a spike of inventory on the market during the two week window they suggest which would have the exact opposite effect of what benefit they are purporting and “cluster the competition”. Prices would actually drop. The second caveat is that with such low inventory that the San Francisco and East Bay housing markets are currently experiencing, the statistics they are using to find the “best dates” can be a less than accurate data pull.   “Big data works on so many levels in determining what consumers are doing or about to do”, says Berkeley Hills Realty Broker, Tracy Sichterman. “However, when you ask your Realtor, “When’s the best time to list my home?” to get top dollar for your property, the answer is in the local expertise. We have specific knowledge of the Berkeley, Oakland and East Bay market and we track local sales statistics daily.”   “We encourage home sellers and buyers to do internet research”, Sichterman added, “But when it’s time to get the local story with the real time housing statistics for this area, we suggest talking to a local Realtor.”   Berkeley Hills Realty offers complimentary comparative market analysis to determine the value of your home and advice about the selling or buying process. Contact us today! Read More
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