My Piedmont and Oakland Real Estate Adventures. History, Architecture and Homes

I have received two different, very official looking letters wanting to "help me" with adjusting my county property taxes on my home. One is from the Homeowners Tax Review (HTR) and another from Property Tax Reassessment Co. Both letters try to resemble an official document from the county or state and come in envelopes that mislead.


Because of falling home prices in the last few years, Alameda county and others counties are willing to reassess the assessed value of your home. This can result is a significant savings on the property taxes you pay on your home.


The problem arises when these letters start appearing in my mailbox with headlines like ESTIMATED SAVINGS $438.74 or $1812.50!! That seems great, but the fine print says that they are going to

3,517 Views, 0 Comments

I read an interesting article about former Golden State Warrior Latrell Sprewell suing his old real estate agent in regards to disclosure of water damage at a home he sold in Hayward CA back in 2002.

We all remember Latrell and the talented but troubled Warrior guard who choked his coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice back in 1997. While this was a black eye for both the team and the city, it seems that the Warriors have moved on to field another entertaining team, albeit on out of the playoffs.

Latrell is suing his agent for not disclosing a water damage problem costing Latrell $540,000 in repairs bills when an arbitrator decided in favor of the new owners. He is suing his agent to recover the $540,000. Wow. 

 

1,431 Views, 0 Comments

Grand Street in Alameda passes through some of the most elegant and charming homes in the city.  It bisects the island, beginning humbly at the Grand Street Launch Ramp on the Oakland Estuary, and, as it moves westward, it is lined with handsome homes on wide tree shaded lawns. 

Originally it stopped at the waters of San Francisco Bay at what was once the location of the Encinal Yacht Club.  Today, that spot is occupied by Wood Middle School, and the land has been filled in to make space for many hundreds of postwar homes and the original South Shore Center.

The street lives up to its name when one wanders down its spacious route, and takes time to explore the many side streets leading to it.  It is a place of expensive homes.  Over the latter part of

1,490 Views, 0 Comments

There are some serious benefits about living on an island like Alameda.  The major one is that we are, by definition surrounded by water!  That allows us to have beachside parties and picnics on a regular basis.  Since our weather is so moderate, we can spend more time on the sand than most other land bound people. One of the most amazing stretches of water can be seen at the extreme end of Harbor Bay Parkway. Here is a view that stretches from San Francisco to the Hayward/San Mateo Bridge.  On a sunny day, with the water sparkling, you could be anywhere in the world--Italy, Greece, etc..

This stretch of land invites bike riders, walkers and joggers, or the slower paced dog walker.  There are pleasant sidewalks and palm trees.  Little spits of land jut

2,991 Views, 0 Comments

So the auction for the 'perfect' house in Berkeley had some bumps along the way. At the last minute, a termite report was produced which detailed $14,000 to $24,000 in repairs. Personally, I would never trust a report with that much leeway, especially one that came in the day before the auction. The auctioneer had previously assured me that the termite work had been cleared two years ago so this was troubling to me.

Plenty of people showed up in the rain to bid but ultimately the home didn't sell. The reserve was $525,000, which might have been fine if there was no additional work to be preformed, but that termite report was looming. The home is back on the market for $525,000 or best offer. Good luck to the sellers because they have had the hardest time

1,355 Views, 0 Comments

It's not every day that a nice home in the Bay Area is auctioned off. Usually auctioned homes are the dregs of the area, those that no one wanted to buy on the regular market, a cross between a fixer and a teardown. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to see such a 'perfect' home in Berkeley ready for auction. The owners had obviously taken care of the home, and had painstakingly addressed every detail. The roof and foundation were new. The floors were freshly sanded and finished. The bathroom had been remodeled and the large kitchen had been tastefully finished. In the well manicured backyard there was a studio trimmed with wood that was used as an office.
So why was the house being auctioned off? The owners had always paid their mortgage, their bank

1,256 Views, 0 Comments

It's windy and chilly, and I am standing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Hornet (CV-12) which is berthed at the home of the old Alameda Naval Air Station in Alameda.

Now a floating museum that is open to the public, it is an amazing tribute to all the sailors and marines who served on her.  Commissioned in 1943, she was active in World War II, the Vietnam War, and was selected to retreive the Apollo astronauts when they "splashed down" on their return from the moon.

While admiring the amazing view of San Francisco Bay, I watch people of all ages and sizes come up the gangplank to visit.  As I return to the interior, I hear people talking about signing up for a family overnight on board.  What a thrill that will be for everyone to spend the

1,384 Views, 0 Comments

I recently agreed to meet a friend at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, and decided that it might be fun to take a ferry boat ride across the bay to get there.  I was very pleased with my choice, because once I boarded the ferry, I went instantly into tourist mode.  It's not often that most of us get out on the water, and this ride takes you into the middle of everything nautical.  As you leave, small private boats, both power and sail, are moving past you towards the estuary entrance.  On the Oakland side, a huge container ship is off loading its carge. 

Once underway, the boat moves quickly, and if you want to go upstairs and outside, a fresh sea breeze can chill the unwary.   You rush by the Bay Bridge with its usual load of cars, and you can see

1,282 Views, 0 Comments

Ok, sometimes showing homes to clients can be unexpectedly fun. Today, I had a great set of clients visiting from out of town, touring some nicer homes in Oakland. At the third house on our tour, I used my lock box to open the front door (after calling ahead to conform) and the alarm begins counting down. I look at my MLS sheet and realize there is no alarm code to turn it off. 

Great!

Then, as I'm standing there wondering how loud the alarm will be when it goes off, the dog runs out the door and takes off up the street. Panicked, my clients and I chase the dog up the street into a neighbor's yard when the dog decides to hide in the bushes. After 5 mins. of coaxing him out of the bushes with some steak supplied by the neighbor, the dog then runs back

1,289 Views, 0 Comments

For years, I have driven by what appears to be a concrete monument at the south end of Jackson Park, on which is written the words "In Memory of My Dumb Friends".  I have always wanted to know the back story to this piece of history, so I did some research.  It was designed to provide water and a resting place for animals and their owners in and around the park. Built in 1920 by Isabelle Clark as a memorial to her husband, it orginally had a water trough set in the concrete.  The remains of the bench still stand as a tribute to the efforts of a fine lady who wanted to aid the "dumb" animals in the area.  At the time, the term "dumb" was used to refer to animals who did not have the gift of speech, and did not refer to their mental acuity!

Jackson Park is

2,353 Views, 0 Comments