Real Estate Gallery
Be Thankful for Where You Live | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2015 11:32


I’ve been fortunate enough this year to have visited many countries and, consequently, I am profoundly thankful for the peace we enjoy locally.

While in Kenya, I was very aware of lingering tensions from the massacre of 147 persons that happened shortly before arriving. Just a few weeks ago, we left London the day before riots broke out in the exact location we had been. We arrived home from Paris to hear of the horrible events that unfolded shortly after our departure.

These heartbreaking events serve as windows into the unrest that is gripping much of the world.

With our peace and booming economy, we have so much to be thankful for here in the Bay Area. In fact, it‘s these very conditions that make the San Francisco Bay Area the destination of choice for thousands around the world. They are pouring into this region in record numbers, looking for their piece of the American Dream.

The dream comes with a price tag of its own. Driving the Italian Autostrada for a couple of weeks recently, I was impressed with the efficiency and excellent condition of the highway system. They are a delight to traverse and, in most cases, were relatively free of congestion.

It was a bit of a shock, therefore, to get off the plane at SFO and hit our local freeways — the overcrowding and traffic jams were an immediate reminder of our local prosperity and the chaos accompanying it.

It also affects our local housing. Even though the real estate market has slowed a bit, there are still not enough dwellings to go around.

While property prices have leveled or even dipped in some areas, in other corners they are still going up. Bay Area-wide, rentals are almost nonexistent. Even so, we enjoy a level of prosperity locally that is only imagined in countless places abroad.

Many around the world live in tiny apartments with basic services and less than stellar conditions. Regardless of where we travelled this past year around the globe, when people heard we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the look in their eyes communicated envy and longing.

While prices may be high, securing a home difficult and traffic extremely congested, in my opinion, we are still better off here than any of the places we visited. While it was fun to travel, back here in the U.S., I am profoundly…


Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at

Properly Store Tools for the Winter | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 14:39

By Samantha Mazzotta • Special to the Forum

Linseed oil is a natural oil made from flaxseed that has long been used as a wood preservative and protectant (along with other uses such as an additive to paint).

While other treatments are available to protect your garden and lawn tools’ wooden handles, it’s good to know about this treatment and how you should use it.

First and foremost, know that there are two types of linseed oil for DIY applications: raw and boiled. Raw linseed oil has been pressed from the flax seeds and left untreated — not heated or had any chemicals added to it. Boiled linseed oil has either been heat-treated (not boiled, despite its name) or had chemicals added to it for specific reasons.

Raw linseed oil is very slow drying (we’re talking weeks or months here) and can stay tacky for a long time. That makes it great for certain applications where slow drying is preferable. For tool handles, that’s not preferable (or enjoyable).

Boiled linseed oil dries faster, but keep in mind that most brands are treated with certain chemicals to get it to do so. If you’re determined to use an “all-natural” product to treat wood handles, be aware of this when purchasing this type of linseed oil.

An important caveat when using linseed oil, either raw or boiled, is that it is considered a fire hazard. Because oxidation is what causes the oil to dry, in certain circumstances — like piling together a bunch of linseed oil-soaked rags — the oil can ignite. And, don’t put them through the washer and dryer. Hand-wash them and hang them up to dry.

To treat wooden handles, apply a single, very light coat of boiled linseed oil. Don’t apply linseed oil to the metal parts. To protect those, you can apply a light coat of all-purpose oil. For metal parts that contact the wooden handles, use a protectant that won’t damage wood. If your hardware store doesn’t have a product for this, look for a woodworking store in your area or online.

Store your wooden-handled tools in a dry location, protected from sunlight and temperature extremes. Don’t pile them together. Ideally, hang them up on a pegboard or place them on a shelf, side by side, so that each tool gets even airflow and moisture doesn’t build up between them.

© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.

Trellis Grapes to Avoid Neighbor’s Wrath; Plant Peas Pronto | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 14:35

112615reBy Buzz Bertolero • The Dirt Gardener

Q: Will I harm next year’s crop of grapes by cutting back old, ugly branches now? I did that last year and had very few grapes this year.

A: January through February is the traditional time of the year to prune grapes. However, they can be pruned earlier if you choose.

Grapes are dormant once the leaves start to turn color and drop off. In the fall, the green leaves are storing energy and food for next year so you don’t want to remove them too early.

Pruning grapes early does not effect the production. Improper pruning by cutting off the fruiting spurs is the primary cause for little to no grapes.

Grape vines are a vigorous grower that produce lots of stems and leaves each year. For many, it’s a confusing mass to prune, especially if there is no defined vertical trunk and/or laterals.

Grapes need to grow on a trellis structure with one main trunk and several lateral branches. A typical fence is not necessarily the ideal trellis for grapes. With time, the fence is damaged by the growth.

Poor air circulation increases problems with diseases and the vines are difficult to maintain. Also, your neighbor may not appreciate the vegetation growing on their side.

A separate trellis structure off the fence improves the maintenance and disease issues as well as avoids a potential neighbor dispute.

In preparation, I would watch several of the videos on You Tube. This should give you a good idea if your pruning technique needs to be modified. Google spur and cane pruning grapes.

Note: There are two methods of pruning grapes, cane and spur pruning.

You can find a variety list as to which pruning method is the best at

Q: I know it’s late, but what edibles can still be planted in containers?

A: In cool, wet and damp conditions, peas are the best thing to plant. You should be looking to plant seedlings as it’s too cold for seeds to germinate.

Pea plants or vines grow and produce best when their roots are cool. They’ll “bolt” or go to seed when the temperature gets above 80°F.

While they could be planted now, February would be a more ideal time.

Next year, you should plant in mid-October for the winter months.

Frost can be a problem when the temperature drops below 30°F at night, so, you’ll need to cover them with a plant blanket on those nights.

In a container, the bush varieties are the best to plant as a trestle isn’t necessary. Also, space the plants five inches apart.

In the open ground, sweet Bermuda onion plants, Stockton Red, Sweet Yellow and White, along with Torpedos and Walla Walla, can be planted.

Plant now to harvest the onion in late spring.

Garlic and shallot sets are also available. These should be planted quickly, before it gets too muddy to dig.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or to 360 Civic Drive, Suite D, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 and on Facebook at

CAPTION: Use a trellis structure of some kind to help keep your vigorously growing grape vines on your side of the fence, and avoid any possible conflicts with your neighbors.

Mortgage Rates Largely Unchanged | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 14:32

Average fixed mortgage rates remained largely unchanged last week as analysts’ expectations turned from world events to the Federal Open Market Committee’s October minutes.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.97 percent, down from 3.98 percent a week earlier. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent.

Fifteen-year rates last week averaged 3.18 percent down from 3.20 percent.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) were down last week. The five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 2.98 percent, down from 3.03 percent, and the one-year ARM averaged 2.64 percent, down from 2.65 percent.


Open Homes • 11-26-15 | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 14:32
Home Sales • 11-26-15 | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 14:30
Do Sports Fans Regulate the Housing Market? | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2015 11:32


I recently overheard a colleague discussing the best time to list homes for sale. “Spring is the best,” they stated, “There are more buyers hitting the market — especially after Super Bowl Sunday.”

That got me thinking. In 2010 and 2011, the overall market was depressed, reeling from the effects of the economic collapse and plunge in values.

Suddenly, in early 2012, it was as if someone flipped a switch — buyers began calling en masse and, literally overnight, the market turned on a dime and shot upwards. I looked at my notes to confirm my suspicions as to when I had received the first buyer query, and, sure enough, the first email came in at approximately 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2012.

The morning after Super Bowl XLVI.

I remember the day well — that first message was just the beginning of a large number of requests that pounded in that day and continued in a steady stream for the next number of weeks and months. We went from sitting on our hands to running ourselves ragged keeping up.

We very quickly ran out of available inventory and scrambled to find more. It poignantly confirmed my compatriot’s comments about Super Bowl Sunday.

Realtors have long underscored the “Super Bowl Effect.”

“Have your house ready to hit the market as soon as the game is done,” they’ve informed sellers. “That’s when buyers get off their couches and get out looking for homes.” And they do.

Almost every spring, buyers emerge like Punxsutawney Phil, the market picks up, prices head upwards and we’re off to the races. Looking at 2013 and 2014 data, the most dramatic market gains were from February to May, confirming the Super Bowl Effect.

All of which brings up an interesting question. If you were a serious buyer, wouldn’t it make more sense to get out now and beat the rush? After all, if prices typically go up in the spring, why not buy now? There are fewer buyers out looking, meaning less competition and a better chance of actually landing a home.

There is a catch, however. It means getting off your duff now and leaving the games for others to view. And there’s the rub. With so many games hitting the big screen, many sports enthusiasts have a hard time prioritizing — which means most of them will be hitting the streets together… after Super Bowl Sunday.

Carl Medford is a licensed Realtor with Keller Williams Realty and a licensed general contractor. This article is sponsored by the Central County Marketing Association at

Painting in Winter Can Be Tricky | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 22:01

111915re1By Samantha Mazzotta • Special to the Times

While it’s not impossible, painting during cold weather can be more difficult.

The main reason is that rooms need to be well-ventilated when painting; otherwise the room is hazardous to be in. It’ll need to continue to be ventilated while it’s drying, in order to keep humidity down, which means the windows will be wide open in the middle of winter.

But painters do interior work in cold weather all the time. How do they do it without sealing off the room from the rest of the house? You could take a few hints from them.

Professional painters often use a reverse-air system. Rigged into one of the windows, it pulls air from the room to the outside of the house at a constant rate, so that fumes don’t seep into the rest of the house – and the room being painted stays at a comfortable temperature.

Even without such a system, you can paint a room by setting up a fan in the window pointing outward, and keeping your heating system registers open in the the room. Wear a respirator mask when painting to avoid breathing in fumes, and keep children out.

If you need to add more than one coat or the paint seems to be taking longer than usual to dry, consider bringing in a dehumidifier to remove more moisture from the air and speed drying.

Home Tip: To keep paintbrushes from drying out while you take a long break, place a sandwich baggie over the bristles.

© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.

Mortgage Rates Rise Again | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 22:00

Average fixed mortgage rates rose last week amid continued market expectations of a possible rate increase by the Federal Reserve and following a stronger than expected jobs report.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.98 percent, up from the previous week when they averaged 3.87 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.01 percent.

Fifteen-year rates averaged 3.20 percent, up from 3.09 percent.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) also rose last week.

The five-year hybrid ARM averaged 3.03 percent, up from 2.96 percent, and the one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.65 percent, up from 2.62 percent.


Divide Day Lillies Now; Save Compost for Spring | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 21:55

111915reBy Buzz Bertolero • The Dirt Gardener

Q: I have several large clumps of day lilies that have suffered with the water restrictions, so I need to clean them up and transplant them to a different location. Is it okay to do it now or should I wait until spring?

A: Day lilies are relocated and divided September through March and it doesn’t have to be done all in one day. It’s a judgment call on your part if you now cut the foliage off at the ground or just before transplanting as it makes it easier to move the plant(s).  While I prefer to do so later, in your case I’d do so now.

Those plants trimmed in the fall produce no new growth until next spring. The green foliage is far more visibly pleasing then the short stubble left after the ground-level pruning. Although, they do get shabby looking from winter storms and cold.

With El Niño coming, you might consider getting them out of the ground now and store them in a container for replanting next spring.

Using a round-nose shovel, sever the lateral roots around the clump(s) then gently lift the clump(s) out of the ground.

Next, slice the clumps in half or quarters, depending on their size, and remove any of the loose debris from the clumps(s).

You should also moisten the clumps several times during the winter so they don’t dry out, and be sure there is a drainage hole in the container.

In the spring, dig a hole that is twice to three times as wide as the clump(s) and six to eight inches deeper. The native soil is mixed generously with homemade compost, soil conditioner or any of the blended mixes.

And, finally, add a handful of starter fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.

Dividing and transplanting day lilies is pretty straightforward.

Q: I’m about to empty my compost bin as it’s nearly full.  If I dig the compost into my garden now, will the winter rains leach out the valuable nutrients? In addition, should I mulch my roses now or wait until after they have been pruned?

A: The winter rains shouldn’t leach the nutrients from your compost. Compost is organic matter that is broken down by the soil microbes or organisms into nutrients that plants can use.

The activity of the soil microbes is slowing down with the shorter days and the soil cooling off.

Right now, you have several options. You could dig it in now or spread  the compost over the top as mulch and dig it under in the spring. If you don’t have the time to do either,  save the compost  by storing it in plastic bags or a large garbage can.

With roses, I wouldn’t be inclined to spread it around until after they have been pruned at the earliest. You end up losing a portion of the material when you clean up the leftover debris under the bushes.

Mulching roses is usually done in May.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers and a California Certified Nursery Professional. His web address is and you can send questions by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or to 360 Civic Drive, Suite D, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523 and on Facebook at

CAPTION: The best time to divide and relocate day lillies is from September through March.

Open Homes • 11-19-15 | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 21:54
Home Sales • 11-19-15 | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 23 November 2015 21:53


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