Real Estate Gallery
Californians Fear Financial Failure | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2015 11:32


The GOBankingRates 2015 Life & Money Survey is out after surveying 5,001 Americans with the question: “What is your biggest financial fear?” And it’s bad news for California. Of the top-7 answers, many apply directly to us. In order, those surveyed said they were afraid of:

1. Always living paycheck to paycheck.

2. Having identity stolen.

3. Living in debt forever.

4. Losing all their money in the stock market.

5. Losing their job.

6. Not being able to retire.

7. Not being able to afford a home.

While these fears stretch across America, they have special significance here in the San Francisco Bay Area, with more than its share of wealth compared with almost every other area on the globe.

With over 30 percent of 2014 home purchases being cash, it’s hard to imagine that many local residents may be permanently priced out of the possibility of owning a home.

Even worse, escalating rents are making it almost impossible for thousands to secure housing. The inability to find affordable housing means potential relocations, fueling the reality of losing good-paying jobs. For many, this brings up the frank possibility of spiraling into debt and subsequent inability to retire.

The real surprise, however, is that, out of the top-10 states where people actually do live paycheck to paycheck, California ranks No. 2, only behind Hawaii (which has a very high cost of living). And, with 20 percent of those being surveyed stating this was their No. 1 fear, it seems Californians actually have something to worry about. Even in the midst of our prosperity, when it comes to living on the edge of financial catastrophe, many are only one payday away from disaster.

As an example, if you’re hoping to buy a home, living paycheck to paycheck makes that very hard to do.

The survey also split fears along gender lines. Women were more afraid than men of living paycheck to paycheck, being in debt forever and not being able to afford a home; men were more afraid of losing their money in the stock market, losing their jobs and being unable to retire.

The state where residents had the least financial fears? Minnesota, followed by Iowa and Missouri — all states with lower incomes but also lower living costs as well. It seems that the higher the incomes, the higher the stakes, and the more people are worried about losing it.

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

Get the Most from Your Compost | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:49

By Samantha Mazzotta • Special to the Times

If you have a compost pile that’s starting to give off a bad odor, it means that the compost has compacted. Instead of actually composting (breaking down solids) it’s putrefying.

What you need to do right away is turn the compost pile — meaning, take a shovel, spade or stick and stir the compost, remixing everything.

Turning the compost will reintroduce air into the pile and help restart the process. If there’s a lot of extra water after turning, pour off some, but not all of it.

From here forward, monitor your compost regularly and turn it every week. Also keep an eye on what you’re putting into the kitchen compost. Under no circumstances should you put in meat scraps; this will attract flies and result in maggots. Keep a roughly 50/50 ratio of carbon-rich to nitrogen-rich ingredients.

Carbon-rich ingredients include anything “brown,” such as sawdust, dead leaves, paper or straw; nitrogen-rich ingredients include anything “green” such as greens and vegetables.

You can also add crumbled eggshells (calcium) and occasionally sprinkle wood ashes from the fireplace into the pile.

When the danger of hard frost is past, add a handful of live earthworms to the freshly turned pile. They’ll help aerate and break down the pile into rich compost.

If you want to learn more about composting, has published detailed instructions on building a keeping a healthy compost pile.

Home Tip: Keep compost piles in a far corner of the yard or as far from a home’s exterior walls as possible to prevent pests from entering your home.

© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.

Flanagan Honored | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:47

021116re2Castro Valley Realtor Patrick Flanagan recently received the Good Neighbor of the Year Award from the East Bay Association of Realtors’ for his work collecting food for the homeless and for raising funds for wheelchair-bound veterans.

Sow Seeds in Mid March for May Planting | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:41

021116reBy Buzz Bertolero • The Dirt Gardener

Q: I’ve saved the seeds from last year’s tomatoes and pepper plants. When would it be a good time to start the seeds, so I can transplant them into the garden in May?

A: When germinating flower or vegetable seeds, allow six to eight weeks between sowing the seed and planting in the open ground. Hence, I’d be sowing the seeds in early March.

However, if these were hybrid varieties, it’s not worth the effort and you’ll be disappointed. You only want to save and replant open-pollinated varieties.

The seeds saved from hybrid flower and vegetable varieties are unpredictable. The chances they are duplicates from last year’s varieties is not very good. It’s all about genetics. So, I’d start with new plants.

If not, the first thing to do is check to see if the seed is viable. Viable seed means it is capable of germinating. This is easily accomplished by pouring the seed into a glass of water or a larger receptacle. Discard the seed that floats on the surface and plant those that sink.

The viable seed is then dried out by spreading it over a paper towel and covering it with a second sheet.

Next, sow the seed into a flat of pre-moistened potting soil, moist like a wrung out sponge. With a pen or pencil, make furrows in the soil, sow the seed in the rows and then cover the seed. The flat is then covered with plastic to trap in the moisture and heat.

Once the seedlings start to emerge from the soil, remove the sheeting and place the flat in an area that gets morning sun. The seedlings are transferred to individual pots when they get two sets of true leaves.

Some gardeners prefer to sow seed directly into individual pots, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, I prefer the other method as it allows me to select and grow the most vigorous seedlings.

Note: May is an excellent time to plant vegetables, especially tomatoes and peppers. It’s not unusual for summer vegetables to struggle with cool, damp weather in March and April. So, there is a real advantage by waiting until May to plant.

Q: I’m confused by the different types of hose end sprayers available. What is the actual fluid content of these sprayers? I’m assuming a 6- or 20-gallon sprayer must mean so many gallons per second. A true 20-gallon sprayer would  be humongous in size.

A: The number of gallons of a hose-end sprayer represents the total volume of water that is dispensed when you fill a jar to the top until its empty. The discharge rate is determined by the nozzle. The larger the capacity of the sprayer, the larger the water droplet that is dispensed. So, a 6-gallon hose-end sprayer with a fine droplet is used for foliar sprays while a 20-gallon sprayer with a large droplet is ideal for soil drenches.

Buzz Bertolero is an Advanced California Certified Nursery Professional and the Senior Gardening Professional at Sloat Garden Centers. The Dirt Gardener’s website is and questions can be sent by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or at

Open Homes • 02-11-16 | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:40
Home Sales • 02-11-16 | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:38
Follow These Top 5 Buyer Tips for 2016 | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 02 April 2015 11:32


With 2016 off and running, many prospective homebuyers are sitting on their hands. Falling into five broad categories:

1. They tried purchasing a home in 2015, but were burned by countless multiple offer scenarios and ever increasing prices.

2. They have been keeping an eye on interest rates and are unsure when to take the plunge.

3. They cannot seem to find a home that works for them due to the extreme shortage of inventory.

4. They are currently priced out of the market and are scrambling to get (i) more funds for a down payment, (ii) qualify for a higher mortgage or (iii) try to find someone to provide gift funds or co-sign with them.

5. They are waiting, believing that prices will soon adjust downwards.

While I understand categories 1-4, I’m concerned about #5 — every indicator I’ve read shows steady price increases for the next year. I watched similar buyers a few years ago with the same sentiments. Unfortunately, because they waited, many squandered any opportunity they may have had of securing a home locally.

For those who really want to get a home in 2016, here are my Top 5 Tips:

1. Start NOW. The day after Super Bowl Sunday usually signifies the beginning of the buying season as buyers get off their couches and hit the pavement. If you start immediately, you will miss some of the rush.

2. Get an agent who has sold a lot of homes in the current market. You need the best experience you can find on your side.

3. Get your financing in order. Have a pre-approval ready to go and make sure you have your down payment in the bank. Count on up to 3 percent of the purchase price for closing costs over and above your down payment. If you are going to need gift funds from a family member, arrange them now and get a gift letter signed.

4. Don’t be fussy. In a market such as this, the goal is to get a home at all, not get the home of your dreams.

5. Consider new homes. In some communities, inventory is currently available. You will pay a premium, but may stand a much higher chance of getting a home. Make sure you take your Realtor with you on the first visit.

While it’s a tough market for sure, if you are diligent, 2016 could be your year.

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

Mortgage Rates Fall for Fourth Straight Week | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:49

Mortgage rates moved lower last week for the fourth consecutive week as the Fed held interest rates steady.

Thirty-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.79 percent, down from 3.81 percent the week before. A year ago at this time, the 30-year rate averaged 3.66 percent.

Fifteen-year loan rates averaged 3.07 percent, down from 3.10 percent.

Five-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) averaged 2.90 percent last week, down from 2.91 percent. A year ago, the five-year ARM averaged 2.86 percent.


Junsay Installed as President of Asian Real Estate Group | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:47

020416re2Commercial and residential real estate broker Josefina Junsay of Alameda, a longtime East Bay resident, was installed as 2016 president of the Asian Real Estate Association of the East Bay last month.

Junsay is a broker associate with Realty One Group BMC Associates.

Other officers installed during the Jan. 8 ceremonies included Vice President Frankie Hartwell, Treasurer Mary Geong, Secretary Michell Li and Public Relations Officer Tina Diep.

A certificate of Special Congressional Recognition was presented to the new officers and Board of Directors for their dedication to the East Bay Community from Congresswoman Barbara Lee .

The Asian Real Estate Association of the East Bay, a non-profit organization that works to expand the expertise of its members, can be reached at 510-938-5732 or online at www.


Do You Have Termite Troubles? | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:44

By Samantha Mazzotta • Special to the Times

Inspecting your home for termite infestation on a regular basis can make a big difference in the amount you’d have to pay to eradicate them.

Most homeowners aren’t able to decisively confirm that a termite infestation exists, but there are telltale signs to watch for:

• Dirt tunnels on the house’s masonry foundation and on pipes traveling through the foundation.

• Crumbly areas inside masonry cracks or holes.

• Small dirt-like formations inside cracks or holes.

• In wooden areas of the house, especially those close to the ground, look for rotten or decayed spots. Use a pocketknife to poke into the spot; if it penetrates a half-inch or more, you might have a termite problem.

If you notice any of these suspicious signs, contact an exterminator to do a more thorough inspection of your house and start treating for termites. Be sure to get a written estimate of the work to be done before allowing the exterminator to start treatment.

How do you prevent termites? In addition to scheduling a professional inspection and preventive treatment once a year, keep moisture from affecting the house — particularly at the foundation.

Don’t allow standing water near the foundation. If that’s a problem, improve drainage away from the area. Trim back hedges and plants to about 1 foot from the foundation so pests can’t work their way into the house from them. Fill and seal cracks in outside masonry.

© 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.

Cervantes Named Vice President of Hispanic Realtor Organization | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:43

020416re3Castro Valley Realtor Jose Cervantes has been named vice president of the Bay Area chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP).

Cervantes is an affiliated agent in the the Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office at 21060 Redwood Road. He will be installed next week at the chapter’s 2016 kick-off event in Oakland.

A 15-year real estate veteran, Cervantes holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from U.C. Berkeley where he majored in architecture. Having worked in architecture for 12 years, he brings a unique perspective to his real estate business. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Languishing Lime Slowly Strangles Itself | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:41

By Buzz Bertolero • The Dirt Gardener

Q: I have an old lime planted in a container that constantly has limes on it, but the leaves are yellow. Is it okay to feed it while it has fruit on it? In addition, when is the best time to repot it since it’s been in the same pot for eight years and I don’t want to shock it?

A: It’s never a problem to feed citrus while it has fruit maturing on the plant. Citrus food is the most popular choice and it’s applied monthly, March through October.

After the rainy season concludes, be sure to  water it the day before and immediately after applying any fertilizer. Personally, I prefer to feed with Osmocote. It’s a time-released fertilizer that releases a little bit of nutrients every time you water and you only need to reapply it every four months.

Eight years is a long time to be in the same container. There is probably very little soil left, so you’re left with a mass of roots that is slowly strangling itself. Citrus, along with many other plants in containers, should be repotted every 36 months. It’s usually done between mid February through April.

You could move it to a larger pot or keep it in the same size pot indefinitely by root pruning it.

To root prune, you’ll need to physically pull the plant out of the existing container. With a serrated knife, or pruning saw, trim off two to three inches off the sides of the root ball and three to six inches off the bottom. I know this sounds harsh but it will not damage the plant.

Next, add fresh soil to the container and replant.

When transplanting to another pot, you again use a serrated knife and slice the root ball, separating some of the roots. You need to disrupt the circular pattern and allow the roots to spread out into the new soil.

This would also be an ideal time to add Soil Moist crystals to the new soil. Soil Moist is a polymer for plants that hydrates with water. The plant roots attach to them and use it as a back-up reservoir. This helps in extending the days between watering.

Buzz Bertolero is Executive Vice President of Navlet’s Garden Centers. Send questions by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .



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