Auction Before I get started on this week’s missive – note at the end that I’ve added a new segment to my top ten. There is so much activity “at Auction” (i.e. Trustee Sale) and I now have a business relationship with a broker who does just this. So I’ve included some hot Auction deals. If you want to learn more about buying a home on the courthouse steps – after default but before it goes back to the bank – contact me. These are now becoming viable. (Note: please subscribe to the newsletter to see this information.)

Earthquakes are like Real Estate
It’s all about location

Do you remember several weeks ago when we had an earthquake locally at 3:13 in the morning? Everyone in the office was talking about it. “Wow – did you feel that last night?” Man oh man did I feel it! I was already awake for some reason at 3:13, so it felt that much bigger since it didn’t stir me from a deep sleep. I lay there with my heart thumping worried about what would happen to us financially if we had to repair a severely damaged home (funny our personal safety didn’t come to mind – I was just worried about damage! Give a psychologist that one. . .). I reached over to my bedside radio, flipped on KGO and heard – nothing. Nothing? How could that be – this was a HUGE earthquake!?! There must be massive damage throughout the Bay Area! Why was there no Emergency Broadcast System on the radio?

Because it was a 3.3 magnitude earthquake – noticeable, but did no damage. Why had it so thoroughly freaked me out? Because it was almost directly under my house. Like Real Estate – the location of an Earthquake is everything. Small but close can feel as bad as big and distant.

Japan EarthquakeFourteen days ago a massive 9.0 Earthquake hit Japan. What could have been an amazing “win” story – very little damage to high rise buildings and a true testament to buildings built to new earthquake standards (unlike Haiti a year ago), of course went very wrong when on the heels of this massive earthquake came the devastating tsunami. Which in turn triggered the nuclear energy scare. And while we are probably safe from tsunami in the San Ramon Valley – our Bay Area and precious Pacific Coast is certainly not.

Not one to normally be shaken (no pun intended) by earthquakes – the combination of our little, but very local earthquake several weeks ago and the massive quake with massive affect in Japan has gotten me thinking. While it is unlikely that any quake in this region will match the magnitude of Japan’s – if it originates along the Hayward fault, it may be as violent because we will be right on top of it. Remember, Loma Prieta was nearly 50 miles away in the Santa Cruz Mountains – and look at the damage that did.

So. . .Are we ready? I’m not – and I’m ready to do something about that. For years we’ve been hearing about a 72 hour plan – but the reality is that Emergency Services will be wholly consumed with immediate life threatening needs before they will get to those of us who are merely shaken up by the quake (we can only hope to be on the right end of that equation). So what can we do – right now, to feel better prepared?

  • Prepare a disaster kit with water, packaged food, flashlight, first-aid supplies and medication. Keep an “overnight bag” with critical toiletries and meds in a safe, secure spot. In a car that stays parked outside is a safe bet. A car in the garage – no so much.
  • Formulate a family plan: determine which room offers the best shelter at home and where you will meet later if you are separated. If you have children no longer living at home, designate a family member as the “control tower” for the family. Everyone knows to call “cousin Joe” and that person will be the central source of family information if local lines of communication are down.
  • Secure tall furniture and strap your water heater to the wall.
  • gas valveKnow how to operate all your utility shut-offs. Homes purchased in Contra Costa County (like Alamo and Diablo) in the past three years have been required to install the new Gas Valve Shut-off. But this does not apply to our local cities – Danville, San Ramon, Walnut Creek, and doesn’t apply to county homes that haven’t sold in the past three years – so assume YOU need to shut off the gas and other utilities. (I have no idea how to do this on my home. . .).

While faults typically “break” every 150 years – the likelihood that all will break at the same time is impossible, so the chances of a serious quake in our immediate area happening sometime in the next 30 years is pretty good.

So take a few minutes and take the simple steps outlined above. We can’t prevent that earthquake, but at least we can be prepared.


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