General Interest

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Have you ever noticed how the definition of “old” is very dependent on the circumstances of the subject? Someone finally explained to me that when it comes to our age, OLD is ten years older than you are yourself. Ten years old to 20 years old seems like a huge leap – 50 to 60, not so much. So clearly OLD is relative.

In my final years as a Corporate Real Estate Deal Maker, my company was based in Boston. I had to visit Boston several times a year, and I always made a point to visit something old and historic while I was there.

AtwoodCompared to California, Boston is OLD! I always tried to dine at the Union Oyster House on the Freedom Trail – Established in 1826 in an old building at that time, this is an OLD building and restaurant. I love it!!

And my favorite city in Europe is Rome – talk about OLD! The Pantheon in Rome is so amazing – how did they build that in 46 BC?,_Rome

I love old stuff – old things, old people, old houses! The history of stuff, people and houses fascinates me. A few months ago I wrote about my all time favorite house ever in this Tri-Valley area – it was an old 1936 Spanish Colonial in Alamo. Common in Piedmont or San Francisco, rare here in this valley that was developed post WWII. We have lots and lots, and lots of “mid-century ranchers”. So when old houses come on the market, I am immediately drawn to them.

Two homes are on the market right now that are interesting to compare as ‘old houses’. The first one is on Kuss Road. It was built in 1888! Originally, we think, a barn – this home survived the bulldozer more than once, then in the mid-1990s someone bought it who valued the history and charm of this old property.

With the careful guidance of noted architect Bill Remick, the home was remodeled, maintaining the Old Farm House charm, and bringing it to modern standards. Sitting on 1.4 acres, this home is truly an “estate” property.

Like Old Diablo on the Westside of Danville where you can walk to town and the Iron Horse Trail. Priced like Diablo at $2,999,000 – this Old House is charming and absolutely lovely. The other property that peeked my interest this week is on Harper Lane, also on the west side of Danville. Oh how I hope the right buyer finds this diamond in the rough and restores it to its historic right. I fear that won’t happen though. Granted, it’s pretty rough – but the right person, with the right vision could do great things with this property.

Unfortunately, the listing agent is marketing it as a tear down – “build your dream home”, “value is in the land”. He even positioned himself on the front porch, not inside the house, saying the house had no value. Makes me want to cry!!

The really cool thing about this house is that while it’s not as old as Kuss Road – Harper Lane was built in the early 1940s, it has a great history preserved through photographs throughout the house. This property was built as an Army Rehab facility for soldiers coming home from WWII. And there are pictures of soldiers regaining their health in the pool adjacent to the property. How cool is that?!?

I know, I know – it would take a TON of money, effort and lots of vision to bring this house back to its historic glory, but I hope someone does. It has so much potential!! Take it down to the studs, re-configure the inside, but preserve that great exterior, entrance and history.

I’ll let you know what happens – my guess is that this one is headed the way of the bull dozer. But maybe I’m wrong – if you, or someone you know, loves this kind of house/project – let me know. Let’s try to preserve this cool Old House!


When I joined RE/MAX Danville last year, I joined a Brokerage firm with far greater “reach” than the local boutique agencies I had worked for before. So I started getting notices of listings not only from my previous broker’s other East Bay offices, but from RE/MAX offices all over the Bay Area and the world.We’ve all heard that Real Estate is all about Location, Location, Location. And that the reason Real Estate is so expensive in California is not because of the HOUSES (the structure), but because of the LAND VALUE – the land the house structure sits on. Ok, I get that. And I’ve always known that our Tri-Valley area is what I used to call “the best kept secret in the Bay Area” when it comes to quality of living and affordable housing. Candidly, I don’t think it’s much of a secret anymore, but we are still in an enviable position when it comes to housing costs. Really? Could that really be the case? Even with housing prices going up, up, up?

Yes – it’s still true! One of the notices that popped up in my in-box recently was for a home for sale in Hillsborough – across the bay, on the Peninsula just north of San Mateo. The home looked remarkably like a typical Contra Costa home rancher – single story on a level ½ acre lot. We have a lot of those in Orinda, Lafayette, WC and Alamo – fewer in Danville and San Ramon – where lots tend to be smaller, but not always. When this Tri-Valley was developed over the past 50 years, there were a lot of ranches and orchards that were subdivided into housing tracts. Most of these had ½ acre minimum requirements until the mid 70’s – so we have big lots and Post WWII Ranchers. Anyway – I’m reading through the flyer for Barroilhet Drive in Hillsborough and it’s pretty typical for a lovely higher end home. 4500 square feet, all updated, chef’s kitchen etc. Nice house.

In our more expensive communities that home would be tipping the $2MM scale. In Diablo, it might get close to $3MM depending on the location.

Not across the bay – this pretty average rancher in Hillsborough just had a price reduction to $4,925,000.

Yep, just under FIVE MILLION dollars. For a 4500 square foot rancher? Am I missing something?

I fear we are headed back to the stratosphere of crazy prices and multiple offers. And it’s not just the under $1MM homes that are going with multiple offers. Did you hear about the one on Bobbie Drive in Danville? Priced at $1,254,000 it received 31 offers – perhaps as much as $300,000 over asking price! That house is NOT going to appraise, but the buyer didn’t care – they had enough cash in the deal to come in with no loan contingency.

So yes, everything is Relative – and we are fortunate to be living where we live. We have the beauty of our Mt. Diablo and Las Trampas Hills, 12 years of GREAT public schools, and yes, relatively affordable housing. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that our prices are affordable. Everything is Relative I guess!

Finally – the reason housing prices are skyrocketing is because there is such slim pickins! I’ve been talking about low inventory for months now, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. So if you are considering selling – buying up, down or just around, call me for a specific price evaluation of YOUR home. We need more homes on the market to stabilize this crazy seller’s market!

Have a great week!!

The highest compliment my clients can give me is the referral of their friends, family and business associates.

Thank you for your trust.

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