OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
Aug 2019

Red Oak is Now the East Bay's Largest Independent Brokerage

Marvin Gardens is now Red Oak Realty!

Red Oak Realty is pleased to announce that it has acquired Marvin Gardens Real Estate, a locally-owned agency, making Red Oak the single largest independent brokerage in the East Bay with offices in Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, El Cerrito, Richmond and Kensington, and over 170 agents and staff.

Size and statistics aside, the aspect that makes this acquisition most exciting is what the expanded Red Oak will be able to bring to you, our clients and our East Bay community.

You see, Red Oak Realty and Marvin Gardens were both founded by local business people and we are doubling down in our home market. We want to ensure that East Bay residents have a better alternative to corporate behemoths that are taking a cookie-cutter approach to every new city they enter that ultimately prioritize the needs of Wall Street and foreign investors over home owners and buyers.

By joining forces with a brokerage that has a shared history in the East Bay (both firms were founded in the 1970s), Red Oak Realty is even better equipped to serve our community with a client-first real estate model.

"This was truly a decision from the heart," said Marion Henon who owns Marvin Gardens with Todd Hodson. "Both companies have shared the same values for decades, and rather than work as separate factions or sell to a giant corporation, we'll be stronger together." Both Todd and Marion are joining Red Oak as sales managers.

"Ultimately, Marvin Gardens is changing its name, not its philosophy," said Red Oak Realty owner Vanessa Bergmark. " The company has built something that the agents and staff can be proud of, and it is important to preserve that success and minimize changes to agents."

And while clients can look forward to enhanced services, market innovation, integrity and high standards - of both Red Oak and Marvin Gardens - most things will remain the same. If anything, you'll just be seeing a whole lot more of Red Oak.




Sale prices continue on a slow but steady incline throughout the East Bay, however with the list to sale price ratios continuing to decline each month, and inventory on the rise over the last two months, we're questioning if these might be signs of a slowing market. In just about every city except for Berkeley and Richmond, homes are selling closer to the asking price. In addition to that, homes are taking longer to sell, with days on market, on average growing to 20 in July, an increase in every city except for Kensington.

Traditionally in the fall season, we begin to see an increase in inventory at this time of year. All eyes will be on the market after Labor Day. If you're thinking of selling soon it's worthwhile to note that attractive pricing and home preparation will be more important than ever if a surge of inventory hits the market this fall. The sooner you begin to prepare, the better equipped you will be to compete this season.


Significant fears that the trade war between the U.S. and China will tip the world and U.S. economies into recession has caused a flight to quality in the markets, with treasuries and mortgage-backed securities benefiting. Adding to the downward pressure on rates, many traders have priced in a 0.25% rate cut from the FED for their upcoming September meeting and believe that there is a greater than 80% chance for another cut in November. Further out on the horizon, the yield curve on bonds has inverted, which has been a reliable historic indicator of a recession within the next 18 months.  Data analytics firm Black Knight reported that there are now 9.7 million homeowners who would benefit significantly from refinancing their current mortgage.  

For a free analysis of your mortgage and to see if you are eligible for a no cost rate reduction, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of Commerce Home Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 415.377.1147.

Commerce Home Mortgage


There has been a lot of noise around Oakland's latest Sidewalk Ordinance which became effective July 9th, 2019. This new ordinance requires sidewalk repairs of known, unsafe conditions prior to Close of Escrow, this includes sidewalks, walkways, driveways, curbs, gutters and other areas with some exceptions.

Since the ordinance became in effect an amendment has been placed allowing property owners to obtain a Provisional Sidewalk Compliance Certificate from the Oakland Department of Transportation which terminates October 7th, 2019. This will enable buyers and sellers to delay making sidewalk repairs until after the close of escrow. 

For more information regarding Oakland's Sidewalk Ordinance call the Oakland's Department of Transportation at 510.615.5566.


August's page features the Oakland Hills from above on a foggy morning. Underneath the fog is the Skyline Ridge, a preserve that offers plenty of meadows, a peaceful pond and lake. Although trails are limited, there is still plenty to do: hiking for all skill levels, equestrian activities, picnic grounds, cycling and plenty of nature all around you. Skyline Ridge Preserve is open during the weekends spring through fall.

This image is one of 12 featured in Red Oak Realty's 2019 "The East Bay From Above" calendar. We'll include more about each month's aerial photograph throughout the year. Call or email for a complimentary copy of the 2019 calendar.


Nyum Bai located across the street from Fruitvale BART Station was named one of the 10 Best Restaurants in America by Bon Appetit within their first year in business. Owner, Nite Yun who is also a 2019 James Beard-nominated chef, showcases food that is not easy to find locally or nationally. This is a petite restaurant with small tables and window-side counter seating, as well as an outdoor area, but diners can join the waitlist in advance via their Yelp app. 

The most popular dish is Koh, caramelized pork belly, soft boiled egg and bamboo shoot simmered in coconut water, palm sugar and ginger. It is a blend of sweet, pepper and savory flavors and definitely felt like comfort food in a bowl. The Ngoum Chicken salad is very light with crunchy cabbage, poached chicken, ribbons of carrots, cucumbers and basil with sweet fish sauce dressing. This is a refreshing salad perfect for the summer and the flavors dance on the tongue. Nyum Bai is a welcomed addition to Oakland's growing epicurean culture.

Nyum Bai is located 3340 E. 12th Street, Suite 11 in Oakland. Open Wednesday - Saturday for lunch from 11:30-2:30pm and dinner from 5:30-9:00pm. On Sundays, they are open for lunch 11:30-3:00pm and dinner 5:00-8:30pm. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Book your next reservation online or call 510.500.3338.

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471