OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
Sep 2019


Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) – aka granny flats, in-law suites and secondary units – are immensely attractive to East Bay homeowners and homebuyers. They allow residents to comfortably host guests or family members, develop studios or generate income as short- or long-term rentals.*

Defined as a dwelling that provides complete independent living, eating, cooking and bathroom facilities located on the same lot as an existing single-family home, ADUs come in two types: detached, such as a casita in the backyard; and attached, such as a converted attic or backroom connected to the main house. These units are used for everything from art studios to rentals to guest houses.

ADUs can be appealing to communities as they facilitate the development of diverse housing types, add to rental stock, increase affordability by lowering rental housing prices (in some cases), and provide more opportunities for families to age in place. However, ADUs also come with a fair share of controversy as communities grapple with ensuring they improve (or at least do not detract from) residents' quality of life. 

ADUs can affect neighborhood density and, if cities allow owners to use them as short-term rentals (through sites such as Airbnb or VRBO), they can increase traffic and busy-ness in settled neighborhoods. Many cities strive to make sure that their ADU policy maintains neighborhood character intact and minimize the impact of short-term rentals so that parking and high-turnover visitors don't disrupt neighborhood security or safety.

Here's a fact-based overview of ADUs to help East Bay homeowners and buyers better understand and assess city policies around them to help make better decisions. 

Some of the ADU policies of the five Inner East Bay cities covered – Oakland, Berkeley, San Leandro, Alameda and Richmond – are similar. For example, each city allows only one ADU per primary dwelling, does not allow ADUs to be sold separately from the main house and stipulates that ADUs must appear subordinate to the primary home. City policies vary on whether owners must live onsite, whether ADUs can be used as short-term rentals and on other details.

Reach out if you have any questions about ADUs or need recommendations of architects or designers familiar with ADUs.

Access the full post here for more.

*Verify with your city and rental board.




Each year, sales in the month of August tend to slow due to the dog days of summer. And while volume was reduced, the number of sales declined compared to the previous year, falling 0.5%. This decline is consistent with the previous three months worth of sales. However, it's surprising that median prices fell as well, declining 1.9% to $882,500. This is the first time since January that prices were down compared to the previous year. Homes also sold closer to asking at 9.7% over list. In total, all three metrics were down slightly compared to last year. Is this a sign that the market is slowing, or that we're heading towards a buyer's market? It's possible, but we will know more after we see October's numbers, which should be quite active and will truly reflect how the fall selling season is performing.


Bonds are getting crushed in September. After a 133bp gain in August, bonds gave back 120bp in the first two weeks of September as mortgage rates bounced off their mid-3% to the low 4% range. Rates are still historically very low, but are now off of the lowest levels that we saw in late August. The FED meeting on September 17th and 18th is expected to come with another 0.25% cut to the FED Funds rate, but the impact on mortgage rates remains to be seen. If the rate cut is viewed as inflationary, mortgage rates will rise in spite of the cut. If the FED indicates that inflation is tame and not a concern, rates could stay where they are or go down. The mortgage markets are watching global events very carefully, particularly the ongoing trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, and the impact of global oil prices following the attack in Saudi Arabia on September 14th. This is still a great time to purchase a property or to refinance to a lower interest rate if you bought your property between 2017 and 2018.  

If you would like to see if you qualify for a no cost rate reduction or to get pre-approved to purchase a home, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of Commerce Home Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 415.377.1147.



September's page features the beauty in the heart of Oakland, the Rotunda. This building features one of the world's largest elliptical domes and has been registered as a historic landmark. In addition to its spectacular 5,000 square foot elliptical dome and amazing architectural feats, the Rotunda is known for hosting amazing events year-round, including  musicians, weddings and inspiring speakers. 

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 to reserve a complimentary copy of the 2020 calendar.


Not quite pastrami and not quite corned beef, Augie's Montreal Deli brings some of Canada's best smoked beef and turkey, poutine, rye bread latkes, matzo ball soup and so much more to the East Bay.

This fast casual restaurant was opened by Lex Gopnik-Lewinski in early 2018. Lex's family moved here from Montreal when he was 11; he wanted to bring his favorite childhood memory to California. To do this, Lex learned how to smoke meat from scratch and the results are incredible!

Augie's now offers lunch and weekend brunch. They don't just specialize in meats, but offer salads, poutine – a Canadian favorite of french fries smothered in cheese curds and gravy (vegetarian version available) – and a great selection of Canadian beers, too! The portions are large and the location, situated a few blocks from Berkeley Bowl West, is great for private parties and events.

Augie's Montreal Deli is located at 875 Potter Street in Berkeley. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open Wednesday - Thursday from 11am to 3pm, Friday 11am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 8pm. Can't sit and stay, call for takeout at 510.984.0283.

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471