OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
Nov 2019


From tool lending libraries to recycling centers to where to pick up or drop off junk or treasures, here's a list of some unique home resources across the East Bay.

Urban Ore

Urban Ore has a collection of interesting home materials, like doorknobs, windows, light fixtures and hard-to-find pieces of hardware. You can also drop off items to avoid dump fees and keep landfills empty. And if you have anything that could be reused, bring it in to receive trade-in credits.

Urban Ore: 900 Murray St, Berkeley. Open Mon - Sat 8:30am - 7pm and Sun 10am - 7pm. 510.841.7283.

Ohmega Salvage

A model of reuse, recycling and social exchange, Ohmega Salvage gives a new life to used items. From refurbished pieces of furniture to records, hardware and so much more, you are likely to find a unique treasure.

Ohmega Salvage: 2400 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley. Open Wed - Sat 10am - 5:30pm and Sun 11am - 5:30pm. 510.204.0767.

Grand Lake Ace Hardware

Grand Lake Ace Hardware off Grand Avenue will cut glass and acrylic sheets, sharpen knives and blades, exchange propane tanks, program auto keys, service locks and match paint.

Grand Lake Ace Hardware: 1221 Grand Ave, Piedmont. Open Mon - Fri 8:30am - 6pm, Sat 9am - 6pm and Sun 10am - 4pm. 510.653.1936.

Sink Factory

Looking for old school and hard-to-find plumbing fixtures? The Sink Factory has a well-curated collection of vintage, custom and new sinks, faucets, toilets, and tubs.

Sink Factory: 2140 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley. Open Tue - Sat 9am - 5pm. 510.540.8193.

Discount Fabrics

Looking for fabric to cover cushions or make a tablecloth or a custom-size curtain? Discount Fabrics offers a huge selection of great fabrics at low prices.

Discount Fabrics: 3006 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley. Open Mon - Sun 10am - 6pm. 510.423.0699.

The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse

The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse collects and redistributes discarded goods such as low-cost supplies for art, education and social services. Donate old or unused art materials, baskets, containers and other items that can be put to creative use. 

The East Bay Depot for Create Reuse: 4695 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. Open Mon - Sun 11am - 5pm for donations and 11am - 6pm for store hours. 510.547.6470.

Tool Lending Libraries

Tool lending libraries can be a free or affordable service that is offered in a variety of neighborhoods. In addition to a wide array of tools, rent items such as clamps, gardening tools, mechanical tools and so much more. Be sure to see if an item is available before visiting your nearest lending library.

Richmond Tool Library: 3230 Macdonald Ave, Richmond. Open Mon and Fri 1pm - 5pm and Wed 3:30pm - 7:30pm. 510.620.5546.

Berkeley Tool Lending Library: 1901 Russell St, Berkeley. Open Fri - Tue 10am - 6pm and Wed - Thu 12pm - 8pm. 510.981.6101.

Oakland Tool Lending Library: 5205 Telegraph Ave, Oakland. Open Mon, Thu and Sat 10am - 5:30pm, Tue and Wed 10am - 8pm and Fri fom 12pm - 5:30pm. 510.597.5089.

Honorable Mentions

  • Visit IKEA's "as-is" section for discounted frames, miscellaneous floor samples, returned furniture or slightly damaged items.
  • Attend the Annual White Elephant Sale benefitting the Oakland Museum and find an array of used clothing, jewelry, books, tools, household goods, sporting equipment and much more.
  • Take styrofoam peanuts to your local FedEx and UPS for reuse.
  • Have leftover and unwanted paint, stain or varnish? Find a local drop-off site near you.
  • Want to recycle old carpet? Find a local carpet recovery site.
  • Donate home improvement items such as kitchen cabinets and appliances to a local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Call 800.746.7090 for more information.
  • Looking to get creative? See what classes and workshops are available at the Richmond Art Center




New listings flooded the market after Labor Day, which is typical for the season. The number of active properties spiked by about 30% in just a few weeks' time, and the bulk of those transactions closed in October. 

As we can see from the chart above, the market moved at a healthy clip. The number of units sold fell between 2018 and 2019 by 5% (this is partially due to the fact that there were fewer listings on the market this year). Supply was lower but demand remained high, which drove prices up 4% to a median of $905,000. However, we have found that there are fewer buyers in the marketplace, so properties are selling closer to asking (an average of 8.9% over list) due to lower competition and more properties with "transparent pricing." Average days on market was essentially flat at 24 days. 

The number of new listings has been declining for weeks, and if past seasons are any indication, will continue to do so through the new year. We expect the market to reawaken - and experience a notable increase in listings and buyer activity - in March/April.


The FED cut rates by 0.25% as expected at their November meeting. The cut was already set into mortgage pricing but the commentary from the FED helped push rates slightly lower immediately following the meeting. The drop was short lived, however, as all-time highs in stocks and positive economic news pushed rates higher the following week.  

Looking ahead, choppy economic news could lead to even lower rates as we move through Q4. The October Cass Freight shipments index was down year-over-year for the 11th straight month. This is a little known index which is not generally covered by the media, but is an extremely important indicator on the economy. Their methodology says it quite eloquently  "As we try to navigate the ebb and flow of the economy, we don't pretend to have any 'secret sauce' or incredibly complex models that have exhaustively analyzed every data point available. Instead, we place our trust in the simple notion that the movement of tangible goods is the heartbeat of the economy, and that tracking the volume and velocity of those goods has proven to be one of the most reliable methods of predicting change because of the adequate amount of forewarning that exists."  In the latest report, the index was down nearly 4% and Cass Freight repeated that for the past 5 months the shipments index has gone from a warning of a potential slowdown to signaling an economic contraction. Cass Freight thinks we can see a negative GDP print as soon as Q4. Many analysts have increased their likelihood of a recession in 2020, which could signal further rate cuts by the FED. 

It's a great time to set up a refinance to take advantage of the low rate environment.  For a free analysis of your current mortgage or to get preapproved for a new purchase, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of Commerce Home Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 415.377.1147.

Commerce Home Mortgage




As the holidays roll around, Red Oak Realty is teaming up with Toys for Tots to help less fortunate children have an opportunity to celebrate the holidays. To join us you can donate new, originally packaged toys for any age at any of our Red Oak locations listed below - just be sure to leave your gift unwrapped and drop off your gift by December 11th. No matter how big or small, your gift will be sure to bring holiday joy to a child in need.

Donate to any Red Oak drop-off location Monday - Friday from 9AM to 5:30PM.
1891 Solano Avenue, Berkeley | 1577 Solano Avenue, Berkeley | 1575 Hopkins St, Berkeley | 6450 Moraga Avenue, Oakland | 7502 Fairmount Avenue, El Cerrito



November's page features the view of San Francisco from Downtown Oakland. Downtown Oakland has an excellent blend of unique restaurants, art, local culture and entertainment. When the sun goes down the streets come alive! On the first Friday of the month attend the Oakland Art Murmur where you'll find food trucks, an open gallery art walk and live music. Check out the Oakland Museum of California the second Sunday of the month when admission is by donation and see the local cultural exhibits. You can always catch a live show at the Paramount Theatre or refurbished Fox Theater, or go ice skating at the Oakland Ice Center. There's simply so much to do in Downtown Oakland.

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.


Picante is located on 6th Street in the Oceanview neighborhood of Berkeley. Jim Maser, the owner and a Berkeley High School grad, used to travel frequently to Mexico, falling in love with the cultural flavors, tastes and spices. This prompted him to bring these flavors to his friends in the East Bay - and Picante was born. 

He understands that to make the best corn tortillas they must be ground daily. Picante offers a wide range of traditional Mexican selections including tacos, enchiladas, tamales, burritos, combo plates and their very popular chips and salsas. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available as well.

Dining is simple with both indoor and outdoor seating, and the option to order ahead and pick up makes it a breeze to surprise the family with a great meal at home. Stop by for the very popular weekend brunch or hit the bar to enjoy a drink with your meal. 

Picante is located at 1328 6th Street, Berkeley. Open Monday - Friday 11am -10pm and Saturday - Sunday 10am - 10pm.

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471