OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
June 2020

The recent devastating events in our country have all of us at Red Oak Realty thinking deeply about the role we play as Realtors in our community. We believe that there is so much work to do on a global level, however, we are confident that change can begin within ourselves as well as inside our company. It is time we take responsibility and be a part of initiating real change where we can make a difference, right here where we live. 

After many thoughtful discussions with our agents, educators and our diverse and engaged community, we pledge to work toward eradicating racism from our future so that the next generation is guaranteed equality. Moving forward, Red Oak Realty commits to working with more black-owned businesses in our day-to-day transactions as well as nonprofits through our 501(c)3 organization, ROOF (Red Oak Opportunity Foundation). 

We will be instituting training and educational seminars on building and preserving wealth through real estate to reach people of color and under-represented communities. We know access to housing has a direct link to social justice, and our nation has a history of discrimination from redlining, loan discrimination and restrictive covenants to gentrification. These policies prevent wealth-building and perpetuate the inequity of school funding. 

These problems are overwhelming, but as Realtors we can bring awareness and be a part of the change to work towards greater access for people of color. Many sellers and buyers are not aware of legitimate and safe government programs that are available for first-time homebuyers. We can help raise awareness and educate both sellers and buyers about these options that aid our community in purchasing homes in the competitive Bay Area while building equity and providing wealth for future generations.  As we continue to educate ourselves and reframe the conversation about racism and inequality, we have agreed to co-facilitate training of our local industry on diversity, inclusion and fair housing by partnering with our local brokers association. Ultimately our goal is for all members of our industry to reassess the way our local community buys and sells homes, implementing a more inclusive and equitable approach, and we commit to help lead the way.

Lastly, many of us who are becoming aware of our privilege are taking this moment to let those who have been victims of racism, abuse and inequity speak and be heard. This is our time to listen. This is the time for change. 

-Vanessa Bergmark, CEO of Red Oak Realty






In May, the number of sales fell 51% compared to the previous year. However, this is in large part due to the reduction in inventory: even before shelter in place (SIP), inventory was down 30% compared to the previous year. As of May 8, 2020, the number of available listings is down only 15% since last year.


While buyer activity has remained strong, especially in the upper end, buyer confidence has weakened and prices fell 1.4% to a median of $970,000. This is just one data point, and monthly prices have fallen a few times over the past few years, so it is too early to tell whether prices are declining.

However, homes are selling much closer to asking: 4% over list compared to 12% one year ago - and are selling below asking in Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda and Pinole. This change is driven by a shift towards more "transparent" list prices, as well as the change in buyer demand.

As inventory increases and the economy stabilizes and assuming COVID-19 doesn't stop the country from re-opening, we expect the market to continue to improve over the next 3-6 months.


Navigating at this time as a homeowner can be tricky, but with the right resources we can clear up a bit of the fog. Here are just a handful of resources that can help you at this time.

Call, text or email for additional information.


The Federal Reserve concluded their June 10th meeting by aggressively standing behind the credit markets with a policy statement that mirrored the statement coming out of the previous meeting. Some minor changes to a few key verbs and adjectives showed that they are further committing to an open-ended policy of support for the bond and credit markets. The big question has been "How long will they stay committed?" and they seemed to answer this question with their opening sentence. "The Federal Reserve is committed to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy in this challenging time, thereby promoting its maximum employment and price stability goals." Many experts agree that full employment could take years so it appears that the FED is letting the world know that they will be a participant in the markets for the foreseeable future. They went on to say, "The Committee … will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy." Specifically addressing the mortgage-backed securities (MBS) market they said, "To support the flow of credit to households and businesses, over coming months the Federal Reserve will increase its holdings of Treasury securities and agency residential and commercial mortgage-backed securities at least at the current pace to sustain smooth market functioning, thereby fostering effective transmission of monetary policy to broader financial conditions." The bond markets loved this news and yields were pushed to record lows, resulting in record-low mortgage interest rates.  

There has never been a better time to get preapproved for a purchase or to refinance an existing property. If you have any mortgage-related questions, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai (NMLS342090) of Commerce Home Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 415.377.1147.




Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471