OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
May 2019

You may have heard the terms “off-market” or “pocket” listing. If you’re looking to buy or sell real estate, you may be asking yourself what those terms mean. Let’s explore their meaning and how they impact you.
When an agent lists a home for sale, they typically place it on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the website that gives agents access to the newest and broadest array of homes available for sale. In some cases, the agent and seller may decide to keep the home off the MLS, thus making the property an off-market, or pocket, listing.
Traditionally, the most beneficial listing strategy is to market the property on the open market - and on the MLS. That’s because:
  • The MLS is considered the most complete collection of listings that are available for sale. It is the essential launching ground for widespread exposure of a home. Listing your property on it therefore increases exposure to licensed agents searching for active buyers.
  • It feeds to search portals like Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com, as well as brokerage sites like Redfin, increasing exposure to buyers who may just be starting their search. 
  • It’s where open houses and brokers tours with access to the interior of the property are available to the public, granting intimate exposure to the more detailed aspects of the property. 
  • Because it generates a high level of visibility, it’s the most reliable way for sellers to generate multiple offers, thus increasing the sale price of a home.
However, there are extenuating circumstances in which an agent and/or seller may decide not to include the property on the MLS, and thus hold the property as a pocket listing:
  • They want to keep the listing relatively quiet. This may be appropriate if the sellers are private people, they want to limit access to their home, or they prefer to not move out and/or stage the property.
  • They want to “test” the market to see if the property, or a price, is attractive to buyers - and they want to do it without accumulating “days on market” (the number of days the property has been on the MLS), or the fees associated with prepping the house to maximize sales price (like painting, landscaping, or light kitchen and bath updating) .
Sellers should be cautious when a brokerage mandates that a property be kept off the MLS. In these cases, the property is required to be held as a pocket listing, or “coming soon” - often for a few weeks. They may do this in order to “double end” the transaction, keeping more of the commission for themselves. This is designed to benefit the brokerage, not the client. There should be no policy on how to market your individual property, especially when holding it from the market as a mandate rather than a special circumstance. 
Unless the agent manages this process carefully, they may list the property before professional photos are taken and a marketing strategy is refined. This means that the first time the listing is visible to the public, it's not likely seen in the best possible light, and that first impression can be hard to overcome in a competitive market. There’s an additional risk if the market is shifting when it’s critical for a listing to get widespread visibility as quickly as possible. Keeping it off-market could diminish the value of the home if it’s held unnecessarily from maximum exposure.
Whether listed on the MLS and marketed widespread, or kept as a pocket listing, there is a solution that is right for you. Thinking of selling your home this year or next, reach out with any questions so we can talk through the options. 



April is the first month of the year in which the real estate market starts to come alive. Despite continued threats of a slowdown across the US, and even the Bay Area, the East Bay market remains active. 
The number of homes sold in the East Bay was flat compared to last year. This is somewhat unusual as this metric has been in decline for several years. Median home price had a healthy tick upwards, up an average of 8 percent compared to last year. However, there was some variation across cities, with Berkeley down 8% and San Leandro up 9%. Homes sold 11.1% over list price, which 2.1 percentage points lower than last year. This decline may be a reflection in a change in pricing strategy - agents may be listing properties closer to what the seller expects to receive. 
You should expect the number of sales to increase in May, and probably June, then begin to decline as we head into the summer. If past performance is any indication, plan on an intensely competitive market, especially for the most desirous listings.

The U.S. and China failed to execute a trade deal so tariffs were raised to 25% on May 10th. The new tariffs will only be imposed on goods that have not yet been shipped. The negotiations will continue which allows for some extra time to try and get a deal done before the impact of the tariffs are felt. Stock markets around the world are concerned about the escalation of the US/China trade rift and have been selling off lately. This has helped bonds, and consequently, interest rates. Rates in general have been bouncing around in the low 4% range since the March 20th FED meeting when the FED expressed caution about the economy and said that they were done raising rates for the foreseeable future. The recent decline in stocks has helped to keep us down around this level. If stocks continue to sell off, we could see rates dip below 4%. 
If you have any questions about this or are interested in refinancing or getting preapproved for a new mortgage, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of Commerce Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 510-542-2061. COMMERCE HOME MORTGAGE

The Morcom Rose Garden is one of Oakland’s hidden treasures. Located at 700 Jean Street, the garden was first inspired by the Businessmen’s Garden Club in 1932, through partnership and the collaboration of some of the club’s local members. The first rose was planted in 1933 by Mayor Frank Morcom. Since then modifications have been made to make the garden more accessible and various replantings have taken place, but little has changed to the original design. Beautifully manicured the garden is tended to by hundreds of volunteers, appropriately named The Dedicated Deadheaders. Now is the perfect time to visit the garden and enjoy its seven acres of close to 5,000 rose bushes. And after the rains that we’ve had this past winter, the blooms are truly spectacular!
The Morcom Rose Garden is one of 12 images featured in Red Oak Realty’s 2019 "The East Bay From Above” calendar. Watch for more about each month’s aerial photograph throughout the year. Call or email for a complimentary copy of the 2019 calendar.

It’s rare that a Japanese restaurant is also associated with the term "zen", however Iyasare, located on 4th St in Berkeley is one of those rare places where the food and ambiance come together to form a beautiful blended harmony.
This is one of the few Micheline guide reviewed restaurants in the East Bay. The menu is well-curated, but don't plan on getting a traditional sushi meal here. Dishes are created using Japanese techniques combined with fresh California ingredients. The bar boasts a well-edited selection of wines, whiskey and sake, perfect to pair with your meal. The lunch menu is divided into four sections: Farm and Field (salads), Donburi (usually something served over rice), Shared Plates and Ramen. And vegetarian options are available.
The salads are a great way to start a meal. On a recent visit, their special of 9 different fish over sushi rice was their Donburi of the day. The fish was amazingly prepared, light, fresh and not fishy tasting. The sushi rice was delicious with seaweed and other mixed greens. Paired with a comforting hot green tea prepared with toasted brown rice, it was easy to enjoy it all on the large outdoor patio under a heat lamp.  
Another favorite on other visits includes the ramen, served only at lunch. It is a meal in itself, full of flavor from the colorful broth to the incredible ingredients used, truly one of the best Ramens ever. Try the one with tamari-braised pork belly - it is game changing (they also have a vegetarian option).  
Note - Iyasare is not a fast dining restaurant. It’s best to plan this meal when you want a true dining experience to enjoy!
Iyasare is located at 1830 Fourth Street in Berkeley. They are open every day for lunch, 11:30-2:00, and dinner, Sun-Tues: 5:30-8:30, Wed-Thurs: 5:30-9:00, and Fri-Sat: 5:30-9:30. Walk-ins are welcome but you may get turned away if they're full. Reservations are recommended either online or at 510.845.8100.

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471