OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop
Apr 2020


It's no secret that homelessness is a growing concern here in the East Bay, and it's particularly challenging in the time of the pandemic. While we can't personally provide shelter to every individual, there are still ways we can help. 

Red Oak agents, staff, clients and friends have contributed over $1.3M to the Red Oak Opportunity Fund (ROOF) since 1985, a nonprofit established to provide resources to charitable East Bay organizations who may not receive funding from larger sources. When it came time to consider recipients for the most recent ROOF award, one organization stood out among the others: LavaMae-x

LavaMae-x provides "radical hospitality" to the unhoused. In addition to delivering basic hygiene services to individuals, they have found that how these services are provided has the greatest impact. Instead of just passing off a kit, they take the time to help restore a sense of dignity and health to people who are often made to feel dehumanized. And they are changing the way the world views this growing population. 

LavaMae-x has expanded their services to include "pop-up care villages" that provide mobile hygiene showers, haircuts, dental check-ups, clean clothing, food and more, and has launched over 170 programs across the globe, attending to over 31,000 guests. 

ROOF donated $25,000 in February to a LavaMae-x pop-up care village, which will be staffed with Red Oak volunteers later this year. While the organization's mobile hygiene showers are on hold due to the risk of spreading coronavirus, they have pivoted to provide affordable, easy-to-assemble DIY handwashing stations, hoping to minimize the spread of COVID-19 to local marginalized communities. This month, ROOF donated an additional $10,000 to help swiftly facilitate setting up stations in Oakland and Berkeley. 

CLICK HERE to donate to ROOF, which will give 100% of these proceeds directly to LavaMae-x and immediately fund additional handwashing stations throughout our local homeless communities. Help us spread the word by forwarding this email to your network.

Click to learn more about LavaMae-x





Analyzing sales data is like driving by looking in the rearview mirror: we use historical trends to project future activity. This is challenging during the best of times, but it is particularly problematic as the pandemic forces us to face unprecedented economic scenarios. Luckily, we have other data sources that can help us.

March data (above) includes homes that sold prior to the shelter-in-place (SIP) order on 3/16. It also includes homes that closed after SIP but were marketed and ratified under somewhat normal market conditions. Thus, this is a snapshot of a fairly "normal" real estate market: prices were essentially flat (down 1%), selling further over list (10.7%) in an average of just 21 days.

To get an up-to-date picture of the post-SIP market, we can look at two sets of data:

Chart 1

The above chart shows that listing inventory is starting to rebound. Looking at the number of new listings across the East Bay by week, you'll find that the number declined after SIP, but when real estate was deemed an essential business, the market ticked upwards.

Chart 2

The above chart shows that there is still buyer demand: even with SIP in place, prices are up, properties are still selling over asking and attracting multiple offers. This data is for Red Oak transactions only and is separated by properties that went into contract before SIP and during SIP, comparing activity to the same weeks in 2019. 

We do not know what the future will hold, but for now, the East Bay real estate market remains active.


The mortgage market was hit hard by the wild swings in stock and bond prices during the weeks of March 9th and March 16th. After an unprecedented wave of refinance volume from 2/14-3/6, the wild market swings caused by the COVID-19 crisis put extreme pressure on an already stressed mortgage industry. FED involvement in the bond markets has helped normalize trading in the mortgage-backed securities market but uncertainty about what the future economic landscape looks like has mortgagors pricing in a tremendous amount of risk. Concerns about the economic fallout of the pandemic and the possibility of future defaults have resulted in a pause in some of the riskier lending products that had become available over the past 3 years. Traditional mortgages are still available and are being backed by money from the federal reserve, who have promised unlimited liquidity to support the financial markets. The FED participation in the bond markets has kept rates very low in the conforming market space with rates in the low 3% range for loans up to $510,000, and the mid-to-high 3s for high balance conforming loans up to $765,000. Jumbo loans, which are backed by institutional investors who are a bit more skittish, have seen rates change on a day-to-day basis and have ranged from the low 3% to the mid 4% range depending on the specific scenario. 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss mortgage options for a purchase or refinance, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of Commerce Home Mortgage at fmz@commercemtg.com or 415.377.1147. 




Washing our hands in today's environment is not only a question of hygiene or comfort but, more importantly, of safety. The Right to Shower, a brand selling basic bath products, holds the belief that cleanliness should be a fundamental human right. That's why they donate 100% of their profits to mobile shower initiatives like LavaMae-x, one of their key partners. The Right to Shower sells body wash and bar soap that can be used head-to-toe. They're 100% vegan, cruelty-free, handmade without toxins in small batches, and gentle on your skin. Right now, the products are available for purchase at Whole Foods and Amazon. Who knew you could make a positive impact while buying soap? Stock up today!


Red Oak Realty took a hard stance at the beginning of the shelter-in-place (SIP) order and vowed to keep the community safe and healthy by staying home. Then in late March, real estate was deemed an essential business. We care about your health and safety and even though we are now essential, it’s not stopping us from doing what we can to ensure our communities remain safe. As an essential business we are ensuring we conduct business using digital assets, the power of video, and so much more - and this is nearly all from the comfort of our homes. 

We want to continue to support our community and in doing so ask you to join us by sharing a picture of you, your family or even your pet on social media, hashtagging #SIPsaveslives and tagging @redoakrealty on Instagram or Red Oak Realty on Facebook. If you would like to go a step further, we would love to see a positive quote, who you're staying home for or thanking those on the front lines. Can't wait to see your photos.

As always, please reach out if you need anything.

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471