OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop


One of the most challenging parts about owning a home is performing renovations. Unless you are a designer or architect, knowing the best design options and the most reliable vendors can be nearly impossible to navigate. In addition, managing the home improvement projects can be rife with challenges. 

There are a host of problems from sellers selecting a bad combination of penny tile and dark grout to contractors ordering the wrong products, forgetting to add a cabinet, or simply not showing up.

These challenges are only exacerbated when doing renovations in preparation for a home sale. Choosing the vendors, making the design decisions, managing the workload while moving all of a family's belongings, coupled with worrying about buyer response can be downright overwhelming. And with COVID driving up demand - along with the cost of labor and materials - managing the process with a tight deadline has proven to be even more difficult.



Red Oak Realty is excited to announce Enhance, a thoughtful new program for East Bay sellers to improve their property before they sell. Sellers do not pay until after the property closes, and it's particularly unique because they also don't have to manage the project or vendors. Instead, the project is handled by a team of professionals, including a licensed and insured general contractor, professional designers and project managers who make thoughtful, on-trend and budget-friendly decisions while showcasing the home's best features, all of which likely leads to a higher sales price.

The work is performed through Red Oak's exclusive relationship with The Home Co., a respected women-owned interior design, construction and staging company that has been servicing the East Bay since 2007. From design choices to painting, tiling, staging and landscaping, every aspect of the project is thoughtfully and professionally managed by a team of insured professionals.

Enhance covers up to $40,000 in project work, which might include small remodels, repairs and staging. After a walkthrough to scope the project, The Home Co. provides the seller with a proposed budget to approve, then handles the entire project from start to finish. There are no invoices, no haggling, no incomplete projects or vendors that hold up the timeline as it's all sourced through one company that oversees every detail. Projects stay within their timeframe, and more importantly, they stay completely within budget every time. 



Since Red Oak started running a pilot program in the fall, a handful of properties have delivered impressive results: 

The owners of 679 59th Street, Oakland used an Enhance budget of $39,750 to renovate and stage their home. They listed on January 7 and received 8 offers after just 6 days. The property sold at $950,000, 40% over the list price. Take a look at the before-and-after photos:

before & after

The sellers of 5443 Brookdale Avenue, Oakland used a $40,000 Enhance budget, received 15 offers in 7 days, and broke the Maxwell Park neighborhood record for a 2 bedroom home under 1,300 square feet by selling 38% over list. Enhance helped to make dramatic changes:

before & after

If you think you might need help renovating your home for sale, reach out and see if Enhance is right for you.





These are unusual times. We're a full year into the pandemic and the market continues to surprise. As soon as we flipped the calendar to 2021, the real estate market took off. Buyers are hungry for inventory, yet with little to go around, available properties have sold at record levels.

February is typically the slowest month of the year in terms of sales, but not in 2021. Sales shot up 59% compared to last year, but the increase in activity was not enough to sate buyer demand. This imbalance drove up median price by 23% to $1,035,000, the greatest year-over-year increase since 2009 (after the Great Recession). Homes sold an average of 13.3% over asking, the highest we've seen since 2018, and average days on market was 22, the lowest February recorded (since 1997).

Lack of inventory is a significant driver of these metrics, but there may be a light at the end of the tunnel: The number of new listings is increasing. Two weeks ago saw a record number of new listings coming to market since November, and last week's numbers were also very high. This should provide some relief to our limited inventory levels and show signs of what's to come. 

How does this affect you and your real estate goals? Reach out and let's discuss.



All eyes in the investment community were focused on the FED meeting taking place on 3/16-17/2021 as concerns about stimulus and the "grand reopening" stoked fears of inflation. This concern about inflation pushed the 10-year treasury to a one-year high of over 1.6%, up over a half-point from the COVID norm of 0.7%-0.9%. This jump dragged mortgage rates up by about the same margin as mortgage-backed securities traders took it on the chin in the first few weeks of March. The actual data was very tame as inflation looked to be in control with both durable goods and energy meeting expectations. Jobless claims came in much stronger than expected for February which further fueled the rise in rates and the flight from bonds.  

If you've been sitting on the sidelines watching all of your friends refinance, now is the time to act before rates go any higher. If you're interested in refinancing or purchasing a property, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC at fmz@myccmortgage.com or 510.254.4697.

FMZ TEAM  Crosscountry Mortgage



Personal NMLS342090 | Branch NMLS2020284 | Company NMLS3029


Spring is almost in full swing which means it may be time to exercise your green thumb by picking up a plant or two from your local nursery. This month's spotlight falls on Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, a small family-owned nursery that opened in 1922. They offer an array of top-quality plants including California native plants, Mediterranean plants, roses, fruit trees, bulbs, cacti and nearly everything in between. Their specially trained staff can help you find exactly what you are looking for or answer any questions you may have. If you can't make it in to see one of their knowledgeable staff and are looking to develop your gardening skills, their website is full of great resources from blog posts to a gardener's calendar. Hope you take this time of new beginnings and grow something new in your garden!

1310 McGee Avenue, Berkeley | 510.526.4704 | Instagram: @berkeleyhort



World Water Day exists to raise awareness for the true value of water and what we can do to better protect this vital resource. We are thrilled to partner with LavaMaeX to help raise awareness for this most important cause. LavaMaeX is dedicated to expanding clean water access, including mobile showers and handwashing, to our unhoused neighbors.

More than two million Americans lack access to clean running water and indoor plumbing. And for people experiencing homelessness, the pandemic has only made things worse. Many water sources where unhoused people have gone to are closed, leaving them in desperate need of drinking water, safe handwashing, hot showers, and much more. 

This past year Red Oak partnered with LavaMaeX to help bring handwashing stations to the unhoused in the Bay Area, an effort to provide solutions for helping to stop the spread of Covid-19. LavaMaeX's goal is to create awareness around the issues that unhoused individuals face when it comes to water access. Their services continue to help bring dignity and humanity back to those in need. Please join us in participating in World Water Day by sharing what water means to you. Link here to share your thoughts, tell your stories and contribute to the cause.



Red Oak Realty has once again been nominated as Oakland's BEST REAL ESTATE COMPANY by Oakland Magazine and we would LOVE your vote. Having won this esteemed title now for 6 years, we are so honored and grateful to all of our clients and friends - you are our biggest supporters! Please take a moment to go to the Oakland Magazine website and vote for Red Oak. And while you're there, vote for all your favorite local businesses! It means a great deal to be recognized by our communities that we all love so much. (Voting closes at 11pm on 4/18) Thank you!


Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471