OAK NOTES from Grace Bishop


This month marks the 3rd anniversary of the worldwide Covid lockdown. The pandemic upended how we lived our lives each day and while we may have come to terms with our "new normal" - few decisions get made without the consideration of Covid in some way. For those of you who experienced a loss or who are still struggling in some way, my heart goes out to you and your families.

While the pandemic has certainly taken a toll, I also believe that it's brought an element of humanity back to a world that may have been moving just a bit too fast. In some ways, it's forced us to stop and recognize the importance of basic human needs, good healthcare, the gift of time spent with those we love, and dare I say toilet paper? I for one have cherished this past year with my family, making the most of our moments together.

Whatever the fallout looks like for you and your family, I want you to know that I am here for you. When I became your Realtor, I also became your trusted advisor and your friend. For life. Please lean on me. And know that I am here for you no matter what.




It's been quite a week. Silicon Valley and Signature Banks collapsed, the FDIC created a backstop for their account holders, and the stock of regional banks like First Republic has been rocky. Taking these factors into account, along with Tuesday's CPI report, mortgage rates fell on Monday and remained low on Tuesday as the markets projected a 0-0.25 change in interest rates when the Fed makes its announcement on March 22. 

Assuming that there are no sudden changes in the economy, the Inner East Bay real estate market should continue to see high levels of competition for select properties. But not all buyers and sellers are experiencing the same market dynamics: some properties languish while some buyers face multiple offers. Here are 5 tips on succeeding in the Inner East Bay market:

1. There is not enough inventory to meet buyer demand

As we look at the market in March, the number of new listings that come to market each week is decreasing at a time when they typically increase. Inventory may be held down by sellers who don't want to lose their low-interest rates (the "lock-in effect"), as well as recent uncertainty in the market. 

2. Key metrics are showing broad levels of buyer competition

The sellers that are on the market are generally seeing strong performance of their listings. Red Oak transactions that have gone pending over the past 3 weeks received an average of 5 offers and sold 15 percent over list. Prices have risen consistently since the beginning of 2023 and should match 2022 levels in coming weeks.

3. Buyers are attracted to properties that look just right

In general, properties that look great tend to sell the fastest with the highest level of competition. This means that buyers are most attracted to properties that are move-in ready, staged, in an attractive location and are priced right. However, buyers could find untapped opportunities by looking for "diamonds in the rough", which may involve some negotiation and sweat equity.

4. New listings are performing better than older listings

Older listings are less likely to sell: properties that have been on the market for 5 weeks or more make up 42% of all available homes, but they make up only 24% of each week's new contracts. Older listings may prove to be an untapped opportunity for buyers looking for a potential home.

5. If you can't be new, reduce your price

If your listing isn't selling and it has been positioned as best as possible to potential buyers (sufficient marketing and proper appearance), consider a price reduction: Among listings that have been on the market for 5 weeks or more, 43% have taken a price reduction, but they make up 62% of new contracts and are thus more likely to sell.

This can be a tricky market to navigate. Reach out to chat about how you'd like to move forward.




Sales data is only reported when a property closes escrow, not when it went into contract. As a result, looking at February sales data is like looking in a rearview mirror: it helps us see market dynamics for listings that hit the market as far back as 2022 and is not reflective of the higher level of competition that many buyers and sellers are currently experiencing. In February, the number of properties that sold fell 28% compared to one year prior (which was one of the most active markets in recent memory). Median price fell 23% compared to 2022 (but was higher than 2020). And properties sold an average of 5% over list price, 14 percentage points lower than last year (2022 was an all-time high). Next month's report should show a marked increase in Inner East Bay activity.


After three positive months of rate declines, mortgage interest rates took a beating in February.  The selloff in bonds was spurred by two major factors - slightly higher than anticipated inflation and a stronger-than-expected jobs report.  While mortgage markets are not directly tied to the FED funds rate (mortgage rates move on inflation data), they do keep an eye on economic conditions in order to try to predict what the FED will do, which has a broad impact on the overall bond market.  

The 2 mandates for the FED are low inflation and full employment.  As long as inflation is above 2.5% and the job market is tight, the markets feel that the FED has free reign to continue to increase rates to battle inflation with minimal impact on jobs.  Some of the data in the jobs report was seasonally adjusted and included revisions from the previous year so the number was deceptively positive, but traders in the bond market focused on the headline numbers and sold off all through February.  30-year fixed rates that were hovering around 6% in January were up to around 7% by the end of February.  

The Silicon Valley Bank crisis resulted in a major rally as investors sought the security of the fixed returns offered by the bond market.  Over the course of 3 business days as SVB swirled, rates dropped by approximately 50 basis points, reverting back to early February levels.   

The March 14 Consumer Price Index (CPI) report came in as expected showing month-over-month inflation at 0.4% and year-over-year at 6.0%.  Rates stayed steady in the immediate aftermath of the inflation report as investors started looking ahead to the FED meeting the following week.  The consensus is that the FED will probably raise its benchmark rate by 0.25% to 5.00%.  Many who feared a 0.50% rate hike agree that the March CPI  report, paired with the SVB and financial sector concerts, probably takes that off the table and may even result in a pause with no rate hike at all. In the wake of these changes, markets will be carefully listening for cues from Chairman Powell in the post-meeting press conference on March 22.

If you have any questions about this, please contact Faramarz Moeen-Ziai of CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC at fmz@ccm.com or 510.254.4697.



Personal NMLS342090 | Branch NMLS2020284 | Company NMLS3029 | CA-DOC3420


World Water Day was established to raise awareness of the more than 2 billion people living without access to safe water. Each year Red Oak's nonprofit, ROOF, partners with Alameda-based LavaMaeX to help raise funds and awareness for this important cause. LavaMaeX is dedicated to expanding clean water access, including mobile showers and handwashing, to our unhoused neighbors, designing programs with their mission and approach of Radical Hospitality®.

The organization has scaled its model and provides program consulting, toolkits and ongoing support to people and organizations all over the world who have launched programs in their own communities. In modeling these programs here at home, LavaMaeX continues to bring these services to the streets of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland through their Pop-up Care Villages and handwashing stations.

In addition to donating, this year Red Oak agents and staff have joined LavaMaeX for their Oakland Pop-up villages, volunteering to help our unhoused neighbors by providing information, passing out meals, sorting clothing and shoes, and much more. 

LavaMaeX's services continue to help bring dignity and humanity back to those in need. If you have questions about the program, please reach out. Please also join us on World Water Day by contributing to LavaMaeX's cause here. All donations are tax-deductible and will go directly to LavaMaeX's World Water Day initiatives here at home.


The Red Oak's 2023 desk calendar, Artists & Artisans of the East Bay, is filled with East Bay creatives from a variety of trades using different mediums. March features Manu Ceramics in West Berkeley owned by Niki Shelley.

Niki has been involved in art for as long as she could remember - even attended art school, yet it wasn't until her child was born that she had her Mary-Oliver-One-Wild-And-Precious-Life moment. The experience made Niki realize that she wanted to create art that would remind people of the significance of small moments in life. She wanted to create everyday objects that could serve as reminders of what truly matters - our connection to each other.

Thus, she created Manu in a small studio in West Berkeley, which is grounded in the belief that handmade objects have the power to bring a sense of deep care to our daily experiences. Handmade tableware serves this purpose by providing haptic and visible evidence of another human being. Every piece embodies our innate connection, welcoming, comforting, inviting contemplation, and communicating care. This type of craft is slow, deliberate, and often involves failure, but brings great joy and fulfillment with small details that make a difference. Follow her on Instagram @manueveryday to see more of her creations or stop by the East Bay Open Studios this Spring (May 13, 14, 20 & 21) to see Niki in action.

If you'd like a free copy of the 2023 desk calendar Artists & Artisans of the East Bay, just reply to this email with your mailing address.


You might have spotted Inna Jam in Market Hall Foods, The Natural Grocery Company, or perhaps, across the Bay at the Ferry Building in The Gardener shop. If you haven't spotted this small-batch, artisanal jam and marmalade business based in Emeryville, California, you're missing out on a tasty treat. Founded in 2011 by Dafna Kory, you'll be sure to enjoy locally-sourced, organic fruit through her unique and delicious jams.

Inna Jam offers a wide variety of flavors, including classic options like strawberry and apricot, as well as more unusual combinations such as plum chutney with mustard and bay laurel. The company also offers seasonal flavors, such as blood orange and Meyer lemon. In addition to its jams and marmalades, Inna Jam also offers other products such as pickled snacks, fruit syrups, and more. All of their products are made using traditional methods and without the use of artificial preservatives or additives.

The company has been recognized for its high-quality products, and has won numerous awards, including a Good Food Award in 2013. Inna Jam sells its products online, as well as at select retailers and farmer's markets throughout the Bay Area. So do yourself a "flavor" and grab a jar or two to indulge in. 

1307 61st Street, Emeryville, CA 94608 · 510.214.6620 · Instagram: @innajam

Grace Bishop
Realtor | #01245471