“Nancy is hands-down the best agent I’ve ever worked with —and I’ve worked with over a dozen!”
- Bonnie Gemmell, Woodside, CA.
Road Trip Road Map 
Summertime means road trip time for many - a time to disconnect and explore. It’s a classic American carefree vacation that works best with a little bit of careful planning. If you are going to hit the open road this summer, here are a few tips to get you started.
Clean Start - Get your car washed before you start. Sure, your windshield and hood will get dirty and the inside is likely to get messy, but it is much more tolerable when you start off squeaky clean.
Wander - Plan some time to be unplanned. Drifting off the freeway and exploring unknown towns and scenic drives can lead to wonderful discoveries and take away the stress of “making good time.”
Snacks - Forget the bags of chips and cookies. These days, you can pack easy and healthy road trip snacks. A bag of trail mix with some little cups to carefully serve with. Some crackers and Nutella or humus for no-drip spreadables. A bag of washed and cut veggies (which also dip nicely in humus). And plenty of bottled water.
Shake a Leg - Make a game out of getting a little exercise each time you stop. Park a distance from your stop and walk or run. Ask locals for advice on good hiking trails. If you are traveling with kids, challenge them to a family dance contest each stop.
Go Retro - Bring a real map (not an app!) and markers to note where you’ve been and add some comments about what you found. Seek out any “worlds largest” landmarks along the way for great photo opps. And create a playlist for each traveler - everyone gets a chance to hear their own favorite music and hear some new ones.
Bon Voyage and happy trails!


Image courtesy of Larisa Koshkina / publicdomainpictures.net.

Road Trip Road Map

Summertime means road trip time for many - a time to disconnect and explore. It’s a classic American carefree vacation that works best with a little bit of careful planning. If you are going to hit the open road this summer, here are a few tips to get you started.

Clean Start - Get your car washed before you start. Sure, your windshield and hood will get dirty and the inside is likely to get messy, but it is much more tolerable when you start off squeaky clean.

Wander - Plan some time to be unplanned. Drifting off the freeway and exploring unknown towns and scenic drives can lead to wonderful discoveries and take away the stress of “making good time.”

Snacks - Forget the bags of chips and cookies. These days, you can pack easy and healthy road trip snacks. A bag of trail mix with some little cups to carefully serve with. Some crackers and Nutella or humus for no-drip spreadables. A bag of washed and cut veggies (which also dip nicely in humus). And plenty of bottled water.

Shake a Leg - Make a game out of getting a little exercise each time you stop. Park a distance from your stop and walk or run. Ask locals for advice on good hiking trails. If you are traveling with kids, challenge them to a family dance contest each stop.

Go Retro - Bring a real map (not an app!) and markers to note where you’ve been and add some comments about what you found. Seek out any “worlds largest” landmarks along the way for great photo opps. And create a playlist for each traveler - everyone gets a chance to hear their own favorite music and hear some new ones.

Bon Voyage and happy trails!

Image courtesy of Larisa Koshkina / publicdomainpictures.net.

Remodeling Basics
I think it’s fair to say that most people undertake remodeling projects in their homes for two basic reasons: to better enjoy the house themselves or to increase the value of their home for a future sale. And in the best of all possible worlds those two motivations align to create a value-added project that makes you love living in your house.
As a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula, I have tons of experience evaluating the types of remodels that are likely to add value to your home. I’ve also been through a few in my own house, and here are some tips to help get you started.
* List It - It all starts with a pen, a paper, and your wildest imagination. Start a dream list of everything you want to change or add to the area you are remodeling. Cut out magazine pictures you like and explore home design sites like Houzz.com. Once it’s all on paper, you can start to prioritize and organize everything into a realistic plan.
* See It - I still think there is nothing like seeing a great kitchen or fantastic bathroom in person to fuel your inspiration. Stop by some open houses over the weekend in addition to visiting home decor stores. Make note of whether the things you like are timeless (and likely to appeal to buyers far into the future) or trendy (and potentially dated to tomorrow’s buyers),
* Budget It - Once you have a realistic sense of what you can budget for your remodel, decrease that amount by as much as a third. Most projects come across unexpected expenses at some point and a buffer can help soften the blow.
* Do It - Now get out there and get to work! Interview and select a great contractor (I always have a few referrals in my back pocket) and some specialized subcontractors and watch your dreams come to life. Make sure to review your plans in detail and try to make all decisions before work starts to avoid delays.

Remodeling Basics

I think it’s fair to say that most people undertake remodeling projects in their homes for two basic reasons: to better enjoy the house themselves or to increase the value of their home for a future sale. And in the best of all possible worlds those two motivations align to create a value-added project that makes you love living in your house.

As a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula, I have tons of experience evaluating the types of remodels that are likely to add value to your home. I’ve also been through a few in my own house, and here are some tips to help get you started.

* List It - It all starts with a pen, a paper, and your wildest imagination. Start a dream list of everything you want to change or add to the area you are remodeling. Cut out magazine pictures you like and explore home design sites like Houzz.com. Once it’s all on paper, you can start to prioritize and organize everything into a realistic plan.

* See It - I still think there is nothing like seeing a great kitchen or fantastic bathroom in person to fuel your inspiration. Stop by some open houses over the weekend in addition to visiting home decor stores. Make note of whether the things you like are timeless (and likely to appeal to buyers far into the future) or trendy (and potentially dated to tomorrow’s buyers),

* Budget It - Once you have a realistic sense of what you can budget for your remodel, decrease that amount by as much as a third. Most projects come across unexpected expenses at some point and a buffer can help soften the blow.

* Do It - Now get out there and get to work! Interview and select a great contractor (I always have a few referrals in my back pocket) and some specialized subcontractors and watch your dreams come to life. Make sure to review your plans in detail and try to make all decisions before work starts to avoid delays.

I want That! Garage Edition
This is not necessarily for gear heads - this is for everyone who wants their garage to be used and appreciated for more than just storage and the washing machine. See if you can unlock the potential of your own garage with some of these ideas.
Stealth Exterior - Let passers by admire the beautiful windows and wood work of your house without ever realizing the faux exterior is cleverly hiding your garage.
James Bond Elements - What if you parked your car on a lift within your garage, but instead of lifing up the car to work on it, it descended into a basement and created a nearly empty room for working out, completing projects, or even ballroom dancing? Love it!
Lofty Storage - If you have the ceiling clearance, a loft is a great storage solution that basically creates a new room/space without adding square footage. A sturdy floor with a ladder to access and railings to contain create an ideal place for holiday decorations and those boxes of books you’ve had since college.
Mini Mudroom - Many garages serve as the main entrance to the house for family members, and when that is the case it should be equipped for that role. A mini mudroom might include a bench for taking off boots, hooks for coats and backpacks, and a good matt for wiping down feet.
Builder Trends - And here is what the builders are doing with garages: moving them to the back with side or alley access to emphasize the front of the house; making them bigger to accommodate more cars, increase work/storage space, or add a bonus/play room with half bath; painting and sealing floors for an upgraded look; and adding lots of vertical storage potential including cabinets, wall shelving, wall hooks, and suspended shelves.
Now that you have some ideas, let me be your resource to make them happen!

Image courtesy of George Hodan / publicdomainpictures.net.

I want That! Garage Edition

This is not necessarily for gear heads - this is for everyone who wants their garage to be used and appreciated for more than just storage and the washing machine. See if you can unlock the potential of your own garage with some of these ideas.

Stealth Exterior - Let passers by admire the beautiful windows and wood work of your house without ever realizing the faux exterior is cleverly hiding your garage.

James Bond Elements - What if you parked your car on a lift within your garage, but instead of lifing up the car to work on it, it descended into a basement and created a nearly empty room for working out, completing projects, or even ballroom dancing? Love it!

Lofty Storage - If you have the ceiling clearance, a loft is a great storage solution that basically creates a new room/space without adding square footage. A sturdy floor with a ladder to access and railings to contain create an ideal place for holiday decorations and those boxes of books you’ve had since college.

Mini Mudroom - Many garages serve as the main entrance to the house for family members, and when that is the case it should be equipped for that role. A mini mudroom might include a bench for taking off boots, hooks for coats and backpacks, and a good matt for wiping down feet.

Builder Trends - And here is what the builders are doing with garages: moving them to the back with side or alley access to emphasize the front of the house; making them bigger to accommodate more cars, increase work/storage space, or add a bonus/play room with half bath; painting and sealing floors for an upgraded look; and adding lots of vertical storage potential including cabinets, wall shelving, wall hooks, and suspended shelves.

Now that you have some ideas, let me be your resource to make them happen!

Image courtesy of George Hodan / publicdomainpictures.net.

Just the Facts: Bathrooms
Whether you are remodeling a bathroom or looking at bathrooms as you search for a new house, you might have questions about some of the terminology that is thrown about. Never fear! I’ve walked through thousands of bathrooms during my 25+ years as a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula - and I’ve remodeled quite a few myself too! Let me put my experience to use here and demystify some of the “potty talk” you might be hearing.
Vanities - These come in many varieties, including double which has 2 sinks and is often found in a master bathroom; antique which usually means the basin sits on a cabinet which might be new or an actual antique; pedestal where the basin sits on a trunk rather than a cabinet; or modern/contemporary which showcases new trends such as a glass-bowl basin or a stainless steal counter.
Showers - Showers can be pre-made or custom-built to take on any shape or size. A frameless shower is enclosed in glass walls that look elegant and can help a small shower feel larger; a no-enclosure shower creates a unified space with tiled walls and floor but no shower walls; and a popular trend these days is a shower and separate soaking tub for the best of all possible worlds.
Bathtubs - Bathtubs come in many materials, including plastic which is lightweight, can be molded into a variety of shapes, and keeps warm water insulated; enameled steel which is less expensive but cools bathwater quickly and is quite heavy; cast-iron which is extremely durable, keeps water warm once it is warmed up itself, but is extremely heavy; and cast-polymer, which can replicate marble or other stones but is less durable over time. Keep in mind that a great tub can also be refinished instead of replaced if you hate the chips or color but love the shape or character.
Names - Now for what to call each bathroom in your house. A "1/2 bath" or powder room has just a toilet and a sink. An ensuite bathroom is accessed through a bedroom; a master bath is accessed through the master bedroom. A Jack and Jill bathroom is accessible through two bedrooms. And occasionally you might hear of a "3/4 bath" which likely has a sink, toilet, and shower but no bathtub.
There you go! You are now ready to read any property description with confidence! And of course, I have many resources to help you navigate the waters if you are embarking on a home search or bathroom remodel yourself.


Image courtesy of Chokphoto / freedigitalphotos.net.

Just the Facts: Bathrooms

Whether you are remodeling a bathroom or looking at bathrooms as you search for a new house, you might have questions about some of the terminology that is thrown about. Never fear! I’ve walked through thousands of bathrooms during my 25+ years as a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula - and I’ve remodeled quite a few myself too! Let me put my experience to use here and demystify some of the “potty talk” you might be hearing.

Vanities - These come in many varieties, including double which has 2 sinks and is often found in a master bathroom; antique which usually means the basin sits on a cabinet which might be new or an actual antique; pedestal where the basin sits on a trunk rather than a cabinet; or modern/contemporary which showcases new trends such as a glass-bowl basin or a stainless steal counter.

Showers - Showers can be pre-made or custom-built to take on any shape or size. A frameless shower is enclosed in glass walls that look elegant and can help a small shower feel larger; a no-enclosure shower creates a unified space with tiled walls and floor but no shower walls; and a popular trend these days is a shower and separate soaking tub for the best of all possible worlds.

Bathtubs - Bathtubs come in many materials, including plastic which is lightweight, can be molded into a variety of shapes, and keeps warm water insulated; enameled steel which is less expensive but cools bathwater quickly and is quite heavy; cast-iron which is extremely durable, keeps water warm once it is warmed up itself, but is extremely heavy; and cast-polymer, which can replicate marble or other stones but is less durable over time. Keep in mind that a great tub can also be refinished instead of replaced if you hate the chips or color but love the shape or character.

Names - Now for what to call each bathroom in your house. A "1/2 bath" or powder room has just a toilet and a sink. An ensuite bathroom is accessed through a bedroom; a master bath is accessed through the master bedroom. A Jack and Jill bathroom is accessible through two bedrooms. And occasionally you might hear of a "3/4 bath" which likely has a sink, toilet, and shower but no bathtub.

There you go! You are now ready to read any property description with confidence! And of course, I have many resources to help you navigate the waters if you are embarking on a home search or bathroom remodel yourself.

Image courtesy of Chokphoto / freedigitalphotos.net.

Bright Lights!
Time for some fireworks! If you are lucky enough to live on one of the many hillsides along the SF Peninsula, you can probably just step onto your balcony to catch some July 4th fireworks this year. But if you are looking to get a little more up close and personal, there are many Bay Area family events you can check out - many of them free! Here is a taste of some of the best:
* Bay Lights - If you are ready to venture into the city for some fireworks over the Bay, then head on over to Fisherman’s Wharf or the Marina to catch the action. There are many places you can view the displays, but keep in mind that car traffic will be heavy and at times restricted. Consider BART or MUNI instead! Or catch one of the many fireworks cruises leaving from Fisherman’s Wharf!
* Redwood City Parade, Festival, and Fireworks - Watch the 76th annual parade through Downtown Redwood City at 10:00 and then stay for the all-day festival and evening fireworks show over the Port at 9:30 pm.
* San Mateo July 4th in Central Park - Bring the family to the center lawn for some games, music, and face painting. Pack a blanket so you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon while the kids run themselves ragged.
* Palo Alto Chili Cook-Off - This foodie event celebrates its 33rd year with music and activities from 12 to 5 pm. The chili tasting starts at 1:30 and you don’t even have to bring your own spoon!
* The BIG Show - The Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View will host the SF Symphony and a fireworks display, starting at 8:00. Tickets are required for this lovely patriotic performance.
Luckily this year the 4th is on a Friday, so knock yourself out at as many events as you can make it to and spend the weekend resting up. Of course, you should also expect larger crowds and potentially prepare for heavier traffic. Happy 4th of July!

Image courtesy of Anna Langova / publicdomainpictures.net.

Bright Lights!

Time for some fireworks! If you are lucky enough to live on one of the many hillsides along the SF Peninsula, you can probably just step onto your balcony to catch some July 4th fireworks this year. But if you are looking to get a little more up close and personal, there are many Bay Area family events you can check out - many of them free! Here is a taste of some of the best:

* Bay Lights - If you are ready to venture into the city for some fireworks over the Bay, then head on over to Fisherman’s Wharf or the Marina to catch the action. There are many places you can view the displays, but keep in mind that car traffic will be heavy and at times restricted. Consider BART or MUNI instead! Or catch one of the many fireworks cruises leaving from Fisherman’s Wharf!

* Redwood City Parade, Festival, and Fireworks - Watch the 76th annual parade through Downtown Redwood City at 10:00 and then stay for the all-day festival and evening fireworks show over the Port at 9:30 pm.

* San Mateo July 4th in Central Park - Bring the family to the center lawn for some games, music, and face painting. Pack a blanket so you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon while the kids run themselves ragged.

* Palo Alto Chili Cook-Off - This foodie event celebrates its 33rd year with music and activities from 12 to 5 pm. The chili tasting starts at 1:30 and you don’t even have to bring your own spoon!

* The BIG Show - The Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View will host the SF Symphony and a fireworks display, starting at 8:00. Tickets are required for this lovely patriotic performance.

Luckily this year the 4th is on a Friday, so knock yourself out at as many events as you can make it to and spend the weekend resting up. Of course, you should also expect larger crowds and potentially prepare for heavier traffic. Happy 4th of July!

Image courtesy of Anna Langova / publicdomainpictures.net.

I want that! Kitchen Edition
Guilty as charged! I just wasted another hour on Houzz.com daydreaming about kitchen remodeling ideas. Actually, I love my kitchen and don’t need a remodel right now, but I did find some fantastic ideas that would be fun to add to any kitchen. Let me share some of my favorites.
Better Drawers - How about a deep but narrow drawer that opens up to deep stainless steel bins that hold all your whisks, spatulas, and cooking spoons, freeing up counter space and hiding what can often be a bit of an eyesore? Or imagine this! A shallow drawer with divided slots that fit rolls of foil and plastic wrap. Brilliant!
Cleaner Composting - Your garden loves your fruit and veggie discards, but you might hate having to keep an unsightly bin on your counter or a hard-to-reach bucket under your sink. If you are willing to part with a small area of counter top, a built-in composting unit with a container below the counter and a lid that is flush with the surface allows you to gracefully sweep scraps to the side and conveniently take them to the yard when you are ready.
Easier Operation - Make us of some of the toe-kick space below your sink and install pedals to turn the water on and off. Such easy operation keeps your hands off the faucet until they are clean.
Hidden Housing - An appliance garage stores appliances such as blenders and juicers on the counter but behind a sliding or removable door. We all aspire to clutter-free counters, and hidden storage takes you one step closer to a nice clean appearance.
Even Better Drawers - Wait, there’s even more that your drawers can be doing for you! A deep drawer with dividers can house cooking sheets and cooling racks on their side. Don’t have a drawer? Add dividers to the cabinet above your refrigerator which is often times tall enough to store trays on their side. And finally, a deep and wide drawer next to the sink can be used for a convenient pullout trash can, keeping it hidden and off the floor when not in use.
Enjoy these inspirations! Want more? I see fantastic new ideas almost every time I preview a new house for sale. Let me take you along and show you what is out there today!

Image courtesy of George Hodan / publicdomainpictures.net.

I want that! Kitchen Edition

Guilty as charged! I just wasted another hour on Houzz.com daydreaming about kitchen remodeling ideas. Actually, I love my kitchen and don’t need a remodel right now, but I did find some fantastic ideas that would be fun to add to any kitchen. Let me share some of my favorites.

Better Drawers - How about a deep but narrow drawer that opens up to deep stainless steel bins that hold all your whisks, spatulas, and cooking spoons, freeing up counter space and hiding what can often be a bit of an eyesore? Or imagine this! A shallow drawer with divided slots that fit rolls of foil and plastic wrap. Brilliant!

Cleaner Composting - Your garden loves your fruit and veggie discards, but you might hate having to keep an unsightly bin on your counter or a hard-to-reach bucket under your sink. If you are willing to part with a small area of counter top, a built-in composting unit with a container below the counter and a lid that is flush with the surface allows you to gracefully sweep scraps to the side and conveniently take them to the yard when you are ready.

Easier Operation - Make us of some of the toe-kick space below your sink and install pedals to turn the water on and off. Such easy operation keeps your hands off the faucet until they are clean.

Hidden Housing - An appliance garage stores appliances such as blenders and juicers on the counter but behind a sliding or removable door. We all aspire to clutter-free counters, and hidden storage takes you one step closer to a nice clean appearance.

Even Better Drawers - Wait, there’s even more that your drawers can be doing for you! A deep drawer with dividers can house cooking sheets and cooling racks on their side. Don’t have a drawer? Add dividers to the cabinet above your refrigerator which is often times tall enough to store trays on their side. And finally, a deep and wide drawer next to the sink can be used for a convenient pullout trash can, keeping it hidden and off the floor when not in use.

Enjoy these inspirations! Want more? I see fantastic new ideas almost every time I preview a new house for sale. Let me take you along and show you what is out there today!

Image courtesy of George Hodan / publicdomainpictures.net.

Happiest Home On Earth
A very large home sale was reported this week - no less than $74 million for the Carolwood Estate in Los Angeles, CA. What makes it so special, besides the 35,000 square foot mansions with 8 bedrooms and 17 baths? It was built in 2001 on the site of Walt Disney’s family home which he had built in 1949. The home was famous for its backyard miniature railroad that ran through the yard, including a 90 foot tunnel. Sound familiar? It should - the train in his backyard inspired the train that he eventually built around Disneyland, the park’s first attraction.
Since the former home is now gone, I feel free to imagine what it must have been like in the Happiest Home on Earth. Here are some of the details I would expect. Home builders take note!
Great Lines - Just in case you ever had to wait in line for the restroom, there was a roped off queue with lots of turns so you never really could tell how many people were in line in front of you.
Haunted Room - I expect one room was haunted, probably the dining room, but with ghosts who preferred to dance around and hitch rides in your luggage than actually spook anyone.
Hidden Ears - Were there hidden Mickey ears in every room? Naturally. The stones in the fireplace, the arrangement of the pillows on the sofa, the apples in the fruit dish - all carefully placed in familiar groups of three.
Dreamy Bedrooms - I imagine there was the Snow White room with miniature details like small dressers and low closet doors; the Jungle Book room with a hammock hung between two exotic trees; and the Sleeping Beauty room where you could get a really good night’s sleep.
Great Smells - It is true that Disneyland pumps yummy smells along Main Street to create ambiance. I can only assume that each room in Disney’s house was similarly scented. 
Some artifacts still remain. The red barn that was Walt Disney’s workplace and “happy place” is now located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and the train itself resides at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, located in the Presidio.

Image courtesy of Jana Illnerova / publicdomainpictures.net.

Happiest Home On Earth

A very large home sale was reported this week - no less than $74 million for the Carolwood Estate in Los Angeles, CA. What makes it so special, besides the 35,000 square foot mansions with 8 bedrooms and 17 baths? It was built in 2001 on the site of Walt Disney’s family home which he had built in 1949. The home was famous for its backyard miniature railroad that ran through the yard, including a 90 foot tunnel. Sound familiar? It should - the train in his backyard inspired the train that he eventually built around Disneyland, the park’s first attraction.

Since the former home is now gone, I feel free to imagine what it must have been like in the Happiest Home on Earth. Here are some of the details I would expect. Home builders take note!

Great Lines - Just in case you ever had to wait in line for the restroom, there was a roped off queue with lots of turns so you never really could tell how many people were in line in front of you.

Haunted Room - I expect one room was haunted, probably the dining room, but with ghosts who preferred to dance around and hitch rides in your luggage than actually spook anyone.

Hidden Ears - Were there hidden Mickey ears in every room? Naturally. The stones in the fireplace, the arrangement of the pillows on the sofa, the apples in the fruit dish - all carefully placed in familiar groups of three.

Dreamy Bedrooms - I imagine there was the Snow White room with miniature details like small dressers and low closet doors; the Jungle Book room with a hammock hung between two exotic trees; and the Sleeping Beauty room where you could get a really good night’s sleep.

Great Smells - It is true that Disneyland pumps yummy smells along Main Street to create ambiance. I can only assume that each room in Disney’s house was similarly scented. 

Some artifacts still remain. The red barn that was Walt Disney’s workplace and “happy place” is now located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and the train itself resides at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, located in the Presidio.

Image courtesy of Jana Illnerova / publicdomainpictures.net.

Friday Night Movie Night
It is that time of year when many movie fans, or restless families, head outdoors to… watch a movie! There are a few ways you can enjoy a movie outdoors. Of course, there is the good ol’ drive-in theater, a few of which still remain. Then there are community-based outdoor screenings where picnics are welcome and kids can usually run free. 
And don’t forget your own backyard - a simple projector and white sheet could be enough to debut your own cinema. Set out some blankets, a big bowl of popcorn, and a bucket of red vines and invite the neighbors to join you for a family friendly summer evening. 
Here are a few resources for the SF Bay Area: 
*  Redwood City Movies on the Square 2014 - Showings begin at sunset on Thursdays and include the likes of Gravity, E.T., and (of course) Frozen. Admission is free and there are some great local restaurants you can visit ahead of time. 
* West Wind  All Digital Drive-In, San Jose - All movies are double features with new releases like Maleficent and Edge of Tomorrow. Pop some corn and pack some blankets - you might be surprised by how fun (and inexpensive) it can be at the drive-in! 
* SF’s Film Night in the Park presents its 2014 line-up at Dolores Park, Washington Square Park, and Union Square. Their Saturday night schedule includes classic films like Gostbusters, as well as Disney’s mega-hit Frozen. Come prepared to sing along - or watch dozens of little kids singing along! Admission is free, refreshments are available, and donations are appreciated. 
Of course there is one more resource available if you want to find the perfect backyard to screen your own movies in - let me guide you to some of the many fantastic homes for sale along the SF Peninsula today!


Image courtesy of Claudette Gallant / publicdomainpictures.net.

Friday Night Movie Night

It is that time of year when many movie fans, or restless families, head outdoors to… watch a movie! There are a few ways you can enjoy a movie outdoors. Of course, there is the good ol’ drive-in theater, a few of which still remain. Then there are community-based outdoor screenings where picnics are welcome and kids can usually run free. 

And don’t forget your own backyard - a simple projector and white sheet could be enough to debut your own cinema. Set out some blankets, a big bowl of popcorn, and a bucket of red vines and invite the neighbors to join you for a family friendly summer evening. 

Here are a few resources for the SF Bay Area: 

*  Redwood City Movies on the Square 2014 - Showings begin at sunset on Thursdays and include the likes of Gravity, E.T., and (of course) Frozen. Admission is free and there are some great local restaurants you can visit ahead of time. 

* West Wind  All Digital Drive-In, San Jose - All movies are double features with new releases like Maleficent and Edge of Tomorrow. Pop some corn and pack some blankets - you might be surprised by how fun (and inexpensive) it can be at the drive-in! 

* SF’s Film Night in the Park presents its 2014 line-up at Dolores Park, Washington Square Park, and Union Square. Their Saturday night schedule includes classic films like Gostbusters, as well as Disney’s mega-hit Frozen. Come prepared to sing along - or watch dozens of little kids singing along! Admission is free, refreshments are available, and donations are appreciated. 

Of course there is one more resource available if you want to find the perfect backyard to screen your own movies in - let me guide you to some of the many fantastic homes for sale along the SF Peninsula today!

Image courtesy of Claudette Gallant / publicdomainpictures.net.

Open Houses: Tips for Buyers
Last week I shared some pointers for sellers preparing for their agent to hold an open house. Now let’s flip the coin. Sometimes buyers that I am working with ask if there is any value in going to open houses, especially when they have me to pick out the best houses for sale and arrange a viewing. 
Well I happen to believe that there is a lot that buyers can learn by going to some open houses, before and after they start working with an agent. First, though, I advise all my clients to take my business card and let the host agent know that Nancy Palmer will be negotiating for them. That allows the agent to answer their questions without trying to enlist them as a client. The listing agent may be a good source of information about the house, but your own agent will be able to negotiate the best price. 
Now, consider these benefits:
What you like: When you first start looking for a new house, you may have a concept of what you are looking for but not all the details. Going to open houses can help you create a more specific wish list which will in turn help your agent find the best candidates to view together.
What you don’t like: Ditto for what you don’t like! Figure out any “deal killers” early in the process to help your agent avoid them.
Make Comparisons: Viewing several homes in a neighborhood allows you a birds-eye view of how they compare and what makes each house unique. With the host agent’s permission, take some pictures of each house with your phone so that you can scan the differences at your leisure later on. 
Neighborhood close-up: A neighborhood may have a great reputation, but is it the one for you? Walking around and seeing a representative house can give you a close-up view that will help determine if it is the neighborhood for you.
You never know: And believe it or not, sometimes buyers find their dream house by attending an open house. If that happens, get your agent on the phone right away and take action!
I have lots of tips for new and experienced buyers and sellers. Let me put my vast knowledge to work for you or someone you know. The highest praise I get is when a client refers an acquaintance or family member member to me!

Image courtesy of K. Whiteford / publicdomainpictures.net.

Open Houses: Tips for Buyers

Last week I shared some pointers for sellers preparing for their agent to hold an open house. Now let’s flip the coin. Sometimes buyers that I am working with ask if there is any value in going to open houses, especially when they have me to pick out the best houses for sale and arrange a viewing. 

Well I happen to believe that there is a lot that buyers can learn by going to some open houses, before and after they start working with an agent. First, though, I advise all my clients to take my business card and let the host agent know that Nancy Palmer will be negotiating for them. That allows the agent to answer their questions without trying to enlist them as a client. The listing agent may be a good source of information about the house, but your own agent will be able to negotiate the best price. 

Now, consider these benefits:

What you like: When you first start looking for a new house, you may have a concept of what you are looking for but not all the details. Going to open houses can help you create a more specific wish list which will in turn help your agent find the best candidates to view together.

What you don’t like: Ditto for what you don’t like! Figure out any “deal killers” early in the process to help your agent avoid them.

Make Comparisons: Viewing several homes in a neighborhood allows you a birds-eye view of how they compare and what makes each house unique. With the host agent’s permission, take some pictures of each house with your phone so that you can scan the differences at your leisure later on. 

Neighborhood close-up: A neighborhood may have a great reputation, but is it the one for you? Walking around and seeing a representative house can give you a close-up view that will help determine if it is the neighborhood for you.

You never know: And believe it or not, sometimes buyers find their dream house by attending an open house. If that happens, get your agent on the phone right away and take action!

I have lots of tips for new and experienced buyers and sellers. Let me put my vast knowledge to work for you or someone you know. The highest praise I get is when a client refers an acquaintance or family member member to me!

Image courtesy of K. Whiteford / publicdomainpictures.net.

Trend Alert: Dogs in the House
Well, anyone who knows me knows how much I love dogs and the joy they can bring to a family. And as a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula, I have seen some very clever ways that homeowners have created dog-friendly homes. I’m not just talking about a doggy door in the garage or a dog-run across the backyard. Check out these fun ideas:
What Kennel? When looking for a place to store a dog kennel or large cushioned dog bed, get creative with otherwise unused spaces such as the lowest pocket of space under a stairway. Add a small door or sliding panel so that Fido can easily access his sleeping space each night while you can discreetly close it up during the day. Other creative spaces could be under a window seat, under a kitchen island, or even integrated into a side table.
Bathing Central - An outdoor shower in your yard is attractive and extremely practical when bathing your four-legged companion. No time to call a plumber? A DIY solution is to hook the shower to an existing garden hose.
Let Me See! Windows are endlessly entertaining to pets, but so often they can be just beyond the reach of a small or medium dog. A floor-level window can add extra light to a room while providing a more dog-accessible portal to what’s going on outside.
I’m Hungry! A built-in feeding area keeps messy bowls out of the way where they are less likely to be kicked and spilled. To take it one step further, devote a corner of your utility room to a feeding area on a low platform with a built-in water faucet for easy refills of the water bowl.
My Own Room? If you really want to keep up with the Jones’, then you might need to push the envelope with an entire dog room. What goes into a dog room? Well, I suppose it could include a luxury bed, toy box, feeding station, spa (i.e. washing station), and a window seat. Sounds great, but don’t be surprised if you dog still prefers to drape himself across the middle of your bed instead of sleeping in his own room at night!
I’ll agree that these ideas are perhaps as much whimsical as they are practical. But that is what I love about my job - I never know what the next great home-design idea will be and I’m always excited to find out!



Image courtesy of Karen Arnold / publicdomainpictures.net.

Trend Alert: Dogs in the House

Well, anyone who knows me knows how much I love dogs and the joy they can bring to a family. And as a real estate agent along the SF Peninsula, I have seen some very clever ways that homeowners have created dog-friendly homes. I’m not just talking about a doggy door in the garage or a dog-run across the backyard. Check out these fun ideas:

What Kennel? When looking for a place to store a dog kennel or large cushioned dog bed, get creative with otherwise unused spaces such as the lowest pocket of space under a stairway. Add a small door or sliding panel so that Fido can easily access his sleeping space each night while you can discreetly close it up during the day. Other creative spaces could be under a window seat, under a kitchen island, or even integrated into a side table.

Bathing Central - An outdoor shower in your yard is attractive and extremely practical when bathing your four-legged companion. No time to call a plumber? A DIY solution is to hook the shower to an existing garden hose.

Let Me See! Windows are endlessly entertaining to pets, but so often they can be just beyond the reach of a small or medium dog. A floor-level window can add extra light to a room while providing a more dog-accessible portal to what’s going on outside.

I’m Hungry! A built-in feeding area keeps messy bowls out of the way where they are less likely to be kicked and spilled. To take it one step further, devote a corner of your utility room to a feeding area on a low platform with a built-in water faucet for easy refills of the water bowl.

My Own Room? If you really want to keep up with the Jones’, then you might need to push the envelope with an entire dog room. What goes into a dog room? Well, I suppose it could include a luxury bed, toy box, feeding station, spa (i.e. washing station), and a window seat. Sounds great, but don’t be surprised if you dog still prefers to drape himself across the middle of your bed instead of sleeping in his own room at night!

I’ll agree that these ideas are perhaps as much whimsical as they are practical. But that is what I love about my job - I never know what the next great home-design idea will be and I’m always excited to find out!

Image courtesy of Karen Arnold / publicdomainpictures.net.