Berkeley Homes
Ira & Carol Serkes
Pacific Union RE
Berkeley, CA USA


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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Movie Double Features?

It's Saturday morning and I'm listening to a rebroadcast of Sedge Thomson's West Coast Live wcl.org broadcast on KALW 91.7 Saturday Mornings 10:00 am to 12:00 noon

Timothy Ferris was a guest speaker, and Sedge mentioned the movie Contact with Jodie Foster.

So.. here's a double feature for you.

Contact and The Dish

We saw the old cult favorite, The Hunger, last week.

So. here's another double feature for you!

The Hunger and An American Werewolf in London

The UC Theater just down the street from UC Berkeley... on University Avenue playbill had lots of inspired double features like these!

Enjoy the weekend!


Email serkes@berkeleyhomes.com or call 510-526-6668 for more information.

Live update of East Bay Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge...homes by neighborhood!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

The Oaks Theater... Our great neighborhood movie theater

We decided to have an early start to the Labor Day weekend.. and went to see The Visitor at our neighborhood theater, The Oaks.

At night, it shines like a beacon at the top of Solano Avenue.... and we want to keep it shining for years to come!

So.. whenever you see a movie, check to see if it's playing at Berkeley's Thousand Oaks Theater!

Sex And The City has come, and gone (so to speak)... but the Oaks usually has another wonderful movie playing.

And the popcorn is fresh!

The Solano Stroll is on 14 Sep 2008, in about two weeks - they often have free cartoons in the afternoon. It's pleasant way to get out of the sun, and gives you a chance to see how beautifully the theater's been restored.

Email serkes@berkeleyhomes.com or call 510-526-6668 for more information.

Live update of East Bay Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge...homes by neighborhood!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Where are the creeks in Berkeley and Oakland?

I'm at a Berkeley Association of Realtors meeting and the subject of creeks and culverts came up

I remember a very cool map.. and googled "berkeley creekside map"

And came up with the link to the Museum of California

The map is out of print, but the map is available for download!

Email serkes@berkeleyhomes.com or call 510-526-6668 for more information.

Live update of East Bay Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge...homes by neighborhood!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

North Berkeley Shingled Cottage - stoll to Cheese Board & French Hotel!

1443 Josephine at Vine - Open Sunday 24 Aug 2008 2:00 to 4:30 pm

If you buy this sweet two story shingled cottage near North Berkeley shops & transportation, you'll be able to stroll to the North Shattuck Spice Of Life Festival in October!

3 Bedrooms, 2 Baths - $790,000

Main level includes enclosed sunporch where you can sit with your morning coffee, sip an afternoon latte, read or watch the world go by, updated kitchen, living room with decorative fireplace, dining area, and one bedroom with full bath.

Upper level has two bedrooms (one with a private deck overlooking a magical garden), second full bath & an office/study/guest room.

Updated kitchen & stainless appliances; undercounter lighting; stack washer & dryer.

Ode to the Garden at 1443 Josephine Street

It is with much sadness that I leave this small but lovely garden. I have tried to create a garden packed with flowers that delights the passerby as well as my family. The flowers invite butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds, and these pollinators animate the plants with their activity. I have included a diagram of the plants that I have planted and identified in the garden and also a spreadsheet with the names and their locations. We have also included a diagram of the automatic watering system. The watering system takes care of almost all the watering needs of the garden except in very warm weather, which is rare in Berkeley.

More information of this wonderful home and magical garden at http://1443josephine.com

Details and diagrams of the garden’s landscaping & automatic irrigation system are included!

Recently refinished floors, custom verdigris copper glaze finishes by renowned artist Cher Cultrona in living/dining rooms. Great storage below

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How do Berkeley 2008 sales compare to 2007 sales?

How do Berkeley 2008 sales compare to 2007 sales?

Read the papers and it all seems to be doom and gloom.

So I decided to follow the edict of Professor Cheng at Cooper Union, one of my engineering professors

"Collect Data... Publish!"

I noticed that there were more 3 bedroom homes sold in Berkeley last year than any other size homes, so that would give me a statistically significant sampling of data.

I compared 3 bedroom home sales for Jan-Jun 2007 for Jan-Jun 2008, and came up with the following graph.

I sorted the sales prices from low to high so I could see how the prices distributed. The vertical axis is Sales Price, the horizontal axis is number of homes sold.

Several things come to mind:

Fewer sales in 2008 than in 2007
A similar trend of price distribution
And... something interesting... what appears to be more 3 bedroom homes sold for higher prices in 2008.

So I decided to look at the data in a slightly different way.. by "normalizing" the data. Was the increase in price real, or just an artifact of slightly fewer sales which shifted the graph to the left.

I decided to see how the two years compared if I plotted the sales price vs. percentile.

Translating into English... I used Microsoft Excel to show the 10/20..50..70/80/90/100% points for each year.

So if there were 100 sales in 2007, the 80% percentile would be sale #80
If there were 90 sales in 2008, the 80% percentile would be sale #72

And so I graphed it by percentile.

And here's what it looks like

As Artie Johnson used to say in Laugh In "Verrrry Interesting"

Looks like the distribution of 3 bedroom homes sales is almost exactly alike.

But wait.. there's more!

On the higher percentiles of sales.. in 2008, 3 bedroom homes actually sold for higher prices!

But wait.. there's even more!

The median home price (50 percentile) for 2008 was lower than that for 2007. And so, if you only looked at the median home price.. you'd conclude that prices were dropping.

So.. you really have to look at the distribution of home prices to see that they're actually holding their own... and in fact, the nicer homes are definitely selling for higher prices.

Thinking of selling... or buying? If you're need is immediate, ring up my iPhone at 510-207-4955.. or send an email to serkes@berkeleyhomes.com

We'll give you the data so you'll know what's best for you!

Email serkes@berkeleyhomes.com or call 510-526-6668 for more information.

Live update of East Bay Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge...homes by neighborhood!

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Zillow Zestimates®.. How do they compare with Berkeley Real Estate Real Estate Realty Reality?

We're seeing more homeowners accepting Zillow Zestimates® as their home's market value.

The San Francisco Chronicle just published an article by Carolyn Said "Home values hold in few places in Bay Area".. and it got me thinking.

I was curious.. how do the Zestimates® actually compare with Berkeley Real Estate Realty Reality?

So my "inner engineer" got the better of me. Yep.. I've two Chemical Engineering Degrees (1970 B.S.Ch.E. Cooper Union, 1974 M.S.Ch.E University of Massachusetts, Amherst)... so I do things like this for fun.


Carol and I spent several hours researching the Zillow Zestimates® of 3 bedroom homes which sold in Berkeley Jan-Jun 2008.. and compared the Zestimate® to the actual sales prices.

This scatter graph shows the Zestimate® on the vertical axis, and actual sales price on the horizontal axis. Data points on the 45º line are where the prices match. Data above the 45º line indicate homes where the Zestimate® was more that the actual sales price; data below the 45º line gives a Zestimate® below the actual sales price.

In 67% of the time, the Zestimate® was higher than the actual sales price.

The Zestimate® looks like it was much closer in the $400,000 to $750,000 price range.

And where was the Zestimate® most likely to be much too high... Or low? In the $800,000 to $1,200,000 price range., there are several examples where the prices were off by $100-200,000.

I've come up with a new verb.... "Zillowed"

That's what happens to a real estate agent when a seller decides their home at the Zestimate® price, and not its current market value.

And since the Zestimate® is higher than the home's value, the home doesn't sell.

We've been Zillowed once this year... so I figured it was time to see how Zillow Prices compare to reality.

What does this all mean? When selling, you really need a local expert on your side.

And the same thing goes for buying.

It's just as common for seller to sell for much less, and buyers to pay too much, when relying on Zillow to determine value.

There's no substitute for "boots on the ground"... and that's why it's so important to have a neighborhood expert on your side.

Data Source:
Sales Prices: East Bay Regional MLS
Zillow Zestimate®: zillow.com

Email serkes@berkeleyhomes.com or call 510-526-6668 for more information.

Live update of East Bay Berkeley, Albany, Kensington, Rockridge...homes by neighborhood!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympic Gold

It's 2008.08.08.. and this morning we flew down to to LA for a mastermind meeting.

The Olympics started in Beijing this morning.

As we're approaching LAX I saw the Olympic Stadium to the right.

Was talking to one of my mastermind group.. and she was saying her niece was going to attend UC Berkeley as a Softball Team Player.

And that reminded me of our clients, Michele Granger.

That's Michele's Gold Medal I took a photo of.

Yes.. Gold Medal for Woman's Softball in the SummerAtlanta Olympics!

Congratulations to Michele.. and to all our wonderful Olympians

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Saturday, August 02, 2008

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We're looking forward to receiving wonderful referrals and testimonials from you too!

Ira & Carol