Friday, July 27, 2012

Recipe: Pasta Carbonara

For some strange reason I was craving bacon and eggs and pasta after my run this morning. So I decided I would try making Pasta Carbonara. It took less than half an hour to make and was delicious. I used a couple of recipes to come up with this version, it satisfied my bacon, eggs and pasta craving. It has become a kitchen staple. Single Serving Recipe, make in an individual bowl. 2 slices of bacon cooked until very crispy. Dry off with paper towel and crumble. Saute a chopped clove of garlic and about a tsp of chopped onion in some bacon fat. Do more onion and garlic and store in the refrigerator for use another day. In a serving bowl add one egg yolk, a tsp of cream black pepper to taste, mix together. Grate about an 1 oz of your favorite hard cheese into the mixture. Add cooled bacon and onion/garlic, toss with warm pasta. Make 4 oz of your favorite pasta per serving. Enjoy! Let me know how you like it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What you need to win in the Silicon Valley as a buyer

Stop listening to the national news, it will only guarantee that you will not get the property you want because you will ignore the advice that your agent gives you on your local market. Forget everything you hear on the news about this being a buyer’s market, the Silicon Valley is not like other markets.

In the Silicon Valley it is now a seller’s market for most markets. The seller has their pick of offers and they can cherry pick for the best terms and best price.

Strategies to win the offer

Go in at your best and final price. When sellers get as many offers as they are getting right now there usually will not be counter offers. Do not lose the house you love trying to save a couple of thousand dollars. Do not follow Suze Orman's advice on never paying more than 80% of the list price on a condo. Suze does not know this market; her advice might be sound in another market. If you want the winning offer please read the first sentence of this blog again.

You cannot take more than a week to remove property contingencies, if you even have property contingencies. If the seller has already done the inspections using a reputable inspector you may want to consider not having any other inspections. Review the inspection findings carefully and if you have questions about the findings in the inspections have a qualified contractor review them with you on the property. You may also consider not having an appraisal contingency if you have the cash to cover the difference in the appraised value of the property and purchase price.

Before you even start looking for a property make sure you are pre-qualified for a loan and have proof of funds in the bank. Your offer will be ignored without it.

Be open to properties that need a little love and affection. Anyone can fall in love with a property that has been staged to sell. In this market you will pay a heavy premium for the staged move in ready property. Look for a property with good bones but that needs a little cosmetic updating. Educate yourself about the comparable costs of a kitchen or bathroom refresh.

Paint and new carpet are relatively inexpensive updates and many buyers cannot see past green shag carpeting and orange faux paint. Watch every HGTV episode you can on getting a house ready to sell so you can see how easy it is to update a house with paint, carpet and few strategically placed new door handles.

Last but not least, be ready to look at property the MINUTE it hits the market, if you can only see property on Saturday afternoon from 3 pm to 5 pm you will remain a renter for the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions about other deal winning strategies I use with my clients please feel free to contact me.

Happy House Hunting!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Helping my clients understand Zillow's Numbers

I love Zillow, this blog post is not a Zillow bash. I am trying to help my clients understand Zillow's numbers.

I have been a Premier Agent with Zillow for over a year and I have met some amazing clients through Zillow.

I was a huge Zillow user before I became a real estate agent. I like statistical data, I am a numbers driven person and so are 90% plus of the clients I work with. However, some times the Zillow numbers are hard to understand and they lead to more questions than answers. My clients ask me all the time about why the Zestimate is so different than the list price on some homes here in Silicon Valley? I thought I would answer the question.

There are two main issues that cause so much confusion on a Zestimate in Silicon Valley, the small sample size and the diverse housing stock.

For example, on average in any given year only about 350 houses sell in Mountain View, CA. So this means in any given month less than 30 houses are sold in Mountain View, CA. On top of that Mountain View, CA has several very distinct neighborhoods and the price you would pay for a similar house in one neighborhood verses another neighborhood varies greatly. So you may find yourself with only 3 or 4 houses selling within any one year that are really compare to yours. But Zillow does not "know" which houses sold are really the ones comparable to yours, they know what sold next door or down the block. Finding true comparable homes in Silicon Valley is sometimes more art than science.

I have engaged in many an art/science project to help my clients understand the right price to offer on a property or the right price to list a property. The Zestimate is good to know especially as the seller as it can impact the offers you receive from a buyer. If you are a buyer please work with your agent on a price and do not get caught up in the Zestimate of the property as being the market price.

What Zillow knows is that your neighbor next door sold her house for $523,000 and another house around the corner sold for 1.8M last month. If these are the only two houses that sell in your neighborhood they can become part of the basis for the Zillow Estimate of your home, even if they are nothing like your home. The sale of the higher end property is probably going to increase your Zillow estimate, which can make you feel really good that your property values have increased. However, when the next two properties to sell in your neighborhood sell for $624,000 and $567,000 you are left wondering why your Zillow estimate went down just a month later.

When you have very small data samples the data can fluctuate very rapidly and over/under value your property very quickly. At a zip code or city level Zillow does a great job of reflecting the price trends here in Silicon Valley. It just does not have enough data to accurately estimate most homes in the Silicon Valley. The data samples are too small and too infrequent. This statistical sample issue is only made worse with the wide variance of housing stock in any one neighborhood.

Unlike many areas in the country, the Silicon Valley does not have large developments of recently built homes that are very similar in size and amenities. Most of the large development projects happened in the 1950's to the 1970's here. Many of these houses have been replaced, added onto and or remodeled in the years since they were built. A few of them have not been touched since the day they were built in 1958. I recently posted on Facebook a kitchen in an Eichler that had never been updated! Of course this untouched Eichler sits in a sea of rebuilt newer homes. The Zestimate for this Eichler is not in line with the true value of the property as a potential lot not a home. Sorry in advance to the rabid Eichler fans that I think this is a tear down, not a restoration project. Please I have owned an Eichler, I know when to let go.

If you go to Zillow and look up the accuracy of their Zestimate it explains very well about their estimation process but it seems that very few people bother to read this page:-)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Condo Bingo Anyone?

One of the things I love most about my job is the unexpected. There always are many things that can happen on the journey to buy a new home. This morning I had the opportunity to go with a client to put an offer on a new condo under development. We were told that there could possibly be more people interested in the condos that were being released than there were condos available. Even with this warning we were not prepared for the wall to wall number of people wanting to have a chance to buy a new condo nor were we prepared for the way the selection process was carried out.

There were a few lucky owners to be that got their first choice condo. They were given their paperwork and sent on their merry way. I am wondering if they were happy to be the one and only or if they are second guessing that they picked an ugly condo…

The majority of potential condo owners had their ownership determined by a Condo Bingo.

Condo Bingo works like this:

You wait for the unit you gave as your first choice to be called out. Then you and the other condo contestants go to the front of the crowd and pick out which bingo ball is going to determine if you get to buy a new condo today or not. Some condo contestants agonized over which bingo ball was going to be lucky enough to bring them a home. Others like my client just asked to be given a ball so they could get the silly process over with. The balls were placed into the bingo ball spinner and whoever’s ball dropped out the other end got the condo.

My buyer was a Condo Bingo winner, but this was the strangest way to get a new home I have been a part of so far.

Would you play Condo Bingo?

Carla Dimond
Realtor-Lifestyle Neighborhood Specialist
Keller Williams Realty-Cupertino
Cell/Direct: (650) 388-8820
DRE # 01871201

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Open House Sunday 1:30-4:30 pm 50 W Edith Ave #5 Los Altos, CA

Stop by my Open House at 50 W Edith Ave #5 in Los Altos, CA 94022 from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm today

See why the Village of Los Altos is one of my favorite lifestyle neighborhoods.

This 2 bedroom 2 bath home is a great place to entertain friends and enjoy the downtown Los Altos lifestyle. 50 W. Edith boasts a WalkScore of 86 and includes two parking spaces in the garage for your cars to vacation.

Sit on the balcony and watch the world go by.

50 W Edith Ave is just minutes from all the wonderful shops and restaurants in Village of Los Altos.

New to Los Altos?

Let me make some suggestions of a few of my favorite places;

For pampering yourself visit Le Petit Salon on Plaza Central. Owner Nancy Tran has been treating Los Altos to the best manicures and pedicures for about 20 years. Schedule a facial for your next visit, your face will love you for it.

Want to show off that new pedicure? Head to Main Street and go to Crismon Mim for a great new pair of shoes. Check out the great selections of clothes while you are there.

Getting hungry? Draegers is a great place to pick up a custom gourmet sandwich & something special for dinner tonight. Don't miss their amazing wine selection.

Want to go out to dinner? I love the old school experience of eating at Beasejour on State Street. Their coq au vin is outstanding, save room for the chocolate souffle.


Well some local secrets are meant to be kept, but if you visit my Open House I may be willing to share...

Come see why the Village of Los Altos is one of my favorite lifestyle neighborhoods.

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chili Verde and Spanish Rice

A while back I had a friend out visiting and I had them share their grandma's Chile Verde recipe. I love Chili Verde and I did not have a recipe I loved. They shared Grandma’s recipe and I have been playing with it ever since. I am the kind of person that even if Julia Child had prepared a recipe just for me I would be fiddling with it the minute her back was turned.

Tonight I added roasted tomatoes & red pepper to this recipe. I had already decided that I liked about 75% Anaheim chilies and about 25% Poblano, which were not in Grandma’s recipe either. I also added some chicken broth to this version.

I wanted to have something to eat with the Chili Verde with so I decided I would try making Spanish rice. I like really good Spanish style rice but I have to say not many Mexican places do it very well, even some of my favorites. I again used the roasted tomatoes and red peppers in the rice plus tomato paste and lots of garlic.

I decided I better hurry up and share this on my blog while I could still remember what I did differently!

Chili Verde
2 Tbls olive oil
3/12 lbs of pork butt roast, cubed, remove excess fat
6 Anaheim peppers roasted and chopped
2 Poblano peppers roasted and chopped
1 small red bell pepper roasted and chopped
3 medium tomatoes roasted and chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
1 med yellow onion chopped
2 C low sodium chicken stock
Salt/Pepper to taste

I roasted the peppers and tomatoes at the same time I sautéed the meat with the onion and garlic. I salted and peppered the meat before adding it to a warm pan with olive oil. I browned the meat in batches and returned to a large soup pot. I then added the chopped peppers and tomatoes to the pot. Simmered for about 15 minutes and then added the chicken stock. Cook the dish for at least 2 hours on low heat with the lid on and then simmer for about an hour with the lid off.

Spanish Rice
1 Tbls olive oil
2 C long grain white rice
1 large tomato roasted and chopped
1 small red bell pepper roasted and chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 Tlb tomato paste
3 C of chicken stock
Salt/Pepper to taste
Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until clear add the tomato and pepper, cook another 5 to 10 min add the rice, stir to mix. Add the chicken broth. Let the mixture boil on the stove and then reduce to a simmer and cover. The rice will take about 30-40 mins to cook.

Serve with tortilla's, lime wedges, sour cream, avocado and salsa.

A beer or two would not be a bad addition either!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The transition from client to neighbor

I think even if you do not make official New Year Resolutions many of us reflect on the what happened in the past year and what we want to happen in the year that is about to unfold. One of the things I enjoyed most last year was when clients turned into neighbors.

Last year I decided that I was going to really concentrate selling homes in my own neighborhood. In fact my first blog post as part of the ActiveRain community was about my neighborhood, the Shoreline West neighborhood in Mountain View, CA

One of the greatest things that happened in concentrating on my own neighborhood is that I have clients that have turned into neighbors. I tell everyone that one of the greatest perks of my job is picking out new neighbors. After I say that almost always they lean in and ask me; “What do you do if you have a client you don't like?” Lucky for me I have not had that problem. I have however had wonderful clients that I would have loved to have as neighbors and we were not able to find them the right place in Mountain View. Some other community has gotten lucky and has them as new residents.

So as 2012 starts to unfold I am happy for my new neighbors that moved into the neighborhood in 2011 and I am excited to meet new clients that will be new neighbors in 2012!

Also posted