Friday, January 29, 2010

Recipe: Vietnamese Style Pork Ball Soup

I found this recipe about ten years ago and it has been my son's comfort food when he is feeling under the weather. I believe the reason he finds it so comforting is that it smells really good while it is cooking and it is a fast dish. Plus like most soups it makes great leftovers. It is the garnishes that make it Vietnamese style; lime juice, bean sprouts, cilantro and jalapeno peppers added to taste. The soup is satisfying without the garnishes or if you soup vegetables that you like they can added as well. Kale is a wonderful addition to this soup.

32 oz of low sodium chicken broth

6 to 10 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 lb of lean ground pork

Fresh ground black pepper

4 oz of bean noodles

8 oz of bean sprouts

1 oz of cilantro

2 limes in wedges

2 Jalapeno's sliced

Heat the chicken broth and add half of the chopped garlic. Add fresh ground black pepper. Heat until the garlic is tender. Put the rest of the garlic inside of the pork balls. Add the pork balls to the broth and cook the pork balls. Add the noodles and cook a couple of more minutes. Serve with the limes, cilantro, bean sprouts and jalapenos on a separate plate and add to the soup according to individual tastes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is there any good reason to sell your house in Silicon Valley if you do not have to?

The answer is a qualified yes.

This could be a great opportunity to purchase more house for less money than you thought you ever could in the Silicon Valley. You could possibly get your dream home that you never thought you could have afford if you BUY in this market.

The catch is that you need to get over the psychological hurdle that your house was worth anywhere from 10 to 40% more a couple years ago, and concentrate on the fact that the house you want to buy is possibly 10 to 40% LESS than you would have had to pay for it a couple of years ago. It is the price delta of the transaction that matters.

Ask yourself, if I sell my house for X and buy for Y is the difference an amount I am comfortable in financing at historically low interest rates? In addition to financing less money at a lower rate, you have the added benefit of lower property taxes over buying the house a couple of years ago.

Can you ignore the fear and doom portrayed every day on the news that the world is ending as we know it? Can you take the gamble with unemployment rate over 10% in CA?  However, 10% unemployment rate means that about 9 out of 10 people are still working!!!

The market is changing; you know when you have hit the bottom when it starts to go back up. Guess what? It would appear that we have hit the bottom and are on the way back up. Numbers from the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATES OF REALTORS show that we have hit the bottom in Silicon Valley and are on the upswing.

Plus, there are buyers. Buyers that are looking to get into contract before the middle of April to take advantage of the tax credit on their 2009 taxes. The inventory is low for these buyers and they are in MULTIPLE BID situations on several properties.

I am seeing more and more trade up buyers entering the market right now. They will probably have the ability to be smug in 2015 about how they bought real estate in 2010.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Reicpe: Lamb Stew with Arthichoke Hearts

I made this Lamb Stew with Artichoke hearts other night and got the response of; "This is the best thing I have ever eaten"

Personally, I think it was a combination of watching too many episodes on the Food Network Channel and hunger, but it was a very satisfying dish and it tasted even better the next day. I hope you and your family enjoy it as well

1 small onion diced

1 tbl olive oil

5 cloves of garlic diced

1 lb cubed lamb

32 oz of unsalted crushed tomatoes

1 C red wine

1 C beef broth

2 carrots chopped

3 stalks of celery

6 oz mushrooms chopped

1 12 oz can of artichoke hearts in water drained

salt and pepper to taste

Brown the garlic, onions in the olive oil. Add the lamb. Cook until the lamb is browned and then add the carrots and celery. Cook until the vegetables are soft. Add the tomatoes, wine and broth. Cook for about 45 to 60 minutes on low heat. Add the artichoke hearts and the mushrooms and cook another 30 minutes. Serve with pasta, rice or potatoes.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is there such a thing as a balanced real estate market in Silicon Valley?

All we ever hear about is a buyer vs seller market but is there such a thing as a balanced real estate market in Silicon Valley?

Over the weekend I read two different articles on the real estate market; one was positioning the market as a seller's market in the LA area where first time buyers are losing to investors with cash.,9171,1952326,00.html

The next article was in the San Jose Mercury with the suggestion that it was such a buyers market that buyers should ask for additional items at closing

I am currently working with several buyers in Silicon Valley and they are finding that a property that is priced right is being snatched up by other buyers very quickly.  Banks have learned to limit the supply of homes to keep the demand high and they are also pricing them low to create a buying frenzy.  Most short sales and foreclosures will have mulitipe offers in this current market. 

Regular sales are that are priced correctly are selling quickly as well.  Buyers are looking for good value and when they see a property that is a good value they put an offer on it.  It is that simple.

Property that is not priced right for condition or location is sitting on the market.  The longer it sits on the market the more of a discount the eventual buyer will demand.  This is not a market that you want to price at the top of the market, you will find that buyers will not even look at or bid on your property.  Price too high and you take the risk of chasing the market down to find a buyer.

If a property is priced right and quickly attracts a willing buyer is that the definition of a balanced market?  If it is, then I think we are close to a balanced market in Silicon Valley.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Recipe: Perfect French Fries

I spent most of my high school years as a fry cook at the local hamburger drive-in in Idaho making Perfect French Fries. They made all their French fries from scratch; great because I learned to make them; not so great as I have grease burns on my arms as souvenirs.

When my son was little he loved to have his friends over and French fry parties. I would cut up and cook endless amounts of French fries for my son and his friends.

The secret to great fries is the prep work before frying. You need extremely fresh high quality potatoes and good oil. Peanut oil or Canola oil is a good choice. The Belgium’s use horse lard but that is not available in the US and most Americans would not eat fries cooked in horse fat anyway!

Plan on about one to one and half potato per person for serving.

Peel the potatoes and cut into fries, I find the thinner the fry the faster it cooks and the crispier it gets. Soak the cut fries in ice water for at least 15 minutes. Then pat dry with a cotton dish towel. You want as much water removed as possible. Have your oil hot but not smoking and place a batch of fries into the oil. I use a deep frying pan so that it is easier to get the fries in and out of the oil. Cook the fries until they are blanched. By blanched I mean they are about half cooked and then remove from the oil and let them cool and the oil reheat. Return the fries to the oil and watch until they turn golden brown. Remove from the oil again. Place them on plate with a paper towel to blot the oil. Season and serve.

Watch that plate disappear in seconds and repeat the process!

4 to 5 large Idaho potatoes peeled and cut

2 C of Canola or Peanut Oil

Salt/pepper to taste

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Why I am glad I am a real estate agent

I got up yesterday morning and I read several of my friend's Facebook posts about how sad they were that their vacation was over and they had to go back to work. I then went to the gym and on MSNBC they showed the results of a poll that 45% of workers do not like their job.

I felt so grateful that I had made the career change in 2009 that I did. I worked really hard over the Holiday Season as my clients had more time to see property. Yet I was just as excited to continue to work yesterday. I love my new job and it does not feel like work.

Yes, certain things annoy me like all the ridiculous amount of paperwork and the low tech nature of real estate. But I wake up every day looking forward to helping someone find a house or to answer questions about listing a property or any other real estate question that comes my way.

I enjoy my time to myself when I get it and understand that my clients have very little time to look at property and I have to make sure that when I take them out to see property I maximize their time investment. I am making a difference in the lives of my clients and it feels good.

I am so lucky to have the opportunity to do something that I love and that I don't have the Monday morning blues anymore.