All posts by Robert Traller

Are People Really Leaving the Bay Area in Droves?

For years now, reports have been circulating of people fleeing the Bay Area in favor of cities with comparable job opportunities and a lower cost of living. It makes perfect sense – cities like Austin, Portland, Seattle and Denver offer lifestyles similar to the SF Bay Area but at a discounted price, the perfect draw for young families struggling to establish themselves in this relentlessly competitive housing market. But is this information being used to create an accurate narrative? Does an emigration of a small fraction of the Bay Area’s workforce point to the end of Silicon Valley’s reign as the country’s preeminent tech hub? Or worse yet, is this the beginning of a mass exodus that will bring about our next market crash? Not so fast…

It seems that whenever I run into an article discussing people leaving the Bay Area, its headline is peppered with words that exist solely to stoke fear in those who read them. A classic tactic in the clickbait era of online news. Take for instance this article published by the Business Insider, titled, “The San Francisco Housing Market is so Dire that People are Leaving in Droves”. Based off the headline, you would expect there to be some significant numbers to back up the claim. Instead, they csite a report released by an organization called the Bay Area Council, which found that 46% of their survey respondents plan to move away soon. This is an interesting discovery, if not incredibly vague, but who did they ask? Turns out, this study (which has been csited by fairly reputable outlets like the Mercury News and the San Francisco Business Times) was based off a poll of just 1,000 registered voters in the nine-county Bay Area. That is roughly 0.014% percent of the 7 million people who live here. Hardly a statistically significant sample size.

But the Business Insider isn’t the only source making the “leaving in droves” argument. Many have. The most compelling evidence I have seen to back this argument up is that people leaving the Bay Area for other states last year outnumber those who moved here by the 10’s of thousands (I have seen it as high as 46,000 in one report). But this is just a measure of domestic migration, or people moving within the United States. What these articles always omit, is that net immigration – people coming and leaving from other countries – has remained positive. In fact, according to census estimates, about 58,000 more people moved to the Bay Area from abroad than left last year, which significantly outweighs the reported deficit in domestic migration. Further, the people moving here from other countries tend to be highly educated, work skilled jobs, and earn above the area’s median salary.

In a sense, what’s actually happening here in the Bay Area is quite the opposite of what many reports are suggesting. While some current residents are in fact leaving for other states, our total population is still increasing. And the people who are moving here are taking skilled jobs that further cement our status as the world leader in tech innovation. Jobs that pay enough for them to jump right into the frenzy that is our housing market, further driving up competition. So while it makes for some excellent clickbait material, there is no mass exodus taking place in the Bay Area. Not yet anyway.

2918 Calvin Avenue, Redwood City

2BD/1BA – Home: 750 S/F S/F – Lot: 2,760 S/F – Offered at $699,500

Charming starter home perfect for a buyer looking to break into the Redwood City market. Located just over a mile from flourishing downtown Redwood City, and within walking distance of numerous restaurants and markets. A well-lit living room with original wood floors welcomes you into the home. Both bedrooms and the full bathroom are situated down the hall from the living room. The kitchen features brand new flooring and stainless steel range, as well as an eat-in dining area. Off the kitchen is a door to the attached 1-car garage, which is equipped with washer/dryer hookups. A door from the garage leads you out to the backyard, which features a lovely patio shaded by a mature orange tree, the perfect space for relaxing outside in the gorgeous Redwood City weather. The home features a gated driveway with space to park 2 vehicles, providing flexibility to use the garage space as a workshop or bonus storage. Easy access to Highway 101 via Woodside Road, and less than a 15 minute commute to Facebook HQ.

Presented By:

bryanBryan Jacobs  650.363.2808 bryan@realsmartgroup.com

camiloCamilo Perez 650.222.2327 camilo@realsmartgroup.com

Additional Showings by Appointment:

Contact Bryan Jacobs – 650.363.2808 – bryan@realsmartgroup.com

Broker’s Tour

Tuesday 7/3, 9:30am – 1:00pm

Open House:

Saturday 6/30 & Sunday 7/1, 1-4pm

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Fannie & Freddie Want to Make it Easier for “Gig” Workers to Get Mortgages

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Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the country’s two largest sources of mortgage money, are reportedly working on ways to make qualifying for a home purchase easier for people earning money in the “gig” economy.

The gig economy refers to activities such as driving for Uber, shopping with Instacart, renting your home out on Airbnb, or any other job that allows workers to set their own hours, work for as little or as long as they please, and get paid as an independent contractor.  Last year, a report released by Intuit, which owns TurboTax, estimated that roughly 34% of the U.S. workforce earned money in the gig economy, and projected that number to grow to as high as 43% by 2020.

While these “gigs” have proven to be reliable sources of income for many Americans, using them for mortgage qualification purposes has been problematic. Lenders typically look for 2-years of documented income and reason to believe that those earnings will continue for several years. Earnings from gig economy jobs don’t always neatly fit into these boxes, making it difficult for lenders to use them for mortgage qualification. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are looking for ways around this, so that people earning thousands/month in the gig economy can use that money to gain access to credit in the mortgage market. Neither Freddie nor Fannie have disclosed what options they are pursuing, but Freddie has confirmed a partnership with Loan Beam, a software company which provides automated income verification for gig-economy workers. Depending on what Fannie and Freddie implement, this could help many out U.S. workers who supplement their income in the gig economy get on the path to homeownership.

1240 Woodflower Way, San Jose

4BD/2BA – Home: 1,794 S/F S/F – Lot: 6,137 S/F – Offered at $1,398,000

This charming West San Jose home offers a fantastic spacious floorplan in a pleasant tree-lined neighborhood. A meticulously landscaped front yard welcomes you into the home, which features 4 bedrooms and 2 tastefully updated bathrooms, including a master suite. Just off the main entryway is the living room, featuring new carpeting and large picture windows drawing an abundance of natural light. Down the hall, the formal dining room provides the perfect setting to enjoy an intimate dinner with family, while the open kitchen/family room is ideal for entertaining guests. The kitchen features new stainless steel range and dishwasher, ample cabinet space, pantry for food storage, and an eat-in peninsula overlooking the family room, which enjoys a classic brick fireplace and access to the back patio through sliding glass doors. There is also an adjacent laundry room with access to the 2-car garage. The lovely back patio and yard provide a relaxing setting to enjoy the warm San Jose weather as you BBQ, read a book, or spend some therapeutic time tending to your rose bushes. 1240 Woodflower benefits from a prime location, just a couple blocks off the San Tomas expressway, and a 5 minute drive from countless shopping and dining options at the Westgate Shopping Center.

Presented By:

bryanBryan Jacobs  650.363.2808 bryan@realsmartgroup.com

camiloCamilo Perez 650.222.2327 camilo@realsmartgroup.com

Additional Showings by Appointment:

Contact Bryan Jacobs – 650.363.2808 – bryan@realsmartgroup.com

Broker’s Tour

TBD

Open House:

Saturday 3/26 & Sunday 3/27, 1-4pm

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If you’d like more information about this listing, please use the form below and we’ll get back to you shortly. Thank you.



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A Historic Decision: California to Require Solar Panels for New Homes

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On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission unanimously approved a policy requiring virtually all new homes to incorporate solar panels.  The requirement will take effect in 2020, making California the first state with such a policy.

California is already the nation’s leading solar market, with over 5 times more solar installed than any other state, and roughly 40% of the total solar installed in the U.S.  According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the solar industry has created $43 billion of investment in California’s economy, and employs more than 86,000 people.  The SEIA hopes that this historic policy decision with set a precedent and pave the way for other states to follow suit.  New Jersey, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., have already begun considering legislation that would require new nuildings to be solar-ready.

Of course, for current homeowners, or people buying homes built before 2020, this policy won’t apply.  Still, this policy is a big step towards helping California meet it’s goal of getting at least 50% of it’s electricity from non-carbon producing sources by 2030.

If you’ve considered installing solar-roof panels on your home and would like to explore your options, feel free to give us a call.  We would be happy to connect you with one of our trusted green-roofing experts.

2878 Jackson Street, San Francisco

Elegant Flat in an Outstanding Pacific Heights Location – SALE PENDING

Elegant 2-bedroom plus office/1-bath full floor flat at Jackson Terrace.  Located on one of Pacific Heights’ best tree lined flat blocks, property features an ideal floor plan with gracious formal living and dining rooms.  The well-appointed eat-in chef’s kitchen with walk-in pantry, dishwasher, and new marble countertops is adjacent to the dining room.  Two large bedrooms plus an office/den are set apart from the public spaces to create a serene private living space.  In unit laundry, hardwood floors throughout, abundant in unit storage, classic architectural detailing, high ceilings, and deeded storage.  A true walker’s paradise, the home is located just a couple blocks from the lovely Alta Plaza Park, as well as scenic hiking trails in the Presidio.  It’s also just a short walk to countless shopping, dining, and entertainment options along Fillmore Street.

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Todd Weidmer
415.235.5360
todd@realsmartgroup.com

 

Brokers Tour:

Tuesday, May 8th 9:30am – 1:00pm

Open House:

Saturday 5/12 & Sunday 5/13, 1-4pm

Additional Showings by Appointment:

Contact Todd Weidmer – 415-235-5360
todd@realsmartgroup.com

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Going Green: Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Options

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The last RealSmart Fund Fixer Mixer was a special “50 Shades of Green” event, to which we invited a few of our trusted vendors to provide information on eco-friendly home improvement options. From solar panels to fireplace inserts, there are many ways to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency, at various levels of affordability. Below is an overview of our vendors and some of the green home improvement options they offer.  If you’d like details on options not listed, feel free to give us a call and we will point you in the right direction.

Mr. Roofing – Green Roof Options
This family owned and operated business based in South San Francisco has fully embraced green roofing practices. They can install building-integrated and conventional photovalic solar systems (solar paneled roofs), solar tunnel skylights, green live roofs, and more. Mr. Roofing is a Diamond Certified company, and having used their services many times ourselves we can attest to the quality and relliability of their work.

If you’d like to explore green roofing options for your home, give Mr. Roofing a call, ask for Carlos, and tell him RealSmart sent you.

(650) 605-3927
Ask for: Carlos Rodriguez
info@mrroofing.net
www.mrroofing.net

SDI Insulation – Energy Efficient Insulation Upgrades
While most people overlook the quality of insulation when buying a home, it does play a key role in how much energy you use when running the heater or A/C. If your insulation is old or of poor quality, chances are you are spending more on your monthly energy bill than needed. The team at SDI Insulation will test your home’s energy efficiency, identify area’s of weakness, and upgrade them in order to decrease your monthly energy usage. If you’d like to test your home’s energy efficiency and explore your options for upgrading, we highly recommend you call the experts at SDI Insulation for a free estimate:

(650) 685-5500
Ask for: Joran Stromberg
info@sdi-insulation.com
www.sdi-insulation.com

Carpeteria – Green Flooring Options
Our friends at Carpeteria offer a number of fantastic envronmentally concious flooring options. Among them are Mohawk carpets, some of which are made with up to 100% recycled material. Mohawk recycles around 3 billion plastic bottles annually for use in over 500 of their products. They even recycle old carpet fibers for use in other industries.

Carpeteria also carries Shaw’s Epic engineered hardwood floors, which are made from 50% less newly harvested wood than conventional engineered wood flooring. Their Scuffresist Platinum coating also makes them remarkably durable.

For more information call:
(650) 965-9600
Ask for: Vick Balian
vick@carpeteria.com

Shelly’s Top Green(ish) Paint Colors

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We recently held a “50 Shades of Green” themes St. Patty’s Day party, to which we invited several of our trusted vendors to showcase eco-friendly home improvement options.  In keeping with the theme of going green, we also had our resident interior designer, Shelly, select 6 of her favorite shades of green paint colors (all from Benjamin Moore’s selection). Admittedly, these colors are only vaguely green (the subtle green hues don’t show well online), but if you’re going to paint part of your home green, you’re better off going with an earthy understated tone rather than full on shamrock green. But hey! It’s your home, and if you feel like celebrating St. Patrick’s Day year-round then that’s your prerogative.

With Spring officially upon us, now is as good a time as any for a new look in your home. If you think any of these colors would look good in one of your bedrooms, as an accent wall in the living room, or anywhere else, stop by the RealSmart office (50 Edgewood Road, Redwood City) and pick up a sample! We have plenty of each of the 6 colors shown.

Please note – the images below are computer generated conceptual renderings pulled from Benjamin Moore’s website.

Cloud Nine: 2144-60 (walls)

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Silken Pine: 2144-50 (Fireplace Wall)

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White Marigold: 2149-60 (walls)

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Mellowed Ivory: 2149-50 (walls)

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Old Prairie: 2143-50 (walls)

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Camouflage: 2143-40 (walls)

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What Does Legal Marijuana Mean for CA Real Estate?

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Thanks to a yes vote on Prop 64 in 2016, recreational marijuana became legal on January 1 of this year. While local governments grapple with how to regulate the once illicit industry, and community leaders struggle to reconcile their disdain for the devil’s lettuce with its status as a revenue generating crop… some real estate investors are licking their chops at the opportunity they feel is headed their way.

Luckily for investors in California, the precedent for legalization has already been set. Colorado voted for legalization 4 years ahead of us, and since that time the real estate market has been thriving. The most obvious growth has been in industrial real estate, where growers look for warehouses to set up shop. According to DCT Industrial Trust, a company specializing in industrial real estate investment, marijuana legalization drove up the cost of warehouse space in the Denver Area by 60% in 2015, and lease renewal rates by 25%. Of course, here in the Bay Area where industrial space already comes at such a premium, growth will not likely be as dramatic. Less impacted markets just outside the Bay Area might offer more alluring opportunities.

The residential market stands to benefit as well, though in a less quantifiable way. The job growth created by legalization in warehouses and dispensaries, but also in auxiliary industries like HVAC and security, can increase the demand for housing. It’s much like how the tech boom in the Bay Area led to dramatic growth in trades like plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. This isn’t to say a weed boom could impact the market to the same degree the tech boom has, but it could have similar effects on a much smaller scale. However, investors (and their real estate agents) need to be aware of local regulations around the industry, as they vary from city to city, and could limit or even prohibit the use of land for cultivation or sale of marijuana.

1225-1245 Oak Avenue, Redwood City

Bright and Spacious Redwood City Duplex – Sold for $2,125,000

Front Unit: 2BD/1.5BA – 1,231 square feet

Bright open floorplan connecting living room, kitchen, dining room. Half bathroom downstairs, 2 bedrooms and full bathroom upstairs. Attached 1-car garage and a private side patio.

Back Unit: 3BD/2.5BA – 2,289 square feet

Fantastic open layout connecting kitchen, dining room, living room AND family room (fireplaces in both). Half bathroom downstairs, 3 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms (including master suite) upstairs. Attached 2-car garage and a lovely shaded back patio/yard.

Presented By:

Sue Anagnostou
650.465.6362
sue@realsmartgroup.com

Bryan Jacobs 
650.363.2808

bryan@realsmartgroup.com

Additional Showings by Appointment:

Contact Sue Anagnostou – 650.465.6362 – sue@realsmartgroup.com

Broker’s Tour

TBD

Open House:

Showings by Appointment

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Fed Raises Interest Rates Again – What This Means for Your Loans

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On Wednesday, March 21st, The Federal Reserve raised interest rates (prime rate) by a quarter percent. For people with a traditional 30-year fixed, this has no effect on their loan. But it could affect those who have ARM loans that are adjusting, equity lines of credit and credit cards. Those loans are tied to the prime rate, and will see the actual increase show up within 60 days.

Items such as mortgages and credit cards are benchmarked against the prime rate, and banks are in charge of implementing such Fed Rate changes. Higher rates have already begun hitting the housing market, and though still low by historical standards, mortgage rates are on the rise at a time when inventory of affordable houses is low.

You may see an increase in your monthly payments if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage that is maturing, a home equity loan, or balances on credit cards. Furthermore, with the new tax changes that have occurred, the interest you pay on Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC’s) are no longer a tax deduction. Given that information, now may be a good time to consider refinancing into a 30-year mortgage to avoid this increase in payment or to consolidate your 1st and 2nd mortgage into one affordable fixed payment.

7-Story Residential Project Approved Just Outside Downtown RWC

An artistic rendering shows a seven-story, 125-unit residential development at 353 Main Street near downtown that was approved by the Redwood City Planning Commission on March 6, 2018. (City of Redwood City)

An artistic rendering shows a seven-story, 125-unit residential development at 353 Main Street near downtown that was approved by the Redwood City Planning Commission on March 6, 2018. (City of Redwood City)

The Redwood City Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a 7-story, 125 unit housing project just outside of downtown Redwood City at 353 Main Street.  The project will stretch 2 stories higher than the adjacent Township Luxury Apartments, and will take the place of an existing 1-story office strip.

353 Main will include 19 units of below market rate housing, fulfilling the city’s 15% requirement for new residential development.   Also, since the project will offer 7 units to families earning less than half the area income ($60,000/year for a family of 4), it will qualify for a state density bonus allowing the building to increase its size to 143 total units.  Those 7 units are expected to rent for $888/month.

All of the below market rate housing will be retained as such for 55 years after occupancy

Commissioners requested the Developer, ROEM Development, make 20% of the units BMR and maintain the housing protections for 99 years, but they did not mandate it.  As such, the those conditions will not likely be met.

More information available at the city website: 353 Main Street

Office Cap Reached in RWC – Still, Developers Pushing for More

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In downtown Redwood City, a 500,000 square foot cap on office space that was intended to guide development for 20 years was reached in just 6.  Now, a developer is hoping Redwood City Council will raise that cap to allow another new office complex on Main Street.

The Acclaim Companies wants to build a four-story mixed-use building with 78,832 square feet of offices and 6,900 square feet of retail on three contiguous parcels at 847-851 Main, 855-857 Main and 852-860 Walnut St. While buildings will be razed at two parcels, the one at 847-851 Main will only partially be demolished because the city has ruled that some portions of it are a historical resource. The project also includes two levels of underground parking with access along Walnut Street and valet parking for 246 vehicles.

In order for this project to move forward, Redwood City will need to amend the General Plan.  There is a possibility this will happen, as the city is set to release a study on the impact of allowing more than the 500,000 S/F of office space called for in the 2011 Downtown Precise Plan.  Stay tuned…

You can find more information on the project at the city’s website: 851 Main Street

Hotel Tax on Short Term Rentals, and Other Rules, Approved by RWC

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A set of regulations for rentals under 30-days received an initial vote of approval by Redwood City Council last week.  Among them are: a requirement for homeowners to live in the residence they are listing for rent, limiting the number of days a renter can stay in the home without a host present, prohibiting rentals for special events, requiring on-site parking for renters, and collecting transient occupancy tax (hotel tax) on short term rentals.

A 12% transient occupancy tax would be applied on top of what homeowners charge for their rentals.  The tax would be collected on short term rental platforms like Airbnb, who would periodically dole it out to the city.  The city estimates that this tax would generate roughly $400,000 annually, which would be dedicated entirely to an affordable housing fund.

Though the ordinance was approved by a 4-0 vote by city council last week, won’t take effect until 2019.  It will be brought back to council for a second reading in February, as three Councilmembers were absent from last week’s meeting.

For more information, read this San Mateo Daily Journal release

Redwood City Approves Affordable Housing Complex, Pursuing Another

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Late last year, Redwood City approved a 7-story 117-unit residential complex for low-income seniors at 707 Bradford Street, and now they are close to commissioning proposals for additional affordable housing at a vacant lot on 611 Heller Street. Both the Bradford and Heller lots were purchased by the city with redevelopment funds for affordable housing before state Redevelopment Agencies were dissolved in 2012.

Mid-Pen Housing, a non-profit affordable housing developer, is taking on the project at 707 Bradford, which will include an 8,000-square-foot child care facility to accommodate up to 70 children, and a new public trail along Redwood Creek with trees, lighting and bike racks. Redwood City Council is expected to authorize staff to obtain development proposals for the Heller lot sometime late January.

To ensure there are funds for similar projects in the future, City Council is also considering dedicating hotel tax revenue generated from short term rentals (i.e. Airbnb) towards affordable housing.

The council also recently approved new rules making it easier to build small living units on properties that include single-family residences. It also approved revisions to the Downtown Specific Plan that dedicated 375 units out of a a maximum of 2,500 to affordable housing.

Dumbarton Rail Plan Takes Small Step Forward

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For decades, there have been discussions among regional officials about reactivating the long defunct Dumbarton rail, which runs along the Dumbarton bridge connecting Menlo Park and Union City. Such talks have never gained any legs, mostly due to an inability to source sufficient funding for the project. However, last Tuesday San Mateo County Transit District officials approved a plan to make a number of short-term and long-term improvements along the Dumbarton transportation corridor, including a $1.27 billion overhaul of the 100+ year old rail bridge. This plan is the culmination of a study into reviving the corridor led by SamTrans, who have owned the rail bridge since 1994.

The rail would require major improvements before it could become operational again, but if active, it would link Caltrain, BART, the Altamont Corridor Express, and Capitol Corridor. Proponents of the project call it the “missing link” to a regional rail system that would carry passengers from as far as Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley to jobs in Silicon Valley.

While it’s encouraging to see San Mateo County Transit officials taking steps to push the project forward, cooperation would be needed from several other regional bodies before any improvements could be made, since the rail corridor spans multiple counties and transportation agencies.

Funding is another major challenge, as currently no funds have been allocated towards any of the improvements specified in the plan. Regional Measure 3, which could be on the ballot as early as next year, proposes a $3 toll increase on the region’s 7 state-owned bridges. If passed, $130 million of the toll increase’s projected $4.5 billion in revenue would go towards Dumbarton Corridor improvements. With that in mind, it’s worth noting that funds which were set aside for the Dumbarton Corridor from the last bridge toll increase have since been reallocated.

In reality, if we are ever going to see the Dumbarton Rail Corrdior project move forward, it is going to take significant contributions from the private sector, specifically Silicon Valley companies whose employees would be filling the train’s seats every day. Competition for government money is tight, and $1.24 billion is a funding gap far too large for a bridge toll increase to fill.

Stay tuned to our blog for updates on this and other local news

2704 Roosevelt Avenue, Redwood City

4BD/3BA – Home: 2,200 S/F – Lot: 6,431 S/F – SOLD!

This sunny 4 bedroom 3 bathroom home in the desirable Woodside Plaza neighborhood presents modern updates in an elegant package. Enter directly into the living room with oversized panel windows that give warmth and light to this sophisticated home with crown molding and hardwood floors throughout. Upstairs, a luxurious master suite awaits inviting you to enjoy its spacious walk-in closet and beautifully updated master bath with jet tub, his and her sinks, and natural stone-tiled shower. Indulge in the dry sauna just off the main living area with floor to ceiling wood paneling that allow you to unwind after a day at work or on a cold winter day. Through a pair of sliding a glass doors, a sunny backyard delights with custom hardscaping, perimeter garden and custom pool complete with waterfall and attached hot tub.

Presented By:

bryanBryan Jacobs  650.363.2808 bryan@realsmartgroup.com

camiloCamilo Perez 650.222.2327 camilo@realsmartgroup.com

Additional Showings by Appointment:

Contact Bryan Jacobs – 650.363.2808 – bryan@realsmartgroup.com

Broker’s Tour

Tuesday 3/20, 9:30am-1:00pm

Open House:

Saturday 3/17 & Sunday 3/18, 1-4pm

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A Look at Benjamin Moore’s Top Paint Colors of 2018

Every year, Benjamin Moore releases a list of their top colors, showcasing what they have found to be their most popular paint colors around the world.  It’s a great list to reference if you’re doing any home renovation, or are just looking to freshen your home up a bit with a new look.  Their 2018 list was recently released, which includes their 2018 color of the year: Caliente.  The video below shows a little about how they chose Caliente as the color of the year, and highlights some of it’s uses.

The RealSmart Fund (the investment arm of RealSmart Group) used several of Bejamin Moore’s top colors of 2018 at our most recent flip in Redwood City.  Below is a slideshow with pictures of the home, where you can see these colors in action – if you like what you see, let us know!  We’ll let you know which colors were used where, and we have samples of all of these colors at the office for you to try out for yourself!

Follow this link for the complete list of 2018’s top paint colors