Mt. Tam (Mount Tamalpais) in Marin County is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern day mountain biking, but the truth is that some form of mountain biking has been around for almost a century.. Read on!
Did you know the word, infantry, refers to the division of the army that enters fighting/combat on foot? In the 1800’s there was an army division called the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corp whose job it was to put together bikes that could carry their gear over rough ground and terrain. In August of 1896 a group of riders from this infantry rode from Missoula, Montanat to Yellowstone National Park…and then back. Their goal was to test a new bicycle to see if the military could use it for traveling mountainous areas. This test went so well that the next year they rode from Missoula, Montana to St. Louis, Missouri!
Not to be forgotten either is the 1951-1956 group known as the Velo Cross Club Parisien from outside of Paris. They rode a bike known as a French 650-B bike that they made some pretty adaptations to.
In 1953, an American, John Finley Scott, took a Schwinn World Diamond frame and added flat handlebars, big balloon tires and derailleur gears and called it a “Woodsie Bike.” People got interested, but still no revolution of sorts!
OK, but where is the Marin County connection? In the late 1960’s and early 70’s there were a group of teens who called themselves The Larkspur Canyon Gang and they rode old 1930’s single speed bikes that they added balloon tires to. They would ride thru Baltimore Canyon in Larkspur and on Mt. Tam. They became local legends who we can say birthed mountain biking here in Marin County. Using these balloon tires gave the riders the name “Ballooners.” As their friends and friends of those friends got on board with this type of riding, a group of bike racers known as the Velo Club Tamalpais also took notice and they began finding and restoring old Schwinn, Colson and Shelby bikes…they would strip the bikes down, keeping just the heavy duty drive trains and were very into original and very cool paint jobs. Most of this group worked in local bike shops and were able to locate and get high performance, but hard to find, old bike parts, especially B.F. Goodrich knobby tires, Schwinn cantilever front brakes, S2 shiny chrome rims, Morrow coaster brakes and more.
As word street amongst local teen, the ideas, adaptations to individual bikes and this sport began a life of its own on “ The Mountain” (Mt. Tam) as it was now called by all these riders. They found and rode the gravel roads and fire roads all over The Mountain. Most would and could access them from Larkspur, Ross, Fairfax and Mill Valley.
As more and more Marinites discovered this type of riding, a new type of racing called “Repack”also began here. Because racing the steep slopes and downward parts of Mt. Tam (The Mountain), these riders would have to repack the grease in their brakes after each race because the high heat of constantly braking during the steep runs would completely eat up/use up what was there!
In 2006, a documentary film called Klunkerz: A Film About Mountain Bikes chronicles the Northern California history of the sport.
For more about information about life in Marin County, give me a quick call or email.....(415)640-0336 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you seen the folks in bright yellow shirts sweeping our downtown San Rafael sidewalks? Have you seen the purple meters scattered around downtown San Rafael? The folks in yellow shirts are part of the Downtown Streets Team and the purple meters are part of Put Your Change To Work program, which is a way to discourage panhandling. What? Read on!
The Downtown Streets Team is an organization that believes that by having a job and being able to take care of ones’ own basic needs is the center piece to helping folks transition to a better life…and get them off the streets.
The Downtown Streets Team organization has changed lives in at least 6 bay area cities since 2007, and have been doing so in San Rafael, since 2013. Downtown Streets started in Palo Alto as a project of the Palo Alto Business Improvement District.
How does it work? Folks who are homeless or nearly homeless hear about the program from others around town and on the streets. They then have to attend a weekly “success” meeting and if/when there are openings they can be recruited.
Each team member has to show up on time, be accountable to complete the jobs given to them and they have to get along with the other team members. They also check-in with the merchants along the downtown streets to find out what specific clean-up things or concerns they may have.
How are they paid? Team members earn non-cash payments that can help them cover what they need. Each team member is monitored by a local staff person and receives personalized case management services allowing them to be able to move on to more permanent jobs and housing. This is a year-long commitment, by both the staff member and team.
You know the saying, “It takes a village…?” Yup, it takes a village to work on solving homelessness, too. There are local community partnerships as homelessness is a very complex issue, too large for any 1 group or agency to solve. Therefore, there is help from social service agencies, government agencies, and the private sector, including you and me, just average folks in the community. Additionally, education is huge in getting everyone on the same page and getting rid of misconceptions and stereotypes that revolve around homeless folks. To that end, there are speaking engagements in social and church groups as well as in schools.
For more information, go to : www.streetsteam.org
Put Your Change To Work and the purple meters is a program encouraging people to feed the purple meters instead of giving on the street because this helps to deter panhandling, so the next time you see a purple meter, throw in your spare change. The City of San Rafael collects the meter money and gives it to the Downtown Streets Team for furthering their programs.
There are also different meter sponsorships where your business can be a partner in the meter program and be acknowledged right on the purple meter. For more information and details on this program, please go to www.PutYourChangeToWork.org.
Here’s a couple great links to YouTube videos all about the program in action and hear from some of the team members:
If you’d like more information on the great things going on in Marin County or what it is like living here, give me a call! Marin is an amazing place to live.
Pam Theroux,REALTOR®, RCS-D™
What is a home warranty vs. homeowners insurance?
Homeowners insurance is a type of property insurance that protects the home against damages to the physical structure, to the owners possessions and it offers liability protection for incidents on the property or in the home itself.
A home warranty is a service contract that covers the homes major systems, i.e. electrical, plumbing inside the home, the heating system and the appliances. Any breakdown on any of these systems can be very expensive to repair, so what a home warranty does is make the repair or replacement, way, way less stressful. This is especially true for a new homeowner as they've had to put so much of their money into the purchase of the home, the last thing they want is any unexpected financial surprises! The way a home warranty service contract works is that when something breaks, you contact your home warranty company and they send out a licensed, bonded repair person. There is a flat fee service visit charge, generally about $65 per incident, that the homeowner will pay the repair person when they come to the home. In return, the system or appliance will be repaired or replaced if it is unrepairable. If it needs replacing, there are generally 2 options: 1) they will replace the broken item with a brand new like-quality, like-featured one, or 2) you may take a cash out price and buy and have installed what you want. The cash out price is a set “contractors” price and there is no negotiating on it.
If your newly purchased home came with a 1-year warranty, you have the option of renewing it or not, at the end of the year. To that end, if you decide not to renew, but a year want one again, you can obtain one. Likewise, you can add or take off certain of the “add-on” items, especially if you have purchased a new appliance and it is already under a manufacturers warranty. For instance, I have a home warranty on my own house. A year or two ago, I added pool equipment coverage for my salt water pool as my equipment was about 11 years old. This was an additional cost of about $300 (so my total home warranty price was approximately $700) but when my salt generator went out that summer, all I paid was the $65 service call fee and the pool repair folks put in a new $1800 salt generator. Additionally, earlier in the year, my central AC was acting up so I called in and ordered service, paid the service call fee and the AC folks that came out said the broken part and labor would have been $400-500 without the warranty.
I have one client who told me that they renewed their home warranty every year for the 14 years they owned the home because in their words “every year one thing broke that would have cost way more to repair or replace than the cost of the warranty.”
A few years ago, my client purchased a property where the Seller included a 1-year home warranty with the purchase. My client didn't pay any attention to the warranty until the 30 year old furnace broke 3x that first winter and after the 3rd visit, the furnace folks said the furnace needed replacing. My client opted for the cash out so that I could put in the one I wanted. A ditto situation arose with the dishwasher right before they hosted their first Thanksgiving in the house. The new dishwasher was installed about 2 days before "turkey day" Whew!
If you are a Seller, you can’t go wrong by offering a 1-year basic home warranty with the sale. I don't know why this happens and It is crazy but so many times it is like the house knows it has been sold and something totally unexpected that the Seller never had any trouble or issue with will break. A $65 service fee for repair or replacement is a lot easier to deal with than an angry Buyer.
If I am representing a Buyer and the Seller doesn’t offer a home warranty, I always buy my client one as a house warming gift…not as delicious as a lovely dinner, but certainly a longer lasting gift!
If you would like more information about home warranties or about real estate in Marin County, please give me a call.
When selling your home how it visually presents has always and will always be very, very important. Yet, as we have become a more technology savvy society, buyers want as many things that aren’t necessarily seen but just as important to them as how the home looks.
In short, buyers want not only the right number of bedrooms and baths with a floorplan that works for their family, but also the upgrades and improvements that make them feel they got their monies worth in the purchase of their new home.
With more and more folks telecommuting, modems, routers, blue tooth speaker systems and wireless internet are the norm in most households, as are motion detector lights, security cameras and/or alarm systems. As these technologies have evolved, and the prices for them have dropped dramatically, most everyone can afford any or all combinations of them. Many of the systems also incorporate heat, fire and CO2 detectors in them. Some turn on your lights and can unlock your door right from the owners smart phone. Just a few years ago, who would have ever thought one would be able to go to Costco to buy indoor/outdoor camera surveillance systems or Ring doorbells(so you can see who is at your front door via the screen on your smartphone)?
These extra systems are perks that appeal to almost every buyer…and they are willing to pay more for a property that has them. Buyers want to not only feel confident about the quality of their home but they also want to feel safe and secure in and around their home and property.
Putting in a security system, whether it is one that you access from your cell phone anywhere in the world or whether you have a 3rd party company monitoring it, tends to be a huge plus to buyers. If a home doesn’t have a system in place at time of purchase, I have found that most buyers will put them in right after they move in. Systems come in all shapes and forms and can be customized to meet the owner’s needs, whether it is just cameras, an alarm system, systems that turn on lights and unlock doors right from your smartphone. or a combination of them.
I recently represented sellers who had owned their home from the time it was new in 1999. Even back then, the developer had put security systems in every home in the complex and all the buyer had to do was activate the system via 3rd party alarm company. My sellers told me that system was a huge plus to them when originally purchasing the home. That particular 1999 system was wired in throughout the home and could cost upward of $1000 for installation back then.
Most, if not all, systems today are wireless and can be installed in just a few hours…and many for only a $99 installation charge. The present systems have almost unnoticeable transmitters on all the windows and doors and when the alarm system is activated, if one of those windows or doors is opened, one has approximately 30-60 seconds to punch a code into the panel to turn off the alarm. Since an intruder wouldn’t know the code the alarm triggers after that time lapse if the code isn’t entered property.
Many times, the cost of the system is offset by the fact that their home insurance company will give a discount for having the system. I know my home insurance carrier gives a 20% discount on my yearly premium for having one. I’ve recently been seeing ads for home security systems costing as little as $27/month for the monitoring…less than $1/day! That is a win-win to most folks…especially when it comes to their peace of mind factor.
When I am on the buying side I always make sure any present security systems/cameras will transfer with the property and the buyer can just take over the account. It makes everyone’s (seller and buyer) life easier that way.
Sellers likely want to know if having these things in place allows them to sell their home for a higher price and are buyers willing to pay for a property with these features? My opinion is most probably to both! Everyone’s lives are very busy and with many households having two working adults, they want move-in ready…and that includes the systems to keep them up and running and feeling secure!
If you would like to chat more about this or if you thinking about buying or selling a home…or if you would just like to know your homes current market value, give me a call at 415-640-0336.
Besides the right neighborhood, right school district and right commute distance to work, one of the most important things a Buyer is looking is an energy efficient home. That means a home that has energy star appliances, energy efficient lighting, a cost saving HVAC heating/air conditioning, water saving plumbing fixtures, water saving landscaping as well as an eco friendly community. Buyers are willing to pay for these eco upgrades!
These few changes can save 50% a year in utility/water costs. More and more buyers are looking to have lower monthly utility bills not only because of their eco friendly consciousness but also that savings allows them to have an increased monthly budget. Reducing environmental waste in a property and seeing that that increases the value of their home creates a very smart investment for them.
As a Seller, if you are readying your home to sell, besides de-cluttering and packing up, take a look around and if it could use some eco friendly upgrades now is the time to do it! If needed go ahead and:
1. Replace old kitchen and laundry appliances with new energy star ones;
2. Make sure you have the current standard level of insulation that will make the home not only more comfortable but will also save 10-50% on heating and cooling bills;
3. Change out toilets that use more than 1.6 gallons per flush and put in low flow showerheads (some cities/towns actually require this upon selling a home)—if you live in Novato, the North Marin Water District office will give you water saving shower heads and sink aerators;
4. If your windows are not double paned, consider replacing them. Same with an old furnace and central AC .
Remember to check with PGE and your water districts to see what kind of rebates are available. Additionally, some upgrades to the home may have tax credit advantages, so check with your tax advisor too (solar for one definitely does).
Want more information? Looking for a home? Give me a call (415)640-0336.
This year there will be 100 master street painters who will create an amazing gallery on the streets near the San Rafael Mission. It's a very fun and eye-candy experience to see these creations! A feature this year will be a 3D painting of Rome's iconic Trevi Fountain.. a major highlight of this this painting will actually take 5 days to create by world-famous Master Madonnara, Julie Kirk-Purcell, and a group of young adult artists being who are being mentored on anamorphic technique (dictionary.com defines anamorphic as having or producing unequal magnifications along two axes perpendicular to each other).
There's activities,music, food and fun for all at this yearly event. Here are some of the highlights:
I just read a very interesting article by Kenneth R. Harney, who writes a syndicated column, The Nation's Housing, (New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Inman News, etc.) titled, "Fannie Mae Making Credit Habits into Mortgage Issue." The article was saying that folks with credit cards are considered either a "revolver" or a "transactor" which is determined by whether they make small or minimum payments on their credit card (revolver) or whether they pay off their credit card debt in full each month (transactor).
Up to now lenders didn't care which we were as long as we were current on any payments. Credit reports show exactly that too-whether you are current or whether you are in default or late on any and they never showed what we paid on our balances each month.
Fannie Mae, one of the big "folks" in the mortgage industry is going to begin evaluating how mortgage applicants manage and pay their debt over the prior 2 year period. Fannie Mae will now require that the mortgage credit reports that they use will need to show our paying habits or trends-i.e. how much we owe in revolving debt monthly, what the minimum payment on that debt is and how much the applicant actually paid monthly on it.
Beginning June 25th of this year, this new system (they are calling it "reach-back data") will be an important part of Fannie Mae's online system that many, if not most, mortgage lenders use to determine the applicant's eligibility for the loan they want. Two of the credit bureaus, Equifax & TransUnion will be supplying this new month-by-month credit managing information.
This new system can actually benefit younger folks who may not have a vast number of credit cards and may have small balances that they pay off monthly, and they want a mortgage, but have not yet been able to obtain since their credit reports were so small.
One of the credit bureaus did their own study and found that 26 million folks who have very small credit reports (or in the industry they refer to them as "thin file") that about 3 million of them would then be considered very, very good credit risks ("prime" or "super prime") which could greatly help their chances of getting lower interest rates from lenders.
Another interesting piece was that this new system will not affect anybody's FICO credit score but rather it will simply open up the mortgage opportunity for those that don't have large amounts of credit history data but they do pay off their monthly balances.
The other big mortgage investor, Freddie Mac, Is also looking at whether to also adopt this new practice.
What it means for all of us is that we need to be very aware of how we manage our credit since it could become a key factor in any future mortgages we may want to get!
For more information on mortgages or our real estate market give me a call!
Not long ago my younger sister was trying to lighten her load for moving. She had a lovely, but very old upright piano that barely worked. For almost a month, we tried donating it to every organization we could think of, also to piano refurbishers, to music stores, put it on Craigslist under “Free,” on Freecycle and on and on. We couldn’t get anyone to even come look at it. They all said they already had more than they needed or they weren’t interested.
We finally had to pay a guy to haul it away. So sad for sure!
Fast forward a few months and I happen to find a Pinterest board dedicated to repurposing old pianos. Such a great idea that I just wanted to share!
So, whether you are looking for a piano water fall, a piano art sculpture, a piano bookcase, a piano bar, a piano tool rack or a piano container garden, I say go for it and let your imagination run wild! Re-purpose, Re-Use, Recyle/Upcycle!!
And…if you need some help finding a home to put that re-purposed piano in or at, just give me call...I'd love to help!
It's cold outside and that means it's the perfect time to get in some family ice skating..and some hot chocolate! Here's a list with all you need for some fun time on the ice in Marin County, Sonoma County and San Francisco:
Marin:Northgate Mall Rink in San RafaelThis seasonal outside skating rink is located in the Oaktree Plaza area of Northgate Mall (same location as the outdoor music in summer). This spot is perfect for all ages, they even offer "skate buddies" for rent- which are like walkers designed to go on the ice. Dates: Nov. 8, 2015 - Jan. 10, 2016
Times: See schedule for times.
Cost: $15/person includes skate rental, good for entire day with in and out privileges
Sonoma:Snoopy's Rink in Santa RosaThis is a year-round indoor rink in Santa Rosa. This rink has a seating area with both snacks and full meals, a gallery and gift shop all in 1970s Swiss Chalet style. They even have a "Parent and Puppy Practice" skate where kids under 12 can use chairs to steady themselves as they learn their moves. Pairs nicely with a showing of the new "Peanuts' movie!
Times: Check the calendar for Public Skate and Parent and Puppy Practice session times.
Cost: $9.50/adults; $7.50/kids (11 & under); Skate rental: $3.50. Parents & Puppy Practice: $9/adults, $7/kids, includes skate rental
Closures: Open yearround except closed on Christmas Day
San Francisco:The Embarcadero Ice Skating RinkDates: Nov. 4, 2015 - Jan. 3, 2016
Times: Sun-Thurs., 10 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat., 10 a.m. - 11:30 p.m.
90-minute sessions start at every even hour.
Cost: $11/adults; $6/kids 7 and under. Skate rental: $5
Closures: Theis rink hosts some private events so do call or xheck the website for closure listings.
Union Square Holiday Ice Skating RinkDates: Nov. 4, 2015 - Jan. 18, 2016
Times: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Cost: $11/adults; $7/kids 8 and under. Skate rental: $6
Closures The rink has special events and can be rented for private parties. Check website.
Yerba Buena Ice RinkThis is San Francisco's only year-round ice skating rink. The rink is open 7 days a week., Good for all skill levels.They do resurface the ice, but it can get a little rough for not-so-confident skaters, so best hit the rink soon as a session begins. Lockers and a bathroom are located on site.
Times: Check website as hours do change from day to day.
Cost: $12/adults; $10/kids 6-12; $7/toddler (5 and under-includes skate rental) Skate rental: $4
Marin County is conveniently located close to San Francisco, the East Bay, Sonoma County & Wine Country. If you'd like more information about any of these areas or about homes in these areas, please give me a call at 415-640-0336.
I hope you find my posts interesting and informative…let me know of any special subjects you'd like to read about!