A Discussion with the Founders of Home Hippos

At this week’s Realtor Roundtable meeting, we caught up with Catherine Greer (President/Product Lead) and Priyanka Jain (CEO/Tech Lead) of an exciting new company called Home Hippos. 

The core mission of Home Hippos is to help homeowners, and buyers/investors realize the full potential value of their property.  They analyze your investment goals, provide data and offer solutions, including 3D visualizations for construction projects so you can choose the best option for you.  Their detailed reports, which provide a breakdown of costs/benefits for different construction and renovation projects, could be incredibly useful, not just to current homeowners looking to boost their equity, but to buyers trying to better grasp the potential value-add opportunities of a property they are interested in.  Can you add an ADU? What size should it be?  Can an existing illegal ADU be converted to legal space?  If you have questions about a properties possibilities, they will arm you with the data and analysis you need to make an informed decision.  Once you make a decision on a path you’d like to take, they will connect you with the architects, contractors, etc. to get the work done.

While the company may be new, Catherine and Priyanka are seasoned real estate vets.  They have nearly 40 years of experience in the industry between them, with an emphasis in real estate investment and construction.  We look forward to seeing where this newest endeavor takes them.

For more information on Home Hippos, check out their website at: www.HomeHippos.com

Thank you Catherine and Priyanka for taking the time to chat with our group!  

Discussing Homelessness with David Shearin, Street Life Ministries

Donate to Street Life Ministries Here

At this week’s Realtor Roundtable meeting, we were joined by Street Life Ministries Executive Director and Pastor, David Shearin. Street Life Ministries is a community-based, non-profit organization that serves the homeless and at-risk populations of the Mid-Peninsula. They work tirelessly to establish environments and build relationships where community volunteers can provide food and clothing, as well as referrals for shelter, addiction recovery, and other personal support.

We try to check in with David about once a year to discuss homelessness in our community, the work SLM is doing to lend aid, and opportunities for others help.  This was the first time we’ve had a chance to speak since the pandemic started, and needless to say, conditions have changed quite a bit over the past year.

Since March of last year, David has seen the homeless population in the mid-peninsula balloon.  This, of course, has a lot to do with the loss of jobs that came with widespread shutdowns, but it was also made worse by the release of a large number of inmates from our local jails in an effort the prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  With no place to go, and no great chances of finding work, many of these inmates went straight to living on the streets. 

With the number of homeless growing at such an alarming rate, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Street Life Ministries, and other nonprofits that provide aid the homeless, to keep up with the demand for their services.  SLM serves free meals to the homeless 5 days a week locally, and David says the lines are getting longer every day.  Their ability to provide 1 on 1 services also dwindles as demand continues to grow. 

While the growing homeless population has certainly put stress on non-profits like SLM, there is some reason for optimism.  According to David, SLM will soon begin administering doses of the COVID vaccine to the homeless.  And as more and more people become vaccinated and businesses continue to open back up, there is hope that more jobs will become available to those in need.  Still, there is lots of work to be done, and even if/when we manage to put the pandemic in the rear view mirror, there will always be homeless in need of help and services.

If you are in a position where you can offer support, we highly encourage that you make a donation to Street Life Ministries.  They work they do is vitally important to the most at-risk in our community, and even more so now during a deadly pandemic.  To learn about ways to donate, head to: streetlifeministries.org/donate

Thank you for joining us, David! As always, we are tremendously grateful for the work you do in our community.

30 Avondale Avenue Featured in The New York Times

Redwood City featured in the New York Times?  You don’t see that every day!

Our listing at 30 Avondale Avenue was recently showcased in a New York Times online publication on CA real estate, with an excellent write-up by New York based writer, Angela Serratore.  We are honored to have been featured, and can think of no better home to represent our beloved hometown in the national media than 30 Avondale Avenue!  You can view the NYT piece at the link below:

30 Avondale in the New York Times

Want to see more of 30 Avondale? This gorgeous custom-built 5BD/4.5BA home is available now!  You can view a full video tour, photo gallery, and watch an interview with the Designer at: www.RealSmartProperties.com/Avondale

Private showings are available by appointment.  Contact us directly for additional information: (650) 363-2808

Preserving our Open Space with POST

At last week’s RealSmart Realtor Roundtable meeting, we met with Mark Medeiros, Senior Manager of Community Engagement with the Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), to chat about the history of POST and the incredible work they do.

POST is a nonprofit whose mission is to create a network of protected lands across the Peninsula and South Bay.  Since their inception in 1977, they have protected more than 80,000 acres of permanent open space, farms and parkland in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. These lands are now part of the National Park system, National Wildlife Refuge system, California State Parks, county and city parks, regional preserves and private farmland.  They have five program areas that define the type of land they seek to protect: Public Access, Redwoods, Wildlife Linkages, Farmlands and Coyote Valley.

Their first project was the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley, which offers some beloved hiking trails and great views.  Other flagship projects POST has worked on which you may recognize include Cowell Ranch, the Phleger Estate, Bair Island and the Cloverdale Coastal Ranches – all of which offer beautiful protected open spaces with public access. The graphics below will give you a sense of just how much land POST has protected over the past 45+ years.

Aside from simply acquiring land, POST will also offer conservation easements to owners of farm/agricultural lands in certain situations.  These easements allow the property owner to generate some revenue by agreeing to limit the use of their land, or at least a portion of it.  This usually involves preventing all or certain types of development on the land.  It’s a great option for property owners who value the conservation of their land, and want to see these values upheld as ownership of the property changes hands. 

POST has some great hiking guides and other resources you may find useful on their website at www.openspacetrust.org.  And if you’re interested in supporting the incredible work that the Peninsula Open Space Trust does in our community, head to www.openspacetrust.org/support-post.  

Of course, we’d like to extend our sincerest gratitude to Mark Medeiros for taking the time to chat with out group and share a bit about POST – keep up the great work!

A Closer Look at EyeSpy360’s Virtual Tour Creator

At this week’s Realtor Roundtable Meeting, we were joined by Andrew Nicholls, CEO of EyeSpy360, for a demo of his company’s 3D virtual tour building platform.  We are very excited about this platform, as it offers some great add-ons to the standard Matterport 3D tours that we have grown accustomed to seeing with property marketing over the past few years.  Perhaps more importantly, it puts the power of creating these 3D tours in the hands of Realtors, instead of 3rd party vendors who rely on expensive equipment.

EyeSpy360 allows you to upload your own 360 degree photos directly to their platform, and within 24 hours they send you a 3d virtual tour, 3D model of the home and a floorplan.  Taking the photos requires a relatively inexpensive device which clips on to your phone’s camera lens.  The device spins your phone around and takes several photos, which are then compiled to create the 360 degree view.  According to CEO, Nicholls, you only need 1 photo per room, and the process can take as little as 20 minutes.  This is vastly different from the Matterport 3D tours that real estate agents are used to, which require many different shots from each room and can take hours to complete.

If you don’t have access to the 3D photo technology, EyeSpy360 has a network of 3d photographers they can refer you to.

The platform also offers several add-ons to the 3D tour experience which allow for a more interactive 3D tour experience.  First, they offer a live chat function, so agents can remotely walk through the 3D tour with their client, while answering questions in real time and providing relevant information.  They also allow agents to record a narrated tour that buyers can watch as they tour the home.  Both of these features could prove to be incredibly useful in the age of social distancing.

Other add-ons to the tour experience include: virtual staging and labels you can place on objects to provide additional information. 

This is an exciting take on the 3D tour experience that we plan to test out on a listing very soon – stay tuned!

And of course, a big thank you to CEO, Andrew Nicholls, as well as Account Manager, Frederick Zennor, for taking the time to present to our group!  You can learn more about EyeSpy360 at www.EyeSpy360.com

A Legal Perspective: Discussing Prop 19 with the McDowall Cotter Team

During this week’s Realtor Roundtable meeting, we met with Attorneys Bob Vale and Roxanne Jen with the firm, McDowall Cotter, to get a legal perspective on California’s new Proposition 19, which will begin to take effect February 4th (further changes rolled out April 1st).  They provided our team with great insight into how to apply these new rules in various different homeownership/transfer scenarios, and what to expect as these changes are implemented.

As a reminder – Prop 19 will make major changes to how your property tax basis can be transferred to family members and carried to new properties.  Starting February 4th, property that is passed down to children from parents will be subject to reassessment.  This change will be particularly impactful here in the Bay Area, where skyrocketing home values have created huge disparities between tax assessments and current market values.

Also, starting April 1st, qualifying homeowners (aged 55 or over, physically disabled, or a natural disaster victim) will be able to transfer their current property tax basis to new property of equal or lesser value anywhere in the state up to THREE times within their lifetime.  They will also be able to transfer the basis to property of greater value, with a partial reassessment for the difference in value.  

If you have questions about how Prop 19 will affect you and your family, and would like to ask a legal expert, we will be hosting a free webinar with the McDowall Cotter Prop 19 Solutions Team on February 4th @ 5:30pm.  Attendees will get an overview of the new rules taking effect, and the opportunity to have any questions answered by a legal expert.  

To register for this free event, go to www.realsmartproperties.com/Prop19

A big thank you to Bob Vale, Roxanne Jen and the McDowall Cotter Team for sharing your time and insights. 

From Our Zoom Meeting to Yours: Happy Holidays!

In the spirit of 2020, we decided it best to incorporate our team Zoom meetings into our holiday card this year.  This is how the RealSmart team got together for most of the year, and while it isn’t ideal, we’re happy to have the technology to still be able to collaborate in a productive and safe manner.  So from our Zoom meeting to yours, happy holidays!  Enjoy the full card below:

Walking Tour: 646 Ehrhorn and Downtown Mountain View

646 Ehrhorn Avenue, just a couple blocks from Castro Street and Downtown Mountain View, is slated to finish construction in the next 30-45 days, offering a stunning 4BD/3BA Spanish-style home located just a few blocks from Downtown Mountain View.    In this video, Bryan will take you on a walking tour from the property to some of his favorite spots in Downtown Mountain View.  Enjoy!