Monday, January 30, 2006

Neighbors of Ashby BART: We're Pissed!

If you're a South Berkeley resident, you'll probably be interested in the city's plan to possibly develop the west parking lot of the Ashby BART station into a transit village.

Last week, I attended a citizen's information forum that attempted to tackle the issue. A majority of the 200+ people who attended were against the plan.

The Neighbors of Ashby BART has been aggregating information about the project and is a great resource to find the latest info.

Do you live in the area? What do you think about the project? We'd love to hear your views.

The Other Side of 30

Hey. Long time, no post. The self consor in me has been rearing it's ugly head. Is this like a pseudo step #5? Anwyay, It feels like I lost my voice for the past week and a half.

What's been going on, you ask?

The big thing is that I turned the big three oh last Wednesday. It was cool. We had a great group turn out at Jupiter for pizza and beer. Nothing like a big event in the middle of the week to totally throw everything off.

My copy of Naked Conversations showed up on Friday...also cool. So far, I'm loving it.

I've also been busy working on the evolution of MyEastBayAgent. Navigating my way through my to-do list and learning a lot along the way.

Which reminds me... One thing that I'd really like to work on in 2006 is smoothing out my workflow to avoid the roller coaster effect. Although I really enjoy the boom cycles, riding the bottom out while waiting for that next burst of inspiration can be a bit frustrating.

I'm hoping that finishing GTD and implementing it will help with this problem. In fact, it just got added to my 43Things.

So there you have it.

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flickr photo credit: EverJean used under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Brainjamming in the Nation's Capital

Hey East Coasters, Brainjams is coming to Washington DC on Monday January 30th and you're invited. Organizer Chris Heuer managed to snag a great location and the event will be held at The DC Improv and it begins at 10am.

I participated in the first two Brainjams in the Bay Area and can attest to the fact that "its ad-hoc collaboration at its finest!"

The morning session with consist of BrainJamming - knowledge networking which is akin to the speed dating concept. Then, in the afternoon, the group will be divided into 'tracks' according to level of experience, so that developers and power users can get more from in-depth discussions with peers and newcomers can get a better understanding of the basics.

If you are into Social Media, Web 2.0 and all that jazz, please plan on coming by Monday January 30 for some knowledge networking in the morning and open spaces in the afternoon. Also, please consider inviting a non-technical friend along so we can spread the word and have a more interesting discussion across the techie/non-techie divide.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

What if Geeks ran NASA?

I admit it, I'm a space geek. I wanted to be an astronaut, but bad eyesight killed that plan. The idea of space travel still fascinates me.

This recent Forbes article caught my attention & attempts to answer the question of:
Where would the U.S. space program be today if run not by NASA bureaucrats but by Silicon Valley geeks and financiers--by crazy entrepreneurs?

Some great points. It mentions that Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne was built for less than $40 million (financed by ubergeek Paul Allen) and flew into space twice last year. It's licensing it's technology to Richard Branson who started a new space tourism company called Virgin Galactic which plans to usher in the era of space tourism.

Definitely one of my 43things

flickr photo credit inner gee

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Good Advice from Suze

I'm not usually a big fan of Suze Orman. Maybe it's because I know she's right a lot of the time and I don't want to admit it since she grates on my nerves. But she had a good nugget in her Ten Tips for a Prosperous 2006 & Beyond.
6. Get UnARMed.

In some parts of the country, more than half the new mortgages taken out over the past few years are interest-only or adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). These were attractive at the time, but mortgage rates are already nudging up. As I write this, they're above 6 percent.

That means if you have a 4 percent adjustable rate mortgage, you better get ready for a big hike. And no one expects rates to go down anytime soon, so don't feel smug even if your adjustment isn't until 2007.

If you have an ARM or interest-only mortgage and plan to stay in your home for a while, make it your primary financial priority to convert to a fixed-rate mortgage. If you plan to move in the near future, consider a hybrid mortgage with a fixed rate that mirrors how long you'll stay. For example, if you plan on moving in five years, consider a 5/1 hybrid, where the initial rate will not change for the first five years.

Lots of buyers in this area used ARM's with low rates in order to get themselves into homes during the recent boom. Now that ARM rates are rising and fixed loans are still fairly low, it might be worth checking into refinancing if you bought on an ARM. Before it ends up costing you and ARM and a leg.

::cues laugh track::

Hat tip: Nina @ Sitting Pretty <- Great personal finance blog

flickr photo credit solarider

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Should Buyers Think About Locking?

Coming off of the slow holiday season, we noticed a surge in buyer activity last weekend. Should buyer's lock their rates?

Bankrate's Holden Lewis thinks so.
YIELDS FALL: I'm guessing that this would be a good time to lock your rate, if you don't have to pay a fee to do so. That covers most of you who intend to close within 30 days.

flickr photocredit *Mike D

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

San Francisco Housing Tracker

I just came across this pretty cool site called Housing Tracker and thought I'd share it with you.

From their site:

HousingTracker is an attempt to gain a more realtime understanding of the national housing market. For the most part, all we have to rely on the quarterly Realtor reports to get a sense of how the last quarter played out. HousingTracker data is compiled weekly from MLS listings which contains asking prices as opposed to the Realtor reported sale prices. HousingTracker gives you the 25th percentile, 50th percentile, and 75th percentile asking price for the metro areas covered. Additionally, the number of homes for sale (Inventory) for the metro area is reported.

I agree, the housing data that we see through the normal media is dated and is usually at least 30 days old. When you're in a transitional market like the one that we currently seem to be in, what was true 30 days ago isn't exactly true now.

That's why a colleague of mine, Glen Bell, and I have been pulling current market data every week for the past few months to get a more realtime picture of this marketand the results are quite striking. Look for a post in the near future summarizing our findings so far.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Want to Try a Cool Real Estate Search Feature?

One thing that I really like about Dustin from the Rain City Guide is that we both share the same passion to spur innovation within the real estate industry.

In this post last Friday, Robbie Paplin from Caffeinated software (great name BTW) unveiled the beta version of a new MLS search feature that Dustin and he have been working on.

After playing around with it for a while, I decided to share the exciting news with some people in my office in hopes of getting some feedback to share with them.

While the people that I showed the technology to definitely thought it was cool, I wonder if they completely understand how cool it really is.

First off, you can generate a customized RSS feed for each search. Any hard core RSS junkie will attest to it being a far more efficient way to digest information. As more and more people become familiar with RSS as a content delivery system, the more they'll demand services like this.

They also give a statistical summary for the search results, which I thought was pretty handy.

But what really impressed the people I showed the feature to was the ability to export the search results into Google Earth.

If you haven't played around with Google Earth yet, I highly recommend it. Although it requires you a download and requires a broadband connection and 400mb of free HD space to run, it's absolutely stunning to explore the world from space. Let's just say that I had to pick some jaws off of the floor.

I've been working with a few developers around here to develop some cool new tools, but my hat is off to Dustin and Robbie on this one. Looks great guys. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds at the intersection of technology & real estate.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Searching Bay Area Rental Properties with Rentslicer

Are you looking to buy investment property in the Bay Area but want to know what types of rent to expect? Maybe you're a renter looking to make the next move. If so, I'd recommend trying out Rentslicer.

I've been playing around with this next generation googlemaps/craigslist mashup and it's definitely a step up from housingmaps which I also found useful.

Not only will it map each listing, it also offers a wide array of statistical breakdowns. One feature that I particularly enjoyed was the Slicer Tool which allows you to choose different housing configurations and amenities and compare the different rental rates.


Don't forget ::wink, wink...nudge, nudge:: if you are looking to buy investment property you can search the East Bay MLS for free right here.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Kent Bye meets the BratPack, SanFransocial Style

While the East Bay real estate market is starting to slowly awaken from its holiday slumber, I had the chance to head into the city last night to participate in an out of towner meetup.

Organized by Chris Messina, a group of us met at Ritual Roasters in the Mission to meet Kent Bye, a documentary filmmaker who is working on the Echo Chamber Project.
The Echo Chamber Project is an open source, investigative documentary about the how the television news media became an uncritical echo chamber to the Executive Branch leading up to the war in Iraq.

By developing collaborative techniques for producing this film, then this project can potentially provide some solutions for incorporating a broader range of voices and perspectives into the mainstream media.

The event went off well. Kent is an amazing guy and his project is truly noble. There was a podcast made & a few episodes of Geek Entertainment TV were also filmed.

Afterwards we headed over to the Burger Joint, for a little more socializing before I had to catch the BART back to the East Bay.

Part of the magic of the meetup is that no one had to call me to tell me about the event. I found out through, a service that I've been using quite a bit recently.

Recently acquired by Yahoo, is a global events calander where community members add events to a centralized database.

Through, you can:
* Use the site to keep track of your own events
* Share events with friends and family
* Find out what events your friends are going to
* Find interesting events in your area

Upcoming also publishes a badge that you can put on your website. If you look down on the left sidebar, you'll notice mine.

Keep it real Kent! We're behind you.

flickr photo credit: Miss Rogue, used under a Creative Commons license.