How to buy and live green–by John Raleigh

Today the Green movement is still in transition but many elements have become mainstream, primarily due to global warming. Ironically, in the 1970’s environmentalists were more concerned about global cooling from pollution and not global warming from CO 2.

It is popular to ask these days: "Do you believe in Global Warming?" This is as provocative question, like asking do you believe in God. It is a polarizing question. Implying that you are either an environmentalist or not. Or you either believe man made pollution can affect the climate or not. Unfortunately there is misinformation and hypocrisy on both sides of the issue. There is a religious type zeal on both sides that has alienated a lot of the general public.

Whether you believe the Earth is warming or not, there are major governmental plans to increase the cost of energy use, control fossil fuel use, and promote alternative energy. In fact, in the Bay Area, we are already penalized, with extra fees or fines, for over use. Water rates are 5 times higher for large users compared to basic. In fact a house with a irrigated half acre lot will cost 10 times more for water (in the summer) than for a house in Sacramento (they have no meters) and a thousand times more than an Agricultural user for the same size area. PGE rates for electricity are $.36/KWH for the higher tier user and only $.11KWH for the basic user. Indiana electricity users pay $.06/KWH (one sixth of what a homeowner in a 3000sf home would pay in the Bay Area and half of what a basic users pays/KWH). We also pay about 10% more for gasoline and diesel and about 50% more for natural gas than the lower cost areas, like Texas. Nationally, a carbon tax or a cap and trade tax is proposed in Congress. In the Bay Area we already pay a tax because our rates are more than double the National rates. If the carbon tax is fair, the coal burning states like Indiana would pay more and we would pay less. More than likely, Congress will come up with a plan that makes us all pay more.

What can YOU do to reduce global warming and live GREEN?

There are voluntary plans of action that will save energy, decrease use of foreign oil, and save you money.

Below, I’m providing a list of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, live greener, and make you feel good about helping save the planet or just ways to save money. One list shows inexpensive things you can do, and the other shows more expensive ways. If you just try some of the inexpensive suggestions, you can save 20% of your energy and water usage. A 75% reduction in you energy and water usage is possible if you try all of these suggestions. will help you measure your usage of energy and water. Using their calculator will help you figure out what are the most effective ways to save resources and money.

Inexpensive things you can do:

Here are some inexpensive ways, some specific to the Bay Area, to save energy, water and money:
– Use CFL light bulbs, motion sensors, unplug energy vampires like TV’s, computers and chargers;
– Buy local, sustainable, green products, shop with your own cloth bag, only buy what you need;
– Recycle, buy recycled or used products, support Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and/or support your local farmers markets;
– Buy a programmable thermostat set it at 68 in winter, 78 in summer. Turn the heat/AC off when you are sleeping;
– Cut down on unnecessary car trips. When you get to your destination, park in the first spot you find. Don’t drive forever to find a closer parking space;
– Use public transportation, use a rental car service like Zipcar and you can eliminate one or all the cars you own. Even an inexpensive car can cost $5,000/year to own and maintain.
– Walk or bike to school or work. Live near your job.
– Live in a concentrated dense urban area (Most Europeans live in cities and use half the energy we do)
– Use less water, drink tap water not bottled, plant local drought resistant plants instead of lawns, or let your lawn dry out in the summer. Pumping water uses massive amounts of energy.
– Vacation locally. Take 1 long vacation instead of several short ones and save a lot of driving.
– Use low VOC paints. Paint your roof white with special roof paint
– Chalk and seal your house
– Buy or rent a smaller house
– Use regular instead of premium gas (try it, if the engine doesn’t ping it’ll run fine). Don’t wait to warm up your engine. Modern cars don’t need a warm up.
– Change your oil every 15,000 miles, like the manufacturer says, not every 3,000 miles — like in the old days
– Set your pool pump to run at night–7 hours a night in the summer and 1 hour in the winter. Buy a pool cover
– If you have a new PGE smart meter, do your laundry at night, and use only cold water. Lower your hot water heater temperature to 110 degrees.

TRUE “GREENY” ways to save the Planet

Now, if you are a TRUE and dedicated "Greeny", dry your laundry on a clothesline and try the following things:
– Plant your own vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees. In a smaller garden only plant lettuces, herbs, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and dwarf fruit trees. Many vegetables can be planted that grow in the winter rainy season that will require little or no watering. Examples are lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, spinach. Because domestic water is so expensive, squash, corn, melons, potatoes, cucumbers, beans and other water hungry plants are more efficiently grown commercially and are not cost effective in a home garden.
– Compost, buy organic food (conventional fertilizer and pesticides use a lot of energy), raise your own chickens, put in a beehive.
– Eat less meat. Beef takes 2500 gal of water/pound to produce. Animals produce methane and use more water and energy than plants to produce the same amount of calories.
– Use gray water for yard irrigation. Take 2 min. showers. Share bath water. Turn your pool into a water retention cistern.
– Use energy saving tips from the Government
– Measure your carbon footprint: or
– Sustainable living info

Somewhat expensive things you can do to help the Planet

– Buy a hybrid or electric car (Pay off time is 10 years – probably longer than the car will last)
– Buy or build a passive solar house or install Photovoltaic active solar panels (Pay off time is 8-10 years);
– Replace your windows with dual pane or better (Pay off time is 10-25 years);
– Insulate more or put in a thermo barrier in attic (Pay off time is 3-5 years);
– Attic fan for cooling, Reversible ceiling fans can help heat and cool (Pay off time is 1-3 years);
– Remodel with "Green" certified products (Pay off time is 10-20 years);
– Solar and/or on demand hot water (Pay off time is 5-10 years);
– Solar pool heater (Pay off time is 3-5 years);
– Buy "Green" appliances, plumbing fixtures and HVAC (Pay off time is 3-8 years);
– Replace your lawn with an artificial lawn (Pay off time is 5-10 years);
– Invest in new clean technology companies;
– Buy carbon credits

Latest Bay Area Market Trends–no inventory and prices are going up

(This article uses information from Coldwell Banker)

The housing market is supposed to slow down as we get deeper into the fall season and inch closer to the holidays, but something very unusual is happening here in the Bay Area. Not only is the market remaining active overall, there’s been a remarkable surge in luxury home buying – in particular, the mega-home sales.

A quick look at closed sales at the end of October caught my attention. Our company alone closed an amazing 13 sales over more than $5 million in the Bay Area just in the last two weeks of October! The vast majority of these deals were in San Francisco, the Peninsula and Silicon Valley, although one was in Healdsburg. The homes went for as much as $11.1 million, the price paid for a Los Altos Hills property.
In all, we saw the strongest October in sales volume since 2004 for the San Francisco Peninsula Region. And although I can’t share with you Coldwell Banker’s proprietary sales figures, I can tell you that this added up to a 56 percent gain from just last October. 

For a market that still faces a number of economic and political headwinds, this is quite a remarkable spike in activity for the upper end of the market.
So, what do we make of all this? It’s a strong signal that the so-called “smart money” is placing some very big bets that the housing recovery is well on its way. Well-heeled investors believe that real estate today offers a tremendous value and the long-term potential is quite attractive.

Additionally, we continue to see more and more signs that the economy nationwide is gradually turning a corner. But more importantly, here at home, the Bay Area economy and job market continues to gain steam, led by Silicon Valley, the biotech sector and the investment community.

A new report released last week by the Bay Area Council adds more evidence of the Bay Area’s economic strength.

According to the Council’s Economic Institute, the Bay Area job market should expand more quickly than California and the nation over the next two years, primarily because of solid employment growth in the San Jose and San Francisco area. The organization predicts job totals locally should expand by 7.2 percent over the next two years, or average growth in the 3.5 percent range annually.

Technology employment will drive much of the Bay Area’s job growth, according to the group’s report. Professional and business services, which consist of a number of tech job sectors, will grow most quickly, expanding by 15.5 percent over the two years, the forecast showed.

”The Bay Area economy has been outpacing California and the United States by a wide margin,” said Jon Haveman, chief economist with the Economic Institute. “That is likely to continue.”

Of course, buyers have to bear in mind a number of political and economic challenges ahead.  Although one uncertainty has been resolved now that the presidential election is behind us, we still face the rapidly approaching “fiscal cliff” in Congress, which could result in deep spending cuts and higher taxes by year-end unless a deal between the two parties can be struck.

But I think the smart money that’s investing in the Bay Area’s mega homes understands more than anyone that real estate is a long-term investment. And when you take a long-range view, it’s hard to argue that this is a pretty good time to jump into the market – no matter what your price range.

Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:

North Bay – In Northern Marin, the Previews high-end market remains remarkably consistent. The Novato market is still running its steady inventory of 18-20 properties in the $1 million+ range for the past year.  There is still a fairly large disconnect between what the sellers want and what the buyers are willing to pay – e.g. the average price for active listings is $488/sf, as opposed to those actually sold in the last 2-3 months, which is $307.  Properties that are contingent are averaging $328/sf.  All of these numbers have remained consistent for the last three months. Our Sebastopol manager says the seasonal slowdown has arrived early. Many agents are speaking with sellers who are saying “maybe next year,” but unfortunately the buyers are saying they want more inventory now.

San Francisco – Although there has been talk of a slower market due to election jitters, our San Francisco Lakeside manager said his experience is that buyers are ready to buy if only they can find a house that suits their needs in an increasingly picked over inventory.  Sellers are seeing that the best way to get the highest price is not to price high. An agent reported that his client’s offer of several hundred thousand dollars over the asking price in St. Francis Wood was scoffed at and the property sold for a million dollars over the list price! Our Lombard manager reports that listings are starting to slow down a little. The percentage of deals this week that drew multiple offers is down, but most sales prices are still going over asking. Mortgage offers often have to go into back-up position behind all cash deals. Low inventory continues to be the headline as sellers shifted their focus to the election and the upcoming holidays.    Buyers are still out in force, our Market Street manager reports, but not all properties receive multiple offers. One agent described his $769K listing as a “feeding frenzy” and gave out 45 disclosures, while other listing agents are doing multiple counter-offers to ratify with a single party. Our Sunset manager notes that it continues to be an active market.  Inventory has decreased slightly in the last couple of weeks.  There are still a lot of multiple offers but the number of offers has decreased.  Agents are reporting large turnout at their open houses. And our Van Ness office reports that activity for past 10 days closing out October, which was the biggest closing month of the year.

SF Peninsula — Multiple offers and lots of them are the rule of the day, according to our Burlingame manager. With so few properties and so many buyers trying to complete purchases by years’ end, the Peninsula is “Red Hot” – 20 plus offers on well-presented listings have become the new normal. Sale prices are trending at 200k to 300k or more over asking in these situations. As always cash is king and offers with no contingencies are winning the day. We are finally seeing some movement in the $10 mill.+ price range with two pending sales over $12 mill. and increased activity in general in Hillsborough and San Mateo Park. According to our Menlo Park manager, open houses on lower end homes (outside of MP but still local) have been amazing – lots and lots of people.  The public has been trained – most are armed with lender letters already.  Higher end has slowed.  Additional cautiousness has crept into the market. Some of that cautiousness may be election related. Inventory is starting to slow down in the Palo Alto area from what it was a month ago.  Nonetheless, demand for inventory is still extremely high.  Homes that would list for $1.3 have sold for $1.8 – all cash. Lack of inventory leads to fewer open houses, which in turn gives less opportunity to meet new clients, our Redwood City manager says.  Any property – single family home or condo or townhouse – that comes on the market priced right and showing well is immediately in a multiple offer situation.  Still a lot of anxious buyers looking for a home.  San Mateo area inventory is down sharply and our local manager is unsure if it is the season or sign of things to come. Upper end Woodside continues to be a struggle.  Sales are slowing again across the board in all of Woodside and surrounding ‘rural’ properties.

East Bay – Berkeley is experiencing a busy fall, at least September and October had many sales.  Buyers seem to understand that they must make their best possible offers when competing for the still too few listings.  Our open houses have been packed, even our condos, and many that have been open several times before. The Previews luxury market is lively as well with more million plus listings and more selling quickly, often with multiple offers. Activity is still very brisk with new buyers to the market showing up every week at open homes, according to our Oakland-Piedmont manager. Lots of packets going out on our listings. It is not unusual to have upwards of 20 and as many as 45 being sent out for prospective buyers to look at. Buyers and their agents are getting very creative in the letters that are written in order to grab the owner’s attention and have them choose their offer even if it is not the highest. As we near the end of the year the buyers that have been writing offers all year do not appear to be getting tired but more steadfast in their resolve to own a home. Lamorinda sales seem to be slowing a bit, perhaps due to the upcoming holidays. Very low inventory in Pleasanton and Livermore. Buyers are still out there but competition is very high if you don’t have the right financing. Multiple offers continue to be the trend on all listed properties, according to our Walnut Creek manager.  Properties are not on the market more than a few days and some are not making it on the MLS at all.  Sales are slowing down due to low inventory.

Silicon Valley – People have to stand in line to get into some open houses, our Cupertino manager says. We’ve got too many buyers chasing too few homes and too many agents chasing too few deals. In the Los Gatos area, properties are continuing to go under contract in spite of low inventory.  There has been a recent uptick in pendings across the board, especially in the Los Gatos Mountains.  This is a great time of year to educate sellers about the opportunity of selling their home now versus later. Our San Jose Almaden manager says multiple offers continue to be the norm.  Inventory has reached 52-week lows in six of our 19 areas.  Percentage under contract is 66% for SFD’s and 77% for PUD’s for the county. Inventory is still dropping in Santa Clara County with approximately 1,076  single-family homes available at present. Multiple offers on most properties, especially in the lower priced properties, is the norm. Low interest rates are keeping buyers in the market. Open house traffic is still extremely active in all price ranges. Our Willow Glen manager says agents are still seeing multiple offers in the low end of the market. Anything under the $600k mark is extremely competitive at this price point.  The mid-level market is still seeing strong demand for anything in the $650 to $850 range. It’s not as competitive, however still multiple offers on most properties in this range.  We have seen a bit of as slowdown in demand for anything over the $1 million price point. Some properties are sitting on the market, but it might be seasonal; we will see how the market responds in the next few weeks post-election. Saratoga sales activity for the month of October was incredible, our local manager says. With listing inventory at an extremely low point the agents are complaining daily that they can’t find properties for their buyers.

South County – The South County market continues to be battered by low inventory. Gilroy’s inventory is down to 55 actives, our local manager says – which is 1/3 of what a healthy, balanced market looks like. Of those, 33% are the luxury market for the area. As a result of the low inventory, most properties are going with multiple offers in a matter of days or hours. There are few open houses and those that get held open are well attended. San Benito County is similarly bleak with a lack of inventory. There are just 72 homes listed in Morgan Hill and only 14 homes for sale in San Martin.  The “Sellers’ Market Phenomenon” continues.  The average home in South County is selling at or above 101% of list price.  The average “days on market” has dropped from 137 days (one year ago) to just 40 days (Nov. 2012).  A true indicator of the market is “months of available inventory.”  That statistic is at its lowest level in years (just under three months supply).  Sellers are smiling, buyers are frustrated and agents are working very hard writing offers that are acceptable to sellers– over list price with no appraisal contingency.  There also seems to be no seasonal adjustment, as demand remains very high for the few available listings.  

Santa Cruz County – Inventory continues to drop.  The total inventory of properties available for sale in October was 580, down 15.5% from 686 last month, and down 42.8% from 1,014 in October of last year.  October 2012 inventory was at its lowest level compared with October of 2011 and 2010.     There is currently about a 2.6 mo supply of inventory and market times continue to shorten also. The average DOM is 60 days, down about 19% from this time last year.  The market with the inventory we have vs. the number of buyers is moving very quickly and most properties have multiple offers.   

Monterey Peninsula – It’s hard to believe that it’s already November and sales activity on the Peninsula continues on as it has been for some months now. In most years new escrows would have decreased by now.  However, our steady pace continues, though our listing inventory is falling.  We are now seeing persistent agents with buyers but no suitable home to sell them. Agents are going out and finding possible homes and contacting the owners to see if they would be interested in an offer, and in a number of cases it has resulted in a sale.  The Previews luxury market has seen increasing sales the last few months as well.


Five ways to help your agent find your dream home

The vast majority of home buyers like — even love — their agents; in the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ most-recent survey of home buyers and sellers, more than 96 percent of those who recently bought homes said they liked their agent, and 85 percent said they would work with that agent again.
But, as always, there are exceptions to this rule: Buyer-agent combos that seem to be full of friction.
In those exceptional cases, a common complaint is that buyers feel their agent simply doesn’t understand or listen to them, as evidenced by the disconnect between their vision for their home and the homes the agent shows them. And no one likes to be misunderstood, especially when trying to get professional help making wise decisions about the financial, location and brick-and-mortar property characteristics that will shape many areas of one’s life for years to come.
Most often, this is due to a disconnect between a buyer’s fantasy home and the reality of what their budget can buy on the market. The agent shows the buyer homes that the buyer sees as falling short of his location, size, or stylistic standards, but in fact, the agent is showing the best homes that the buyer can actually afford.
Other times, though, there is an even deeper communication issue: The buyer hasn’t been clear, or the agent truly hasn’t heard him out. To avoid this issue and make sure your agent is picking up what you’re putting down, in terms of your preferences for your home, here are a few tools for vividly communicating your vision to your real estate agent:
1. Digitally. If you want to communicate your style and aesthetic preferences to your agent, consider creating a digital notebook on the Web application Springpad. Here’s the thing: You can start keeping this notebook as soon as you start thinking about buying a home — you don’t have to wait until you have an agent to do it.
And you can use photos you snap on your phone while you’re out in the world, images from homes you see on design and magazine websites and even MLS listing pics, and you can annotate them with lists of features you do and don’t like about the homes or the images, links to the MLS listings, even voice memos or videos you shot yourself. And you can do this all privately, for as long as you want before you kick-start your house hunt, then share the notebook with your agent when you do get one on board.
A word of caution: If you truly want to use a digital notebook to communicate your vision with your agent, then fill it with reality-based images. Don’t just stick every fantasy home you see on the "Real Housewives" or "Million Dollar Listing" in there — use a separate board for that. On this board, keep to homes with discrete features, looks, etc., that you hope to find in the home you eventually buy and own.
2. Show your agent listings/homes that you like. Do this: As you’re ramping up for your house hunt, start online, looking at listings that you love; if you’re not the type to save images digitally, print out the listing and keep a file folder collection of them. Better yet, run your numbers (down payment, etc.) in an online mortgage calculator to get a very rough idea of your price range, then get out into the world and start attending open houses that come up for homes that are similar to what you hope to buy. Collect the fliers of the homes you visit and like, to show to your agent, once they are engaged.
And this doesn’t have to stop when you actually initiate your house hunt, in earnest. Don’t just sit back and wait for your agent to send you listings you like — though your agent should and, most likely, will. Be proactive: When you see listings you like online, send those over to your agent. When you’re out in the world and happen to come across homes for sale that seem like what you’re looking for, use one of the mobile apps, like Trulia, that will detect your geographic location and serve you up the listings of the nearby homes for sale. Then send them to your agent. (Frankly, sending your agent images and listings of homes that are not even for sale can be helpful at resolving communication roadblocks.)
Passively waiting to be shown homes you like is simply not an efficient way to get house-hunting satisfaction, nor is it necessary for 21st-century home buyers, given the unprecedented access you have to home listing information online.
3. Let your agent show you what she thinks you are saying you want, irrespective of price. This can be especially helpful for people relocating to a new area, or first-time buyers who are still trying to wrap their heads around what kind of home they can get at various price points. If you are concerned that your agent is not listening to your wants and needs, but she insists that she is, ask her to show you at least one house that she thinks reflects your vision as she understands it, irrespective of the price at which that home is listed.
It is the single most-powerful way to go from feeling misunderstood to understanding the truth of the market, instantly. Nine times out of 10, the agent will show you precisely what you want, but it’ll be much more expensive than the budget that you’ve given her. While there’s always a little emotional letdown involved when you realize that the issue is your pocketbook and not your agent, it’s also empowering. It positions you to either up your budget, if that’s possible, or to be thoughtful and conscious about the compromises you will need to make to stay within it.
4. Write out your vision of home. Set aside an hour and actually write down your vision of the life you want to live, once you are warmly ensconced in your home. It should cover everything from:
Family: Who will live with you in the home, throughout the time you plan to own it — any parents or extended family members? Any kids that you think will move out?
Work: Where will you work? And how much or little do you want to work? How will you get there? What does your commute look like? What does your income trajectory look like for the time you expect to be in the home? Do you have — or plan to have — any side jobs or businesses? Do you ever work at home, or want to?
Activities: What does everyone who will live in the home need to be able to do there? Are there any hobbies, work or other activities that require space at home, inside or out? Do you spend your weekends walking to the corner yoga studio and brunching, or do you spend it hitting up Lowe’s to prep for your DIY-home improvement handywork?
Most of the time, buyers start communicating their vision with some sort of boilerplate house-hunting form, checking boxes for the numbers of beds and baths, etc., that they want. Starting with a free-form vision of home before you move to that level of detail will help you get clear on the big picture you’re trying to achieve with your home and, in turn, help you communicate the overarching goals and details of your house hunt in a clearer way to your agent.
If you’re comfortable with it, you might want to go so far as to let your agent review the results of this exercise, or cover the big picture it creates with her; this gives you the advantage of putting your agent’s experienced mind and networks to work to creatively spot properties that might work for you. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your life vision, though, feel free to boil it down to a list you can share of your house-hunting wants, needs, and deal-breakers.
5. Good, bad, ugly feedback sheet. Once you’re actively working with your agent and viewing properties, you might need to fine tune and course-correct your agent’s understanding of what you’re looking for.
Simply give written feedback for each property, bucketing that into the good, bad and ugly (i.e., deal breaker-level disadvantages) of each home, as you see it. Then, at the end of every property tour, you can more readily remember what you liked and disliked about each property, even if you saw five or eight or more, and you can communicate those likes and dislikes in a way that empowers your agent to constantly uplevel the listings she shows you in terms of her alignment with your wants and needs.
Tara-Nicholle Nelson

Price your house to sell quickly

A first-quarter survey of home buyers and sellers done by, a real estate services website, revealed that 76 percent of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent. Home buyers usually have a better grasp of current market value in the area where they’re looking to buy than do sellers who own and live there. Buyers look at a lot of new listings. They make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much, and what doesn’t and why. HomeGain reported that home buyers still think sellers are overpricing their homes.

Your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it given current market conditions. This may not be the same as your opinion of what your home will sell for, or what you hope it’s worth. Relying on emotion rather than logic when selecting a list price can lead to disappointing results. The prime opportunity for selling a home is when it’s new on the market. This is when it is most marketable. Buyers wait for the new listings. Usually, listings receive the most showings and have the busiest open houses during the first couple of weeks they are on the market. This is the opportunity to show your house off to advantage with a list price that attracts buyers’ attention. Listings that sell today are priced right for the market. Buyers need to feel comfortable that they are getting a good deal.

Buyers won’t overpay if they feel home prices are still declining, and in some areas of the country, they still are. In areas of strong sales, buyers may shy away from multiple-offer situations if they feel the recovery is fragile and that prices may slide further before stabilizing. Even in areas where home sales have been strong in the first half of 2012, local practitioners wonder how long the uptick will last.

When selecting a list price, it helps to understand how real estate agents and appraisers establish an expected selling price or price range for your home. They research the recent listing inventory for homes similar to yours that sold. The most recent sales give the best indication of the direction of the market.
They analyze these comparable sales giving more value to your home for attributes that it has that the comparable properties don’t, like a remodeled kitchen. Value is subtracted from your home for features it lacks when compared with the comps…… like an easily accessible, level backyard.

It’s difficult for sellers to step back and take an attitude of detached interest in their home. But it’s essential to do so if you want to sell successfully in this market. For example, your home could actually sell for less, not more, than a comparable sale because you added a swimming pool in an area where most home buyers would rather have a yard with a generous lawn.
If the comparable sale information suggests that the value of homes like yours is declining, select a list price that undercuts the competition to drive buyers — and hopefully offers — to your home. You can take a more aggressive stance on pricing if the comparables show that prices are moving up.
If there is high demand for homes like yours, you may receive more than one offer. But don’t list too high. It’s better to stay in the range shown by the comparables and expose the house to the market before accepting offers. The market will drive the price up if it’s warranted.
Author: Dian Hymer

Vacation Rental – Honeymoon Suite-Luxurious Mansion

Persimmon Bread — Amazingly Good!

It has nothing to do with Real Estate but cannot resist from sharing this.

Try it when you have a chance, It’s really delicious! I just took 2 loaves from the oven and the whole house smells yam! Here is the recipe —

Persimmon Bread  (Makes two 9-inch Loaves)

3½ cups sifted flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 to 2½ cups sugar
1 cup melted unsalted butter and cooled to room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
2/3 cup
Cognac, bourbon or whiskey
2 cups persimmon puree (from about 4 squishy-soft Hachiya persimmons)
2 cups walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped
2 cups raisins, or diced dried fruits (such as apricots, cranberries, or dates)

1. Butter 2 loaf pans. Line the bottoms with a piece of parchment paper or dust with flour and tap out any excess.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Sift the first 5 dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. Make a well in the center then stir in the butter, eggs, liquor, persimmon puree then the nuts and raisins.

5. Bake 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

…….and here is the site it came from:

Just Listed in Woodside Plaza area of Redwood City

Open Saturday and Sunday: 1:30-4:30pm

Recently Sold in San Carlos, CA

Mortgage rates probe new lows

Eight out of 10 loan applications are for refis ….. By Inman News

Mortgage rates plunged to new all-time lows this week as investors in bonds that fund most home loans reacted to news that the economy grew more slowly than expected during the last three months of 2011.

Freddie Mac’s weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey showed rates on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged 3.87 percent with an average 0.8 point for the week ending Feb. 2, down from 3.98 percent last week and 4.81 percent a year ago. That’s a new all-time low in Freddie Mac survey records dating to 1971.

Rates on 15-year fixed-rate loans averaged 3.14 percent with an average 0.8 point, down from 3.24 percent last week and 4.08 percent a year ago. Rates on 15-year loans have never been lower since Freddie Mac began tracking them in 1991.

For five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) loans, rates averaged 2.8 percent with an average 0.7 point, down from 2.85 percent last week and 3.69 percent a year ago. That’s a new low in records dating to 2005.

Rates on one-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.76 percent with an average 0.6 point, up slightly from last week’s record low of 2.74 percent. At this time last year, the one-year ARM averaged 3.26 percent.

"Most mortgage rates eased to all-time record lows this week as fourth-quarter growth in the economy fell short of market projections," said Freddie Mac chief economist Frank Nothaft in a statement. "The gross domestic product rose 2.8 percent in the final three months of 2011, below the market consensus forecast of 3 percent, while consumer spending in December was flat. One bright spot, however, was that fixed residential investment increased for the third consecutive quarter and residential construction spending rebounded in December, rising 0.7 percent."

Looking back a week, a separate survey by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed demand for purchase loans was down a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent during the week ending Jan. 27 compared to the week before. Demand for purchase loans was down 4.3 percent from the same time a year ago.

Requests to refinance accounted for 80 percent of all mortgage applications, down from 81.3 percent the week before.

"The Federal Reserve surprised the market last week by indicating that short-term rates were likely to stay at their current low levels until the end of 2014," said MBA chief economist Michael Fratantoni in a statement. "Longer-term Treasury rates dropped in response, and mortgage rates for the week were down slightly as a result."