Column – “East Bay Real Estate” with Nancy Bennett on

February 19, 2014 14:00 pm · 27 comments


Hi neighbors!  This is Nancy Bennett, your local realtor.

Today marks the launch of the Real Estate Column, a bi-weekly blog that we’ll publish on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. Get ready – this is going to be fun!

I’ll be discussing anything and everything related to real estate and homes in the San Francisco East Bay, and especially in our immediate neighborhoods of Concord, Clayton, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Martinez, and surrounding areas.

Are you interested in real estate?  You’ve probably seen all kinds of articles in magazines and newspapers about “national real estate trends.” These can be thought-provoking as a point of comparison to what’s happening right here, but the fact is the Bay Area is a unique environment for real estate. Each geographic slice of the Bay Area has its own real estate microclimate. That’s what makes a column like this on a popular site like so exciting – it’s focused and relevant to your immediate neighborhood as well as to real estate in the San Francisco Bay Area.

As we enter spring 2014, many Bay Area homeowners are thinking about updates and improvements they’d like to make this year – everything from repairs to major remodeling projects.  Improvements make our houses more enjoyable to live in, and – if we’re educated and strategic about these updates and renovations, they can add solid, proven value to the most valuable asset most of us own: Our home. No matter where you live in the US, updating your home stands a chance of increasing its value – but for homeowners in the Bay Area where real estate markets are frequently robust, certain updates can really generate a strong return on investment.

So how do you choose which projects to prioritize and which vendors to hire? 

As a first step, you probably want to factor in how long you plan to stay in your home.  If you’re there for the long haul – say 10 or more years, then choose the updates that fit your personal style, and enjoy!  If you’re thinking you’ll sell within the next five years, I recommend you also consider the return on investment for your home improvement projects.

If you’ll be selling within two years, I strongly recommend you educate yourself on the types of updates that todays Bay Area buyers are willing to pay (and even overpay) for. Some updates can really pay off when you sell your home, and should be chosen carefully to maximize your proceeds.

Why? Because in today’s market, buyers expect to be presented with an updated, polished and staged home. This has become more the norm in 2014, and the data clearly supports that prepared houses sell for more money. When you decide to sell, the realtor you select will tell you which improvements you need to make to best leverage your home’s value – updates that will likely cost a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. Why make all these improvements at the last minute for your buyer to enjoy?  Why wait until then?  Why not make updates right now and enjoy them yourself for the next few years, until you decide to sell?

The main point I’d like to stress this week is that updating your home in the Bay Area can be an important decision for reasons beyond just making your home more comfortable for you and your family – especially for homeowners thinking of selling within the next few years. When you plan home improvement projects prudently, they can add thousands of dollars to your bottom line.  And all of us can understand that!

In the next column, I’ll go over my top three general home improvements tips for you to consider right now.

If there are topics for the Claycord Real Estate Column that you’re interested in learning more about, just email me directly at  Until next time….

Nancy’s Bio:

Nancy Bennett has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience, with 10 years selling real estate in the East Bay.

She’s an award-winning, top 1% realtor in Contra Costa County, the #1 Realtor in The Crossings neighborhood, and leads The Bennett Team – the top real estate team at Keller Williams Walnut Creek.

Nancy is a member of the National Association of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors, the Contra Costa Association of Realtors, the Fortune 400 Masterminds, and Contra Costa Realtors in Motion.

She serves on the Agent Leadership Council, as well as being a faculty member and mentor to new agents.

Nancy is a licensed foster parent and a volunteer with local organizations such as Meals on Wheels and Youth Homes in Walnut Creek.

For more information, see

Nancy can be reached at:


1 The Mamba February 19, 2014 at 2:16 PM

So…. no guidance on which projects get the most bang for the buck?

2 Silva February 19, 2014 at 2:20 PM

Oh my, I need THIS column!

3 just a concordian February 19, 2014 at 2:49 PM

I miss the Real Housewife.
But this could be a pretty useful column.

4 Antler February 19, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Looking forward to your next column!

5 MadMom February 19, 2014 at 3:25 PM

We’re planning an addition to our home. We’re working on plans to go out off of the great room. Though we will lose some yard space. The alternative is to go up, over the garage. I’m thinking that this would be a lot more expensive.

Either addition would be just a game room. Lots of windows for light but no plumbing to deal with. Would you have any advice as to which remodel might be better? Go up or go out and make the back yard smaller. The yard is already pretty small, but we can open up what we have and keep a patio and a patch of lawn for kids to play on. (as well as side yard storage etc)

Thanks for this column. I believe a lot of Claycordians would be quite interested.

6 ConcordMike February 19, 2014 at 3:32 PM


7 Glen February 19, 2014 at 4:15 PM


If your home is in Concord, you may have to go up. I pulled a permit for my patio overhang and it maxed out the area of my lot that could be covered. I don’t remember exactly, but it’s like 60% of the plat area. Check with building dept.

8 Dorothy February 19, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Recently found out that if I want to replace my hot water heater I will need to get a permit from my city.

My brother found out he couldn’t just replace his old shed because of new legalities.

Maybe we all could use a rundown of various basic fees and permits required by different towns and cities in the area.

9 PH FAN February 19, 2014 at 5:30 PM

This is good, but I miss Real Housewife too….

10 Carol February 19, 2014 at 6:19 PM

I am looking forward to this column since I have a home built in 1975 that I am planning to remodel this year.

I would like to learn more about rebates or tax savings for installing energy saving items such as double-pane windows, or other energy efficient upgrades.

11 Killjoy February 19, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Ah Dorothy, you must live in Concord.
They are hurting for your dollar.
However, if you DO get a permit, they will send out an inspector to make sure that the installation was done up to code specifications.
When I had my heater replaced, I pulled a permit. The inspector found an issue, which the installer came back out and fixed.
When I told him of the error, he said he couldn’t believe he made a silly mistake like that.
So it really is to your benefit to pull a permit.

12 Hanna February 19, 2014 at 6:34 PM

The Real Housewife contributed nothing but trivia.

13 Maria February 19, 2014 at 7:09 PM

We recently remodeled our kitchen. I think I’ve read remodeling the kitchen increases the value of your home. I hope so. But we would’ve done it anyway.

Bathrooms are next. Very expensive. Might have to wait.

We put in a pool which decreases the value of your home. But we like to swim!

14 KAD February 19, 2014 at 9:22 PM

A permit to replace a hot water heater? What if it is an emergency because the old one broke. I have replaced my hot water heater at least twice in the last 10 years. Pulling a permit takes time and has to be done during business hours. What gives? This has upset me now.

15 Z-Man February 19, 2014 at 9:23 PM

@Maria, Were the kitchen and pool projects funded with cash, or hwo did you go about paying for the projects? How many gallons is the pool installed?

16 Clayton Valley Grad February 19, 2014 at 10:38 PM

If I ever remodel, I’ll be sure not to post any info on Claycord.

17 Anon- Northgate Resident February 20, 2014 at 6:54 AM

I am interested in finding out the best way to add an in-law unit on our property (Walnut Creek). We have a fairly large lot in the Northgate area (Carriage Hills). I have been looking into pre-fab homes vs. fully built. Is this a good investment as far as improving the value of the home and increasing my income through renting it out? The cost to build will be about 150K- according to two different estimates.
Would you advise adding on to the existing home instead (with a separate entrance) or a separate structure? Structure would be 500 square feet (the max allowed), with a kitchen, bathroom, living area, and bedroom.

18 Anon777 February 20, 2014 at 7:26 AM

Not sure this will be of any interest to me because we just finished remodeling and won’t be doing so again for a long while. A pool generally gets you about half of what you spent on it; you don’t lose money. My thought about getting a permit to install a water heater?? F**K that! The City just wants a piece of everything and sorry but they are not getting it from me! What’s next? They want a piece of your new garage door, your new faucet, your lightbulbs, your lawn? BS!!

19 The Mamba February 20, 2014 at 7:27 AM

Oooh, good question #20!

20 RD February 20, 2014 at 8:23 AM

Here is the site for Concord to check when a permit is needed

21 Get a Clue! February 20, 2014 at 10:25 AM

If a permit is required, you might want to spend the money.

People who don’t get permits when permits are required are not only ILLOGICAL, they’re CHEAP!

If you can’t afford the permit, you can’t afford the work.

22 old concord February 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM

Why do realtors believe now is the time to buy ? Not now but everyday .

23 Clayton Resident February 20, 2014 at 1:52 PM

If using a reputable plumbing company, they will secure the permit – sometimes the same day of initial visit/installation. At the most, its a two day process from THE FLOOD!

24 Silva February 20, 2014 at 3:51 PM

Oakland’s required permits on all waterheater installations/replacements many years now. There were too many explosions.

25 KAD February 20, 2014 at 4:04 PM

For me it is not the matter of money for a permit for a hot water heater installation. I will gladly, well maybe not gladly, pay the money for a permit, it is the matter of timing. I will not want to wait 2 or 3 days for hot water. If it can be installed and then inspected later then OK.

26 nytemuvr February 20, 2014 at 4:45 PM

@Carol #12
Check this link for rebates and such….be aware that the new energy efficient things won’t last as long since they use smaller motors and skimp on heavier duty parts as they require less electricity. Probably about the same price for “energy efficient” appliances in the long run, since things like furnaces, dishwashers and refrigerators run continually and motors wear out faster because the smaller “energy efficient” motors have to work harder to get the same amount of use out of them.

27 Always Right February 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM

@Anon- Northgate Resident – if the unit is well built , attractive, well positioned on the lot, and parking is convenient for you and a tenant, it sounds like a winning proposition. It would be good to see if you can get separate meters for your utilities.

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