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6 events in San Francisco you shouldn’t miss this July

New Year's Eve Firework

San Francisco is one of the greatest and most exciting places to live, bar none. This fantastic area is bustling with countless activities that promise unique experiences, unforgettable people, and an extraordinarily good time.

Each year, the city throws its biggest and most diverse celebrations which draw in thousands of visitors from across the globe. Here are 6 events you shouldn’t miss in July 2018.

  1. Fourth of July Celebration
    July 4
    Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf

    Celebrate Independence Day in San Francisco. The city’s Fourth of July Celebration happens at Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf and promises a night to remember. This event features live entertainment from the Eighties tribute band Tainted Love and a magnificent fireworks display.

  2. Salsa Festival on The Fillmore
    July 13 to 14
    Fillmore Street

    Dance the night away at the Salsa Festival on Fillmore Street. This huge salsa dance party takes over three city blocks for two whole nights of fun and dancing. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to salsa! The event also offers salsa lessons for beginners at the Fillmore Center Plaza.

  3. Ethnic Dance Festival
    July 14 and 15, July 21 and22
    War Memorial Opera House

    This year, the Ethnic Dance Festival organized by the Worlds Arts West, a non-profit performing arts organization in San Francisco, will showcase the talents of 21 music and dance ensembles. Immerse yourself in the fascinating,
    diverse, and joyful world of Eskimo singers and dancers, flamenco performances, as well as a tribute lion dance, and acts from the Caribbean and Africa, among many others

  4. AIDS Walk
    July 15
    Sharon Meadow in Golden Gate Park

    Take a walk for a cause on July 15. The AIDS Walk is an annual 10k fundraising event that benefits nonprofits such as Project Open Hand, ACRIA, Positive Resource Center, among others. Since 1987, the AIDS Walk has raised over $90 million for HIV-related programs and services which benefits the whole San Francisco Bay Area.

  5. San Francisco Frozen Film Festival
    July 19 to 22
    Roxie Theater and PianoFight

    Named after the chilly summer weather in San Francisco, the San Francisco Frozen Festival presents the city’s best and newest independent films. Check out the latest documentaries, animation, short films, music videos, experimental films, and more.

  6. Up Your Alley Fair
    July 29
    South of Market neighborhood

    Known to locals as Dore Alley or the Dore Alley Fair, this raunchy leather and fetish event is not for the faint of heart. The Up Your Alley Fair is attended by over 15,000 people annually and features scantily clad men in leather outfits, 50 adult vendors, and many BDSM-themed elements.

The quantity and diversity of events in San Francisco mean there’s something for every interest and persuasion. The city not only has amazing events, but beautiful weather, amazing establishments, and must-have real estate properties. If you’re thinking about becoming a part of this wonderful community, get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.


Not your typical San Francisco: The City by the Bay’s most distinctive attractions

House

There’s no better way to discover a city’s true personality than by checking out its most offbeat attractions. Here are 6 of the most unique sights and experiences that San Francisco has to offer:

  1. Angel Island
  2. Alcatraz isn’t the only attention-worthy island in San Francisco Bay. Angel Island features a selection of historic military posts and plenty of attractions of its own. You can hike around the island to see the sights, or else hop in an open air tram. You can also rent a Segway and experience a guided tour on this self-balancing scooter.

  3. The Beach Chalet
  4. Looking for an alternative to historic Cliff House? The Beach Chalet on Ocean Beach will deliver that beachfront dining experience you’ve been looking for. The restaurant features a microbrewery, along with window seats perfect for watching the breaking surf. Chug down a limited-edition brew. Check out the selection of murals on the lower level for a trip across San Francisco history.

  5. The Camera Obscura and Holograph Gallery
  6. Located behind the famed Cliff House is a walk-in structure that looks like a giant camera. It is, in fact, a working camera obscura, an imaging technology that projects a unique take on San Francisco Bay views. Built in the 1940s, this attraction is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is also a
    museum for a small collection of holograms.

  7. The Crissy Field to Fort Point hike
  8. Hailed as San Francisco’s most scenic trail, this casual trek takes about 2.5 hours on foot, depending on your pace and how much you want to take in the stunning scenery. Go in the morning to see the Golden Gate Bridge
    bathed in sunlight, or visit in the afternoon to watch the sun set right behind it. The San Francisco skyline will welcome you on your way back.

  9. The Thinker
  10. You’ve seen it time and again: that unmistakable sculpture of a pensive man, hunched over in deep thought. But did you know that The Thinker is actually a San Francisco resident? One of its 28 full-sized bronze castings, that is. Visit the Legion of Honor Museum courtyard to see this Auguste Rodin sculpture
    up close.

  11. The Wave Organ
  12. You’ve marveled at the San Francisco Bay’s captivating views, but have you listened to its songs? The wave organ was designed by artist Peter Richards and built in 1986 in collaboration with sculptor and stone mason George
    Gonzalez. The acoustic sculpture located near the Marina district plays a unique opus each time the bay’s waves crash onto it. The installation uses 25 organ pipes made of PVC and concrete, along with materials salvaged from a
    demolished cemetery. Make the most of your Wave Organ visit by checking for the next high tide.

The San Francisco Bay Area offers much more than these unforgettable
attractions. You can also find a great home here, especially with Bernie and
Mike Homes
by your side. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for inquiries today.


7 family-friendly museums for an educational weekend

Family Looking At Artifact In Glass Case On Trip

Bay Area museums provide plenty of learning experiences that the entire family can emjoy.

From awesome attractions to interactive features, a day at the museum offers so much for every member of the family. In San Francisco, the choices are limitless – from one devoted to cable cars, to a place that showcases the many classic characters created by Walt Disney.

If you don’t know where to start, here are Bay Area museums you must check out with your kids:

  1. The Exploratorium
    Pier 15, Embarcadero Street
    San Francisco, CA 94123

    Founded by American scientist Frank Oppenheimer, the Exploratorium is dedicated to cultivating curious minds at any age. Combining science with art, it features a variety of appealing, interactive exhibits designed to promote hands-on discovery. With a direct approach to learning, this museum will prove awe inspiring for kids.

  2. California Academy of Sciences
    55 Music Concourse Drive
    San Francisco, CA 94118

    A planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all in one, the California Academy of Sciences is a one-stop shop for learning. Marvel at various aquatic species. Immerse yourself in a four-story simulated rainforest. Watch special shows that tell the fascinating journey of the Earth and all of the life that it supports.

  3. Walt Disney Family Museum
    104 Montgomery Street
    San Francisco, CA 94129

    With the Disney name attached to it, this museum is an instant draw. It showcases all your favorite Disney characters through the years, plus the stories behind their creation.

  4. Cable Car Museum
    1201 Mason Street
    San Francisco, CA 94108

    If your kids have experienced riding Francisco’s iconic cable cars, they will love a visit here. This museum showcases vintage cable cars, the machinery that makes it all work, and a peek into the plans for saving, rebuilding, and this local living treasure. Entrance is free.

  5. Bay Area Discovery Museum
    557 McReynolds Road
    Sausalito, CA 94965

    Located a short drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, this place is sure to capture your children’s imagination. The 2.5-acre space is dedicated to playful and interactive exploration and makes science, technology, and math fun for kids and adults alike.

  6. Bay Model Museum
    2100 Bridgeway
    Sausalito, CA 94965

    Want to show your kids around the Bay Area and all of its highlight destinations? Do it faster and easier by bringing them to the Nay Model Museum. Created by the US Army Corps to study San Francisco Bay tides and currents, this huge model of the entire Bay Area can be visited and viewed for free.

  7. Cartoon Art Museum
    Golden Gate National Recreation Area
    Tiburon, CA 94920

    If you want to introduce your kids to art, visit this Yerba Buena museum. Boasting a collection of over 6,000 original works of art, this museum houses relics from classic comic strips, graphic novels, and cartoons.

Discovery and innovation are always just around the corner in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you want to find a great home for your family to take root here, explore the website to view your housing or investment options. For inquiries, you can also talk to the real estate specialists of Bernie and Mike Homes. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.


The best staging practices that will sell your San Francisco home

Gray sofa and coffee table

Careful staging aims to impress home buyers.

  • Boost your curb appeal
    A strong first impression goes a long way. With a spruced-up front yard and entryway, a clean or newly repaired roof, spotless windows, and some cleverly positioned lighting for evening viewings, you can set the tone for a pleasant home tour.
  • Clean smart
    The idea of cleaning the entire house may seem overwhelming, but with these smart cleaning strategies, you’ll be done in no time:

    • Clean as if you’re reading a book
      You know how we read books from left to right, top to bottom? That’s how our brains our wired. Do the same when cleaning a room so it feels more intuitive and less stressful.
    • Prioritize attention-drawing surfaces
      Buyers easily notice dirt and stains on floors and countertops, so place these high on your cleaning order.
    • Show your kitchen and bathrooms some extra love
      Kitchens and bathrooms are deal breakers when it comes to home buyers. Make sure they’re spotless. Get necessary repairs done. Remove personal products from bathrooms, and declutter kitchen counters by hiding small appliances like toasters, juicers, and coffeemakers. Spruce up these spaces with fresh flowers loosely arranged.
  • Clear your storage spaces
    While decluttering your living spaces should be a given in your preparations, you should also clear out cupboards, closets, and other storage areas in time for a viewing. This will allow buyers to see how much storage space they can work with when they own the home.
  • Depersonalize
    Make it easy for buyers to imagine themselves living in your home. Remove family photos and personal mementoes from areas in the home open for viewing.
  • Brighten things up
    From pulling the curtains open to adding lamps to dim corners, light will instantly boost your living spaces. A well-lit home makes spaces seem larger and more cheerful.
  • Make the home flow
    Give visiting buyers a comfortable time exploring the house. Move furniture away from doors and hallways, and in spaces where guests are likely to walk through or linger.
  • Showcase the best features of the home
    Whether it’s a spacious patio, a home theater, or a spa-like bathroom, the best features of your home should take center stage. Keep these spaces spotless and work to make them look inviting. If you can, set a consistent theme across the house to illustrate a complete lifestyle, instead of separate experiences.
  • Think like a buyer
    As you go through all these steps and strategies, remember what it was like when you were shopping for your own house. What did you find impressive in the homes you visited? What turned you off? With this mindset, you’ll be better able to turn your home into an attractive package for home buyers.

Staging is just one effective strategy to score a great deal for your home. For more expert advice and reliable selling services, trust Bernie and Mike Homes to get the job done. Inquire today by calling 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.


6 expert tips for a first-time San Francisco home buyer

Panoramic view of San Francisco

Owning a home in San Francisco takes a lot of patience, resolve, and careful preparation.

With their promise of excellent jobs, great year-round weather, and diverse and vibrant lifestyles, Bay Area communities always rank high on the lists of young West Coast home buyers.

These highlights, however, are the same reasons owning San Francisco real estate can be a challenge. With high demand for limited housing stock, median home prices here are steeper than many US cities, going well over the million-dollar mark.

If you’re a first-time buyer willing to take the leap into Bay Area real estate, here are top tips that will help you meet your home goals:

  1. Manage your expectations

    Gun for the best, but be prepared to compromise. While it makes sense to want all the best attractions and amenities right away, consider tradeoffs that can make a less competitive neighborhood appealing. These could be something practical like having a convenient commute to work, or having a lovely recreational perk nearby, a welcoming neighborhood vibe, or proximity to a good trail or surfing spot.

  2. Think out of the box

    If the market is competitive, do not rely solely on listings. Consider the following:

    • Convince your landlord to sell

      If you’re already renting a good place in the Bay Area, ask your landlord if he would be willing to sell the property. It’s worth a try if you can make a reasonable offer.

    • Look for a property to buy even before it’s on the market.

      Get a head ahead on the competition. Check social media or talk to friends and colleagues about looming property sales in your desired neighborhood.

  3. Be prepared to move once you’ve identified your ideal home

    Quick reflexes are crucial when making a play for highly desired real estate. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, secure your down payment resources, and organize your personal and financial documents early. Convincing the seller of your ability to buy is a huge advantage. With the above credentials ready, jump at the earliest opportunity to make an offer for your chosen property.

  4. Use open houses to your advantage

    More than an opportunity to study properties closely, open houses allow buyers to gauge their competition. An open house can provide a snapshot of
    how many potential buyers are competing for the property, as well as their profiles.

  5. Steel yourself for counter-offers and outright rejection

    Always remember that it’s always a toss-up in the Bay Area real estate market. In fact, getting rejected is considered a rite of passage for home
    buyers here. Be ready to bounce right back up and move on to Plan B if your offer didn’t make the cut.

  6. Work with a reliable local real estate specialist

    No matter where you’re buying, if you’re new to real estate transactions, professional guidance and advice from experienced agents are a crucial
    advantage.

From finding hot leads to helping you write a compelling offer letter, to representing you on the negotiation and closing desks, Bernie and Mike Homes will make it easier to buy your ideal San Francisco Bay Area home. Call us 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.


The best bike routes in the Bay Area

adventure ride

From casual pedaling to adventure rides, San Francisco bike routes will have something to please every cyclist.

Do you ever wonder how the Bay Area earned its reputation as a cyclist’s paradise? Add these notable routes to your ride plans and see for yourself.

  • Embarcadero-Sausalito
    The beginner-friendly ride

    It will take you approximately one hour to get from the Embarcadero waterfront to the bayside town of Sausalito, a distance of 10 miles. Riders cross the Golden Gate Bridge and are treated to stunning views of Alcatraz Island along the way. In downtown Sausalito, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to wind down and grab a bite. You can even opt to take a little sip of wine. You can pedal your way back or hop on a ferry and enjoy a short cruise back to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

  • Golden Gate Park
    A quick and casual ride in the City by the Bay

    San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park presents a variety of trails, including dirt paths that boost the sense of adventure in an otherwise soothing ride. The paths are open for bikers to explore on their own, but visitors can also take guided tours designed to showcase the Park’s most popular sights and secret gems. The park is compact enough for you to ride around in about 30 minutes. You can also check out all of the attractions around the premises if you instead to stay for the day.

  • Crystal Spring Regional Trail
    A weekend crowd favorite

    Located in the South Bay area, this route is popular among weekend riders, joggers, and trail walkers. The paths can get pretty crowded on a weekend, so head out early in the morning for the best riding experience. Scheduling a midweek ride also works. Expect to be treated to views of the San Andreas Reservoir, the Upper Crystal Springs Reservoir, and a historic miner’s camp. The trail now stretches 15.3 miles, but will cover a total of 17.5 miles when complete.

  • Muir Woods Loop and San Pablo Dam Reservoir Loop
    Mild challenges, inspiring scenery

    Intermediate riders will surely enjoy the ups and downs of the North Bay’s Muir Woods Loop and the East Bay’s 19-mile San Pablo Dam Reservoir Loop. The Muir Woods Loop covers just over 13 miles, with the first three miles mostly a long, continuous climb, followed by three miles of downhill roads. You’ll find yourself in the midst of towering redwood groves and be delighted by sparkling ocean views.

  • Iron Horse Trail
    Time to test your mettle

    The aptly named Iron Horse Trail presents a worthy challenge for experienced cyclists. It is 32 miles long, but will eventually extend to 55 miles. At present, the path runs through a total of 12 cities. Allot six hours to negotiate the trail, which alternates between crowded urban centers and barely populated rural neighborhoods.

If you want to live in communities that bring all these biking adventures closer to home, Bernie and Mike Homes is the real estate team to call. Explore the website to view your housing options. For inquiries, call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 today.


June events in San Francisco, CA you shouldn’t miss

Under a LGBT Pride Flag

Pride Month is one of the many cultural highlights that dot San Francisco’s June events
schedules.

Planning your June activities in the City by the Bay? Mark your calendars for these exciting events across SF:

  • Union Street Music Festival
    June 2-3 | Union Street, between Gough and Steiner

    This 40-year-old community event is spread out over five blocks to showcase local musical talent, arts and crafts, and various community groups and advocacies.

  • San Francisco Jazz Festival
    June 5-17 | SFJAZZ Center

    Offering more than 30 shows over a two-week stretch, this music festival features performances from contemporary jazz stars, alongside tribute, shows dedicated to legends like Oscar Peterson.

  • Crossroads Film Festival
    June 7-10 | San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    Avant-garde forms of cinema claim the spotlight at the SFMOMA’s Phyllis Wattis Theater and Gina and Stuart Peterson White Box in this film festival’s 9th year.

  • AIGA San Francisco Design Week
    June 7-15 | Various venues

    Discover breakthroughs in modern design, from practical applications in fashion and architecture to lifestyle changing tech innovations. 60 studio tours and 75 events are planned for this event.

  • Queer Women of Color Film Festival
    June 8-10 | Brava Theater, San Francisco

    Designed to immerse, empower, and enlighten audiences, this event celebrates the power of filmmaking as a vehicle for shattering stereotypes and inspiring social improvement.

  • Haight Ashbury Street Fair
    June 10 | San Jose Municipal Stadium, San Jose

    The Haight-Ashbury district’s prominent role in shaping the American cultural, political, and social landscape in the 1960s is celebrated in this festival of music, arts and crafts, and food.

  • Across the Bay 12K and 5K
    June 10 | Starting points in San Francisco and Sausalito, CA

    Now on its 35th year, this event features a scenic 12-kilometer run from Sausalito to Aquatic Park that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • San Francisco Black Film Festival
    June 14-17 | San Jose Municipal Stadium, San Jose

    Offering a diverse selection of works from established and up-and-coming African-American filmmakers, this event is a world-renowned celebration of the African cultural diaspora.

  • Frameline42, San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival
    June 14-24 | Castro Theatre

    This is the largest and longest-running LGBTQ cinema exhibition in the world. The Frameline festival is now on its 42nd year.

  • North Beach Festival
    June 16-17| Near Washington Square Park

    Enjoy a classic San Francisco street fair experience with live entertainment, Italian street painting, and arts and crafts competitions. Expect gourmet food and beverage gardens, too.

  • San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade
    June 23-24 | Various venues

    A celebration of color, personality, love, and humanity, San Francisco’s 47th annual Pride Month celebration culminates with a festive pride march from the Embarcadero to the Civic Center.

  • Fillmore Jazz Festival
    June 30-July 1 | Fillmore Street, between Jackson and Eddy

    Jazz fans have plenty to look forward to at the end of June, when the city puts together three stages of continuous performances and more than 300 artists’ booths.

With an events lineup like this, there’s no question that San Francisco is one of the liveliest places to live. Make this vibrant lifestyle yours by exploring the website for property options. For inquiries, get in touch with us, Bernie and Mike Homes, at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281.


Types of mortgages

Years ago, there were only three types of mortgage programs available to home buyers: fixed-rate conventional mortgages, VA loans, and FHA loans. Nowadays, there’s a wider range of mortgage loan types buyers can choose from.

Buying a home is most likely one of the largest purchases you’ll make during your lifetime – this means choosing the ideal type of mortgage loan will be a key factor in the home buying process. And because there are so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the right type of mortgage that meets your financial goals.

To help you get started on your search, here’s some quick info on the mortgage loan types that are currently available:

  • Fixed-rate mortgage types – Home buyers can choose from different fixed-rate mortgages, from 5-year to sometimes even 50-year fixed-rate mortgages. All of these are completely amortized.
  • FHA loans – An FHA mortgage loan is insured by the government under mortgage insurance funded into the loan. This is the most common type used by first-time home buyers due to their minimal down payment requirements.
  • VA loans – This type of program is available to US veterans, current US military members, reservists, and select surviving spouses. Requirements of the loan vary according to number of years in service or type of military discharge given. VA loans are funded by conventional lenders, but are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • Interest-only mortgages – This mortgage loan type can be a bit misleading, as they are not really “interest-only.” They do however, contain an option to make an interest-only payment, which is available for a certain period of time.
  • Option ARM loan – This type of program is an adjustable-rate mortgage which allows buyers to choose from a selection of index rates and payment options. Those choosing this loan should be careful of the minimum payment option, as this can result to negative amortization.
  • Combo mortgage loan – Combo loans, also known as “piggyback” loans consist of two loans, a first and second mortgage. These mortgages can either be fixed-rate, adjustable rate, or a combination of both.
  • Adjustable-rate mortgages – These loans come in many different forms, and can move up or down or remain fixed for a certain period before adjusting.
  • Mortgage buydowns – This type of mortgage has a reduced interest rate due to fees paid to lower the rate, hence the name. Lenders, sellers, or buyers are able to buy down the buyer’s interest rate.
  • Bridge or swing loans – This type of mortgage loan is typically used whenever the seller has a home for sale on the market, which has not sold yet. The seller then borrows equity to purchase another home, with his or her existing home used as security for the loan.
  • Reverse mortgage – This type is available to persons who have enough equity, and are aged 62 and above. Rather than making monthly payments to a lender, monthly payments are instead paid to the borrower, as long as he or she resides in the home. Interest rates for a reverse mortgage can be fixed or adjustable.
  • Equity mortgage loan – This type of loan allows buyers to receive cash, and can be fixed, adjustable, or a line of credit used in order to withdraw funds as needed by the borrower.
  • Streamlined-K mortgage loan – Similar to the 203K loan program, this FHA backed program provides funds to borrowers to repair a home by collecting funds into a single loan. Although the financial limits for the repair work are lower on this type of loan, it is easier to obtain and requires less paperwork compared to a 203K.

What makes a good offer?

After sifting through multiple listings and attending many open houses, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. Now it’s time for you to make an offer.

How do you determine an ideal price? What are you going to do in case there are competing offers?

When making an offer, it can be difficult to set your emotions aside, since it’s your new home that’s at stake. In order for you to have a better chance at landing a better deal, you need to view the transaction objectively.

Here are three factors to consider:

Current market conditions and inventory

Take a look at homes for sale in your area and find out if there are plenty of similar homes up for sale. Also take note of the length of time they stay on the market, whether they remain available for a single month or more on average. These signs indicate a buyer’s market, which will put you in an advantageous position at the negotiation table. You may want to make an initial offer below the home’s listing price.

If there aren’t a lot of similar homes and properties go into contract a week or two after they’re listed, you may be looking at a seller’s market. This means you’ll have to make an offer at least equivalent to the listing price.

While your realtor is usually in charge of gauging the local market, it helps if you’re also familiar with these factors yourself.

Length of time on the market

The length of time a home has spent on the market is a good indication of whether it is fairly or unfairly priced. For example, let’s say the average time it takes for most homes in the area to go into contract is one month. If the home you’re looking at has remained on the market for over two months, the seller may have priced it too high.

You may attempt to make a low offer on the home. However, this could also be a sign of the seller’s lukewarm motivation. A new listing with a reasonable price will likely need a full-priced offer immediately.

Competing offers

In a hot market, homes often receive multiple offers. This means that as a buyer, you may be facing not just home buyers like yourself, but also investors wielding “all-cash” offers. One way for you to gain advantage over competing buyers is to include an “escalation clause” on your offer.

This is how an escalation clause can give your offer an edge: Let’s say the home’s listing price is $300,000, and there are several offers on the table for it. You place an offer for $305,000, with an escalation clause to $315,000. If the home does not receive any higher offers, yours will remain at $305,000. If it gets a higher offer, then your offer automatically increases to the limit, placing it above the other one.

Before you place an offer, it’s always a good idea to get pre-approval from a mortgage lender. In a competitive market however, this step becomes imperative, as approval from a reputable lender will make your offer stand out.


Why listing photos matter and how you can use them to attract more buyers

According to a recent study conducted by the National Association of Realtors, 44% of buyers use websites and other online resources to help them during their home search. In today’s digital age, it’s safe to assume that most prospective home buyers get a first impression of a home through photos they viewed through a website.

This is why listing photos are a crucial factor which should never be underestimated, especially for those who are serious in selling their home.

In this article, we share a few helpful tips on how you can create the most effective photos for your listing:

Clean, declutter, and organize

The first step is to make sure your home is spotless, clutter-free, and organized. If you want to have the most flattering photos, it pays to have great attention to detail, as even the tiniest of things will be magnified through the camera’s lens. Remember, people who view your photos will able to zoom in and scrutinize minute details in every photo.

Hire a professional photographer

Don’t make the mistake of thinking your smartphone’s camera will suffice. Your listing photos need to be professional quality. Grainy, blurry, poorly lighted, and otherwise low-quality images will discourage your online audience.

A professional photographer will know how to highlight your home’s best features by making use of the best lighting, angles, and editing software. If you want to get photos that will convince potential buyers to make an offer, hiring a professional photographer is definitely the way to go.

Get plenty of photos of your home’s interiors and exteriors

Having a good number of photos displaying both your home’s interiors and exteriors will help your listing shine. It also gives viewers a more in-depth look at your home, which is an important step before they get to visit it in person. There are also some buyers who choose to revisit the photos even after they’ve seen the home with their own eyes, so it’ll help if you have an impressive collection.

Take exterior shots during daytime and nighttime

Be sure to take photos of your home’s exteriors during daytime and nighttime, so viewers will be able to see your home from all lighting aspects. This can be especially useful if your home is surrounded by gorgeous scenery. When taking night shots, be sure lights are switched on inside your home.

Stage every room

Your goal is to showcase your home in the best light possible. This means you need to stage every room, so buyers will get a clear idea of the type of lifestyle it can offer. Be sure every room’s purpose is clearly defined, so that it won’t be difficult for viewers to imagine themselves living there.

Show off curb appeal

Having great curb appeal also plays a huge role when it comes to photos. Be sure you include a shot of your home from across the street, so you can show it off. Your home’s entire structure should be visible within the shot, and make sure cars, lampposts, and other objects are not visible in the foreground.


What is title insurance?

Title insurance is a type of indemnity insurance that is used to protect the holder in the event of financial loss due to flaws in a title to a property or invalidity of mortgage loans. Lender’s title insurance is one of the most common types of title insurance. This is purchased by the borrower to protect the lender. Sellers purchase owner’s title insurance separately, which protects the buyer’s equity in the property.

Unlike land registration processes in most countries, recorders of deed throughout the US typically do not guarantee indefeasible title to recorded titles. Title insurance guarantees protection against possible lawsuits targeting the title, or reimbursement for monetary loss equal to the dollar amount of insurance indicated in the policy.

The importance of title insurance

Title insurance serves as the real estate owner’s and lender’s protection against damage or loss incurred from defects in the title, encumbrances, liens, or actual ownership of the property. While traditional insurance protects against future events, title insurance protects against possible claims for incidents in the past.

Some of these claims include forgery or fraudulent title documents, property ownership by another party, outstanding lawsuits, liens against the property, unidentified easements, and others.

Acquiring title insurance

The insurance process is initiated by a closing or escrow agent once the property purchase agreement is completed. The attorney or agent typically recommends one of five major US title insurance underwriters.

Owners’ insurance and lenders’ insurance are the two kinds of title insurance available. Lenders usually require the purchase of a lender’s title insurance policy in order for them to have protection in the event that the seller fails to legally transfer the title of ownership rights. With a lender’s policy, lenders are only protected against loss. An issued policy typically represents the conclusion of a title search, which offers some assurance to the buyer.

An owner’s title insurance policy is usually required as additional protection, given the fact that title searches are not exactly “airtight,” and owners still face the risk of incurring loss. The owner’s title insurance, which is usually purchased by the seller in order to protect the buyer against possible flaws in the title, is optional.

In most cases, an owner’s policy and lender’s policy are both required to assure all parties are adequately protected. During closing, all parties purchase title insurance offered at a one-time fee. In order to prevent anyone from taking advantage, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act or RESPA prohibits sellers from requiring buyers to purchase from a chosen title insurance carrier.

What if I have no title insurance?

Without title insurance, transacting parties are widely exposed to significant risk, in case a title defect is discovered. Without title insurance, a homebuyer may have to deal with claims for back taxes, which rests solely on them. In this situation, a buyer not protected with title insurance will be required to pay the outstanding taxes, or they will lose the home to the taxing entity. In the same situation with title insurance, the buyer will be protected as long as they own the property.


Major parts of a purchase contract

A real estate purchase contract, also known as a residential purchase agreement or contract to purchase real estate, is a binding agreement involving two or more parties legally capable to purchase or exchange real property.

While money is most commonly used as consideration in exchange for real estate, it can also be another property in exchange, and sometimes promise to pay. As required by the United States Statute of Frauds, all real estate contracts should be in writing for them to be enforceable, and must contain the signature of both parties (buyer and seller).

A real estate contract contains the following major details:

  • All important rights, obligations, and details of the contract
  • The real estate property, identification of parties in the agreement, and the agreed-upon purchase price
  • All conditions and contingencies that are to be met
  • Amount of the deposit
  • Property’s current condition
  • A list of items included and not included with the purchase
  • The prospective date of closing
  • Closing costs (and who pays for what)
  • The signature of each party involved
  • Terms of possession

Information on contingencies

The list of contingencies in a purchase contract typically includes:

  • Getting in appraisal (which is usually required by the mortgage company)
  • Acquiring a mortgage or owner financing
  • Having a professional conduct a proper inspection
  • Need for another sale

Earnest money deposit

The buyer usually makes a deposit once he or she signs the contract. This deposit is held under escrow by a third party (typically a title company or real estate lawyer) until the closing. The deposit is usually specified in the contract itself and is a fraction of the total selling price. The earnest money deposit serves as credit used in the final purchase price negotiated.

What if the buyer wants to cancel?

Cancellation of the purchase contract is a serious consideration and may result in the buyer’s loss of deposit. In addition, he or she may be sued for specific performance or failure to compete the contract. In case you are thinking about getting out of the contract, the ideal time is while contingencies are being met by both parties.

Although contingencies are normally used as escape hatches, they aren’t for buyers who suddenly get cold feet.

The most common reason is financing contingencies. In case the buyer attempts yet is unsuccessful in getting a mortgage, the contract is canceled. There are also many potential issues in underwriting. Even if the buyer gets pre-approved by a lender, there may still be discrepancies during the mortgage underwriting process.

Another out commonly used by buyers is the inspection contingency. Should the inspection reveal any underlying defects in the property, the buyer may declare the defects too much for him or her to handle. In case the buyer and seller fail to reach an agreement on the repair of the defects, they can both decide to cancel the contract.

In some states, however, a home inspection is required before executing the final purchase contract. In this case, an inspection is not included as a contingency of the contract.


Why you should hold an open house

When selling a home, there are various ways to provide buyers with access to the property. One of them is to hold an open house, which allows potential buyers to visit the home physically.

An open house can be a highly effective part of your home selling strategy. Here are a several advantages you can get when you include an open house to your plan:

It attracts more serious buyers

Holding an open house attracts various buyers in more ways than one. By having visitors seeing the house as-is, you’re making it easier for them to make a decision that’s based purely on facts. Used in combination with online marketing, you’re increasing your chances of attracting serious buyers who are likely to make an offer on your home.

In addition, repeat visits also allow you to get to know more about serious buyers. A second visit is an indication that they saw something in your home, and would like a closer look before placing an offer. This allows you to focus on potential buyers and push the right buttons to convince them to buy the house.

It gives you the opportunity to prepare your home for a sale

Planning an open house gives you an opportunity to stage your home, which paves the way for a top-dollar sale. One of the best ways to approach this is to ask a seasoned realtor to assist you in identifying areas you can improve in order to attract potential buyers.

When putting a home on the market, a seller will usually need to stage it for an extended period of time, since buyers can request to visit it at any time. With an open house, you only need to prepare the home once, and that’s it.

More exposure

There are many buyers who want to get a first-hand look at a home in order for them to make the best, most informed decision before they make an offer. An open house gives them a chance to actually walk through the home and enter its living spaces, see the home’s actual features up close, and get a sneak peek of the type of lifestyle they can enjoy if they decide to buy the home.

Weekends are a great time to hold an open house, as it makes it more convenient for buyers to tour your home. Most buyers from out of town typically schedule their house-hunting trips on weekends, and local buyers may find it difficult to take off from their jobs during the week. An open house during the weekend makes it easier for both groups to get a tour of your home.

A packed open house can make your home more enticing

An open house attended by numerous visitors can help dispel buyers’ fears and encourage them to act swiftly. One way to get more visitors is to invite acquaintances, neighbors and casual lookers inside, even if they have no intention of buying. This is also a great way to market your home, as anyone who drops by could tell other people about your listing.


Theater attractions in February

Theater Attractions

As one of the premier cultural centers in the United States, San Francisco features dozens of plays, musicals, ballets, and othershows every week at its many theaters and performance venues. Here’s a list of some of the theater attractions to check out this month in the city:

  • The Book of Mormon
    February 6 to 28
    Orpheum Theater

    This widely popular musical comedy from Matt Stone and Trey Parker follows the misadventures of two missionaries as they try to spread the word of God in Africa. Go to this page for schedules and tickets.

  • American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.)
    Throughout February
    At the Geary Theater and The Strand

    A San Francisco institution, A.C.T. is an internationally renowned nonprofit theater company that has been breaking ground in theatrical productions and training since 1965. The recipient of a Tony Award for outstanding theater performance and training, it has also won the coveted Jujamcyn Theaters Award. This month, don’t miss:

    • Vietgone
      February 21 to April 22 at the Strand Theater
    • The Last Days of Judas Iscariot
      February 22 to March 3 at the Strand Theater

    Find more information about A.C.T.’s 2017-2018 season here.

  • Theater Bay Area
    Throughout February
    Various venues

    http://www.theatrebayarea.org/

    Theater Bay Area (TBA) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit composed of more than 360 theater and dance companies in 12 counties. It’s considered one of the pillars of the San Francisco artistic community, providing members with access to financial, professional and educational resources. TBA’s member companies present a wide array of shows and productions every month across the region. This month’s highlights include:

    • Non-Player Character
      Until March 3 at the San Francisco Playhouse
    • Born Yesterday
      Until March 10 at the San Francisco Playhouse
    • The Wedding Singer
      February 17 to March 17 at the Alcazar Theatre

    For more February shows in the San Francisco area, check out this page: http://awards.theatrebayarea.org/.

  • SF Symphony
    Throughout February
    Davies Symphony Hall

    http://www.sfsymphony.org/index.aspx

    The SF Symphony is considered one of the best in the world and watching them perform is a treat for all music lovers. Since its founding in 1911, the symphony has become an important part of the San Francisco cultural scene. They continue to enthrall audiences with several performances each month, mostly at Davies Symphony Hall, their home at the San Francisco War Memorial. Check out this page for their February shows and performances, which include:

  • San Francisco Ballet
    Throughout February
    Mostly at War Memorial Opera House

    https://www.sfballet.org/season/repertory

    The oldest ballet company in the United States is best known for its yearly production of the Nutcracker, which they first brought to the country in 1944. Throughout the year, the company presents a host of performances ranging from classic to contemporary, mostly at the War Memorial Opera House – the company’s home since 1932. This month, you can catch:

    • Bright Fast Cool Blue
      February 13 to 24
    • Distinctly SF Ballet
      February 15 to 25

    For more performances, check out https://www.sfballet.org/season#calendar.

    There are so many more art and cultural events to discover in San Francisco. Thinking about being part of this amazing community? Get in touch with Bernie and Mike Homes at 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 to help you find the perfect home.


    Valentine’s Day in San Francisco

    Valentine’s Day

    Romance is in the air as February ushers in Valentine’s Day in San Francisco. You and your significant other will never run out of places to go and things to do in the city in this special month.

    Here are our top suggestions:

    Have a fun and romantic day at the Wharf

    Fisherman’s Wharf is always the go-to place for an activity-filled day by the bay, but it takes on a special romantic air on Valentine’s Day. Spend the day walking hand-in-hand with your significant other, or go around in bikes and explore the many historic attractions and charming souvenir shops in the area.

    Get your date a special chocolate gift at the Ghirardelli Chocolate Marketplace and have a delightful time watching the sea lions at the Sea Lion Center. Then cap the day with an excellent steak or seafood dinner in one of the many topnotch restaurants in the area, like Bistro Boudin, Franciscan Cap and Alioto’s.

    Go on a cruise

    What could be more romantic than sailing together outintothe sunsetor boating under moonlit skies? San Francisco Bay features several Valentine’s weekend cruises, with a four-course or buffet dinner, live music, wine, flowers, and stunning views.

    Experience a “sex tour” at the San Francisco Zoo

    The city’s premier zoo presents a different “sex tour” every year, allowing visitors to get more up close and personal with the zoo’s inhabitants. For 2018, the theme is “Lover’s Stroll,” giving youand your date a chance to visit “animal couples, mates and families.”

    Donate to the zoo and gift your significant other with an adopted animal under the zoo’s Adopt-an-Animal program. You’ll get a Certificate of Adoption and a fun fact page, and maybe a photo of your adoptive animal and memorabilia like a bracelet and plush toy.

    Get in a “pillow fight”

    Have the simmering urge to let out some aggression with your partner? Join Pillow Fight, a somewhat clandestine, flash-mob type event where participants hit each other with feather-stuffed pillows.

    Every year, this fun event held at Justin Herman Plaza attracts around 1,000 participants who (harmlessly) have a go at each other once the Ferry Building clock strikes 6. After all the exertion, unwind together over wine and dinner.

    Surround yourself with art

    Visit one of the city’s fantastic art museums with your date and catch up on the latest in San Francisco’s vibrant art scene. You can choose from a wide range of places to go, led by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The largest modern art museum in the United States, this major destination always has something new to offer to visitors.

    You can also opt to explore other art museums – and other art forms. The Asian Art Museum, for example, exhibits more than 17,000 works of art from almost 6,000 years of Asian history, encompassing sculptures, jewelry, textiles and more.

    Stroll down a magnificent garden

    Nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” better than flowers. Take your date to the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers and be surrounded by hundreds of blooms. This “living museum” is home to numerous plant varieties that result in an explosion of colors – truly something to share with the special person in your life.

    Say “I love you” with tulips…

    Who says flowers on Valentine’s Day are exclusive to roses? Tulips – thousands of them – can express your affection just as beautifully. Take your date to Tulipmania at Pier 39, happening on February 10 to 18, and be dazzled by around 39,000 colorful tulips and other blooms on display. Unearth (or enhance) your green thumb together by learning gardening tips on a free guided tour.

    …or with orchids

    Spend a day at the 66th Pacific Orchid Exposition in the Golden Gate Park Hall of Flowers. Happening on February 23 to 25, this exhibition is billed “Curiouser and Curiouser, Orchids in Wonderland,” a take on its “Alice in Wonderland” theme. Marvel at the exotic blooms on display and be taken to another, more magical world with your special someone.

    Turn Valentine’s Day into New Year’s

    The month of love doesn’t start and end on Valentine’s Day. Welcome the new lunar year with your significant other as San Francisco celebrates Chinese New Year with fun and exciting events from February 10 to March 4.

    Celebrations include a street fair, a fun run, symphony performances, concerts and lion dances. And don’t miss the exciting Chinese New Year Parade on February 24, taking off at Second and Market Streets at 5:15 p.m.


    January Events in San Francisco Part 3

    January has always been a festive month in San Francisco. Here are a few more events happening this month:

    Zinfandel Experience (ZinEX) Grand Tasting 2018
    January 20, 2018, 11 a.m.
    1098 The Embarcadero

    Gain access to over 500 Zinfadels and Zinfadel blends by 120 of the leading producers from around the world. Guests can look forward to private reserve wines and barrel samples that they won’t find anywhere else.

    The Grand Tasting is the culminating event of ZenEX, a three-day celebration the massive appeal of this varietal. It brings some of the best wine producers and sommeliers to San Francisco for a memorable weekend.

    The festivities begin on January 19 with Trade Tasting, an invite-only event that gives VIPs the advance opportunity to sample the newest Zinfadels in the market.

    ZinEx offers extraordinary food and wine pairings that any wino will enjoy. Other highlights include seminars, live and auctions, and an elegant dinner. Learn a thing or two from visiting sommeliers, get the chance to buy rare wines, and feast on delicious farm-to-table dishes.

    Tickets are available here.

     

    The Great Mac ‘n Cheese Melt-off!
    January 20, 2018, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    SoMa StrEat Food Park
    428 11th St

    Come to San Francisco’s largest and most vibrant food truck park – SoMa StrEat Food Park is hosting the Great Mac ‘n Cheese Melt-off. The event is bringing over 15 pop-up vendors and food trucks together, all of which will be offering mac ‘n cheese specials to lucky attendees.

    Diners will be voting for the best mac ‘n cheese served at the event, so drop by and make your voice count. Find out what kind of unique and creative spins food vendors will put on this classic dish.  Craft beer will also be served at the event.

    Get your tickets here. Admission is free for children 10 years or younger.

     

    San Francisco Restaurant Week
    January 22 – 31, 2018
    Multiple venues

    SF Restaurant Week is back to give you another round of culinary delights. Over 100 participating restaurants will be offering prix fixe menus especially created for this 10-day event. Eat in style as the city’s dining hotspots showcase their most popular and unique dishes. Get incredible food bargains. Try different food and wine pairings. Experience the best that the SF culinary scene has to offer.

    The list of participating restaurants and prix fixe menus will be announced shortly. Visit their website for updates on the event.

    Previous participants include acclaimed restaurants like Maruya, Roka Akor, and Mezcalito.

    SF Restaurant Week is brought to you by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA), which is dedicated to promoting San Francisco as a world-class culinary destination.

     

    Living in the Bay Area brings you close to all these exciting events. Let Bernie and Mike Homes assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.


    January Events in San Francisco Part 2

    There’s no shortage of fun events in San Francisco. The city welcomes the new year with these events in and around town.

    San Francisco Tape Music Festival
    January 5-7, 2018, 9.pm.
    Victoria Theatre
    2961 16th St

    Tape is the only festival in the United States that showcases live sound projection. The festival’s unique mixed-media presentation features the work of some of the most talented composers from around the globe. Made up of four concerts dedicated to new fixed media compositions and classic audio art, it brings over 30 composers from around the globe.

    The festival will pay tribute to Pierre Henry, a proponent of musique concrète who passed away in 2017. Attendees can look forward to a performance of “Variations for a Door and a Sigh”, one of his most influential works.

    Get ready for a weekend of avante garde performances. The festival brings you the works of Bay Area composers Nathan Corder and Thom Blum, as well as those by international artists like Francis Dumont and Natasha Barrett.

     

    Poetry in Motion
    January 11, 2018, 5:30 p.m.
    Koret Auditorium
    100 Larkin St

    Poetry in Motion serves as the official launch of the 2018 Muni Art Project. Guests can look forward to a wonderful evening of poetry readings and panel discussions.

    The theme for the 2018 Muni Art Project is “The Art of Poetry in San Francisco”. The project showcases the works of five winning artists who have been selected out of 10 finalists. The winners are:

    • Donavon Brutus
    • Mara Hernandez
    • Tsungwei Moo
    • Randi Pace
    • Janet Rumsey

    The Poetry of Society of America has also handpicked the following poems, which will be re-interpreted by the artists for Muni:

    • “Thich Nhat Hanh I Step With You” by Juan Felipe Herrera
    • “To a Student” by Diane di Prima
    • “Relief” by Kay Ryan
    • “Traffic” by Brynn Saito
    • “LOVE POEM THREE AUTUMNS LATER” by Charif Shanahan

    The artists were given three panels on which to create their vision. Their works will adorn the interior display and the sides of 20 of San Francisco’s buses.

    Click here for more information on the winning artists and their works.

     

    Black Comix Arts Festival (BCAF)
    January 13 – 15, 2018, 10 a.m.
    San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin St

    This three-day event is part of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebrations in SF. BCAF celebrates the creativity of African-American comic book artists and their contributions to popular culture. This year’s highlights include film screenings, panel discussions, cosplay events, children’s activities, and the grand expo.

    Special guests include:

    • “Diary of an Afrogeek” author Shawn Taylor
    • “Black Panther: Long Live the King” writer Nnedi Okorafor
    • “The Cosby Show” actor Erika Alexander

    USA Today ranked BCAF among the 10 best art festivals in the country in 2015. It is organized by the Northern California Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Foundation in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

    Click here for updates.

     

    Living in the Bay Area brings you close to all these exciting events. Let Bernie and Mike Homes assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.


    January Events in San Francisco Part 1

    There’s no better time to be in San Francisco than January, when a series of colorful events liven up the city. Here are some of them. 

    1. Mortified: Share the Shame

             January 12, 7:30 p.m.

            DNA Lounge

            375 11th St

    This unorthodox event has grown men and women sharing artifacts from their teenage years – diary entries, poems, home videos – with complete strangers. Get ready to hear the performers talk about everything from their first kiss to their misadventures in Bible camp.

    Newsweek declared Mortified “a cultural phenomenon” while Wired describes it as “funny, touching, and intensely relatable”. Watch the performers’ stories unravel through different media and revisit the joys and sorrows of adolescence.

    The show’s performers for 2018 include Katie Imming, Daryl Jones, and Will Seymour. The Freeze, a collective of emcees and musicians, will be there to provide live accompaniment.

    Mortified will take place at the DNA Lounge, a sleek, two-level nightclub in the South of Market (SoMa) district. The club is known for its bottle service and a fantastic selection of New York-style thin crust pizzas.

     

    1. The Good Food Awards Marketplace

           January 21, 8 a.m.

           Fort Mason Center Farmer’s Market

           Marina Blvd

    The Good Food Awards Marketplace gives you the opportunity to buy award-winning products for the first time – shop for chocolate, cheese, cider, and spirits from some of the nation’s most conscientious food producers. Other products for sale include cheese, preserve, fish, and charcuterie.

    The Good Food Awards seal is presented to crafters who undergo a thorough vetting process, and who meet various social and environmental criteria. Finalists are chosen from each region, and the highest-scoring ones are recognized in the annual ceremony.

    The 2017 marketplace brought together over 193 food and beverage artisans from 36 states, giving attendees exclusive access to the best food and drinks being produced in the United States.

    The next installment takes place on the January 21, with over 75 artisans. Get your tickets here.

     

    1. Omochitsuki! Mochi-Pounding Ceremony

              January 20, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

             Samsung Hall at the Asian Art Museum

             200 Larkin St

    Kagami-Kai, an SF non-profit dedicated to promoting mochitsuki or the ancient tradition of rice pounding, brings you this wonderful event. Held in observance of the Japanese New Year, Omochitsuki! features a rice pounding ceremony accompanied by live music and dance.

    Watch Kagami-Kai turn plain flour in sweet and sticky rice cakes. Admire the traditional costumes and take note of the skill it takes to produce mochi.

    Other highlights include paper crane folding and a fortune tree from which you can take a piece of paper home with you as a sign of luck and prosperity for coming year.

    The event is free with museum admission.

     

    Live in SF and join these kinds of events throughout the year. Bernie and Mike Homes would be happy to assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 to get started.


    Things That Look like Fun to Do in January

    Just when you thought things were about to quiet down, San Francisco gives you more events to attend. Check out these fun events in January.

    1. SF Restaurant Week

    SF is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, and this days-long celebration highlights the city’s finest dining spots. The event brings over 130 restaurants to the fore – highlights include special set menus that let diners experience the best that the culinary scene has to offer.

    These prix-fixe menus, the majority of which are developed exclusively for the event, are carefully thought-out by chefs and restaurant owners who want to showcase their most unique or popular dishes.

    2018 SF Restaurant Week takes place from January 22 to 31. Take it as an opportunity to dine at the city’s best-loved restaurants, as well as discover up-and-coming ones.

    Participating restaurants and special menus are announced in early January. Sign up for their newsletter to get updates.

    SF restaurants like the award-winning Roka Akor and Mexican food joint Mezcalito have participated in previous installments of the event.  

    1. FOG Design + Art

    This annual fair showcases contemporary art and design by bringing furniture, photography, fine art, and craft pieces in the same space. The event attracts some of the most celebrated creatives, dealers, and galleries from all over the West Coast. Get the chance to view the pieces on display and interact with the artist behind the work.

    The 2018 FOG Design + Art will take place on January 11 to 14 at the Fort Mason Festival Pavilion. The festivities will begin with the Preview Gala on January 10, which gives attendees early access to the items, as well as the opportunity to buy before the event is opened to the public. They will also be treated to amazing food, cocktails, and live entertainment.

    Proceeds from the gala help support the SF Museum of Modern Art’s exhibitions and educational programs.

    Another highlight of the event is 21POP, an installation by Stanlee Gatti.

    Click here to buy tickets. 

    1. San Francisco Sketch Fest

    Get ready for some serious laughs in January – SF’s premiere comedy festival brings the country’s most gifted comics together for several weeks’ worth of shows and special events. The Sketch Fest’s 17th installment runs from January 11 to 28. Highlights include tributes to celebrated comedians like Jane Lynch, Ricky Gervais, and Paul F. Tompkins.

    Other events include fake TED talks, staged readings, and standup routines scattered across several venues throughout the city. Attendees can also look forward to live musical performances of the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

    There will also be interactive events like “Playing Games with Jimmy Pardo” and “Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction”. Join a culture trivia game show, or give comedians suggestions on how to write steamy fan fiction. Either way, get ready to be entertained.

    Click here to sign up as a performer or a sponsor.

     

    Live in the thick of the action. Bernie and Mike Homes would be glad to assist you. Call 415 906 6000 or 415 308 4281 for more information.


    San Francisco’s Best January Events

    There’s no shortage of annual events in the Bay Area – San Franciscans continue to celebrate these hotly anticipated events year after year. Join us as we observe these long-standing festivities in January.

     

    1. Martin Luther King Jr. Festival & Parade

    Celebrate the life and work of prominent social activist Martin Luther King, Jr. during this weekend-long festival. The festivities include a parade, a health and wellness festival, film screenings, and art exhibitions.

    The parade traditionally starts at the SF Caltrain station, passes over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, and ends at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and Gardens.

    The contingents pause briefly at the Edmunds Pettus Bridge to commemorate the Selma-to-Montgomery March of 1965, during which MLK led non-violent protesters on a five-day march to the state capital of Montgomery in Alabama.

    The highlights of the 2018 MLK Festival & Parade include:

    • MLK Interfaith Commemoration (January 12 – February 17)
    • Black Comix Arts Festival (BCAF) (January 13 – 15)
    • Liberation Film Festival (January 14 –15)
    • Labor and Community Breakfast (January 15)
    • Music festival (January 15)

    Click here to find out how you can be part of this tradition.

     

    1. The Edwardian Ball

    Watch your fantasies come to life at the Edwardian Ball – this costume ball is reminiscent of the Carnival of Venice. It brings you some sumptuous visuals and a surreal atmosphere that calls to mind the works of the late illustrator Edward Gorey.

    This two-day affair features live music, stage shows, ballroom dancing, art exhibits, and an award-winning bazaar. Have some cocktails, play parlor games, and enjoy the fantastic sideshows. The ball attracts some of the finest performers from all over the country, from musicians to puppeteers.

    Co-presented by Vau de Vire Society and Rosin Coven, the ball celebrates its 18th year in 2018. The festivities will take place on January 26 and 27. The featured Gorey tale of the season is “The Raging Tide: or, The Black Doll’s Imbroglio”, a choose-your-own-adventure story that appeals to both children and adults.  An original stage performance of the featured tale is among the season’s highlights.

    Come in your best Edwardian era costume. If you don’t feel like wearing a top hat or a corset, an elegant black number will do.

    Get your tickets here.

     

    1. Chinese New Year Festival & Parade

    The SF Chinese New Year Festival is the largest and most magnificent of its kind outside of Asia. The parade is also one of the last few lighted night parades in the United States, which only adds to its allure.

    Get ready to be amazed as Chinatown gets decked out in red. Lion and dragon dancers take to the streets, and firecrackers go off left and right.

    2018 celebrations will take place from February 10 until March 4. Highlights include:

    • Mini-procession and ribbon cutting
    • Flower Market Fair
    • Golden Dragon Unveiling and Eye-dotting Ceremony
    • SF Chinese Chamber of Commerce – Southwest Airlines Basketball Jamboree
    • Miss Chinatown U.S.A Pageant and Coronation Ball
    • Chinese New Year Community Street Fair
    • CCHP – Chinatown YMCA Chinese New Year Run

    Be part of the festivities as the Chinese community ushers in the Year of the Dog.  Click here to get tickets and updates on the events.


    The Hot Sunset: The Sunset District neighborhood

    The Sunset District

    Located in West Central San Francisco, this mist-shrouded neighborhood used to take the backseat to other SF areas until last year – the Sunset District was named the hottest neighborhood in the city in late 2016.

    SF’s hottest neighborhood

    Come home to the sight of windswept dunes and eucalyptus forests. This neighborhood is a stunner, no doubt about that – but what really make it desirable are the gorgeous homes and mom-and-pop shops that give it a distinct character. Take the MUNI further out into SF and step into the Sunset. You won’t regret going the extra mile for this place.

    A 2016 report by local Realtors found that the neighborhood had become SF’s hottest, taking the lead in bidding wars. Homes stay in the market just 26 days on average, and sales have been steady.

    And it’s not because the city’s best-known neighborhoods like Noe Valley are retracting and cooling down – the Sunset truly has something great to offer, and people are paying attention.

    It’s comprised of two areas, namely Inner and Outer Sunset. The former gives you the best of big city living, while the latter brings you beach country bliss. The rolling fog that covers the district only adds to the mystique.

    Buyers and renters can choose from a wide range of single-family homes, row homes, condos, and apartments.

    A tale of two sunsets

    Nestled between Golden Gate Park and the Haight, Inner Sunset offers you prime location. Despite its big-city conveniences, including artsy cafés and  restaurants serving ethnic cuisine, its unassuming, low-key atmosphere endears it to anyone who comes here.

    Outer Sunset, lined with stucco homes, feels removed from the tech boom that has dominated the rest of SF. Once called “The Outside Lands” for the rolling sand dunes that form its landscape, it’s now a beach town of artists and surfers. Despite the influx of stores selling surf gear and artisanal goods, it retains its independent spirit and rugged charm.

    What’s in the Sunset District?

    1. Sutro Cloud Forest

      Visiting this ancient eucalyptus forest will make you feel like you’ve been transported to another world. At 80 acres, it is but a remnant of the 1,100-acre forests that once covered the west side of SF. Trek to the slopes of Mount Sutro and prepare to be amazed. The sight of winter rain and thick fog descending upon towering trees will take your breath away.

    2. Ocean Beach
      Listen to the sound of crashing waves and feel the cool breeze at Ocean Beach. The largest of SF’s beaches, it spans three miles and adjoins Golden Gate Park. Go for a stroll along the esplanade, go fishing, or bring a board and ride the waves.
    3. Golden Gate Park

      Here you’ll find exquisite gardens, picnic groves, nature trails, playgrounds, and glistening lakes. It’s an oasis in the middle of the city. Come here for a quiet afternoon. Go for a walk, have a picnic, or simply admire the scenery.

    4. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps Project

      The product of a community effort to beautify the steps that run up 16th and Moraga Avenue, these colorful mosaic tiles will bring a smile to your face.

    Explore your real estate options in the Sunset. Call Bernie and Mike Homes at (415) 906-6000.


    Best off-leash dog areas

    Best Leash Area

    An off-leash dog is a happy dog, and San Francisco offers a wide array of dog parks for you and your four-legged friend. Here are some of them:

    1. Duboce Park

      Take your dog to this small but well-maintained park. Play fetch, go pet-watching, and meet other dog enthusiasts. It’s much quieter and less crowded than Dolores Park, so you and your canine companion will have more space to roam. You’ll also get treated to sweeping views of Lower Haight, which is lined with stately Victorians and lovely corner stores.

    2. Corona Heights Park

      Located just a little over a mile from Twin Peaks, this park has an enclosed area where your pooch can run free. What’s more,  the park offers panoramic views of the city. Get a good look at the SF skyline and the rolling hills of Noe and Eureka Valley. It’s worth the trek, but make sure to bring a jacket – it gets chilly on certain days.

    3. Rincon Hill Dog Park

      The park features an enclosed area where your dog can roam off-leash. No need to worry about Fido getting lost or escaping – Rincon Hill is secure, and other dogs are supervised by their owners at all times. It’s a wonderful place to spend a quiet afternoon. Go for a walk, play catch, and meet other animal lovers.

    4. Mission Creek Dog Park

      This double-gated dog park is secure enough for your pup to run around without a leash. There’s a small water fountain that your dog can drink from, as well as an artificial turf and gravel area where you can play fetch. There are no separate enclosures for small and large breeds, so make sure your pet knows how to play nice.

    5. Mary’s Dog Play Area

      St. Mary’s fenced dog park features large, grassy areas where your dog can roam comfortably. Located in Bernal Heights, this play area has a reputation among dog owners as among the best off-leash parks in SF. This recreational complex also features a children’s playground, a gym, and clean sitting areas.

    6. Stern Grove Dog Park

      This scenic park is loved for its eucalyptus trees and the exquisite pergola where you can sit and watch dogs playing. It also features a vast open field where dogs can run and play to their heart’s content. There’s ample parking space, along with water stations where you can rehydrate.

    7. Pine Lake Park

      One of SF’s best-kept secrets, this park is populated by willows and tules. But its crowning jewel is Lake Merced, a glistening body of water that will take your breath away. It’s quiet and fairly empty, which means you and your pooch will have the place to yourselves at any given day. A flat trail winds through the park, so go for a relaxing stroll and let your dog explore.

    8. Upper Douglass Dog Park

      Located in Noe Valley, this fenced off-leash dog park boasts vast grassy areas where your pup can play. It also features a hiking trail that you can explore with your dog. Friday afternoon tends to be the busiest time of the week, so feel free to drop by if you want your pets to play with other dogs.

    Being an SF resident gives you access to all these amazing dog parks. If you want to live here, call Bernie and Mike Homes at (415) 906-6000.


    What’s happening in Eureka Valley?

    Eureka Valley

    Better known as the Castro, Eureka Valley is famed for LGBT nightlife and the historic theater palace from which it gets its moniker. But Castro Street is just one segment of this neighborhood and only tells one side of the story – Eureka Valley is a wonderful place to live, work, and play, regardless of how you identify.

    A storied past

    Eureka Valley is known as an LGBT mecca, but its history goes further back – it was a predominantly Irish, staunchly Catholic, working-class neighborhood up until the 1960s.

    That decade saw the rise of the Beat Movement, with luminary Allen Ginsberg fighting obscenity charges for his poem, “Howl.” Prominent Beat writers like Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac would also reside here.

    White-collar gay men started moving to the Valley as part of the massive shift to the suburbs at the time, buying up Victorians.

    A police raid in Greenwich Village in New York set off the Stonewall riots in 1969. The neighborhood’s LGBT activists and allies marched in solidarity the following year, marking the start of SF’s annual pride parade.

    The neighborhood would become a vibrant entertainment hub, thanks to its diverse nightlife options, as well as the Castro Theater, which hosts film screening and festivals to this day.

    Eureka Valley continues to be an inclusive space where people from all walks of life can be whoever they want to be.

    Must-attend events

    Mark your calendar for these local events:

    1. Castro Farmers’ Market

      Buy fresh produce and listen to local bands play every Wednesday from March to December at Noe Street. The weekly farmers’ market rounds up some of the finest growers and food artisans in the area.

    2. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Annual Easter Party

      Celebrate Easter in Dolores Park. This family event offers lots of fun games and activities, including an Easter egg hunt and a bonnet-making contest. Organized by a fictional sect of queer nuns, the “sisters” also host a series of fundraisers throughout the year.

    3. San Francisco Pride

      SF Pride is arguably the biggest LGBT event in the US, taking place in the last weekend of June to commemorate the Stonewall riots. The parade is the highlight of the event, but the two-day festivities also include pride-themed parties and film screenings.

    4. San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival

      Organized by Frameline, a local nonprofit dedicated to the promotion and distribution of LGBT media, this festival brings you the work of up-and-coming LGBT filmmakers.

    5. Folsom Street Fair< This annual affair celebrates leather subculture, taking place in the last week of September. It caps off Leather Week, with over 200 vendors, exhibitors, and live bands. The event raises funds for local charities and attracts over 400,000 guests each year./li>
    6. Castro Street Fair
    7. Founded by the late politician Harvey Milk, this community celebration brings some of the best artisans, vendors, and performers together in one place. A portion of the proceeds is set aside for local charities, and is used to fund the rainbow flag that hangs over Market and Castro streets. The fair traditionally takes place on the first Sunday of October./li>

    If you want to live in this neighborhood, call Bernie and Mike Homes at (415) 906-6000.


    Best SF restaurants

    Best SF Restaurants.

    San Francisco is a culinary destination, home to more than 50 Michelin-starred restaurants and neighborhood eateries that come highly recommended by locals. With more superb places to eat than you can possibly sample, we’ve whittled down options to the following:

    1. Una Pizza Napoletana

      210 11th Street

      Simplicity is the key to delicious pizza and Una Pizza Napoletana sticks to the formula. Made with just flour, olive oil, mozzarella, and tomatoes, this no-frills restaurant’s handmade pizzas are considered some of the best in the US. So good in fact, that Una Pizza landed a spot in the Food Network’s list of Top Five Restaurants. They serve no more than five kinds of pizza, with an additional pizza served only on Saturdays.

    2. Walzwerk

      381 S Van Ness Avenue

      This East German restaurant serves some of the best schnitzels in town. Come here for traditional German cooking, as well as amazing beer-like Radeberger Pilsner and Köstritzer Schwarzbier. The warm and welcoming interior makes it perfect for family dinners and casual get-togethers. The restaurant has been feeding San Francisco residents for over 18 years, testament to the quality of its food and service.

    3. The Charter Oak

      1050 Charter Oak Avenue St

      Charter Oak brings you a family-style dining experience like no other SF restaurant. This is the place to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions. Enjoy grilled meats and artisanal cocktails in an elegant but approachable setting. The restaurant prepares its dishes using seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. Dishes are meant to be shared, so bring the gang and feast on delicious food.

    4. Hitachino Beer & Wagyu
      639 Post Street

      Feast on the buttery goodness of Wagyu rib-eye steak and wash it down with ice-cold Hitachino Nest beer in this pub-style restaurant. Owned by Japan-based Kiuchi Brewery, the restaurant also serves Wagyu sushi and wine. If you’re not sure where to start, try their nine-course tasting menu to get a broad idea of what they have to offer.  The food is superb and the atmosphere is unbeatable.

    5. The Saratoga

      1000 Larkin Street

      Housed in SF’s historic Saratoga Hotel building, this fine-dining restaurant features an elegant cocktail bar and a dining room filled with period artwork. The sophisticated atmosphere makes it ideal for dinner dates and business meetings.

      The food is no less impressive than its interiors – the menu consists of contemporary American dishes that will make your mouth water. Try the tomato burrata, followed by butterscotch pudding for dessert.

    6. Trestle
      531 Jackson Street

      Trestle offers three-course, fixed-price meals at good rates. You get an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert for the price of one.  This restaurant serves New American fare in a cozy setting – saffron risotto, crispy skin-striped bass, and braised beef short rib are just some of the dishes they offer. Come here with a date or a small group for a meal you won’t forget.

    For more dining options, visit the SF Travel website or Bernie and Mike’s Top 10 Picks.

    If you’d like to live close to San Francisco’s vibrant restaurant scene, Bernie and Mike Homes would be happy to assist you. Give us a call at (415) 906-6000.


    SF street fairs

    SF-Street-Fairs

    There’s never a dull moment in the Bay Area, with all the festivals that take place here throughout the year. Not to be missed are:

    1. Uncorked Wine Festival

      The annual Uncorked Festival brings you the best of Northern California and San Francisco wine. Sample as many as 50 wines and meet other wine lovers. The festival also features wine-tasting workshops, cooking demonstrations, and live music.

    2. Carnaval

      This two-day festival, traditionally held in May, culminates in the Grand Parade, which features colorful floats with multicultural themes. Listen to international music, sample global cuisine, and buy arts and crafts at the festival grounds along Harrison Street. Carnaval brings you a fun-filled event with dozens of activities for the whole family to enjoy.

    3. Union Street Festival
      Union Street gets closed off each year for this festival. Wander in and out of bars with friends, meet new people, and listen to live music. The festival also includes fashion shows, featuring the work of local designers. Other highlights include over 100 vendors and restaurants selling food, craft beer, wine, and original works of art.

      USF takes place in the Marina District each summer. It’s the biggest open-air neighborhood festival in SF, and anyone who comes here is guaranteed to have a good time.

    4. Haight-Ashbury Street Fair

      Over 200 vendors gather at this iconic street each year to showcase their wares. Ransack the booths for artisanal goods and original works of art. Catch live performances at one or both stages, located at Stanyan and Masonic, respectively. SOUL Band, The Silk Road Truckers, and No Exit are just some of the musical acts that have performed at the street fair.

    5. SF Pride

      Celebrate diversity at San Francisco Pride, the largest gathering of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and allies in the US. Join the parade or any of the pride-themed activities that take place over the last weekend of June, including Frameline, a renowned LGBT film festival, and a series of VIP parties.

    6. Fillmore Jazz Festival

      Running for over 34 years, this annual festival takes place on Fillmore Street. It’s the largest jazz festival in the West Coast, attracting 100,000 attendees each year.  Aside from great music, you can look forward to amazing food, with vendors selling everything from Cajun to Asian cuisine.

    7. Berkeley Kite Festival & Championships

      The young and the young-at-heart will have a great time at the kite festival, where you can join kite-making and kite-flying lessons. Children will also enjoy the bounce houses and the petting zoo on the grounds. Don’t have your own kite? No need to worry, as organizers sell kites on the day of the festival.

      The Berkeley Kite Festival often takes place in July and has been making attendees smile for over 30 years.

    8. SF Shakespeare in the Park

      This festival has been making Shakespeare available to SF residents for over 35 years. Their stage performances and education programs continue to instill a deep appreciation for the Old Bard and his works. Watch your favorite Shakespearean plays come to life and get the chance to interact with the actors.

    Being an SF resident gives you access to all these amazing events. If you want to live here, call Bernie and Mike Homes at (415) 906-6000.


    SF Pride

    SF-Bride

    Dive headlong into a weekend-long celebration of gay pride in San Francisco. The city has long been the epicenter of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights, with a long history of activism. Join the festivities for a weekend you’ll never forget.

    A long-standing tradition

    Pride celebrations have been taking place in SF since 1970 in various forms. It began as a small gathering of about 200 to 250 in Golden Gate Park, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots – a series of gay protests that rocked Greenwich Village after a violent police raid in 1969.

    Today, pride festivities take place annually in the last week of June to honor this historic event. As many as 1.5 million attend the parade, which begins in downtown SF. It is considered the largest gathering of LGBTs and LGBT allies in the United States.

    San Francisco has been home to prominent LGBT figures over the years, including Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay public official; Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, renowned lesbian activists and publishers; George Choy, who advocated for the rights of gay Pacific Islanders; and more.

    The iconic rainbow flag was also created here, designed in 1978 by local artist and activist Gilbert Baker. The flag initially had eight stripes, but as it became mass produced, the six-striped version of the flag has become more popular.

    A colorful weekend

    The pride parade is the highlight of the weekend, but there are a number of related events that are also worth attending. Film festivals, bazaars, pride-themed parties, the Trans March, and the Dyke March take place in the days leading up to the parade.

    You can also look forward to more than 20 community-run stages where you can catch live performances and DJ sets. However, the main stage is the largest one, and previous performers include artists like Betty Who and Cazwell.

    More than 200 exhibitors and contingents join the parade each year, and the festivities are organized by nonprofits and volunteers. Attendees come in their flashiest attire, so wear your most over-the-top outfit.

    If you’d rather watch from the sidelines, you can view the parade in its full glory from the grandstands. Spectator seating is usually available on the north end of Market Street.

    If you’re bringing a car, you can have a parking slot reserved ahead of time with GottaPark. But organizers recommend public transportation in order to avoid traffic issues – take the BART to any of the downtown stops and forget about parking.

    Not an SF resident? Book a room at any of the local hotels and stay for the whole weekend. It’s generally advisable to find a place in Civic Center or the Financial District – both locations will put you in the thick of the action, being close to parade routes.

    But Castro is still the best place to stay if you want to experience SF’s famed gay nightlife. Hit the bars and clubs, and walk back to your hotel once the night is through.

    Can’t join the parade? Don’t fret. There’s live coverage, so you won’t miss a thing.

    If you’re thinking of moving to San Francisco, call Bernie and Mike Homes at (415) 906-6000.