I hate the term real estate. It's cold and business-y, everything that tends to make me hide under the bed. What I write about is space: homes, cafes, places where you can do work, pet the cat, and Google your next-door-neighbor from 10 years ago. I write about places. And I like to do it from a personal perspective.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Real Estate Wealth Expo

In the Bay Area, we saw the posters for months: The Donald was coming. Were we ready?

Now Carol Lloyd wraps up the madness.

I admire Carol's writing -- she was once my editor when I wrote a freelance story for Salon Magazine.

Still, I think she goes a little over the top here. Oh, I can believe what she writes, for sure -- these things are usually, if not always, circuses -- but check out this first paragraph:

"Scantily clad models pour onto the stage, jostling for the limelight, their shimmying chests emblazoned with the word "fun." Out of the confetti-flecked air, the star makes his entrance to a raucous beat, surrounded by hard-bodied groupies. He sports dyed blond hair and a shocking pink tie. He preens, he poses! The fans -- an ocean of humanity reaching as far as the eye can see -- do what fans always do."

I've done this, too -- combined creative writing and journalism. It's hard, and only sometimes it works, and though I think Lloyd's writing is a hell of a lot of fun, the event she's describing is best described in a way that's less adorned. It sells itself, really, at least in print.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Give me a break

I'm sorry for these people, but come on. Someone appears in your driveway and you sign over the title to your home? There's a difference between desperate and dumb.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Feel like the luckiest ...

My own piece of real estate, the $1400/month cottage I share with Adam in Berkeley, has a history.

For nearly two decades, it was a parent-run co-op. A preschool. The smiling woman featured in the link above, and her kiddie cohorts, are in the Orange Room. Today, that's our bedroom.

Our living room still bears the outline of the kids' locker, where they put their coats and hats. One wall in there is bright tangerine. Our kitchen is a dark, yet cheerful, red.

My home office looks out onto pastoralia with a twist: birds that fight and make up and fight again, squirrels that skitter across our roof and down through the trees, leaving my cat to blink in surprise; an angry duck that, inexplicably, squawks loudest in the midafternoon.

Our landlord's sons went to preschool here. Later, one of them lived with a girlfriend here. When they decided to move to Portland, the cottage became ours.

When we rented the place, we'd made the decision to live together only two days earlier. We'd just come home from a trip to Europe and Adam surprised me with this simple statement: "Going home feels like work. So I was thinking: Maybe we should look for a place."

We'd been together a year, friends for far longer. When we found the cottage, I felt the way I long ago felt about him: This was right.

I'm typing this in our living room as he sleeps in the Orange Room. And still I know: This is right. This is home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

"Today there are two of you"

This Business Week article talks about Google results, professionalism, and what happens when the two mix.

I've never tried to hide my Google results. You can't. Potential clients get real-estate articles, old-school stuff from my undergrad years, and more than a bit of saucy prose.

I just hope it all showcases good writing. That's what's most important to me.

Interesting article on mortgage brokers

"A generation ago, a homeowner could live in his house for many years and never refinance. For Park Place customers like the Urells, however, it's a routine event, somewhere between mowing the lawn and changing the oil in the car."

Read the whole article.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

The real estate profile of where I'll be staying over spring break.

Thrashing cars in Oakland

This isn't far from where I used to live.

I loved the eight years I spent off Oakland's Piedmont Avenue. Everything I needed was contained within a 10-minute walking distance. I was dumb enough to forget to lock my front door on more than one overnight occasion -- no problem. I often left my convertible top down, and the only thing ever stolen was an ashtray.

My boyfriend, who at the time we met lived ten blocks closer to downtown, had more problems. His convertible top was slashed. His car was rummaged through. Of course, his car was also rececently rummaged through outside our place in Berkeley, and he was vaguely insulted that they didn't find his music collection worthy of stealing.

Of course, what's been going on doesn't surprise me. It's part and parcel of urban life, especially in Oakland.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Walk-Through

Came across NYT's real estate blog while doing research for a NAREIT article ...

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"How about tfol?"

The changing face of loft life.

I haven't been in many lofts, but the ones I have seen cost way more than any place I've lived in as an adult. I dunno, the heating bills seem like they'd be off the charts.

Friday, March 10, 2006

"This house is a bank. We'll never pay it off."

Carol Lloyd's mother might've realized that ahead of the curve.

When my parents built the monster home that they later sold at a loss, they told the kids that they would refinance it for college money. That didn't happen, but they were also part of the wave of people who understood that a house is more than a home -- it's a credit card big enough to live in.

As a renter, I don't have that. My $700 share of the rent builds up nothing but the right to live at McGee's Farm for another month. That's fine for now.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

RIP: Smokey Joe's Cafe

Goodbye to a great place I didn't visit often enough.

When I drove by this morning, I saw curtains covering the door and windows, instead of the flashing neon sign I remember. "After 33 years in the biz, Smokey Joe has decided to hang up his spatula to pursue other interests," the sign in the window read.

I've been there exactly twice: once with Deborah back in the day, the second time with Adam within the last six months.

Breakfast was great both times. So was the scenery. Ned, we'll miss you.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Slow growth comes at a cost

Looks like all the initiatives that are touted at my alma mater (and, granted, for good reasons) have had unintended consequences.

Maybe this will open up a dialogue (or reopen one) about how to create livable, affordable communities. It can be done ... can't it?