My Neighbor Eric Thinks I’m In A “Sweet Place”

If I had hoped my trip to the old country would provide a respite from the effects of a real-estate market in free-fall, I was mistaken. The headlines in England made it clear that the outlook is looking increasingly grim there too: “House price gloom recalls 1990s”, “Banks warn on mortgage defaults” and “Average house prices fall still further” they declared.

Still, back in Berkeley with a fresh eye, I detect some cause for optimism. Slowly, slowly new listings are appearing on the horizon and price reductions continue apace. My neighbor Eric tells me that, as a buyer, I am in a “sweet place” right now, and I hear similar views expressed by those within the real-estate industry.

This weekend saw about a dozen fresh listings in my patch (although be wary of all “first open” claims — I visited this lavishly remodeled Rockridge home at the tail-end of last year. I wouldn’t forget that sleek white kitchen in a hurry), and it seems to me many of them are realistically rather than optimistically priced. Here are a my top three picks:

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6205 Mathieu Avenue in upper Rockridge (above) is a 4/3.5 “architecturally distinctive” home built in 1997 with what appears to be lashings of style. Given the location, how polished the interiors look and the house’s size, the $1.275,000 price-tag doesn’t look too daunting.

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7515 Claremont Avenue (above): this mid-century home in the lower Claremont hills has been expanded and remodeled over the years and has great flow and some beautiful finishes — particularly in the bathrooms (I know because I visited it). It suffers, or benefits depending on your point of view, from being secluded and up a very steep (almost vertical) driveway, and three of the bedrooms are small. Still, priced at $895,000, my bet is it will be snapped up, possibly over asking.

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2008 Francisco Street (above) in central Berkeley is an intriguing-looking 2/1.5 contemporary brown shingle which is described as an “award-winning jewel box”. I know that the word jewel is invariably a euphemism for “small”, but I like the look of this place (small can be beautiful and we all have too much “stuff” anyway) and the price is a reasonable-sounding $650,000.