Tag Archives: bay area real estate

Beware the handsy Santa

Yikes, is it December already?!
Our family makes the annual visit to see Santa at the mall.  I learned why this is my wife, Dee Dee’s favorite holiday tradition.  Well, it turns out Santa remembers us and is rather “handsy” as he expresses his appreciation of Dee Dee.  “Wow, you’ve got a real looker for a wife, Dad” shares Jolly Ol’ Saint Nicholas.  Of course, Dee Dee beams and the boys are really puzzled.
“What does ‘looker’ mean, Dad?”

“Just eat your candy canes, boys,” I reply.

Yes, this is my life and this actually happened.  I won’t be happy if Dee Dee wants to wait up all night for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Thank you all for your support and referrals as I build my real estate business.

I hope your Holiday Season is merry and bright.
– Eric

Happy Spouse, Happy House and Happy Employee

I’d dragged myself out of bed most mornings at 6am to go to the company gym. Now don’t worry, I always made sure I put deodorant on and brushed my teeth before I left. Fresh breath is a priority in my life. * The company gym offered classes, trainers, and a decent variety of equipment that rivaled most pricey outside gyms. Most importantly, the gym also offered a chance to get to know work colleagues at all levels of the organization.

Over time I built “gym buddy” relationships with executive staff including 2 who recently relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area. Weight lifting and stationary bike conversations quickly transitioned away from weekend talk to “who do you know” questions to support remodeling projects or referrals to meet family needs. Given my real estate experience and deep roots to the Bay Area, I am always happy to share what I know about remodeling, landscaping, and local area information. I really enjoy helping others along their path and helping them avoid the challenges I’ve faced!

I was surprised by how hungry many relocating colleagues were for information. Don’t the company relocation teams help these executives with this sort of stuff? Don’t they get assigned a “relocation buddy” to help sort out the details to ensure everything is moving smoothly? It turns out no. “We were very disappointed with the relocation process here. The team helped sell my home and buy a home here. The buying process was a real grind because the assigned realtor had little local knowledge. After we moved in we were kinda left to fend for ourselves. My wife had to scramble to get the kids plugged in and we had no idea how to start on getting a remodel project done. Not a good experience,” one seasoned executive shared.


I am passionate about employee relocation in response to what my executive colleague shared with me. This is a common story I’m hearing from several friends. Let’s face it, uprooting and moving the family to anywhere is a disruptive and scary process no matter how great the opportunity. Families must say goodbye to family, kids say farewell to friends and loved teachers, and the familiar rhythm of life (sounds like a Disney song) is broken.

Moving to the Bay Areas is double scary because of the high cost of housing, population density and pace of life. It’s triple scary if you are moving from another country and experience culture shock! It ain’t easy here. I know, all of my Los Angeles and NYC friends are snickering at this statement.

A successful relocation reaches beyond just moving the family and folding the employee into the company culture. A successful relocation program must go the extra mile by integrating the family into the right home in the right community, supporting any legal documentation requirements, providing guidance in how to plug the family into schools, clubs and organizations and more. Why? It’s simple. Happy spouse, happy house…which means happy, high-performing executive who does not need to worry about the home front. Knowing that the company is taking great care of the family will also build a strong loyalty and commitment from the employee to the company.

Many of the tech giants work with 3rd parties to provide these services, but I’m sensing that the ball can be dropped in finding the right home in the right local community and in providing the right support after the family has moved. I’ve also come across instances where the assigned realtor had no specific knowledge of the communities in and around where the company was located. Yikes. How will the employee be set up for success if that’s the case? Clearly one standard relocation program does not meet the needs of all. My goal is to provide services to help address these problems.

Please email me at eric@dunstanproperties.com if you, or someone you know, needs help in successfully relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area from within the US or Internationally. I can provide an area tour of the Bay Area, share area specific market analysis and insights into local schools or traffic patterns. I’d be happy to share my unique local perspective and market knowledge.

Thank you for your continued support in making the San Francisco Bay Area a great place to live and work.

* Is fresh breath a priority in your life? Reply on Twitter to @ericdunstan to this message with the movie and character reference and be entered to win a Starbucks gift card.

Lend Me Some Sugar! I Am Your Neighbor!

Dunstan_HNYI became a realtor to help preserve what makes the San Francisco Bay Area such a great place: our communities! I want every client I help to say, “Lend me some sugar! I am your neighbor!” *

I was born and raised in Saratoga and my roots go back 5 generations in California. I have seen our communities evolve as people from across our nation and the world come to the Bay Area to live and work. Remember, the technology developed here changes the world. How great is that!?

I depend on all of you for referrals to colleagues and friends who need support in relocating their families to a community that best meets their needs.

Please email me at eric@dunstanproperties.com if you, or someone you know, need a tour of the Bay Area, a referral to a trusted lender, insights into local schools or traffic patterns. I’d be happy to share my unique local perspective and market knowledge.

Thank you for your continued support and friendship. May 2016 bring you and your family much happiness!

– E

* Be cooler than cool. Reply on Twitter to @ericdunstan with the song/artist reference and be entered to win a Starbucks gift card.

Check out “The Hawaiian House”

IMG_5693 (1)

My son, Cole, was inspired by a recent trip to Maui to design his own beach house. The result is his “Hawaiian House” complete with palm tree. Enjoy!

Renters, it may be time to buy a home!

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 11.29.14 AMI was reminded again this week by how red hot the residential rental market is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over lunch with a few friends, discussions quickly turned from the quick “what are you doing now” update to rants like “I am spending so much on rent…and my landlord is going to increase it again this year!” This statement is quite common for renters in non-rent controlled areas like Palo Alto or San Jose.

Finding a decent place to live in the Bay Area has always been a challenge, but it seems over the past 2-3 years the search has become even more formidable. However, with rents so high, the BIG $1M QUESTION is now does it make sense to continue paying high rent or is it better buy a house (or condo) and put the money towards a mortgage. Interest rates are so low now that monthly mortgage payments could actually be lower than paying rent! Yikes. The barrier to explore this option, however, lies in finding at least $200K in cash for a down payment. No matter your income level, obtaining that amount of cash is not easy and requires discipline. As I mentioned in a previous post, don’t buy that BMW M series with your options. Buy the house first!

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 6.45.36 PMI have been asked this “should I rent or should I buy” question several times recently. I am fan of buying a home as a longer term, 5-7 year play. I reached out to a mortgage broker friend to help build the business case for home ownership taking into consideration economic factors including home appreciation, tax benefits, etc. Of course, the analysis is positioned within the context that anyone considering buying a home should consult a CPA or financial planner to understand the implications for their specific circumstances. Come on guys, you know I had to say that!!!

Following is a rough analysis that focuses on the tax advantages of home ownership. The numbers used are for illustrative purposes only to explain the concepts. Feel free to manipulate the equations as needed. Or run a few calculations yourself using a “rent vs buy” calculator.

OK, let’s get to it! For example, let’s assume someone makes $120,000/year and is in a combined state and federal 30% tax bracket and will pay $36,000 in taxes.

Now, let’s assume a $800,000 home is purchased with a 20% down payment of $160,000 and with a $640,000 loan at 4%. The monthly payment breaks down as:

Monthly payment: $3,055.46

Property taxes: $833

Insurance: $80

Total Monthly Payment: $3,968

The same home could be rented for $3,000 per month, BUT don’t forget that the mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible. The high tech salaries being so high in the Bay Area this benefit is potentially HUGE. The annual interest paid on the loan in this example is about $25,000 and annual taxes are $10,000. As a result, taxable income has been reduced by $35,000. The buyer will pay $10,500 less in taxes, or $875 less per month, or the equivalent of $3,093/mo ($3,968 – $875).

But wait, there’s more to this. Now hear me out. Let’s assume the property value increases by a modest 5% per year. Over a 5-year term, the $800,000 property will be worth $1.021 million. Not bad, right?

Let’s assume rent increases by a modest 5% per year when in reality it has increased by much more!! Given the $3,000/mo rent in this example, rent will increase to $3,828 per month by year 5. Keep in mind that any renter (tenant) is at the mercy of a landlord and the laws that govern the local rental market as well. A renter could be asked to leave if, for example, the landlord wanted to sell the property.

Again, this scenario is designed to introduce the basic concepts to understand the benefits of buying a home vs renting. There are a ton of other factors to consider beyond the quantifiable including emotional benefits. We all have our hot buttons for what makes us happy.

Personally, I find happiness in home ownership from the remodeling and interior design perspective. I love that stuff. My mom spent many years as an interior designer and it rubbed off. Many family meals include conversation around what projects we are working on or what great home interiors we’ve seen. However, I have friends who are SCARED TO DEATH of any home project and prefer to just rent and let a landlord take care of it. To each his own.

However, my goal is to share with others the great opportunities, benefits and risks of home ownership to empower them to make their own decisions for what works best.

Kirk out.

Please send me an email (eric@dunstanproperties.com) or call me (408-674-2825) if you have any questions.

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