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Fall Home Maintenance

The seasons are changing which means that recently dormant home functions are coming alive. Heat will try to escape, water will try to get in and cold could wreak havoc. It’s time to do a weekend once over to prepare!


Clogged rain gutters can cause ice dams, which can lead to expensive repairs. After the leaves have fallen, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs, and gunk. Make sure gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water; tighten gutter hangers and downspout brackets. Replace any worn or damaged gutters and downspouts.

If you find colored grit from asphalt roof shingles in your gutters, beware. That sand-like grit helps protect shingles from the damaging ultraviolet rays of the sun. Look closely for other signs of roof damage (#5, below); it may be time for a roofing replacement.

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.


Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive — and most important — of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also seal air leaks that waste energy.

Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

Roof Inspection

If you have a steep roof or a multistory house, stay safe, and use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground.

Look for warning signs: Shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately.

Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50 to $100 eval.

A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar — called a boot — that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.


Take a close look at the soil around your foundation and make sure it slopes away from your house at least 6 vertical inches over 10 feet. That way, you’ll keep water from soaking the soils around your foundation, which could lead to cracks and leaks.

Be sure soil doesn’t touch your siding.


Schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup.

An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time. If your HVAC includes a built-in humidifier, make sure the contractor replaces that filter.


To make sure your fireplace is safe, grab a flashlight and look up inside your fireplace flue to make sure the damper opens and closes properly. Open the damper and look up into the flue to make sure it’s free of birds’ nests, branches, and leaves, or other obstructions. You should see daylight at the top of the chimney.

Check the firebox for cracked or missing bricks and mortar. If you spot any damage, order a professional fireplace and chimney inspection. An inspection costs $79 to $500.

Your fireplace flue should be cleaned of creosote buildup every other year. A professional chimney sweep will charge $150 to $250 for the service.

Trees and Bushes

Late fall is the best time to prune plants and trees — when the summer growth cycle is over. Your goal is to keep limbs and branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture won’t drip onto roofing and siding, and to prevent damage to your house exterior during high winds.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email
Above all, I hope you are well, and please stay safe and healthy out there! 

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Inventory & Rate Remain Very Low Through August and Into September!

Real Estate

Back in late July, I reported that inventory levels remained at historic low levels. These were numbers that we are used to seeing during the holiday months of November and December. Fast forward to today and if you can believe it, the inventory is even lower now! I have been also hearing from my lender friends that the rates are ranging from 3% to 3.5% of course depending on many variables.

Buyers have been able to pay more for homes and still stay within their monthly budget due to the very low-interest rates. I am still seeing multiple offers along with very low days on market for listed homes. The importance of home preparation along with presentation has never been more important. This has been my advice to my sellers for over twenty years however I am putting an extra emphasis on this now. Curious as to why? Give me a call, email or text and I’d be happy to discuss this and any other questions you may have.

Here are the numbers from late July and the numbers as of 9/6/20 for the detached home inventory;

                                    Sept. 6th         July                 Change

  • Danville –        53                    83                    -30          (not including Blackhawk)
  • Dublin –           25                    34                    -9
  • Livermore –     42                    50                    -8
  • Pleasanton –   46                    54                    -8
  • San Ramon –   30                    40                    -10

This is a very HOT Sellers’ market, so if you or someone you know is thinking about selling now is a great time. Feel free to call, text, or email me to discuss. We hope this finds you happy, healthy, and safe. 

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email

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Back in November/December 2019, we predicted and it was an overall consensus that we would have an inventory issue with housing in 2020. Throw in the pandemic and it has now become even worse. Inventory numbers across the Tri-Valley are indicative of what you would see in a normal market for December/January. Definitely not the numbers we are used to seeing in the usually robust spring and summer months.

I have been part of multiple offer sales with 18, 14, and 8 offers and have heard of 22 offers for a home in Livermore. That home went 100,000+ over asking, 7 day close, and all cash. I am also seeing an uptick in all-cash offers as they had subsided for a time.

To say this is a HOT Sellers’ market might be an understatement. Here are some inventory numbers for the Tri-Valley as of 7/28/2020;

(D) detached home (CS) Coming soon listing (AC) Active contingent- meaning it has an offer already

  • Danville – D=83 / CS= 9 / AC= 1  – * Warm market but steady
  • Dublin – D= 34 / CS=6  – *HOT market only 34 detached home. Multiple offers
  • Livermore – D= 50 / CS= 9 / AC = 6 – * HOT market multiple offers on many homes
  • Pleasanton – D=54 / CS=6 / AC = 1 – *HOT market
  • San Ramon – D= 40 / CS=12 / AC = 2 – *HOT market

This is a very HOT Sellers’ market, so if you or someone you know is thinking about selling now is a great time. Feel free to call, text, or email me to discuss. We hope this finds you happy, healthy, and safe. 

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email

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Xeriscaping, for Those Who Don’t Do Yard Work

In full disclosure “xeriscaping” is actually a science that utilizes dryer climates to still create marvelous yards with drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation. This post is a more tongue-in-cheek list of ways to do without yard work and still have a fabulous space to show off.


From elevated to simple platforms, decks don’t need to be mowed! Match the paint to the color of the house, take some of your maintenance savings and invest in cool furniture and by all means jump on the “lighting bandwagon”. Edison string lights are all the rage and can often be used with remote control for different colors and settings.

Tall Grass

Not all grass is created equal. Tall grasses, like Switchgrass, Bluestem, Muhly, and Fountain grass, all grow fast and require very little TLC. Nor do they ever get mowed.

Native grasses are a great solution to a lot of landscaping problems, as they soak up lots of water and provide an organic privacy screen while trimming your mowing time.

Plant them along fence lines, walkways, or in random clusters and then just forget them. Minus some trimming in the fall, you won’t have to touch them.


Be careful to stay away from the simple truckload of ground cover gravel! People can smell lazy from a mile away. Instead take some time to get big boulders, lake rock, gravel, and create a rock garden. For a splash of color, you can plant a few succulents. These need little water and maintenance and can reproduce like crazy.

Lazy Garden

Do you have a spot in your yard where water collects? All you have to do is throw scraps of vegetation that have their own seeds and watch it grow itself. Jack-O-Lanterns (pumpkins), horseradish root, tomatoes, you name is. Toss it into your damp abyss, throw some fresh soil on top and wait. In a couple of seasons, you will be growing pumpkins worthy of the county fair!


Use pavers, stones or, flagstone to create meandering paths from spot to spot. These work well with bench sitting areas, small platform decks, or ponds and allow you and visitors to experience your whole yard in the direction you intend them to go.

Fake Grass

Honesty faux turf has become as good as the real thing! You will not have a backyard that looks like the run down mini-golf course from your youth. The most wonderful thing about fake grass is it stays vibrant green all year round (no spots) and will never get too hot to walk on. Seriously, research fake grass ideas and be prepared to have your mind blown.

Not everybody loves to push a mower around every week or invest in a foam kneepad for your weed problem. Homeownership does not require a green thumb and you can still capitalize on nature and the wow factor!

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email
Above all, I hope you are well, and please stay safe and healthy out there! 

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Livermore | Pleasanton Real Estate Update

This is NOT your typical June inventory level! NOT even close!

Historically we see June inventory levels above 100 total units and closer to 135-150 total attached and detached homes.

Livermore and Pleasanton remain extremely strong with homes that are priced right still receiving multiple offers. I think you will find the following stats interesting. If you were wondering if it is a good time to sell it’s NOT, it is a GREAT time to sell!!


  • Overall Inventory – ONLY 87 with 29 attached units and 58 detached homes.
  • Average Days on Market – 31
  • Values are rising due to the pent-up demand and lack of inventory
  • Rates are once again at historic lows and are helping to fuel the multiple offers I have been seeing.


  • Overall Inventory – 104 with 27 attached units and 76 detached homes.
  • Average Days on Market – 29
  • Pleasanton remains very steady with low inventory along with the desirable schools and location.

Hopefully, you have found this data informative and interesting.

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email
Above all, I hope you are well, and please stay safe and healthy out there! 

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This is a question that I am often asked and depending upon the market the answer varies. In our current market, we are seeing some areas with multiple offers and most cities with extremely low inventory levels for the month of June. This helps to keep values steady and or on the rise.

With interest rates once again at historic lows I put together a couple of examples showing just how much a ½ percentage point in rate can change many buyers thinking.

In this example, you would basically get a home valued at $100,000 more for about $145 more in payment a month. Peanuts in the grand scope of things! Rates tend to rise when home values fall.

Dennis Serrao Real Estate Agents

Example 1: Sales price $1M
Rate: 3.25%
20% down
30 yr fixed
Total cost: $3480

Example 2: Sales price $900K
Rate: 3.75%
20% down
30 yr fixed
Total cost: $3335

It will be cheaper to do the lower rate NOW!

Please feel free to call me or email me with any questions, just to chat about the market or find out how my team and I can help you achieve your real estate goals!
Find a home –

Cell 925.876.3756 email

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Summer-Ready Home

The summer is upon us and we can’t wait to spend some time outside of our homes with our families. Take these small steps to maximize your positive summer feelings!

Check AC Unit

First; change the system’s filter. Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer, and cost more to run. Hopefully, you’re already changing your heating and air filters every two to four months, depending on how much dust, pet hair, and the like are in your home. Spring is the best time to get started on that cycle with your air conditioning filter, so you don’t start the season with one that’s old and dirty. 

Second, turn on your unit to see how it’s cooling. If the A/C doesn’t kick on (it might take a minute), check your circuit breakers or fuses. If it still won’t start up or cool like you think it should, call a professional. 

Even if everything does seem to be in working order, it can still be a good idea to call a pro. Having your unit tuned up annually can help extend its life and keep it running efficiently. Seasonal maintenance usually includes inspecting and cleaning your unit and servicing parts that might need it. Many HVAC companies offer a prepaid annual service plan that covers tune-ups, filter changes, and a discount on repairs if something does go wrong. Do the math to make sure it’s worth it, and if it is, you won’t need to worry about paying the technician for tune-up and maintenance visits.

Windows and Screens

Spring is the time to remove and clean storm windows that have spent the last few months keeping out the cold. To make those windowpanes sparkle, fill a spray bottle with window cleaning solution, use a newspaper or a squeegee to leave them streak-free, and wear gloves for protection if you have sensitive skin. 

While you’re cleaning, evaluate how your windows have fared through the winter. Look for signs of dry rot and water damage from melting snow and ice. Check the seals around windows as well, and re-caulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed. This will go a long way toward keeping the hot air out and the cool air in as the weather gets warmer. 

Finally, clean your window screens, inspect them, repair any damage, and reinstall them in your windows. Use a hose and mild detergent, but don’t pressure wash them — the force of the spray can damage them. You can repair damaged screens with a kit you can purchase at most home improvement or hardware stores.


Lawnmowers and edgers are key to keeping your yard looking neat throughout the summer. Make sure your equipment is ready to tackle these tasks with springtime tune-ups. 

For gas mowers and edgers, clean the equipment and change the gas if you forgot to empty it at the end of the lawn care season. Replace the oil and spark plugs, and get all new oil, fuel, and air filters. Lubricate the moving parts and sharpen the mower blade. Check the edger’s trimmer string to see if it needs replacing. If you’re not comfortable doing either of these tune-ups yourself, you can have them handled by a professional. 

If your mower and edger are electric, inspect the cords for frays or cuts, and turn them on to be sure the equipment works. 

Power tools may be the workhorses of your lawn, but hand tools are just as important. If you didn’t clean them off last winter, wash off any remaining dirt from your shovels, hoes, rakes, pruners, and shears. Wipe them down with a lubricant, too. Lubricate hinges of pruners and shears and carefully clean blades with rubbing alcohol. Sharpen blades if needed.


Cleaning gutters can be a tough job, so consider hiring a pro, especially if your house is more than one story tall. If you’re comfortable tackling it yourself, be safe and work with a partner. 

If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need a sturdy ladder, gloves, a trowel, safety glasses, and a hose. Use the trowel to scoop the gunk out of the gutters. Once you’ve gotten as much out as you can, hose out the gutters and let the water run out through the downspout. Use the hose to force out clogs. 

Be sure water from the downspouts flows away from your house to keep it from collecting around the foundation. As dirty as this job can be, it’s one that can save a lot of headaches and bigger problems down the road.


Find two trees and hang up a hammock! You’re welcome!

Give the Serrao Team a call at (925) 876-3756 for your Real Estate needs. We can’t wait to hear from you. Livermore Real Estate Agents * Pleasanton Real Estate Agents * Danville Real Estate Agents * San Ramon Real Estate Agents * Dublin Real Estate Agents

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The Weekly Tri-Valley Market Update 5/25/2020

We continue to track the Tri-Valley activity since the SIP went into effect (3/17/20). Some cities are fairing better than others with lower inventory and some multiple offers. Most of the multiple offers we are seeing are on homes under 1.1M, priced well, or at fair market, good condition and in a good location. 

Interest rates continue to hover around all-time historic lows combined with a pent up buyer demand which is helping to keep the market going. We did see less accepted offers in May compared to previous months this year. These stats show overall inventory levels, what has gone pending or sold since SIP and homes listed as coming soon. June will be a very important month for all communities in that we will see an increase in inventory but will we see the usual increase in sales? 

  • Danville – Inventory – 125 detached, 24 attached, 14 coming soon listings, 146 pending/sold – Great activity since SIP however inventory looks to be rising significantly. With its superior schools and desirable location Danville should be just fine.
  • San Ramon – Inventory – 65 detached, 42 attached, 18 coming soon listings, 84 pending/sold – lower inventory for San Ramon with a large number of coming soon listings makes me say let’s wait and see. 
  • Dublin – Inventory – 45 detached, 44 attached, 7 coming soon listings, 84 pending/sold – Dublin looks to be in good shape with low inventory and minimal coming soon inventory. The attached numbers are high and this could be an area of concern.
  • Pleasanton – Inventory – 98 detached, 28 attached, 8 coming soon listings, 95 pending/sold – Sales have been good in Pleasanton, and inventory is about average for this time of year. Pleasanton with its desirable schools and location will be just fine.
  • Livermore – Inventory – 71 detached, 37 attached, 19 coming soon listings, 171 pending/sold – Livermore remains one of the hottest markets in the Tri-Valley with the highest number of pending and sold homes. The new normal of working from home has shifted many buyer’s attention to the more affordable option of Livermore. With it’s downtown, wineries and upcoming schools Livermore is increasingly becoming a viable option for more and more buyers. 

It’s still a great time to buy or sell and there are many new rules out there so it’s never been more important to align yourself with a well educated seasoned professional.

Give the Serrao Team a call at (925) 876-3756 for your Real Estate needs. We can’t wait to hear from you. Livermore Real Estate Agent * Pleasanton Real Estate Agent * Danville Real Estate Agent * San Ramon Real Estate Agent * Dublin Real Estate Agent

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Home Security

By now we have all heard or seen the commercials of people thwarting would-be robbers from breaking in from a remote location like the gym by just speaking over their system and be honest, we all want that vigilante rush without any of the dangers of confrontation. But it is all so new and wired systems have been around forever. Which is the best system for you and your needs?

Wired Home Security Systems

Wired home security systems need to have a ‘closed’ electrical circuit, meaning that when the alarm is turned on the circuit is completed. If there is any interference (such as the wires being cut) the alarm will go off. These systems require wires to be run from the control panel to each sensor.

While wired home security systems offer maximum reliability and are generally less expensive, they are probably not a great DIY option. Determining how to run the wires in an attractive way that’s difficult for burglars to defeat is tricky and time-consuming.

Advantages of wired

  1. Wired systems can often accommodate several ‘zones’ of protection.
    2. They are reliable.
    3. The system tends to be less susceptible to radio or electrical interference.
    4. They use a backup battery system during electrical interruptions.

    Disadvantages of wired systems:
    1. Wired systems can be difficult to install.
    2. It can be a real challenge to hide all the wiring when installed in an existing home.
    3. Once installed, it can be difficult to remove and take with you if you should move.
    4. Wireless home security systems use radio waves rather than wires or cables, to communicate between the control panel, sensors, and cameras.

    Wireless Home Security Systems

    Wireless home security systems can be a great DIY option. They are battery-powered, which means no complicated wiring is involved, and transmit a radio signal to the control unit in order to trigger the alarm. Many wireless home security system can be armed using a remote key fob witch that doubles as a mobile panic alarm, and some systems offer a repeater unit, increasing transmission range so that outbuildings can be protected on the system.

    Wireless home security cameras, on the other hand, are not always the best use of your money. Wireless cameras run on batteries and guzzle power; most batteries will only provide 24 hours of power to the camera. Another potential drawback to wireless home security systems is that most don’t have the ability to be connected to a telephone landline.

    Advantages of wireless
    1. It’s a great alternative for people living in older homes, condominiums or apartments.
    2. Since wireless systems have their own batteries, they can be installed in locations in a home where there is no electrical access.
    3. The system can be expanded as needed.
    4. Wireless security systems can be connected to a phone and/or computer system for remote monitoring.
    5. It can be integrated with home automation systems, like ADT’s Pulse.

    Disadvantages of wireless systems:
    1. Sensors will need batteries to operate, so there is a possibility that the batteries will die if they are not checked often.
    2. Components need to be close to the central control panel. This can limit where some sensors are placed.


    When it comes to the installation a wireless alarm system can be easier when compared to conventional hard-wired systems. In the traditional setup, wires must be run through the home to every entry point and motion sensor, which includes all doors and windows. Wireless home security systems tend to be easier to install, and they are portable, so in the event of a move, you can easily take the system with you.

Give the Serrao Team a call at (925) 876-3756 for your Real Estate needs. We can’t wait to hear from you. Livermore Real Estate Agent * Pleasanton Real Estate Agent * Danville Real Estate Agent * San Ramon Real Estate Agent * Dublin Real Estate Agent

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Summer is almost here, clean your screens

It’s such an easy thing to do and has such an impact from both sides of the window, yet an amazing amount of us balk at getting it done. Cleaning your screens reward you and your home so there is no time like the present waning summer.

Take It Off

Begin by removing screens from the windows. If you’re removing all of your home’s screens at once be sure to take the time to label each window and the proper placement for reinstallation. Trust us on this one!


Lay the screen flat on a white towel and run a handheld vacuum or a vacuum with an extendable attachment over the screen gently to remove loose debris like spider webs, dust, and pollen. A white towel will allow you to really see where you need to concentrate. Flip the screen and clean the other side the same way.


In the bucket, mix 1/4 cup of liquid all-purpose cleaner with 1/2 gallon of water. Lift the screen to an upright position and gently wash over both sides of each screen from top to bottom with a sudsy sponge or microfiber cloth. This is not the time to flex muscle. Be gentle.


Turn on the hose to run at low pressure and rinse the screen clean. Do this before the soap has a chance to dry. Again. This is no time to rush or use brute strength. If you have a nozzle set to a powerful setting, you risk loosening the screen from the spline (especially with fiberglass screens) rendering the screen saggy or creating gaps between the screen and the frame.


Use a dry towel to absorb excess water on the screen and allow the screens to air dry. Perhaps lay them out on the lawn in the afternoon sun for the day. Maintain the screens regularly between soapy cleanings by using an extendable vacuum to remove dust and pollen.

Finally, you can open you window when there is a breeze and not feel like you live on the inside of a vacuum filter.

Give the Serrao Team a call at (925) 876-3756 for your Real Estate needs. We can’t wait to hear from you. Livermore Real Estate Agent * Pleasanton Real Estate Agent * Danville Real Estate Agent * San Ramon Real Estate Agent * Dublin Real Estate Agent

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