House Hunting

So, I am starting the process of house-hunting in the Bay Area.  Yes, the Bay Area where home prices are ridiculously high and practically unaffordable.  Unfortunately, I grew up here and love the area and don’t see myself moving elsewhere.

I have a few appointments next week with the lenders to get qualified for a loan and potentially get a pre-approval so that my real estate agent and I can go out and start looking.  The way the market is right now, there really is no sense in looking unless you have a pre-approval ready to hand with your offer.

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Homes are off the market a week after it’s put on the market.  Mainly because once the open houses are completed, offers are put in, usually over the asking price and it becomes a seller’s market.  You are competing with many buyers who want the exact same home. You have townhouses here averaging $750,000 in the cities that I hope to buy in and single family homes with square footage of 2000-2500 ranging from $850K-$1M.  Unbelievable.

I’ve considered all parts of the Bay Area to live, but finally settled on something in the Tri-Valley.  You might be wondering why because it gets so hot out there during the summer. My sister and her family are out there and I do love the area.  I had lived there 10 years ago and find it great for families.  Plus I get to see my niece and nephew more often and now they can come and stay at Aunty’s house.

I am so excited to finally have my own place.  To have family over, have holiday gatherings here and finally feel like I have ownership of where I live.  Even if it costs me an arm and a leg.

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My uncle encouraged me to buy in San Jose, but it’s a bit too far south from me and my job.  The Peninsula would have been nice as homes there maintain their values well even during a downturn, but again too far from my job.  So, I am sticking to the East Bay.

My preference is a 4 bed and 2 bath home with a nice open kitchen and a moderate sized backyard.   Nothing too big that would require a lot of maintenance, but also not a tiny little patio space area either.  A nice master would be nice too.  I have a feeling I may not be able to afford a 4 bedroom house and may have to look into a 4 bedroom town house instead.  But those dreaded HOA fees!  Argh!

Limo Company Fleet

This post is a spin off the last one.  I was so pleased with the limo service that we received I told the owner that I would write a positive review for him online.  I mentioned that I had a blog and he asked if instead of the review, I could write a brief article on the different vehicles that he carries.  So here is a list of the different luxury vehicles and description of each.

Lincoln Town Car Sedan

Many aren’t aware of the fact that limo companies commonly provide airport service. Most think that limos are rented for weddings and proms, but not many realize that instead of a taxi cab or shuttle service, they can call a limo company without it costing much more. The Lincoln Town Car is the most commonly used sedan for airport service if you are a group of 4 or less.  The sedan is spacious with extra leg room, equipped with power access for laptops and cell phones, and comes with complementary water bottles.  You also have your own professional driver to assist with your door and luggage.  It’s a more refined service to the airport but surprisingly doesn’t cost more than calling a cab.  Besides airport, the sedan is also used for point-to-point drop trips.

7-Passenger SUV

The 7-passenger SUV is typically rented for many reasons– airport, wine tours, concerts, prom, etc.  It’s great for airport if you have 4+ passengers with extra luggages.

Classic Stretch Limousines

These types of limousines are cars that are stretched out, such as the Lincoln Town Car or Chrysler 300.  The Lincoln Town Car stretch limos comes in many capacity sizes– 6, 8, 10-passenger lengths.  These stretch limos feature leather seats that wrap around the sides and back.  There is a full length bar along the other side usually stocked with cups and complementary drinks.  The vehicles also feature a TV, DVD player, CD player for music, and fiber optic lighting.  Classic stretch limos are popular for many occasions and needs– including weddings, prom, concert, quinceanera, wine tours, and more.

SUV Stretch Limousines

As the name implies, this vehicle is an SUV that is stretched out.  There are many types including the Escalade stretch limo, Hummer stretch limo, Excursion stretch, Expedition Stretch, etc.  They are roomier than a car stretch and feature all the same amenities as a classic stretch limo.  The SUV limos are flashier and used more commonly for prom, bachelor/bachelorette parties, weddings, quinceaneras, and just about any occasion you can think of.

Party Buses

The party bus is essentially a bus with a limousine interior.  Leather lounge-style seats, flat screen TV, DVD player, CD player, sound system. music hook up, fiber optic lighting, wet bars, dance poles, and more.  It’s great for prom, bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthdays, weddings, quinceaneras, concerts, sporting events, and more.  They come in many sizes, typically ranging from 20 to 55+.

Dirty “30” for Pam’s Birthday in Napa!

Over the past weekend, a few of the girls and I took a spur of the moment trip to Napa and Sonoma for Pam’s birthday.  We figured she was turning the “dirty 30″ and she needed to remember this milestone in her life.  She also deserved a much needed break and relaxation from her stressful life and career.

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So, I planned out the whole trip.  Since there was a group of 11 of us, I figured a limousine service was the best way to go.  Called a few limo companies in the Elk Grove/Sacramento area and decided to book with Sacramento Limo.  They hooked us up with a gorgeous white Lincoln Navigator SUV stretch limo with a lovely interior– leather seats, a full bar, neon lights, a starlight ceiling, flatscreen TV, and so much cool stuff.  They even provided us with a complementary bottle of champagne which we thoroughly enjoyed during the ride to Napa.

We rented it for 8 hours and made our way to a few wineries first– Domaine Chandon, Robert Mondavi, and Sterling Vineyards were our first stops.  Sampled a few wines and we were all a little buzzed before lunch.  I had heard great things about Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch so we decided to stop there for lunch.  They use sustainable, organic farming methods to produce wine and produce and grass-fed beef and lamb which you will see on their menu.

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The food is delicious with generous portions.  Oh, the one thing you absolutely need to order if you come here is their cheddar biscuits with honey butter.  To die for!!  You won’t be able to eat just one.  It’s so addicting.  I ordered the Dungeness crab and bay shrimp louie with gem lettuces and avocado.  Pam got the California arborio rice with delta asparagus, green garlic, mushrooms and parmesan.  Tiff ordered the  grass-fed cheeseburger on a potato bun with cheddar, arugula and crispy potatoes.  The point is, everything was delicious.

We finished off the afternoon with a quick stop at Bouchon Bakery for their famous macarons.  These macarons are the size of the palm of your hands!  We obviously had to get them in every flavor– chocolate, pistachio, red velvet, caramel, and vanilla.  Their cookies are also amazing, like the oatmeal raisin and chocolate chunk.

2 more winery stops at Peju so that I could pick up a bottle of Carnival and Mumms for some sparkling wines.  It really was an amazing day.  I wish we could have squeezed in a massage at Meritage Spa and Resort, but we’ll save that for another birthday!