Real Estate Roundup with Sharon Alva: Only in Alameda
If you have bought or sold property in California, you have signed mountains of disclosures. Alameda has a local disclosure (now three pages long), but in looking it over there needs to be a fourth page, one that explores the very specific Alameda quirks one should know before choosing to make Alameda their home. So somewhere after bedroom definitions, and protected trees, I propose we add the following:
1. Alameda is the best place to live. Really. The Island is touched by magic.
2. When you first move here you will get a traffic ticket. It is our way of saying “welcome.” You will get used to driving 25 miles per hour.
3. When it rains you will have ants. We live on a huge ant hill of sandy soil.
4. Everyone has a remedy for the ants. But alas, none of them work. These are special super-powered ants. Be resigned.
5. If you buy on Thompson Avenue you will have to decorate your home extensively at Halloween and Christmas, after which thousands of people will treat your street and home as a museum and walk by at all hours. If you do not celebrate Christmas you will need to decorate your house in some other cheerful fashion. My suggestion if you are Jewish and buy a house on Thompson, is to get one of those hilarious blow up menorahs. There are heavy fines and public shaming for those who do not decorate.
6. If you buy a home anywhere in the Gold Coast, the west end of Haight Street or (of course) Thompson Avenue, take out a second mortgage to cover Halloween candy. You will have thousands of visitors. Some may knock on your door after 9 p.m. If you are in other parts of Alameda you will also be hit hard by trick or treaters, but not as hard.
7. The house you buy in Alameda has a personal history that everyone else is privy to. They will know what happened to whom and will tell you all about it.
8. This is a social as well as a physical Island. Be nice to everyone you meet, because you will see them again … and again … and again. This lovely feature is one of the reasons you paid so much for your home.
9. If you want people to think you have been here forever, call the shopping mall at the corner of Park and Otis South Shore. If you are proud of being new but want to clarify that you do in fact live here, call it Towne Centre. If you have not quite landed and still have roots in Oakland, Berkeley or even further away … call it the mall.
10. Since on our fair Island no one is anonymous, be aware that you can not run out to Trader Joe’s to pick something up with curlers in your hair and not be seen. You will run into someone you know, and they will notice the curlers. Embrace the lack of anonymity and move on.
11. Even when traveling in far flung places, you will run into fellow Alamedans.
12. Every few years an area news station will do a story about “discovering Alameda.” You will cringe, wanting the “secret” to stay quiet so hordes will not come over our bridges and through the tunnel. It’s OK. The steady stream will continue but hordes won’t come. Change comes slowly and gradually here as we are protected by ancient magic.
13. Sample all the Chinese restaurants, pizza places, coffee shops, and breakfast joints. You will be called upon sooner or later to state your favorite. Are you an Ole’s breakfast person, or Marti’s? Do you grab your coffee at Spritzers or Jay’s? These choices say a lot about you. They will be recorded in an official city registry. You are allowed to have several “favorites” so don’t feel hemmed in … just be prepared. Having your favorite coffee place be in Oakland is not OK.
14. There will be a lot of talk about schools.
15. Just because you have closed on your house does not mean the real estate conversation is over. There will be a lot of talk about real estate.
16. Make plans to go to the Fourth of July parade. Its long. It’s fun. It’s awesome. Even if you did not participate in such events growing up you will in Alameda.
17. Because all disclosure documents are repetitive we’d like to once again point out that Alameda is the best place to live. Really. And yes, the Island is touched by magic.
I will be submitting these additions to the Alameda Association of Realtors so they can incorporate them into the Alameda Local Disclosure. Let me know if there are others you think should be added. We want new buyers in Alameda to be truly prepared.
Sharon Alva is a real estate agent with Alain Pine Realtors, living in Alameda. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.