Three Things Buyers Regret Overlooking in a Home

Selecting where you will next reside is one of those major decisions in life that has lasting consequences. Three of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the decision-making process are the:

Walk score

The downtowns of large cities are becoming more populated. However, the number of roads, freeways, and for the most part parking spots, are staying the same. Having the ability to walk to your destination not only prevents you from fighting traffic and praying to the parking fairy but is also healthy for you. The Walk Score algorithm, which is owned by Redfin, awards points for each destination that is between 1/4 mile and 1 mile of the subject residence. A study completed in 2009 showed that a 9 point increase in a San Francisco Walk Score, equated to a 4.7% increase in housing value. That is approx. .5% increase in value per Walk Score point.

The lack of affordability in large urban downtowns like San Francisco and Oakland has pushed many homebuyers East. Many once-sleepy suburban downtowns have been revitalized and offer many opportunities to live in a high Walk Score location, without having to deal with crime and compromised schools.


Everything in the home has an average lifespan. If you are about to buy an older home you need to find out the age of the components within the home.  If the owner didn’t keep good records, you will be living with several ticking time bombs. Here is the average life expectancy of:

  • Air Conditioners- 10 to 15 years
  • Furnaces- 15 to 20 years
  • Decks- 20 years
  • Carpet- 8 to 10 years
  • Electrical fixtures and controls- 10 years
  • Kitchen Cabinets- 50 years
  • Roofs- Clay/ Concrete 50 years, asphalt shingles 20 years, fiber cement shingles 25 years
  • Most Landscaping Elements- 15 to 20 years

When you need to replace a component within the home, your best bet may be to secure a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Consult your tax prepared, but the interest paid on your HELOC may be tax deductible.

Replacement Cost

One way to avoid the aforementioned ticking time bombs is to get out in front of them and hire a contractor to remodel your home. You get to ditch all of the dated counters, cabinets, and flooring, and select materials that match your style. However, the be prepared for it to take longer and cost more than you expect.  To prepare you for the cost, here is a list of the estimated costs for some commonly remodeled items:

  • Higher End Kitchen Remodel: $40,000 – $60,000
  • Average Master Bathroom: $30,000 – $65,000 (basic labor only)
  • Roof: $10,000 – $30,000
  • Tankless Water Heater: $800 – $3,000 materials only
  • Refinish Wood Floors: $2,000 per 1000 sqft.
  • Electrical Rewiring: $6,000- $20,000
  • Windows: $10,000 – $15,000
  • Exterior Siding: $10,000 – $25,000
  • Foundation: $80,000 – $200,000
  • Water Pipes and Supply: $5,000 – $15,000
  • Sewer Lateral Pipe Replacement: $7,000 – $14,000
  • Underground Electrical Service Upgrade: $29,000
  • High Efficiency Furnace: $13,000 inc. labor
  • Seismic Upgrade: $5,000 – $10,000

The work then needs to be up to current code and inspected by the Department of Building Inspection, which opens you up to the whim of the inspector’s given mood the day of the inspection. You’d also need to consider where you reside while the remodel is ongoing?  If you live elsewhere, then you are paying for two housing payments. If you live in the home during the average 4 to 6 month remodel, you are exposing yourself to the fumes, dirt, and debris as well as the hassle of not being able to use the rooms under construction. In addition, filing for a building permit may trigger a reassessment from the Assessor’s office, increasing your property taxes.

Lenox Home is offering brand new residences with a good walk score.  The Lenox Solution is:

Three by lenox

The majority of the new construction in the San Francisco, Oakland, and Walnut Creek downtown areas are for rent apartment complexes. However, Lenox is building 12 large two bed / two bath condos in Downtown Walnut Creek. The building is called Three. Buying at Three has:

  • No ticking time bombs: Buying a new home not only ensures everything in the home is brand new, but you get the added security of a limited 10-year Warranty
  • No remodeling: Buyers currently have the ability to select all of their desired finishes
  • A Great Walk Score: Three has a score of 82. It is nestled within steps of shopping, restaurants, theaters, and BART.

Visit THREE by Lenox >> to learn more

Sources: Building SF | CEO’s For Cities | National Association of Home Builders

Giving back and Inspiring Others

The Contra Costa Boys and Girls Club offers a world-class Club Experience that assures success is within reach of every young person who walks through its doors. Lenox Homes charitable donation helped provide kids and teens a safe place to develop essential skills, make lasting connections, and have fun.

Lenox Homes is committed to giving back to families and firefighters that were affected by the Napa and Sonoma Valley Fires. Their donation went to serve families directly affected.

The Sentinels of Freedom programs include housing and living subsidies, financial coaching and mentoring, career transition assistance, networking opportunities, and more. With Lenox Homes charitable donation, SOF is able to assist more severely wounded veterans as they strive for self-sufficiency and transition back into their communities.

Trinity Center is a program serving less fortunate working adult men and women in Walnut Creek and Central Contra Costa County. Lenox Homes donation means so much to those who come to Trinity Center for food, clothing, and a hot shower and to wash their clothes.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is at the forefront of the fight to cure cancer. They are the largest nonprofit dedicated to creating a world without blood cancers. Since 1949, more than $1.2 billion has been invested for groundbreaking research, and in pioneering many of today’s most innovative approaches.

Located in Concord, the Monument Crisis Center offers food, quality resources, and referrals to low-income individuals and families. Lenox Homes charitable donation helped provide 50 new sleeping bags.

East Bay Heritage Quilters (EBHQ) is an East Bay non-profit that helps preserve the traditions of quilting. Lenox Homes charitable donation went to support the EBHQ Children’s Quilting Project.

The Melanoma Research Foundation educates patients, caregivers, and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of melanoma. Lenox Homes donation helped support the Annemiek Hamelinck Miles for Melanoma Champions.

Xenophon is a non-profit charity, offering both Therapeutic Riding and Hippotherapy. With Lenox Home’s donation, Xenophon can continue to keep its lesson costs down and continue to provide scholarship assistance to children in need.

Lenox Homes Donation in the 32 and 33rd annual De La Salle Brother Maris Gold Tournament helped provide financial aid for underserved students.

Landscaping Maintenance

The important to keep in mind that the landscaping is a dynamic, living system and proper care is critical for it to mature successfully. When installing additional plants, always choose plants that are compatible with existing plants.

Sustainable Landscaping

When adding plants to your yard, please select native plants or plants that are suited to your climate and that require little, irrigation. Native plants are also adapted to local insect species, so they can minimize or eliminate the need to use pesticides.

Avoid Planting Invasive Species

Be sure not to introduce any plants into your yard that have been deemed to be “invasive” species in your region. For a list of regional resources on invasive species. click here>>
Tips for Choosing and Maintaining Plants

If yours is a hillside lot, or if it has significant steep banks, selection and maintenance of plants and watering may have important consequences for drainage and erosion control. Keep plants from overgrowing drainage swales.

less grass = less water

Grass typically requires much more water than groundcover or shrubs, so the less grass area you have in your yard, the less irrigating you will need to do. If adding grass seed or turf, select a drought-tolerant variety.

Adjust Your Maintenance Schedules

The maintenance needs of your plants may change over time with the seasons and plant growth. Apply these changes to your long-term maintenance plan.


With the other plants on your property, regular fertilization of grass is a must. Consult with a local landscape expert to determine the optimal fertilization schedule. Inspect periodically to evaluate the response to the prescribed fertilization schedule and make adjustments as necessary.


Wood fencing is typically constructed of treated lumber that requires minimal maintenance. Treated wood fencing is generally insect- and disease-resistant; however, fencing and posts that come in contact with soil may deteriorate.

Exterior Maintenance

Laurel Ranch - Phase 2

Your home’s exterior maintenance needs may feel overwhelming. But with a little bit of knowledge and a plan, you’ll find that it’s very manageable. And the reward of having a home that still looks like new, maintains its value, and has plenty of curb appeal makes it all worth it.

Trim Trees and Plants

Keep trees and other plantings trimmed to prevent them from impacting or brushing the wall finish during windy periods, as well as to allow proper ventilation and drying of walls near plantings.

Maintain Proper Drainage

Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and ground surfaces are properly sloped to keep water moving away from the base of the foundation. Prevent splashing from roof runoff that can stain and deteriorate wall finishes. Soil buildup or erosion around the house can affect the drainage characteristics and contribute to the deterioration of the walls.

Keep the Walls Clean

Keep walls and ledges clear of dust and debris build-up, which can stain exterior finishes. Particularly on consistently shaded surfaces, dirt and moisture can cause mildew growth and harm the finish.

Keep an Eye on Water

Your home has been designed and built to withstand normal weather; however, keep concentrated water such as roof-edge drainage from dripping or flowing onto walls and ledges. This will help prevent leaks, finish deterioration, and staining from dirt that is carried down with roof runoff. Take care to prevent irrigation overspray from spraying onto your home. 

Clean Gently

Use mild household cleaners on your doors and never use abrasive chemicals on the doors or hardware. Consult a professional for specific products and applications to help extend the life of your door.

exterior doors

Check doors during major storms or windy conditions to gauge the performance and condition of weatherstripping, thresholds, and adjoining sealants. Make adjustments or repairs as necessary. Annually examine the sealants located between the door frame and wall finishes and repair or replace when needed.


Door thresholds are located at the bottom of the door and are designed to close the gap between the bottom of the door and the floor construction. Inspect regularly for water intrusion and ensure that the threshold is continuous and securely attached.


Garage doors are important for the security of your home, so keep them in good working condition. As with all of the products installed in your home, become familiar with the manufacturer’s recommendations for using and caring for the door and opener.

Interior Maintenance

We want you to enjoy your new home and get the most out of your time in it. Familiarity with the basic practices needed for good home management and interior maintenance is essential.



Your cooktop and vent hood require cleaning and maintenance to keep them in top condition. Some cooktops come with an exhaust fan that is located under the vent hood. Proper use of the exhaust fan will help reduce excess indoor humidity that can result from cooking. Proper care and cleaning of the exhaust fan will help keep your kitchen cleaner and can help control indoor humidity. They have removable filters and fan blades that require periodic cleaning.

Clean Your Filters. The efficiency and performance of your vent hood depends on regular cleaning of the filters. In cleaning your filters, always use a mild soap in hot water, no abrasive or detergents should be used. These filters may be cleaned in your automatic dishwasher or in extremely hot water.



Refer to your dishwasher owner’s manual for instructions on the proper placement of dishes and the recommended water temperature for optimal cleaning. Use only detergents made specifically for use in automatic dishwashers. Never use any soap product or foaming detergents for commercial dishwashers as they may damage your machine. Water conditions vary widely from area to area, so you may need to experiment with different detergents until you find the one that works best for you. Use one brand for at least a week to allow it to “condition” your dishes.



Your built-in microwave wall oven requires periodic cleaning and maintenance to keep it in top condition. Refer to the microwave owner’s manual for specific care, use, safety, and troubleshooting information.



Your built-in wall oven requires cleaning and maintenance to keep it in top condition. If your oven is self-cleaning or continuous-cleaning, please follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning.



Keep your refrigerator and freezer clean to help reduce odors. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the model installed in your home; different types of finishes may have different recommended cleaning techniques. Also, if your refrigerator has an ice maker or dispenser, make sure to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s recommendations for care and use.

Why Walnut Creek?



Walnut Creek has matured into one of the top shopping destinations in the East Bay with major retailers like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Tiffanys, and Apple.



Broadway Plaza

Broadway Plaza is recognized for its breathtaking exterior, which includes world-class landscaping, European-styled fountains, and has been voted “Best Shopping Center” in Diablo Magazine’s “Best of the East Bay” issue.



Mt. Diablo HIking and Biking 

Walnut Creek offers a wealth of bike trails and hiking, with prominent access to the Iron Horse Regional trail, it’s easy for outdoors lovers to step outside and immerse themselves in nature. Walnut Creek is also home to the Mount Diablo State Park one of the many Bay Area treasures. The 3,849-foot summit has much to explore like it’s beautiful wildflowers, trail system, fascinating wildlife, and rock formations.



Performing Arts and Entertainment 

California Symphony in Walnut Creek is the County’s professional, world-class symphony of the Lesher Center for the Arts since the center opened Twenty Five years ago. The orchestra includes musicians who perform with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, and others.



Diablo Ballet 

Diablo Ballet turns emotions into movement this award-winning, the professional dance company is committed to inspiring and educating through the art of dance.


Why Concord?


Mt. Diablo

Towering 3,849 feet above California. Mount Diablo brings hikers, bikers, and campers from all over to its 20,000-acre state park. Over 400 plant and animal species live amongst the park’s multifarious terrain,

drawing visitors to experience a diverse natural habitat and incredible panoramic views.



Concord Pavilion

Concord is home to one of California’s premier venues, Concord Pavilion. Each Spring through Fall, this is where music and comedy fans step out to see their favorite performers take center stage.



Hurricane Harbor

Northern California’s biggest and most thrilling waterpark is now open! The former Waterworld Concord has been transformed to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Concord.



Hidden Gems

Concord has many hidden gems that even long-time residents are pleased to discover. Each location offers its own unique experience whether it’s dining, nature or history – there is something for everyone!


Why Santa Rosa?


Just 55 miles North of San Francisco, in the urban heart of wine country, you’ll find Santa Rosa. A city with a great vibe and vibrant culture ready and waiting to be explored.

Santa Rosa is the happening hub for all there is to see, do, eat, drink, hike, bike and explore in Sonoma County.


Living in Santa Rosa

You won’t have to worry about fitting in here. The city is filled with people from all walks of life with various interests and hobbies. You’ll find something to suit your lifestyle and make you wonder what took you so long to get here.




Santa Rosa City Schools’ include nine Elementary Schools. Five middle schools, five high schools and four dependent charter schools, including French and Spanish immersion schools a K-8 charter school for the arts, and a nationally recognized accelerated charter school.



Armstrong Redwoods

Take a bike ride through a Vineyard the Redwoods to the coast. The nestled wooded hills along the Sonoma Coast lies a hidden wonder that has remained largely untouched for thousands of years. 730 acres of pristine forest known as Harold Richardson Redwoods Reserve



Local Breweries 

Take a quick trip downtown to quench your thirst with Santa Rosa’s famous local beers, and dine on fresh, Sonoma-grown food.



African Safari in Wine Country

Beyond a Zoo, far more than any drive-through park. Safari West thrives as a world-renowned preserve dedicated to conservation and home to the earth’s most exotic creatures.


Why Lafayette?


Downtown Lafayette

Lafayettes Downtown offers charming treelined streets, a fine selection of quality stores, world-class restaurants, shops, theaters, and more.


Lafayette School District 

Lafayette is famous for its excellent public school system. The Lafayette School District educates students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The District offers a full range of services based on the needs of the students, yet the basic instructional day centers around the core subjects: reading, language arts, mathematics, and science.



Lafayette Library

The Lafayette Library and Learning Center is one of the greenest buildings in Lamorinda, with many LEED features, such as water-efficient landscaping, occupancy sensors for lighting controls, use of large windows and skylights for natural light.



Lafayettes Mediterranean climate offers perfect growing conditions for drought-tolerant plants like rosemary, lavender and California poppies – not to mention a great climate for growing fruits and vegetables year-round.


Solar Energy

Lafayette has an average of 262 sunny days annually, compared to a national average of 205, making it an ideal community in which to take advantage of solar power. In fact, all of the Lafayette School District’s public schools have installed solar panels, which produce more than 438 thousand watts of electricity (enough to power almost 30,000 compact fluorescent bulbs).



Lafayette Reservoir

The beautiful Lafayette Reservoir, a 550-acre undisturbed oak woodland located just a half mile from downtown, stores drinking water for EBMUD customers and offers hiking, biking, jogging, fishing, boating, picnicking, a children’s playground and live concerts.


Urban Farming 

Lafayette is home to the Urban Farmers, a nonprofit organization which harvests backyard fruit for donation to food banks and other community organizations. They are now planting “giving orchards” for the sole purpose of donating fruit to those who need access to fresh, healthy, local food.


Bike Friendly

Lafayette is bike-friendly.  Signs are posted throughout the city, providing cyclists with directions and distance to local destinations, like the Lafayette Library and Learning Center. The signs also designate preferred routes throughout Lafayette, so that cyclists can avoid high traffic areas on Mt. Diablo Blvd. The road improvements being made downtown include installation of additional bike racks and high visibility crosswalks.



Community Garden

Lafayette’s new Community Garden and Outdoor learning center, located at 3932 Mt. Diablo Blvd, across the street from the Lafayette Reservoir, offers a beautiful setting for members to grow organic food, hold educational classes and events, and provide a wealth of resources for local gardeners.



Parks & Trails

Lafayette has over 40-miles of dedicated trails and more than 90-acres of public sports fields, playgrounds, and the downtown plaza. Hike 3 miles of trails in the Lafayette Community Park, and about 6-miles of City trails which connect to other hiking areas such as the Lafayette Reservoir, Lafayette Ridge and Briones Regional Park.


Food Scrap Recycling Program

The majority of Lafayette’s restaurants and all of its schools participate in the Food Scrap Recycling Program, in partnership with Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority and Allied Waste. Collected food scraps are turned into clean, renewable energy in bio-digesters located at EBMUD’s water treatment facility in Oakland


Urban Living

What brings them here? New residents share their stories

about how Walnut Creek became home.


It wasn’t too long ago that Walnut Creek drew people primarily for its top-notch schools, pastoral hills and suburban homes with private pools and two-car garages. While this residential landscape retains its rich appeal, a new population has emerged—the city dwellers. These urbanites are inhabiting the apartments and condominiums cropping up all over town, lured by walkability to shopping and dining, plus the host of smart and stylish amenities many new residential communities offer.



Curt and Jane Blomstrand are the definition of downsizing baby boomers—people who left large suburban residences for an urban lifestyle. Yet, the charming couple prefers to call their new way of life something else. “Reinvention is a better word,” says Curt, a retired home builder and father of three who lived with his wife Jane for over 40 years in a large Lafayette rancher before moving into their Cole Avenue condo. “I was tired of the honey-do list. Every weekend, there were chores and the little burdens of having a well-maintained home. I knew it would be an adjustment, especially for Jane who loves to garden, but our lives are so much fun now!”

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, Jane was inspired to de-clutter her Burton Valley home and keep only items that were useful and meaningful. She also held on to a few family treasures and artwork curated from years of travel.  “Going through decades’ worth of things was so freeing.” Curt and Jane gave the rest away then used an estate company to clear out the remainder. “We didn’t want to bring very much with us.”

The Blomstrand’s efficiently designed, 2000-square-foot condo is simply stunning. Part of a 12-unit building constructed by Lenox Homes, the couple purchased the two-bedroom-plus-den residence last year for a cool $1.2 million. Panoramic views of Mt. Diablo provide the backdrop for a dazzling downtown city-scape, endlessly enjoyed from the outdoor patio and floor to ceiling windows. Attention to detail is evident throughout the spacious interior in everything from the concealed European hinges to the Bosch appliances. It’s not just the opulent materials but also the functionality of the space that impresses. “The layout of the rooms is just so practical,” says Jane.


While the chic condo is within easy walking distance to BART, food, and entertainment, a state-of-the-art car lift system provides residents with ample parking. “Every morning I walk to Starbucks, stroll through Broadway Plaza before the shops open and make a big 7-mile circle back home,” says Curt.

Friends and family love to visit. For the Blomstrand’s four grandkids, their downtown home feels like Disneyland. “We take them to the movies, dinner at the Cheesecake factory then hit S.F. Creamery on the way home. Our granddaughter Olivia laid back on the couch overlooking the city lights the other night and said, ‘I love this place, it’s so relaxing.’”
*The Lenox team is taking the concept one block over to Trinity Avenue and building a similar condominium community.