New Listing! 10 Oak Drive, Orinda

Timeless Traditional on a Grand Scale. Listed $1,880,000

If you appreciate a home with traditional style, elegant finishes and plenty of charm, prepare to fall in love with 10 Oak Drive. This is one of south Orinda’s grandest homes that has been beautifully maintained by the same family since 1971.

With 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and 4,907 square feet, 10 Oak Drive offers large-scale spaces to live, play and entertain.  At every turn you will discover lovely pre-war touches such as beautifully preserved hardwood floors, rich crown molding, wood-framed box paned windows, schoolhouse light fixtures, French doors and charming built-ins. The home’s major systems (roof, heating, etc.) have been updated and modernized.

10 Oak Drive has a classic floor plan with approximately 3,000 square feet on the main level and an additional 1,900 square feet downstairs. The bright main-level master retreat features plenty of privacy and space to get away from it all. The large master bedroom opens through french doors to a private study with a wood burning fireplace. Two more flexible rooms could be used as a nursery, second office or hobby room. The master bath has dual vanities, a large jetted tub and shower. Two walk in closets offer all the space you could need.

Also on the main level is the charming kitchen, freshly painted with a butcher block island, Sub Zero refrigerator and freezer, pantry and casual breakfast nook with room for all. The kitchen opens out to a dining and barbecue patio nestled in the trees.

Also on the main level are two more bedrooms and a hall bathroom / powder room. The grand scale dining room and formal living room open to one another. Crown moulding, box paned windows and gleaming hardwood floors are stunning.

Downstairs is a warm wood-paneled den with space to cuddle up and watch a movie, play games or relax. There is a full hall bath, followed by two more bedrooms. Laundry and storage closets are downstairs too.  Continue through a kids play room with built in bookshelves to the large rumpus/billiards room complete with a wet bar and 9 built in storage lockers for toys or sports gear. The entire downstairs could be converted to an in-law suite.

Set on .89 wooded acres, there is tons of room to explore and enjoy the fresh air. The highlight of the outdoors is a large all-weather sport court with basketball hoop that is lit for nighttime games. A level rock patio is perfect for serving lemonade to thirsty kids or setting out a picnic lunch. The seller is an expert gardener who took pride in her beautiful patios and landscaping - mature plantings include large oak trees, japanese maples, azaleas and magnolias. Meandering pathways criss cross the property and old stone walls lend an historic, charming feel. 10 Oak Drive is long on curb appeal, with an inviting red brick front patio and wide porch with eaves. The home has an attached two car garage, plus additional parking on the driveway and on Oak Drive.

10 Oak Drive is located in south Orinda, a short drive from downtown and BART and conveniently located near 12 years of California’s top-ranked public schools. This home is in the Del Rey Elementary*, OIS and Miramonte attendance areas. (*call school for availability).

Sold with Multiple Offers! 1753 Spyglass Lane, Moraga

Elegant Living, a Top Notch Location and Sweeping Views at the Moraga Country Club. $1,265,000

Update: 1753 Spyglass Lane sold in less than a week with multiple offers. 


Welcome to 1753 Spyglass Lane at the fabulous Moraga Country Club.

Offering 3+ bedrooms, 2 ½ baths and 2,828 square feet near the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, there is so much to love about this single family home with the popular “Forest Hills” floorplan. Upon entering, you’ll notice the soaring ceilings and brightness of the upstairs which is flooded with light from large windows, sliding doors and skylights throughout. Panoramic views of MCC’s fourth fairway, recently rebuilt clubhouse and the rolling surrounding hills are a highlight of the entire eastern side of the home.  

On the modern and inviting main level you will find a roomy master suite, large living and dining rooms, an open kitchen, family room and a half bath for visitors. The bright and light kitchen opens onto a spacious family room with plenty of space for casual dining and relaxing. Also on the main level, the formal dining and living rooms with soaring ceilings open to a large redwood deck to take in the spectacular views. The spacious master suite also has high ceilings, it’s own deck access, a large updated bathroom and “his and her” closets. Dark hardwood floors, a contemporary fireplace, updated lighting and clean lines throughout make all the upstairs spaces inviting and fresh.  

Downstairs are two more bedrooms and a full hall bath with a shower over tub configuration and dual sinks. One of the bedrooms also has a private deck out of sliding glass doors for taking in the views. The flexible “bonus room” with another fireplace and redwood deck could become a wonderful office, guest room, playroom or den. Also downstairs is the large laundry room with plenty of storage space. The fully finished attached two-car garage, located upstairs on street level, has access to a large storage area as well.

The Moraga Country Club and its HOA has much to offer every resident, including a challenging 18-hole golf course, robust tennis and swim program, poolside grill and clubhouse bar and restaurant, and social programs for all ages. Residents of MCC benefit from private neighborhood security and exterior maintenance for homes in the club. Throughout MCC you’ll find satellite pools, basketball courts, paved walking paths and sunny green places to play. MCC is a short walk to nearby shopping and conveniences, Moraga Commons park and a fabulous Sunday farmer’s market. And of course, 12 years of top-rated public schools (call school district for current availability).

3 Reasons Why Local Matters When It is Time to List Your Home

(This article appeared in the November 2016 edition of the Orinda News.)


Hiring a real estate agent to sell your home is a big decision. It is likely your largest asset, and you want someone to deliver great results and keep your best interests in mind. Because trust is a key factor in the realtor/client relationship, sellers sometimes turn to friends or family members who are “in the business” even if they are not in the area. This decision can be a result of a family obligation, a fee discount, or because the seller doesn’t understand the drawbacks, which can be far costlier than a commission savings. Here are three reasons to “hire local” when it is time to sell your home.

1. Touring Homes is Critical to Proper Pricing. Pictures only tell a fraction of the story, and out-of- area agents who have not toured the recently sold properties must rely solely on photos and MLS data when it comes time to price your home. Often, non-local agents assume that because a nearby home with similar stats sold for $X, it is a good “comp” on which to base the price of your home. But they might not know that road noise brought down the selling price of comp A, for example, or that comp B had drainage issues – common challenges in Orinda .

Conversely, city agents tend to dramatically underprice properties, expecting buyers to overbid by 20-40% as is common in Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco - but this type of bidding is not the norm in Lamorinda. If you overprice your home, it may sit on the market for weeks or months. If you underprice your home, you may be leaving money on the table. Find an agent who tours Lamorinda properties each Tuesday; their first-hand knowledge of recent sales is critical to helping you set the right price.

2. The Lamorinda Agent Network is Powerful. Who your agent knows impacts how quickly your home sells, and for how much. An agent with solid local relationships can even sell a home “off the market” if that is your wish. They can call on their colleagues for pricing feedback, and they know the best service providers to prep your home. Most importantly, agents who work locally know which agents and lenders get transactions across the finish line. Relationships matter a great deal in real estate, so pick an agent with strong local ties.

3. Put Yourself in the Buyers’ Shoes. Imagine a buyer walks into an open house where the listing agent doesn’t know much about the neighborhood, schools, swim clubs, commute or culture of Orinda. What kind of impression does that leave? A local agent will know key selling points to highlight in fliers and ads. Find an agent who lives in the area and can sell it to buyers with enthusiasm. Your home will only look nicer for it.

Hillary Murphy is an agent at Village Associates Real Estate, the market leader in Lamorinda.



Sold in 9 days! 5 Darnby Court in Orinda - $1,100,000

Our latest listing sold so quickly we didn't even have time to blog about it! 5 Darnby Court, Orinda is a classic California ranch home in the heart of the Ivy Drive neighborhood. With an inviting split-level layout and classic Orinda styling throughout, this charming 3 bedroom, 2 ½ bath 1,942 square foot home flew off the market. From vaulted wood ceilings to a large flagstone fireplace, hardwood floors and big picture windows, there were lovely features at every turn.

Location, location, location. Darnby Court is a quiet cul-de-sac within walking distance of 12 years of California’s top rated schools including Del Rey Elementary (call school district for availability), Orinda Intermediate School and Miramonte High School. The ever popular Moraga Valley Swim and Tennis Club, is a short walk or bike ride away.

Notable features of 5 Darnby Court

  • 3 bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms and 1,942 square feet
  • A charming California ranch home with split-level floorplan
  • Classic Orinda architectural with vaulted wood beam ceilings, large brick fireplace and pretty hardwood floors
  • Desirable cul-de-sac location close to 12 years of top-rated public schools and Moraga Valley Swim Club
  • Spacious downstairs family room opens to patio and could be used as a fourth bedroom
  • Formal living room features an expansive brick wood-burning fireplace in
  • Updated eat-in kitchen with newer cabinetry, appliances and counters
  • Formal dining room opens to back patio through large glass doors
  • Mature front landscaping and charming curb appeal
  • Private back yard with sunny exposure and views of hills
  • Dual pane picture windows
  • Dedicated laundry area
  • Freshly painted interior
  • Two car attached garage


Sold! 8 Ravenhill Lane in Moraga - listed at $1,375,000

The Murphy Team is excited to present 8 Ravenhill Lane in Moraga. This home has so much to offer - 5 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths and 2,385 square feet of private mountain top living.  Upon entry, visitors are struck by sweeping 180 degree westerly views of rolling hills, the Moraga Country Club and beautiful sunsets. A large deck is perfect for entertaining and dining, and the side yard has plenty of space to play and garden. For homeowners who value privacy, the quiet lane is a peaceful place to come home to. It is a short walk to Los Perales Elementary and near 12 years of top rated California schools, including Miramonte High School. 

This home boasts a highly functional floorplan and great light throughout. All five bedrooms are located upstairs; three have balconies opening to the outdoors. The large master suite has his-and-her closets and an updated en-suite bathroom with a double vanity. Downstairs, the kitchen is complete with a gas cooktop, plenty of countertop and storage space and room for a breakfast table. The kitchen is open to the inviting family room with room to relax by the fire, watch tv or play games. A formal living room has another stone fireplace and connects to the formal dining room and also opens out onto the large dining patio with amazing views. A half bath and large laundry room are also on the lower level. 

8 Ravenhill Lane is light and bright, and has been meticulously updated with new stainless appliances, dual pane windows, high quality hardwood floors, fresh paint and a newer roof. Enjoy two fireplaces, drought resistant landscaping, a pretty pond, a chicken coop and more. It is ready for the next lucky owners to move right in. 

Oh, did we mention the views? We will be open Sunday August 21st, 1-4. 

Understanding Zillow’s “Zestimate”

The leading online real estate brand Zillow has has an undeniable influence on Lamorinda real estate. One of the most common questions we hear from sellers is “Zillow said my home is worth $X… is that right?” In just a few years, Zillow’s catchy “Zestimate” tool has captured the attention of eager sellers and buyers curious to understand home prices.

But how much weight should you place in the Zestimate? Could your home be worth more? Or less? The truth is, Zillow is good at some things, and not at others. Here are three key things to understand about Zillow.

1. Zillow is an excellent historian, but it’s not a spot-on predictor.  
Zillow’s Zestimate is largely based on public records. This includes the previous sale price of your house (if one exists) and the price per square foot of recently sold homes nearby. Using these records and some market appreciation trends, plus some top secret Zillow code, it tries to calculate what your home might be worth.

But Zillow doesn’t know anything else about your home or nearby properties, because it has not been inside them. It does not know what upgrades you (or your neighbors) have made. It does not know that there is a PG&E tower right next to the house down the street that sold last month dragging down it's value compared to yours, or that the listing around the corner was a complete “tear down.” It does not know if your bathrooms and kitchen are updated, or if your yard is beautifully landscaped, or if you invested in a new roof. In an area like Lamorinda, where homes and lots vary widely along a single block, there are many “soft” factors that Zillow’s algorithms will always be blind to. I attended a Zillow conference last year and one speaker reported that the Zestimate is often off the mark by as much as 20 percent in one direction or another. This is why.

2. Zillow is useful for overarching market-level trends.
Because Zillow aggregates recent sales data in a market from the public records, it is a reliable source for market-level trends. It’s a great way to see if overall prices have gone up or down in your area over time. If you go to the Zestimate chart for a property, alongside it you will also see the average price for all homes in that area over time (1, 5 or 10 years). It also shows things like a walkability score, photos if they exist and more. You can also see when a property last sold and for how much. These are great ways to educate yourself on a market, and these tools weren't readily available to consumers before Zillow and it's competitors came along. They have really put some great information in consumers' hands.

3. Zillow and Realtors: It’s a love/hate relationship.
It is difficult to tell a client that their home is worth a lot less than they think it is because they have been led astray by the Zestimate. Nobody wants to be the bearer of that news, and it's a hard way to kick off a client relationship. Less frequently, some homes are worth more than Zillow estimates, but the owner, putting too much stock in the Zestimate, gets discouraged. With all the confusion that the Zestimate creates, you might wonder why agents engage with Zillow at all.

As imperfect as it is, Zillow has built a powerful marketing platform for property listings and real estate agents. More than 90% of today’s buyers, especially young buyers, use the internet in their home buying process. Agents want to be front and center when they begin their search. Zillow’s revenue comes from agents who advertise on their site, and many do for the exposure it offers (including me).

Zillow is also a great way to publicize a “Coming Soon” listing, which can be a benefit to clients who are selling. As the #1 consumer brand in online real estate, agents can try to build anticipation for a listing in advance of coming on the market. 

As in every other industry, technology is changing the way real estate is done and consumers and agents will adapt. In this case, the burden is on agents to educate consumers about the accuracy of algorithms, and that the only way to get a true sense of what your home is worth is to have a skilled, honest and active local realtor come through your home and see the whole picture, not just the numbers in the county tax record.

Sold! 3 Haven Court, Moraga - $1,225,000

UPDATE (May 20, 2016): 3 Haven Court sold with multiple offers and $90,000 above list price. We were thrilled to help the seller realize his home's full potential and maximize his profit through a well-organized and smooth listing process. We recommended an estate sale expert who cleared the home, and an expert stager to handle staging, painting, re-carpeting and repairs, all of which made this home look its best. 

The Murphy Team is proud to present 3 Haven Court in sunny Moraga. This home offers 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 2,283 square feet of move-in-ready traditional living on a fabulous corner lot. The home is rich in curb appeal, has been lovingly maintained by the original owner and has an excellent floor plan that is easy to live with or update.

Upon entering the wide foyer, you are flanked by gracious formal dining room as well as an airy formal living room with vaulted ceilings, large windows and a wood burning fireplace with a gas starter. Further back, the kitchen has plenty of storage and room to dine casually at the bar or in the breakfast nook. The kitchen is open to the warm and sunny family room with a built in media center and large bookcases. The family room is level out to the backyard, which has a shaded deck perfect for outdoor dining and entertaining. The flat backyard is very private, nicely landscaped and takes advantage of peaceful views of the Moraga hills.  

Down the hallway past the large laundry room are two spacious bedrooms and a full hall bath with access to the backyard.

Finally, tucked privately at the rear of the house is the spacious and bright master suite with two closets (one large walk-in) and a lovely master bathroom with a large soaking tub and separate stall shower. The master suite opens onto the backyard through sliding glass doors.

The house is situated on a quiet cul-de-sac that is close to parks, schools and shopping. Homes rarely come on the market in this beloved neighborhood, which is convenient to St. Mary's College, and walking distance to Rheem shopping center, Rheem Elementary School (call district for availability) and Campolindo High School.

Open Saturday and Sunday, April 16th & 17th 1-4 PM, and Saturday and Sunday April 23rd & 24th, 1-4 PM