Five Ways to Transform Your Backyard into a Stellar Entertaining Space

Want to add some square footage to your living room and kitchen? Instead of contacting a contractor and building an addition, consider hiring a landscaper.

The outside yard has become an extension of a home’s living space. In Silicon Valley, lushly landscaped yards, patios, decks, and outdoor kitchens are now a staple to many luxury properties. If you’re selling your home, staging the exterior, in addition to the interior, is a great way to set your Peninsula listing apart from the pack.
With the San Francisco Peninsula’s idyllic weather and beautiful scenery, outdoor home improvements are a no-brainer. Here are five ideas from Planet, a landscapers’ trade association, to help turn your backyard into a top-notch entertaining space for year-round relaxation, family fun, and enhance your home’s salable factor.

BARBECUE GRILL AND BEYOND: Outdoor kitchens become the center of family life in the summer. Here in Hillsborough, you can enjoy those outdoor family moments almost year round, especially with patio heaters. Outdoor kitchens can be as simple as a patio with a grill and table or as lavish as a complete kitchen made of stone or brick, with a stove, oven, counter space, sink, refrigerator, and even big screen television. Include an outdoor bar and seating area for game day parties and weekend barbecues.

LIGHTING: Outdoor lighting shows off landscaping, illuminates walkways, and adds security. Increase curb appeal and safety with strategically placed lighting. So-called “night-scaping” can make your backyard a more welcoming place once the sun goes down. If you have good sun exposure, a set of solar lights add an eco-friendly touch.

LIGHT A FIRE: Whether you opt for a portable fire pit or a sturdy stone fireplace, a cozy fire is a natural conversation aid. A fire pit is a back yard feature everyone can enjoy. Perfect for s’mores and backyard camping, your kids will make memories all year long. In addition to the family moments, entertaining guests outside is much easier during fall and winter; you won’t have to worry about chilly temperatures sending you back indoors during the evening hours.

LIGHT A FIRE: Whether you opt for a portable fire pit or a sturdy stone fireplace, a cozy fire is a natural conversation aid. A fire pit is a back yard feature everyone can enjoy. Perfect for s’mores and backyard camping, your kids will make memories all year long. In addition to the family moments, entertaining guests outside is much easier during fall and winter; you won’t have to worry about chilly temperatures sending you back indoors during the evening hours.

CALMING WATERS: Consider adding a water feature, such as a pond, a water wall, or a fountain. This amenity will instill your backyard with a sense of tranquility and can also attract wildlife. Keep water levels consistent and the pump running to avoid mosquito breeding.
STUNNING WILDFLOWERS & HERBS: Wildflowers and herbs are striking and fragrant, whether as container gardens or ground cover. These gardens also benefit the environment and small animals, which use a well-planted garden as a source of food and shelter. You can also use an herb garden to spice up your own meals. If cooking in an outdoor kitchen, nothing is fresher than a dish with herbs cut right next to you in the garden. Guests like to be included in the process. Ask them to choose their favorite herbs and cut them to add to the meal you are cooking.
Living on the Peninsula affords homeowners the luxury of enjoying our outdoor spaces all year long. Maximizing outdoor living space allows homeowners to revel in our glorious weather now, while also adding home value when ready to sell.

For additional landscaping, outdoor kitchen, lighting ideas and outdoor-care tips before a sale, contact me today at (650) 207-5291. I can show you how to maximize the benefits of your backyard budget. 

Staging Increases a Home’s Appeal During Busy Spring Season

Spring is the strong season for real estate, and as potential Peninsula homebuyers begin pounding the pavement, homes that make the biggest impressions on eager buyers in what is often the most competitive time in the real estate market are the fastest to sell and sell high. That’s when home staging is key.

A survey by National Association of Realtors’ showed 81 percent of homebuyers found professionally decorated properties easier to visualize as a future home. Staged homes typically sell within 30 days, according to research by The International Association of Home Staging Professionals and Additionally, for homes listed in Hillsborough and Burlingame, staging usually leads to a higher final sales price, making the investment in staging a sound decision.

Stagers conduct a home assessment, examining spaces and determining items to be removed or refurbished, and neutralizing decor to appeal to a majority of homebuyers. Enhancing your home’s special features and maximizing the impact of a positive first impression is important when selling your home.

Replacing carpeting and flooring, painting, removing furniture, and changing plumbing and electrical fixtures, even a deep cleaning (windows!), can ensure a property will appeal more to buyers. Don’t forget outside spaces also. High-impact landscaping, fresh mulch, and staged outdoor patios and decks resonate with buyers.

Additionally, staging offers the appearance of well-maintained home, both in person and in photos online, says Danielle Cirelli, owner of Walnut Creek-based staging company Designed to Sell. “Photos are an essential part of marketing because over 90 percent of the buyers will preview a property online,” she says.
Millennials, who currently make up the largest share of homebuyers, are even more likely to peruse online listings before visiting a home. Pacific Union CEO Mark A. McLaughlin stressed the importance of technology for the real estate industry in his recent Inman Select Live presentation, saying that digital strategies are geared toward users who are likely to “give you eight seconds.”


Peninsula sellers who decide staging is the way to go will likely want to employ the services of a pro. With Gina, she offers her clients a list of recommended contacts – including architects, general contractors, and interior designers – who can enhance your home’s appeal. Some real estate professionals provide staging services as a part of their service package. Sellers can also find a staging company through online resources such as Yelp and Angie’s List or referrals from friends and family.

Though some sellers might fret over staging expenses, it actually costs less — an average of $675, according to NAR’s study — than the first sales price reduction, which is typically at least 10 percent of asking price. And a home that lingers on the market sans staging can incur additional price cuts, according to Nelson.
Staging your home to sell quickly and at the best possible price is an important sales strategy. Gina can tell you more about the benefits of staging your Peninsula home.

Get the most value out of your property; contact me (650.207.5192) to find out what improvements and staging options your home may need before listing.

Springtime Beckons and So Does Your Backyard

In the Bay Area, the best time to step outdoors, breathe deeply, and make better use of the green space on your property is spring. Now is the time if you’re looking to sell your home in the near future. Well-developed outdoor spaces add significant value to your Peninsula home.

In fact, a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that 84 percent of homebuyers want a patio. With spring in the air, now is a good time to start planning those backyard improvements.

TheHouseLogic website recently identified seven ways to turn your outdoor space into the most popular part of your home:


Buy quality lawn furniture; you want seating that’s every bit as comfortable as your indoors chairs and lounges. And outdoor rugs are popular now because they create a cozy-feeling outdoor space

WI-FI? WHY NOT? Set up outdoor Wi-Fi antennas, solar USB charging stations, and wireless speakers so buyers can see how easy it is to stay connected while relaxing outdoors.

SEAMLESS FLOW, INDOORS AND OUT: Replace a standard door with sliding glass or French doors to minimize the visual barrier between inside and outside. Use weatherproof flooring such as stone, tile, or scored concrete for both the room leading to the backyard and the backyard itself.
MOOD LIGHTING: Proper lighting makes your outdoor space accessible all hours of the day, and it helps set the mood, too. Consider sconces, pendant lights, solar lighting along pathways, and overhead strings of lights for the year-round festive look. 

BE CREATIVE: Add a personal, creative touch to your backyard. Maybe walkways paved with colored glass designs or distinctive pavers? Outdoor art…possibly a handmade chandelier, wind chime, or light catcher? How about a pizza oven?
ADD OUTDOOR FEATURES: Fireplaces and fire pits are among the most popular outdoor amenities today. For children, add a playhouse. For your pets, consider a dog run.
Install an awning, canopy, or pergola and stay outdoors regardless of Mother Nature’s moods. Look for products with polycarbonate panels, which block UV rays. Add windscreens to keep barbecue fires burning while adding a decorative touch. With wonderful weather here on the Peninsula, consider adding screening or covered elements to your deck or patio to make the space a year-round feature.

Are you planning on doing some back yard updates? Let me know what ideas appeal to you.

Contact me before you list (650.207.5192) to find out which outdoor-improvement options will significantly add to the value of your home and help you get the best sales price.

The Peninsula: Bringing You the Best in Education

A homebuyer often creates a comprehensive list of must-haves when searching for a new home. One of the most common requirements for homebuyers with children is to find a property within a specific school district to ensure their children receive the best education possible.

On the Peninsula, we are very fortunate to have access to fantastic schools. Both the public and private educational opportunities in Hillsborough and the surrounding area have provided generations of children with the academic and social tools to succeed in college and beyond.

The high caliber of schools in Hillsborough is evidenced by state and national recognition for consistently meeting educational standards and producing college-ready young adults. This is a testament to the local community and its belief that children determine our future. If you are considering a move to Hillsborough, you can be confident your kids will grow up in a community which values superior education and provides a solid foundation for academic and personal growth. 


Hillsborough Public Schools – The North, South, and West Hillsborough Elementary Schools are public schools associated with the Hillsborough School District. With a 10 out of 10 school rating on, these options are fantastic for both families moving to the area or for families looking to establish a long-term commitment to a district. The Hillsborough School District ethic is to challenge students and develop lifelong learners, but in addition, to produce thoughtful young adults of good character. Academic success is evident in the schools’ test scores, as all three elementary schools rank in the 80-90th percentile in both math and language arts proficiency. Each of these schools has a caring and child-centered environment based on the whole child. Visit the webpage to read parent and community reviews for each Hillsborough school. For additional resources access the school district’s website. The annual Kindergarten Roundup is scheduled for May 19th. Be sure to register or call the schools for more information.

Middle School

Crocker Middle – Another one of the area’s top schools is also part of the Hillsborough School District. Serving the entire Hillsborough community, this dynamic 6th – 8th grade institution is most notable for its comprehensive learning environment. Crocker Middle excels in both math and English proficiencies, according to In addition to traditional and accelerated math, language arts, foreign language, and science classes, the school is well known for enrichment programs like band, HTV student-run news, and community service programs. Crocker Middle School encourages children to strive to be their best and prepare for success. The graduating students consistently place in advanced high school classes, whether public or private high schools. 

Private Schools within Hillsborough

Crystal Springs Uplands School –  This accomplished private school was established more than 60 years ago and has continued to thrive here on the Peninsula. Crystal Springs Uplands School (CSUS) offers children in grades 6-12 small class sizes and an incredible 6:1 student-teacher ratio. CSUS boasts impressive academics and a plethora of extracurricular activities for your children. CSUS has 12 sports teams, theater programs, international trips, and 40 student-led clubs for your child to pursue any interest. One of the strongest attributes to CSUS is the staff’s commitment to offering a premier education that consistently challenges and develops your child’s curiosity.

The Nueva School – For a unique education beginning pre-kindergarten, The Nueva School is an exceptional choice for you child. There are 3 levels at this private academy, the Lower, Middle, and Upper School, and Nueva provides hands-on learning environments for your child from kindergarten through high school. Nueva strives to educate and facilitate learning in all aspects of your child’s life. Beyond traditional academics, Nueva focuses on social-emotional learning, design engineering, and inquiry-based programs. The school also prides itself on their amazing language offerings, travel opportunities, performing arts programs, and sports. Nueva is a fantastic educational opportunity for children on the Peninsula.

One of the testaments to a thriving community is the proven excellence of its educational system. Families who currently reside in Hillsborough and the surrounding area can attest incoming parents and children that our community offers outstanding educational and enrichment programs for its youth.

The advantage of choosing Hillsborough for your family is knowing you are making a decision that will offer your child developmental, environmental, academic, and enrichment opportunities that are unparalleled in other communities.

Do these academic and enrichment opportunities sound like a good fit for your family?

Give me a call (650) 207-5192, to learn more about or great schools and finding the right home for your family.

Top 10 Spring and Summer Recreation Programs in the 94010

Spring is here and summer is approaching rapidly. As school begins to wind down, and Mother Nature heats up our neighborhoods, we get to indulge in the warm-weather activities we love. 
The Burlingame/Hillsborough area has maintained a strong commitment to our families throughout the years. One of the benefits of living within the 94010 is the abundance of programs our local services offer that enrich the lives of all our community members. Both the Hillsborough Recreation Department and the City of Burlingame Parks and Recreation are dedicated to the lifelong development of our community. Hillsborough is truly an incredible place to raise a family, thanks to top-quality schools, and when school is out, top-quality summer rec programs.

For the Kids 

Both Hillsborough and Burlingame offer extensive youth-oriented programs for all ages. Spring sports for kids include Lacrosse, Track, Badminton, Tennis, and Golf. The sign-up process for spring and summer enrichment programs has already begun.  Make sure to check out The City of Burlingame, where you can sign up your little ones for Camp Treehouse. This fun-filled art, music, and play-based enrichment camp is perfect for children between ages 3 and 4. And have you connected with either Hillsborough’s or Burlingame’s outstanding summer pre-kindergarten programs? The emphasis is to help your child develop exceptional social and academic skills prior to kindergarten. 
For older children, both Hillsborough and Burlingame have local favorite, Camp Galileo. This innovative learning camp is designed for kids through 8th grade. Camp Galileo offers an unique, hands-on opportunity that brings space exploration, national parks, technology, innovative design, and more directly to your children-all summer long. Additionally, the Hillsborough Rec Department offers HTV camps for kids interested in learning about television production and interactive media. The City of Burlingame also offers several other explorer camps geared towards getting your kids outside and active, exploring the Bay Area.

The fun doesn’t stop there; check out the City of Burlingame Brochure and the Hillsborough Rec Department Summer programs for additional opportunities to enhance your child’s summer experience. Everything from dance, cooking, robotics, science, music, and martial arts, not to mention swimming, soccer, and tennis, are at your child’s fingertips in the 94010 this summer. 

Adult Summer Fun 94010

Should our kids have all the fun? Of course not! In the 94010 adults have plenty of activities to enjoy as well. For example, through the City of Burlingame, adults can play co ed softball all summer long. Games are held throughout the week, and teams of differing levels of experience are available. I am sure you can find “your” team. Other sports offered throughout the season include bocce ball, women’s soccer, and men’s basketball. 

If outdoor recreation is not your forte, there is a significant number of both indoor fitness and art/creative opportunities for Hillsborough and Burlingame residents. The City of Burlingame offers  Zumba, yoga, meditation, pilates, and dance classes to enhance your fitness. If you are interested in artistic pursuits, check out classes such as Watercolor, Intro to Drawing, Ceramics, or Jewelry Making.

Think you are “too old to learn a new trick”? Think again. Although most adults’ formative educational years are behind us, it is never too late to learn something new. Both The City of Burlingame and Hillsborough offer several programs for adults to develop new skills or renew old ones. For example, language programs in French and Spanish are offered regularly, in addition to music lessons, crochet, bridge, and knitting classes. 

Do you know a senior who could benefit from a new hobby? The list of programs for “Active Adults” is extensive. For our older residents, Burlingame hosts several senior citizen social groups and outings. A very popular senior activity is Bingo and lunch, which happens every Tuesday at the Recreation Center in Burlingame. Additionally, drop in activities like Bridge, Ping-Pong, and Friday Matinee movies are fantastic ways for our seniors to stay involved and active within their community. 

The 94010 has a long-standing history as a community committed to its residents. And as such, each year the cities of Burlingame and Hillsborough offer phenomenal opportunities for all residents to enjoy. 

Mark your calendars for the Streets Alive Parks Alive Event in downtown Burlingame on the 1st of May from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Join your community and Haggarty Group members and celebrate the importance of parks, outdoor activities, public spaces, and healthy living here on the Peninsula. 

For more information about the amazing enrichment programs offered in the 94010, contact me at (650) 207-5192. And, let me know in the comments below, what is your favorite Spring Recreational Program in 94010?

All Dogs Welcome @GinaHaggartyGroup

No doubt, a dog brings happiness to a home. You may also know first-hand how dogs help us be more active with daily walks and trips to the dog park. However, I am amazed on a daily basis by the laughter and endless memories our dog, Tucker, creates for our family. I couldn’t help but share him with you!

I have always been a dog-lover, and dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds have always had a special place in my heart. Tucker is an extraordinary companion, sweet, sensitive, and loving. He also seems a little to funny for his own good sometimes.

And Tucker loves the Peninsula, too. We are lucky; he enjoys an amazingly dog-friendly environment. The Hillsborough, Burlingame, and San Mateo areas provide excellent parks, dog-friendly businesses, and resources for us to enjoy together.

Here are several of Tucker and I’s favorite places to visit here on the Peninsula:

Tucker Haggarty’s Top 3 Dog Parks

1.  Seal Point Dog Park – We sure do love Seal Point Dog Park! Located on East 3rd Ave in San Mateo (J. Hart Clinton Dr.), this expansive park is a great playground suited for any pooch. Seal Point Park offers both on- and off-leash areas. One of the best aspects to the off-leash location is the small and large dog areas. I appreciate this important distinction for Tucker, as he is a Cavachon and a bit smaller, and I feel much more comfortable letting him run free with dogs his own size.

Another wonderful aspect to this park is the water supply. There is a designated water station for your pup complete with several, always-clean water bowls. If it’s a hot day, or you dog has a little too much fun in the dirt, you are welcome to hose off your dog in the park as well. Seal Point Dog Park is a great place for both you and your Fido. Grab your friends and enjoy the park while your pups run around. Or, work you way through the off-leash area, exit through the south gate, then walk on the Bay around the point back to the parking area.

2. Burlingame Dog Exercise Park – When Tucker needs a quick run, we head over to Burlingame dog exercise park. Located at 1125 Airport Blvd, Burlingame

This is the perfect park for a fast trip. There is a designated area for Tucker to run with other small dogs, although the small dog area is not as large as other parks, he still enjoys the space to play. This park also has a water area and several water bowls for your pups. This is a great place to come for on leash walks throughout the park and off leash play in the fenced dog area.

3.Cuernavaca Park – Tucker, myself, and our whole family love coming up to Cuernavaca Park. This park boasts 5 acres of beautiful views you can enjoy all day long. Located on the corner of Hunt and Alacazar Drives in Burlingame, there is plenty to do here for both dogs and owners alike. While this park is not fenced, nor does it have a small dog run, there are ample areas of grass for your pup and great play structures for your kids. Additionally, there is a water station and bathrooms available. This park is perfect for weekend picnics and outdoor games on the fields or basketball court…not to mention a great place to socialize your dog on a leash. 

Tucker’s 3 Favorite Businesses in 94010

1. Pawsitively Groomed Pet Salon –  A trip into town wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Positively Groomed. Tucker and I have been visiting Evelyn together for years. We have a standing date each month where she works her magic to keep Tucker looking fabulous! This is a wonderful location for your furry friends to get pampered and the treatment they deserve. Visit Evelyn at 1147 Broadway in Burlingame.
2. Groomingdales – Who doesn’t like a fresh new do? If you need another fantastic groomer in town, Groomingdales is a wonderful place to take you dog. Located at 1130 Chula Vista Ave, this wonderful business puts your pet first. They have always catered to my Tucker, making sure my beloved canine feels comfortable before they begin. The groomers here have over 20 years of experience grooming animals. They are always professional and will treat both you, and your dog, with respect. 
3. The Animal Connection II – Located at 1429 Burlingame Ave, The Animal Connection II has everything Tucker loves. From gourmet treats, to stylish sweaters, this place is a
dog-lover’s dream. Whether you are looking for a dog carrier, specialty food, or ample amounts of play toys, you will find it here.

The best part here is the doggy bakery!  They always have wonderful treats for your pooch to enjoy every time you come in. Both you and your dog will love coming to visit.

The dog friendly amenities around Hillsborough and Burlingame are phenomenal. From the dog parks to mom and pop pet shops, our area has everything you could need to keep your pets happy. Even if you are headed out for a weekend stroll through town with your dog,  you can pop into places like Alana’s Café for a delicious breakfast on the patio where dogs are always welcome. Or head over to Crepevine for a decadent brunch where you and your dog can dine outside any time!

Our community is a beautiful place for your family, and also for your pets.

If you have any questions about Tucker’s favorite places, or dog friendly businesses in the area, give me a call (650) 207-5192.  What is your favorite dog-friendly place in 94010?