Selling Tips

Tips for Home Sellers

What are your cold feet costing you?It remains a strong seller’s real estate market in Silicon Valley, with many properties selling with multiple offers, but there’s an undercurrent of concern that we are the near the peak of pricing.  That has some buyers nervous (though most will quip that Apple and Google and others are still hiring, and the local economy is strong – so they are not too worried).  For those who are a little nervous, sometimes it turns into cold feet – and it’s costing them.

What we are seeing in terms of cold feet with Silicon Valley home buying:

This undercurrent is not being widely reported but we are experiencing it in our real estate practices as a few things have been taking place.

First, a larger than usual number of transactions have been falling through.  Many of these, though, are not recorded on the multiple listing service, as they take place right after an offer is accepted, so the listing agent and sellers turn to one of the other bidders and put them into contract within hours.  Because they aren’t recorded, it’s impossible to track – but the stories are out there of this happening more now than a year or two ago.

In other cases, offers are written and submitted but withdrawn before they could be countered or accepted.

And in others, buyer agents say that they will be submitting an offer, but on the day of offer presentation, the home buyers back out and the offer is never submitted.

In my experience, all of these things are happening “more than normal” right now.  A lot of it is not easily measurable.

Symptoms of cold feet to come

Home sellers want to feel confident when they accept a contract that it will stick, both because they don’t want the work or emotional upheaval associated with a transaction that falls through, but also because often the best price is the first price.  When a home ‘resells’, most of the time it is for less than the origanlly accepted bid.

For that reason, smart listing agents are looking for the symptoms of cold feet.  They’d rather not get their sellers into contract with nervous buyers who will change their mind about buying the house or condo.

Symptoms of nervousness about the property at an open house:

  • Dominating the listing agent’s time with incessant and low-level questions – best to give most of your questions to your own buyer’s agent, who will help you with them.   It’s good to ask about the home, the reports and so on, but you don’t want to take so much of the Realtor’s time that he or she cannot talk with others there.   Think balance both in terms of the time and the nature of the questions.   You want to present yourself as reasonable and easy to work with.
  • We often say that the longer a buyer stays, the more likely he or she is to write an offer.  This is true, up to a point.  Buyers who come to an open house and stay for 2 hours, or who make 4 or 5 trips to see the house go from looking interested to appearing unsure.

Symptoms of nervousness about the property (your potentially cold feet) when your offer is submitted:

  • Sending in an incomplete offer and supporting documents. If the listing agent requires proof of funds, provide it.  If the disclosures are to be signed, do all of them – not just the cover sheet.  Aim to be thorough, it will present you as serious.  It will also show that you are not a pain to work with, that you and your Realtor can follow directions and that the listing agent won’t have to chase down the paperwork later.  Go the extra mile, it helps!
  • Submitting an offer package “last minute”, without the buyer’s agent giving advance notice that it’s coming.  Related to this is seeing the property and reviewing everything well in advance, but only deciding a few hours before the deadline to actually write, sign, and submit the bid.   The serious buyers who are rock solid are the ones who know early on that they want the property and are committed to it early on.  Their buyer’s agent will let the listing agent know long before offers are due that these home buyers are going to bid on it.  One agent recently told me “my buyers are madly in love with the house” many days before the offer due date.  This makes a big impression on sellers and their agents.
  • If the buyer’s agent needs to call every few days to see how things are looking, it usually hints that the buyers are not too sure or that they will only write an offer if there’s limited competition.  The truly sure buyers plunge ahead despite competing bids or the lack of them.

Want to buy a home?  Try not to come across as skiddish to the listing agent!  Your cold feet may cost you the home, even if your offer’s got the highest price.  Home sellers and their agents want to feel confident that you will close on the sale if your offer is accepted.  Present yourself as serious, capable, reliable, and easy to work with and your odds of success will be increased.  At the end of the day, it is always “price and terms”, but never underestimate the influence that your behavior and your real estate agent’s behavior play into the overall package, because shaky buyers may not close the sale, but home buyers who are rock solid and madly in love with the house will.

Lastly, in an appreciating market, as we have right now, it should be noted that often the next house or townhouse or condo will be more costly or in worse shape than the one you could not decide to get serious about.  Stay nervous too long, and you could ultimately really impact how much home you can buy at all.  Worse yet, take too long and you may price yourself out of the market entirely.

Often the Silicon Valley real estate market takes a bit of a nosedive in December and January, only to make a comeback after the SuperBowl. Just now I ran the stats for the city of San Jose, which is big enough, at about 1 million people, to provide a good sense of the market generally.

Below please find a simple chart reflecting houses sold with the days on market and sale price to list price ratio.  You can see, clearly, that the SP to LP ratio dips noticeably in December & January, and also that the days on market rise.

Even so, how bad was it?  The average DOM was 38 (break-neck speed in any other part of the country) and the average SP to LP ratio fell to “only” 102%.

2016-3-1 San Jose Days on Market and Sale Price to List Price Ratio

 

That was it – that was the “break” that buyers get in winter.  Things are reversing course, as often they do in February, March, and April, and multiple offers with big overbids are again the major story in San Jose and throughout the Silicon Valley region. Just this last week I heard of a home in this valley that got 45 offers.

Home buyers, want to purchase this year?  Your best bet is to be financially well equiped with 25% down or more if you are buying in any of the hotter areas.  This is a nearly impossible market for FHA home buyers or for those with less than 20% down.

Home owners, want to sell this year?  You can maximize your return by doing smart fixes and thorough inspections to make buyers feel confident about purchasing your property.  That confidence can change the game and bring 10 offers where there might have been 5, and with the larger numbers of bidders usually there come also much larger sale prices.

Call me or email me if you would like to discuss working together and getting your best deal in the current Santa Clara County realty market.

Related reading:

Why do sellers care if the offer has a loan or is all cash?

Home selling? Small fixes that make a big, positive difference.

Shopping for what you can afford: how not to depress yourself while house hunting in Silicon Valley

 

Homes for sale in San Jose

  1. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,239 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,015 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,722 sq ft
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,252 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,106 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,440 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,150 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,248 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,612 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Home Sweet HomeFrequently seller clients ask me how many things they ought to be removing in order to maximize their sales price.  It varies, but as a rule of thumb, most people should remove about half to two thirds of whatever is visible on counter tops, book shelves, dressers, etc.

The look you want is as if someone is barely living there.  Keep that in mind.

Of course, you also want to depersonalize.  If Silicon Valley home buyers visit your property and see your sports trophies (or your kids’), your college diploma, your religious decor, photos from your wedding and so on, they will find it irresistible. Instead of looking at the house that is for sale, they look at your personal items – which aren’t!  They’ll try to figure out who you are instead of whether your current home should be their next one.

By clearing out a lot of your accessories and excess furniture, but leaving enough in to show how a room can be used, you’ll enable your potential home buyer to “mentally move in”. Removing distractions can help your house or condo to sell itself. This can be tough when you’re still living there, but if you can decide that now it’s a place you’re selling.  Home will be where you go next, so let go of this current residence as home and you’ll have an easier time with the depersonalizing of your residence.

Often this is the most important step in staging a home for sale: making the space needed for buyers to mentally play out how they would use the space for themselves.

Interested in selling your home? I’d love to hear from you!

To read more about prepping your home for the market, check out a few of the related posts in the links below:

In a hurry? How to quickly get your Silicon Valley home ready to sell

Home selling?  Small fixes that make a big, positive difference.

How to Prepare for Your Open House

Selling Your Silicon Valley Home: Staging & Color

Creating a cheerful, sunny, welcoming environment for selling a Silicon Valley home

See what’s happening in your market:

  1. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,239 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,015 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,722 sq ft
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,252 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,106 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,440 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,150 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,248 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,612 sqft
  6. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,440 sq ft
  7. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,868 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,442 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,383 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,764 sqft
  9. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 624 sq ft
  10. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 950 sq ft
    Lot size: 740 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of San Jose.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Security guards used to be required on site when a home was fumigated in California, but that has not been the case since the 90s.  Seems that some clever bad guys have decided, in Southern California, that this makes a home “easy pickings” (apparently gas masks are not that hard to come by).  Sadly, crime often comes in waves and ideas catch on, so it would be wise for us to be prepared to have this happen here.  The solution is simple: bring back paid security, or stay on site yourself (rent or borrow a motor home, camper etc.)

Check out the news video from Los Angeles’ KABC TV station and see if you don’t agree that having someone there with watchful eyes isn’t a good idea.

 

  1. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 920 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.04 ac
  2. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 4,103 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.01 ac
  3. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,446 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,137 sqft
  4. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,718 sq ft
    Lot size: 9,361 sqft
  5. 3 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,417 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,376 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,295 sq ft
    Lot size: 24,075 sqft
  7. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,429 sq ft
    Lot size: 3,001 sqft
  8. 5 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 2,452 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,001 sqft
  9. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,986 sq ft
    Lot size: 10,707 sqft
  10. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 3,855 sq ft
    Lot size: 43,215 sqft

See all Real estate in the city of Saratoga.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

What you need to know about the shifting marketIf you read the newspapers about the Silicon Valley real estate market, you may be confused and frustrated.  One article states that the market is cooling, and another points to multiple offers, overbids, and strong appreciation year over year.  Which is it?

The Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County real estate market is a mixed bag right now.  Some areas, and some price points, are super “hot” despite the overall slight slowing. (Last month San Mateo County and Santa Cruz County seemed to be cooler than Santa Clara County.)  But in every market and pricing tier, there may be hot pockets due to schools, commute location, attractive pricing, etc.   Or in some cases, there may be special properties where the seller has done an extraordinary job (and perhaps the listing agent has done an equally good one) and the buying public’s response is stronger than we might otherwise have expected.

As a home buyer, you’ll want to get information relative to the type of property you are trying to purchase and it needs to be drilled down to the hyper local market.  Sometimes even within a zip code, radius of a home, school district, and other criteria, it becomes evident that a particular subdivision may simply command a higher price or sell faster and for a higher sale price to list price ratio than others nearby.  Enlist your Realtor’s help and study the comps, looking for patterns.

As a home seller, it’s crucial to know what is happening both in your own subdivision and in the area closest to your home (within a mile or so).  Ask your listing agent to get you the comps.  See if he or she can network with other real estate licensees to find out the pending sale price of homes near you that have gone under contract, and how many offers there were.   On pricing, it may be tempting to list your home close to the last sale price in the neighborhood, but often a better strategy is simply to list it a little more (in a rising market) than that property’s list price instead.  This is on a case by case basis, so talk with your realty professional about the strategy.

Can you predict the outcome?  Not so much.   It’s not always possible to know ahead of time how many real estate purchase offers may be presented on a home for sale.  Sometimes it looks like 3 or 4 and in the last hours before the deadline the number of bidders can more than double.  Or, conversely, everyone can get cold feet.

What I do see, very clearly, is that the properties which are in better shape (both costmetic and structural) have a higher percentage of buyers who write contracts to those who’ve downloaded disclosures than we find when a house or condo is a “fixer”.  A home that makes buyers feel safe (no surprises coming, major expenses taken care of) will usually increase the demand for that home if everything else is done well too.

For example, if a house has most of the big ticket items done and is pretty much move in ready, perhaps the ratio of offers to disclosures pulled might be 80%. In a home with a mixture of improvements made and those needed the ratio might be 50% (a “typical home”).  And if a house looks like it needs $200,000 worth of work, the figure might be just 30% who write an offer after reviewing disclosures.

Each property has to be assessed on its own merits.  If right now most houses in Cambrian are getting 3-4 offers, don’t assume that any particular house will get the same.  If a home needs a lot of work and is not priced low enough to overcome that condition, it may get few or no offers.  If it’s well staged, well priced, turnkey and worry-free, it may get 10 offers.

Check out current activity in the Santa Clara County market in the map below:

  1. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,255 sq ft
    Lot size: 5.07 ac
  2. 3 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 2,682 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.94 ac
  3. 4 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,614 sq ft
    Lot size: 42,993 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 5,074 sq ft
    Lot size: 5.09 ac
  5. 5 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,477 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.46 ac
  6. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 1,008 sq ft
    Lot size: 40.00 ac
  7. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,372 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,880 sqft
  8. 6 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,179 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.00 ac
  9. 6 beds, 10 baths
    Home size: 10,088 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.15 ac
  10. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,370 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.10 ac
  11. 4 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 5,060 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.60 ac
  12. 7 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 10,000 sq ft
    Lot size: 2.80 ac
  13. 5 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,070 sq ft
    Lot size: 5,449 sqft
  14. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 3,580 sq ft
    Lot size: 12,501 sqft
  15. 5 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 4,672 sq ft
    Lot size: 41,817 sqft
  16. 5 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 3,029 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.39 ac
  17. 5 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 7,490 sq ft
    Lot size: 11.05 ac
  18. 6 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 8,151 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.41 ac
  19. 5 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 6,644 sq ft
    Lot size: 4.13 ac
  20. 4 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 2,600 sq ft
    Lot size: 3.00 ac

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

Orchard and Hills in Saratoga, California

The amount of all cash offers in Santa Clara County has been very high for the last couple of years, and I’ve written about it here.  But what of the luxury market?  At one point, I read that nationwide, 50% of all homes sold at over a million dollars were bought all cash, no loans.  So I thought it might be similar here.

Just now I logged onto MLSListings.com to run the numbers for the last 90 days in Santa Clara County.  I ran the numbers with the following criteria:

  • houses, duet homes, townhouses and condos
  • sold within the last 90 days (closed escrow)
  • within Santa Clara County
  • sale price at or over $2,000,000

The number of properties matching this list over the last 90 days was 351 (it was 306 on 5/24/14).

The number of properties matching this list which were identified as having all cash, no loans financing = 108 (it was 111 on 5/24/14)

The percentage of all cash sales identified as such on the MLS for this period is 30.77% (back on 5/24/14, it was 36%).  (For all prices right now, it appears that the average is 16.86% or so. – it was 18% on 5/24/14.)

Disclaimer: for this to be accurate, it requires the listing agent or office admin who closes out the sale on the MLS to accurately represent the financing used.  It is possible that this is off, and the more accurate data could be from the county records themselves. If I can obtain that data, I’ll update this article then.

Back to the ratio of cash sales in the luxury market: why does it matter?  More than anything, it matters because interest rates are rising and this impacts the buyers’ ability to purchase property.  In real estate generally, if interest rates rise, home values are negatively impacted.  We’ll want to see what impact the more expensive loan products have on high end or estate housing, not just here in Silicon Valley, but across the country.

See homes currently for sale in Santa Clara County in the map below:

  1. 6 beds, 10 baths
    Home size: 8,912 sq ft
    Lot size: 48.00 ac
  2. 6 beds, 10 baths
    Home size: 13,674 sq ft
    Lot size: 5.60 ac
  3. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 11,633 sq ft
    Lot size: 48.88 ac
  4. 2 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,500 sq ft
    Lot size: 5.03 ac
  5. 5 beds, 4 baths
    Home size: 3,668 sq ft
    Lot size: 13.84 ac
  6. 5 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 7,413 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.03 ac
  7. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 12,285 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.05 ac
  8. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 12,500 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.20 ac
  9. 4 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,614 sq ft
    Lot size: 42,993 sqft
  10. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,107 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.81 ac
  11. 5 beds, 6 baths
    Home size: 7,743 sq ft
    Lot size: 19,593 sqft
  12. 7 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 6,068 sq ft
    Lot size: 23,221 sqft
  13. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 7,850 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.34 ac
  14. 7 beds, 9 baths
    Home size: 7,705 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.04 ac
  15. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 8,625 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.18 ac
  16. 4 beds, 5 baths
    Home size: 5,675 sq ft
    Lot size: 21,954 sqft
  17. 5 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,000 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.24 ac
  18. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 8,434 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.00 ac
  19. 6 beds, 7 baths
    Home size: 7,488 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.09 ac
  20. 6 beds, 8 baths
    Home size: 7,348 sq ft
    Lot size: 1.42 ac

See all Real estate matching your search.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Drawer and cabinet pulls or hardwareIf you are thinking of selling your home, it can be tempting to tell yourself that it will make no difference whether or not you fix it up prior to marketing it – after all, it’s a seller’s market, right?  This is a costly mistake to make, and it’s far from the truth.

Often, cluttered, tired homes sell for far less than they could with just a little touch up.   Homes with a few inexpensive fix ups can a fantstic return on investment. I’ll name a few today.

Recently I saw the little cabinet handle photographed here.  I remember it from my childhood and if I had to guess, would say it was from the late 1960s to early 1970s.  I’m pretty sure we had the same exact hardware on my parents’ first Saratoga house (a lovely, big, George Day tract home sitting on an acre near West Valley college). I’ve seen these same pulls in Almaden and all over Silicon Valley.

But home buyers in the San Jose area don’t want these relics from 50 years ago.  They want something sleek.  And they don’t want to have to install it themselves after they move in if it can be helped.  Seeing loads of little projects can feel overwhelming.  “It’s too much work”, I’ll hear them say – and that’s before even looking at the disclosures or the inspection reports!  When they think “Silicon Valley real estate”, they want to see something attractive and in today’s styles.

There are many small things that home sellers can do to make a home visually appealling and to give buyers confidence that the home is move-in ready.  In addition to decluttering (it cannot be stressed enough how important this is), providing pre-sale inspections and a complete disclosure package that’s been filled out very thoroughly, there are some simple, fairly inexpensive things that will bring a strong return for your expense and hard work:

  • Fresh paint (get rid of wallpaper in most cases) is almost always needed in every room and at least on the trim outside. Think neutral shades.
  • New carpeting in a neutral shade.
  • If you have hardwood, refinish it or at least get it buffed and cleaned – home buyers love hardwood floors and will pay a premium for them (but don’t install if you do not already have them).
  • Make sure that the entire home is clean, including the windows and the window tracks, the fireplace, the outside spaces, garage, etc.
  • If the cabinets in the bathrooms and kitchen do not look good, consider painting or refacing them, and add new, contemporary looking pulls.
  • If the countertops are old and tired, see about installing slab granite or something more contemporary looking.
  • Got old light fixtures? replace them – the new ones do not have to be expensive, but they lights should not be thirty or more years old
  • Curb appeal matters: buyers do sometimes see a house from the street and decide not to go in. Don’t let that happen to you!
  • The front door, mailbox, and front porch areas need to be clean and inviting – it helps to have colorful flowers near the door, if possible.

Every property will have slightly different needs, but these are the basics.  Staging is a must if the home is vacant!

Want to sell your Silicon Valley home? Please call or email me and we can set up a time to talk (no obligation, of course).

 

Please also read:
Preparing Your Silicon Valley Home to Sell and Return on Investment

Digging deeper with disclosures (4 minute video of me talking –  a discussion about researching red flags and avoiding problems later)

  1. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 746 sq ft
    Lot size: 736 sqft
  2. 2 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,125 sq ft
    Lot size: 574 sqft
  3. 2 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,201 sq ft
    Lot size: 736 sqft
  4. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,592 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,547 sqft
  5. 0 beds, 0 bath
    Home size: 2,400 sq ft
    Lot size: 4,743 sqft
  6. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,743 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,916 sqft
  7. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 2,277 sq ft
    Lot size: 8,424 sqft
  8. 4 beds, 3 baths
    Home size: 1,506 sq ft
    Lot size: 1,633 sqft
  9. 3 beds, 2 baths
    Home size: 1,183 sq ft
    Lot size: 6,076 sqft
  10. 2 beds, 1 bath
    Home size: 920 sq ft
    Lot size: 927 sqft

See all Real estate in the Santa Clara community.
(all data current as of 5/22/2018)

Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.

Questions that the disclosures raiseWhen in doubt, disclose” is the advice that real estate and legal professionals use as a guiding principal in home sales.  And yet many sellers forget or miss things that should be told to the buyer, and some listing agents are a bit sloppy in reviewing their clients’ disclosure paperwork.  It is not uncommon to see questions unanswered or only partially answered.  The home owner may presume that if the disclosure paperwork was done wrong, the Realtor hired to help market and sell the home will catch it.  Would that it were so, but too often, that is not the case.

To avoid problems later, whether small or big, it is best to be thorough and careful while making your disclosure.

Small problems are created by seller (and listing broker) omissions when the paperwork gets kicked back for clarification or to complete the needed response.  Bigger problems are forged when a sale is nearly closed and a new disclosure is made – introducing a brand new 3 day “right of rescission” for the home buyer.  Worse yet is something substantial which is only brought to light after the close of escrow.  At that point, it’s not an inconvenience, it risks being costly and time consuming to resolve it.

The State of California requires that the Transfer Disclosure Statement or TDS be filled out in most realty transactions.  The intention of the form is to help you, the property owner, to disclose anything materially impacting value or desirability.  That’s a tall order to fill, so other forms have been created to supplement the TDS, which has pretty much become Step #1 for disclosing defects and other issues to buyers.

What kind of things are often skipped in the real estate disclosure paperwork?

On the TDS, a very common error involves the question as to whether Continue reading

Licensed contractor neededHome sellers appreciate it when their Realtor takes some of the workload off of their shoulders.  In some places, we are seeing real estate licensees overstepping their professional boundaries, though, and acting as if they are general contractors and overseeing the complete rehabilitation of properties before they go on the market.  Unless those agents are also licensed contractors, they likely are acting illegally, though.

A few years ago, I had a listing appointment in Milpitas with a home owner who felt that my job, as a seller’s agent, would be to get the home ready for market. “I work full time, I cannot supervise all these people coming in to fix up my house,” she said.  I explained to her that I am not a licensed contractor and it would be illegal for me to take responsibility over the plumbers, electricians, and the rest of the trades.  She truly believed that these functions were part of a real estate agent’s job and nothing I said could convince her otherwise, so I told her that I could not work with her in the sale of her home.  Where did her expectation come from?  Most likely, she’d heard stories of other people selling their homes and having the listing agents do the lion’s share of organizing and supervising the fixup-to-sell jobs.

When is a contractor’s license needed?  It’s simple.  Here is a quote from the California State Contractors Licensing Board:

“In California, anyone who contracts to perform work on a project that is valued at $500 or more for combined labor and materials costs must hold a current, valid license from CSLB.”

When in doubt, check with the Contractors State License Board!

What can the Realtor do legally to assist a home owner in preparing a property to sell?

As a listing agent who is not a licensed contractor, I can Continue reading

ConfidenceConfidence is perhaps the most under-appreciated factor in Silicon Valley home buyers and home sellers in getting more of what they want, or being successful at all.

Home buyers who feel confident about the market generally may buy, but when they have a lack of confidence that properties are holding their value, they don’t – even though a “buyer’s market” is often a great time to purchase real estate!

Silicon Valley home buyers who are confident about a particular property are more likely to pay more and to go into the bidding process with fewer contingencies and shorter contingencies, if any at all.  When they lack confidence in a property, the seller’s truthfulness, the listing agent’s professionalism, in the neighborhood or in the real estate market itself, they either don’t bid or they bid low.

Home sellers who feel confident about a buyer and that buyer’s financial abilities are more likely to choose him or her over others.  They want to feel that the buyer can perform, that the sale will close and there will be no “re-negotiation” are more likely to accept that offer than one which is riskier.  Sellers know that when a home falls out of contract, it often sells for less the 2nd time – so they do not want the sale to fall apart.  For that reason, most of them now want offers which are without any contingencies (or perhaps very short ones).

They also want the most money possible, of course, but if it’s neck and neck between the higher price with worse terms or slightly lower price with stronger terms, they will either counter the lower price up a little or they will outright accept the offer with more security of closing.

Often with multiiple offers, there will be a solid “band of pricing” where most home buyers seem to think the value lies.  Then there will be one or two who are higher.  Maybe one will “spike” the price.  But if the spiked price comes with an appraisal contingency, it is really a mirage, an illusion, since the price will likely be renegotiated later.   When listing agents see that kind of spread in prices offered, most of the time they’ll try to get the people with the best terms to move up in price.  It may not go all the way to the spiked price which is laiden with contingencies, but it will probably move in that direction.

What can San Jose area buyers and sellers do to improve their odds of success?  I would say the number one thing is to improve the sense of confidence on the other side of the bargaining table.

What can Silicon Valley home sellers to do enable buyers to feel confident (and to pay top dollar)?

Home sellers can increase the confidence levels of buyers by doing the following: Continue reading

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Mary Pope-Handy
Realtor
ABR, CIPS, CRS, SRES
Sereno Group Real Estate
214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd
Los Gatos, CA 95030
408 204-7673
Mary (at) PopeHandy.com
License# 01153805


Selling homes in
Silicon Valley:
Santa Clara County,
San Mateo County, and
Santa Cruz County.
:
Special focus on:
San Jose, Los Gatos,
Saratoga, Campbell,
Almaden Valley,
Cambrian Park.
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Mary’s other sites & blogs
Valley Of Hearts Delight
Santa Clara County Real Estate,
with an interest in history

Move2SiliconValley.com
Silicon Valley relocation info

popehandy.com
Silicon Valley real estate,
focus on home selling

Silicon Valley Real Estate Report
Silicon Valley real estate
market trends & statistics
Mary’s Blog Awards
Top 25 real estate blogs of 2018 by RentPrep2018 RentPrep.com's list of top 25 real estate blogs to follow


Top 25 real estate blogs 2016
2016: Personal Income's list of top 25 real estate blogs.


Best Realtor blog award
2016: Coastal Group OC's list of best Realtor blogs


The 2009 Sellsius list of top 12 women real estate bloggers
2009: Sellsius list of top
12 women real estate bloggers


Mary Pope-Handy's Live in Los Gatos blog won the 2007 Project Blogger contest, sponsored by Inman News and Active Rain

2007: Mary Pope-Handy and Frances Flynn Thorsen win the Project Blogger Contest for Mary's Live in Los Gatos blog. The contest was sponsored by
Active Rain and Inman News.


Non blog award


Best real estate agent in Silicon Valley from the San Jose Mercury News poll of readers in 2011
"Best real estate agent
in Silicon Valley"

2011 readers' poll,
San Jose Mercury News

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