Price decreased or several weeks on the market often means no multiple offers – and that’s an opportunity for weary home buyers
The real estate market in the San Jose – Santa Clara County and San Mateo County areas has been brutal for folks wanting to purchase property. With multiple offers and large numbers of cash offers or non-contingent offers being so prevalent, it can seem impossible at times.
Discouraged home buyers should consider looking at overlooked properties, those which have been on the market for awhile and yet remain unsold. Most often, the difficulty with these Silicon Valley homes is that they are simply overpriced. Sometimes the problem is that the showings are too severely limited, so most buyers have gone elsewhere. It’s not unusual to see poor marketing overall, either: bad descriptions, bad photos, bad exposure. And at times there is a more significant issue at play, some sort of problem with the location or home itself.
When houses, condos or townhomes do not sell within a month, most buyers assume that there’s something wrong with them. The thinking is that if they were all right, it would have sold – so there must be an issue. They are right, of course, but usually the issue is fixable! And most of the time, in my experience, it’s not even related to the property itself, but to the marketing (which includes the price).
Look specifically for homes that have been on the market for 30 days or more, for properties where the listing price has been decreased or should have been by now. Research the expired, canceled and withdrawn listings too.
Home sellers, please review the multiple listing description of your property: errors are not uncommon!
Frequently the multiple listing service has typos and errors regarding homes for sale (and poor or missing photos too). I have to wonder if sellers even look at the comments, description or photographs online at all – because I am sure that if they did, most of the mistakes would be caught and the marketing would improve significantly.
Just now, I saw in one description that a house features “walking closets”. Let’s hope not – that’s the stuff of nightmares. It also claimed that the kitchen is “specious” (which means misleadingly attractive) rather than spacious. The same real estate agent also misspelled the name of the Silicon Valley subdivision.
When I put a listing on the MLS for my seller clients, I always ask them to check for errors (or misspellings etc.) since they know their home better than I do. I do not want to represent that fireplaces are served by gas jets if they aren’t, or omit them if they are, as just one example. Even our most diligent notes can sometimes miss a detail. Accuracy is important both so that buyers and their agents understand the property well but also so that the home’s features aren’t accidentally left out. So home sellers: always ask to see the MLS printout on your property. Do not ask only for the standard consumer version, but request the “agent full” version so that you can also check the private comments aimed at Realtors and other salespeople.
What’s most important to home sellers: highest price, fast close, all cash, no contingencies, pre-approved loan or what?
When home sellers receive multiple offers on their property, they get to prioritize what they want most. Is it all cash, the highest price, the fastest close of escrow, or no contingencies? This 45 second video of home sales in 2013 may surprise you! (Per the California Association of Realtors – so apparently home sales in CA.) When writing your real estate contract, it’s good to keep this info in mind – too often, cash buyers in particular don’t appreciate that most sellers are after the #1 item listed in this quick video.
The Silicon Valley real estate market is so overheated in many segments (some areas, some pricepoints) that there’s a lot of exhaustion to be found among consumers, Realtors and others involved (inspectors, title company employees, etc.). Why is that?
- Home buyers in the San Jose area are finding that most of the time, they have to write a few offers before one can get accepted. The rejection is both disappointing and exhausting, and every successive attempt is stressful since most buyers understand that with multiple offer situations, the odds are against them.
- Home sellers in Santa Clara County are finding it a challenge to work like crazy to make their property as close to ideal as possible, only to find that multiple offers either aren’t ideal (or still seem scary, if they are ideal) or perhaps they don’t come at all. Even in a hot market, not every home sells! Some home owners work so hard at fixing up their house or condo to sell that they somewhat fall in love with it all over again…and that makes it hard to sell. Their pre-sale exhaustion also can make them prone to feeling overwhelmed.
- Real estate agents or licensees are exhausted because there is so much URGENCY that it’s hard to get any down time (let alone a day off). Most real estate licensees I know are really burned out – or very close to it – due to working 24/7 for the last 2+ months. (Buyers are very time consuming and may require many many attempts before being successful in getting into contract. Sellers may have worries and find themselves needing a lot of reassurance – even when it’s not really urgent at all.)
Together with the extra stress of the market which changed so fast are a LOT of emotions (as well as mistakes that might not be made if everyone were calmer and better rested). Buyers grieve when they lose the house. Sellers worry that they sold too fast, too low, too easily. Buyers, when successful, worry that they have overpaid (“buyers remorse“). Agents are burning the candle at both ends and can find themselves a little frazzled too. Sometimes when our clients have a bad day, they can make it contagious by yelling at us or otherwise being overly difficult because they are stressed. Even agents dealing with other agents can be a headache if the other one is upset, burned out, sloppy or emotional.
Time out! What most everyone needs (myself included) is a breather. Everyone needs a little time, a little down time, to feel a bit more human. Take a day off. Decide not to answer the phone or email before or after set hours. As for me, I’m going to work on that. I hate to see email accumulate in my inbox, I feel like I have to address it right away (as if it were a text message about a house burning down). But being in reactive mode, no matter who we are, is not so good in the long run. When the going gets tough, it’s more important than ever to get enough sleep, exercise (esp time away from the computer) and diversions. Too much intensity can make for more friction, and in the long run, that is bad for the transaction, bad for our relatinships and even bad for our own personal health.
So in this overheated, stressful market – let’s all try to step back enough so that we can clear our heads a little and keep a semblance of balance. It will make for better real estate transactions in the long run, no matter whether we are buying, selling, or assisting clients as realty professionals in the South Bay.
The Cross-Cultural Real Estate Experience: Buying and Selling Homes in Silicon Valley vs Other Places
Buying and selling homes is stressful no matter who you are or what the occasion may be. It is even more difficult for those for whom English is not their native language and for whom the US is not their native land.
First there’s a language challenge (depending on English fluency). Even more, there’s a cultural challenge in terms of how homes are bought and sold. Add the normal stress to the cross-cultural confusion and there’s a recipe for misunderstanding, bafflement, surprises and upset. One of the biggest areas for clashes is how negotiations are carried out.
I have had the pleasure of traveling to many places around the globe and to live in Italy for the better part of a year while in college (in Florence, and yes, I loved it). I remember very vividly some of my own cultural frustrations and although I was fairly fluent, missing a whole lot of social cues. I had to work to learn to negotiate for simple things like fruit and sweaters in the open air markets. And I was just 20, not trying to purchase anything as significant as a house or condo.
My clients today come from all over. Typically, at any given time, more than half of my clients are foreign* (and I love working with them and hearing about their experiences, customs and traditions). Every once in awhile, we discover that buying and selling expectations are vastly different from Silicon Valley to wherever they came from. Here are a few:
- Expecting to negotiate at every turn, starting from the time the seller accepts the buyer’s offer and continuing until close of escrow (not done here: you negotiate at most two times – first when writing and countering offers and second prior to removing contingencies, if something new is learned during the course of the inspections. If you negotiate at every opportunity, you will have everyone angry at you!)
- Continue reading
Recently I read an article on Realty Times about the tax credit for non-first time homebuyers. Did you know that it may be used for “move down” buyers as well as “move up” buyers?
There are some caveats – the home cannot cost more than $800,000 and a couple cannot earn more than $255,000 per year. Owners must have been in the home for five consecutive years of the last eight. This may be the ideal help for Silicon Valley seniors wanting to downsize.
To read the article on Realty Times, click here.