Several people, companies, and systems assist me in my work with buyers and sellers in Silicon Valley. Most often, my clients will not see or speak with many of them much (if at all), but they are all part of the package, if on the “back end” much of the time.
My daughter, Clair, assists me about half time. She is unlicensed and does not usually interact with my clients. Most of her work is computer related or errands-running: tagging disclosures for electronic signing, duplicating keys, dropping fliers off to listings, research for my blog posts, help with the monthly newsletter, and driving me while I videotape neighborhoods are some of her tasks.
Within My Brokerage:
At my brokerage, Sereno Group in Los Gatos, my escrow coordinator, Sonia Sisto, makes sure that the paperwork is complete. With a myriad of places to sign and initial and papers not to forget, it’s helpful to have a second set of eyes on the file. Additionally, other agents also review the file on behalf of Sereno management. When there are legal questions, which can come up from time to time, we have a legal counsel available through Ryan Iwanaga, my manager, or Chris Trapani, the CEO of Sereno Group, and we get answers back within a business day, if not a few hours. Finally, there are several agents who assist me in some cases (vacation, sickness, family emergencies). So I’m well supported on the office or firm level. When you hire me, you get a full staff behind me.
Whether buying or selling a silicon valley home or investment property, good inspections are critical. I don’t have one list for buyers and another for sellers – no matter which end of the transaction you’re on, you want excellent information. Surprises tend to sour escrows, so part of the plan in helping you avoid trouble is to avoid surprises. Only with excellent information can you make good decisions and have more control of the way your real estate sale progresses.
1. Home or Property Inspectors. It is crucial that your property inspector be exceedingly well trained, experienced, careful, clear, and through. In California, there is no license for home inspectors. However, there are a couple of trade groups which have a very high standard of practice. One is ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) and the other is CREIA (California Real Estate Inspection Association).
There are many good home inspectors in the San Jose area, but my #1 choice is Duane Serrano of Tri Star Home Inspections. Duane is an ASHI member with 15 years experience. I have not found him to either miss or over call issues (I have sometimes had inspectors who say a chimney or roof is bad, have the clients hire more experts, only to find out that it was fine – that aggressive over-calling is expensive, time consuming and upsetting). Duane also provides my clients with suggestions as to solutions and how to make the home last longer with proper care. He gets the reports out, with digital photos, on a same-day basis. Duane’s website is http://www.tristarinspections.com/ or he can be reached by phone at 408 266-2706.
Other good inspectors can be found on the ASHI website: list of ASHI Inspectors in Santa Clara County. On this list, I’ve had positive experiences with Craig Moorhead, Brett K Reeder and Michael Strom-Berg and if Duane were not available, would not hesitate to work with any of them.
2. Termite and Pest Inspectors. In California, especially in our sub-tropical coastal area of Silicon Valley, termites are an ongoing issue. We have both subterranean and drywood termites here. By far and away, the termite company I prefer to work with (and have work on my own home) is Thrasher Termite & Pest Control. They are located in Los Gatos but serve all of Santa Clara County (and I believe occasionally go into nearby counties – they once helped me with a listing in Scotts Valley, which is in Santa Cruz County). Thrasher Termite & Pest Control now has a great website, or you can reach them by phone at 408 354-9944.
I did a two-part blog article about pest work and Thrasher on my Live in Los Gatos blog, and you can read those two pieces here:
On the rare occassion that Thrasher is not available, there are other termite companies that I may need to use. Or, if I’m working with a buyer and the seller has pre-sale inspections, there are pest control companies whose work I trust to be ethical and thorough. The Pest Control Operators of California can provide a complete list of who does termite and pest work in the San Jose area, but the companies I’m comfortable with include Able Exterminators (San Jose), Fraboni Termite Control (San Jose), and J & M Termite (in Mountain View).
The State of California has a site, The Structural Pest Control Board, which has great information for consumers and agents alike, including a license lookup feature.
There are more inspectors whom I endorse and work with, but these two categories are the main ones.
(B) TITLE & ESCROW
There are a number of excellent title companies in Santa Clara County. The one I prefer to work with is Old Republic Title in Los Gatos. My escrow officer is Bill Hastings.
They are all also financially sound, which is critically important in today’s real estate landscape in Santa Clara County. (In recent years, two title companies have shut down abruptly, causing headaches for consumers, agents and lenders.)
I have a short list of about 3-4 lenders I can refer to you. Some specialize in one type of loan or home situation, some another. Please contact me and I can give you a couple of names that are most likely to be a good fit for you.
(D) And More….
Depending on your needs, I have assistance from movers to housecleaners to photographers and full-time stagers. The list is extensive, reflecting my many years in the business! (Licensed & full time since early 1993.)