Simply put, these are when a home buyer and his or her or their agent write up a bid on a proper form such as the PRDS or CAR contracts, but orally or otherwise casually tells the seller or the listing agent of a price that the buyer would offer for the property.
Communication from a buyer or buyer’s agent that the client would like to purchase the property for a particular amount of money.
Sometimes they also include some of the contract terms, such as “all cash offer” or “no contingencies” or “30% down”.
Most of the time, the buyer doesn’t want to spend the time to write it up unless there’s a verbal assurance that the seller will accept the offer.
With a verbal offer (which could be in person, by phone, by email, by text, etc.), there’s no proof of anything – no proof of funds, proof that the disclosures have been reviewed, and so on.
This is a terrible idea, whether you’re a buyer or seller. But why?
Verbal offers are not serious offers
First, there are a LOT of terms in the offer besides just the price. They include things like the loan amount and percentage (80% loan to value ratio or something else), the amount of the initial deposit and when it will go to title, whether the buyer is preapproved or not, the number of days for various contingencies, how long the escrow should be, what personal property should be included, and much more.
Often those terms are extremely important. Consider just one: all cash versus financed! Verbal offers are usually only the price being floated by.
Written offers, not verbal offers, come from committed home buyers
If a home buyer is sincere and serious about purchasing property, he or she will get it in writing and be specific about the myriad of terms that are part and parcel of the agreement. A seller cannot fairly even consider a verbal offer because so many of the terms are simply missing in action. (more…)
If you are buying or selling a home in Silicon Valley today, you may be considering including the option to have a seller rent back after closing. What does this mean?
What is a rent back?
A rent back refers to the seller staying in possession of the home after it’s been sold to the new owner. Sometimes it is free, other times there is a cost. Normally, a security deposit is paid and held in escrow or by the new owner. (These are sometimes called rentbacks or rent-back agreements.)
Most of the time, it’s for 60 days or less, because longer than that and the buyer’s lender will consider the property as “non owner occupied” and the interest rate will be higher.
Upon close of escrow, the buyers get a gets a set of keys, but can only enter the property for certain reasons.
Brief video on rent back highlights
Rent back agreements
If you are going to do a rent back in Santa Clara County, you may run into one of three forms that sets this agreement in writing. These can impact each party’s rights and responsibilities.
With the California Association of Realtor forms (CAR forms), there are two distinct addenda depending on the length of stay for the rent-back after closing. (more…)
What is a multiple counter offer, and how does it work?
Brief summary on how multiple counter offers work
Silicon Valley home sellers have an option to issue a Multiple Counter Offer form. This is not the same as a regular counter offer form.
With the standard counter offer form, if the other party accepts it, signs it, and delivers the signed copy back to the party that issued the counter offer, it’s then a ratified offer, a done deal. Not so when there are multiple counters in play.
With the multiple counter offer process, the seller decides after one or more of the buyers accepts (or if they counter back and forth, or if one buyer improves his or her offer). No matter the exact path, the seller ultimately must pick one offer and sign off on it to ratify the sale. In other words, when a buyer agrees to the multiple counter offer terms, it’s not a done deal. The owner must sign again to accept and select that buyer. Only then is the contract ratified.
2 minute video discussion on multiple counter offers – key points
What is an exclusion in a real estate contract? What is an inclusion? Both of these refer to fixtures at the property which is for sale. If you want to sell your home, it’s very important to understand the “law of fixtures” as it relates to what you leave and what you take with you – unless the inclusion or exclusion is specified in the contract.
In brief, built in or affixed items become real property and transfer with the sale (or as Realtors say, “conveys”). If something is built in, like a light fixture, but the seller and buyer agree in the contract that the seller can remove it, then it becomes an exclusion, as it is excluded or omitted from the sale.
If something not built in is allowed to remain behind, such as a garden hose, pool table, or curtains, then it’s an inclusion, as it’s included even though it is not real property.
Curtain rods are built in, so they are fixtures and therefore real property. But the curtains that hang on them are not built in, so they are personal property.
2 minute video explanation
What is a fixture?
Generally speaking, a fixture is any item affixed or attached to the house, townhouse, condo or property which is installed with the intention that it be there permanently. The only exception is if something is bolted for earthquake safety.
Examples of fixtures (items which stay or are included):
It can be a little nerve-wracking to sell one home and purchase another at the same time. How do you buy and sell homes at once – without losing your mind?
Talk to a lender first
It is a very good idea to talk to a great lender upfront and to be pre-approved. That way, you’ll be more certain of what you can truly afford, and no matter which order you plan to do the two house juggle, you’ll be ready.
The main options when you want to buy and sell homes at once
These are the most commonly used strategies to buy and sell homes at once:
If you have equity, pulling money out of the current house may be an option, or perhaps you can use a bridge loan, you may be able to buy the next home first.
In that case, you can move to the new home, then stage and sell the current one. For most people, this is less stressful.
Or will you only purchase after you have cash in hand?
With this approach, you could move out and stay in a rental, stage and sell the home and then buy the next residence with cash in hand.
Or you could live in the home while it is marketed, sold, and closed.
You may be able to stay on after the close of escrow as a renter in your home for up to 60 days. That is often enough time to buy and close on the replacement property.
You might be able to have a longer close of escrow and be able to purchase the home “subject to the successful close of escrow” of the current place. This is not the most viable way to buy in our current, inventory starved market, though.
Another option is to move out, rent a temporary residence, sell, and then buy. Depending on the rental, your own belongings could furnish it, or you could have your things in storage.
Possible option 1 – buying first & moving out to sell
If possible, many people doing these two major transactions at once prefer to purchase first. the advantages include not having to move twice and not having to live in a home that is being shown, inspected, and requiring a pristine condition at all times. For people working from home and families with young kids, this is often the way to go, as it is too disruptive to live there during the marketing and sale process. (more…)
How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley? There are really three questions within that one:
how much time will be required before you’re ready to choose a home to purchase (or how many homes will you need to see)
how many offers will you have to write
and finally, how much time is involved in getting the transaction closed
We are presuming that our readers know that a pre-approval, not a pre-qualification, is absolutely necessary. Being pre-underwritten is better still. The lender decision needs to be made early on, before house hunting.
The short answer: if you are pre-approved, have cash in the bank, are decisive, are on the same page (if buying with someone else), and committed, you could go from getting the pre-approval letter to owning a home in 6 weeks – if everything lines up perfectly. For most people, it’s 2- 4 months.
What could go wrong? What could slow things down? Please read on!
How long does it take to buy a home in Silicon Valley: first step, selecting a home to bid on
Often our clients need to see 10 homes, sometimes a little more, in person before they feel like they know the market and the choices well enough to select a home they want to write an offer on. This is after a highly refined search, usually, with a lot of info provided upfront and online. Many properties are eliminated before we ever see them.
How long does it take? Depending on how broad of an area they’re considering, and how much of a hurry they’re in, this varies, but normally is 4 – 6 weeks for most of our home buyer clients. Some are faster, some slower.
Clients relocating to the San Jose area often want to settle in. If they’ve owned homes before, they may have a perfect idea of what will and won’t work for them. Once I sold a Los Gatos house to a couple before the wife ever saw the property! They moved every couple of years, the husband knew his wife’s requirements perfectly and they had no trouble being expedient.
If clients look for 3 or 4 months and never even write an offer, they are either not serious, not realistic, or if there are two buyers, they aren’t in agreement with each other. We see this too often. (more…)
The “price per square foot” data point can be useful between uniform or very similar homes, but using it with dissimilar properties (size, lot size, school districts, and other elements) will result in a wrong valuation and upset home sellers and listing agents.
An important real estate principle to know is that smaller homes nearly always sell for more on a per square footage basis than 10-15% larger houses in the same area. The reason why is that kitchens and bathrooms are the most expensive rooms, but often there is just 1 kitchen and a similar number of baths with smaller vs larger homes.
Even if the properties are comparable in many ways, a 10-15% difference in square footage can make the price per SF very wrong.
When to use the price per square foot
If evaluating condos in the same complex, such as a 2 bed, 2 bath with 1,000 SF, it makes sense to compare units in the same complex with 900-1100 SF (plus or minus 10%). If nothing is available, going to 15% may work, but the data won’t be as reliable – 850 – 1150 SF.
In a subdivision of houses that are all about the same age and with similar lot sizes, the target would again be 10% of the home size. In a 2,000 SF house, that means plus or minus 200 SF, ideally, but not more than 300 SF.
If a 1500 SF house is included in the analysis of a 2,000 SF house, it will mislead the home owner because the 1500 SF house will sell for more on a per SF basis than the much larger 2,000 SF house. The seller will overprice the home if doing that.
As one factor among many, it’s completely fair to include the price per SF when trying to determine what a home’s probable market value ought to be, as long as it’s within that 10% range, ort 15% at the very outside.
Other factors that influence valuation – beyond the price per SF
Remember, too, that a house, condo or townhouse isn’t worth one exact number, but a range – because the terms involved also impact the sales price. Although price per square foot is one way of finding approximate value, often is not the best, especially if you use it alone, because there are other factors besides the square footage of the house. Here are some of the other factors that can mess up that valuation based on price per square foot alone:
precise location (view, proximity to something undesirable)
for example, one house is next to tidy homes, but another has a junky neighbor or two
one house is internal to a neighborhood, and another is on a busier road
one residence backs to commercial property or a tall apartment building, which another backs to a single story house
lot size and usability
lot shape & access (flag lots may sell for less than homes directly on the street)
whether the house is below or above grade/street level (most people don’t prefer being down from the street)
back yard size
amount of remodeling (and how recently it happened, whether with permits/finals)
care for the home
additions vs original square footage – most of the time, additions do not sell for as much as original SF
this is often due to an awkward layout and a weird Winchester-y feel from one or more additions
most of the time, if bedrooms are added, the need for a larger kitchen is there, but usually not addressed
sometimes the additions are just a family room or bedrooms with no plumbing features, and these are generally less costly
adding a new primary suite with spacious closets and bathrooms may not sell for less if the layout feels natural
whether the street is a good one or full of parked cars & RVs
landscaping (especially “hardscaping”)
with luxury properties over $4 million and with large backyards, some homes are lavish with summer kitchens, ADUs, tons of pavers, outside fire places, sports courts, pool and spa, tennis courts, fire pits, and more – some homes may sink $500,000 and more into the backyard alone
others may be more limited to patios, pools, and grass
whether there were multiple offers soon after it hit the market or if it was one offer after languishing for weeks or months
The variance from “all original” to “all remodeled” alone can swing value 10% – 20% in the San Jose area. Add to that other factors and the divergence in value can be much, much greater. (more…)
The percentage of all cash sales (all cash, no loans) rose in July, but the actual number of sales, shown immediately below, shrank a little. I pulled this data from the MLS today and it’s reflective of whatever the listing agent entered into the fields for financing.
Percentage of All cash sales, month by month, in Santa Clara County (single family homes)
Next, the actual percentage of all cash sales in the county for houses and duet homes.
The average for the 11 Julys shown is 13.9%, so July 2023 with 15.7% is interesting to see. Interest rates have skyrocketed over the last 14 months, forcing home prices down in the 2nd half of 2022. It’s a little surprising that we did not see a surge of cash buyers then, but their numbers stayed in the typical range from what I’m seeing.
Now, in mid 2023, we have seen both interest rates and home prices rising – at least for the first 6 months of the year – in most of the valley.
Cash buyers are usually investors, but not always. Sometimes they are homeowners who sold their long held family home and are now downsizing and buying with the proceeds of the larger home that they just sold. We don’t get that piece of data from the MLS, but anecdotally, that’s what I’m seeing with the cash offers I’m seeing and hearing about.
What does it mean that cash buyers are an increasing percentage of the closed sales?
Rising interest rates not only don’t harm the all cash, no loans buyers, it actually helps them as it weakens their competition
The preliminary title report is provided by the title insurance company not long after escrow is opened. In Santa Clara County, unlike many parts of California, usually escrow is opened once a listing agreement is signed (not after a buyer is in contract to purchase the home). That means that the preliminary title report (sometimes called the “pre” or “prelim”) is ready to be viewed by the time the home goes on the market or shortly thereafer.
What is in the preliminary title report?
Information on where escrow is opened (which company) and who the escrow officer is along with their contact info
The form of title insurance anticipated by the report (there may be options available)
Title – who the owners are, if it’s in a trust, an LLC, etc.
Legal description of the property (assessor’s parcel number, address etc.). If it is is a property held in condo ownership, that will show as well.
Info on any and all liens recorded against the property (mortgages, property taxes, supplemental taxes etc.)
If you lose out in multiple offers over and over, you’re not alone, but as prices rise, this isn’t a good pattern to be in. What can you learn from it?
Silicon Valley home buyers can have vastly different reasons for getting their offers rejected.
For many, the challenge is having a small down payment.
Others are very indecisive (and can’t decide fast enough, or cannot really commit enough to write a strong enough offer).
Some may have unrealistic expectations.
Some pride themselves on “being conservative” and routinely under price their offers.
Below we’ll go over the main issues, what you can learn from losing, and finally, a strategy to pull you out of multiple offers.
Small down payments and the competitive disadvantage
Having a less than 20% down payment may get an offer eliminated off the bat when there are multiple bids. The reasoning has to do with confidence that the bank will fund the loan and not get cold feet. The larger the down, the more secure the loan appears. When there’s more than 20% down available, the buyer appears more able to manage an appraisal shortfall, too.
FHA home buyers have the biggest challenge, for reasons explained previously. Those with 20% down payment have a really reasonable loan situation, but the trouble is that many other competitors do, too. With rising prices, appraisals are often a problem – and 20% down usually won’t solve it. So the more cash, the better, and cash is still king.
All cash offers
Having 30% or more will usually overcome appraisal hurdles. But those ubiquitous “all cash offers”, which comprise about 15% of all Santa Clara County home sales right now, will usually trump any other bid IF the price is attractive. Don’t be discouraged, though, as sometimes the all cash offers are the lowest offers with multiple bid situations in the San Jose area.
If you lose out in multiple offers for any other reason besides the down payment
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno, Los Gatos, CA 95030 408 204-7673 Mary@PopeHandy.com License# 01153805
Clair Handy, Realtor
Christie's International Real Estate Sereno 214 Los Gatos-Saratoga Rd Los Gatos, CA 95030 ClairHandy@sereno.com License# 02153633
Mary & Clair sell homes throughout Silicon Valley: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Santa Cruz County. with a special focus on: San Jose, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Campbell, Almaden Valley, Cambrian Park.
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