As a general rule of thumb, home buyers who have clear criteria and priorities need to see ten houses before they are ready to write an offer. Some may be ready with fewer, say 7 or 8. Some may need a few more showings. On average, per the National Association of Realtors, ten homes is the number that most home buyers need to be ready to write an offer.
Also generally true is that sellers need to have ten showings for one offer.
Ten is almost a magic number for real estate, and it’s a number that can provide a “reality check” on whether a listing is getting enough showings or if a buyer is either seeing enough homes or focusing enough to write on one that fits their stated budget and criteria.
Ten houses over ten weeks
The ten houses will usually be seen over several weeks. The Realtor Magazine article, linked at the bottom, says the average home buyer sees the ten houses over ten weeks.
Most buyers who are focused can know enough to write an offer on something at by the 2.5 month mark. In my own experience, if buyers go 4 months or more without writing, it is unlikely that they will be buying a home soon.
Ten houses and writing an offer on something
Every home buyer will want to be reasonably cautious before purchasing a home. On occasion I’ve had clients who wanted to draft a contract on the first house they see with me. In those cases, I ask them to humor me and see a few more just to be sure that they have a solid footing for this choice. It’s too expensive of a decision to make without that baseline experience of seeing at least a few homes, if not a full ten.
Sometimes, though, buyers are enormously cautious and nervous, and they become somewhat paralyzed and are unable to act. Or they have unrealistic expectations of what is achievable and are holding out for that “really good deal” that is unlikely to exist. If you’ve seen dozens of properties but you’re not getting serious about any of them, something is amiss. (more…)
In many cases, that means the dark home needs to be transformed into a light one.
How to make a dark home a little more light: start with the windows
How can a home owner make a house or home be – or seem – more bright? One of the biggest “offenders” in this area involves windows! Here are a few window-related problems that can make a home feel significantly darker than necessary, together with some potential solutions:
Tinted windows, such as yellow or other colored glass at the front door or entry way: replace with clear or translucent, colorless glass. If there’s a darkening film (for instance, for privacy), remove it and replace with a clear or translucent but uncolored film instead.
Curtains/blinds which obstruct part of the window: get tie backs to pull them further back and let more light in (goal is to not obscure windows at all). Easiest of all are those which use magnetic clasps and do not require any hardware be attached to the wall.
Furniture blocking windows should be moved or swapped out for lower items that do not cover up any of the windows. I see tall headboards often situated right in front of the glass panes – they are counter productive. Perhaps remove the headboard, or place the bed in another location?
Shrubs and trees covering some of the window: trim back so the window’s glass panes are 100% visible, if at all possible, to let maximum light in.
And of course, do make sure your windows and tracks are sparkling clean!
When it’s time for your final document signing prior to the close of escrow or refinance, is signing with a mobile notary better, or should you do it at the title company? These aren’t papers that you can DocuSign – they must be done in person.
What is a mobile notary?
A notary, or notary public, is someone who can check your identification and verify that you are who you say you are. A mobile notary public, usually called a mobile notary, is someone who travels. They come to you.
You often have a choice about signing with a mobile notary, or signing at the title company.
Be aware that in most cases you will pay a little more in closing costs if you elect to sign remotely.
Some lenders and title companies may nudge you to using an out of office signing and may have built that fee into their closing cost estimates for you, but it is optional, not mandatory!
Even if you sign at the office, you may not get the escrow officer but still have a notary and still have an extra charge. Or just a higher fee than at other title companies for this service. Different title companies have different fees and policies.
Best bet is to call the title company and ask if the fee will be less if you sign at their office.
During most of Covid, home buyers and sellers did not have a choice about where to do what we call a signoff: title companies did not allow signings in their office for most of the pandemic. Instead, buyers, sellers, and refinancing home owners would meet with a notary, often outdoors, to sign documents prior to the close of escrow or completion of the refi.
At the beginning of the pandemic, and for about the first 18 months or so, Realtors were not permitted to attend the signoff. We are now, though.
Fewer restrictions, title company office signing is now permitted
Now that things are opening up, consumers have the ability to sign at the title company in nearly all cases. A mobile notary remains an option, and may be preferable for you, but make sure that you are informed so that you are making a choice with all the factors on the table. (As of October 2022, if the Covid pandemic worsens again, this could change.) (more…)
You keep reading that it’s still a “seller’s market” in Silicon Valley real estate. You hear about homes recieving multiple offers and prices getting pushed up. Yet with interest rates still threatening to rise and more layoffs, not everyone is ready to take the plunge to sell.
Should you jump in as a San Jose area seller now?
Maybe, but if you do it, do it right! The dirty little secret that no one talks about is that not all Santa Clara County homes for sale are selling like it’s a hot market. They sit on the market, popping up on MLS searches for month after month, lower their prices, and might eventually accept an offer below asking price.
Dangerous Seller Myths
There are quite a few common myths that home owners believe about selling their property. Believe these, and act accordingly, and your chances of selling are dramatically damaged:
my price is high, but buyers can always “make an offer”
it’s a seller’s market, my home does not have to be perfect
if I fix up the home to sell, the buyer may not like the changes (this one is especially common)
it was like this when I bought it, so I don’t have to improve it now
I have lived with (fill in the blank) forever, there’s nothing wrong with it
Getting the home prepped and pricing right matter tremendously. Today let’s focus on preparing and staging. (more…)
The probable buyer’s value for a home is very similar to market value, as a home is only worth what a buyer will pay. If the seller wants more than that, it won’t sell. If it’s unlikely that their ranges overlap at all, we’ll have a listing that is difficult or impossible to sell.
Quick summary on the probable buyer’s value:
The probable buyer’s value is a range of what most buyers would pay for a particular property if there was no undue pressure on the buyer or seller.
The probable buyer’s value will be impacted by many factors, such as the timing (if there are other houses which are more competitively priced or no other inventory), the property condition, the presentation of the property, the accessibility of the property (how hard is it to see – is it vacant or occupied?), the marketing (photos, floor plans, etc.), and many other things.
The buyer’s terms weigh heavily on what the buyer can or will pay for any home.
Sometimes it can be tricky to estimate what a home might sell for. I usually talk with my seller clients about trying to find the probable buyer’s value. The seller may have a range of prices that he or she anticipates and would accept. So too with the buyer, whose range will likely be lower than the seller’s. The key is finding where the buyer and seller price ranges overlap.
Let’s take a hypothetical case of a home worth about a million dollars (see image above). The seller would love for the property to sell close to $1,040,000. The buyer would like to purchase it for $960,000. The agent’s competitive market analysis indicates that similar homes have sold or are selling at around a million dollars, give or take a percent or two. If the buyer and seller can come to a meeting of the minds, and there’s no undue pressure on either one of them, we have (hopefully) a sale and we have the fair market value.
But as we know, sometimes homes sell for much more than they would seem to be worth, and other times much less.
What causes property values to go above or below what would seem to be the probable buyer’s value? Undue pressure can certainly cause values to rise (desperate buyer who just has to get into a house, even if overpaying or desperate seller who has got to unload a property, even if selling too low). (more…)
Younger home with large bedroom window, low to the ground
If you are buying or selling an older ranch style house or historic home in Silicon Valley, there’s a good chance that original bedroom windows may be smaller or higher than your home inspector might like. What is the big deal with the height or size of the windows? The inspection report may mention ingress and egress.
On this site and others of ours, we bring up health and safety topics from time to time. For example, we shared info on unsafe electrical panels here. In the case of fire or other emergency, children and adults may need to get out and rescue personnel may need to get in. If bedroom windows are poorly configurated, the room could end up being a death trap.
For fire safety, it’s important that:
bedroom windows be an escape route for persons in the home (egress) – for this, they must be low enough to the ground and big enough so that children and adults can both get out in case of an emergency
emergency responders such as fire fighters, with their large backpacks on their backs, can get in through the same openings (ingress)
When windows are too high, kids, and perhaps adults, cannot get out through them. And no matter how low or high, if the windows are too small, emergency personnel cannot enter through them.
Bedroom windows and safety: how big and how low do the windows need to be?
There are varied requirements, and exceptions, depending on whether the home is new construction or a remodel. Additionally, there are different rules for basements and 2nd story bedroom windows. Cities and towns each have their own codes, too. Your best bet is to check with your particular town or city to see what you must do if remodeling or replacing your windows.
In Los Gatos, ground floor windows must be
no more than 44″ off the ground
at least 20″ wide
at least 24″ tall
There are additional requirements, though – please see the link at the bottom of this article to view the details.
All sleeping rooms and basements – Must meet these specifications:
– Minimum 5.7 square feet opening*
– Minimum height of 24 inches
– Minimum width of 20 inches
– Maximum height to bottom of clear opening of 44 inches
* In order to meet the required 5.7 square-foot opening, either the width or height or both must
exceed the minimum dimensions shown. If bottom of clear opening is le
When remodeling your home and switching from single pane to dual pane windows, many people will be tempted to use the same sized windows with the new replacement set in order to save money, and in many areas, skip the need for permits and finals by not disturbing the stucco. But rather than target the least expensive way to upgrade your windows, I’d like to suggest making safety a priority. Upgrade not just your home’s energy efficiency, but its safety too.
Ranch style house with original casement windows – impossible for ingress by emergency personnel.
Sometimes our clients present us with “THE VALUE” of property per one of these free online home valuation websites sites and in some cases, they challenge us to disprove it (Zillow says it, or some other site, so it must be right, goes the thinking). If they want to buy a house which is listed for more than the auto-comped value, it may cause some emotional anguish. And if they want to buy one which is listed for less, they may feel a little giddy – unless multiple offers are looming.
The same is true with home sellers. They agonize when Zillow, Trulia or some other big name site places a worth on their property which is less than what they feel it should be.
Often the best way to respond is to show many of the online valuations and not just the one the client is focused on (often that’s either Zillow or Redfin, but some are attached so some other site’s numbers.
What might surprise a lot of people is the huge discrepancy in values given.
Sample auto comp values online
A good exercise is picking a home that you know fairly well and then seeing what the online home valuation tools say for each one. I picked a home that I know and ran the address through several websites that provide automatic pricing info. Here are the results, from low to high:
Not included in online home valuation study:
Eppraisal $2,072,000 (too high)
Included in the online home valuation study:
Collateral Analytics (via Realtor.com) $1,671,000
CoreLogic (via Realtor.com) $1,631,300
NAR RPR $1,617,440 (subscription only for Realtors)
Quantarium (via Realtor.com) $1,566,759
Bank of America $1,504,391
(Please note: the Trulia home value estimator is the same as Zillow’s Zestimate because Zillow owns Trulia.)
From top to bottom, the amount varies by $217,409! That’s a 14% gap between top and bottom. Had we included Eppraisal, it would have been even crazier.
How can the online home valuations disagree so much?
Are you thinking it’s time to pull your home off the market?
many sellers in late fall decide to withdraw unsold properties from the active real estate market
winter can be a good time to sell as the competition shrinks, and some homes look wonderful in their holiday finery
rather than pull your home off the market, you might consider keeping it on, but marketing it differently
we’ll suggest some strategies for holiday home marketing below
If you’ve been trying to sell your home in Silicon Valley but haven’t received an offer yet, don’t despair! With our mild winters, you really can sell real estate any time of year, especially now, when inventory is so low.
When most sellers exit the market after Halloween, we typically see a higher absorption rate as serious buyers will be buying from the available inventory. That means your odds of success are higher!
Should you pull your home off the market? We think not, but don’t keep trying to sell it the same way! (more…)
“Why is that house so cheap?” asks the puzzled home buyer. Is there something wrong with it? Is it a trick to drive up the number of offers or the price? Is it a bad area? Is it too good to be true? Bargain hunting home buyers may delight in purchasing a home at a low price, feeling that they got a great deal.
Often, though, the great deal is a reflection of a defect of some sort – and the defect may or may not be easily fixable. When they go to sell that property, they may find that most buyers aren’t interested and that when it’s sold it’s a great deal for the next owner.
Today we’ll look at the 3 categories of reasons why certain properties get bargain basement prices and make consumers ask “why is that house so cheap?”
strategic pricing by sellers and their agents only, nothing wrong (except a deceptive price)
property problems (that can be mitigated)
location problems (that cannot be mitigated)
Why is that house so cheap – when the list price is a marketing tactic only
We’ve written about the strategy of a price mirage here before. If you didn’t see that article, it comes down to this: a home is priced lower than it’s worth, lower than the seller will accept, in order to get a dozen or more offers that will drive the price sky high. It’s risky to underprice a home in a declining market especially. If the buyers don’t jump on it, it is not that easy to convince later home buyers that it’s worth more than that initial list price. This can work but it is a gamble, and for that reason we don’t recommend it.
By the way, a tool which can sometimes be useful for pricing is Realtor.com. They offer 3 “auto comp” valuations on the listing page of homes for sale. If a property is close to a boundary (zip code, school district, area), it may be off because it seems to just pull sales from 1 mile in all directions. It can also be off if the home is in very poor or extremely excellent condition. Here’s more information on their system: Realtor.com estimates
Defects with the home can make the house so cheap when it sells that you may wonder what happened
A number of problems within the house or yard can cause the home to appeal to fewer buyers, and that will make the home sell for less when it does sell. Since these are in the home or yard, though, they are likely fixable in most cases. Whenever you ask “why is that house so cheap?” you also want to ask “if I buy it, is the problem fixable?” (more…)
Real estate professionals are becoming increasingly aware of the need to exercise caution in their line of work. This is true for both buyer’s agents and seller’s agents. It is good for our Silicon Valley buyers and sellers to be aware of some of these issues, since they could also be at risk.
Quick tips on how to exercise caution:
Meet people you know, or for whom you are able to validate. (With real estate licensees, you can usually find their phone number and email on their company website.)
Don’t presume that because a house is for sale, it’s empty (don’t peer into the windows or walk into the backyard). View the home through the proper channels, either by appointment or during an open house.
Buyers should not be allowed to enter the home without their agent, who is to follow the instructions on the MLS. Some buyers may knock on the door and ask to see it. The answer should be no. It is not safe to let them in.
When hunting for the home you’re trying to see, please be careful, particularly out in the country or in the mountains, where homes are not always well marked. I had two scary episodes in those types of areas, both involving my being on the wrong driveway.
It’s wise to exercise caution when entering a home, even if you have an appointment and your agent is with you. Sometimes communication isn’t great between residents, and it’s possible to surprise someone who’s not expecting you.
Agent colleagues: don’t have your first meeting with a stranger at a home for sale, especially if it’s vacant. (This doesn’t apply to referrals from your past clients, friends, etc., where that person is already vetted.) It is best for consumers and Realtors to initially meet in a public place, such as the realty office or a coffee house, and for others to know where you are during that meeting. Even better, get a pre-approval letter and speak with the lender to make sure the person is legit.
Buyers – exercise caution for your own sake, and for the residents of the home
For buyers who see signs on properties: do not presume that the house is empty and that you can peer into windows or walk around into the back yard of the house. (I have seen people do this and it is creepy at best.) You don’t know the situation – the house could be for sale but not viewable, it could be occupied. Some homes are offered with the instructions that the home can only be seen once an offer is accepted (“write offer subject to inspection”).
The home could be tenant occupied. A resident could be ill. Children could be in the house and if they look up and see a stranger at the window it will scare them badly. Don’t do it. (Most buyers won’t do this, but I have seen it often enough that it warrants saying.)
If you need more information, call your own agent to pull it up on the MLS and give you the info you seek. If you aren’t working with a Realtor, call the listing agent. In all cases, don’t go onto the property except to grab a flier from the box on the sign post. It’s imperative to exercise caution for not just your sake, but everyone’s.
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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