The difficulty with out of area or part time real estate agents

Sometimes part time or out of area agents have no clue what’s happening in the local Silicon Valley real estate marketplace where they are submitting offers, and it really harms their clients!  Here are a couple of things to be aware of:

  1. Your agent needs to SEE the property. It’s really not good enough if the buyer sees the home and the agent swoops in to write the offer.  The buyer and buyer’s agent are a team, and if only one of you has seen the home, you the buyer are at a disadvantage because you don’t look serious or knowledgeable!  If your agent is out of the area, get him or her to the home if you want to buy it.  No excuses.
  2. Know what is customary for the county or area where the offer is being written.  In some areas, it’s normal for the sellers or the buyers to pay certain costs. Get that wrong and the listing agent (and then the seller) will wonder what else you don’t know.  It could be the amount of the initial deposit, the contingency days, or who pays what.    I usually only work in Santa Clara County, but sometimes do find myself in another neighboring county and one of the first things I do is learn the local ropes. (Title companies can tell you what is customary and many have a form online to lay out who usually pays what.)
  3. Make sure your agent TALKS with the listing agent!  Don’t be secretive.  Ask good questions like these: “what is the seller looking for?” “what is included or not included?” and drill down to specifics.  Does the seller want a rent back? If so, find out what terms might work and write them in.  Leaving a blank or not having that rent back addendum is like saying “I didn’t care enough to find out”.

Communication is key, from start to finish.  If you want the house, be consistent.  Don’t be flaky or up and down. Send the consistent message that you wand the home and be unwavering. If the seller’s agent thinks you are up and down, it will make your odds of success diminish.

Additionally – if you or your relatives go through the open house, BE NICE to the listing agent or open house host. Be polite, it actually does count. This is part of the courtship, and if you or your people are not nice, it will not help you to get your home.   Recently I  had an open house where the family members of one of the buyers came through and were downright rude. You can be sure that this did not help, and with all the multiple offers we are seeing, those little things can really add up.

Be the driver and set expectations – make sure that if you want the home that you have a good presentation, both in person and in your paperwork. In this market, a buyer cannot be too careful!




Overheated market, overheated emotions

Overheated MarketThe Silicon Valley real estate market is so overheated in many segments (some areas, some price points) 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 relationships 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.

More reading:

Qualify The Advice You’ll Accept When Buying or Selling a Home in Silicon Valley

Impulsivity and caution in home buying




Selling your home and interviewing multiple agents

Selling your Silicon Valley home? The common wisdom is to interview at least 3-4 real estate agents, ideally from as many brokerages,  before selecting one to work with you on the listing, marketing, sale and escrow of your home.  Many Silicon Valley home sellers don’t do that, though – in fact about half hire the first person they speak with – for better or worse.

But let’s say you’re doing your “due diligence”  and have interviewed a few agents.   How do you dismiss the ones you aren’t hiring?  Today I want to present a few thoughts and ideas on this for you, and I’ll keep it brief.

  1. On the off-chance that your property doesn’t sell with the agent you are now selecting, you want to keep the door open for future business with the other agents whom  you’re not hiring now.  In other words, if the agent you hire today ends up being a dud, you do want to be on good enough terms that you can go back to one of the agents you’re rejecting today to hire later. So # 1, be polite and friendly with every agent, even the ones you aren’t going to employ.
  2. Additionally, many of the agents you are now dismissing may later have a buyer who’s perfect for your home later. So again, be polite and friendly with every agent.
  3. Please remember that for Realtors and other real estate professionals, each listing presentation or buyer presentation is really a job interview.  Just as you would be waiting anxiously to hear back if you’re going to be hired for a position, so do they wait for news to learn if they are employed or not!
  4. It is important for agents to know what you’ve decided, even if they don’t get the job.  If they’ve done a good job, but you’re selecting someone else anyway, do tell them that you appreciate their hard work but are hiring someone else at this time. Sometimes it is really difficult to choose whom to hire if you meet a few stellar agents.   The worst thing is for them to not hear back from you at all, or led to believe that you’re going to hire them, only to have someone else’s sign show up in the front yard.  Almost every agent I know has had this happen and it’s one of the low points of being in real estate when it does happen.

Agents often spend many hours preparing to meet with potential seller clients, studying the market, pulling comps, and gathering presentation materials as well as listing papers, most likely, in case you want to sign with them when they arrive. (One of the worst things an agent can do is to show up at a listing presentation and not be prepared to sign a listing if the clients want to do so – and that does happen at times!) Whether you decide to hire them or not, it’s best for them – and for you – to communicate nicely and clearly what your decision is.


Related Reading:

What do Silicon Valley Real Estate Agents Do?

Selling Your Home in Silicon Valley