Viewing Silicon Valley Homes for Sale: What to Expect

What should you expect when you go to visit homes for sale in Silicon Valley? Here are a few quick tips.

  1. Many home sellers in the San Jose area will ask that you remove your shoes. So wearing slip ons of some kind will be a lot easier than footwear with laces, buckles, zippers etc.
  2. Most of the time, sellers will not be home.  They wisely will clear out, when possible, to give you the space to look without feeling like you’re imposing on them.  Sometimes, though, for any number of reasons, this may not happen.
  3. If sellers are home, they will usually answer the door or, worst case, respond when the agent and buyers enter and announce themselves.  Once in awhile, though, there’s a surprise seller somewhere in the house.  (Maybe one time in a hundred?  I have run into people who were in bed, in a shower, on a couch and simply not responding.)  So be alert when viewing homes, be cautious, or it could be like that scene in “E.T.” where ET and the little girl see each other and scream their lungs out.
  4. Pets are usually not present and loose, but again, sometimes there’s a misfire, so be on guard for dogs and cats (more likely the latter).  If dogs are present and loose I usually will not show the home. I love dogs and own one, but they’re not all equally friendly.
  5. Personalization:  usually sellers will have decluttered and depersonalized their homes so that you and other home buyers can “see themselves” in that space.  For some sellers, particularly seniors, it can be very difficult to remove those items until the moving van is in the driveway.  So be prepared to see at least some homes with an inordinate amount of stuff, whether it’s family photos, collections, religious imagery or worship space, rooms not being used for their intended purpose, and so on.  In these places, you’ll need to be able to see past what’s currently there as the personal items can be confusing.  For instance, I have seen family rooms used as dining rooms, dining rooms used as hobby rooms, bedrooms used as prayer or exercise rooms, garages divided into several smaller rooms (with easily removable walls), etc.
  6. Normally, homes are clean and pleasant to see.  Sometimes with distressed properties, tenant occupied (unmotivated residents), homes with invalid residents, or other physical or emotional situations the home may be a wreck.  Know that you will probably see a wide spectrum of care for the house and yard.

What about your behavior in the home?  Most home buyers are very considerate but here are a couple of things to think about.

In addition to removing your shoes if requested to do so, you should plan on making sure any little members of the family stay with you and are “gentle” on the home and belongings.  Children can move fast and not all homes are child-proofed.  (I have seen kids go in the opposite direction as their parents and then jump on the home seller’s furniture, open drawers of furniture, etc. – not good.)  I worry the most when the sellers have a cat and the buyers have a toddler – often not a perfect combination.  In fact, sellers and agents usually want your group to stay together and not go in opposite directions no matter what the ages are.

Home sellers usually understand that someone may need to use the bathroom while there, but in general, of course, they’d rather that this not happen.  If you or your kids need to use the restroom, please check afterward to make sure that everything’s clean.  The other day I visited my listing and when I went into the master bathroom there were big splotches of urine on the toilet seat. Not cool! (And if the seller is home, of course you should ask permission first.)

If the sellers are home, it’s good to keep any feedback to yourself until you have left the property (or to share it quietly so as not to be overheard).

These are the basics. Happy house hunting!




Client control: what it is, and why it benefits everyone involved

Client control“Client control” is a strange sounding phrase. It almost seems manipulative! But that is very far from the truth.  It’s something helpful which benefits buyers, sellers and real estate agents. What is it, then?

Essentially, client control refers to home buyers and sellers behaving themselves.  Most of the time, Silicon Valley real estate consumers have a fairly good idea of what is appropriate behavior (what is expected of them and of the other party) when buying, selling, or getting through the ‘sale pending’ period.  When they don’t, their Realtor or salesperson should be providing some guidance (communicating, teaching, coaching) on what to do or not to do, and what are appropriate expectations.  When expectations are incorrect, unhappiness ensues.  It is all about expectations!

Anyone familiar with children can see the parallel with raising kids. Children who do not understand boundaries end up being miserable, and they take everyone else around them into their misery.  It’s the same with “out of control” clients.  Most Realtors try to ascertain upfront whether or not it will be possible to have a good working relationship with potential buyers or sellers between them and also in escrow.  Are they honest? Polite? Considerate? Reasonable? Teachable or coach-able? And perhaps other criteria as well. If not, it won’t be worth it to try to represent them in a transaction. It would be a giant headache.

This is true in other professions too.  I’ve known doctors and lawyers (including my dad, when he was practicing law in San Jose) to fire their patients and clients at times.  Recently I saw an article written by an attorney on this same topic. Brian Tannebaum wrote a post entitled  The Practice: Client Control, Before It’s Out Of Control  and wisely stated “I believe in the philosophy that sometimes the best client is the one you turn down”.  This is exactly the same in realty. (more…)