Planning to sell your Silicon Valley home? Hire your Realtor before making any big decisions!

Hire FirstSeveral times in recent years I have represented buyers in transactions where the seller’s side of the escrow seems to be a little messed up.  In most of those cases, the problem was a result (directly or indirectly) of the home seller doing too much prep work before hiring an agent.  That is really putting the cart before the horse, is a waste of money and it can cause harm to you, the seller, down the road.

In a couple of instances, the sellers ordered pre-sale inspections first and hired a real estate licensee later.  What could be wrong with that?  Like all professionals, there are better and worse inspectors (and better and worse companies).  There are firms with fantastic reputations for honesty, thoroughness, and reliability. And then there are the duds.

Most of my real estate colleagues have a preferred vendor or two, but also have a long list of professionals whom they would trust to inspect a property and do a good job of it.  Most home sellers, though, do not have much experience with inspectors and do not know these companies by reputation.  More than once, I’ve heard sellers picking a national brand due to name recognition.  That may be OK some of the time, but it’s sure not how most real estate agents would suggest hiring anyone!

When you hire a Realtor or other real estate licensee in a full service capacity (which is what happens most of the time), you are paying not for just the MLS entry, the negotiations, the fliers etc., but the whole transaction package, from start to finish. You’re paying for advice and guidance and that can begin long, long before there’s a sign in the yard.  Why not take advantage of that guidance from the very beginning, with basic input on decluttering and staging and then which inspections to order – and for those, get a list of trusted sources from the real estate professional you hire.

As for the sales in which the seller made a poor inspection choice, in one case it cost that home owner about $10,000 and in another a lost sale.

There are many decisions you’ll need to make when selling your home.  You don’t have to go it alone!  Hire a great agent or broker to work with you and take advantage of your trusted resource from the very beginning. That will save you time, money and stress in the long run!

If you found this informative, there’s plenty more to read. Try one of these related posts:

Hiring an Agent to Help You Sell or Buy a Home in Silicon Valley

How to get a great buyer’s agent in a seller’s market (when most Realtors would rather assist home sellers)

How do you choose a real estate agent whom you trust?

Thinking of Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Get It Right The First Time if You Go On The Market!




Your choice of lenders may impact your odds of success when bidding on a home

For many Silicon Valley home buyers, the selection of a lender may have everything to do with rates, or personal referrals, or a “brand name”. But did you know that your choice of lender may impact your odds of success when bidding on a home? It is true.

With multiple offers, all kinds of things are factored in.  Many times, the listing agent may have had a positive or negative experience with a banker or mortgage broker, and that  will color how your offer package is received. Some lenders and banks have a wonderful reputation for ontime performance (to steal a phrase from the airline industry). Others, not so much.   Some of the biggest banks may be the worst to deal with because they have a bad reputation within the industry.

Today it’s very common for home buyers in the san Jose area to have their own lender picked out before ever speaking with their future buyer’s agent.  (It used to be more the norm to find the real estate agent first, then find a lender whom he or she had suggested.)

Before deciding upon a lender, chat with your Realtor or other real estate professional about this issue or reputation. Right now, multiple offers are very common in Santa Clara County.  If you expect to be in a multiple offer situation, it is vitally important that you team up with a lender with a stellar reputation.  If you don’t, you may find it even harder to buy your next home!




Direct Lender vs Mortgage Broker: Does it Matter for Buying a Silicon Valley Home?

If you are in the market to buy a Silicon Valley home, you’ve probably noticed that about 1/3 of all real estate listings are distressed sales. Of those, most are short sales but some are REOs or “Real Estate Owned” by a bank or lending institution.  Most Silicon Valley REO listings, and even a few that aren’t bank owned, have comments from the listing agent insisting that the buyer be pre-approved from a direct lender. Some will go so far as to insist that it be Wells, Chase, B of A or some other institution. Or even that the buyer be pre-approved via that listing agent’s hand-picked lender.

Why all the fuss about direct lenders? Isn’t a pre-approval from a mortgage broker just as good? Isn’t that asking a bit much to tell buyers who gets to see their financial info?

Pre-Approval versus Pre-Qualification

Typically, in my experience, when a bank or credit union (both are direct lenders) issue a pre-approval letter, it’s only after the buyer has actually submitted everything (pay stubs, taxes, bank account names etc.) and the info has been verified by the bank, submitted to underwriting and OK’d for a window of maybe 90 days to complete the sale. When they say a consumer is pre-approved, they mean it (the vast majority of the time).  In other words, direct lenders usually don’t write fake pre-approval letters.

Mortgage brokers sometimes do.  (Not the better ones, of course.) What they have in hand may really be enough for only a pre-qualification (or “pre-qual”), not an actual pre-approval.  But sometimes mortgage brokers will issue a pre-approval letter.  We Realtors know that this is not an uncommon problem, and many of us don’t trust a letter from such a lender if the loan agent is an unknown person to us for that reason. With mortgage brokers there’s a crisis of credibility and that’s Problem # 1. (This is not always the case, of course. Many mortgage brokers are very careful and thorough so I am not saying that they are all terrible!) (more…)