No one cares about your wet bar

Home buyers do not care about your wet barThis is going to sound a little harsh, but it is true.  Sellers: some, perhaps many of the things which you think are huge selling points are not important at all to today’s home buyers.   Most Silicon Valley house hunters do not care about your wet bar. They care even less about your expensive wallpaper, or your pricey and heavy 1970s era curtains, which they probably hate. In fact, many of the improvements you made when personalizing the home for yourself may have cost you a lot of money, but many California home buyers either won’t like them at all or even find them to be a negative.  That is often the case with wet bars!

If you’re thinking you’d like to sell your home in 2021, keep reading!

If wet bars and wallpaper aren’t important, what is?

Buyers DO care about your foundation (please, no cracks), your roof (hopefully newer with many years left on it), your plumbing (tell us it’s 100% copper).  They care a great deal about updating and remodeling of things seen – bathrooms, kitchen, popcorn ceiling removed – and unseen.  Is the electrical really as old as the house? Is the sewer line on its last leg? Did your disclosures mention that rats are a problem?  Do you have an issue with water in the crawl space which will eventually wreck the foundation? Does your house back up to a train line, school, freeway, high voltage line or something else undesirable which cannot be fixed? Buyers do care about these types of things.  Above all, Silicon Valley home buyers want security.  They want a solid house without problems.  They don’t want to worry. It is scary enough to buy at all! (more…)

Realtors are for informed guidance, not order taking

May take your order pleaeIf you go to a fast food restaurant, you probably don’t need an advisor to help you to decide what you may want to eat. In many cases, it would be wise if you’d consult the nutrition information chart – if it’s readily available – but aside from that, how much help do you need?

Similarly with plane reservations, you most likely don’t need a lot of help in figuring out what flight to book. There are some nuances, though – perhaps one airline has all kinds of hidden fees for luggage, food, and hey, maybe they even want to charge you to use the restroom! Perhaps some have much better “ontime arrival” statistics or fewer lost luggage complaints. Overall, though, you don’t need an advisor most of the time.

Real estate, though, is a complicated process. It’s not like buying a seat on a plane or an ready-made meal at a fast food joint.

The mistake that some consumers make, and that I see once in awhile, is in assuming that they know as much as a seasoned real estate professional, and that input from a Realtor is of little or no value.  This happens with both home sellers and home buyers at times.  Luckily it’s not too common.

Most of the time, Silicon Valley Realtors have a great desire to help buyers and sellers by sharing their experience, insight, and wisdom.  We don’t just “take orders” and fill out listing agreements or contracts if we are full time and full service.  We are able to offer you guidance.  That’s what an agent is – a fiduciary, someone who cares for you and your interests and puts them ahead of the real estate licensee’s own position or interest (i.e., paycheck). (more…)

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!

 

 

 

Selling Your Silicon Valley Home? Don’t Cut Corners: It Will Cost You!

A while back, I showed a newer home in San Jose’s Cambrian area to some great first time home buyer clients of mine. The house has a nice location and fine floor plan. Some elements of the home were really appealing. But unfortunately, the sellers hadn’t made their home “show ready.” They cut corners.

Confident Buyers vs Nervous Buyers
As we walked through the property, my clients and I noted places where there was neglect. The items were generally not big, but unfortunately there were many of them. Had the owners brought in a painter to do minor cosmetic changes (patch and paint), the home could have looked “like new.” Instead, it was as if the home were full of red flags. Talk about making a bad impression!

My buyers asked me what I thought, if what we saw would scare me off.  No, I told them, they all seemed relatively minor to me,  but I did understand their concern.  One of them explained that “if we see things like this, we believe that the sellers have not taken good care of their home; what else is wrong that we cannot yet see?”

Confident buyers write offers and tend to write good offers.  Nervous buyers who are concerned that there are hidden defects (and therefore hidden costs) either don’t write contracts at all or they write lower offers.
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In a buyer’s market, few want to buy, and in a seller’s market, few can buy

Deep seller's marketSome of my buyer clients had been looking casually for the last 2-3 years and now are in a bit of a panic.  Not just any panic, but an exhausted, sick-of-looking panic, accentuated by the fact that prices are now rising pretty noticeably and their buying power is diminishing.

Why is it than when it’s a buyer’s market, and prices are soft and inventory plentiful, buyers are so picky – and when inventory is scarce, and buying conditions terrible and there are gobs of multiple offers, most of them clamor to purchase something, almost at any cost or in any condition?

As real estate professionals, we see this happen as the cycles change.  But it’s very hard, in a buyer’s market, to tell a Silicon Valley home buyer: “hey, you’re lucky, buy now, while it’s easy!” because it always looks so self-serving (since we are only paid if the buyer buys and closes on the transaction) and a buyer’s natural response to this is “hey, don’t push, I’m in no hurry!”  So we tend to step back and let the buyers go at their own pace.  When the market turns, we tell our clients that it is a different game now, but often these home buyers don’t believe us for several months.  Eventually, though, it sinks in and gets so bad that they are nearly despondent and wondering how this could have happened.

Tonight I got an email from avery  discouraged San Jose area home buyer. She told me that they saw an open house of a place that seemed like a good fit, but that it was so packed with people that it felt like a “black Friday sale”.  She told me that when they left that house, she was in tears.  I knew what she meant. I have seen that frenzy, too, due to far more demand than supply. In fact, I showed a Sunnyvale townhouse during an open house on Saturday and it was exactly like that.  I bet the agent gets 20 or 30 offers. (more…)

Do Lots of Research Before Deciding to do a Short Sale on your Silicon Valley Home

Homeowners who are in financial trouble with their property sometimes wait too long to seek help, and then cannot mitigate the situation with a loan modification, a short sale or a deed in leiu of foreclosure. They wait so long and miss so many payments that significant harm is done.  The embarrassment, the sense of failure, the significant feelings of loss can keep home owners from reaching out for advice and guidance. This is happening on a big scale and is happening within my own close circle of loved ones too.

Recently a friend of mine, with whom I’ve done several transactions, informed me that she’d done a short sale with her home through a local attorney and hadn’t wanted to bother me with it, though she knew I’d have been willing to help.  (She was right: I would have.)

I was stunned on several counts, most of all that we hadn’t talked before she did it; I truly think it matters tremendously to do a good amount of information-gathering, and talking with trusted sources, before pulling the trigger on something big like this.  But very often, people become more private when under financial pressure. (Others are virtually in denial.)  This really just makes things worse since they may make huge decisions with insufficient information.
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Why Good Realtors Refer Buyers and Sellers to Lawyers and Tax Professionals for Some Questions

There are a number of things which are related to the purchase and sale of real estate which require the professional guidance of those other than your Realtor, namely a legal or tax professional.  This sometimes surprises consumers.  Once I was discussing one of these areas with a prospective client and she felt quite frustrated and exclaimed, “you know the answer, you just won’t tell me!”  That was many years ago, but I’ve never forgotten it.  Many Silicon Valley home buyers and home sellers assume that they’ll never need to talk to a tax or legal professional, and if advised to do so, may balk.

So let’s talk about it.

In other states, such as New York, attorneys are very involved in real estate transactions. Here in California, though, that’s not the case most of the time.  We call on CPAs and lawyers when there’s a problem or a question which is beyond the real estate licensee’s scope.  I’ll provide a few examples.

Holding Title: Probably the most frequent question I get that I’m not allowed (or qualified) to answer is about how people should hold title when buying a home.  The purchase agreements we use (both CAR and PRDS) lay it out best and puts it in bold so that consumers don’t miss it:

“THE MANNER OF TAKING TITLE MAY HAVE SIGNIFICANT LEGAL AND TAX CONSEQUENCES. CONSULT AN APPROPRIATE PROFESSIONAL.” (newest revision of the CAR contract, April 2010)

Most title companies have a nifty little chart that summarizes the pros and cons of the various ways in which people can hold title.  But neither the escrow officer nor the real estate agent can tell you what’s best for you.  We know what’s most common, but that doesn’t mean it is best for you and your particular set of circumstances.  So talk to a CPA or talk to a lawyer (or both) if you do your research and are at all unsure of what to choose! (Old Republic Title has a summary of the most common ways to hold title in a downloadable pdf file, which you can access via this link.)
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