Open House tips for home buyers

Dos and Don'ts - open house tips for home buyersInventory is low, and home buyers are swarming open houses. Today I want to provide some open house tips for home buyers so that you don’t damage your odds of success should you want to write an offer on it later.

When visiting the open house, the listing agent may be assessing you while you are assessing the house. Visitors who are rude, combative, or inconsiderate – or perceived as such – may be at a disadvantage when offers are reviewed.  So are those who seem very unsure about the property. Be sure to present yourself as polite and considerate and interested in the home. It can make a difference!

Open house tips: what to do:

  1. Do tell the open house host if you are working with a Realtor, and share the name (or card, if you have it).
  2. If the listing agent or open house host has a sign in sheet, you can fill it in with your first names and then the rest can be your Realtor’s name and contact info.
  3. Do be polite with the agent and regarding the house or condo.
  4. If there are shoe covers provided, either use them, remove your shoes, or ask if you need to wear them at the very least.
  5. Do keep your children with you at all times.
  6. Please speak in normal or quiet tone of voice.
  7. Do keep a good amount of space between yourself or your group and other visitors or the open house host.

Open house tips: what not to do:

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Open houses are returning

Hand Sanitizer - use before entering open houseOpen houses are returning to the California real estate scene, and private showings are also becoming more relaxed, but it won’t be a return to pre-pandemic practices just yet. The announcement that open houses would be permitted caught most of us Realtors (and our managers and brokers) by surprise a couple of days ago, and all of the details are not yet published, but I’ll share what I have learned so far.

Required protocol and open house paperwork

First, a home seller must decide whether or not to permit an open house (and a listing agent if he or she wants to do it). Naturally, there’s a form for that – an addendum to the listing agreement, LOHA (LISTING AGREEMENT OPEN HOUSE ADDENDUM OR AMENDMENT). Here’s a bit of a screenshot to give you a sense of what is required if the seller agrees to have an open house at the property:

Part of the new listing agreement addendum for open houses, LOHA.

If the seller wants the home to be held open, and the listing agent is willing to do it, there’s a bit of protocol to follow. Visitors to an open house must sign in for contract tracing purposes. If you’ve been house hunting over the last 14 months, you are probably used to signing the PEAD-V form for visitors. With that document, the listing agent got your name and saw your electronically signed signature, but that is it. Only your buyer’s agent had your contact info.

As open houses are returning in this transitional phase, the new Property Sign-In (PSI) will ask you for your name, phone number, and email address. This is not for marketing purposes, but for contact tracing purposes only. (Some agents may opt to still use the PEAD, but if so, they’ll need a way to contact you should you end up exposed to COVID-19 at the open house.)

You should expect that at an open house there will likely be a table set up before you can enter where you sign in and use hand sanitizer, which is required. The agent will make sure you are wearing a mask. Some sellers and / or listing agents may have additional requirements, such as your wearing shoe covers (usually provided) or gloves (not usually provided).

You should also expect that it’s possible you’ll need to wait to get inside. This is very important to keep in mind if there’s a heat wave. More on that below. (more…)

Visiting an open house? What to say, and what not to say, to the listing agent if you really want the property.

Open House Behavior TipsSilicon Valley real estate professionals will usually do open houses while marketing their listings, and at these events, they have the opportunity to meet new people who may be interested in the property.  The potential home buyers who truly want the condo, townhouse or house would do well to know that in a hot seller’s market, their behavior at the open house could influence the ultimate outcome as to whether or not they will be the successful bidders when it comes time to present the contracts.

Here, then, are a few tips for aspiring home owners – a few thoughts, Dos and Don’ts  on how to help move the odds into your favor when meeting the listing agent or a colleague of the listing agent’s when visiting the home.

    1. Think of the open house as not just your opportunity to check out the property, but also for the seller’s agent to check you out.  Many people may want the house, but only one buyer or couple will get it.  Make a positive impression.
    2. Do either remove your shoes or at least ask if you ought to do so.  (Or come with your own shoe covers.) Usually the property will be clean and the sellers and their Realtor will want it to remain that way.
    3. Do say hello to the real estate licensee at the home and introduce yourself with your first or full name. If you are working with an agent, tell him or her so. Often you will be seen as a more serious home buyer because of that.
    4. Many agents will ask you to “sign in”.  If so, do that but also make a note there of who your agent is (assuming that you have a buyer’s agent) since often these sign in sheets will be used for follow up and you want to be transparent that you already have your own agent. If you don’t, by the way, you should! If there’s no sign in sheet, do tell the agent that you have a Realtor so that he or she knows this upfront.
    5. Need a Realtor?  Want the listing agent?  Careful there….  If you love the house but do not yet have your own real estate agent, be careful about the way in which you ask the listing agent if he or she can represent you (if that is what you want – which I do not recommend, see related reading notes below*).  Sometimes total strangers will approach the person holding the house open and say things that imply that they do not value the agent’s expertise at all – that they believe that the agent is only an order taker who will complete the paperwork and get a huge commission, of which the buyer wants a slice.  This is not a heart-warming comment to make and in fact is pretty insulting.
    6. Be respectful.  Ask good questions but be careful about what you say regarding the house.  Potential buyers who walk through the house insulting it loudly (I have seen it happen) will irritate the listing agent because that kind of behavior is just unnecessary and nasty. Even asking questions with a really negative edge or tone will make the Realtor wonder if you are “difficult” to deal with.  Keep it pleasant.  Calling an updated home a “fixer” can be off-putting, for instance.
    7. Want to take photos or video?  ASK.  Do not presume it’s ok to start taping or shooting pictures without permission.
    8. Kids:  along the same lines of respect: do keep your kids with you and do not let them run wild or “play” rambunctiously.  Do not let them go onto beds or jump on furniture. It is ok to look in closets or to open kitchen cabinets, but no one should be opening dresser drawers or medicine cabinets.
    9. Need to use the restroom?  ASK.  And then be very careful that it’s clean when you’re done!  Most Realtors have horror stories of parents letting a child use a restroom at an open house and leaving a nasty mess behind that they don’t clean up.  Don’t do it.  This is someone’s home, not a public building.  (And the agent probably doesn’t know where the Lysol wipes are.)
    10. Love the home?  Look serious.  If you are there a very long time, the agent will believe that you are serious about the house.  If you come back the next day with more people, the agent will believe you’re serious about the house.  If you ask some good, thoughtful questions and even take notes, the agent will believe you’re serious about the house.  All of these things will get you noticed and put you on the radar.  If, however, you slide in and out unnoticed, and you never chat with the Realtor there, you will probably not be remembered unless the open house was exceedingly quiet.  With multiple offers, it is best to be perceived as someone serious – so best to be noticed in a positive light.
    11. Do not dominate the listing agent’s time.  It’s good to engage with pleasant conversation and thoughtful inquiries about the house, but please remember that this person must try to connect with everyone there and make sure that others’ questions are answered too.
    12. When it’s time to leave, thank the Realtor holding the open house and say goodbye.
    13. Don’t arrive once the open house is scheduled to be closed. Realtors sometimes have appointments after the open house and don’t want to rush you, but getting there after it should be closed puts them in a bad position.

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Stunning Saratoga Home with Cottage, Pool, and Spa – 14381 Ravenwood Drive, #ML81547144

Remodeled, expanded Saratoga home with guest cottageLooking for a beautifully remodeled, young-feeling home with fantastic curb appeal, an open floorplan,  a stunning kitchen, and a gorgeous back yard? How about one that features a guest cottage, pool and spa and has energy efficient elements throughout? Would you love to have a neighborhood park on a quiet street just steps from your front door? It’s available now and you can view it this weekend!  13841 Ravenwood Drive in Saratoga will be open tomorrow, Saturday Jan 23, 2016, from 1:30 to 4pm and Sunday, Jan 24, 2016, also from 1:30 to 4pm.  Please stop by!

This lovely property has been meticulously expanded, remodeled, and improved down to the smallest details.  The stucco on the exterior of the house was redone in 2011 to match the addition, which has permits and finals.  The beautiful pool is a salt water pool with solar heating.  The house enjoys solar electricity and an endless hot water tank, newer insulation, and water efficient toilets.  The interior features hardwood floors, coffered ceilings, recessed lights, and crown moulding and baseboard throughout.  Both full baths were remodeled and include floor to ceiling tile.

The front door was custom made and the remarkable entry enjoys a limestone tile floor, tall ceilings with a barrell vault, and at the entry to the living areas you’ll see the open living spaces: living, dining, family rooms and the kitchen’s breakfast bar.

QUICK FACTS

  • Total living space appx 2349 (per plans), including cottage
  • Lot size appx 10,259 (per appraisal)
  • Built in 1955. Permitted & finalled expansion of kitchen and entry, addition of new bedroom, upgrades to both full baths completed in 2011

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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!

 

 

 

Visiting Santa Clara County Open Houses? Things to Consider, Do and Look For

This Way OutVisiting Silicon Valley and San Jose area open homes is a great way to get to know neighborhoods, architectural styles and the market overall. I encourage people thinking of buying or selling to visit the opens nearby to get a pulse on the market and what’s “out there”.

A few open house tips, in terms of what to be aware of:

  • feel the floor as you walk through the condo or house: is it level?
  • smell the various rooms – are there candles or other scents intended to mask odors?
  • note the light and time of day, as well as the direction the home and windows face and ask yourself if the home gets adequate light for your taste
  • is the layout good?
  • is there enough storage?
  • if there are problems with the home, can they be fixed?
  • what needs updating or remodeling, or will need it soon?
  • how are the homes, yards, and cars nearby?
  • where are the power lines? are they regular, or high voltage power lines?
  • was the home flipped or being lived in by long term owners?
  • does each room have appropriate furniture, or is it barely furnished to make the room and space appear larger?
  • have interior doors been removed? (this is an old “model home” trick)

The best homes will have presale inspections and disclosures completed which you can view prior to writing an offer.  It can be very helpful to familiarize yourself with the various reports, inspections, and disclosures so that you understand the range of normal. Older homes will not be defect free, and sellers will not make them perfect either – so get a feel for what to expect by perusing some of these if the binders are available during your open house. (Do understand that the agent is likely going to read it as a “buying signal” so explain that you just want to understand how the paperwork looks.)

For more tips on what to include when viewing Santa Clara County homes for sale, please see:
Viewing An Open House  on my main website.

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How to Prepare for Your Open House

Thou Shalt Not ParkIf you’re selling a home in Silicon Valley, it’s likely that you’ll have an open house or two.  How should you prepare for it for it?  Today we’ll go over some tips.

First, plan to be gone during any open house events! (This goes double for pets, with the exception of fish!)  One of the biggest mistakes I see is home owners hosting their own open houses. Bay area home buyers don’t want you there – they feel inhibited and worried that they will say something offensive, so they say nothing and hurry out. Serious home buyers will want to linger and will want to imagine where their furniture will fit. They may be mentally remodeling your home too. But if you’re there, they will be very uncomfortable. Hire a good agent who will handle this task for you (or have someone from that brokerage do it).

Second, make your townhouse, condo or house as close to perfect as possible for the open house. Your property needs to be squeaky clean, safe and inviting. I’m presuming that you’ve already done all the fixes and staging needed generally for selling your home. Here’s a list of a few last minute to-do’s:

  1. Keep your driveway clear of cars so visitors can park there.
  2. Make all walkways free of tripping hazards (garden hoses, toys etc.) – you do not want your buyers to be “on edge”. Don’t water the garden just prior to the open house or guests might slip (or track in more than you want).
  3. Your front door should be impeccably clean!
  4. Color near the front door (front walkway or front porch) is a good “bang for the buck”, so if you have room, provide flowers there. (more…)

Classic 1950 Ranch Style House in Pristine, Original Condition in Quiet Creekside Setting near Downtown San Jose!

Recently I had the pleasure of listing a fabulously unique property for sale.  For those who love “mid century” houses, this one is a must see, as it is in pristine, original condition and is also located in a fantastic location next to Coyote Creek at the corner of two no-through-streets.  It’s a quiet, park like pocket of Central San Jose, off the beaten path yet close to everything!

The address is 402 Terrace Drive, San Jose 95112 and I will be holding it open this weekend, Sept 22 & 23, 2012 from 2-4pm.  A two bedroom, one bath house, this rancher enjoys large rooms and an abundance of natural sunlight from the many, many windows.  Hardwood floors were recently exposed and they are beautiful!  Classic tile work in the kitchen and bath, an art form seldom seen in newer homes!

Please stop by!  Details on this fabulous opportunity follow, or get full details at

http://www.popehandy.com/listings/listing_home.cfm?property_ID=8420410

 

402 Terrace Dr
San Jose, 95112Offered at $399,500
2 Bedrooms
1 Full bath / 0 Half bath
1098 approx sq. feet
Fabulous opportunity! Super cute, sunny, clean, all original 1950s ranch style home in scenic, quiet location next to Coyote Creek. Beautiful hardwood floors, recently exposed. Large living room with brick fireplace. Classic mid-century kitchen & bath. Kitchen offers gas cooking & dining area. Bath features tub & sep stall shower. Oversized 2+ car garage, extra storage, tons of available parking.

 

 

 

Beautifully Updated Santa Clara Condo Near Central Park

Living Room & Balcony at 966 Kiely Blvd, # D

Living Room & Balcony at 966 Kiely Blvd, # D

******** SOLD with 20 offers after 6 days on the market******

So cute, updated, staged – a turnkey Santa Clara condo in a great location near Central Park!

966 Kiely Blvd, # D (cross street Kaiser Drive), Santa Clara

Fabulous kitchen with dishwasher,  new refrigerator, new oven!

One bed, one bath, 670 square feet of easy living in an upstairs unit.

Great closet space – big walk in closet in master, hall closet for guests, oversized storage – linen closet PLUS another storage area in the carport.

Living room with wet bar and private balcony – wonderful for relaxing.

Seller has worked hard to make this home absolutely ready.  There are even a home & pest inspection. Regular sale too. Hurry, it’s ready to sell!

The Santa Clara Condo Market is red hot – but very few properties are similar to this in being updated, a regular sale (not a short sale, not a bank owned property) and ready to go with inspections & disclosures online. (Click the link to read up on the real estate market for condominiums and townhomes in Santa Clara. Real estate agents can get the link for the disclosures on the MLS.)

Offered at $158,888

HOA dues $340 per month

Woodborough community with pool, spa, playground & more  (see photos and all details below)
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How important are open houses?

How important are open housesAre open houses important for getting a home to sell, or for getting it to sell at a higher price?

In Silicon Valley, only a small percentage of homes sell directly from an open house visit by a home buyer. Depending on whose statistics you believe, it’s somewhere in the 5% to 10% range. Some would argue for smaller figures than those.

The best home buyers, who are pre-approved and serious enough to be working with a real estate professional and have their own buyer’s agent, can come whenever it suits both their schedules and the home sellers. But that doesn’t mean that all of them do.  Some serious house hunting buyers may be out on their own, without their agent because they don’t want to “bother” him or her too much. I’ve had clients like that myself, and no matter how much I reassure them that I want to show them homes and prefer it, even, they want to mostly look on their own until they are either more serious or have found something they really love.  It is not uncommon for buyers to phone or email me that they’ve seen a house that they want to buy.  This seems to be a growing trend.

Knowing that the best Silicon Valley home buyers do have an agent, don’t necessarily need open houses, there are some who move from this thought to the idea that open houses are without significant value to the home sellers.  Some Realtors would assert that open houses only get neighbors and “Lookie Lous”, that they are only used by the agent to get new buyers and are a waste of everyone’s time. That’s an extreme position and I think it’s mistaken. (more…)