Our Top Tech Tools for Real Estate (and life)

Living in the Silicon Valley being on top of the latest technology is very important.  Buyers and Sellers are looking for an agent who knows the market, guide you through the tedious process of selling/buying a home, but also speaks their language of technology.   Joe and I are just these agents.  There are so many new “shiny pennies” that are introduced to the market, these are the tech tools that we can not live without, and have been proven to more than a fad.

  1. Waze– Navigation Tool extraordinaire.
  2. Rentometer – Is an amazing tool for working with investors, it can tell you the average rent based on a 1/2 mile or 1 mile radius of the income property based on what is currently being rented and historical trends.  A must have when working with investors.
  3.  Highnote– Great new tool that we had the pleasure of beta testing.  This platform allows you to design BUYER’S GUIDE, SELLER’S GUIDE, make a memorable Offer Presentation, that will set you and your buyers apart from the rest of the pack.
  4. CRM- The best CRM is the one that you use, we happen to use Chime.
  5. Google Calendar- Keeping appointments organized in one place with alerts is awesome.
  6.  Having an Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin profile and pages are great to boost your online presence.
  7.  Realscout – Amazing tool for your clients to search for properties.  Real Scout allows you to list what is important to your clients and focus those attributes to your clients.
  8. Dropbox- Organize documents that can be shared to an entire team.
  9. DocuSign– Allows you to send and sign important documents.
  10. Disclosures.io  – Best tool for sharing disclosures on listings and with your buyers. It has great analytics that allows you to know who is viewing your listings, what they are viewing, how often they are viewing the disclosures and what they look at the most, to be able to know what is most important to them.

Disaster Preparation For Your Pet

This week with all of the PG &E outages, I think this is a great reminder to prepare ahead. This is great information for preparing for a disaster from the Humane Society of Silicon Valley.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, and they can strike at any time. Whether it’s debris from a winter storm blocking access to your home or the next big earthquake, follow these tips to prepare and protect your family and pets. After all, your pet’s best chance for safety in a disaster is you.

Before A Disaster Strikes

Here’s a list of things you can do now, before any type of disaster affects you or your pets. A little
preparation and planning will greatly reduce stress—both yours and your pets’—and ensure their safe return should they be separated from you.

Identification

Make sure all animals have collars with identification tags. Cats should have breakaway collars. Identification tags should include a cell number, in case you are not reachable at home. Ideally, your pets should also have a microchip in case their collars come off. Remember to keep your contact
information for the microchip current, and include a cell number.

Pet First Aid

Consider taking a pet first aid class. In the event of a disaster, emergency services and personnel may be overwhelmed—you may be your pet’s best chance of rescue or medical care.

Practice!

If your dog doesn’t come when called, or if your cat resists going into her carrier, they may need some training too. Familiarize your pets with an evacuation scenario by trying some practice drills—can you
get everybody out of the house in less than five minutes?

Household Safety

You can protect your pets by making sure your house isn’t prone to hazardous conditions during a disaster. Think about your pets’ favorite hangouts or where they hide when they are frightened. Are
heavy items like bookcases secured in place? Are hazardous chemicals secured somewhere where they won’t fall or spill? Are aquariums secured?

Pet Disaster Kit

You should have a disaster kit with supplies for each animal and it should be stored with your own disaster supplies. The kit should be easy to carry or load in the car, and it should be waterproof. A plastic storage tub or a duffel bag works well.
• Food for one week (two weeks is better) – Include all food and treats in your pet’s everyday diet.
Consider single-serving wet food cans, and remember the can opener! A measuring cup and a spoon are useful for serving food.

• Water for one week (two weeks is better)
• Non-spill food and water bowls
• Medications for two weeks (include a small ice chest and/or ice packs for refrigerated
medications)
• Litter pans, litter, and scoop
• Cleaning supplies such as plastic bags for waste disposal, liquid soap, disinfectant, paper towels,
and garbage bags
• A fact sheet – Place in a plastic bag for each pet, in case you need to leave your pets with friends
or at a shelter. Fact sheets should include a recent photo of you with your pet, a description of
your pet (breed, weight, color, and sex), your contact information, your vet’s contact
information, feeding and medication instructions, copies of vaccination records, and microchip
number. A pre-signed veterinary medical treatment authorization is optional.
• Pre-made “Lost” poster for each pet – Include your cell number and don’t forget tape for
hanging the posters.
• Leashes and extra collars or harnesses with identification tags
• Carrier for each pet, for transportation and temporary housing – each animal should have their
own carrier—even friendly animals may fight if stressed. Carriers should be big enough for the
animal to stand, lie down, and turn around. Cat carriers should have room for a small litter pan.
• Blankets or towels for bedding
• Grooming tools and toys
• Muzzle – useful if your dog is aggressive or injured
• Pet first aid kit – basic supplies include:
o Pet first aid book
o Bandage scissors
o Tweezers
o Cotton swabs
o Antibiotic ointment
o Sterile bandages and vet wrap
o Cold packs (for swelling or heat exhaustion)
o Sterile saline solution (for flushing wounds and eyes)
• Radio and flashlight with batteries
• Cash
Replace the food, water, and medicines in your disaster kit every six months.

Buddy System

There’s no guarantee that you will be at home, or able to get home, when disaster strikes. A buddy system provides a backup plan. Find a trusted friend or neighbor, ideally someone who is typically at
home during the hours that you are not. Give them a key to your house, familiarize them with your pets and any medical issues, and make sure they know where to find your disaster kit. If your neighborhood
is evacuated while you aren’t at home, your buddy can make sure your animals are evacuated safely.

Know Where to Go

If you must evacuate your home, think about where to take your animals. Most people shelters will not
take pets. The best option for your animals is for them to stay with a friend or family member outside the disaster area. Decide in advance who will take your animals. Another option is a pet-friendly hotel-make a list of hotels in your area that accept pets.

The PetsWelcome website provides pet-friendly hotel listings.
Another resource is the AAA’s “Traveling with Your Pet” guide.
Keep in mind that boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, and animal shelters are also temporary housing options. However, it’s likely these facilities will be full in the event of a disaster.

Rescue Alert Stickers

It’s good practice to have rescue alert stickers prominently displayed on your house. This will let fire or rescue workers know how many animals are in the house if they must enter your home when you are
not there.

During a Disaster

At the first sign of a disaster, make sure all your pets are confined inside the
house so you can catch them quickly. Also make sure every animal is wearing identification and that your pet disaster kit is within easy reach.

If you must evacuate your home, take your pets with you! Animals left behind may be lost, injured, or killed during a disaster. Even if you only expect to be gone a few hours, conditions could change and your animals may be left without care for days. Don’t wait until the last minute to evacuate with your animals you have a better chance of keeping them with you in an evacuation if you leave early.

You may be asked to shelter at home during some disasters, like a flu epidemic or a chemical spill. Make sure your pet disaster kit is handy so you can care for your animals without leaving the house. You’ll want to have a battery-operated radio on hand so you can hear updates and learn when it’s safe to leave your home.

Lost and Found Animals

If your pets get lost in a disaster, visit your local shelters frequently, and provide them with a detailed description and photo of your pet. Hang your “Lost” posters over a wide area. Be patient—a lost and
frightened animal may stay hidden for days.
If you find animals that appear to be lost, notify your local animal shelter.

After a Disaster

Your animals may not behave like their usual selves after the disaster. Keep them confined indoors until
they get back to normal—a frightened animal is more likely to run away. Also make sure that the disaster didn’t create any hazards for your animals, like broken glass and spilled household chemicals.

For More Information

The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a detailed guide to disaster preparedness for all kinds of animals.

6 to-do’s all sellers need to check off before listing

Borrowed from Inman Article written by Veronika Bondarenko

Regardless of time and budget, some simple tricks can maximize what owners can get for their house.

Few things are as exciting as putting a home on the market — for many clients, it is a rare event that precedes major life changes and milestones. Many have also found a new house that they love and are eager to sell fast so that they can get out of paying two mortgages or waiting to move.

That said, listing a lived-in home without some spruce-ups can seriously downplay its potential. As the agent, you get the pleasure of keeping your clients’ eagerness at bay and making sure they do the little things that will ensure their house sells for as much as possible.

“Gone are the days of throwing it on the market and seeing what happens,” Cara Ameer, a top-producing broker associate from Florida, wrote in an article for Inman. “Prepping for sale is a highly choreographed dance of repair along with a bit of renovation and presentation.”

Here are the six things sellers need to check off before putting a home on the market:

1. Clean, clean and clean again

You’ve seen the home makeover shows. Sometimes, a deep clean is all it takes to get the same home from looking like an abandoned dump to a cute lived-in nest with lots of potential.

Whether your clients choose to hire a cleaning team or do the work themselves, a basic scrub-down is necessary before getting any house on the market.

Scrub the walls and the carpet. Clear the junk drawers, and organize the cupboards. Put up plants and coffee table clutter. Put any stray toys, garden equipment or home tools in storage.

2. Find out what repairs are needed

No one — seller nor buyer alike — wants to be surprised at the last minute by an inspection report. Having one’s own inspector go over potential problems and issues in a pre-listing inspection will give homeowners a realistic picture of what they can get for their home and arm them with the knowledge they need to decide what repairs to make before selling.

HouseMaster President Kathleen Kuhn recommends getting one’s house evaluated for mold, cracks and piping and heating problems.

“Having the listing professionally inspected and disclosing the condition up front to a serious buyer should help minimize last minute surprises and renegotiations,” Kuhn once wrote for Inman. “No party benefits from surprises in a real estate transaction.”

3. Make the necessary repairs

And now comes the part with serious decision-making. Although some will debate whether it is best to put money toward repairs or sell a house as-is and invest into the new one, anecdotal evidence shows that most buyers are drawn away from homes that clearly show signs of needing improvements.

Lights, ceiling fans, faucets and doorknobs are, according to Ameer, just a few examples of fixtures that are inexpensive to replace but breathe new life into a home.

“Let’s face it: buyers buy with their eyes, so now is the time to go through the interior in detail,” she writes. “Are there dents and dings on the walls, scratched moldings or worn paint?”

4. Get the paintbrushes out

A fresh coat of paint is another easy way to get a house looking fresher and newer. At the very least, encourage sellers to cover up any wall stains, cracks and splotches. That said, it might also be a good idea to also give a fresh coat to rooms that simply look stale.

“At $25 a gallon, paint is an inexpensive material that can do wonders for the look of a home,” Jackson Cooper of Jensen & Company wrote for Inman. “If the sellers have it in their budget, they can pick a neutral modern [palette] and paint the whole house.”

5. Don’t ignore the exterior

It’s easy for clients to forget about the home’s exterior and focus on what’s on the inside — it is, after all, where they spend a vast portion of their time. That said, the front of the house, or curb appeal, is the first thing clients notice before they walk into the door.

So make sure the lawn is trimmed, the front door is painted, and old lawn furniture and children’s toys are not blocking the entry to the home.

“When potential buyers pull up to the home and notice how clean and beautiful it is on the outside, they won’t be able to help but get excited for what’s inside the front door,” Cooper wrote.

6. Make the home buyer-friendly

Now that your clients have spruced up their home, it’s time for the open houses. There is a whole art to staging homes beautifully, but the main idea is that the home should allow buyers to envision themselves living there.

Make sure all personal items belonging to sellers are stored out of sight, forget the over-the-top art and furniture arrangements, and declutter hidden areas like closets, the basement and the garage.

“In general, the fewer things your seller has out during the open house, the better,” Anna Johansson wrote for Inman. “Furniture and personal items should be kept to a bare minimum, to allow for more open space and a more neutral scene for your visitors.”

So lay out some potted plants, roll up some towels for the bathroom, and bring out the fresh chocolate chip cookies.

Great article and these 6 items are priceless in the sale of a home.  If you want to learn more about the process of selling a home click on the link to our SELLER’S GUIDE .  As always if you would like learn what your home is worth or have ANY questions, do not hesitate to give us a call at (408) 394-5312 or email at SandyandJoe@climbre.com.  Have an amazing week.

 

Sandy

Buyers’ desire for fireplaces has been extinguished

borrowed from Inman in an article by: Marian McPherson Staff Writer
Only 41% of newly constructed homes have fireplaces, according to the National Association of Home Builders

Is A Partial Exchange A Valid 1031 Exchange?

 

Partial Exchange? Strategies to achieve 100% tax deferral.

Article borrowed from Ron Ricard with IPX-1031. Any questions email ron at ron.ricard@sis.ipx1031.com

A 1031 Exchange allows a taxpayer to defer 100% of their capital gain tax liability.  To do this, the exchanger must buy new Replacement Property equal to or greater than in value to the property sold and reinvest all of the proceeds from the sale of their old property.

But what happens if a taxpayer desires to purchase property lower in value or takes a portion of the cash from the closing of the sale and only invests a portion of their proceeds towards a 1031 Exchange? The good news is that these transactions still qualify for tax deferral under Section 1031 of the Tax Code. They simply become “partial” 1031 Exchanges where the taxpayer has a partially tax deferred transaction rather than deferring all of their taxes.

The portion of the exchange proceeds not reinvested is called “boot” and is subject to capital gains and depreciation recapture taxes.


If you fit into these scenarios:

  • Taking cash at the sale of the Relinquished Property Example: Randy is selling his rental townhouse for $1,000,000. At the close of escrow he wants to receive $100,000 to invest in the stock market and utilize his remaining funds for his 1031 Exchange.  The $100,000 is not part of the tax deferred exchange. If the seller takes any cash from the sale, that amount becomes taxable boot.
  • Buying Down in Value Example: Randy is selling his rental townhouse for $1,000,000 and plans to utilize a 1031 Exchange to defer his taxes.  However, he can only locate new property with a sales price of $800,000 that he desires to purchase. The $200,000 not reinvested into like kind property will be taxable

but your goal is to defer 100% of your taxes, consider these potential solutions:

  • Instead of taking cash from the sale of the old Relinquished Property, reinvest all the proceeds into new Replacement Property and then do a cash out refinance in a separate transaction after the closing. It is generally considered less risky to refinance the new Replacement Property (rather than the old Relinquished Property) through a separate post-closing transaction.
  • Offset the gain on part or all of cash withheld with carry forward losses or expensing deductions for that tax year.
  • If you cannot locate enough property that equals or exceeds the value of your old Relinquished Property, consider acquiring a fractional interest in additional Replacement Property, such as a beneficial interest in a Delaware Statutory Trust (DST). DSTs allow taxpayers to acquire small fractional interests in portfolios of properties such as multi-family housing, student housing, storage locker facilities, etc.

The important point is to not assume that you to need to pay taxes if you cannot locate property at the right values or have a need for cash. Everyone’s tax situation is different so always seek the guidance of a tax advisor prior to beginning your transactions.

More existing homes will come equipped with smart tech

Article Borrowed from Inman, Written By: Veronika Bondareiko

80% of new home buyers opted for smart home upgrades, according to a new study by Harvard researchers

If you thought smart homes were just a passing trend, think again. Buyer demand for devices that enable remote control or home monitoring systems will continue to grow not only for new homes but also existing ones, according to a survey from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

In general, homeowners are excited about installing smart home technology such as smart locks, virtual voice assistants and home monitoring systems, and those under 45 years old and those with high incomes are most likely to value smart technology. Thirty percent of all people surveyed were likely to install these products.

“Smart home technology — widely understood as devices that enable remote control and/or monitoring of household systems — is expected to be a major area of growth for the remodeling industry over the coming years,” the survey reads.

JCHS tabulations of The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, “Top Smart Home Technologies for Mature Homeowners.”

After analyzing recent studies on home technology, the researchers concluded that demand for smart home devices will grow even more than it already has. One of the studies they looked at found that 80 percent of new home buyers chose to include smart home upgrades in their house in 2017.

While many new homes now come already equipped with smart home technology, the findings show that homeowners are increasingly looking to add these products to existing homes. The demand for devices that can be controlled from a phone or tablet is particularly high, with one study findng that 62 percent of consumers want their smart home devices to be connected to one another through some sort of central hub.

However, some home buyers are concerned about safety and privacy. A separate study found that three-quarters of those surveyed worry about personal data being used without their permission. Nonetheless, only 28 percent of consumers in the U.S., Canada, France, Australia, UK and Japan refuse to buy smart home technology due to these worries.

The smart home industry is also marketing their products as a way to assist older adults. Fifty-one percent of homeowners over 50 have installed some of these devices with the purpose of enhancing security, saving energy and making day-to-day life easier.

Overall, many remodeling companies and contractors have seen increased demand for home automation devices. More than 50 percent installed them regularly while 28 percent of remodelers surveyed said they have already observed increased income from these devices.

“In short, we know a lot about the rapidly growing smart home tech industry but there are holes in our knowledge, particularly with regard to how this technology is actually integrated into remodeling projects,” the study concludes. “What is the role of manufacturers in driving installations of smart home tech products in the context of traditional home remodeling projects?”

Pet Safety Tips For July 4th

We have an amazing country and I am so proud to be an American.  I love celebrating our great nation but the tradition of fireworks and the loud noises that follow can be scary to our pets. More pets go missing on July 4th than any other day of the Year.  Here are some tips that can keep you pet safe on Independence Day (night).

Microchip Your Pet

Statistics show that 1 in 3 pets will be lost at some point in their lives and Fireworks spur a 30% increase in pet runaways.  If not micro chipped 17% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats will ever find their way back home.  Over 94% of pets with a microchip will be successfully reunited with their families.

Put a Collar on your pet

Microchip is great.  Collars  with  current contact information is a MUST in addition to the chip.  If your pet runs away it is easier for their rescuer to call the number on the tag instead of bringing the pet to the vet to scan the chip.  Collars can come off so best to have both.

Take a Hike

Go on a nice long walk or hike on the fourth before the festivities begin.  A tired pup is a happy pup.

Leave you Dog at Home!

Loud  noises can scare them into taking off or they may accidentally get burned by the fireworks.  Dog behaviors have a tendency to change the older they become.  Sometimes when they are younger they have no issues with fireworks and loud noises and then all of a sudden they become very anxious.  My yellow Lab Lincoln at the age of 5 became very scared to to point of shaking and hiding in the bathtub to avoid the noise.

Secure your Home

It is best to have all of your windows shut, blinds closed, gates secured and music on to drown out the noise from fireworks.  Don’t put on a TV station that may turn into a fireworks display later in the evening.

Treats

Nope, your dog or cat did not pay me to put this one in here.  Leave something that will keep them busy for a while, a bone or we use a Kong with peanut butter on the bottom treats in the middle and peanut butter on top and  freeze it for a day.  It takes the dogs a while to work on.

Come Home Before the Fireworks

If your animal is afraid of the noise, come home before the noise starts.  Your pets may be calmer  with you home.  Things that we have tried, herbal sedatives, thunder shirt, and lots  of hugs and love.  If your pet has a severe case of anxiety a mild sedative from the vet might be the trick.

Leave Extra Water Out

When a pet is anxious they will usually drink a lot more water.  Leave extra bowl of water out.

(Sorry to be a buzz kill) Have a Fun Holiday:)

Have a great 4th but just take the above precautions to keep our best friends safe.  In many neighborhoods, mine included, celebrate  with fireworks for several days after the holiday so these tips should be followed for the weekend as well.

Sandy’s July Real Estate News and Introducing Vantage by Climb

We can’t believe that July 1st is on Monday, the year is flying!!!  We wish you and your families a very safe and fun holiday.

Climb Real Estate has just launched a monthly newsletter called Vantage. This month is the Pride edition.  I, Sandy, have the honor of being the featured agent of the month.

Here is a link to my monthly Sandy’s Real Estate News.  This issue has, 12 questions you wish you asked before you moved in, and several other great articles.  It also features Joe’s get to know him video.

7 myths buyers actually believe

Article borrowed from Inman, written by Cara Ameer

As is the case with nearly every significant purchase someone makes, the armchair experts come out in force: Whether that entails buying a car, computer or home, everyone has something to say.

Friends, family, neighbors, friends-of-friends, co-workers, cousins and relatives near and far are all self-proclaimed “experts” when it comes to buying a home. And if a buyer does’t have a tribe of so-called “experts” they can trust, everything one needs to know about buying a home can be learned from home improvement and real estate television shows.

Advice ranges from avoiding a particular area or neighborhood, only buying homes that are more than 10 years old or avoiding new construction because they don’t build them like they used to.

Other advice buyers have been given ranges from never paying full price, only considering brick homes, avoid buying a corner lot — and don’t forget — you don’t want to buy a home with skylights because they leak.

The list of what a buyer should or shouldn’t do goes on and on.

Opinions are exactly that and can lead to false perceptions or fears that are unfounded. Incorrect assumptions can cause a buyer to have unnecessary frustrations and false expectations about the buying process — versus what really should happen.

By debunking these myths, a buyer has a better chance of embarking on the arduous home buying process with more a realistic understanding. They’ll therefore be better prepared for the major endeavor.

Here are seven myths about the buying process — busted! Share them with your friends, family and potential clients.

1. Agents are paid a salary by the brokerage and the commission is ‘extra’  

Guess what? The agent only gets paid at the end of the transaction through a commission. Meanwhile, the best agents will work their tails off to get buyers their dream houses.

That usually entails at least 20 trips back and forth to show buyers homes, finding out answers to the buyers’ questions, triangulating between the listing agent, homeowners association, county and city, researching public records, making phone calls to the mortgage lender with continually revised closing cost spreadsheets prepared with different down payment scenarios and interest rates.

We must then spend the time explaining how all this works to the buyers, write offer after offer and cancelling or rearranging personal plans so that we can show the buyer a house so they don’t miss out.

All of that is done without a paycheck the day the agent starts working with the buyer.

If the buyer decides to purchase and purchase through that agent, and only ifthat transaction goes to closing will the agent get paid.

How long the process takes from end to end is anyone’s guess, and could range from a couple of months to years, depending on the buyer.

2. Every home that’s for sale can be found on consumer websites

Not exactly. You see most multiple listing services (MLS) share their database of properties for sale (and rent) through a feed that syndicates to numerous websites.

Not all of these websites update regularly or show the true status of a property.

In fact, most times properties that are shown for sale that are in fact no longer available and are under contract or sold.

So, by relying on consumer websites, you could be missing out on a hot new listing that just hit the market before it shows up on sites other than the MLS.

Furthermore, working with an agent affords you access to properties that may not be formally on the market yet through their network of contacts.

This could include someone who is interested in selling but had not taken any steps to put their property on the market.

3. There is nothing wrong with calling listing agents to see if homes we are interested in if our agent is not available

Buyers tend to think, “We hate to bother them every time there is something we see of interest.”

This approach can and will backfire on a buyer.

A listing agent’s job is to represent the seller. Buyers who ask them to show their listing put everyone in a precarious professional situation. Agents don’t like to step on other agents’ toes and do not want to be put in an awkward situation.

While buyers can still use whatever agent they want to assist in writing an offer, the entire scenario can create a lot of bad feelings with the listing agent being put out after doing a lot of work meeting the buyers at the property and providing information and details, and so forth.

If a buyer has an agent, they need to work through their agent for all showings. Agent communities are small worlds in that word will get out very quickly about the buyers calling every listing agent in certain areas to see homes on their own.

Listing agents will grow suspicious and will surely want to know which agent the buyer is working with, whether they have been pre-approved and what their status is, as far as being able to buy a home.

4. A house ‘passes’ or ‘fails’ an inspection 

False. The purpose of a home inspection is to provide an overview of the home’s condition at the day/time the home was inspected, along with an assessment of each component in the home as to whether it is functioning in the manner which it was intended to do. An inspector does not state whether a home “passes” or “fails.”

5. A buyer can and should ask for every item found on an inspection report to be fixed, whether it is an actual repair or even cosmetic in nature

Not so fast. Inspections are a negotiation point. Just because an inspector puts it on a report does not mean it is something that has to be requested to be addressed.

An inspector needs to be thorough in their observations for the purpose of raising an awareness and informing the buyer about the property they are going to purchase.

While a buyer should discuss with their agent what repairs — if any — should be addressed by the seller, this is another negotiation point in the transaction that could involve some back-and-forth, depending on what is being requested.

It will likely be a compromise. If an item is a suggested improvement — such as adding gutters, this is something the seller will likely not do.

The seller may prefer to reduce the price or offer a credit toward closing costs in lieu of them doing some or all of the repairs. (not really applicable in the super competitive Bay Area Real Estate market)

6. The lower I offer, the more the seller will come off of their asking price 

Au contraire, my friend. In real estate, usually the lower the offer means the less the seller will counter — or in some cases — not at all.

Unless it is truly justified, offering a significantly lower price for the sake of it can put the seller off. They may think the buyer is not serious and completely shut down.

The buyer will then have to come back at another price to see if they can get the seller to restart negotiations.

7. The bank will send someone out to tell me if I’m paying too much 

Not exactly. The lender doing your mortgage loan will send out an appraiser to conduct a valuation of the property for the bank  that will be providing the loan.

The appraiser will not tell the buyer what to pay. An appraisal is subjective and defined as an art and not a science. Some appraisers are more conservative in their adjustments, and some are more generous, all while staying within lending guidelines.

If an appraisal comes in at less than the price you are paying for the home, that does not obligate you to buy the house, but at the same time, that does not mean the seller must sell it to you at the appraised value.

This becomes a renegotiation point between the buyer and seller. Both parties could agree to split the difference, or the seller could come down in price but not want to offer other concessions that they had previously agreed to, such as paying for closing costs, a home warranty or doing repairs.

If the market is really hot and the property is in high demand, then the buyer may have to pay out of pocket for the difference.

Take a moment to check our Buyer’s Guide.

This guide will let you know more about my partner Joe and myself. Individual video’s to get to know us better.  It goes into Customary practices of who pays for what in what area, how to hold title, property tax timeline, and so much more.  Who you work with does matter.  We would love to hear from you.

Sandy Sicsko and Joe Borromeo DRE# 01915526 & 01925793

Sellers: Don’t even think about listing till you answer these 10 questions

Borrowed from Inman in an article by NICOLE SOLARI

1. What level of attention and expertise do you need from a listing agent?

Some sellers want a consultant who provides real estate expertise and backs off while sellers make final decisions and hire vendors to get the property in what they consider to be listing condition.

Other sellers have mentally moved on and want the listing agent to do everything but write the checks.

2. What market-specific information do you have or have a plan to acquire?

To keep a home from sitting on the market, timing the sale to coincide with months of greatest buyer activity is smart. Prime selling season can vary from city to city, region to region and state to state.

Only an experienced, local real estate agent can guide you on the best market timing for your property. Spring might be optimum to put properties on the market in general, but some markets — like ours in the Bay Area — are also lively from Labor Day through Halloween.

While that market cools with the weather, ski resort sales heat up when the snow falls.

3. Do you know who your likely buyer will be?

An agent who sells a lot of properties similar to yours is apt to have a better feel for which properties appeal to specific groups of buyers, which means they get snapped up fast while others linger on the market.

What property condition and features do your probable buyers demand before they make an offer?

If you don’t know what appeals to whom and aren’t ready to interview agents, plan to spend your weekends visiting open houses similar to yours in what you think will be your broad price range. Then, pay attention to who attends the open house, as well as what the house looks like.

4. Do you understand that today’s buyers expect homes to look like properties they’ve seen on HGTV?

What that means in real life is staging a home to sell is no longer optional in most markets. Do not think that watching HGTV qualifies you to stage your own home in a way that hits the right buttons with buyers.

Also, do not think that because you’re an “artist” or you studied interior design in college that you understand how good stagers merchandise a house.

You just don’t. You need professional help with this every bit as much as you need a plumber to replace the kitchen sink. This is not a DIY opportunity!

5. Are you aware that in the wake of the housing crisis of a decade ago, mortgage lending standards have changed dramatically?

Is financing readily available for your property? If not, sellers — or their agents — need to get financing options nailed down and addressed — to the extent possible — any issues that might affect whether buyers can find a lender to offer a mortgage on specific properties.

6. Do you know how to price your property?

For starters, get off the computer. Real estate website “estimates” are calculated mathematically. Algorithms simply cannot take into consideration which properties are in a sought-after neighborhood and which, although they might be mere blocks away, are not.

  1. So, while you’re spending weekends visiting properties that resemble yours, pay attention to prices on homes in different neighborhoods.
  2. Factor in property condition versus buyer expectations. Buyers bid on properties based on appearance and how the space will work for them. They will pitch fits if anything much is wrong with the structure or mechanical systems. But sound systems don’t sell houses. Cosmetics do.
  3. Plan to list at a reduced price if your property or neighborhood is affected by significant negative factors that are outside your control. That would include things like your neighbor’s new hobby raising peacocks, the lawsuit filed against your homeowners association (which means banks have stopped lending there) or your home’s location in an area undergoing a five-year utility undergrounding program, which shuts down streets Monday-Friday. Uncontrollable variables are crazy-making. But, by definition, they are not controllable. So, deal.
  4. Mortgage interest rates affect pricing, too. When interest rates go up, the number of buyers at entry levels dwindles. And that affects home prices from the bottom of the market up.

7. Do you know what a realistic sales timeline is in your market for properties similar to yours?

Depending on its current condition, count on spending two weeks to two months to get your property in shape before it goes on market.

If you haven’t done anything to keep the property updated, be aware that buyers expect to pay much less for properties they must immediately go to work on. And some buyers won’t touch them at all.

So, if you’re thinking of selling, getting home and/or pest inspections up front can save you a lot of anguish and prep time.

Staging and professional photography adds another week to the timeline, sometimes more if the weather isn’t cooperative, as many markets experienced this winter and well into spring.

The first week to 10 days after a property goes on the market is dominated by listing agency office tours, broker caravans and public open houses. So you’ll spend more time out of your house than in it.

Once that frenzy has passed, unless you’ve moved out, you’ll be living in a staged home and vacating it for showings — along with other family members and pets. This period is, hopefully, short. Even then, it will feel like an eternity.

Once the property is in contract, you will generally have another 30-45 days to get packed up and move out.

The good news is, during that time, you won’t have to endure many additional showings. Of course, inspectors will be examining every crevice of your home for the first couple of weeks. But, they’re not much swayed by staging, although a home that’s a total wreck doesn’t usually earn high marks.

8. What’s next?

Now is not the time to go all “leap and the net will appear.” You need to know where that net is going to be.

At least, out our way, the housing shortage is real, especially for those vacating homes who plan to rent. So, it’s prudent to know what your next move is.

9. Do you know what you don’t know?

No. You don’t. Good agents in your area, however, do know what you do not. So, if you’re even thinking about selling, start looking for the best agent for you immediately. Agents like long lead-times and are happy to talk to you early in the selling process.

10. Have you ever heard the expression ‘you get what you pay for’?

You should probably keep that in mind when the siren song of the cut-rate broker falls on your eager ear. If you don’t know what you don’t know, I’m here to tell you the biggest thing you don’t know is how much a cut-rate broker can actually cost you. But maybe you need to find out for yourself.

Take a moment to check our SELLER’S GUIDE.

This guide will let you know more about my partner Joe and myself. Individual video’s to get to know us better.  It goes into Customary practices, of who pays for what in what area, and so much more.  Who you work with does matter.  We would love to hear from you.