“Positive demographic factors should continue to reshape the housing market, as rising employment and incomes appear to be positively influencing millennial homeownership rates.”
“Even as more homes come on the market for this traditionally popular sales season, they're flying off fast, with bidding wars par for the course. Home prices have now surpassed their last peak, and at the entry level, where demand is highest, sellers are firmly in the driver's seat.”
"I am guessing we will see it get even better… If you are considering moving, it could be a really good time to sell."
"The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month. Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings…for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does."
“Despite higher mortgage rates, the potential for home sales increased on an annual basis driven by steady income and job growth, along with a surge in building permits. While it may be a little late for this spring, the increase in building permits is a welcome sign that some relief may be in sight for the inventory shortages that are holding back many markets from realizing their full potential this spring.”
Welcome to 2017! Now that we’ve gotten our feet wet (no pun intended on this Stormy day) let’s do a quick recap of the year just ended and the year to come.
Suffice it to say that 2016 is one for the record books, with some astounding numbers. What fueled the housing market? Record low inventory, record low interest rates, record high sale prices, and record high demand. For example:
Take San Carlos, one of the hot, hot markets for so many reasons (nice community, great schools, great location, forward-minded development, more affordable than neighboring towns of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and more), where the highest sale price for a single family home was 806 Alameda, which sold for $9.8 million. Granted, the value of this sale is the nearly six acres that accompany the home, and the buyer is a developer who will be working on a new neighborhood of what I expect to be high-end single family homes. But nonetheless, it is one for the books. It is followed by the sale at 138 Queens Ct, a 4200 sf home that sold for $3.95 million. And guess what, that wasn’t the only San Carlos home that sold for more than $3 million. A total of 14 homes sold for more than $3 million last year; another nine sold for over $2.5 million. San Carlos is no longer a sleepy little town when it comes to real estate.
With multiple offers abounding last year, the highest overbid was for the home at 696 Cordilleras, listing at $2.050 million and selling more than $2.637 million, followed by the home at 1017 Walnut, which listed at $2.498 million and sold for $3 million, as well as 620 Terrace, listing at just under $1.9 million and selling for 2.4 million.
And price per square foot? How about 2079 Alma, a 1,500 sf home on a 9,000 sf lot that sold for $2.1 million, or $1,400/sf. And then there’s 2211 Howard, a 1,332 sf 3/2 home which sold for $1.8 million, or $1,351/sf, or 1324 Cordilleras, an original 1,170 sf original 2/1, that sold for $1.551 million, or $1,326/sf.
If we move one town over to Redwood CIty, we see a slightly different picture, with many homes selling for list or even under, as well as many selling for over list. Were sellers’ expectations set too high? Or is this a predictor of a changing market?
Not to say RWC is a bargain in any sense of the word, with the highest priced home, 1090 Lakeview Way, a new, 5350 sf home on the lake, selling for $5.575 million. In RWC, a total of 10 homes sold for $3 million or more, and an additional 18 homes sold for $2.5 million or more.
Overbids may not have held up to the numbers in San Carlos, but many homes sold for 100k, 200k, 300k over list, if not more, which still requires significant mind shifts on the part of buyers. Consider 455 Upland Rd, listing at $2.640 million and selling for $2.950 million. Or 21 Woodhill Drive, listing at $2.598 million and selling for $2.940 million. Or 839 Chesterton, listing at $1.799 million and selling at $2.105 million. I think you get the general idea.
And p/sf in RWC? Well, 25 Summit Dr, an 810 sf 2/1 on a 6,890 sf lot sold for $1.2 million, or $1,481/sf. Or 518 Hillcrest, selling at $1.150 million, or $1,386/sf. Or 1651 Virginia, selling at $1.160 million, translating to $1,365/sf. Amazing numbers, especially when the homes are small with no or only some updating.
You can go up and down the Peninsula and get variations on the same theme for Real Estate 2016.
So what’s in store for the year to come? Change. Rising interest rates, which cut into buyers’ purchasing power. Increase in inventory? I don’t expect anything dramatically different. Supply and demand may begin to level a bit, and of course, consumer confidence will always play a large role. With the changes coming in our government and all the side effects that may result, we’re probably a little more unclear than we have been for the past many years. Having said that, having your own home is ALWAYS the best option if at all possible. If you’re ready to make a change of your own, please oontact me. We’ll navigate it all to your best possible advantage.
So. Much. Happening!
~ Don’t forget to turn your clocks back an hour this weekend. You know that winter’s coming when it starts getting dark at 5 pm or even earlier ... can we switch back to Daylight Savings Time yet?!
~ With continued low, low housing inventory, I am thrilled to be holding my newest listing open this weekend! First open homes are always the best! The address: 166 Oakview Drive, San Carlos. Please come on by to say hello and see this awesome home!
~ This week marks a critical week with Tuesday’s presidential election (just in case you hadn’t heard :/ ) And while I have never gone political here or on my facebook page out of respect for you and for what my communications are -- and aren’t -- I do think that this election is about much more than voting for a president. I do think that this election has the potential to have a huge impact on our communities and our lifestyles that we all work so hard to achieve and maintain every day, and so with that in mind, I do think it’s relevant to bring up the incredible importance of having your voice heard by voting on November 8. Why? Because ultimately Real Estate is about community, and about the lifestyles we choose in part by where and how we choose to live. Our homes have always been our havens, our savings (lucky us on the Peninsula!), our safe place in which we can raise our families, share our values, our religions, and our cultures. Our homes are where we can set our examples, and where we can provide education and safe streets and healthy environments and yes, a feeling of positivity and hope. And I do believe that we are truly at a crossroads in the choice we as a national community make in our next president, based on the fact that the two leading candidates are so diametrically opposed in their outlooks, their priorities, their sensitivities, and their sensibilities. As it has been said, our children are watching, the world is watching (!). And while we may not think it at times, each of our votes count and we all have the right, the privilege, and the obligation to be heard. After all, so many of our parents and grandparents gave up everything to come to this country, and so many of our fellow Americans have sacrificed everything, including their lives, so that we can exercise our right to vote, and so that we are free to be who we want, where we want, with whom we want, and how we want. So please, vote this Tuesday. And respect that while we may not all agree on candidates and issues, I think we can all appreciate that our ability to vote is a treasure to be protected and upheld always. So vote, and I hope that we can all wake up on November 9, take a deep breath, and then move our great country to new heights, and do so in a way that we become stronger together, with justice and liberty for all.
A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!
Happy Memorial Day! May we always honor those who sacrifice their health, well-being, and lives in the line of their commitment and duty, whether or not we agree with the reasons behind all they’re called upon to do. And may we continue to hope that in the not-to-distant future, we can achieve worldwide peace so that these kinds of sacrifices are no longer necessary.
Memorial Day weekend marks so many things: the end of the school year, graduations, celebrations, beginning of summer ... it’s truly one of my favorite times of year! It also marks the time of year when our housing inventory has been known to begin it’s slow build up over summer, as people get distracted with vacations and other activities, and ease up on their home searches. But due to our continued low inventory, we can’t always rely on a ‘typical’ real estate cycle. In spite of some perception that the market is tweaking a bit, we still have an environment where homes are selling with multiple offers and for record-setting prices. Homes that are lagging a bit tend to be those that have some kind of unfixable flaw, or that are too aggressively priced. Buyers know that more likely than not they’ll have to pay more than the list price of a home, so if the home is already priced at where it would end up with multiple offers, buyers may shy away, thinking they may need to pay that already high price and then some. There are many different pricing strategies, and it’s important to understand them to maximize your success in selling or buying a home.
Sellers, don’t forget that pricing and presentation, as always, are of paramount importance. Just because it’s a sellers’ market doesn’t mean any condition, or any list price, will do. A very careful analysis of your home, other comparable homes that have sold and that have not sold, market influences that day and week, and more, need to be taken into account. Your neighbor may have heard of someone who sold their home for $500k over their list price, but that doesn’t mean everyone should have the same expectation. To get the most for your home, you need to present it at it’s best. Understand what it is that you’re offering, and accentuate that appeal. And remember that pricing is merely a number, it may or may not have anything to do with the true value of your home.
Buyers, don’t stop now! It’s been a hectic spring, with few nice homes and lots of activity, and you may be getting to the point where you’re ready to call it a day. But summer can be a great time to find that wonderful opportunity: a home that for some reason isn’t getting the attention it might have a month or two ago. Someone else’s loss can definitely be your gain. And with interest rates still at historical lows, your purchasing power is at an all-time high. So rest up, and keep on looking. Your home is out there, waiting for you!
Sellers and Buyers, let me help you navigate our market! I’m ready to get to work for you, I just need to know that you’re ready too.
Ronald R. Rossi, a very highly regarded attorney specializing in real estate, recently wrote a column on which professionals are best to hire for the sale of a home. He was responding to someone who was leaning towards selling a home on his own, and hiring an attorney to handle the paperwork. Here is Mr Rossi’s response:
It is relatively easy to hire a real estate attorney to draft the paperwork involved in the sale of your house ... Any knowledgeable real estate attorney can fill out contract forms for your property and should be generally familiar with all the standard forms for residential real estate in use in today's market.
However, the big question is, should you hire an attorney or an agent or both?
Let me put myself in your place and imagine that I'm a member of the public with no real estate knowledge. I want to sell my house in today's market, generating the highest possible net return to me - that is, after paying all closing costs and commissions - and avoid any future problems, including claims, mediations, arbitrations and lawsuits. I have a choice of hiring an honest, knowledgeable, diligent real estate attorney or an honest, knowledgeable, diligent real estate agent. Which would I choose?
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I would choose the real estate agent.
Why is that, you ask? Well, it's simple. A real estate lawyer knows more about the law than an agent does, even though many agents are very knowledgeable in that regard. But who can make intelligent decisions about how to market the property and get the highest return for your dollar? Who can place the property on the MLS and gain access to thousands of home buyers? Who will devote the time to show the property, hold open houses, create brochures, and work to sell that property?
Attorneys don't do any of these things; this isn't their area of expertise. One of the most important jobs you have is to choose a good, savvy listing agent.
You need an agent who's familiar with what's going on in the marketplace - price, value, terms. Good listing agents also have a list of reliable service providers who can perform pre-listing inspections.
If you're going to pay out $30,000, pay it to someone who's going to get the job done for you and maximize your return. The best real estate attorney in the world can't do as good a job for you as a skillful, experienced agent who's looking out for your best interests.
So if you're considering selling your home, please give me a call. We'll put my 23 years of experience to your best advantage, and we'll sell your home for the very most the market will bear. It's all about hard work, expertise, and results that exceed your expectations. Looking forward to hearing from you!
THE CASE FOR HOME OWNERSHIP
You may remember several months ago I mentioned some of my very favorite clients who had scraped together enough to buy their first home -- by no stretch their dream home -- then sold it just a couple years later to buy their ‘forever’ home thanks to the equity they had built and more. This is one of my all-time favorite examples of making home ownership work for you, and being at such a great advantage by doing so.
Here’s the other side of this story: a very lovely couple who periodically have talked to me about buying a home over the last several years. But they never have been able to fully commit, and have always fallen back into complacency in their rental home. Fast forward to today, when they are, for the second time in six months, frantically looking to move to a new home because their landlords have given them notice. And in spite of some lip service to buying, they most likely will end up in another rental, under someone else’s control, at someone else’s whim, and paying someone else’s mortgage instead of their own.
In fact, we calculated that during the time I’ve know them, they have paid more than a quarter million dollars in rent, which is money down the drain for them in so many ways. You see, they are paying a mortgage, just with no benefit to them. They are also missing out on the many tax advantages of home ownership, as well as the ability to shelter their income. And when we consider the hundreds of thousands of dollars they would have garnered in appreciation from the increasing value of a home, not to mention the up to half million dollars tax-free they could claim upon sale, it’s actually mind-boggling. Their landlords are giving them a huge thank you, as they’re kicking them out the door.
I completely get it: homes in our area are expensive. But for those who can qualify, I am completely convinced that there is no better investment that will bring you such value as home ownership. Stocks, commodities, bonds, put them all on the table and compare. And that’s before you even consider the stability and empowerment of owning your own home.
It makes me sad, and just a little mad, to see intelligent, sophisticated, worldly people who are so well qualified forgo something so obvious. My message is this: if at all possible, become a home owner. In our world where so much is out of our control, this is one thing that we can control, and will be of unparalleled benefit for all time.
So call me. Let’s put you in a position of having a roof of your own overhead, and so very much more.
There was the time that I stayed up most of the night, waiting for my client to land in Hawaii (of course his flight was late) while keeping a very impatient listing agent at bay so we could get the counter offer signed and ratify on the home of his dreams. Or the time that my clients’ offer was chosen from among 17 others ... long before multiple offers were a thing. I remember feeling like we had just won the lottery. Or the time that I was negotiating on behalf of my clients, literally from the hospital bed where I was about to give birth. My husband still jokes about that one. And then there was the time that my clients were going separate ways, and by selling their home they were each able to begin their new phase with much more than they had started with. And of course my clients who sold their tiny little home that they had scrapped together for here, and came away with enough to purchase their large, spacious ‘forever’ home elsewhere for them and their adorable babies. Or the time that I helped sell a trust property for far more than any of the surviving trustees ever thought possible, allowing each of them to benefit from an unexpected windfall.
I feel like I could write a book -- I think many Realtors could and should -- about the experiences, the joys, the frustrations, the disappointments, the best and the worst of human nature that we see every day as we help people with some of the largest, potentially life-changing financial and lifestyle decisions they make in their lifetimes. It’s my honor to be able to do so. It’s wonderful to see the same addresses multiple times, as my clients have come back to me for their next purchase and/or sale. And it’s a joy to be able to connect the dots, so to speak, between my clients who know each other, and who have referred me to each other. No matter the reason -- upsizing, downsizing, moving to a different town locally or into or out of the area, family changes, and more -- the fact that my clients want to work with me again and again means the world to me. This trust, this confidence, this loyalty is worth everything to me, and I’ve spent the last 22 years doing all I can to earn this regard from my ever-growing family of clients and friends, as so many I know begin as one, and become the other as well.
So as I reflect back over the years as we dive into 2016, the 23rd year of my real estate career, I want to say thank you. For trusting me, for bringing me into your most confidential private affairs, for giving me the opportunity to serve you, for allowing me to earn the title of your Realtor. I look forward to helping you again and again, to welcoming your friends and family into the fold. Nothing is more rewarding to me than being able to make that phone call saying “it’s yours”, or “it’s sold”. Thank you for the privilege of being able to do so.
It’s finally Fall! Hoping you’ve all remembered to turn your clocks back this morning ... being an early riser, I am so very ready for it not to be completely dark upon waking every day!
As the colors turn and the air becomes a bit crisp, it’s important to remember that the predictions are for a very rainy winter due to what’s being called the strongest El Nino in modern history. Here is a quick checklist to make sure you are ready!
~Clean and repair gutters, downspouts, and drains
~Have downspout extensions at the ready to divert runoff water away from foundations
~Check sump pumps to make sure they’re working properly, especially since they may not have had much use over the last few years
~Inspect the property for leaky windows, doors, and roofs
~Check slopes for signs of erosion
~Inspect retaining walls for signs of distress or failure
~Watch large trees during the first rains to make sure root systems are stable
~Drive cautiously! Remember that the first rains will clean the streets of oil and debris, potentially making for slick roads. Also, debris may clog street gutters, so be aware of standing water. Do not try to get through deep standing water; take the time to change your route for a safer one.
SB 745, which passed over a year ago, is now fully in effect with new requirements for smoke alarms. As of this summer:
The bill also updates placement requirements. Smoke detectors must be:
And one more thing:
Such an easy thing to check as part of your home maintenance, and potentially so critical! Make sure you’re in compliance today!
An American Tale
A few years ago, I helped some of my very favorite clients with their first home search. They had just married, both had stable jobs with good (but not off the charts) income. They scraped together every penny, worked with the best lender to determine what they could afford, modified their desires to fit their budget, were realistic about what they could buy, and soon became owners of a small two bedroom, one bath bungalow in a reasonable neighborhood. It was modest, but it was their own, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled or grateful.
Fast forward nearly three years, one dog, two babies, and a job relocation later. They put their modest little home for sale, and received an offer of more than $330,000 over what they paid just a few years prior. They took these proceeds shopping, and were able to purchase a beautiful four bedroom, three bath home, more than twice the size of their first, with a lovely rear yard and pool, in a wonderful little town with great amenities, schools, and community, and close to their job's new location. And as they prepare to make the move, they are pinching themselves, so excited for what will be.
The story being that never, in their wildest dreams, could my wonderful clients ever have saved enough money to allow them to move to their soon-to-be new home. Without having made that first big step into the housing market and home ownership, they would never have been in the position they’re in. So while their first home wasn’t their dream home by any stretch of imagination, and while I'm sure they had to make some sacrifices and maybe some difficult choices, they knew that buying a home was the right thing for them to do. It allowed them to position themselves to reap the benefits of home ownership, then, now, and in the future. So they pack up their belongings, knowing they’ll be able to enjoy all of those benefits in their beautiful new home.
This is the American dream. This is what we can achieve, thanks to the area we live in and the opportunities that are available to us. This is why real estate and home ownership are always good choices. I'm so proud of my clients and all they've been able to achieve. And I'm so thankful that we are all able to make choices that allow us to determine our own destinies. We are so lucky to live here. Have a very Happy 4th!
School’s Out! It’s Summertime!
This year marks a milestone for me personally, as my daughter graduates from Sequoia High School. She’s the last of my kids to complete the school system that we’ve been an active part of for 15 years. I couldn’t be happier with the education that she and my son have received, the experiences they’ve had, the friends they’ve made, and the opportunities that lie before them. Their schools have influenced them greatly, helped form who they are, helped them learn how to relate to a broad spectrum of people and backgrounds, and will continue to benefit them as they move on. So with a mixture of elation and sadness, I give huge thanks to San Carlos Charter Learning Center, North Star Academy, and Sequoia High School, all with amazing teachers who go so far above and beyond to offer our kids as rich an educational experience as they possibly can. So proud, so much gratitude.
Summertime is also a time when our real estate market typically mellows a bit, and pricing plateaus, as people opt to focus on vacations and traditional summertime activities. Will the same hold for this summer? I’m not sure, as we continue to be hampered by historically low inventory, and amped up buyer demand. We continue to see staggering sale prices, and with interest rates continuing to stay at their lows, I don’t foresee any dramatic shifts in our marketplace.
So what does that mean for hopeful buyers and sellers? In a nutshell, don’t wait!
If you’re thinking of selling your home, now is the time. Very little competition, very high market values, very high demand. Present your home at its best, and you will benefit to the max from our current environment.
And if you’re hoping to purchase a home, go for it! Success requires you to be completely prepared, committed, and aggressive! And if you’re concerned about pricing, the reality is this: you benefit far more from paying a bit more for a home and locking in a long term low interest rate, than you would if you were to pay a little bit less with a higher interest rate. A home purchase is a long term investment, and history shows that over time, real estate is always a huge benefit.
So call me! Let’s make this market work to your advantage, and let me help you achieve your real estate goals!
Are We In A Bubble?
For some perspective on our current real estate market, read what Alain Pinel, general manager of Intero Prestigio International, recently wrote:
What do I remember about March 2000 in the Silicon Valley? Images and feelings are rushing back, like flashes in the brain, together with jolts of adrenaline. What comes to mind? Euphoria. Exuberance. Let the good times roll. Don’t worry, be happy. Don’t wake me up!
March madness it was. Techies were taking over the world. Any good idea found cash. Angel investors were hunting for innovators. VC people were fighting to bring start-ups to market. The Valley was on fire. Real estate prices were moving up monthly. IPOs were piling up weekly. The dot.com revolution was running the land. The three key words of those times? Money, Money, Money.
Reality outshined dreams. Ambitions inflated on the run. Make a wish and live it. Then came a cloud. Doubts. Fears. The bubble burst. The engine stopped. Prices went south, on Wall Street and on Main Street. 2000 was a tale of two halves: the rise and the fall. What goes up is supposed to go down, the saying goes. I don’t agree with that fatalistic view, but this time it did turn out that way.
Are we reliving March 2000? Have we not been there before? What’s next?
Today, the economy has fully recovered. Unemployment is down to 5.5 percent nationally. The stock market, which has been warming, one month at a time for the last few years, is now steamy. The Dow put a new record on the books on March 2. As for the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which came a hair short of a new high last month, it is still flirting with its March 10, 2000 peak. Hundreds of IPOs are in the pipeline. VC money is waiting in the bank. There is plenty of fixed mortgage money available at less than 4 percent. So, are we in the midst of a growth cycle, or is it the end of the beginning, or is it the beginning of the end?
Relax. The ride is not over, and there is nothing significant on the horizon that suggests otherwise. However, we are not in March 2000. We are in April 2015. All is well in the Valley & beyond, but we are not, and we will not be, reliving the 2000 follies. Here is why:
No, it is not March 2000 all over again. We are ok. Repeat after me.
An Urgent Call For Listings
Burlingame -- 9
San Mateo -- 22
Belmont -- 4
San Carlos -- 9
Redwood City/Redwood Shores -- 18
Menlo Park -- 12
Here you have it: February 2015 and up and down the Mid-Peninsula, here are the number of single family homes currently for sale. Open houses resemble rush hour traffic jams, the number of disclosures packets being sent out may begin to rival best seller lists, even though the characters and plots are not nearly as creative and the story lines are completely predictable. Our unseasonably warm weather, along with unbelievably low interest rates and the uncertainly about what the coming months will bring, are prompting home buyers who may otherwise have waited out the winter to hit the MLS early in search of a new home.
So here is my call: if you, or anyone you know, is considering selling a home this year, please contact me. Tell me your plans, your thoughts, your concerns or unique circumstances, and we will determine the best way to make it all work for you. With home values being defined by the market, this is absolutely the time when you will get the very most the market will bear for your home. So whether you’re ready to upsize, downsize, move to a neighbhoring town or out of the area completely, please contact me. We’ll work to achieve your real estate goals, and we’ll do all we can to do so in a way that will amaze and delight you.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you, your family, your friends. Thank you!
Happy 2015! Wishing everyone the very best New Year, filled with hope, happiness, health, and peace. 2015 will be a year of great change for me personally, as our youngest graduates from high school and heads off to places yet to be determined, and our oldest becomes a college senior (!) and hits that landmark 21st birthday! Not sure how all this happened, but here we are!
And here we are, marking the end of an incredible year of real estate on the mid-peninsula, and starting another that promises more of the same. 2014 will be remembered as a year of rarely seen before low inventory levels, historically low interest rates, huge buyer demand, and multiple offers on just about every home that came for sale. The amounts of the overbids were often astounding, as buyers sought to secure the home of their dreams, or at least the potential to become so.
As we begin 2015, pundits are predicting a slowing of appreciation levels, which really has to be as we simply can’t sustain the increases we’ve been experiencing. But unless we’re flooded with new inventory, which is highly unlikely, our local market will remain vibrant and competitive. We are fortunate to live in such a desirable area, with excellent local economics fostered by a vibrant business environment and predictions of a large influx of professionals and their families who want to live and work here. Cities and downtowns are revamping their development strategies, all with the intent of increasing opportunities to live and work locally. Ancillary services and amenities are doing what they can to keep up with demand. It feels like a time of great change, with great promise.
This is not a market for casual lookers, this is a market where buyers and sellers have to be committed, capable, patient, and positioned to their best advantage in order to succeed. Sound intimidating? It doesn’t have to be, as long as you have guidance from expert professionals to help you through the process.
So let’s welcome 2015! If you’re considering buying or selling a home this year, start planning now! Seek out professionals who you trust, who you have confidence in, who are truly expert at what they do. With a stellar team working on your behalf, you are sure to have as good an experience and result as possible.
Looking forward hearing from you, and looking forward to a wonderful year!
Can it really be November already? Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed your extra hour of sleep this morning, and as the days get shorter and a chill fills the air your thoughts may begin to drift into holidays, winter vacations, celebrations, spending time with family and friends, and house hunting.
What? House-hunting in late Fall/Winter? Prime time may typically be the Spring, but this time of year can be an awesome time to search for a home, and for many, a great time to sell as well. And here’s why:
Sellers are always told to make their homes feel welcoming, warm, and to show them at their best. For many, the holidays do bring out the best, with their homes beautifully decorated, sweet-smelling, and glowing with seasonal lighting and logs lit in the fireplaces. If you choose to sell your home during this time of year, it’s important to accessorize carefully and tastefully, but the effects can be dazzling.
And buyers? Face it: buyers looking at homes this time of year are very serious buyers. The good news is that they may not have as much competition; the other side of that story is that they may not have as many homes to choose from. But if a match can be made, it’s a wonderful thing. Even more, what a great time of year to enjoy settling into a new home, especially those who are lucky enough to have lighter work loads and extended days off.
So consider the possibilities, and contact me for more information about buying or selling a home. With inventory scarce, and interest rates still at historical lows, the timing may be ideal!
It Sold For What!?!
We’re three-quarters of the way through 2014 (!) and stories have been swirling all year long about everyone’s favorite topic: real estate! To set the record straight, here’s some retrospective to see where we’ve been, and perhaps some insight as to where we’re headed. Buckle your seat belts ... it’s quite the ride!
Here are some milestones in a sampling of our mid-peninsula towns for:
~Highest Sales Price of a Single Family Home (HSP)
~Biggest Differential between List Price and Sales Price (LP/SP)
~Highest Price Per Square Foot (PPSF)
(all data based on closed single family homes listed and sold between 01/01/14-09/01/14)
HSP -- 124 Normandy Court, a 4 bdr, 3.5 ba, 2,527 sf home on a 10,000 sf level lot, stunningly remodeled with full-on San Francisco and bay views, sold for $2,850,000
LP/SP -- 2235 Carmelita Drive, a 2,390 sf 4 bdr, 3.5 ba home on a 5500 sf lot listed for $1,698,000 and sold for $2,272,000, a mere $574,000 overbid
PPSF -- 294 Devonshire Boulevard, an original 1,190 sf home on a 16,300 sf lot sold off-market for $1,850,000, or $1,554/sf. 37 Wildwood Avenue, a beautifully remodeled 1,475 sf home, also sold for $1,850,000, calculating out to $1,254/sf
HSP -- 886 Edgewood Rd, a 5 bdr, 3 ba, 3720 sf home on a 42,000 sf lot in beautiful Edgewood Park sold off-market for $2,900,000.
LP/SP -- 862 Blandford Boulevard, a 3 bdr, 2.5 ba, 2270 home on a 9,900 sf lot in the same Edgewood Park neighborhood, listed at $1,298,000 and sold for $2,150,000, only $852,000 higher. Meanwhile, up in Emerald Hills, 3928 Lakemead Way, a 4 bdr/4 ba, 3540 sf home with bay views on a 12,000 sf steeply downsloped lot, listed for $1,698,000 and sold for $2,300,000, a differential of $602,000
PPSF -- 235 Beresford Avenue, a 730 sf, fixer/teardown sold for $875,000, or $1,198/sf. 1716 Virginia Avenue, a sweet 850 sf home, sold for $975,000, or $1,147/sf
HSP -- 830 Covington Road, a very nice, comfortable 6 bdr, 4.5 ba, 4178 sf home on a 19,440 sf lot sold for $2,350,000
LP/SP -- 2115 Shirley Road, a 3 bdr, 2 ba, 1,900 sf home on an 8,750 sf lot listed for $975,000 and sold for $1,430,000, a $455,000 difference
PPSF -- 2008 Monroe Avenue, an 1,160 sf home on a small 4,000 sf lot, sold for $1,180,000, or $1,017/sf
HSP -- 1275 Santa Cruz Avenue, a wonderful 4300 sf, 5 bdr, 4 bath (+ 2 1/2 ba) home on a 21,100 sf lot, albeit on such a busy street, sold for $5,750,000
LP/SP -- 1341 University Avenue, a 3 bdr, 3 ba, 1690 sf home on a 5750 sf lot sold for $2,400,000, $605,000 higher than its $1,795,000 list price
PPSF -- 1098 Coleman Avenue, a charming 1150 sf home on a 25,500 sf lot sold for $2,895,000, or $2,517/sf. Selling essentially for lot value were 2001 Camino A Los Cerros, 12,170 sf lot, for $2,822,000 or $3,713/sf, and 1337 Sherman Avenue, a 6,250 sf lot, for $1,800,000, or $1,855/sf. Wait till the new homes get built!
HSP -- 134 West Poplar Avenue in beautiful San Mateo Park, a 5 bdr, 4.5 ba, 4,185 sf home on a 23,200 sf lot sold for $3,988,000. Updated and filled with old world charm, it has a separate guest house and pool
PPSF -- 1254 Oak Street, a 1050 sf bungalow with a ‘bonus’ room on a 5,000 sf lot, sold for $1,301,000, or $1,239/sf
Is the market still hot? You bet! Nice homes, nice lots, nice locations, nice potential ... always in demand. For guidance through it all, call me!
Bottom line: Zillow, Trulia, and other real estate websites are fun to peruse, but when you’re ready to make a move, call me!
Pricing and activity levels that go up as quickly and significantly as we’ve seen year to date simply cannot continue their frenzied pace unchecked. When we hit the ground sprinting as we have this year, we eventually all need to take a deep breath, and assess and adjust to our new reality. The market needs to pause, even if for just a brief moment, and summertime is when this typically happens.
Why? If we consider a typical real estate cycle (is there even such a thing?!) the year starts with few homes for sale, pent up demand from buyers left over from last year, and buyers entering the market this year. As they vie for the few homes that come available during the first few months, we start to hear about multiple offers and large overbids. With a significant percentage of buyers paying cash or large down payments, appraisal concerns diminish.
During our spring market, typically the busiest time of year, this trend continues, with more homes coming for sale -- at higher pricing reflecting the newly available comps -- and more buyers looking for their next home. The multiple offers and overbids continue. As the ‘can you believe it?’ talk permeates our communities, some homeowners might decide it’s time to list their maybe-not-so-nice homes at prices that reflect the trend of price increases continuing. And not only do they list their homes high, they do so with the expectation of the multiple offers, overbids, and even higher sales prices they’ve been hearing about.
And that's where the perception of slow-down begins. Buyers are usually willing to pay market value or more for a home they can be proud of in it's current condition or for the potential it provides. So while these homes continue to attract the attention, we begin to see a supply of overpriced homes with flaws that may not sell immediately. Couple that with summertime, when people are on vacation or otherwise distracted, and suddenly the market seems that it might be softening. Actually, it's just not accelerating at the same pace it was a few months earlier. Pricing and activity levels plateau a bit. But once summer comes to an end, typically we'll see everything ratchet up again, and head into the year's end at a brisk pace.
So what does this mean? Sellers need to be realistic, and make sure their homes shine. Many are benefitting from a market in which their homes are selling for record-breaking prices that are absolutely the most the market will bear, but there's no need for excessive greed. Buyers need to know that this market is fast and aggressive, and that summertime may provide them a window of opportunity. Pricing is always relative, and history always shows that real estate is always one of the soundest investments anyone can make.
Looking for expert guidance through this whole process? Please give me a call. And in the meantime, enjoy our 4th of July in a community, city, state, and country in which these are the kinds of issues we have the luxury of concerning ourselves with.
How To Succeed in Today's Real Estate Market (But You Have To Try!)
Spring is always such a busy time! Warming, lengthening days lure us outside, end-of-school-year events and activities ramp up, and the housing market is as overheated as our pre-seasonal 90-plus degree days. This year, with continued extremely low inventory and overwhelming demand, things are just a little more frenzied, which means we all need to keep our cool as we continue to deal with multiple offers, cash offers, record-breaking pricing, and the realization that this market may not significantly change for the near future.
Today’s the first day of the season, and while it doesn’t really feel like we’ve had much winter (sorry to all our kids in school back east!) it’s delightful to see everything in bloom, hear the birds sing, and enjoy our warming, lengthening days. To all of us who, from time to time, have wondered why we pay what we pay to live here, there’s nothing like a beautiful spring day to remind us.
Speaking of what we pay to live in this amazing area, our local real estate market has skipped the typical winter hiatus and continues to blast onward and upward, limited only by the scarce number of homes for sale. We’ve talked about sellers needing to put their home’s best foot forward, so to speak, in preparing and presenting them for sale, but what can buyers do to successfully secure a home in our current market?
Be Ready -- Buyers have to be completely ready to go with financing, from liquid down payment funds to being completely approved by a reputable, local lender. Buyers also have the opportunity to learn about the condition of a home prior to making an offer, completing any due diligence and getting answers to any questions or concerns. It’s much more the norm now to forego financing and/or property condition contingencies, so don’t put yourself in a position of not having that choice, and potentially not getting the home, because you aren’t ready.
Be Aggressive -- Today’s sale prices are tomorrow’s comps, so don’t hold back. Pricing that seems high today will seem like a relatively good deal in the coming months. We all have limits, of course, but the last thing you want is have a case of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s” when you find out that you needed to step up just a little bit more to get the home you wanted. Use low interest rates and more to your advantage. Get an idea of what any work you'd like to do to a home will entail. And if you get beat out by someone who has all cash or some other factor that you can’t compete with, just move on. Do all you can do. No more, no less.
Be Flexible -- We all have ideas of our dream homes, but how realistic are they? Sometimes a home you see may cost a little more than you'd prefer, or it may need a little more work than you had hoped to take on, or it may not have everything you had on your wish list. Don’t immediately write a home off if you don’t see it as perfect. In all likelihood it won’t be your last home, and nearly everything in a home can be changed over time, including your preferences and needs. A little open-mindedness can go a long way, not just with the home itself but in dealing with sellers as well. Specific needs, rent backs, for example, may be all important to sellers. When preparing an offer, consider all the elements that may make yours stand out. Give sellers as much as you can of what they need; in the long run it most likely won’t make a huge difference to you, but it could make all the difference in your offer being chosen over another.
These are helpful tips, but most important in navigating our real estate market is the guidance of an excellent, expert Realtor. Looking to make a move this year? Please give me a call! I'll ensure your success, whether you're buying, selling, or both!
Fix It, Stage It, Price It, Sell It!
Here we are again, in yet another year of ridiculously low inventory and soaring demand, a market in which some sellers may think they can list their home for pie-in-the-sky pricing, do nothing to prepare it for sale, and have it sell for even more in record time. True? Absolutely not. Even in the most frenzied markets, it’s critical to do the work required to ensure that your home will sell for the most the market will bear. Here are the basics:
*Fix It! The cost of a home repair is most often much less expensive than a potential buyer perceives it to be. Neglecting repairs and easy renovations may end up costing sellers significantly. In addition to making sure everything functions, here are some quick, easy renovations that can make a world of difference.
Painting -- a new coat of paint in fashionable colors makes a home look and smell fresh. And not just the walls, don’t forget the ceilings, trim, doors, and cabinetry!
Flooring -- If there’s hardwood, make sure it’s exposed. Even if it’s not perfect, buyers will be happy to see it. If it makes sense to refinish, do it. Carpeting should be clean and not overly worn. Tile should be clean and grouted, and vinyl should be undamaged, well secured, and caulked.
Counters -- It’s pretty easy and economical these days to install prefabricated granite or quartz counters for a pretty dramatic impact compared to old tired tiles and grout.
Hardware -- De-gold everything, everywhere. That means cabinet knobs/pulls, door handles and, if possible, plumbing and light fixtures. A little investment for a big return.
Window coverings -- Remove them if possible. Nothing replaces nice windows that let the light shine in. If window coverings are essential, make sure they’re clean, functional, and not overpowering.
Clean, clean, clean -- Everything should be spotless, fresh-smelling, and orderly for the entire time your home is on the market, from the first showing until the day you hand over the keys. No exceptions.
Don't forget the exterior -- Spruced up landscaping, some well-placed flowers or fresh ground cover, some power washing here and there can have a huge impact!
*Stage It! As I’ve said a million times, and with all due respect: the way we live in our homes is not the way we show our homes. While the furnishings, the knick knacks, and the way they’re all arranged may suit our lifestyles perfectly, that doesn’t mean homebuyers will agree. It’s amazing what a difference some judicious de-cluttering can make, and well-arranged, attractive furnishings can significantly enhance a home’s appeal. Hiring a stager to ensure that your home looks its absolute best is money well spent, with the likelihood of a huge return.
*Price It! So many factors often influence what homeowners think their home is worth: sentiment, heresay, neighborhood gossip, what they ‘need’ ... but the true determining factor of what a home will sell for is what a buyer is willing to pay. As such, pricing your home has to be based on market data, including comps, competition, overall economic/market conditions, and more. There are a variety of pricing strategies that can be employed, but ultimately the market will determine the value of your home.
*Show It! There’s been a lot of talk about a silent inventory, homes bought and sold off market. While very occasionally there may be extenuating circumstances that can justify selling a home without exposing it to the marketplace, the overwhelming vast majority of sellers are doing themselves a disservice by not putting their home for sale in a way that provides every potential buyer an opportunity to consider it. And, Realtors who guide sellers not to put their homes on the market may be giving bad advice, at least, and potentially violating their fiduciary duty, at worst. Marketing, advertising, tours for Realtors and easy viewings and open homes for prospective buyers are all essential in selling your home. You can sell your home to only one buyer, so you want to make sure you do all you can to identify the best buyer possible.
*Sell It! There is no reason to wait till spring, summer, or any other time to put your home for sale ... now is a great time! We don’t know what the future may bring, but what we do know for sure is that sellers today have an amazing opportunity to be at a significant advantage in our marketplace. If you’re considering selling your home, contact me so we can put a plan together to prepare your home for sale, market it, and get it sold. Let’s do this!
In the spirit of good things come to those who wait, I am thrilled to finally introduce you to my revamped website! A new year, a new look, easy to navigate and great information. My hope is that you’ll find value here, and rely on it (and me!) for anything real-estate related. Let me know what you think.
And now that we’re officially off and running in 2014, the question remains: what can we expect in the coming year?
I think it’s fair to say that 2013 took everyone by surprise with the strength and competitiveness of the market and the incredible increases in home values. I think it’s also fair to say that pundits expect this trend to continue this year, perhaps minus just a bit of the vigor. What are the key factors that will influence the 2014 real estate market?
Home sales are predicted to outperform 2013 levels in markets with hot economies, such as our Peninsula market. The KCM Blog, for example, predicts that “home sales will skyrocket with increases of 10-15% in 2014.” Others have a more moderate idea, such as Intero CEO Gino Blefari, who predicts “that markets where prices may have climbed a bit too high this year and markets that still struggle with low inventory may not see the same incredible summer sale season that they saw in 2013.“
Of course, to have increased sales, we have to have inventory, and once again, the prediction is that inventories of homes for sale will remain low ... much too low in many markets. The good news, Blefari points out, is that rising home values have pulled a lot more homeowners out of negative equity, which may give them a newfound freedom to sell. With the pent-up demand that’s been building over the last few years however, it’ll take a LOT of homes coming for sale to begin to balance the market.
As our economy continues to improve, and the Feds taper their efforts, most experts agree that mortgage rates will rise from the amazing historic lows that have been holding for the last few years, even thought the Feds have stated many times their intent of keeping rates low. How quickly we’ve been spoiled by these unsustainable numbers; now when we hear rates approaching 5 percent or even higher we cry fowl. The reality is that there are always loan programs that will work, rather than relying only on a 30-year fixed program. And while a slight uptick may affect prospective buyers who are truly right on the edge of qualifying, the probability of higher rates may encourage buyers to act more quickly so they can capture rates that are more appealing to them.
Short supply, high demand, low interest rates, strengthening economy ... it doesn’t take a PhD in economics to realize that all factors point to home values rising. While we may not see the double digit percentage increases we saw last year, the consensus is that we will end the year with higher home values.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re considering selling and/or buying a home this year, it doesn’t seem to make sense to wait. Contact your preferred Realtor to begin planning for your home sale and/or purchase to ensure that you’ll be positioned at maximum advantage for market conditions. Your Realtor can guide you to consider all the relevant factors that should be part of your decision-making process, and can help prepare you, and your home, for success in today’s marketplace. Buying and selling homes can be an exciting journey with the right Realtor at your side. Give me a call; I’m ready to get to work for you, and to help you achieve all you desire in 2014.
What Makes A House A Home?
When we’re looking at homes, we tend to focus on the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, if the kitchen’s redone, how big the yard is. These are all important for sure, but what is even more so, and far more difficult to determine as part of a home search, is the sense of community that can make all the difference.
This became so abundantly clear recently in the midst of a family tragedy. The close-by neighbors who stopped by and continue to check in, the willingness of friends to alter their plans, to extend a supportive hand and pay their respects, everyone who made a phone call, sent a message, mailed a card ... these are the people who help make a house a home, who make a neighborhood, who create community. These are the gestures that truly touch your heart in a way that granite counters never will.
We are so fortunate to live in an area with wonderful neighbors, neighborhoods, and community. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our daily lives, with busy schedules and non-stop activities, reducing our contact to a wave as we back out of our driveway, or a quick hello as we wait in line at the grocery store. But even if we don't always take the time we should to ask 'how are you' and really listen to the answer, it's comforting to know that when it really counts, in good times or bad, we are here for each other.
So when considering a home purchase, look at more than just the physical attributes and amenities. Spend some time walking around, perhaps meeting some neighbors, visiting nearby parks, downtown areas, getting a feel for the ambience and synergy. After all, you can pretty much make a house whatever you want it to be by remodeling, renovating, even rebuilding, it all just takes time and money. But a neighborhood? A community? These can often be priceless.
Our Fall Market Is Here ... What Does It Hold In Store?
Labor Day and the High Holidays are past, the kids are all back in school, there’s no denying it any longer: summer’s over and we’re into our Fall real estate market. Historically the Fall season is very robust, and this year promises to be no different. We still have extremely low inventory -- easily 65 percent off of what we typically might expect --along with continued extremely high demand and extremely low interest rates, even thought they’re nearing a percent higher than they were early this year. We now also have comps, as homes that have sold for significantly more than they were listed for have closed, recorded, and now support new sales. So the market continues, perhaps with an added sense of urgency as prospective buyers try to achieve their goal of home ownership before the year’s up and before interest rates continue their climb.
So what does that mean for you as a potential buyer or seller? Here are a few tips:
Buyers, don't despair and don't give up! Be aggressive in pursuing the home you want. As the saying goes, today's sale price is tomorrow's comp, so don't think the next home you like will sell for less. Also, statistics abound regarding the impact of higher prices vs higher interest rates; higher interest rates will cost you more in the long run. Make sure that new interest rates haven't altered your price range, and go for it. Especially with such limited inventory, you just can't afford to let a home you love slip away.
Sellers, even in a favorable market, it's critical to be realistic with your pricing, present your home well, and provide value. Home owners often fall into the trap of thinking that in an active market they can sell a home for more while offering less. Pricing is determined by the market, not dictated by what a seller wants or needs. And while today's buyers are willing to pay, they want a home they can be proud of calling their own.
For more guidance on navigating today's real estate market, just give me a call. We'll make sure you're positioned at maximum advantage, whether you're selling, buying, or both.
Looking forward to working with you!
The Rest Of The Story ... (In Regards To 2013)
Real estate experts seem to be in general agreement as to the rest of 2013. Here are some observations from Intero's Alain Pinel:
"Buyers, sellers and real estate professionals have been running so hard trying to buy or sell each and every day of the first half of the year that the heat of summer is giving all an excuse for slowing down a bit. Nothing wrong with that, but we still have five months to go. What can we expect during the last stretch of 2013?
The answer is a tricky one for many reasons. For one, whether the Fed will keep fueling the recovery with cheap mortgage money until the end of the year or turn off the faucet between now and then is key to the level of activity we can expect.
Another reason is the considerable difference we can still observe in the US real estate market between the various states/regions. Some have yet to absorb and digest a massive wave of distressed properties, while others have definitely left the crisis behind and are now enjoying a hot market not seen in seven years.
The last reason for being somewhat cautious about making predictions has to do with the vast differences that exist everywhere concerning the availability and the price segmentation (low-end, “bread & butter” and high-end) of residential properties offered for sale.
It is undeniable that we are seeing a significant improvement, country-wide, in the number of transactions and in price appreciation. We expect the momentum in regards to the number of transactions to continue for the balance of the year. The appreciation forecast represents an entirely different question that needs to be looked at on the level of each local market.
For example, in the nine-county Bay Area market, all counties––if not all towns––are moving at different speeds and not always in the same direction. The only thing these counties have in common this year is a sharp increase in sales prices, 33% on average last month (y/y), according to DataQuick. The counties which suffered the most during the crisis have recorded the biggest price gains. Counties which are traditionally more active (and pricey…), such as Santa Clara and San Mateo, have enjoyed a “more modest” price hike, respectively 17% and 21%, y/y. These two counties suffer an acute lack of inventory relative to a vibrant qualified demand. We could have easily sold nearly twice as many homes over the first half of the year had we had twice as many listings!
As for pricing, appreciation varies greatly. The differences, as far as the Silicon Valley is concerned, promises to be even more obvious as we go deeper into the year. During the remaining five months, we expect to maintain the present rate of increase at the “low-end”, roughly between $350,000 and $800,000. In the mid-range, between $800,000 and $1.5M, the appreciation is likely to slow from the torrid appreciation we have seen so far this year. Finally, at the high-end, and particularly over $5 to $20+M, I believe prices will not move up from the level of the most recent sales. We now have more competition at such price levels and, contrary to the other price segments, the supply is outpacing the demand, made mostly of cash buyers."
Bottom line: it's been an amazing first half of 2013, and the second half doesn't look like it'll change significantly. We still need many more homes for sale to meet the demand. The pace of appreciation, which has been so dramatic year to date, will begin to mellow just a bit. It's a great time to sell, and a great time to buy. Now is the time to put a plan together. Call me any time, and we'll make sure you get the most from our local real estate market!
Low Interest Rates: Going ... Going ...
June is such an exciting time with end of school, graduations, start of summer, Father’s Day (don’t forget!) and so much more. It’s also prime time in our annual real estate cycle, with homes changing ownership as quickly as inventory will allow. We’ve discussed many times how our historically low interest rates are providing buyers with unprecedented purchasing power. Perhaps some have become complacent thinking these rates are the new norm. Well everything changes, and nothing stays the same, and that certainly goes for interest rates as we’re beginning to see the smallest inklings of increases as the economy continues to stabilize. So the question is, what is the impact of rising rates?
Experts project that nationwide, homes will appreciate about 5 percent in 2013. We’ve seen increases far greater than that already in our local housing market. They also project that interest rates will increase to about 4 percent in the same timeframe. Still historically low, but off the rock bottom rates of about 3.5 percent we’ve seen in recent months. So what does that mean for homebuyers?
If you have a loan of $500k, the difference between a loan at 3.5 percent and 4 percent is projected to be about $261, or more than $3100/year for the life of your loan. WIth a loan of $1 million, your monthly increase is about $522, or more than $6260/year for the life of your loan. A small increase in interest rates may make a significant difference!
You've heard me say many times that the price of the home, especially if it's one that you anticipate staying in for a longer timeframe, becomes less relevant than do the monthly payments and how they fit in your overall budget. These numbers show that to be particularly true. No one has a crystal ball to predict what housing prices may do in the future. But we do have the power to lock ourselves in to 30 years of monthly payments that work for us. It's in our control to take advantage of low interest rates while they are available. So why risk waiting and missing out?
For more information on current interest rates, available homes, and all things real estate, just give me a call! I'm ready to help you in any way that I can!
This is the time of the year when schedules get crazy with end of school year, graduations, Mother's Day (don't forget!) and so much more, It's also the season when house hunting is in full bloom. We've talked a lot about our current market's extreme imbalance of supply and demand. Even though we're beginning to see just the slightest uptick in inventory, homes for sale are being swooped up by buyers. Overbids are bringing pricing back to peak levels of yesteryear, buffered by historically low interest rates that are giving today's buyers so much purchasing power, allowing the cost of owning a home to be in line with personal budgets, even if the actual purchase prices don't seem to be.
So what are buyers looking for in a home? Intero's global real estate partner, Luxury Portfolio, together with the Harrison Group, conducted a survey that focused on three income groups: upper middle class ($100-$149k income), core affluent (up to $450k income) and one percenters (more than $450k income). What they heard is that home buyers are looking for quality, and they're willing to pay for it.
This trend represents a shift in priorities from “I want a good deal” to “it’s expensive but it’s worth it.” Here are the features these homebuyers are looking for:
* Designed for entertaining (1st choice for 80% of millennials, ages 18-33, and generation x-ers, ages 34-47, and 83% of baby boomers/matures, ages 48-67). As such, amenities like fabulous kitchens with professional-grade appliances and outdoor decks and patios that accommodate get-togethers with family and friends are a must.
* Master bedrooms (67% and 74% respectively). In addition to size and style, must-haves include en-suite luxury bathrooms and walk-in closets.
* Lots of open space (60% and 65% respectively). The key word here is privacy. The more the better, with space around the home and nice scenic views.
* Library/work space (50% and 57% respectively). A lot more people are working at home these days, at least some of the time. Even if you don’t, a nice dedicated office space/den to read, relax, and escape is desirable.
* Open floor plan (44% and 51% respectively). Especially with less square footage, an open floor plan can make a home feel spacious and airy. And whether you want to be able to watch the kids, or if you’re the designated cook, no one wants to feel cut off and isolated.
* Pool/spa/hot tub (44% and 36% respectively). Whether for entertaining, or for personal or therapeutic enjoyment, a water 'feature' can be desirable.
Do you agree with these priorities? Let me know your thoughts, and of course, if you’re looking for a home with these or other features, I’m ready to help you find it!
Today's $600 is Yesterday's $400
As we battle through low inventory, multiple offers, and rising prices, pundits are comparing today's market to peak markets of previous years. However, there is one very significant difference that makes today's market so much more manageable for buyers: historically low interest rates. Today's $600 is the $400 of yesteryear
What does that mean? Consider 2003, a year when the market was active, prices were healthy, and interest rates were about 6.15 %, according to Freddie Mac. As such, each $100k of mortgage (principal/interest) cost a little more than $600 per month. Fast forward to today with Freddie Mac noting interest rates in the mid 3% range, making each $100k of mortgage (principal/interest) about $445 per month. What that means then, is that the cost of a mortgage today is about 25% less than it was a decade ago!
Wow! This gives today's buyers incredible purchasing power, and the ability to focus more on the cost of owning a home and how it fits into a monthly budget, rather than only on the purchase price. If it takes a $100k more to get the home you want, financing it for an additional $445 a month may be pretty manageable. That amount decreases even more when you calculate in the potential tax savings.
The same goes for paying more for an updated and remodeled home compared to one that is more original and requires a lot of work. It's much more manageable to finance a $100k, for example, than paying less and then coming up with $100k out of pocket (along with time and effort!) to pay for a new kitchen and baths. And if you follow national trends and live in your home for say, seven years, the total amount you're paying for that new kitchen and baths as part of your loan is a fraction of what you would pay out of pocket to install them.
By no means am I suggesting that $100k, or $445 per month, are amounts we should be cavalier about. But the low cost of money allows us to aggressively pursue the homes we want knowing that we have some options, rather than hitting a wall. In today's market, it's not so much about the sale price, it's the monthly cost of owning the home of your dreams that counts.
And the first step to securing your dream home is to hire an excellent Realtor who can guide you through the process and help you focus on the factors that really matter, rather than react to a list price which may or may not reflect the true value of a home.
So give me a call, and let's get you a wonderful home to call your own!
SELLERS! HERE'S YOUR WAKE-UP CALL!
Menlo Park -- 30 Redwood City -- 55
San Carlos -- 22 Belmont -- 17
Redwood Shores -- 10 San Mateo -- 56
Burlingame -- 25 Woodside -- 28
Atherton -- 22 Hillsborough -- 49
What is the significance of these numbers? As of today, these numbers represent the total number of homes for sale -- single family, townhome, condos -- in each of these mid-peninsula towns. Slim pickings if you’re looking to buy, and a wake-up call if you’re considering selling.
SELLERS! THIS IS THE TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME!
Did that wake you up? I hope so, because there hasn’t been a better time to sell your home in several years. Just about every home for sale is attracting a plethora of offers. 9, 23, 80+ ... the numbers flood the real estate grapevine each time a home goes pending. One lucky buyer's offer is accepted, and the remaining throngs move on, waiting at the ready for another home to come for sale.
SHOULDN'T THAT NEXT HOME BE YOURS?
So much pent-up demand, along with historically low interest rates, good prospects for our local (and overall) job market and economy, and the desirability of our mid peninsula, makes for this ideal sellers’ market.
SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Please note, this doesn’t mean you can throw any home in any condition for sale and expect to reap the rewards. It is more critical than ever to put your home’s best foot forward, and introduce it to the market showing at it’s best. Buyers want homes that present well, that have desirable amenities, and that justify the pricing. Buyers are willing to pay -- and today's interest rates give them unprecedented purchasing power -- but they want to have something to show for it.
DON'T WAIT! START THE PROCESS NOW!
What can your home sell for? What do you need to do to prepare it for market? Where will you move to? And how long will it all take? I'll put together a strategy to take you through the entire process from the moment you say 'go' to the day you hand over the keys. And I'll do it in a way that ensures that you'll be at maximum advantage in our current real estate market.
Contact me today. I'm ready to get to work on your behalf, and to get you moving.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
It's been amazing year. In addition to some personal landmark events -- son goes to college, daughter releases three original songs (check out Jordan Hurwitz on itunes, spotify, amazon!) -- I've thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful individuals and families I've been honored to work with. I've helped some move out of the area, others move back, helped some adapt their home choices to changing lifestyles and personal circumstances, some upgrade to larger homes, others adjust to the need for less space. And of course, my awesome first-time home buyers! It's so fun to watch as they enter their very own home for the first time! It's a privilege to help others with their own landmark events, a thrill that will never get old. So as I've said many times before, thank you to all who put your trust in me to help with such important decisions and events; may I always exceed your expectations.
All we've accomplished this year has been in the midst of a booming market marked by extremely high (pent up) demand and unprecedented low supply, historically low interest rates, improving overall economy, and local optimism. Multiple offers once again have become the norm, and while most Realtors were fairly conservative in their pricing strategies, many homes sold for significantly more. These prices will establish the new comps for the coming year, and we'll continue the projectory. What can we look forward to in 2013? Here's an excellent summary from KCM blog:
Demand for Housing Will Continue to Surge -- The housing market has turned the corner and there is no reason to believe that buyer demand will not maintain momentum throughout 2013. Household formations shot up to boom-time levels in 2012 and are projected to increase at even a faster rate over the next 12 months. A lack of inventory will be more of a challenge to sales increases than will a lack of demand.
Generations X and Y Will Prove They Believe in Homeownership -- Contrary to what many have hypothesized over the last few years, young adults (18-35 year olds) are just as committed to homeownership as previous generations. Recent studies have shown:~43% already own a home~72% see homeownership as part of their personal American Dream~93% of those currently renting plan to buy a home. This, along with the increase in household formations mentioned above, makes us believe that 2013 will be the year that many of these young adults will jump into homeownership.
Prices Will Continue to Increase -- Pricing of any item is determined by supply and demand. Demand for housing will remain strong throughout 2013. At the same time, the supply of home is shrinking in many parts of the country. Outside of a few states that still have challenges with large inventories of distressed properties (NY, NJ, CT, IL for example), prices will appreciate nicely. Even in the areas that are still dealing with high percentages of foreclosures and short sales, prices will not tumble dramatically. The increase in demand will absorb much of this inventory. In these areas, prices will either flatten or perhaps soften to a small degree.
Move-Up Sellers Will Return in Great Numbers -- Perhaps what many will find as the biggest surprise of 2013 will be the return of the ‘move-up’ seller. Over the last several years negative equity has prevented many of these sellers from moving up to the house of their dreams. However, with prices recovering, more and more of these sellers will realize that now may be their greatest opportunity to make the move to a lifestyle they always wanted. With home prices expected to increase and more stringent mortgage qualifications (QR and QRM) scheduled to be announced this year, we believe that the first half of the year will bring many of these sellers/buyers to the market.
The Consumer Will Demand That Their Agent Be an Expert -- Real estate professionals who have invested the money, time and energy to truly understand what is happening and why it is happening will separate themselves from their competition and do very well this year. Those who take that next step of learning how to simply and effectively communicate the market to their clients will be seen as experts. These industry leaders will dominate their markets.What does all this mean for you? If you're considering a move this coming year, the time to begin planning is now. Let's put together a complete strategy that will allow you to maximize the market value of your current home, if you'll be selling, and/or position you to successfully pursue your home of choice, if you'll be buying. Navigating today's real estate market demands that you are fully prepared, from financing to home prep and so much more. I'm ready to help you every step of the way, managing the process for you to achieve your goals.
So give me a call, and let's make 2013 your year for real estate!
As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays come into view, I can’t help but begin reflecting back over this year that seems to have sped by. I have so much to be thankful for: my family, my friends, and, I’m so fortunate to be able to say, the loyalty of my clients.
I love my work, and I love the people I get to work with. For example, I recently received a phone call from a lovely family who I helped with their first home purchase more than 14 years ago. “Shirley,” they said, “we’ve loved our home for all these years, and now that it’s time to sell, we would never consider working with anyone but you.”
Phone calls like this mean the world to me. During the 18-plus years that I’ve been a Realtor, my priority has always been to serve all my clients in a way that makes them want to come back to me for all their real estate needs, and to refer family and friends to me as well. I take the trust and confidence my clients place in me with the utmost seriousness and responsibility. So to this family, and to everyone who has given me the honor of helping with the purchase or sale of a home, I say thank you. Thank you for allowing me to help you with such important decisions and investments. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I hope you will always feel that I’ve earned your business, and I hope I will always meet or exceed your expectations.
So what's going on with the real estate market? Well, all I've been saying all year, only intensified. Extremely strong demand. Extremely low supply. Multiple offers on just about every home. Historically low interest rates. Extreme purchasing power for buyers. In short, a great time to sell, and a great time to buy. If you have any doubt at all, please contact me. I'll show you the facts; I think the decision will be clear.
Enjoy our beautiful Fall, and plan for a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love.
What WIll Our Fall Real Estate Market Bring?
In this year that is just flying by, here we are already at Labor Day! Originally established to honor the hard work of Americans, now the day marks the last summer holiday before Fall and all of our routines of school and work settle in. Personally, today marks my husband’s and my 28th wedding anniversary (!), the first year our son is at college and no longer living at home, the sophomore high school year for my daughter, and many more events in my wonderful life that I am so thankful for. We are so fortunate to live where we do, and to enjoy all that we have available to us. So enjoy today, and all of our tomorrows!
In the annual real estate cycle, Labor Day marks the beginning of what is typically considered the second most active time (spring being the first) to sell or buy a home. Vacations are over, people are back in their regular routines, and those who started the year with the intent of buying/selling a home have only a few months left to achieve their goals. This year in particular, historically low inventory, low interest rates, and high demand promise to make these next many weeks extremely busy. Predictions are that this market will roll into 2013, so for those who may be thinking they'll 'wait it out', don't.
One of the biggest driving forces of our current market are the low interest rates. For sellers, this is great news because it gives buyers the ability to pay more for a home. And for buyers, low interest rates create a scenario in which purchase price may become less relevant than monthly payments. It's far more important to consider how the cost of owning a home will fit into your individual budget, than to worry about paying a little more vs a little less for the home you want.
Navigating today's market, or any market for that matter, always requires expert guidance. So for all things real estate, please give me a call. My goal is to help you achieve your real estate dreams, and my joy is in making it all happen.
What do homes, kids, schools, and community have in common? A lot, I think, especially evident this week as my son graduates from Sequoia High School in Redwood City. Am I a proud mom? Absolutely. Jake has accomplished great things in high school, graduating with a full International Baccalaureate Diploma and designated a Salutatorian of his class. During the past four years he has enjoyed a stellar academic education along with so many amazing opportunities; one of the highlights for me was the band's recent performance of 'Rhapsody In Blue' featuring Jake on piano. All of his hard work has lead him to his next adventure, as he heads east in a couple of months to begin college.
Jake has been able to do all of this and so much more at a public high school (which followed a public elementary/middle school) with a student population that includes kids from an extremely diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds. He's been able to thrive in a student community in which acceptance, respect, and support are nurtured and prevalent. He and his friends and classmates have worked hard, played hard, and have excelled in so many ways. They've challenged each other to reach higher, they've propped each other up when they've needed it, and they've cheered each other on. They've developed into exemplary young men and women, and I have no doubt that they will all contribute to our world in wonderful ways.
So what does this have to do with homes? Simply that when we purchase our homes we're buying not only the structure, but also the neighborhood and the community with all that it entails. We're establishing a foundation for ourselves and for our families, one that we will benefit from and contribute to. We're buying so much more than a good roof or a remodeled kitchen; we're buying the environment in which our families will take part and thrive. Yes, I'm so very proud of my son. And I am also proud to live in the community in which I work, and to have the honor of helping families establish themselves here or where they choose. One of the greatest rewards of raising children is to be able to experience monumental occasions such their high school graduation. And one of the greatest rewards of helping my clients buy a home is knowing that they are joining a community that will provide them the same kinds of joy and benefits that I and my family have experienced in ours.
The State of the Market
Here we are in May 2012, and who would have predicted that our local real estate market would have turned so dramatically? The predictions I made at the beginning of the year have proven to be a mere understatement, as multiple offers have returned in a very big way, brought on by extremely low inventory and lots of pent-up demand, continuing historically low interest rates that are giving buyers unparalleled purchasing power, and a concern that these favorable conditions may not last. Prices are increasing, there's a perception that upcoming IPOs such as Facebook may flood the market with new homebuyers, and there's a higher comfort level in regards to our overall economy and job market.
So what does this mean for buyers and sellers?If you've been considering selling your home, now is the time! It's just as critical as ever to put together a sales strategy of prepping your home, marketing it to the max, and pricing it so that you will be able to get the best pricing and terms that today's market will bear. If you'd like an idea of what that may be, just give me a call. I expect you may be pleasantly surprised.
If you're considering buying a home, don't despair, just be prepared! It's so important to be completely approved before you begin your search, so that you can position yourself to aggressively pursue the home of your dreams. The more comprehensively you prepare for the home buying process, the better equipped you'll be to succeed regardless of your competition.
In today's market, it takes a team of experienced experts to ensure your success. Please contact me whether you're buying or selling. We'll make it happen!
The Difference Between Short Sales, REOs, and Regular Sales
I recently had the honor of representing my clients in their quest to purchase a home, and of the five offers that were presented, the sellers chose ours. That in itself was awesome, but what was so great about the experience was that I had the opportunity to present to sellers who were interested in who my clients were, rather than only in the bottom line. What a difference it makes in the process, the outcome, and the satisfaction!
Where are all the homes for sale?
Two refrains are the talk of our local real estate market these days ... one is ‘what a great time to buy’ and the other is ‘where are all the homes for sale?’ An interesting predicament, to say the least. So what’s going on, and what can we do about it?
A great time to buy? Here are the top reasons why.
Ok, you’ve been looking. But there are no homes for sale!
So, if you've been thinking about selling or purchasing a home, this is the time! Give me a call, and we'll put a plan together to help you benefit from current market conditions, and achieve all of your real estate goals!
Happy New Year! I hope you've enjoyed this holiday season, and that it's given you joy and inspiration to last long into 2012. We have so much to be thankful for, and so much to look forward to! Life is a gift, and we do it justice by treasuring every moment. From my family to yours, best wishes for a year filled with good health, good tidings, and the continued quest for peace throughout our world.
Q. What’s up with appraisals?
Q. Rental homes as investment properties?
A. Yes! With more questions about the booming rental market coming up every day, I thought it’d be a good time to look at rentals from an investment perspective. I’ve incorporated much of a recent column written by the founder of Intero, Gino Blefari, but the upshot is, purchasing homes to rent may be a perfect opportunity to take advantage of lower pricing, low interest rates, and skyrocketing demand.
While all the focus has been on the data related to single-family housing – home sales, home values, foreclosures – there's a lot brewing in the market for rentals. Think about the millions of people who've lost or have had to sell their homes and have gone from owning to renting. Think about those who have had to downsize due to job loss or a cut in wages.
Data from the Census Bureau shows that household formation has declined during the recession – most likely because there are more unemployed young adults who are still living at home with their parents, and many of those who have lost their jobs have had to temporarily move in with friends or relatives.
When jobs pick back up and it's time to move out, where will these people go? Will they jump into home ownership? Likely not. They'll be looking for a nice place to rent. And all those borrowers who defaulted on their mortgages? They're probably going to need to rent for awhile too.
So what's the opportunity for you and me?
If you’re in the market to invest in property, you might want to start by looking at duplexes and smaller homes that could be used as rental properties. Picture yourself as a landlord, not a house flipper. The rental market is on fire and, by the looks of it, will continue this way for several years. People have to live somewhere and home ownership is still a few steps away from a pretty large pool of the population. Being a landlord might not be what you'd pictured yourself doing as a real estate investor, but the opportunity to earn extra income speaks for itself.
Please contact me with any questions you may have about investment properties, the local rental market, and all things real estate. There are lots of great opportunities; let me show you some today!
July 4th Reflection--A Threat to Home Ownership and the American Dream
As we celebrate our country’s birthday this week, we can all reflect on what living in the USA means to us (other than a 3-day weekend!). We may think our country is a little bit crazy: change and uncertainty in politics, economics, societal norms, and much more. Yet for all the complaining, disagreement and discontent, all we have to do is look to any other country in the world to realize that we’re actually in a pretty good place. As the first natural born citizen in my family, I appreciate the love immigrants have for our country and all that it offers. Like my parents, so many risked their lives to come to America with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Through a combination of motivation, inspiration, innovation, bravery, intelligence, hard work and yes, a little bit of luck, they made a life for themselves. They married, they raised their own families, they prospered. They enjoyed the American Dream.
As part of that dream, most of our parents were fortunate enough to own their own home. Mine, for example, have lived in the same home for more than 50 years. When they bought it (even though the pricing seems ludicrous to us today) they leveraged themselves to the max. First loans, second loans, even third loans! Each month, every penny was accounted for in the family budget, and the home took it’s share. But they wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Fast forward to today. While the numbers are dramatically different, the basic premise is the same. Studies and polls show that the vast majority of Americans strongly feel that owning our own home is a big part of the American Dream. Yet in today’s economic climate, there are proposals afoot that, if implemented, could significantly affect our ability to enjoy the same opportunities.
As part of the reactionary evolution of financing, a response to the ‘have-a-pulse, get-a-loan’ mindset that caused so much havoc, the qualifying guidelines are continually changing, tightening, and then changing some more. Making the task just a little bit harder, especially in places like the Mid-Peninsula where entry-level homes are so expensive, is the demise of ‘jumbo conforming’ loans. Introduced a couple of years ago to prop up a falling housing market, loan amounts up to $729,750 were attractively priced in between conforming loans (up to $417,000) and jumbo loans (above $729,750). But the feeling now is that the market is rebounding and the feds are starting to step away. By summer’s end, the interim rate will be set at $625,000. It may not seem like a huge difference, but for buyers who are right on the edge, it can be a ‘buy-or-no-buy’ difference. Housing market conditions have not improved enough to warrant letting the limits drop.
One of the great benefits of home ownership is the ability to shelter some of our income through the MID. Without this, the cost of home ownership increases significantly. When the incentive to own a home goes away, so do all the spillover effects: everything from pride in your own neighborhood to purchases to maintain and upgrade your home and so much more. The MID is vital to both home ownership and our economy. It’s time to preserve, protect and defend this critical deduction. The MID built the dream of home ownership in America; our economic recovery won’t be complete without a vibrant housing market.
If you have an opportunity to voice your support for programs that stimulate home ownership and the economy, like reasonable lending practices or the MID, please speak up. Let your congressional representatives know how you feel. And on our country’s birthday as well as every other day, I hope we’ll strive to make the American Dream that includes home ownership a true possibility for all of us, today and in the future.
Q: There’s so much talk these days about renting instead of buying a home. Is America losing it’s love affair with home ownership?
A: Absolutely not! There are some situations where renting truly does make more sense. But studies and polls consistently show that the vast majority of people prefer to own their own homes. There are so many reasons why, here are just a few:
Control -- There’s nothing worse than the hovering threat of that 30- or 60-day notice to move out of the house you’re living in. Busy at work? Too bad. Upsetting for children? Oh well. Nothing else available? Tough. Forcing your kids to switch schools? Bummer. As tenants, you and your family are always subject to someone else’s whim. The only way take control? Don’t be a tenant; own your own home.
Pride -- Not only do you become the master of your destiny (at least as far as housing goes) but most homeowners take immense pride in their homes. 'This is my home’ is a glorious statement, and there’s also the ability to make your home your own, fulfilling your specific needs, preferences, and reflecting who you are. The nasty carpet you were forced to live with in a rental? Gone. The drab off-white walls to which you were dying to add color? Go for it. The 25-year-old oven that baked so unevenly? Replace it. The veggie garden you’ve been longing to plant? Enjoy! Knowing you can do what you want to your home, and that everything will be for your benefit, is a wonderful feeling. The clerks at Home Depot may become your new best friends, and I guarantee that every job you complete will bring you a great sense of joy and satisfaction.
Security -- When you own your own home you truly can be the king or queen of your castle. Your home is yours, and it’s up to you to pay for it, maintain it, improve it, live in it, and enjoy it to the fullest. As long as you hold up your part of the agreement, no one can take it from you.
Good Investment -- Yes, purchasing a home is a good investment. With monthly rental prices of $3000-$3500 and even higher for a minimally acceptable 3 bedroom 2 bath home in a reasonable area, why help someone else pay off their mortgage and increase their equity when you could be accomplishing the same for yourself? With current tax benefits, $3500/month in rent is the equivalent of about $5000/month in mortgage. Yes, you need down payment monies. And good credit scores. And reserves. And a lot of additional checks and balances to make sure you are qualified for a loan. But as the financing world evolves, so do the available mortgage programs. There are programs once again for less than 20 percent down. Jumbo money loans are readily available. Interest rates are resting at historically low levels. Mortgage interest and property taxes are tax deductible, rent is not. The price you pay for your home becomes less relevant than the investment you make (your down payment) as well as the monthly costs of ownership. This becomes even more true the longer you own your home.
Owning A Home -- Is it expensive? It can be. Does it take prioritizing and compromises? Of course. Will the value increase? Most likely over time. But what you have is a tangible asset that you can touch and see every day, compared to other popular investments such as stock and commodities that have shown themselves to be unpredictable, to say the least. And if you take a historical look at home appreciation, you’ll see that no other investment comes close. But most importantly, your home provides you and your family with more than simply a roof over your head. It provides you a place of your own that you can identify with and build memories in, a place that is more than just a house, it’s your home.
Funny thing: as I was writing this response, the excellent real estate-focused KCM blog published an entry titled “Should You Rent Or Buy In This Market?” (Great minds think alike?) Here are some expert opinions KCM included:
“When we examine the relationships between mortgage payments and income and mortgage payments and rent, we see that these relationships have also reverted back to or below equilibrium points. In some cases, particularly when mortgage payments are compared to the cost of renting, home prices actually appear cheap.” -- Citigroup
‘The continuation of falling rental vacancies and rising rental demand will make home buying increasingly attractive,’ especially as rental prices increase” -- JP Morgan
So what does all this mean? It truly is a great time to buy a home! All you need to do is contact me, and we’ll get you on the road to home ownership.
Q: Multiple offers again? Really?
A: Yes, in spite of what you may be reading in the national media, multiple offers have increasingly become the norm in our Mid-Peninsula market this year. Remember, all real estate is local. Our market consistently illustrates a continued high demand and low supply, especially if you're looking for quality homes. Most homes that are attracting multiple buyers have some sort of 'wow' factor, such as beautiful upgrades, great floorplans, larger than normal lot size, desirable neighborhoods and, so importantly for buyers with school-aged children, excellent neighborhood schools. So how do you navigate multiple offers for success? Here are some pointers:
Be Financially Prepared. You should be completely pre-approved by a reputable lender who can guarantee timely performance. You are much better off working with a local lender with a direct contact who will be advocating your loan throughout the entire process. You should have your down payment funds liquid and ready to go. With the sensitivity of the financing market these days, any stone left unturned may end up presenting an obstacle. Also, in our world of forever changing mortgage guidelines, uncertain appraisals and other challenges, the larger the investment you are ready to make, the better. All things being equal, 40 percent down payment trumps 20 percent, and in the eyes of a seller, it's hard to beat all cash.
Be Market Savvy. With the guidance of your Realtor, you should know if the home you're pursuing is worthy of the attention it's getting. Is it truly a standout and worth fighting for? Or will a similar or even better home come for sale in the near future? While none of us have the proverbial crystal ball, excellent agents should have the experience and local expertise to provide you with information regarding the kinds of homes that come available in any given neighborhood, what other comparable homes have sold for, and what makes an individual home unique. As part of this discussion, keep in mind that when the next home comes for sale, the comps that'll be used for pricing will include the home currently in question. So with an upward trend in pricing, it could cost more to wait.
Do Your Due Diligence. The nice thing about having a date set for offers on a home rather than 'first come-first serve' is that you most likely will have time to review all the disclosures, inspections, and reports the seller provides, get any quuestions answered and, if need be, have any additional inspections you deem necessary. Your comfort level with a home can be conveyed in an offer, and will illustrate to a seller how committed you are to completing the purchase. In our buyer-beware world of real estate, the more you know about a home, the less likely you'll be surprised once you take ownership.
Determine True Market Value. Different agents have different strategies in setting list prices of homes. Some go high, so that there is 'room to negotiate.' Others go low, in the hopes of attracting multiple buyers and a higher sales price. Others succumb to what a seller 'wants' or 'needs' to get out of a home, regardless of reality. And so on. With the guidance and knowledge of your agent, you can determine a reasonable value of a home. Many factors can come into play, some of which may be very subjective. Bottom line: if there is more than one offer and yours is chosen, it's because you're offering to pay the most for the home (expect in very rare situations). Does the amount you're offering make sense? Are there comps to support an appraisal at sales price? Once all the emotion of the moment passes, are you going to feel good about the home? And if your bid is not chosen, are you going be stricken with an acute case of 'woulda, shoulda, coulda'? If you're planning to stay in the home for many years, the price you pay becomes less relevant than how the costs of ownership fit into your current and future budgets. Over time, you're not going think about whether you paid a little more or a little less for your home, but you are going to think about how much you're enjoying it.
Work With An Excellent Realtor. No matter the market, the Realtor you work with can make all the difference to your experience and outcome. Excellent Realtors are local experts, with a wealth of experience in a local market. Excellent Realtors have impeccable reputations within the local real estate community. Excellent Realtors can give you a historical perspective to help put your home purchase in context. Excellent Realtors are thoroughly knowledgeable about and by your side through every step of the process, from the day you begin searching for your home, to the day you get the keys to the front door. Excellent Realtors have a bank of top notch referrals to provide to you, including lenders, insurance providers, inspectors, tradespeople, and so many more. And excellent Realtors are there for you before, during, and long after your transaction is complete, always ready to assist you. So whether the home you'd like to purchase has multiple offers or not, make sure you work with a Realtor who is truly excellent at what they do, and puts your complete satisfaction as their highest priority.
I'm ready to help you, or anyone in your family and circle of friends, successfully purchase a new home. Give me a call, and let's get to work!
Q: Why should I stage my home? Everything looks great the way it is!
A: We all have our homes set up (either intentionally or by default) to function well day-to-day. But, the way we live in our homes is not necessarily the best way to show our homes. Sellers have only one chance for their home to make a positive impression on prospective buyers, starting before they even get out of the car. Here are the top 10 priorities involved in staging your home, which is simply the process of prepping your home to be as attractive as possible to those who view it.
1. Declutter: Inside and out. This means that garbage cans, shoes on the front porch, bicycles, projects-you-meant-to-do-but-haven't-so-the-stuff-is-all-out, etc are all gone. And on the inside, the bookshelves crammed to over capacity need to be thinned, counters cleared down to one or two decorative items, appliances cleared of last years' party invitations and cutsy magnets. In the kitchen, I have a particular pet peeve for knife blocks and other items that could be dangerous. They need to go. For the can't-live-without items, it's easy enough to make space in cabinets so they're accessible (which may mean prepacking the things you won't use in the next few months), store toiletries in baskets, or to put keys, change and all the stuff that typically gets dropped on a dresser or counter top in decorative baskets. You never know, you may end up permanently adopting your new organizational skills!
2. Landscape: No matter the time of year, it's amazing how much some newly planted colorful flowers or fresh bark chips can freshen up a yard. Even though our tendancy is to conserve when it comes to watering, it's important to ease up enough to have your yard looking as healthy and lush as possible.
3. Front door: Where's the first place buyers will stop, look, and ponder? That's right, at the front door while it's being unlocked. As such, it's so important to have a nice front door that is freshly painted, clean, and a portent of what prospective buyers will see on the other side.
4. Furnishings: Regardless of how much comfort the old freying easy chair offers you, or how much you love the couch even though the dog hair pretty much covers the fabric, or how practical it is to have the extra dresser in the bathroom, these and so much more need to be removed. The goal behind staging, which can range from simply thinning out and repositioning your existing furniture, or going as far as storing yours and bringing in new pieces, is to suggest to prospective buyers how the space works, and to create a clean, simple yet homey feel that helps create an emotional appeal to your home.
5 Clean, clean clean!: Nothing is a bigger turnoff for prospective buyers than to walk into a home that smells like yesterday's cooking, has crumbs and sticky stuff on the counters and table, or that has dirty carpets, floors or soiled laundry that you have to step over. I cannot not stress the importance of having an immaculate home when it's for sale. And fresh smelling, which means opening the windows. If that means splurging to hire a cleaning crew for a couple of months, so be it. It's well worth it.
6. Lighten up!: First off, your windows should be sparkly clean. You may want to consider taking the screens off as well, except for those windows you'll want to open. And even if your personal preferance is to draw the drapes, you should have all your window coverings wide open when you're showing your home. One of the primary things prospective buyers look at is how light a home is, so you should do all you can to let the light shine in.
7. Fresh paint: It's amazing what a difference fresh paint and appealing paint colors can have, for a relative small cost. Clean, unmarked walls significantly impact the look and feel of a home. And no offense intended in regards to painting over the bright orange-and-teal dining room walls with a soft taupe, i t's simply a matter of making your home appealing to as large a group of prospective buyers as possible.
8. Repair the little things: We all mean to get to the door handle that's loose, or the toilet that runs long after each flush, or the blind that is ripped. Part of readying your home for sale should be the repair of all these little things. Not only will taking care of these items eliminate distractions and make for a cleaner home inspection , their repair will convey a feeling that you've maintained your home well.
9. Plan for your pets: As much as we love our animals, they can be a huge deterrent to prospective buyers. You may know that your labrador is a sweetheart, but a barking jumping dog can be extremely intimidating. And while your child may find that 3-foot long snake fascinating, the mere sight of it may make many cringe. Whether you need to find temporary caretakers for your pets, or simply take them with you during showings, you'll want to make sure you've thoroughly thought through your plans for the comfort and ease of prospective buyers, as well as for you and your pets.
10. Maintain: Now that your home looks amazing, you need to keep it this way for the duration! Schedule in some time each morning to make sure everything looks perfect before you leave for the day. Beds made, laundry stored, dishes done. You never know when the next owner of your home will walk in, and you certainly don't want to risk creating anything less than the best impression.
There's a lot that goes into staging your home for sale, but if you embrace the entire process, the payoff can be huge. If you're considering selling your home, contact me for a thorough walkthru and discussion of what you'll need to do. Together, we'll make sure that by the time you put your home on the market, it'll look it's best. And thanks for the great question!
Q: We want to move this year. When should we plan to list our home for sale and start looking for our new home?
A: Great question! The short answer is, you should start planning for your move now. And here are all the reasons why:
Real estate has it's annual cycle (typical but in no way absolute) of peaks and off-peaks. The market begins to wake up from it's winter slumber by the end of January, right around the Superbowl. The days start getting longer, the sun is shining more, and people are ready to get out and start looking at homes. For this reason, spring is considered the #1 time to list your home for sale, and at the same time, the season when most prospective buyers are out looking for homes to purchase. If you think through the timing it makes a lot of sense: let's say you find the home you'd like to buy in the February -April timeframe, you take ownership about 30-45 days later in the March-June timeframe, and you move at the end of the school year/beginning of summer, giving you plenty of time to get settled before back-to-school and the fall routine. While there's a common belief that summer is the time to list your home for sale, this is actually not considered a prime time; people are distracted by summer activities and vacations. The month of August typically presents a bit of a lull as people enjoy the dog-days of summer before school begins. Once we get past Labor Day, we're into the fall season, typically considered the second best time to list your home. This lasts until Thanksgiving and the approach of the winter holidays, when once again people have activities and priorities other than searching for a new home.
While this may all seem pretty logical, I'll now throw in a huge caveat: because on the Mid-Peninsula we are always in a market of healthy demand and limited supply, coupled with the fact that in most neighborhoods each home is unique in terms of overall condition, layout, upgrades, remodeling, and other aesthetics (compared to neighborhoods with great consistency in terms of overall style and floorplans), there is no guarantee that your 'perfect' home is going to be available when you decide you're ready. It could be that the first home you see is 'it', or it could be that the right home won't come for sale for six months. The key to success in selling and buying a home is to be prepared. With the guidance of your Realtor, you should plan ahead for both the sale and the purchase, doing all prep work required, identifying your down payment sources and financing options, and so much more. You and your Realtor need to make sure you're positioned to consider homes as they come available, and not let any opportunities pass you by. Spring, summer, winter, or fall, when you see the right home for you, you want to be able to aggressively pursue it in hopes of ensuring that you will, in the end, be able to call it your own.
Thanks for the great question. If you'd like to begin planning to buy or sell your home, please contact me today. We'll make it happen!