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Buyer / Seller Information

APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Do I Still Have A Chance if I’m Not the Highest Bidder?

March 30, 2015
Agents Sound Off
 

David Gunderman & Andrew Raskopf
Oakland Hills – Montclair Village
510.205.4369
dgunderman@apr.com
araskopf@apr.com

Question: Do I still have a chance if I’m not the highest bidder?
Answer: The highest bid almost always wins. Almost.
If you have the ability and the wherewithal to match your competition, there are ways to approach the terms and presentation of your offer to secure an opportunity to prevail in a counter offer phase (but never assume you will get that opportunity as you draft your initial offering.) One of your agent’s responsibilities is to try to find a way to get the seller to give you the opportunity to match or beat the best offer if it is not yours. There are also instances where the seller values something more than top dollar (i.e. a smoother closing, better terms, or they choose to bequeath the home to someone who has tugged at their heartstrings). In addition to assessing value and analyzing disclosures, it is important that your agent find out what the seller values and you should consider including a letter with your offer that builds emotional bridges to the seller while remaining true to who you are.
Lastly, relationships matter in real estate. Lower offers can prevail when the listing agent and seller trust the lender and/or the buyer’s agent to get the job done, especially if the highest offer seems uncertain.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

What do buyers and sellers often fail to account for?

March 23, 2015
Agents Sound Off
 

Nick Granoski
Palo Alto
650.269-8856
ngranosk@apr.com

Question: What do buyers and sellers often fail to account for?
Answer: The power of live conversation can be underestimated in this age of technology, especially as it relates to fast-moving real estate transactions.
Buyers and sellers are using technology to be faster and more efficient with communicating via text, e-mail, etc. While this does facilitate faster communication, it’s important to remember that real estate transactions can also be emotional, and technology does not always translate emotions effectively. Feelings matter, and deals come together (or fall apart) based on what is communicated or interpreted.
Live conversation during transactions can quickly clear up misconceptions or assumptions faster and more cohesively than an ongoing exchange of e-mails or text messages back and forth. Tone of voice, clarity and questions that evolve based on the flow of conversation can be assessed quickly, accurately and will save both buyers and sellers lots of money and time when done correctly. Don’t underestimate the power of communicating the old-fashioned way when it comes to effective real estate transactions.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Types of pest reports, and who should pay?

January 26, 2015
Agents Sound Off
 

Patricia Cox
Danville / Blackhawk
925.963.6404
patcox@apr.com

Question: Types of pest reports, and who should pay?
Answer: While there are situations in which there are concerns over other vermin, when we refer to pest control reports in real estate, we are typically referring to a structural pest control report, which identifies wood-destroying pests and organisms (fungus, wet/dry rot, termites, etc.).
These types of pests are very important to identify immediately, as it may impact other improvements to the home. With exterior painting, for example, you want to repair dry rot before painting takes place.
I recommend that my sellers get and pay for these reports before going to market. Buyers are more willing to purchase properties in “as is” condition with existing reports when they have third-party inspection reports. Eliminating surprises is crucial to keeping transactions together and protecting all parties.
Every buyer should make sure that a pest control inspection is one of the inspections performed when purchasing a home. Who pays for the report is negotiable and must be taken into account with the overall offer scenario and competition.
If the seller has already provided an inspection, or you are in a competitive bidding situation as a buyer, it is unlikely that the seller will be willing to pay for the pest control report.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

What are the benefits to open houses around the holidays?

December 15, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Greg Celotti
Palo Alto
650.740.1580
greg@apr.com

Question: What are the benefits to open houses around the holidays?
Answer: There are pros and cons to having an open house during the holiday season, including some of which may sound a bit contradictory. The advantages include very little competition (inventory levels can be about one-third of what is typically on the market), plus some of the available homes may choose not to be held open. As in most businesses, less competition and more exposure is a good thing for a seller.
Additionally, there is an influx of out-of-area buyers who are here to visit family with the intention of moving here. Often, it’s easier for them to conduct home searches around social visits during their holiday vacations.
In terms of the disadvantages, some buyers will discontinue their search during the holidays due to travel plans, social events, and other seasonal commitments, thereby reducing the buyer pool.
For sellers, it can also be difficult to balance showing the home and still find time to enjoy the season for the very same reasons. Plus, in keeping with the conventional wisdom of staging/presenting a home in a neutral way, it may inhibit them from decorating like they normally would.
These are just a few of the factors to consider whether to hold a home open during the holidays. However, with the strong market, low inventory and large quantity of buyers, if you want to sell your home, you might want to do it.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Do buyers or sellers typically have more leverage during the holidays?

December 1, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Monica Corman
Menlo Park
650.543.1164
mcorman@apr.com

Question: Do buyers or sellers typically have more leverage during the holidays?
Answer: In general, the market slows down during peak holiday periods. Buyers are busy with holiday activities and sellers are waiting until the new year to put their houses on the market.
But in spite of the typical seasonal trends, either buyers or sellers can have the upper hand.
If a property has been on the market for a couple of weeks or more, is in a good location and in a popular price range, it should have sold by now. The seller may be getting anxious, and buyers can have more leverage because sellers don’t want to have an unsold property in January.
Sellers can have more leverage if they don’t wait until the new year to list a good property, although there is risk in doing this with fewer active buyers in the market. But with so little new inventory in December, and serious buyers looking even during the holidays, sellers who don’t wait may do well.
Last year I listed a Palo Alto property on Christmas Eve, with a plan to show it after New Year’s. I was inundated with calls and there was so much interest we decided to accept offers on Jan. 3 — and received 16. The seller was thrilled.
So if you are a buyer, stay active during December and you may get a better deal than during other times of the year. And if you are a seller, ask your agent what the best market timing for your property would be. The answer might be Christmas Eve.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Are there any benefits to buying or selling before the end of the year?

November 24, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Patricia Lawton
San Francisco
415.309.7836
pattie@lawtonsf.com

Question: Are there benefits to buying or selling before the end of the year?
Answer: While there may be certain tax benefits to some individuals for completing a transaction within the current year, there is one thing that is certain: If you are a seller, the buyers who are looking at property in December are serious. Those who look at open houses as a hobby are busy with holiday plans. Most buyers at the end of the year are motivated to make a move.
Traffic through your home may be lighter, but of a higher quality.
If you are a buyer, there aren’t many sellers who are “testing the market” in December.
Likewise, people have better things to do with their time in December, so most sellers are serious if their home is on the market near the holidays.
Keep in mind that these sellers may be ready to make a deal.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

How can contingencies either help or harm a sale?

November 17, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Clayton Humphries
San Francisco
415.814.8248
claytonh@apr.com

Question: How can contingencies either help or harm a sale?
Answer: I was once asked to list a client’s townhome for sale, and we laid out a timeline and marketing plan. After our first open house, my clients found their dream home — a beautiful four-bedroom with an amazing yard and garden. After we toured the home together, we put in an offer. We included that the offer was contingent on the sale of the townhome.
This is a tricky situation for an agent. Why would the seller accept our offer when we still had to find a buyer? The key is communication. Although many agents may advise their seller to consider another offer, this agent worked with us.
While the contingency hurt our chances initially, in the long run it helped. In our notes we stated the sale of the townhome would be within 30 days. We gave the seller a Comparative Market Analysis of the townhome and included a bio of my client’s family, discussing their commitment to the community and their desire to continue to grow their family in this home.
In the end, the seller shared with us that because we had the townhouse well marketed and priced correctly, it proved that once we were in contract, we would be more than qualified.
While contingencies can in some cases slow the closing process, if your agent communicates with the seller that you have a valuable property you’re leveraging, it can help in showing your commitment to purchasing their home.
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Buyer / Seller Information

How does a Realtor help a buyer determine their budget?

October 27, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Heather Green
Los Altos
650.810.3219
hgreen@apr.com

Question: How does a Realtor help a buyer determine their budget?
Answer: My role is to help my buyers stick to their budget and set realistic expectations to help them avoid buyer fatigue, especially in this strong seller’s market.
It is very common for homes in this market to sell well above list price, so it can be frustrating for buyers who look at (and sometimes fall in love with) properties listed near the top of their budget, only to be outbid.
My approach — and my advice to buyers who are doing their own searches — is to use the list price as a general guideline, but focus instead on recent comps for a true sense of what a property will sell for. If there is a good, comparable property that has sold for higher than their budget, it’s best not to waste time and emotional energy getting attached to a property they can’t afford. In the absence of a solid comp, a good rule of thumb is to only look at properties listed 10 percent below the max budget, leaving the buyer enough headroom to be competitive in a multiple offer situation.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Why would a Realtor recommend a specific title company?

September 29, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Susan White
Sonoma
707.537.1236
swhite@apr.com

Question: Why would a Realtor recommend a specific title company?
Answer: When a real estate transaction enters the escrow process, the efficiency and attention to detail of the title company and escrow officer are paramount to facilitating a smooth closing. Choosing the right company to handle this important final phase of the transaction can make the difference between a smooth and timely closing or a cumbersome one with obstacles.
Title companies play a key role in acting as the combined agent of the buyer, seller and any other parties related to a transaction, including any mortgage lenders. From the title search of the property to ensuring outstanding liens and encumbrances on the property are identified, the title company is an important component of a successful sale. The company also ensures all documents are properly signed and legally recorded — not a small matter in a substantial financial transaction.
It’s also not uncommon for one or more parties of the transaction to be out of state or out of the country, and the title company will arrange signings virtually anywhere with traveling notaries, attorneys or branch offices.
For the Realtor, the title company and escrow officer are key players in a transaction. Knowing you’re working with someone you can trust to communicate well throughout escrow, and ensure all documents are executed appropriately, is critically important.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

What are some emerging neighborhoods in the Bay Area?

August 25, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Philip Weingrow
Oakland Hills – Montclair Village
510.899.8001
pweingrow@apr.com

Question: What are some emerging neighborhoods in the Bay Area?
Answer: While many may point to a specific neighborhood and talk about how it is changing, the biggest example of this I’m aware of is the City of Alameda. This area, once known primarily for its Navy base, is in the process of transforming itself into a modern 21st century city. With room for development and the geographic benefits of incredible views, beaches, and easy commutes via ferry and BART, the future is looking spectacularly bright!
People are noticing and coming to take advantage of the great schools, restaurants, and shopping, both in the commercial streets bordering residential neighborhoods as well as re-developed shopping centers like South Shore.
The potential of the base development is something long awaited and will bring additional parks, housing, and other development. The area already has a growing number of tech companies bringing new jobs to the city, along with micro-breweries and outdoor concerts.
But most of all, Alameda has been able to maintain a bygone charm in the architecture, neighborhoods, and community involvement that is hard to beat. Perhaps that’s why the average price of a single family home has jumped from the mid-$500’s in the beginning of 2012 to over $850,000 currently, with a record sale this year in excess of $3 million.
While this may make it appear Alameda has already emerged, I’d suggest it still has room for significantly more opportunity.
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