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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Interest rate hike delay means what for Bay Area buyers, sellers?

September 8, 2015
Agents SOUND OFF
 

Tom Dreyer
Mill Valley
415.412.3443
tdreyer@apr.com

Question: Interest rate hike delay means what for Bay Area buyers, sellers?
Answer: If the Fed continues to hold rates at present extraordinarily low levels, it should support and enable the hot local sales market. Low rates provide a clear incentive for all types of buyers as they are able to leverage additional buying power — and are able to borrow more without dramatically increasing their expected payments. With a stable rate, buyers willing to hold a property for at least five years can increase the chances of making money on the eventual sale.
That said, a small, incremental increase in rates by the Fed over several quarters typically will create a spike in buyer activity, while they fear their “buying window” may be closing. Over the long term, it also may price out some buyers until the market becomes more balanced.
The past weeks’ volatility in the stock market, should it continue, is a greater concern to me insofar as consumer confidence is concerned. If consumers do not feel financially stable, it can have a large impact on the real estate market.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

When should I stage and professionally photograph?

April 20, 2015
Agents Sound Off
 

Nick Granoski
Palo Alto
650.269.8850
ngranoski@apr.com

Question: When should I stage and professionally photograph?
Answer: The speed at which our market moves makes it critical to get everything right from the start.
Many times buyers need to make up their minds about whether or not to make an offer after seeing a home just one time. With only one chance to make a first impression, I always recommend staging and professional photography.
The degree of staging will vary based on the home. The condition of the interior and exterior along with the price range are all factors in making a decision regarding how much staging to use.
If the house is barely inhabitable and needs all new electrical, plumbing, roof, etc., it doesn’t make sense to stage. You want to make the home look livable, but no need to overdo it.
On the other end of the spectrum, a high-end home may already have custom furniture and paint colors picked by an interior designer, but it will still need some degree of staging to make it shine. The art of staging and photographing a home to sell is unique to each transaction, but all homes will benefit.
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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

What features add the most value to a home?

March 9, 2015
Agents Sound Off
 

Lance Fulford
San Francisco
415.793.6140
lfulford@apr.com

Question: What features add the most value to a home?
Answer: Value — like beauty — is in the eye of the beholder, and in my 20-plus years of experience as a local Realtor, there are multiple differences between buyers in San Francisco and the rest of the Bay Area.
Across the board, however, I would rank a garage as the most valued. This is followed by outdoor space (patio, deck or gardens) and a remodeled kitchen and baths.
Many buyers will forgo remodeled features if they can get a “better” location or one that they put higher value on for their life stage and/or lifestyle.
Then we get into floor plan and functionality, and finer points such as hardwood flooring, moldings and other details including energy upgrades.
Buyers don’t put a value on structural items like foundation or a heating system because they expect those will be there and take that as a given. However, if structural items are an issue or are missing, most buyers will eliminate the property from their list altogether.
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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 long does an escrow period last and what can complicate it?

July 14, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

Karen Richardson
Orinda
925.639.3904
krichardson@apr.com

Question: How long does an escrow period last and what can complicate it?
Answer: A “typical” escrow is 30 days. That gives the title company plenty of time to pull up the title report, and search for any liens, easements, lawsuits, or any other clouds on title. When the title company closes escrow and you are granted title they are insuring that you know everything that may be attached.
There are three other things that determine how quickly or slowly escrow closes, and these are on the buyer’s side. The loan contingency automatically makes the contract default to 17 days for the loan to go through underwriting and have complete approval.
The second factor is the appraisal contingency which is when the bank orders an appraisal of the property. If there is a difference between the appraisal amount and the purchase price, the buyer is required to pay the difference in cash.
Finally, there is the physical contingency which the buyer can make any amount of time they choose, but again defaults to 17 days. Often reports have been done on the property in advance. If not, buyers may need time extensions to complete, review, and sign off on any inspection findings. Agents will file time extensions at this time, which can make the escrow period as long as it takes for the buyer to feel they know and accept all they need to about the property.
At that point, the buyer can sign off this contingency, or ask for a price reduction, or request that repairs be made. So, while a “typical” escrow is 30 days, they can go from 1 week to many weeks, depending on these factors.
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

How does summer vacation play into the market?

June 9, 2014
Agents Sound Off
 

John Jenkins
Saratoga
408.741.1111
jjenkins@apr.com

Question: How does summer vacation play into the market?
Answer: During the summer months, more homes go on the market due to sellers with children not wanting to interrupt their school schedule. In June and July we see a surge in the number of homes being listed, and with this, prices often stabilizing due to the added inventory. Simply speaking, when there are more homes available on the market, buyers have more choices, and prices level out.
Because of this increase in inventory and price stabilization, June and July are a perfect time for buyers to find a home in this competitive market.
Along with more sellers, there are usually more buyers on the market in June and July, although this number will drop off in August. If buyers have school-aged children, they need to be settled into their new homes by this time so their kids can be registered and ready to start classes back up at the end of the month!
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APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

What should I look for in a REALTOR?

June 3, 2014
Agents Sound Off
Donna Goldman
Corte Madera – Central Marin
415.458.3500
dgoldman@apr.com


Question:
What should I look for in a REALTOR?
Answer: No two buyers or sellers are alike in their approach. Regardless, there are a number of essential expectations that should be considered before engaging an agent:
— A client should have a strong relationship with his or her agent – one that is based on timely, open and regular communication.
— A Realtor needs to be intuitive of a client’s needs, have strong local market knowledge to best advise and educate the buyer, and resources to help procure a pre-approved loan if needed.
— On the listing side, sellers should expect their Realtor to educate them on the latest market conditions, advise them on how to prepare the property to sell, oversee the preparation of the buyer’s package, and be hands-on in pre-marketing and on-going marketing of the property
— Finally, seek an agent who will have time for you and doesn’t have numerous buyers and sellers in your same price range.
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