Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 5 And Beyond: Depends On How Step 4 Goes

question

There is one guarantee after writing an offer on a property in San Francisco, and that is there is no guarantee you’ll get the property. With multiple offers all too common, sellers holding the upper hand, extremely low inventory, and thousands of buyers in the market, writing an offer is only part of the property winning (yes, we use the term winning) equation.

So what is the next step, then? The only certainty is if your offer was rejected, you can shuffle back up to Step 3 and start the touring again. There is a learning curve in San Francisco real estate, and you likely won’t get the first place you go for. Patience is paramount, and communication is key. Stay in touch with your Realtor (because now you have one), and keep hope alive. You will get there in the end. It may just take more time than you had expected.

If your offer was not rejected, and you’re the lucky winner, there are so many different steps that could happen next, we need not mention them in detail here. Things like: did you receive a counter offer; was the counter offer a multiple counter offer; have you been offered what is called “backup”; did your offer include inspections; how much time do you have to remove contingencies; do you need to sell your own home; is the seller asking for a “rent back”; so on and so forth. It is here that you will see value in a Realtor, and why we are so very comfortable giving you all of the tools you need to find your property on your own, online.

In the end, there will be about 10-20 more steps (at least) before getting keys to your home, and you’re going to need someone to guide you, because the process is so very not cut and dry, and we hope to earn your business. Feel free to learn more about us here, and read some testimonials here. Or better yet, drop us a line so we can chat about what you need.

If all you do is read these steps, set out on your own, find your own Realtor, and never contact us…we truly wish you the best of luck!

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor) [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 4: Make An Offer (Choose A Realtor)

Here you are, having completed Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3 of the home buying process in San Francisco. Now what?

This is the moment you’ve been waiting for. You’ve found the perfect (or almost perfect) property, you’re educated on the market, you’ve seen what other comparable properties are selling for, you love the area, the price is right, and you’re ready to go for it. Even though you could have theoretically made it this far without a Realtor, now you need one. You can choose to work with the agent listing the property, or you can hire your wife’s brother’s best friend’s uncle (it happens), or you can simply look no further. (If you’ve read this far, we’re practically best buds anyway.)

Working with a Realtor is going to give you the absolute best shot at securing a property in this competitive market. We could share our secrets of success and how to make your offer as “strong” as you can, but why would we do something silly like letting what could be your competition know how we’re going to play this game?

You can certainly attempt to represent yourself in writing, and presenting an offer too, but I’d say don’t waste your time, or the listing agent’s time. Either hire a Realtor, or work with the listing agent. Our market is so competitive that any money you think you’ll be saving by claiming to represent yourself will be money the listing agent might lose for their seller, or money they could have earned for themselves, so we’re totally comfortable sending you packing. In a stack of 15 offers, you representing yourself will certainly be put at the very bottom. Sad, but true.

So what price should you offer? That’s a tricky question, that depends a lot on how busy or attractive a property is, how long it’s been on the market, has the price been reduced, did it just come back on the market, etc. If you come across a property that has only been marketed two weeks, offers are being accepted on a certain day, and the agent tells you there has been about 250 people through the property, they’ve handed out 30 disclosure packages, and they expect to realistically receive 15 offers…don’t offer asking price! You’re dreaming!

We could go on and on about writing an offer, selecting a price, reviewing disclosures, and everything that goes into presenting an offer, but you’re better off just knowing writing an offer is the next step, and you’re going to want to have a Realtor on your side.

Step 5 is coming soon, so check back, or grab our RSS, and get new updates via email.

-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 1: Get Pre-Approved / Provide Proof Of Funds [theFrontSteps]
-Buying a Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically [theFrontSteps]
-Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 3: Go See Some Property [theFrontSteps]

Buying A Home In San Francisco – Step 2: Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically

Yesterday, we educated you on the first and most important step in the San Francisco home buying process, so today we’re moving on…

Step 2 – Get New Listings Fed To You Automatically (via Email or Text)

stuffing-his-face

Our market moves fast, and so must you. You might have thought the next step would be to contact a Realtor. You can certainly do this now, but it’s not necessary. You can preview all the property you want yourself, right here online, and very soon we’ll show you just how easy it is to get dialed in to seeing these homes on your own.

So how do you get these new listings “fed” to you?
a. Get dialed into MLS. Contact us with your criteria (desired # of beds, baths, parking spaces, size, price, location, and your email) and we can set you up with behind the scenes access to what we call our “Client Portal”. You’ll receive new listings to your inbox the second they hit MLS, you can save, reject, and track what properties are selling for (very important), and you can request showings from within the application. This way, you’ll also be on our radar for potential off market matches should any pop up.
b. A different variation of the same theme, but without the need to contact anyone. It’s called MyZephyr, and you can get alerts, save, search, and track property from the comfort of your own home. The only downfall to this, is that we have so many people in this system using this tool, we simply do not have time to track your activity (some might consider this a plus), and therefore we probably won’t know who you are should something great pop up “not on MLS”.
c. Browse MLS: Even less intrusive, and way more stealth, MLS is actually there and available to you 24/7. No really…it is.
d. Redfin. Hands down the best way to search property if you’re not searching with one of the tools provided above. It’s a great site, with a ton of great info, and incredibly accurate data. If you don’t choose a. or b. above, use this over option c. It’s better.
e. Trulia, Zillow, or Realtor.com. These three are crap, inaccurate, and not worth your time. The only saving grace is Trulia’s community or “Voices” area. There is some good info to be found there. Zillow Zestimates are awful, and when we’re sipping a Cerveza after we hand you the keys to your house, we’ll make sure the beers are on you if you mention one word about “but the Zestimate said it’s worth this.”

What about all of the “off market” listings that are becoming so popular, and how do you get clued in to them?
a. PocketListings.net: It’s growing, more agents are using it, and you (the buyer) can certainly browse it for “off market” opportunities. You can follow PocketListings on Twitter for instant notification of new listings, and you can even have your “buyer need” added to it…but for that you’ll need a Realtor.
b. A Realtor: At this stage, there is no way around it, and it’s the very reason Pocket Listings are growing in popularity…Realtors are taking back the control of their listings, and they’re doing this to keep themselves relevant. Listing aggregators like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and Realtor.com don’t always portray the most accurate data, agent contact info, pictures, and local information. The system needs to change, and Realtors are taking it back. And guess what? A human is actually a really useful tool in the home searching process and if you find the right one, said human can provide a wealth of accurate and opinionated information. If you want off market opportunities, and want to truly feel like you’re getting in the loop of what most people aren’t, you need a Realtor. If you want to just browse MLS, PocketListings.net, and go at your own pace, you can still get by without contacting one.

So now you’ve proven to all involved you have the money, you’re getting listings fed to you from all angles, and you’re ready to take the next step…Check back tomorrow, and we’ll let you know what to do.

A Few Things To Consider When You’re Considering Selling Your Home

This is a video that every home seller everywhere, in every market, in every price level needs to watch. There is so much good information along the lines of “you just gotta do it”, and take the advice of the expert (your Realtor) when doing so. We know what we’re doing, and we’re here to get you the most money possible when we list your house for sale.

One very notable quote in regards to getting inspections done on your own home prior to listing it for sale, and fixing those items, “For every dollar it’s going to cost me to fix something, a buyer is going to want three.”

The video will play (on a new page) after you get through the annoying ad. But trust me, if you’re at all considering selling your home, you need to watch this. Keep in mind Barbara is flush with lots of money, and she could afford to simply walk away from the home, but she’s taking the advice and doing it right.

Barbara Corcoran sells her house…take the same advice

San Francisco Fog, Wind, And Micro-Climates…So Where Should You Buy Your Home?

Long time readers will remember this one…

avgtemp1

We get these kind of inquiries all the time, and it’s certainly something up for debate, as we all have our own comfort levels as to what is considered warm or “nice”. Heck, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction lives in Sunny warm L.A., but by following his Twitter feed, you’d think he’s better suited for living in foggy Outer Sunset of San Francisco. So a reader brings up the question and maybe this time we’ll get some definitive answers as to just how different one district’s weather is from the other. (We’re going to ask for a little link help from our friends at Curbed Sf and SFist to help spread the word.):

I’m looking to buy and comparing districts, everyone says : Mission and Noe are much warmer, get more sun,…

Is there a good resource that shows sun-hours and temperature (average/per month) like this below would, but by district:
Climate in San Francisco County

It would be quite interesting to many buyers I think!

Thanks

J

Our answer, take a look at the San Francisco Districts Map (as it pertains to real estate). Take a ruler, draw a straight line from District 7a (Marina) to district 3J (Oceanview). Anything to the left (west), cold(er) and windy most of the year. Anything to the right (east), warm(er) and windy most of the year.
Simple as that?

We’re thinking there should be a lot more little red lines running all over this map, but the simpleton in us said to do it this way…

I had a little extra time on my hands while child #2 napped. Basic, rudimentary mockup here:

Yellow circles are generally where it is warmer. Arrows indicate wind. The larger the arrow, the stronger the wind. The white line down the middle is generally the fog line.

This is by no means 100% accurate and the fog, sun, and wind in San Francisco always find a way to do unexpected things in unexpected places. So don’t sue me if you buy a home in the yellow circle and you wake up one morning to the fog.

Buying San Francisco Real Estate Is As Easy As…Not Giving Up Before You Start!

I’ve been getting a few phone calls and emails from potential buyers looking to get into the San Francisco market, and their general mood is that of despair…mostly because of my latest posts about how hot the market (particularly Cole Valley) is right now. I’ll just come right out and apologize for giving the impression that we are back to the days of boom. We are not.

As is the case with our weather here in San Francisco on any given day, there are pockets of sunshine, and clouds of rain. While nicely presented (staged) homes, in great locations, marketed at competitive prices (whether $400,000 or $4,000,000) are practically flying off the shelf with all cash/zero contingency offers, there are certainly countless numbers of not so lucky homes and sellers that either missed the mark with pricing, timing, or presentation, and those homes are getting stale, dropping prices, and selling for much less than asking…if they sell at all. Depending on when the seller purchased it, often many homes are selling for much less than what the seller paid! So it’s definitely not all roses all across the board.

With that said, what can you do to increase your chances of buying a piece of San Francisco real estate. The most important thing for you to do as a buyer is get pre-approved with a good, reputable, local lender or mortgage broker (I can recommend a few). Getting pre-approved doesn’t cost you a dime. Don’t even look at homes until you know without a shadow of a doubt what you can afford. That includes browsing online on Trulia or Zillow.

Once you have taken the pre-approval step, there are tools available to get you searching for the most accurate, up to the minute listings both on MLS, and “off market“.

Once you have an idea of what it is you can both afford, and what it is you desire, you should absolutely get in touch with a licensed real estate professional to help you find and secure your property. You can certainly try to go it alone, but when it comes time to write an offer, 99% of the listing agents out there are going to prefer to work with someone that is represented by a Realtor, rather than someone that thinks they can do it alone. Put two identical offers on the table. One from a buyer that has an agent who knows the game, and the other from a buyer wanting to represent themselves to “save” some money and nine out of 10 agents will go with the Realtor represented buyer all day long. If you want to go discount, go Redfin. At least you’ll have an agent representing you.

Once you’ve selected your agent (It’s like dating, so don’t just go “top producer” or “market specialist”…find someone you can spend hours hanging out with. Someone that might share similar interests.), work with them using all of the tools available to both of you, and be in touch frequently. Understand the market fluctuates day to day. Know that while some properties will receive multiple offers, some won’t, and gauging at what price a home will sell in such a market is often difficult and not as easy as 1+1=2. Running and analyzing comparable sales is only half of the story (our market now is much more robust than only a few short months ago in what should have been a busy October). Be ready to act quickly, and be flexible with regards to what times you are available to tour homes. See any, and as many homes as you can that might be a match.

When you find the home you like…don’t hesitate. It could be gone the next day. Make an offer, consider shortening any and all contingencies, and be prepared to go back and forth on price and terms. Don’t take it personally! Every buyer wants a good deal, and every seller wants top dollar. It will get heated.

If you don’t get the property, don’t dwell on it. There will be more opportunity…I promise. Move on. If you do get the property…well that’s another blog post altogether.

Don’t get discouraged by my stories of multiple offers, cash buyers, and an ultra-competitive market. As much as those stories are happening, there are also many more stories of Stalefish homes finally being sold after many, many months on the market. There are foreclosures (good luck with those), short sales, and many off market opportunities. You just gotta know where to look, have patience, money, and determination. Your property is out there. Don’t give up based on a few blog posts about a hot, hot market. And definitely don’t give up before you start.

-Four buyers in four days, and 121 Beulah. How did it end. [theFrontSteps]
-Factoring weather when buying a home in San Francisco is anything but simple. [theFrontSteps]
-Search MLS
-Search Not on MLS

Wanted: John Maniscalco (Designed Home)

It’s good to be loved…especially when you have buyers out there looking for one of your previously designed homes. In this case, the love is for a John Maniscalco designed residence like this…

…or perhaps, since it did just snow up Tahoe way, a little ski hut to get you through the winter…

Property owners looking to quietly part ways with your John Maniscalco drool home, your buyer is out there and they have $2,100,000 to burn. Nobody has to know.

-John Maniscalco Architecture [Highly recommend you take a look at this site if you are a fan of modern, clean, beautiful designs.]
-Buyer looking for John Maniscalco designed residence [PocketListings.net]

When Someone Hands You Lemons….

Do you, my dear readers, remember this property I mentioned back in July?

I showed it to a couple of buyers that came forward after that post. It didn’t work for them for various reasons, but at least they came forward and saw the opportunities I’ve been presenting you. The rest of you will now have to fight it out with the masses as the property is now on the MLS and asking $2,150,000.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this post I did back in May?

That was an opportunity to snag 2975 Lake before the rest.

I had four buyers come forward for the opportunity on that property, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons. It soon hit MLS for $2,980,000, and was in contract a mere seven days later.

Do you, my dear readers, remember this Fixer of Epic Proportions I featured, and Yahoo! picked up?

I showed it to a couple of developers that came forward, but it too didn’t work out for them for various reasons.

Four days ago I posted about this opportunity in Liberty Heights, and have showed one buyer through the property, as a result. I have this condo for sale at 88 King Street, this one at 200 Townsend, I brought you this fabulous Marina Blvd home, as well as this amazing unit at 200 Brannan, this home in Tiburon, and an entirely new website dedicated to getting you, the buyer and seller, more real estate opportunities to fall in your lap. Is your Realtor working that hard for you?

I have multiple opportunities always on the back burner for multiple buyers and sellers. If you’re ready to work with me, I’m ready to work with you. I would encourage you and your friends/family to contact me before you miss out on another great San Francisco real estate opportunity.

…end shameless self-promotion here.

-Completely Remodeled Noe Valley Home With High Definition Views For Sale [theFrontSteps]
-471 Duncan, Noe Valley [Property Website]
-2975 Lake [MLS]
-Mid Century Modern With An Emphasis On Modern [theFrontSteps]
-88 King Street #206, $849,000 [theFrontSteps]
-200 Townsend #47, $499,000 [theFrontSteps]
-Marina Blvd For The America’s Cup [theFrontSteps]
-200 Brannan [theFrontSteps]
-PocketListings.net

Ask Us: Does Blogging Work For Real Estate?

Where readers ask, and we try to answer:

Hello Alex,

I came across theFrontSteps today while researching local real estate blogs. My mother is an agent in NJ and she came to me about advice on creating a blog and testing other social media channels to help her business. I figured I’d research what others are doing and your blog is one of the best I’ve come across so far. Well done!

I’ve got a lot of experience in creating blogs and online marketing, so have a pretty good idea of the direction I’d suggest she take. Just thought I’d go straight to a source to see if anyone is having success with real estate blogs. My one question is – does it work? Are you gaining (great) leads from the search engines and your blog? I certainly understand if you’d rather not divulge.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have on blogging and online marketing. I’ve been in the industry for 12 years now.

Cheers,
-T

Dear T,

Thanks for the kind words and writing in. Glad you were able to find us and glad you like what you see. Your question couldn’t have been more timely as we were preparing a post on this very topic. The long and short of it…YES! This site is a tremendous source of quality leads, and if we chose to chase every lead down I’d certainly be one of the Top Producing agents in the city, but somehow leisurely activities like surfing, skiing, and golf seem to continually get in the way. ;-)

Some examples of what kind of business this blog brings in: We received a lead to price (and eventually sell) a $2.4M condo at the St. Regis, which led us to meet a buyer at the open house, who then went on to purchase a $1.6M home on a hill; A lead came in because of the Tour de San Francisco I used to write and just yesterday we closed on a $3+M pad in Palo Alto, and those clients are dear friends now; To put icing on the cake, a deal was closed last year based off a lead that came as a result of this blog and a few Tweets on Twitter.

So the answer is a resounding YES! It works, and it works well. Almost too well. I feel badly for the readers and potential clients that contact us and we let slip through the cracks. Sorry all…it’s not personal.

Oh, and by the way. I came across the below blog while researching. Looks like they have good content and a decent readership. They just closed shop. Might be worth looking into acquiring.??

San Francisco Schtuff

Best,
T

Thanks for the tip…we like, but can’t afford, their Schtuff. ;-)

Success Story: A Buyer Finally Becomes an Owner

 

This blog is graciously donated by Missionite, long time reader of and writer for The Frontsteps, as well as writer of his own blog, Submedian.

FINALLY GOT ONE

Well we finally got one. We just got the keys and haven’t moved in yet. Despite the market conditions we didn’t get a steal, paid over asking, and in fact the home didn’t appraise so we had to bring some extra money to close as well as convince the sellers to come down a little. On the other hand the home needs only a paint job and a chimney sweep, is big enough for our family of four, is close to things that are important (school, shopping, park, friends, backyard), far from things we don’t like (noise, crime) and is as good a fit for our needs as we could hope for. Most of our new neighbors have lived in the neighborhood for ten years or more so we have a nice stable piece of San Francisco to call home.
With two little ones in desparate need of a yard we weren’t in a position to wait anymore and frankly we were just out of patience. Our criteria was what can we afford right now that we can bear to live in for the next ten years. And on that front we are satisfied. The big lesson I have walked away with here (which will make the realtors happy) is that what you pay for a house has no correlation to it’s actual value. As some of you probably know we have spent literally years bidding on foreclosures, fixers, probates, stale fish, etc trying to get a bargain and have come up empty handed every time (I haven’t blogged about the last couple misadventures but there have been a few and one in particular just about broke our heart). But the times we were denied did give us more time and eventually our savings caught up to the point that we could actually compete and in the end we wound up buying in a normal deal with normal sellers putting our well-over-asking offer in the day it listed and even then apparently not having the highest offer, but winning because we offered a damn fast close.
The asking price, the comps, everything you think you know about a property is meaningless when it comes to the final price. It all boils down to whether you are in a class that has a lot of other buyers. As a family looking for a family home in a city that isn’t exactly loaded with quality inventory for families, we eventually learned we were going to have to either pay more than we would like, or not have anything at all. If you are in the market for a condo, or something on the top end of the market I think it’s a different experience, but reasonably priced homes appropiate for a family with young children are tough nuts to crack.
Anyway, I’m happy to start worrying about lawn care now. Home depot has new meaning to me and I can’t wait to make my first visit there with serious intent.

_________________________________________________________

Congrats to you, and thanks to you, for sharing your win, Missionite. Your advice will be of help to buyers, as will your fabulous rent vs.buy calculator, a resource so good it’s been co-opted by Apple and will soon appear as an app for the I-phone! Check it out here.

Photo: homeownershipu.com

BFD Price Reductions

A post wherin I look at price reductions that seem to be pointless.

1. Courtesy of SF Schtuff, 1001 California St., #3 is a super lux condo in the old Hitchcockian San Francisco splendor. (MLS gallery offers house porn to die for, here.)

The original price here was $7,250,000. Now it’s $6,950,000. Indeed, one could argue a $300K price break is nothing to sneeze at. But really, the person who can afford the new price could also afford the old price, especially since this home includes an HOA of $5886 per month. So, $300,000? Big  ****ing deal. The monthly payments are still going to top the GNP of certain third world countries.

Here’s another reduction I don’t think makes any difference. 2421 Clement St. This is a 10 unit building, “fully rented,” originally priced at $1,435,888. More than 50 days later, it’s reduced to $1,398,000.

In this case,  it’s not so much the amount of the reduction. I just wonder who would ever want to buy a 10-unit building in SF when every other day a law here makes being a landlord a bigger headache than it already was. In fact, this Examiner article highlights the dubious joys of landlords who are currently suing the city to block such laws. Good luck.

So I wonder, in the world of real estate, if price reductions aren’t sometimes just not that much of an incentive after all.

—————

Photo of 1001 California, #3 via listing agent Betty Brachman, Brachman Group.

SF Cool Lifestyle for Sale. Condo also Included!

Condo complexes aren’t really selling condos these days. Instead, they sell a feeling, an image of the lifestyle that would too become yours if you buy in. And by “buy in” I mean in both senses, because first you’d have to buy that owning a condo at, say, the Hayes, would make you instantly urban-chic-hip; second, you’d actually have to buy the condo itself.

 

Adbusters points out that advertising hasn’t always been such a blatant appeal to pathos. The first print ads are dense with type because every possible fact has been disclosed.

The image used, if any,  is a straight forward depiction of the item for sale, very different from imagery we see today that seems to package the item with our greatest fears, insecurities, hopes, and desires. To quote from Kalle Lasn’s book “Design Anarchy,” Advertising moved from simple factual announcements into status symbolism and the stimulation of desires.”

Condo marketers really go for this style. The Hayes, for instance, employs a webpage that stimulates multiple responses. The music is ambient, the tasteful choice of post-rave kids who are now upwardly mobile adults. Images are a collage of hip style and urban culture (“techno and opera,” they promise). There’s even a film, rich in quick cuts and fast-speed camera work, that conveys the ultra coolness of the area, and by default, of those who live in these condos

Missing from the site is info on prices, among other deal breakers.

I would argue that the missing details are the most important. I know that there may be a host or “selling strategy”-related reasons for not releasing the price of homes in development, like these at  Arden Estates, but some of these condos have been for sale awhile now, and many of the units in the complexes have sold. Presumably then, a price has been agreed on and should not be treated as irrelevant info to the prospective buyer.

Similar “lifestyles” are for sale at Blu, The Infinity, and One Rincon Hill(the latter is more upscale. Notice the jazz music instead of the techno). Otherwise, aside from the music and respective addresses, the ad campaigns are synonymous.

As the likely target market of these ads, let me opine that I don’t need them. I already have a lifestyle, and I’m too experienced to know it will stay as disorganized and blighted by dog hair as it is now, no matter where I move. I already have a culture too, and I have my own definition of hip. What I need is a condo. So tell me: what are the square feet? What is the HOA? What is the asking price? Tell me quick, or I’m moving on to the next website. And please, kill the music, as the only real emotion it inspires in me is boredom. And boredom is not…”cool.”

 
 

Ad credits: CI Advertising & Old Fishing Stuff

 

Road to Real Estate Recovery

When I was working at C__________, my boss was a big coke-head. As a result, the atmosphere was, to understate, lax. Everyone drank and ate copiously (never paying for it), sat down and/or danced randomly in the middle of the restaurant, swore, and slept with one another. All of the aforementioned took place during open-for-business hours. None of us were very surprised when an accountant appeared to “audit the situation” since the owners were confounded, and not at all pleased, that such a busy place could simply not turn a profit. The list of solutions thus generated included: uniforms, Michael Bolton CDs, crafting our famed sangria with boxed (as opposed to bottled) wine, and a NO DRINKING ON THE JOB POLICY.” Nowhere was it suggested that coke-head boss might… cut back, abstain, cease, or desist. And so ended my tenure at C_______.

The relevant thread here is that ailing businesses oft must look within to cure what ails. In the case of real estate, a national convalescent, such introspection cannot come too soon. Perhaps this is why Inman is sponsoring a “Roadmap to Recovery” program, part of which includes an essay contest, with prizes such as $500 and a free pass to the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference.

One recent essay asks how Realtors can redefine “full service.” The author, Jack Harper, has a thesis that what’s missing in real estate is transparency: a term he defines as the client having full understanding of what the agent does for his/her commission. He laments not only a lack of clear communication regarding those services, but also a lack of agreement by the industry as a whole as to what those services entail.

Commenters have opinions aplenty on this essay. Most turn out to be thinly veiled ads for the agents commenting, masturbatory “I am so good at this and that as well as that and this; and by the way, here is my contact information and website!” type stuff. But most of the ideas echo Harper’s.

As a potential client to any realtor, I would like to add that “transparency” also implies a level of honesty and freeness with information your industry is not famed for. We need to trust you again. Bringing that trust back to real estate could be one very important step on the road to recovery.

Photo credit: Active Rain.com

Reduction Redux, in which I pick up the Gauntlet

When I posted Reduction Ad Nauseum,  I really just wanted a read on how the educated real estate populace explains and/or reacts to listings that have suffered not one, not two, but three or more price cuts. Still, one commenter Noe Guy said:

“Interesting observations but I wouldn’t put too much stock in them. First, you      picked all TICs. TICs were always more of a speculative area of the market–get financing as a group, hold everything together via legal contract, hope for condo lottery, refinance. Everything about it is more speculative, hence the standard discount of TICs to condos… In this market, that discount should be steeper due to higher risk.

In addition to the more speculative aspect of the TIC market, I’ve always believed that it’s very difficult to accurately price a TIC. It’s not just the property that’s for sale. It’s the property, the actual contract, and the partnership with other owners. Those other two intangibles (from an economic standpoint) make the market less transparent, less liquid, and more difficult to price.

The evidence you’ve sited above clearly makes this case, but keep it in context and look outside of TICs if you want a clearer picture…”
 
Well, geez, what observations? I just observed 3 properties with 3 or more cuts, and opined that buyers (like me, someday, Obama willing) tend to look at reduced properties as Tijuana specials, as in: $500K now? No, no, I don’t think so. Here’s $300K and a pity hug. My final offer.
 
But okay, Noe Guy. See, I love a challenge (else why would I be so sure I can buy a house on an English teacher’s salary, eh?). So here you go, 3 more properties, decidedly not TICs, that have come down more thrice or more in their careers on the market.

Continue reading

Symphony Towers Slashing Prices, theFrontSteps Giving Back

Symphony Towers is slashing prices on some of their remaining units in Tower One (as reported by our very own Anna Marie Hibble),

…but we’d like to sweeten the pot. They’re offering 4% Broker commission to people like us (Realtors), but we like to give back (we’re givers, you see). So if you’ve wanted to purchase one of those units, we’ll give you 2% of our 4% right back.

That’s one helluva deal. Contact Us for details.

“That dog should be taco”

You’re probably wondering what the hell that quote has to do with San Francisco real estate. In this case, a lot. I’ll try to be as simple as possible.

If you own a unit in a condominium and happen to pass by when potential buyers are milling around enjoying the garden setting in the common area, and marveling at how quiet it is, do not come by and say, “Just wait for the parties from that blond girl (nodding head toward unit directly next door). And that dog (blond girl’s pet), oh!………..that dog should be taco.”

As much as you might hate one of your neighbors, it serves no purpose to vent your frustrations to complete strangers (buyers) that might become your neighbors. Their tolerance for noise is likely different than yours, and you never know, they might even love to party with blond girls (they do have more fun after all).

If anything, it is the worst thing you could do, because if the sale doesn’t go through based on what you just said, not only will I come break your knees with my cousin Vincenzo (a.k.a. Vinni), all of your neighbors might do the same, for you just might have caused a longer listing period and subsequent price reductions, which could, in theory, lower the price of your own personal unit when it comes time for you to sell…[insert choice explicative here]!

New Realtor “tactics”, a dog, a quote, and no contact info? (1445 Cole)

From a reader:

Hi guys,

Have you seen this listing?

www.1445cole.com

I live a block away, and got a little invitation in my mailbox for a “private viewing” complete with wine and snacks, [five days ago]. I couldn’t go, so I haven’t seen the property, but I thought this was definitely a new tactic–esp. in this neighborhood. Thought you might be interested.

We’re always interested in what you (the readers) have to say, so keep sending those tips.

We do however, have some questions regarding the property website:

1) What’s up with the dog?

2) Can a Gustav Stickley quote help sell a home?

3) Where’s the agent contact info on the site (please, please, please correct us if we’ve overlooked it)?

That’s all for now…okay, one more…how about some bigger photos? Might we suggest using OpenHomesPhotography the next time around?

We talked fast cars, now we’re talking VB, who’s listening?

Back in November, we advised Luxury High Rise Condo/hotel developers… to take note about a new car club in town and apparently One Rincon Hill did, with the addition of DRIV into their “One Club”.

“Your One Rincon Membership grants you 75 points and 900 miles (up to 11 reservation days) which are debited for each vehicle outing, giving you autonomy based on your personal preferences.”

You also get vehicle delivery to the One Rincon Hill property!

Yes, we know, the Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square beat them to the punch, but One Rincon Hill is the first High Rise to get the hint. We hope Millennium Tower is next, especially with the little parking situation they have there. Now if any of these developments would just start stocking residents’ refrigerators with Victoria Bitter on move in day, we’d all be a lot better off, hopefully be invited to a few house warmings, and be able to inform Ghirardelli Square that they’re setting a few trends other than chocolate. (In case you didn’t know Cellar 360 at Ghirardelli square is apparently the first place in the city to sell Victoria Bitter…yes, slabs!…and they’re f*cking good mate!)

-Inside the Fairmont Heritage Place Ghirardelli Square [theFrontSteps]

-Luxury High Rise Condo/hotel developers… take note [theFrontSteps]

-One Rincon Hill’s Driv page [clubdriv.com]

-“One Club”

-Millennium Tower [theFrontSteps]

Rent or Own? Zillow has the answers…sort of

Can you tell, we’re getting a few tips as of late with all these links to sites you know your Editor rarely reads. But it’s good! It’s all good. We need to open our eyes and be edumacated from time to time, so we’ll pass that knowledge on to you.

Today we take you to the Zillow Wiki for their rationale behind renting or owning. We have been through this before and think we introduced many of you to the incredible data crunching goodness of Missionite, and his Submedian Calculator, but there are always more ways to skin a cat, so why not skin Zillow’s while we’re at it.

And since we’re on the subject, yet again, what do you think? Rent or Own…pros and cons.

-Owning vs. Renting a Home [Zillow Blog]

-Owning vs. Renting a Home [Zillow Wikipages]

-Rent vs. Own, the old debate in a new spreadsheet [theFrontSteps]

-Submedian Calculator [Missionite]

Granite is out, CeasarStone is in…music to our ears!

We’ve been waiting for some proof in writing to support not only the trend we’ve been seeing in new home construction, but also an argument to hold up against clients’ wishes to install granite countertops. Yes, some granite is still good, but better is something like CeasarStone, and Alan Mark, of the Mark Company provides just what we need:

caesarstone

Beyond the green trend, the once “standard” granite countertops have been replaced with CaesarStone. With its stain, scratch and heat-resistant properties, this less expensive quartz-based material offers the perfect combination of form and function. We have also seen oak floors replaced with richer walnut product.

There you have it…if you have something that looks like this, you might swap it with something like this.

Good day.

Never list a property with an agent who owns in the same building

…and we’ll tell you why.

Some sellers we know recently lost about $300,000 because an agent, living in their building had the listing, and advised them not to accept an offer that was below their asking price, but well above the most recent comparable sale. Three other agents, representing the sellers of other units around town, have reportedly done the same thing.

Think about this: If an agent owns a unit in your building and you’ve recently hired them to list yours, when the time comes that you have an offer, are they likely to advise you to accept said offer, if it, in turn, lowers the value of their own unit?

What if you sign a listing with an agent in your building, and they decide it’s time to sell their own unit while yours is still on the market? Fiduciary responsibility, ethics, and commission aside, who’s property do you think they’d rather sell? Be honest, because your agent just became your competition.

We’ve tried to come up with some positive reasons for listing with an agent who has an interest in the same building, but aside from them knowing the building inside and out, and being right nearby for showings, we can’t think of any others. Sure, they’ll do their best to get the highest price, because that helps them too, but just think long and hard about that sales pitch they’re throwing your way.

At the very least, you should make an addendum on your listing agreement to the extent that if your agent lists their property in the building while yours is on the market, you can walk from the contract. Better yet, look outside of your box! There are plenty of good agents out there.

Maybe our readers can uncover some more reasons (pro or con) for us.

“I love the sfnewsletter!”

As some of you know, the editor here is also the editor at sfnewsletter, which is fast becoming THE newsletter for San Francisco real estate professionals to keep in front of their sphere of influence.

Not only will your sphere thank you for all the great market knowledge sfnewsletter provides, but they’ll also be able to see all the comps for San Francisco sortable by property type and neighborhood. Properties that just hit the market within the past 7 days, and properties that SOLD within the past month.

sfnsold.jpg

Also included every week, a list of foreclosures, and tons more data from Altos Research.

The testimonials are a mile long, and the benefits to Realtors run deep.

I find your newsletter the best source of what’s really happening with the real estate market. You present a picture of the market that is based on real data without the alarmist tone that the media takes.-reader

If you are a real estate agent or mortgage broker in San Francisco, you should be sending sfnewsletter to your clients, especially since the market has cooled and it is imperative you keep in front of them while the market runs its course.-Broker at a local firm.

I met Michelle at a Sunday open house I was holding for another agent. I was giving out CMA reports for active and sold listings in the neighborhood and talking about how my sfnewsletter gives people access to these reports. She signed up and 5 or 6 months later I got an email from her to say she and a friend were in the market for a two unit building and they needed an agent, was I interested in meeting to discuss? We met and discussed and about 3 or 4 months after that, they were moving in to their building!-Eddie O’ Sullivan (Hill & Co.)

You customize it, sfnewsletter sends it, you benefit. It’s a no brainer, really. sfnewsletter also encourages agents from all offices to share information that is published on sfnewsletter, thus painting THE most accurate account of market activity in San Francisco.

Agents please visit sfnewsletter.com to learn more and sign up.

To be added to the distribution of the sfnewsletter, please tell your Realtor/Mortgage broker to send it to you. If you are not working with a Realtor already, you can get Alex’s sfnewsletter by following this link.

Receiving sfnewsletter will ensure you know more than your neighbors about the market, but not as much as us. ;-)

If you are a Realtor and would like to know what your colleagues who use sfnewsletter are saying, send an email to sfnewsletter@gmail.com.