Thursday, October 29, 2015

Home sale strategy: set a date for offers, or not?

Home sale strategy: set a date for offers, or not?

You have prepared carefully for the big day when your property goes on the market;  first it goes on MLS, then you have a Realtor tour, and an open house during the week end.  The critical “exposure” time has started, a full marketing campaign is in place, with paper advertising and internet advertising - the world is starting to learn about your house.

Should you hold off for offers until a certain date (hoping for multiple offers), or do you take offers as they come?

Holding off for offers is a good strategy, if the house is well priced: it ensures that the house has been seen enough, and that potential buyers have had the time to decide what they want to do, and look at all the disclosures and reports your agent carefully helped you prepare upfront.  When offers are reviewed, chances are they are well thought out, and you have a choice between solid offers.  Odds are higher the transaction will close without problems.

But the down side of this strategy is that some buyers are turned off by the process, and do not want to participate in a competition.  Also, if you hold off too long, other competing properties will come on the market and you will lose some potential buyers.  Finally, with this strategy comes the difficult choice to make if a “preemptive offer” is presented to you, often higher than the asking price.  If you take it you will never know what the other offers could have been (the ones that followed your instructions and waited for the “offer date”).  If you do not take it you could lose out on that high offer.

So the alternative is to “take offers as they come”.  But what do you do when one comes too fast, may be even higher than your asking price, and you have the feeling that “not enough people have seen the house”?  Could you have a higher offer by waiting for more people to have the time to see the property and work on an offer?  In real estate we say that the first offer is often the best one...  In a typical market it is often true (the subject of another blog), but the Bay Area market is not typical.

Several elements are in play here:

1/ the (pricing) strategy you prefer to use (low, average, high?)

2/ how active the market is at that precise moment.

3/ how easy it is to show your property,

4/ how desirable your property is (objectively),

5/ the quality of the information you get.  The tools your Realtor is using are going to be critically important, in order to assess the real interest your property generates.  You’ll want to know: - number of showings, - number of page views on the various web sites, - how many people are looking at the info online, - and what exactly they are looking at: some info, or all of the info available?

What I would like to stress here is that you must have this conversation with your Realtor ahead of time, and stick to your chosen course of action. One cannot really have it both ways.  If you set a date for offers, and take a pre-emptive offer, you may hurt yourself by never seeing the offers that played by the rule, and waited to come forth.  The thing is that you will never know - it is a gamble.  My experience has been that, in very active markets, it is better to hold off until about a week after the house has been in full marketing mode.  Taking an offer too fast may leave you with a lot of question marks about what other offers could have been a few days later.

Finally, it is critical that your Realtor follows closely any interested party, and answers questions as best as possible: better informed buyers, or agents, will bring you an offer, and one additional offer may mean a big difference in the final sales price.

Thank you for reading,


Silicon Valley real estate specialist
Detailed, local trends etc...
Current mortgage rates
A worthy local non-profit to remember: Community Services Agency in Mountain View.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How sellers have changed over the past decade.

How sellers have changed over the past decade:
a Coldwell Banker Seller Survey - Nationwide.

According to a Coldwell Banker survey of home sellers, today's home seller is notably different than the seller of 10 years ago. The recession not only changed the housing market, but it also changed the way home sellers approach the sale of their home. The Coldwell Banker Seller Survey looks at approximately 1,500 home sellers and analyzes trends from before and through the recession, as well as the initial recovery years and today:

  • 2014-2015 - Recent Years (Sellers Today)
  • 2010-2013 - Initial Recovery Years
  • 2008-2009 - Recession
  • 2006-2007 - Pre-Recession
  • 2005 and Earlier
Notably, since 2014, more than 1 in 4 home sellers in the US sold their home in less than two weeks.
  Those sellers are twice as likely to choose an offer based on emotion rather than money alone, compared to sellers in pre-recession years.  “There is a notable difference in seller psychology today compared to 10 years ago” says Budge Huskey, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate.  “Home sellers often want to feel emotionally connected to the buyer.  These findings should give solace to buyers in highly competitive markets who may present a compelling story as to why they should be the next owners of the home”.   - hint:  think “the Bay Area housing market”…

You can see the whole survey on this Coldwell Banker article.

Thank you for reading,

Trends: Local prices and graphs.
A worthy local non-profit to remember: Community Services Agency in Mountain View

Friday, October 9, 2015

Is it a condo, is it a townhouse?

Is it a condo, or a townhouse?

If you are wondering if you are looking at a condominium, or a townhouse, it may not always be so obvious: many condominiums do look like townhouses, with 2 stories and even a real enclosed garage attached (as it is the case in this complex: the Old Mill in Mountain View).

Old Mill ComplexA condominium is a unit inside of a larger complex, where the owner owns a small part of the whole
complex. It is also said that in a condominium, you own "from the paint on", meaning that the rest is owned in common.  For instance if there are 100 units, you would own 100th of the whole property; many times it includes several buildings, the land, the pools etc...  So in a way you do not really own where you live, you own a portion of a much larger property.  Of course you have exclusive use of your location, and also the exclusive use of a parking space, a balcony, a storage area.  The legal description (shown in the preliminary title report) indicates that it is a condominium.

In the case of a townhouse, you own the land you are on, and the house which is on it, and typically you are responsible for the maintenance of the whole place: you have to pay to repair or change your own roof, you have to paint the home, you take care of your own stucco, garden, fences etc...  If you have rules that limit what you can do, it would be because of the association that regroups all the townhomes around you, which might be responsible for the walkways, the access roads, the common facilities (pool, tennis etc...).  Those rules help keep a common look and living experience to all the homes inside the complex.

In many areas, especially where there is very little land to build on (think "the Bay Area"), the exact definitions get blurred, and you can have homes that may look like townhouses but are in fact condominiums.  So be careful and ask your agent to double check on that for you (in the preliminary title report).

Even though it is always good to "own your own land", lifestyles change, and many buyers prefer that an association take care of the roof, fences, pools, paint, and so on.  A condo can be better for that.  The "association dues" are meant to be used for those repairs, and often a management company takes care of them.

Also, if you are considering a purchase soon, be aware that the financing on condos will not be as easy or cheap as for townhouses, which are considered "houses" by most lenders.

I had written a blog in 2010 on the subject of condominiums, with an updated page on condominium details and explanations, which you may be interested in checking out ....

Thank you for reading,
Trends: Local prices and graphs.
A worthy local non-profit to remember: Community Services Agency in Mountain View