Thursday, September 29, 2016

Need to sell to move up or move down?

Need to sell your home to move up or down?

This is the typical conundrum that we face in our market: there are fewer homes on the market because, while it can be “easy” to sell your place in this market, it is not so easy to buy your replacement property.  This is why many people have postponed their real estate plans.
There are a few ways around this, all requiring to be well prepared:

-       Arrange for temporary housing, with the help of your friends or family: a short-term solution sometimes can be found if you turn to relatives or friends who may have a second home, a vacant rental unit, or even room in their house.  This is not ideal but could enable you to sell your house first, and have less pressure to find the replacement home.
-       Place a contingent offer: “subject to the sale of your property within ..xx days”.  This refers to a condition in your offer to purchase, with the condition that you will be “in contract” on the house that you have to sell within so many days.  There is quite a bit of preparation to be able to achieve that: you need to be ready to go, on the starting blocks, for the sale of your house - before you place an offer on another house.  That means all inspections done, all repairs done (if any), and the whole marketing file ready to go.  Usually, once your offer has been accepted, and if it is well negotiated, you have a few days before the other party can cancel on you, so that you do not find yourself having sold your home, and with no place to go.
-       Sell first, and arrange for a rent-back.  This means that you take an offer subject to you being able to stay in your home for a given time, renting it from your buyers, to enable you to find a replacement home and buy it.  If your buyers are buying with a new loan, the rent-back will most likely be limited to a maximum of 2 months.  If they buy all cash, then this limit disappears.  This gives you an additional chance that you will not have to move twice.
-       Arrange for a “bridge loan”.  This solution, in the most recent version, will let you borrow up to 70% of the value of both homes at a high interest rate for a few months, as long as you qualify for the final (purchase) loan.  The goal will be to purchase, then sell as soon as possible, and refinance the bridge loan into a "normal" loan.  An alternative is to get a line of credit on the 1st house and use the cash for a larger down payment on the second house, but in that case your lender will need to see you qualify for both loans + the line of credit.  You avoid that with that new "bridge loan".  It can be expensive, but if it is only for 2 to 3 months and it does enable you to move, it can be worth it.  Call me for further information.

Unfortunately, there is still currently no real bridge loan, as they existed a decade ago (see my previous blog from 2013:  "But, where did the old bridge loans go??").  But it is nonetheless possible, with good preparation, to “sell and buy”.  It is made a little easier lately by the fact that the local market is slowing down: fewer multiple offers, and more properties languishing on the market.  The inventory is going up nearly everywhere, and some sellers are more willing to accept a “contingent” offer, if it is otherwise a good offer.

For this to happen, it is also important to be aware of whether it is easier to sell a home or to buy one in the exact locations you are considering: the location you leave, and the location you want to buy in.  Your Realtor, a local specialist, is essential to help you with the research.

Thank you for reading - Let me know if I can help you with your real estate plans.


Current mortgage rates

A worthy local non-profit to remember: Community Services Agency in Mountain View.  Meeting you there next week to serve food? On Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

First-time home buyers

First-time home buyers make about a third of all home buyers, nationwide, according to the National Association of Realtors. 

The median age of a first-time buyer is 31, (making about $70k), while the median age of a repeat buyer is 53, (making nearly $100k).  It is safe to say that they do not have the same priorities.

While first-time home buyers usually settled in the past for a cheaper “starter home”, there are signs now that more want to have a home for the long term, holding back for a home that will work for them for a much longer time.  70% are willing to wait, rather than settle for that cheaper, smaller house with some repairs. 

Since we have been faced with a severe scarcity of “starter homes” for sale, compared with a few years back, the price tag of those properties went up drastically.  It is possible that first-time home buyers find that the price is not worth it any more and prefer to wait for more savings to buy a larger first home that will serve their needs for many more years.

Per the Residential Specialist ( the main home features that first time home buyers like most are, in order:
- updated kitchen and bathrooms (81%),
- an open floor plan (59%),
- low maintenance characteristics (43%),
- walkable communities (36%),
- energy efficiency (20%),
- cell phone service and wifi access (19%).

Those feature preferences are definitely evident in our market in the Silicon Valley, and with the exception of the last one, I think the order is pretty much the same.  Here, phone reception and wifi access is also close to the top of the list in my experience.

Thank you for reading!
Let me know if I can be of assistance to you, or someone you know, with real estate questions.


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