Real Estate Tips and Information by Karen List

Buying and Selling Homes in Santa Clara and Alameda County

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Trump Administration ‘Indefinitely’ Suspends FHA Mortgage Insurance Premium Cut…

January 25th, 2017 · buying a home, FHA loan, first time buyer

And, in real estate news…this is a major bummer for MANY homebuyers that use the FHA program to achieve home ownership, who otherwise couldn’t buy a home…this FHA program is specifically designed to help people like the ‘working class’ so this news is unfortunate.

http://rismedia.com/2017/01/23/trump-administration-indefinitely-supsends-fha-mortgage-insurance-premium-cut/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eNews#close

Beautiful White House USA

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Just Sold in Campbell for $815,000!

January 17th, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, campbell home, condo homeowner, condo/townhome, first time buyer, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice

For this townhome I sold in Campbell for $815,000, I was the agent for the sellers, a super cute couple moving out of the area, who found me on Yelp! The initial plan was to list their home after the holiday season, but they found a home right in the midst of the holidays, and wanted to make the move and not miss out on the home they found. So, we tried to strategize the best weekend for an open house since the holidays were coming up, and we wanted to get the home on the market as early, and as far away from Christmas as possible, so they quickly moved out, and I got the stager and photographer to the home ASAP.

This home had multiple offers and sold for $40,000 OVER the listed price. The competition was fierce to the end! The sellers chose a buyer who had a HUGE down payment and waived ALL contingencies, waived the loan, appraisal, and inspection contingencies. The transaction itself was a very smooth one. It was the holidays, so my guard was up, since it’s hard to get transactions closed on time in the midst of the holiday season, but in the end, there was only a 2 day delay to closing, so pretty darn good despite the timing. I will say that both the buyer’s agent and myself stayed up close and personal with the lender to keep things on track as best we could, there were a couple glitches along the way in regard to additional paperwork needed from the buyer towards the end, and a mistake the lender had made marking this home as a condo and not a PUD, which took a number of days to resolve, but overall, it was pretty smooth.

Just Sold in Campbell for $815,000!

Just Sold in Campbell for $815,000!

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Always Stay on Top of Your Offer…

November 15th, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, condo/townhome, home for sale, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice, san jose home

For this townhome I just sold in San Jose for $685,000, I was the agent for the buyers. This is my 3rd time working with this adorable family. I had a similar experience in negotiations for this home as I did the last townhome I sold, in that there were other buyers lurking around, but we were not sure if we would face competition or not. So, we ended up writing 2 offers, depending on if the buyers would face competition, or be the only offer.

It ended up that there was one other offer, so we did go in with the higher offer. The other offer was actually slightly higher than our offer, but as always, I stayed up close and personal with the listing agent. The listing agent said that both offers were almost identical, but the other offer was slightly higher in price. She said that the sellers really liked my buyer’s letter, and if my buyers would up the offer a little, then that would probably sink the deal to our favor. So, my buyers raised the price $5,000, and that coupled with the great letter my buyers wrote, and a cute picture they sent with the offer, it made the deal.

The transaction itself was very smooth. All went very well. One minor hiccup with the loan documents being ready to sign closer to the closing date than expected, but we still closed on time, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Just Sold in San Jose for $685,000

Just Sold in San Jose for $685,000

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Public Service Announcement for Buyers…

October 26th, 2016 · buying a home, first time buyer, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate advice

I wanted to send this information out because I just had a client close on his home and got this letter in the mail about his deed. I have had other clients get these letters in the mail and ask me about the letter, and likely, I am certain that many or all of my clients get this same notice in the mail, and just don’t alert me to it. Maybe they discard it, hopefully, but my main concern, is maybe they call and order, and actually pay for this deed thinking they are supposed to do so and it is how they get their official recorded deed to the home.

I consider this a scam, maybe it’s not illegal, per say, maybe it is, not sure, but it’s totally unnecessary and a waste of money for the consumer, so I want to point it out, in case you ever buy a home and get this letter, and think you need to pay for this to get your deed. The title company will give you this information anyway, once you close on a home, as part of the closing package and follow up recorded deed, so what this company claims to provide, is totally redundant, and the buyer will get the same information for free. But it does look quite official for the unsuspecting buyer, so I can see where a lot of buyers may actually fall for this.

Here is a copy of the letter, I blacked out my client’s information:

Don't Fall for This!

Don’t Fall for This!

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Just Sold in San Jose for $670,000…

October 20th, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, condo/townhome, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice, san jose home

For this townhome I just sold in San Jose for $670,000, I was the agent for the buyers, a very sweet couple referred to me by another client. There were 2 other buyers lurking at the same home, but we didn’t know if they would be writing an offer or not. We weren’t sure what to do, because we didn’t know if there would end up being competition or not. So, we actually wrote 2 offers, 1 for if there was no competition, and 1 in case another offer did end up coming in. At the 11th hour, 1 other offer did get submitted, so we went with the higher offer, which was the exact price of the last comp in the community. The other buyer had the same idea and offered exactly the same price as us of $670,000.

I kept up close and personal with the listing agent the entire time, as I always do, and my clients wrote a really nice letter. The combination of the 2 is why we got picked. The listing agent told me that the 2 offers were almost identical, but the seller really liked the buyer’s letter, and if I could just do a little something, like remove the $600 home warranty and take the w/d/f out of the offer, that would likely be enough to sway it our way. So, I immediately did that, and we got the home! So, key point here is the letter helps, as I say almost every sale, but also, being persistent and on top of things was key here, which I do for every sale, but just making a key point for this one, since a very small change, got us the home.

The transaction itself was smooth between the buyer and seller, however the documents that the bank needed from the buyer almost took him over the edge. They wanted an endless amount of paperwork and documentation up to almost the day of closing. And, my client said that he was sending the same info mutliple times and was pretty upset about it. One key item that I pointed out upfront as a potential issue, is that the buyer does not have 2 full years here, and that was something, knowing the banks, that I was a bit concerned about. The good news is that he could still get a loan, the downside was that he had to get a credit report from India, which was a headache to obtain, and created a delay, not to close on time, but just a longer amount of time to get the full approval. So, the buyer was on pins and needles with the loan, the loan officer and I knew he would get the loan, but to a first time buyer, that’s not much of a warm and fuzzy, with all the needed documentation and a credit report from India, which is apparently, a newer system they have developed.

But, it all happened on time and the buyers are excited to get into their new home! Oh, and what’s even better, the w/d/f that we took OUT of the offer to get the home, the seller ended up giving to the buyer for FREE, because the sellers were so impressed with the buyers and wanted to thank them for such a smooth transaction and a FREE rent back, so they could make an easy transition to their new home.

Just Sold in San Jose for $670,000!

Just Sold in San Jose for $670,000!

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Just Sold in San Mateo for $1,000,000…

September 22nd, 2016 · Uncategorized

For this home I sold in San Mateo for $1,000,000, I was the agent for the buyers, a couple that were referred to me by another couple I had just recently sold a home to as well. Apparently, this couple had been looking for a home for some time with another agent, and they weren’t too impressed, so my client suggested they give me a try, and I was able to get them this home, which was the very first offer they wrote with me.

They were getting all kinds of advice on how ‘hot’ the market is and that they have to give it there all to get a home, so they were prepared to go in with their highest possible offer for this home to beat out competition. In fact, they were willing to bid higher than I thought they should, given that there was only 1 other offer to compete. So, I actually suggested that they make an offer for LESS than they were willing to pay, and I ended up saving them $20,000, in that we were able to get this home for $20,000 LESS than they were initially willing to pay. And, to make things even better, the home appraised for OVER the price they paid for this home, and it even actually appraised for OVER the extra $20,000 they were willing to pay!

Also, when I received their preapproval letter from a credit union, I noticed the rate and fees seemed high. I suggested they talk to a lender I know, who was able to get them a much better rate AND saved them about $6,000 in fees alone. So, their monthly payment is lower AND they saved a lot of money in closing fees.

The offer they competed with was an all cash offfer, so that is typcially really tough competition. The seller of the home was very emotional about this home because it had been in her family for many years, I believe the owner was the original owner. My buyers wrote a very nice letter and that really worked for this seller. I believe the cash offer may have been an investor, from what the listing agent told me, and the seller really preferred to sell to a buyer that would live there and not become a rental property.

The transaction itself was very smooth and all went very well. The only real hiccup was on closing day, the seller left a pellet stove on the property, which was supposed to be picked up, but apparently, it was too heavy for the guy to lift, and he never came back for it. However, the listing agent found another guy to get it, so it did get picked up, not closing day, but shortly thereafter.

Just Sold in San Mateo for $1,000,000!

Just Sold in San Mateo for $1,000,000!

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The Long Wait for City Permits…

September 14th, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, Fremont, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate

For this townhome I sold in Fremont for $685,000, I was the agent for the seller, who I actually sold this home to back when he bought it over 10 years ago! Prepping the home for sale was the biggest challenge in that the seller needed to replace the upstairs balcony, because he said it was not safe. I advised and he agreed, that it was pretty much a necessity to replace the balcony before selling, especially because there is a HOA involved. We felt that no buyer would want to take on the job, so best it be done before selling the home. The job itself performed by the contractors took only about a week, but waiting on the city for permits, that took about 6 months for the entire process to finalize. The city is insanely slow. The job cost about $20,000-$25,000 to include the job itself and plans. It was very disruptive, in that the contractors have to run the boards inside DOUBLE of what the balcony is on the outside per code, so a huge portion of the ceiling was torn apart. But, the buyer had the luxury of getting a brand new balcony, new large portion of ceiling, new texture and fresh paint.

We had multiple offers for this home and the 2 top offers were SUPER close, basically, practically the same offer with different names. It was for the most part a dice roll, but the seller went with the offer in which the buyer’s agent had more experience, and the buyer seemed really eager and excited to own this home and already was familiar with the area because he rented a place down the street. So, we just had a good feeling with this buyer that he really was genuinely excited to own this home and seemed like a really good fit. For this offer the seller accepted, the buyer had waived ALL his contingencies (loan, appraisal, and inspections) and came in well OVER the list price.

The transaction itself was super smooth. The only ‘hiccup’ is that we thought the buyer was single and he was the only name on the contract. Come to find out, he had a wife who was currently out of the country. Apparently, the buyer didn’t realize that in CA you can’t buy property without a spouse, unless the spouse signs a form to allow it. So, luckily, the wife was coming to CA and was able to be here in time and be added to title and sign the paperwork. There was a bit of delay for closing, but only a couple days.

Just Sold in Fremont for $685,000

Just Sold in Fremont for $685,000

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Short and Simple…

August 31st, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, condo/townhome, homebuyer, Market News, real estate, santa clara, santa clara home

For this condo I sold in Santa Clara for $625,000, I was the agent for the buyer. I had just recently sold her townhome and she was ready to buy a home that is closer to work. We only encountered one other offer as competition for this condo, but the other buyer made basically the same offer as my client. So, it really was a 50/50 chance of getting it. Both offers were basically the same in price and terms. I probably sound like a broken record, but yet again, the personal letter swayed the seller our way. For this specific case, the letter worked well because the seller had worked at Apple and my client works at Apple, so there was kind of a connection there. And, this condo is super close to Apple, so the seller knew that this condo would be very convenient for the buyer to get to work.

The transaction itself was really smooth and low key. The seller did not provide a home inspection, so the buyer had one done, and a couple of key items came up that we did not expect, the furnace did not work and the shower gauge was stuck in one position on one temperature, but the seller understood that these 2 items were things that really needed to work, so the seller fixed the items for the buyer, since it was new information and not known when we made the offer and went into contract, so that was great. Yep, short and simple, just the way I like it. :)

Just Sold in Santa Clara for $625,000!

Just Sold in Santa Clara for $625,000!

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Rough From Beginning to End…

August 24th, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, Cupertino, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate

For this home I just sold in Cupertino for $2,775,000, I was the agent for the buyers. In fact, this is kind of a follow up story to the home sale in Silver Creek Country Club (in case you are following along), in that these clients needed to sell that home in order to buy this one.

This sale was a rough one from the start at negotiations. The seller was VERY slow to respond to our offer and subsequent counter offers. This home apparently had been on the market previously, and the listing agent told me that at that time, they received muliple offers and got a price that topped out at $3million! Apparently, at that time, the seller wasn’t willing to accept an offer and backed off from selling her home because she was waiting for a job offer package that wasn’t completed at that time, and felt uneasy to sell her home without having all her ducks in a row.

Time went on and things apparently lined up for the seller to sell, but by that time, the listing agent told me that the $3mil buyer was long gone and I guess the other buyers must have moved on as well. So, this listing got ‘old’ in that as buyers saw it on MLS, it was showing that it had been on the market for some time. Basically, since the seller didn’t take an offer when the listing was ‘hot’ and then time went on to the point of the home appearing to the public eye that it was just ‘sitting’ on the market, the listing started to get ‘cold’, which turned out to be a blessing for the buyers!

When a listing doesn’t sell ‘quickly’, since that is what everyone is so used to and expects in the Bay Area, there is a psychological impact in which then buyers wonder ‘why’ no one else seems to ‘want’ the house, and then even if there is no reason for it, there’s just something that starts to make people ‘wonder’ why the home isn’t selling. But, for those buyers that can get past that mental block, it can be a great opportunity for a buyer. It basically turns into a ‘lucky break’, which was the case for these buyers.

Negotiations were rough and painful, we went back and forth about 5 times before we could come up with a contract that both the buyer and seller would agree on and even then, neither one was really all that ‘happy’ with the end result, both were ‘satisfied’ is how I would put it. The seller wanted a higher price and the buyer wanted to pay a lower price, and then there was some back and forth about a rent back, and terms and condtions of that rent back, in which the buyers were not thrilled about, but agreed to do.

The most stressful part of this transaction was when the seller kind of came out of nowhere and freaked out on her agents. Apparently, they had some big blow out, and unfortunately, it affected our side immensely. The assistent to the listing agent called me frantically that the seller was really upset with them, felt they were not ‘advocating’ for her, she was upset about some things on their end, and decided to do something totally unprecedented that affected us in a very impactful way. We really have no idea why, but she decided to send us a “Notice to Perform” BEFORE the contingency was even due! The reason this was so shocking, is because from the beginning, the listing agent told me that they would work with us for timing and dates, because we all knew that the buyers had a home to sell. And the listing agent ‘promised’ me that we all had the same goal, we all wanted to close, no one would want the deal to “fall apart”, so we would all work together for the end result of the closed transaction. And, really, the ‘truth’ may be that the seller was never flexible with dates or timing and that all just probably came from the listing agent to ‘make the deal’. In fact, a key item we kept going back and forth with counter offers, was the amount of time to sell the buyer’s home and remove contingency. In the last counter back to us, the listing agent ‘promised’ me that if the time was too short, but we were in contract on the buyer’s home, that the seller would be flexible and give more time to remove the contingency.

Basically, the listing agent told me a number of things that were pretty much the opposite of what really went down. When this ‘issue’ blew up in my face, the listing agent would NOT call me or communicate with me and I almost completely lost it with her. I kept my cool, I stayed professional, but I can not say the same for her. From that moment on, even though, the buyers and I jumped through hoops to make this transaction happen, the listing agent never contacted me again from that day forward, and I only had minimal communication with her assistant for only the things that were pertinent to close. I tried contacting the listing agent several times via text, email, phone call, and vm, and she just refused to talk to me, and the worst part is that I did nothing wrong, the buyers and I were on top of this transaction the entire way and we were totally on board and doing things as we should.

Anyway, long story short, since this story is getting way too long, and I am going to have to put chapters on it and get it published as a book, the buyers and I got through it with a ton of stress and frustration, but we made it happen and closed the transaction. Come to find out, the seller seems to be super nice and friendly, she and the buyers have exchanged emails after closing, but I think something big happened between her and her agent, and we were unfortunately the victim of circumstance. I did learn the hard way after over 2 decades in the biz to take nothing for ‘granted’ or ‘verbal’ again. Typically, I can depend on the agents I work with to be truthful and dependable, and when we say we will work together for the common goal, it has always been the case for me in the past, but not this case, and I never want to be in this situation again. And, God willing, I will never work with this agent ever again.

One big bonus for the buyers is that the home appraised for well OVER the price that they paid for it, so YAY for that! 

Just Sold in Cupertino for $2,775,000!

Just Sold in Cupertino for $2,775,000!

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Fairy Tale Endings…

August 17th, 2016 · bay area, buying a home, Cupertino, first time buyer, home for sale, home seller, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice, saratoga

For this home I just sold in Saratoga with Cupertino schools for $2,600,000, I was the agent for the buyers, a super sweet couple buying their first home and referred to me by another client. This couple had been looking for a home for quite some time, about 8 months or so. They saw MANY homes over the course of that time, and when they came across this home, it was ‘the one’. This was their very first offer in all those months and they got the home!

This home had already gone through 2 transactions that fell through and the first round had been multiple offers, I’m not sure about Round 2, if there were multiple offers that time or not. Anyway, we kind of lucked out for this home, in that after 2 failed transactions, it was not a ‘new’ listing anymore and the hype was fading. When I first inquired about the home for my clients, there was another offer on the table, but apparently it wasn’t the price the seller was looking for. So, my clients made an offer, but then another cash offer came into the picture, so my clients had to step up their game to compete with this cash offer and my clients got the home!

To compete with the cash offer, my clients went in with no contingencies at all, no loan, no appraisal, and no inspection contingency, although there were already inspections on the home that the seller provided. And, I was told by the seller’s agent that the personal letter that my clients wrote to the seller is what swayed the seller our way over taking the cash offer. The seller’s agent told us that the price was exactly the same for both offers, and the personal letter pushed the sellers to our side. I do have to say, their persoal letter was an amazing letter. I have said it many, many times, that personal, heartfelt letters to the seller really do work!

The transaction itself was as smooth as silk. The home even appraised HIGHER than my clients paid for it, so they were ecstatic. In fact, the sellers even met with the buyers and showed them around, exchanged information, the buyers gave the sellers flowers, the sellers gave the buyers wine, and it was like one of those fairy tale happily ever after endings. :)

Just Sold in Saratoga with Cupertino Schools for $2,600,000!

Just Sold in Saratoga with Cupertino Schools for $2,600,000!

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