Real Estate Tips and Information by Karen List

Buying and Selling Homes in Santa Clara and Alameda County

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Strategy is Key…

May 23rd, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, condo/townhome, first time buyer, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, san jose home

For this townhome I just sold in San Jose for $830,000, I was the agent for the seller. I actually sold this townhome to the owner as her buyer’s agent back in 2012 when she bought it as a short sale when the market was inundated with short sales and foreclosures. She more than doubled her money now that the market is so hot in just 5 years! Times sure have changed!

Another townhome just like her model was pending and had multiple offers, so we felt pretty good about selling her home with multiple offers as well. The seller found a home she wanted to buy, which required us to get this home on the market ASAP. About a week before she was going to list her home, another of the same model came on the market. We weren’t too concerned since there were plenty of buyers and enough buyers for both that home and her home. Plus, we figured that one would go pending before our open house weekend.

Well, it appeared that buyers wanted to see her home before moving forward with this other home, which was maybe good, we weren’t sure, because that townhome ended up NOT going pending before our open house weekend, and not only that, but 1 more of the same model came on the market the same week we did, and it ended up that all 3 homes that are the exact same model, but different condition and upgrades were all on the market at the same time and all 3 had open houses the same weekend.

Luckily for us, we were the nicest home, great location, and we also priced the home the most aggressively (we listed the lowest price of the 3). We had 2 buyers that wanted to make pre-emptive offers, and both buyers were really aggressive. We made the decision to review the 2 offers because we didn’t want to push our luck, knowing there were 2 other townhomes with the exact same model and also just right around the corner. We went with the buyer that had a fabulous offer with a price we figured we probably would not have received anything higher by waiting, plus this buyer waived ALL contingencies (no loan, no appraisal, and no inspections), and gave the seller a FREE rent back. And, both the seller and I agreed that was the right decision to take this great offer and not get too greedy and then have anything backfire by waiting for an offer date.

In fact, the other 2 homes didn’t do as well as us, we got the highest price over the others, partly because this home truly was the best and nicest one, and most nicely remodeled, so it should have sold for the highest price. But also the other 2 homes just didn’t sell as fast. And, we didn’t have time to mess around, because the sale of her home was contingent on getting the home she wanted to buy, so we were really under the gun to make this happen.

The transaction itself was super smooth and seamless, typical for a transaction in which the buyer removes all contingencies upfront. Those deals typically go pretty well.

Just Sold in San Jose for $830,000

Just Sold in San Jose for $830,000

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When You Make an Offer on a Home…Make Yourself Available!

May 16th, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, campbell home, Duplex, home seller, homebuyer, investor, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice

For this duplex I just sold in Campbell for $1,105,000, I was the agent for the seller. I worked with this client over 15 years ago when he sold another duplex in Willow Glen. This property had been in their family for over 60 years! This property was really unique, very few duplexes like it come on the market, and the location is very desirable, walking distance to the Whole Foods shopping center and Ebay, and really close to the Pruneyard. So, it’s a unique find for sure and it was very apparent how desirable this ‘one of a kind’ duplex was when we got about 30 offers! Yes, 30!!! Offers ranged all over the place, from 1 offer under list price (have no idea WHAT they were thinking) to many offers at various degrees over list price. 2 of the offers were super close in price and terms, both cash offers, both waived ALL contingencies of the contract, both buyers owned another property in the neighborhood. It was a super tough call between these 2 buyers and both were super aggressive buyers.

We basically went back to both the 2 highest offers and asked for their best price, 1 of the buyers came back with a higher price, and the other buyer was not reachable at the time. That buyer’s agent said he was out playing golf and he wasn’t able to get a hold of him. The buyer that did come back with a higher price told us that this duplex would be for his family, not a typical rental. The seller was a little more intrigued by the thought of the property not simply being an investment, and that the buyer’s relatives would live there, because the mother of the seller lived there for many years, so one side of the duplex had been owner occupied by his mother for many years. The other buyer was apparently just a straight investor that would likely rent out both units.

The 2nd contender’s agent asked us to wait and not make a decision until he was able to reach his client, but hours later, he was still nowhere to be found. The seller decided to go ahead with the 1st buyer that came back with a higher price. The seller signed all the papers, I was ready to give the signed offer to the buyers, and I got a text from contender #2 with their higher offer. And, it was actually higher than the offer the seller just signed, but I had not delivered it yet. The seller took just minutes to think about it, and said we should stick with the offer that was just signed.

The seller did have the opportunity to go with the higher offer from the buyer we hadn’t heard from for hours, since we had not delivered the signed contract yet, but at that point, it had been hours since we reached out to that 2nd buyer, we had no idea if or when we would hear back, the seller had just signed the offer from the buyer who kept in contact, and that was also the buyer that was buying for relatives, and the seller felt inclined to stay with that decision, he felt he had given them a commitment at that point, so he stuck with his decision.

The transaction itself went pretty smoothly, the buyer was all cash, there were no contingencies to the sale, so it was basically a done deal. The sellers were so thankful that we went with their offer because they said they really needed this property for the relatives, and they knew that the seller declined a higher offer in the end, that they actually took the seller and I to a very nice lunch! That’s a first in my 21+ year career! I guess the moral of the story is…When you make an offer on a home, wait by your phone until a decision is made or you may lose it!…If the 2nd contender would have been around when we reached out to him, there could have been another outcome, since his 2nd offer was higher than the other buyer, the seller may have gone with that buyer if he would have responded quickly. Who knows for sure though? The buyer who bought the duplex was super aggressive and may have come back again, but it’s harder to say how things would have turned out if that buyer would have been reachable during the decision making.

Just sold in Campbell for $1,105,000!

Just sold in Campbell for $1,105,000!

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Finally Our Luck Has Changed!

May 8th, 2017 · Uncategorized

For this condo I sold in San Jose for $555,000, I was the agent for the buyer. This was a long and frustrating search for my client. It was just one disappointment after another and it took close to a year for his luck to change. But, when his luck changed, it REALLY changed for the better! This buyer really liked 2-3 communities in which listings didn’t come up on the market all that often, and when they came up, there was fierce competition, in which buyers were waiving ALL their contingencies and paying top dollar. The buyer wasn’t in a position to waive all contingencies, the potential risks of his particular situation was that in which he just wasn’t able to waive the appraisal contingency, but the competition, unfortunately for him, was waiving them all and then beating him out consistently. He was even looking into communities with litigation to try and avoid some of the competition for those buyers that were turned off by a community in litigation.

Even for this condo, actually, the same thing happened. He faced mutliple offers and the highest and best offer waived all the contingencies and beat us out. So, we were back to square one, yet again. I got a call from the listing agent that the buyer who was in contract just lost his job and was unable to complete the purchase, and she wanted to know if my client was still interested. I said absolutely ‘YES’ and there you go…we were able to slip in as the next buyer and get it! The buyer had written a pretty compelling letter and I had also explained the frustration of the search for this client’s first home, and how we haven’t been able to catch a break.

Apparently, that info we discussed intially stayed with her, so rather than going back on MLS, going through the whole bidding war again, and/or reaching out to other buyer’s agents, she only came back to me to put this together. The client was in shock. It was so crazy to be rejected, then to get a second chance and actually get the offer through after all he had been through.

The transaction itself was super smooth and went so well. After the horrendous search for a first home, once he locked that condo in contract, from there, everything went so easy. When I say his luck changed, it changed drastically, he was also able to lock in a lower interest rate than he had been quoted, which saves him a lot of money. And for the icing on the cake, towards the end of the transaction, we got news from the HOA that the litigation has been settled, which was off the chart good news! Once that litigation is settled and all said and done, values in this community will just sky rocket. There is only ONE lender that we know of that can even give a loan with a HOA in litigation, and of course, the rate is higher. There is less of a buyer pool with communities in litigation, since many buyers don’t want to buy in a community with litigation, and/or can’t find a lender that will do the loan, and/or don’t want to have a higher interest rate for an undertermined amount of time while the community is in litigation.

Once the settlement paperwork is finalized, the buyer will be able to refinance for an even better interest rate. Once the buyer’s luck changed for the better, he was just showered with blessings from there onward. After all the headache and heartache, this ended up being a fabulous ending…and beginning in his new home.

Just Sold in San Jose for $555,000

Just Sold in San Jose for $555,000

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The 3rd Time is a Charm…

April 11th, 2017 · Uncategorized

For this home I just sold in West San Jose for $1,130,000 with Moreland Schools, I was the agent for the sellers who were referred to me. They are retiring and moving out of the area. They have lived in this home for over 25 years, raised their kids there, so this was a very emotional sale for them, as you can imagine.

This sale was a little rough on the sellers, in that this was their one and only home for over 25 years, and they were emotional about it. One thing I can say for any seller selling their home that they are very attached to, is the best thing a seller can do, is to basically stay away when it comes to showings and buyers checking out the home. It was hard on them to see a ton of buyers going through their home. I think if the seller is not really witness to the showings and open houses, and how hectic they get, and how many buyers waltz through and make all their comments, it is just better.

In this case, the seller was home for a number of the showings and also for both days of open houses, they showed up a little before the open houses were finished, so they just saw a ton of activity and lots of buyers looking around, checking out their home, and chatting about it. If the seller isn’t around for this, and don’t realize all the traffic that comes through, I think it’s actually less stressful on the seller. So, key note to sellers, it’s better to not be around for showings and open houses for your own sanity.

We received 13 offers on this home! The sellers picked the highest and best offer, one that was the highest in price and WAIVED all contingencies, and the agent was really pushing her client to get this home. Sounds like the right choice, and a no brainer, right?

Well, about 4 hours after the sellers signed the offer, the buyer agent calls me and says that the buyers want to go back and see the house in the morning BEFORE they will turn in their deposit check. And, then proceeds to tell me that they don’t really remember the house. WHAT????? Your clients just made an offer for over $1 MILLION DOLLARS and WAIVED ALL CONTINGENCIES and they do NOT remember the HOUSE???? Are you freaking kidding me???? So, you are saying, they just go around town making offers randomly on homes they don’t even remember???

I thought I was going to lose my mind. Long story short, they decided NOT to go back to the house, decided they got too caught up in the moment, and REFUSED to turn in the deposit check and walked. Ok, AGENTS and BUYERS, I want to make this VERY clear to you…It is NOT cool to do that! And, I also want you to know, that is a BREACH OF CONTRACT! If you write an offer and it gets accepted, and you WAIVE ALL contingencies, but you decide to get cold feet and walk, and refuse to turn in the deposit, that is a BREACH of CONTRACT! Technically, the seller can come after you for the deposit, just FYI, in case you don’t know or your agent doesn’t know. I’ll just school you now.

The lucky thing for the buyers who pulled this stunt, is that it’s just really not worth the time and effort if you have 12 other offers. It’s a headache to go after these types of buyers, so it’s just easier to move on to the next. But from a technical standpoint, if the sellers were upset enough, they could halt everything and go for that deposit for BREACHING the contract.

So, we moved on to the next highest and best offer, explained what happened and how ridiculous it was that the agent and buyers would do this to us. That agent assured me that his buyers were serious and even explained the situation to his client, his client said to move foward and said he was happy to get this opportunity. And, what happened? He did the same thing!!!!! Are you kidding me??? What alternate universe did I just get trapped in???

Well, I guess the 3rd time is the charm, we went to the next highest and best offer, and those were our golden buyers and agent. Those buyers truly did love the home and were excited to get the opportunity to buy it. So, we sold the home for $135,000 OVER the listed price, the buyers WAIVED all contingencies, gave the sellers a FREE rent back for 30 days, bought in ‘as is’ condition, and the agent and buyers were just a pure pleasure to work with on the transaction. The buyers even wrote a really nice letter to the sellers, which really did the trick in choosing those buyers that really showed us their commitment to the home with their lovely letter.

It was a rough road for the sellers for both the process of seeing so many people go through their home during the week before open houses and also during the open houses, and then going through the offer process, with not 1, but 2 flakey buyers, who apparently, don’t understand the purchase contract and their agents, who apparently, didn’t explain the purchase contract to them properly. But, we got through it, and the sellers are moving to a beautiful area up North into a beautiful home where they are retiring, with a lake view. So, in the end, everything worked out.

Just Sold in West San Jose for $1,130,000!

Just Sold in West San Jose for $1,130,000!

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Remove Your Loan Contingency!!!

March 7th, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, first time buyer, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, real estate, san jose home

For this townhome style I sold in San Jose for $389,000, I was the agent for the sellers. They actually bought this home with me as their agent about 15 years ago! And, to make things even more interesting, back then, in 2002, I was the listing agent for this home as well, and dual agent at that time for these clients. And, to take this back even further, I sold this home to the previous sellers and was their buyer’s agent back in 1998! So, I have sold this unit 3 times since 1998, going back 19 years!!! Yikes! I am aging myself!

This was a very interesting listing this time around. I was fairly confident we would get multiple offers for this home. It’s just adorable and a really nice setting. The sellers remodeled before selling and it just looked great! The one downfall is that it is a 1 bedroom, which does not have as big of a market as places with at least 2 bedrooms, although, it does have a loft area that is great for an office, den, bedroom, etc…although for some, the loft area just wasn’t quite what some people needed for additional space and really needed that 2nd bedroom, so that turned into a factor, in which many buyers really needed another true full bedroom.

But, the interesting part, was that there was a lot of interest in this home and I feel we would have had multiple offers and things go more as I expected, but for some reason, buyers were just dropping like flies when it came to financing. For some weird dynamic that I can’t even explain, there were a number of buyers that liked the home and wanted to make an offer, but their financing was falling through the cracks. Luckily for us, we didn’t accept any offers in which financing was an issue, in fact, luckily, the buyer’s agents were letting me know that their buyers weren’t able to even make an offer, due to issues with their buyer’s financing, so we didn’t waste time and effort on anything that could not fly.

For the transaction itself with the buyers that did get their offer accepted, the loan part of the transaction was very frustrating. Firstly, the appraiser didn’t even make it out there in a timely manner, and then the loan itself, was just one frustration after another. They did pull it off in the end, but we closed exactly 1 week late, and the loan officer would not even give the green light to remove loan contingency until Day 36 of our contract. We had the loan contingency removal carrot dangling in front of us for weeks, and practically every day, the loan officer would ask for just one more day, which would turn in to many more days. We had 5 loan contingency extensions. I felt confident the buyers would pull it off, but of course, the clients got nervous, and I totally understand why.

What was even more frustrating about the loan contingency was that some of the conditions were things that should have been handled in the first week, like a condo cert, HO6 insurance, and at the 11th hour, the loan officer was scrambling to get these items that should have been done upfront and not be holding up our closing. So, definitely, the loan contingency situation was a huge frustration and also a concern for the sellers, because they were concerned the buyers were not solid and the transaction may even fall through. But, we got through it, so it’s all good now. The sellers moved to Florida where prices are more than 1/2 the cost of San Jose. So, things all worked out in the end, but it was a roller coaster ride to get there.

Just Sold in San Jose for $389,000

Just Sold in San Jose for $389,000

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Relax…We Got This!

March 2nd, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, san jose home

Well, here is a different story in the usually crazy Silicon Valley real estate market…this is a case in which the tables were a bit turned! I was the agent for the buyers for this home I sold in San Jose for $1,250,000. This home was initially priced way too high at a price of $1,425,000. It sat on the market for a long time and finally the seller did a price reduction to $1,388,888 which was still too high so it continued to sit. My clients love the location and floor plan and after WEEKS of negotiations, yes WEEKS, my buyers were able to lock in this home for $1,250,000, $175,000 UNDER the original list price. Now, that is a change from the norm, usually the price sells that much HIGHER than list price with fierce competition. The buyers had visited an open house in which the seller was there. The seller really liked the buyers a lot, and I think that helped to get them into this house, for the seller to know how much they loved the home and wanted to be there many years. They also followed up with an amazing letter to the seller when they submitted their offer. This is also the one and only offer my buyers wrote on a home, so they are just super lucky!

The fact that the seller overpriced her home ended up being a real blessing for my buyers. Not only did my buyers get the home for a good price, but they didn’t have to compete with any other buyers, they were able to keep their contingencies in place, and to top it off, they had a condo to sell that was contingent on the purchase of this home. It’s darn near impossible to get a ‘sale of property’ contingency accepted by a seller in this market, but we were able to pull it off. To make things even juicier, we were coming into the holidays, and just the wrong time to list my buyer’s condo, so we were even able to negotiate being able to wait until the 1st of year to list the condo. Not only were the buyers able to get a good price, but they were also able to get great terms that are almost unheard of since the competition is usually just crazy fierce.

The transaction itself was comical at best. Admittedly, we wrote a VERY buyer friendly offer that the seller accepted, and when the broker of the seller’s agent saw how buyer friendly it really was, he kind of freaked out. But, hey, the seller accepted these terms and conditions and I work for the buyer. I am just doing my job. So, there was just constant calls, texts and emails from the listing agent about this and that during the term of the contract. All was good, and we did everything we could to accomodate the seller to make things a smooth transaction and keep the seller happy, even though there were things that we didn’t have to do per contract, but did because we wanted to keep a good rapport. The transaction was a long one, almost 70 days, and it was a LONG 70 days with the listing agent because she just found ways to freak out over nothing. And, I just didn’t understand what all the hype was about. We were on track, did everything as promised, even more than we promised. We got the condo sold quickly, all was good. Everything was cool, but she just found ways to stress out.

The clincher of this transaction was on closing day, the seller was not moved out on time! The seller said she would be moved out the day before closing, so the buyes had lined up plans and such for closing day once we got recording confirmation. We get to the house, and the seller is still moving out! She still had quite a bit in the house and a ton of items in the garage and seemed to have very little help. In the end, she did get out on closing day, but it was not until around midnight. It all worked out, the buyers weren’t happy, but just glad she did get out on closing day and not past that day. It was an inconvenience because they were not able to do all they wanted to do on closing day, but at least things didn’t lead into the next day. Oh, by the way, I sold the home right next door to this home over 10 years ago! I was the agent for the seller back then. Funny thing is that I didn’t even realize it was the home right next door until almost closing day. I knew I sold a home on the same street, but only realized it was that one at the very end.

Just Sold for $1,250,000

Just Sold for $1,250,000

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Smooth Sailing…

February 22nd, 2017 · bay area, buying a home, condo homeowner, condo/townhome, first time buyer, home for sale, home seller, homebuyer, Market News, Market Update, real estate, real estate advice, saratoga, selling a home

For this condo I sold for $782,000 in Saratoga, I was the agent for the seller. I sold this condo to her a few years ago and she was ready to buy a SFR. This was one of those really easy, peasy sales, my favorite kind! We had multiple offers, the price went even beyond the seller’s expectations, the buyers waived ALL contingencies, so there was no loan, no inspection, and no appraisal contingency, and they gave the seller a FREE 30 day rent back! The buyers are a super cute couple, I actually remembered them from the open house weekend. They were really easy to work with during the transaction and my seller is as cool as a cucumber herself. She was a great client to work with when she bought the condo, and just as easy to work with on the sale of the condo. The seller reminded me that this condo was the first place she saw when she was looking to buy a home and bought it. Back then, she competed for this condo as well, and it was the one and only offer she had to write. That doesn’t happen often!

Just Sold in Saratoga for $782,000!

Just Sold in Saratoga for $782,000!

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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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