Real Estate Tips and Information by Karen List

Buying and Selling Homes in Santa Clara and Alameda County

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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.

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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