• What’s It Take to Sell a Home? Part 3 — Pricing Trumps All

    Pricing is going to be the single most important factor in getting your home sold. Pricing it correctly.

    Zillow will tell you one thing. A “neighborhood expert” might tell you something else.   This can sometimes be a delicate conversation, particularly if you think your home is worth X, and the rest of the world thinks it’s worth Y.

    In its most basic form, here’s some guidelines:

    The Market Value of Your Home is NOT:

    1.         What you have in it.

    2.         What you need out of it.

    3.         What you want.

    4.         What it appraised for.

    5.         What you heard your neighbor’s house sold for.

    6.         What the tax assessor says it is worth.

    8.         Based on memories and treasures.


    The True Market Value of Your Home Is What a Buyer is Willing to Pay:

    1.         Based on today’s market.

    2.         Based on today’s competition.

    3.         Based on today’s financing.

    4.         Based on today’s economic condition.

    5.         Based on the buyer’s perception of the condition.

    6.         Based on location.

    7.         Based on normal marketing time.

    8.         Based on showing accessibility.


    Properties That Sell in Today’s Market:  On a Scale of 1 – 10, the “10’s” Are The Ones That Are Selling.  How Can Your Property Be A “10”?

    1.         By improving the condition dramatically.

    2.         By offering good terms.

    3.         By improving the way the home shows.

    4.         By pricing it realistically.


    As a Seller there are 3 things you control, and 3 things you can’t control:

    1.         The price you ask.

    2.         The condition of the property.

    3.         Access to the property.


    As a Seller you do not control:

    1.         Market conditions.

    2.         The motivation of your competition.

    3.         Value


  • Q4 Market Update with Carole Rodoni – New Gory Details Podcast

    Yes, it’s back!  The latest Gory Details Podcast features once again the immensely knowledgeable Carole Rodoni.  She’s a highly regarded speaker, author and advisor in Bay Area real estate. Formerly president of Fox and Carskadon Realtors, COO of Cornish & Carey Real Estate, President & COO of Alain Pinel Realtors, and now president of her own consulting firm, Bamboo Consulting, she is..the one, and only, Carole Rodoni

  • What’s It Take to Sell a Home? Part 2 — Promotion, Promotion, Promotion


    As mentioned in yesterday’s post, easily 80% of buyers look at Internet listings before they even contact a real estate agent

    Now why is that?… it’s because of the availability and proliferation of MLS data to the general public makes it so much easier to just pull up your laptop, iPad, or real estate app and to narrow down your search from what’s available, to homes that buyers want to see.

    Now there’s the obvious, tactile things that need to happen – well designed and professional looking brochures, professional photography, signage, and open houses.   They’re a necessity, but they’re also table steaks – fundamental competencies.


    The key is, for any seller, how well, and how quickly, is your agent getting your home promoted to the pool of potential buyers out there.  And here quickly is my diatribe on print advertising (my opinion only, but I know I’m not alone in the realtor community with this) – print ads are just not worth the money.  The primary beneficiary of an ad in the local weekly real estate rag, or in the weekly local newspaper, is not your home. It really primarily benefits the agent, and his branding, and the promotion of his name to the masses.  That does really nothing for your bottom line.


    Some of this is going to happen automatically – MLS data feeds its data (syndicates) to many of these websites that buyers use as resources – Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, and many others. Here’s my only warning with those websites….What I’ve found is that, even though they pull their data directly from the MLS, I can’t be so sure they do it on a regular (daily!) basis.  I’ve gotten Zillow and Trulia inquiries about my listings that closed escrow 2 months prior – with the unfortunate requester of that info hopeful that they’ve actually found a home they like!


    Other means of promoting your home: it can’t be overstated, but Social Media should be playing a big part of your agent’s promotional plan.  And this does NOT mean just putting a post on Facebook or Twitter when the home comes on the market.   The digital media that’s produced in support of your listing can be leveraged in vast many ways – virtual tours is one, address-specific domains is another, but most importantly, Search Engine Optimization (SEO).   Part of it comes down to taking these things, and intelligently promoting them.  It’s not about individual posts or tweets, but rather, it’s about promoting content. Hopefully your agent has at least their own website – again, table steaks. Even better, your agent has a blog (or two). Even even better, their own business page on Facebook. Bonus points for their own video channel on YouTube.

  • What’s It Take to Sell a Home? It’s All About the 3 P’s!

    I recently had the pleasure of getting interviewed by Joe Cucciara for the RE360 radio show, on KDOW 1220 AM.  If you haven’t checked them out on Facebook, look them up here.

    In my segment, I spoke about the 3 key important things that sellers need to be on top of when they sell their home.  It’s what I call the 3 P’s: Presentation, Promotion, and Pricing.

    In today’s post, I’ll talk about the first P, Presentation (the other 2 P’s will follow in the subsequent 2 days).

    Everyone knows  the old adage that ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’.  It holds so true when trying to sell your home as well.  You as a seller may only have 90 seconds to get this right.  Because most homebuyers need only 90 seconds to make their minds up on whether or not they will consider your home. And this is why “presentation” is so key.

    Why concentrate on the “presentation” of your home?  Let’s put it this way: you dress for success, don’t you? You dress up for a job interview, a first date, right? Well, shouldn’t you do the same for your home when you’re selling it? Because that’s essentially what we’re talking about here: dressing up your home  – both inside and out – so that it goes from house for sale to house sold as quickly and profitably as possible.

    But don’t just think that it’s the inside you need to worry about. We’re talking about the well held notion of ‘curb appeal’.  When someone drives up, you as a seller want them to stop and get out and come in. You don’t want them to slow down, take a look, and then keep on driving.

    So here’s the essential things you have to do – paint the house if it needs it – particularly if you’ve currently got it painted in a very personal or unique color. If it’s a home with a front yard, spruce it up! Add redwood bark, plant new plants, trim back excess branches and foliage, rake leaves, etc…..and, this is one thing some people forget, look at your neighbor’s houses.  Is it an eyesore? Do they leave their garbage cans out all week? (my personal pet peeve) Does their front yard need raking?  These are potentially things you might need to address – and sometimes very diplomatically.

    There’s also the backyard to think about too, because you can’t necessarily spruce up the front of the house, and the inside, and blow off the backyard.  A good agent will be able to help you figure out what needs to be done and where, to put your home in the best possible light.

    So now, let’s get to staging.

    Statistics show that houses for sale that are staged, sell faster and for more money than those that aren’t. And I know, everyone can argue statistics, but this goes to something you can’t quite measure, and that is basic human nature and behavior, and moreover, appealing to emotions. Because by staging a house, you’re transforming it into an object of desire! That’s why so many real estate agents work with professional home stagers, because it’s not about fixing a faulty faucet or regrouting your shower. It’s about taking that plain Jane house for sale and turning it into Miss America.

    Some of the other good reasons to stage a house for sale include:

    • Staged homes look better on the Internet. 80% of clients look at Internet listings before they even contact a real estate agent
    • Staged homes make great first impressions on buyers.
    • Staged homes leave a lasting impression. Potential buyers will remember how beautiful the home looked
    • Staged homes come across as better maintained
    • Agents know that staged homes show better and are more likely to show them more often
    • Staging a home makes it easier for potential buyers to imaging living in the home themselves
    Tomorrow’s post will address “Promotion”.



  • Market Indicators for August 2012

    The Reader’s Digest version: Inventory is down, median prices are up. (wait, does anyone really still subscribe to Reader’s Digest anymore? Was that a seriously dated pop culture reference?)

    Anyway, the latest housing market data report for August 2012 from our local MLS shows some interesting data points. Single family home inventory still is down double digits from the same time last year across all counties, and median home price is very healthy compared to 2011, with double-digit percentage increases in four of five counties.    

     Month-over-month comparisons tell us that compared to July 2012, sales varied across the counties – from a substantial increase in Santa Cruz County, and up slightly in both Monterey and San Benito Counties, to flat in Santa Clara County, and down slightly in San Mateo County. And, compared to July 2012, median prices started to feel some slight downward pressure in Santa Cruz County, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, but increased substantially in San Benito County and Monterey County.

    MLSListings Market Data Report: August 2012

    (Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties)

    August Housing Update: Silicon Valley Outpacing the Nation in Lean Inventory

    Days on Market Plummet Compared to 2011

    Single family home inventory still is down double digits from the same time last year ranging anywhere from 19 to 39 percent. Santa Clara and San Mateo counties shared the largest drop at 39 percent. This is more than the national average of 31.2 percent as reported by the National Association of REALTORS®. Compared to 2011, sales were up 20 percent in Santa Cruz County, 12 percent in San Benito County, 3 percent in Santa Clara County, but Monterey and San Mateo counties are down four and two percent respectively. Median home price is very healthy when compared to 2011. San Benito prices increased 38 percent, Monterey 27 percent, Santa Cruz 17 percent, Santa Clara 12 percent, and San Mateo just 4 percent.

    Sales were up a healthy 26 percent in Santa Cruz County, 10 percent in both Monterey and San Benito Counties, flat in Santa Clara County, and down 8 percent in San Mateo County. In general, days on market decreased anywhere from 23 to 39 percent in all counties because of the low inventory numbers. Compared to July 2012, median prices started to feel some downward pressure and dropped 7 percent in Santa Cruz County, 3 percent in both San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, but increased 22 percent in San Benito County and up 14 percent in Monterey County.


  • Burglary Prevention 101 — Top Tips

    With the overwhelming, and unfortunate prevalence of daytime home burglaries these days, it can never hurt to keep the following burglary prevention tips in mind:

    1. Make your home look like someone is at home.

    2. On sliding glass doors, use a wooden dowel, or a track blocker to prevent opening.

    3. Always lock exterior doors and windows.

    4. Don’t hide your house key in close proximity to entry doors.

    5. Mark valuables with your driver’s license number, using an engraving tool, take photos of valuables.

    6. Secure guns in safes that are bolted to the floor or large enough that someone could not move without a lot of help.

    7. Establish a relationship with your neighbors so that they will keep an eye on your home, especially if going out of town. Encourage neighbors to call the police if they see suspicious activity around your property. Give them contact numbers for reaching you.

    8. Start a neighborhood watch group in your neighborhood.

    9. If out of town, have your neighbor collect mail, newspaper, packages; leave radio, lights on automatic timer, etc.

    10. Report suspicious people, door-to-door solicitation, strange vehicles in area, people asking for work, anyone with stories that don’t add-up, and anyone carrying items from someone’s home, or carrying back-packs, bags in the area.

    11. Be careful of who you invite into your home.

    For more information please watch this short video on Burglary Prevention. https://vimeo.com/47151140

  • Top Ten Things You Should Know About the Federal 3.8% Tax on Home Sales

    1. When you add up all of your income from every possible source, and that total is less than $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint tax return), you will NOT be subject to this tax.
    2. The 3.8% tax will NEVER be collected as a transfer tax on real estate of any type, so you’ll NEVER pay this tax at the time that you purchase a home or other investment property.
    3. You’ll NEVER pay this tax at settlement when you sell your home or investment property. Any capital gain you realize at settlement is just one component of that year’s gross income.
    4. If you sell your principal residence, you will still receive the full benefit of the $250,000 (single tax return)/$500,000 (married filing joint tax return) exclusion on the sale of that home. If your capital gain is greater than these amounts, then you will include any gain above these amounts as income on your Form 1040 tax return. Even then, if your total income (including this taxable portion of gain on your residence) is less than the $200,000/$250,000 amounts, you will NOT pay this tax. If your total income is more than these amounts, a formula will protect some portion of your investment.
    5. The tax applies to other types of investment income as well – not just real estate. If your income is more than the $200,000/$250,000 amount, then the tax formula will be applied to capital gains, interest income, dividend income and net rents (i.e., rents after expenses).
    6. The tax goes into effect on January 1, 2013. If you have investment income in 2013, you won’t pay the 3.8% tax until you file your 2013 Form 1040 tax return in 2014. The 3.8% tax for any later year will be paid in the following calendar year when the tax returns are filed.
    7. In any particular year, if you have NO income from capital gains, rents, interest or dividends, you’ll NEVER pay this tax, even if you have millions of dollars of other types of income.
    8. The formula that determines the amount of 3.8% tax due will ALWAYS protect $200,000 ($250,000 on a joint return) of your income from any burden of the 3.8% tax. For example, if you are single and have a total of $201,000 income, the 3.8% tax would NEVER be imposed on more than $1000.
    9. It’s true that investment income from rents on an investment property could be subject to the 3.8% tax. BUT: The only rental income that would be included in your gross income and therefore possibly subject to the tax is net rental income: gross rents minus expenses like depreciation, interest, property tax, maintenance and utilities.
    10. The tax was enacted along with the health care legislation in 2010. It was added to the package just hours before the final vote and without review. Our local and national real estate associations (SAMCAR and NAR) strongly opposed the tax at the time, and remains hopeful that it may not go into effect. The tax will no doubt be debated during the upcoming tax reform debates in 2013.
  • Hot off the Press! – Alain Pinel Joins Intero Real Estate

    Alain Pinel Is Back In Town…

    Intero Real Estate Services, Inc. the obvious choice for industry icon


    Alain Pinel, the renowned real estate entrepreneur whose name is on the façade of a leading national real estate company, has returned to Northern California and will serve as Senior Vice President and Managing Officer of Intero Real Estate Services, a premier real estate brokerage company headquartered in the Silicon Valley.


    In his new role, Pinel will use his experience and past success in facilitating Intero’s Estate and Luxury markets, nationally and internationally.


    “I have a passion for this business”, said Pinel, “I am excited to begin a new project with an outstanding brokerage and a progressive leadership team. I look forward to joining forces with Intero and working with their Luxury Brand.”


    Pinel’s 30 years in the real estate business have made him a leader with a solid track record for success:


    •   In the ’80s, while EVP and General Manager of Fox & Carskadon, then the largest residential real estate firm in the area, the firm tripled its volume of sales (over $3B) and emerged as one of the top companies in the country as well as a regional high-end real estate leader.

    •   In 1990, as founder, chairman and CEO of Alain Pinel Realtors, he reinvented the marketing of high-end properties around international advertising and state-of-the-art technology, before selling the firm with his two partners to spend a few years in Europe.

    •   Through the end of 1994, Alain Pinel was in Paris, in charge of the commercial activities of Sefimeg, the largest real estate entity listed on the French stock exchange with a portfolio of over 9,000 apartments and 3 million square feet of leased commercial space.

    •   In 1995, Coldwell Banker brought him back to California. As SVP for the San Francisco, Peninsula & Silicon Valley region until 2002, Pinel put incredible new records on the books for the company with a sales volume of $13 billion in 2000 and 14,000 closed residential sales.

    •   In 2002, together with three partners, he founded Imminence, a start-up that changed the way real estate is done in France and neighboring countries.  With a core business built around the MLS system, he provided a menu of marketing, financial and productivity tools to the industry.

    •   From 2008 to the Fall of 2011, while SVP & General Manager in Massachusetts for William Raveis, the 10th largest real estate firm in the U.S., the company saw its market share jump 50%. It was voted “Best real estate company in Massachusetts” four years in a row.


    Mr. Pinel is also a former VP of FIABCI, the International Real Estate Federation in Northern California, and former VP of the French-American Chamber of Commerce.


    “We are thrilled to have Alain Pinel as part of the Intero team”, said Intero Real Estate Services Founder, President & CEO Gino Blefari. “Alain is a seasoned real estate veteran with tremendous knowledge and experience in the industry and we look forward to having his expertise added to our Estate and Luxury market strategy.  His extraordinary level of professionalism will continue to lead and expand the Intero brand as a household name locally and abroad.”



  • New Pipeline Safety Laws for Home Buyers


    Recently, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law all of the five natural gas transmission pipeline safety bills passed this year by the Legislature. The new laws place California in the national forefront of pipeline safety awareness. In addition, the laws bring into sharper focus the lessons learned from the deadly gas transmission pipeline explosion one year ago in San Bruno that killed eight people, and destroyed 38 homes and damaged 61 others. The laws protect California communities by:

    • setting new standards for emergency preparedness and communicating pipeline hazards to emergency responders
    • placing automatic shut-off valves in vulnerable areas on gas pipelines that run under highly populated areas or over earthquake faults, and
    • ensuring that gas companies pressure test transmission lines.

    The five bills signed by the Governor are Assembly Bill 56 and Senate Bills 44, 216, 705 and 879. That only one of the bills faced any opposition in the Legislature is a measure of the broad public interest in pipeline hazards and support for pipeline safety in California.

    In August 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board unanimously agreed that the San Bruno accident was caused by a “litany of failures” by the pipeline’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), as well as weak oversight by regulators.

    PG&E Notification May Create Actual Knowledge Liability for Sellers

    Responding to the public outcry for information about pipeline locations after the San Bruno explosion, PG&E earlier this year notified the owners or occupants of 2.5 million California addresses that they are located within 2000 feet of a PG&E gas transmission pipeline — which could make this fact material to future Buyers of those properties.



  • Your Home Is Overpriced.

    Four words a seller never wants to hear. And a message that we, as realtors don’t enjoy delivering to our clients.

    However, it must be said, time and again, that this is a market of supply and demand. Influenced by economic factors, the job market, mortgage rates, and buyer attitude.

    Supply and demand. Supply and demand. Supply and demand. Let’s face it, if no one comes forth offering you the price you want …. your chances of getting your price are slim. The only person who feels it’s worth that price…is you.  And hence, your home is overpriced.

    Would it have been overpriced if you tried to sell it in 2004? Probably not, but guess what, the market (and world) has changed, and those “good old days” are long gone.

    If your agent is a good agent, he/she will tell you what you NEED to hear, not what you want to hear. An agent who purposely overprices a home just to get the listing is doing the seller an immense disservice. It’s what we call, in our industry, “buying a listing.”

    “But my agent sold more homes in this area than anyone else”.

    That should only be the beginning. What’s more valuable — an agent who listed 32 homes and sold 25 – or an agent who listed twelve homes and sold all twelve.  So you need to ask yourself some questions: how many of his/her listings did not sell? How many were reduced over and over before they were sold? How long were the houses on the market?

    It’s all about supply and demand.  And pricing your home right the first time is key.


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