Buyers are Craving Quality Inventory

Last week I reviewed offers with three sellers on properties. Each was in a different Oakland neighborhood. The properties are now in escrow, two with accepted offers at more than 20% over the asking price. The third property also did well, but is selling at just 5% above the listed price. Each property received the same treatment: careful pricing to generate maximum interest, meticulous preparation, professional photography, and custom web sites that tracked and verified similar levels of consumer interest. Why did two homes go so high while the third did well, but not as well? The fact is buyers are craving quality inventory. They will pay high prices, but they carefully analyze the suitability and appeal of the home they are buying. Here are some features that add value:

  1. Natural light
  2. Flow to the outdoor spaces; people love kitchens with French doors out to the backyard
  3. Parking and access from the car to the house
  4. Real hardwood floors and original details

Here are some factors that do not add value:

  1. What you want to yield from your sale
  2. What you paid for the home
  3. What your neighbor's house sold for a few months prior
  4. Newer finishes that are dated; buyers will not pay extra for something new if they don't love it

And then there are location details that typically reduce buyer interest: a busy street, a corner lot, or close to a freeway and its noise. Those external issues affect value and need to be considered when pricing your property and setting your expectations for results.

My job is to get your home sold for the highest price that the market will bring. That begins with helping you benefit from my experience so that you can see your home from the market viewpoint. With this understanding we can work together through any sale confident that, in the end, we attained the best result possible for that house, at that time, in those market conditions..

If you are considering selling your home, let's talk!

November 2013 Market Update

Above is a photograph of a home that I recently helped my buyers get into contract. Listed by R. Kriss

As we head into Thanksgiving week, we are seeing fewer new listings on the market. Having 3 homes go pending over the last two weeks this is my summary of the market:

  1. Homes in prime neighborhoods with good light and layout that are priced competitively are still going pending with multiple offers, often over the asking price.
  2. I do not recommend shopping for homes at or above your budget ceiling.
  3. Remember list price does not necessarily equate to the ultimate sold price, I have seen properties receive offers over the asking price that the seller declines. The seller has the right to decline any offer and I have seen sellers hold out for a specific price. Asking price can mean the starting price of an "auction", it can be too high or it can be just right. It is best to work with your agent to get a better sense of value.
  4. I am still seeing "move-in" ready properties needing approximately $25,000 of repairs that the buyers are taking on.
  5. Your lenders role is huge!  With many cash offers still in play, to compete your lender needs to have a solid reputation of closing deals with a hyper-local appraisal management company behind them.  This marketplace is still competitive.
To better understand this market as you are actively shopping in it, here is your homework:
Make a list of homes that you loved, (not like, but really felt a strong adoration for). Track the list price and sold price and  find out if there were major repairs needed or flaws with the property.  This way you can really understand the market.  Unless your budget is limitless, you will have to compromise on room count, neighborhood, upgrades or repairs. (Your agent can help you with this) Happy Shopping!

How Graphs Can Help Buyers

Often times people know what they want, but have no idea what it costs. I would love to live in Upper Rockridge for $600,000, but I know that is not feasible. A client came to me looking to buy a home in three specific neighborhoods - Rockridge, Claremont and Crocker Highlands.

He came to me with no real knowledge of the market or what these neighborhoods typically sell for. So as a way to help familiarize him with the market and the prices that these neighborhoods typically command, I had these graphs made for him. After he reviewed them, he was able to determine if these neighborhoods would in fact fit in his budget.

Below are some samples of the graphs I prepared for him: (Elmwood, Crocker Highlands, Claremont 1st quarter 2008 - April  2011)

Tips for buying a home in Oakland or Berkeley

Photos from my evening open house/ art gala at 3318 Jordan Road

Photos from my evening open house/ art gala at 3318 Jordan Road

Here are a few easy tips for buying a home regardless of the market. Visit a perspective home several times in the day and in the night. Remember you are not just buying a home, you are buying a piece of the neighborhood, you should be comfortable with the package. Definitely keep in mind price and comparable homes and what they sold for, but most importantly listen to your voice. After you view a home, are you thinking about it when you go to bed? How about when you wake up? Can you imagine yourself sitting on your coach relaxing? Remember, you will have to make adjustments to your wish list and you most likely won't get everything on your list, so be realistic. When you feel like the house is right and you decide to write an offer, I will do everything that I can to negotiate strongly on your behalf, so be prepared, when I call you and say, "we got it!'.

Yesterday I hosted an evening open house/ art gala with refreshments at my listing on Jordan Road in Oakland. My goal was to connect with the community, give home buyers an additional evening open house to view the property, as well as give them an opportunity to meet the neighbors and better learn the community. I was thrilled to have a steady flow of neighbors, friends and perspective home buyers. Thanks for your interest and support!

Moving to Oakland? Don't Forget the Closing Costs.

So, you are ready to buy a home. What will it actually cost in terms of out of pocket expenses. In addition to your down payment, there are closing cost. The approximate cost is 3% of the purchase price of your new home. Here are some of the fees:

Title Insurance - (This insures that you are receiving the property free and clear of liens, except your new mortgage)

Prorated Property Taxes - (You will make sure the property taxes are current, however you are paying the taxes at the sellers tax rate. Within 6-12 months you will receive a Supplemental Tax Bill which is the difference between the sellers property bill and your property taxes. Property taxes are based on the purchase price of your home.)

Any lender fees - Often these fees are minimal

City transfer tax - the city wants their money

The following is a list of the cities in Alameda County and their transfer tax. (Emeryville has No city transfer tax!!!) Typically this tax is divided equally between the buyer and seller, for example if the city transfer tax is $15 per $1000 dollars of purchase price and the purchase price is $500,000 then the buyer and seller will each pay, $3750 in transfer cost as part of their closing cost.

Transfer Tax in Alameda County Cities:

City of Alameda: $12.00 per thousand

City of Albany: $11.50 per thousand

City of Berkeley: $15.00 per thousand

City of Hayward: $4.50 per thousand

City of Oakland: $15.00 per thousand

City of Piedmont: $13.00 per thousand

City of San Leandro: $6.00 per thousand

County transfer tax is $1.10 per thousand and this is generally paid by the seller.

If you are confused at all, call me at 510.693.4253 or email me at