Santa Cruz City Council Defies Voters

sebfreySanta Cruz Real Estate

Information in this report was provided courtesy of the Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS. On Tuesday, January 8th 2019 – a night which will live in infamy – the Santa Cruz City Council defied voters who recently rejected control and Just Cause Evictions when they soundly rejected Measure M by 61% to 39%.   They did this by passing a first reading of an “emergency” just cause evictions ordinance.  Councilman Brown made the motion, Krohn seconded, and Cummings and Glover voted yes. Watkins, Meyers, and Mathews voted No. The term of the draft Just Cause Eviction Ordinance was extended to one year. A few changes to the draft ordinance were made from the dais:  If the owner lives on the same property, it is exempt from JCE. Good temporary news for those with ADUs or duplexes. Partner was legally defined as registered domestic partner. However renters can still move in other family members without owner permission, beyond the number on a lease, and up to the federal occupancy limit. The relocation ordinance passed a second reading with hardly any discussion at 11:50PM.  Rent increases are limited to 5% in one year and 7% over two years. Higher increases, that cause renters to move, trigger relocation fees of two months actual rent.  This passed unanimously.  The Council states that this is not technically rent control and that it can therefore be applied to all rental property including single-family homes and condos (and so not be in violation of Costa Hawkins, the repeat of which was rejected statewide … Read More

Why It’s Better to Sell Your Home Early in 2019

sebfreyCommentary, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

The Real Estate Closing Timeline

If you’re thinking of selling your home in 2019, it’s something you’ll want to do sooner rather than later.  Our market is almost a year-round market; things slow down for the holidays but they pick right up again half way through January. The market, though, has softened considerably. My advice to sellers is to have their homes ready for the market by mid-February to get a jump on the spring market.  By listing early in the year, you’ll beat the competition to market and you’ll probably have a much easier time selling. Best Advice for Bay Area Sellers in 2019 Sellers should very, very carefully consider their list price before listing their home for sale on the MLS.  Don’t be greedy – be realistic.  Your home has probably appreciated substantially over the past several years – take the money and run.  Price it where you know it will get offers within 2-3 weeks; any higher than that and you’ll probably end up shooting yourself in the foot.  In a softening market, you don’t do yourself any favors by testing the market with a high price. Prepping your Home for the Market Remember, it’s always the basics that give you the biggest bang for the buck, and what’s great is that they cost relatively few bucks. Empty the house at (“de-clutter, de-personalize”) so it looks as spacious, light, and airy as possible. Paint everything, whether it needs it or not.  Painting makes your home look fresh and clean, and gives it that “new home smell.” Clean everything, … Read More

California 2019 Real Estate Forecast

sebfreyCommentary, Local

Crystall Ball

It’s that time of year, and high-profile prognosticators are breaking out their crystal balls to come up with their California 2019 real estate forecast.  For the past couple of years or so, I’ve given you a blow-by-blow video of Leslie Appleton-Young’s California market forecast (Leslie is the Chief Economist of the California Association of REALTORS, aka C.A.R.).  This year, though, I’m going to skip that and instead give you just C.A.R.’s forecast highlights, and a round-up of other California real estate forecasts for 2019 as well. But let’s start with C.A.R.’s 2019 California real estate forecast…you can get it right from the California Association of REALTORS web site, from their October 11th presentation to REALTOR members. Also, I do have a copy of Leslie’s slides from the presentation she made to the Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS on November 16th, 2018 – if you want to download the slide deck as a PDF, you can do so using this link. In a nutshell, here’s what Leslie and the folks at C.A.R. are predicting for the 2019 California real estate market: A combination of high home prices and eroding affordability is expected to cut into housing demand and contribute to a weaker housing market in 2019, and 2018 home sales will register lower for the first time in four years… In essence, the message from C.A.R. is that the California real estate market in 2019 can be characterized as changing “from great to good.”   I’ll break out a few key predictions for you. California Association of REALTORS … Read More

The Endowment Effect in Real Estate

sebfreySanta Cruz Real Estate

The endowment effect is a human tendency to value something more when we own it. Last year, economist Richard Thaler even won the Nobel Prize for his work regarding this behavior. But how does the endowment effect in real estate manifest itself? First, let’s give a simple example of how the endowment effect works.  Let’s say a group of people is asked how much a coffee mug is worth. They may respond with something like “around $2.” However, if they’re asked how much each member’s own coffee mug is worth, they will almost invariably respond with a higher value, like perhaps $8.  It’s a striking phenomenon, and it’s observable in primates as well as humans.  Simply put, there’s a strong tendency for us to overvalue things we already own. It could be something simple like a coffee mug, but it also applies to our real estate. Homeowners often think their homes are worth more than they actually are.  For a long time, I’d figured this was primarily because of a strong emotional attachment to the property.  After all, it’s only natural: most homeowners have created lots of memories over many years in these homes, and so of course they value the property more highly than “the next guy.”  Sociologists, however, explain that this works on a much deeper level than simple emotional attachment: fear, or specifically, fear of loss (and no, fear is not an emotion). That fear of loss drives us to overvalue things we own, and according to the Endowment Effect, this is the … Read More

The World’s Greatest Realtor 2018 Award Winner

sebfreyCommentary, Local, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

Realtor Logo

Sebastian “Seb” Frey is the The World’s Greatest Realtor 2018 Award Winner!  This prestigious award was granted to him by one of his clients upon the successful sale of their family home in San Jose, California.  Closing gifts are common in the Santa Clara county real estate market, but it is unusual for a client to buy the agent a gift – usually, it’s the other way around.  So why did this homeowner go through the trouble and expense of getting a custom made closing gift for their Realtor? The World’s Greatest Realtor Case Study Cathy grew up in a quiet, tidy neighborhood of San Jose.  Homes in the neighborhood consisted of single level ranch homes built in the 1950’s – most were around 1150 square feet or so, and the typical lot size was about 6,000 square feet.  Her parents were the second owner of the home.  Mom had died over a decade ago, and dad had just recently died. The home was being lived in by her brother Steve, who was on title.  A third sibling, another sister, was on title as well.  Steve had been living in the home for most of his life – and had a lifetime’s worth of items stored in the house. Actually, he had several lifetimes worth of stuff stored there. To be honest, the home was packed.  Many rooms had boxes and bags of items, stacked from floor to ceiling.  There were storage sheds in the back yard – crammed full of junk.  The garage was likewise completely … Read More

Selling a Home and Buying Another Is Easy!

sebfreyDownsizing, Local, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

The Real Estate Cycle

Are you itching to swap homes?  Maybe you have a new child on the way and want to step up into a larger home than you have now.  Or it could be that all your kids have left the nest (waaaa!  Or yeah!?), and now you’re looking to downsize into a smaller home.  Because our housing costs are so high, if you’re like 88% or so of the home-owning public, you’ll probably need to sell your current home before you can close on the sale of a new one.  If you’re in that boat, I’ve got some good news for you:  selling a home and buying another is easy! One of the first questions home owners have is, should I put my home on the market before I find the house I want to move to, or should I find my new home, and then put my current house up for sale?  For most homeowners, the answer is clear:  put your current home up for sale before making an offer on a new one. Here’s exactly what you need to do to make a smooth move from your current digs to the new pad.  First, get your home on the market.  I know, getting it ready to list for sale on the market can be a lot of work, but it’s got to be done.   It needs to be fully staged and prepared in order to expedite the sale and thereby maximize its sale price. After the home is on the market, the next step is getting your … Read More

How to Flip Your Own Home


Hey here’s an idea for you – flip your own home!  These days, house flipping is like a national pastime. It’s happening from coast to coast, and, in fact, it’s probably happening in your neighborhood (or very close to it). The real estate website Trulia reported that in 2017, 6% of all homes that were sold were flipped properties. Why are so many people doing this? The answer is obvious—it’s very lucrative. House flippers can make anywhere from a 10% to 50% return on their cash investment. Now, look at your own house. Are you thinking about selling it? Does it maybe need a little work? Does it have upside potential? If it does, why not flip your own home? You could make tens of thousands of dollars more when you actually sell it. Why leave that money on the table for the next buyer? To help you flip your own home, I’ve written a custom, 22-page house flipping report that’s packed with information and shows just how easy it is to flip your home and make tons of extra money from your sale. It’s a very quick read, and you’ll learn all you need to know to become a house flipping expert. Get the Guide! Download our guide and learn how to flip your own home today! This report has been meticulously researched and laser-focused on the California real estate market.  Any owner in California that’s thinking of selling their home within the next year needs to read this groundbreaking report.  This report covers topics like: … Read More

Time for a Lowball Offer?

sebfreyCommentary, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate

What is the best time to list your home for sale?

It’s been quite sometime since I wrote anything about lowball offers – the last time was way back in 2006. In 2006, the market had noticeably cooled from the frenzy in 2005, and it was just a year before a historic real estate market meltdown began in 2007. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and if sellers had known then what we know today, I’m sure many more lowball offers would have been accepted! But what, exactly, is a lowball offer? To me, a lowball offer is anything that’s more than about 3-4% below asking price. It could be that 3-4% below asking price is actually fair market value – but fair market value is a debatable number, whereas asking price is a fact. In some markets though, most offers are 3-4% below asking price, so what would be considered a “lowball offer” will vary from place to place and time to time. These days, there’s a lot of talk about a softening – or shifting – real estate market. Given that the California economy remains resilient (for the time being) with growing wages and employment, I am not certain why the demand for housing would weaken. Supply has not significantly increased in many Bay Area markets, at least according to a few random spot checks I’ve made over the past few weeks and months. However, you know the saying – perception is reality. If buyers are perceiving that there’s less competition out there for homes, you can expect they’ll be more inclined to lob some … Read More

Work with a Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)


Buying a home is a big decision, but there’s another choice you’ll have to make before you pick a home to buy. I’m referring to who you choose to help you find a home and negotiate with the seller on your behalf. Before you choose your house, one of your very first important decisions will be choosing the Realtor to help you get it done. How do you know which Realtor to choose? Are they all the same? Or is there something in particular you should look for in a Realtor? Certainly, you’ll want to find a Realtor who is experienced, who’s been around the block a few hundred times. One who is accessible, reputable, and will always work in your best interest. But how can you know which Realtors meet that criteria? You can start by looking for a Realtor who is a Certified Residential Specialist. Only 6% of Realtors are members of the council, and they are among the most elite Realtors practicing today.  To become a CRS, a Realtor must take a series of high-level real estate classes and actually show proof of production (homes sold) to the Council of Residential Specialists to be awarded this prestigious designation. Use a CRS Realtor When Buying a Home Video

Join Us at Our Upcoming Home Seller Seminar


I want to take this time to invite you to a very special presentation. On Thursday, January 24, 2019, I would be delighted if you joined me at my live event. I’m calling it my “Savvy Seller Seminar” and I am going to teach you everything you need to know to sell your home for the highest price – yet quickly, and without a lot of hassle and expense. Not only will everyone who attends get my best strategies and tactics for selling success, but they will also get a free copy of my book, Get It Sold. While you can of course get my book, read it, and learn a whole lot from it, I’ve found that there’s a lot of value in coming together with a group of people who are participating in a live, dynamic event.  For sure, we’ll all learn a thing or two – myself included! Tickets are available at no charge on EventBrite – but hurry, seats are limited and are expected to fill quickly. Limit two tickets per person, and include snacks, drinks, end eligibility to win any of several door prizes. I’ll be joined by experts in different fields that are in involved with selling a home. We’ll have door prizes, snacks and drinks – it’s going to be an extremely fun and informative event, I promise. Topics that will be explored include: Current Market Statistics Ninja Marketing and advertising tactics Staging Your Home to Sell Quickly at Peak Pricing Disclosure Requirements Key Features of the Listing Agreement … Read More