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

Housing-Related Measures on November 2018 Ballot


The Incredible Shrinking Housing Market

This year there are a number of very important measures that will appear on our November 2019 ballot. Today I want to talk about three that will affect California housing: Proposition 1, Proposition 5, and Proposition 10.   Proposition 1 This initiative seeks to raise $4 billion to pay for affordable housing throughout the State of California, with most of the money going to our veterans. While I know that you may not be in favor of raising taxes, I do think that we need to start solving the problem of the lack of affordable housing. This is not going to be a cure-all, but I do think it is a step in the right direction, which is why I encourage you to vote YES. Proposition 5 This proposition is sponsored by the California Association of Realtors and is about property tax portability. If it passes, it will allow California homeowners who are 55 or older to sell their home and buy another in a different California county and transfer their property tax basis. Many unions such as teachers, firefighters, and police, say this is a bad idea because it may result in a drop in revenue that will hurt their agencies. However, the California Association of Realtors believes that it will be revenue neutral and I think that it will greatly increase the supply of housing by allowing seniors to leave their larger homes for smaller ones with a lower cost. This is why I encourage you to vote YES to Proposition 5. Proposition 10 … Read More

Why the “Shift” Happening in Our Market Isn’t What You Might Think


Shift happens.  But is our California real estate market shifting now too? There are all kinds of stories out there that seem to be saying that it is. Last week I was at a meeting with some big time Silicon Valley real estate brokers, and they agreed that the market has definitely changed. They said that multiple offers are history for now, properties aren’t selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking price, and there’s no need to set an offer deadline anymore because you’re lucky if a seller gets so much as a single offer. This is radically different than the kind of talk we heard earlier in the year about our market, so I did some research of my own on this topic. From what I can tell, the market is pretty much just following its normal yearly pattern. In the summertime, the market usually hits a bit of a lull. In our area, we have two big markets—the spring market (which was a very strong seller’s market this year) and the fall market. We’re just now sliding into the fall market, and based on the numbers I’m seeing, we should still have a strong market for sellers. Inventory has built up over the year (as it does, every year).  You’ll note there are price reductions happening because people overpriced their properties earlier in the year and now they want to get them sold before winter, so you will see a lot price reductions.  It’s important to note, though, that these are asking prices. I haven’t yet … Read More

Aptos Foreclosure Fixer Upper

sebfreyBlog, Distressed Properties

Need a nice fixer upper project? How about a big, fat house on a good sized lot? I’ve got just the place for you – and did I mention it’s less than a mile to the beach (as the crow flies, anyway)?   Plus it’s got swimming pool, detached office room, and an indoor basketball court (yes, really!). Check out the video below: 2816 Estates Drive, Aptos, CA Please let me know if you’d like to get in to tour this amazing opportunity. Yes I know it’s over $1,000,000 (asking price, but we can surely negotiate that down) and it needs a lot of work – but it’s only $380/sf or so which is really cheap for the area.  You can see all the listing details here. Listing courtesy of John Lee, MRL Group, Inc

9 Great Home Selling Survival Tips

sebfreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

I’ve got some wonderful survival tips I’d like to share with you today.  But don’t worry, you needn’t be planning on climbing Mount Everest or swimming with sharks for these to be useful.  What I’ve got are nine (9!) great home selling survival tips which will be valuable to anyone who is selling their home – or thinking about doing so. Home sellers tell me all the time their least-favorite part of selling is living in it while it’s being shown. It’s definitely an awkward time period that feels like being in limbo, because you’re halfway between the time when you own the home and when someone else will. Shortening that time period in any way is going to lead to a much more rewarding and satisfying experience. Here are the top tips that I have for you for surviving in your home while it’s on the market: 1. Pack away the clutter. Not only does clutter kill your equity, but it also distracts potential buyers from your house. Do yourself a favor and pack this stuff away or store it. You’ll have less to worry about, it’ll be easier to move when the day finally arrives, and you’ll have buyers focusing more on your house rather than your stuff. 2. Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year. I’m not talking about packing it away; I’m talking about getting it gone. We all have stuff in our basements, closets, attics, and garage that we don’t see, use, or even know exists anymore. Unless … Read More

Santa Cruz Together Fights Rent Control

sebfreyCommentary, Santa Cruz Real Estate

Are you concerned about the movement to bring rent control to the city of Santa Cruz?  The folks working to establish rent control in the city have met the required number of signatures to put the measure on the ballot this coming November, so the rent control question will soon be put to the vote.  While there are many advocates for rent control, the opposite is true as well.  A local group, Santa Cruz Together, is a leading grass-roots effort against what they see as a misguided effort to improve housing affordability which will ultimately result in lower affordability, higher rent, and lower quality housing for all. Santa Cruz Together is a group comprised of over 600 local small property owners (many of them landlords) and “banana slugs.”  Many of these landlords oppose rent control not because it won’t allow them to raise rent, but rather, because they fear it will mean they’ll have to exit the rental business entirely because they won’t want the hassles of dealing with increased bureaucracy, tenant laws, and “just cause evictions” which make it very problematic to stop renting to tenants, even after a lease as expired.  Many landlords say they’ll simply remove their rental properties from the market, which will decrease the rental pool and ultimately work to raise rental prices. Their web site provides a wealth of information on the topic of rent control, and shares some sobering statistics, such as: In rent controlled Santa Monica, 25% of rental units were withdrawn In rent controlled San Francisco 30% of … Read More

A Very Special Offer of a Free Room-by-Room Review

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

It’s springtime—the time of year when a lot of people start thinking about selling their homes. If you’re one of those people, I’ll bet that you’ve asked what you can do to the property to really boost the sales price and net the highest amount of money. Many people worry that they’ll have to make big, expensive upgrades or repairs.

What Lessons From the 2007 Financial Crisis Still Apply Today?


Today, I want to share with you five important lessons that I learned from the 2007 financial crisis With housing prices as high as they are today in California, there are many communities here where prices are far higher than they were even back in 2007. I spoke to a lot of homeowners back then who were going through extreme difficulties, and I learned some very important lessons that I want to share with you: 1) Don’t buy a home that you can’t afford. Back then, so many people bought homes they couldn’t afford, feeling that if they didn’t buy them, they’d be priced out of the market and never be able to buy a home ever again. Well, we know now that if they’d waited a few years, they would have found that homes were a lot more affordable. Don’t buy into the hype that if you don’t buy now, you’ll never be able to buy again.  Just keep on saving for the day when buying a home becomes in reach. 2) Don’t always believe that your home will go up in value. A lot of people believe that California home prices will always increase. In reality, they don’t; they fluctuate up and down, sometimes quite a bit. If they go down by a lot during a time in which you find yourself needing to sell, you could be in a bit of a tricky situation. This is important to consider when you’re buying a home: it’s a long-term commitment, and you want to jealously … Read More