Tips for Creating a Stellar Home Office in a Small Home

sebfreyBlog, Home Care Tips

Home Office

There are many benefits that come with working from home. You don’t have to commute to an office, you can set your own hours, and you have minimal overhead to deal with if you are starting a business, to name a few. However, whether you are telecommuting part-time, full-time, or working as an entrepreneur, you need a space to call your own that allows you to work efficiently. And if you live in a small home, it can be challenging to create a workspace that helps you to separate your work and home life. But it’s possible! Here are some tips for putting together a home office in a small living space. Think about Your Needs First of all, what do you need from your home office? Consider the type of work you do and the equipment and space you will need to do it productively. Do you need a desktop, printer, shredder, multiple filing cabinets, and a brainstorming station? Or will a laptop, small desk, and chair suffice? Evaluating your needs will help you determine the location and layout of your workspace. Get Cash Even budget-friendly home offices require you to invest something, whether it’s in equipment, paint, decor, storage solutions, or any other number of items. Draw up a plan to see how much your workspace will cost, and if you don’t have the cash set aside for it, consider refinancing your mortgage. By refinancing a home, you will replace your existing mortgage with a new, larger one. The money left over will go … Read More

How to Safely Sell Your Home During a Pandemic

sebfreyBlog, Marketing, Sellers

Sell Your Home Safely During Coronavirus

While a global pandemic of a potentially lethal virus may be a challenging time to sell your home, there are creative ways to do it without compromising safety. From cleaning between showings to using technology to connect with potential buyers, there are plenty of options for home sellers—despite being in the midst of a health crisis. The importance of staging A crucial piece of selling a home is staging, and often, sellers turn to professionals for help. Right now, it’s difficult and could be risky to invite a staging company into your home, but luckily, there’s technology that can help stage your home. Virtual staging has traditionally been a great option for people who have very little furniture in their home. Rather than dragging in new couches, beds, and tables, virtual staging can allow you to drag-and-drop furniture into a room, digitally. The cost is typically much lower than traditional physical staging companies, and allows for endless arrangement possibilities without the challenge of finding new furniture and heavy lifting. It’s a great option to consider during the COVID-19 pandemic – in fact, it may be your only option as some counties in California still do not allow traditional stagers to do their work in your home. Make the most of technology When it’s not feasible to show your home in person, you can also turn to online tools. One great option for a no-contact showing is a video-chat tour, which is a win-win for both parties. This method ensures no contact for the buyer and seller, … Read More

How Multiple Offers Affect Sale Price

sebfreyBlog, Charts and Statistics, Commentary, North Monterey County Real Estate, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Sellers, Silicon Valley Real Estate

It’s that time of year again! Early in the year, inventory is low – but there’s no shortage of eager buyers looking to purchase a home. While an imbalance of supply versus demand is not uncommon in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, it’s especially acute early in 2020. New inventory is trickling onto the market, and it will continue to ramp up as we get into spring. But at the moment, there’s nowhere near enough new inventory to meet demand. Sellers with well-priced homes across the region are being rewarded with multiple offers from prospective purchasers. That is of course a wonderful situation for a seller – but it’s more like a nightmare for buyers. Many of these buyers will have been looking for months, even years, before they finally put an offer in on a property…only to find out that the seller has a number of competing offers to choose from. A buyer never knows how a seller will respond in a multiple offer situation. Will they accept just one offer from the “best” buyer? Will they make counter offers to specific buyers? Will they ask all buyers to respond with their “highest and best” offer, knowing that there are multiple offers on the table? What’s more, a seller can make different counter offers to different buyers, with different prices and terms. I’m helping clients manage a few multiple-offer situations at the moment, as listing agent and as buyer’s agent. Working with buyers in a multiple offer situation is especially fraught, because of course, … Read More

California Real Estate Forecast for 2020

sebfreyBlog, Local, Santa Cruz Real Estate, Silicon Valley Real Estate, Video

As you may have heard, I recently became a Broker Associate with Compass in Los Gatos (the former Alain Pinel REALTORS). There are a lot of benefits to working with a large, upscale brokerage – one of them being that you can get access to valuable information before the competition. Yesterday, our office had the first meeting of the year and it featured a feature presentation by Jordan Levine, the Deputy Chief Economist for the California Association of REALTORS. I have also seen many presentations by Jordan’s boss, Leslie Appleton-Young, and I even had her as a guest on an episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast. Jordan, by the way, is also a podcaster as he is the co-host of California Association of REALTORS Housing Matters podcast. Video of California Real Estate Forecast for 2020 The presentation was about 40 minutes long, as there was a lot to digest in there. The bottom line is that the 2020 real estate market is expected to look a lot like the 2019 real estate market: tight inventory, low interest rates, poor affordability, but with slightly more sales at somewhat higher prices (statewide, but the greater Bay Area should be an exception). Key Points for California’s 2020 Real Estate Forecast Housing prices may be up, but actual mortgage payments are down Lowest Unemployment in 50 Years Prices at the very high end softening, lower priced homes rising in price. Higher-end homes taking longer to sell U.S. 2020 GDP Projected @ 1.6% (down from 2.2% in 2019) U.S. Inflation … Read More

Why I Moved to Compass

sebfreyBlog, Commentary

On November 1, 2019 I joined Compass as a Broker Associate. This is only the third brokerage I have been affiliated with in nearly 17 years in business. I was with my first broker for ten years to the day, before I opened up my own brokerage in early 2013. For almost seven years, I operated as a Broker/Owner, Captain of my ship, with complete freedom to run my business as I see fit. So why did I trade in my autonomy and throw my lot in with Compass? To answer that, I’ll begin by explaining what Compass is. Compass is a real estate start-up company based in New York City. They’ve actually been around for seven years or so at this point, but they have really grown in the last couple of years, fueled by massive investments from a number of blue chip firms and private investors. You can see a list here. Compass has a goal of achieving 20% market share in the top 20 U.S. markets by the end of 2020. As I understand it, they’re very nearly there already. Locally, they purchased a few high-performing northern California brokerages in 2018 and 2019 – Pacific Union International, Paragon, Alain Pinel Realtors, and Central Coast Realty Group. Their current agent count nationwide tops 12,000 with about 250 offices coast to coast and over 2,000 employees on staff. Compass is not a franchise. Every Compass office is 100% owned by the company. They have a number of “organic” offices throughout the greater Bay Area in … Read More

2019 REALTOR Installation Speech

sebfreyBlog, Video

Thank you for braving yet another ferocious northern California rainstorm to be with us today at our 2019 Installation.  I’ve been fortunate to get to attend a couple other installations lately – in Monterey, and San Benito and they were great opportunities to get to meet and connect and re-connect with colleagues from our adjoining communities.  I’d like to thank all the brokers, agents, and staff who’ve traveled here from Santa Clara AOR, Silicon Valley AOR, MontereyAOR, and San Benito  AOR.  I hope that everyone here has had the opportunity to meet someone new and learn something about what’s going on in our adjoining marketplaces.  I’d also like to extend a very special thanks in particular to Jeanne Radsick, CAR president-Elect for 2019, who came all the way from Bakersfield to be with us today – thanks Jeanne! After a long, hard fought and divisive campaign to become your 2019 President, I think we all need to come together to fight the biggest threat to our industry. What’s that?  In a word, it’s apathy. And I’m not saying you all gathered here are apathetic – because today, you showed up.  And a lot of you show up for many of our meetings.  You are involved. And you not only show up for our meetings – you show up at county supervisor meetings, city council meetings, planning commission meetings, RTC meetings.  You write your representatives and urge your clients to do so as well.  You know that good things don’t just happen.  They happen because people who care … 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

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

Santa Cruz Foreclosure Cash Cow

sebfreyBlog, Distressed Properties

Been looking for the unicorn of real estate in Santa Cruz, the cash cow?  I’m always talking to folks who are looking for great real estate investment opportunities.  It’s hard to get more than a 5% cash on cash return with most properties that are in the reach of the typical real estate buyer. I was recently turned onto the business of running residential assisted living facilities for senior citizens and the disabled.  This kind of business can be extremely lucrative, especially if you have a house that’s pretty big. Lo and behold, a 10 bedroom, 5.5 bathroom, 4,500+ sf house hit the market recently.  It’s a bank-owned REO foreclosure property, and was most recently used as a licensed residential care facility.  This is a tremendous opportunity for the right buyer!  I took a video below: 1106 Darlene Drive Santa Cruz Video Please let me know if you’d like to get in to tour this amazing opportunity.  You can see all the listing details here. Wondering how you can turn a property like this into a money making cash cow?  I encourage you to head over to the Residential Assisted Living Academy.  They’ll give you all the training and information you need to make an incredible business for yourself, while providing a critical service to our senior citizen community. Listing courtesy of Chantel Henson, Vanco Real Estate Executives

Upsizing or Downsizing your Home – Now or Later?

sebfreyBlog, Sellers

Thinking about upsizing or downsizing our home? With the considerable increases in home values we’ve seen over the past couple of years, a lot of homeowners are enjoying more equity in their homes than perhaps they’ve ever seen, or certainly more than they’ve seen in the past 6 or 7 years.  And with this increase in equity, many homeowners are considering making a move – to either upsize, or downsize, their homes. One question though is – does it make more sense to upsize or downsize today, or at some point in the future, when perhaps they have more equity in their homes?  To address that issue, we’ve created a brief video presentation which should be helpful. Download the Spreadsheet used in this Video   You can also download the spreadsheet used in the video here.  The spreadsheet is in Microsoft Excel format.  If you don’t have Excel, you can import it into Google Docs and work with it there.