The World’s Greatest Realtor 2018 Award Winner

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

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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.

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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 jammed and overflowing with nearly sixty years of accumulated treasures.

Dad had been sick for years, so the discussion of what would happen to the house after his passing was long settled:  once the funeral and services were over, they’d move immediately to get the house sold.  The two daughters were committed to moving quickly; the problem was brother Steve, who was very attached to the horde of possessions he’d squirreled away in the home.  Steve was in no hurry to move.

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The sisters needed a Realtor who would be up to the challenge of getting Steve gone, and all his stuff too.  They needed someone with patience, persistence, and good people skills.  Fortunately, Cathy’s fiancee had recently worked with REALTOR Seb Frey, so Cathy brought in Seb to see what he could do.

Dealing with the Hoarding

Seb assured Cathy that this kind of work is right up his alley.  “I’ve helped many homeowners solve their horder problems,” said Seb, “I can handle this no problem.”

Working with hoarders is a challenge – on the one hand, you’ve got just such a volume of stuff that needs to be disposed of.  On the other hand, there’s usually someone (owner, former owner, tenant, etc.) who just can’t seem to part with any of it – it’s all very important, priceless stuff, that needs to be kept. There’s always a tension between the hoarder and disposing of the horde.

It took weeks.  Pulling, pushing, prodding, cajoling, overseeing several screws of “removal specialists” while managing the brother who just didn’t want to leave.  It even came down to finding the brother a hotel room, so he’d have somewhere to go once the boxes he’d been sleeping on had been disposed of.

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Prepping the Home for Sale

With 20+ truckloads of detritus moved off site, and Steve safely ensconced in a motel, the work began on getting the house ready for the market.  The neglected yard area was cleaned up and beautified.  The interior of the home was painted.  The makeshift bedroom which had been built into the garage 30 years prior was disassembled.  New lighting and plumbing fixtures brought the home a step closer into the modern era.  A handyman repaired dozens of “little things” that both improved the appearance of the home and made the home feel loved and cared for, not abused and neglected.

Inspections were also ordered – a termite inspection and a general home inspection.  The home inspector actually provided a foundation survey which showed that the home, after 60+ years, only had one room where a floor sloped about 1/2″ from one side to the other – a variance which is actually “in spec” even with brand new construction.

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On the Market

As the home was being readied for sale, the seller was concerned that the hot Silicon Valley real estate market was cooling.  In fact, that very sentiment was the topic du jour whenever REALTORS gathered – the market was shifting, and not in a way that was good for sellers.

After the home was on the market five days, there were no offers.  Five days may sound like not a long time on market, but for Silicon Valley, for a desirable home close to Apple’s new campus, Santana Row, and the Westfield Shopping Center – five days seemed like an eternity.  “Let’s drop the price by $50,000” Cathy wrote in an email

Most REALTORS are happy to drop the price – lower prices usually result in faster sales, and there’s no such thing as a REALTOR that doesn’t like a fast sale.  “It’s too soon to drop the price,” said their REALTOR Seb Frey.  “I’m working to bring in some offers, I have a feeling we’ll be getting something soon.”

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Sure enough, three days later, an offer came in – $10,000 over asking (or $60K above the price the seller had been wanting to drop it to), with a three week close, and no inspection contingency (their REALTOR having already obtained reports and built a complete disclosure package).  The offer only had about 25% down (about $300K, which is on the low end for Silicon Valley), but the buyer’s lender was adamant that they could perform, and get the sale closed in the 21 days specified in the offer. Given the size of the down payment, the buyer did not feel even that they needed an appraisal contingency – they went under contract with just a loan contingency.

Moving to the Closing Table

Closing was relatively smooth.  The buyer waived their inspection contingency, so they only had to do a appraisal.  The appraisal came in – predictably – right at value.  Seb was on top of the transaction throughout, making sure that the buyer did remove their loan contingency right on time, and that the lender funded the loan in accordance with the provisions of the purchase contract.  Sure enough, exactly 21 days after going under contract, the sale closed.

Bestowing the World’s Greatest Realtor Award

The week after closing, Cathy and her fiancée Matt took their REALTOR Seb out to lunch at a terrific Thai place they loved.  Lunch was superb – but giving and receiving the World’s Greatest Realtor award was the perfect dessert.   To quote Cathy:

I had this made for you because you totally blew me away.  You were there for me at every step in the process.  I literally just told you how much I wanted my home sold for, and when I wanted it sold, and you took care of absolutely everything for me and totally made it happen.  You rock, thank you!!

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