It’s not me, it’s you

I talk a lot about the difference between a skilled practitioner in real estate and a hack.  If you’ve followed me for any length of time you know I have no time for bozos.  Yet, consumers keeps hiring clowns.  Yesterday I wondered, at what point does the consumer have to take responsibility for their own experience?

I have often gone to a home to talk to someone about selling their home.  They tell me how terrible their last experience was, and the one before that and the one before that.  That sounds awful I think to myself.  As the conversation progresses the client wants me to list their house for a deeply discounted commission, doesn’t want to make any of my suggested repairs, doesn’t want to stage and wants all the bells and whistles than come with full service pricing.  They don’t end up going with me.  They end up with an agent who will discount their commission because they are green or real estate is something they just “dabble” in when they’re not at their “real” job or they don’t know what they’re doing and have questionable ethics.  Next thing you know, the home sells for way less than the seller thought it was worth and they’ve gone on to talk about what a bad experience they had.  At what point does the consumer have take responsibility for their experience?

I don’t want to pay $5 for a cup of Peet’s coffee so I go to the truck stop across the street and get something that’s been sitting on the burner for three hours.  I only pay $1.25.  Can I complain about the coffee?  I had an opportunity to get a quality product, I was just too damned cheap.  At that point aren’t I responsible for my own experience?

I don’t understand why someone would want to sell the largest asset they own, on the cheap.  I want the best marketing, best pricing, most aggressive, most experienced hand I can find to guide me through that process.

For instances, God forbid that you should need surgery to save your life.  Do you get the guy who is fresh out of the med school on a Latin American island because he’s cheap?  Or do you choose someone who has done that surgery numerous times and knows what to do if something goes wrong?  Don’t you want someone with experience who has been there before?  Or the guy is filling in this afternoon because he needs to pick up some hours?

Granted real estate is not brain surgery, or rocket science, but it is an art.  Choose your practitioner wisely.  Here’s some questions you can ask:

  1. How long have you been selling real estate?
  2. How many transactions have you closed in the last two years?
  3. Are you a full time agent?
  4. Are you part of a team?
  5. If you go out of town who will take care of me?
  6. How often will I hear from you?
  7. Are you planning any long vacations?
  8. How many other clients are you working with?
  9. How many homes have you sold in my area?
  10. What is your marketng plan for my home.
  11. Will you hire a professional photographer to market my home?

A lot of other sites recommend you ask for references.  I am amused that no one ever does, perhaps in this day and age of online reviews that’s not a necessary question any more.  I always bring copies of a few reviews from clients who I know don’t mind being a reference to my listing appointments.

There is a difference between agents.  Sometimes that difference is huge.  If you are in the Bay Area I would be pleased to show you how different I really am.  If you’re reading this in another part of the country, that’s okay, I know professionals throughout the country who can and will take great care of you.  Give me a shout and find out for yourself what the difference really is.

Don’t hire a hack

It is becoming my life’s work to eliminate hacks from the real estate industry.

Every day thousands of internet geeks wake up and try to figure out how to make Realtors the Travel Agents of that year.  Expedia killed Travel Agents.  Why?  Because they provided minimal value and couldn’t articulate their value beyond “I have access to Sabre and can shop reservations for you”.  You can shop tickets now on Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, Orbitz and about a hundred other sites now.  The information is all there.  Hotels can be shopped on anything from to the Westin’s own website.  The real estate industry is in danger of going the same way.

Realtors are currently up in arms about Zillow’s new instant offer roll out.  I’m not worried about that.  All that needs to happen is one seller lets one buyer into their house and gets robbed or worse and that’s the end of that.  There will be other onslaughts.  We must be eternally vigilant.

The elephant in the room is the fact that my industry needs to clean house.  We need to rid ourselves of the hacks.

Hacks come in all forms.

There are those who don’t bother to educate themselves.  Our test is easy to pass.  I passed my Broker’s test after a night of drinking.  I hadn’t had time to study and figured I’d get a report of what I needed to study and go back and take it for real at a later date.  I was 45 minutes late and had to sign a waiver.  And I passed it.  The thing is, I knew that there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know.  It is my practice to take a minimum of one class per month to further my real estate knowledge.  I travel four times a year to conventions and seminars to further my ability to serve my clients and I have two business coaches.  I care about doing the best job possible for my clients.  My team has a rule: If you see an opportunity to one plus our client’s experience, it is incumbent upon you to take that opportunity and make that client’s experience even better.  Sadly a very small percentage of my colleagues take the same approach to this business.  90% of real estate sales are handled by 10% of the agents.  The other 90% fight over the last 10%.  They don’t have the experience and won’t do the work to get better at their jobs.  Yet consumers still hire them.  I am sad that those clients won’t ever know what it’s like to work with a great Realtor.

There are those that just do a crappy job.  MLS photos.  How freaking hard is it?  iPhones are very cool.  Don’t market someone’s $500,000 house with your freaking phone.  Hire a professional real estate photographer.  Listing agents have one major job, market the client’s home to get the best exposure resulting in the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time.  Seriously.  Would you buy this?


Doesn’t that client deserve better from our industry?  It’s embarrassing.

There are those who do not have any ethics.  They need to go.  They say things to clients they have no business saying.  One just fell apart because the buyer stopped by an open house on the way to the house they in contract to buy.  The open house agent, talking out of his butt blew the transaction.  What he represented as fact about the subdivision was in fact folk lore and the buyer cancelled the transaction.  Total hack.  Agents cannot talk to clients under contract with another agent beyond casual conversation.  Unscrupulous listing agents routinely tell them they will get the house if they do business with them so they can “double end” it.  Don’t hire these hacks.  They lie to their clients, they don’t do what they need to in the time they need to do it because they don’t understand the contract.  They write unreasonable offers.  They don’t educate their clients.  Don’t hire these hacks.

Before you hire an agent, ask them how many homes they’ve sold in the last year.  The average agent sells six.  A house every two months is not enough to build what I call Deal IQ.  Deal IQ is acquired when an agent has done a lot of deals.  Something comes up and they know what to do because they’ve been there before.  Only a good, well practiced agent can do that.  In this market, with your largest financial asset at stake, I don’t know why you would want anything else.

For more information on how I properly market homes call me at 925-381-2998


It’s a dog’s life


Do you love dogs?  I love dogs.  In particular, I love my breed, the Doberman Pinscher.  I love their loyalty, their protective nature, their silliness and I feel safe when one is sleeping next to my bed.  If it were up to me, I would have one of my dogs with me at all times.  But it’s not up to me.

My job entails going in and out of other people’s homes several times a day, meetings and appointments that may last for a couple of hours, lunches in corner cafes and five star restaurants.  My dog isn’t welcome in many of those places, so I leave my dog home when I’m working.  I never take my dog anywhere he’s not welcome.  I was very ill last month.  I heard a dog collar in the hospital hallway on several occasions.  Finally I was able to get to the hallway and see a schnauzer walking by.  I asked my nurse “Are dogs allowed here?”  She said, “Yes, I see the all of the time”.  Can I have my brother bring my dog to see me?  “yes, of course, we’ll just shut the door to your room while he’s here”.  And I got to see my dog which helped me heal.


That gets me to the point.  Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had a listing on the market when I went into the hospital.  I received a call that an agent who witnessed another agent in my listing with their dog.  The agent’s dog peed on my clients carpet.  I am laying in a hospital bed and I had to deal with this.  How unprofessional to you have to be to bring your dog to a sellers house and then allow it to pee on the carpet?  This agent should be run out of the business.

Dogs don’t belong in real estate.

I had an open house this weekend and not one, not two, but three different parties showed up to view the open house with their dog in tow.  I’m sorry, are you kidding me?  If you are previewing homes, leave your dog at home.  I can assure you that your dog will love any home you buy as long as you are there.  Dogs are like that.

Here are some of the issues to consider before bringing your dog to someone else’s home.

  1. The homeowner has cats who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  2. The homeowner has dogs who may become freaked out because your pooch’s scent is now in their space.
  3. The homeowner’s pet mentioned in 1 and 2 above acts out due to the new scent and starts marking territory thereby destroying what was previously a nice and odor free home.
  4. The homeowner is severely allergic to pet dander and you’ve now polluted their home.
  5. The homeowner is a severe asthmatic and you’ve now sent them to the hospital.

An open house is a private home that has been placed for sale and is open for viewing by potential buyers.  The general public does not have a right to pass and an agent can refuse entry on behalf of the seller if the agent feels the seller’s private property at risk.  Agents can even restrict visitors to those who have provided the ability to purchase the property.

With one notable exception, dogs don’t belong in real estate.  There are a few agents in our area with situations where they have service dogs.  Service dogs can be used for a number of situations including alerting to seizures in their owners.  I am not talking about these dogs.  These dogs are highly trained, highly disciplined and highly necessary to their owner’s well being.  These dogs are an exception.

Every other dog, does not belong in real estate.

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

The thing I am hearing a lot of right now is that people want to wait and see what happens in this election. The little voice in my head, you know, that screaming lunatic that I have to filter every waking moment of my life says “Why? It does not matter!”

Oh, I know. It does matter. If X is elected to office you’re moving to Canada. Or Mexico because they now have a wall keeping Americans out…right?


The truth of the matter is every four years this country holds a Presidential election. While this is the most contentious of my life time, every four years in spite of the rhetoric, the Republic stands.

The Republic will stand this time as well. It will stand because we have checks and balances. We have three arms of government for the specific purpose of allowing the Republic to stand in spite of political shenanigans. The Executive Branch can only do so much without the Legislative Branch which can only do so much without the Judicial Branch. Those old guys were pretty smart when they set this thing up.

At the end of the day, the Republic will stand. The question is where do you stand? Are you an early adopter? The early majority? The late majority or a laggard?

In real estate the early adopters get the return. The early majority do well in real estate. The late majority generally see a midland return and the laggards are the ones that get beat up in real estate.

Who are you?

Is there such a thing as too much information?

We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge. ~John Naisbitt

We all know about Zillow, and Trulia, and Redfin and of course there’s bankrate and Quickenloans and Lending Tree and and ZipRealty and and and and…and who knows what else.

Then there are all the counterculture real estate sites.  Like the guy that tells everyone not to buy real estate because there’s a bubble, although he can’t really define what a bubble is except that real estate is really really expensive right now.  Remember a bubble is a function of a fundamental flaw in the marketplace.  Appreciation is a function of demand in the marketplace.  Never and I do mean never confuse the two.  And now you’re smarter than that guy.

Opinions are great I suppose.  There’s a saying about opinions, and like a certain body part, everyone has one, which speaks to the valuation of a lot of opinions.  Some of course are based on facts, but in today’s visceral political world, even facts have become optional.   Personally, I prefer facts.  And data.  The thing is, there is a lot of data out there.  Now you have to identify accurate data sources.

How do you identify accurate data sources?  It can be difficult.  For years and years the government has not considered the unemployed that have just given up to still be unemployed, yet they are in fact jobless and would like a job.  While everyone gets all jacked up when that number is good and the stock market has a gay old time, that number has been false for about 30 years give or take.  Garbage in, garbage out.

As a Realtor, I really get to feel the pulse of the buying public when I hold an open house.  I’ve heard it all.  Sometimes I just stand there and think “Dude, you will never own a house, why don’t you just go to the game?”  Other times I think “Whose stirring your Kool-Aid?”  The theories out there are amazing, including all theories that have anything to do with a sitting President.  And I’ve been in this business since 1976.  I’ve been through a few sitting Presidents.  They leave and I shake my head wondering where they got their information.

As Realtors we have access to the most accurate information.  We have access to all of the sales and while many of the websites pull from our sources, the truth is many of them scramble the information or label it in such a way that the end user can’t decipher it for any meaningful purpose.  The next piece is now that we have that information, what to do with it?  Well, it’s good information when it comes directly from the source, but there are a lot of variables you just can’t see on the internet.  Like are the floors uneven?  If so, is that the foundation or an anomaly?  What does it cost to fix?  I sold a house for some clients last year that had rolli-polli floors.  They had several contractors through and the foundation was fine.  They evened them out as best as could be done without rebuilding the house and moved on.  There are people that will tell you that is a foundation problem without any understanding of foundations.  My personal home has numerous cracks and doors that open about half the year.  There are people that will tell you that is a foundation problem and stay away.  It’s not.  It’s adobe soil.  There isn’t a house in the Bay Area that’s been looked at by more contractors.  Sometimes the soil is full of water and expands.  Sometimes we’re in a drought and it contracts.  Sometimes the bedroom door sticks, sometimes the bathroom door sticks.  You can’t see that from pictures on the internet so you have to actually see the homes.  Good Realtors are looking at homes every single day.  Does the house smell good?  Seriously.  My house smells like dog.  I can’t even smell it I’ve been living with these guys for so long.  Yet I know it does.  If I were to sell my home I would have to accept the discount or move out and eradicate the dogness that is my home.  The internet will not tell you that my home smells like dog and that’s why it sold for $25,000 under what it should have.  Or that I moved out, replaced all the carpet and window coverings, painted and got a premium for the recently upgraded home.  As a typical internet user, you cannot see our Realtor confidential notes, you won’t have all the information.  You don’t know that the reason the house sold for $25,000 under asking was that the former owner hung himself in the garage.  Or that a horrible crime was committed inside the home.  Or that the home was the scene of a drive by shooting ten years ago.  Garbage in, garbage out.

That’s where a good Realtor comes in.  They’ve seen all of those homes, they are selling a good number of homes, they are working with a good number of buyers and sellers and they know what’s going to happen next.  I call it Deal IQ.  I had a client yesterday who has a family member that is in the industry in another area in another function.  He asked about why we had two days to look at inspections and release the contingency.  In our area, that’s the standard right now.  Seller paid for these inspections and it was take it or leave it.  I would have loved to have a week to pour over these inspections but I had to read them that night and my client had to make a call within about 48 hours.  Insane, but if you’re actually working the market, you know that this matters.  The internet won’t tell you if the seller took on all sorts of inspection issues or got a credit or if the repairs were done.  Garbage in, garbage out.

Pick a place you are comfortable with.  It doesn’t matter what it sold for in 2014, 2004 or 1984.  What matters is can you afford it.  I’ve had buyers tell me they aren’t going to pay $100,000 over what the seller picked the property up for 6 months ago.  Forget the seller did a full remodel, gambled that the market would hold and is now placing the refurbished home on the market while paying a commission to have it sold.  If you wanted it for $100,000 less you had to have been in the market six months ago and have had to be willing to gamble.  That’s the difference.

The guy I think has it best is Dave Ramsey.  Real estate is an asset.  Whether it appreciates or depreciates in a certain cycle, at the end of the day, it has some value.  I would argue that it would have value until there was a nuclear event affecting that quadrant.  Until then, it has value.  Perhaps for housing, perhaps for agriculture, perhaps for commercial venture, but it is tangible and has value, even if that value is low.  As Gary Keller says “It is the one asset that will never depreciate to zero.”  We have established it as an asset.  If we are talking about primary housing, then it provides shelter.  As the loan is paid off, equity grows, even in a contracting marketplace.  Every rent payment made to a landlord increases their equity and decreases yours.  Dave says if you can afford to buy a home you should.  It’s the only credit he thinks you should utilize!


Are we in an housing bubble?


Well, no.

Well, maybe.

Well certainly not like what you’re talking about.  That’s right.  If you asked that question you are thinking about 2006 and we are not in that kind of bubble right now.  Great!  Now let’s all head out to yoga class and find our namaste.

Not so quick there Bucko!

You can go back to the beginning of my musings and you will find me saying “Business is cyclical”.  Over and over again.

What does that mean?  It means, and if you paid attention in your economics class you can skip over this part, businesses expand and contract in the natural course of their life.   How they react in times of contraction determines the length of that life.  Businesses that did not save for a rainy day and/or over-leveraged may find their life shortened by those decisions.  Real Estate is a sector in the economy.  It is cyclical.  It expands (goes up) and contracts (goes down).

At the end of the day, unless you’re going off the grid, you’re going to need to live indoors.  When we are talking about where to live, that matters right now.  Right now regardless of what the market is doing.  If the market is super high and you’re not planning on going anywhere and you can afford the payment, ride it out.  Why?

Real estate is the only asset that you can purchase that will never depreciate to zero.  In the US at least.  I would caution about other countries and their practices regarding foreign nationals, for instance, American cannot own real estate in Mexico under many circumstances.  But that’s another article for another day.

Let’s take a look at the cost of waiting.


Can you afford to wait?

Now let’s add your mortgage interest deduction into your tax picture, can you afford to wait?

Alright, fair enough.  Now consider the capital gains exemption of $250,000 or $500,000 for a couple.  Now can you afford to wait?




What’s my home worth?

I hear that question the most followed by “If I sold my place I don’t know where I’d go.”

I don’t know what your home is worth.  And here’s a list of other folks that don’t know what your home is worth.

  • Your neighbor
  • Another Realtor
  • Zillow
  • Trulia
  • Redfin
  • Whatever real estate valuation site I haven’t already mentioned

Who can tell you what your home is worth?

  • A ready willing and able buyer who has stepped up to the plate, plunked down their hard earned cash and bought your home.

That’s it.  It’s not worth what your neighbor says it’s worth unless your neighbor is going to step up to the plate and plunk down their hard earned cash.  It’s not worth what another Realtor says it is unless they are going to step up to the plate and plunk down their hard earned cash.  And it certainly is not worth whatever Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Movato, Estately, whatever real estate valuation site I haven’t already mentioned says it’s worth.  After all, when was the last time Zillow flew a drone up in your house and did a formal valuation?  Uh never?  Exactly.

You home is worth exactly what a buyer is willing to step up to the plate and plunk down their hard earned cash.  Nothing more.  Now there is always the wild card of the appraisal process, but even that is not an exact science.

This brings us to a practice called “buying the listing”.  Here’s how it works.  I come in and do a Comparative Market Analysis.  Nothing has sold for over $460,000 in the neighborhood in three years.  Could you get $460,000?  Yes.  Dressed up you might even get more depending on whether or not we find a desperate buyer.  To market it properly, however, it needs to be dressed up and go on the market at $450,000.  The seller wants over $500,000 for his home.  I get it.  I want a new M5.  And a swimming pool.  And a case of Landmark’s Grand Detour Pinot Noir.  And my own private surf instructor.  But I digress.  We don’t always get what we want.  In a capitalist society with a supply and demand based market, we get what the market is willing to give us.  We don’t get to chose what that is, we can only chose whether or not we accept the offer.

I didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear, I told them the truth.  Another agent comes in and tells the seller they can have their price and lists the home over the $500,000 they wanted.  List it over and someone will give you what you want, right?  Not exactly.  It’s a month later, the home is now stale on the market and they are doing price reductions.  When it is all said and down, they will walk away with my guess is either exactly what I said they would or sadly less, because time on the market equals less demand equals lower offers.

This practice is called “buying a listing”.  It hurts the sellers, it is dishonest and hurts our reputation as professionals and it hurts our industry.

Don’t fall for this weak, old sales stunt.  They told you what you wanted to hear just to get you under contract.  Doesn’t it make better sense to do business with someone who is honest with you?




Integrity and Real Estate

Last time we talked about how all Realtors are not the same.  Now you know you don’t want the Rex Grossman of real estate.  You want the Joe Montana.

How do you go about finding your Joe Montana?

Go to yelp!  Right?  Well, not exactly, although I can’t blame you for relying on that goodness.

Go google.  Right?  Well, not exactly.  As someone who painstakingly manages their online presence I can tell you that it is possible to manage what you, the prospective client sees.  It’s a cottage industry.

Ask your friends.  Warmer, but not there yet.  Your friends may recommend a great professional to you.  Or they may recommend their cousin Joe-Bob who just got his license, after all it was jail time and not prison so he’s not a felon and he can get a license.  Well, no he didn’t exactly finish high school, he’s not real good at tests, but he’ll sell your house for you, yessiree bobcat tail!  Now I’m a big fan of redemption and maybe Joe-Bob was just misunderstood as a lad and now has made good, but before you get too far down the line, how many homes has he sold in the last year?  What does his online presence look like?  Is it managed and sounding all markety or can you tell that Joe-Bob is a good guy, has turned his life around and genuinely cares about his clients?  Does his Facebook profile have him buying all sorts of new toys and living the life?  Or is it sprinkled with stories about great people and how he helped them buy or sell real estate?  Is Joe-Bob the kind of guy you want to align yourself with?  Do you want to hook up your cart to his horse?  Or is it a burro?  Never confuse a thoroughbred with a burro.

Now check them out.  Google.  Facebook.  Twitter.  LinkedIn.  Instagram.  Pinterest.  Tumblr.  ActiveRain.  Trulia.  Zillow.  Are they on there?  Are the using the platforms?  Some not all?  That’s ok.  I don’t use them all either.  Still they need to have a presence.  Why?  If they can’t market themselves, how are they going to market your home?

Did you google “Code of ethics violators”?  You should.  Although there is plenty of questionable activity that never makes it to the COE page.  Joe-Bob isn’t there is he?  Good.

Now, how are they performing against your market?  How do their listings perform?  Do they get over asking consistently?   Do their listings sell quickly?  How do their listings look online?  Were the pictures taken with a cell phone or do they look professional?  Are the narratives inviting?  Great.

Next, do you like them?  Do you think they will represent your interests and fight for you?  A great negotiator picks your pocket and you thank them for returning your wallet.   If you are beating them in negotiating on the commission, are they a great negotiator?  I earn my commission back and then some on every single transaction.  What does that mean?  I average 12% over asking.  My commission is much less than that.  I pay for myself and I have the numbers to prove it.

Do you believe them to be honest and operating from a place of integrity?  I almost hate the word “integrity” as much as “gourmet”.  It was painful to use “integrity” in the last sentence but it was the right word.  Those two words have been cheapened by over use by individuals who have no business uttering them.   I am committed to protecting my client’s interests.  So committed that I often overlook my own.  It is my goal to win every negotiation I can on my client’s behalf.  I want to finish ever deal and say “I can’t believe they went for that!”   That way I know I’ve served my clients the best I possibly could.


#TBT Beauregard sitting poolside at Camp Dowhachuwannado.  The best damned dog.  Ever. – Version 2


The word I hear most by people describing me is “bulldog”.  As a Doberman Pinscher rescuer it’s kind of annoying, bulldogs feel kind of pedestrian next to the majestic creatures I work with normally, but I understand the commonality.  I believe that “no” is not the final answer when it’s the wrong answer.  I strive to arrive at the correct answer in every single instance.  That’s what sets me apart.  If that makes me a bulldog, then so be it.  I think it’s the difference between a Real Estate Professional and a Rex Grossman.




All real estate agents are not all the same.

Who was the greatest quarterback to ever play in the NFL?  If you are in the Bay Area chances are you answered Joe Montana.  And I would concur.  But what made Joe great?  His footwork?  Not exactly.  He ran like a duck with a potato chip up his butt.  His speed?  He’d lose a foot race to the duck.  His impeccable form?  The duck wins again.   None of that.  Joe was great because he could see things on the football field that no one else could see.  And he could react to those things and capitalize on what he saw.  That skill took him to the Hall of Fame.

Behold my bike seat.


Looks great right?  This seat tells a story.  I had not one but two professional bike fitters work on my bike this month.  Both looked at this seat and knew that there was something off about my bike and I was carrying most of the load on my left side.  I cannot for the life of me see what they see.  They are two of the best in the business and they can see it.  They see something that no one else sees and they know how to react to it.

Real estate is the same.  An agent that sells twenty houses a years sees something that an agent that sells four houses a year does not.  An agent that sells twenty homes per year sees things clearer.  That agent sees the pitfalls before they happen.  They see the play develop and they know what the next move is before it presents itself.  They are like Joe Montana.  They are like my bike fitters.  They will save you time and money because they have seen that play develop before and they know where to put the ball.

My friend and lender partner Zack Cooper likes to call it Deal IQ.  It’s what you know because you’ve been there before.  A dabbler may not have been there before and may not be able to make the play.  Pick an agent that’s been there before.  Pick a closer.  On your two minute home closing drill do you want Joe Montana or Rex Grossman?

What to expect from the housing market

I find that if I look, I can always see a theme to what’s going on around me.

“You can get anything you want from Alice’s Restaurant, ‘cepting Alice”

Last month’s theme was unrealistic expectations.  That’s a tough one too.  Unfortunately due in part to what’s in the media for our consumption, it can bite us all from time to time.  Yet, you can get anything you want…


Here is Alessandra Ambrosio.  A beautiful woman in her own right, but the picture on the right is what you see in magazines and on the internet.  Her makeup artist is paid handsomely to make her look even more fabulous.  And then she gets photoshopped and is barely recognizable as the same woman.

How about the music we hear?   It is a well known fact that the engineers just fix the mistakes with autotune and the artist never hits the notes.  Listen to the difference between Kanye West and Elaine West singing the same song.

One version is shot live, the other has autotune.  One will be a huge hit, the other will be an alternative favorite…and a favorite of mine.

I can work out like a dog and eat exactly what I’m supposed to and all the airbrushing in the world isn’t going to make me a super model.  Heck, I may never see a six pack again!  All the auto tune in the world isn’t going to make me a great singer, but it did make Brittany Spears a lot of money.

Houses are the same.  HGTV is a lot of fun but they aren’t your friend.  They are all airbrushed and scripted and auto tuned.

Their buyers aren’t functioning the the Bay Area market and they aren’t paying Bay Area labor prices for the work that is being done.  There are experts helping out every step of the way on the Do It Yourself segments and the experts you see remodeling are using the show as a loss leader item.

The truth is in the home buyer process it’s a lot of give and take and trade offs.  A buyer can get it all but it’s going to be at a price.  Good schools, a freshly remodeled eco-home with an open floor plan, a clear termite in a great neighborhood is not going to be the best deal in town.  It will be a nice home to live in, but all of that comes with a price tag.  I hate agents that talk about selling buyers their dream home.  It sets unrealistic expectations for the buyer.  Not one of us is going to get everything they want in an existing home.  It just doesn’t happen.  Can a great home be found?  Yes.  Can it become a dream home?  Yes.  It probably isn’t as it stands on the market and that’s the rub.

Recently I had a buyer complaining about the schools in Danville.  I thought “homeschool?”  Danville has great schools but on the internet he was able to find complaints about the Danville schools.  There is always going to be something, it’s a matter of tolerance.  Can I live with this?  Can I work with this?  Can I thrive here?

When it’s all said and done, stuff is going to happen even in the best neighborhoods.  Martha Moxley was murdered by a Kennedy in upscale Greenwich Connecticut.  Stuff is going to happen.  What are the odds?  But it happened.  There just was a shooting in an upscale Livermore neighborhood.  Stuff is going to happen.  We mitigate as best we can and hope for the best.

I’ve sold six homes in my own neighborhood.  One had a bunch of water underneath it.  The buyer was a contractor and crawled the home.  He found a broken p-trap under the shower.  He bought the home way under market, got some fans and some lime and dried up the crawl space.   Spent about eleven dollars on a new p-trap and as of today has doubled his investment.  Another buyer had to replace all of the carpet, he’s up about $150,000.  Time can solve all.

At the end of the day, it’s a matter of tolerance.  Personally, if I have a good roof over the home and it’s the worst house in a great neighborhood, I’m in.  I have a client who tells me all the time “Val, I’m just not handy, we are not handy people”.  He pays a little more for his homes but his piece of mind comes from knowing he doesn’t have to do things outside of his comfort zone.  But he understands that it costs more to go that route.  He knows he is either paying up front or paying as he goes.  He choses up front.  That’s his tolerance.  To expect to get the best deal on a fresh house that doesn’t need any work is unrealistic and he understands that.  He’ll get a good price, just not a great one.  Someone else put in the sweat equity and that has value.

My advice, understand your tolerances.  Understand what you can and can’t live with.  Know your must haves and your can’t live withs, verbalize them to your agent and get the right home for you.

For a comprehensive buyer’s consultation call me at 925-381-2998.  Let’s talk about the possibilities.