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.