Monthly Weather Report – October

No tricks this past month, only treats! While other teams might be haunted by the fall selling season, we’ve been spooktacularly successful! The main theme you’ll find this month (other than ghouls and gobblins) is that we’re working with multiple clients who are both sellers and buyers. Selling an existing home and then purchasing a new home can be a complicated process, but we’re smoothly guiding our clients to the finish line.

2508 Wilde Avenue, Pleasanton – Sold for $2,255,000

This wow house went pending after just 8 days and sold for $60,000 over list price! It was a record high sale for the neighborhood. Virtual Tour.

 

1517 Whispering Oaks Way, Pleasanton – Sold for $1,353,858

The buyers of 2508 Wilde Avenue were the sellers of this beautiful Walnut Hills home. This rarely available Carriage House model didn’t last long on the market. Virtual Tour.

 

3839 Antonini Way, Pleasanton – Sold for $2,740,000

Originally starting as a pocket listing, or off market listing, this gorgeous Ruby Hill Mediterranean inspired home now belongs to a happy family. Virtual Tour.

 

480 Montori Court, Pleasanton – Sold for $1,569,000

The sellers of this Ruby Hill home are the buyers of 3839 Antonini Way. In order to purchase Antonini, they needed to sell their home. We were able to not only sell their home, but have a 7 day close! Virtual Tour.

2425 Heritage Oaks Drive, Alamo – Pending

We’re representing the buyers of this home, who happen to be the sellers of 3839 Antonini Way. They had liked a few other properties, but this one has won them over. Offered at $2,395,000, the views go on for miles.

1121 Navalle Court, Pleasanton – Pending

Offered at $1,299,000, we’re representing the sellers of this Vintage Hills home. Located in a highly-sought-after neighborhood, it didn’t stay available on the market for long! Virtual Tour.

14 Arreba Street, Martinez – Pending

We’re representing the sellers of this adorable home. What started out as their starter home, turned into an updated charmer offered at $479,000. Virtual Tour.

 

1824 Ohlone Heights, Clayton – Pending

The sellers of 14 Arreba Street are purchasing this house, listed at $839,999. They wanted to make the upgrade from their cute single story to this completely updated Clayton home.

2245 Doccia Court – Pending

Offered at $1,800,000 we’re representing the sellers of this French Country inspired home. We worked hard to find the perfect buyers for this property. Now our clients will be able to rest easy in their new construction, Brentwood home. Virtual Tour.

We love being able to represent sellers and buyers, working to make their dreams come true!

Marketing and selling high-end Luxury Homes in the Tri Valley is what we do best, but on this real estate journey, it’s all about the people we meet on the way, connecting them to each other and the places they call HOME.

Need a referral? Let me know!

Beware of Overpaying For Home Features

Brendan DeSimone | Zillow Blog | April 5, 2013 | link

Spectacular view
When a real estate agent sits down with sellers to discuss the value of their home, the conversation inevitably turns to the home’s features — a spectacular view, a cool garage workspace or perhaps a one-of-a-kind garden.

While those features might be selling points, the truth is potential buyers may not value them nearly as much as the seller. That spectacular view may not be something buyers want to pay extra for. Some buyers will see the garage workspace as a liability. And while beautiful to the seller, that unique garden could look like a lot of maintenance to a buyer.

A home may go on the market with what real estate agents call “seller pricing,” which is based more on the seller’s perceived property value than on actual market conditions. Inevitably, after some time on the market, the price eventually gets reduced.

Here are three strategies — one for sellers, two for buyers — to avoid losing money on home upgrades.

Sellers: Test the waters — but not for long

You fell in love with your home’s view, garage or garden when you were a buyer. You’re convinced another buyer will love it too and won’t mind paying extra for it. But, your agent thinks otherwise.

Consider this: By pricing your home higher because of what you see as a special feature, you’re shrinking its potential market. Don’t want to risk it? Try listing at the higher price for a short period. If that view-fanatic buyer is out there, chances are he or she will appear early on and make an offer.

If you don’t get a good offer immediately, do a sharp price reduction and give the listing another life. Here’s why: If that buyer doesn’t materialize and six to eight weeks go by, you’re facing an unpleasant reality. Even if a view-loving buyer enters the market, he or she is unlikely to offer the price you want. Your property, having been for sale for a while, will be seen as “stale.”

Buyers: Don’t get emotionally attached

As the market continues picking up, stories of multiple offers are everywhere, in places such as Indianapolis, Raleigh, Sacramento and South Florida. With such little inventory, buyers are forced to compete for the limited goods. This competition, which we’ve seen before, creates a frenzy, causing some buyers to make an emotional purchase based on their attachment to a potential home, its features or location. This results in a quick increase in home values — what some might call a “bubble.”

Make no mistake: This is a great time to buy, especially if you have a down payment, a stable job and good credit, and you’re committed to the community for the next five years. In most areas, it’s cheaper to buy than rent. Just make sure to always think like a seller, not just a buyer, as you move ahead on a particular property. Weigh the potential market value of its amenities five years down the road, when you may turn around and sell. To achieve the maximum equity, try not to overpay for those features, either for competitive or emotional reasons.

Buyers: Think like a seller

In 2005, a buyer in San Francisco bought a home without a garage. A deeded garage can increase a home’s value in that city by $50,000 or more, but the buyer didn’t see the value in having his own garage. The house was on multiple transit lines, he used his bicycle for transportation, and he knew he’d have access to a leased garage space if he needed it. He was competing with a few buyers and ended up paying a little more than his competitors.

Fast forward three years and the market slowed. The buyer didn’t believe his home should be priced less than a comparable home with a deeded garage because his house was so centrally located. Plus, he had the leased garage space nearby. What he didn’t want to believe was that 25 percent of buyers commute to work and don’t want to risk having a leased garage space taken away later. They wouldn’t even look at his home’s photos online — let alone go to the open house — due to its lack of a garage.

This was a clear case in which the buyer failed to think like a seller. He didn’t anticipate issues he might face selling the property later. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.

It’s not too late to save!

There’s still time to lower your 2012 tax bill

Stephen Fishman | Inman News | Friday, April 5, 2013 | link

<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic.mhtml?id=102789911">Money and calculator</a> image via Shutterstock.Money and calculator image via Shutterstock.

There are only a few days left until the April 15 income tax filing deadline. If you’ve yet to file, are there any things you can do to lower your tax bill at this late date? You bet there are.

Make an IRA contribution

If you already have a traditional IRA (Individual Retirement Account), you can contribute to it up to April 15 and deduct the amount from your 2012 income. If you’re under age 50 you can contribute up to $5,000. If you’re 50 or over, you can contribute up to $6,000. If you’re married, you can double the contribution limits. This is true even if one spouse isn’t working.

To take advantage of doubling, you must file a joint tax return and the working spouse must earn at least as much as the combined IRA contribution. There are income limits on the deductibility of your IRA contributions if you or your spouse are covered by another retirement plan.

If you haven’t already established an IRA, you have until 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, April 15 to open an account and make your contribution. You can open an account and fund it online at many financial institutions.

Make an SEP-IRA contribution

An SEP-IRA is a simplified employee pension. It’s very similar to an IRA, except that you can contribute more money under this plan. Instead of being limited to a $5,000 to $6,000 annual contribution, you can invest up to 20 percent of your net profit from self-employment every year, up to a maximum of $50,000 for year 2012.

If you don’t already have an SEP-IRA, you have until as late as October 15 to establish one and still make deductible contributions for 2012. However, the October 15 deadline applies only if you file an extension to file your 2012 income taxes. Otherwise, the deadline is April 15.

So, even if you don’t have the money right now, you can still take the deduction for your 2012 taxes so long as you make your contribution by the deadline.

Make a 401(k) or Keogh plan contribution

If you already have a 401(k) plan or Keogh plan, you still have plenty of time to make a deductible contribution for the 2012 tax year. You have until October 15 to make your 2012 contribution if you file an extension to file your 2012 return. However, you must have established your plan by December 31, 2012 to deduct a contribution for 2012. Depending on your income, you can contribute up to $50,000 per year to these plans.

Make an HSA contribution

If you set up a Health Savings Account by the end of 2012 and paired it with a high deductible health insurance plan, you have until April 15 to fund it and deduct the payments from your 2012 taxes. Up to $6,250 can be deducted by families; $3,100 for individuals. You cannot establish an HSA in 2013 and make deductible payments for 2012.

Be smart…

Don’t Be Fooled By These 3 Real Estate Myths

Brendan DeSimone | Zillow Blog | March 31, 2013 | link

Guy in disguiseAs the real estate market significantly rebounds, some buyers and sellers are dipping their toes in the waters for the first time. Inevitably, they come into the market with assumptions about how it works.

Their assumptions may come from TV reality shows or watching their parents’ house-hunting experiences. Maybe they’ve learned about real estate from a co-worker’s recent home buying or selling experience. The trouble is, the new buyer or seller’s assumptions are sometimes based on outdated or generalized “real estate myths.” Here are three such myths that many less-seasoned home buyers and sellers assume are true.

Myth No. 1: Spring is the best time to sell a home

Historically, real estate seasons were tied to summer and the end of the school year. Families were the typical buyers or sellers, and they wanted to move during the summer so their kids could start anew in September. That’s how spring became the prime selling season. It’s true there are still more homes for sale in the spring, which means there’s a lot of activity and buzz. But spring isn’t necessarily the best time to sell a home anymore.

The reality: The best time to sell is during the holidays and right after

Today, more than half of buyers aren’t married, and their decisions aren’t based upon school schedules. So spring isn’t as relevant as it used to be. Instead, the best time to sell a home is in November, December and January.

It’s a supply-and-demand issue. Most sellers assume buyers aren’t seriously looking during this prolonged holiday season. And yet, many buyers are looking at properties in person and online right up until Christmas Eve. If the right home goes on the market in mid-December, a serious buyer — and there will be a lot of them — will take note.

After New Year’s Eve, most buyers jump back into their routine with a resolve to get into the real estate market, even though many sellers wouldn’t even consider listing in January. The net effect: Savvy sellers will face less competition for a still-strong pool of buyers during this period. And that makes November-January a great time to sell.

Myth No. 2: Always start with your lowest offer

There’s no generalized strategy for making an offer on a home anywhere, ever. A seller could have overpriced or underpriced the home on purpose. Some markets may be more competitive than others. But, somehow, in the back of the buyer’s head is good old Uncle Bob saying “never offer the full asking price.” That strategy might work if you’re trying to buy a used computer on eBay. And it worked in some real estate markets years ago. But times have changed.

The reality: A low offer may get you nowhere fast

A buyer in a strong, tight inventory market today would be wasting their time making low offers right from the start. It’s likely a home that’s priced right and shows well can receive multiple offers, sometimes even over the asking price. In this environment, constantly throwing in low offers because that’s what your Uncle Bob advised you to do will likely lead to disappointment. Instead, work with a good local real estate agent to understand the market. You’ll quickly learn after a few weeks on the open house circuit (and maybe a disappointment or two) that starting low may not get you anywhere.

Myth No. 3: A cash offer trumps all

There’s an assumption that a seller, considering two different offers, will always go with the cash offer because there’s less risk. As a result, many buyers who hear they’re competing with a cash offer assume they won’t get the home. They may not even make a formal offer. At the same time, many cash buyers assume that because they’re paying cash, they can make an offer below the asking price, and it will likely be accepted.

The reality: A savvy seller may be more tempted by a solid financed offer

Consider a seller with a home priced at $399,000. The seller receives two offers: One is a cash offer of $375,000. The other is an offer for the full asking price, with 25 percent down, a bank pre-approval letter and swift contingency periods.

A good buyer’s agent, upon learning their client is competing with a cash offer, will arm the seller with lots of data supporting their client’s finances, such as a credit report and verification of income or assets. The agent might even arrange a call between the seller and the buyer’s lender.

Learn your market

When you become a buyer or seller, especially for the first time, the most important thing you can do is learn your market. Talk to a savvy local agent, and don’t make assumptions based on what you think you know. Real estate is local. Every market is different, with its own customs. If you believe there are general rules for real estate strategy that apply everywhere, anytime, you’ll likely be fooled — not only in April, but every other month of the year.