Football Season And Real Estate

In my experience, once football season begins, we often see wives coming to Open Houses alone. Husbands seem to stay home and watch the games, especially if the 49ers or Raiders have a 1:00 p.m. time slot – right when most Open Houses are in session!

Traditionally, the spring home-buying season here in California kicks off the weekend after the Super Bowl; however, with the pandemic, most traditional timelines regarding real estate have been shattered. The past couple of years, buyers have been out in droves the weekend after New Year’s. But, again, you will often see a single woman out looking while hubby is on the couch glued to the TV.

It’s not a guarantee, but it seems to happen a lot more often than not during football season. Funny the effect a sporting event can have on something life-changing like the purchase of a new home! Here are some fun facts about football, from, of all places, an email I received from CUTCO:

Did you know that football was still relatively new in 1892? It stemmed from two sports – soccer and rugby. It wasn’t until a Yale undergraduate and medical student, Walter Camp, also known as the “Father of American Football,” decided to change the rules, creating a sport that would be cherished by millions.

A Closing On Kirkwood!

You may remember that I had recently listed a 2-bed, 2-bath condo in Kirkwood Knolls in Concord. It was a spacious and serene space listed at $500,000 and about 1,250 square feet. Well…good news!

I’m happy to report that my clients have closed! You can see the original listing information! Here is the couple on moving day in front of their home, ready for the next chapter.

My very happy clients received three offers and we closed at $550,000. They are waiting for a new house to be built out of the area and are off traveling the world – a new norm with the ability to work from home. Congratulations and wishes of happiness on their new adventures.

4 Things NOT To Do When Putting Your House On The Market

RISMedia’s Housecall wrote this great list of things not do when you list your home in 2016 – and it’s still relevant today! Here is my edited version of the original, including input from my years of experience on this topic:

white wooden house in the middle of green trees
  1. Don’t over-improve: As you get your home ready to sell, you may realize making a few changes will improve the return on your investiment. For example, updating appliances! But make sure not to OVER-improve the home too much. If the improvements are too specific to your tastes, it may turn off some prospective buyers. Not everyone wants their finished basement to have a wet bar and sound stage in it. Make it look the best you can without emptying the piggy bank, important things that don’t cost a lot, deep clean, spruce up the landscaping – trim, bark, some potted plants, neutralize your interior paint colors, especially if there are lots of nics and dirty walls.
  2. Don’t over-decorate: Just like #1, over-decorating can turn off a prospective buyer. Just because YOU like the look of lace and lavendar doesn’t mean those looking to purchase your house will. Neutralize the decorating scheme to a universal palette. In the Bay Area and with prices soaring, Staging your home will get you a better return. Pictures are the first introduction to your home and staging it will present your home in its best light.
  3. Don’t hang around: Buyers want to imagine themselves in your space, not be confronted by you in your space. So when your agent calls to say they’re bringing over some potential buyers, don’t hang around. Get out of the house for a little while – at least go sit in the backyard, if you can’t get away from home altogether.
  4. Don’t take things too personally: Real estate is a business. Buying and selling homes can be very emotional, but you need to avoid taking things too personally. During negotiations, buyers may point out certain things they don’t love about your house, hence why they are offering a little lower, and you can’t get hung up on those criticisms. It just means they have a different style than you!

Kristin’s take: Another note; if people say they have video in their home, buyers be cautious about what you say. The sellers will hear you, even after you get into contract and are doing inspections. If you said something snarky, and you make an offer, it may not get accepted. If you are in contract, it will create bad blood and if you end up asking for a repair, the sellers are less likely to be agreeable.

I Have Been A Busy Bee

There were three closings on my clients’ homes last week. I’ve been busy! See all three below, with a short description of the processes:

Sometimes it just takes finding the right buyer for the home! I listed this home after the sellers already had moved to their new location. In a crazy market, people still want flat lots or houses with no work to be done. The market spoke, and the original listing ended up at $2,050,000. It was situated on an upslope with no flat yard and a retaining wall that needed work, along with deck repairs.  Once the price was lowered, interest increased and an offer came.

This was a great listing within walking distance to downtown Martinez. It’s a newer Mediterranean “green” townhome. It was great to work with an agent I had worked with in the past.

I represented a first-time home buyer, who decided to cancel when the sellers wouldn’t give the full credit he requested, then kind of regretted his decision. I had called the listing agent saying if the new buyers couldn’t perform, that my buyer was interested in getting back into contract. He ended up getting the full credit via a price reduction once the sellers took away the one-year home warranty. Sometimes it takes out-of-the-box thinking to make things work.

Just Listed & Just Sold!

Just Listed: 5450 Kirkwood Dr., Unit E4 in Concord. A spacious, serene, 2-bed, 2-bath condo in Kirkwood Knolls. We’re holding an Open House this Sunday, July 18th from 1-5 p.m. Offers on this unit are due at noon on July 19th!

The condo is listed at $500,000 and is a total of almost 1,250 square feet on its own. The complex has a pool, too! If you are looking to buy or sell, make sure to give me a call! I’d be happy to help you find your dream home in the East Bay.

Just Sold: 23 Parkland Dr. in Walnut Creek. The home needed lots of updating; 3 bed-1.5 bath and 1,438 square feet. It was listed at $800,000 and sold for $965,000 after getting 17 offers.

The Big Question – Rates?

My friends at JVM Lending wrote an interesting blog recently, and I wanted to share a summary, plus my input on the topic: “why the Fed can probably never raise interest rates.” Read on:

The Fed Funds Rate is a rate that banks charge each other to borrow “reserves” overnight, which is currently at 0-0.25%. Paul Volcker was a Fed Chairman in the late 1970s and early 1980s who sent the U.S. into a massive recession by raising the Fed Funds Rate to 20%.

The result of Volcker’s actions were a horrible recession, a crashed economy, and 11% unemployment. To recover, it took enormous political will – the likes of which we are in short supply of nowadays (for many reasons).

Last week, the Fed talked about the possibility of raising rates almost two years from now. Stocks tanked and interest rates shot up. Markets reacted negatively because even the mere mention of higher rates down the road causes a reaction. Investors know that our economy can’t afford higher rates.

Here’s the thing: the Fed likely can’t afford to raise the rates. Our total federal debt is about $28 trillion and growing, while State and Municipal debt is approaching $4 trillion. The interest paid by the federal government for its debt this year will be just under $400 billion, with government debt rates around 2%.

So, if rates returned to even 1990s levels (6-8%), interest owed would triple or quadruple and quickly bankrupt the government. Even more concerning, potentially, is corporate debt. There is $11 trillion in corporate debt in the U.S. and many of those corporations could not begin to service their debt if rates went up. They depend entirely upon cheap capital and bailouts.

In terms of real estate, existing mortgages do not depend on low rates. They are long-term and fixed. However, housing itself represents a huge chunk (almost 18%) of the economy, and that sector is now dependent on super-low rates, too. Basically, the entire economy is addicted to low rates and the Fed knows it.

silver and gold round coins in box

Several pundits expect the Fed to find excuses as to why 2023 is not a good time to raise rates and kick the can down the road yet again. So, we will either see a continuation of a Japan-like situation for a very long time with continued low rates, slow growth, and massive government intervention…or inflation will set in and the Fed will lose control of rates, as investors simply demand higher yields.

Either way, I would not expect the Fed to actually raise rates itself in 2023.

KRISTIN’S TAKE: Nobody has a crystal ball, and if rates do start to edge up, it would take some time for them to get into the 5%+ range. We are also seeing a bit of a reprieve on the buying frenzy. More houses are having price reductions, not as many multiple offers, etc. I am just not sure if it is because everyone hit vacation mode, but if you’re a buyer who got priced out earlier this year, it might be time to start looking again.

Welcome To Villa Del Sol!

On the market June 18th.

A beautiful Mediterranean townhome in the heart of downtown Martinez.

Amazing walkability to restaurants, bars, shops, Amtrak, walking trails, and Farmer’s Market.

Two-car garage with extra storage, laundry hook-ups, and wash basin.

  1. 3 bedrooms
  2. 2 bathrooms
  3. 1,483 square feet
  4. $210 low HOA monthly fees
  5. 8 units in the complex

Before And After: Staging Pictures And Tips

I have a new listing this week, and I want to show you the big difference that properly staging a home can make for sellers. It’s an important step in the home-selling process. Depending on the size and what is needed, it can run from $2,000-$6,000 (or more!), and not every room needs to be staged. The other things – like painting the lava rock – cost $2,000.

If your house already has a good look, there is also accessory staging. That is when they tell you what to take out and bring in. Usually, it’s just a few things, like some bedding and pictures. They might have you do a bit of re-arranging too. In the end, I believe staged homes will sell for more money. There are different percentages that you can search, but I think the before and after pictures are worth a thousand words. See them here:

This home is located off of La Casa Via, behind John Muir and it backs up to Shell Ridge, so it’s peaceful with beautiful views. However, vacant some original fixtures and the lava rock didn’t make it pop for pictures. So, check it out once the stager was done with it. Its transformation is really breathtaking and shows up in the pictures. With no open houses, buyers have to like the home from their first look online through pictures, and professional photos make a huge difference in the lighting.

When asked why the stager recommended painting a dark brown lacquered fireplace mantel white, her response was she wanted it to blend into the background so people were not staring at the lava rock fireplace, but at the views, layout, and overall feel. That is exactly what occurred and I would like to give a big shout-out to Ashley Provost and her team for the great job they did!

Here’s what staging really does: it transforms how the home looks, which helps drive up the price quickly. It doesn’t matter how old the house is, it can always use some good staging to make it really stand out to potential buyers. Here are some tips from Better Homes and Gardens:

  1. Start Simple: A buyer’s first impression of the house is controllable. Start with the easiest task that will have the biggest impact (fresh paint, cleaning, etc.).
  2. Create Space: Remember, a buyer actually wants to see the inside of your home. So definitely space things out and de-clutter rooms before showing.
  3. Clean: Obviously, a clean home is going to attract more attention. Make your house look well-cared for.
  4. Move-In Ready: Simple repairs can go a long way to showing buyers that the house is move-in ready and there will be no to-do list right away.
  5. Envision: Neutralize the space with fresh paint so that potential buyers can envision themselves and their belongings in the house.
  6. Emotion: Remember to keep the home looking like it is comfy to live in and a great place to make memories.

If you need any other tips, feel free to reach out!

Why I Refer JVM Lending

When a buyer client doesn’t have a lender, I refer to JVM Lending. I can give multiple lenders and a buyer can choose whoever they want. Oftentimes, there are reasons for that choice. For example, if a buyer has only been in the country for less than two years, most lenders can’t finance them and big banks will only allow a certain amount of money, provided they have a chunk of change in their bank.

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Credit: JVM Lending

However, for most situations, I know JVM will perform if they give an approval. They are so diligent, have amazing systems in place, and are not dependent on just one loan officer responding. They don’t even have loan officer titles – the initial contact is with a Client Advisor.

There is nothing worse than having the loan blow up during the escrow process, especially in this market where buyers are removing all contingencies. I have been one of those agents who has called JVM to save the day, and they have saved it every time.

This recent blog by JVM shows how important it is to know if the lender is focused on refi’s, or primarily does purchase loans. It can make a world of difference. The only motive I have to refer JVM is that I know I will look good to my clients because everything will go so smoothly for them. Most buyers never recognize how smooth the process truly is, but they would appreciate it if they have ever experienced a bad lending experience and would never want to go through it again!

Why The Market Continues To Grow

According to a recent CNN article, the housing market is on a tear, after a slowdown at the beginning of the pandemic. You can read the entire story about one Washington, D.C.-area realtor who listed a property that received 76 all-cash offers in the first 72 hours. Incredible!

The article specifically mentions that home sales bounced back a few months after the pandemic began, but inventory did not. That increased demand, coupled with a lack of supply, has driven home prices up at a crazy pace. According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of a home has risen 16% from last year.

brown and white concrete house under blue sky during daytime

It seems to be the competition that is driving home prices up so much, and causing this market to take off, however, buyers ultimately determine what they are willing to pay for a home. A long-standing slowdown in homebuilding, plus the pandemic, plus the low interest rates, a desire for more space due to working from home, and a recent exodus out of the cities (since people don’t need to be so close to work) have all contributed to this buying frenzy and a perfect storm for the housing market right now. It isn’t just happening in California, it is across the United States.

If you’re buying, buckle up, because it might be a bumpy ride. Many offers that are being accepted see the buyers removing all of their contingencies. Do I think that is smart? No, but if you have to get into a home and have written and lost 10-plus offers, then a buyer may just do that! If you’re interested in knowing more about the market, the process, or are ready to sell, now might be the best time to do it. In either case, if you want to buy or sell, especially in the East Bay, please give me a call. I’d be happy to help you out!