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.

A Smoky Escape to Reno

A couple of weekends ago, I headed up to Reno with big plans to see my son, play pickleball, hang out at Tahoe, and see Shakespeare at Sand Harbor. Well, all those plans came crashing down when the Air Quality Index (AQI) from all the smoke was reading in the mid-300s for Reno and over 500 for Tahoe.

So, we pivoted. We went to a couple of movies and out to eat at some restaurants and bars. If you ever find yourself in Reno looking for something cool to do, Midtown is the place to be! Centro, at 236 California Ave., is defined as a Bar + Kitchen. They serve small plates and interesting cocktails, with a happy hour from Thursday-Saturday (3-6 p.m.). Here in California, happy hours are usually Monday-Thursday.

Centro has a cool brick vibe with a large bar and about 12 tables, colorful artwork, and garage door windows that open to a front patio. We ordered fig old-fashioned, heirloom tomatoes (with apricots, smoked feta, salsa rosa, EVOO, pistachios, chili flake brittle, and lemon basil!), gnocchi with sweet corn, rabbit, black truffle, chive, and Aleppo chili. We also had my favorite: tacos al pastor.

Their menu changes seasonally at Centro, and is more of a tapa kind of place, so keep that in mind when visiting! The second restaurant we tried was RSL (short for Rum Sugar Lime), another brick and wood stylized bar in Midtown at 1039 South Virginia. RSL is strictly a bar and has a tropical theme and drink menu. They occasionally have music, from vinyl and drums to jazz and cocktails. This is my kind of place!

We tried something different – we ordered the Maelstrom, which is their version of a dark and stormy, which was in-your-face gingery. We also tried the Pain Killer, a house favorite that originated in the Caribbean, and the Lomomo, a fruit-forward twist on a classic negroni. They have postcards at RSL that you can write on and send to a friend. The funny thing is their postcards remind me of the new HBO show White Lotus and the background/wallpaper they use in the intro.

Overall, both places were a great escape from the smoke and very relaxing to indulge in some good food and drinks.

High Appraisal Fees, Oh My!

Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending wrote a blog recently about high appraisal fees and I wanted to share a specific portion of that with you:

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Appraisal fees have risen from as low as $250 in the early 1990s to over $1,200 now – for a standard appraisal. Lenders everywhere are raising their fees in order to get the increasingly more limited supply of appraisers to accept their appraisal orders. There is simply no choice if we want to attract skilled appraisers with fast enough turn-times to allow us to close on time.

We are warning borrowers up front, of course, but I am encouraging agents who read this blog to also warn their clients, as we are seeing some serious “sticker shock” right now when we disclose what we now have to pay to appraisers.

So, why are appraisal fees so high? Inflation is obviously a major reason, as $1 in 1990 is worth the same as $2.08 today, per this really cool inflation calculator. Appraisers also have higher fees for licensing, insurance, E&O coverage, vehicle costs, software, MLS access, continuing education, and more.

The main reason the fees are so high is that there is a shortage of appraisers. One of our best appraisers is in his 80s, and he just works because he likes to; he certainly does not have to. And that is the case for a large number of our other appraisers. They can command all the fees they want, and they have no reason to tolerate mistreatment.

Kristin’s perspective: In my recent experience, most transactions are closing late because of a delay in getting appraisers to the property. Even if the buyer removed all their contingencies and they have a loan, you still need the appraisal to close. The shortage of appraisers – and the rising costs because of that shortage – are very, very real. Don’t be surprised when your lender or agent mentions those costs!