Are you the right seller for my buyer clients?

Are you the right seller for my buyer clients?

I read a survey recently published by the National Association of Realtors in which buyers were asked what were the most important aspects of deciding which was the right home for them. National surveys interest me, but I find personal surveys much more informative. So, I asked some of my current buyers what helped or hurt them in their home searches. I found the results mirrored what the NAR survey came up with, with a few differences.

One of the things my clients said they wanted was market priced homes. They were immediately turned off by homes that were over priced. These clients spend a lot of time, I mean a lot of time, researching homes on-line. They get information from me but they also search other websites as well. These are smart, sophisticated people who can spot an over priced home quickly. They can’t understand, and neither can I, why a seller would over price their home when it is so easy to find similar homes in the same neighborhood with better pricing.

Another issue is actually viewing homes. I had a couple recently view a nice home in my area that was properly priced but when we arrived for the viewing the home owner was there. The owner then proceeded to walk my clients through the home giving running commentary about everything he had done to the house. They felt uncomfortable opening closets and cabinets with the owner standing there. When I had shown them other homes, where the owner wasn’t present, they spent time engaging each other in what worked and didn’t work about the house. In this case, I got almost no feedback from them about the house and they left quickly after the owner left the room.

Photos, or the lack of photos, is a hot button for my buyers. If they see a home for sale and there are only a couple of photos of the property, boy do I hear about it. My clients need to see photos of the kitchen, bathrooms, backyard, living spaces and exterior of the house. It is almost impossible for me to interest them in homes with few photos available.

Homes for sale in As-Is condition. In California, our purchase agreement speaks to the condition of a home several times. The agreement specifically states that the home is purchased in as-is condition but it also provides the buyer the opportunity to have physical inspections done so the buyer can be satisfied of the condition of the home. If a listing says the home is only for sale in as-is condition or that the seller won’t make any repairs, my buyers become hyper-critical of everything they see. They also suspect there are problem with the home they can’t see. I know that in short sales, as-is condition is the norm, but if we are talking about a traditional sale, having a seller say “I won’t make any repairs” is a real red flag to my clients.

Having limited showing times is another issue for some of my clients. All of my current clients work for a living and their employers expect them to be at work during working hours. Recently one couple was interested in a home but it could only be viewed Monday-Friday 10AM-4PM, excluding nap time 1PM-3PM. No matter how much we tried to negotiate a showing outside those hours, the answer was always no. I had another couple a  few years ago interested in a house. I called to set an appointment with the owner and was told their daughter was sick. No problem, nursing a sick child puts extra stress on any parent but when I asked if I could call back in a couple of days to see if the child was better I was told no. The owners would call me when it was convenient, I never did get a call.

If one of more of these scenarios describes you as a seller, then you probably aren’t the right seller for my buyer clients.

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It Pays to Use a REALTOR

One Cool Thing - Read it. Use it. Share it.


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San Diego Holiday Events

English: San Diego Skyline Español: Panorama u...

English: San Diego Skyline Español: Panorama urbano de San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

San Diego Holiday Events

Like everything else, San Diego offers events for all ages through out December with a San Diego flair.

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Where else will you find a floating holiday light parade? This annual tradition will be on Sundays, December 8 and 15. Viewing is available along San Diego Bay starting at Shelter Island and moving to Harbor Island, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and ending at the Ferry Landing in Coronado. The parade begins at 5:30PM and continues until the last boat finishes usually around 9:00PM. The even is free and if you are lucky, you might be able to snag free parking as well.

Mission Bay Christmas Boat Parade of Lights

Not to be outdone by San Diego Bay, Mission Bay also offers a parade of lights. The event will be held on Saturday, December 14. The parade will begin at 7:00PM and end at 9:00PM. Best viewing is along Crown Point, the east side of Vacation Village or the west side of Fiesta Island. The event and parking are free.

Balboa Park

San Diego’s crown jewel, Balboa Park, is all dressed up for the holidays. There are lights and displays along all of the plaza areas in the park. The huge Christmas tree is twinkling at the Organ Pavillion. The displays are open to the public through December and parking is free.

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

Not to be outdone by their human counterparts, pets take over the Gaslamp Quarter on Sunday, December 8 for their own brand of holiday fun. The entry fee is $20 and can be paid at the event which starts at 1:00PM and continues to 5:00PM. Humans are given a break, the event is free for them. Prizes will be awarded in both canine and non-canine catagories. There is even an Ugliest Sweater Contest. The event is at the Hilton Gaslamp Park at 401 K St., San Diego 92101.

Old Town and Las Posadas

Old Town celebrates the holidays with a Mexican flair on Saturday and Sunday, December 14 & 15. There will be candlelight tours, holiday singers, live performances and complementary refreshments. The event will run from 6:00PM-9:00PM both days. The traditional Las Posadas re-enactment will be on Sunday starting at 5:00PM. Some of the park attractions will have their standard admission fees.

Neighborhood Light Displays

Still my favorite, many San Diego neighborhoods take holiday light displays to a whole new level. You will find these events all around the County, Google for events in your neighborhood. Bundle up and bring a thermos of hot chocolate for a fun, free family event.

San Diego holiday events come in all shapes and sizes with something for everyone. What ever your December looks like, I wish you peace and joy.

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San Diego Neighborhoods: What Works Best for You

San Diego Neighborhoods: What Works Best for You

I have people ask me all the time which area of San Diego works best for me. Your home needs and what works best for your family is such a personal thing that it is impossible for me to recommend neighborhoods. Instead I tell people that San Diego is a big county of individual neighborhoods and communities. Each one has its own flavor and flair but there is usually something for everyone here.

I have found three resources that can help you get started if you are considering San Diego as your new home.

Our City San Diego magazine did a survey a few months back that rated San Diego neighborhoods over a series of criteria. Both the criteria and their review can be found at

Each area of San Diego, from the north to the south, the coast to the desert, has its own uniqueness. This link takes you to an overview of those areas

Many people want information about schools, demographics, safety and entertainment. There are several places that offer this information but I have found that has this information combined in an easy to read format with different menu options to allow you to explore areas by zip code.

Which San Diego neighborhood works best for you is an individual decision but these resources should give you a place to start.

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Winter Buyers Looking for Bargains

Picture of the "Gingerbread House" i...

Picture of the “Gingerbread House” in Essex, Connecticut, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Winter Buyers Looking for Bargains

A recent survey by the National Associations of Realtors reveals that buyers looking to purchase homes this winter will be looking for bargains. The real estate market usually winds down during the 4th quarter but it never stops.

I find that home owners who put their homes on the market during the holidays do so either because they have to sell or they want to avoid competition. People still change jobs, get divorces or have family emergencies all year-long and the holidays are no exception. Having to sell during the holidays is never pleasant, but it is a reality.

Sellers also know that there will be fewer houses for sale during this time so buyers will have fewer options. If you could sell when you have less competition, why not?

I also find that buyers who are shopping during the holidays are really serious. Two years ago I helped two different buyers shopping during the holidays. In both cases, these buyers seriously wanted to buy a home and would work around holiday plans to continue their home searches. We actually put in offers on homes during this period. I am happy to say both buyers found great homes and closed shortly after the new year.

The N.A.R. survey found that buyers said they figured if there were fewer people looking to find homes, they might have a better chance of snagging a bargain home or have fewer multiple offer situations which would keep the bidding wars to a minimum. They were also looking to avoid the crowds looking to buy in the Spring.

From my experience, I think these buyers are smart and have a better chance of finding a great home.

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Types of Mortgages: What Works Best For You?

My Mortgage Docs to be Reviewed by an Expert

My Mortgage Docs to be Reviewed by an Expert (Photo credit: i am real estate photographer)

Types of Mortgages: What works best for you?

There are 3 basic types of mortgages: conventional, FHA and VA. Each type has variations and each offers different advantages to buyers.

Conventional Mortgage

Conventional mortgages have no restrictions on job type or military service, everyone can use this type of mortgage. Conventional mortgages are typically the type buyers think of when they think of a 20% down payment but you can put down as little at 5% with excellent credit and low debt ratios. These mortgages have no limitation on how much you can borrow, interest rates are higher for bigger loans.

These loans have the most risk to the lender, there is no governmental agency that backs the loan, so only borrows with the very best credit can usually qualify. Lenders will usually loan with credit scores at 680 and above but some lenders require 720 credit scores as the minimum. I have also seen some flexibility on debt ratios for these loans with well qualified borrowers getting loans with 45% debt to income ratios.

With a 20% down payment, borrowers avoid Mortgage Insurance but with conventional loans the MI is lower than with other loan types.

FHA Mortgages

FHA mortgages used to be the way to get your first mortgage for many first-time buyers but now we see borrowers of all types using FHA loans. FHA mortgages are backed by the government so lenders are willing to make loans for borrowers with a less than stellar credit history. FHA will back mortgages for borrows with credit scores as low as 580 but most lenders require a 620 credit score as the minimum.  Borrowers who lost their homes to short sales or foreclosure can often obtain an FHA loan within just 1-2 years of the loss of the home, you must have rebuilt your credit. FHA also has a limit on the price of the home. Currently in San Diego County that is $625,500.

All FHA loans have some type of mortgage insurance. The amount of your down payment dictates how much and how often you will pay for mortgage insurance. If your down payment is 20% or more you can pay a single MI premium at the time of purchase and you will have no further MI premium. If you put down 10% then you will have both an upfront premium paid at the time of purchase and then monthly premiums for 11 years. If you put down less than 10% you will have upfront premiums and monthly premiums for the life of the loan.

VA Mortgages

VA loans are by far the best mortgage available for borrowers but you must qualify for the loan. Most often military service will qualify you for the program. VA borrowers have the best repayment record of all borrowers. The loans have backing so lenders usually welcome VA borrowers easily.

VA loans have their own interest rates and as of today those rates are lower than conventional mortgages. VA loans have a form of mortgage insurance that is paid one-time at the close of escrow. There are no monthly MI payments with VA loans. There are also limits to the closing costs VA borrowers can pay to purchase a home. While these are nice advantages to the VA borrower, sellers are on the hook for closing costs the VA buyer can’t pay. As a consequence some sellers won’t accept VA buyers so having an experienced VA lender is a huge asset when shopping for a home.

As I mentioned, there are loan programs for just about everyone. The costs and requirements for each vary so shopping for a mortgage is an important first step in your home buying process. For a list of experienced lenders in the San Diego area pop me a note.

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Relocating? Are you getting the most from your relocation package?

Relocating? Are you getting the most from your relocation package?

If you are relocating for a job you might be eligible for help with the relocation costs. Be sure to ask, or even negotiate, about your new employer’s relocation packages. These packages are very valuable if you use them correctly.

Some packages will provide temporary housing options to help while you search for a new home. The accommodations are usually small but having a place to stay when  you first arrive can be a huge help. Make sure you know the terms of the arrangement and mark you calendar and keep move-out day foremost in your mind. I had a client who called me in a panic 2 weeks before he had to be out of his temporary home, that was pretty hectic.

Help with finding a new home

Most packages will offer some type of help hooking you up with a local real estate agent in the new area. The help can be in a search for a new home to purchase or a rental home. If you are new to the area, help with a rental home can be very valuable. Review all of the documents sent to you by the agent, many of the larger real estate companies share information about house and rental prices in the area to help you budget accordingly.

Use your agent, that is what they are there for. The agent can tell you about neighborhoods, schools, parks, activities, commuting and lots of things you might not have thought of. If possible, make a list of your most important questions in advance so the agent is able to get you answers quickly.

Plan your home tours

You will have a limited amount of time to search for a new home. Unlike shopping for a home or rental in your local area, you are limited to only a few days to make a really important decision. If possible, stretch your tours over multiple visits, this gives you time to digest the previous tour to figure out what works and doesn’t work.

Plan to be out on a tour all day, usually 5 hours or more. It is a really long day, and if you have just flown in the day before, you are going to get really tired. If you are bringing the kids, plan activities for them in the car; house hunting is really boring for kids. Bring snacks and beverages, if you are thirsty or hungry your day gets even longer.

If you are viewing more than 5 homes, take notes and photos. By the time you are at house 5, house 1 is a distant memory and you have probably forgotten half of what you saw. I give tour kits to my clients with sheets to take notes for each home and to ask questions like who pays for which utilities and how much are the deposits.

Review your relocation package completely

Each package will give you different benefits, be sure you know what they are. I have seen packages that offer home shopping tours but not rental tours. If you are planning to rent immediately, budgeting for local to help with a rental tour might save you time and money in the long run.

I have seen packages that pay for some of the costs associated with buying a new home or selling your existing home. Packages have included payment of agent commissions, closing costs and even lender fees if you use a preferred lender. You can save yourself thousands of dollars if you know what your benefits are and use them wisely.

Relocating and getting the most from your relocation package can save you time, money and your sanity. Use it wisely.

If you are relocating to or from San Diego and would like information about relocation tours, please contact me at 858-531-5268.


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