Friday, August 24, 2007

"All the world's a stage..."

You might be wondering if you need to stage your house to help sell it. I can tell you right now that you do indeed need to stage your house. You might be thinking, "Hey, she hasn't even seen my lovely home. What does she know?" I know that you need to stage it. Let me tell you why.

You are trying to sell your house, not your home.

While I am sure your home is lovely, but it is your home and it is full of your personal taste, furniture, and memories. To sell your house, you need to present it as a showplace, cleared of its past and ready for the future--ready for new ideas and new adventures.

Buyers want to see a house that is light, airy and open--a blank slate for them to envision their futures. They want to see new furniture, new designs, and they want to see as much of the floorplan as possible so that they can begin to imagine their own furniture and ideas in the space. Buyers want to see your house as their future home.

Professional stagers can help you with everything from de-cluttering and re-organizing to providing new paint and new designs to maximize your house for the market. Take a look at the following before and after pictures of the dining room of a house I recently sold so that you have a better idea of what stagers can do for you.



Which would you prefer? Look at the difference in space and color and think about which one you would want to buy.

This staging was done by Scout, and there are many terrific staging companies in the East Bay, such as Jackie Brown. If you would like to further discuss the power of staging or need a referral, please let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

6 Degrees of Separation

Writing about Bryan's HOA banking services yesterday reminded me of the power of referrals and our networks of friends, families, and colleagues. What a great way to live and work!

I met Bryan after my son referred him to me. He had gone to high school with Bryan's sister and knew of Bryan's home search in the East Bay. After Bryan was in his new home, I referred him to Pam, another client of mine who does landscaping. Coincidentally, Pam's son used to work for me. So many of my personal and professional relationships have fascinating connections like this and makes life a lot more interesting.

I also just returned from an inspiring professional retreat produced by Buffini & Company that focuses on the power of referrals. Who would you trust more....a plumber that your good friend or sibling recommends, or one you find on the internet or phone book?

After more than dozen years of working in real estate in the East Bay, I am so pleased to look at the talented group of people I know and work with. If you ever need a referral f0r some help in the East Bay, let me know. And, I just might ask you next time I need a referral (like it would be great to know some wonderful caterers or mechanics!). Check out my ever-growing network of referrals at Mary's List or just drop me a line. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

(And, oh by the way, if your friends and family ever need a realtor, I'm never too busy for your referrals!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A New Way to HOA?

One thing to always keep in mind when planning to purchase a condominium or into a similar “common-interest community,” is the HOA, or Homeowner’s Association. You will need to think about how involved you will be in the HOA and how much you can afford to spend on the monthly fees and possible special assessments.

The HOA is a community comprised of all the individual homeowners and is represented by an elected board consisting of homeowners who oversee the management and development of the entire building or organization. They do everything from enforcing the rules of the building to organizing maintenance and upkeep to handling problems that might arise. If you are living in a smaller development, say two to eight units, you will more likely be involved with the HOA versus if you live in a larger building, of say 100 units or more.

Monthly HOA fees can vary wildly, so you need to figure how much you can afford. They might cover general maintenance to utilities to the salary for a concierge. The arrangement is different for every association, so make sure to find out what it covers. You might also get hit with a “special assessment” should a significant problem arise. Perhaps the roof develops major leaks and a new roof is needed. Or perhaps a driveway or garage requires re-paving. Special assessments can surprise you, they can cost a lot, and you are responsible for your share.

But, keep in mind that the HOA can be your friend. For instance, the HOAs in several Emeryville condo buildings have been battling their developer for poor construction that led to mold and other problems. Those HOAs have led the legal battle on behalf of the residents and have made great strides so that the individual homeowners could continue their day-to-day lives as smoothly as possible.

But, could there be a better way to HOA? Bryan Wong is the VP of Community Association Products and Services for Popular Association Banking, and he specializes in helping HOAs run effectively and smoothly. For instance, he can arrange loans and banking services so that HOAs can better manage their money and create more affordable payment plans for the dreaded special assessments. Plus, they can help with litigation should that arise, or wisely invest the HOAs holdings to help prepare them for the future.

If you would like more information about HOA management, I invite you to get in touch with Bryan at 925-730-2183 or And, of course, I am always available for any of your needs at 510-547-5970 x57 or