Friday, November 16, 2007

It is the Market, Not the Marketing

As the market continues to correct itself after these turbulent months, most houses are taking longer to sell. It is a good time to remember that in most cases, it is the market, not the marketing.

Many sellers are still in denial that their house won't cause a bidding war. They still think that they can list their house higher than the market will bear, and that they will get offers over the asking price. This is becoming a rare occasion, limited to the nicest homes in the best neighborhoods.

Buyers are also becoming more fickle. They know they have the upper-hand in most negotiations, due to the amount of inventory on the market and the slowing market activity. Many buyers are taking their time, making sure they have good financing, implementing all contingencies, and doing lots of inspections. And, they should.

I keep hearing from other Realtors about all of the effort they are putting into their listings, and frustrated that they aren't getting offers. They build elaborate websites, have multiple open houses and broker tours, send out fliers and postcards, and more. Even though they might get hundreds of potential buyers and agents through the property, they are no takers.

No matter how many people visit the home, you just need to get that one buyer who is perfect for the home. That is what can be frustrating about real estate marketing. Most marketing, such as for consumer products or movies, is geared to sell as much as possible. Whereas real estate marketing is all about getting that one perfect buyer.

So, remember that when it comes to the real estate market, it is usually the market and not the marketing that affects sales. When the market is hot, you can do very little marketing and get multiple offers. When the market is slow, you can market your heart out and still get nothing. The market at large sets the pace and the price.

If you have questions about the real estate market, especially here in the East Bay, let me know. I am always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Giving Thanks--Housing Consortium of the East Bay

Thanksgiving seems so early this year, so we better get a jump on thinking about what we are thankful for. My mind always turns to community organizations and non-profit groups, and I would like to give thanks and a big shout out to the Housing Consortium of the East Bay (and I hope you will consider supporting them as well!).

The Housing Consortium of the East Bay creates affordable, accessible housing for persons with developmental disabilities in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. HCEB's supporters include family members of persons with developmental disabilities, professionals who provide funding, coordinating and direct services, advocates and other interested community volunteers. Activities include housing development, planning, resource development, training, technical assistance, and coalition building.

I have worked with Darin Lounds, who heads up HCEB, to acquire 15 properties in the last 18 months, allowing the developmentally disabled people they work with to live in comfortable home environments instead of large-scale care facilities.

So, join me in giving thanks to HCEB. And, stayed tuned for an announcement about our brokerage's upcoming community support program for the holidays.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What to Expect During Escrow

The escrow process is a mystery to many real estate consumers, especially first time home buyers. What happens during this period, and what should you expect? If everything in the transaction goes according to plan, it should be smooth and seamless. But, as they say, always expect the unexpected.

The escrow process is basically taking this very complicated financial transaction involving large sums of money and property and then putting it into the hands of a neutral third party. When a buyer makes a purchase offer in California, the standard purchase offer form is also a set of escrow instructions. If the seller agrees with all of the details, he or she signs the contract, and an escrow account is opened at the mutually-agreed upon escrow company (such as Placer Title).

The escrow officer gathers all the documentation from both sides of the transaction, plus the buyer's deposit check. This check is deposited in an escrow account, and all sides must agree before the money in the account is transferred. That is one reason why an impartial third party is so important.

Another role that the escrow officer takes is making sure the buyer's financing paperwork and the seller's loan payoff information is all in order. Then they will prepare all the necessary documents and closing statements needed to transfer the property from the seller to the buyer. This also includes handling any title paperwork with the city and county, as well as arranging title insurance.

Sometimes disagreements arise during the escrow process, and the escrow officer is there to facilitate getting all parties in agreement. Sometimes the contract and paperwork needs to be amended. But, sometimes, an agreement cannot be reached and the transaction is cancelled; in which case, the escrow officer will oversee the transfer of any monies in the escrow account.

This is just a simple overview of the escrow process, and there are many more aspects to it than this. Of course, it can also become complicated and sticky, but we are always thankful when it works out smoothly. If you have questions on the escrow process and how to make it go as easily as possible, just let me know. I'm always happy to help. I can be reached at 510-547-5970 x57 or