©2013 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker® is a registered trademark licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. An Equal Opportunity Company. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Office Is Owned by a Subsidiary of NRT LLC. All rights reserved. This information was supplied by Seller and/or other sources. Broker believes this information to be correct but has not verified this information and assumes no legal responsibility for its accuracy. Buyers should investigate these issues to their own satisfaction. If your property is currently listed for sale, this is not intended as a solicitation. If your property is listed with a real estate broker, please disregard. It is not our intention to solicit the offerings of other real estate brokers. We are happy to work with them and cooperate fully. DRE License #01908304
1) Check each contractor’s license. Licensing may be at the state, county, or municipal lever. The quickest surest way to find out who is responsible for licensing contractors in your area is to call your local building department, mayor city manager, or county executive office.
2) Check with the local Better Business Bureau for any complaints filed against the contractor.
3) Solicit proposals from a few contractors before selecting one.
4) Beware of the lowers bidder. If a bud is more than 20% below the others, ask why. Make sure it’s not because the contractor is desperate for your business and deposit in order to finish another job.
5) Ask the contractor for references and call them. Ask former customers what type of work was done, whether it was completed in a timely manner and on budget; if they would use that contractor again. Find out if the contractor maintained a clean and safe work area and whether the workman showed up when scheduled.
6) Confirm that a contractor has at least a minimum insurance – including worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability insurance – required by the state. If they don’t have any insurance, you the customer could be liable for injuries on the job.
7) Make sure the contractor you choose is well established in your area. Find out how long they have been in the business; who are some of their major suppliers. Beware of those who only have a post office box as a place of business of no ongoing supplier relationships.
8) Get everything in writing and avoid signing anything – even a bid – until all the terms area agreed upon. Contracts should include everything that has been agreed to. Before you pay, make sure that everything you are paying for was listed in the contract.
9) Make sure contract proposals specify the type, and wherever possible, brand name, of the materials to be used. This will help protect you from substitution of inferior quality materials.
10) Keep a file on the home improvement job, including contracts, change orders, plans and specifications, bills and invoices, cancelled checks, and any other correspondence between you and the contractor or subcontractors.
It is very difficult – if not impossible – to recover money from dishonest contractors. The best way to avoid any problems with contractors is by doing your homework before signing a contract for the job. The extra work and organization upfront should give you greater comfort in the end. (Article compiled by the Title One Home Improvement Lenders Association (TOHILA) )
If you are looking for a reputable contractor to assist you with a home improvement job, give me a call today at 408-410-2060!
Has your family grown out of that 2 bedroom home? Are you considering a larger residence in a different area? Or perhaps you just need more room for the new family dog? Here is a great article from Realtor Magazine which discusses the questions to ask yourself if you are considering making the move into a larger home.
“These questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for a home that’s larger or in a more desirable location. If you answer yes to most of the questions, it’s a sign that you may be ready to move.
1. Have you built substantial equity in your current home? Look at your annual mortgage statement or call your lender to find out. Usually, you don’t build up much equity in the first few years of your mortgage, as monthly payments are mostly interest, but if you’ve owned your home for five or more years, you may have significant, unrealized gains
2. Has your income or financial situation improved? If you’re making more money, you may be able to afford higher mortgage payments and cover the costs of moving.
3. Have you outgrown your neighborhood? The neighborhood you pick for your first home might not be the same neighborhood you want to settle down in for good. For example, you may have realized that you’d like to be closer to your job or live in a better school district.
4. Are there reasons why you can’t remodel or add on? Sometimes you can create a bigger home by adding a new room or building up. But if your property isn’t large enough, your municipality doesn’t allow it, or you’re simply not interested in remodeling, then moving to a bigger home may be your best option.
5. Are you comfortable moving in the current housing market? If your market is hot, your home may sell quickly and for top dollar, but the home you buy also will be more expensive. If your market is slow, finding a buyer may take longer, but you’ll have more selection and better pricing as you seek your new home.
6. Are interest rates attractive? A low rate not only helps you buy a larger home, but also makes it easier to find a buyer.”
If you are considering a move, now is a great time to take advantage of the low inventory of homes. With so many buyers and so few homes on the market, selling now often means multiple offers with buyers paying top dollar for your home. Additionally, if you are thinking of buying now, interest rates are at all-time historical lows which means saving money on your monthly payments. If a move is in your future, give me a call today to discuss your options!
Nicole Culbertson – Realtor
When making the decision to purchase your first (or second, or third) home, its always a good idea to prepare so you can set realistic expectations to avoid frustration and wasted time. Check out this article which highlights the “Five Steps to Prepare for the Home-Buying Process.”
The steps include:
1) Check Your Credit Score
2) Figure out a Real Budget
3) Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
4) Determine if Homeownership Makes Sense
5) Set Realistic Expectations
What a difference a few weeks make in the Bay Area housing market! Our office is laden with tales of multiple offer situations and frustrated buyers struggling to find homes to purchase. To me this means only one thing, Bay Area residential real estate is once again hot and values are on the rise – a great time for you to get in the market as a buyer before there is even more competition and a perfect time for anyone contemplating selling to take advantage of low single family inventory. Take a look at this weeks Market Watch, where Rick Turley, President of Coldwell Banker’s Northern California division discusses the current state of the local market and the disparity between the San Francisco Bay Area markets and many other parts of the country. I’ve included excerpts from his blog below.
LOL: We’re having a wild house party- but too many sellers missing out on all the fun!
By: Rick Turley
It seems like every day I see national headlines decrying the “struggling” housing market and questioning when things will finally turn around. And then I get to work and read the reports from our Bay Area offices showing sales jumping and multiple offers for many if not most homes in a number of areas, and I wonder if we’re on the same planet.
The disconnect between the Bay Area housing market and what’s being reported on a national basis is getting stranger every day. In other parts of the country, agents and government officials are trying to figure out creative ways to rid their markets of a huge backlog of housing while buyers show little interest in jumping in to help. Then there’s the Bay Area, where the housing market is just the opposite.
Take, for example, a few of the reports this week from our managers and agents on the frontlines:
- From our Southern Marin manager: “Multiple offers continue to be the name of the game, but the difference from the past markets is we are now seeing multiple offers in all price ranges, not just REOs and Short Sales.”
- One $1 million-plus Mill Valley home in Strawberry garnered 11 offers last week, and another priced at $1.35 million had six offers. Both are rumored to be in contract for almost $300,000 over list price.
- “Buyers are getting frustrated over not getting the property in multiple offer situations, even when going substantially over the list price.”
- From our Los Altos manager: “We are selling more than we are listing in most price ranges. We had a healthy increase in the high end this past week with a $12 million and $7 million sale, several sales above $3 million and a dozen over $2 million.”
- “Inventories are at historic lows and the market continues to heat up!”
- From our Walnut Creek manager: “We’re seeing multiple offers on most every listing that comes on the market. A condo in Walnut Creek received seven all cash offers!”
The same stories are being echoed in all parts of the Bay, from San Francisco and the Peninsula to San Jose to the East Bay, and not just the more expensive markets. Buyers are pounding the pavement, cash in hand and looking for good properties to buy – now, if not sooner. “It’s nuts out there,” said our Cupertino manager. “A third of our sales resulting in multiple offers.”
Given the surging demand for housing you’d think sellers would be rushing to their local brokerage office to list their home, right? Guess again. The inventory of homes for sale is the lowest it has been in years, maybe even a decade, according to long-time industry observers. The result is that buyers are fighting it out for the few homes on the market listed by savvy sellers.
So what’s keeping the other sellers away when homes are going for great prices once again? Two things, both of which could come back to bite sellers who try to time the market:
- A misunderstanding of the state of the housing market.
Perhaps they are reading the national headlines and still believe the market is in the doldrums, prices are still going down, and they don’t want to sell at bargain-basement prices. If so, they’re missing an incredible opportunity. We’re having a honest-to-goodness house party with lots of anxious buyers. But somehow, sellers never got their Evite.
- They’re waiting for the Facebook IPO.
The thinking goes that once Facebook goes public, hundreds of employees will receive lucrative stock options which – eventually – they will be able to cash after the lockup period and then rush out to bid up prices for local homes. Wow, talking about betting on the come.
I’m not questioning the “Facebook effect” on the Silicon Valley housing market. Far from it, I think it certainly will have some impact on pricing at some point in some communities in the heart of the valley. But this strikes me as something like trying to time the stock market. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to get that right. And I don’t think many others have as well.
The fact is that the real estate market has always come down to two simple factors: the law of supply and demand, and consumer confidence. Right now, both of those are telling me it’s a sellers’ market in the Bay Area. Consumers are feeling pretty darn confident as the economy picks up steam and the stock market presses higher. And the scales of supply and demand are tipping heavily in favor of sellers.
Smart, strategic sellers get that, and they’re making their moves now – not six months or a year from now. They’re the ones receiving multiple offers over their asking price because there just isn’t a lot of competition for buyers’ attention. They’re out there now, well before everyone else joins the party, tipping the scales back in favor of buyers once again.
Below is a market-by-market report from our local offices:
Silicon Valley – “It’s nuts out there,” our Cupertino manager said. Both sales activity and inventory are increasing and a third of sales are resulting in multiple offers. Our Los Altos manager reports that the single-family home segment of the market continues to surge and he’s seeing multiple offers in double digits and overbids of 10-15% on well-priced homes in good school districts in Los Altos, Mountain View and Cupertino areas. Some activity is driven from the “Facebook buzz” and some from the stock market uptick. Financing is still a problem for many and some buyers make cash offers to out compete the others and then try to get a loan during the escrow period. Interesting times ahead as we have lost inventory in Santa Clara County each week this year beginning the second week of January. We are seeing an uptick in multiple offers at all levels of the market in the Los Gatos area. In San Jose, our Almaden office manager says overpriced listings are not selling. However, you cannot underprice a home. It will and does get bid up – typically much higher than if you came out asking that price. Sellers who feel the market is healthier are confusing that it is time to raise prices. That’s not working. Overall inventory is lowest we’ve seen in a decade. Similarly, our San Jose Main manager says inventory continues to decline. Open houses are extremely active. Low interest rates and increased consumer confidence is driving the market. Multiple offers are common in all price ranges. Sales activity is also up in Willow Glen.
SF Peninsula — Our Burlingame manager says agents are “crazy busy” and honing their multiple offer skills as it seems that every home in every price point has multiple buyers making offers. We are back to the non-contingent 1-3% per offer over asking type of market, last seen in 2004-2006. One Burlingame listing had 7 offers. The winning offer was $200k over asking. One other listing had 9 offers, and $179k over asking only got a backup position. The challenge now is taking the buyers who are rightfully afraid of overpaying for a property through the process enough times and suffering enough disappointment that they begin to understand what it will take to be successful in an offer. In Half Moon Bay, our local office is seeing a lot of buyers from the over the hill coming to the coast with serious interest due to the low inventory and multiple offers situations on the Peninsula. Our Menlo Park manager says she’s seeing some “pretty vicious competition” for prime housing there. If buyers do not have 50% down, it is VERY difficult to buy a house. The local market still needs a lot more inventory. Buyers want to buy now. Our Palo Alto manager says they’re still suffering from extremely low inventory – probably a seven year low. There are approximately 20 listings for 425 agents in Palo Alto. Quite a few off-market sales are occurring – adding to an inflamed market. There was some good action in the Woodside office, including a couple of big sales – $8 million and $13 million. In San Carlos almost all sales are multiple offers due to extremely low inventory.
Sometimes homebuyers take on the project of finding the home they like without knowing exactly what they need or want. This can make for a random and frustrating search that often unnecessarily wastes time. On occasion, some people think they can even outsmart sellers while negotiating the purchase price, while in reality they might be getting a worse deal altogether especially in our current market where we are seeing more and more multiple offer home sales.
I’ve compiled a short list of the most common mistakes homebuyers tend to make. They are:
- Viewing all of the homes that become available, instead of focusing on the ones that are in their price range
- Not knowing about all available financing options
- Not completely understanding the subtle art of negotiating price
- Over or under-estimating the actual value of specific home amenities
- Choosing inspectors who may not be fully qualified
- Not requesting all of the appropriate inspections to be made
- Failing to consider all aspects pertaining to the new home, including the location (and reputation) of schools and other services
- Falling prey to exorbitant fees and outrageous rates
- Falling for the belief that bigger is better, thereby putting oneself in a precarious situation and buying the largest or most expensive property
My job as a realtor is to guide you through the process and help you identify pitfalls and opportunities. I can take the element of surprise out of the equation and put you in a stronger position so you can make an informed decision.
So don’t take chances and run the risk of making a costly mistake. Call or e-mail me anytime and let me help you find the home of your dreams.