Rare, Architecturally Intact, 1914 Arts and Crafts Style Home in Rockridge

Coming on the market July 18, 2013, and with two public open houses on Sundays July 21st and 28th from 1:30-4:30pm, 5323 Broadway is a stunning 3Br/1.5Ba two-story Arts and Crafts Style home.  Original details include unpainted wood mouldings an built-ins, leaded and stained glass cabinet doors, oak floors and a functioning fireplace. The bedrooms are all spacious and the there is also abundant storage in the basement. Upgrades and/or replacements were made in the last 15 years to the foundation, electrical, plumbing and furnace systems, and there are also french doors leading to a deck and stairs to a lush and private rear yard. The kitchen was elegantly remodeled and featured in the 1999 Rockridge Kitchen Tour.

Please stop by on either of the Sunday open houses and enjoy viewing this beautiful home.

The Inventory is Coming! The Inventory is Coming!

By all accounts, the single biggest factor contributing to the recent (last 6 month) surge in home prices has been the scarcity of inventory on the market. Of course, this is basic economics: when supply is low relative to demand, prices go up.  I believe this is about to change.

Why? Spring and early summer has always been when more homes come on the market. Nothing new there. But this year, I think something else is happening, and that is as homeowners have been hearing about multiple offers and huge overbids on the few neighboring houses that have come on the market, they want to get in on the action too! How do they hear about it? In part because us Realtors are so desperate for something to sell that we’ve been sending out lots of postcards (like one with the image shown) exorting would-be-sellers to get off the fence!

But this seems that this approach will become a self-defeating proposition. Demand is indeed high, but relatively steady. As supply increases, buyers may begin to feel less desperate to buy any one house because there are more on the horizon.  This is likely to lead to lower prices. So hang on buyers: the Inventory is coming!

-Brett Weinstein

Trust But Verify

Real estate agent also acting as loan agent is a conflict of interest

In the last couple of years, we’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the number of agents representing buyers who also act as loan brokers. Likely, this is because there are so many new agents chasing a limited number of deals and originating the loan for the buyer is an efficient way to maximize one’s income from a given transaction. Lenders themselves have encouraged this with software packages and web links that make it easy for agents to originate loans.

But this practice represents a big problem from the listing agent’s point of view. When I am evaluating an offer on behalf of my seller, I need to assess the buyer’s ability to obtain financing. Normally, an offer is accompanied by a “pre-approval” letter from a lender or loan broker. If I don’t have any prior experience with the person who wrote the letter, I will most likely call them and ask a series of questions designed to see just how far the loan process has really gotten. Questions such as: Has she actually received a completed loan application? Has she verified the buyer’s source of down payment? Has she run a credit report yet? Continue reading

Homeowners Can Be Fooled

“Homeowners Can Be Fooled”
Says S.F. Chronicle Columnist

Arthur M. Louis, author of the San Francisco Chronicle’s “Moneybag” Q&A in its Business Section, has run some wonderfully provocative commentary lately about real estate commissions. He sure is no fan of the traditional 6% commission!

In columns printed March 3, March 18 and April 1, 2007, one agent writes to complain that Realtors aren’t compensated enough, given that its costs so much to market a house. Another writes that he considers its offensive that Louis “completely underestimates the level of expertise required to be a good Realtor.” And lastly, an unnamed agent claims that his self-interest in earning the highest possible commission would require him to steer clients away from otherwise desirable houses if it offered a lower commission. Louis’s response to this last complainer summarizes them all: “Are you trying to convince me that all those dreadful stereotypes of real estate agents are based on fact?”

As a full service Realtor charging untraditional commissions for over 20 years, I am in full alignment with Louis’s assessments. The problem that Louis points out, and has been documented in several research studies, is that the 6% commission is designed to compensate an agent for the all the time and money spent he/she spends in activities other than the actual job of helping a person buy or sell. Activities like farming, brand advertising, referral fees, and image marketing with fancy offices and luxury cars. Does a nationally airing TV commercial of a generic agent standing in front of a generic house mean that “Joe” seller in Berkeley will get the highest possible price for his house? Why should a seller pay 6% just to support a relo service that requires the buyer’s agent to pay 30% of her commission as a referral fee?

Among agents, it is considered heresy to point out that for the work and expertise we actually utilize to sell a house, or help a buyer purchase one, we are OVERPAID. This dovetails with what Louis says: “many full-commissions real estate agents seem to assume that the world owes them a living.” And clearly, despite many new business models to emerge because of the Internet, “Homeowners can be fooled–witness the fact that many of them still pay 6% commissions.”

Louis offers his own “modest proposal”: “slash the standard commission to 1% and let 5/6 of the agents find other work. The remaining agents will be adequately compensated and home sellers will get a better deal.” No objection here.