July 20, 2008
About a year ago we did what may have been the world’s first virtual open house. Alas, we’ve been one-uped by Pam Buda, a Coldwell Banker agent in the wine country north of San Francisco. In conjunction with Trulia, she’s live-web-casting her open house in Healdsburg today.
As video becomes more mainstream and more accessible via technologies like Qik, Mogolus, and ustream, this sort of event will probably become more common.
Pam Buda gets my vote for this year’s real estate Oscars!
Tags: Healdsburg, Open houses, Trulia
March 13, 2007
Alas, the Americans with Disabilities Act does not consider gluten-intolerance a protected condition, and thus I went hungry during today’s Menlo Park real estate tour, in which many homes offered tempting delicacies to lure us in.
Though the dearth of housing inventory remains an issue (see the 90-day rolling average chart to the left), the numbers have been increasing lately (per the 7-day rolling average chart on the right), and this was reflected in today’s tour which featured a surprising number of properties in the Willows.
But before stopping by the Willows I went to the Flood Park neighborhood sandwiched between Bay Rd and Highway 101 to see Corey Sijbrant’s listing at 1033 Ringwood, Menlo Park. Weighing in at $1,049,000, with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and 1600 square feet, it’s been nicely done up and the master bedroom boasts a loft area, a touch I’ve always liked.
Moving on to the Willows, I started at 927 Arnold, a Tasha Standridge (Keller Williams) listing. This home is a classic “Timing is everything story.” On the market during last year’s doldrums, it just didn’t sell. Tasha wisely took it off the market, made some improvements, and now it shows even better than before and will doubtless sell within the week. With two stories, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and about 1750 sq ft, this home is listed for only $990,000. A home that large in the Willows for under a million dollars? What gives? Simple — it’s unfortunately only a stone’s throw from Willow Rd and from highway 101. The sound barrier wall deflects a lot of the noise, but there’s still enough noise to make the property’s yard a poor choice for a yoga meditation session. Check it out this weekend during the Saturday and Sunday open house.
Next was this week’s winner of the “great spread” award: 212 Chester St from mother-and-daughter team Gloria and Caitlin Darke (Alain Pinel). I had to content myself with the healthy stuff there — celery sticks and carrots — and pass on the undoubtedly delicious, but tragically gluten-ridden, breaded chicken. Oh yes, the home itself…Priced at a whisker under $1.3M, the home has been significantly redone, boasts a large lot over 7300 sq ft, and has nearly 2000 sq ft of living space. See it for yourself during this weekend’s open house on both Saturday and Sunday.
Next up was Karen Izzo’s (Coldwell Banker) listing at 3 Cleland Place. Also open this Saturday and Sunday, this $1,200,000 “Charming Willows Bungalow” has a surprisingly large back yard — complete with a nostalgia-inducing tree swing — and 1410 square feet of living space, including 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms. Her Realtor treats included some much-needed coffee and some undoubtedly also delicious, but sadly be-glutenized muffins. I had to pass.
From there the next on my list was local Keller Williams superstar Miles McCormick’s listing at 336 Concord Drive. Miles was in the business and web-savvy early enough that he snagged the domain name “HomesOfThePeninsula.com”. At $786/sq ft, this 1520 square foot property will set you back just under $1.2M, and you’ll get not only a spectacular Willows location — with proximity to downtown Palo Alto — but also a very nicely done up 3 bedroom, 2 bath home. Again, delicious treats. Again, not for the gluten-intolerant Realtor. Oh yes, this home is also open on both Saturday and Sunday.
Tags: Alain Pinel Realtors, Coldwell Banker, Consumer, Flood Park, Home reviews, Keller Williams, Local information, Menlo Park, Miles McCormick, Open houses, Real estate, Willows
Today’s Palo Alto homes review: Bait ‘n Switch, Bad Staging, Unresponsive Contractors, and Other Rants
March 2, 2007
Normally I take care of my daily frustrations through a vigorous workout at 24-hr fitness, but this time I thought I’d let my blog take the brunt of it.
You see, I spent a good part of this morning touring the new crop of properties available in Palo Alto (all of which will likely sell in a flash, with multiple offers, well above list price). You’d think that if I and dozens of my colleagues are going to take the time to go see what’s out there, the listing agents and sellers would give us something good to look at!
Alas, one of the first properties I went to, 797 Mayview in Palo Alto, was a “bait ‘n switch.” Looked good on paper, perhaps was good in reality…but the listing agent and her lockbox were AWOL, and the street sign said, “Don’t disturb.” Ok…you’re gonna put a property on the MLS, you’re gonna post the tour date…and then you’re gonna make the property inaccessible? Grrrr…. It was a shame, too, since this one has some potential: a large lot — big enough for two homes, in fact — and a great location with easy access to highway 101.
At least three properties were clearly competing for the Solstice Staging “Yikes, get these sellers a stager!” award. See for yourself the photos of this property:
For the other two, the listing agent (wisely, I think) chose not to post shots of the interior, and by a stroke of luck for the sellers, I had forgotten my camera.
Thankfully all was not lost, however. 281 Parkside (Charlene Geers of Coldwell Banker) and 1103 Stanford (Judy Levin and Lisa Blair, Alain Pinel Realtors) were both delightful, and well-presented to boot. The first is a bright, upgraded Eichler, adorned with skylights, and richly landscaped. The second is small and cozy, done up to the 9’s, but unfortunately garage-less since it was converted into an additional living space.
and 1103 Stanford
And now, back to my rant…
Will somebody please teach these guys how to answer a phone? Palo Alto Concrete is a local, well-respected construction company with a reputation for good work. Alas, neither I nor my clients will have a chance to test that bit of their reputation. You see, we asked them for a quote for some foundation work about, oh, 2 months ago. Took them nearly one month, plus innumerable phone calls to every number I had available for them, before we got the quote. Then it took another month to retrieve the plans they had borrowed — again, only after numerous phone calls. Guys, you might be busy, you might not have really even been interested in getting the gig…but at least GIVE ME A CALL DAMMIT!
There, I feel much better now.
Tags: 94303, 94306, Contractors, Open houses, Palo Alto, Property reviews, Real estate
Shopping for Houses Isn’t Like Shopping at Nordstrom’s
February 13, 2007
Standing at my open house the other day, I decided to make a study of how buyers shop for their dream homes. To each person or couple entering the condo open house I was hosting, I said, “Are you looking to buy a house today?” Some laughed, grabbed the flyer I was holding and marched past me; others giggled, replied yes and with those, I held conversations; and then there were those who said, “We’re just looking!” hoping their reply would be enough to make me go away. But standing in front of the door I had no where to go.
So I asked, “Do you have an agent?”
“No! We don’t need an agent yet.”
“Well okay, then tell me what are you looking for? Maybe I can help you find it.”
“We’ll know when we see it.”
“Well build me your dream home.”
“Really, we’re just looking. Would you mind if we just had a look?”
Receiving similar replies such as these from “lookers,” it finally dawned on me that either buyers have become so jaded by the agents jumping on them at open houses or they think that going to an open house is just like shopping for clothes at a department store.
When I go shopping, I don’t like to be bothered, unless of course I can’t find anything or want to make my purchase NOW! I race through shopping malls swatting sales people away until I really need them. And I get the feeling that that’s what most buyers are doing when they go to open houses. They drop by each property hoping they won’t have to talk to an agent. But what, I wonder do buyers do when they find their dream house? Ask the listing agent holding the open house to double end the deal? Ask the agent holding the open house for the listing agent to represent their offer? Would you go to just any doctor and ask him to do surgery on your heart? I encourage you as a buyer to consider that maybe at the moment you find your dream house, that that isn’t the best time to need an agent.
Here’s the deal – shopping for houses or condos isn’t like shopping at Nordies! Buying property is – as we all know – a really big deal. There’s big bucks – especially here in Silicon Valley – at stake. When people buy houses, they get emotional; their transactions require facilitation; and it requires an expert – someone you are comfortable with and trust – to make sense out of the mounds of paper work necessary to negotiate and close a deal.
Are you one of “those” buyers who are waiting to find the perfect agent at just the right moment? You’re just out there on Saturdays and Sundays looking at property – without an agent – and thinking you’ll find the agent when you find the property! If so… reboot your search. In the market we’re in here on the Peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose or anywhere for that matter, you want an agent working for you from day one. When you find that property, you may only have two – three days to receive disclosure documents, review and understand them, as well as be prepared to get in the ballgame of multiple offers. So instead of swatting agents away at the door of their open houses, start interviewing them next Saturday and Sunday. Use the web they are trying to catch you in as an opportunity to interview them. You don’t have to keep them. But get a sense for how they will serve and work with you if they were your agent. How can they make your search easier? Ask them about the real estate company they work for? What do they know about the market in which they work? What your goal is, is to find an agent who is going to go to bat for you; someone who has YOUR best interests at heart; someone who is going to be in your real estate life for life. Your agent needs to be a negotiator; familiar with contracts; and most of all they need to understand your wants and needs because as your agent it’s all about you and getting you what you want at the best possible price.
So the next time you’re at an open house, interview the agent guarding the door and find out if that agent is right for you. That way when you find your dream house, you’ll be poised and ready to make an offer that gets you exactly what you want.
Tags: Choosing an agent, For buyers, Open houses, Real estate