Danville Home Owners

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Have you noticed my newsletter has been missing the past couple of weeks? Why you ask? Well, all the normal stuff: two graduations, kids home from college, very busy with “the Spring market” (which actually hit in June!) and then this little item . . . I put my own house on the market last week.

OH MY GOSH!! I have never worked so hard, been so exhausted or completely frazzled. Every Realtor should put their own house on the market every few years!! It has been all the things I warn my clients about – space invasion, stagers moving my personal things and worse, stagers not liking my personal things (“But I LOVE that painting there!!”), thinking (wishing) my home was worth more than I logically know it is. It’s all very difficult.

My husband took a new job which offered a re-lo (relocation) package (yea!!), so the time was right to sell our big Alamo house (www.306CanterburyCt.com) and buy down. Because it’s a re-lo, and no relation to the employee (I’m his wife!) can benefit financially from the sale – I had to hire an agent to sell my own home! Weird. So my first step was to interview agents. Weird again! We had to interview three Realtors (Sirva re-lo requirements).

306 Canterbury Ct

Wow – it is all about style and who you click with. We all have about the same tools and marketing, but who you click with, trust and feel comfortable with makes all the difference!! All the agents we spoke with were great – it’s just that they are in MY home, with my stuff, and my dogs and kids!! But just like a lawyer, accountant, doctor or dentist – when hiring a service provider, check their credentials and verify their experience – then go with your gut. This is such a personal transaction – it’s critical that you are comfortable opening your home to this person.

Being an agent myself, I didn’t want to be a “difficult seller”. So I promised myself I would do everything my agent asked me to do. I am very easy with all that – my husband – not so much.

First we had to get the house clean, clean, clean!! (have you heard me say that before?) We keep our home pretty clean, but now it had to sparkle. So I started having the cleaners there every week – and that can get expensive. I have an awesome cleaning crew if you need one.

This cleaning included carpets. I have a big house, so even getting ALL the carpets cleaned was expensive (I’ve usually only done the rooms that particularly needed it). Not this time – all 5000+ square feet got cleaned! And then it rained that afternoon, so with two dogs and two kids home, I had wet carpets for two days. Great.

The stager came in and “tagged” furniture and accessories that needed to go. Fortunately our office administrator was hosting her annual garage sale benefitting Breast Cancer prevention – so I told her if she would come get it, it was all hers. Oh my! Imagine the wails of “but I love that bookshelf – I’ve had it since I was in college!”, “I’ve had that couch since my first house in Maryland in 1985!!” to which the garage sale husband said “that’s ok, you’ll have a garage in your new house too”.

306 Canterbury Ct

I don’t think he was even trying to be funny – but I laughed out loud. Why exactly are we keeping a 30 year old couch that hasn’t left our garage since we moved into the house eight years ago? But we did. They filled an entire big truck with stuff that was going – just going away. We’d probably had it too long anyway – uh, ya think?

The big sectional in the family room where “Big Brown“, our Vizsla/Lab mix has slept every afternoon of her five years with the family, and where “Tank” the 15 pound male cat has decided to mark his territory and use as a scratching pole had to go. I couldn’t even find anyone to take it!! Even the garage sale people didn’t want it!! Ha!! (For those of you who are wondering, my no less than perfect “Cookie” my 4 1/2 pound Maltese has been my perfect stress soothing dog throughout.)

We didn’t want to buy a big new sectional since we were moving DOWN not UP – so we ended up renting furniture. Beautiful stuff – but not very comfortable (and it’s rental). Guess what kind of success I’ve had with “Big Brown”? Good thing we have insurance on the rental furniture!

We had to hire a landscape stager to spruce up the front – two days and several thousand dollars later – we had cleaned, pruned and manicured hedges and bushes, lots of fresh bark and beautiful new carpet of roses, petunias, geraniums and other lovelies I have no idea of their names. Wow – it looked GREAT!! The photographer was coming in the morning – all good. Unfortunately the deer got there before the photographer did and had a fine breakfast of all our new color in front. AAAUUURRRGGH!!!

306 Canterbury Ct

So we are sparkling clean, staged inside and out – not a thing out of place. How long do you think that lasted with three kids, two dogs and a husband? Oh my gosh, the pain of it all.

I have felt your pain. While I will still ask you, my beloved sellers, to do all the things you need to do to get your house in its best possible condition to sell, at least now I’ll know the pain, stress and anxiety it is causing you!! Been there, done that!!

 

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I attended a Real Estate Economic Update last week and it painted a relatively rosy picture for the Bay Area Real Estate market. Really?!? Are we (the East Bay markets) really different? And if so – why? We have always been about six to eight months behind The City (San Francisco), the South Bay and the Peninsula. They hit the bubble before we did, they crashed before we did and we are still lagging while they are hot, hot, hot. Multiple offers at very strong prices.

We know that is probably because high tech and finance drive those markets, and we have less of that here. The good news is, that economic element has helped to hold our prices, in general, lower. And don’t even get me started on how that has affected our schools (we have twelve years of great public schools because from financially struggling to insanely affluent, we have not abandoned our public schools – unlike most of The City, The Peninsula and South Bay).

So we are the East Bay Area middle class and our Real Estate values have always been better because of that. I suspect that is also why from a real estate perspective we lagged behind other Bay Area pockets.

So are we hot, hot, hot? No. This has not been a great year, which surprises me because last year was so strong for me. It may just be an anomaly – our board is full (how we track office activity) and transactions are up. Prices are down, but not dramatically, and interest rates are still amazingly low.

Perhaps it’s due to the lousy weather we’ve had, or that consumer confidence is still on the fence about our economic recovery. You’d think that everyone in the Mid West would be moving to California to escape the flooding there.

And look at the Bank Buster numbers (to the left)! Alamo Notices of Defaults, Auction and Bank Owned properties are all dramatically lower than last year (-13%, -19%, -44% respectively Year over Year). Danville is similar with -31%, -9% and -5% respectively. I think this is the first time since I’ve started tracking these numbers that those numbers have ALL been down, and ALL been down pretty dramatically! And when you look at the TOTAL number of distressed homes (in default, scheduled for Auction or foreclosed), it continues to be a fraction of our residential roof tops (about 1% in both Alamo and Danville).

Now don’t get me wrong – I am NOT suggesting that Real Estate is fat and happy in our little world. It’s a VERY tough market, the toughest I’ve been through in twenty years – but the wheels ARE NOT FALLING off. To hear the media we have “double dipped” and we are back in a recession. I just don’t believe it.

 

Regardless of what the economists say or what the statistics and trends point to, this is still a wonderful place to live. We have lovely, established communities, great schools, a temperate climate (usually) and a better than average standard of living.

 

So call me Pollyanna, and even though the market hasn’t rebounded as fast as I predicted earlier in the year, I still think it’s a great time (and place) to buy or sell a home. And remember that if you have any questions about the value or your home, or what’s happening in your neighborhood, just give me a ring. I’m here to serve you.

 

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