Price your house to sell quickly

A first-quarter survey of home buyers and sellers done by, a real estate services website, revealed that 76 percent of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent. Home buyers usually have a better grasp of current market value in the area where they’re looking to buy than do sellers who own and live there. Buyers look at a lot of new listings. They make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much, and what doesn’t and why. HomeGain reported that home buyers still think sellers are overpricing their homes.

Your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it given current market conditions. This may not be the same as your opinion of what your home will sell for, or what you hope it’s worth. Relying on emotion rather than logic when selecting a list price can lead to disappointing results. The prime opportunity for selling a home is when it’s new on the market. This is when it is most marketable. Buyers wait for the new listings. Usually, listings receive the most showings and have the busiest open houses during the first couple of weeks they are on the market. This is the opportunity to show your house off to advantage with a list price that attracts buyers’ attention. Listings that sell today are priced right for the market. Buyers need to feel comfortable that they are getting a good deal.

Buyers won’t overpay if they feel home prices are still declining, and in some areas of the country, they still are. In areas of strong sales, buyers may shy away from multiple-offer situations if they feel the recovery is fragile and that prices may slide further before stabilizing. Even in areas where home sales have been strong in the first half of 2012, local practitioners wonder how long the uptick will last.

When selecting a list price, it helps to understand how real estate agents and appraisers establish an expected selling price or price range for your home. They research the recent listing inventory for homes similar to yours that sold. The most recent sales give the best indication of the direction of the market.
They analyze these comparable sales giving more value to your home for attributes that it has that the comparable properties don’t, like a remodeled kitchen. Value is subtracted from your home for features it lacks when compared with the comps…… like an easily accessible, level backyard.

It’s difficult for sellers to step back and take an attitude of detached interest in their home. But it’s essential to do so if you want to sell successfully in this market. For example, your home could actually sell for less, not more, than a comparable sale because you added a swimming pool in an area where most home buyers would rather have a yard with a generous lawn.
If the comparable sale information suggests that the value of homes like yours is declining, select a list price that undercuts the competition to drive buyers — and hopefully offers — to your home. You can take a more aggressive stance on pricing if the comparables show that prices are moving up.
If there is high demand for homes like yours, you may receive more than one offer. But don’t list too high. It’s better to stay in the range shown by the comparables and expose the house to the market before accepting offers. The market will drive the price up if it’s warranted.
Author: Dian Hymer

Just Listed in Woodside Plaza area of Redwood City

Open Saturday and Sunday: 1:30-4:30pm

Recently Sold in San Carlos, CA

My take on the latest market trends

Happy New Year Everybody,

I haven’t written in a while and now I am back. I always try to show an optimistic view of the real estate market. Last year was not a good year for real estate, in general. We however had a great year, focusing primarily on condos working for buyers and sellers. We also recently helped a buyer on the purchase of a large house in San Carlos.

The one bright spot, locally, was the high end of the market–$5m and above. In fact, there are even spec. builders in that market. It is good to be in the top 1%. This year things seem better. Unemployment is going down, the stock market survived intact after a lot of volatility, it is an election year–often a bullish sign. Rents are up 13% in SF and SJ, interest rates are at all time lows, and most houses in the Bay Area are priced below replacement costs–all bullish signs for rising home values.

There has never been a better time to buy. If you buy below comparable rents and below replacement costs the risks of buying are very low in many parts of the Bay Area. The fence sitters and permanent renters are still pessimistic. They worry about losing their job, having to move, earthquakes, loss of flexibility, home maintenance, loss of tax deductions and a million other ‘what ifs’?

For future buyers the old rules still apply. This is a good article to read: WSJ Online Buy when it works best for your own personal situation. Don’t buy something you can’t afford. Buy planning to stay for a minimum of 5 years. If you have to move, make sure the house will rent at a positive cash flow (or an affordable negative out flow), you’ll will feel safer if you do lose your job or have to relocate. Get a 30 year fixed loan for piece of mind. Buy a property that could have a potential in-law rental or guest cottage to rent out for extra income. Buy something new or remodeled if you are worried about maintenance.

I think the Real Estate bright spot in the coming year will be condos (including townhouses). There is shortage of SFH’s. In fact if they are in good shape and priced right, they get multiple offers. The cost difference between condos and SFH’s has reached an all time high. Low interest rates and high HOA fees have artificially driven down condo prices. Plus apartment rents are skyrocketing. In many cases condos are cheaper to buy than rent. Most first time buyers just can’t afford houses in the RBA (RealBayArea — the peninsula cities with schools that have API scores of over 900). Condos are the only choice for young families that want to be in the RBA. Condos are also going to attractive to the sellers that are downsizing and want to stay in the area. Remember the condo boom of the 1970’s?–many of the buyers were older. That trend will be echoed by the Baby Boomer generation. After all many can pay cash for a condo and not have to worry about rent increases.

There is talk, nationally, of selling many more REO’s in bulk to investors. This has been going on locally for 3 years. It will help us in the Bay Area by taking the low end properties off market and stabilizing the low end. There will be more rental housing available, but since there is so much rent demand, rents will still go up. In fact rents are so high that the big developers are now building rental units instead of condos. 4500 units will be built in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties(mostly in San Jose) in the next 3 years. They cost close to $400/sf and will rent for over $3/sf/month for these luxury apartments. The shortage of affordable housing will continue to drive up low end rents.

Homebuyer Workshop at College of San Mateo

November 17 / 2 to 5 p.m.
Home Buying in Your Financial Future
Location: College Center, Bldg. 10 – Rm. 193, College of San Mateo, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd., San Mateo
Understanding the basics of how to buy a home – even if you’re not at that place in life yet – is a key to achieving the American Dream. Professionals in banking, title, credit, law and real estate will provide both rudimentary knowledge and interact with students, faculty and the public on the basics in planning for homeownership. Open to CSM students, faculty and the public on a first come, first served basis. No pre-registration required.

More info at:

Economic Update – August 15, 2011

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted composite index of mortgage applications for the week ending August 5 rose 21.7%. Refinancing applications increased 30.4%. Purchase volume fell 0.9%.

Wholesalers increased their inventories 0.6% to $458.7 billion in June. This followed a revised 1.7% rise in May. Sales at the wholesale level rose 0.6% in June to $395.8 billion. On a year-over-year basis, sales were 15.4% higher since June 2010.

The trade deficit increased to $53.1 billion in June from a revised $50.8 billion in May. Exports fell 2.3% to $170.9 billion. Imports decreased 0.8% to $223.9 billion.

Retail sales rose 0.5% to $390.42 billion in July after an upwardly revised 0.3% increase in June. The gain posted in July was the largest in four months. On a year-over-year basis, retail sales rose 8.5%.

Total business inventories rose 0.3% in June to $1.518 trillion, up 11.1% from a year ago. Total business sales increased 0.4% to $1.187 trillion in June, up 12.4% from a year ago. The total business inventories/sales ratio in June was 1.28.

The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for August’s preliminary reading fell to 54.9 from 63.7 in July. The reading was the lowest in more than 30 years, surpassing a record low of 55.3 set in November 2008.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell by 7,000 to 395,000 for the week ending August 6. Continuing claims for the week ending July 30 fell by 60,000 to 3.7 million.

Freddie Mac offers incentives on REOs

By Inman News™

Hoping to boost sales of foreclosed homes, Freddie Mac is offering up to 3.5 percent in closing-cost assistance to homebuyers and a $1,200 bonus to buyer’s agents for offers on HomeSteps properties received by July 31 with escrow closing on or before Sept. 30.

On the purchase of a home priced at $150,000, for example, HomeSteps will pay up to $5,250 toward closing costs. Investors are not eligible for Freddie Mac’s HomeSteps summer sales promotion — only homes sold to owner-occupants qualify.

Similar closing-cost incentives offered by Fannie Mae on HomePath properties this spring require escrow to close by June 30, with Fannie Mae advising that offers submitted after May 15 may not meet that deadline.

In its most recent quarterly report to investors, Freddie Mac reported 65,159 single-family homes in its "real estate owned" (REO) inventory at the end of March, down 10 percent from Dec. 31 but up 21 percent from the same time a year ago.

REO sales during the first three months of 2011 were up 44 percent from a year ago, to 31,628, outpacing REO acquisitions, which were down 16 percent from a year ago, to 24,709.

Freddie Mac said the robo-signing controversy slowed the pace of REO acquisitions in the fourth quarter of 2010, and that delays related to concerns about deficiencies in foreclosure documentation practices continued in first-quarter 2011, particularly in judicial foreclosure states.

Although foreclosure proceedings generally resumed during first-quarter 2011, the rate of foreclosure completion was slower than before the robo-signing controversy broke.

Freddie Mac said it expects the pace of REO acquisitions to increase in the remainder of 2011, in part due to the resumption of foreclosure activity by servicers.

The mortgage giant also expects REO inventory to grow, because housing markets have a limited capacity to absorb large numbers of foreclosed properties. Also, about one-third of the company’s REOs that could not be marketed at the end of March were still occupied, or were still inside a window during which former owners had a legal right to reclaim their home.

Fannie Mae reported that its REO inventory was up 39 percent from a year ago at the end of March, to 153,224 homes. That’s despite the fact that REO acquisitions during the first quarter were down 13.5 percent from a year ago, to 53,549, and that Fannie Mae boosted REO sales by 65 percent, to 62,814.

"We anticipate that it will take years before our REO inventory is reduced to pre-2008 levels," Fannie Mae said in its last quarterly report to investors.

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Foreclosure Report – April 2011

Foreclosure activity slowed in April. Foreclosure filings were down in Arizona, California, Nevada and Washington, with Oregon being the sole exception where filings were up. California filings were down to levels not seen since late 2008, when governmental intervention caused a temporary but massive drop in activity. Foreclosure sales saw similar declines throughout our coverage area, except Washington. Notably, cancellations were up significantly across the board, leaving fewer properties scheduled for trustee sale.
"The drop in filings, and the rise in cancellations, is surprising," says Sean O’Toole, CEO and Founder of "Banks have had time to resolve robo-signing issues, so we should be seeing exactly the opposite results, with lenders starting to catch up from recent delays."


Foreclosure filings in California fell to lows not seen since the fall of 2008. Notice of Default filings dropped 25.8 percent, and Notice of Trustee Sale filings fell 10.9 percent from March. On a year-over-year basis foreclosure filings were down as well, with Notice of Default filings down 28.0 percent and Notice of Trustee Sale filings falling 31.2 percent from April 2010. Foreclosure sale cancellations rose 27.0 percent from March. Acivity on the courthouse steps slowed from the prior month, with 17.2 percent fewer sales Back to Bank and a 15.8 percent drop in properties purchased by 3rd Parties, typically investors. The average Time to Foreclose continued to climb, increasing 3.3 percent to 312 days.

View all California stats by state, county, city or ZIP

Foreclosure Report – February 2011

Foreclosure activity slowed significantly across the board in February with filings down in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Foreclosure sales saw a similar deep dip throughout our coverage area, a dramatic about face from the surge in sales seen in January. The declines are only partly due to February having fewer filing and trustee sale days than January, two fewer days in California and one less day in our other covered states. Despite the drop in foreclosure sales back to the bank, Bank Owned Inventories were mostly flat, suggesting that fewer REOs were resold during the month.
"Foreclosure filings dropped to low levels not seen in quite awhile," says Sean O’Toole, CEO and Founder of "We will likely see more sluggish foreclosure activity in the months ahead while lenders continue to work through lingering concerns over foreclosure documentation and deal with process changes."


Foreclosure filings in California dropped to levels not seen since since late 2008 when governmental intervention temporary slowed the foreclosure filing process. Notice of Default filings dropped 12.8 percent month-over-month and Notice of Trustee Sale filings fell 12.5 percent from the prior month. The foreclosure filing percentage decreases are more moderate when adjusted on an average daily basis due to the fewer filing and trustee sale days in February with a 3.1 percent drop for Notice of Default filings and a 2.8 percent decline for Notice of Trustee Sale filings. On a year-over-year basis foreclosure filings were down as well, with Notice of Default filings down 29.6 percent and Notice of Trustee Sale filings falling 17.0 percent from February 2010. Activity on the courthouse steps slowed with fewer sales leading to a 24.5 percent decrease in sales Back to Bank and a 20.3 percent drop in properties purchased by Third Parties, typically investors. For the first time, Third Party investors saw a drop in the average Time to Resell a property, down 3.1 percent to 156 days.

View all California stats by state, county, city or ZIP