Spring cleaning is a ritual for most of us, but what about sprucing up your home and taking care of some maintenance items as the cooler weather approaches? In preparation for spending more time indoors, keep your home in tip top shape by being sure to:
1. Make sure your gutters stay clean and clog free. It’s best to do this before leaves get wet from rain or snow.
2. Check caulking and weather strips around doors and windows.
3. Trim back trees that are too close to your house or other building structures.
4. Check for peeling paint and scrub any mildewed areas you find on your siding.
5. Check for cracks in your foundation, brick or stucco.
6. Repair or clean your furnace filter.
7. Examine your chimney. Clean flue; repair any cracks in flue or any loose or crumbling mortar.
8. Get a roof inspection. Make any repairs as per the inspectors’ recommendation (contact me for a roof inspector referral in your area).
Pricing your home right the first time around is the single most important thing we can do to assure that your home sells within, or faster than, the current average selling time frame for your market, and for the best price.
Pricing your home right the first time around is the single most important thing we can do to assure that your home sells within, or faster than, the current average selling time frame for your market, and for the best price.
A property that is priced close to the market value generates the greatest amount of interest from qualified buyers.
If your home is priced above the market value, then you won’t attract prospective buyers who would otherwise be prime candidates for your home.
So let’s get straight into A few risks of pricing your home too high:
1) Your home will be listed beyond the search criteria of potentially qualified buyers. When buyers are active on the market searching for a home, they most likely will have an automated listing alert set up, which will notify them via email when a new listing hits the market that fits the criteria they are looking in. If your home is priced higher than what it’s actually worth, many buyers who have set up a search with a price bracket within the range that your home’s value actually falls into, won’t even get notified that your home hit the market. So you are missing out on prime buyers who would be perfect candidates for your home
2) Other Comparable homes in the neighborhood that are priced accurately will appear more attractive to buyers, potentially actually helping to sell competitive properties. If there are other homes that are similar in size and similar in condition in your neighborhood that are priced accurately, whereas yours is priced too high, buyers will see more value in the other homes and will be more apt to submit offers on those homes, while your home sits on the market.
3) May send the message to buyers and their agents that you are not truly motivated to sell.
4) Fewer agents will actively promote your home as a value to their prospective buyers. Buyers look to their agents for advice as to what homes have more value or are better buys, and agents will direct their buyers to homes that are listed accurately over homes that are overpriced.
5) All in all, fewer buyers will consider your home, resulting in fewer offers.
6) Lastly, marketing time is prolonged, and initial marketing momentum is lost
Let’s talk about The Significance of Timing .
When your property is first placed on the market, it attracts immediate interest from the real estate community and from potential buyers. The first few weeks of coming on the market is your home’s prime selling time.
Here is what happens: As a property comes on the market, there is a backlog of existing buyers who have been actively out in the market searching for their perfect home. In the first few weeks that your house is on the market, interested buyers will be excited to see if your home is what they’ve been searching for. If your home is priced right and shows well, you have the greatest opportunity to sell your home during these first few weeks.
Because during that time, virtually all existing active buyers will have viewed your property. After that time, interest in your property drops as you wait for new buyers to actively enter the market.
A few things to keep in mind about buyers:
• Buyers understand value – buyers are well educated on the relative prices of properties, and will select a property that meets their sense of value.
• As buyers research the market, they quickly gain an awareness of the value of different homes and the asking prices.
• Through their agents, buyers will also have access to comps of sold homes in the neighborhood which helps them price out their offers
A property that is competitively priced:
• Takes advantage of the prime marketing momentum that occurs when the property first comes on the market
• Sends a message to buyers about your motivation
• Generates an increased number of showings & an increased number of offers
REALTOR ®, BRE #01950753
Price is not the only factor you want to consider when writing an offer. What contingencies you keep or waive is just as important, and can help make or break your offer, especially in a competitive situation when you are up against other offers.
What are contingencies?
Contingencies are a critical part of an offer to purchase a home, and should be carefully considered. The three most crucial contingencies are
- loan contingency
- inspection/disclosure contingency
- appraisal contingency
As a buyer, you can decide what contingencies to include in your offer, and for what period of time. And depending on the nature of the current market and how competitive you want to be as a buyer, you can decide if you want to waive any contingencies.
Contingencies are clauses in a Residential Purchase Agreement that are meant to protect buyers. They give you time to complete your due diligence as a buyer, such as obtaining a loan, completing an appraisal, and completing any inspections you see fit. If any issues arise during the process or the findings are not to your liking, you have the right as a buyer to either re-negotiate or cancel the contract under the provision that that particular contingency provides, within the time frame specified in the offer. So, it is important to understand what each contingency entails.
What are the 3 most important contingencies to be considered when writing an offer?
Loan Contingency – Hopefully as one of your first steps to your home buying journey, you met with a loan officer to obtain your pre-approval letter.
→ Having this letter in hand conveys to home sellers and listing agents that you are a qualified buyer, and enables you to start offering on homes.
However, in most cases a pre-approval letter is just that, “PRE”-approval. Unless your mortgage professional has already put your file through underwriting to obtain full approval, it is (in most cases) in your best interest to keep your loan contingency in place.
Once you have an offer accepted by a seller and you are in escrow, the loan officer will start to move forward with processing your loan. This includes verifying all income and assets, ordering an appraisal to be performed on the home, providing you with a complete breakdown of what your monthly payments will be, etc. Your file is then sent to the underwriting team, who verifies all the information is complete and accurate. Sometimes, they may request additional documents or information.
Once this process is completed, your loan is then formally approved, and you can “lift” or “remove” your loan contingency. Most times it is best to protect yourself as a buyer with a loan contingency in case any hiccups happen along the way, and in the most unfortunate circumstance (you lose your job, for example), your loan is not approved, and you need to cancel the contract.
Appraisal Contingency– When you get an offer accepted, your lender will order up an appraisal to be performed on the home.
→ The appraiser is a neutral, licensed professional who will perform an appraisal on the house and provide a written report. They will visit the home to investigate the physical condition, and will check comparable sold properties in the neighborhood. With all of this information combined, they will give the house an “appraised value.”
The important thing to keep in mind is that your lender will only provide a loan up to the appraised value. If you have included an appraisal contingency with your offer, you have room for negotiation should the appraised value come in less than what your offer price is.
For example: if your offer price is $500,000, and the appraised value comes in at $495,000, there is a $5,000 difference. If your appraisal contingency is in place, you are able to negotiate with the seller to try to close the gap in the difference, so that you as the buyer don’t have to bring in the difference in cash at the closing table.
However, keep in mind that the seller is not obligated to agree to a change in the purchase price should there be any difference in appraisal. The point is that keeping the contingency in place gives you options as a buyer. The seller may agree to match the purchase price with the appraisal, they might meet you halfway, or you may decide to bring in the difference in cash to close the difference, or, if compromises are not made, you can decide to cancel the contract within your appraisal contingency period.
On the flipside, if the appraised value comes in higher than the contract price, the buyer is under no obligation to pay a higher price for the home.
Inspection & Disclosure Contingency – This is probably the most misunderstood contingency. Many people think that this simply means physical inspections. Below is a list of many considerations that fall under the umbrella of inspections and disclosures. If during your inspection contingency time frame, you discover matters about the home that are not to your liking, you can renegotiate or cancel the contract within the allotted time for the inspection contingency. Here are some factors to consider:
- Physical inspections: As a buyer you have the right to hire a professional inspector to do physical inspections such as a property/home inspection, termite inspection, roof inspection, pool inspection, chimney inspection, etc. depending on the particular home. (Please watch my “Inspections” video for more details)
- Disclosures: There are quite a few disclosures that are required for any California real estate transaction that both seller and buyer need to review and sign. While many of these disclosures are purely informational, such as the Lead Based Paint Disclosure and Water Heater Statement of Compliance, there are a few disclosures that sellers are required to fill out, disclosing important information about the subject home, such as any updates to the home, easements on the property, rodent or pest issues, noise from neighborhood nuisances or airplanes, any deaths on the property within the last 3 years, and other pertinent information that buyers should be aware of before deciding if they want to purchase that home.
- HOA Documents: This contingency also covers HOA documents, if applicable to your home.
- Square footage verification: if your property of interest has had any additions, it is recommended to check with the city to make sure that the additions have been done with any necessary permits. Only additions done with permits can be counted into the overall square footage of the house, adding to the value, especially if/when you decide to sell.
- NHD: Natural Hazard Disclosure report. This report discloses whether the subject property falls within an earthquake fault zone, flood zone, dam inundation area, right to farm area, etc.
- Investment property considerations: if you are buying as an investment property, there are a few additional precautions you want to take. For example, if the home is a townhouse or condo, the HOA will sometimes restrict what percentage of the units in that complex can be rented out. You want to make sure that there is room in the percentage for you to use that property as a rental.
- Neighborhood: do you get good cell service in the house? Is there any noise from airports, trains or schools? Is there a high crime rate in the area? All of these considerations fall within the Buyer Inspection contingency. Buyers have the right to thoroughly investigate all matters affecting the property.
- Insurability of a home: are you in a flood or fire hazard area?
- All other matters on the Buyer’s Inspection Advisory (attached for reference)
What happens if I try to cancel the contract after contingencies are lifted?
Contingencies are meant to protect you as a buyer, and give you the time necessary to allow you to do your due diligence and investigate all matters of the home so you feel comfortable with moving forward with the purchase. However, once you waive your contingencies, you are giving up your right to cancel that contract and get your deposit back. A deposit (usually 3% of the purchase price), is held in escrow as your “Earnest Money Deposit,” which lets the seller know you are entering into the contact in good faith and that you intend to purchase the property, should everything go smoothly during your due diligence period. If you decide that you want to cancel the contract and you no longer want to purchase the home after you have waived your contingencies, the seller has a right to your deposit to recoup the time lost while in escrow with you. On the other hand, if you want to cancel the contract based on a concerning finding in the home inspection report, or if there is a huge gap in appraisal value vs. your offer price, for examples, you can cancel the contract and receive your deposit back rightly-so, as long as you cancel within the particular contingency period that you allotted for yourself in your offer.
What are the benefits of waiving contingencies?
In a very competitive market, many buyers decide to waive contingencies upfront in hopes of creating a more appealing offer for the seller. The reason waiving contingencies makes your offer “stronger” in the eyes of a seller, is because you are conveying to the seller that you are very serious about the property and you don’t intend to back out of the contract. Of course, waiving contingencies upfront should not be taken lightly, and as a buyer you should discuss this with your Realtor® and your loan officer to decide if you are safe to do so. For example, if a seller has already performed all of the important physical inspections recently and you have reviewed the reports and are ok with the condition of the home, you may consider waiving the physical inspection contingency portion. Or, if you have thoroughly reviewed the comparables in the neighborhood with your Realtor® and you are confident that the price you are offering is in-line with the other recent sale prices of similar homes, you may feel comfortable waiving your appraisal contingency because you don’t anticipate a huge gap in the appraisal value vs. your offer price. Again, each contingency can be carefully considered, and your agent can advise which contingencies are safe to waive, if any.
Any more contingency questions?
When preparing an offer to purchase a home, it is best to consult with your Realtor® to decide what contingencies to keep in place, and for how long, or to discuss the option of waiving any contingencies up front. My job as a professional Realtor® is to educate you and give you all the information to help you make not only an informed decision, but a decision you are comfortable and happy with. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions!
REALTOR ®, BRE #01950753
Protecting and preserving the environment starts right in your own home. Here are some items that will not only save you money but are also safer for you, those you care about, and for the environment.
Soap biodegrades safely and completely, and is non-toxic. Make sure that you use soap without synthetic scents, colors, or other additives. Even phosphate-free laundry detergent contributes to water pollution.
Vinegar (Five percent Acetic Acid)
Vinegar is a mild disinfectant which cuts grease, cleans glass, and deodorizes. It can also remove calcium deposits, stains, and wax build-up. The most commonly used vinegar in cleaning is is distilled white vinegar.
Eucalyptus oil is a good disinfectant and deodorizer. It gets rid of some stains like ink and grease, kills and repels some insects, and even attacks rust.
Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate)
A key ingredient for washing clothes, washing soda cuts grease, removes stains, disinfects, and softens water. Washing soda should not be used on aluminum.
Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of soda)
Baking soda works as well as an abrasive in alternate recipes. Baking soda polishes, removes stains, and softens fabrics. Baking soda is also great as a deodorizer. Place a box in the refrigerator and freezer to absorb odors. In fact, put it anywhere you need deodorizing action: trash cans, laundry, and even smelly sneakers.
Lemon, like vinegar, is a terrific cleaning agent. The acid in lemons is antibacterial and antiseptic, and it acts as a natural bleach. The citrus smell of a lemon is refreshing and invigorating. Oils in the rinds can also help to clean and shine.
- Drains: Lemon rinds can be ground in the garbage disposal to freshen the drain. Hot water with a little lemon poured down a drain will also freshen the drain.
- Bleaching: Lemon juice acts as a natural bleaching agent. Put lemon juice onto white linens and clothing and allow them to dry in the sun. Stains will be bleached away.
- Degreasing: The acid in lemon juice cuts through grease and does a good job removing grease from the stove and countertops.
- Add the mixture to vinegar: Vinegar can be a great cleaning ingredient, but many people dislike the vinegar smell. Adding lemon juice to vinegar when cleaning can help neutralize the vinegar smell.
ZZ Plant – one of the lowest maintenance options on the market. It only needs to be watered three times a month, doesn’t require a lot of light, and will not attract bugs or other pests.
Air Plants – these natural wonders sustain themselves on moisture from the air, and require no soil to grow. They usually are displayed in stylish air plant holders, adding an extra flair to your space
Ficus Danielle – if you are looking for a statement maker and have space for a 3-foot tree, this is the plant for you. It has a twisted trunk and waxy leaves, and requires medium to bright sunlight
Bird’s Nest Fern – these plants do well in bathrooms and confined spaces, can thrive in low light, and can be either hung or potted
Pothos – these truly do your indoor space a favor by purifying the air and can strip your home of toxins known to form in carpets and rugs. These plants look beautiful hanging from a basket with their leaves draping down
Iron Plant – The iron plant can survive in low light, poor soil, and with minimal water, making it one of the most durable indoor plants. The deep green leaves also make for a stunning pop of color in your home.
Peace Lily – with some medium to bright indirect sunlight, these plants will flower delicate, white lilies. They only require watering once a week so are great for an office
Snake Plant – with mighty durable leaves, these treasures can survive almost any environment. They only require occasional watering, letting the soil dry between between waterings.
Aloe Vera – a household staple for those looking for a plant that also serves as an instant medication for any topical skin ailments like scrapes and burns
Fiddle Leaf Fig – this plant offers a unique shape – tall but not wide, so it is great if you have minimal floor space. It requires medium light but only needs to be watered when the soil is dry to the touch
Change your throw pillows – create some dimension by getting pillows with varying textures and sizes, and make sure they reflect your personality! Switching up throw pillows for the changing seasons is a great way to refresh
Get a new rug – this can really change the look and feel of a room, almost as much as a new paint color can. Finding the right size rug that works well with the rest of your furniture is key – don’t settle until you find the right one!
Rearrange your furniture – what is especially great about this idea is that you don’t have to work anything new into your space. Pay attention to the visual weight balance of the room If you have something large on one side, balance it out with something equally large or a cluster of small items on the other side
Change your coffee table vignette – adding things like fresh flowers, candles, decorative coasters, or an art book are great pieces to add to your coffee table. Because most of these items are small and inexpensive, you can interchange them as often as you’d like!
Update your walls – you don’t always have to change your paint color to breathe new life into your walls. Adding art, hanging tapestries, shelves, or even draping lights can make a big impact
Mount some shelving – this is a game changer! There are so many variations of wall shelves; different sizes and colors, different ways to stagger them, and of course an endless amount of what you can actually showcase on them
Add some greenery – a stellar way to literally breathe life into your space! Add them to your coffee table, your wall shelves, hang them from the ceiling, place them on the ground in pots or on a pedestal. Opportunities are endless!
There is something to do just about every weekend in the Bay Area during the summer! From art & wine festivals, to music events, and kids activities, there is certainly something everyone can enjoy. Mark your calendars!
Sundays @ 2pm, June 16 – August 18 – Free Admission & Picnic Tables for Paid Reservation
Stern Grove Festival Association is a non-profit organization whose mission is to make live musical experiences accessible to all.
Every year since 1938, the organization presents Stern Grove Festival, a free concert series, in Sigmund Stern Grove, a beautiful outdoor amphitheater located at 19th Avenue and Sloat Boulevard in San Francisco.
Saturday, June 29 – 11am – 7:30pm – $35-$125
The Monterey International Blues Festival is back for its third year, as they strive to preserve the Blues, that great American tradition, with a day of fun in the sun for the whole family (kids 10 and under get in for free*) and of course, the best blues in the Bay Area.
Saturday & Sunday, July 6-7, 10am – 6pm – FREE
Blending art and soul in one of the country’s most unique neighborhoods, the Fillmore Jazz Festival is the largest free jazz festival on the West Coast, drawing over 100,000 visitors over the Independence Day weekend on Fillmore Street in San Francisco between Jackson and Eddy streets.
Saturday & Sunday, July 14-15, 10am – 6pm – FREE
Showcases the distinctive works of artists and craftspeople from more than a dozen states, features select vintages from local wineries, wide variety of foods, free concerts and activities and entertainment for children.
July 26, 7 & 28 – Tickets for Purchase
Great food, live entertainment, cooking competitions, and more!
Saturday & Sunday, August 3-4, 10am – 6pm – FREE
The Fremont Festival Of The Arts is the largest free street festival west of the Mississippi, attracting nearly 400,000 people annually & has activities and entertainment for the entire family.
Saturday, August 10, 11m – 7pm – FREE
Rich with rhythms from around the globe and around the corner, the Laurel Street Fair is dedicated to celebrating the cultural roots, community and traditions of Oakland. Attractions include World Music Performances, DJ’s, Community Yoga, Artisan Vendors, Craft Beer Garden, Local Food Court, Kid’s Carnival & Petting Zoo.
Saturday & Sunday, August 17-18, 10am – 6pm – FREE
Polk Street Blues Festival will feature 2 stages of live blues, arts and crafts exhibitors, gourmet food booths, local restaurants, community booths, hands on kids activities and rides, a farmers market, bistro style seating areas, & craft beer and fine wines.
Saturday, August 17 – $25
The Festival will feature local Latin music ensembles, as well as internationally-renowned artists, merchants, food vendors, artisans, and community organizations.4
October 6-14, 2019
Held annually between the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz, The San Francisco Fleet Week Air Show Presented by United attracts fans from all over the globe. The waterfront event is headlined by The U.S. Navy Blue Angels and is the only air show in the United States with a commercial airliner, the United 777, to perform a fully choreographed act.
What’s better than live music?! Whether you are a live jazz connoisseur or you are just looking for a new and fun experience, this list of restaurants, bars, and music venues throughout the Bay Area offer Live Jazz throughout the week. Enjoy!
Selected as one of the best places to hear jazz in the world, 4 years in a row! Intimate venue offering seating for 72, reservations recommended.
In the heart of Oakland’s Jack London Square, Yoshi’s offers an an award-winning 310-seat live performance space, earning a reputation as the Bay Area’s premier location for great Japanese cuisine and jazz music.
Located within the old printing room of The Examiner, in the historic Hearst building. Unique experience!
Curated mix of the best live jazz in San Francisco. True to its roots, the space combines grit with glam in the city’s historic arts and entertainment district
Reminiscent of an old time New York City jazz house. Live music 7 nights a week!
The intimate dining room serving American fare offers all patrons (including our bar guests) a ringside seat to the nightly Jazz
This themed two-tier French Vietnamese restaurant features two dining rooms on the main floor and live music nightly
Live jazz every night, craft cocktails, and food till late.
Live Jazz Thursday – Sunday, and Vinyl only DJ night every Wednesday.
Blue Note Lounge – Milpitas
Live Jazz and Karaoke nightly rotation.
Poor House Bistro – San Jose
Cajun restaurant offering live music of varying genres every day.
Savanna Jazz Club – San Carlos
Award Winning Jazz Club! Open 7 nights a week with local, national, and international talent nightly!
B Street & Vine – San Mateo
Italian Wine Cafe & Restaurant, with Live Music Wednesday – Saturday
8 cost effective fixes for home sellers, to help make your home more appealing to buyers and increase your potential sales price!
1. Remove popcorn ceiling – it is not visually appealing to buyers, and if your home was built prior to 1978, it may actually contain asbestos. Remove the popcorn and repaint the ceilings2. Repaint the interior of your home – Remove any wallpaper, choose a neutral paint color, and repaint throughout the interior of your home. Will immediately give your home a fresh look and feel
3. Change or add hardware to all the cabinet and drawer handles throughout your home, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. Choose one finish color, such as bronze, copper, or silver, so all the hardware cohesively matches in color throughout all the rooms. This will give your home an updated, modern touch. You can also change all of the doorknobs and towel racks to match as well.
4. If your kitchen cabinets are outdated, you may not need to replace them. You can refinish or repaint them to give them a fresh and updated look (and don’t forget to add new hardware!)
5. Lighting – consider changing the light fixtures in the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways to new, modern fixtures. You can also consider installing recessed lighting and adding a dimmer switch. And of course, install new, high-wattage LED light bulbs, to make sure your home is nice and bright for buyer showings
6. Consider installing new appliances – consider a new refrigerator, built in microwave, oven and/or stove. It is not required for sellers to include appliances with the sale of their home, however it can be a great plus for buyers if your home has brand new appliances
7. Keep your house clean and smelling great while in the process of selling. Remove old rugs and draperies, professionally clean your carpets, clean windows, and other mirrored surfaces throughout your home
8. Declutter and depersonalize your home – open up the space on your counter tops by removing kitchen gadgets, remove hygiene products from bath counters, and try to remove at least half of the clothes in your closets, giving buyers a sense of ample space and storage in your home
Fixing and updating your home for sale doesn’t have to be intimidating or overly expensive. We can work with your budget to create a list of fixes for your particular home, to make sure it is ultra appealing to buyers and emphasizes the uniqueness of what your home has to offer. Reach out to me and let’s create a plan for your home sale today!
REALTOR ®, BRE #01950753
Save energy and money with these 10 tips for energy efficiency in your home!
1. Change the light bulbs throughout your home to new LED light bulbs. This easy swap can reduce energy use anywhere from a third to as much as 80% as opposed to non LED light bulbs.
2. Clean or change air filters regularly. A dirty furnace or A/C filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep your home warm or cool.
3. Reduce water heater temperature to about 130° F to save energy
and money on heating water. You can also wrap your water heater in a specially-designed “blanket” to retain the heat.
4. Install a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature according to your schedule.
5. Upgrade your appliances including dishwasher, refrigerator, or washer & dryer to newer energy-efficient models.
6. Sealing cracks, gaps, leaks, and adding insulation can save up to 10% on home heating and cooling costs.
7. Use the air dry setting on your dishwasher rather than the heated dry setting.
8. If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with more energy efficient dual-paned windows, or adding solar shades or tinting film to help keep your home warm in the winter time, and cool in the summertime.
9. Set your refrigerator temperature to the manufacturer’s recommendation to avoid excessive cooling and wasting energy.
10. Turn off the lights when they’re not in use or when you leave the home. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.
REALTOR ®, BRE #01950753