Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Balancing Act of #SanFrancisco “Home” Work

San Francisco real estate is a three-ring circus. As an agent, I’m accustomed to the vertiginous view– standing on a high platform waiting for the trapeze bar to swing my way.

I know all the tricks, from Piggyback to Reverse Whip Return, and I’ve had my share of facedown spills into the net.

It’s always a thrill (whether positive or negative) to

  • Witness hungry agents and buyers storming a new listing.
  • Congratulate my clients on obtaining a home they love.
  • Note the weekly litany of record-breaking sales prices.
  • Watch a buyer’s face light up with hope, then darken when he/she does the math.
  • Listen to sellers explaining how much money they “need to get” and why.
  • Hear a buyer say, “Okay, let’s raise our offer price to one gazillion dollars.” (First I think, “One gazillion is too much.” Next I think, “One gazillion isn’t going to do it.”)
  • Observe a listing agent speaking coyly about having distributed 28 disclosure packages.
  • Fill out a Buyer’s Waiver of Inspections form to accompany an offer.
  • Call ten buyers’ agents to say, “Sorry, we accepted another offer.”
  • Calculate the carrying costs on a $1.6 million, 1200 square-foot, two-bedroom condo.
  • See a neighborhood transforming.
  • Update a client on the value of their property.
  • Give a would-be homeowner the lowdown on exactly what it takes to buy in San Francisco.

Exhilarating. Exhausting. Extraordinary.

And at the end of every day spent doing “Homework,” I’m grateful to have a home. In San Francisco, that’s no small thing.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

Six or a Half-Dozen Divinations for SF Real Estate in 2015

(Image of tea leaves by Richard Corner)

The weather vane is whipping to and fro. Tea leaves are magically shifting. Stats are twitchy and erratic.

The only thing you can be sure of is change. So — if you’re thinking about buying or selling — act before you get confirmation that the market has turned in whatever direction you’re waiting upon or dreading. When everything becomes crystal-clear, it’ll be way too late.

For 2015, I predict:

  • The San Francisco market will continue in its girls-gone-crazy-bikini-party mode. Here’s’s take on our “steadfastly bonkers” market.
  • Rents will continue to be the highest in the nation.  Maybe it’s time to buy?
  • San Francisco is still a great place to raise kids (click for video), so don’t leave town!
  • As the year progresses and interest rates rise, it’ll only get more competitive for buyers. Stop watching sales prices from the sidelines and make your move before money prices increase.
  • Drive times to, from and within SF will continue to increase. Plus, parking will be increasingly harder to find and more expensive when you do find it. Consider locating where you won’t need a car. Transit first, baby!
  • 2015 will be a lot like 2014. To refresh your short-term memory, here’s what Q4 of 2014 looked like.

In addition, top-10 lists (as well as top-5, -6, -14 and -20 lists) will continue grabbing your already-scant attention. (I encountered at least TEN top-ten lists re. 2015 real estate while researching this.)

My advice is to shun statistics, analysis and speculation, and do whatever it is you’re yearning to do. Sell now. Buy now. Or stay put now. It’s six of one, half dozen of another.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit This article was re-posted at

Most Bang Per Buck: Paint Kitchen Cabinets

My best guess is that the question arises in 1 out of 4 listings. But I’ve lost count of how many dozens of times I’ve stood in the middle of a dated kitchen with Seller and Stager debating one critical question:

Should we “paint out” the kitchen cabinets? 

Nothing screams “old” or “tired” like old, tired kitchen cabinets. So smart stagers almost always recommend changing out the hardware and slapping on a new coat of white paint.

Sellers are usually concerned about pre-sale Return On Investment. (Painting cabinet faces is cheap but not dirt cheap.) So they’ll try one or more of the following arguments against painting:

  1. It’ll be obvious to buyers that we just painted them.
  2. Whoever buys the house is redoing the kitchen anyway.
  3. It’s better to let the natural wood show.
  4. I actually like the cabinets.

But usually the Seller will be convinced that the ROI is worthwhile because the paint will:

  1. Make the kitchen photograph better and photos are key marketing tools.
  2. Create a cleaner, crisper, brighter first impression
  3. Give buyers the hope that they can delay remodeling for a year or two since they’ve just depleted their savings on a downpayment.

Cabinet-painting works every time. Case in point, here’s a professional photo of outdated kitchen cabinets  in a condo I sold two years ago. (The sellers didn’t have enough lead time to stage or paint the cabinets):


Here’s a hurried cellphone pic of the same kitchen snapped by the painter who — for the new owners — recently painted the cabinets white:

70Wilder.white cabs

I rest my case, but you can be the judge.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit This article was re-posted at

Take a Walk on the West Side


City living makes it easy to forget about the natural world. Luckily, we have one of the most fabulous urban parks on Earth right here in San Francisco. (And, no, it’s not Dolores Park.) Take a break from your day to explore any part of Golden Gate Park. Even the rather “ordinary” spots have something beautiful to reveal.


A lunchtime stroll yesterday took me past a mighty tree that must have fallen during our recent storms. The scent from the freshly cut wood was pleasant, and I was fascinated by the pit of sandy soil from which it toppled.


Golden Gate Park is an amazing resource for SF citizens and visitors alike. Click here for more information. Then check it out! GO NOW!


Homebuying in San Francisco: Don’t DIY!



♡2010 by Author/Artist. Copying is an act of love. Please copy.

You book airfares and hotels online. You pump your own gas. You buy and bag a week’s worth of groceries in the self-checkout line.

Yet buying a home is NOT (nor should it be) a DIY activity. Sure, you can do lots of looking online. But when it comes to exploring neighborhoods, searching for qualified properties, evaluating choices, making offers, and moving from “in contract” to “sold,” you absolutely need a professional agent’s assistance.

The housing forecast for 2015 is rosy, and with interest rates likely to remain low for much of the year, NOW is the time to buy. (See this from CNN about the “return” of first-time homebuyers.)

I can help! If you know anyone who is considering a purchase in 2015, please introduce us. You can trust me to help them:

  • Decide if buying actually makes sense – or not
  • Clarify and refine their wish list
  • Find an ideal home
  • Gather resources
  • Focus on practical solutions while honoring emotional responses and reducing stress
  • Write a competitive, winning offer
  • Close successfully on the property of their choice

As my client N – who never thought she would be able to buy in San Francisco – writes,

“Cynthia’s knowledge and expertise of the…complex real estate market is fantastic. She understands how important owning a home is for her clients, and takes the time to educate them about the process. She really listens to what they’re looking for in a property so she can find the right fit and creative a positive experience. She is a joy to work with!”

You can trust me to care for your friends. Have them check out my website or for more information. Or call or email me so I can invite you and your friend to be my guests for an introductory tea or lunch!

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit