Monthly Archives: February 2015

Throwback Thursday: Grrrrrrrreat!

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Beautiful, Wonderful and Great: Also known as the three weariest adjectives in Realtorland.

Of these, “great” is the most worn out because it fits so conveniently in so many places. When in doubt, throw the word “great” into your copy.

Note, for example, the Brief Property Report I printed from Multiple Listing Service (MLS) yesterday. My intent was to refer to it during a meeting with buyers. But it works nicely as a random sampling of Realtors’ MLS comments for my investigation of the over-exploitation of the word “great.”

Here’s what it revealed:

  • Property #1 is listed at a “great price”
  • Property #2 is a “great property for the first- time homebuyer”
  • Property #3 is a “great value”
  • Property #4 skips the word ‘great’ (as well as ‘beautiful’ and ‘wonderful’), so extra points for the agent for Property #4
  • Property #5 uses great twice, as in “great light” and “great room,” the latter describing the type of room not the quality of the room
  • Property #6 has no comments at all (aside to agent for Property #6: Come on, you can do better than that!)
  • Property #7 points to the “great weather” in the neighborhood

Okay, so you’re asking, “What’s the big deal? Who cares whether an agent uses the word ‘great’ one time, fourteen times or not at all?”

And I’m answering. Or I’m starting to answer and then shutting my mouth. I’m thinking. What IS the big deal? Who DOES care? Why AM I railing about the verbiage in MLS comments?

It has only to do with my interest in words and writing. It has nothing to do with real estate or selling real estate. I can use the word “great” as much as I want, but in the end no buyers are going to take my word for it. They’re going to see the property themselves and decide if it rates a “great.”

Meanwhile, it’s another great day in San Francisco. What a great place to live. What a great place to work. What a great place to sell real estate.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This post originally appeared at McGuire.com a few years ago.

Query: New Ways to Save $$$

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Q: What are some unique ways to save for a down payment to buy a new house or condo?

A: The tired Nike phrase, “Just Do It,” comes to mind because – apart from creatively hiding your cash in a red-velvet sack placed inside a Ziploc bag submerged in your grandmother’s toilet tank – you don’t need a unique way to save.

Ordinary, tried-and-true approaches will suffice. Yet, like birth control, they don’t work unless you actually use them.

You might find inspiration from the blogger J. Money (dubbed “the Miley Cyrus of finance”). Here’s the link to a great pictorial guide to squirreling away your hard-earned dollars: How I Save Money… [In Pictures]

Although: You may first want to read Mr. Money’s thoughts on whether or not it makes sense to buy a home in the first place:  What it Cost Us to Own Our Home Last Year + A Question I Ask Myself Every Morning

Then: Think twice about how large your down payment needs to be. Size does matter and you might be someone for whom a low-money-down loan makes sense. See this NYT article: The New York Times

Finally: I can offer a relatively unique way to relate to money and savings. Check out Bari Tessler Linden, who says, “money is the final frontier of a conscious lifestyle.” Her website: Bari Tessler – Art of Money.

Bon chance! (And if you’re thinking of buying in San Francisco, reach out to me!)

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This article was re-posted at McGuire.com, and originally appeared on Quora.

 

"Platt brunch" by Japanexperterna. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Platt_brunch.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Platt_brunch.jpg

Query: House Flipping

"Platt brunch" by Japanexperterna. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Platt_brunch.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Platt_brunch.jpg

Q: How do I flip Houses?

A: With much more care than flipping a pancake, a pursuit which requires just the right balance of providence and panache. And — as with hotcakes — you must always be ready to accept a flop. Especially in San Francisco where the griddle is especially hot. What’s not required is the use of silly breakfast bread metaphors.

…Although…as I sit here re-posting what I wrote on Quora, I think I should add a few metaphors about staging a house in order to sell it after you’ve fluffed it up. If you want the property to sell like hotcakes, then you must present it in an appealing fashion.

That means hiring a professional stager who’ll gussy it up like a plate at Mission Beach Cafe. Make it look like the real-estate equivalent of a $15 short stack: Fresh fruit garnish, hot maple syrup, a pat of butter melting on top, a side of bacon, maybe a wee vase of fresh nasturtiums on the table.

Yum. More coffee, please?

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Query: Advice for New Googler Moving to SF

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Image by Jijithecat
Q: What are some things a recent college graduate should know before moving to San Francisco to work at Google?
A: Congratulations to you for a) graduating from college, b) securing a job and c) having that job be at Google. Hooray! You’re way ahead of the game, since many graduates these days have no prospect of making a living wage.
I’m not sure where you have lived previously, but it is true that the cost of living in San Francisco is shockingly high. You would be wise to sit down soberly, do some advance budgeting and make some agreements with yourself about your financial priorities. You might also pledge to do without a car because they are expensive to maintain in San Francisco and the city is actively discouraging their use.
Once you’re here, watch out getting sidetracked by San Francisco’s infectious-hipster party-time atmosphere. If Millennials aren’t careful, they can quickly squander all their earnings on techie gadgets, lattes and nights out at the expensive and fabulous restaurants located on nearly every corner of the city.
Maintain your balance, learn to cook meals at home, count your blessings, have LOTS of fun, and be careful about sitting on the ground in Dolores Park. Great views of the changing skyline, but you won’t believe all the nasty germs lurking in that grass!
Finally, as soon as you can scrape together a down payment, you’d be wise to invest in the residential real estate market. There’s no market like San Francisco’s and there’s no better time than NOW to get started. As a wise woman once said, “Sex and Real Estate: Get Lots While You’re Young.”

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This post originally appeared as an answer to a question on Quora.

Achgro (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sellers, Don’t Wait For Coulda Woulda Shoulda

image by Achim Grochowski

HOT HOT HOT! That’s the San Francisco real estate market today.

So, I’m giving a shout out to all you homeowners who are “kinda-maybe thinking about selling sometime in the not-too-faraway future.” Pay attention to what’s happening, assess your situation and be sure you don’t miss the proverbial boat.

There are lots of reasons why it’s a good time to sell. Here are a few:

  • Amnesty abounds. Translation: Demand is so high and supply is so low that all “sins” are forgiven. No parking? We’ll sell our car! On a busy street? We love it lively! Tricky floorplan? We’ll sleep in the kitchen!
  • Tenants are trouble. Translation: Tenant-occupied properties always sell for less than vacant ones. So, if your renter has just given notice, don’t freak out. Consider yourself lucky, and at least explore the advantages of selling (either the whole property or a tenancy-in-common share).
  • Capital gains tax sucks. Translation: If you are renting out a property that was recently your primary residence, drop everything else you’re doing and check with your accountant, financial planner or me. Don’t let three years go by and thereby lose your IRS Capital Gains Exclusion. That would be a $100,000-or-so mistake that you’d be really, really, really mad about making.
  • Investors are looking for the long hold. Translation: Income properties – even with relatively lousy rental returns – are in demand. Buyers from all over the world are looking for a piece of San Francisco. Sell yours and you may be able to get a higher return on investment elsewhere.
  • Interest rates are still low. Translation: It’s a good time to buy, which means it’s also a good time to sell. Only after the market shifts will you know it has shifted.

The truth is it may or may not make sense for you to sell your property now. But if it’s a consideration for any time in the next five years, contact me so we can begin a conversation and formulate a cogent plan for your real estate future.

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