A: The best way to find a trustworthy Realtor — your ally and advocate — is to keep it simple. You can set personal goals, make a list of must-haves, analyze statistics and search the internet. But there’s no substitute for two tried-and-true methods:
Ask reliable friends whom they recommend (and why).
Go agent shopping by visiting open houses. Look for someone who “feels” right — who is kind, relaxed and a good listener. You don’t want an agent who tries to “sell” you on anything.
A thoughtful and seasoned professional will help you formulate your questions and refine your goals. They’ll help you glean an education that will allow you to make informed decisions. And then they’ll help you find and close on a home you love. You’ll think of them as a friend by the time the transaction closes.
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 on Quora.
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]
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.
♡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
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 RealEstateTherapy.org 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!
Burbling about the bubble is always in fashion. Experts and amateurs offer all sorts of theories about whether we are entering, leaving, or returning to a bubble, and they all have data to support their claims.
If I had a crystal ball, I could answer your question with absolute authority. Sadly, I don’t own one. But I do have access to three alternative tools that can forecast the San Francisco real estate future about as accurately as the Case-Shiller index:
My Tarot deck said MAYBE we are in a bubble. I drew the Moon card, which basically means “Things aren’t as simple or as clear as you’d like them to be, so stop asking and chillax already.”
The hawks-perching-on-light-standards test said YES we are in a bubble. I spotted three hawks on three light standards on three consecutive days. This clearly denotes three (or nine) years of bubble, although it doesn’t tell us which years.
My ever-reliable Angel Cards answered with a resounding NO we are not in a bubble.The word was Balance and, even though it starts with a B, Balance is not the same as a Bubble.
Using these indicators, we can say with conviction that the bubble question is unanswerable. The good news is that the effects of bubbling have historically been mild in San Francisco. Go ahead. Buy your home, stay put a few years and you’ll be okay. Meanwhile, here are two wise quotes to help put it all in perspective:
“Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” Lao Tzu
Sometimes it says, “How dare you show this property and let my parents drag me to umpteen open houses on Sunday afternoon when I’d rather be playing with my toys?”
Or it says, “Please don’t let them buy this condo because I hated it the instant we walked in. I want a blue house.”
Or it’s something like this, “I can see you’re as trapped as me. You have to stand here and be nice and greet everyone and you can’t leave until 4 o’clock. And I have to come in and look around and not touch anything and I can’t leave until they say it’s okay. Since we’re both stuck here, have you anything to offer me in the way of refreshment or entertainment?”
Or maybe, “You might fool my parents with your friendliness, but you can’t fool me. Stand back three feet or I’ll start screaming.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love kids. (I even raised two myself.) But children coming through the front door of an open house can be as nervous-making as an unsteady high-heeled matron holding a latte in one hand and a shih tzu in the other while navigating the white-carpeted stairs.
You never know what you’re going to get, including:
Serious disruption of staging – vases smashed into smithereens, chess pieces sent down the toilet, pillows thrown out the window.
Nasty messes – unflushed number twos hiding in the powder room, newly planted impatiens wrenched from the ground, every glass surface streaked with yogurt paws.
Pandemonium – door slamming, stair running, door locking, cat chasing, crying, biting and violent pulling on parental arms just as they’re about to request your business card.
I prefer quiet children who tell their folks to get lost while they sit on the front steps with me. Like Maizy, a seven-year-old who attended my last open house.
Maizy: Do you live here?
Me: No. I am the real estate agent. I am showing the house for the owners.
Maizy: Do you like this house?
Me: Yes. I think it’s a terrific house. How about you?
Maizy: I guess so. I like our old house better but Mommy says we need more room for my baby brother.
Me: I bet you’re a great big sister. Is it fun being a big sister?
Maizy: (puzzling her lips together and to one side) No. He’s pretty boring. But he’s still little. Do you have some candy?
Me: No. I might have some Altoids.
Maizy: I like Altoids.
Me: Is it okay with your parents for you to have an Altoid?
Maizy: Oh, yes, of course it’s okay. They let me have Altoids all the time.
Me: (offering the Altoids tin) Here you go. Help yourself.
Maizy: Thank you. This is so boring.
Me: Yes, I know what you mean.
Maizy: Are you bored? I thought grownups didn’t mind boring things.
Q: How does the current San Francisco market trade off “all cash” offers with the value of a bid? In other words, if I anticipate competing with all-cash offers, by how much do I have to outbid them (all other contingencies waived and 20% down)?
A: The percentage will vary wildly depending on the particular players in any multiple-offer situation, so it’s something you really can’t quantify. And there’s always the chance that a savvy listing agent will issue simultaneous counteroffers at your higher price to the cash bidders — in order to maximize terms and price.
Go as high as you possibly can and hope for the best, because there will be a price where cash no longer “talks.” Another effective strategy is to carefully watch for listings that don’t sell in the first two weeks. The longer a property languishes on the market, the better your chances of being the only buyer. And this means a return to the good ol’ days of one-on-one negotiations.
Try to resist the validation of choice that competing offers bring: As in, “It must be a great place because 14 other buyers wanted it. Too bad we didn’t win.” If you DO prevail in a multiple-offer scenario, you can be pretty darn certain you overpaid by at least a little. And, of course, that’s okay in San Francisco because it’s only weeks before the market catches up to you.
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com. This answer originally appeared on Quora.
It’s double-extra-super tough being a buyer in San Francisco right now. But if you’ve written six offers without winning a property, it’s time to reexamine your strategy.
Ask your agent to ask you the “hard” questions about your motivation and your goals. And ask your agent about his/her batting average in multiple-offer situations. Re-think your approach. Maybe call in a relief pitcher.