Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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 http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Take a Walk on the West Side

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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.

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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.

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

 

Query: What About The B Word?

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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

and

“I predict one of these two teams will win the Super Bowl.” Gilbert Gottfried

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.

Query: “What is the best way to market luxury real estate?”

courtesy of Barclays Jewlers
courtesy of Barclay’s 

Q: What is the best way to market luxury real estate? 

A: Start by stopping use of the term “luxury.” Most luxury real estate buyers (in San Francisco) don’t think of themselves as such. They think of themselves as hipsters.

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

 

Competition not Comps

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Want to get from listed to pending to #sold fast & high? It’s about competition not comps. AND choosing the right agent. #SFRE

The Gift of Staging

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Staging is magical. It’s “theater” that evokes a buyer’s emotional response and thereby enhances a seller’s bottom line.

It makes it easier for buyers to envision themselves living in a home. It psychically de-personalizes the property and displays furnishings in context. It makes a house more inviting in every way.

But there’s another unexpected and little-discussed benefit: By creating an idealized version of a home, staging makes it easier for sellers to LET GO.

An owner’s initial reaction to viewing their staged home inevitably goes something like this: “Wow. I wish we’d done this while we were living here.”

That “shouldawouldacoulda” cringe is normal. Yet nobody ever actually lives that way. Ergo one of my real estate mantras: “The way you live in a house and the way you sell it are two entirely different things.”

A cruder twist on that bit of wisdom is: “If your home looks like it’s staged, you probably should examine the sacrifices you’re making in the name of keeping up appearances.”

Life is messy. Shit happens. Stuff accumulates. There’s a healthy difference between ideal and reality, and it’s evident in your home. After all, THE HOUSE is the dream metaphor for THE SELF.

So, with staging, there is a pivotal moment that presents a homeowner with a wonderful opportunity for closure and progression.

Consider the story of my lovely client Jane (not her real name). Preparing her house for sale required four stressful months of cleaning out and organizing 40 years’ worth of belongings. Another month was needed for cosmetic fixes and staging. I spent 10 days marketing the house before we considered offers. We closed seven days later.

Prior to de-staging, Jane visited her longtime home. Alone. She sat in the living room. She let the serene and clean feeling of the staged house wash over her. She walked through the rooms and looked out the windows. It was as if she were seeing some of those views for the first time.

There were brief waves of regret – the shouldawouldacoulda. There were flashes of memories – both happy and sad. There was appreciation for the years of service the house had given.

This was followed by a curious contentment and detachment. Jane assimilated the staged version of the house as the one she’ll remember in years ahead. Then, without resisting, she let go of her longtime home.

“The staging,” she explained, “was a gift for 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.

Homewords: All You Have

 

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“Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Sometimes It’s Hard to Imagine……

…what a little paint, a little floor refinishing and a little staging will do.

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Before and after kitchen at 2651 Baker. We did the bare minimum and it made a huge difference!

I almost always recommend superficial cosmetic updates and  staging whenever I list a property for sale. In my heart of hearts, I know it works.

But what’s funny is this: When my clients and I are looking at the “before” version prior to the “after” version being completed, it’s really difficult to envision the transformation ahead.

In other words, in hindsight it always proves to have been a good idea. Yet when you’re trying to decide whether or not to spend an extra $500 to have new carpeting put on the stairs, you might think, “Well. Hmm. It can’t make THAT big a difference.”

Note to self: It always works. It’s always worth it. When in doubt, GO for it!

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