Tag Archives: home-selling strategies

Query: Biggest frustration as a real estate agent?

I can name hundreds of ways for Realtors to feel frustrated. Yet frustration is part of ANY job done right. I’m grateful to be irritated by glitches with home sales, rather than by the kitchen forgetting to skip the cheese on that Reuben sandwich for Table Three.

reuben

Yet I appreciate this Quora question. Because I have been looking for an excuse to rave about my latest pet peeve as a San Francisco agent: The “shoes off” trend.On brokers tour last week — I kid you not — 11 out of the first 12 homes I visited required “guests” to remove shoes or wear surgical booties.

The purported reason for this is always that the “seller is requesting” it. To which I say “As seller’s representative, you —  Mr. or Ms. Agent —  should educate your client about why this is a dumb idea.

It is offensive, undignified, inconvenient, ungracious, unnecessary and unsightly.

It says “Dear potential buyer or agent. You are unworthy to enter this pristine environment. Please show us the respect we deserve by taking your shoes off or donning a (nearly always pre-worn) pair of these ridiculous-looking, slippery blue booties.”

Or it says “Yes, we’re asking $5M for this house but the floors are so fragile  you’ll have to redo them after six months of simply LIVING in your new home.”

If your property is

  • a Buddhist temple
  • an operating theater
  • outfitted with 100%-organic-honey-coated floors

then, okay, shoes off.

Otherwise: Provide a good doormat. Ask us to doublecheck our shoes for icky substances. Allow us to remove our shoes if it makes US more comfortable. Thank us for our time, interest and effort.

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

Katie Scarlett, Better Call Off the Stager

You’ve seen that movie: There’s a horrible crisis and a character is obsessing about some silly, irrelevant and possibly symbolic detail?

Scarlett O’Hara’s dad, for example. In Gone With The Wind. Scarlett has just come home to Tara after delivering Melanie’s baby and escaping Atlanta on fire and hiding from marauding Yankees only to learn that her mother has died. The mansion needs some serious cleaning and renovation, but her grief-stricken dad just stares at his deceased wife’s sewing box and mutters to himself.

What I mean to say is it’s normal to pay attention to the “wrong” things in the midst of a real estate transaction. For example, I’ve witnessed:

  • The market debut of a $4 million home delayed for crucial weeks by seller’s wish for Salvation Army to accept an antique sideboard for donation.
  • A closing delayed by a dispute over whether or not a countertop microwave is included in the sale.
  • An offer failing because a buyer wants a one-day inspection clause on a developer-warranted all-new house

Smart sellers and buyers need to ask their agents “Is there anything I’m doing or choosing to focus on that is sabotaging my chances for success?” Clever clients should insist their agents muster the courage to be brutally frank. That’s because, sometimes – in the name of pleasing the client and choosing battles wisely – an agent is reluctant to speak up.

This arises most often in the midst of clearing out a house in preparation for market. Longtime owners get mired in the marsh of socks, scarves, old Christmas cards, tchotchkes and – most insidious of all – books. Meanwhile, the market for a $2 million condo is slipping away as seller deliberates over whether Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance should be given to a grandson, sold at Green Apple Books or donated.

Here’s where the smart and caring agent shows up with resources and tips to liberate the seller from the swamp of stuff – both literal and psychological. In my years as a Realtor, I have collected many proverbial ropes and winches to free clients from the muck. One of these days I’ll share some here.

In the meantime, contact me if you’d like some new purging, cleaning and decluttering tips.

 

Sometimes It’s Hard to Imagine……

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

20141014_104638
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.

 

Realtor’s Dozen: Cow Hollow

cowhollow-2
Cow Hollow when there were cows in the hollow.

Here’s another entry in my series of installments called “Realtor’s Dozen,” in which I extol 13 virtues of a neighborhood in San Francisco.

  1. You can’t help but love an urban neighborhood with a name like Cow Hollow. Especially given the discrepancy between its cow-filled past and its multi-million-dollar-home-filled present.
  2. Walk westward and you’re in The Presidio — full of Eucalyptus trees, historic buildings, hikes, museums and a cemetery where lie the remains of a Union spy.
  3. Wonderful Union Street runs right down the center of Cow Hollow.
  4. Equally wonderful Chestnut Street parallels Union, four blocks to the north.
  5. An offshoot flock of the Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill flies over the neighborhood like Blue Angels during Fleet Week.
  6. The Lyon Street steps are good for working off a worried mind or for working up a sweat while getting from Point A (Lyon and Green) to Point B (Lyon and Broadway).
  7. Reliably pleasant weather.
  8. There aren’t many octagon houses left in the world. Maybe one or two hundred. One of the best examples is the McElroy Octagon House at Gough and Union. Let me know what you think. (Nearly 30 years and I’ve yet to visit.)
  9. Find a moment’s peace in the courtyard of The Episcopal Church of St. Mary The Virgin at the corner of Union and Steiner. When open, it’s a nice place to just sit quietly. Like Ferdinand the Bull.
  10. Within walking distance of the Bay. But not on landfill.
  11. Calling all Millennials! According to a 2014 survey by Niche, Cow Hollow is the best neighborhood for Millennials in the 5th best U. S. city for Millennials.
  12. If your home is too small for out-of-town guests, there’s a plethora of relatively low-priced hotels nearby.
  13. The 41-Union is one of the tastiest MUNI routes in town, running from The Presidio, through Cow Hollow, over Russian Hill, across North Beach, into the Financial District and all the way to Main and Howard.

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

Enough with the Booties, Already!

Selling a property isn’t brain surgery. So why ask agents and potential buyers to wear surgical booties when they step inside your house? Nobody wants to look like this:

SAMSUNG

Need more inspiration? Watch this favorite from my video archives:

How do YOU feel about booties?

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

10 Things Smart Buyers Look For in a Home

cat in doorway

If you’re listing your home for sale, keep this list in mind. When I’m representing buyers, I’m always on the lookout for a “run-don’t-walk” property which…

  1. Is vacant and unstaged.
  2. Does not have a dedicated website.
  3. Is listed by an out-of-town broker.
  4. Has one grainy photo on MLS (or no photo).
  5. Doesn’t appear on MLS at all.
  6. Is shown on lockbox.
  7. Is asking $50,000 more than the most recent comparable.
  8. Isn’t listed on broker’s tour.
  9. Advertises “offers as they come.”
  10. Smells like a cat has been peeing on the carpet over in the corner.

Such a dream-come-true property is hard to find, but the search is well worth it.

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

“Any Way Except a Slow Way”

800px-Percival_P.3_Gull_Six_G-ADPR_Baginton_19.06.54_edited-2

I came across this quote about coping with leaving a longtime home. Beautiful. And good advice:

“I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.”

― Beryl Markham, West with the Night

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

Virtual Hand Holding

cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde
Potential buyers flock to ancient open house  — just kidding!

I’ve been doing this a long time.

Back in 1987 as a new agent, I tried to divine the secrets of successful Realtors. I spied on them during brokers’ tour as they double parked their cars, air-kissed one another hello, threw their business cards into a pile in the entry hall.

But I found there are no guaranteed paths to success. Perseverance is helpful. Luck is a gift. A willingness to step high or stoop low comes in handy.

We so-called Top Producers have all had the pleasure of calling buyers to congratulate them on “winning” a house. We’ve also wrenched our fair share of sandwich signs out of the trunks of our cars in the pouring rain.

Our satisfied clients have cried, and thanked us, and called us “friend,” “miracle worker,” “genius.” More naive customers have judged us unfairly, assuming (without actually knowing us) that we’re selfish, rich and/or crooked.

Over 27 years the face of the city has changed dramatically. So has the way we do business.

Once upon a time we escorted our buyers to dozens of properties. Now we text, email or tweet website links.

Once we spoke with our buyers several times a day. Now we rarely communicate voice to voice.

Once we wrote offers on carbon paper on the hoods of our cars. Now even signatures are handled electronically.

I’m embarrassed to confess that when fax machines were new, I stood up at a weekly sales meeting and argued against acquiring one for the office. “Isn’t it better to sign and deliver papers in person?” I inquired of my colleagues.

Flash forward to the present and I’ve recently completed two entirely “virtual” transactions. My clients were very happy with the result. As was I.

Yet I miss seeing folks face to face, buying them coffee, walking through houses together, literally holding their hands during negotiating and handing over keys at closing.

Like I said, I have been doing this a long time and the only constant is change.

Another version of this entry first appeared on my Mcguire.com blog in 2012. Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit http://CynthiaCummins.com.

Buddha, Come Back

SAMSUNG

I’ve noticed a significant decrease in the number of Buddhas being used in staging San Francisco properties for sale.

Did we grow tired of the Buddha home decor fad? With likenesses sprouting on mantelpieces like oxalis in sidewalk cracks?

Or does their sudden scarcity signify a market in which listing agents and sellers have become thoughtless and, sometimes, downright cruel? I’m just asking.

Meanwhile, I’m away to Tassajara Zen Mountain Center for a mindfulness retreat and I won’t be posting for a few days.

 

 

Amorphous solid (non-crystalline) blah ba de blah

My theme for this Tuesday’s tour is GLASS. I saw lots and lots of it this week. Vases, bowls, sculptures, dishes — all used for staging.

According to Wikipedia, GLASS is “an amorphous solid (non-crystalline) material that exhibits a glass transition, which is the reversible transition in amorphous materials (or in amorphous regions within semicrystalline materials) from a hard and relatively brittle state into a molten or rubber-like state.”

(Easy for YOU to say, Wikipedia.)

I just thought all the glass was pretty. I took photos with my vintage Samsung Galaxy phone, then put them through Waterlogue. These images are the result.

Painted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in WaterloguePainted in Waterlogue

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