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March 31, 2007


The question consumers always ask real estate professionals is “how’s the market?”  For a month or so, I have been telling my clients, friends, prospects – anyone who has asked me – that the market is “running hot and cold”.  It’s got a split personality. Some homes are flying off the market, and others are just sitting. The real answer? “It depends.”

Today’s San Jose Mercury News (March 31) runs a cover story with huge print and graphics, exclaiming, “Home Sales Run Hot, Cold”. The online version of the article is titled In Silicon Valley, Real Estate Market Has Two Faces. It is typical that what we are seeing happening in the market gets reported about a month after the Realtors have noticed what’s going on.

So what are these two situations, why are they different, and how can a buyer or seller take advantage of a market so weird?

The homes that are selling for top dollar tend to be in these categories: (1) in the northwest part of the valley (Palo Alto, Cupertino, etc.) , (2) completely fixed up (we are talking granite and high end appliances, A/C, newer windows, no significant structural repairs or updating needed),   (3) priced lower than recent sales.

Sellers are confused and when they read about multiple offers, they think they can put a home on the market that is priced high for recent sales and that doesn’t have a lot of curb appeal or staging inside.

Generally, buyers want a turnkey home that is value-priced.

What to do? Sellers:  If your home isn’t a “10”, don’t price it as if it were – it will just sit there (in any part of the valley).  Clean your home (and keep it clean for the duration of the listing – some sellers treat a home sale like a sprint and the place is only clean for the first two weeks after it goes on the market). Make the “right improvements” to your home. Realtors will gladly advise potential clients on the improvements which pay. Some don’t!  When you are looking to market your home, whether it needs work or not, take a hard look at the competition – and price lower.  The value homes are the ones getting all the attention, and this is true in every part of the valley.

And buyers, what about you? If you see a good value, don’t wait around – it could turn into multiple offers. Go into the market pre-approved and ready to move if you see the right home. Have a great Realtor, whose advice you trust, to assist you at each step of the way.

It’s not a bad market.  It’s just not 2000.