The race to beat El Niño for home sellers

Rain_cloud_El_NiñoIf you are gearing up to sell your Los Gatos area home before the end of the year, or in the first three or four months of next year, it is not too soon to begin the outside jobs.  Right now it’s dry, which makes much of the exterior work easier.  Waiting until the rains arrive will only make these jobs more miserable to do.

If you are targeting an autumn home sale with a very impending rainy season, here are some suggestions for preparing your home to sell ahead of El Niño’s arrival:

  1. Create a punch list of work to do outside (and inside, too).  Do a “walk around” the outside of your home, and bring someone along who does not live there to help you to identify things which need repairing, replacing, or cleaning up.  (When you see something all the time, it may seem normal to you and you  won’t realize it needs addressing.) Your Realtor is often an ideal person to help you with this list.
  2. Get any leaves or pine needles off your roof or have someone else do this for you.
  3. Have your roof inspected and have the “tune up work” and gutters cleaned now (get a quality roofer or roofing inspection company from your Realtor) .  Roofing companies are backlogged as it is, so if you put this off it could be too late.
  4. Power washing is not allowed with our current drought caused water restrictions, but the exterior of homes should be swept clean of spider webs and dust easily enough, so take care of that soon.  Pay special attention to the area near the front door.
  5. Plan to do exterior painting and other work now.  Wood trim tends to need painting every 5 years or so.  If yours looks tired or neglected, it sends a signal to home buyers that other things may be neglected, too.
  6. Check the sidewalk condition for safety.  Is it lifted and a tripping hazard?  If so, contact the town of Los Gatos (if a resident) and get it on the schedule to be repaired.  (San Jose residents must pay for this themselves but that city requires a permit, which can take weeks to obtain.) For more on this, read a related article: Who maintains the sidewalks in Los Gatos – the home owner, or the town?
  7. Change exterior light bulbs if needed.
  8. Paint, polish, or replace your mailbox. Clean the hardware on your front door.

There will be many more things to do indoors, of course, but if you can address these outdoor items before the rain comes, they will be far easier to tackle.

Related reading:

Tips for selling your home in an El Niño year

Strategies for improving your home’s sale price

Ranch style home - this one on the west side in Monte Sereno, which shares parks, schools, library & police with Los Gatos

Real estate professionals do a lot to try to get home sellers the maximum net from the sale of a home.  That doesn’t usually mean that listing agents tell you to spend as little as possible to prepare and market your home, because sometimes spending less is “penny wise and pound foolish”.

For some reason, though, many home owners really fixate on what is easily measurable, such as the cost to paint or re-carpet a home, provide staging in a vacant or badly furnished property, or the amount to pay to a buyer’s agent in the commission.   Sometimes saving money in those marketing areas will hurt you in the ultimate sale price and how much you take away when it’s all done.  Best is focusing on your ultimate net proceeds.

Pay a lot of attention to what is visible

For instance, often the best return on investment is in the most visible areas – things like paint, carpet, sprucing up the front landscape, or just simply de-cluttering and deep cleaning.  Home sellers who do not de-clutter, clean, and do a little sprucing may “save” on sale prep, but easily lose far more than that on the sale price.  Many will argue that “the buyer may not like my color choice”.  While that’s true, we’re not trying to guess the buyer’s color schemes.  What we want to do is to make the property appealing so that the buyer can envision himself or herself there.  Neutralizing your personalization of the home will often provide a good boost in the ultimate price.

Another reason to focus on what is visible is because today’s home buyers will pre-screen your home by viewing photos on line.  Even the best photographer cannot mitigate an unattractive condition by adding HD to the quality of the photos shot.   An overstuffed home will give a sense of crowding, and that’s exactly what home buyers do not want.

Read moreStrategies for improving your home’s sale price

What to sell your Los Gatos home this spring? A few tips….

Los Gatos CollageIt’s a deep seller’s market in most of Silicon Valley, and that’s good news for you if you want to sell your Los Gatos home this year.  However, don’t base your major decisions on the major headlines!  Real estate is always local, even “hyper local”, so get the data related to your home’s market and go from there.

What are some of the major concepts you need to know before putting your home on the market?

(1) Selling As Is does not meeting doing nothing and expecting the highest sale price.  The most successful sellers don’t just throw their property on the market without any thought or effort.  Those who sell fast and for top dollar actually do a fair amount of prep work!  They may not remodel and move out, furnish their house with rental furniture,and put all their belongings in storage,  but they do clean, decutter, provide pre-sale inspections and price appropriately.

(2) Selling As Is means that you don’t have to provide a Section 1 pest clearance or fix every little thing that’s not perfect with the house or yard.  However, you do want to find out what needs fixing and disclose it upfront so that there are no surprises later.  (Later surprises often equal a renegotiation later.) As Holiday Inn used to say, “The best surprise is no surprise.”

(3) Many homes listed at one price sell for a higher price.  So it can be tempting to look at the most recently closed sale and offer your house for sale at the closed price – or something really close to it.  However, the way that sale got to that price is often by providing an attractively low list price.  If a condo or townhouse just closed at $950,000 but was listed for $885,000, you don’t want to then list your similar condo at $950,000.  Why not? First, one comp does not make market value!  But second, if homes are often selling for $65,000 over list and you come in at the most recent value, many home buyers will be envisioning the ‘true sale price’ as $50,000 or more higher. In other words, suddenly your property appears unattractive and overpriced.  if you want to be competitive and attractive, don’t focus on the sale price as much as on the LIST price – and know that if your home is in good shape, you will collect the multiple offers that will push the value up.

(4) To repeat with what we stated upfront, it’s important to understand your market within the bigger market. If you are in the 95032 zip code, it does matter also which school district your home is in and what pricing tier you’re in.   It’s going to be very different, most of the time, if you’re in 95032 at the lowest price point (condo / townhouse or house that’s a tear down) as opposed to one worth $2 million or more.  Further, some 95032 homes are in the Los Gatos Union School District, while others are in the Union School District or Campbell Union School District.  IGNORE all the “zip code only” data – most likely, it’s not all that relevant to YOUR home.

Just like it takes work to sell your home for top dollar, it also takes work to do the pricing analysis well.  That’s one area where it’s too important to just shoot from the hip.  Everyone likes easy answers, but sometimes pricing analysis is not all that easy.  Lately we have low inventory and low numbers of sales – so the pricing work can be a little harder to work out. Be sure to find an agent who will give this the appropriate effort and skill.

Want my assistance? Please call or email me for a confidential, no obligation appointment.

Want to Sell Your Home in Spring? Lay Some Groundwork Now!

December 15, 2009

Yes, I know, it’s mid-December and you really don’t want to even think about doing anything with your home other than decorate it for the season (and your visitors) right now.  But if you want to sell your Los Gatos home in 2010, it would be a very good idea to do a little planning now so that you can be ready to hit the ground running in January for the spring market and not be rushed.

What kind of “groundwork” can you do now that won’t take a ton of time and be terribly inconvenient?  My suggestion is to begin to create a plan of action for yourself.  Start with the end in mind, such as “I’d like to be out of my house by April 15th” or whatever target you might have, and then back it up from there with various to do’s. Jot down all the ideas first, such as pack up items not needed and put in storage, read market statistics online, pick a couple of agents to interview, plan for pre-sale inspections, do staging or decluttering work, schedule carpet cleaners, plant new annuals by front door, etc.  Later you can organize them..

I am working with some sellers now who would like to have their Silicon Valley home on the market in mid-January.  They’ve got a schedule for when we’ll do the pre-sale inspections, and they intend to have the garage accessible (storage cleared so the inspectors can see what’s necessary without calling for an “unknown further inspection due to stored personal belongings”).   We know when the home will be show-ready, the photos and virtual tours can be shot and when we can go on the market.  It’s not a tight schedule but we have a basic roadmap.

If you’re thinking of selling your home in Los Gatos, Saratoga, or San Jose this spring, give yourself a month or so between when you begin to get ready and when the sign’s in the yard and the lockbox on your front door: in most cases, that’s about how long it takes, however, things can move a whole lot faster if you need to rush.  You can hire your agent before you begin all the prep work or you can hire your agent first and have guidance & help with the prep work – most do the latter but either way can work. Pencil it out ahead of time and the process will go smoother all the way through.

For now, then, don’t stress. But do get out your pencil and paper. Jot out your basic goals and what you think it will take to accomplish them. If you have an agent (or two or three) you’d like to chat with, now’s ot too early to cal them and begin to discuss staging, comps, services offered, etc. Do that much and you can pick up the rest in January, and you’ll have peace of mind that you did not leave it all until the last minute!


Home Sellers Ask: Why Isn't My Home Selling?

November 03, 2009

Have you tried to sell your Los Gatos home and not had success? If you listed your home for sale but it did not sell, you are probably tired, frustrated, and feeling skeptical.  Let’s look at what is probably happening.

First we’ll have a look at the overall landscape for home sellers in the Los Gatos area and look at some numbers.

The numbers below reference “area 16” in our MLS, which includes Los Gatos, a little sliver of San Jose and Campbell, and all of Monte Sereno.  It is meant to give a general sense of the real estate market conditions for the area.  Homes in this post refers to houses, condominiums and townhomes.

Houses, Condos & Townhomes in Area 16
Available (status 1) 191
Pending (status 2-4) 79
Pended sale in last month 46
Sold & closed (status 5) 35
overall months of inventory 5.45
odds a home will sell this month 24%

Sales activity is picking up, as you can see by the larger number of pending sales than closed sales. But please note that not every home under contract will actually close escrow.  Getting your home an accepted offer and getting it “in escrow” is the first hurdle, but not the only one.

The odds are actually against your home selling right now.  In the last month, only 46 homes had accepted offers on them, and there are 191 available in the Los Gatos area.  The ratio – the odds that any given home will sell in the next thirty days is approximately 24%.  So if your home hasn’t sold, know that you are not alone.

But what can you do about it?

First, you need to know what the issue is (or what the issues are).  To get a contract on your home, you need a good amount of qualified traffic, approximately 3 to 5 showings per week.  If you have the activity, get feedback from your agent – what are the objections, concerns, and reasons why buyers don’t move forward and write an offer?

Usually the problem is in one of a few areas, sometimes a combination of them.  Here they are in order of probability:

  • the price is too high
  • the home is too difficult to see (restrictive days, hours, arrangements)
  • poor condition
  • poor cosmetics
  • location issues
  • seller  or sale issues
  • poor marketing


The vast majority of the time, the main issue on homes that don’t sell is pricing.  Sellers are sometimes “the highest bidder” on their own home. If your home is probably worth a million dollars to 95% of the buyers, but you list it at $1,400,000, it likely won’t sell.  Maybe 2-5% of the buyers will bite, 95% won’t and the balance will only buy it at $800,000.  If you are serious about selling, put your pricing strategy in line with the market.  Ask yourself: What is the probable buyer’s value?

But I’m not in a hurry!  I don’t want to give away my home!  I can wait!

Of course, occassionally a seller can set the price too high and a home will sell.  That is usually a fluke. So is the other extreme, when sellers part with their property at fire sale prices.  If you are truly not
in a hurry and want to sell for a certain dollar amount
, wait until the market catches up with you. If your home is the most expensive one for homes of its kind, your listing will only guarantee that other homes will sell first – your wil make theirs look like a good deal.

Set realistic expectations with pricing and you will get over most of the reasons why a home won’t sell. If the price is truly right, buyers (and their Realtors) can often overlook any other condition or situation.

Restrictive Showings:

How hard is it for a Realtor or other real estate professional to preview or show your home to buyers? Do they need to give a lot of notice? Can they only visit your home on certain days, times, or with an agent present?  The harder it is to see your home, the harder it is for an agent to sell it.

There’s a wide variety of showing options.  For ease of showing, best is on the left and worst is on the right.  Where is yours on this continuum? 

Vacant Call first, no show Appt 24 hour  Appt 48 hour write offer 
Go Direct then go after 5pm only through notice  only through notice subject to
    or no show seller requir

listing agent required inspection

If your home is not getting traffic, it may be because your home is too hard to see. If possible, consider making your home more accessible.  Remember that buyers usually have jobs and can only see your home on their time off.  For most, that means a showing at an inconvenient time, such as 6pm.  The buyers may or may not have weekends off, so don’t presume that they can come on a Saturday or Sunday during an open house. 

It is hard to have your home on the market, especially if you’ve got kids at home.  With my clients who are selling their home and need to work around the kids’ schedules, I usually suggest showings from 10am to 7pm seven days a week.  If we get their home priced, marketed, and under contract within a week or ten days, this is very doable and it enables buyers to come by after work if needed.

Recently some buyers of mine wanted to see a particular home but on weekdays it was only available until 4pm.  They could not get there until 6, so ended up buying another home. 

Remember: if they can’t see it, you can’t sell it.

Poor Condition, Poor Cosmetics, Odors and Pets:

If your home needs a lot of work, it will scare off most buyers.  In Silicon Valley, home buyers are often working full time (or more) and they usually can’t or don’t want to take on a home that needs a new kitchen, bathrooms, wiring, repiping, etc.  It’s just too disruptive and, frankly, a lilttle scary to the majority of them.  If they do take it on, they will want a steep discount for their trouble and for the “risk” involved.

For instance, if a fully remodeled townhome sells for a million dollars, and it takes about $100,000 to bring an original one up to that level, the buyer won’t pay $900,000 for it. No, the buyer will only pay about $800,000, maybe a little more, since he or she will have to do the fixing, live through the mess, and take on the risk that the project is bigger than it seems. 

Cosmetics refers to the minor stuff like paint and carpet – these aren’t structural but they certainly do factor in how a buyer feels about the real estate for sale.  Is the home too cluttered? Are there too many personal effects?   It is a common problem and is an easy fix if you are willing – but if not done, can create problems for buyers who simply cannot visualize themselves in an overstuffed home. You need to make it possible for them to mentally move in. They can’t do that if your personal photos and stuff is taking up too much of the space.  Remember, too, that you want to make your home appear spacious. If it looks crowded, buyers will not want to buy.

Odors are a common problem too. Smoke? Strong cooking odors? Incense?  Most Los Gatos or San Jose area home buyers will have trouble getting past strong odors because they are afraid that the only way to get the home smelling fresh will be to pull up carpet, replace curtains, etc.  Or that even that won’t do the trick.   It is very important to make your home a comfortable place where buyers can linger – get rid of the smells. Do not smoke in your home.  If you have lived and smoked in your home a long time, get your curtains dry cleaned, wash your carpet (or consider replacing it and the pad under it).  Get the smells out!


Once I was previewing a Los Gatos home for sale and simply gagged on odors when I entered the bedroom wing.  The sellers had pet bunnies in cages and the smell was terrible.  We have had bunnies too and the smell wasn’t like this – the owners simply weren’t cleaning the cages enough.  If you have pets, keep them bathed. Clean their bedding and cages often. 

Another time I was previewing a San Jose condo and one of the kids ran up to me and literally shoved a baby snake in my face. Luckily, it didn’t freak me out.  But it would scare a lot of buyers.  More often, it’s dogs that frighten potential home buyers.  Please make sure that your dogs and other pets are either out of the home or in a run or crated during showings. They frighten some people and will make them hurry out of your home.

You can always compensate for poor condition and cosmetics with an appropriate price, but it is often cheaper for you to fix the problems, such as decluttering, airing out the home, adding a new roof or doing cosmetic (light) remodeling, before putting the home on the market. New paint, carpet, light fixtures, sod and annuals will do wonders for the sales price of a tired looking home.

Location and Neighborhood Issues:

If your home is adjacent to something undesireable, such as high voltage power lines, a grocery store, or is located in a natural hazard zone of some kind (flood plain, earthquake fault zone) or anything else that a buyer may find objectionable, often there’s not a lot you can do about it. You usually cannot “fix” too many cars on the street, neighbors who don’t maintain their yards or houses, etc.   Sometimes buyers don’t want a home because of feng shui issues such as the way the home faces (north, south, east, west).   Maybe they don’t want a home that faces a T intersection.

Sometimes, though, you can mitigage the location and neighborhood situation a little. Plant trees and hedges to screen a view of power lines, your neighbor’s
junker or RV in the driveway. (Yes, some homebuyers
will find RVs and boats an eyesore and won’t want to live next to them.)  You still have to disclose anything that might bother the buyer, but that doesn’t mean they have to see it.

Is it a feng shui issue? Sometimes there are “fixes” that can make whatever problem it is less of one.  Talk to your agent and read up on whatever the item is.

Seller or sale issues:

If it is a short sale, many buyers will simply boycott it because there are too many unknowns – will the bank approve the short sale? Will the sale close?  REOs are abundant but sometimes those homes are stripped – too many things are missing or damaged, so they don’t always sell. (The bank owns these, of course, but if you’re a neighbor and wondering why a nearby home hasn’t sold, that may be the reason.) REOs come without presale inspections or disclosures in most cases.  That raises the risk factor – buyers have too many unanswered questions, and this can also slow down a sale.  I was showing an REO near Valley Fair yesterday and the oddest thing is missing there: heat.  There is simply no heat source at all in the home.  This kind of thing can put off most buyers.

If you have a “seller to find replacement home” contingency, that will also not work for most buyers.

If the seller is always home, or worse, won’t leave the buyers to look in peace, that can also scare off buyers.  They need to be left alone so they can see the space and visualize whether their furniture will work, whether or not it will suit the way they live.  When my family and I were homebuying about 10 years ago, one seller followed us all through the home and even into the yard.  He pulled a lawn chair out and moved it so that we were not out of his sight for even a second as we walked around the yard.  To this day, my kids refer to it as “the house where that man kept following us”. We didn’t buy it, of course. It was creepy.

Poor Marketing:

This is almost never the reason why a home doesn’t sell, but on very rare occassions it may be the case.  Sellers often think that the problem is marketing, but a home with the best marketing in the world won’t sell if the price is wrong and the home is too hard to see or has other major issues.  But perhaps one home in 200 will have a true marketing problem. 

Marketing problems, in order:

  • not enough photos of the home
  • photos only of the outside, no views of the major parts inside such as kitchen
  • bad photos of cluttered homes, yards, cars in driveway, etc.
  • incorrect MLS entry of data, underrepresenting the number of beds, baths, garage etc.
  • other MLS or listing issues, visible to the agent community

The #1 marketing culprit is poor photographs of the home, not enough of them, or not making the home look appealing for the photos.  Again, some homes will sell despite lousy pics, but we want to aim at the majority of buyers.  No pic? They’ll probably pass on the home.  No view of the kitchen or baths? They’ll presume the worst – it must be horrible!

MLS issues do happen. I have seen agents state that a home has a 1 car garage when it has 2, or 1 bath when there are 2, etc.  It is very easy to click the incorrect box, so it is crucial that the agent and the home owner double check and make corrections as soon as the home goes on the MLS.  If the wrong data is listed, your home will miss out on buyers seeing it.

I have to tread lightly on the last point about MLS issues that only agents can see.


Most of the time, buyers do not pay the commission, but it comes out of the sellers’ proceeds. There’s a variety of commission rates offered to the buyers’ agent (it is not fixed by law, of course) but sometimes that figure is so low that it can disincentivize a buyers agent from showing the home.  In the extreme, I once saw a downtown San Jose home with a commission rate of $1 (one dollar).  That will work if the buyers are willing to pay the commission, but usually they don’t want to do that.  At the other extreme, sometimes as a marketing angle, sellers will offer a slightly elevated commission rate to increase traffic. 

What I do for my seller clients is to run the mls (with the commissions showing) of the competition & pending sales and download it to an excel spread sheet. I then sort it and check days on market and sales price against with the commissions to give the sellers a sense of what’s happening.  I did this a couple of days ago for clients in Willow Glen.  It looked like the average net is almost 1% higher by placing the commission at one point versus another.  This may or may not always be the case – you would have to actually run the data to see.

A few times, I’ve had hard-to-sell homes and by elevating the commission above the crowd a little bit, increased showings and got the home sold (often when I’m the 2nd or 3rd agent trying to sell a home).  Conversely, if the commission offered to the buyers agent is $1 or on the low end of what’s offered in that area, it may hurt traffic.  It is legal to offer any amount – or none, if you are selling by owner – but think of it as a marketing dollar. 

The Problem Sales Agent:

On the most rare of occassions, the real estate salesperson may be the problem. This really is extremely infrequent, but the personality of your sales professional, or his/her reputation, may be what’s causing your home to not sell or to sell for less.  This is not a brokerage issue, but your salesperson I’m talking about.  Buyers don’t usually know who’s who, and they don’t care which company has the listing.  But the buyers’ agent might know that the listing agent is a difficult person, unreliable, unprofessional, or any other bad combination of things.   Buyer agents may simply try to avoid working with those listing agents if possible.   This is extraordinarily rare – one in several thousand – but it can happen. So before hiring, find out what the agent’s reputation is with other Realtors.  We are never supposed to badmouth the competition, so it may be difficult to figure out if your agent is on the very short list of disliked or distrusted agents, but it’s worth trying. Your salesperson is part of your package deal, so make sure you hire well.

If you’ve tried to sell your home but been unsuccessful, the chances are that one of the issues above is the problem.

Conversely, how do you make sure that your home is one of the 24% that does sell?  It is both simple and hard:  hire a good agent, get the price right, get the home into show-ready condition, make the home easy to see, double check for marketing issues or errors (home info, enough pics).  Getting it all right is not easy, but it will greatly increase the odds of your success in selling your home.

If your home is an expired or cancelled listing and you would like to chat about getting it sold, please call or email me. I’d be happy to meet with you and chat about what can be done to get your home sold in today’s market.

Getting a Home to Sell in Any Market

November 27, 2007

Colorful autumn leaves at Vasona Lake County Park, Los Gatos, in November, 2007.

The autumn real estate market has been chilly in places, particularly outside of the Bay Area. The falling leaves are accompanying falling prices in some regions.

Silicon Valley is full of micro climates, or micro markets, so it’s hard to make a blanket statement about “the market”. Some segments are red hot, and others are icy cool. Even within Los Gatos that’s true. We’ve been experiencing the oddly “bifurcated market” for many months now.

What drives some segments into a sellers’ market while others languish? Why do some homes get 5 – 10 offers, and others don’t sell (or even get an offer) despite repeated efforts of seller and agents?

Usually, the leading indicator is (you can guess this) location. (And the main factor that plays into location is schools.) Other significant elements are condition, pricing, accessibility, and finally marketing.

When homes sell today with multiple offers, it’s because all five of these important aspects are right on target. The homes in great condition, in a great location with the best schools, well marketed and with an aggressive price are selling right away and with several bidders.

What You Can Control, What You Can’t in the Sale of a Home:
Location, Accessibility, Marketing, Condition and Pricing

Neither owners nor agents control the location, but every other issue is in their combined control. Let’s look at them.

Mary Pope-Handy, Realtor, Los Gatos, Saratoga, San Jose, and Silicon ValleyAccessibility is key because if the home is difficult to see, folks won’t bother. Sometimes they only have a little window of time, and if they find ithe property on the MLS on a Saturday morning, they may only have Saturday afternoon in which to take a walk through. Don’t refuse a lockbox or require all showings to be “by appointment only”, More qualified traffic means better odds that your home will sell faster and for a better price, whether it’s in Saratoga, Los Gatos, San Jose, or anywhere! Making your home easy to view is the cheapest way of helping improve your odds of selling at a good price!

Marketing is what can help buyers to find your home and to see it in its best light. It’s exposure via the web, the MLS, postcards, good flyers, open houses, networking, print ads, you name it. Some agents, though, ignore marketing! They are trained to only worry about price. It’s true that at the right price, any home can sell in any market. But a good agent doesn’t just want your home to sell, but to sell for the best price & terms in today’s market. It is crucial to get the price right, but it’s extremely important to also correctly address condition and marketing. Poor marketing is a lost opportunity and can cost you money.

A caveat: good marketing cannot sell a home with the wrong price or wrong condition. But for a home that is priced right and staged right, marketing can help sell homes for more (and in some cases create multiple offers instead of getting just one).

Condition is also key! Often a little improvement in the presentation of the home can significantly boost the sales price (fresh carpet and paint, neutralizing, decluttering, storing extra “stuff” are all usually good bets – remodeling a kitchen isn’t). Buyers want an updated home that’s tastefully done. When they see a home in original condition, or worse, it can be hard to see past it (and feels frighteningly expensive to update – it can scare them off). Agents with staging knowledge can be invaluable in helping you to “pick your battles” here.

Pricing is by far the most important element to consider here, and a too-high price is the main cause of homes not selling.

How does this happen?

One way is in the agent selection process. Mr and Mrs Seller interview 3 or 4 agents from 3 or 4 different companies and they hire the one who tells them the highest price. (It does happen, I guarantee you!) If several agents give you a price range that’s fairly close and one is way higher, it doesn’t mean that you should hire the agent with the extremely attractive price because he or she can get it for you. It probably means that the agent is just plain mistaken. Or, to sound cynical, it could be that the agent is trying to “buy the listing”. (That is a term that means telling the seller a high price to get the listing. It is unethical and prohibited by the Realtor Code of Ethics.)

A better approach is to pick the agent and then work out the price together. Unsure on where to put the asking amount? If it’s really tricky, hire an appraiser. It’s worth it.

Sometimes the market changes for the worse as soon as your home goes on the market, and you’re left not knowing what just hit you. This happened in September of 2001 after the attacks and it happened again this September, when the market in the west valley just about came to a standstill.

Whether the change is slow or sudden, it can be hard for sellers to believe that the home is no longer worth what it was a couple of weeks ago and they hold on to the higher price, stubbornly. This is a costly mistake, if understandable. In a buyers’ market, in fact, most homes will never sell because the sellers are futilely holding on to a past memory of what the home used to be worth.

And finally, sometimes, price is the only remedy. Sometimes homes can’t be fixed up, sometimes the hours have to be restrictive due to illness or something along those lines – these both hurt the selling price. But in that case, you can lower the offering amount to compensate and to attract a qualified buyer.

Los Gatos is mostly a “normal” or “level” market. Prices aren’t really rising or falling in most of the town – but in some strata and areas things are moving one way or the other. In a declining market, it’s extremely crucial to price your home lower than the most recenly closed sale. If you price it a little high to have “room to negotiate”, you may find that you have no one with whom to negotiate!

In summary. . . Any home can sell in any market. Right now, despite the doom and gloom you are hearing or reading about, there are local homes selling quickly and with multiple offers. These are homes “without issues”. They don’t back to schools, stores, high voltage lines, freeways or busy roads. They have good schools. They enjoy total remodeling and are priced low to get able buyers attention.

Maybe your home isn’t in the ideal location, with the best school. Maybe it’s not full of granite and high end appliances. Maybe it’s not going to get 9 offers in a week.

But your home, if you
want to sell it, can probably be accessible, clean and well staged, nicely marketed, and priced right. Even in today’s market, a home with one or more problems can sell within a month if the issues are addressed (by price if nothing else). The hardest one, of course, is price. It’s hard to sell at one price when a home “used to be worth” or “I thought it was worth” something else. Think of it as being like a share of a company in the stock market: some days it’s up, some days it’s down. If a stock is trading at $100 per share one day, it may be more or less the next day. You can always sell that share – if you’re willing to take the market value for it on that day. It’s the same with your home! A good agent will help you maximize that price by educating you on accessibility and condition, and marketing like crazy. But they all fit together, hand in glove.

If you keep those five elements in mind, you can sell your home in any market. This is true in my Belwood neighborhood of Los Gatos, it’s true in the Platinium Triangle of Saratoga, it’s true in San Jose’s Rosegarden area and all over California.

Call or email me if you’d like a personalized consultation on your home and the market in Santa Clara County today.

Mary Pope-Handy
Helping Nice Folks to Buy & Sell Homes Since 1993
“Get The Best Deal When Selling Your Home In Silicon Valley”
408 204-7673 (Cell)