Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Berkeley Hills Realtors are Team Players

After the Berkeley Hills Realty weekly meeting, the office rings with a volley of shouts:  

“I’m coming!”
“I need two more minutes!”
 “I’ll drive!”  

What on earth is going on? After party? Happy hour?

Nope. When a single agent asks for extra hands and eyes to resolve an issue concerning property newly in her care—a team forms and deploys itself in five minutes flat. 35 minutes later, the issue is resolved. The solution team swarms back in to return phone calls, disappear leftover birthday cake, deliver hot tea to visiting clients, and buzz in their vote for the office background music.

One agent is extremely apologetic about not being able to help due to a prior commitment: “When I need help, every available agent makes an effort to help me. So, I try to help every time another agent asks.”

As a buyer or seller working with an agent at Berkeley Hills Realty, you win the unique qualities and expertise of the agent you have chosen. Plus, you get the combined knowledge of a whole team of seasoned professionals. Every one of them is prepped and ready to defeat any obstacle that comes between you and your dreams.

Oh! So that’s what Berkeley Hills Realty means by “small town ethics, big world view.” Glad somebody’s on that…

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sushi for the Realtor’s Soul:

Thought-bites to get you through the day

Re-watching the ridicu-licious comedy Bowfinger yielded an unexpected life tool—the happy premises.  In one scene, a paranoid Kit, played by Eddie Murphy, tries to mellow from a panic. He is led through his personal happy premises:

“Happy Premise # 1: There are no aliens.  
Happy Premise #2: There is no giant foot trying to squash me.
Happy Premise #3: Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won’t.”

Why does this silly set of rules seem slightly relevant?
Because these are the basic principles for getting through any business day.

“Happy Premise #1: There are no aliens.”
Happy Premise Re-Mix: There are no strangers.

In the movie Kit is worried about visitors from another planet attacking him. You may or may not have this particular concern today.
You will have visitors, clients, business associates, and rogue commuters that seem as if they are from another planet. They aren’t.
There is some thread of commonality in every interaction. Find it, and you are dealing with a friend instead of a stranger.

“Happy Premise #2: There is no giant foot trying to squash me.”
Happy Premise Re-Mix: They are not out to get you.

Most people are not out to get you because they don’t have time. 
The few who are out to get you won’t win.
The rest of the people are just wondering why you have your weapons out all the time.

“Happy Premise #3: Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won’t.”
Happy Premise Re-Mix: Even though I feel like I might ignite, I probably won’t.

We will make it through this day without exploding.  Probably.
So we might as well get out there and make the best of it.

“We cannot escape fear. We can only transform it into a companion that accompanies us on all our exciting adventures… Take a risk a day—one small or bold stroke that will make you feel great once you have done it.”  -Susan Jeffers

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rent Disenchantment

Is it time to start thinking about owning a home?  Shelter-seekers in Northern California often choose to rent, but there is some debate about whether or not renting is actually the best financial option. Spoiler Alert:  Real estate professionals tend to think buying is the answer.  Here are a few places where you can follow the discussion, look at the numbers, and decide for yourself if renting or buying is the right choice for you.
If you do decide it is time to own your own home, give us a call at Berkeley Hills Realty.  We’ll help you find a home that fits your budget and your lifestyle.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“Knock-Knock” is No Joke:

Real Estate Professionals Find Out “Who’s There” By Knocking on Doors

Sunday morning. 7am. Berkeley Hills Realty co-owner Bill McDowell quietly posts signs for an open house at 2pm. At nine, he starts strolling the neighborhood. He chats with neighbors, pets puppies, stands as a cheerful target for children on bikes, hands groggy couples their Sunday paper, and personally invites each person he meets to the open house. He may or may not have on the special M&M tie fellow agent MayaTrilling gave him to tease him about his signature stash of peanut M&Ms. He will have on a smile. You’d be wise to bet the house he is representing with fellow co-owner of Berkeley HillsRealty, Tracy Sichterman, will sell and come fully equipped with good vibes for the new owners. That success can be attributed to the powerful combination of Tracy’s online marketing campaign and her gentle nurturing of each client coupled with Bill’s careful research and gregarious door-to-door visits. This broker pair encourages all of the agents at Berkeley Hills Realty to use their individual mixes of digital push and personal pull to embrace the company’s motto: “Small Town Ethics. Big World View.”

Bill and Tracy are not alone. Many real estate professionals are linking their technological savvy with more traditional methods of marketing to get quantifiably positive results in a chaotic market climate. 

Are you a real estate professional thinking of strapping on your foot-in-the-door shoes? Here are three quick tips to consider when knocking on doors:

  1. Never Show Up Empty-Handed: Some agents hand out a formal invitation to an open house. Others combine the invitation with small, useful gifts-- a calendar, a key chain flash drive, or snacks. When a name is added to their mailing list, some agents offer a chance to win a bottle of wine or entry into a drawing for a prize.  Include your business card in your package of goodies, but have more than your business card to share.
  1. Know Before You Go: Do your research and know the neighborhood. Read the neighborhood association newsletter, the local paper, and all of the signs posted in the neighborhood (and neighborhood businesses). When you know a little bit about the neighborhood you are likely to be more comfortable, which means you and your message are more likely to be welcomed.
  1. Share the Knowledge: Any information that can positively impact a homeowner’s investment or help a buyer to evaluate the market is likely to be well-received. Know what the concerns of local residents are and come armed with solutions, suggestions, and referrals. Do you know a good landscaper, contractor, house sitter? Be ready and willing to share that information if the topic comes up.
The best way to find out how door-knocking works is to talk to agents who are already working it. Find out which agents are getting good results with this method and ask for their advice while treating them dinner or coffee. Knocking on doors to find out “who’s there” might just be the key to boosting your real estate dream to the next level.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Standard Relationship Disclosure Packet:

Wouldn’t it be great if we exchanged disclosure packets at the beginning of every life relationship?

*For those of you who aren’t real estate professionals, every home sold yields a substantial stack of paper called the disclosure packet. This is where the home seller tells the truth about what changes have been made to the house, what issues may arise with the house—basically everything that buyers might want to know about the house as they decide whether or not to invest in it.

The Standard Relationship Disclosure Packet (henceforth referred to as the SRDP because real estate professionals are second only to military recruits in the use of acronyms) would list useful things to know about a new friend or sweetheart before you choose to weave your lives together. The SRDP would include but not be limited to the following:

Specific Terms of Contract:
In which we define why we are here and what we plan to do about it.

Statement of Common Interest:
In which we notice how our dreams, hobbies, and habits intersect.

Notice to Disclose Intent to Convert:
In which we are upfront about all the ways we plan to change each other.

Notice of Security Bars:
In which we discuss how heightened emotional security measures have been implemented due to past violations.

Likelihood of Blanket Encumbrance:
In which we admit we will probably steal the covers.

Political, Religious, and Emotional Hazards Report:
In which we define our belief systems and establish firm boundaries.

Termination Rights:
In which we define when it makes sense to call it quits and how we would plan to go about it.

Notice of Closing Terms:
In which we decide when to admit we’ve made a life-connection and wish to waive our termination rights.

What other disclosures do you wish were exchanged at the beginning of relationships?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Seller Incentives: Your Bank May Pay You to Sell Your House

Banks have discovered that it is better to give than to receive.  Receiving a home through foreclosure has proven expensive for the lender.  According to Freddie Mac, an average foreclosure costs a bank $60,000.  Instead, bottom-line sensitive institutions are giving cash incentives to encourage homeowners to cooperate with a short sale.  A short sale is a sale in which the bank agrees to let a house sell for less than the amount of their outstanding loan.   
  • Bank of America is offering 5k-30k
  • Chase is offering 10k-55k on their older WAMU products.
  • Wachovia and Wells Fargo Financial: 5-15k
In addition, the Home Affordable ForeclosureAlternatives (HAFA) program provides $3,000 in relocation assistance at the close of an FHA short sale.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

The summer market has been sizzling and one surprising beneficiary has been sellers who had assumed they were in for a short sale.  Some recently listed “short sales” have received multiple offers.  Through the miracle of competition, the price has been driven up enough in some instances to bridge the loan gap and turn the short sale into a traditional sale.  This is great news for sellers’ resulting credit.  Don’t assume your house is underwater.  The tides are turning.