March 31, 2007

Tips for Bay Area Home Buyers Making Competitive Bids

This is an oldie, originally published in 2005, but it’s a good refresher on how to make a bid for a property – especially in the Bay Area. Millions of rich people are moving in every day, and millions more are getting rich from IPOs everyday – the competition is fierce so bring your “A” game!

The article had 8 tips, but we’re smart people so we’ll skip the usual ones and go straight to the killer tips:

RealEstateJournal | Eight Tips for Buyers Making Competitive Bids
Research the sellers. Find out how motivated they are to sell and whether they want to buy another home. In this case, you might be able to make your bid more attractive by offering such concessions in your bid as allowing them to stay in your home for free — also known as a “free rent-back” — after the sale, Ms. Edwards says. Knowing whether a property is being sold to settle a will is also important, because these sales are mostly driven by how much money they can generate, she adds.

Bid an odd-numbered amount. Most buyers typically offer a round number, such as $400,000 or $405,000 on a home selling for $395,000. Try to determine the highest amount you believe other bidders will offer. Then if you bid an uneven amount that’s slightly higher, say $407,250, you may outbid the highest round-numbered offer and win the property, says Ms. Vitacco.

Recently, clients of hers bid against seven other buyers on a home near Los Angeles listed for $399,000. Their bid of $413,750 was successful, since the next highest offer was $412,000. “I didn’t know where the next highest offer would go, but I did know that most people bid in round numbers,” says Ms. Vitacco.

Make your offer as clean as possible. Try to remove every factor in your offer that might deter a seller. Include the highest cash escrow and down payments you can afford and as much as possible of the remaining payment in cash. If you need financing, secure a letter from your lender stating that you have been approved for the loan. Eliminate as many contingencies as possible; offer to have the property inspected quickly and to pay local closing costs, such as special taxes; and be ready to close as soon as possible. Don’t ask for any appliances or fixtures that the owner wants and be sure to offer special assistance the owner might need, such as a free rent-back clause.

“Your ideal goal is for the seller to accept your offer outright, but they might counter you or make it a multiple-bidding situation, where the top three bidders can come back again,” says Ms. Edwards. “If the seller likes the buyer, price, financing or narrow contingencies, those people will have a chance to come back to the plate.”

Ok, even those are kind of obvious. But this next one is the killer:

Write a letter to the seller. “Don’t discount the emotional factor,” says Ms. Edwards. One way to set yourself apart is to write what she calls a “love letter” to the seller describing yourself and your partner and children, if you have them, and why you want the house. You might even include pictures your children have drawn of the home.

Ms. Grove and Ms. Wells included a photo from their wedding and described themselves in a personal letter to the owner of the home they wanted in San Rafael. Although they didn’t get the property, such letters often work because they set potential buyers apart and make the transaction less about money, says Ms. Edwards. “It sounds cheesy, but it does work,” she says. “The cheesier the better.”

One of her clients recently bought an Oakland Hills, Calif., home that attracted seven offers, even though the winning bid wasn’t the highest. The two-bedroom, one bath home was priced at about $450,000. The seller was a single woman who had worked hard to restore the property. Ms. Edwards’s client also was a single woman, so the Realtor advised her to write a letter describing herself and something she loved about the house and why she wanted it. Her bid, for about $500,000, was the second highest, but it was accepted.

Unfortunately, even this tip is well known. I personally know at least one family, maybe more, that did this to get their house.

So what can you do to win? The stakes are high – and like the father in Little Miss Sunshine said: “There are two kinds of people in this world, winners and losers.”

You want to be a winner right? You want to get that $1,098,000 1191 sqft 3br/1ba may-be-too-dangerous-to-enter in Cupertino for your children… right?

So what can you do to distinguish yourself to the seller? To let them know that you really really really want this place?

Here are 4 ideas I just brainstormed that really take the cake:

  1. Offer a night of … ummm … adult relations. Either one on your side, either one on their side. What? Demeaning? Disgusting? Oh come on… you just had your kids draw a picture of the house in crayon for the seller. Besides, think of the children! If you don’t get that house… they’ll grow up as renters.
  2. Ok, maybe they’re not into that? Then offer 1 kidney. Bad things happen, and it’s always good to have some extra organs around. Hopefully, there will be a blood match or otherwise…
  3. Buy them a place in Las Vegas. Come on, be reasonable – you want their house, but they have to live somewhere else. You can’t expect them to buy it, do you? So… buy them a place in Las Vegas – not quite as special as the Bay Area, but it could be the next big thing! And you can easily pay for this once you refi in 2 years and pull out $300k of equity from the 15% a year appreciation!
  4. Personal maid/chauffeur service for 5 years. You’ll go cook, clean, drive, bathe them around for a year. See “serfdom” to get some great ideas on how to do this job well.

Well, there you go! One of those ideas is bound to work. And if any of them help you win that bid, you owe me 1% commission.

Happy bidding! Remember, they’re not making any more land.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:16 am

March 30, 2007

UNSTOPPABLE PRICE APPRECIATION: Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino

San Jose Mercury News – In Silicon Valley, real estate market has two faces
In the area comprising Cupertino, Mountain View and Sunnyvale, it would take 27 days to sell out the houses on the market this week – a bit less than the 36 days worth of supply from a year earlier, according to data compiled from the local multiple listing service database by Richard Calhoun, owner of Creekside Realty in San Jose.Calhoun collected the data based on groupings of cities or neighborhoods that tend to be priced similarly and “for the most part are geographically contiguous with one another.” His data measures how long it would take to sell all the listed houses given sales pace during the preceding 35 days. Condos and townhouses were not included in the data.

Martine Schepers and her husband, Wim Verhaert, put their four-bedroom Sunnyvale house on the market March 15, priced at $928,000, which they knew was a bit low compared with recent sales. “We hoped we would get $950,000,” Schepers said.

Five days later, their agent, Dave Clark of Coldwell Banker, showed them a stack of 14 offers. A few were for more than $1 million. “We were looking at each other like `this can’t be happening,'” said Schepers, who is hoping to move back to Belgium, where she and her husband were raised. “We kind of heard it was hot, that the market was pretty good,” she said. “We did expect offers to come quickly, just not so many and not this much overbidding.”

Undeterred by national news of turmoil in the subprime mortgage sector or the stock market, buyers are competing for some homes in these communities, especially those in the most sought-after school districts, such as Cupertino, Los Altos and Los Gatos. Job growth is also bolstering the market, and many house-hunters are seeking short commutes to tech company jobs.

Demand for homes in these areas is such that some sellers are specifying the date upon which they’ll review offers – just like during the boom years from 2003 to mid-2005 – and insisting on “as-is” sales.

“I’m sorry for the buyers, to be frank with you,” said Coldwell Banker agent Stacy Chung as she toured a newly listed Cupertino home Thursday. Other agents agreed that the four-bedroom home – perfectly staged, with granite kitchen counters, stainless steel appliances and immaculate wood floors – would sell for more than its $928,000 list price. Chung told of a recent attempt by one of her clients to buy a Saratoga house priced at about $1.4 million. “We put in $120,000 more and didn’t get it.”


The Bay Area continues to go strong with multi-million dollar houses!

Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Cupertino – 1 word: UNSTOPPABLE!

Oh yeah! We rock. We so rock. Better start bidding 35% over if you want to be a player!

You are so priced out forever.

Comments (2) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 pm

2,418 sqft house with .71 acres for $999,000 – where?

A while ago, Burbed reader CatSynth asked:

OK, that’s at least two Long Island posts in the last couple of weeks. What about Westchester – New York City’s northern suburb? Having grown up there, I’m pretty sure it has some pretty high housing prices – you’ve got Scarsdale, and Chappaqua (my home town, and home of Hillary Clinton).

Burbed serves his readers. (Sometimes late though.) I thought it would be fun to see what $999,000 buys you in Chappaqua – home of CatSynth and Hillary Clinton. Let’s see: Find a Home – Listing Detail
Chappaqua, NY 10514
MLS ID#: 2625526

4 Bed, 3 Bath
2,418 Sq. Ft.
0.71 Acres
Building Lifetime Relationships . . . One House at at Time

Single Family Property, Area: New Castle, County: WESTCHESTER, Approximately 0.71 acre(s), Lot is 30928 sq. ft., Year Built: 1920, Central air conditioning, Swimming pool(s), Fireplace(s)

Wow… so for $999,000 you get .71 acres of land, a 2418 sqft house with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Oh, and it has a pool.

Why did I pick this house? Because yesterday we saw what $999,000 gets you in the Bay Area:

So – your choice. $999,000 for a 506 sqft home with 2 bedrooms and 1 bath in a place that’s truly special?

Or $999,000 for a 2418 sqft home with 4 bedrooms and 3 bath in a place that doesn’t have Stanford, Cal, nice summers, nice winters, tech jobs, good burritos/guacamole, gangs, Walmart, or El Camino Real?

The answer is obvious!

Happy Friday everyone!

EDIT: It was pointed out that the Mountain View house was actually an R3, so you’re buying that house to tear it down to build multiple ones. For the sake of fairness, here’s another special $99xk Bay Area house:

Comments (14) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am

March 29, 2007

$999,000 506 sqft 53 year old Mountain View house

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 703508
Mountain View, CA 94040
$999,0002665miller.jpgThis Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 703508 Approx Age: 53 Years Approx Sq Ft: 506
Detached Single Family 1 Story Cottage/Bungalow
2 Bedrooms 1 Bathroom 1 Stall Shower

Now granted, this -is- on a 10,890 sqft lot – which is pretty big. And Mountain View is special. It’s got Thai restaurants, Walmart, and Google.

But here’s the kicker:

Sale History
03/15/2006: $885,000
05/07/1999: $475,000

Yep. This house was only 11% less last year. Don’t you wish you had bought it then? Now you’re priced out! See! They told you so!

Tomorrow, we’ll see what $999,000 can buy you somewhere else… (it won’t be as special though.)

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:00 am

March 28, 2007

15% price drop in Gilroy house – won't last long!

Does this look familiar?

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 672673
Gilroy, CA 95020


This Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 672673 Approx Age: 94 Years Approx Sq Ft: 800
Detached Single Family 1 Story Cottage/Bungalow

It should! It was on Burbed last month!


Now’s a great time to flip this property! Just look at its past selling history:

 Sale History
11/14/2006:     $456,612
05/12/2005:     $459,000
09/09/2004:     $425,000

I’m sure this is nothing more than a blip. Just because the previous owner will have lost $57k doesn’t mean you will!

Buy it now or be priced out of Gilroy forever!

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:15 am

March 27, 2007

Redwood City Income Duplex – Won’t last long. Really!

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 701467
Redwood City, CA 94061
Excellent Opportunity to Own Income Units!
MLS#: 701467 Approx Age: 57 Years Approx Sq Ft: 1176
2 Units 1 Story 1 Bedroom Unit(s)
2 Bedroom Unit(s) Wall to Wall Carpeting Gas Heat

Wow… houses in Redwood City was exactly what I heard people talking about in London when they were talking about the world renowned San Francisco Peninsula. Oh wait… they weren’t!

Because this listing has “WON’T LAS LONG”, I’m obligated to show some photos which proves their point:


Yep, I’ll agree. Won’t last long.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am

Whatever happened to Decision Point Funding?

A year ago, featured this:

50-Year Mortgages are -hot- -hot- -hot- — Your Silicon Valley Home and Mortgage Insanity Blog

It seems that their website is no longer active. Anyone know what happened?

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:38 am

March 26, 2007

Affordable starter home… or Fallujah-replica in the Bay Area – you decide

MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 710942
San Jose, CA 95002$419,9001286mich.jpgThis Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 710942 Approx Age: 58 Years Approx Sq Ft: 991
Detached Single Family 1 Story Cottage/Bungalow

Well, so the house looks a little run down… that’s no big deal. Fixer upper… blah blah blah. I never liked grass anyway.

But click inside and then you get this:


Wow. Nothing says perfect starter home for young Bay Area families like this. Or, if you’re getting ready to deploy to Iraq, this would also be a great place to practice house to house searches!

All yours for $419,900.

Are those tears of joys I see?

Update: I forgot to post the sales history!

Sale History
07/10/2006: $344,845
08/09/2004: $385,000
06/22/2004: $229,000

Wow… this house gets better every year!

Comments (33) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:53 am

March 24, 2007

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Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:32 am

March 23, 2007


MLSlistings Property Detail for MLS number 672460
San Mateo, CA 94401

Open House Showing
Saturday, March 03, 2007 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Sunday, March 04, 2007 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM

This Single Family Residence has the following features:
MLS#: 672460 Approx Age: 51 Years Approx Sq Ft: 1080
Detached Single Family 1 Story Ranch
3 Bedrooms Ground Floor Bedroom 2 Bathrooms
1 Stall Shower 1 Shower over Tub 1 Tub

Wow! It’s the lowest price 3br/2ba/2ca in San Mateo. So what does it look like inside?


Oh sweet! An all wood panelled interior as well! Now why didn’t they include that in the teaser??

This is truly a unique and special house.

Click here to post a comment -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:58 am