March 27, 2013

The Bay Area is “Ground Zero”

Real Estate “Flash Sales” Prove Market Is Hot

If you’re looking for a home in the Bay Area, you will probably need two things on your side: luck, and a lot of cash.

Those who aren’t willing to compete with up to dozens of other offers on a home are now trying to buy it – hours after it’s listed on the market.

The new trend has been dubbed by realty experts as “flash sales” – any sale that happens within 24 hours.

For example, a home in East Palo Alto on Gates Street was put on the market on March 19. It got nine offers the same day and sold for above asking price within 24 hours.

Glenn Kelman, CEO of online real estate brokerage Redfin which is set up in 19 U.S. markets, said that trend is growing in the Bay Area and calls it “Ground Zero” for an incredibly hot housing market, one that experienced an incredible boom at the start of 2013 in January.

I hate to be the kind of person who brags, but… well… told you so.

Oh, I forgot. We’re in the Bay Area. I need to humble brag.

I’m so amazed and honored to be proven right.

The Bay Area is back, baby. It’s Ground Zero!

Just how special?

Ken DeLeon, a realtor, said his latest listing is a 1200 square foot home in Palo Alto that he just put on the market Thursday. “The amazing part is just within 24 hours, we already had a client with a Chinese all-cash buyer offer us more than 300,000 above and we said, ‘No thank you, please wait,’” DeLeon said.

He and other realtors said they’re still catering to those wealthy foreign buyers, mostly from China and Russia; however, with historic-low mortgage interest rates and an inventory that’s also hitting record lows, they said the competitive cash offers are no longer limited to the high-end homes.

Hey Realtors – I gotta tip for you: Price the house in RMB. Why? There’d be even more opportunities to add 8’s to the price!

“There are sometimes traffic jams outside open houses,” said Kelman. “Folks get worried they can’t wait for the offer deadline on Sundays, so they make a preemptive strike to try and buy it on the spot.”

Forget waiting 3 hours to eat brunch at Mamas, or camping out 3 days to enroll your kids into pre-school… now you have to camp out a week to attend a open house.

Hold on for a sec.

I had to get a kleenex.

The tears won’t stop flowing.

This is so beautiful.

The Bay Area is back. Better than ever.

This is the year where the $ per square foot in the Real Bay Area will beat the average $ per square foot for Manhattan. You heard it here first.

Comments (10) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:09 am






March 23, 2013

Flash sales: DOM <= 1

Want to look at Open Houses but inventory is too low? Here’s yet another reason why Bay Area Bubble 4.0 is in full swing for Spring: Flash sales. Redfin coined this term for a house that’s in contract within 24 hours of being listed.

They also made a list of how many flash sales there have been in the last five months in each of the markets they cover, and San Jose came in 15th out of 15 with 74 quickies. San Francisco didn’t even make the cut at all!  All-time flash sales champion? Phoenix, with 540.

130322-skyline-redfin8271 SKYLINE Cir
Oakland, CA 94605
Sold for $650,000

3 Beds
2.5 Baths
2,090 Sq. Ft.
$311 / Sq. Ft.
Built: 1998
Lot Size: 10,119 Sq. Ft.
Sold On: Dec 26, 2012
HOA Dues: $140/month
Style: Traditional
View: Bay, Greenbelt, Water
County: Alameda
Type: Detached
Stories: Split Level
Community: Skyline/Oakknoll
MLS#: 40598366

Amazing Oakland hills. 3/2.5 w/ extra office space. Incredible living space with 10ft ceilings, beautifully appointed thru/out. Chef’s kitchen with custom island, grnite, countertops, s. s. appliances. Electronic window coverings, deck with bridge views, gorgeous pergola/ backs to open space. Perfect!

This Skyline Circle home in Oakland was a Flash Sale and is featured on the Redfin Blog. It sold quick, and for list price. This is how we know Oakland, even in the hills, is not the Real Bay Area. Everyone knows Real Bay Area homes sell way over asking.  Also RBA homes don’t fester on the market for a year and a half until the Bubble finally blows up again.  The HOA dues are just the sickly sweet icing on the Not RBA cake.

130322-skyline-viewLocation: Oakland, CA
Listed By: Lynda Divito, Redfin
Listed: December 14, 2012
Pending: December 14, 2012
Closed: December 24, 2012
List Price: $650,000
Final Sale Price: $650,000

“This house never even hit the market! We had a brokers’ tour in the afternoon on the very same day the house was to hit the market. A broker came in with his buyers who offered all-cash at full list price and with the quick closing we had requested, making it an easy choice for my clients to accept their offer that same day.” - Lynda DiVito, San Francisco Bay Area Redfin Agent

Planning on visiting any Open Houses today? Let us know of any suitcases full of cash changing hands you see. This is also your Weekend Open Thread, so sky’s the limit!

Comments (3) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:06 am

January 14, 2013

Home Buying: Comps, Mortgage Pre-qual, and Letter Writing

Can there be any question that The Bubble is Back? Buyers are returning to that delightful 2005 method: the Begging Letter. It must be true, because it’s in a newspaper.

Can I Buy Your House, Pretty Please?

By JOANN S. LUBLIN, The Wall Street Journal, January 10, 2013

Rob and Julia Israch won a fierce bidding war for a three-bedroom townhouse in Mountain View, Calif., late last year even though their $750,000 offer—while $92,000 above the asking price—was topped by 11 rivals and was several thousand dollars below the highest bid.

A key reason: The seller, software engineer Lev Stesin, was moved by a letter in which the Israchs said they worked in the technology industry and explained how the home’s spacious layout would be perfect given the imminent arrival of their first child. Among other things, the townhouse has three bathrooms, a wood-burning fireplace and a roomy backyard.

The only problem with this real estate story is the author’s contention that it isn’t just happening where it’s Special, namely Mountain View. Pitch letters are also going to sellers in Seattle, San Diego, suburban Chicago, and Washington D.C. Hah, and you thought we were going to say Belmont or something. No, we really meant places where it isn’t Special at all (e.g. where you can make an offer and be the only one! Redfin’s CEO said 95% of the offers their agents made in Silicon Valley had competing offers.)

The WSJ piece included two examples of House Begging Letters that worked. Both were from Silicon Valley buyers. Here’s one.

Note the use of photos. Don’t beg without them. Also don’t house beg with form letters. You’re going to have to write an individual letter for each seller, calling attention to their home’s marvelous features. Comments such as “Of all the 1954 era crapboxes we looked at today, yours had the fewest pet odors and the least offensive paint scheme” will probably not be effective. Some tips:

  • Remind the seller how attractive your offer is. You could write this note on the back of a hundred dollar bill to show how many more you have waiting.
  • Mention all the things you have in common with the seller, so they identify with you and not any of those other Less Special buyers. If you can’t find the sellers on social media, a good private detective can ferret that info out. Or spend some of those C-notes on the gabbiest neighbors.
  • Gush about their house and neighborhood without overdoing it. Otherwise they’ll figure you’re using irony. After all, it is one of several hundred 1954 era crapboxes in the tract. But — close to Google! (Don’t mention this if they tried and failed to get jobs there.)
  • Describe your difficult house hunt without sounding whiny. If you can fake sincerity here, you’ll have it made:

A few years ago, the owners of an older Los Altos home got more than 21 offers and picked the one from a woman who also submitted a love letter from her dog, said Kathy Bridgman, an Alain Pinel Realtors agent who represented the sellers. “She won’t touch a thing,” promised the letter, signed with a paw print. “I will be able to play in the yard.”

After closing, the buyer immediately tore down the home and built a bigger one.

Note: In case you’re noticing that we’ve repeatedly reformatted this piece, you’re correct. Our blogging tools aren’t as compatible with each other as we wish they were.  In this particular case, one tool supports photo captions but won’t strip styles out properly, the other is the reverse.  Don’t even get us started on what WordPress is doing to both of them.

Comments (14) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:07 am