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






June 9, 2012

When your home won’t sell: An electrifying solution

As regular readers of this site already know, homes in the Real Bay Area don’t need to convince buyers of their value.  No matter how inept the Realtard representing it, even a turkey of a home within RBA limits will go pending quickly.

This isn’t the case for homes far, far away from the RBA. Thanks to Burbed reader Michael Boltonestater for this example of how to sell a house that has the misfortune of not being anywhere near Google or Facebook.

1501 GUTHRIE Dr
INVERNESS, IL 60010
$1,149,000 (Reduced from $1,490,000)

120604-guthrie-redfin

BEDS: 4
120608-guthrie-theaterBATHS: 5
SQ. FT.: 6,757
$/SQ. FT.: $170
HOA DUES: $17/month
LOT SIZE: 1.03 Acres
PROPERTY TYPE: Detached Single Family, 2 Stories
STYLE: Traditional
EXPOSURE: East, West
YEAR BUILT: 2001
COMMUNITY: Inverness
COUNTY: Cook
MLS#: 08047047
SOURCE: MRED
STATUS: Active
ON REDFIN: 46 days

Wide open floor plan with granite, stainless, and maple kitchen w/ viking range and commercial hood. Hardwood floors throughout much of the home. !st flr. Theater, office, and sun room! Dining room is perfect for large dinner parties. All bedrooms with private baths and walk-in’s. luxurious master suite with sitting room, and high end master bath with vaulted ceilings, cherry cabinets, and marble. Huge deck.

120608-guthrie-kitchenWhat can you do if you own a ginormous housing tumor in flyover country and no longer wish to have it sap your precious bodily fluids?  You list it for sale and more than 30 days go by, which means, according to Jim the Realtor, that the price is more than 10% too high.  In this case, probably way more than 10%, as you’ve already cut it 23% without any takers.  It could mean that nobody wants your expensive mistake.

Clearly, more drastic marketing measures are needed.  Have a look at them by clicking on through.

(more…)

Comments (17) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

March 3, 2008

4br/2.5ba for just $384,950! Guess where!

So on Friday, we saw what $387k gets you in Menlo Park:

Not bad. Not bad. Easily will be $900k by end of year.

I’ve heard about this place called Chicago. Burbed reader Alex had this to say:

As for zip codes in Chicago. Try 60563 (Naperville, IL) which is pretty much a middle class town in the middle of so called Silicon Prairie. Great schools, a lot of parks, low crime, lots IT jobs etc.

Alright… let’s take a look:

Single Family Home – 1509 INVERRARY DR, NAPERVILLE, IL, 60563 – Realtor.com

1509.jpg

$384,950
4 Bed, 2.5 Bath

1509 INVERRARY DR
NAPERVILLE, IL 60563
MLS ID# 06552878
$384,950
4 Bed, 2.5 Bath

Beautifully maintained 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom home in much sought after Cress Creek Commons. All newer windows, hardwood floors, upgraded neutral carpet. Great kitchen with oak cabinets, upgraded appliances and huge pantry. Family room complete with fireplace, overlooks patio and beautiful yard.

Gag! Puke! Cough! Choke!

Oh my god. No wonder no one lives in Chicagoland. Gross. Look at this hulking beast.

No self respecting green smart person would ever want to live in a giant home like that. Think of your carbon footprint.

This is clearly not a sign of smart, open minded people. Gah.

Thanks Alex for the wakeup call on why Silicon Prairie is doomed.

Sheesh.

Comments (24) -- Posted by: burbed @ 5:27 am