My sellers just closed yesterday on a home in the Elk Grove Florin area of Sacramento that was scheduled to close on July 5th. The buyer’s offer contained provisions for a hard-money loan with a 15-day closing period. One would figure this would be an easy transaction to close without any hiccups, regardless of the buyer feedback we received. I always ask buyer’s agents to share their buyers’ thoughts after showing a home, and I pass on that information to my sellers, just so they know what buyers are saying and thinking as they walk through the home.
That kind of feedback is often very interesting. For example, we had several agents tell us that home was overpriced and they did not like the condition, felt it needed too much work. Pretty much zero upgrades. It was built in the mid 1980s and looked like it. The owners at one time had installed laminate flooring but the flooring itself was curling up at the edges and pulling away from the quarter rounds.
The kitchen is open to the living room, a nice feature many buyers appreciate and it’s hard to find in these homes, but I imagine most buyers would want to tear out the cabinets and start over with a complete kitchen and bath remodel. Tiles in the entry showcased cracks. One of the tiles had been broken into pieces, and when I went over to meet the gardener to clean up the landscaping, I methodically replaced each piece of the puzzle that some buyer or agent had removed. It could use paint throughout and new carpeting in the bedrooms.
Originally the sellers had intended to do a lot of fix up work for the house. They had been thinking of a price around $225,000. After my inspection, and drawing on my 40-some years in the real estate business, I suggested a price of $235,000 and advised them not to fix up the house. This price was on the high end but given demand, I felt we could get close to it. Buyer after buyer trudged through during the first 9 days for sale and turned down the house. We received a bunch of offers, too, ranging from $225,000 to $230,000.
We countered the $230K offer but those buyers refused to budge. They felt they knew market value and were not willing to pay list price. Well, those guys were obviously not buyers for this home, and I suspect their agent was disappointed for the communication failure. Then, along came an offer of $238,000 from our hard-money buyer who purchased the home AS IS. I do not push my sellers to take offers and often advise them to wait for what they deserve to get.
Yet, we could not close escrow on time. We obtained 3 extensions and, at one point, made the buyer release her earnest money deposit. The hold up was the buyer did not realize that because she was married, in order to receive title insurance to close escrow, she would need to obtain an interspousal deed from her husband. He lived in China. We asked her husband to go to the American Embassy and get the deed notarized. Instead, they notarized the deed in a Chinese dialect, which was unacceptable. Needs to be in English.
If a buyer is married and obtaining title insurance to buy a home in Sacramento, either the spouse goes on title or the spouse signs an interspousal deed in front of a public notary, in English. I had faith we would receive the interspousal deed because I see this happen a lot. Buyer’s agents don’t always ask about a buyer’s marital status, and they should. The sellers were somewhat nervous. Yet, the deed eventually arrived and we closed on the sale of this home at one of the highest square foot prices in that neighborhood for a home without updates.
If you need to sell your home in Sacramento, better call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.
It’s really hard to tell a seller who has lived happily in a home for 30 years that it will be a challenge selling that Sacramento home because it’s in a bad location, but I manage to share that news when it’s warranted. It’s my job as a Sacramento real estate agent to set realistic expectations for my sellers and to be straight with them. The apartment buildings behind this pool home were a major concern, and I knew it would turn off buyers.
Now, some agents get upset when sellers have their own way of dealing with such news, which is sometimes to ignore it and see how things go, but that’s the seller’s prerogative. It doesn’t bother me. I get it. The seller is the boss. The seller owns the home and makes the rules. I would never come back and say I told you so. That’s not my style — although I might think it because I am human. But I completely understand a seller who may have trouble coming to grips with the reality of a situation. Nobody wants to realize his childhood home is stigmatized because of a bad location. Sellers who need time to process can take all of the time they need.
This particular home had a beautiful back yard, a covered patio, sparkling pool that had just been refinished, and a separate area for parking RVs, complete with a row of storage sheds. But all those apartment windows looming over the pool was a huge concern for buyers. It screamed: bad location.
Agent after agent sent me feedback over a 3-month period stating their buyers would buy that home except for the apartments, which I forwarded to the seller. Potential buyers didn’t want strangers gawking at their kids. After the seller read the numerous feedback statements over and over, he finally asked what he could do. Well, the obvious was to lower the price, but a better option was to fix the problem. No, I don’t mean blow up the apartments. But you can erase them from the picture, just like you can in Photoshop, by putting up a barrier to block the view.
For about $5,000, the seller planted 28 Italian Cypress trees along the back fence. That process involved digging through the concrete by the fence. Once that plan was put into place, the home sold at list price to a large extended family. The seller had become so used to the building over the years that when he looked into the back yard, he did not see it. Now the buyer won’t see it, either.
What works for house colors in countries such as Italy, Ireland or Mexico, does not necessarily work as colors of choice for homes in Sacramento. Personally, I adore colorful homes and would love to see more Americans adopt color, but then again, pioneers tend to get arrows in their backs, so I don’t want to initiate the trend. If you’re expecting to put your home on the market, though, the color of your home down to the color of your carpeting can be the difference between selling or not selling.
Sometimes, these things are not evident to a homeowner nor necessarily apparent to the agent, either. But you find out what’s wrong by putting the home on the market and obtaining buyer feedback. You can do this on your own before putting your home on the market, which is what I advise. You can ask your neighbors and your friends and, what the heck, grab somebody you don’t know off the street and invite them on over. Ask for their honest opinions. Walk through the house and assess every room. Stand in each doorway and stare. What’s wrong with your house? Ask your agent, too. Some agents don’t want to tell you the truth for fear you won’t like them. Tell your agent: go ahead and offend me.
Because you know what? There’s probably something wrong with it. Not in your eyes, of course, but in the eyes of today’s buyers. Your eyes don’t count. You’re leaving and moving away where you can do the same horrible things to your new home. But this home, the one that you’re living in right now? This home needs to change to meet the needs of the buying public. Buyers have certain requirements that homes in Sacramento need to meet.
Yes, I realize you don’t wanna paint that wall or yank up that shag carpeting but you’ll pay for that stubbornness when selling. A neighbor of mine painted her Land Park home the same orange color as the light rail station over on 21st Street. I like it, I just wouldn’t buy it nor want to buy a home next to it because it doesn’t conform. It looks weird. People like homes in Sacramento to be similar and not stand out like a sore thumb. Trust this Sacramento real estate agent, you don’t want to be that weird home when you’re selling a home in Sacramento.
One of the biggest fears sellers often harbor about selling a Sacramento home is what if it doesn’t sell? They have those fears because they are not in real estate. When you’re in real estate, like this Sacramento real estate agent, you know that anything will sell if the price is right. Even a flooded-out house with mold the size of basketballs will sell. And yes, I’ve sold a lot of those types of homes, too.
There are a variety of reasons why selling a Sacramento home might take longer than usual to sell, though. These are sometimes the reasons that some sellers don’t want to hear because they are reasons the sellers should have thought of before they bought a home. I often tell people that the time to think about selling a Sacramento home is when you buy a home.
Maybe it’s in a bad location. You know, location, location, location is what drives real estate. Maybe there’s something about it that other homes have and yours does not. I ask buyer’s agents who show my listings to give me buyer feedback. From feedback I hear about things we can rectify. If we can’t rectify those things, we can adjust the price to account for it.
It’s difficult to explain to a seller that she bought the wrong home or paid too much, but I do try to get that point across if it is true. It is often true. Especially in certain neighborhoods in Sacramento, it’s easy to buy the wrong type of home in the wrong location.
Or, we can wait for the buyer who is just like the seller of any other beautiful home in Elk Grove. Because the seller bought this home for a reason. That is most likely the same reason a new buyer will buy it. Nobody is that unique. A buyer will appear, and we will reel ’em in.
There is a buyer for every home in Sacramento. If this agent is listing and selling your home, you can count on it.
My personal belief, as a top-producing Sacramento real estate agent, is every single one of my sellers deserves to hear about all of their showing activity. I mean, just put yourself in your seller’s shoes. Your home is for sale, you see business cards on the table when you come home so you know agents have shown it, but you hear nothing from your Sacramento listing agent about those showings? You would have no idea about what’s going on if your agent doesn’t follow up.
And that is not a good place for a seller to be. That, people, is a place of anxiety. My intentions are to never make my sellers anxious or stressed out. Part of my job as their listing agent is to make the process of selling a home in the Sacramento Valley move as smoothly as possible for my sellers, with the fewest hiccups and disruptions.
For example, even if I have nothing to say, if for some reason there has been no showings for a week and not much has happened in the neighborhood, I still try to check in with my sellers and provide them with updates, even if it’s nothing more than # of hits in MLS. For crying out loud, something probably sold within 6-block radius or a new home came on the market, and sellers might want to get that information from their Sacramento listing agents. You think?
I am constantly analyzing why a home might not yet have an offer. The difference between me and another agent is I try to share those thoughts with my sellers — to come up with a new strategy if my existing strategy is not giving us the results we want. With some homes, we just need to wait, be patient and continue present marketing because there might not be as many home buyers in that particular price range.
But to not follow up after an actual showing by a buyer’s agent with buyers in tow, well, that’s unthinkable in my book. Following up with the buyer’s agent is easy, yet many agents don’t do it. They say buyer’s agents don’t respond, and that’s true, some of them don’t. But some provide valuable buyer feedback. By contacting buyer’s agents, I’m also giving them my email address so they can quickly address a concern their buyer might have had but they didn’t yet have time to ask me.
Here’s how Sacramento listing agents can do it. Go to MLS and click on your listing to open it. Click on the box that says “SUPRAweb Showing Activity,” which is located under the row of photos on the very left of the page. That will open a small window in your browser showing all of the activity for that particular home. Don’t stop there. Instead, click on Log On to SupraWEB, on the right-hand side. Sign in with your user name and password.
This will take you to your Showing Dashboard, which reveals all the showings for all of your listings. You can change your dashboard date range but I keep mine set to the past 2 days because I constantly check this dashboard. Right there, in front of your face, are the emails, times accessed and all of the information you need about every single buyer’s agent who showed your listing. Click on the email, and it will automatically open an email for you to send the buyer’s agent a message.
And there you have it. Now you have no excuse not to keep your sellers updated with feedback from agents who have showed their homes. This makes your sellers happy, both of you informed, and it gives you a chance to build a rapport with the buyer’s agent.