buying home in sacramento

When is a Real Estate Client Not a Client Anymore?


real estate client

A one-time real estate client does not always remain a client.

Among the many homes I sell, this particular home in East Sacramento, I sold many years ago to a charming couple as a second home where they someday hope to retire. Every so often these real estate clients will call me for help because they appeared to be very happy with my services, and they respect the fact I’ve got a ton of experience on which they can rely. It’s not unusual for clients to call and ask for my expert advice. They know I’m not going anywhere and I’ll be in real estate until the day I croak. They can always find me, and I answer my phone.

The call I received a few days ago was a bit odd. It wasn’t the first time this type of situation has happened with this person. What I’m talking about is a client who, for whatever peculiar reason, decides to buy a home through whichever agent seems handy at the moment, and then turns to their trusted agent for advice. This couple bought a home in Land Park a few years ago on the courthouse steps. By the time they thought to call me, they were already in escrow with the bank and overpaying for the property. They did not know that the location of this particular home demanded much less than homes on the other side of the street, so they got suckered.

Sometimes buyers are confused and think they have to hire a listing agent to get an offer accepted, but that is way off base and a myth. Sure, there are greedy and unethical agents who will kick their seller under the bus to double-end a deal, but most Sacramento Realtors are not like that. I’m not like that. I don’t care who represents the buyer as long as my seller’s needs are met. My fiduciary responsibility is to the seller when I’m the listing agent.

This time the couple called to say they had bought yet another home, and they wanted a referral to a specific type of contractor. When I explained that the type of person they need is difficult to find, and I wasn’t sure off the top of my head if I had such a person in my contact list, they asked if I could call my office, check around with some of my associates. Didn’t they have an agent who represented them on the purchase of this home? Why, yes, they did. So, why didn’t they call me to represent them? You bet I asked that question.

The reason? The purchase was a spur of the moment decision.

What? Really? The decision was made so quickly they had no time to consider calling their reliable and dedicated Realtor?

When I suggested they call the agent who represented them and get advice from that person, they balked. They insisted I would know the answer or I could find the answer. Well, yes, I could and I would if they were my real estate client but it doesn’t seem like they are my clients. Because my real estate clients call me before they buy a home on the spur of the moment through another agent.

Bank Pricing for Short Sales and Foreclosures

Sacramento home listingSome real estate agents wrongly believe that the price doesn’t matter in a short sale. Buyers might have adopted that attitude from their agents or perhaps they just plucked it out of thin air, but I doubt it. They tend to confuse short sales with foreclosures and bank-owned homes. My favorite is when I hear that all banks are desperate. Maybe it’s the get-rich-quick-schemes they read about that makes them so eager to believe something so wrong.

You think those guys bidding on the courthouse steps at trustee’s auctions are picking up tons of property way under market value? Market value means what the market will bear — the price a seller is willing to sell for and a buyer is willing to pay, which is generally substantiated by comparable sales. Flippers get a little bit of a discount for buying the home without guarantees and sometimes without inspections, because there is an inherent risk. They feel it’s a calculated risk. Some homes they flip for higher profit margins than others. Some require less work. But it’s not as easy as buying a home one day and turning around the next to make $100K on the deal. They generally must improve the home.

Your best deals are probably made behind closed doors at the bank. These are the bank-owned homes that the banks bundle in a bulk package and sell the entire package at one lump sum to investors. But they’re not going to make the same deal on one little house just for you and just because you asked. Not gonna happen.

Moreover, it’s not gonna happen on a short sale because the bank doesn’t own the home. The bank is simply considering allowing the home to sell at market value because they would get the same amount if it went to foreclosure. There is not a lot of incentive for a bank to authorize a short sale if the price isn’t right.

Sellers know this. Especially Sacramento short sale sellers who work with Elizabeth Weintraub, because I tell them. Every Sacramento short sale agent knows this. The bank wants market value. End of story. There is no point in submitting a lowball offer, working through 2 to 3 months of paperwork submissions only to be denied at the end because the buyer won’t move on price. Just say no to start with and get on with the short sale.

Some buyer’s agents get upset and accuse me of not working for the buyer. That’s right. When I am the listing agent, I don’t work for the buyer. I work for the seller.

Does Your Sacramento Agent Want to Buy Your Home?

Sacramento real estate agent buying homesI’ve heard from a couple of buyer’s agents lately who have been, in one agent’s own words, “hoarding” homes in Sacramento from their buyers. This is such a great real estate market in Sacramento right now that some agents are saying forget buyers, I want that house! Is your agent in competition with you? You might want to ask. Does your agent want to buy your home?

This is not to say anything bad about another Sacramento real estate agent because real estate agents have always had first shot at homes, and some of them go into the business strictly to get an upper hand. They want the best deals. There is nothing wrong necessarily if you find an agent who wants to buy your home, just like any other investor. But a buyer might not want to compete with an agent. Especially a first-time home buyer.

Heck, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t say sometimes I was tempted to want to buy my own listings, but I don’t do it. It’s a conflict of interest to me. I don’t know how other agents do it. How can you tell a seller that you are trying to get the highest offer and then make it your own offer? We’re not that generous. People believe whatever they repeat to themselves long enough, I suppose.

Do you want your agent’s leftover crumbs? The homes your agent couldn’t buy at an attractive enough price? You might want to ask before hiring a buyer’s agent if you’ll be expected to compete. This is a strange market and strange times.

Getting Married on Valentine’s Day

getting married on valentine's dayCandidates to be first-time homebuyers in Sacramento got married yesterday every 7 minutes. That’s more than 68 couples saying I do in an 8-hour period. Getting married on Valentine’s Day is kind of like being born on Christmas. You know, for the rest of your life, you’ll get fewer presents than you ordinarily would receive if the celebrations were clearly separate. But it is a way for some people to remember their anniversary. One guy actually admitted to the Sacramento Bee that getting married on Valentine’s Day now means the whole world will help him to remember the date because, as though this is an excuse, because he’s a guy.

It’s economical to get married at the County clerk’s office in Sacramento. A marriage license costs only $83. A couple could save that $5,000 to $50,000 they could plan to spend on a wedding and use it as a down payment to buy their first home. I say this as a person who got married during dim sum while our witnesses graciously picked up the lunch tab. I’m often amazed at the amount of money spent on full-blown affairs to get married, especially since this once-in-a-lifetime experience has a tendency to repeat itself, twice or more.

It’s not like you’ll ever get that money back if one of you decides I don’t down the road. Not like you’ll probably fare if you buy a home in Sacramento. At least buying a home nowadays is building equity. So, my advice is skip the big wedding and save your money to buy a home. If it doesn’t work out, sell the home, take the money and be happy about something else. Don’t try to buy each other out. I see far too many spouses who later refinance to come up with the money to pay off an ex, and then they run into trouble and can’t pay the mortgage. Refinanced loans are hard money in California. Just sayin’.

But a belated Happy Valentine’s Day, and Best Wishes to all those who got married yesterday. Getting married on Valentine’s Day is pretty romantic but you just lost yourself an extra gift on that day, you know. Just sayin’ . . .

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