home selling sacramento

Why the Sales Price a Sacramento Home Seller Wants Does Not Matter

One of the questions a Sacramento home seller asked me last week during a FaceTime interview is why didn’t I ask her how much they wanted to sell the home for, because every other agent they talked to had asked this question. I was very honest, as is my nature, and I explained that it doesn’t matter. Because it doesn’t matter how much the Sacramento home seller wants. That’s actually pretty much immaterial in a transaction; what is more important, what takes center stage, is the appraised value, which is based on comparable sales.

In fact, asking how much a home seller wants is a way to nail a seller to a lower price. It’s also a way to determine if a seller is crazy. Those words: how much do you want? are never the words that come out of my mouth because I want to do a good job for the seller, not take advantage of a seller. I would advise a client not to work with an agent who asked that question as though it was important to the matter at hand. It’s not.

Being honest like that probably cost me that listing. I could tell they didn’t like the answer. And in retrospect, when I noticed that reaction, I could have soft-shoe pedaled around it but I didn’t. The truth is there are many values to a property:

  • what the seller wants,
  • what the agent thinks they can get,
  • what the buyer will offer,

and none of those really matter one iota if the home doesn’t appraise for those values.

However, I work for the seller, so I do whatever that Sacramento home seller wants and what is best for the seller. My clients can always count on the fact that I will protect our fiduciary relationship and do the best job possible.

These particular sellers wanted a list price from me on a home I had not viewed in person. That’s pretty difficult to do unless it is a tract home in Elk Grove or Natomas or Lincoln. Mid-Century modern homes that are custom built on acreage, well, you’ve gotta see it in person and feel the vibe, as kooky as that might sound.

Then I can give an accurate list price, a number in line with pricing the home to sell. Which might have nothing to do, btw, with our final projected sales price. Those can be 2 different numbers as well, depending on strategy, type of market and timing. Each home that I sell in the Sacramento Valley is unique, and I don’t really sell any two homes in any identical manner. I apologize that it doesn’t matter what the Sacramento home seller wants because we all want to feel that our opinions and desires are important and they matter, but what I want doesn’t matter, either.

It’s only what the appraiser determines. The appraiser has the last word. Unless . . . and that’s another blog for tomorrow. Call Elizabeth Weintraub, Broker #00697006 at 916.233.6759.

Homes That Smell Take Forever to Sell in Sacramento

homes that smell

Homes that smell like cigarettes, junk food, and beer turn off buyers.

If you own one of those homes that smell, you probably don’t notice the odors. Because you live with that house every single day. Take that roasted chicken with rosemary you made for dinner last night as an example. The scent still lingers today but you can’t tell. Ask that little girl on your doorstep trying to sell you Girl Scout cookies what your home smells like, and she’ll tell you it’s chicken.

Of course, you’ve heard that Sacramento Realtors will bake cookies during an open house but most of us do not. Too much work and we can’t turn on an oven. Not to mention, you’d be amazed at how many people do not know how to make cookies without a cookie mix or frozen dough. We also do not use air fresheners because the scent is overpowering.

When I walk through a listing for the first time, I try to notice odors and address the issue. Many homes that smell are homes where pets live. Especially homes with carpeting and drapes, littered with dog beds. That odor hits you hard, right between the eyes when you walk inside. Cat box odors are even worse. For these reasons, it’s sometimes better to board your pets elsewhere when your house is on the market. But separating from your pets is not always a feasible solution, and I completely understand.

Wash all pet bedding with a cup of enzyme solution (you can buy it at pet stores) in addition to detergent. Clean out the cat boxes and replace litter, do not put them into a closet. It goes without saying, bathe your pets, the cats, too. If you can’t do it yourself, take them to a professional groomer.

Cigarette smoke, though, is almost impossible to eliminate. Homes that smell like cigarette smoke or even pot, now that I pause, are super difficult to sell. If you’re going to smoke cigarettes, cigars or weed, do it outside, not in the house, at least while your home is on the market.

This reminds me of a lake home I bought many decades ago in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. When I toured that home, one of the selling features was overflowing ashtrays of cigarette butts scattered about. It stank to high heaven. No wonder nobody would buy it. This home had been on the market for a long time without any offers. I didn’t like the carpeting anyway, and replaced it all before I moved in, along with resealing the walls. That sale cost the seller dearly.

Everything will sell if the price is right. Even homes that smell will eventually sell at a reduced price. One product that might help is Odoban. It comes in solids, sprays, and cleaning products. For best results, ask a friend or neighbor to come over and sniff the house.

If you’re thinking of selling, call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.

Highest Sales Price $1,085,000 Closes in Riverlake Sacramento


riverlake waterfront home

Pool at 774 Still Breeze in Riverlake Community in the Sacramento Pocket

There are many ways to sell a luxury home in Riverlake, Sacramento, that involve overcoming objections to a low appraisal, which is why I employ different strategies for my escrows depending on the circumstances at hand. It’s a custom-designed strategy, I guess you could say. I won’t sugarcoat the process and say it’s completely stress-free for sellers, but like childbirth, I think they focus more on the end result after it’s over.

I recently closed two waterfront homes in Riverlake, almost directly across the water from each other. The first home was in Cobble Shores and smaller than the second home in Stillwater. The views were different as well as the home in Cobble Shores enjoyed a north facing view of the water and the back yard of the home in Stillwater faced south. Personally, I prefer the south-facing view.

I spent a lot of time working on the sales price before I met with either of the sellers. Most sellers already have an idea of how much they want for their home, but they also appreciate hearing my opinion of value and how I arrived at that number. I’m generally very close to market value, closer than they are. I take into consideration market movement, buyer desires, the emotional portion, and then temper it with reality of the closed comparable sales. Having a good story ready for the appraiser is always important.

Sure enough, the home in Cobble Shores at Riverlake sold at list price of $895,000 within 6 days. That’s a good length of time to be on the market. Enough time to let everybody know the home is for sale and to give all buyers a chance to bid. The home in Stillwater at Riverlake was more expensive, more than $1 million, and we had a decent amount of showings, even without a lockbox. It was an impressive home that captured the waterfront lifestyle in just about every room.

The sellers interviewed a fair number of agents to list their home and settled on Elizabeth Weintraub. I felt a kinship with them, and maybe that’s what pushed them to list with me but it could also be my analytical mind. I constantly think about my listings and don’t run on autopilot; and I focus on selling, no matter what it takes. I scrutinize every single detail. I’m fanatical that way.

Sure enough, we sold the home in Stillwater at Riverlake Sacramento, after 9 days of showings and, sure enough, as I predicted, we received a low appraisal. I sensed that the appraiser used a particular pending sale’s square footage, applied the number to the square footage of my listing and came up with a value that did not really take into consideration its top-of-the-line upgrades. The appraiser also used homes 15 miles away on the Garden Highway. I suggested the sellers hire their own appraiser, because even though the buyer’s lender would not accept the appraisal, it would prove a point.

The new appraiser just happened to be the appraiser who originally appraised those homes on the Garden Highway, so she immediately eliminated them from the appraisal because they did not apply. She came up with an estimate of value much higher than the original appraiser, using homes closer in proximity and employing the principle of substitution. After much negotiation, we settled on a higher price with the buyer bridging the gap in cash. The difference in cash paid for my full-service commission and then some. It sold at $1,085,000, the highest price we have seen in Riverlake.

If you are looking for a Sacramento Realtor who is willing to do what it takes to sell your home, give Elizabeth Weintraub a ring. Selling your home is not just a job to me; it’s a passion, and I do it well. 916.233.6759.

Solution for Selling a Home in a Bad Location

Buying House in a Noisy LocationIt’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.

Biggest Peeves Among Home Sellers in Sacramento

woman gossip retro illustration, polka dots backgroundThere are 3 things I do that other agents don’t seem to do on a regular basis, which is how this Sacramento real estate agent keeps her home sellers happy and content. I know there must be times when an agent looks at my new listing in MLS and wonders how I got that listing and why didn’t he get the listing. What is it about this agent, they may ask? I will tell you. Not only will I tell you but I do so without worrying that oh-my-gosh, now every real estate agent knows my secrets and will steal all of my business in town — because it won’t happen. I’m not bragging, it’s just the way things are.

Deep down my competitors know they should do this, they often just don’t do it.

It’s consistency, overall. Which agents can adopt if they want to badly enough.

The first secret is respond quickly. Don’t take all day to get around to answering an email or return a phone call. People don’t have all day. I don’t have all day. When a potential home seller contacts me, I answer. Naturally, if they leave me a message after hours, that is, after 7 PM or they send an email at 3 AM, they won’t get a response until the morning, but I do address concerns and questions with the fastest speed humanely possible.

The second secret is to answer the phone when it rings. Sometimes, we agents are on the other line when the phone rings and can’t disconnect. But for crying out loud, if an agent is talking to her hairdresser or one of her kids or friends, hang up and take the darn phone call that’s coming in during business hours. What the hey?

The third secret is to keep sellers informed about what’s happening with the sale of their home. Ever since the market shifted 2 years ago and short sales stopped being the dominant sales driver in Sacramento, it’s been a wild ride with those regular home sales. They close so quickly, and often tend to sell quickly, too, if they are priced right. If I hear anything about a home that I think the seller would like to know, I immediately pass on that information. I keep sellers informed. I’d hate for a seller to wonder what’s happening.

How do I know sellers want a Sacramento real estate agent to perform in this manner? Because they tell me so. My mission is to consistently perform.

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