plants vs zombies

Agents Should Call the Listing Agent Before Writing an Offer

Real Estate Agents remain independent contractorssA buyer’s agent made me laugh out loud yesterday when he said, “You’re so famous I can’t believe I’m talking to you; you’re everywhere online.” I get a big kick out of that kind of reaction because I truly don’t see the celebrity perception that some people form. I’m just a Sacramento real estate agent who writes about real estate every day and sells a bunch of homes in Sacramento every year. It’s not like I’m on TV or anything. I’m not a best seller at Amazon. I put my pants on one leg at a time like most people — mostly because I’m too old and cranky to jump into them with two feet like some 20-year-old surfer dude.

I call a lot of buyer’s agents these days, especially when I see they have showed my listing, for example, on which almost every buyer who sees it wants to write an offer. I figure it’s better to discuss the situation upfront. Text messages and email are all too easy to ignore. But a phone call is kinda jarring to many agents; it’s too personal, I sense, whoa, what is this sound? My phone is ringing and I’m in the middle of playing Plants vs. Zombies, the new Beach wave. What the?

I call agents because I figure it’s better to talk to them before they write an offer. So many never call the listing agent to get more information or glean insight. If I don’t talk to the agents, they’re left staring at their buyer’s bright and shiny face who asks, “How much should I offer?” And the answer appears to be: Whatever you want. I get offers all over the board these days, and some are pretty wild.

Much of this confusion, not all of it, unfortunately, would be resolved if the buyer’s agent would just call the listing agent before writing an offer. One question to ask is how many offers do you have or have you received? That would shed a lot of light on the situation. Without breaking fiduciary to her seller, a listing agent can also help guide the buyer’s agent to writing an offer that is likely to get accepted.

There is always more behind buying a home than numbers and pictures. There are people involved. It’s not just an address with four walls and a roof.

My focus is to make the seller happy and get the seller into escrow and closed. I don’t mind calling buyer’s agents and talking. It’s how we used to do business in the old days before agents threw offers at the wall to see if anything sticks and then resumed reading Facebook.

How a Sacramento Agent Stays on Course

Sacramento AgentIn a conversation with my sister in Minneapolis this weekend, we discussed how as we get older it becomes easier to understand how a person can mistake her husband for a hat or an umbrella. We have so much overload in our lives today as compared to a few years ago. Especially as an agent selling real estate in Sacramento in the month of May. This is why as a busy agent I often feel the need to take breaks now and then, but even while I’m riding my bicycle around Land Park in the afternoons, I can spot weird things out of the corner of my eye that can morph into, oh, I dunno, imaginary animated objects, for example. I’m not going bonkers. I’m sure of it.

But listen . . .

In the newest version of Plants vs. Zombies, the game board uses triangles and other traffic zone images that impart super powers to the plants. If a person’s brain is otherwise engaged, like mine often is when I’m riding my bike (because I’m listening to music on my wireless headphones, interrupted only when I answer a real estate call — hey, why did the music stop? — Oh, yeah, I’m getting a phone call), it’s easy to zip past a triangle in the road and perhaps picture a double-fisted bok choy nestled securely behind a boosted walnut. I can see how people lose their minds. And you know what? It’s not all that frightening.

I’m here to tell ya that if you’re gonna turn into a vegetable in your old age, there are probably worse things.

Like many top producer Sacramento agents, we keep a lot of information categorized in our heads, and it’s a balancing act much of the time, especially when an escrow has a contingency to sell. I noticed yesterday as I filed away closed escrows that I am often lately helping sellers to buy homes at the same time they are selling. Even so, these escrows don’t last anywhere nearly as long as the short sales used to several years ago. During that time period, it was not unusual to work on a file for 4 to 6 months or longer. In fact, during that particular ice age, I usually got to know my sellers fairly well and their home inside out, with every single detail embedded in my brain.

When we got to closing, it was sometimes a bitter sweet farewell. I often felt like I was parting with an old friend, because I was intimately familiar with each facet of the transaction. Nowadays, I take a listing, it sells, it quickly closes, and that lengthy interaction is often shortened. I feel like, hey, we just met, and now you’re going into the closed box under my desk. Wha? Come back!

But it’s all for the best. At least this Sacramento real estate agent is not losing her mind. Not yet, anyway.

Astonishing 2014 California Real Estate Laws in the Works

2014 California Real Estate LawsThis year is shaping up to be an interesting year for new 2014 California real estate laws, which will affect us in Sacramento. For so many years the new laws have been more narrow, but this year will be different. In some ways, you’ve got to wonder why our California Assembly members had to propose some of these new real estate laws, and the answer is because they don’t (shudder) exist or our present laws are unclear. It’s enough to make some of us feel like dropping out and engaging our brains elsewhere such as searching for a Pinata Party during Plants vs. Zombies, or throwing a sheet around our waist and dancing through the house yelling toga, toga.

Let’s look at AB 1513, the so-called Squatter’s Bill. This is a piece of legislation that will allow law enforcement officials to remove unwanted persons from your vacant property. That’s right, under current law, a vagrant can break into your home, set up shop and you can’t immediately throw them out. They can party away like in Animal House for 30 to 60 days while you helplessly look on, dangling a piece of paper that says you’re entitled to an unlawful detainer. Well, I probably could get them out. As a Sacramento real estate agent, I have once resorted to banging loudly on the door and screaming FBI, I hate to admit, and then listening for the back door to slam as the squatters scatter like rats.

Another is AB 2039, targeting auction companies such as Auction.com, which is owned in part by a former third-party vendor company that processed short sales. This company has partnered with bad-mortgage purchasing companies such as Nationstar and forces real estate agents to allow this company to take over the transaction — kind of like a squatter, you don’t want them but you can’t get rid of them. This legislation would at least hold the real estate agent harmless from the actions of the auction company.

It boggles my mind as to how these auction companies are successful anyway. Because a buyer must pay a 5% premium to the auction company (on top of the commission) to buy the home as a short sale, and the bank wants market value. Seems to be a conflict of interest in that area, plus, how does the buyer obtain an over-market loan when it won’t appraise? Fortunately, I have been successful at not having to deal with Auction.com in any of my hundreds of Sacramento short sales, knock on wood.

My favorite newly proposed real estate law is AB 2136, which would clarify that a real estate agent is not required to keep a record of Tweets and Texts pursuant to a real estate transaction because those forms of communication are not considered a document. This means when I’ve receive a text message during sex, I can safely answer it in the throes of passion and not worry if it’s later deleted. I like that.

See, all good things coming out of our California Assembly, designed to improve our lives. Now, if they could just pass the mortgage forgiveness extension, we’d be well on our way to recovery. As it stands now, all of those poor homeowners who have successfully completed a principal mortgage reduction through a loan modification are positioned to get hammered on taxes. We have an exemption for short sales, but not loan modifications. Oy.

How a Sacramento Real Estate Agent Uses a Mini Stylus

Stylus-Cellphone.300x300For a Sacramento real estate agent like me, there is little as exciting in my small world of technology than that of buying a new cellphone. About 10 years ago, I used a BlackBerry, and upgraded to a better model every chance I got. Then, I discovered an Android and bought a Samsung. Finally, man, a screen big enough that my aging eyes could actually read. The downside was the feel of the keys had vanished, making typing very difficult, swyping a pain, and the screen is impossible to read in bright sunlight.

Trade-offs. There are always trade-offs.

Of course, I can talk to my phone but my phone has a really hard time understanding me unless I talk like a robot. Slowly. Distinctly. Sing-songy voice. Imagine the stares I get from strangers on the sidewalk: talKING . . . like . . . THIS Beats trying to type. Even though I am fairly certain I have no profane words stored in my Android, you would not believe some of the stuff it thinks I say which I do not say. My worst horror is that I’ll by accident hit send to a client when it types eat shit and die.

The solution for this Sacramento real estate agent is to use a mini stylus. I am forever giving away my miniature styli. So, I bought a bag of 50 of them. This way I can color coordinate my outfits to match the stylists on my phone. I carry a few extra in my bag in case I forget and dash out the door wearing gray, for example, and sporting a bright gold stylus when maybe silver might be more appealing. See, this is the kind of attention to detail and type of back-up plans this Sacramento real estate agent deals with every day. It carries over into my personal life.

Just so you know, they also wear out. You can tear up the tip by banging too hard on the iPad playing Plants vs. Zombies or Jelly Defense.

On the downside, strangers approach me on the street and ask why I have this thing dangling from my cellphone or my iPad. When I show them how easy it is to type on your phone with it — the precision one can use to pull back and aim that slingshot for Angry Birds — everybody wants one. So, I just give them my stylus. It also helps them to remember this Sacramento real estate agent. I should print my name on them, now that I think about it.

The nice thing is the doohickey plugs right into your device so you won’t lose it. And my miniature stylus will plug very nicely into my new iPhone. I can’t wait until it arrives, and then I’ll have to buy all new apps. Rats.

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