Good News, Bad News In San Juan Baustista

This VIDEO Tour of 766 Avenida Del Piero in San Juan Bautista turned out really well. It is a gorgeous executive home which sits on a professionally_DSC2350-HDR landscaped , half acre and is bordered by a 510 acre Agricultural Land Trust. It offers 3 good size bedrooms and a nice office, 2.5 bathrooms and a finished, 3 car garage and 3,415 sq. ft. of living space. Travertine tile and plush carpet, 10′ & 12′ ceilings, recessed lighting and remarkable views out every window makes this home very desirable. It is an entertainer’s dream.

The good news is that it was available for you to buy.

The bad news: we received multiple offers, it sold over the asking price and sold in just a couple of days. People from many different areas were calling about the home. One gentlemen was going to drive down from Oregon (a 6 hr. drive) to buy it. He had seen the VIDEO Tour and wanted the home. However, to each all I had to offer was a different listing I am working on, in that same community, which should be on the market in a couple of weeks.

This has become my good news, bad news experience: with a nicely staged home and great marketing materials my listings sell quickly and typically for more than the owners asked. I’m becoming more comfortable with: “Sorry, it went quickly, however, I’m will have another listing in that same subdivision. Would you like me to send you it’s information?

7 Good Ideas for Remodeling

Thinking of doing some ‘freshening’ up in your home this year? Here are 7 good ideas you can do for little money.

Likewise, there are some things which were popular years ago but now are passe.  This article lists 2 of those things you want change.

The standards for most return value on improvement dollars spent, in this order are: mailbox, garage door, front door, kitchen and bathrooms. We find that money invested in these areas at least helps the home sell quicker and, often for more than you spent to spruce up the house.

Likewise, it remains, funds devoted to pools, bedrooms, and even living rooms, in that order, will yield the least profitable returns.

Kitchen Trends Add Value

The best return on your home improvement dollars is in the kitchen.  This article offers 10 suggestions for kitchen updates in 2017.

While the mailbox, garage and front door have the highest return for their costs, the kitchen is the #1 investment room inside the house. While you may not get 1:1 return you will get more of your money back in the form of a higher sales price than a home with a dated kitchen – you will get more bang for your buck than say, money spent on a bedroom.

Besides, don’t we spend a great deal of time in the kitchen? Especially when family and friends are over. Holidays, special events etc., often evolve around the kitchen.

Simple Curb Appeal Improvements

Often I will have 4-6 homes to show buyers.  Each time we arrive in front of a prospective home the buyers nearly always comment on what they think the home will be like – based on what they first see from the curb.  And, typically an impressive front of the home opens to a similarly maintained home on the inside.   The opposite is also true.  There have been times when the buyer doesn’t even want to get out of the car, because the front of the house is shabby, overgrown, or in need of paint.

There are several simple and inexpensive things you can do this Spring to make your home very appealing.  Click here for 13 suggestions.  Each of these easy to do tasks also provide the most added value – to – investments you can do to the outside of your home.

Lastly, your neighbors may be a willing source of help if you announce your ‘sprucing up’ plans for the ‘tired’ front appearance of your home.

11 Ideas for Curb Appeal $100 or Less


When you drive up to some homes they yawn:  “I’m tired”





This article demonstrates some easy and            inexpensive things you can do, right now, to help your home pop out.


What have you done to your home we can add to this list?

Top Return on Remodel Item?

What would you guess to be the top return on home improvement dollars spent?

I have incorrectly stated for years: “a kitchen improvement gives you the highest return of added value for your remodel dollar”.

While it typically adds 80 – 83% of your remodel dollar-to-value, there is an inexpensive improvement which gets an even higher return – almost 100%!  Hint: a contributor to curbside appeal.

Take a look at this article (see the list at the bottom) and you may be as surprised as I was.  I’m assuming the photo above hasn’t helped you figure it out already.  It is still an eyebrow raiser for me.  It’s also motivating because I can redo our front door out of  “pocket change” vs influencing the national debt for a full-on kitchen do over.

BTW: there was a secondary point made in the article which should be self evident: a $75,000 kitchen remodel on a $100,000 house does not make sense.

What have you done before sale which gave you the best return?

Seller’s Universal Qustion: “How Much?”

In a Hollister listing interview the inevitable question came up and I gave the answer I have heard myself offer more and more lately. 

     The question: “How much of a commission do you charge”? 

     The answer: “If your competing homes for sale are offering 2.5 or 3.0% to the selling office you should offer at least 3.0%.  The first sale you need to make is the Selling Agent’s interest in showing your home.  You want to do everything possible to encourage those agents to enthusiastically promote your home.  If you instruct me to collect a lower commission, half of which goes to the Selling Agent, they will see that lower commission when searching for homes to show their buyers.  We want to ENCOURAGE them to show your home.  A lower commission being offered by you while competing homes are offering more will be discouraging to them.

     “The home will sell itself – once the agent and their prospective buyers actually tour your home.  We just need to do all we can to make your home appealing to the prospective buyers AND their agent”.

This answer seems to resonate as a new thought with most sellers and typically the issue is settled.  Now!  If we could just find a buyer for this nice, upper-end home!  Anyone want a producing vineyard and nice home in the Spring Grove Area of Hollister?

A Key to Sagging ‘Jumbo’ Home Sales – A.I.D.T.s

When Ronald Reagan became president, Disco was hot, and home loan rates reached 19%!  Out of necessity agents became creative with financing for the few real estate sales being done.  One such tool was a “Wrap Around” or “Wrap”.  More home  sales closed because of  the development of “creative financing”; which typically turned out to be a Wrap.

Today, we again find ourselves in need of creative financing.  Up-scale homes, requiring ‘jumbo loans’ are not experiencing the same resurgence as the lower cost, “conforming” group of homes.  In fact, homes with prices over $700,000 are selling at a much slower pace, if they sell at all.  Their prices are still falling while lower priced, ‘tract’ homes are rebounding.   It’s all about the financing or, lack of it.

Lenders are requiring at least 20% down from the buyer on prices above $463,300.  With the ‘Jumbo’ limit of $729,750 and minimum of 20% down many buyers simply don’t have enough cash.  Previously helpful, second loans offered by sellers must be over and above the minimum 20% cash from the buyer. “Willing sellers and qualified buyers” (without 20%+ cash) for jumbo sales are being held at bay do to a significantly tightened lending atmosphere.

Even if an upper-end home finds a buyer with a large down payment good luck in the home appraising.  Lender’s are now being required to accept only those appraisals with 2 comparable sales within the last 90 days.  So, with fewer comparable sales, and dropping prices many higher priced home sales don’t close due to very low appraised values.

However, the “Wrap” is making a come back (more properly called an “All Inclusive Deed of Trust” or A.I.D.T.).  A willing and capable buyer can pay the seller’s price and avoid the lender limits and appraisal constrictions.  Additionally, since there are no lender fees the money normally spent on closing costs can be added to the down payment.

In the last 30 days I proposed 4 AIDTs for stagnant Hollister and San Juan Bautista up-scale homes.  Morgan Hill and Gilroy ‘Jumbo’ homes could also benefit form an AIDT sale.

When one of these AIDT sales records there will be a new comparable property appraisers can use to justify the higher prices nice homes should bring.  THEN, we’ll begin to see the ‘Jumbo’ home sales moving toward their earlier values.  I love problem solving!

Doggie Doors vs. Insurance

In these Dog Days of Summer it seems like every other home I show in Gilroy lately has a pet door in the garage door entry to the home.  There is nothing more exciting than to have “Spike” come blasting through the door to check out who is in his home.

Gilroy, as well as virtually every other city, has a building code requiring that homes be built with a firewall between the attached garage and the home.  Many house fires begin in the garage so the firewall is engineered to impede a fire which starts in the garage from spreading to the home.  Most jurisdictions require the firewall to provide such a delay for up to two hours.

While making “Spike’s” life a little more convenient the homeowner who puts a pet door in the the door leading into the home from the garage may have problems collecting from their homeowners insurance where a fire began in the garage.

I find it interesting that many insurance agents say homeowners with such pet doors will still be covered yet home inspectors seem compelled to address this issue in their written reports.

Occasionally, a homeowner will cut the firewall for attic access or to install a drop down ladder.  They may face the same dilemma with their insurance company.

Building Code also requires that your garage-to-home door have a functioning, self-closing, hinge.  For obvious reasons that door needs to close so that the firewall retards the spread of a garage fire.  For reasons beyond me some homeowners disengage such a hinge.  Again, such a move may prove costly later.

So, why not check with your homeowner insurance agent and see what their position is on the doggie door dilemma.  We can check with the City’s code enforcement folks.  Sorry “Spike”.  Of course the standing rule remains: “caveat emptor”.

Smoke Alarms – Time to Update

I listened to home inspector today as he  inspected a house   I sold in San Jose.  He was talking about the importance of smoke alarms and how most homes only have an “ionization” or a “photoelectric” type detector   but not both.  Up to that comment I had smugly checked off that my home had a smoke alarm and we were set. I realized, however, that I didn’t even know which type I had.  Then the inspector referred to some studies that suggest people can sleep right through the constant    pitch of a smoke alarms going off – almost like getting  used to “white noise” or constant background sounds.

Enter “alarm and voice” devises and variable pitch alarms.  The newest alarms  even talk to you: “Warning, Warning, Fire, Fire“.  Then they put out a variable pitch alarm.  When the inspector mentioned “the other type of alarm: “the CO2 detector” I knew I needed to get updated.  “You know that Carbon Monoxide is called the ‘Silent Killer’, right?.  Well there is an alarm for that too”, he offered.  While I vaguely remember thinking about that in the past I did not install a CO detector in my home.

I found  “National Fire Protection Association”  website to be very helpful.  I quickly realized that my home was not adequately equipped with the most up-to-date smoke detectors nor do I have enough detectors in my two story home.   I’m headed to Lowe’s for all three types of alarms.

How about your home?  I recommend that you go to NFPA’s website