Luxury Homes Sales Continue to Climb

Silicon Valley luxury sales over $1.5 million soared 28 percent last month compared to a year ago. In the upper end of the market, there were 83 sales over $2 million and 20 over $3 million.

There continues to be extremely strong demand from well-qualified buyers who want to purchase homes here, and now we are finally starting to see more listings come on the market to meet that demand with the gradual increase in inventory.

However, we still don’t have enough great listings given the high demand! Word is finally getting out to homeowners that this is a great market to sell your home. If you have considered selling your home, now may be the perfect time. Contact me to discuss the details of your specific market.

FHA waives 3 Year Waiting Period!

Do you have a "derogatory remark" on your credit report for a Foreclosure, Shortsale, Deed-in-Lieu, Bankruptcy, etc? Previously the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) required a three year waiting period after these circumstances before they would lend again. This week, they lifted that waiting period, you just have to qualify. The FHA guidelines are pretty straight forward, such as minimum credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, verifiable income and a down payment minimum of 3.5%.

If you would like more information about FHA loans and the full list of qualifications, contact Lynsie.

Federal 3.8% Sales Tax? Really?

Recently there has been quite a bit of question, and confusion, regarding a new tax in conjunction with the new Federal Health Care Reform Legislation passed in 2010. And people want to know: Does it apply to me? The health care legislation did create a new tax that would apply to a portion of the gain on the sale of any capital asset (including real estate). That tax will apply ONLY to individuals with more than $200,000 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) (or $250,000 AGI on a joint return). The tax does not apply to any amount excluded from taxation under the $250,000/$500,000 principal residence rules. The tax is never imposed directly on the full amount of any capital gain.

The tax is computed under a multi-step formula that captures only a portion of any gain and will only affect those with total AGI above the amounts noted above. Here are the Links that the National Association of Realtors provided for a Q&A on the tax:

The 3.8% Tax: NAR's Q&A

Buyers Want Your Home

Good News for Sellers: The Market Wants to Sell Your House. Basic economics teach us the market is governed by the law of supply and demand. In today’s market the supply of homes for sale in the Silicon Valley is down dramatically while the interest of buyers is steeply increasing. For my stat friends, right now there are 1574 active listings in Santa Clara County. Last year at this time, there were 3200.

Recently, at a high end listing of mine I saw more than 70 people come through a two hour window of an open house. And I received 7 offers on the property.

Suffice it to say, it’s a great time to sell.

If you are interested in knowing more about what it takes to sell your home contact me today.

Listed...and Sold!

Did you know homes in Santa Clara County are on the market for an average of 50 days? And that number is going down.Inventory of homes is still at an all time low. Today there are 1,331 single family homes listed. Last year at this time, there were 2,622 homes listed. Not only has the number of homes for sale decreased, the days it takes for them to go into contract has also decreased. Last years' days on market average was almost 80.

What sets these homes apart? In part the answer lies in curb appeal. My sellers would describe several things I assist them in doing to help their homes stand out against the competition.

Tip of the Day - Think Like a Buyer When listing a home for sale, think like a buyer not a seller. Sellers often have a difficult time viewing their home through fresh eyes. An experienced agent can help sellers anticipate what today’s buyers are wanting in a home purchase and at what price. I encourage you to go get your car keys. Take a drive around your block, pretending you’ve never been on your street before. What do you see? Pull up to your house and view it with the eyes of a potential buyer. What jumps out at you first as you view your home? Look around the exterior and interior of your house and ask yourself what could be done to increase the curb appeal. Agents are well aware that their listing isn’t the only listing potential buyers are likely to see. If the desire is to close the transaction at a satisfying price and as quick as possible, then sellers need to learn how to think like buyers. Over the last decade of working as a real estate professional I’ve coached countless clients with very satisfying results. If you would like me to consult with you regarding your home contact me today!

New Changes for FHA buyers

Are you pre-approved for an FHA loan and still shopping for the perfect place?Did you know April 1st marked a change to your FHA loan? The Federal Housing Association (FHA) can assist buyers who may otherwise not be able to afford housing through a conventional loan. When buyers are approved for an FHA home loan they are required to carry insurance to protect their lender - the FHA - from financial risk. The insurance plan includes a premium as part of your monthly payment as well as an upfront fee at the time of closing. As of April 1st there was an increase in the upfront fee buyers will need to pay for this required insurance, to 1.75%. If you are interested in learning more about FHA loans and how they can assist you in the purchase of your home please contact me today. I’m always available to help.

Selling in Today's Market

As the Bay Area’s housing market continues to bounce back from the recession, more and more buyers have decided they can’t wait any longer – now is the time to get back into the market to find their next home. While the real estate market still has its challenges, things are very different today than they were in 2009, 2010 and even early last year. Buyers are generally more optimistic about the future, ready to purchase, much better qualified for a loan and, in many cases, are paying big down payments or even all cash for their next home. Indeed, the scales of supply and demand are once again moving back in the direction of home sellers after being out of balance for several years. While countless buyers are out there pounding the pavement for a home, the problem now is that there just aren’t enough sellers to meet the demand in many communities. 

As the economy continues to improve and with a shortage of attractive properties in good neighborhoods, buyers are once again paying good prices for properties rather than simply looking for distressed homes at bargain basement prices. And in some cases, properties are even getting multiple offers, driving up the sale price above the asking price, as a recent San Jose Mercury story discussed. So if you’ve been thinking about selling your home, now may be an ideal time to do so while buyers are eager, interest rates are still low and there isn’t as much competition from other sellers as there usually is this time of year. Here are several suggestions on how to get started and the best way to get top dollar for your home in today’s market.

• Pick the best agent for the job.

Selling a home is never easy, but in today’s complex real estate market it’s particularly challenging. So it’s more important than ever to find an experienced professional Realtor to help you get the job done. This is no time for amateurs. Start by interviewing several agents to see who has a proven track record of successfully marketing properties in your area. Ask them about their marketing plan, including print media, social media and online marketing via major real estate websites. Find out how well networked they and their brokerage are to other agents with potential buyers. Do they have offices beyond your city limits and even outside the state? Today’s buyers are just as likely to be relocating from across the country as they are from across town.

• Go online and be visual.

Remember the days of sticking a sign in the front lawn and taking out an ad in the local paper? Those days are long gone. Nearly 90 percent of buyers start their search for a home online, according to the National Association of Realtors. So you must be there in a big way to compete for the attention of buyers. Your agent should put up lots of high-resolution photos and as much information as possible. Make sure to show photos of all the major areas of your home and yard to give buyers as much of a sense of being there as possible. If not, buyers may wonder what you’re hiding. And strongly consider using video and virtual tours. Such marketing tools are no longer just for luxury homes.

• Price your home competitively for today’s market.

Just because a house comparable to yours sold for a certain price before the recession doesn’t mean you will be able to get the same price today. A lot has changed since then. And while prices are firming up, it’s still important to realize the new realities of today’s market. Let me help you in the process of determining the appropriate, competitive listing price for your home based on current market conditions. You may even choose to have an appraisal done in advance of setting the price. Remember that in this market, homes that are priced aggressively attract the most buyers and – in some cases – multiple offers that push your final sale price even higher.

• De-clutter and de-personalize.

De-personalizing and de-cluttering a home before putting it on the market can help make it easier for buyers to imagine themselves living there – a crucial step in the selling process. Take down family portraits, personal collections and knickknacks. Homebuyers are looking for a home they can picture their family living in, not yours. Removing these items will also eliminate clutter and ensure that people are looking at the house itself, not at the photos from your last family vacation.

• Update, freshen up.

Keeping in mind that some buyers take move-in condition to be important, put your home in its best light. Possibilities include replacing outdated kitchen and bathroom fixtures, applying a fresh coat of paint and/or refinishing the kitchen cabinets. Replace worn carpet or fix broken tiles. Many cosmetic touches are surprisingly affordable but may yield much higher sale prices. The less work buyers have to do when they move in, the faster they may be willing to make an offer. Ask me for suggestions that get the best response for your expense.

• Conduct a full home inspection.

If a professional home inspector determines that there are negative issues with the home, consider repairing the problems before buyers show up at your door. Potential buyers will cast an extremely critical eye over your home if it needs too many repairs – especially if they are trying to decide between your home and another one without problems. Be sure to have the home inspection report available for prospective buyers along with an itemizing all of the repairs that have been made and the associated cost for each to demonstrate the investment you’ve made in your home.

• Make your home and yard picture perfect.

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a good first impression. When a buyer sees your house for the first time, a positive impression can make or break the sale. You can maximize curb appeal by trimming trees, planting flowers and even rolling out a new lawn if needed. A fresh exterior coat of paint might also prove valuable. And consider having a professional “stage” your home to make it even more attractive for buyers by rearranging what you have and/or bringing in other furnishings and accessories.

• Be patient and flexible.

You’ve done all the right things to put your home in the best position to sell. But there will undoubtedly be bumps along the way. A buyer may have difficultly securing financing.The appraisal may come in lower than expected. The escrow period could drag on longer than you thought before the deal closes. It’s not unusual to have occasional issues pop up. After all, buying a home is the single biggest financial transaction most of us will ever make in our lives. I will be there with you every step along the way, managing the tough issues so you don’t have to and helping you achieve all of your home selling goals in today’s market.

Getting the Seller to Pay For Your Closing Costs

Last week I mentioned how to word your request for closing cost credit and it has spurred people's request for more information about closing cost credits. In any purchase there are associated costs. In a home purchase, not only do you need to plan for your down payment, but also your closing costs. These average 1-2% of your purchase price. But did you know there is a way to get the seller to pay these closing costs? An experienced agent will know how to structure your offer to request a credit toward buyer's closing costs, and it can be used strategically to help you get more out of your purchase and bring less cash to the table. In layman's terms it means you’re asking the seller to take less for the home, because you are asking for some of the funds. They will be reducing their net proceeds based on the the total credit you are requesting. The reason many buyers ask for a closing cost credit to to minimize the amount of personal cash they need to use to make their purchase. If you want to use this tactic, make sure to negotiate this upfront. And don’t be afraid to include this in discussion about older fixer-upper properties as well, where you will be needing additional funds after close to do repairs. However, this may not be for everyone. Many buyers choose to not request a credit back, as they view it as increasing their purchase price and loan amount. They calculate that they would rather use their cash, than increase their long term numbers. If you are interested in knowing more about closing cost credits and whether they could be right for you or not, contact me today!

Sticks And Stones - Words that Make or Break Real Estate Offers

As a working mom, I often encourage my young children to choose their words carefully.As it turns out words really do matter. Over my years as a seasoned real estate agent I can attest to the same value: proper verbiage within offers can make or break a real estate transaction. Put simply words, verbiage, can make or break a deal.

Recently while helping a client with their potential investment purchase I discovered phrasing within the seller’s counter offer that would have left my buyers stuck once they moved forward to the next phase of financing. Both parties had the right stuff to close the deal but if not written properly the whole deal would have fallen through once it hit the bank's underwriting.

So what are some key phrases that that can make or break a deal? -Closing Costs vs. Non-Recurring Closing Costs -Reference to existing termite inspection -Rent back allowances

All three of these examples are allowed by a lender, if worded correctly. If not, a can of worms can be opened and a deal will never make it off the underwriter's desk!

In summary, sometimes a successful real estate transaction is in the little details. One of my greatest joys in serving my clients is helping them save their time, money, and potential heart ache. If you have questions or would like to explore ways I can serve you in your current or future real estate transactions, contact me today.

Mortgage Apps Up as rates are Down

Historically low interest rates are compelling both current homeowners and future ones to lock these rates while they can.The Mortgage Bankers Association, which measures the volume of mortgage loan applications reported that the "home loan volume soared 23.1% from the previous week", reaching it's highest level in months. Interest rates dropped again last week, settling around 4% for a 30 year fixed loan! This is fantastic news for both home shoppers that can lock a historic low rate and increase their purchasing power, and current homeowners that can refinance and save on their monthly payments.

Are you considering making a home purchase this year? Or refinancing?

Do you have questions about the currently mortgage industry? I have a great team of lenders that I can refer you to. They can answer any of your questions and quote you the most current rates. Just let me know and I will send you the contact info of the most qualified and capable lenders I know.

Home renovations: To Do or Not To Do?

Many times people feel there are many projects or renovations that they need to do to their home in order to get it ready to sell. Unfortunately, sometimes the projects they invest in do not pay off. Here is an article about a few of the home renovation projects that do not pay off:

I love helping a seller decide which projects DO make sense for them to invest in and the ways in which they can get the most return on their money with today's real estate market. If you would like a free consultation at your home, evaluating your project options, Contact Me.

Positive Economic Indicators

I am often looking for “signs of improvement” for my clients and read this article in the Mercury News. It has some interesting economic indicators that you may enjoy viewing.Single-family home sales rose 14% and the median price rose 2.2 %. Other good news included construction development rising 48% in June while filed bankruptcies fell in the same month. Our office statistics show even further growth since the data being used in this article.

New Website Launch


It is official. My new site is here! With 1,000 unique views per month @ I look forward to a re-designed website that increases its usefulness to viewers interested in buying & selling their homes. Contrary to recent sensationalism, the real estate market in Santa Clara county is alive and well with plenty to write about. supplies you the information needed to approach homeownership with educated confidence. Posts you find interesting or helpful I encourage you to share with your friends and family.

If you are looking simply to talk or ask some questions of  an experienced, full-time agent contact me today.

Site provided by Ezra Gordon

50 Ways to be Green(er)

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, I have put together a list of 50 ways to make an impact – or less of an impact- on our planet.  Here are just a few of my favorites from that list: -Say goodbye to bottled water by purchasing (and using!) a reusable water bottle.

-Install low-flow faucets and shower heads. If your budget allows, purchase a water efficient toilet – you may even get a rebate!

-Buy foods locally at a nearby farmer’s market. My favorites are downtown Campbell and downtown Los Gatos on Sunday mornings.

-Recycle as much as possible.  Currently our recycle can is larger than our trash can and reminds us to see what can be recycled first.

-If you live within close proximity to work, kids’ schools/activities, or downtown community, ride a bike or walk.

-Adjust sprinklers so only your landscaping is getting watered, not the house. This is also great for the maintenance of your home.

-Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.

-Seal off drafts in your house and save 5-30 percent on your energy bill.

-Bring your own mug to your local coffee shop, they may even give you a discount. Also keep one on hand at work for coffee fill-ups.

To download the pdf with all 50 tips click here.

3 Reasons to Own Your Home

When you think about owning your own home what comes to mind first? Perhaps it is the promise of a place you can truly call your own. Maybe your new home is the perfect location for your kids to flourish or the perfect community for you to develop long lasting relationships. Romantic images of homeownership are extremely motivating. Yet some of the biggest advantages of owning a home are highly practical and financial in nature. Here are 3 great reasons to own your own home:

  • Tax Deductibility—Each year homeowners have the special privilege of deducting certain costs associated with owning their home. The largest one is the mortgage interest payment. Homeowners can also deduct the cost of property taxes. These tax deductions can make a big difference in what is owed to state and federal tax collectors and may have significant ramifications on your monthly housing affordability. For example, If you pay $2,000 rent you may be able to pay $3,000 in mortgage because of the tax benefits.
  • Equity Gain—Home value appreciation is a long term goal that can really pay off. Being the recipient of that gain is far better than giving that gain to someone else. Perhaps you have heard the old saying, “Renters write a check every month to make their landlord rich.” Putting your hard earned money into your own home is a great long term financial strategy.
  • Capital Gains Exclusion—When it is time to sell people often wonder if their amount of financial gain is going to be taxed. Currently a married couple filling jointly can claim up to $500,000 of tax free profit on their home sale, $250,000 if filling single. This exclusion requires the home to be the principal residence for at least 2 years. Being able to claim such a significant amount of tax-free profit distinguishes homeownership from all other types of investments.

There are many additional points of interest to consider when buying a home. If you are considering buying your first home I would love to talk with you more. I can help you assess your personal situation and assist you in taking the necessary action steps to homeownership.