Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Found These Kitchen Suggestions Interesting, Do You?

Reading Houzz today, one of my favorite home decorating sites, and the article was about kitchen remodeling. Author put the word out on what she was planning and asked for readers suggestions and/or comments.

Some were surprising, some interesting, some we all think of anyways. But, here goes....

1) One gal suggested, due to budget restraints, going with a smaller scale kitchen and spending more on appliances. Definitely, and I concur, keep the space between counters and center islands....wide as possible! Yet, others felt too wide. Hmmmm.....

2) Direct access to the outdoors. So rare to find more than a single door that leads out from the family room which may be connected to kitchen. But, YES, a slider that takes you outside with your tray of party delights right from the kitchen? Gorgeous!

3) Skylights and light tubes. Yes indeedy!

4) Under cabinet lighting. Uh huh!

5) Double Bowl Sink. That's a given.

6) Prep Sink. Well, in the center island in a really large kitchen, yes. or (7) 2 Full size sinks!

8) Two dishwashers? Nah, that's really over the top.

9) Counter Depth Fridge ~ love these!

10) Ooooh, a Steam Oven!! That would be steamy dreamy!

11) A Warming Oven, yes, nice!

12) An Induction Cook top. I've only ever seen this once in my career. Great idea, works wonderful.

13) A full-on ice maker that is just that, not attached to fridge. Party house!

14) They call it an 'Appliance Garage'. Large cabinet storage to slide your counter appliances into so they are out of sight when not in use. Great for people like me who hate clutter.

15) Hot & Cold water dispensers. Yep, another good one.

16) Trash & Recycling center. Wish mine had this. I pile my recyclables on the counter til hubby takes them out. See 14 above, know that it makes me a bit nuts since I hate clutter!

17) For the bakers out there......a pull-out shelf lift for your electric mixer!

18) Built-In Speakers. Well, of course, that's nice to keep serenity when cooking like crazy!

19) Cook book shelves. Um, I never follow recipes!


20) Hidden Outlet Strip. I actually need one of these in my camper!

Just some stuff to share. Which of these would interest you?

Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm An MLS Addict

As as addict to the MLS, I see changes pretty rapidly. Yes, I'm addicted. 'Hi, my name is Lauren, and I'm an addict.....to the the local MLS!'

Early this week I saw 3 times as many new listings pop up in the 24 hour window I have set for my MLS reporting.

I've been seeing quite a few BOM's, Back On Markets. That's always a bummer.

Seen lots of price reductions too. Today a whole boat-load of new listings hit again. Usually we see that to prepare for weekend house hunters.

Still tons going into escrow, still lots selling. Just letting you know that I am seeing some interesting activity in our local stats.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Studies Reveal This, Studies Reveal That.....Blah, Blah, Blah.

No matter how much you read, where you pick up the article from, where the author gets their information from, things will be explained/reported differently.

So, please keep that in mind. I guess what I'm trying to say isn't just think of the source, but think of where you are in relationship to where the source is and where the source is reporting about.

The entire country is very different than California. The Northern Cal communities are certainly different from the So Cal ones. San Fernando Valley is very different than the Los Angeles basin. And, my favorite little community, Santa Clarita Valley, is different yet again.

Let's say you read an article about inventory and think 'Wow, why is it so hard to find a home in Valencia?' Your article may be discussing all of California.

Pricing, inventory, time on market, is very area driven. Always has been, always will be.

We're still sitting at about 1/2 of what we would consider normal inventory levels, yet they are twice what they were just a couple of years ago.

I could go on and on. Just wanted to make sure that whatever studies you are reading, that are revealing information to you? Make sure it is validated by locale, and best by a local agent.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Pays To Hire A Realtor That Stays Up On Internet Marketing

So we all know that Zillow and Trulia are now in bed with each other, right? Well, they are. Funny, as their property value estimates are still off from each others opinions!

BUT, what a lot of people don't know....and I tell them as I run into them....is that Zillow lost our MLS feed. They lost the rights to grab our listings and put them on their site.

Some Realtors are probably cheering. Until they realize their seller is going to be annoyed that one of the largest house hunting sites doesn't have their home showing up on it! Well, it was the big dog of house hunting sites until this week. At least for our local listings.

Well, that would be pretty much all of Southern California! Realtor.com is surely ecstatic right now.

At any rate, there is a work-around for it. You just have to know it. Or, your REALTOR has to know it.

How to get your home for sale on Zillow. 
Go ahead, ask me. Yep, I totally and completely know it!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Designing A Vacant Room

Back in the day, way back in the day, when inventory was higher and buyers had more to choose from, they were extremely picky. Imagination was a challenge for them. Seeing the home as something they would like when it was decorated the way the seller preferred created problems and some homes would sit.

Thirteen years in the business I've seen it all. Had my dogs, had my challenging listings. Had to re-group and change strategies to get it sold.

Right now one of my listings is vacant. People keep saying the rooms are small. Vacant rooms look smaller. Just the way it is.

So, I'm off to measure the exact dimensions and then I'll use one of my online tools to show furniture placement possibilities.

If they can't see it, I've got to show them. Maybe their agents aren't able to do so. We try, but we don't want to push our buyers into something.

My guidance will have to help those agents and their buyers!

Sample 3D furniture placement!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Offer From Mr. Da From China

Earlier this week I got an e-mailed offer from an agent out of Long Beach representing a client from China. Well, that's what the e-mail said.

It was written as an all CASH offer. Note, it was Written As. However, there was no bank statement, no Yen, no Dollars, no proof that there really was all that cash for a 1/2 million dollar property!

As the listing agent I have to follow all leads, right? Have to investigate all offers. Well, all valid offers. There is a fine line there. But, since I've seen this type of oddity before, it was not considered a valid offer in my expert opinion.

Buyer, nor their agent, had ever physically been to property. Offer was for a 20 day close, came with a full contingency removal. Indicated that within 3 days the buyers deposit would be wired to escrow and that within 5 days buyer would provide proof of funds.

Remember the post about Chinese money-laundering a while back? Well, I wasn't even thinking it was a laundering scam, I just felt it was another type of scam.

So, I let the agent know I had received her offer but until she could provide proof of funds it wasn't considered a valid offer. Distinctly asked her how many properties buyer had written on, she stumbled. Also asked her how long she had been working with buyer, she indicated 4 weeks.

She said she would get me the proof of funds within 24 hours. That it has been a delay continuously with this buyer of hers. I contacted her the next day, 36 hours later, to let her know I had not received the proof of funds. Who knows, could have been trapped in e-mail hell. Yeah, right!

If I was trying to represent a buyer from another country, I'd have all of my ducks in a row well before I wrote an offer!! Including proof of funds to go with the offer.

At any rate, I'm still waiting for proof of funds. And, since I doubt I'll ever get that, this is a story to share with anyone that thinks an all cash offer is awesome......without the cash to prove it!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Don't Drink and......Sign a Contract & Should I Work With Strangers?

Went out to lunch with a gal-pal today. As always talked about the market. What's coming down my pipeline, an agent newsletter that we both received in our mailboxes.

It brought up a reminder that I shared with her about a couple of listing appointments I went on a few years ago.

One was from door-knocking my neighborhood. You'd think your own neighbor would be okay, right? Well, I told my husband at the time exactly where I was going and what time to knock down the door if I didn't return.

Another was a seller that years ago I had represented the buyer for his prior home. He told me he felt I did a better job for my client than his agent did for him so he had kept my contact info. Again, informed my husband where I'd be as I didn't personally know this gentleman, nor had he been referred by a past client, friend, family member.

I don't generally work with strangers. I receive about 95% of my business from past clients, returning clients, referrals from those clients, friends, past associates. People that I know.

These two were basically strangers. Don't worry, I'll wrap back around to the newsletter comment in the first paragraph.

Both times there was no one in the home but the man. Both times I arranged a day time appointment. Both times I was offered a drink. Not iced tea or soda. An alcoholic drink. Needless to say I declined.

As I discussed marketing the prospective sellers' home I watched as both drank not one, not two, but more than 3 of their tasty beverages.

Watching them get a bit sloshed, a couple of things came to mind. Would I want to work with this person? Was he of sound mind, ever, if I needed a contract signed? Was the listing worth the risk?

Both of them I declined to continue the appointment. Could I have gotten their listing? Most likely. Did I want their listing? Every agent does. Was I willing to risk my licensing if they happened to sign something while intoxicated? Nope, not me. I excused myself gracefully from both and never looked back.

Until today. Until I received a newer agent's promotional newsletter in the mail. A lovely lady that is doing a great business......with quite a few strangers.

Maybe I should consider working with strangers. Well, most of the ones that are referred to me start as strangers. But, should I work with a complete stranger that all I know about him or her is where they live and the value of their home?

Likely I could do more sales, make more money if I was willing to work with complete strangers. But, it's just not about that. My personal safety is too precious. My own life is worth more than a possible commission.

Wrapping around to the subject line, and the newsletter sentence. Nope, I won't work with you if I can't trust that you can't sign a contract sober. And, nope, I value my safety too much to work with a complete stranger.

I have worked with a few, but there were stipulations that I set, that were followed by the client. Those have turned out to be great friends! Some, they were just awful!

Just a reminder to all agents out there, particularly women, it's not all about the commission check. If you're sued due to an intoxicated seller signing, or you're harmed by a stranger, it's going to cost you well more than the commission earned.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Water Saving Ideas That Everyone In California Needs to Know

Yikes, we really do need to figure out ways to conserve water here in Sunny Cal!

A normal site I use to keep up on decorating ideas posted 11 ways to save.

Sharing here their suggestions:

1) Turn off faucets ~ Seems simple right. But, they mean while brushing teeth, washing dishes. Just like when I'm camping and only have a certain amount of water to use and/or store.

2) Use Every Single Drop ~ Rinsing your fruits and vegies in a colander? Put a pot under them and catch the water to use elsewhere. Heating up the water for your shower? Save that water too!

3) Double-Dip Dishes ~ Like in the olden days when we didn't HAVE running water! One side for hot soapy, one side to rinse.

4) Consider a Smaller Dishwasher ~ Hmmmm, that's a tough one for most of us. I definitely recommend making sure it's completely full before running though.

5) Buy a High-Efficiency Washing Machine ~ If you're due for a new one, definitely consider one that uses less water. Cut your cycles as short as you can too.

6) Low-Flow Toilets & Shower heads ~ That's a given, and it's a requirement in parts of L.A. City when you sell a home.

7) Shorten Your Showers ~ Wow, this brings back memories. Dang but I love the hot water bouncing on my neck for a long shower.

8) Pool Covers ~ Ah yes, great idea to help keep evaporation at bay!

9) Water Your Garden By Hand ~ Hmmm, I would have thought that used more water. But, apparently not so according to the EPA.

10) Weather Based Irrigation System ~ We all forget to turn the timer off when it rains. But these babies can water based upon needs and current weather!

11) When It Rains, Collect That Water ~ From your rain gutters!

Some things we need to consider. Some we've already heard of, some we just need to be reminded of.