As a listing agent, receiving a well written and complete offer is indicative of a serious buyer, a competent agent and usually more reliable financing. These offers are clear, complete, well thought out and a pleasure to review and inspire confidence in the listing agent and subsequently the seller!

So how do you do this?

  • As a  buyer, you and your agent should see the property, Ideally together, often the  second viewing for both of you, to discuss pros and cons and for your agent to get a good idea of why this property works for you. Your agent may have seen it on broker tour, and you may have seen it at an open house, or you may already have gone together.
  • You want to see the property early on… this way you have PLENTY of time to thoroughly review disclosures, do research.. like visit the city building department… and book any pre-inspections or pre book any post ratified contract inspections so you can make a VERY strong compelling offer!
  • Your agent will be checking in with the listing agent to get answers to any questions regarding the property and the disclosures, the interest in the property, the sellers expectations and how to structure the WINNING offer for the buyers!
    Buyers agents who check in with the listing agent and demonstrate that their buyers have paid attention to the disclosures are a plus to listing agents.
    Offers that come in out of the blue at the last minute often feel shaky!
  • Review the disclosure package both on your own and with your agent. You want to allow time to go through all the documents together, even the boilerplate ones, at least on your first offer it helps to do this IN PERSON. Property specific disclosures always need further study and discussion. I allow 2-3 hrs and sometimes more to review a standard disclosure package , more if there are historical documents from previous sales.
  • After reviewing the disclosures, it often helps buyers to actually CALL the inspector who wrote the reports if there are any questions. The reports frequently have a laundry list of items needing immediate attention .… if you speak with the inspectors they can verbally put some of these items in perspective, i.e,” Yes, you need to address this NOW” or “you can wait on this a bit” or “ if you have a bottomless pocket you could do XXXX however….”
  • Your agent should pull recent sales (comps) that provide some insight into the potential value, not only for other buyers but data that an appraiser might take into consideration. This takes some time  as the agent recalls the qualities the home had, why it sold for what it did, and  selects the most appropriate comps.
  • Your agent may need time to call agents who listed some of the recently sold comparable properties to get some additional insight. E.g Did it have high reports? Was there anything unusual that happened to cause the property to sell exceptionally high or low.
  • Your agent may need to call other listing agents who currently have potential comps in contract at a price which is significantly higher than the list price, This is crucial information with many listings selling way over asking price. If the property closes prior to your buyers appraisal it may be a comp, and appraisers often require one pending property as a comp.
  • Your agent may also be consulting with a) the previous listing agent on this property for additional information, b) trusted colleagues either within or outside their brokerage who might have insight ( and NOT competing buyers!) which could help these buyers prevail. There is frequently a lot of detective work to be done!
  • Buyer and agent should both contact the buyers lender if there is to be a loan. Some banks need 1-2hrs to get a preapproval letter, others take a few days… principles and agents want to be 100% clear on what financing terms will work and where the risks are in order to structure a solid offer.
  • As a buyer you will ideally have also answered any questions regarding insurance and spoken with neighbors and done significant due diligence upfront prior to writing. If the offer is Non-contingent… the norm in many markets.. you want to have NO deal breaker QUESTIONS UNANSWERED prior to writing your offer!
  • After seeing the property, reviewing all the disclosures, checking in with the lender, checking in with the listing agent, and making a variety of miscellaneous research phone calls you and your agent will be ready to put your offer together.
  • Buyers will often do best writing a letter to the sellers. I know… this sounds corny and some buyers cringe.. but… anything that conveys CONFIDENCE in your willingness and motivation to complete the sale is a PLUS in your favor. Its costs you NOTHING to do this!!
  • Your agent will probably  write the offer and  send you a draft to review the terms with you. (I send my clients pdfs as they are easier to review.) We can  make changes prior to posting in docusign for signing. The electronic signing programs move quickly… I want to make sure my buyers have READ the contract before signing and have helped catch any errors or required revisions!
  • Once your agent has the following:
    Signed contract, Signed and reviewed disclosures, Comps reviewed, Letter to seller, Lender preapproval letter, They package it with their introduction and offer summary with highlights and EVERYTHING the listing agent has requested so it is easy for the listing agent to review and present to the sellers.

Putting together a well considered and thorough offer can easily take 5-8hrs for a buyers agent and buyers should be investing  time in their due diligence as well!

Try to avoid a FIREDRILL!!  It will make your life as a buyer less stressful and probably more successful!



Back when we bought our last house around 1998 we were considering schools and test scores and the Montclair hills seemed like the spot which best met our needs.

Although we were also very tempted by a couple of super charming homes -one in Adams Point with a gorgeous stained glass transom window and the other a craftsman style home near a wonderful pocket park in what is now more acceptably known as NOBE!

Fast forward about 20 years and the conversation I often have with homeowners in the Berkeley and Oakland hills frequently turns to
How is it possible homes in the hills are not worth more ?”

So here is a little chart giving some idea of relative appreciation over the last 20 years in the hills and the flats.
Yes, the hills were more expensive to start with, but a generational shift
is placing value on urban locations and Lakeshore is very tempting!

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated!”

Spring is on its way …..and this may not be the potentially dying market we saw in the 4th Quarter of 2018! Everything is beautifully green and serious buyers go shopping in the rain!

Market jitters at the end of 2018 led many sellers to just put their homes on the market using the “come as you are” + “transparent pricing” approach, and many of them sat and did not sell.

For every buyer who says “I don’t like staged homes” it is rare for one to see beyond older décor and get a discounted purchase. Many of these homes do not sell the first time around.

Fast forward to 2019!! ..… A new level of buyer enthusiasm has greeted many listings on the market. Including a number of the “shadow inventory” listings which were pulled at the end of last year, refreshed, repriced and repositioned for 2019 with stellar results. 

The chart below shows sales absorption rates for the last 6 months in Oakland. Some slow down in the 4th Quarter and early pick up starting late January with highest in 6 months in mid February. We’ll see what more inventory brings us!


Recent brokers tour theme…… lovely and green after the rain!

That Magic Feeling!

That Magic feeling!

Every so often a home with that magic feeling comes on the market!

On Brokers tour the agents are “oohing” and “aahing” and say “I could live here!” and you realize you are not alone in responding to the home as you do!

The magical house does not have to be exceptionally fancy.

More likely it is unostentatious, more likely it has a wonderful interface with the outdoors… a place where you can imagine spending today’s precious down-time relaxing in comfort and looking out onto a beautiful garden or view!

How do you value a home like this?

You pull the comps, analyze the data and say…. However… this home is magical!
Data and logic invariably go out the window!

The winning recipe will undoubtedly be whatever the sales data indicates plus whipped cream and a very large $$ cherry on the top!

Will it appraise?
Quite possibly not. Is there going to be a buyer who doesn’t care, probably.

Like the world’s most valuable jewels and artworks a home with “ that magic feeling” is a rare commodity and gets valued accordingly!

closeup photo of pink petaled flower tree

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Pexels.com

The holiday season saw somewhat of a seasonal slowdown as buyers turned their attention to the holidays. A few deals were had, many sellers tried the off-market ” Buy it now” pricing and some were successful. Shadow inventory which did not sell in the Holiday season and new inventory will be coming on soon!
Click on the image below to see the last quarter’s report

I am so grateful for the opportunities I had in 2018 to help so many wonderful clients!

A BIG THANK YOU! to friends and clients who sent many of these people my way.

If you have a move in mind for 2019 I’m always happy to meet prospective clients, discuss options and put together a plan before the early Spring market gets going!

You can call me, text or leave a message at:  510-390-8101


Let’s run the numbers…..but take the neighborhood breakdowns with a pinch of salt or twoOverall inventory was down a smidge in 3rd quarter. (It certainly seems to have picked up in October… after this report) as sellers scrambled to get their homes on the market, particularly those in the higher end.

One particular neighborhood shows sales prices are down by 25% from last year……. I don’t think so! A function of few homes for sale and not enough data to be meaningful…
Yes, it can now take MORE than 2 weeks on the market before sellers get an offer!
Agents have to gauge the interest and the response to pricing.

If the property is anything but a perfect “10” Buyers are a bit more cautious.
The news is distracting, so is the stock market..the weather is still great… buyers and agents are circling a little longer, is the property priced low, priced near value, priced a bit too high?
The market is less predictable, so it’s important to do your research!

Are we finally moving towards a more balanced market, where list prices are close to sale prices?? Maybe!
Are prices dropping? The high outliers from the Spring should probably be considered as such…. unless of course the property is a perfect “10”!

3rd Quarter market report