Are the “new” alternatives really new?

Thanks to the likes of Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin, the availability of information to real estate consumers has changed profoundly in the past decade…and it needed to. Along with it, the means by which home buyers and home sellers acquire and liquidate property is changing as well. Enter Wall Street backed start-ups to the equation, and now you have a consumer base with a number of options available to them…but are they “new” options? Not at all.

The list is endless, and each new entry is as redundant as another new color of Dawn liquid soap. Rex, Homelight, Open Door, Upnest, Redfin, Zillow, Open Listings, Side Door, Triplemint (no, I didn’t make that up), and a number of alternative brokerages like 500 Realty, Flat fee brokers, Purple Bricks, and I could go on. Millions of marketing dollars are being spent by these start-ups to convince home sellers that they will “save them from those greedy old real estate agents who just want to steal all their equity.” Don’t take the bait. Regarding real estate commissions, they are shared by many people, and they are and always have been negotiable. Always. The bigger question isn’t what will you pay in fees, to whomever you hire, but what will you receive in terms of value? What impact will they be able to have on the financial outcome of a transaction? If an agent charges you 6% and through effective negotiation delivers a result to you that is 6% more than you could have done on your own, that agent didn’t cost you 6%, that agent was able to offset his/her entire fee. They cost you nothing. Conversely, if someone charges you less but costs you more, meaning they didn’t fight to preserve your equity, they didn’t save you anything. They cost you money.

Today, these not-so-new business models will offer you anything from a rebate on commission to lower commission to a cash offer for your home, allowing you to “skip the whole stressful home selling process.” This is a good time to remind you that every single one of these options, and more, are and have been available to home sellers all along by way of a seasoned and experienced real estate agent or Broker. They are not new concepts…although the new marketing tactics might lead you to believe otherwise. The biggest problem that I see with these not-so-new alternatives, is they’re trying to lead consumers away from a real estate agent who can offer them every option under the sun with a flexible fee schedule, to a one-item menu that offers one service only at a fixed cost. Every single one of these “new” companies offers a home seller one option…theirs. A traditional agent of Broker can and should be offering the home seller the best solution for their individual case.

Ironically, one of the things that drove me nuts about the business when I entered it some 17 years ago, is that most real estate brokerages still practiced the “one item menu” approach. Take the listing, stick a sign in the ground, wait for someone else to sell the property, split the commission, rinse and repeat. THERE IS NO ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL in real estate, and for 17 years now I have tried to educate home sellers to that simple truth. We assess their individual situation…financial leverage, motivation, and personal goals…and offer a short menu of the best options available to deliver the best result. Unfortunately, all real estate investors understand these strategies, but most homeowners do not, simply because they’ve never been exposed to them. Why, as a home seller, would you not want to see all of your options? What if you’re leaving tens of thousands of dollars on the table? What if there’s a more efficient means to get to where you want to be? Ultimately, you should want to know all of them, in a no-pressure setting, and make the best informed decision for you and your family. Right?

None of these new start-ups that are promising to save you from the real estate agent will do that. They offer one solution, and they’ll spend millions to convince you that the solution they’re offering is the best one for you. Either that, or they’re not a real estate company at all, but rather a marketing company simply trying to convert you to a lead, then sell your information back to a real estate agent. Since when does Wall Street have your best interests at heart? They’re focused on one thing…profit. Nonetheless, thousands will take the bait and likely leave a lot of money on the table. Money that should be kept in their pocket, rather than another Wall Street investor.

These folks are offering nothing new. Nothing at all. Use them or use a local agent, it’s clearly your decision. Get a full assessment and a menu of options from us, or a one-option solution from them…it’s your choice. It’s also your equity. Spend it wisely.

CASE STUDY-Save a ton on college housing expenses and help your graduate into their first home.



Our third and final child just completed her degree through the CSU system, so this topic is near and dear to my heart. The truth is, college expenses are out of control, as evidenced by the exponential growth of costs from child number 1 to child number 3. It makes Amazon’s growth look like stagnant water.

The biggest expense you’ll incur, by far, is housing…assuming your child can’t live at home and commute to school. When my youngest started at Chico State, the dorm bill was just north of ten thousand a year, or about $1,250/month. Double occupancy.

We always had our children spend the first year in the dorms to acclimate to college life, and then did something that offered them a transition out of dorm life into a nice neighborhood close to school. This strategy saved us a ton of money, which I later used to help them buy that home once they graduated. Ultimately, I averaged a 65% reduction in housing costs, and they gained a 12-month stable housing arrangement with an easy path to home ownership.

The strategy I used was lease-options, and I was able to find these homes right on the MLS. I negotiated three-year options and below market rent. Minimum 3 bedroom, preferably four, and rented the additional rooms out to other students to offset costs. When my children graduated, I would apply the option fee and some of the money I saved to the purchase, and then would exercise the option. If you would like to hear about this strategy in more detail, send me an email and let’s have coffee.



One of the more frustrating things that many home sellers and I share in common is that the industry as a whole tends to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach to servicing home sellers and buyers. People are unique, their properties are unique, and their motivation for selling is also unique. Yet 99% of Brokers and agents alike will approach every potential client and property with the same cookie-cutter mentality. It drives me nuts…and I made a commitment 17 years ago to change that, at least with the clients we serve.

Unbeknownst to most homeowners, there are dozens of ways to sell a property. Real estate investors use them every single day. At the same time, there are savvy hands-on homeowners who want to participate in the process in return for a lower fee. There are others who don’t mind paying a little more but would rather have it done for them. Still others don’t want to be bothered with all the hassles of marketing a home. They just want to be cashed out…fairly, quickly, and efficiently.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those. In fact, you might find yourself somewhere in between. That’s why it’s critical that we determine in advance your motivation for moving, the financial outcome you seek, the marketability of the property, and the level of involvement you wish to have. Additionally, we need to determine where you’ll go once the home sells so that we can balance that part of the transaction and mitigate any stress related to the move. Once we determine those, then and only then can we prepare the option or options that will best provide you the outcomes you seek.

If you peel it back to its simplest form, home sellers want one thing…a buyer. Everything else is either a means to that end, or basic fluff. So why not make the process as simple as you can for the homeowners? Besides, people despise having to go through the process of interviewing agents and haggling over the fee structure. If there was a push button solution, it would likely be popular, but we are talking about the biggest financial transaction of your life.

What if you could turn the table? Answer five short questions to determine what level of service you want, what you’re willing to pay for that service, what price you want for your home, when you want to move…you know, the important things. What if that was put in front of a pool of highly qualified agents, and the first one to accept your terms called you to accept your proposal. Then, once you meet each other, if you both want to go forward, you simply sign the contract based on your terms and conditions that the agent has already agreed to…and you can start packing.

Just go to, answer five short questions, and we’ll find you the perfect agent that’s willing to take the time to learn the mission, adapt the selling strategy to fit your needs, and deliver you a solution based on your terms. Isn’t that refreshing?

100 BUCKS says I can solve your real estate problem.

Although it’s been over ten years since the latest housing meltdown, and many people have moved on, we still have a BIG problem. According to RealtyTrac, one of the nation’s foremost analysts of real estate data, there are still over 5 million homeowners “underwater.”
There are also countless homeowners who are NOT underwater, but who feel they cannot sell their home, even if they need to, because they can’t cover the costs.
Unfortunately, if you call a realtor, most of them would suggest a short sale. NOOOOOOOOOO! That’s a horrible idea.
The truth is, there are numerous options available to you if you’re underwater or have very little equity. I have helped homeowners in ways most would not have thought possible, and like any other real estate transaction, the solution may be as unique as the property itself. You see, the solution depends on a number of factors which I typically determine at our first meeting. In most cases I can show you how to turn a hopeless situation into a profitable one. Maybe I can help you negotiate with your lender to restructure your loan. There are countless other ways to create a solution that works for you, but you have to take that first step.

Maybe you’re not underwater. Maybe you had a life event that put you in a position where you need to sell fast, without giving up equity, and you want a quick, discreet sale without leaving money on the table…or having to interview multiple agents.

Regardless of the circumstances, you need to know one thing…there is hope.

I’m so confident that I can help ANYONE, with ANY PROBLEM, that I’ll OFFER YOU A UNIQUE GUARANTEE. You bring me your real estate problem:

*not enough equity to sell?
*divorce or death in the family and you want a quick, discreet sale?
*house in a state of disrepair?
*house has been listed but won’t sell?
*want to detach from the property, but you’d still like to
make money from it? Yes, you can do that.
*want to become an investor but don’t know how?


If I don’t offer you a solution within 24 hours after we meet, I’LL PAY YOU $100.00 CASH.

No pressure. No charge for our meeting. You never have to accept my proposal, but I guarantee you will learn something from our meeting.
What have you got to lose?


Can home buyers receive rebates from their agent?

How people buy and sell real estate has changed a great deal over the past 10 years. The general public has more access to information than they did before, and technology has changed the game.
At the same time, it is generally misunderstood how Brokers are compensated for helping their clients purchase a home. If it’s a property listed on the multiple listing service, which syndicates to public sites like Zillow, Redfin,, etc., the listing Broker has negotiated a commission rate with the home seller, typically between 4-6% of the final selling price. In order to gain more traffic to the listing, that listing agent offers what is known as a “co-op” fee to all subscribing Brokers, usually 2-3%, in hopes that the Broker pool will bring a qualified buyer. If the sale closes, that buyer’s Broker receives the co-op fee, and the buyer does not generally need to compensate their agent any further. Some buyer’s Brokers require their buyer to pay their own fee. It’s totally negotiable.
As a buyer’s Broker, the most time-consuming part of the process is locating the homes that fit your criteria, setting up appointments, and showing the properties. What we as Brokers have noticed is that sometimes our clients are actively involved in finding their dream home, as they have access to most of the same information that we do. Sometimes the client finds the home, and after viewing the home at an open house is ready to write an offer. Needless to say, that saves us a considerable amount of time, and we feel it’s only right to show our appreciation to those clients who do so by sharing our commission with them. Although the buyer’s participation is never expected or required, it’s simply an option for our buyer clients that do want to be involved in the process, to share in the fruits of their labor. If you want to be involved in the process, and you save us time by doing so, we’re going to reward you accordingly. The amount of the reward will depend on your level of involvement and how much time it saves us.
For example, if you’re a hands-on kind of person who has done the following:
*met with a lender and gotten pre-approved for financing.
*found your dream home online.
*attended an open house to confirm it’s the right house for you. (with or without us)
*are ready to write an offer.

You’ve just saved us a considerable amount of time, and we will reward you accordingly by rebating a large portion of our commission at closing. The amount of the rebate will be determined by several factors, but mostly by how much time you save us. Our average home buyer client that participates in our exclusive program this year will receive $2,812.00, but it could be $5,000 or more.

By the end of 2019, we expect to have rebated to those participating buyer clients over $200,000!

Again, we have no problem doing it all for you, we’re simply making the offer to those home buyers who would like to participate and in turn be well-compensated for it. There’s never a requirement to do so.

Rest assured that if you agree to participate, you will have a written agreement, signed by us, that guarantees your payment at closing. We have over two decades of experience helping home buyers just like you. Let us show you how we’re different.

Are we headed for another recession?

A great explanation by Forbes in this article. When you consider ALL the factors that lead to a recession, and this is certainly only one indicator, you must at the very least put this on your radar screen.


Have we passed the peak of this cycle?

Real estate markets typically operate in predictable cycles, but because they are subject to so many unique external factors, those cycles are often interrupted. For example, since 1980 the cycles have been remarkably predictable, with increases lasting 5-7 years, and declines from 3-5 years. The dot com bust/9-11 period offered us a unique interruption of that cycle, whereas the rebound commenced in one year instead of 3-5 years.
Because so much of what we do is now impacted by global events, at any time an unexpected interruption could occur, but since we have little way of anticipating those events, most of us stick to what we do know…data.
Here in northern California, typically whatever happens in the SF Bay area is a precursor to what will occur out in the San Joaquin valley.
For the past several years, sellers have enjoyed what I call a hyper-seller’s market, as inventory levels remained consistently around .75-1.5 months. A lot of buyers and not much for them to fight over. In the past several months, I’ve noticed a subtle change. Inventory levels have crept up to nearly 4 months of supply, passively taking that once-enjoyed leverage away from the sellers. We’re a more balanced, or neutral market now, with neither side having a leverage advantage due to supply and demand.
If you examine the Bay Area, they have now surpassed all previous “peaks” in their prior real estate cycles, in all three housing categories…low, moderate, and high priced homes. I think we can all agree that this is not sustainable.
Our local market is cooling, overall, which may or may not impact your micro-market (your specific neighborhood). The only way to know for sure is to run the data. Ultimately, market corrections, crashes, etc., are triggered by an event…in our case, we don’t know what that will be, when it will be, or if it will be…but the indicator around us are that it may be sooner than later.
If you’d like a free, no cost or obligation assessment of your specific neighborhood, simply drop me an email at:

and I’ll create the report and send it to your inbox.
No pressure, no face-to-face meetings…just good information.

Take a look at the chart below, and pay special attention to the “previous tier peaks,” and where we were at the end of 2017.

We’re now 6 months beyond that.



Image result for peak of a real estate cycle



1% listing fee-It’s not new , folks

The explosion of internet marketing companies like Zillow and Redfin has no doubt changed the face of real estate…a face that quite frankly needed some tweaking. The newest darling, Purple Bricks, has spent a ton of money trying to convince its audience that home sellers have been getting screwed, and they’re parachuting in to save the day. Not so fast.
They, along with Redfin and others, are now trying to launch themselves into the brokerage arena by offering home sellers a low flat fee to list their home…1%, $3200, and other price points.
This is not new stuff, folks…it’s been around for decades. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing tactics…home sellers have always been able to negotiate the rates they pay, and they still can. In fact, the law dictates such.

What these internet marketers are NOT telling consumers is that they’ll be paying well above that 1% fee, because that 1% fee is just to “list” the home. They don’t disclose in their marketing that there will be other fees, bringing them right back in line with what the average agent would otherwise charge them. But why settle for “average?”
Real estate commissions, by law, are negotiable…and they should be. There is no one-size-fits-all, and there is no “standard fee.” Every single transaction is unique. The seller that has prepared their property for market, and has set a price that will command heavy traffic, should pay less than a home seller whose property will require a great deal more effort.
In addition to that, home sellers should consider “the value” of the service provided. A good agent will normally be able to offset their fee through effective marketing and negotiations, increasing the offer prices as well as reducing the expenses for the seller. At the end of the day, only one thing matters…your bottom line. If I charge you more but give you more, isn’t that a great value?
Consider the following comparison:

Seller Mike finds an agent to sell his home for a 1% listing fee, and a 3% broker co-op fee (what is offered to the broker community to entice them to bring a buyer)
Because that listing agent only received a 1% fee, very little was done to market the home, and it took nearly 3 months to sell.
List price=275,000
Selling price=258,000
Seller-paid closing costs=9030 (3% buyer credit)
Total commission=10,320 (4%)
Seller’s net before loan payoff=238,650

Seller Jan was a little more savvy, She understood that using an experienced agent would provide better results.
Her agent spent more money in advertising, held more open houses, and paid for a professional photographer as well as a digital floor plan.
She actually paid more to list her home, but let’s see what her bottom line looked like:
List price=275,000
Selling price=281,000
Seller-paid closing costs=1,500 (rejected the 3% credit)
Total commission=16,860 (6%)
Seller’s net before loan payoff=262,640

Seller Jan, who paid $6,540 MORE in commission than Seller Mike, actually took more to the bottom line than Mike did…$23,990 more.
Same list price, but two different agents. The point is, find an agent that can deliver, and don’t just focus on the commission paid…it could cost you dearly.
In this case, Jan’s 6% turned out to be better than Mike’s 4%…almost $24,000 better.

The final point to make here is how well your agent will manage the transition process. Are they assisting you with the relocation, and are they able to balance the two subsequent escrows in a way that takes stress out of the equation? You can’t put a price on that.

Should you make an offer prior to viewing a property?

Well, at least a third of the buyer pool appears to think so…and the trend is growing, not shrinking. 35% of home buyers last year made offers on properties sight unseen, up from 19% in 2016. LA and San Diego lead the way in this trend at nearly 50%. As surprising as this might seem, the metric does not differentiate between investors or owner-occupants, and these big metro areas are prime targets for investors.
Most would agree that the face of home buying has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. Buyers have so much more information available to them today. Access to the MLS and home search apps that continue to evolve and deliver critical information right to their fingertips, almost rendering a viewing unnecessary.
Here’s a few points to consider, though. If you’re relying strictly on photographs and video, do you trust the integrity of that medium? Have you ever looked at photos or video online, and then went to physically look at the home…and were surprised that it appeared unique to the photos you viewed? Many of us have, that’s why we go look at them.
However, in high-competitive markets, making offers sight unseen can be a fruitful strategy. In most contracts, buyers have a due diligence period built in…an opportunity to inspect, appraise, and learn all of the information needed to make an informed decision. Until those buyer contingencies are released, they have no real exposure or obligation, other than the cost of those inspections…but that could be upwards of a $1000.00. In a buyer’s market, the seller may pay for those, but in a seller’s market, it’s not likely that a seller will pay for those…so you’re on the hook, and most people won’t take the risk. That said, In highly competitive markets, waiting a few days until you can schedule a showing may cost you an opportunity at that property. So what do you do?
At the end of the day, you should do what is comfortable for you. Although the trend appears to be growing rapidly, like anything else, it’s not for everyone. Consider all factors, including market conditions, and make an informed decision that best suits your needs.


As a seller of a property, it must be confusing these days to be flooded with advertising from agents and investors like these, SELL YOUR PROPERTY IN ONE DAY, or SELL YOUR PROPERTY FAST.
Even Sellers who participate in such programs are often seen bragging to their neighbors, ” I sold my home in two days, and for top dollar.” Unbeknownst to them, they probably left money on the table, so it likely was not “top dollar.” Fast? Perhaps. But is that a good thing? Let’s look at it from a different perspective.
By the time you’ve made the gut-wrenching decision to sell your home, there are still many things to do. Prepare the home for sale, decide whether you’ll use an agent or not, plan and execute the replacement property purchase, and of course, plan the move. During that time, you will invest a great deal of time and energy getting all of this done…so most would agree that you’d want to realize the greatest result possible on the sale of your home.
You’ve spent weeks or months preparing the home, and now you’re going to have complete strangers walking through it, identifying every defect possible with the hopes of making a great deal on your property. It’s finally on the market. Your agent brings you a “full price” offer, and suggests that you jump on it. Not so fast.
*How do you know that “full price” is the best you can do?
*Of the buyer pool you expect would have some interest in your property, how many have had the opportunity to see it?
*Is it possible, since I received a “full price” offer in two days, that more offers may be coming?
*With multiple offers, my leverage increases as a seller in the negotiations…isn’t that what I really want?
*If I do accept this offer, what are the odds that the buyer will cancel the transaction, or not be able to close?
After all, I’m tying it up for three weeks with no vested commitment from the buyer.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t accept any offers until your property has had adequate exposure. Generally speaking, that’s going to be 10 days or more, but depending on your market conditions, it may be prudent to leave it out there longer. Communicate your intent to the buyer pool and agent community. Sure, that may cost you a buyer, but let’s face it…someone that anxious is not likely to deliver you the strongest offer anyway.