California Drought and a Better Garden for Americans

(source: www.jchfirm.com)

It is great to learn that Home Owner Associations will not change Californians for not watering their lawn. Have you heard the latest rulings? They were in conflict with each other, but now they are resolved. The first ruling was that Governor Brown passed into law a fine for $500/day if somebody overwatered their lawn.

(source: cadreamnetwork.org)

It’s not clear how much water that is, but one clear idea is to make aware those absentminded homeowners who will turn on the sprinklers and completely forget about them. We’ve all seen it from time to time– the sidewalks get just as much water as the grass. The water drains into the gutter in the street and we can hear it cascading down there, right next to the little stamp that says “Don’t Dump in Our Bay.”
So while many lawns are becoming brown, many HOAs began charging homeowners for not keeping up with the watering of their lawn. That was precisely the tension the new laws are trying to address: that HOAs cannot charge homeowners fees for not watering their lawn.

(source: article.wn.com)

The priority of conserving water exceeds that of keeping the neighborhood beautiful. In other words, the utilitarian consideration of water conservation trumps the aesthetic needs of the community.

(source: decodedpast.com)

One can make the case that watering lawns are important for property values, but you can only make that case if you put the home values outside the context of the drought. The drought comes first and everything else comes second.

(Source: spraysite.net)

Emerging now are many companies that will offer to spray your lawn with green paint to make it look like your lawn is green. The effect is temporary, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to half a year. Is this a good product?

 

I think it is a good product, only to accomplish very specific goals. The first is that people use it to sell a house and to give it more appeal. The lawn will be greened only so far as to increase the curb appeal of the property. It should be fully disclosed to the buyer that the lawn was painted, much in the same way it is disclosed that the furniture and window treatments for staging will not stay. If the buyer consents to it, then you have a happy seller and a happy buyer.

That’s one way to use it. The other way to use it is for agents who need a lawn to look green to avoid being flagged by cities or HOAs. Now that HOAs cannot charge a fee for it, this use will probably go down, but there’s no telling if a city can fine an owner of land and say it is a fire hazard if the grass is too dry. My opinion is that the city will not do this.

Honestly, I don’t think the media has caught on to the other possibility that our lawns are not water-friendly to begin with. Nobody really disputes it because part of the idealized form of houses is the white picket fence and the lush, green lawn. Nobody thinks of low-water consuming geraniums and red wood chips when they think of the perfect house.

 

In other for us to truly survive this drought, we need to divorce the demand for green lawns away from the ideal form of the perfect house. When we do that, we can see truly that grassy lawns are too high maintenance for an area that is low on its water supplies.

 

I was reading a feature story that commented on how persons who live in Australia are constantly in a season of drought and that they probably do not have grassy lawns. Instead, they have low maintenance gardens and rain collecting barrels that collect rainwater from their gutters. That water is later used to water plants.

(source: www.pondsonline.ca)

I know Alameda County used to give rebates to homeowners who design their front and back yards to consume less water, so the message has been put out there. While the rebate can be offered again, I think the greatest motivator for people to get rid of their lawns is to bring to people’s attention the ecological drawbacks that it possesses and to urge people to have gardens that guzzle far less water.

(source: www.califliving.com)

Spicing Up Your Real Estate Website IDX to Get New Clients

Real estate marketing technologies are constantly evolving and real estate agents need to evolve with it. One such technology is called IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, that lets the public view properties online by accessing websites that pay for access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).[1] I will first describe its use in major real estate companies, discuss the challenges created by this environment, and then offer suggestions to maximize IDX use in your own website in order to dominate your local market.

Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow are some of the familiar websites that use IDX. These sites obtain property information directly from the MLS. This information is fed into their websites, often in real time. Millions of visitors come to their sites each day. These companies will often sell advertising to agents via zip codes, sell leads to agents, and have in-house agents to help visitors.

IDX makes buyers and sellers savvier with price and neighborhood data than ever before. While some might perceive this as more challenging, I find it to be easier. When property information is available in multiple platforms, you do not need to spend a long time convincing them of today’s market prices—the information is already out there. With information becoming more transparent, the consumer can make more informed decisions.

IDX’s impact to the consumer is largely positive. The consumer’s increased access to property listings does not pose any significant challenges to real estate agents. Instead, the main challenge is this: When larger real estate websites receive millions of views, they end up at the top of the search engine results. Meanwhile, your agent website that possesses the same IDX technology gets pushed further down, becoming less and less relevant in the eyes of the search engine and consumer.

For example, if a buyer searches for 123 Main Street, chances are they will find it on Redfin, Trulia, and Zillow first and not your website. While Redfin has the same property information as you do, Redfin’s higher page ranking lets it be seen well before yours. The task now is to try and capture some of this very lucrative site traffic for your own.

Two choices emerge: the first is to pay to be advertised by these larger real estate websites. They are admittedly successful companies with millions of daily visitors and your website is likely not to compare. Subscribing to their monthly advertising programs may help you get more business. The second option is to improve the IDX on your own personal website to try and improve visitor site traffic. This article explores the second option: “spicing up” your IDX.

You can “spice up” your IDX by featuring information about the property that nobody else has. By featuring information about the property that the MLS does not have but is not confidential, you can provide specialized, local knowledge that big real estate websites may not have.

For example, you can feature properties specifically in your local farm/local service area. Perhaps these properties just came out on the market or these properties recently underwent price changes. You can give your opinion on property photos (tip: keep it positive), look up and discuss walking scores, proximity to schools and freeways, and even point out local restaurants that are nearby.

Highlight any feature that adds something positive to the property while not revealing anything confidential is fair game (and check with your local MLS board what is allowed). Pick a theme, keep it interesting, and get subscribers. Doing this for a few months can be promising and establishes your expertise.

In summary, IDX helps consumers become savvier and also gives you a chance to be original and relevant in today’s real estate market. Just remember that IDX is only one aspect of your marketing plan that should be worked on but not relied on in isolation. Successful real estate agents diversify their marketing efforts and consistently find ways to stand out from the crowd. With over a million real estate licenses nationwide,[2] you don’t just want to be one licensee out of a million—you want to be one-in-a-million.

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_Data_Exchange, accessed 7/17/14

[2] http://www.realtor.org/field-guides/field-guide-to-quick-real-estate-statistics, accessed 7/17/14.

New Homes in Veneto rolling out new homes this Saturday, call 510 304 6060 for details| Dublin, California | D.R. Horton

Veneto

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Overview

Located in the rolling hills above Dublin, homebuyers at Veneto at Pasitano will enjoy panoramic views, miles of hiking trails, and nearby athletic fields. Close proximity to excellent schools, fine dining, shopping, Dublin’s business center and the I-580/I-680 interchange, make Veneto a very desirable place to live!

Two-story Built for Better Living® home designs at Veneto feature exteriors with an architectural flair including Tuscan, Italianate, Spanish Colonial and French Country styling. These elegant home designs include many of today’s most sought-after features and an array of options for customization that can make your new home at Veneto truly one of a kind.

via New Homes in Veneto | Dublin, California | D.R. Horton.

A look at Fremont Neighborhood Cabrillo’s 4 bedroom homes on the market.

Here’s some raw data from the MLS on Cabrillo’s 4 bedroom houses. What I will do is provide an interpretation of the activity in this neighborhood and  give you facts about the activity in this neighborhood. The data is active pending and sold from 1/1/14 to 7/14/14.

StatusDOMAddressSqFtBRBthList PriceSold Price
ACTV1435422 ARDO CT138742$725,000
ACTV2836152 Perkins Street264343$829,000
NEW64073 Becerra Dr147642$699,000
NEW34397 Nicolet Ave233643$849,950
PEND164537 ANGELES AVE140042$699,888
PEND1436259 Gibraltar Court216043$838,888
PSB3335284 AQUADO CT168743$750,000
SLD144667 Portola Drive42$579,000$624,000
SLD6335631 cabral196042$579,000$590,000
SLD164304 DALI ST138742$585,000$647,000
SLD835299 AQUADO COURT138742$650,000$715,000
SLD154221 VINCENTE ST138742$650,000$632,500
SLD3336150 SAN PEDRO DR163743$659,500$640,000
SLD336851 DAUPHINE AVE168442$688,500$700,000
SLD214305 NICOLET AVE187742$728,888$740,000
SLD74167 VINCENTE ST161142$729,888$850,000
SLD94149 Nicolet179742$734,950$810,000
SLD936239 Gibraltar Ct.251243$758,888$812,000
SLD484434 GIBRALTAR DR170442$759,950$750,000
SLD1236113 ELBA PL251153$779,750$780,000
SLD1135122 ADRIANO ST176543$790,000$795,500

On average it takes about 21 days on market (DOM) for a property to become pending. There’s no insight on how many offers a property received until becoming pending, but if the price was over asking price, it is likely that multiple offers were received.

The average list price in this area is about $690,951 or $401.75/sqft. The average sale price is $720,428 or $418.69. The gap between list price and sale price tells us that over asking purchases are common and justified throughout the sold data.

People like this neighborhood because of the good schools and proximity to shops. With gas, grocery, and freeway nearby, it’s very easy to get your amenities. If you exit Cabrillo and want to commute along the Dumbarton Bridge, Decoto Rd (where our office is) will feed you into the bridge so you can commute to the peninsula without much effort. It’s really the heart of north Fremont I would say. Many buyers and sellers tell me they like living there.

Cute San Leandro Starter Home for sale $422,000 in Assumption Parish Neighborhood

Contact info:
Dean Paul Dominguez | Re/Max Active Realty | 510-304-6060

HUD Home For Sale in San Leandro– Assumption Parish

623 Valita Dr, San Leandro, CA 94577

$422,000

KEY FEATURES
Year Built: 1946
Sq Footage: 1169 sqft.
Bedrooms: 2 Beds
Bathrooms: 1 Bath
Floors: 1
Parking: 2 Garage
Laundry: In Unit
Lot Size: 5150 Square Feet
Property Type: Single Family House

DESCRIPTION


Great starter HUD home moving in condition in Assumption Parish Neighborhood. Property location is partially in a cul-de-sac. Bike/walking Mc Kinley Elementary school; San Leandro High School; San Leandro Fred T. Korematsu Campus, shopping, worship temples & daycares.

BRE Bro #01778824

Equal Housing Opportunity

hudhomestore.com

PROPERTY FEATURES


  • Master bath
  • Fenced yard
  • Lawn

COMMUNITY FEATURES


  • Garage – Attached

ADDITIONAL LINKS


  • Website: http://www.belinadominguez.com

Contact info:
Dean Paul Dominguez
Re/Max Active Realty
510-304-6060

What the FSBO Wants

For Sale by Owners (FSBO) represent only 25% of the sales of homes, while the other 75% of sales being those sold by Realtors. I want to first explore historical and cultural considerations surrounding this topic followed by a discussion of why FSBOs want to sell by themselves.

I think we exist in a culture that has a tension of Do-it-yourself and Do-it-for-me. People want to save money but also do not want to put in extra effort, and this tension or stalemate often gets people to not act or not act in their best interest.

FSBOs want to sell themselves because it is supposed to be cost-effective. It is supposed to be part of the Do-it-Yourself movement. It’s supposed to be a triumph against commerce and a way to line one’s pockets further with saved cash. And to some extent, these considerations are very representational of how the average consumer thinks today: to go straight to the source, cut out the middle man, and get the product direct.

But if since undercutting practices are so effective, why are 75% of sellers and buyers still using Realtors to buy and sell their homes? At this point, I of course have a long list of praises to sing for Realtors and their activities, but I will spare you the self-praise and give you a shorter list:

  1. Sellers won’t take the time to learn the legal disclosures required in selling a home – There’s tons of paperwork. It’s almost nauseating. But it’s necessary. Real estate law spans back several hundred years and the disclosures and customs are somewhat respected and retained from past rulings, making the corpus of real estate law quite large. It’s no surprise that FSBOs might have a hard time filling out disclosures to deliver to buyers. It’s a lot of headache, not just as a process but the legal implications of doing them incorrectly could very possibly give someone insomnia. If you’re lucky, FSBOs can reach out to Realtors to help them fill out the paperwork, then promise the Realtor to give them the listing if they cannot sell the house themselves. It’s a good gesture and the easiest way to make a friendship. So FSBOs—what are you waiting for? Call your Realtor and ask for help and make them that promise, now!
  2. Showing property takes time and effort, something a full-time seller might not have—While FSBOs can put up a push button lockbox and show the property remotely, there’s really no telling who will want to see the house, let alone figure out if they are qualified. And where are these people calling from? Craigslist? Trulia? Well, some might be serious, but it’s riskier (relatively). It’s riskier than having an agent set up a lockbox where only other agents can access the lockbox. And when a seller is working all day, how likely is it to get those showings in or actually answer buyer questions until that seller becomes available again? A seller that’s hard to reach by a buyer looking for a discounted property will be easily skipped over if other listings exist that are represented by an agent who is typically available specifically for the purpose of answering questions about the house.
  3. A FSBO may say they already have a Realtor, but why are they trying to sell their house on craigslist without any pictures or adequate descriptions?: FSBOs are regular people who want good deals—this is basically what all Americans want. But when a FSBO says they already have a Realtor but they have the ad online, trying to sell it themselves, it is very confusing to me. When advertising a house, you need adequate descriptions and pictures, not a 2 line ad without anything useful. You also need to have the ability to reach out to the largest audience to get the most views on your listing, where views will turn into offers. If a FSBO truly had a Realtor, or at least a good one, wouldn’t the FSBO be advised to list the home on the MLS where the house can be seen by 40,000 people around the state? That is the truth about the multiple listing service and that is something that is worth paying for. Being able to choose an awesome offer out of 10 other very good offers gives you a real quality buyer you can work with. Not choosing the right buyer can cost money and even serious deals, so getting as many buyers as possible is really the best way to go.