California luxury new homes for sale by Toll Brothers

Alamo Creek

The uniquely conceived master-planned community of Alamo Creek features a system of neighborhood integration that boasts an architecturally diverse streetscape nostalgic of early California. Belonging to the highly-acclaimed San Ramon Valley Unified School District, this Danville community is highlighted by its grand community center, swim facility, youth soccer complex and is conveniently adjacent to the prestigious Blackhawk, where shopping and dining are only minutes away.

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Gale Ranch

Surrounded by rolling hillsides and panoramic vistas, the highly-acclaimed master-planned community of Gale Ranch features neighborhood parks, hiking and walking trails, community centers, The Plaza shopping center and the 18-hole Johnny Miller-designed golf course. Ranking 6th among all unified school districts in California, this sought-after San Ramon community is just minutes from the perennial award-winning schools of the San Ramon Valley School District.

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Norris Canyon Estates

Norris Canyon Estates is the only new, single-family luxury home, staff-gated community in the Tri-Valley Area. Toll Brothers offers the largest homes on the most generous home sites in the community …Read More

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San Ramon, CA

County Contra Costa

Home Types Single Family

Priced From Mid-$1,000,000s

Phone 925-743-1000

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Schaefer Ranch by Toll Brothers

Schaefer Ranch by Toll Brothers offers luxurious single-family homes built with the highest quality craftsmanship, and exquisite architecture set amidst beautiful streetscapes with spectacular views. …Read More

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Dublin, CA

County Alameda

Home Types Single Family

Priced From Low $1,000,000s

Phone 925-828-2500

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The Preserve at Jordan Ranch – Altmore Collection

The Preserve at Jordan Ranch offers luxurious single-family homes with very desirable open plan living spaces, backyards for family entertainment, and is located adjacent to Fallon Sports Park, Dublin …Read More

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Dublin, CA

County Alameda

Home Types Single Family

Priced From Upper $800,000s

Phone 925-828-5900

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The Reserve at Pleasanton

The Reserve at Pleasanton is one of the few new single-family home communities available within one of the most desired neighborhoods of the East Bay. Ideally placed in one of Pleasanton’s most…Read More

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Pleasanton, CA

County Alameda

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Phone 925-461-2900

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Wilder

Nestled in a small valley and surrounded by thousands of acres of preserved open space, Wilder is a new community that includes an extensive trail network, parks and playfields, a grand Quarry House community center, fitness center and a world-class swim club. Located 30 minutes outside downtown San Francisco, this secluded Orinda neighborhood is conveniently located just minutes from the freeway, downtown Orinda and its highly-ranked Orinda Union School District.

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Reflections on the Beverly Carter Realtor Murder

Reflections on the Beverly Carter Realtor Murder

Firstly, condolences go out to the Carter family. The news has already done an adequate job showing that Beverly Carter was a mother of a son and a wife of a husband; no doubt she was part of a social web where she depended on others and others depended on her.

“Be safe” is now the resounding message all Realtors seem to have for each other after this incident. That is true that we need to be safer, but the concept is rather vague and we need to say more about it. I will go into this further after I summarize what I know to be the facts of the case from news articles.

The facts of the case say that Carter was targeted because she seemed rich and worked alone. Realtors in general embody a successful persona and part of that may be looking or appearing in formalwear or appearing well-off. This persona is natural and expected in an industry where the stakes are high and purchases and sale of houses are typically the largest investments people will make in their lives. There is an equivocation, though, between looking well-dressed and being well-off. An assumption was made and Arron Lewis acted on such an assumption.

The second reason why she was targeted was because she worked alone, or at least this is what Arron Lewis thought. I think what Lewis ascertained is that if he called Carter, Carter would show the property by herself, and he ended up being right.

The main reason many Realtors feel for Carter is because it is a tragedy in its own right, but also that we all know how Carter may have felt before going to that appointment: As Realtors we adhere closely to the Realtor Code of Ethics which basically states that our clients come first; we look out for the well-being of our clients when we sell a house to make sure they are making an informed decision. So when Carter gets a phone call asking to be shown the property, it would be natural that she is excited to have a new client where she can make a new sale, but most importantly being able to touch the life of another person who will do business with her.

When Carter shows up to the house, she is likely in a kind of selling mode mentality but is also selflessly trying to make sure everything goes well so the client can feel at home and possibly want to purchase the house. It is an incredibly emotional juxtaposition to contrast Carter’s likely selflessness to help another and Lewis’ malice to allegedly kidnap and kill.

Another thing to not overlook is that Carter may have also been targeted because she was a woman. Female Realtors in my opinion have the advantage of being more approachable to new clients because they are not very intimidating (versus a male Realtor). Such a phenomenon works wonders when you go door knocking and your body type and gender sometimes make a difference when you prospect like this. When I go door knocking with a hat on and a suit, people wonder if they forgot to pay their bills (it’s probably not this bad but you get the idea).

Nevertheless, it’s a shame that women in our industry are being targeted because they are perceived as weaker or more vulnerable. The systemic objectification in movies, magazines, and pornography likely contribute to this image. Women are burdened by having to look approachable but strong to their clients and it is difficult to satisfy all the demands of appearance that society tells us is acceptable. One of my friends told me that she intentionally does not raise the pitch of her voice when she is angry because it makes her sound less in control.

The best message here is to love real estate and be yourself if you are going to enter this profession, but it’s a no brainer that women have to work harder in this industry than men. My hat goes off to all female Realtors out there.

So what does it mean to “be safe” for Realtors and other real estate professionals? Many things come to mind.

  1. Carter made it a point to let her husband know where she was going to be. While that was not enough for this circumstance, it is something that we should all be doing: letting people know where we are through text or email.
  2. Newer client appointments should be made in the office during office hours. If this is not possible, showings with new clients should be done with another person accompanying the listing agent.
  3. Verifying client information through a variety of sources helps to make the new client a real person as part of a greater network. We can look the client up by email, phone, social network, and even check driver’s licenses to make sure the client has no issue divulging their identification to us. Clients should help us identify them. We get so involved with their personal information that identifying them should be easy and without much effort.
  4. Knowing self-defense and carrying pepper spray or a stun gun might be useful, however keep in mind that in a fray that weapons can be used against you, so be careful.
  5. If a property is vacant, maybe you should wait inside and lock the door instead of outside where your whereabouts can be ascertained immediately.
  6. When confronted with someone who corners you, follow these instructions to try and escape
  7. Pay attention to exits, scout locations, keep customer in sight, be careful with personal info

Realtors are servants of the public in my opinion and so we deal with the public frequently. Chances are that many of our clients legitimately want to do business with us and it is only the minority that wants to do harm to us. The news and its constant reminders will overstate the incidence of this happening and we need to keep that in mind. What is most important is that we stay smart with how we conduct our business from all perspectives, whether it is financial, professionals, and safety.

For our clients: it is important to remember that Realtors are also parents, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, etc. of a social web and that being a Realtor is a vocation that pays the bills for the people they love. We also love what we do and our needs are often secondary or tertiary to the clients’. This is not exclusive to this profession but extends to all professions. What I hope is that we Realtors continue to exercise the appropriate amount of safety when conducting business and that clients also help us by identifying themselves when prompted as well as following our safety procedures in all aspects of the real estate transaction.

As a Realtor, I am genuinely concerned about the welfare of my clients during showings. I am concerned about loose tiles or uneven surfaces that could make my clients trip and fall. I am concerned about cats and dogs that may be in the house during showing that may cause harm to my clients. I am concerned about a myriad of factors when showing property and I really want to keep not just Realtors safe, but everyone safe.

I hope these reflections have clarified that Realtors and clients all want to remain safe when engaging in real estate and I suppose this is something we take for granted. But I know that when my job is done at a particular property that our clients will continue to appreciate our service to them as Realtors but also as friends who keep friends safe. Rest in peace Beverly and I hope your family finds closure and that the defendant finds rehabilitation and reflects on the actions that have forever changed the lives of the Carter family and all Realtors everywhere.

 

Should I go directly to the listing agent when buying a house?

Should I go directly to the listing agent when buying a house?

For some reason, buyers of real estate think they are getting an advantage by going directly to the listing agent to buy a house. I am going to explore why buyers might feel this way and then I will go on to say that it does not matter if you choose the listing agent or a selling agent to help you buy the house.

Lots of people like to find the listing agent of the property because they feel they are going straight to the source to buy the house. When this happens, the listing agent will become a dual agent to both the buyer and seller, both of whom must consent to the dual agency via a disclosure of agency relationship. My opinion about dual agencies is incidental to the main point of this article, but what I can say about dual agency is that it is ethically permissible.

Dual agencies are ethically permissible because the agent works in a way that helps both parties and does not reveal the “weaknesses” of either party and maintains confidentiality throughout all her actions. Many of my colleagues might have different opinions about this, but what I can say is that most agents find the dual agency morally permissible (its legality is obvious and nobody is trying to overturn its legality).

So if the buyer goes directly to the listing agent, a dual agency will be created. Buyers think that going to the listing agent will give them a distinct advantage over other offers. This is not necessarily the case. When the listing agent presents all offers to the seller, the seller will not choose an offer simply because the listing agent is representing the buyer. The seller will choose the highest and best offer—highest in terms of price, and best offer in terms of the terms and details of the offer that determine the costs divided to the parties.

So if the seller chooses the highest and best offer, it’s not the case that going to the listing agent will get you the house, especially if your offer is not higher than the rest.

Another reason buyers might want to go to the listing agent is so that they think they can close faster because all the files are being worked on internally. Again, this is not necessarily true. While I have been a dual agent before and it is convenient to have all the files in one place for myself, that is merely a convenience to myself, the professional Realtor, and not necessarily a benefit passed on to the buyer. How fast the transaction closes is determined by the terms of the contract and the loan of the buyer. If the buyer’s loan needs time to qualify and fund, then the closing is determined by that, and not by the fact that the listing agent is representing the buyer.

Recall now the original purpose of putting a listing on the MLS: sellers do this to get the exposure, with each MLS board providing at least 20,000 members who are Realtors. Chances are that the listing agent will not be the one to sell the property.

What the consumer should be aware of is that the listing agent does represent the seller, but the listing agent may not necessarily be the best person for the job. Good buyers should get a strong feel for the Realtor by meeting them face to face and having frequent phone conversations with them in order to see if there is compatibility. Imagine automatically choosing the listing agent only because they represent the seller in the house they are selling but they are incompetent. As a buyer, you will feel neglected, trapped, and worst of all, there might be miscommunications that could cost you money.

I’m not saying that always selecting a buyer’s agent will save you from agent blunders; what I am saying is that choosing a Realtor is like interviewing a series of professionals to make sure you are represented properly. By automatically defecting to the listing agent, you completely skip over the interviewing process which is essential to your own self-regulating consumer protection protocol. You wouldn’t operate heavy machinery without reading the manual, right? So too would you not select your Realtor without learning more about the Realtor and determining whether they are right for you.

What to do when my listing expires?

What to do when my listing expires?
by Dean Paul Dominguez, Realtor Broker and Educator

Many sellers may experience an expiration of their listing. This means that nobody bought the house and the listing period between the seller and the listing agent has ended. So what should a seller do when this happens?
A seller’s goal is to sell the house, so the seller needs to get to the bottom of why the house did not sell. Agents don’t want listings to expire for obvious reasons. Agents want to help sellers sell the house, and they also want to do their job well. When a listing expires, I argue that there was some kind of miscommunication between seller and listing agent that everything was OK, but was not.
One of the most common reasons a listing does not sell is because of price. The listing is overpriced and fairly priced substitutes exist in the market that buyers would rather pay for. When a listing is overpriced, there is a very specific phenomenon that occurs: thousands upon thousands of automatic notifications go out to clients each day from various websites or directly from their agents. When a listing is overpriced, the pricing may exceed the buyers’ maximum price, determined by the loan qualification or by their savings. The exposure of the listing decreases dramatically and nobody gets to see the house.
Why do I say there is a miscommunication between seller and listing agent? The listing agent has the onus of bringing to the attention of the seller that the listing is overpriced. If the listing agent does not do this and fears that the listing will not be theirs if they come forward with the truth, then the miscommunication has already started from the beginning.
But while I know it’s easy to pin all the blame down on the listing agent, the seller must meet the listing agent halfway. When presented with evidence that the price of the house is within a certain range, the seller needs to keep an open mind about price for the sake of selling the house.
It’s scary when sellers don’t want to disclose material facts about the house because they don’t want to lower their price (i.e. this is grounds for a lawsuit, without a doubt), but thankfully we’re not doing something so severe here. What we are dealing with is the seller’s unwillingness to lower the price when the seller is told the listing is overpriced.
The listing agent does not single-handedly need to be the one to tell it straight to the seller that the listing is overpriced if it wasn’t already done so at the listing presentation; the listing agent, through many broker’s tours and open houses, will have no trouble calling the agents up to find out what their clients thought of the listing. Through a process of polling via the business cards of other agents who visited the property, it can be easily demonstrated that the price change needs to occur.
The reason why I focus on overpriced listings being expired, even though it can be the case that other reasons may loom large in the face of an expired listing is because people will always buy real estate at the right price, no matter what. Even if the basement is flooded with sewage and a tree fell on the roof, there is still an appropriate price that one can assign to that listing.
So after a seller’s listing expires, it’s up to the seller to find a new agent. The seller won’t have to look high and low for agents who will solicit the expired listing, based on the area in which you are located, but the next agent should know that the listing expired and the seller needs to be upfront about what transpired beforehand. Doing this starts all conversations with the kind of transparency that is needed when selling your house in real estate.