Do Your Part To Conserve Water – Lawn Rebate Programs

Do Your Part….

As I drive around looking at all the beautiful listings coming on the market – I can’t help to notice who is and who is not doing their part for the drought.

I know a green lawn is a beautiful thing. But not during the drought. Check out Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency for their “Lawn Be Gone” rebate program. They are offering rebates from $1.00 – $4.00 a SqFt to remove your lawn! Check out the details, rules and restrictions below.

http://bawsca.org/conservation/lawn-be-gone/

And if you’re thinking of selling your home this season, look into drought tolerant plants – now that’s a beautiful thing! Green homes and thoughtful landscaping is always a plus!

Even if you are not a homeowner, we can all do our part. Shorter showers, using gray water to water our plants, collecting rain water (when and if it rains again) and taking the time to turn off the faucet when washing dishes or brushing our teeth helps. Each drop counts. So please – do you part.

(PS . Check online for other county and city rebate programs going on now!)

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Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

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Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

Who You Work With Makes All the Difference

Who You Work With Makes All the Difference

Buying a home is a journey of a thousand steps. So it is imperative to step forward with your best foot first.

Before we even show a house, The Caton Team likes to sit down and meet our buyers face to face. You know talk to one another – no email between us. We like to get to know our clients, what they need and want in their home and match them up with lenders they will mesh well with. Which brings me to my blog topic – the lender you work with – makes all the difference.

I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials – for online lenders offering low low LOW interest rates and often no closing costs. Word to the wise – you get what your pay for

Unless you’re one of the many cash buyers out there these days – if you’re in the market to buy a home – you will need a lender. Banks are very competitive with interest rates as long as the candidate has good credit, a solid down payment and income/assets. But it’s whom you work with that makes all the difference.

I’ve been forced to work with the “as seen on TV” lenders – and sure it sounds like a good deal – low interest rate and no closing costs – until you actually have to work with them. My experience, there is NO customer service with these types of lenders. And customer service is critical when you’re trying to put a real estate deal together.

Around here, the San Francisco Bay Area – we are seeing very competitive offers – often with NO contingencies becoming the norm. The only way a buyer can perform such amazing feats is having a hard working team (their Realtor and their lender) working behind them.

These TV lenders often are not local – and often cannot move as quickly as a local lender who can. Time is of the essence in Real Estate. In fact, in the California Purchase Contract it is even clause #29. Time is serious business. Buyers have time frames to complete actions – sellers are counting the days to close escrow – it all ties in together. So whom you work with makes all the difference.

Allow me to tie this into my most recent purchase with a friend turned client. Brandon is a Veteran and the VA loan offered an amazing opportunity for him to buy a home with no down payment and NO private mortgage insurance. This saved him big bucks for her first California Home purchase. At first, I was having a hard time finding a lender who did VA loans. They are known to be cumbersome and time consuming and in our current market, time is critical and often sellers will choose a faster moving loan than the VA. (It’s sad really and with Brandon and our experience, we are trying to get legislation passed to improve the VA loan experience.)

I digress. I found my Wells Fargo rep – Bill Griffis – up for the challenge. So we took our first step together and got Brandon approved for his home loan. Then the condo hunt began. Much like the FHA Home Loan, the VA loan only lends to Condo Complexes that fit their criteria for a safe investment. In other words, the complex must be VA approved. It is a wise move on the VA’s part – however not many complexes around here try to get VA/FHA approved. So it falls on the Realtors to find complexes that may fit (we use the FHA approved condos as a guideline) and then find a seller willing to wait.

In Brandon’s experience, the stars aligned and we found a seller who was willing to wait it out. (Brandon wrote one hell of a letter to the seller – you can read more about what it takes to write a good offer on my last blog installment here: http://wp.me/p1GGbd-i0) So with their hearts warmed to the thought of helping a VA, and with a great lender on our team – The Caton Team presented Brandon’s offer and got it accepted. Now the real work begins.

It took the VA several months to approve the complex. We even got the office of Jackie Speier involved to help move this along (thus the plea for legislation to pass to make this easier for Veterans).

To make a long story short, there was a week we had to cancel the deal since no end was in sight and the sellers had waited their allotted loan contingency time frame with no concrete answer. So we had to do what we had to do – we had to cancel the deal. It was a heart-breaking week but thankfully it was only a week. The VA kept plugging along and a week after we had to walk away – we got Condo approval. So back in the offer seat – Brandon wrote a new offer (since by then another offer was in hand) and with some negotiations he got his place back into contract. I’m telling you the buyer letter to the seller really made all the difference here – the sellers were willing to give us another shot.

I could go on and on and the trials and tribulations we all endured trying to get this deal done. Thankfully in the end, hard work, determination and fantastic customer service allowed me to hand the keys to my friend – and that is what makes being a Realtor awesome.

So in closing, who you work with makes all the difference. Working with a lender who picks up the phone nights and weekends and goes the extra mile will make your journey towards homeownership much simpler. Working with a Realtor you can talk too, you can trust makes singing on the dotted line that much easier.

Sure you can save a buck or two working with discount lenders or Realtors – but truthfully you get what you pay for. Not all Realtors and Lenders are created equal.  And in this market – it pays to work with the best.  It makes the difference between chasing your real estate dreams and making them.

When we add a Lender to our team – we want them to be professional, knowledgeable, experienced, kind, patient and hard working. Real Estate is NOT a 9-5 job. And often, when in negotiations we Realtors will need answers for our clients so we can write the best offer with the best terms. Having a lender who takes time for us is critical. Not everyone makes the Team. But those who do – are awesome. If you are in need of a fantastic lender – let us know and we’ll connect you with the best.

Looking for a Realtor – we’d love to interview for the job! Please do not hesitate to call or email us your Real Estate questions, concerns and opinions.

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

 

How to Lose a Bidding War (but Also How to Win One)

As much as I enjoy writing blog content – I enjoy sharing articles that are well written and pertinent. Please enjoy this article – and I’ve added my two cents in

italics.

How to Lose a Bidding War (but Also How to Win One)

It’s prime home buying and selling season, and if you’re looking to buy in an area with low inventory and high demand, you’re probably going to run face-first into a bidding war. After the housing crunch of 2008, they certainly went away for a while, but now a recent study has found bidding wars are back in force.

 

So here’s the question for buyers: Do you know how to handle a bidding war, or are you going to let that dream home get away? Here are all the things you can do wrong—so you know how to do it right.

 

Fail to realize you’re in a bidding war

 

A surefire way to lose a bidding war is to not realize there’s going to be one. So, how do you know?

First thing’s first: Know where you’re shopping. If you’re in one of the following markets—some of the hottest in the country, viewed two to seven times more often on our site than the national average—chances are, there’s going to be a bidding war:

Even if you’re not in one of those regions, the housing market remains tight nationwide (too many buyers, not enough inventory). So, observe your surroundings. How many people are at the open house?

“If it feels as though you’re at Grand Central Station at rush hour, chances are there will be a multiple-offers situation,” says Victoria Vinokur, an estate broker at Halstead Property in New York City.

Finally, if you’ve made an offer and your agent tells you they’ve heard of higher bids, “you now know you have competition,” says Susan MacDonald of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Garden City, NY.

 

On the San Francisco Bay Area – we are experience a severe housing shortage coupled with high demand. You can bet your bottom dollar if you are trying to buy property right now – you will be up against multiple offers.

Be completely disorganized 

Sellers want your offer to come in a crisp, easy-to-read package, not in a mis-autocorrected Snapchat. When you know you’re in a bidding war, says Vinokur, get answers to these questions:

  • Is there a deadline to submit offers?
  • Is there a specific offer format the seller wants to see?
  • Are there any other factors that might be important to the seller? Do he want a quick closing or a delayed one? Noncontingent financing offers? Does the seller want to stay in or rent the home until he can find another home (also known as a rent-back agreement)?

 

Now this is where The Caton Team comes in. We are proactive Realtors. So once a client tells us they are interested in a property – we pick up the phone and call the Sellers Agent. I ask the above questions and more. When possible, I get the disclosure package so my buyers can read them before we write an offer and therefore write a stronger offer knowing the condition of the property. Price is important – do not get me wrong – however a great offers encompasses more than just price. So The Caton Team makes sure to find out the sellers’ needs and wants and how our clients can fulfill them and find a happy medium.

Not asking these questions is a good way to get your offer rejected. You also want to know what the seller is looking for and if it lines up with what you’re willing to do.

“Have a clean, correct, and easily legible offer packet, with a pre-approval letter or proof of funds,” said Sepehr Niakin, a broker who owns CondoBlackBook.com in Miami. Add a cover letter, and don’t be afraid to get personal.

“Write a letter to the owners stating why you love the home,” Vinokur said. Make no mistake: This should not be a lighthearted letter—it should be well-written and sincere.

An effective cover letter should include these things:

  • An introduction complimenting the seller’s property
  • A second paragraph describing what you’re like—your job (a good one, we hope!), your family, your interests.
  • The third paragraph should describe how you envision your future in the property. For example: “We hope you will accept us—we would love to raise our kids here.”

 

We call the Offer Letter part of our Home Buyer toolbox. And ask each buyer to write on for each home they offer on. The power of a personal letter can move mountains and sometimes make the difference between an accepted offer or an overlooked one.

Part of each offer we present, The Caton Team always ensures the offer is well written, properly completed (after all it is a legally binding contact), pre-approval letter, proof of funds and a letter from the buyer along with a letter from The Caton team is attached. When at all possible we present the offer directly to the Seller and their Realtor. However, these days most offers are emailed in – so we also write an email letter outlining the offer and our clients strengths.

 

Make a lowball offer that doesn’t stand out 

 

In a hot market, don’t lowball to see if the seller will entertain your offer (that’s for the off-season). When crafting your bid, make it a strong figure—and make it a number that might stand out.

“Most offers will be in round numbers, so stand out by going to the next highest number with a 1 or a 6 at the end of it,” says Brian Horan, a broker with Home Buyers Marketing II in Los Angeles.

 

A lowball offer in this market screams one thing – the buyer is not serious, not working in reality and is wasting everyone’s time (ok that’s three things – but you get my point). The Caton Team will prepare a Comparative Market Analysis before we write the offer – so our buying clients can write their strongest offer and know what to expect.

 

Don’t sweeten the pot

 

When you’re competing with multiple offers, you have to come prepared. If you can pay with cash, that’s a huge plus—our experts agree it’s one of the best ways to win. But not everyone can do that. Get pre-approved so the seller knows you’re serious. If that’s not enough, sweeten the pot.

“Pay with cash if possible; if not, consider increasing the amount of your down payment,” said Sharon Voss, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor® Association.

You can also put down some substantial earnest money—“1% or greater,” says Lera Lasater Lee, a Realtor® with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty in Dallas.

If you’re still dead-set on getting that home, you can also offer to pay the seller’s closing costs.

 

Cash is king – but not all of us have cash. Don’t let this sway you. A well-written offer, with a solid down payment, strong / competitive terms and supporting documentation is hard pressed to be overlooked. If you can swing more than 20% down, this will set you apart. And we always encourage our buyers to write a 3% earnest money deposit (the maximum protected in the contract).  Offering to pay the closings costs helps too – and part of those fees are possible tax write-offs.  Not bad..

 

Lose sight of your limits

 

It’s a fine line to walk, though––sweetening the pot can be helpful, but be careful not to get caught up in a buying frenzy. If you overpay for the house, did you really win? Take a step back and figure out a limit on how much you want to pay for that property.

You can go about this in two ways:

  • Make your best offer upfront, pre-emptively assuming you won’t have a chance to make another, Voss says.
  • Go with an escalation clause, which details how much you’re willing to outbid another offer up to a certain limit, says Niakin. For example, you make an offer of $400,000 with a cap of $425,000, offering to outbid the last bidder by $5,000 increments until it reaches $425,000. (You’ll also want to get a lawyer to word the clause correctly.)

“This is only recommended if the buyer really wants the property and is willing to lay all their cards on a table when they know there will be multiple, very motivated buyers making offers,” Niakin said.

 

It is very important for a buyer to know their financial life before they start the buying process. Just because the bank has approved your for X – doesn’t mean X fits your lifestyle. So each buyer needs a budget and needs to know their maximum comfort level. 

Rarely is a buyer going to get a second chance in this market. So writing your best offer, with no chance of a counter is the best mindset. In regards to the escalation clause – we’ve seen this, we’ve done this – but always with a Real Estate attorney present. In Realtor jargon – these are known as sharp offers.

Put in a bid, then skip town

Now is not the time to head to the Bahamas. If you really want that home, you should stick around until you know whether your offer fell through or was accepted.

“Don’t go out of town or be otherwise inaccessible to your Realtor during a bidding war,” says Voss. “Be prepared to make decisions very quickly and respond very quickly to questions about your offer.”

 

If you are planning a vacation – let your Realtor know when and then plan on stepping out of the buyer ring until you return. There is very little time in the midst of real estate negotiations and you could lose out on a home if you are not available to respond quickly.

 

Drag your feet to the closing

 

Sellers like to close fast. When you’re in a multiple-offer situation, it’s best to make an offer with few contingencies. That can mean forgoing repairs or added appliances and furniture.

An appraisal contingency is debatable if you’re paying with cash—if you really know your area and are confident it will appraise right, you might decide to waive it—but be sure to ask your agent. One thing you don’t want to do is skip the inspection contingency.

No matter what, be quick about it.

“Tighten up your timelines,” Niakin said. “Instead of 15 days, make it seven or 10 days. If you run into some issue, you can always ask for an extension later.”

 

Thankfully most sellers in the San Francisco Bay Area provide upfront disclosures packages that include a recent Home, Pest and Roof Inspection. In our market, we are seeing no contingencies. Which can be scary – but note – no property contingency doesn’t mean you cannot have your own inspections – you can!  However they are not contingent to the sale. Unless new material information is discovered (IE. Previously undisclosed defects arise.  You do have an opportunity to discuss this with the seller and have a short time frame to do so.)  Sound scary? That is why The Caton Team is by your side each step of the way. We will provide the disclosures to you, answer your questions and advise you how to tackle each offer.  Each home presents its own opportunities and issues – so each situation is different.  

Lose your sense of perspective 

 

Above all else, keep a clear head.

“Don’t be emotional; set a threshold price and don’t be upset if you lose,” Vinokur said.

“Get your ducks in a row before entering the home purchase process,” Lee echoed. “Don’t be afraid to walk away.”

 

This article had great advice that I do follow with my own clients. We always say – offer your best price and if you do not get the house – you know they other fella paid too much!

If you have any real estate questions or concerns or would like to share your two cents please feel free to email us, or comment below.

 

I read this article at: http://www.realtor.com/advice/how-to-win-a-bidding-war-on-your-dream-house/?identityID=9851214&MID=2015_0403_WeeklyNL&RID=353497822&cid=eml-2015-0403-WeeklyNL-blog_1_lose_bidding_war-RDC_buy

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

 

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

 

It’s Official – San Carlos Drought Declaration – Effective 5/15/2015

It’s Official – San Carlos Drought Declaration – Effective 5/15/2015

 

As some of you San Carlos residence know – last year the City Council passed Ordinance 1479, which gave the City tools for the enforcement of water restrictions if/when a declaration of drought emergency is declared. This means that “non-essential” uses of water in San Carlos would become unlawful during the declaration period, and financial penalties would be enforced by the City.

 

On Monday, February 9, 2015, the City Council voted to declare a state of drought emergency in San Carlos.  The decision came down even though we saw ample rain in December 2014, and most recently just this past week.  But January 2015 was the driest and hottest year the Bay Area has ever recorded, and marks the fourth consecutive year of drought in California. According to the news release, local water storage is still only 58% of its maximum capacity.

 

The Penalty for Water Waste.

 

If you are caught wasting water after the commencement of the declaration period, which will take effect on 5/15/2015, it’s going to cost you some money. San Carlos Municipal Code Chapter 1.20 outlines the penalties for violations of Ordinance 1479:

  • $100 for the first violation;
  • $200 for the second violation within the same year;
  • $500 for each additional violation within the same year;
  • For each day a violator continues the unlawful action, he or she is guilty of a separate offense.

Curious about what you can and cannot do with water this summer?  You can read the ordinance and see a complete list of all nonessential water uses by clicking the following link:  San Carlos Ordinance 1479.

 

Remember to follow our Blog at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com/

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at: Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522

Want Real Estate Info on the Go? Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

VISIT OUR NEW INSTAGRAM PAGE: http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

Visit us on Facebook:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

Yelp us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or Yelp me: http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=6588013&trk=tab_pro

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008